“Cold-Ass Facts”

I think Cathy Young does a decent job, here, of sorting through the steaming piles of bullshit that represent the left's case against and the right's case for the war in Iraq. You should take the few minutes to read it regardless of what side you're on. Of course, the charge that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence data either is true, or isn't true. There's no such thing as an unpatriotic fact. And here's the reason I hate this kind of debate. To have a truly informed opinion on this topic would probably take months of meticulous research, and probably some specialized knowledge as well. That means most people commenting on the issue tend to form their opinion based on selective information and based, at least in part, on their political biases. It's just a little too convenient that nearly everyone who opposes the war thinks the Bush administration cooked the intelligence, and nearly everyone who supports it thinks that's a cynical lie. Yea, I'm generally for it, but only because killing primitives whose religion includes killing me to gain favor with their delusionally imagined god is a moral imperative. I said it way back at the beginning: the WMD-justification...


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Justice Always Gets Paid

“Whenever Merck was up there [on the witness stand], it was like wah, wah, wah,” juror John Ostrom told The Wall Street Journal, imitating the drone of Charlie Brown’s teacher after dunning Merck & Co. for $253 million in damages. He was describing his own reason for finding that Merck’s Vioxx had killed a 59-year-old man, even though the trial established that the man had died of unrelated causes. Ostrom’s fellow jurors don’t seem much cleverer. Marsha Robbins prayed to be made forewoman, and in an irrefutable proof of God’s bounty ended up getting the position uncontested. Lorraine Blas noted in her questionnaire that she’s a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and when plaintiff’s lawyer Mark Lanier in his closing arguments suggested a guilty verdict might land the jury a spot on Oprah’s show, Blas, rather than being creeped out by this used car salesman’s trick, laughed and enjoyed the lawyer’s attention. And consider juror/medical genius Matthew Pallardy, who, despite evidence to the contrary, “kind of figured” the victim suffered from a Vioxx-related blood clot, “even if it went away real quick.” The irony, here, is that this example of injustice in the form of gross incompetence and dereliction...


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A Thought Experiment

OK, here's the deal: go read what Kyle Bennett did to some thieves, and then imagine had he called "the authorities" to help him out. Here's what I imagine. Rather than justice having been rendered in total, by now, Kyle is still sitting there with the guys who've got to "file their report" (in order to justify their budget: use it or lose it, y'know?), and they're still stuck on the part where the thieves hotlinked the image feed off Kyle's own site. "Ok, ok, now...lemme go over this again...ok, ok, how'd you say that works, again?"


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Practical Causes & Effects

The announcement by GM to eliminate a whopping 30,000 jobs delivers a good opportunity for a lesson in causes & effects. Since you're very unlikely to receive any sort of accurate assignment of same anywhere in the major media, let's give it a bit of a go here, shall we? Of course, you're going to hear the standard inversion of cause and effect. You're going to "learn," because the labor unions are going to make sure you do, that the "reason" for the dire straits in which U.S. automakers find themselves is due to competition from Japan and Korea. And it's true, except that this "unbeatable" competition isn't a cause, it's an effect. In the same article I linked above, they talk all around the real cause, bringing up and implying all sorts of causes that are not causes at all, but effects. The primary practical cause (principle causes are philosophic in nature) is contained right within the article, but is not identified as such. The UAW responded to Wagoner's announcement with an angry statement to the media indicating it would push to keep furloughed workers on GM's payrolls for the duration of its current labor contract, which expires in...


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Get the Bloodhound

I like to report on good service I receive whenever I can. As I've blogged, we recently sold our home. One of the motivating factors was to use some of the profits to invest in other real estate. Phoenix, AZ, happens to be the hottest appreciating market in the country, right now, and even though the run-up in prices in the last year precludes positive rental cash flow (unless you go in with lots of equity), appreciation should far outstrip the outlay I'll have over the next three years, which is my anticipated holding period. So, I contacted my friend Greg Swann, of Bloodhound Realty. Told him I wanted three rentals, but not just any rentals. I wanted relatively new houses, stucco, tile roofs, in nice suburban neighborhoods. In short, I want houses that will attract the cream of the crop in tenants and command market rental rates, even though I may set the price slightly below just to rent them quick. We'll see. I also told Greg that I did not want to travel to Phoenix -- not now, not ever! (not really) No, I just want to be able to do everything remotely. I'm happy to report that...


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Sent Items: Exposing Evil Motives

Yea, I've been a lousy blogger of late. Well, we finally sold, closed and moved out of the home we've occupied these last 6 1/2 years in San Jose, CA. Bought it as a fixer-upper in 1999 and sold for almost tripple what we paid. It was about 1500 sq. ft., 4 BR, 2 bath, and a 2-car garage. We bought a new construction, downtown loft town-home at an insane price of almost $600 per sq. ft. (the rental properties I'm in the process of buying in Phoenix go for less than $100 per foot). The new place is about 1000 sq. ft., and though it has three covered parking spaces (I bought 2 extra spaces for only $25,000, which was discounted off the $35,000 price), no private garage to fill with crap. You do the math. Even though we got rid of tons, it still was not nearly enough. But I'm enjoying getting rid of stuff. That's my reward. Lightening up. Donating to Good Will and The Salvation Army is strictly because of the convenience of not having to haul it away. Yes. Dead serious. And, you should note: far more honest about such things than most. I'm not...


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Stand-Up Business

TypePad, the company that runs both the servers and the continuously updated and improved server-side software that runs this blog, have been having growing pains. There have been service issues: sluggish performance and the occasional short-term outage. Nothing amounting to incompetence, that I can detect. I'd have no tolerance or patience for that. They've sent out a communication or two about it, asking for patience. Now this: Compensation for this less than stellar performance We are all aware that you pay for TypePad and expect to receive superior service and performance in return. At times last month, we did not provide that type of experience to all our customers and apologies are not good enough. We also know that some customers have been more heavily impacted than others. If you often use the service on weekdays between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm Pacific Time you may have experienced one or even many periods when you had problems with TypePad's speed and responsiveness. If you use the service at other times, you may not have experienced any problems at all. After wrestling with these facts and wanting to be fair to all our users we have decided that the only option...


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Understanding Evil

Like I said in my last entry, I've been in San Fran all week. Last night, Friday, I headed out for one of my favorite regular joints, the Daily Grill, just off Union Square. I'm staying on the other side of the square, right atop the Stockton Tunnel. The square's packed this Friday night in a sea of crimson & gold: USC is up for today's game with the Cal Bears. I mean: USC is up. There are thousands of people -- everywhere. I admire those students for their carefree attitude, clearly obvious and all around. Enjoy it, kids. You'll have plenty of time to grind through the reality of life and know evil. Get it while you can. Because of the crowd, I had to sip my Maker's Mark Manhattan (up, of course) while standing. But I scoped out a few seats at the bar and one opened up soon enough. Wasn't long before I found myself chatting with a 60ish gentleman and his wife. Brits, they are, on holiday. He's a retired British Army Officer (I was a US Navy Officer), then a cop for a time. He was proud to tell me that he was a cop...


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Goings On

I'm in San Francisco for the week, since Saturday night. Mostly business, and the days are full. Other than that, both our house that we sold and the new loft we purchased close this week, and we move Sunday morning -- right after I get back Saturday night. Alors, just too little time to blog. I would like to get something out regarding France, since I lived there for two years and parle le langue. I've an observation or two. Later.


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Lucky Stars

Yep, the lucky stars were definitely out for this group of football spectators. How would you like to have a plane crash only two or three feet behind where you're standing, and by the time you have any clue as to what's going on, it's over? Go and click on the "Video" link right under the photo. It requires IE. Firefox doesn't work. They show it once in real motion, and then in slow motion. In the slow motion footage, notice the delayed reaction of the spectators.


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Just Politics as Usual

Matt Welch lays out just exactly why I will never, EVER again in my life get worked up over a political election. Besides, it's a lot more fun sitting on the sidelines. Ever go to a party, not feel like drinking, and watch everyone else drink -- and then dance? While you're stone-cold sober? Yep, that's what the political scene is like, for me. I admit it. I was stupid. I just thought that firing the Governor of the most populous state in the US was so way cool. It ought to be way easier to fire holders of political office, and it ought to be something that happens at least every week or so, at all levels. Anyway, I would have preferred the very fiscally conservative Tom McClintock to kick Gray Davis' ass right out of Sacramento. Tom has some integrity. As a California Senator, he has never voted against his stated principles -- which are conservative -- and that says something, for a politician. But I really thought Arnold had the horsepower and will to really shake things up, regardless of the political cost. Perhaps there's a lot more to that connection to the commie Kennedys. What probably...


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