Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Interesting article in the Statesman

Which contains this quote:

In an effort to separate art from child porn, reviewers have come up with a test, Shelby said: If a naked child has clearly visible wings, it is a legitimate cherub and the book can stay. No wings? It must go.

More here.

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Lazear ctd.

Yglesias catches a few other problems with his WSJ op-ed.

Fourth quarter growth

James Hamilton lays out why the 5.7% growth this quarter is not such good news.  Also, Brad DeLong notices that unemployment rates seem to be rising by more than they should given GDP numbers due to oddly high productivity growth.

Longhorn recruiting

Big  news for Texas recruiting today.  We landed 5-star prospects DE Jackson Jeffcoat and LB Jordan Hicks.  We had already landed 4-star recruits at every defensive position- 2 at DE, 2 at LB, 2 at DT, and 3 DB’s.  We also have this guy waiting in the wings from last year.  Will our defense ever be scored on again?  That remains to be seen.  On the offensive side of the ball we turned in some nice recruits as well.  A slew of 4-star wide receivers committed, and a couple of them are expected to compete for playing time next year.  We also received some 4-star recruits on the offensive line, but the biggest thing here should be getting last year’s 5-star recruit Mason Walters back from injury.  The biggest wild card of this class seems to be the running back position.  We only had one recruit here, Traylon Shead, and it’s hard to know how good he’ll be as he played  at the single A level in high school.  He absolutely dominated at that level, but it’s hard to know how that projects.  He is the first single A player Mack Brown has ever recruited.  We’ll also have Chris Whaley coming off his red shirt season, but some people think that he will be moved to tight end.

Encounter With A Cliché

I was standing on line in CVS today and couldn’t help but notice the man working behind the counter. Who was he? A thirty-ish year old fellow, short, slightly pudgy, he looked almost exactly like a lot of people that I’ve seen before. Maybe I had seen him before. I wouldn’t know. He looked like a human cliché.

What were his hopes, I thought silently to myself. What are his is ambitions? What excites him to the verge of ecstasy, what is he passionate about? In other words, (but the same words I used before) who was this man?

I didn’t ask him any of these questions, if that’s what you’re wondering. That would have been weird. No, I resigned myself to the usual pleasantries and left the store just like every customer he had ever serviced before and after. I left without so much as a goodbye. But the thought of this man still lingered with me long after I had driven away from the store. Why was an adult man, far older than myself, working the counter at CVS? That really has to suck… Panic began to grip me. Is it because of the economy? Are things really that bad? What if… I end up like him? Behind the counter of a CVS?!… What if things are really that bad?…

Well, I didn’t have an answer to those questions at the time so I hastily dispelled them from my mind like a dead rat. Lying in bed tonight though, the currents of my thoughts (inevitably?) brought them back to the surface, and I think I have the answers now.

Sure that guy looked depressing as hell, slightly belittled in his inferior position of servitude, but even if I were to end up standing behind that exact same counter ten, twenty years from now, I can take comfort in the fact that I am not him. Sure my job might suck and I won’t have much by way of extravagance in my life, but I know what interests me, I know what I’m passionate about and (hopefully) I will never forget those things. Even if I end up as a “lowly” CVS clerk scanning bar codes all day long, I’ll be able to come home at night and retreat to the solitude of a great novel or ponder the nature of light, the universe. I don’t have to be depressing. I can still be me no matter how shittacular of a job I end up landing. And I’m ok with that.

Such are thoughts to set dreams afloat.

-Mirabeau B.

Another Crumby Post

The Onion does it again!

Bunch of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger

Lazear on taxes and growth

Ed Lazear has an article in the Wall Street Journal decrying Obama’s plan for a discretionary spending freeze (again, it would have been nice if people like him has been saying things like this back when Republicans wanted it).  Anyway, he’s correct that it’s in no way a serious effort to cut the long term budget deficit.  However, the article also includes this interesting bit Continue reading

Lockhart’s Lament

Here’s a paper we had to read for my number theory class.  It’s rather long, but if you read the first four or five pages you’ll get the general point.  Basically, Lockhart has a major problem with how math is taught in our school system.  He feels that math is taught mostly by showing people how to follow specific rules.  In grade school and undergraduate classes, those who excel at math are those who can follow these rules the best, not those who exhibit the best independent and creative thinking.  According to him, success in mathematics beyond this is predicated on the ability to think critically and independently.  More importantly, he argues, people are not exposed to this side of math and therefore aren’t aware how interesting it really is.  Although much of it sounds like he’s just bitching about people not knowing what he does for a living, there’s surely some truth to it.  But how would one go about implementing lesson plans that follow these guidelines?  He rails against standardized testing, but is there a way around using them to ensure some basic competency?  In the end, he raises some very interesting questions, but provides few answers.  I thought this might be especially interesting to anybody who might be teaching a math class in the near future.

“That’s all bullshit!”

A good friend of mine (known amongst various competitive bowling circles as Disco Stu, to others he is simply McMichaelson) turned me on to this song I’m currently obsessed with by classic rock band Styx:

Kick back, crack open a brew, load a bowl, mix various poisonous substances into a potent concoction of misery and death in your souvenir Las Vegas shot glass (aah! I know you have one!) and give the song a listen. But please please please pay attention to the lyrics. It’s poetry and philosophy and everything in between.

If anything, do it for all the poor souls who have died in various horrific ways and were not Glenn Beck.

-Mirabeau B.

65,572

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women in the military, according to this study.  The breakdown of LGB men and women in the military is interesting as well.  They estimate that 12,952 of them are serving on active duty.  The rest are in the National Guard or reserve roles.   About 35,000 are men and then other 28,000 are women.  However, because there are more men than women in the military lesbian or bisexual women account for nearly 3% of women on active duty and almost 9% of those in the National Guard or reserves.  These numbers are about 1% and 3.5%, respectively, for men.

Update: Any of you who have taken a little bit of probability or statistics, scroll down to the appendix to see some nice Bayesian equations.