Saturday, March 1, 2008

Brown Eyed Girl, American Soldier, Afghanistan

I went to Fred's Cafe tonight with some friends (see previous post about Fredburgers, especially the comments at the bottom).
The band was playing Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl".
I mentioned this video, no one had seen it, I said I'd post it.
This is what could be so great about globalization if only the nutcases among us would let it happen. Here you have an American kid singing something by an Irish musician accompanied by a roomful of Afghan soldiers.
The circumstances of everyones' being together aren't the best, but at least it looks like they're having a good time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fort Worth Hole In The Wall

This is why I love Fort Worth, the Internet, and being alive in this century.

A local blogger has a site called "Fort Worth Hole In The Wall". All this guy does is review Cowtown restaurants. (I assume it's a guy. Very few women can eat as much as this person.)

Friends and co-workers, save the link to your favorites. Let me know where you want to eat lunch.

Read all the comment fields.

There are lots of eaters in Fort Worth who are passionate about their groceries.

Note to Mr. Hole In The Wall: Please review the Cancun Mexico restaurant in the 7400 block of Camp Bowie. Dollar for dollar, I think it's some of the best in Fort Worth.
And you did a great job of defending La Playa Maya.
The crust on Mama's pizza is too thick, but your description was so dang appetizing I might eat lunch there tomorrow.
I've had burgers at Fred's that were so rare the bun was bloody.

Note to British Libertarian friends: I've only been to England once, and boy was your food bland.

FairTrade Coffee Isn't

Samizdata, along with half of Europe, is now dogpiling the Fairtrade Coffee cartel. If you go into Starbucks, you can usually see their stuff on sale. There are usually some flyers about the concept in the Wall O' Guilt brochure rack. The biggest problem with Fairtrade, in my mind, is what happens to all the poor slobs who can't get Fairtrade certification?

The other problem is price. Price works as a signal. If the price of something goes up, the price attracts producers into the market. If the price goes down, it is a signal to leave the market. By putting a "Fairtrade" minimum price in place, the signal mechanism is screwed up. Everyone keeps producing.

The idea is also beaten about in London's Daily Telegraph.


Fairtrade is, in other words, a front organisation, crafted by unregenerate collectivists to con believers in nice capitalism to buy something which is neither nice nor capitalist. And the way to deal with cons is to expose them for what they are, so that only those who really do believe in the actual values being promoted here continue to support the thing.

I try not to link to Wikipedia too often, but they're sometimes handy. Here's one of the sloppy thinking statements attributed to (?) the Fairtrade organization: Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency.

Regular readers of my typing should know where I'm headed by now....You name a place where people are truly self-sufficient, and I'll name a place that's still coming out of the stone age. I get what they're trying to say (people shouldn't have to rely on charity). But that's the opposite of requiring land owners to lump their property into a co-op.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

People Worth Reading

Sometime before the Iowa Caucuses, I emailed Zebby's Libertarian Blog Place and asked if my typing was adequate for their purposes.
Sometime after the Wisconsin primaries, they declared me worthy. (They'll let anybody in. They're just busy.)

Here are some of the new sites I've found in there:

Adamant, the Russell Seitz blog, has a good post about Hell freezing over. Mr. Seitz also posts on Taki's Top Drawer. And unhhh....look at this one in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Seitz has firm opinions on the causes of Global Warming, and whether or not Al Gore can do anything about it.

Radley Balko's site, The Agitator, features an article that Radley has wrote for Fox News about recreational drug prohibition.

Cameron Clark at An American Front Porch has a Christian perspective on trying to reconcile God and Science. And Alan Gable from the same site trots out one of my favorite Hobby Horses, the minimum wage, for some well-deserved abuse. Alan's cartoon from this post will be stolen and used here sometime soon.

Russ Nelson at The Angry Economist has something to say about OSHA that many of us in manufacturing have long suspected. Go ahead. PLEASE hit the OSHA link. Please.

The aliens from Area 417 take one of Mike Huckabee's proposals to the logical extreme....

That's just the ones beginning with the letter "A".

William F. Buckley, Jr. R.I.P.

From the National Review online obituary of William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)

"....When Buckley started National Review — in 1955, at the age of 29 — it was not at all obvious that anti-Communists, traditionalists, constitutionalists, and enthusiasts for free markets would all be able to take shelter under the same tent. Nor was it obvious that all of these groups, even gathered together, would be able to prevail over what seemed at the time to be an inexorable collectivist tide. When Buckley wrote that the magazine would “stand athwart history yelling, ‘Stop!’” his point was to challenge the idea that history, with a capital H, pointed left. Mounting that challenge was the first step toward changing history’s direction. Which would come in due course."
Has anyone other than William F. Buckley ever been so consistently right?
He was in his early 80's. I can't help but think he was holding on long enough to see Castro resign, and to have some assurance of The Clintons' defeat.

His son, Christopher, wrote two of my all-time favorite comic novels, "Thank You For Smoking" and "Boomsday".

Here's an obit from the Adfreak blog:

William F. Buckley Jr., the acid-tongued, staunchly conservative author (40+ books), columnist (since 1979), publishing exec (National Review) and TV host (Firing Line), helped shape the modern media landscape. His reaction to a society increasingly obsessed by celebrity and trivia was rigorously intellectual, intense and probing.
Buckley never stopped at the surface, equivocated about his positions, or suffered fools gladly (“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said,” he once quipped when presented with a viewpoint in opposition to his own).
Buckley was no friend to the left (“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views”), but he also knew when to stick it to The Man (“It had all the earmarks of a CIA operation; the bomb killed everybody in the room except the intended target!”).
He was feared, beloved, ridiculed, admired and despised.
Though it all, he had an unfailingly playful sense of humor about himself (“Some of my instincts are reprehensible”) and the best diction of any English speaker on the planet. William F. Buckley Jr. died today at his home in Connecticut at age 82.
This seems a fitting end-quote: “I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it, and one is the feeling that I haven’t just been sitting on my ass all afternoon.”
—Posted by David Gianatasio

And here's another post on Buckley from Just A Girl In Short Shorts, Talking About Whatever. She has a wonderful closing line....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Against Racial Gerrymandering

For those of you who are at least 25 years away from your last Civics or American history class, to "gerrymander" is to shift the boundaries of voting districts in an effort to strengthen a particular group, party, or candidate.
In the early 1800's, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry shifted several districts into a shape that reminded one reporter of a salamander.
Here's the original Tinsdale cartoon that grew out of the exchange:

Here is a more recent example from an anti-gerrymandering site that I picked at random. (Meaning that any discussion of race necessarily involves multiple disclaimers.)

North Carolina's congressional districts once looked like this (they shift a lot, due to the courts.....)

If you need a closeup of the red district, here you go.....Due to population shifts, court decisions, it has probably changed several times since this map was generated. But this shape is my favorite. It grabs every African-American neighborhood possible. The idea is that the only way minorities will have Congressional representation is to draw irrational boundary lines around them. Others argue that instead of every North Carolina district taking African Americans into consideration, only one district now does so. Check this out:

You might notice that the shapes of districts #6 and #7 reach out and grab certain regions. Kinda like Fort Worth reached out and grabbed the American Airlines headquarters several years ago, but for different reasons.
Here's where my beloved Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in, and why I believe voting districts should be race-neutral....

In the Alabama Democratic primary, Obama won the popular vote 300,143 votes to the Clinton's 222,897. But the delegates are awarded by district. Disproportionate numbers of Obama supporters were packed into only one or two districts.

Way to go, guys.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Outmaneuvered Again

I know that a lot of people who read this blog are older than I am.
I know that a lot of you are white.
Many of us think there's no point in turning on a radio, now that we own the Lynyrd Skynyrd Boxed Set.
We see Music Video as a bastard art form that started taking over right about the time Elton John stopped rocking and started working for Disney.
But still.... There are standards to be upheld.
I've put two different YouTube videos on here. Neither video is officially associated with a political campaign.
I think one of them is inspiring, and the other is A Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us.

Here's the second one. White folks adapting Michael Jackson music that's been adapted to pro-Hillary Clinton lyrics....The Mind Recoils.
Don't The Geneva Conventions say something about this? I bet somewhere deep within Guantanamo Bay, some captured terrorists are getting really tired of watching this over and over, and are getting ready to talk.

Democrats, the choice is yours.

A Fable

Unsuspecting people continue to send me this email, not realizing that they're complaining about something that helps makes life great:

Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN) for 6am. While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG). He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA), designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA).

After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA) he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO) to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) to the radio (MADE IN INDIA) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY) filled it with gas (FROM SAUDI ARABIA) and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking his Computer (MADE IN MALAYSIA), Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE!) and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA), and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in .. AMERICA....

For starters, if Joe can afford all that stuff he's better off than most. But let's look at the other extreme, which is 100% local self-sufficiency....please allow me to tell you about Joe's equivalent on the other side of the world:

Danjuma started the day early, waking to the sound of his NEIGHBOR'S rooster. While his NUMBER TWO WIFE was cooking the yams he had dug yesterday, he rolled off the pallet his OLDEST DAUGHTER had woven for him several years earlier. He stood and stretched inside the mud and straw hut he had built with his FATHER. Stepping into shoes made by his YOUNGEST SON, he reached for his new necklace, provided as a hand-me-down from a recently DECEASED UNCLE. Danjuma's favorite loincloth, fashioned by NUMBER ONE WIFE was the envy of the village, so he saw no need to change into another.

Stepping out of the hut, Danjuma picked up his GRANDFATHER'S writing stick and began scratching some lines in the dirt. These lines represented how many yams he needed to dig that day before he could purchase another goat from a VILLAGE ELDER. Grabbing two handfuls of beans and spices, he strolled to a NEIGHBOR'S hut to have his hoe sharpened. The neighbor only took half of the beans and none of the spices, asking DANJUMA to come by later to help repair the neighbor's roof.

Returning to his own hut, Danjuma began eating breakfast with his family. He often worried about his sickly OLDEST SON who had made the hat Danjuma wore to the fields. This son might might lose his sight to River Blindness despite the ointments provided by the VILLAGE PRIEST.

Saying goodbye to his family, Danjuma began walking down the same road that his FATHER, GRANDFATHER, and their GRANDFATHERS had all walked. He thought of his friend Danladi, who once left the village, and returned years later talking of clocks and cars and calculators and computers. Even if such things existed, Danjuma thought, who in the VILLAGE would have time to make them? The men of the VILLAGE were too proud of their self-sufficiency to ever trade with STRANGERS.