Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bump My Ride

While my lovely wife is loathe to display bumper stickers on our vehicles, I must weigh this against my strong desire to communicate a very few serious messages to my fellow travelers during my daily commutes to and fro my place of employ. In that vein, I today printed a couple of personalized stickers for this purpose. (Don't worry, honey; I won't put them on your car!)

Low class. Really low class.

Well, the anti-war zealots have finally stooped so low as to become wholly undifferentiated from the dirt from whence they came, doing via "entertainment" what they have yet to accomplish in reality: they have assassinated President George W. Bush.
Death of a President uses CGI effects and archive footage to portray the president being shot dead during an anti-war rally in Chicago in 2007.

The documentary-style 90-minute film uses the event to explore the effects of the War on Terror on the US.

It will get its world premiere at next month's Toronto Film Festival before a screening on UK digital channel More4.

In the drama, Mr Bush is assassinated by a sniper after delivering a speech to business leaders.
So typical and unfortunately predictable this is. Some disaffected sorts within our social order - those without the least modicum of the fruits of love - have witnessed their own minds warped as their darkened hearts have poisoned their already tenuous logic.

In a very strange way, however, I am somewhat heartened to see such a thing. Follow me. It's at root a manifest hatred - the sickly fruit of a failed line of argumentation that, because it has not found its legs in reality, has taken refuge in the ever less respectable entertainment media. Gasps of a dying philosophy (really, an anti-philosophy more approaching total ignorance) such as this are never quite so visible.

Kudos to the producers for playing their cards so close to the table!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The history of the "hyphenated American"

from the Wikipedia:
History of the term "hyphenated American"

The term "hyphenated American" was popularized in the 1910s by President Theodore Roosevelt, responding to the increasing fractionalization within the nation along ethnic lines. In an October 12, 1915 speech to the Knights of Columbus, Roosevelt said,
"There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. ... The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. ... There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else."
President Woodrow Wilson also regarded those whom he termed "hyphenated Americans" (German-Americans, Irish-Americans, etc.) with suspicion, saying, "Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready."

Secondhand Lions

This is a most brief review of the film "Secondhand Lions".

The film, starring Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Haley Joel Osment, and Kyra Sedgwick is most excellent - possibly 8.5 out of 10 stars. That is, until the final scene, upon which 3 stars must be subtracted. What a great film, to be so patently Hollywoodized at the end. Should you watch the film, you'll know the scene in question. Simply awful.

Put it in your Netflix queue for sure. But be just as sure to hit "stop" on the remote as soon as the helicopter starts descending.

Ugh.

I'm for Joe

I have to agree with Jack Kemp on the Joe Lieberman fracas. God bless Joe Lieberman. He's the sort of Democrat I would vote for time and time again. It doesn't matter to me as much that he gets the social items wrong again and again. One could argue it's because of his faith - if that's a valid argument - that he supports a strong stance against militant facist Islam, but he gets this much and for that, I support him.

Democrats are simply turds for turning on Lieberman this way. He votes with them 90%+ of the time and yet, he's not good enough. Democrats, in a word, you um, er, um...

SUCK.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Didn't *anyone* along the way catch this?


"We acknowledge that the name adopted by us for our restaurant was most inappropriate," Satish Sabhlok, one of the owners of the multi-cuisine restaurant, said in a statement.
Most inappropriate, you don't say?

Single v. Dual Career Marriages

Here's an interesting point-counterpoint commentary at Forbes, regarding marriage to a career woman. The point, made clearly by Michael Noer, is that single breadwinner households (wherein the man is that breadwinner), are eminently more stable for producing quantifiable happiness all the way around. Of course, since this is my situation, I read this with positive bias - and also with some personal experience that leads me to believe he is correct.

In my salad days, I dated a small number of career women who were initially very attractive, due to their pursuits and interests. But as time wore on with each relationship, I had serious reservations about the success of a marriage with that person - apart from the nominal and unique "hard crap" (read: emotional baggage) I would be bringing to a marriage. I found myself in my mid 20s - early 30s attracted to lawyers, psychologists, and other professionals - finding their careers initially very stimulating. But my desires and goals for my life (and for the life I envisioned for my family) over time developed in such a way as to run starkly counter to those early stimulations.

This is not to knock a career woman, but simply to say I learned that this was not for me. When I met my wife, I met a woman with a great teaching career of 10 years, who shared goals similar to mine - that she become a stay-at-home mom initially and rather than abandon her career, use the fruits of that training and wisdom to impart a greater gift upon her kids and family. My wife may return to the marketplace in some capacity, but now she has the freedom to do so in a way constructive to our family and not at odds with that family.

Predictably, the counterpoint to Noer's point, on the part of Elizabeth Corcoran, is a particuarly personal diatribe, full of sarcasm and barbs. She apparently took the point as condemnation of her choices. This is a mistake, in that Noer's piece was not personally directed toward her.

To a woman with a marketplace career who, through the strength of her husband as well as her own strength, is able to pull off a happy marriage, I offer my congratulations. I'm certain her husband will aver she is far from the "wretched wife" she states Noer must deem her. But Corcoran's word-pictures criticizing a specific type of husband and seemingly, by elevating this straw-man, indicting all husbands is disturbingly unwarranted:
Take, for instance, the claim that professional women are more likely to get divorced, because they're more likely to meet someone in the workforce who will be "more attractive" than that old squashed-couch hubby at home.
Her further comments bely fear - a fundamental mistrust of the husband that loves his wife:
Women have faced this kind of competition squarely for years. Say you marry your college heartthrob. Ten years later, he's working with some good-looking gals--nymphets just out of college, or the more sophisticated types who spent two years building houses in Africa before they went to Stanford Business School. What do you do? A: Stay home, whine and eat chocolate B: Take up rock climbing, read interesting books and continue to develop that interesting personality he fell in love with in the first place.
For some people, particularly those without such fears, dual career households work. But I think that is tied to personality and character. If both mates are hard-working, no-nonsense sorts, I can see a successful household ship afloat. But given the stark statistics before us regarding divorce, I argue these pairings are rare. In any event, congrats again to Corcoran. But why the assault on this straw-man husband:
Note to guys: Start by going to the gym. Then try some new music. Or a book. Or a movie. Keep connected to the rest of the world. You'll win--and so will your marriage.
This reads as if she is angry with a particular sort who wronged one of her close friends or family members. She's taking an example and extending it to all husbands, again highly unwarranted.

I get Noer's caveat at the end of his piece:
A word of caution, though: As with any social scientific study, it's important not to confuse correlation with causation. In other words, just because married folks are healthier than single people, it doesn't mean that marriage is causing the health gains. It could just be that healthier people are more likely to be married.
Noer's point to me seems reasoned and thus, reasonable. Corcoran's counterpoint seems like animus toward a specific individual.

UPDATE: 2006.08.24 - 15:35 - The article has caused quite a stir it would seem. See the comments at the Daily Reckoning blog. What is most interesting to me is that the protestation - both from men and women - seems to come from people who don't quite accept a traditional marriage (with differentiation of roles being a good thing) as a positive. I don't see Noer's point as a negative thing at all. Realization of matters is a serious beginning to success, in my view.

Surviving Race

The televised world is reading ever more often like the Richard Bachman (Steven King) novel, The Running Man. The pawns of prophecy, the producers of pap and pablum, have devised a scheme for next season's Survivor, certain to further enhance race relations: divide the base camps along racial lines:
The 20 "castaways" in the 13th season of US reality show Survivor will be divided according to their ethnicity.

The contestants will be segregated into four "tribes" of blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos when the hit CBS programme returns on 14 September.
What is particularly unsettling about this is not that the show is being produced, but that viewers will predictably fall along simple racial lines, in their sympathies. I place the onus seldom with the producer and almost always with the consumer. You thought the O.J. Simpson verdict was telling of this? Get ready for the finale of Survivor next season.

Then again, let's consider the possibility the contestants are unusually mature, intellingent Americans. Would it not be a good thing to see a group of blacks or latinos who rise above victimization, use their wits, and best the whites? I can't say for sure. I am so tired of race-baiting as to not expect much. I work with blacks, whites, asians, latinos, arabs, each of whom is professional as the other. I just don't see race in the office. On the street, given that I work downtown in a reasonably large city, I unfortunately am presented with stark cultural differences that often get termed "race". What I find I'm typically addressing is not race at all, but cultural preferences and choices. Because the predominant culture in my office is "relaxed professional", there's an emphasis on elements I value, intelligence, logic, equity, courtesy, and gentleness among them. On the street, I am presented with something very different - something I usually try to steer clear of, I am not afraid to say. Well, not afraid to say here, at least. ;-)

So what sort of cultural preference lines will be drawn in next season's Survivor? Will everyone be more or less professional, so that things do not devolve into mere skin color? The producers have succeeded in at least one regard: they have me writing about their show and you reading it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Suburbia

"Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them." -- Bill Vaughan

In the case of my environs, it would be more aptly stated as "... where the developer names the streets after indigenous peoples either driven from their land by imperialists or otherwise made to suffer in such ways as to bring their races to a close."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Good Law Student

Glenn Reynolds pointed out to a web roundup about people entering law school this year. Then I suddenly remembered that I use to be a law student, which I believe occurred at some point in time before I became a lawyer. So I decided to take some time off my beautiful Saturday summer afternoon--in the office--and chime in. So I wrote up a few words of advice

(1) Sturgeon's Law Applies: A sci-fi writer named Theodore Spurgeon once had a conversation with an English professor. The professor told him "Ninety percent of science fiction is crap." To which Sturgeon, after a short pause, he responded "Ninety percent of everything is crap!"

Let me assure you that in law school, 90% of the information you're given to consume in law school is crap, your 2000 page casebook, your lecture by a goofy, hyper-cerebral professor who hates you, or rumors and misinformation spread by know-it-all classmates. Your goal is to find the 10% of the 200 pages a night you're given to read, or to jot down just the right rule you're given by the professor after 1 1/2 hours of anecdote, dumb questions by students, or berating of those same students.

That 10% consists of laws. Rules. Precepts. In the cases you're asked, they will usually be sandwiched in between the statement of the fact, and an analysis of how the law fits those facts. If you're in a hurry (and you better be!), you'll want to hone in on the rules given in the case, rather than waste you time reading stories about people's personal misfortune.

Better yet, there also found in commercial outlines. Don't believe anyone you tells you that outlines are bad, or that you must prepare your own outline. They're either ignorant or malicious, or both. Find out what those rules are, and memorize them cold, in the way that works the best for you.

(2) Study the test, not the books: But all the cases, lectures, outlines, CDs, bar reviews, or any other materials that you cram into your head, designed by West Publishing to part you with your money, will not help you . . . unless you prepare for the exam. Early on, get a hold of as many practice tests as you can, and go over them with the law you slowly learn. Practice IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion). Practice writing down what the law is and how it applies to hypothetical situations. Believe me, it's harder than it sounds.

There are tons of exams available online, even from top law schools and famous professors. And some probably available at your law library--even old ones for the same class, by the same professors that you'll have this year. Attempt to write answers to them. Get in the groove of applying laws to facts early on. This skill will also extremely important for the bar exam.

(3) Get a Good Life, Not a Good Grade: Some of you will be extremely bad students who will flunk out, because you can't read fast and think methodically enough to get good grades, pass the bar, and be a functioning lawyer. Others of you read extremely fast and think extremely methodically, will get great grades, and work yourselves to death at bar review, summer clerkships, and your 80 hour law career. Most of you will be in the middle somewhere. Yet you can be just as successful a lawyer--however you define it--even if you're a mediocre student. You can also be a failure, personally and professionally, even if you're the super student described above. To succeed, you need to focus on your goals early on, and not necessarily focus on getting the best grades, making law review, or getting into the top firms.

Did you go to law school to make money? Then focus on finding the most profitable practices. A mediocre real estate lawyer is going to make much more money than a good criminal defense attorney. Nor are the big firm jobs, that the good law students get, all they are cracked up to be. Eventually the associates in these stress mills hit a ceiling, in firms designed as pyramid schemes where the partners get rich off those associates. Meanwhile, a mediocre student could eventually become extremely wealthy and successful by building a small practice, by gradually accumulating business connections and esoteric knowledge in underserviced fields. One was a good student and good lawyer, the other was a mediocre student/lawyer, but a good businessman and salesman. Make sure to given some thought about the law as a business or entrepreneurial venture. Whoever is in charge of the firm you're working for does all the time, and he'll be thankful for someone who thinks the same way about how to drum up business, control costs and find profitable clients.

Or do you want change public policy or help the poor? Regardless of grades, you'll find plenty of opportunity to do that. You don't have to make law review to work with legal aid, or lobby for a cause or join a political campaign, or just go down to the jailhouse and see who needs a lawyer. In fact, your law school may have law clinics which allow you to do these things even before passing the bar. Many students choose to focus on these, or other activist causes, even at the expense of studying all the time to get the A grade.

The point is you all need to find a niche where you are productive, adept, successful and happy. Good grades will open up more doors, but won't tell you which one to enter. Likewise, even if you're a B student, there are still people out there who need your legal services. Eventually, everyone needs a lawyer.

_________

Good luck to everyone this year. And remember, your life is your own to live. Whatever your class rank at the end of the year, use the knowledge you accumulate to make yourself as happy as possible.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

The title of this post are the words of Christ Jesus - Matthew 7:1.

Case in point: the Jonbenet Ramsey murder. What percentage of the world convicted her parents of her molestation and murder? Now there is a confessed killer - a convicted child pornography aficionado running from police in Thailand. Who will admit they so unfairly condemned her parents as guilty of such a heinous crime? Will anyone come forward?

In related news, the Reasonable Nuts patently expect the killer of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman to be soon found. Perhaps here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Your Universe Wants Cheese

Mindblowing: A map of the known universe looks eerily like the neurons of a mouse's brain.



Via NYT. (Link may soon close up to non-subscribers)4

Monday, August 14, 2006

Reaganomics at 25 (WSJ)

Reaganomics at 25
August 12, 2006; Page A8

Twenty-five years ago this weekend, Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act. The bill cut personal income tax rates by 25% across the board, indexed tax brackets for inflation and reduced the corporate income tax rate. The anniversary is worth commemorating as a seminal moment that continues to influence policy for the better in the U.S., and around the globe.

The achievement of Reaganomics can only be fully understood by recalling the miserable state of affairs a quarter-century ago. Newsweek summarized the national mood when it wrote in 1981 that Reagan "inherits the most dangerous economic crisis since Franklin Roosevelt took office 48 years ago."

That was no exaggeration. The economy was enduring a cycle of rising inflation with growing levels of unemployment. Remember 20% mortgage interest rates? Terms like "stagflation" and "misery index" entered the popular vocabulary, and declinists of various kinds were in the saddle. The perception of American economic weakness encouraged the Soviet empire to ever bolder adventures, as reflected by Soviet tanks in Kabul and Communists on the march in Nicaragua and Africa.

The reigning Keynesian policy consensus had no answer for this predicament, and so a new group of economic ideas came to the fore. Actually, they were old, classical economic ideas that were rediscovered via the likes of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, Arthur Laffer, Robert Mundell, and such policy activists in Washington as Norman Ture and Jack Kemp, among others. These humble columns under our late editor, Robert Bartley, led the parade.

For every policy goal, you need a policy lever, Mr. Mundell likes to say. Monetary restraint was needed to break inflation, while cuts in marginal tax rates would restore the incentives to save and invest. With Paul Volcker at the Federal Reserve and Reagan at the White House, those two levers became the essence of the "supply-side" policy mix.

The results have been better than even some of its supporters hoped. The Dow Jones Industrial Average first broke 1,000 in 1972, but a decade later it was barely above 800 -- one of the worst and most enduring bear markets in history. In the 25 years since Reaganomics, however, the Dow has climbed to about 11,000, accounting for an increase in national wealth on the order of $25 trillion. To match that increase in percentage terms, the Dow would have to rise to some 150,000 in the next quarter century. American living standards have risen steadily, and U.S. businesses have created entire industries that didn't exist a generation ago.

Obviously, the economic policy path from 1981 to the present day has not been a straight line. The biggest detour occurred from 1990 through 1994, when George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton forgot the Gipper's lesson and raised marginal income-tax rates; they suffered for it in the elections of 1992 and 1994. The arrival of the Gingrich Republicans in Congress stopped this slow-motion repeal of Reaganomics, however, and even helped to extend it at the margin with a cut in the capital-gains tax rate to 20% in 1997.

Adherents of Rubinomics -- after Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- are still not converts, arguing that tax increases are virtuous if they reduce the deficit. We've addressed that argument many times and will again. But even the Rubinites haven't dared to repeal indexing for inflation (which pushed taxpayers via "bracket creep" into ever-higher tax rates), and even the most ardent liberals don't propose to return to the top pre-Reagan income tax rate of 70%. They also now understand that, at some point along the Laffer Curve, high rates begin to yield less tax revenue. The bipartisan consensus in favor of sound money has also held.

Thus today, the top marginal personal and corporate tax rates are 35%, compared with 70% and 48% in 1981. In the late 1970s the tax on dividends was 70% and the capital gains rate was 50%; now they're both 15%. These reductions have increased the rate of return on capital, and hence some $3 trillion more was invested by foreigners in the U.S. between 1981 and 2005 than was invested by Americans abroad. One result: 40 million new jobs, more than the rest of the industrialized world combined.

The rest of the world, meanwhile, has followed the Gipper down the tax-cut curve. Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation finds that the average personal income tax rate in the industrialized world is now 43%, versus 67% in 1980. The average top corporate tax rate has fallen to 29% from 48%. This decline in global tax rates has been the economic counterpart to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Most of Eastern Europe has adopted flat tax rates of 25% or lower, and the Russians now have a flat income tax of 13%. In Old Europe, Ireland's corporate and personal income tax rate cuts have helped generate the swiftest economic growth in the EU.

Not bad for a President dismissed as a dreamy former actor. In his 1989 farewell address, Reagan said that "People say that I was a great communicator. It would be more accurate to say that I communicated great ideas." He was right, and a remarkable global prosperity has followed in his wake. The challenge for current and future political leaders is not to forget it.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The shape of things to come - or the shape of things today?

UPDATE: The AFP story erroneously cites a station "KFWE" which does not exist. The actual station is "KFYE". See the comments for add'l details. -- Editor
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - After an ownership switch, KFWE-FM radio in the California wine district judged that Christian radio was unprofitable and decided to attract listeners by devoting its attention to sex.

"Christian radio stations never have very good ratings," Jerry Clifton, the new owner of KFWE-FM, told AFP on Friday.

Instead, the station broadcast a continuous loop of sexually suggestive music without commercial breaks for a whole week.
Well, if your god is Arbitron, then this switch makes sense.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Abecedarian at the complanate arid flat ground coast please!



I can generally follow this, up until "Attention to Item" #1. One wonders whose Japanese-to-Engrish dictionary used is being. Image from engrish.com.

"World opinion"

Dennis Prager gets to the crux of the biscuit (the apostrophe):
It takes courage to report the evil of evil regimes; it takes no courage to report on the flaws of decent societies.
His is a great piece on the hackneyed phrase "world opinion" in general and television news in specific.

Worst. Name. Ever.

From a list of odd names, comes this name. Poor lad, fair Richard.