Monday, 09 November 2009

Economic Myths and Irrelevancy

Walter E. Williams:

There is no more reliable rule than the 95 percent rule: 95 percent of what you read about economics and finance is either wrong or irrelevant.

[…]

[T]he most repeated statement about the cause of the U.S. Great Depression is that it was caused by the October 1929 stock market crash. How could that be? By April 1930, the stock market had recovered to its pre-crash level. What is not taught in history books is the Great Depression was caused by a massive government failure. The most important part of that failure were the actions by the Federal Reserve Bank that led to the contraction of the money supply by 25 percent. Then, in the name of saving jobs, Congress enacted the Smoot-Hawley Act in June 1930, which increased U.S. tariffs by more than 50 percent. Other nations retaliated and world trade collapsed. U.S. unemployment rose from 8 percent in 1930 to 25 percent in 1933. In 1932, the Herbert Hoover administration and a Democratic Congress imposed the largest tax increase in U.S. history, raising the top tax rate on income from 25 percent to 63 percent. The Roosevelt administration followed these destructive policies with New Deal legislation that massively regulated the economy and extended the Great Depression to after World War II.

Have today’s politicians and their economic advisers learned anything from yesteryear’s policy that turned what would have been a short, sharp downturn in the economy into a 16-year affair? The answer is very little.

posted by retrophisch at 6:55 PM -->in economics , finances , history , learning , politics , quote
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Monday, 12 October 2009

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran

Jamie Glazov interviews Robert Spencer for FrontPage Magazine, on Spencer’s new book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Amazon link).

Money quotes:

Spencer: Political correctness would have us believe that the Koran is a book of peace, and that anyone who says otherwise is “bigoted,” “hateful,” and “Islamophobic.” But is it, really? What the Koran really says can easily be verified. If the Koran really curses Jews and Christians (9:30) and calls for warfare against them in order to bring about their subjugation (9:29), it is not “Islamophobic” to forewarn Infidels by pointing this out. It is simply a fact. And it should go without saying that it is not a fact that should move any reader of my book to hate anyone. The fact that the Koran counsels warfare against unbelievers should move readers to act in defense of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the legal equality of all people, before it is too late.

[…]

But most government and media analysts dare not even question the assumption that the Koran is peaceful, for they believe that any insinuation to the contrary is racist, bigoted, and effectively brands all Muslims as terrorists. In other words, they think the implications of the possibility that the Koran teaches warfare against unbelievers are too terrible to even contemplate. Thus, many policymakers simply assume the Koran teaches peace without bothering to study the text. They do this to their own peril — and ours.

posted by retrophisch at 8:41 PM -->in Islam , learning , national security , read
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

“A republic, if you can keep it.”


“Many Americans would be surprised to learn that the word ‘democracy’ does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, or the U.S. Constitution. Nor does it appear in any of the constitutions of the fifty states. The Founders did everything they could to keep us from having a democracy.”

Democracy = mob rules. Republic = rule of law. Keep this in mind when American politicians—of any stripe—talk about the “will of the people”.

This is worth ten minutes of your time if you’ve forgotten—or never got—this lesson in civics class.

posted by retrophisch at 8:56 PM -->in learning , liberty , politics , video
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Wednesday, 06 February 2008

Eight things you probably didn’t know about me

Raena tagged me. Normally, I’d politely ignore it, but I must give her props for the way she linked to me.

The rules:

  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
  2. List EIGHT random facts about yourself.
  3. Tag EIGHT people at the end of your post and list their names.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

So, here are eight things you probably didn’t know about me. Well, maybe some of you know some of them, but not everyone knows all of them. Well, maybe my wife. Perhaps my parents. Whatever…

  1. I have never tried Vietnamese food, nor do I plan to. Seriously, it’s like pulling teeth to get me to try non-rice-based Chinese or Thai dishes, so I’m not really interested in trying pho-anything. Noodles should be a form of pasta, covered with marinara or alfredo sauce.

  2. I utterly detest the song “You Light Up My Life”. Made popular by Debby Boone in the late 1970s, this was one of the songs we were forced to sing as a collective choir in fifth-grade as a tribute to our parents during the incredibly lame fifth-grade “graduation” ceremony we were equally forced to participate in. While I sincerely am thankful to my parents for all they have ever done for me, the repeated practices of this song burned it so deeply in to my brain, that even now, as I type this, I can hear Ms. Boone’s voice coming over the jambox we used to listen to the words and music, and I cringe in abject horror.

  3. I managed to get a position I held eliminated. No, I was not fired, thank you very much. Half of the workload was redundant, given the responsibilities of others on the staff, and the other half could easily be folded in to the responsibilities of others on the staff. I eventually took this information to my boss, and, more importantly, his boss, and the decision was ultimately made to phase the position out. I made such an impression with the head honcho that he actually tried to create a totally new position for me elsewhere in the small management company, but I chose to leave instead, to pursue other endeavors I was passionate about. I like to think that this shows I can think outside the box, and think about the good of the company, if need be, rather than just myself. (Viz: “team player”.)

  4. I have been a pallbearer in a military funeral. My sophomore year in college, one of my best friends was killed by a drunk driver. We were in Air Force ROTC together, and Brett’s fondest dream had been to be a navigator for the United States Air Force. It probably wasn’t as pretty, or as crisp, as a military funeral one would get if they were actively serving, but Brett got full honors, it was the best we could do, and it was from the heart.

  5. I have been a jury foreman. The only time I was ever picked for jury duty was five years ago. It was a misdemeanor trial, and there were only six jurors. No one else wanted it, so I volunteered. Didn’t mean much, other than I was the one who interfaced with the baliff, and then read the verdict. The trial turned out to be a he said-he said situation, rife with reasonable doubt, and we acquitted the accused. (Aside: the judge on the case sent each of the jurors a hand-written thank-you note.)

  6. I have met Michael Jordan and Oliver North. Jordan participated in a basketball clinic at the convention center I worked at (see item #3), and I was part of the staff assigned to show him around behind the scenes. No, I did not get his autograph, or a photo with him. The man had been at a charity golf tournament earlier in the day, and was clearly tired from that and the other events he’d participated in while in town. But he lit up when he saw the kids. Colonel North was doing a book signing at an area book store, and I got my copy autographed.

  7. I have never been drunk. I’m not kidding. Not lying. Never been drunk. Don’t plan to be, either.

  8. I don’t really listen to the radio any more, nor do I watch television news. (Yes, I’m kind of stealing this one from Raena.) Between the music I rip from CDs and download from Amazon or the iTunes Store, and podcasts, I have no reason to listen to the radio, other than traffic updates. I get my news online.

I shall be merciful, and break rules #3 and 4, by not tagging anyone and passing the meme along. Of course, you may feel free to share in the comments, or on your own blog, if you’d like me/us to know eight things about you that we probably don’t know…

posted by retrophisch at 1:52 PM -->in fun , learning , that's life
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Saturday, 02 February 2008

Third skating lesson

Two weeks later, some more skating fun!

The little phisch got better moving around the house without help, but seemed to regress when it came to getting up when he fell.

IMG_7044.JPG
Click the photo to see the entire set.


posted by retrophisch at 5:52 PM -->in fun , hockey , learning , parenting , photography
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First skating lesson

Whenever he’s been asked what sports he wants to play, our son has been consistent: “Baseball and hockey!” The first skill required in hockey is the ability to ice skate, so with that in mind, we enrolled him in ice skating lessons earlier in the year. Of course, Dad had to take photos of the first lesson!

IMG_6988.JPG
Click on the photo to see the entire set.


posted by retrophisch at 4:13 PM -->in fun , hockey , learning , parenting , photography
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007

The Gods Aren’t Angry

Thanks to our friends Brent and Tracy, I was able to go with Brent this past Friday to see Rob Bell on his The Gods Aren’t Angry Tour. I’d never heard Bell, and while I have one of his books, I confess I’ve yet to crack the cover, so I was looking forward to hearing what Mr. Bell might have to say.

I was not disappointed. Brent has a thorough review, and I’m pretty much a “ditto” with what he says, so be sure to check it out.

I will add a few comments and observations to those made by Brent. I noted how, when Bell was talking about how God changed the entire dynamic of the relationship with humans starting with Abraham, Rob noted how God, “used those other gods, worshipped by the rest of human civilization, as props in His narrative to humanity.” I’m not sure why that line jumped out at me, but it made enough of an impression to get copied into my Moleskine. Maybe it was just a reminder of how big God truly is, that He exists outside time and space as we understand them, and doesn’t display the very humanistic characteristics we see in the gods of the ancient civilizations.

What’s also fascinating is how so much of what transpired, from a spiritual/faith standpoint, in the ancient world still pervades our so-called modern society. Looking at the religions of the world, all of them are still engaged in some sort of “doing” relationship. You have to do this to please Allah, you have to pray at a certain time, facing a certain way, saying certain words. If you sin, you must confess to the priest, and do penance as he directs. If you offend your neighbor, this is the ritual the rabbi can help you with to make things right. It’s all about doing, which is just how the ancients engaged with Apollo, Jupiter, or whoever.

Christianity is unique in that God Himself provided the means of salvation, saying “Done!” The only thing required of you is to say yes to Him. That’s it. Everything that follows is from your relationship with Him, not because there’s anything you have to do, rather there are things that, as a result of the relationship, you want to do. Which was part of what Bell was getting at, too: the God of Abraham is unique in that He reaches out to humanity for a one-on-one relationship with each man, woman, and child. This idea floored the ancients. It would’ve been as radical a concept as showing a modern automobile to the Founding Fathers.

Bell’s still on tour until December 2d, so if you’re in and around Raleigh, DC, Pittsburgh, NYC, Philly, Beantown, Louisville, Indy, or Rob’s home town of Grand Rapids, I highly encourage you to take it in. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

posted by retrophisch at 9:21 PM -->in God , fun , learning
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Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Civics Quiz

How well do you know your history and civics? Find out with this Civics Quiz, courtesy of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Leave your results in the comments.

For the record, I missed two of the sixty questions. (Yes, sixty. Get over it. They’re multiple-choice.) First was number 19; it’s been a long while since I’ve read The Republic. Second was number 36; honestly, this was the first I’d heard of just-war theory. How did you do?

[With thanks to Michael for the quiz link.]

posted by retrophisch at 11:21 PM -->in learning , liberty
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Thursday, 25 January 2007

Only in America

As Chris said when he pinged me via IM, “Someone’s going to get a PhD out of this.”

posted by retrophisch at 10:18 PM -->in fun , learning
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Friday, 19 January 2007

My sister’s responsible for a big ball of learning?

The McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama, is getting a cool new invention, courtesy of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. My little sister wrote the grant application that landed McWane the exhibit. Way to go, sis!

posted by retrophisch at 10:38 AM -->in learning
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Monday, 28 August 2006

What Your Freshmen Don’t Know

Every year, an updated list of things incoming college freshmen, or graduating high school seniors, know and don’t know circulate the Internet. Hugh points to the latest from Beloit College.

I won’t rehash the list here, but thought I would share some of my favorite points:

  • There has always been only one Germany.
    Whenever I think about this historic event, I am always reminded of Dennis Miller’s (and there’s a personality a lot of these kids may be wholly unaware of) commentary on SNL’s “Weekend Update”, when he said, and I’m paraphrasing, except for the last line: “Today, East and West Germany announced their plans for unification. France has already announced its formal surrender.”
  • A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents’.
    Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s much less so for them than their parents.
  • They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
    This has been true for a long while now, for many incoming/outgoing classes.
  • Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
    Do they even know who Milli Vanilli were?
  • Reality shows have always been on television.
    Unfortunately. Oh so unfortunately…
  • Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
    I don’t believe this is something that is new to this particular class.
  • Most of them have never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
    Since when is there good airline food?
  • Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
    And that is a crying shame. It was something of a rite of passage in my childhood to stay up so late that you were still watching when the anthem came on. Though these days, it’s mostly because there is no end to the broadcast day.
  • They have always “dissed” what they don’t like.
    Do kids this age still use that word?
posted by retrophisch at 5:48 PM -->in fun , learning
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Monday, 21 August 2006

Miscellany

  • Thanks to the folks at Xerox, with help from Layer 8 Group, you can send a postcard, with original artwork by a child, to a member of the armed forces serving abroad: Let’s Say Thanks. I sent one, how about you?

    [Via Susan via e-mail.]

  • About.com has some good advice in its Back to School section concerning backpack selection for students. The first tip they offer, to get a bag with two straps instead of just one, to help balance the load across the body better, is why I’m a dedicated backpack guy.

  • My new addiction is Armagetron Advanced, an open source 3D game of the lightcycle contest from Tron.

posted by retrophisch at 5:36 PM -->in armed forces , fun , helping , learning , parenting , tech
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Saturday, 22 July 2006

Miscellany

This whole “Numa Numa” thing is out of control.

* * *

Tim Zimmerman:

What swims at 20 miles per hour, can carve out hunks of human flesh, and will attack anything that moves? The Humboldt squid. Brace yourself for a dive with the eeriest beast in the ocean.

A fascinating read.

* * *

Jeff has an outstanding parable of the recent Hezbollah attacks on Israel.

posted by retrophisch at 5:39 PM -->in fun , learning , national security
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Israel Update

If you’d like a first-person account of the Hezbollah attacks on Israel, and the Israeli response, head over to David Dolan’s site and subscribe to his e-mail list.

David is a Christian pastor and author who has been resident in Israel for many years. Last year, David spoke at our church, and even for someone like me, who has followed the Mideast conflict, and the region’s history, for many years, it was eye-opening.

posted by retrophisch at 5:24 PM -->in learning , national security , read , web/site
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Thursday, 20 July 2006

Miscellany

If only I had room in any of my bathrooms for one of these.

* * *

Just when you think there might be some hope in this world that the tide of sexual immorality would take a turn for the better, something like the Shame On You Kit pops up. How about never putting yourself in the situation to have to have a “Shame On You Kit”?

* * *

As a satisfied customer, I highly recommend KnowledgeNews, which today had a bit on the differences between viruses and bacteria. I loved this analogy:

Imagine it this way. If just one of the 10 to 100 trillion cells in your body were the size of a baseball park, the average bacterium would be the size of the pitcher’s mound. The average virus would be the size of the baseball.

posted by retrophisch at 7:34 PM -->in learning , rant , tech
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