Saturday, July 11, 2015

China Even Bootlegs American Laws!

Remember all the (often libertarian) China bulls who were telling us about a decade ago that China is more business-friendly than the U.S. Remember hearing them say the Chinese had observed and learned from the mistakes of the fading West, "money goes where it is treated best" and all that? Yeah, about that...


China’s securities regulator took the drastic step of banning shareholders with stakes of more than 5% from selling shares for the next six months in a bid to halt a plunge in stock prices that is starting to roil global financial markets.


It almost reminds me of something...oh right, that time in 2008 when America did the same thing.

I thought vibrant China had learned from calcified America's mistakes and was doing an Opposite George on all things red, white, and blue. Apparently what they learned is how to repeat them.




Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why Twitter has made Vice Presidents Irrelevant

To the extent that federalism still exists - and it's a reach to say it still does - social media is rapidly poaching what survives of it. Indiana recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Alabama recently passed its Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act, and the national social media apparatus put so much pressure on those governments the laws were quickly defanged by the online maelstrom.

This phenomenon is only going to grow more powerful.

For all the talk of dysfunction in politics and the country being more divided than ever, there is an airtight consensus on the social issues among the nation's power brokers. This has been proven time and again since sites like Twitter and Gawker grew from novelties to sniper rifles. Doesn't matter how traditional Indiana might want to be. Its officials and businesses cannot withstand the instantaneous human wave attacks.

So with federalism fully dead and the national consensus flattening any differences from state to state, the importance of having a VP from a swing state is null and void. No matter how popular he is at home, if he dissents the coast-to-coast digital derision will soon make him a goat at home. You can select Marco Rubio as VP thinking you'll get Florida, but his stances on abortion and the Indiana law would swirl around his head like radioactive gnats. Every little gaffe on the campaign trail would be traced back to those stances and votes, probably on a daily basis. The national media/social media scrutiny (with power broker reinforcement) would prevent him from carrying Florida for whomever the presidential candidate was. A Jeb/Rubio ticket might carry Florida, but otherwise no chance.

Ryan didn't carry Wisconsin for Romney, Walker wouldn't do any better, Portman wouldn't deliver Ohio for anyone (voted against partial birth abortion for starters), Santorum wouldn't deliver Pennsylvania. The list goes on. The intersection of the power broker consensus with the cost free bully pulpit of social media makes it impossible to step outside whatever this afternoon's standard is for acceptable debate (don't get comfortable, it will change by dinner time).

Having someone like Perry or Cruz as VP (not that it would happen) isn't necessary to help carry Texas because Texas is still a sort of American Switzerland; remaining relevant even as it stands somewhat outside the consensus. This won't last forever of course.

The power broker consensus is making it less and less possible to "vote with your feet." Any openings for state-level legislative arbitrage are pretty much gone. In three or four years you won't even need the caveat of "pretty much."

The old adage was that all politics is local. Social media (and political correctness) means now all politics is national.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fast Times at Living Room High

I am biased in favor of parents who home school their kids. Government schools have always been suspect, and with their having become part prison, part social engineering petri dish, now there is truly nothing to recommend them.

However...

The way home school advocates tout the superior results of home schooled kids is a little simplistic. The very act of home schooling is a vote of no confidence in public schools. And while public schools may be incompetent, even if they weren't - of course a home schooled kid is likely to perform better. He is being tutored one-on-one

Even the most strident pro-government school zealots tout smaller classroom size as an advantage. What could be more advantageous than having a classroom consisting of your kitchen table and (maybe) your siblings?

One-on-one instruction is better for most everyone. Just ask anyone who has taken a foreign language class vs. someone who hired a personal instructor. I bet some of those underperforming public school students would see their results improve too if their teachers focused on them alone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

If you aren't afraid of mimes, you should be

A very short weird tale I wrote - The Discussion of Mimes - has been produced as a podcast over at Pseudopod.org. Hope you enjoy. And tell your friends. And tell your friends to send me money. And tell your friends to put me in their wills.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Alcohol - Mankind's Best Friend

Ever notice that when people quit drinking, they always replace it with something grandiose; martial arts, crazy adrenaline sports, zealous religion (including zealous AA religion).

People don't do this with other addictions. No one takes up MMA just to keep from getting beaten up by Joe Camel.

Drinking is so great it is nearly impossible to replace it with anything else. Certainly there is no replacement as cheap, convenient, or quick. It is cheap: whether it is Dom Perignon or PBR, you still get a buzz. Even expensive whiskey or wine is still cheaper than therapy (and much more likely to improve your mood). It is convenient: you can buy it almost everywhere. It is quick: only takes a few small sips to feel better about problems at work, your flight being delayed, the person who dumped you. Talk about instant gratification. A counseling sessions lasts 45 minutes. You can down two life affirming Smirnoff sips in 45 seconds.

And booze is the gift that keeps on giving. You can't go skydiving every day. You can drink a glass of wine every night.

I saw Bobby Dall, bass player for Poison and former drunk, talking on Behind the Music about replacing drinking with playing for 10,000 people. That's great when that's your alternative, but for the rest of us, to get a rush the choice is either drinking and feeling invincible or riding an exercise bike for an hour. No surprise that Guinness wins that battle.

This irreplaceability is the greatest possible advertising for alcohol. You don't need all those beer commercials with hot chicks and Jeeps. All you have to say is "Budweiser - You'll miss it so much you'll climb Everest."

They call drinking a disease, but really, the disease is life. Drinking is the cure.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

It Takes Pseudo-Science to Sell the Sweet Science

Boxing is the most dangerous and dramatic sport of all, yet for some reason boxing is the only sport where the athletes have to give themselves nicknames to make the sport sound more dangerous and dramatic. Names like The Bronx Bull, The Hispanic Causin' Panic, Lights Out, Hitman, Boom Boom, Touch of Sleep, The Snuff Film Director (OK, I made that one up). There have been no less than 65,000 fighters who've used some variation of the nickname "Sugar."

But really, shouldn't it be the wimpier sports that need nicknames to heighten the drama?

Golf:

Rory "Don't Ask about His Backstory" McIlroy

Tiger "Left Little Red Riding Hood dying in the" Woods

Figure skating:

"Battling" Brian Boitano

Kristi "Yo Mama" Yamaguchi

Tonya Harding...actually, she's the one figure skater who already IS scary.

Chess:

Grapplin' Gary Kasparov

Bobby "The Fatal Flank" Fischer

Not only does boxing evidently need nicknames, but the fighters have to stage fake fights at press conferences to build up hype for their real rights. Without fake punches as part of the buildup no one will pay attention when the genuine punches start getting thrown. And the antics leading up to those fake press conference fights are only half a notch above pro-wrestling story-lines.

Michael Jordan didn't have to pretend to hate John Stockton's wife to generate hype for the Bulls-Jazz Finals. Montana didn't have to pelt Elway with a football to get people to watch the Super Bowl. It is a testament to how peculiar MAN is that fighting, the oldest and most primal sport of all, can't just be allowed to speak for itself.