damnum absque injuria

July 31, 2008

Recessions and the Lying Liars Who Lyingly Lie About Them

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:07 pm

While the usual pollyannas crow over the fact that our economy isn’t currently quite miserable enough to qualify for the R-word, I think some perspective is in order. As recently as last March, Beldar made a hair-trigger charge that Phil Izzo and the WSJ were “lying” when they truthfully reported that a majority of economists surveyed at the time thought the U.S. was in a recession. The gravamen of Beldar’s charge was that some use the word “recession” to describe certain economic downturns (e.g., 2001) even though they do not include declines in GDP for two consecutive quarters. In reality, as the lying liars at WSJ made clear to anyone who took the time to read the article, the definition of “recession” is a bit more complicated than the classic “two-bit” definition (UPDATE: I goofed; two “bits” add up to one quarter, not two, so make that the “four-bit” definition):

Although the classic definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of declines in the gross domestic product, [Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital] pointed out that the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nonpartisan organization that is the official arbiter of when recessions begin and end, doesn’t necessarily follow that definition. “If you go back to the 2001 recession, there was only one negative GDP quarter, and there might not even be one negative quarter in this recession,” he said.

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July 29, 2008

They Love to Make You Hate to Fly, And It Shows

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:57 pm

Via Instapundit, Stephen Bainbridge (who, thank God, was born an adult) asks how horrible airlines will have to become before we stop flying. When it comes to flying coast to coast or around the world, I’d say that barring an invention of the South Park version of the Ginger device, they’d have to be a great deal worse than they are. However, I have reached the point where I will no longer fly voluntarily, in the sense that if I can get from Point A to Point B in a day by car, and plan to stay at Point B for at least a couple of days in between, I’m driving. Not because of bratty kids or clueless parents who leave them screaming in pain rather than give them something to pop their ears at take off or landing. These paying customers are minor annoyances who come and go. The major annoyances are the adults who work there day in and day out. Case in point:
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July 26, 2008

Yes, Barry Loves Me

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 5:07 pm

The Obible tells me so.

July 23, 2008

How Not to Win a Nobel Peace Prize

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 6:51 pm

Save a measly 2,500 lives during the Holocaust while others make slide shows about global warming.

July 21, 2008

Chicks With Guns

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 6:44 pm

Countertop gives a new, extremely NSFW meaning to the phrase “gun pr0n.”

UPDATE: Safe version here. Heh.

FBI on DNA: Trust, Don’t Verify

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:34 am

Many years back, when Mark Germain was known as “Mr. KFI,” a doting caller told him he was “one in a million.” Germain replied that that means there are 7 people in the greater Los Angeles area who are exactly like him. In that vein, Jason Felch and Maura Dolan of the L.A. Times have an interesting article on “Arizona searches,” whereby a statewide DNA database is searched for internal matches to see how many individuals within it randomly match to each other. Most of these matches are to be expected. After all, while the odds of two DNA profiles matching are extremely remote, the odds of someone matching randomly to someone else are damned close to one if you repeat that experiment enough times. In the case of Arizona’s database, which included 65,000 unique records in 2001, that means Kathryn Troyer effectively made 4,225,000,000 comparisons in one fell swoop, yielding 100 expected matches and 44 unexpected ones. The article doesn’t say what the statistical margin of error was, so it’s impossible to tell from the article – and perhaps from the Arizona study alone – whether the usually cited odds are accurate. The real issue here, as far as I am concerned, is that the FBI is asking us to trust their estimates, while fighting tooth and nail against any serious efforts to test them empirically.

Also chuckleworthy is the objection that testing an entire database against itself greatly increases the odds of a match being found. Of course it does, but so too (albeit to a lesser extent) do database searches, whereby a single DNA sample is tested against an entire database of non-suspects as a method of choosing a suspect (cf. Mike Nifong’s infamous “no wrong answers” police lineup). If we are serious about DNA evidence as science, rather than AGW-esque “consensus” that we are all just bullied into believing without proof, then Arizona searches ought to be conducted nationwide. Then the results should be published and explained, in context. If the tests ultimately show that the FBI’s best estimates were correct, great. But if they show anything else, we need to know.

UPDATE: Instapundit has more. Patterico, alas, has less. David Kaye has much more.

July 20, 2008

A Partial Defense of J.J. on the N.W.

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:24 am

Jesse Jackson has recently come under fire for off the record comments he made in a FoxNews interview. First we learned that he expressed a desire to castrate Barack Obama, and now we learn that he also said the n-word in that same interview. This is a partial defense of the latter.

As a general rule, “using the n-word” is a serious matter. Some argue that it’s OK for blacks to use it since the word is directed at them rather than anyone else. In theory, I could accept that, if all blacks agreed that they wanted to “own” the word to strip it of its derogatory meaning, much as gays have done with words like “queer,” “homo” and, for that matter, “gay,” or as gun nuts have done with phrases like, well, “gun nut.” But if blacks as a group wanted to go that route, allowing the rest of us to use the word in the same harmless vein would largely follow as a matter of course. Once thousands of gays banded together as “Queer Nation” and five appeared on a TV show called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” they pretty well gave up the right to tell the rest of us not to call them queers. And once I self-identify as a “gun nut,” I give up the right to criticize gunophobes for applying the term to others. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton understand this, which is why they, like many others, call on blacks and whites alike to renounce the word.

That said, a little common sense is in order. As surely as the word dog never bit anyone, there is using the n-word, and then there is really using the n-word. Simply uttering it in any context is not necessarily it. Off the top of my head, I can think of four discrete ways to “use” the n-word, in descending order of offensiveness:

  1. Using the N-word as a racial slur. This occurs any time a person of any race utters the n-word in reference to another human being whom he believes to be black. Robert Byrd probably used the word this way countless times when he was in the Klan. Rappers do it all the time today. A few unrepentant, hard-core white racists continue to do so, as well, while the rest of us rightly abhor it.
  2. Using the N-word as an all-purpose epithet. There is a school of non-thought in which “nigger means stupid.” No, dumbass, it doesn’t. From the days of the Roman Empire, “niger” has always meant black. It has never meant “stupid” (did you really think that Niger is so named because they consider themselves a nation of dumbasses?!), nor has it always had any negative connotation at all. But whether the original niger or its progeny was used in a good, bad or neutral way, it has always meant black. So when Robert Byrd infamously announced that there were “white niggers,” he may have been about one-tenth less of an asshole than he had been back in his Klan days, but what he lacked in asshole-hood he made up in abject stupidity.
  3. Using the N-word to insult someone other than the referent. A big part of the reason why the n-word has such horrible connotations today, while its Latin origin and its existing Latinate cognates do not, is its close connection with slavery. However, not all references to slavery are slights against the proverbial slave. In a culture that rightly abhors slavery, many such references are really intended to insult the proverbial slave-driver, not the putative slave. One of the two times in my adult life in which I recall using the n-word was when I was in my mid-20s, and my parents employed a nanny who could barely speak English. They paid her all right, generally treated her well, and even helped her enroll in community college classes, but my mother absolutely connipted when the nanny had the audacity to quit her job and pursue other opportunities elsewhere. She called me to vent about it, and I responded with something along the lines of “Good God, Mom, you sound like a plantation owner who can’t figure out why his nigger just left him.” She never complained about the departed nanny again, at least, not in my presence. Cf. Sacramento Bee cartoonist Dennis Renault’s brilliant 1994 cartoon, in which one Klansman turned to another and said, in reference to Louis Farrakhan, that “that nigger makes a lot of sense.”
  4. Discussing the n-word itself. Example: “Now listen, Johnny. ‘Nigger’ is very a bad word. Don’t use it.” Unless it’s deliberately overdone, this one should not offend at all.

FoxNews has thus far declined to release a transcript of the actual exchange, so the best we can do is extrapolate from the reported news stories what was probably said. Per CBS:

In additional comments from that same conversation, first reported by the blog TVNewser, Jackson is reported to have said Obama was “talking down to black people,” and referred to blacks with the N-word when he said Obama was telling them “how to behave.”

Note that they didn’t report that Jackson called Obama himself the n-word; rather, he accused him of talking down to other blacks and effectively treating them as lowly n-words. Big difference. Still offensive, still unfair, but hardly equivalent to using the word in sense #1 above. It’s more like #3; a bit insult to Obama as the proverbial slavedriver, no insult at all to blacks as a race.

July 19, 2008

Concealed Carry

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 3:58 pm

Not sure what “Google-Fu” is and frankly, I’m not sure I want to know, either. However, I thought the Googlebots might be interested in knowing that am a carry permit holder in three states. More specifically, I hold a Concealed Firearm Permit from the State of Utah, which counts me as a carry permit holder in roughly half the states, while a few only count you as a carry permit holder if you are a carry permit holder in your state of domicile. That’s where the Virginia and North Carolina permits come in, the former establishing me as a carry permit holder while residing in the Old Dominion, the latter, here in the Tar Heel state. Isn’t that special?

July 17, 2008

Being Nice to Terrorists

Call me dense, but I cannot for the life of me understand what Israel hoped to accomplish by trading five living murderers for the bodies of two murder victims. Defense Minister Ehud Barak Obama non-explains this idiocy, assuring soldiers at the funeral by assuring them that:

If the worst will happen to any of you, Israel will make every possible and legitimate effort to bring them home. And failing that, we’ll make every impossible or illegitimate one to bring you home, too. And if more of you end up getting kidnapped and murdered as a result, oh nevermind, surely that would never happen.

July 15, 2008

Bummer

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:16 am

Apparently, Sarah Silverman really is *&^%ing Matt Damon. Or worse, perhaps Jimmy’s Pimmel really is … oh, nevermind.

As to the source of the link, the answer lies about mid-way between “no” and “hell no.”

 

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