Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Did You HONESTLY Think There Wouldn't Be a Red Sox Post???

OK, of COURSE I have to write about the Sox in the series. Now this doesn't mean you have to join me (although those of you in Colorado can just keep comments to yourself). But if you do, there's a how to manual on line now.

My favorite bit?

17. Finally, bitch about everything: critics, certain players who personally disappoint you, etc. They call it New England for a reason. People in England love to fucking complain. You are the newer, even more annoying model.
More instructions on the site. I love the Sox. I love the fact that with Jonathon Papelbon, Nuke LaLoosh lives for real. The guy is flakier than a pie baking contest.

But that doesn't change one little fact, that will get waaaaaaaay under any Red Sox Nation citizen's skin:

They're not the fucking underdogs anymore, idiot.

Seriously. My fellow fans have a lot invested in the David and Goliath story. And maybe a long time ago it was true. But it has been a long time since Boston was David and the New York (May They Rot In Hell) Yankees were Goliath.
No. These days the more apt description is King Kong versus Godzilla. Sure, we may not have the Steinbrenner radioactive breath, but the Sox are one big, mean, biplane swatting ape. So my money is on the Sox. Because, love them or not, they're the second most expensive team in baseball (how many teams down from number three could you pay for out of Boston and New York's combined salaries anyway).

And I'll root for them. But I'm not going to sit around talking about how hard it is for the boys to win this one. Having made it through the ALCS, they're already well ahead of the Rockies, who are also in one of those baseball paradoxes, in trouble BECAUSE of all the time off they've had (think pitchers, arms stiffening during a long at bat, actually getting TOO rested in the dugout...it's like that).

So in the end, I and the little Red Sox fan to be born later (daughter or no, it's even odds her first words will be "Yankees Suck") want to say this to the world:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm A COMPLETE Econ Geek

In case you were wondering.

Over at the American Prospect I find this article about what the Nobel Prize winners for Economics have to say to people thinking about dealing with global warming. The quote that caused this post:

A key insight of mechanism design theory is that real-world economic transactions differ from an abstract "market" where a price falls from heaven and trade happens. When engaging in trade in the real world, economic actors (buyers and sellers), must abide by certain rules and/or norms (e.g. Is it ok to negotiate? Can you make more than one counter offer?). Mechanism design shows that the economic outcomes, including market efficiency, can be dependent upon those rules.
Thus all "free-markets" are not equal. In fact a marketplace does not exist independently from its rules and norms -- they one and the same. Saying that "the market works" to allocate resources depends on the specific market design and conditions. Thus (and contrary to much conservative rhetoric) economic theory -- of which mechanism design is a part -- does not say that markets always achieve an efficient outcome. Mechanism design can help us better understand when markets do perform well. And when markets no not reach an efficient outcome, mechanism design theory can suggest mechanisms that might work better.

So basically, the Nobel for Economics went to a bunch of guys who actually admit that markets don't always come up with the best possible answer and then explain WHY.

One of their key public policy insights:

The fact that people have an incentive to not reveal their true preferences has obvious important consequences for public policy. If people are asked if they want a new highway built, they might rightly worry that they will be asked to pick up some of the expense, and so might not fully reveal their true preference, opting instead to try to game the system as a free-rider. Economic research building from the Nobel winners’ work analyzed ways to get around this -- to provide a mechanism by which people would volunteer their true valuation of the highway, and thus better evaluate the merits of a project that would benefit an entire community. (The key of this particular mechanism is to link an individual’s valuation response to the decision to build or not, but to de-link the exact mount they would pay).

So how does this impact a global warming discussion? Again from the article:

This brings us to global warming and cap-and-trade policy. If we -- and by "we" I mean the entire planet -- ever take global warming seriously, we will have to adopt some mechanism for reducing carbon emissions. A real program will require nations to implement some form of regulation and/or market mechanism to reduce carbon. But what kind of mechanism? How do we design a program that reduces carbon across nations? Some nations will be harmed significantly by global warming, while others will be better able to adapt, but in a negotiation, countries will have incentives to hide their true valuations, just like in the used car example above. Can we design a mechanism that is more likely to get nations to commit to reducing global greenhouse gases?

This fits in with my own experience. When I lived in famously libertarian New Hampshire (Official Motto: Live Free Or Die; Unofficial Motto: Fuck Off And Leave Me Alone) everyone religiously recycled everything recyclable. Why? Had they taken leave of their (conservative) senses and embraced nanny state regulation??

Of course not. You paid $1 per 35 pounds of trash that went into the landfill. And for stuff you recycled? Nothing. Even that nominal fee, a buck, probably nowhere near the true societal "cost" of 35 pounds of banana peel laying around rotting, was enough to very powerfully motivate independent Granite Staters to recycle like a Berkeley liberal.

In Case Of Emergency...

For those of you wondering what might happen if the Deciderator decides to attack Iran, here's an insight into the military many of you might not have.

I want to emphasize that this is from a MILITARY journal, by two guys from the ARMY WAR COLLEGE, outlining reasons why senior officers acquiesce to bad though not unlawful orders and covering some options that these senior officers may not have thought of to short circuit yet another "strategeric" bungle by a guy who, experience shows, has no end of.

Since Skippy McDumbass is showing every sign, over and over, of having already decided to attack Iran and he's just trying (unsuccesfully) to pull the same snow job he did about Iraq, this little article is FAR from moot.

At Long Last, Have You No Decency?

As I was wandering afield I ran across this:

The Bush administration again has appointed a chief of family
planning programs at the
Department of Health and Human
who has been critical of contraception.

Words fail me. Utterly. I had had a low opinion of the Deciderator before, but I figured outside of ordering an airstrike on Iran, the amount of additional damage he could do to the executive branch's various departments was kinda limited (mainly owing to having done all the damage possible already).

And then I run across that crap. Seriously. Our theocratic incompetent Preznit has decided to put someone opposed to CONTRACEPTION in charge of HHS's Family Planning programs. Not someone critical of free contraceptive handouts. Not someone critical of providing minors with contraceptives without parental consent. No. Someone who:

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, [appointee] Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad
range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.
So what, exactly, is the Office of Family Planning going to do under this winger? Recommend paint colors to expectant parents? Offer advice on how to work that eighth baby into a busy work schedule?

There is no limit to the damage these guys can do...it's going to take the next (Democratic) president 4 to 8 years just to UNDO these guys Bad Decision Making Theater, let alone do anything meaningful. Why ANY of them want the job at this point is BEYOND me.

Jesus Fucking Christ.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Courage of Their Convictions

As I was watching the latest atrocity from the Deciderator, it occurred to me that there was SOMEthing larger going on. Something that I can write about without constantly lapsing into profanity. I might also note, as an aside, that watching that most recent press gaggle where Dana Perino was all but told no one in the room believed a word she was saying reminded me what a real press corps looks like. We'll probably get a robust, inquisitive, aggressive press on January 21, 2009, but not earlier.

Part of that could be because the Bush administration's blatant attempts to keep all the reins of power in this country begin more and more to look like the ruling military government in Myanmar's attempt to suppress dissent. Hell, the man even has his own private group of brownshirts ready to go in the wings. So I can certainly see why the press might feel they have to keep their pieholes shut until the Democrats are in the White House. Still, somewhat encouraging to see they are slowly regaining the courage of their convictions.

Which leads me to today's topic: why is it that so many of us lack the courage of our convictions? Bush says that Democracy is "terror's antidote" at least as long as we don't, you know, practice it here. Democracy is this terribly wonderful form of government that everyone aspires to and whose advance is mandated by the Almighty. And how do we HAVE to protect this vast, unstoppable JUGGERNAUT of a movement? Why, by abandoning all its precepts simply because a few people with a serious weed up their ass about us are hiding out in the Pakistani hinterlands.

Yes, Democracy is so precious that we have no choice but to abandon it faster than a porn starlet getting out of her clothes in order to protect it. Jesus H Christ. Do people even LISTEN to themselves? I mean, how can you get from here to there, conceptually, without your head actually bulging from the cognitive dissonance? Republicans have always sorta had a majority share in this idiocy, possibly one of the reasons I never really respected self-identified Republicans that much.

Don't get me wrong, liberals and progressives have their convictionless moments as well, and I sure you can think of a few, but you know what? I'm not gonna list them here and create some sort of "pox on both their houses" false equivalency when Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular, clearly display the lion's share of this behavior, and certainly the two most important and significant examples of it.

Tossing out everything but the "pretty packaging" of Democracy because they're all scared is the first. Damn near bankrupting the country in the name of security from Communism is the other.

Let's get down to brass tacks. Either capitalism is the best way of maximizing growth and opportunity and thus will outpace any competing economic systems, OR communism was so powerful that we needed HUGE arsenals of very expensive nuclear weapons delivery and defense systems because they were going to bury us. You can NOT have it both ways.

The same folks talking up capitalism's advantages seemed AWFULLY concerned about communism. Could it be that deep down, they knew they were screwing over the proletariat and if the rubes ever figured out their place in the system (the marks) there'd be hell to pay? I know there are some of you out there nodding. I would gently suggest not.

What they were, and are, is frightened. Pitifully, pants-wettingly, paralytically FRIGHTENED. It's not that they don't have these convictions, it's that they don't have courage. They are fundamentally convinced that some daddy-figure must bail them out. It's why conservatives are fanatically convinced Reagan won the Cold War. To believe otherwise, to believe that Reagan simply had the great good fortune to be President at about the time Levi's Blue Jeans were mopping up the last dregs of communism would have meant that NO ONE WAS PROTECTING THEM. Oh, the horror.

They even elect cowards, and call them resolute. Here's a little hint guys...Bush is a coward. His behavior on 9/11 should have shown you that. Or maybe you should have noticed that he has all the hallmarks of the bully/coward: obsessed with loyalty, peeved when questioned, punitive when crossed, derisive of subordinates, and unwilling to admit mistakes (because to admit them would break the ENTIRE facade of power). No matter how you slice it, we will stay in Iraq until he's gone for one simple reason: he's scared of being seen as a loser. For pities sake, how many president's have never spoken to a SINGLE hostile audience? He's a coward, and we're all stuck in his pathology, a pathology he shares with most Conservatives.

I guess in the end, they think, "Better to give freedom up than admit that I was ALWAYS in danger."

They next time you hear someone say, "I don't have anything to hide so why should I worry," just substitute, "I'm a small minded, petty coward," in your head. The key is not to let them have power. The only bumper sticker I've been tempted to put on a car read, "Frightened People Do Stupid Things."


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Something Stephen Fry and I Have in Common

We started blogging in September 2007. Really.

At some point in the near future I will comment on the Deciderator's decision that we don't torture. We torture, but if we do it by definition it's not torture.

An aborted post or two has convinced me that I'm not ready to write coherently about it. Look over all the previous posts. Eliminate all the words that aren't "fuck". String the remaining words together. That's what a post on this would look like at the moment. Even I have an anger circuit breaker and it's tripped.

So go looking where I looked.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rush Limbaugh, Hypocrisy and...Oh, who the fuck cares? The man's a MORON.

So, if you were exceptionally careful the last few days you might have noticed Rush Limbaugh calling any soldier who disagrees with the Deciderator a "phony soldier". Transcript, unedited, unredacted and unaltered of the pertinent section:
RUSH: It's not possible intellectually to follow these people.
CALLER: No, it's not. And what's really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.
RUSH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER: Phony soldiers. If you talk to any real soldier and they're proud to serve, they want to be over in Iraq, they understand their sacrifice and they're willing to sacrifice for the country.

And I thought about blogging about it. About how pointing out this fat fuck and his polynoidal cyst have, oh, I dunno, FOUR FUCKING YEARS less service on active duty than I do. About how every time one of these right wing blowhards gets up and claims that all "real Americans" stand with them, and then try to claim that they aren't saying someone like me, who clearly DOESN'T stand with them, isn't a real American they advance the date I will even CONSIDER voting for a Repub off another damn decade. About the rank hypocrisy of the right's politicians calling MoveOn.org's ad "disgusting" and the chorus of cricket chirps about this one.

And I though to myself, Fuck It. I just do not have the time, the mental energy, or the patience to blog coherently about this particular case. The speed with which a post would devolve into nonsense as I banged my head on the keyboard repeatedly would be remarkable.

This incident simply reinforces my thinking that compromise is impossible. I seriously can claim that if Rush Limbaugh were bleeding to death by the side of the road...no one to call 911 but me, no one to see what happened...I would SIT AND WATCH HIM BLEED TO DEATH. I'd tell him exactly why his life was pumping away while I watched. If he begged, I'd laugh.

But then, I'm bloodier minded than most of you. As the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Pedant has said on a number of occasions, the creepiest thing she knows about me is this: I spent my time on active duty in a line artillery battery with nuclear capability and made a conscious decision that I could start a nuclear war if in circumstances where the order was lawful and appropriate*. The fact that I decided, cold-bloodedly, that I could destroy the world under the proper conditions bothers her. I can't understand why.

What it means, along with my tendency to hold grudges slightly less long than the half life of lead, is that I really could just watch Rush die, and never think of more of it than if I were cutting my fingernails. Something about that man, and Ann Coulter, simply rubs me so much the wrong way that I would gladly sell tickets and eat popcorn at a gladiatorial match between them (my money's on the fat fuck over the stick figure whore by the way). In fact, much like a Yankees/Mets World Series, I'd be rooting for injuries, preferably fatal ones.

I'm not looking for praise or horror. I simply say this to illustrate how gobsmackingly TIRED I am of the constant verbal and written diarrhea promulgated by this guy. At some points words simply fail me, I realize how unutterably different a world view I have from right-wing true believers and I simply cannot tolerate an open-minded attitude to my fellow Americans on the right. I'm tired of even trying to understand them and I wish they would all just GO AWAY. I'm done with them.

*For strategic, foreign policy and military theory reasons too numerous to go into, by FAR the likeliest route to Nuclear Holocaust during the Cold War was the deployment of tactical nuclear warheads, by some unit just like the one I was assigned to. My wartime position in the Fulda Gap just about ENSURED that, had a nuclear war broken out in the years 1989 to 1991, I had a, say, 1 in 50 chance of being the "guy who started it."

Bipartisanship Explained

By Tom Tomorrow.