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12.28.2005
  Worker's share of GDP
58%

 
12.24.2005
  Conspiracy!

Joshua Micah Marshall infers that the White House manipulated the voting public by issuing terror alerts last year before the election. "I'll stop calling the Bush Administration Orwellian when they stope using 1984 as an operations manual." Right? Remember all the terror alerts last year?

Yeah? Me neither. There was one terror alert last year. It was issued on August 1st and was specific to financial institutions. There was 1 bulletin released by DHS this year, 3 last year and 6 in 2003. Hell of a trend...
 
12.13.2005
  Best. Year in Review. Ever.
 
12.12.2005
  Executions
By my count, a very bad man will be executed in 23 minutes. He will be put to death about 70 miles south, south west from the bed I'm sitting in, writing my economic history paper.

For some reason, I'm nervous; I have butterflies in my stomach. Maybe I'm scared for Stanley Williams.
 
12.08.2005
  Ute
Last summer, I heard about the Genographic Project that National Geographic is supporting. Its a neat project. They collect DNA samples and are collecting data about human migratory patterns of "deep ancestors." You have to shell out $100 bucks to participate. Back then I wasn't a starving student (I mean... I was a video store clerk, cha-ching), so I signed up.

There's family myth that we are part Ute Indian. The claim is that my father's mother's mother was a Ute Indian, making me 1/16 Ute Indian. That would be cool. They have Bear Dances.

Perhaps the DNA test will confirm this myth! Just one hitch. This is the test they'll perform on my sample:
"Males: Y-DNA test. This test helps us to identify deep ancestral geographic origins on the direct paternal line."

I'm hope I'm wrong, but I think I only got Swiss Y-chromosomes (That's my dad's dad's heritage).

I suppose, I could dig into the archives. Someone somewhere knows the history of my great-grandmother. Until I do that though, I can compare pictures. You think I look like a Ute Indian?

 
12.06.2005
  Bushisms
Prof. Volokh points me to this "Bushism":
"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." -- Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2005

Apparently, this same line was 'reported' on the Daily Show. Ridiculous ain't it. That President Bush, always so inarticulate, redundant and uninformed.

Except, here is a larger segment from that same speech:
America has always been a compassionate nation that values the newcomer and takes great pride in our immigrant heritage; yet we're also a nation built on the rule of law, and those who enter the country illegally violate the law. The American people should not have to choose between a welcoming society and a lawful society. We can have both at the same time. And to keep the promise of America, we will enforce the laws of our country.
Doesn't look as silly with context, does it. It's actually a nice piece of rhetoric, as one commenter noted:
Bush is employing an enthymeme:

We are a nation built on the rule of law.
Illegal immigration violates the rule of law.

Implied conclusion-
Thus, illegal immigration violates what this country is built on.

Bush isn't simply stating the obvious. He is putting forth the explicit terms of a syllogism in order for the listener to be led forcefully to the implied conclusion. This is a staple figure from classical rhetoric.
And, as another commentator mentions, Mr. Bush seems to have, you know, a real point:
In context, however, this statement is a logical step (somewhat redundant perhaps) in an interesting line of argument that no one here seems yet to have identified, which I would elaborate on as follows:

American has two visions of our society: a compassionate and welcoming society with a proud history of immigration and a law-abiding society. By breaking our laws regarding immigration, those who enter our country illegally bring these two visions into conflict, attempting to set our vision of welcoming society against our vision of a law-abiding society by demanding that we make a false choice between the two. We do not need to make this false choice; rather, we can embrace both visions, and we will do so by enforcing our nation's laws, including those on immigration.
The new articulation is more full, but I still like the President's graf better.
 
12.02.2005
  Perspective
Prof. Delong takes Don Luskin to task for mis-calculating death rates among solders in Iraq. Fair enough.

There have been 1511 combat fatalities in Iraq from May 2003 to November 2005. If there's 150,000 U.S. solders in Iraq then that comes to 396 deaths per 100,000 per year (the standard units for mortality figures).

A solder in Iraq is 9 times more likely die in combat than a citizen of Washington D.C. is to be murdered. Solders in Iraq die at rates 4.5 faster than loggers. (This last comparison may be unfair... I'm only counting combat deaths not total deaths which include accidental deaths like car accidents. Its hard to tell if loggers die at disproportional rates because trees fall on them, which I would consider to be the logger equivalent to combat death, or because of other incidental reasons. I'm assuming that logger deaths are all directly related to their main work activity, i.e. falling trees. Also, I wonder if non-combat related deaths in Iraq happen at disproportionate rates. [ed. err, 'disproportionate' to what? average american accidental mortality? dangerous occupation mortality? maybe you should suck it up and include all 2200 solder fatalities increasing the solder death rate by a third.])

Lessons: I don't want to live in Washington D.C. and I don't want to be a logger. Its safe to say that solders lead a dangerous life. Also, there may be a way to quantify the benefit of 'glory' or 'honor' that solders get by dying for their country... just compare the discounted lifetime incomes of loggers against solders conditioned on likelihoods of premature deaths.
 
  Why do we kill?
Williams says he's prepared for death but hoping for life

Great guy, Williams. He's written children's books and he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Incedentally, he's the founder of the Crips... Yeah, those Crips.

Oh, by the way he brutally murdered four people. Who are these people? Did you read the article? What, no mention of their names or the families that were ruined by their murders?

Albert Owens

Tsai-Shai Yang

Yen-I Yang

Yee-Chen Lin

RIP
 
12.01.2005
  Hey you... You religious?
Eugene Volokh has a great post over at the Volokh Conspiracy about religious belief. In this particular thread, Eugene asks religious folks why they believe what they believe:
Why then do you believe the factual assertions that form the basis of your religion? If, for instance, you wouldn’t believe a claim that Joe Schmoe rose from the dead, why do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? My sense is that irreligious people really do want to know this.
The answers are very interesting. For example, many folks believe Jesus was resurrected because there were so many early Christians who suffered oppression for having that belief. Why would they bring such trouble on themselves if what they believed wasn't true?

The more interesting aspect of the post, though, is that Prof. Volokh has organized the discussion as an invitation to both sides of the issue (i.e. religious vs. not) to understand the point of view of the other side.
The point of this thread is to help irreligious people (or religious people that don’t share the belief in miracles) understand the other side’s thinking, not to have a debate (though such understanding may eventually help debate in other forums).
It's a question, these days, whether such a civil debate/discussion can take place (see the Harvard fiasco and the shrillness of both sides of the ID debate). The comments, so far, are proof that it is possible to have a civil discussion about topics in which people can disagree violently.

UPDATE: Here's the "mate" to Prof. Volokh's earlier post. In this one the professor asks how irreligious folks ground their morality. The comments are equally good. Many folks say that they are moral because their parents (or other socializing agents) taught them to be.
 
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