2008-10-27

Sarah Palin's War on Science

One of my favorite free thinkers, Chris Hitchens, goes after Mooselini and her party's stance on science.

From the article:
This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.
Preach it, brother.

Via Digg.

2008-10-14

Pat Buchanan and the End of Democracy

Via hugeasscity.

Never let it be said I don't give props to conservatives who nail it.

If you buy that communism is socialism plus totalitarianism, which is the scarier half?

Socialism is a model for economic matters and deals with income distribution and social programs. I would claim at the extreme it's pretty stupid.

Totalitarianism is a model for government and deals with who has political power and how it's exercised. I would claim at the extremes it's pretty scary.

This is where Pat's article comes in: The End of Democracy.
In a survey of 24 countries by Pew Research Center, the nation that emerged as far and away first on earth in the satisfaction of its people was China. No other nation even came close.

"Eighty-six percent of Chinese people surveyed said they were content with the country's direction, up from 48 percent in 2002.... And 82 percent of Chinese were satisfied with their national economy, up from 52 percent," said the Times.
Scary. His conclusion even more so.
Democratic capitalism, it would appear, now has a great new rival-autocratic capitalism. In Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, nations are beginning to imitate the autocrats of China and Russia, as some in the 1930s sought to ape fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

The game is not over yet. We are going into extra innings.
Preach it, brother.

Redux: I'm not touching my 401k

Yesterday, 13 October 2008, was a 'Top 10' day for the S&P 500.

11.68%

I was left wondering how many people cashed out their long-term investments on Friday scared of where the market is heading. They missed out on a whole year's worth of good appreciation in one day.

So like I said last week, I'm not touching my 401k.

2008-10-13

Dan Savage: Death with Dignity

From the October 7 Stranger.

Dan Savage, a brilliant writer, brings a sad, terrifying, and touching story to the debate about I-1000 in Washington and the issues of dying with dignity.

From the article:
I don't know what my mother would have done if she had had the choice to take a few pills and skip the last two hours of her life. She was a practicing Catholic. But she was also pro-choice, pro–gay marriage, pro–ordaining women. If she could've committed suicide, by her own hand, with a doctor "assisting" only by providing her with drugs and allowing her to administer them to herself, after saying her good-byes, I suspect she would have done so, so great was her fear of dying in pain.

I do know that she should have been allowed to make that choice for herself. It's not a choice that Joel Connelly—or the Catholic Church—had a right to make for her.

I also know that, if my mother needed my help, I would've held a glass of water to her lips, so that she could swallow the pills that would've spared her those two hours of agony.

And that shouldn't be a crime.
Well said.

2008-10-11

Helvetica: The Movie!

Who knew a font could be so cool?

I was hanging out in Wales with my brother and his better half looking through the iTunes store for a movie to rent.

We came upon Helvetica. [IMDB] [Wikipedia]

A very interesting survey of font--far more pervasive and influential then I could have ever imagined.

Memorable quotes from the film:
The meaning is in the content of the text and not in the typeface, and that is why we loved Helvetica very much.
Another:
And I think I'm right calling Helvetica the perfume of the city. It is just something we don't notice usually but we would miss very much if it wouldn't be there.
You'll never walk around a city--especially NYC--in the same way again.

If you do anything that uses fonts--from graphic design to web sites and user interfaces--you'll get something from this film.

Very cool.

2008-10-08

I'm not touching my 401k

There is a lot of talk about cashing out of the market. Taking an entire portfolio and putting it into cash or gold.

I'm leaving mine exactly where it is.

The number one rule of long-term investing (or #8, if you ask CNN Money): Don't time the market.
It would be so nice, wouldn't it, to sell before every market downdraft and then get back in just as the good times roll again. But it's too hard to pull off. Nobody knows when markets will turn. And when they do, they tend to move in quick bursts. By the time you realize an advance has begun, most of it's over. Miss that initial stretch and you'll miss out on most of the gains. The lesson: The surest way to investing success is to buy, then stick to your guns.
A related article makes the point clearly:
The S&P 500 gained 11.8% a year between 1982 and 2001. But only investors who stayed the course managed to earn that big a return.
If invested $10,000 in 1982 in the S&P 500, you'd have over $93k in 2001. If happened to miss the best 10 days in those 10 years, you'd only have $56k.

The horizon for my 401k is well beyond 20 years--more like 40 years. So I'm staying put.

If something happens in the market now that is so bad that a 40-year of 'normal' markets can't erase it, my last concern will be my 401k.

I'll go by a shotgun.

2008-10-07

My brother, singing Opera in Wales, kickin' ass

A week from now I'll be back in the States. Actually, a week from yesterday.

How time flies.

Tomorrow I head to Cardiff, Wales, UK to see my brother, John Michael Moore, sing Figaro in the Barber of Seville--or, as the stobs say, "Il barbiere di Siviglia".

I always say I'm proud of my brother when he's not in the room.

I guess I'd better share the reviews before I jump the English Channel.

From Cardiff What's On:
John Moore’s Figaro couldn’t have been more engaging.
From Theatre Wales:
Figaro, one of opera’s great fixers with an iconic aria was presented to us, full of fun, with a vigorous dynamic by John Moore, an American baritone with a captivating presence who dexterously took us all with him on this amorous and successfully, climaxing adventure.
I'll deny I wrote any of this in 24 hours.

On a crazy side note, a bunch of people from my home town will also be at the performance, including my 4th-grade teacher. (Mrs. Van for home-town readers.)

Cool.

2008-10-05

"Are you voiting for McCain?"

While traveling in Europe, I've noticed a common question when people find out I'm from the States.
Are you voting for McCain?
The answer I've given instinctively always gets across my intention.
I have a passport.
I immediately get a 'but of course' nod.

According to a 2004 survey by Zogby, Democrats were almost twice as likely as Republicans to have a passport.

The corrupting influence of a global perspective, I guess.