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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, January 28, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

"I think that’s enough for today. Class dismissed."

You've probably never heard of Gil Meche, and since he plays on the Kansas City Royals, you've probably never seen him play, either. Meche was a very promising pitching prospect who got a A $50 million contract from the Seattle Mariners and tried to make his way in the big leagues. Plagued by injuries, Meche did not live up to his promise, and last year was 0-5 for the Royals. His 4 year career has been just 29 wins vs 39 losses. Well Meche has retired, and is not going to take the final $12 million of his contract. Why? Integrity:
“Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.”
He couldn't do the job he was hired on to do and refused to take the money he wasn't earning. Good man.

President Obama's State of the Union Speech was long and by all accounts not very dynamic, but it did contain a lot of small government fiscal conservatism which hearkens back more to his presidential campaign than his actual presidency. Among the things he mentioned was Tort Reform, which is the effort to scale back the damage lawsuits can and are doing to the economy. In response, several Democrats in congress are suggesting some Tort Reform ideas, according to Julian Pecquet at The Hill.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told The Hill that one solution could be "soft caps," which protect medical professionals if they make an error within the usual scope of practice.

"I get in trouble because I say I think that there's a compromise where you have a higher standard for malpractice," DeFazio said. "Something like [soft caps] might be a potential compromise, but it would have to be higher than $250,000 [for the cap on non-economic damages]."

Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee, also offered up ideas.

"If medical malpractice reform means special courts that fast-track medical cases or strong incentives to settle cases early or requirements that there be an expert affidavit that backs up the allegation of medical malpractice, I'm for those things and I think they'll work," Andrews said. "I think that's an area the president has put forward in good faith and we should work with him on it."

Whether this was actually in good faith or just a useful political gesture remains to be seen, but these seem like positive moves by congress, to me.

President Obama also claimed in his State of the Union speech that he wanted a five year spending freeze, but in the same speech repeatedly promised a multi-billion dollar interstate high speed rail project. Somehow I don't see those two things meshing very well, particularly considering how rail can only continue to exist with perpetual subsidies which only increases the cost every year.

Nanny state restrictions on behavior for your good have gotten so obnoxious that even the left are starting to complain. Elizabeth Armstrong Moore compiled a big list at CNET recently, including these proposed or existing legislative lowlights:
  • $20 fine for texting while bicycling in California
  • $90 fine for wearing headphones while bicycling in Oregon
  • A ban on texting while walking across streets in New York City
I do understand the desire to protect people and keep distractions to a minimum, but this is just going too far.
The inventor of the Uncle Milton Ant Farm recently died. Try as you might, you couldn't get the ants to actually farm, but they were fascinating to watch scurrying about in the thin case. I always wanted one of these but I had two concerns: one was the ants getting out, and the other deep down I knew it was a death trap for the ants, eventually they'd all die.

Frustrated with the poor quality of schools in her district, a woman secretly moved her kid to another, better one. The district found out, and the state put her in jail. Andrea Canning and Leezle Tangao report for ABC:
The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.

Williams-Bolar said she did it to keep her children safe and that she lived part-time with her dad.

"When my home got broken into, I felt it was my duty to do something else," Williams-Bolar said.

While her children are no longer attending schools in the Copley-Fairlawn District, school officials said she was cheating because her daughters received a quality education without paying taxes to fund it.
I can kind of understand the desire to prevent people from skipping around school districts, but jail seems a bit excessive, especially with the limited jail space. Here's the secret though: its not the money that goes into a school which makes it good or bad. Its the quality of teaching, administration, and the mindset behind education that makes the difference.

Predictably, the bold talk by Republican congressmen while seeking power is starting to fade away while actually in power. Speaker of the House John Beohner (R-OH) recently has started to back away from his stated intent to raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits to 70. For some perspective, consider this: when Social Security was first implemented, the life expectancy for men was 61 and women was 65. Today its over 78. Social Security was intended to be an end of life thing, not a "I'm retired, now lets spend current workers' money for 20 years or more." This can't continue.

One of the few things which earned President Bush praise from (some) on the left was his efforts to fight AIDS in Africa. What they didn't like is how he pulled money out of the UN and started to directly work in Africa, avoiding the bureaucracy and corruption of that body. John Helprin at the AP details some of that corruption:
A $21.7 billion development fund backed by celebrities and hailed as an alternative to the bureaucracy of the United Nations sees as much as two-thirds of some grants eaten up by corruption, The Associated Press has learned.

Much of the money is accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, indicating it was pocketed, investigators for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say. Donated prescription drugs wind up being sold on the black market.

The fund's newly reinforced inspector general's office, which uncovered the corruption, can't give an overall accounting because it has examined only a tiny fraction of the $10 billion that the fund has spent since its creation in 2002. But the levels of corruption in the grants they have audited so far are astonishing.
As for me, I just can't find anywhere in the US Constitution that permits the federal government to take money from citizens and send it to Africa, no matter how good the cause.


Blogs are full of posts about how China is kicking US butt and doing so well, but the fact is when you peel back the carefully constructed facade the dictatorship has presented, the truth isn't quite so impressive. For instance, there was a traffic jam in China so bad that the cars didn't move for days. It finally cleared up after thirteen days of immobile traffic, food vendors moving among the cars. This was the most infamous of the traffic jams, but they're so common in the big cities due to poor road design and lots of cars that there's a business for sitting in traffic jams. You pay someone to hold your place and zip to your location on a motorcycle.

Virginia's attorney general is looking to investigate the global warming hysterics and see if there's been any fraud. He reasons that the billions of dollars spent on this scam are actionable if they were based on falsehood or fraudlent science. Democrats in the Virginia government are scrambling to protect their alarmist buddies. They claim he's abusing his power. He claims he's doing his job.

Pushing the "new civility," leftists have put on a play in Madison, Wisconsin in which right wingers are lured to dinner parties and murdered. Charlie Sykes at WTOP Reports:
As he lies bleeding on an area rug, the quintet, after some debate and initial hand-wringing, decide that they have done society a favor by eliminating him and silencing his dangerous words. They also decide that since participating in protests and sit-ins has been a futile way to fight the power, this new dinner party/murder method may be a more effective technique in coping with right-wing adversaries.
Because plays about violence against enemies of the left is not troubling at all, but people dressing up as 17th century patriots is. Incidentally, the play ends with a Limbaugh-like radio host figuring out the plot and swapping the poison so they all die and he lives.

Speaking of violence by the left, while the Giffords shooting by a lunatic who leaned left was reported as the result of right wing rhetoric, an actual politically motivated attack against a politician got scant notice by the press. Jack Cashill at The American Thinker writes:
In September 2010 Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to speak at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City.

At some point, wearing black clothes and a bullet-proof vest, 22 year-old Casey Brezik bolted out of a classroom, knife in hand, and slashed the throat of a dean. As he would later admit, he confused the dean with Nixon.

The story never left Kansas City. It is not hard to understand why. Knives lack the political sex appeal of guns, and even Keith Olbermann would have had a hard time turning Brezik into a Tea Partier.
Indeed. You can't hurt the right wing's recent political resurgence with stories about actual leftist violence.

Cliff Kinkaid at the World Tribune has a question. He wonders how many Americans know that both Kennedies who were shot were killed by communist radicals? He only brings this up after idiotic rhetoric by leftists claiming that the mood of today is just like in the 60s when the Kennedys were killed, and the right should just shut up.

Fast food giant Taco Bell claims their meat is either seasoned beef or seasoned ground beef. Having eaten a lot of Taco Bell I find that claim dubious, the stuff is tasty enough but doesn't really have the texture and flavor of beef. Well someone sued the company recently for false advertising. The New York Post reports:
The class action lawsuit alleged that "beef" products sold in Taco Bell's eateries were made of a "taco meat filling" consisting of "extenders and other non-meat substances" and did not meet the minimum standards set by the US Department of Agriculture.

It also claimed the company misrepresented some ingredients as "seasonings" when they were added to increase a product’s volume rather than enhance its flavor.
Taco Bell has threatened a countersuit, but I suspect they're not in a very good position legally speaking. The reason companies do this kind of thing is that they rarely pay a price. Personally I think Burger King's burgers aren't exactly beef, either.

Just a few years ago, the media was ablaze with hysterical warnings about global warming and how we were all doomed because people drove SUVs. The New York Times, to its limited credit recently admitted that its reporting was wrong (courtesy Tim Blair):
At the time, some climate scientists wrote papers attributing that change to global warming. Newspapers, including this one, printed laments for winter lost. But soon after, the apparent trend went away, an experience that has made many researchers more cautious.
Oh yes, there were plenty of reports about how there'd never be winter again, how sledding was going away and so on. As of today, the New York Times building is under several feet of snow.

Perhaps you've seen this, or you will eventually when some leftist posts about it. Jay Bookman wrote an article in the Atlanta Constitution-Journal all about jobs and how the government has not grown under President Obama and it was all Bush's fault anyway. Its filled with figures and charts and references, but as Geoff points out at the Ace of Spades HQ, he's playing games with statistics and manipulating the numbers for a result he prefers over the truth.

And that's the Word Around the Net, January 28, 2011.

1 Comments:

Anonymous eric said...

It sounds like that movie in Wisconsin is ripped off from a 15-year-old movie called "The Last Supper". I remember seeing it when I was 20 and thinking it was incredibly clever... if you are young enough and fuzzy headed enough, the movie sort of lulls you into a "Hell yeah, stick it to the man!" attitude as they begin killing these horrible authoritarian conservative stereotypes, but by the end you feel like a miserable human being for thinking that way. The Rush Limbaugh character ends up being the voice of reason and harbringer of justice, and you end up feeling icky about yourself. At the time it really had an effect on my views. Haven't seen it in years though, now it may just seem stupid and contrived. But if the play is like the movie, it's actually more of an indictment of liberal intellectual elitism than an attack on conservatism (though it is partially that).

2:30 PM, January 28, 2011  

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