Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

December 1st, 2007 No comments

Clinton-Era Security Lapses George Neumayrof The American Spectator has a nice wrap-up of the numerous security breaches of the Clintonites, exemplified best and most recently by former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s theft of secret documents:
(Click here to read more.)

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November 29th, 2007 No comments

Race-Realists and Group Identification. John Derbyshire has interesting things to say on the sociology of willingness to think about racial differences:

If you hang out with race-realist types a lot — and yes, I do, and count myself one — a thing you notice is that a high proportion of them, of us, are antisocial loners. Trust me, it’s not just because of their opinions that race realists don’t win any popularity prizes. …

Like every other feature of human nature, the groupish emotions are unevenly distributed. Some individuals are richly endowed with them. They are plunged into despair when their baseball team loses; they bristle to hear their religion criticized; they are furious at insults to their nation; if of eccentric sexual preference, they may swear brotherhood with those similarly disposed; and yes, they are mad as hell to hear their race described as failed, even though they understand at some level that it’s an abstract statistical description that does not reflect on them personally, any more than their baseball team’s losing the World Series does.

Your antisocial loner isn’t like that. He probably has no strong opinion about the relative merits of Yankees and Mets. If he goes to church, it’s for personal and metaphysical reasons, not social ones. He’s a poor employee and a feeble team-sports participant. He may like his country, and be willing to fight for it, but exuberant expressions of patriotism embarrass him. He’s more likely than the average to marry someone of a different race. (Am I describing anyone in particular here? No! Absolutely not!) Tell him he belongs to a failed race and he’ll probably say: “Yes, I guess so. It’s sad. But hey, I’m doing okay…”…

If you are not that type — and most people, even most Americans, are not — it’s much more difficult for you to discuss human-group differences. Too much groupish emotion gets in the way. …

… people strongly susceptible to group identification do better in the world — are more successful. It’s a social world, success-wise, and they’re social people. What is social success, but identifying with groups and securing high status within them? Having a set of good robust groupish emotions will do that for ya. Thus, race realists don’t get much of a hearing; and when they pipe up, their views sound strange and eccentric. They heat up the groupish emotions of the majority — of most normal human beings — and shouting breaks out.

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November 21st, 2007 No comments

Thanksgiving. This webpage is for things useful in celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. For printing out to read at the table, see first-thanksgiving.pdf , more-proclamations.pdf, 2006.proclamation.pdf, and We- gather-together.pdf song lyrics. See also the page on original Thanksgiving foods via James Lindgren. This is a copy of my 2006 webposting for Thanksgiving.

When a person is thankful, he is of course has to thanking someone—“to thank” is a transitive verb, requiring an object. Thanksgiving is a time to thank God, as the government proclamations traditionally say. These proclamations make nonsense of the claim that the American Constitution forbids a place for Christianity in public affairs, though it is noteworthy that Thomas Jefferson, unlike his two predecessors, refrained from issuing any Thanksgiving Proclamations. The 2006 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation is here. (Click here to read more.)

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November 21st, 2007 No comments

London Markets.
I ran across a couple of websites that say interesting things about markets in London. (Click here to read more.)

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November 20th, 2007 No comments

Subprime Mortgages. “The Rise and Fall of Subprime Mortgages”
by Danielle DiMartino and John Duca is a good Dallas Fed discussion of the subprime mortgage crash. They explain it as the result of overly bold financial innovation. People didn’t realize how liable to default subprime mortgages were, which meant that the innovation used to securitize them was unreliable. What as done was to divide a package of mortgages into tranches, bundles with different amounts of the risk allocated to them, where the packaging was supposed to put almost all the default risk into the lowest tranches so the upper ones could be AA quality. The problem is that if the amount of default is higher than the entire value of the lower tranches, default creeps into the upper ones.

They also have a good explanation for overconfidence:

Subprime loan problems had surfaced just before and at the start of the 2001 recession but then rapidly retreated from 2002 to 2005 as the economy recovered (Chart 3). This pre-2006 pattern suggested that as long as unemployment remained low, so, too, would default and delinquency rates.

This interpretation ignored two other factors that had helped alleviate subprime loan problems earlier in the decade. First, this was a period of rapidly escalating home prices. Subprime borrowers who encountered financial problems could either borrow against their equity to make house payments or sell their homes to settle their debts. Second, interest rates declined significantly in the early 2000s. This helped lower the base rate to which adjustable mortgage rates were indexed, thereby limiting the increase when initial, teaser rates ended.

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November 19th, 2007 No comments

Converging Cables. (click to enlarge)

On Kingston Road, or perhaps Heyfield.

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November 17th, 2007 No comments

Perceived or True Value? A fundamental problem that bothers me no end is whether a person is made worse off by discovering an unpleasant truth. I own what I think is a painting by Vermeer. If you tell me that it is not, am I worse off, or better off? (Click here to read more.)

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November 16th, 2007 No comments

Ocean Grove: A Methodist Town. Ocean Grove, New Jersey, was founded as a town run by Methodist church rules. The WSJ reports on how it went into decline and had its governmental powers transferred to the Township as being too religious a place. This is a good example of how a minority could formerly set up a jurisdiction with is own rules but how modern liberal government is intolerant of traditional morality and forbids anyone to try to enforce it. The WSJ article is about a current dispute over a homosexual union being celebrated on church property

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November 15th, 2007 No comments

Tynant water. This bottle of bottled water is beautiful. The photo doesn’t do it justice, alas, so the best it can do is jog my own memory. In this rich world, we are surrounded with beautiful things, too many to appreciate. But that is true of the poor world too, isn’t it, with all of God’s creation out there? Who takes the time to appreciate a leaf?

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November 13th, 2007 No comments

The Argos Catalog Store. Argos has an interesting sort of retailing outlet. You go in and look at a big catalog, or shop on the web first. Then you can give the number of your items at a counter and pay, or do that on a terminal (or do that part at home too). You wait. Eventually, your number is called and you go to a different counter and pick up your goods. You can reject them and get your money back if you don't like them upon seeing them.

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November 11th, 2007 No comments

The Value of Voting. It really is not a mystery why people vote, after all. Given the importance of who wins, even a tiny probability of being decisive is enough, if the voter is altruistic. (Click here to read more.)

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November 11th, 2007 No comments

Sin. Pastor Roberts at St. Ebbes spoke on Romans, and how hard it was to keep the Ten Commandments. Bosh. It’s easy. The idea of sin should be based on the greatness of God, not on my baseness.(Click here to read more.)

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November 10th, 2007 No comments

Flowers in a Wall.(click to enlarge)

From Hay-on-Wye, near the church.

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November 9th, 2007 No comments

The Jaded Scholar. I was talking with RR today about the problem of how one’s research is less exciting 20 years after the PhD than during graduate school, even though one is so much better at it. (Click here to read more.)

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November 8th, 2007 No comments

Sources for My 2001 Weblog Controversy. PK was asking about my 2001 weblog controversy. Here is a compilation of old posts and a separate one.

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November 7th, 2007 1 comment

Some Fallacies of Belief.

1. Believe X because it would be nice if X were true.

2. Believe X because evidence for the alternative, Y, is not overwhelmingly strong (even though it is stronger than for X).

3. Believe X because smart people believe X, even though I know they haven’t thought about it.

4. Believe X because most people believe X, even though I have no respect for their judgement.

These are all surprisingly tempting.

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November 6th, 2007 No comments

A Good Graphic. (click to enlarge)

When I was in Taiwan in August, here is how I could gauge how bad the weather might be in Taipei. Notice how much information is conveyed– not just the expected value of the path, but a confidence interval, and, using color, the intensity of the typhoon.

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November 5th, 2007 No comments

It’s Better to Be Recessive than Dominant. Let’s suppose you;re a mutation. Congratulations! Whether by cosmic rays, quantum mechanics, or divine intervention, you’ve come into existence, the hardest part. Now, how about survival? Which would you rather be: neutral junk, recessive beneficial, or dominant beneficial? (We can assume you don’t want to to be a fitness-detrcating gene.) (Click here to read more.)

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November 2nd, 2007 No comments

Pain for Ten Years I Bore.(click to enlarge)

From Dore Abbey in Herefordshire.

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November 1st, 2007 No comments

Image Captions in HTML. “Image captions on Web pages” is good. It said “Sadly enough, there is no markup for image captions in HTML. What comes closest to semantically associating some text content with some image is putting them into a table so that the image is in one cell and the text is either in another cell or in a caption element.” Here’s an example (try VIEW SOURCE for the code):

Tintern Abbey
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October 31st, 2007 No comments

Kingsley and Darwin. From Wikipedia, I learn that Charles Kingsley, a well-known Victorian evangelical pastor, was an enthusiast for Darwin’s theory of evolution— at at least in Darwin’s first book. The Origin of Species. (Click here to read more.)

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October 30th, 2007 No comments

Hard Hat Area. (click to enlarge)

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October 24th, 2007 No comments

Longevity. Ian Ayres, author of Supercrunchers (which sounds good though I’ve only read the first chapter as yet) told me of Northwestern Mutual’s "The Longevity Game" website, which lets you estimate how long you will live. If I remember rightly, I came out to live to 87.

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October 23rd, 2007 No comments

Jimmy Carter. David Frum lists a couple of sleazy things about Jimmy Carter. I ought to link to a cite that collects items about the old pharisee, but this will do for now. (Click here to read more.)

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October 22nd, 2007 No comments

Colorful Blurs From Christchurch’s hall.

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October 21st, 2007 No comments

Playing at Christianity. The Baylyblog has this excellent quote from Kierkegaard. I really should read more of him.

We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander’s voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon—everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing…the danger.

So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible—only one thing is lacking…the danger. (Kierkegaard, Attack upon Christendom)

This should link to my post on Alistair McGrath. A theologian should put himself on the line, rather than just describing what other people believe.

An economist, too?

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October 20th, 2007 No comments

Written Pornograph: A Recent Case. Via Baylyblog, the New York Times, we learn that the Clinton Administration quit doing obscenity prosecutions. Bush has resumed, but only now has brought one for anything other than images. What the liberals courts will do with it is uncertain. (Click here to read more.)

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October 19th, 2007 No comments

Writing Numerical Examples. I was just reading Frank Buckley’s Just Exchange (what a nice title!) and he gave a numerical example using $105 and $100. That is how I would do it too. But my eye started skipping past the numbers. I wonder if it would be better to use words, and to adjust the numbers. Should he have used fifteen dollars and fourteen dolalrs instead? I’m not sure.

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Civil Suits for Shoplifting

October 1st, 2007 1 comment

This sign at Sainsbury’s grocery store says (you might have to enlarge it to get a clear view) that they not only criminally prosecute shoplifters, but use a more fearsome tactic: the civil suit. They’ll go after the thief for their losses *and* their expenses in dealing with him.

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Lizzie’s Plus Table

September 27th, 2007 No comments

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Who Most Wants To Be Elected Policeman?

September 26th, 2007 No comments

Jerusalem Post via National Review


Two weeks after Israel’s alleged bombing raid in Syria, which some foreign reports said targeted North Korean nuclear material, the UN’s nuclear watchdog elected Syria as deputy chairman of its General Conference on Monday.

Read more…

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