Showing posts from 2013

Little Miss Muffin

Fire everyone involved. Also, put some of them in prison. The issue before District Judge George Larke is whether the people of Terrebonne Parish should pay money to a woman sexually abused at the age of 14 by a juvenile detention guard whose job was to keep her safe and, if so, how much.... “Vickers could not have engaged in sexual relations within the walls of the detention center with (the victim) without cooperation from her,” legal papers filed by the parish’s attorneys read. “Vickers did not use force, violence or intimidation when engaging in sexual relations.” ... “These girls in the detention center are not Little Miss Muffin,” one official said, asking not to be quoted by name. Full story in the Tri-Parish Times .

Taking Offense

A follow up to my previous post , wherein U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter suggested using nuclear weapons in a potential conflict with Iran. Hunter will almost certainly be accused of being a racist, to which Rep. Hunter will no doubt take offense. What is more offensive: proposing to incinerate thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, or accusing a person who makes this suggestion of being a racist?

Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran

U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, doesn't want to invade Iran, but if it comes to that he thinks that it might be a good idea to employ "tactical" nuclear weapons. "I think if you have to hit Iran, you don't put boots on the ground. You do it with tactical nuclear devices, and you set them back a decade or two or three.... I think that's the way to do it—with a massive aerial bombardment campaign." For those of you who aren't up on the lingo , a "tactical" nuclear weapon is used to incinerate armies in a single blast. It is intended to have a more limited scope than a "strategic" nuclear weapon, which is used to wipe cities off the face of the earth. Rep. Hunter is using the word "tactical" as shorthand for "I am not a nutjob who wants to kill 7 million people ." However, just because you used the word "tactical" doesn't mean you're not crazy. The problem with tactical weapons is using them

Rhetorical Bestiary: Women Are Not the Same As Men

Women are biologically different than men. They are not as large or as strong. Due to their lower testosterone levels, they are more risk-averse. In the past, women were unfortunately barred from many professions due to rank sexism. Thankfully, the sexism has faded away. Women are now able to choose whatever job they like. Yes, there are still many jobs where a gender disparity exists, but only in proportion to women's legitimate desire to avoid those jobs.

Three Ways to Universal Health Care

The disastrous roll-out of has been much in the news these last few weeks. Unsurprisingly, the Affordable Care Act is polling at an all-time low. I can certainly understand why. However, as much bad press as the IT disaster has received, I think there is a more fundamental reason why the law is unpopular. Universal health care, whatever the details of its implementation, forces healthy people to pay for sick people's care. No matter how smoothly operates, the redistributive principle that underpins it will rankle many Americans. One logical solution to this problem is to reject the idea of universal health care entirely, because of the coercion under-girding it. (This might be considered the Randian position.) The drawback of this approach is the heightened risk of bankruptcy or death among the population that can't pay for care. Many Americans find this unappealing: polls are generally   in favor of some form of guaranteed health insurance. If

If You Smoke Pot, You Deserve to Die

Last year, Michael Saffioti died of a dairy allergy while in the custody of the Snohomish County Jail, the eighth death there in the last three years. The guards told him that his oatmeal did not contain dairy, then denied him medical treatment when he went into shock. Snohomish County subsequently tried to cover it up. No criminal charges have been filed. Most commenters on the story are rightly aghast, but some think that Saffioti got what was coming. Imagine how much less they would care if he were a blah person. Comments on Salon If you're aware of a deathly allergy then why would you eat the food..? It's sad, but, no one forced him to do something illegal and get arrested, and no one forced him to eat food he was allergic to.  The guards should still get charged for not following protocol, but it was pretty much this kid's fault that he put himself in the situation. ---- OK, I know a few prison guards.  And these slime balls under their supervision are always t

Rhetorical Bestiary: Hyperbole

Hyperbole is not a blank check to say stupid shit.

Invisible Bike Helmet

A pair of Swedes has developed a clever " invisible bike helmet " (hat tip: Zach Yeager ). I won't spoil how they did it, so please watch the video. I hope their new design prompts more people to wear helmets. That being said, there is a lot more to being safe than merely wearing a helmet. Some observations: Helmets certainly can't prevent broken limbs; it also seems unlikely that they would reduce neck and spinal injuries. Rotational acceleration is a major contributor to brain injury. Ongoing research on football concussions suggest that helmets do little to reduce rotational acceleration. Styrofoam helmets may not even be that good at reducing linear acceleration, either. They are supposed to reduce acceleration through compression, but it is fairly common for them to fracture instead. Fracturing reduces acceleration less than compression does. (I expect the invisible Swedish helmet to be far superior on this front. Watch the video!) If you don't like

Rhetorical Bestiary: Entitlement

The rhetorical bestiary is an ongoing collection of stupid arguments that just won't die. The rhetoric: "My goodness, people are so entitled today. I work for a mid-size office company, and I've had a hard time filling my last few job listings. Everyone I interview has unreasonable expectations about pay and benefits." In a market economy, all the actors try to get the best possible price for the goods or services they are selling. Widget makers sell widgets at the highest price the market will bear. Exxon sells gasoline at the highest price the market will bear. Workers sell their labor at the highest price the market will bear. The rhetorician wishes to purchase labor below the prevailing market price. When a below-market price fails to attract any workers, he blames anyone but himself.

Please tell Kevin Helliker to get off my lawn

The current generation is really screwing things up. We are lazy, narcissistic, and promiscuous. We demand too much praise. We are too materialistic. To that list you can add that we have no competitive spirit , at least according to Kevin Helliker. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Helliker brags about  bemoans placing in the top 11% of the Chicago Triathlon. Without even considering the far simpler explanation that none of the real triathletes were competing at the sprint distance, Helliker immediately offers the generational doom-and-gloom hypothesis. Is there an unwritten rule mandating that only the flimsiest evidence be presented in these kinds of articles? To support his thesis, Helliker makes the following points: Some guy named Ryan Lamppa agrees with him. (I have never in my life heard of Ryan Lamppa, and I have no idea why I am supposed to care what Ryan Lamppa thinks about anything.) Americans haven't medalled in the marathon since 2004. Of course Flanagan's