Ed from OC

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Everything posted by Ed from OC

  1. Bad, bad, bad writing

    A sample: "As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual." That's the winner from a San Jose State U writing contest. If you want examples of how not to write, check it out here. Very amusing, too.
  2. The Loudness War

    For the last few years, I've complained often about new rock and pop CDs sounding noisy and muddy. An example for you Rush fans: compare the production quality of 1982's Signals to 2002's Vapor Trails. The major difference is in the dynamic ranges. The earlier album is recorded to fill the full 96dB range of the CD format, while the later album is mastered with everything turned all the way up. To my ear, the current fad makes the different instruments sound like they are drowning each other out, fighting for sonic space rather than playing with each other and allowing each to breathe and dance with the others. This article from IEEE does a nice job of explaining the history and technology. "You're listening to your favorite Pink Floyd CD on your home stereo when you accidentally hit the “change CD” button on the control panel. All goes quiet for a bit as your CD player urgently shifts to play whatever is in the next tray. With dread, you desperately reach for the volume knob, but it's too late—your speakers blast the latest Green Day album. Reacting like you were just pricked by a pin, your hand jolts to the volume knob and turns it down. You breathe a sigh of relief. But that's not the end of it. Ten minutes later you feel that something isn't right. Even though you love this album, you can't listen to it anymore. You shut it off, tired, puzzled, and confused. This always seems to happen when you switch from a classic album to a modern one. What you've just experienced is something called overcompression of the dynamic range. Welcome to the loudness war."
  3. Sharia alive and well in Afghanistan

    Does it matter whether it's the Taliban or another Islamic group? The facts (at least as reported in the article) remain what they are... YEARS after we supposedly liberated them. Iraq isn't any different.
  4. Plea Bargaining

    I'm not a lawyer, but I think there's more to it than that. I agree that laws should be clearly defined so that one can know what is illegal in advance. The context giving rise to the need for specifying this is the history of government abuse by handing out punishments by whim, under the pretense of violations of law. But more important than that is securing the content of the laws to individual rights. After all, a government could pass a law banning, say, alcohol, and all that you list about the laws could be true, yet the law itself would not be good. It would be an infringement on our rights and would be immoral. I mention this because if what you wrote above is what you think is essential to the nature of objective law, I think you would be off track. The ability to understand what is illegal is a secondary issue to the more fundamental grounding of the law in individual rights.
  5. Meredith College faculty reject BB & T money

    It's interesting that private money with explicit conditions is rejected while public money, taken by force and dolled out on the basis of political pull, is readily accepted. It's also interesting which is considered representative of "academic freedom." Another part of the issue is they want the money to do with as they please. If they and their government benefactors are in ideological agreement, there's no problem for them. After all, if a grant stipulated the money not be used to endorse, say, Bush's war in Iraq, would they object? I doubt it.
  6. 401k Nationalization

    The odds of a nationalization of 401(k) retirement accounts just went up. I'm not sure if this will actually go through. It's one thing to target a small portion of the population and loot them for the sake of a net gain of votes. But this would actually loot money from such a large group that I can't see it making any sense on the typical politician's own terms. Yet it keeps coming back, getting mentioned yet again in the press. Obviously, if the likelihood is very high, empty your accounts now before they do it for you. Even if you pay taxes and early-withdrawal penalties, at least you'd keep a lot of it. Given the cost of cashing out, it pays to be very certain that nationalization is coming before cashing out. As we saw with health care, financial companies, and GM bond holders, this Congress and administration care nothing for private property. So they would have no qualms about taking the funds; only if they could get away with it. Thoughts?
  7. Agreed. What kind of friendship was lost? Is he that sensitive? Is he that devoted to Obama or socialism that an off-the-cuff remark makes him turn away? Could be several reasons for his response, none of them good. If he doesn't appreciate you that much, then why value his friendship to a greater extent? I have many dance friends who are very left-wing, if not outright socialist, cheering Obama and ObamaCare. We've settled into friendships based on what we have in common, but I doubt our friendships will grow closer. Yet for the most part, I can enjoy occassional, short, civil disagreements, and that's fine. There's plenty of people in the world with whom to be friends, and all sorts of types and degrees of friendship. Don't lose sleep over an incident like this, where you did nothing wrong. Consider the alternative: that you constantly feel on edge, censoring yourself to consider whether someone might get offended by such innocuous remarks. To hell with that! You ought to be free to speak your mind (some degree of tact and manners kept in mind, of course) without fear of losing friends. If you can't do that, then they aren't your friends, or worthy of your respect. My two cents
  8. When I was younger I didn't appreciate the value of kids and was convinced I didn't want any. I changed my mind after spending time with friends who had kids of their own. I got to see directly the joy the parents experienced as well as enjoy the company of the kids myself. I suggest doing the same thing to see if that is something worth investing in yourself - financially and emotionally. I don't think it is for everyone, so take a good look at it. What I get from what you wrote is a desire to clarify the value side, and this is where it would likely help to spend time with kids and their parents. Along the lines of what others wrote, raising kids is an investment and a potential value. Any investment means foregoing other uses for one's resources (time, money, energy). This is where the cost you mentioned factors in. Yes, there is a definite cost to raising kids -- but that's true of investments as such. The fact that there are costs associated with raising kids does not negate the value. What else will you do with your time? Spend and extra 20 hours/week on your career? Take up a hobby? Travel? Retire early? These are all possible uses for your time and money. Having kids means giving up some measure of flexibility in your schedule, because their activities require priority. So maybe you give up a spontaneous trip to happy hour with co-workers, in order to help Johnny with his multiplication tables, or nurse Susie through a cold, or take the family out bowling. So a deeper issue is consciously, explicitly identifying your value hierarchy. Where there are grey areas, spend time investigating which values are higher than others. What I see from raising kids is the potential of creating a close personal relationship with another person that lasts throughout your life. You get to see and participate in the development of a person, from birth through adulthood. You get to see the joy of discovery of the world in a young pair of eyes. Re: the happiness survey mentioned earlier: I don't think this is necessarily applicable to everyone. What average parents do with and get from their kids has little bearing on what one may get. What one gets from values depends on the valuer, his purpose, and his methods. One can't say "kids are always values" because of this; one has to ask: to whom? for what? So, for the parents surveyed: why did their happiness go up after the kids left? How were the kids raised? Were the parents themselves to blame for their own unhappiness? Were the parents to blame for making the kids miserable, and the kids were happy to leave home? I'm sure that's true of at least some of the people surveyed. So, I'd ignore the results without knowing more.
  9. Happy Birthday to Ed from OC

    Dude. That's a lame excuse. I have to say.
  10. Happy Birthday to Ed from OC

    thanks all.
  11. Spam Attacks on THE FORUM

    Well, shoot. I got on here at the beginning in order to peddle pictures of nude celebrities in Nigerian casinos. That didn't work out too well.
  12. Happy Birthday to ~Sophia~

    Happy Birthday!
  13. I'm currently looking at the differences between the states, in terms of politics and financial health. Clearly some states like Texas are in much better shape than California. California has 1/3 of all US welfare cases, the first cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission law, and is head-over-heels in debt. The solution, given the recent state election, is: raise taxes even more. Some analysts are projecting 30 - 80% increases in gas prices over the next 5 years, for Californians. That's presumably over and above any national or international price or tax increases. The culture here is to punish the successful and pay out free goodies for votes, while further entrenching power in unions. Texas, by contrast, leads the nation in growth, by the last census. It has fairly handled the great recession, with a relatively mild economic hit. It has low taxes, low regulation, and a pro-business government (even the Democrats are that way, I hear). The mindset is pretty much laissez-faire (in spirit if not consistent law). What about other states? What other states are like Texas, politically? Which are more strongly pro-property rights? Some states I haven't seen much discussion about are Colorado and North Carolina. Colorado has very right wing, religious areas (Colorado Springs) and very left wing, socialist ones (Boulder). What about Denver and the state as a whole? I've heard the state was a lot like a Texas but so many ex-Californians have moved there in the past decade-plus that the state has tilted leftward to some degree -- though to what extent I can't say. So, any Forumers out there in CO care to share a word or three? And the same goes for residents of other states. I'd like to get a view of which states are particularly oriented toward or away from freedom. Thanks!
  14. Ran across this article today. Seems pretty on the money.
  15. Military Cuts!

    It is solely a red herring for the Democrats to use in an attempt to assassinate the integrity of the tea party Republicans. Even cutting 100% of the defense budget won't fix the nation's financial problems. It is Social Security and Medicare that must ASAP be phased out, or we are bankrupt -- period. As a nation, we must decide what roles and priorities the government may and should have. November's election was the first round in that debate.
  16. State of the States ... and Countries

    Here is another comparison of freedom in the states. Here is a pdf of the report.
  17. State of the States ... and Countries

    There are a lot of details to my personal context that I'd rather not get into, so I'll leave the question unanswered. However, if someone wants to start a thread to compare countries, go ahead; it sounds interesting. Another reason for asking about states is I'm aware of comparisons of levels of freedom between countries, but not between states. I've found some that compare some aspect of freedom, such as the best and worst states for business (2009 and 2010). This page shows the CEOs grading of three subcategories: taxation and regulation; workforce quality; and living environment. For taxation and regulation, the A grades go to DE, NV, SD, and TX. California gets the only F. Such rankings as this gives a decent assessment of the relative freedom of the different states, at least in one large area of one's life. Together with rankings of other aspects of freedom (say, free speech, gun laws, etc) one could get a measure of the overall cultural acceptance of freedom in a particular state.
  18. State of the States ... and Countries

    I appreciate the insights provided, but the thread has drifted to comparing USA to other countries, which isn't really the initial question. Within the US, which states have the best pro-freedom culture?
  19. State of the States ... and Countries

    It's useful, but such things don't give a good perspective on the culture and the sense of life of the people. I appreciate the other info. That's the kind of info I'm looking for here. the more pro-freedom the sense of life, the better the place will be in the long run. That makes Texas good.
  20. Bounce

    Please add this book to rate: Bounce by Matthew Syed
  21. Elimination of Mortgage Interest Deduction

    If we are to have taxes at a certain level, we'd all be much better off with a very simple tax rate than with a higher base rate filled with complex deductions. The latter gets the tax code in the way of rational economic decisions, favoring certain investments over others. It costs time and money to merely comply with the code. It leaves open the doubt of whether one has actually complied, with the possibility of future legal actions. For businessmen, it clouds one's planning. But most of all, it opens the door to political manipulation and corruption. A flat tax with no deductions would simplify our lives immensely. Why did we have a housing bubble over the last ten years? The tax code was one part of it, as it favored real estate over other investments. What other investment has so much margin (zero down loans!), a huge capital-gains-tax exemption, as well as a deduction for interest on the loan? Now if the government had in fact provided the same tax incentives for other investment vehicles we may not have had such a distorted market. (Other factors contributed to the bubble, of course, but this was certainly a big one!)
  22. Dr. Peikoff on McCaskey

    Again, to clarify: McCaskey is accused of publicly attacking LL. Yet his Amazon review appeared AFTER he resigned from the board. Is there some other public statement or comment by him that Peikoff and Brook refer to? I don't see an issue with a board member criticizing an issue privately. Publicly is another matter.
  23. 401k Nationalization

    I find those last two sentences hard to believe. MILLIONS of people? Look at how hard the criminal justice system works to manage a few million people. If civil unrest occurs, could the government actually handle that many people, in a short period of time? Who in the police or military would blindly follow orders to arrest their fellow citizens en masse? Certainly none that I've known. I also doubt they "know what they're doing." If they have trouble delivering mail, how good will they be at rounding up and incarcerating millions of people? I find it hard to see a large conspiracy amongst such incompetence and in-fighting. Range-of-the-moment political expediency, absolutely.
  24. Happy Birthday to RayK

    Happy Birthday, Ray! One of these days you'll make it out to OC or I'll make it to Vegas.
  25. 401k Nationalization

    Ray, please do not misread what I said, or read implications that aren't there. The person I talked with is a good friend who is very successful and very knowledgeable about finance and markets; he has no commercial or financial interest in where I put my money. He and I have had several conversations about economics and investments over the years. So please don't attack the character of someone whose identity and credentials you don't know. I was trying to get across many points briefly so I didn't linger on this one. The point is that tax avoidance, not just tax evasion, is illegal. If the IRS sees you taking actions to avoid taxes, outside of prescribed and condoned methods, they can, do, and likely will take legal action to obtain the missing taxes, plus levy fines. It should be no surprise that a government can arbitrarily ignore property rights (eminent domain cases; seizing GM, Chrysler at the expense of bond holders; voiding mortgage and foreclosure processes and contracts by whim; etc.) can decide when they see fit to seize a nice, big cash cow sitting out there (the huge money in 401k accounts) and use it to pay out the overdrawn labor union pensions. This administration is far more leftist than any in my lifetime. It scares me how little they value the rule of law or property rights. Previous presidents violated our rights on occasion, but this guy just doesn't care at all about even the appearance of protecting them. He has no fear at all about going too far.