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Who created civilization?

God did.

My own opinion towards religion is that its ontological correctness is one of its least interesting attributes.


Happy Birthday, Tea Party

It's been a year. It's amazing how one man can spark a huge movement if there is enough pent-up pressure in society.

Respect to Brian Macker and Arthur B. who were there when it all started.

A NY Times article profiles Keli Carender, a Tea Party activist from Seattle.

Keli Carender has a pierced nose, performs improv on weekends and lives here in a neighborhood with more Mexican grocers than coffeehouses. You might mistake her for the kind of young person whose vote powered President Obama to the White House. You probably would not think of her as a Tea Party type.

But leaders of the Tea Party movement credit her with being the first.

...

She, like many Tea Party members, resists the idea of a Tea Party leader — “there are a thousand leaders,” she says.

Glenn Beck? “He can be a Tea Partier, but it’s not like the movement bends to him.”

Sarah Palin? She will have to campaign on Tea Party ideas if she wants Tea Party support, Ms. Carender said, adding, “And if she were elected, she’d have to govern on those principles or be fired.”


Community and Exit

Max Borders and Mike Gibson propose a debate over at A Thousand Nations-- Does the right to exit a community undermine the very idea of the community?


Insurance and Mortality

Last week, Megan McArdle wrote in The Atlantic that after you control for this and that, it's not clear that having insurance makes one less likely to die. Leftists were shocked and outraged. Matt Yglesias was all a-twitter:

Do rightwingers really believe that US health insurance has no mortality-curbing impact?

Megan McArdle replied that, okay, maybe there is a relationship between having insurance and being less likely to die that we don't see in the research, but if there is, it's gotta be small.

I'm surprised at the shock and awe from leftwingers, though maybe I shouldn't be. It's part of their gospel that people are dropping dead left and right because of lack of insurance.

As someone in the medical field, though not an epidemiologist or familiar with the research, my personal reaction was a lack of surprise at McArdle's conclusion. Why?

  • Any emergency will be treated at US hospitals. If you don't have insurance but are in a car wreck and bleeding, you will get treated-- you'll receive fluids, blood, angiograms, and if needed, surgery.
  • Aside from that, medical science is still at a primitive level on an absolute scale, even if it has made significant progress on a relative scale. Most things that are going to kill you will still kill you even with the best medicine has to offer. Insurance won't save your life if you get a metastatic cancer (with rare exceptions).
  • The place where insurance would make a difference is with things that would kill you if not treated but would save your life if treated. These types of illnesses, in my anecdotal experience, are rare in the larger scheme of things.
  • On the other side of the ledger is when medical care kills people who would otherwise live to an old age.

Link commentary

Radley Balko's morning links were a treasure trove. The highlights:

Police Officer Seeks Protection FROM the Police

When he opened his locker at the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct, Officer Frank Palestro was greeted with a symbolic death threat: A mousetrap with his name on it.

Palestro, who was one of three elected precinct delegates to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, had been outed as a “rat” for reporting acts of official corruption ordered by Lt. Susana Seda, a former midnight platoon commander who is mired in scandal.

The whistleblower “was transferred to another command for his safety,” reports the February 24 New York Daily News.

...

Lt. Seda, according to Palestro, “told everybody I was a `f****** rat’” because he acted in the interests of the public and conscientious street officers, rather than corrupt figures further up the chain of command. Accordingly, the nine-year police veteran and union rep is being offered protection akin to that extended to defectors from criminal syndicates. [emphasis mine]

They're the largest, best organized, most dangerous gang of all, don't forget it.

God wants gays dead, says beauty queen Lauren Ashley

CARRIE Prejean isn't the only beauty queen open to expressing her objection to same-sex marriage.

Miss Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley is also speaking out in support of traditional nuptials, Fox News reported.

"The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman," Ms Ashley told Fox News.

"In Leviticus it says: 'If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.'

"The Bible is pretty black and white.

"I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone.

...

"If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that's a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life."

Ms Ashley, 23, will be representing Beverly Hills in the Miss California pageant in November.

Her statements mirror former Miss California Carrie Prejean's answer to a question about same-sex marriage in last year's Miss USA pageant.

That's a direct quote from the book! I agree that it's appalling that anyone would have that belief, but Lauren Ashley is only one of billions who trusts that book. She's given us a good reason to reject the whole thing. It's just plain hypocritical for people who base their religion on this text to get worked up about her comments.


Where's the beef?

David Harsanyi has written an article in response to Ron Paul's winning of the CPAC straw poll that can only be described as a "hatchet job". I kept waiting for the meat of his arguments to emerge, but they never did. I'll quote one part:

If only it stopped there. Paul isn't a traditional conservative. His obsession with long-decided monetary policy and isolationism are not his only half-baked crusades. Paul's newsletters of the '80s and '90s were filled with anti-Semitic and racist rants, proving his slumming in the ugliest corners of conspiracyland today is no mistake.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Paul is that thousands of intellectually curious young people will have read his silly books, including End the Fed, as serious manifestoes. Though you wouldn't know it by listening to Paul or reading his words, libertarians do have genuine ideas that conservatives might embrace.

Did the folks at Reason just dig up an article from two years ago and put a new timestamp on it?

What about monetary policy is "long-decided"? Shouldn't the fact that the Fed was created to promote economic harmony but has reigned over numerous recessions be unsettling?

If Ron Paul is not a "serious thinker", why not, and by what standard? Are Obama, Bush, or McCain serious thinkers?


Obligatory Olypmics Post

Only this year did I realize the essential difference between the summer and winter olympics. Summer Olympics are about pure athleticism - how fast can you run? How high can you jump? (Though I still think LeBron James and Michael Vick are better athletes than any summer olympians).

Winter Olympics are about conquering fear. Most of the events involve performing feats with a decent risk of death: jumping off a mountain, doing multiple flips in the air on a snowboard off a halfpipe, riding down a mountain in a sled doing 90 mph, etc. You have to be a little bit crazy to get good at doing these things.

Maybe as a result of this realization, I find myself enjoying this Olympics, whereas in the past I usually changed the channel. Or it might be that one of the events combines skiing and shooting a rifle.

Also, short track speed skating is awesome.


Everything Confirms it and Nothing can Falsify it

This has long been my problem with global warming. Every slight statistical deviation in the weather of a given year is chalked up to global warming regardless of whether it makes for a milder season or a more extreme one. Every bad storm or perceived change in insect behavior suddenly has climatic implications without even a discussion on what should be the statistical norm, or what constitutes a meaningful change from past trends.

George F. Will has a nice Op-Ed in the Washington Post about the extended "very bad day" that global warming advocates are having:

Last week, BP America, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar, three early members of the 31-member U.S. Climate Action Partnership, said: Oh, never mind. They withdrew from USCAP. It is a coalition of corporations and global warming alarm groups that was formed in 2007 when carbon rationing legislation seemed inevitable and collaboration with the rationers seemed prudent. A spokesman for Conoco said: "We need to spend time addressing the issues that impact our shareholders and consumers." What a concept.

Global warming skeptics, too, have erred. They have said there has been no statistically significant warming for 10 years. Phil Jones, former director of Britain's Climatic Research Unit, source of the leaked documents, admits it has been 15 years. Small wonder that support for radical remedial action, sacrificing wealth and freedom to combat warming, is melting faster than the Himalayan glaciers that an IPCC report asserted, without serious scientific support, could disappear by 2035.

Jones also says that if during what is called the Medieval Warm Period (circa 800-1300) global temperatures may have been warmer than today's, that would change the debate. Indeed it would. It would complicate the task of indicting contemporary civilization for today's supposedly unprecedented temperatures.

It is nice to see the climate change politicos finally getting a little of the scrutiny they deserve, even if it is short lived. All we need is a hot or a "not hot enough" summer for the IPCC to start pushing their snake oil again.


One party will tax and spend. The other party won't tax, but will spend.

This is part 1 of Glenn Beck's speech at the CPAC. The rest of the speech can be found on Youtube.

Though I don't agree with every single thing he said, I agree with much of it. There are times in my life when I've hit rock bottom when it appeared that my dreams had been shattered, and Beck's message about picking yourself up without the government's help certainly resonates with me. Beck's bottom was obviously much deeper than mine as his alcoholic mother and one of his siblings committed suicide when he was young, he dropped out of college, and was an alcohol and drug addict without a job. He's got rock bottom "cred". Failure has to be allowed--for people, institutions, businesses, Fortune 500 companies--because it teaches the lessons needed to succeed.

He praises the charitable impulse of Americans. Perhaps the most moving part of the speech was his reading of Emma Lazarus' poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty describing America as a place where immigrants could come and lift themselves up out of poverty.

He calls out not just the Democrats, but also the Republicans, and receives applause. He thoroughly eviscerates McCain by implication.

His calls to end the Fed received applause too, a response that would have been unthinkable to me only two years ago.


Austin's Temporary Insanity

So I turn on the news today (mostly interested in more Olympic coverage), to find the local news plastered with city officials blathering about what a great job they have done.

Until that moment I had not realized how much I had tuned out "the news" lately. I discovered, (mostly by questioning my husband), that a plane had crashed into a building approximately 15 miles from the area I live and work in, and I was blissfully unaware of the event for well over 24 hours.

When I did try to tune-in the reports I got were smiling officials talking about "how bad it could have been" if they hadn't been so very well prepared.

Okay so maybe they need that for their morale, but really?! It hasn't been two days since a horrific tragedy of the intentional variety and the big news story in Austin is officials explaining in detail how well they performed their jobs.... creepy!

Meanwhile the debate that seems to be raging in Austin and nationwide is whether or not to call the guy a "terrorist." The Austin Police Department thinks calling him a terrorist will lead to greater fear in the community.

But as expected there are those who feel that it is important to immediately condemn this man's actions by boldly going out on a limb and calling persons who intentionally crash airplanes into buildings "terrorists."

The story for the online news media seems to be all about which fringe groups online have been labeling the guy "hero" and/or "patriot," and also the fascinating detail that the FBI insisted the guy's suicide note be taken down after it had gotten over 20 million visits.

Interestingly enough it can still be read over at the Austin American Stateman's blog. Though most of it has been quoted in detail in the major news media anyhow.

We all know the guy committed homicide, suicide, arson, and some pretty serious assault via airplane, so I suggest it doesn't really matter what we call him now. What should matter is what we called him a few days ago.

A few days ago Joe Stack was a fellow Austinite, according to the news he was a good friend and a good neighbor to those who knew him. He wasn't the weird guy in the corner, or the quiet guy. He seems to be pretty average as far as Austinites go even in his distaste for government.

That guy slaughtered a fellow Austinite whom he had never met and severely injured many others in his attempt to strike at a government and more importantly a tax code that he hated.

We really should be reeling from this instead of trying to write him off as a fanatic, or patting ourselves on the back for a job well done. Austin should be thinking about this, and America should be thinking about this. When the average guy commits an act of terror-suicide against his own city, surely we have misstepped.