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Monday, August 31, 2009

No Shower for You!

Apparently Consumer Reports Turns Tattletale when they discovered one of their reviewed shower heads had more than the EPA mandated water flow (2.5 gallons per minute).

Since the EPA is planning to reduce flow even more I took a quick look through their report and found a couple of interesting things.

While they can’t really figure out a way to measure drop temperature per meter, there is a reasonable argument that more efficient shower heads make people use more hot water. That is, manufactures inject air into the stream to keep the pressure up. The air then cools of the water faster. Solution? Turn up the hot water and just let your heater and shower head fight it out. That sounds efficient.

Also, more concretely, more efficient shower heads increase the danger of scalding because the less water you use, the more dramatic the temperature difference when your roommate flushes the toilet!

If this happens, I’ll seriously consider just not using a shower head and let the faucet flow free.

Monday, August 24, 2009

From bad to worse

Wow, the lead in to this MSNBC story has all kinds of wrong.

A Nebraska man who stole a painting of the Virgin Mary to finance an abortion for a teen he was accused of raping has been convicted of first-degree sexual assault and felony theft.

(HT: Radley Balko)

Friday, August 21, 2009

On really racist android ninjas

Jonah Goldberg hits the nail on the head in his column today A Deck Stacked with Race Cards which describes the failing attempts to marginalize dissent regarding the health care debate by dismissing anyone  who disagrees and

Which is pretty much summed up as

Suddenly, if conservatives want to transcend race, we have to agree to massive increases in the size of government and socialized medicine.

And Jonah you know the answer to this one

Seriously, if Hillary Clinton were president, would conservatives really be rolling over for the same health-care plan because she’s white?

No. It would still be objectionable, but it would be because she’s a woman!

But the best line is

Two weeks ago, town hallers were supposed to be members of the Brooks Brothers brigade, Astroturf division. Now they’re well-armed anti-government militias. At this rate, they’ll soon be android ninjas with laser vision. Wait, strike that. They’ll be really racist android ninjas with laser vision.

Now if he had only worked in a zombie reference…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Its a racist white guy with a gun! (Except its not.)

This is absolutely unbelievable. I really cannot believe they actually put this on the air.

Go view the video for yourself over at the Sundries Shack or at Moe’s but the sum of it is that MSNBC shows a close up cropped view of a well dressed man with an AR-15 strapped to his back at a rally. The voice over says

And the reason we’re talking about this, a lot of talk here, Dylan, because people feel like, yes, there are Second Amendment rights for sure but also there are questions about whether this has racial overtones. I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns strapped to their waists or to their legs.

The big problem is that the guy in the video is black as seen in CNN footage of the same event. The MSNBC video is cropped super close and doesn't show his hands or face.

I usually give the benefit of the doubt that a lot of the media’s bias stems mainly from their own world view – i.e. “I’m in the middle, I’m not on the left!” but this is such shoddy reporting that it has to be deliberate and is ultimately very irresponsible for injecting a level of concern and fear into a debate that need not be there.

(HT: Radley Balko)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mathematicians, economists and zombies. Oh My!

Nothing is cooler than having mathematicians crunching numbers and then when they publish their result it says stuff like this 

a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, unless it is dealt with quickly.

the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often

Except maybe when you unleash the economists to refute the original assumptions underlying zombie infestation calculations! (check out the comments on the Freakonomics blog)

Yeah, yeah tax it! Thats the ticket!

While the CZar and ‘Puter over at the Gormogons have been debating legalization of drugs, I’m reminded one thing I never see discussed.

During the discussion of whether taxing it will bring in additional revenue, nobody EVER discusses whether legalizing something for tax reasons is reasonable. If something is illegal for moral or societal reasons then it needs to be illegal. If there is a reasonable logical argument that something should not be illegal, then it needs to be legal. But we should never pass laws that determine whether or not I am allowed to own something just because you can tax me on it. Laws should be based on the need of the society, not on the need of the government’s pocketbook.

Taxes are a necessary evil. They are not an end unto themselves. The argument “because we can raise more tax money” should never taken into serious consideration in a legal debate.

While I personally waffle on the drug issue, I find anyone who suddenly switches their views to legalization purely for economic reasons a coward who has no moral fiber nor confidence in their own decisions.

Janie’s got a gun (and so do Bill and Ted and Bob and …)

Yes Jonah, openly carrying weapons is a right but ultimately doesn't enhance the debate.

I believe in gun rights, but I also think sporting guns at what are supposed to be peaceful, democratic protests, sends the wrong message. But from what I've seen so far, I can't get super worked up over it either

But what is really funny is that there are probably a lot more guns at these protests than we realize because its illegal in most states to openly carry a hand gun but there are plenty of concealed hand guns carried legally.

And as Jonah points out from a CNN report – the secret service isn’t too worried either.

Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, [U.S. Secret Service spokesman] Donovan said, "Of course not."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dammit Jim!

I’ve always been a fan of James Carville even though I disagree with his politics the majority of the time. But this time the strategist is either off his rocker or using the time honored tactic of denial. Politico reports his comments on CNNs “State of the Union” regarding how letting the Republicans kill the health care bill will actually help the Dems.

“Put a bill out there, make them filibuster it, make them be what they are, the party of no,” Carville said. “Let them kill it. Let them kill it with the interest group money, then run against them. That's what we ought to do.”

Now I don’t doubt his intelligence (and often defend it) but come on! There are alternatives out there. One very good one, which isn’t actually new, sent the Whole Foods customers into a tizzy last week!

But then again, its much easier to just ignore alternative ideas and complain when people don’t like yours.

Snitch Line Quietly Shut Down

After a fanfare announcement and a large backlash, the White House’s snitch line has been shut down silently in the night.

Cuffy has details that the email address now bounces with a message to send feedback to instead.

So while the opportunity to rat your neighbors out to the White House via email has disappeared, you can still snitch via a web form.

But that also misses the mark a bit since the linked site does specifically mention that people should

Please refrain from submitting any individual's personal information, including their email address, without their permission.

I’m still not sure that this is this is the right place to collect this type of information but at least they are making a show of not collecting personal information. Unfortunately, as discussed before, we can’t know what information is submitted here at all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Its not about your speech, its about you not saying your speech!

Sometimes you read something and you are glad you live where you live. Apparently some Holocaust denier in Australia is now serving a jail term for contempt of court.

In their verdict, the judges of the Federal Court said the case was not about the Holocaust but about whether Toben had complied with orders of the court.

That soooo would not fly here in the US (I hope) even though what he says is completely wrong, insulting and inflammatory. They are claiming Its not about what he said. Its about him saying it after they told him not to say it. Riiiiiight. Well why did they tell him to not say it in the first place? Because of what he was saying!

He just better hope they don't try to extradite him to Germany.

Do you really remember Woodstock?

As the 40th anniversary of the historic concert passes by and we see much fanfare and nostalgia, I can’t help but wonder if we might have more stories like this one if everyone there had a cell phone to capture their experience in pictures and video to reintroduce a bit of reality to the fond memories.

I Was At Woodstock. And I Hated It. |

It probably would have also brought YouTube to its knees. :)

Whole Foods Saves Health Care

I’m glad to see John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) getting some traction on his op-ed in the WSJ regarding a real way to reform the country’s health care system without dismantling it or transforming it into something that will destroy what works today or bankrupting the country.

He ultimately makes the same argument that I have been pushing for – untie health care from employment, give people real choices, and make the costs transparent.

I’ve seen references to this op-ed in a number of places now and having attention drawn to a real alternative to the existing House plan really works better than just shouting “No, not Obamacare!” without any other good suggestions to go with it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flip-Flops will kill you!

And while we are banning things we need to BAN THE FLIP FLOPS!!!!

According to the NY Daily News

The flip-flop is the preferred summer shoe for many New Yorkers. But on city streets, the flimsy footwear can be deadly

As much as I hate some of the extreme casualness of wearing a thick piece of paper with a string and calling it a shoe (and don’t wear your pajamas to Wal-Mart either!) I have to agree with John Stossel’s Take on this

If flip-flops were so deadly, people would be lying dead all over the sidewalk.

With apologies to John…. “Gimme a break!”

Ban the taser?

Are “less than lethal” tasers too easy to use? The more items I see like this one from Carlos Miller or these from Radley Balko (aka The Agitator) I move more and more towards wanting to remove the taser’s from the police arsenal.

Provided as an alternative to drawing a firearm and promoted as less than lethal, I wonder if it is too easy to justify using a taser in the mind of the police. “Its not really going to cause permanent damage right?” Maybe, but the officer has no way of knowing that. The victim may or may not have a health issue that makes the taser just as dangerous as a bullet. Since it is promoted as “safe” it gets drawn much too often.

I’m starting to think going back to “using your hands or using your gun” draws a brighter line for the officer involved. That removes a large gray area of when its appropriate to even draw the taser. Some police departments don’t even provide guidelines for when its appropriate to brandish a taser, which says to me that they don’t take it seriously as a weapon. They do know if they misuse their firearm somebody may die.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The White House needs you (to rat on your neighbor)

From the the White House’s official blog – they want to you to report any political speech that they don’t agree with?

If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

And it gets a little more interesting since this is a privacy grey area. According to Senate Judiciary Committee lawyers any info gathered in this way is

  • not covered by the Privacy Act, which prohibits government agencies from keeping any records
  • not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, which means it would not have to release any information on the plan to members of the public who make a request.
  • likely will be covered by the Presidential Records Act, which requires the White House to preserve and maintain its records for permanent storage in a government database.

So if that is true this becomes a secret database of people who disagree with the presidents policies (which they can of course act on) which does not have to be disclosed for at least a decade.