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Friday, April 29, 2005

My Best

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Ladder 49
Just got done watching Ladder 49. This is a touching, moving, powerful film. Sure, it's a bit melodramatic, but if you can watch this an not want to quit your job and become a firefighter, you haven't got a heart in your chest. I loved it, and it's going to get Five Stars on NetFlix from me.

Firefighters are brave, courageous men, and we should all be very, very grateful that they stand ready to do their duty at a moments notice. I know I am.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Incredibles
I'm back. Thank you, Nick, for holding down the fort in my absence - well done, as always. I will now attempt to do my share.

My family and I took a vacation and had a great time. One helpful tool for the trip was a portable DVD player (helpful? more like indespensible). Anyway, The Incredibles was the movie most often played - with good reason. Peter Robinson did a nice interview with Craig Good of Pixar last December. I like this excerpt:
We don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there's nothing in them that the little ones shouldn't see. The local cineplex is littered with movies made by studios who want to second-guess what the audience wants. We find we get better results by making what we want, and then assuming that there are other people like us out there.
That's a winning formula (as long as the creators remain in our world and don't become residents of whatever world most of the Hollywood movie makers inhabit). Let's hope they can keep it going - I love what they've done so far.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Live Blogging Jonah
I'm sitting in a room in the Comp Sci Building here at the University of Minnesota, listening to Jonah Goldberg! How sweet is that? I ran into him in the bathroom and actually got to tell him my urinal story!

Jonah is talking about the conservative view of environmentalism, and I'm taking notes. Here they are:

He starts off by talking about identity politics, and how the left tends to question motives instead of facts. He doesn't know any conservatives that want a bad environment. Unless you agree with NOW, then you are pro-woman, and if you disagree, then you are anti-woman. Women who dont' agree with NOW aren't authentic women. Same with those who disagree with Greenpeace or Sierra Club. If you do, then you must be anti-environment. You must agree on the means, not the ends.

What we really disagree about is the means of how to have a good environment. The notion of free-market solutions for environmental problems is viewed on the left as wanting to turn a cathedral into a strip club.

Getting rich is the key. If you are rich enough, you can clean your environment. Rich societies are cleaner than poor societies. Societies that are rich have the luxury of having environmentalist movements. Poor people don't care about trees and panda bears when they are hungry.

(BTW, Jonah looks like my brother-in-law Andrew, almost eerily so)

The leftists have more of a religious view of environmentalism. For instance, recycling is like that. Recycling is "important", even if it isn't an economically sound thing to do. Organic food is the same way. Organic food is less efficient, might very well be bad for you, and doesn't even taste better. Environmentalism even has an apocalyptic myth and Paul Ehrlich is its profit. All these doomsday predictions fail to come to pass.   

ANWR has become the Shangri-la of environmentalism. Jonah has been there, and it is beautiful, but the place where the oil will be drilled isn't really. ANWR is as big as South California. Alaska is huge. You can fit 7 1/2 Minnesota's in it. The portion that they need to drill in amounts to 2000 acres, about the size of Dulles Airport. The actual location where they want to do the drilling is "butt ugly, godforsaken, and abysmal." It is pristine, but pristine doesn't mean "beautiful". In addition, the state of oil drilling technology has changed so much that it is completely different from what it was years ago. It's not nearly as disruptive as people claim. It would be done in the dead of winter, pitch black for months on end. The drilling would be little islands of development in vast seas of swampland. (Refer to They want to believe in the "idea" of ANWR, and the reality doesn't matter.

You must continue to bring up inconvenient facts to the environmentalists. We can't compete on the religious level. The benefits of drilling there outweigh the costs. Leftists don't like hearing this, but that's the way to win.

America is much cleaner, has more forest land than 50 or 100 years ago. Wetlands are expanding.

Bjorn Lomberg was a heretic because he stuck to the data.

Why don't we spend all of our global warming money on getting people clean water? Getting people clean drinking water would save millions of lives.

Question time:

Q. People don't understand economics. How can we make an economic argument?
Jonah: We are economically illiterate, yes. But it's a good idea to have stupid people test new technology for us, like Hybrid cars.

Q: How do we move conservatives from simply opposing environmentalism to being more positive and pro-active.
Jonah: Find common cause. Farm subsidies are terrible in lots of ways for the third world. Perhaps some common ground could be found there, to remove the subsidies to form a coalition. Talk up guys like Bjorn Lomborg.

Q: PBS is running some show by National Geographic that says the environmentalists are right on everything. Will this hurt NG?
Jonah: No.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about nuclear energy?
Jonah: Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases. If used properly, it creates giant green lizards that destroy Tokyo. Very much safer today than it was during Three Mile Island. The waste problem is serious, but Yucca Mountain appears to be very safe and very remote. Nothing bad will happen for 10,000 years, so who cares? The current technology lets us be cleaner and more efficient than in the past.

Q: How do you have the economic argument with people who don't like or don't care about more money?
A: Make fun of them. Mockery is very important - seriously. You will be rejected a lot, yes. But making the argument does have an effect. And guilt, too -- "Why do you want to spend all this money on global warming, when that money could bring clean drinking water to millions of people." or "Why do you want to kill little brown children by banning DDT?"

Q: Oil pretty much is in ugly places. What happens when the cost/benefit analysis enters into the equation?
A: Well, of course, you do the cost benefit analysis as always, and beautiful places are more valuable. It changes the equation, but doesn't change the need for the equation. Frequently, remember, the cost/benefit analysis might say not to cut down forests and that fixing of the environment is a good for the marketplace. Think of clean water and wetlands. They might be a more efficient way to purify water than the water treatment plant that you would have to build if you built an industrial park on the wetland.

Overall, Jonah was interesting, smart, funny, gracious, and excellent. I really enjoyed my time listening to him.

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Friday, April 22, 2005 Page 2 : Tribal council in session
There are few things in life better to read than a Bill Simmons NBA Playoff Preview, even if the Wolves aren't in.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Jonah to be in Minneapolis!
Jonah is coming to the Twin Cities!

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Monday, April 11, 2005

New Launchcast feature
I discovered a new LaunchCast feature today. Contrary to what we thought, you can use a scale of 1 to 100 to rate songs with a granularity of 1. Simply place your mouse on the rating bar, holding down the mouse button, and drag the mouse to the number you want. For instance, I just ranked "Out of My Hands" by Matthew West as a 76.

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Surprise! High-Falutin' Government Program is a Failure!
News reports like this one -- 10 years and $10B later, COPS drawing scrutiny -- make me shake my head. Typical of the Clinton years, the Community Oriented Policing Services program a 10 billion dollar program was corrupt, mismanaged, and ineffective.

Clinton got a lot of mileage out backing the program and promoting the fantasy that a federal (!) program to finance local police would be a good idea. Politicians backed it, passed it, and never mentioned it again. But yet, no one remembers and no one holds those politicians accountable. And worse, when similar plans come up again, no one stops to think "Maybe this will just be another big boondoggle like the COPS program". Nope, they'll just spend more money, take all the credit, and let the program bomb again. And a failed government program has become so routine that we barely even notice when it happens.


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Jack on Andy Griffith
I was flipping through the channels last night and was glad to see that our local Channel 45 was running reruns of the greatest TV show ever, The Andy Griffith Show. The one I saw was relatively new, as it was in color. Opie was a little older than in the black and whites, but not much.

The thing that caught my eye, though, was the familiarity of one of the actors. A young couple had lost their baby or something like that, and the husband had an eerie familiarity. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was none other than a very young Jack Nicholson, and his IMDB page confirms it (scroll down to the bottom, or search for "Opie finds a baby".

Pretty funny.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Never takes long
Miss Lopez is right: Once you starve and dehydrate one person to death, the next one becomes easier, and so on and so on.

I weep for our nation. Seriously -- this is a sad and pathetic story.

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Minuteman Update
I'm enjoying the left-wing meltdown about the Minutemen in Arizona. Seems that these fine Americans are having a positive effect, as the Mexican police are actually working to reduce illegal border crossings. They are doing it by telling lies about what the Minutemen will do, but the effect is positive nonetheless. Even the Border Patrol admits they are effective, noting that arrests of illegals are down. (Actually, they just admitted to the arrests being down and not to the effectiveness of the Minutemen, but smart people like us know the truth).

So far, number of illegal aliens killed, shot, or harmed in any way by Minutemen: 0

Number of illegal aliens not crossing the border: Unknown, but more than 0.

Hat tip to Mark Krekorian at The Corner.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Oooh, Those Scary Minutemen!
I love news reports like this one -- Border Militia Divides Arizona Residents. You may have heard about these guys: Citizens concerned about the rampant lawbreaking going on along our border, and how they are lawfully patrolling the border to try to help enforce the law as best they can. They are acting in a perfectly legal manner, and helping to enforce the law.

The new report is a classic, casting aspersions sinister motives and alleged dangers. It quotes a local truck driver, one John Porter as saying "I'd rather take my chances with the Mexicans than one of these U.S. military type idiots taking part in the patrols," as if the issue were the dangers caused by the illegal immigrants. Classic stuff.

I say, more power to these Minutemen. At least someone in Arizona thinks they are effective.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Paul Shirley's Blog
Don't know who Paul Shirley is? He's a scrub for the Phoenix Suns, and he's got an unbelievably readable blog.

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Bill Clinton's Legacy
Bubba's gift to us all.

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