damnum absque injuria

January 24, 2010

Liberals v. Constitution

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 6:44 pm

Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 not to decimate the Bill of Rights. Thank goodness for small favors. Last time, the Douche in Chief lied an claimed to have supported the decision all along. This time, he’s doubling down and asking Congress to either repeal the First Amendment or simply ignore it, it’s not clear which.

But … he’s a good man, and heaven forbid anyone hope he fails.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer calls for Congressional hearings on the separation of powers, and the ACLU re-thinks its support of the one American civil liberty this union has mostly supported in the past. ‘Cuz allowing Nazis to march in Skokie is one thing, and allowing the Obamessiah’s scapegoats to talk back to The One is another.

January 18, 2010


Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:22 pm

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really make a sound?

If a fail manages to top the box office charts five weeks in a row and somehow have its totally crappy drama win “best drama,” is it really a fail?

Grandpa’s Wisdom

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:59 am

Via Sebastian, David Hardy offers a a nice, scholarly fisking of the Stevens dissent in Heller.

January 14, 2010

Wal-Mart: Self-Defense is Gross Misconduct

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:41 am

If Wal-Mart’s refusal to fire idiot employees who don’t do the right thing isn’t enough reason to boycott them, how about their policy of firing the reasonable ones who do?

‘Hat tip: Uncle.

Gay Marriage Prevents Divorce?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:31 am

So implies Nate Silver of 538 (h/t: Uncle) though he doesn’t quite come out and say that. Nate writes:

The table below details the divorce rates for the 43 states that reported their divorce statistics to the CDC in both 2003 and 2008. It is calculated by taking the total number of divorces in the state that year, and dividing it by the number of married persons, as reported by the Census Bureau. The result is then multiplied by two, since each divorce involves two people. This is different than how the divorce rate is sometimes calculated, which may be as a share of the overall population rather than the number of married persons; I prefer my approach because it will not penalize a state for having a lot of marriages (and therefore more opportunities for divorce).

I’ll grant Nate this much: calculating a state’s divorce rate as a percentage of the total population, rather than as a percentage of married people, is too stupid to consider. Of course the only divorce rate that means anything is the rate among those who could get divorced if they wanted to. Xrlq 2.0 and 3.0 both have zero divorce rates amongst them, but so what? The greater point, which Nate seems to overlook, is that the decision of certain couples to marry in the first place, and of others not to, is not random. In State A, where cohabitation is largely frowned upon, a marginally committed couple may choose to marry whilst a similarly situated couple in State B, where cohabitation is commonplace, may not. The likelihood of both couples breaking up is roughly the same, and probably much higher than the odds of a breakup between a more committed couple who would be married either way, but if both couples break up, the first couple will artificially inflate State A’s divorce rate vis a vis B.

Where Nate really goes off the deep end, though, is in distinguishing states whose laws simply do not provide for gay marriage from states whose voters have affirmatively acted to prohibit it:

Overall, the states which had enacted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage as of 1/1/08 saw their divorce rates rise by 0.9 percent over the five-year interval. States which had not adopted a constitutional ban, on the other hand, experienced an 8.0 percent decline, on average, in their divorce rates. Eleven of the 24 states (46 percent) to have altered their constitutions by 1/1/08 to ban gay marriage experienced an overall decline in their divorce rates, but 13 of the 19 which hadn’t did (68 percent).

The differences are highly statistically significant. Nevertheless, they do not necessarily imply causation. The decision to ban same-sex marriage does not occur randomly throughout the states, but instead is strongly correlated with other factors, such as religiosity and political ideology, which we have made no attempt to account for. Nor do we know in which way the causal arrow might point. It could be that voters who have more marital problems of their own are more inclined to deny the right of marriage to same-sex couples.

The elephant in the room, which Nate scoots right by, is that constitutional bans on gay marriage have passed handily in every single state whose voters have been allowed to vote on them. Religiosity, political ideology, concerns about one’s own marriage, etc. may all play some role in determining the margin by which a constitutional or initiative ban on gay marriage may have passed in any particular state (a factor Nate does not examine) but the only factor determining whether a state has a ban gay marriage is the extent to which voters are or aren’t allowed to choose. Perhaps Nate’s real point is that if you allow people too much freedom of choice, they may choose to get a divorce?

It’s too bad that California is not included in the chart, as it would be the perfect state to prove whose theory is right. If mine is right, California should have a relatively low or declining divorce rate, as it’s a liberal state where uncommitted couples are free to shack up with little or no pressure to marry. If Nate is right, California’s divorce rate should be heading through the roof, as it’s the one state whose voters have acted not once but twice to prohibit gay marriage (though strictly speaking, CA hadn’t enacted a single constitutional ban as of 1/1/08, so perhaps Nate would skate on a technicality).

January 11, 2010

Straw Poll

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:41 pm

Which of the following bombshells that no one saw coming rocked your world the most?

  1. Ellen DeGeneres admitting she likes girls.
  2. Clay Aiken admitting doesn’t.
  3. Mark McGwire admitting he used steroids.

UPDATE: my own #4: finding out that George Michael was ever in the closet to begin with. I guess I must have known that once upon a time.

January 10, 2010

They Took Our Jarbs

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:45 pm

Mark Greenbaum has an uncommonly silly op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times in which he advocates stripping the ABA of its law school accreditation process, not because of its loony-left leanings (a pretty good reason in its own right, but that’s another topic) but because it … get this … obeys antitrust law. That’s right, while most normal people accuse lawyers of behaving like a guild and protecting their own from the market place (see, e.g., Standard Mischief and Jody laying the guild trip on me a few years back over UPL issues in SC), this guy is actually complaining about the ABA not doing so. Greenbaum writes:

Remember the old joke about 20,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea being “a good start”?

Yes, but I also remember the old jokes about lawyers charging too much. For those of us who understand the law of supply and demand, pick one. What cheaper X? Then do what you can to create a glut on the X market. Would 20,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea be a good start? Sure it would – for us lawyers, unless we ourselves happen to be among those 20,000. Fewer competitors vs. same demand for the services I offer? I’ll take that.

Well, in an interesting twist, thousands of lawyers now find themselves drowning in the unemployment line as the legal sector is being badly saturated with attorneys.

That kinda sucks for all of us lawyers, and it really, really sucks for those trying to enter the profession now. For those who may have the need to hire an attorney, not so much. Quick, let’s get the federal government involved!

Today’s Funny

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:28 am

Xkcd (no relation) offers this gem:

H/t: Kevin Baker.

January 9, 2010

Cardboard Update

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 10:52 am

Interesting ad, time to give Domino’s another try? Thank Allah and Anwyn for the link, along with Jonah, for a nice political parallel to the G.O.P.:

The appeal of the campaign should be obvious: honesty. Domino’s admits they lost their way, and they want a second chance. They’re confronting the criticism head-on rather than denying it.

Obviously, the analogy to the GOP isn’t perfect. For example, last I checked, Domino’s didn’t get bogged down in an unpopular war.

Nor did Papa John’s, Pizza Hut,* Little Caesar, Hungry Howie’s, or anyone else in that biz, but I digress.

But the GOP’s troubles over the last decade have a lot to do with the fact that Americans didn’t stop liking what the Republican party is supposed to deliver. They stopped liking what the GOP actually delivered.

As one who still likes pizza (just not the craptastic excuse for pizza Domino’s has churned out over the years) and conservative positions (just not the crapweasel positions put out by “compassionate” ones), here’s hoping both Domino’s and the G.O.P. succeed not only in marketing what they were supposed to deliver, but actually delivering it this time.

*Just for the record, I find Pizza Hut’s fare every bit as inedible as anything I’ve had from Domino’s, and figure Howie must really be hungry if he’s willing to eat his own product. However, I’m confining these comments to a footnote, as “but the other guy churns out crap, too!” works no better in the corporate world than “We suck, but the Democrats suck more” does in the political. Granted, its close cousin, “the other guy sucks, and we’ve been out of power so long that y’all have all forgotten how much worse we suck than they do” did seem to work exceedingly well in ’06 and ’08, but I don’t think we can re-take the House with that strategy in ’10.

UPDATE: Robb gives the thumbs up … to Domino’s, at least.

We’re Winning

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:06 am

Media, schmedia. You know we’re in good shape when even the rock band who once sang this:

Handguns are made for killing
They ain’t no good for nothing else
And if you like to drink your whiskey
You might even shoot yourself
So why don’t we dump them people
To the bottom of the sea
Before some ole fool come around here
Wanna shoot either you or me

Now sings this:

Oh, there was a time we ain’t forgot
You could rest all night with the doors unlocked
But there ain’t nobody safe no more
So you say your prayers and you thank the Lord
For that peace-maker in the dresser drawer.

Amen. I like to think that Ronnie himself would have come around if he’d lived another 30+ years, but if Johnnie has Ronnie spinning in his grave, so be it.

UPDATE: While we win, they whine.


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