Jerry Pournelle's assessment of American schools seems to fit BCPS very nicely

From Jerry's blog, Chaos Manor:
The American school system is a bad parody of an optimum allocation of resources, and nearly everyone knows it, but we always talk as if it were not so.
When I first read the last bit, I could see Dr. Hairston clearly in my mind, mouthing the word accolades.


I'm sorry Congressman Ruppersberger, but your credit application has been turned down

Dear Dutch,
Thank you for [Congress's] interest in the American Public Trust's Gold Card credit program. Rest assured your application has been given thorough and careful consideration by the American people.

After reviewing the information provided in your application as well as your credit report, we regret to say that we are unable to extend you further credit at this time. The reasons for our decision are as follows:

(1) Inadequate income.Our records indicate that your annual income for the 2011 taxable year was $2,170,000,000,000. You have requested a credit limit of $17,000,000,000,000. These figures exceed the American Public's debt-to-income guidelines for credit issuance.

(2) Excessive spending. The receipts you provided indicate your annual expenditures for the 2011 fiscal year total $3,820,000,000,000, or $1,650,000,000,000 more than your total income for the year. The American Public prefers that its members of Congress maintain a positive or neutral rather than a negative cash flow.

[To continue reading this piece at Reason.com by A. Barton Hinkle click here.]

Means-testing for Medicare and the underground economy

One problem with Mickey Kaus's proposals for means-testing: the more you do means-testing, the more you see people shifting to the underground economy.

I think the underground economy is growing rapidly in the U.S.


Everything you ever wanted to know about degree-days

My dad was into degree-days for some reason, so I've known about the concept since I was a kid. Here's an explanation from the folks at BizEE, and a tool that lets you calculate degree-day numbers for many locations and time periods using data from Weather Underground.


Huckabee not running for president in 2012

Glad to hear it. I never liked Huckabee much.

He was running for PR and ratings, much the way Ump-Tray, Alin-Pay and Ingrich-Gay still are.

A big government guy, he has a smarmy affect and talks too much about his faith. I don't much care what religious beliefs politicians hold as long as they don't go on and on about them.

Also, guitar-playing politicians have a tendency toward narcissism.


"Back off the beaches . . . It's time to learn to live with the shoreline, not on it."

Orrin Pilkey of Duke University says it well:
Sooner or later our society must back off the beaches as concerns increase about beach quality and as preservation of major coastal cities becomes a higher priority. The first step will be to discourage beachfront urban renewal. That would mean moving or demolishing threatened buildings, prohibiting the rebuilding (and certainly the super-sizing) of destroyed buildings, and ending further subsidy of beachfront development, including tax-supported beach nourishment and federal flood insurance. It's time to learn to live with the shoreline, not on it.
Other things Pilkey doesn't like, US Army Corps of Engeering policies and seawalls.
Twenty-five years ago, when I began speaking and writing about seawalls and how they destroy beaches, I was shocked at the tenor of the response to this idea both from professional engineers and from developers and politicians. The attacks on me were often quite personal, and letters damning me were written to my university president and to the papers. As a scientist, I was unaccustomed to such personal attacks.

Environmental models as "useless arithmetic"

Here's another book I'd like to read: Useless arithmetic: Why environmental scientists can't predict the future. Great title*.

The authors sound like a cool pair:
Noted coastal geologist Orrin Pilkey and environmental scientist Linda Pilkey-Jarvis show that the quantitative mathematical models policy makers and government administrators use to form environmental policies are seriously flawed. Based on unrealistic and sometimes false assumptions, these models often yield answers that support unwise policies. . . .

The authors demonstrate how many modelers have been reckless, employing fudge factors to assure "correct" answers and caring little if their models actually worked.
I stumbled on the book after reading of Pilkey in a John Stossel piece on federally-subsidized flood insurance. Stossel says Pilkey "has been one of the most persistent critics of the government's [flood insurance] policies."

*It sounds like one of Gary Jones's headlines at Muck & Mystery


Run Mitch Daniels, run !!

Ann Althouse suggests that his marital history might be a feature rather than a bug.

Under Daniels's leadership, Indiana recently jumped ten spots to #6 in the state rankings of business friendliness. He came across very well in a recent interview with Peter Robinson.


Maryland sinks in business-friendliness rankings to 14th worst

Maryland dropped from 33rd to 37th in business friendliness in 2011, according to the latest rankings published by Chief Executive magazine.

Judging from these numbers and the ones below, maybe Governor O'Malley should be asking Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels for advice.

Some highlights:
  • Texas #1 (for seventh straight year)
  • Biggest gainers: Wisconsin (+17) and Indiana (+10)
And lowlights:
  • #50 was California (for seventh straight year)
  • Biggest losers: Alaska (-10) and West Virginia (-8)
Maryland and adjacent states:
#7 Virginia (-3)
#16 Delaware (-4)
#37 Maryland (-4)
#39 Pennsylvania (-7)
#42 West Virginia (-8)


Bob Zubrin's formula for elimination of gerrymandering

He suggests a mathematical formula for measuring the compactness of voting districts:
take the square of the perimeter of any [district], and divide it by the [districts’s] area, you arrive at a number, which can be called its irregularity.
Of course, you'd need a way of simplifying boundaries along meandering coastlines. But that's very doable.


Paul Rahe on two other Pauls being considered for president in 2012

Rahe prefers people with gubernatorial or other executive experience. But Paul Ryan is one congressman he'd consider.

Rahe points out the biggest problem with Ron Paul :
[Ron Paul's] stance with regard to American foreign policy is utopian and dangerous. If left to its own devices, the larger world will tend towards anarchy. Throughout human history, in the absence of hegemony, piracy is the norm. Spontaneous disorder is the dominant propensity, not spontaneous order.
Well said.

I like some of Ron Paul's ideas, but he's not the right guy.

Breitbart's version of Alinsky's rules

From Andrew Breitbart's "pragmatic primer" in Chapter 7 of Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World:
  1. Don't be afraid to go into enemy territory.
  2. [Use video to] expose the left for who they are -- in their own words.
  3. Be open about your secrets.
  4. Don't let the Complex use its PC lexicon to characterize you and shape the narrative.
  5. Control your own story -- don't let the Complex do it.
  6. Ubiquity is key.
  7. Engage in the social arena.
  8. Don't pretend to know more than you do.
  9. Don't let them pretend to know more than they do. (Ask for sources and evidence and ask why.)
  10. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.
  11. Don't let them get away with ignoring their own rules.
  12. Truth isn't mean. It's truth.
  13. Believe in the audacity of hope.
This list needs some editing. Given his ADHD tendencies, Breitbart doesn't tend to spend much time polishing his prose. Even so, it's a very good list.