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November 2009
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January 2010

Not Savvy

A simple definition:

“Orgasm in the human female is a variable, transient peak sensation of intense pleasure, creating an altered state of consciousness, usually with an initiation accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic striated circumvaginal musculature, often with concomitant uterine and anal contractions, and myotonia that resolves the sexually induced vasocongestion and myotonia, generally with an induction of well-being and contentment.”

Brian Alexander:

Sexy, no? The “altered state of consciousness” seems a little vague, but a female pal says that in her altered state she sees God and he looks just like Johnny Depp.

God is a pirate!?

Am I A Racist For Hating Blue "People"?

In a review of Avatar, we get this interesting bit:

Yeah, people in the hinterlands can prance around with a camcorder taping car bombs and beheadings, but for real eye-popping entertainment, you have to spend $500 million in petrochemically-powered Anglosphere computation (produced in London, LA, Montreal, and New Zealand) and release your 3D movie everywhere on Earth simultaneously (except for Argentina, China, Italy, and Uruguay). Between Steve Jobs, Page and Brin (the guys at Google), Burt Rutan, and James Cameron, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s grabbing the world’s tech-culture high ground from the US anytime soon. One way or the other, all your base are belong to us.

Infidels are too good. Or as Russell Peters would say, "Infidels are mind-blasting!"

Tax and Spend and Beyond

Alan Viard via Greg Mankiw:

On November 7, 2009, the House passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The bill would expand Medicaid, grant subsidies to moderate-income households buying health insurance on newly established exchanges, and provide health insurance tax credits to some small businesses. These expenditures would be financed, in part, by a new 5.4 percent surtax on households with very high incomes, including married couples with incomes above $1 million.

The proposed millionaire surtax is politically attractive because its direct burden would fall on a very small group, roughly 0.3 percent of the population. Moreover, this group is extremely wealthy and could undoubtedly afford to pay additional taxes. For three reasons, however, the proposed surtax would be bad tax policy.

Read it all.

This tiny tax is just the beginning. Like the federal income tax which was put on "only" the wealthy, the taxes for health care will soon be paid by regular Americans.

The Meaning of Honor

The Nation via Infidels are Cool:

A 20-year-old girl was auctioned at village Badani Bhutto of Taluka Kashmore in consideration of Rs2,70,000 [US$3,200] on Saturday.

Azizan, daughter of late Allah Bux Bhutto, was divorced on the allegation of Karo-kari some time back. She is stated to be mother of two children and was residing with her brother who held the open auction for her ‘sale’ at village Badani Bhutto.

The last sentence in the story:

The auction money was distributed equally among all the brothers of the girl.

Brothers! The rotten swines sold her like furniture.

Fight the Evil of Global Warming!

Rich Lowry:

What happened to Obama's famous nuance? His subtlety? His Burkean grace notes? His Niebuhrian distrust of glib certitudes? None were on display today in Copenhagen, where he gave a stirring call to arms to fight climate change—on the seas and oceans and on the beaches, and in the fields and in the streets, as it were. Obama wanted "bold and decisive" action, to fight a "grave and growing" danger. He was impatient with mere talk—he wanted action. He used the word "must" several times and in contrast to his warnings to our enemies, actually seemed to mean it. So where did all of Obama's famous complexity go?

Complexity takes a nap when the issue involves more power.

You Can't Check Out

National Post:

In Lamine Yansané's hometown of Boké in Guinea, his father is a revered imam who sometimes leads Friday prayers. But after Mr. Yansané married a Catholic woman and abandoned Islam for Christianity, his father disowned him, and Friday prayers have featured a call for his death, the Federal Court heard yesterday.

Read the rest to see how his refugee claim is proceeding.

Classical Liberal asks in the comments:

"Isaac, does your case set some sort of precedent?"

I think I am the first blogger + ex-Muslim to become a refugee and then a permanent resident in Canada. Though, I don't know if I'm just the first ex-Muslim to become a refugee in Canada.

During my hearing in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board, there were five people in the room: the judge, an immigration officer with her assistant, my lawyer and myself. I fully realized later that the immigration officer was there as a "prosecutor". She questioned me about every minute detail in my application.

Where are my parents from; where are they now; how many siblings I have; when was the last time I was in Pakistan; why don't I just call myself a secular Muslim, go back to Pakistan and stop bothering with this nonsense (I paraphrase) and so on.

She was looking for any sort of crack in my history and subtly minimizing the danger I'd be in if I went back to Pakistan. I've been learning English since grade one, so I had little trouble understanding and answering every single question she asked; sometimes passionately so. I survived three hours of legal verbal assault. I appeared to be credible.

It is likely that someone with poor English skills or uncomfortable body language would appear to be not-so-credible. This is what I think happened to poor Lamine.

Pump the Incline

A detailed article on Climategate. A bit about raw data:

Anthony Watts has surveyed over 75% of the 1,200-plus U.S. weather stations from which national temperatures are accumulated. Most of those were found to be inaccurate by more than 2°C, largely due to being located within ten meters of an artificial heating source. In fact, less than 10% met strict placement guidelines set forth by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Not to worry -- NOAA claims it has methods to “adjust” for such bias, including the use of “smoothing” adjustments to “homogenize” station data to that of surrounding stations.


Would you be shocked to learn that at ICCC 3, Watts told us he had calculated such adjustments to raw temperature data between 1940 and 1999 to be 0.5°F to the positive? That accounts for almost one half of the 1.2°F warming over the last century.

And that’s here in America. Try to imagine what kind of shenanigans might be going on elsewhere in the world.

Not hard to imagine; people have done far worse things for power.

I Can Has Growth?

There has been a spectacular downward revision of the third quarter GDP in Japan. Vox Popoli comments on that and more:

There has not been any economic growth; since GDP measures government spending, all of the "growth" that has been reported is nothing more than the stimulus spending.

Stimulus Spending: It's like inflating a dead horse over and over again.

A Deathly Hallow

Science News via David Thompson:

Ulf Leonhardt is riding high these days, with a new award from the Royal Society of Great Britain to further develop his ideas on how to make things in plain sight disappear.

Damn. Though, initially the poor fellow didn't get much respect:

In 2005 he sent the paper to Nature, which rejected it, and to Nature Physics. Editors at Nature Physics, Leonhardt recalls, took just two days to reject the paper as well. So, he says, he sent it to Science. There, it lasted two weeks before the heave-ho. In early 2006 he tried again, this time with Physical Review Letters, or PRL. Another no-go. One reviewer said the mathematics, while classical (the calculations refer to Maxwell’s and Newton’s equations of light and to other mathematical constructs credited to such titans as Fermat, Lagrange, Euler, Descartes, Euclid, Kepler, Einstein and Feynman), did not offer enough new physics. Ouch.

Let's see how it works out.

White Beauty

I used to play cricket in Saudi Arabia with my friends on a weekly basis. The scorching sun is not kind to light skin. I remember being on vacation in Pakistan in the early 90s. I was visiting an aunt; her reaction upon seeing me was to moan about how much black, kala, I had become.

I was confused for a few seconds till my mom explained why I wasn't so lovely anymore. The culprit being cricket. The obsession with skin color -- specifically white -- is all-powerful in Pakistan. For example, often an arranged marriage can come down to just how 'fair' the bride really is.

At Foreign Dispatches, one can view an Indian ad which showcases this mentality. The actor is Saif Ali Khan, a famous actor and the main actress is Priyanka Chopra who was crowned Miss World in 2000. So, the ad is definitely mainstream.

Is Cool To Trash Men

Jessica Ashley:

I am not going to opine about whether Elin should or should not stick with her husband (although early reports are saying she's planning to stand by him, after a revision of the prenup). Instead, I say that she should do whatever it is she has to do. If that is taking the tool of her husband's trade to smash the window of his Cadillac Escalade, so be it.

Dr. Helen:

So my question to this proponent of violence against men is this: Given that women's marital infidelity is approaching that of men (who are catting around just like Tiger), should their husbands feel free to take the tool of his wife's trade and smash in her car and perhaps her face? Because that is what you are advocating. Cheaters get beaten and their property trashed. I don't agree.

Or maybe what you are really saying is that you are for female privilege.

Again that damn Patriarchy!

Becker Opines

Gary Becker:

I fully endorse Posner's suggestions to cut the minimum wage, but I do not see that happening with the present Congress. My favorite approach it to try to stimulate the economy by cutting income taxes, especially corporate income taxes and other taxes on capital, both physical and human capital. Such tax cuts will stimulate investments in the economy, and in this way increase the demand for workers.

The minimum wage is a job-killing policy but it sounds so good -- somehow magically everyone can earn more money! The truth is that many do see their wages bump up a bit but many folks also lose their jobs. And these are people who're working at or near minimum wage level. So, the poorest are the most harshly affected by this policy.

The Global Swindle

Last year, I was talking to one fellow about recycling. The conversation turned to global warming.

"What do you think we should do about it?" he asked.

"I do not think the globe is warming."

"Oh, you don't believe in global warming?"

"Believe!? Is it a religion? What is there to believe? It is either happening or not. If one looks at figures, the earth has been cooling for the past ten years."

He looked at me like I'd grown horns. He wanted to discuss the merits and demerits of various taxes to combat global warming but I didn't even yield on its existence.

On the same topic, here's Vox Day:

Never place any trust in an expert who can't explain himself to your satisfaction. Especially when he's asking you for money.