Economics, Like Gravity

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Posted on : 3/02/2013 01:19:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

What do you do when the price of gasoline rises?  Do you adjust your driving habits?  Do you consider purchasing a more fuel efficient vehicle?

If you are a normal person with a normal budget, then you do some combination of the above.

Why should we expect normal people running normal businesses to behave any differently?

If government regulations impose additional costs for people that work more than twenty nine hours a week, then normal people will limit employees to twenty nine hours.  If government regulations impose additional costs if you have fifty employees or more, then normal people will limit their number of employees to forty nine.

These are the normal, predictable consequences of poorly developed government policies.  Courtesy of Mr. Obama and the Democrats, a whole lot of people who are already struggling to survive will find themselves less able to find full time employment at wages that will allow them to live something close to a normal life.

DUI With Zero Evidence

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Posted on : 3/01/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

How would you like to be found guilty of driving under the influence even if there is no proof that you were in fact driving under the influence.  Perhaps you were under the influence at some point in the past few days...or perhaps weeks.  Perhaps you were under the influence in a time and place where it was legal for you to be in that condition.

Then you get pulled over days...or perhaps weeks....later while you are quite sober.  And based on residual chemicals in your blood stream due to past events, you end up convicted of a DUI.

And the courts endorse this conviction due to the twisted idea that actually conducting an accurate test for whether or not you are under the influence would "unduly restrict law enforcement."

That's right.  Our right to a trial based on fact is less important that the convenience of law enforcement.

So What Happens When...

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Posted on : 2/28/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

...you are a clown who exists to create laughter in the world when your daughter is dying and you cannot imagine a reason to laugh ever again.

The story was shared with The Moth Radio Hour by Anthony Griffith.  Stories presented by The Moth are more typically humorous.  This one is not.

However, it is a singular act of bravery as Mr. Griffith opens the deepest wound in his life for our inspection.  And, one hopes, our empathy.

I Love Libraries

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Posted on : 2/27/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

As does John Scalzi.  Have a read.  Then visit your local library to see what you have been missing.

A Breakdown Of Sorts

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Posted on : 2/26/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

I am getting to the end of a little "break" from participating on Facebook.  Quite frankly, the whole gun debate was getting to me in unhealthy ways.

A big part of the problem is that there is no firm basis for a reasoned discussion of the subject.  The "facts" have been polluted by liars to the extent that rational people are no longer able to express an argument that is based in reality.

Robb Allen of Sharp As A Marble links to an article penned by a doctor that is filled with factual errors.  Somewhere, someone with a lack of knowledge about guns and who is trusting of medical professionals will read that story and become committed to banning or severely restricting gun rights.

And it will be impossible to have a rational discussion with that person until you first go through the laborious effort of emptying out the lies and replacing them with facts.

A short list of the lies involved include:

  • Including 24 year old adults as "children".
  • Using heart disease as a comparative with gun deaths.  Heart disease is the result of decades of low exercise, poor food choices, and smoking.  Children don't get heart disease because they haven't lived long enough.
  • Not using drownings as a comparative with gun deaths.  Because kids (the real kind) die from drowning at a much higher rate than they do from guns.  Yet the movement to ban backyard pools is pretty ineffective.
  • Talks about rates of fire as if it makes a difference in the number of deaths.  The issue is not the gun.  It is the intent/purpose of the person holding it.
  • Calls our rights "privileges" and states that they were "granted" by the Constitution.  Our rights, including the right to self defense, existed before the Constitution was written.  It only acknowledged what already existed.
The list continues in the comments.  Having a rational discussion on gun issues is impossible because of the rhetorical filth such as the above that have contaminated public discourse.  Perhaps irreparably so.

Book Recommendation: Flowers For Algernon

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Posted on : 2/25/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

Charlie Gordon.  Mentally handicapped.  Then a genius.

In "Flowers For Algernon", author Daniel Keyes presents a first person view of the life of someone who is marginalized by society due to his lack of mental ability.  He cannot remember without years of repetition.  And if he cannot remember, then he cannot repeat.  Nor can he consider his actions to see if they could be changed for the better.

Such are the challenges of some of our most marginalized citizens.

The book is Charlie's story told from his perspective.  It is written as a kind of journal that Charlie is keeping at the request of his doctor.  The spelling and grammar reflect that of a person who barely possesses the ability to write.  Charlie is an open, honest, trusting, and caring individual.  He wants to do well.

And he is treated by those around him with just about as much compassion and love as you might expect.

Until the surgery.  A team of doctors believes they have developed a means for improving intelligence.  They have tried it out on mice.  It seems to work quite well.

Charlie agrees to undergo the procedure.  And in the days and weeks to follow, he gets smarter.  He learns.

He learns how much he has been missing.  He reads voraciously.  Knowledge is assimilated at an astounding rated.

He also learns how poorly his "friends" have been treating him.

"Flowers For Algernon" was one of those books that you heard about when I was in school.  Being an avid science fiction fan, I saw the title several times and had always intended to read it.  Chance and happenstance had other ideas on the matter.

Fortunately, used book stores are a treasure trove of books that people have always been meaning to read.

"Flowers For Algernon" is one of those rare modern books that really should be more prominent in our school curriculum.  It is at turns an instruction on the importance of treating people properly regardless of their abilities, or lack thereof, as well as a thought provoking journey that should cause us to envision a wider world of "what if".

It is impossible to create that world of "what if" without first seeing it in our minds.

Spoilers after the break.





A Cake No One Should...

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Posted on : 2/24/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

eat.  Or perhaps one that everyone should eat.

As friends on Facebook should have discerned by now, I've been working on my general health for about 18 months now.  I have a longer post on the subject on which I have been working for some time.  Perhaps you should be grateful that it is not yet complete!

Part of that work involved making better choices in my diet.  Those choices are complicated by the fact that I love food and I love to eat good food.  It is safe to say that my indulgences have been few and measured.

A couple weeks ago, the guys at work came across a recipe for bacon jam.

Mmmmm.....bacon.

It involves bacon, maple syrup, brown sugar, and a bunch of other things that are not really good for you when consumed in large quantities.

We have a wonderful young lady at work that loves to cook.  She has made goat cheese in the past.  She also makes the best cakes.

I do not want to give the impression that she had no choice in the matter, but the guys did leave an unsubtle hint that she should give this bacon jam thing a try.  It took her five hours on a Sunday night to complete a triple batch of the stuff.  The fruits of her labors were in our break area for public consumption Monday morning.

As it turns out, she didn't like the bacon jam.  All the guys loved it.  Someone bought English muffins and we imbibed throughout the day. The jam had more of a savory taste that was reminiscent of baked beans, sans beans. 

I was very good that day.  I had half of a half of a muffin with the bacon jam.  And while it was most delicious, I was able to refrain from eating any more of it.

Our talented young cook/baker had a surprise for us on Tuesday morning.  She had been looking at a recipe for a dark chocolate cake that used dark chocolate frosting.  Both components used Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate.

There are few things better in the world than dark chocolate.

I behaved myself and only took half of a piece of cake.  It was great.

But then I got to talking with my friend Eric as we all were gathered around the cake in the break area.

Eric and I share some common background.  I am a former Marine.  He is former Army.  We both were in Desert Storm, although he actually was up front doing the dirty work while I was in the rear with the gear.  These experiences have mentally twisted us in ways that some people find utterly baffling.  Fortunately, our friends are more amused than mortified.

Eric has had the further experience of being a paramedic for close to 10 years.  The stories he tells ought to make most folks question whether humanity will survive the next 15 seconds, much less the next 15 years.

Which is why when we got to talking about this very delicious cake, it was not terribly surprising when we thought that the only way to make it better was to put a little bacon jam on it.  Fortunately, there was a small amount left over from the previous day.

I plopped the container down in front of Eric as I had already had my quota of cake for the day.  He applied an appropriate portion of bacon jam and took a bite.

Sadly, his eyes rolled back in his head shortly thereafter.  I say "sadly" as his reaction was good enough that I just had to go back for the other half of my half a piece of cake that was still sitting in the pan.  I plopped on a dollop of bacon jam and then headed for the nuke-o-lator to warm it up.

OH

EM

GEE

This was the reason those letters were strung together in the first place.

I can't tell you how awful I felt later that afternoon when I found that there were a couple of pieces of cake left in the tray.  I didn't even bother with the whole "half a piece" nonsense.  Some bacon jam, a round in the nuke-o-lator and I was back in Nga-atua.