Saturday, May 10, 2008

People overwhelmingly soft when they have to make the hard decisions

Science presents a fascinating study about the choices we make when confronted by a dilemma: Choosing fairness or choosing efficiency.

The results: People overwhelmingly choose fairness as a measure of justice as opposed to efficiency.

What's even more salient is that people in the study were placed in a position to directly affect people. This direct effect pushes people toward fairness as a metric.

The underlying rationale for me is that it's easy to be a hard-ass when you're not the one having to do the hard-ass things, but when you're actually put in control of being the hard-ass, you'll most likely NOT be a hard-ass.

Says a lot about those law and order types. They talk a good game, but chances are they would be pussies like the rest of us.

Vegetarians often misunderstood has a very good article on vegetarianism.

I've been a vegetarian now for longer than I ate meat (21 years and counting).

The author of the article is a vegetarian and makes many of the same points I find myself making when questioned ad nausea about WHY I'm a vegetarian.

Most carnivores think I'm some screwy religious nut (I'm not) or that I am a raging liberal (I'm not that either).

I especially agree with the author's take on restaurants. Most restaurants think that having a pasta dish suffices to allow them to claim a vegetarian dish. News flash! No, it doesn't.

A real chef, and I mean this in the most insulting way possible, has the breadth and ability to satisfy ALL palates appropriately.

I love food, but have difficulty getting good food in restaurants. Even vegetarian restaurants suck.

Cindy McCain is a liberal when her rights are at stake.

Cindy McCain has finally come around to the dark side. She's arguing her right to privacy when it comes to her finances.

This argument has traditionally been the province of "left-wing radicals" trying to avoid government scrutiny.

Many republicans over the years have taken the free market approach to privacy, viz., that you are only entitled to the privacy you can afford.

The problem with that argument is that the poor are thus given fewer rights under the law. It doesn't make sense, but unfortunately the Supreme court takes the same position.

For example: If you live in a mobile home (like many poor people do) then you have fewer rights under the 4th Amendment Search & Seizure law than if you lived in a stick-built house.

The police, by virtue of the fact the the mobile home is mobile, are not bound by the same warrant requirements. It doesn't matter that the actual mobility of a mobile home is limited to an expensive and time-consuming process, unlike with a motorhome.

Back to Cindy: Now the republicans may be getting on board with the belief that privacy is actually a right, instead of something that must be bought.


Invasion a good call for Burma's crisis. suggests that the tragedy in Burma calls for drastic action: Invasion.

If ever there wan an opportunity to burnish our image with the rest of the world, this would be it.

The U.S. could militarily take Burma. We could build democracy. We could do the right thing for millions of people.

Sounds good to me.

The only problem would be the Chinese who sit next door. They may pitch a hissy fit.

We could offer to let them help out though in a joint U.S.- Chinese effort.

Good thinking Time.

Scalia nails conservatives for being whiney.

Came across a quote from none other than Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia is the darling of every conservative for his originalism philosphy.

His quote specifically nails the tired old right wing mantra of activist judges.

dismisse[s] activist judge as a "conclusory" label we apply when we dislike of the result in a given case.

How true that is. You'll notice that right wingers are very quick to extol the virtues of the court when a decision falls their way, but when the decision cuts the other direction, epithets fly like spit balls in an alternative classroom.

This comes from Dahlia Lithwick on

Already difficult legal landscape being shaped by lawyer outsourcing

If there's a sign to any prospective law school student about the health of the legal industry, then this is it.

Law firms and corporations are outsourcing legal work to India now.

I know it's been rough as a sole practitioner and now it's getting even rougher.

The only good thing going for some of us is that litigation still requires face time with the court.

Washington Post reports


Symbolic Racism still hurting Obama

A popular article at speaks of the problem plaguing Obama:

Symbolic Racism among white working class Democrats.

We still have a ways to go before we've dealt with race in this country.

Perhaps the wound will never heal.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Will the real Congressional Partisans please stand up...and vote against mothers.

When Republicans in Congress attempt to take the high road and complain about rampant partisanship, then all we need do is hold up this vote.

Washington Post's Dana Milbank paints a really good picture of how bad Congressional Republicans are engaging in partisanship.

They first voted for a Mother's Day bill.

Then what did they do? They flip flopped and all voted against it.

Republicans voted against mothers. They voted along party lines, thus showing their servility. They voted against it just for the purpose of making the Democrats look bad.

What's the result? The Republicans look spineless and excessively partisan.

Let the venality commence: McCain just as venal as other politicians with land swap

Washington Post reports that John McCain, the maverick independent who's for the little guy, is apparently no different from Republicans in times past.

Namely, McCain helped push through a land deal for a constituent that cheats the taxpayers while benefiting a land developer and (shockingly!) McCain campaign contributor.

Guess the election has begun.

Fairness possible key to humanity

Live Science leads today with a study that indicates fairness may be hard-wired in humans.

So, when people cynical claim: "The world's not fair..." and then proceed to exploit, then perhaps they have an agenda.

Fascinating study. Fairness stems from altruism. Altruism is a core human capacity that undergirds our social nature.

Seaweed provides clues to Pre-Columbian settlement of the Americas

A study reported in Science Daily conducted by a professor from my alma mater, Vanderbilt, finds that were people in South America more than 12,000 years ago.

The Anthropology Department at Vandy specializes in Meso-America.

Professor Dillehay wrote the piece and it appears in the Journal Science.

This underscores the provisional nature of science. New stuff is learned every day allowing us to modify our theories.

Go 'Dores!

Horse Drug effective depression treatment in humans

Scientists have found a novel approach to possibly treating depression. The effects are fast-acting. The downside: It's a horse tranquilizer.

The hippies have been arguing for years about the positive effects of ketamine on depression and for helping those with severe drug addictions. Maybe we shouldn't be so dismissive of those who make it their life's work to seek new drug experiences.

Check out Science Daily for the full story.

Clinton's racist innuendo and class warfare.

Eugene Robinson provides a glimpse into the arrogance of the Clinton camp in a Washington Post Editorial.

He makes good points.

I see the Democratic nomination serving as a proxy for the general election: Obama is taking the role of Democrat and Clinton is being forced into the role of Republican.

Based on the groups Clinton is pandering to (white low-income workers) and the innuendo she's spinning (only she can win with whites, viz., racist) this race could probably do without John McCain.

It's no wonder that Rush Limbaugh wants Hillary on the ticket: The election would be a choice between White(McCain) and Off White (Clinton). Either way the Right would get a candidate that's a know variable. Certainty is like air to the right.

Obama represents something outside the control of the right wing. He represents a new direction.

This scares the hell out of the Clinton camp. Conservatives may be reaping what they've sown for the past 30 years---a backlash.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Jesus is BACK! ...and he likes sex with children..

Live Science has an editorial-like article about doomsday cults and beliefs.

The story deals with the latest cult where the leader is alleged to have abused some children AND he claims to be Jesus returned.


At least we can now ask what the hell is going on with all his so-called follower.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hormone may lead to fast food addiction.

Science Daily has a story about the hormone, ghrelin, has significant implications for obesity.

The researchers point to how high calorie foods may actually have addictive qualities due to the effect ghrelin has on the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.

These same brain regions play a large role in addictions to like cigarettes and drugs.

If fast food is shown to have addictive qualities, then I may have to change my opinion about legislating healthy food choices.

If it's okay to punish people for smoking marijuana, then to be consistent, we should punish people for eating fast food too.

We'll see.

Conservatives happier because they really don't give a crap.

Live Science reports that those with conservative ideologies are happier than those with liberal ideologies.

The study indicates that those with conservative leanings have a higher tendency to rationalize why others are treated poorly.

Apparently, conservatives really don't give a shit about others. This let's them sleep at night while the liberals are all in a dither over the plight of the poor and downtrodden.

I bet conservatives will balk at this study claiming that it must have been done by a bunch of egg-headed liberals.

Yet again another rationalization allowing them to ignore the facts.

Clinton win too small to secure nomination; Obama can't be beat leads with a story about Obama taking North Carolina with big numbers while Clinton won Indiana by a very slim margin.

A pundit made the point that now would be the time for Clinton to bow out. She can legitimately claim that the fight was hard, but it would be damaging to the nation and the the party for her to continue.

This would be the gracious thing to do. She could leave the campaign with a high degree of dignity and gain the respect of the country by putting the party ahead of her ambitions. The healing would be immense and her currency would increase tenfold.

I agree with this opinion.

The Democratic nominating process needs fixing.

Now, it's time to pull together and move forward.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Health Rationing not really so shocking after all. has a story designed to elicit gasps of horror. It's about how doctors have triage plans in place for catastrophes, so they can ration care to those who will benefit most from care.

Excluded, or at least far down on the list are the elderly, burn victims, and disabled people.

After getting over the initial shock of this realization, we should be reminded that triage is a necessity. And that care is already rationed.

The ad hoc rationing we have now is based on ability to pay. If you don't have insurance, then you get worse care.

If you can't afford to pay out of pocket, then you get worse care.

It's that simple. Money equals better and more care.

Poverty is a killer.

Reality TV is the lowest common denominator

Today, I thought I would start out with something inane. has a story about the worst dating show ever. It's called "Rock of Love".

The show stars Brett Michael, lead singer of '80's and '90's hair band Poison. He's irritating for nothing more than his open-mouthed "sexy" pout he adopts in all his pictures. He may be a cool guy, but come on?

This show highlights where the talent-less go when their ego need for attention exceeds their ability and taste.

Just like with Tila Tequila, this show is based on a faulty premise: If poor old Brett finds love, then the show goes off the air. Where's the incentive to find love?

There isn't any because everyone that participates on the show is only looking for their 15 minutes of fame, regardless of the utter lack of discretion they display.

This is me being judgmental, but these types of shows are lowest common denominator television. Those that make television shows are guaranteed at least a certain number of people will watch whatever they put up, just because it's on the boob tube. So, they put up the worst, life-wasting sort of crap possible.

Thank God for Tivo, so I can delete this stuff from my life.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Latin American economies dependent upon U.S.

Latin America is destined to suffer economic slow down soon.

The U.S. economy is intrinsically tied to that of this hemisphere that no country is immune. Brazil will probably do the best to withstand the volatility due to it's large and diverse economy.

The Financial Times makes note of this in a number of stories. Here also.

This underscores the need for greater integration between all the economies in the Western Hemisphere.

It's already occurring in an ad hoc fashion anyway. Wouldn't it be better to get ahead of the curve for once and begin the process with some degree of control now?

I think so. Europe has done it, so why shouldn't we? Latin American is already highly dependent upon the U.S. anyway.

Someone's reading this blog at WaPO

I'm beginning to get paranoid that someone over at the Washington Post is actually reading this blog.

There's a story in the On Faith section about how Reverend Wright is putting himself first.

I blogged on this the other day.

Fiscal conservativism equals soft on crime policies.

The Washington Post offers up a story bound to make conservatives cringe.

It seems that states are releasing felons in order to save money.

After many years of trumpeting the "tough on crime" mantra, it seems that fiscal conservatives must pay the fiddler. It's rather easy to be "tough on crime" when the taxpayers are footing the bill.

This is one of those cost-benefit analyses where it's more cost-effective to let society absorb the cost of some crime than to pay for room, board, and upkeep.

The idealism of conservatives is of a crime-free world. The rest of us adults know that's only a pipe dream.

Maybe next on the agenda will be the decriminalization of drugs.

One can only hope.