Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moving Back

I am moving my writing back to The Nappy Cat with one of my best friends and colleagues, Will.

My feedburner RSS feed will direct you to the content that I write from there, so don’t worry about having to update that.

My reason for moving back is really just the fact that I wanted to start writing with my friend Will again. Especially now because he has started writing more again.

As much as I try, Will has a better way of showing the absolute farces that our media and the portrayal of our political system are. I’m hoping that by writing with him again, we can wake up some people to see the world for what it really is when it is at its worst and best.

My blogspot here will still remain up, so the archive will always be available.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Your Dissapointment and Our Ignorance

There are two major points I would like to bring up regarding Senator Obama’s pick of Senator Joe Biden to be his running mate.

If the friends I have on Facebook are any representative sampling of the 18-30 demographic (and they aren’t), then it seems most young and white reactions were showing disappointment in the pick of Senator Biden.

There’s a few horrifying good reasons these people used to come to their disdain for Joe.  First, they love Hillary Clinton, and wanted that “dream” ticket.  So, let me get this straight.  After all the horrific things Clinton supporters say the Obama team did to them, they want to be part of the ticket?  And since when did being married to a guy who happens to be the President become “experience?” 

Even then, if you can remember (and you don’t by the way, because you would have had to of cared about politics back in high school, and you didn’t) one of the selling points on Bill Clinton was that with Hillary, it was like getting two presidents for the price of one.  So, what was she then?  A co-president?  And if so, would that not make it a bit weird to get her there again?  And what of Bill’s role in the White House?

Another real piece of hatred from my friends is their absolute vitriol towards Biden for the commencement speech he gave at the University of Delaware in 2004.  Apparently they did not know that Senator Biden is long-winded and likes to talk about things that matter; for example, the war in Iraq and America’s role in the world.  To those who graduated that day, Senator Biden should have talked more about inane and stupid important issues, such as how awesome college students are for being among hundreds of thousands of other college graduates who have yet to do anything special with their lives.  Truly, there could not be anything more important than us?

That brings me to my second point, and the reason why they did not notice that Senator Biden was trying to do in the commencement speech.  Biden was trying to convey a message regarding a prescient matter regarding the United States. 

Even then, none in attendance cared that what he said then, and still says now along with every other established leader in this country, continues to stay on pattern with what can be identified as “American Hegemony.”  That is to say, we influence the world, and so long as we do any action in question, there is no crime; just a misguided attempt at dropping our awesome “freedom bombs.”  No one questions that, why?  And if there was going to be anyone to have that conversation with, it would be Joe Biden.

And even more to the point, how does the vice president matter that much to these people?  If the pick of a running mate does matter that much, then Vice President Cheney has gotten his way and dutifully changed the way we view the executive branch.  Now, all of a sudden, the Vice President matters a great deal in decision making.  How come we don’t remember that at some point Dan Quayle was once Vice President?

Cheney also has made us think differently about the presidency.  Essentially, it’s become a monarchy.  The President must be convinced of what we do or do not do in foreign policy.  Congress is there for…I don’t even really know anymore.  I do not think that even congress knows why it exists anymore.

And once again, being that this is a “representative democracy,” if you want to blame someone for the way things are going, you can always point the finger at yourself.

Ultimately these two converging points of not liking Joe Biden (for idiotic reasons and thinking that it actually matters that you don’t like Joe Biden) force us ultimately to this conclusion: I’m not sure we really know what’s going in the world, or even how the U.S. plays a role in it.

Oh, and by the way, for those oif you “young Democracts” who watched Obama's acceptance speech, I have a few points for you:

- Stop watching so much of the cable coverage.

- Don't read just one review by the Associated Press, and then consider yourself an expert.

- Obama is still a politician, so don't tell me you were disappointed in his acceptance speech.  The only person who would not give you the kind of speech that Obama or any other politician would is Ron Paul, and you can see how America likes him.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A little over a week ago, I emailed Tim Harford regarding if a study had ever been done that asked the following question of the participants:

"How many times have you asked someone out (on a date) and have been surprised at their response (also indicate whether they responded yes or no)?"

I was asking Tim about how intuitive we (humans) are at interpreting signals and variables from other people in terms of realtionships.  In business, I have witnessed questions being asked of other parties even though the questioner knows what the answer will be.  Most of the time, the questioner asks in order to fulfill some sort of requirement of asking from their superior.

Tim replied to my inquiry:

Alas, I've never seen such a question. Fascinating subject, though. Sorry not to be able to help.

One can only wonder what it takes to apply for grant monies to make these studies happen.  Nevertheless, you have it from me that I will do what I can to find more on the topic.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Competition in Formula 1

Did you ever wonder how competitive top athletes (in any sport) can be? Allow me to show you just how competitive things can get in Formula 1. Fernando Alonso (2005 & 2006 driver’s champion) was in a Thursday press conference with Heikki Kovalainen, where they had the following exchange following a question over what their activities might be during the Formula 1 summer break.

Kovalainen: In my family I make decisions where I go, I don't know what my girlfriend will do, but this is my holiday.

Alonso: You will see... wait two years!

Now, while that doesn’t strike as particularly competitive, you have to wait a few more questions again to see another exchange regarding their girlfriends.

Alonso: I will do whatever my wife wants. If it's time to join the club, I will join, if she says no, then I won't join.

Kovalainen: For me it's the opposite; if they ask me to join the club, I make my decision whether my girlfriend is happy or not. I try to keep it that way, I think it's better.

If I did not know any better, and I may not, I would actually venture to say that these two drivers were having a “you-don’t-know-what-a-relationship-is-like off” between each other during the Thursday press conference.

More importantly; I have no idea who won that. And I actually want to know. See, here’s the thing: Alonso has been described as difficult to work with and a bit of a pre-Madonna. Yet, apparently from the conference, he explains that his wife’s wishes are a super priority for him.

Kovalainen on the other hand is known as the super nice guy in the paddock, and always a pleasure to be around, yet apparently he has the relationship that most men have never heard of. I mean, seriously, two people maintaining their own individuality and goals in a relationship? Who ever heard of such a thing?

So, in order to find out how a relationship should really be, I propose that Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen have a race…using the cars their wives drive. And this race will take place…on the Nurburgring. And I mean the whole ring, not the adjacent Formula One circuit.

And that’s just part one of the event. In the second part, Alonso and Kovalainen’s wives will then drive in their husbands’ respective formula one car around the Grand Prix circuit.

No matter the result though, one thing is for sure; all drivers better bring back those cars with a full tank, or they might have a quiet ride home.

Finally then, after a proper sporting competition, we can see what type of relationship is the proper way forward. I can think of many no better scientific process in determining such an important question with human relationships.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thinking about Vengeance

Over time, economists have been trying to answer questions that revolve around incentives. The research has started to expand into many fields, and answer questions that go far beyond monetary policy. I know, what’s more exciting than monetary policy? But, hold on.

The further economists probe into the questions of incentives for wine choices, dating, crime, and other non-monetary venues, the more hatred is spewed upon them from other academic fields. Psychologists, ecologists, biologists…take your pick, and no matter how hard an economist has tried to garner them as co-writers, the hate will spew forth.

The man whom I predict will receive the latest in inter-academic wrath will be Naci H. Mocan, who has just released a working paper regarding vengeance. He writes in the abstract that:

Females, older people, working people, people who live in high-crime areas of their country and people who are at the bottom 50% of their country's income distribution are more vengeful. The intensity of vengeful feelings dies off gradually over time. The findings suggest that vengeful feelings of people are subdued as a country develops economically and becomes more stable politically and socially and that both country characteristics and personal attributes are important determinants of vengeance.

It is important we understand that while Mocan is speaking of crime, he is not writing about terrorism.

You see, recently we had a change in conventional wisdom about terrorists. We used to think they latched on to terrorism because they had no jobs. Then, we started noticing that acts of terrorism were being carried out by people who were not exactly desperate for money, per se. Even Osama Bin Laden has gone to college.

The separation between terrorist and vengeful poor guy really comes from a state of mind. If the information that has been coming out lately is right, then the vengeful poor are vengeful because of actual economic reasons. “Class warfare” is a term that everybody hates, so I’ll use it. It seems as though terrorists don’t have to worry about the same thing that the vengeful poor do, so they have time to develop religious psychoses regarding desert land whose wealth is defined by the supply of a substance (oil) that would have no where near the value if the rest of the world was not as “secular” as it is.

The “cause” is a piece of land roughly the size of New Jersey; of course I’m talking about Israel. So, we have sovereign countries in oil rich land that want to retake land that has only religious significance. I understand that my use of the phrase “only religious” is a bit underestimating considering that wars have been started over religious grounds.

I think what we learn here is that vengeance comes to those who feel slighted, or cheated in some way. People who feel that the current system is stacked against them will most likely feel vengeful. Their outlying of the system can come either economically, or religiously.
Maybe we need to look at what people everywhere see as unfair because those who feel that they are treated most unfairly will seek to remedy their situations in some of the direst of manners.

(By the way, I started writing a week ago on Thursday, July 17th, but apparently Stephen Dubner subscribes to the same email lists I do.)