27 April 2007

Why study economics?

Barry Ritholtz gives us this quote and a good primer on what GDP is:

"The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists."

-Joan Robinson, Cambridge University

24 April 2007

Decatur, Preble, O'Bannon and Jefferson

Christopher Hitchens gives a brief history of our first battles against Muslim terrorists Musselman pirates.

No leadership training at Duke

Victor Davis Hanson highlights what the President of Duke should now say:
“The university advises strongly against students hiring “exotic dancers” at private parties. Besides the moral issues involved, many of such performers are habitual drug and alcohol users, and engage in dangerous promiscuous sexual activity, as well as having criminal records. Hiring such a performer only increases a student’s own exposure to a host of these obvious dangers, criminal, sexual, and drug-related.”

“As for as matters on campus, this sad travesty should be a reminder that the university especially must be a custodian of civil liberties and a protector of the right of individuals to due process. Instead the Duke community devolved to the rule of the mob, condemning the accused in print, rallies, and flyers in a way that was intended to cast pre-trial guilt upon their innocence. This is reprehensible. To the extent that I either participated in such a rush to judgment or, as your president, let it unfold without rebuke, I am deeply sorry. I failed the entire community. In efforts to appear liberal and unbiased I proved illiberal and prejudiced. At the very moment when the community was looking for a voice of reasoned calm I joined the storm of reckless emotion.”

23 April 2007

Not in the line of duty - but taking responsibility

Appears that the NJ governor was not wearing his seat belt, against his own laws. We used to beat our sailors over the head with the notion that they could be responsible for their own medical costs. Hope that he recovers and speaks to his personal responsibility.

Update: Corzine is taking responsibility for his failure to wear a seatbelt. Good job.

Google knows all

Type in "answer to life the universe and everything" into google, press enter.

20 April 2007

SSN 780 to be named soon?

The seventh submarine of the VIRGINIA class might be named soon (New Mexico was named in December 2004) . Rumor has it that it will be named for a state (big surprise) and probably after a former battleship.

Here are the ones that are off the list:

Alabama - current SSBN
Arizona - historical reasons
Connecticut - current SSN
Florida - current SSGN
Georgia - current SSGN
Iowa - reserve fleet
Kentucky - current SSBN
Louisiana - current SSBN
Maine - current SSBN
Maryland current SSBN
Michigan - current SSBN
Nebraska - current SSBN
Nevada - current SSBN
New Hampshire - new construction SSN
New Mexico - new construction SSN
New York - new construction LPD
North Carolina - new construction SSN
Ohio - current SSGN
Pennsylvania - current SSBN
Rhode Island - current SSBN
Tennessee - current SSBN
Texas - current SSN
Virginia - current SSN
West Virginia - current SSBN
Wyoming - current SSBN

That still leaves a pretty long list of candidates:

New Jersey
New York
North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota

Of those, I have my money on California, New York or Washington. Two of these are big states and two have large Navy presence. The overlapping choice - California.

Edit: reliable sources inform that New York is off the list.

18 April 2007

Inmates in charge of URI

Apparently the Student Senate of the University of Rhode Island is trying to compel the College Republicans to apologize for constitutionally recognized free speech.
For months, the Student Senate has demanded that the group publicly apologize for advertising a satirical $100 “scholarship” for white, heterosexual, American males.
They actually got over 40 people (American men, I assume) to submit essays highlighting how racial, gender based and nationality oriented scholarships are a form of reverse discrimination. Politically incorrect - yes. Protected speech - yes.
In a meeting on February 19, the Student Senate’s Student Organizations Advisory and Review Committee (SOARC) prohibited the College Republicans from disbursing the money. The group agreed that it would not give out the $100, but SOARC decided that even advertising the satirical “scholarship” violated URI’s anti-discrimination bylaws and demanded that the group publish an apology in the campus newspaper. Unwilling to apologize, Bilodeau appealed SOARC’s decision. The Senate denied that appeal.
Deny appeals, really nice bit of student democracy, there. URI's President tried to reason with the idiots in the Student Senate. He should have just disbanded them.
in a letter dated April 6, President Carothers did indeed instruct the Senate in no uncertain terms to drop its unconstitutional demand for an apology. Carothers wrote that the mandatory apology “does not meet constitutional standards as laid forth in the First Amendment and in subsequent court decisions interpreting the standard.”
But at a meeting on Monday night, SOARC nonetheless unanimously voted to ignore both its constitutional obligations and Carothers’ directive and derecognize the College Republicans for refusing to issue an apology. SOARC’s decision will be voted on by the entire Student Senate on Wednesday, April 25.

10 April 2007

House Appropriations is on board

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a powerful congressman with authority over the nation's military spending, came to check out Electric Boat's riverside submarine factory on Monday.

He left promising to use his considerable political weight to persuade Congress to start buying more subs.

This is a piece of the puzzle that the submarine construction delegations could never get together. He seems to be coherent on this, perhaps having just been coached on the right things to say by the GDEB President.

He said Navy budgets have been losing out because of the expense of the ground-based war in Iraq. He wants more subs, not just to keep up with China's rapidly growing naval fleet but to keep an irreplaceable American sub-building industry afloat.

And when Murtha says something is going to find its way into the House's defense budget, people believe him.

The two Connecticut congressmen who took Monday's tour with Murtha - Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and John Larson, D-1st District - were smiling big and nodding beside their fiscal champion, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. They see his promise as largely locking down the House side of the submarine budget question.

"Jack Murtha's word is his bond," Larson said. "That's why we feel so optimistic."

But can Murtha push it through a conference with the Senate?

He answered that he doesn't like to predict the actions of that other body, but "it'll be up to me to convince the Senate that we can work this out."
Now, we'll have to see if it happens and if it comes with "top line relief":

At a recent congressional hearing on the subject, the commander of the U.S. submarine force, Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, said he supports the Navy's plan because he wouldn't want an increase in sub construction to jeopardize the rest of the ship-building plan. But he preached about submarine versatility and agreed he'd like to have more of them if more money were available.

The president's 2008 defense budget proposal would pay for one sub. Because decommissioning of the old Los Angeles-class subs is outpacing new construction, the fast-attack fleet will soon fall below the number 48 that the Navy sees as a minimum for full operations.

The sooner two-per-year construction begins, the fewer years the fleet will spend below 48.

07 April 2007

UK newspaper reports US building facilities for SSGN in Diego Garcia

No comment.

Marriage aboard South African sub

The article points out an interesting item that more women should heed: wear pants and sensible shoes! Unreasonably sensationalist headline, though:
Hardcore sub becomes a love boat

03 April 2007

Be Homer Simpson for a day

Now you can operate a nuclear reactor without a license. This game is worth a look. It's a sim of a civilian plant where you try to make a profit without endangering the neighbors. I haven't yet done very well at it. Not as easy to operate as a Navy nuke.
I'm not sure that it teaches the right lessons, however. It is much too easy to create severe core damage, and coolant flows don't seem to match power levels much. But the schematic is educational.

I thought we settled this a while back?

From the Washington Post, suspiciously dated 1st of April.

The winds of secession are blowing in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont was once an independent republic, and it can be one again. We think the time to make that happen is now. Over the past 50 years, the U.S. government has grown too big, too corrupt and too aggressive toward the world, toward its own citizens and toward local democratic institutions. It has abandoned the democratic vision of its founders and eroded Americans' fundamental freedoms.

That ship has sailed, like at Appomatox Courthouse.

Vermont did not join the Union to become part of an empire.
You are not in an empire. We are just about the definition of an anti-empire.

Some of us therefore seek permission to leave.

Individually, or as families or communal maple farms, you may all move to Canada, but you may not fracture this nation.

Today, however, Vermont no longer controls even its own National Guard, a domestic emergency force that is now employed in an imperial war 6,000 miles away. The 9/11 commission report says that "the American homeland is the planet." To defend this "homeland," the United States spends six times as much on its military as China, the next highest-spending nation, funding more than 730 military bases in more than 130 countries, abetted by more than 100 military space satellites and more than 100,000 seaborne battle-ready forces. This is the greatest military colossus ever forged.

It is very simplistic to think that after 9/11 we can turtle up and not be more involved in the world. I'm very proud to be serving in that greatest 'military colossus ever forged'. We only outspend China because they are wannabes and we are defacto guarantors of freedom for the world. They also happen to pay their recruits nearly nothing and don't pay the same wages as General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing or Northrup Grumman. I imagine that many of the 730 military bases in all those countries are Marines guarding our embassies. But, do you need an embassy in a colony?

Vermont seceded from the British Empire in 1777 and stood free for 14 years, until 1791. Its constitution -- which preceded the U.S. Constitution by more than a decade -- was the first to prohibit slavery in the New World and to guarantee universal manhood suffrage. Vermont issued its own currency, ran its own postal service, developed its own foreign relations, grew its own food, made its own roads and paid for its own militia. No other state, not even Texas, governed itself more thoroughly or longer before giving up its nationhood and joining the Union.

Impressive, but largely irrelevant to the situation post 1865.

Nor did Vermont sign on when imperial Washington demanded that the state raise its drinking age from 18 to 21 in 1985. The federal government thereupon resorted to its favored tactic, blackmail. Raise your drinking age, said Ronald Reagan, or we'll take away the money you need to keep the interstates paved. Vermont took its case for state control to the Supreme Court -- and lost.

Hey, if you don't want the strings attached, don't take the money. Or get your Representatives Senators to oppose it in Congress.

It's quite simple. The United States has destroyed the 10th Amendment, which says that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

I agree, the abuse of the 10th Amendment is one of the unspoken problems I have with our Republic. The Supreme Court has not ruled against enough Federal legislation on these grounds. We are not a democracy, although we have democratic priciples. The USA is a Federal Republic. I'm not even sure I agree with many states' (California) referendum processes. Another problem with the democratic tinkering with the constitution is the 17th Amendment.

The present movement for secession has been gathering steam for a decade and a half. In preparation for Vermont's bicentennial in 1991, public debates -- moderated by then-Lt. Gov. Howard Dean -- were held in seven towns before crowds that averaged 230 citizens. At the end of each, Dean asked all those in favor of Vermont's seceding from the Union to stand and be counted. In town after town, solid majorities stood. The final count: 999 (62 percent) for secession and 608 opposed.

When Howard Dean is leading your effort...

Her Humps?

Sometimes you can parody fools just by using their own words. As safe for word as a top 40 radio station: