A random sampling of the stupid.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Suing our way to prosperity

What do you do when your favorite grocery store raises its prices? Do you try to waste less food, switch to generics, or stop buying bottled water? If so, move to Cuba you pinko bastard.

Here in America, when something bad happens, we pick somebody to blame and sue them. Case in point, Congress and OPEC:

The House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices, but the White House threatened to veto the measure.The bill would subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.The measure passed in a 324-84 vote, a big enough margin to override a presidential veto.

I feel dirty. This is the second time in the past few months I've found myself agreeing with Bush (other time was the farm bill). The White Houses view:

The White House opposes the bill, saying that targeting OPEC investment in the United States as a source for damage awards "would likely spur retaliatory action against American interests in those countries and lead to a reduction in oil available to U.S. refiners."
Yeah, that sounds about right. Although I'm pretty sure they got cut off before adding that "the Bush family derives most of it's wealth from oil, and so we're making a killing here. Cheney too."

Investigating the cause of current high prices would be a worthwhile activity, and is part of the bill, but Congress has already jumped to its conclusion and pointed the finger. The only effect will be to jeopardize our already tenuous relationship, and drive prices higher. Thanks for that.

Although the real reason for the bill is likely the same as the gas tax holiday. Congress wants to look like it's doing something helpful, but of course it can't.

Error rating: 5.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Winners never quit, except when they do

Many people have been calling on Clinton to quit the race. For quite awhile, in fact. Personally, I'm sort of on her side; the delegate count is very close, and she's closer in popular vote than in delegates. But she's been using dumb arguments. For instance, she's not a quitter:

"You see all those folks on TV, they keep telling me to quit," she said. "Well, I don’t know, maybe I was just raised with the kind of values you were raised -– you don’t quit on people and you don’t quit until you finish what you started and you don't quit on America. And I'm running for president because I believe that I would be the best president and I’m the stronger candidate to beat John McCain."

YOU'RE STILL IN THE SENATE! What exactly have you been doing there for the past 8 years? And what will you be doing there for at least the next 4 (assuming of course, she's not president)?

I've had this argument with people before. One friend of mine took a class in physics, and because it was hard, decided he couldn't quit and had to major in it. Phrased that way, it sounds sort of stupid, right? Did Romney give up on America? How about Huckabee? Or Edwards? Or Richardson? No, they didn't. They accepted reality, and decided how best to use their time and resources.

Her "best candidate to beat McCain" is much better, if people do the math. Democratic primaries are proportional, but the general election is winner-take-all. According to electoral-vote.com, Clinton beats McCain, but Obama loses. I'm surprised the pundits haven't noticed this. It's likely because they don't like doing math.

Anyway, error rating Clinton continuing to run because she's "not a quitter" instead of "I've done the math, I know my chances, and they don't warrant quitting": 3


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Soul Transplant List

Apparently, the ancient egyptians were right, the heart is the seat of consciousness. The Daily Mail reports:

They argue, in effect, that our hearts, livers and every single organ in the body stores our memories, drives our emotions and imbues us with our own individual characters. Our whole body, they believe, is the seat of the soul; not just the brain.

And if any of these organs should be transplanted into another person, parts of these memories - perhaps even elements of the soul - might also be transferred.

There are now more than 70 documented cases similar to Sonny's, where transplant patients have taken on some of the personality traits of the organ donors.

(Sonny received a heart transplant and fell in love at first sight with the donors wife)

Wow, 70 cases! That sure is a lot. No tangible medical evidence to speak of, no proposed mechanism for how organs might have memory, just anecdotal evidence of 70 cases out of many thousands*.

I think it's a load of new age crap that people would love to believe, but that's an unscientific thing to say. Who knows, maybe organs do store memories somehow, biology is pretty complicated. So if these people want to spend their time researching it, fine. But 70 cases is not credible evidence, and until they can propose a mechanism, it's barely science at all.

Error scale: 5. Could be right, be very, very weak evidence.


* A little over 2,000 in the US in '06. Source: American Heart Association