Friday, February 28, 2014

US Economy's Growth Was Slower Than Expected in 4th Quarter

As Instapundit would say, it was Unexpectedly!™ revised downwards. Sure. Who could have seen this coming, right?

The President has been telling us that the economy is "poised" for growth. He's been saying that for about five years. At some point being poised for growth isn't really growth. It's failure.

It's like a parent saying that their child has lots of potential. You can say that when your child is 8. When your child is 28 and still doesn't have job, you can't keep saying how much "potential" your kid has. He's a loser.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Great Gay Marriage Cake Debacle of 2014

Our long, national nightmare is over. Gay couples will continue to be free to continue having wedding cakes for their weddings. The Great Gay Marriage Cake Debacle of 2014™ is now over.

I was not aware that there was a rash of bakers out there refusing to bake people cakes.

Maybe it was all just a big misunderstanding. Maybe the gay couple didn't tell the baker that they were coming over for a cake. According to my sources, this sort of thing happens all the time.

Also, this is another reason why pie is better than cake. You never hear about pie getting involved in this sort of thing.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frank Underwood, Faulkner, and the South

Good conversation over at Brad's place about House of Cards, the South, and Faulkner. My thoughts are down in a comment from his original post, so you'll have to go over there to read them.

If you're a southerner, your history is something you grapple with.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Storm-Trooper Shooting Range Target

I need to get me some of these.

That is, until I acquire an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis Dead at Age 69

Probably best known as "Egon" from Ghostbusters, Ramis also was a prolific writer, with movies such as Groundhog Day, Stripes, Caddyshack, and Animal House to his credit, among many more.

Although most people only remember Bill Murray from Stripes, Ramis' character had some great scenes:

The man knew how to bring the funny, and he was always "willing to learn".

Sumter Man Attempts to Pay Applebee's Tab with $1Trillion Dollar Bill

Applebee's declined. As an aside, the piece doesn't say how much his tab was. I'm assuming that it was substantially less than one trillion dollars, since Applebee's is a pretty good value.

Hey, he was probably just following the advice of noted economist Paul Krugman.

Future Gamecock Recruit's Video Resume

Henry, my two year old son, has started enjoying baseball. Between his grandfather and me, Henry has attended four Gamecock Baseball games this year.

Needless to say, Henry has become a big baseball fan. Watching the "baseball guys" (as he says) has inspired him to take an interest in hitting a baseball himself. Henry was also the recipient of an actual baseball from Elliott Caldwell, who is a hard-hitting Junior on the Carolina Baseball team, so Henry has a favorite player. You can follow Elliott on Twitter here, if you're so inclined.

After watching the Gamecock hitters so far this season, Henry has decided to work on his hitting. The results are below.

Now, you're probably thinking How many takes did it take for Henry to hit the ball like that?


That's right. First time. Old "One-Take Henry", that's what they called him in his Hollywood days. We'll work up to hitting live pitching soon, but until then, hitting off the tee is going pretty well.

Don't worry Coach Espo, I won't take any recruiting calls from that college up in the upstate.

Friday, February 21, 2014

SCSSAR Celebrates George Washington's Birthday at Statehouse

Our Chapter VP John McCabe (center) and Chapter President Haskell Kibler (right) at the Statehouse.

Today, the South Carolina Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SCSSAR) commemorated George Washington's birthday at the Statehouse. The event was originally scheduled to be on the front steps (by the statute of George Washington) but the inclement weather forced us inside.

We were lucky enough to have JoAnn Zeise, the curator of History for the State Museum, deliver some remarks. Saturday is George Washington's actual birthday, so wherever, you are, raise a glass to our first President.
Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.
Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.
Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.
Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.
Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that make the officer, and that there is more expected from him, than the title.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Economics of Sex and Downton Abbey

This is one of those  "Whiteboard Videos", where they show you graphs while delivering the point, and it's interesting. It looks at the issue of sex as an economic transaction, and looks at the exchange in economic terms - supply and demand.

I think there are some more complicated factors out there not addressed by looking at relationships in purely economic terms can be misleading, but there is some truth to most of the points in this video. The most insightful comment in the presentation is: Men tend to behave as well, or as poorly, as the women in their lives permit.

There is some truth in that.

In the past, the issue of sex resulting in a baby made pre-marital sex (or at least sex without a serious committed relationship) much more risky, and therefore it was not as casual as it is now. (See, Edith's pregnancy in the fourth season of Downton Abbey).

Sometimes you had to go to France if you got pregnant without a husband. Or was it Switzerland?

Anyway, watch the whole video. It's safe for viewing. There's no nudity or bad language. It's economics, so relax. I would be interested to see if men and women have different perspectives on the points asserted. As Instapundit is always noting, the benefits of marriage to men have been downgraded over time through various factors, not the least of which is divorce jurisprudence.

How Not To Parallel Park [VIDEO]

I love sitting at the outside tables at the Gourmet Shop in Five Points watching people try and parallel park. Sometimes people just give up. We should make it an Olympic sport.

I'm torn when I watch this video. I can't decide if it's painful or funny.

Eh, I'll go with funny.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My First Look at Det Bowers for US Senate

My firm hosted a short meeting with Det Bowers, who has tossed his hat into the ring in the GOP race to unseat Senator Graham.

[Full disclosure: I know the Bowers family personally. I'm about the same age as his two older sons, and I have known him and his family growing up. He was also one of the ministers at my church for awhile.]

[Second full disclosure: I was only able to stay for the first thirty minutes, as I had a court hearing to attend. Accordingly, I missed about half of the discussion.]

Having said that, coming into today's meeting I didn't know anything about Det's political opinions, so I was interested to see what his motivation for running would be, and what his intentions were. My biggest concern was that he was running "to make a statement" rather than to actually win. I have no problem supporting people whom I agree with if they truly want to win, but I have no interest in supporting a candidate who's goal is anything other than actually winning. Because of his late entry into the race, I was worried that he might not be fully committed.

Accordingly, I was pleased to hear Det say that he isn't in the race to just show up. He told us that he decided to enter the race about a month ago. He said that one of the catalysts to his entering the race was when he and his wife recently watched the HBO series John Adams. Det told us that his wife encouraged him to run for this office because it was his duty to his country to try and make it a better place. Det said that his initial response was "I can give you about eight million reasons why I shouldn't run" but his wife dismissed that objection.

Det said that ultimately, he wants to run not against Senator Graham so much as he wants to run for the things that he personally believes in. He emphasized that he felt it was his duty to run for office.

Getting to those specifics, he led off with the idea that he wants to be a Senator that doesn't live in Washington DC. He said that his life is in South Carolina, and he wouldn't be a Senator who goes up to DC and becomes detached from this State. Without directly saying so, it was clear that he believes Senator Graham has made Washington, DC his home.

This dovetailed into his position that politicians shouldn't be in office for long periods of time, and he endorsed the idea of term-limits. He spoke about Washington's overspending, and the how Congress has continually delegated more and more authority and responsibility to the other two branches of government. He was extremely familiar with the Constitution, referencing it specifically in several instances. It was clear that he would seek to reassert Congress' power at the expense of Executive agencies.

He indicated that he would not have voted to confirm either Justice Sotomayor or Justice Kagan due to their views on abortion and homosexuality, but he acknowledged that they would have been confirmed anyway. However, he made a point to de-emphasize social issues, or at least it seemed that way to me.

It appears that his primary motivation for seeking a seat in the US Senate rests more on economic freedom and lessening the federal government's role in trying to direct private action. He told us about a business owner in Charleston who said he pays more  money complying with government regulations than he pays in taxes as an example of the federal government's heavy hand with economic activity.

On the practical side, his son Wyman is dealing with the logistics of the campaign. Wyman briefly indicated that they are looking to raise $500k by March, and he said that "it was a very attainable goal". They hope to have an official campaign website up and running soon as well. In the meantime, if you want to keep up with him, he is on Twitter. Wyman indicated that it was their goal to reach out to people both in and outside of South Carolina, as a US Senator's vote affects more than just one state.

Overall, Det Bowers struck me as a very humble and authentic man who is running for office because he truly wants to try and make this country a better place for his children and grandchildren. I'll be interested to see how his campaign plays out over the next few months.

I haven't decided where I am on this GOP primary, but I'll certainly be watching all the candidates closely.

Rocky Balboa Is Smarter Than Norman Ornstein

I'll admit, I don't have a degree in math. I don't excel at it. I don't particularly enjoy it. My forte lies in other things. I have the utmost respect for my friends who are engineers or have hard science degrees. Much like fire, poisonous snakes, and VX gas, I have a healthy respect for math.

The second you don't respect this, it kills you.
Accordingly, I don't try to mess around with math without making darn sure that I'm doing it correctly and following the rules.

Some goof named Norman Ornstein doesn't excel at math either. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that he doesn't have the same healthy respect for math that I do. When you don't have a healthy respect for something that you can't control, you get into trouble.

Norman Ornstein got himself into trouble with math. Here, see if you can spot the problem:
The first iteration of KidSave, in simple terms, was this: Each year, for every one of the 4 million newborns in America, the federal government would put $1,000 in a designated savings account. The payment would be financed by using 1 percent of annual payroll-tax revenues. Then, for the first five years of a child's life, the $500 child tax credit would be added to that account, with a subsidy for poor people who pay no income. The accounts would be administered the same way as the federal employees' Thrift Savings Plan...under the initial KidSave proposal, the funds could not be withdrawn until age 65, when, through the miracle of compound interest, they would represent a hefty nest egg. At 5 percent annual growth, an individual would have almost $700,000.
Since I'm not Euler, I'm going to break this down a bit. The Federal government is going to give every baby a $1,000 in an account. Then each year (for five years) the feds drop $500 more dollars into the account. So on the child's fifth birthday, they'll have $3,500.00 of principal. (and maybe a little interest over those five years) With me so far? So we're maybe at $4,100.00 with the interest at year five.

As an aside, who the heck gets a 5% rate of return? If you know anywhere that guarantees a 5% rate of return these days, send me an e-mail. Banks around here are paying less than 1%. But let's just leave that aside. Assume that your old buddy Ornstein has a magical bank that pays 5%. If you put your $4,100.00 in there, at the end of sixty years, will you have "almost $700,000.00"?

Hint, it's not even close. Not. Even. Close. The link above has the more detailed fisking.

If you're a "math person" (or just have some common sense) you'll immediately realize that you can't take $4,100.00 and turn it into "almost $700,000" with a 5% interest rate over sixty years. It's just not possible. Perhaps the best line of the piece above is as follows:
I am no finance guy, but it was immediately obvious to me that Ornstein’s numbers are ridiculous. If you could turn $3,500 into $700,000 in 60 years at 5%, I wouldn’t be practicing law these days. As Rocky said to his two goldfish, “If you guys could sing and dance, I wouldn’t be doin’ this.” Money, unfortunately, does not sing and dance as hypothesized by Ornstein.
Yo, how's about some compound interest?

Math. It doesn't care about your good intentions. It's just going to do its thing. So show some respect, sucker. Also, for all y'all out there defending Obamacare, I have news for you. Math is coming.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Open Thread

This is probably what you were doing if you were looking for some content today:'ll have to talk amongst yourselves for today anyway.

Tomorrow, I promise actual content. I'll be co-hosting a meet and greet a for Det Bowers, who has tossed his hat in the ring for the GOP primary against Lindsey Graham. I'll have some notes on how that goes. I don't know much about Det, other than he has been a pastor at my church. I know he's a good guy, but I also know that Graham has a lot of money.

If nothing else, tomorrow will be educational.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Best Excuse for Not Getting Your Girl a Valentine's Day Card...

...comes from The New Republic.

Hey, honey. I didn't get you a Valentine's Day card because warming. You just don't care about the earth if you gave someone a card.

If anyone tries this excuse out today, let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Enjoy Your Snow Day -Snow Related Links

Enjoy your snow day, y'all. Here are some interesting snow-related links for you to kill some time with while you're holed up.

1. Canadian Ski Coach Helps Russian Skier in Awesome Sportsmanlike Fashion. In case you forgot what the Olympics was all about.

2. How Much Snow It Takes to Close School Where You Live. A handy map for you school-age kids.

Today's snowy post brought to you by redheads with guns in the snow.

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

That's all I got for today. See you after the snow melts.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Obamacare and Touching the Hot Stove

Remember the Employer Mandate? The law says it shall take effect in 2014. It still says that. But that's just what the law says.

How did you learn not to touch this?
Last summer, the Obama Administration unilaterally delayed the Employer Mandate so that it wouldn't take effect until 2015. I'm not sure why Obama decided to delay implementation of such a great part of his super great law, but apparently, you don't need Congress to change laws or anything. So the Executive Branch just said Don't worry about the law, we're changing it. Because...well...nevermind.

So, 2014 is here. Time to start gearing up for the Employer Mandate next year, right? Well, actually no. Now that this year is here, the Obama Administration has decided that the Employer Mandate will be delayed again. They're going to implement it for some employers, but not others, and partially for some. Until 2017...or whenever, yo

Even though that's not what the law actually says.

Now, the real question is cui bono? Who benefits? Well, obviously the businesses who aren't faced with the massive costs of this imposing law benefit. But the White House isn't delaying the Employer Mandate to benefit the businesses. If they wanted to benefit the businesses, they wouldn't have passed the Employer Mandate at all. But they did. The law passed, and now we're seeing the President unilaterally walk it back, year by year. Why?

It's obviously to spare his friends in Congressional elections this fall the pain at the voting booth. It's a nakedly politically motivated violation of the law from the Executive Branch. Read that sentence again. Got it?

You know, if Republicans had any lick of sense, they would do do everything in their power to make sure the Employer Mandate hits this year. America elected a President and a bunch of politicians who passed this healthcare mess. But the same people keep easing back away from it. They know that everyone will feel tons of pain when the law actually goes into effect. So they keep delaying it. Maybe it's time to put the Employer Mandate into effect. Maybe it's time to feel some pain. Maybe it's time for America to touch the hot stove -- and burn its hand. 

When you burn your hand, you'll learn not to touch the stove again. Maybe next time you won't touch the damn stove when I tell you not too.

Winter Storm Watch Issued for Midlands

Once again, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary -- The Winter Snow. For forty years, your father and your older brothers before you played this game and played it well. But today the game is different. We have the advantage.

Yes, the winter weather is headed our way again. Looks like the storm will hit the midlands on Tuesday night and persist until Wednesday. As always, drive safely. 

One other note, unrelated to the weather: I'm fed up with The State website. They've cluttered it with drop-down ads, pop-up ads, and paywalls. Frankly, I've had enough, so I'm not going to be linking them anymore. There's never really a story on The State that isn't found elsewhere, so I'll go elsewhere. However, if I have to discuss something that is there and nowhere else, I'll be just generally discussing it without linking it. I know that The State isn't relying on me to send them traffic, but I'm just going to take a stand against bad websites that make it difficult to get to the content.

So yeah, mood status: Cranky

A Century of Meat in the USA [chart]

Happy Monday.

Here's an interesting chart about the US consumption of meat over the last hundred years.

You can see the larger version here.

Two interesting things jump out at me. First, pork is really volatile, while fish and shellfish is really stable. I'm not sure what drives that. Also, the big winner over the last hundred years is chicken.

What are you eating?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Top Headlines Thread (Russian Toilet Instructions Edition)


Here's a look around at the top five headlines I'm seeing today:

1. Jay Leno Says Farewell to the "Tonight Show": After a long run, he's finally leaving. I've seen plenty of criticism of Leno from people who say he's really dull, but I always thought he was pretty funny. My guess is he'll find some way to keep telling jokes for a living.

2. Charleston School of Law to Possibly Merge With the College of Charleston?: It appears that the State Legislature gets the final say on whether the Charleston School of Law can be sold to a private group, and that's not a sure thing. Accordingly the College of Charleston is looking into it. Law Schools can be quite a cash cow, since they don't require much overhead and rake in tuition dollars.

3. SC Legislature has Bill to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks: If I remember correctly, this was the same thing proposed in Texas that (by her opposition) propelled Wendy Davis to the forefront of national politics. Could we see a similar phenomenon here in South Carolina? If so, which state legislator is the most likely to be the face of the opposition to this law?

4. Four Ways Obamacare Hurts Millennials: Spoiler alert -- Young people are helping pay for the older, sicker people's coverage.

5. Want to Buy a Gun? Be Glad You Don't Live In Massachusetts: Hey, it could be worse. I hear China has some pretty tough restrictions on guns as well.

Yeah, yeah yeah...the Winter Olympics are starting, too. I guess that's news. The real news is all the problems that are going on with the logistics. Russia is weird, though. Here is a sign that is above toilets in Russian Hotels

 What's that on the bottom left? Do some people fish in toilets? Is this a Russian thing? I also like the bottom right one. Is that guy doing "air drums" on the toilet with a beer bottle?

That's all I got for some Friday AM links.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jerry Seinfeld Dismisses "PC Nonsense"

Jerry Seinfeld has received criticism from the Diversity Agitator Crowd, because the guests on his new show aren't "diverse" enough. Of course, right? That Jerry Seinfeld is such a menace.

When he was asked about this criticism in a recent interview, I kind of figured that he would say something along the lines of Hey, there's lots of funny women/minorities out there, and I just haven't had a chance to have them on my show...or something like that. Something along those lines would be non-committal, and would be a kind of tacit acknowledgment that he supports diversity for it's own sake. Who could have a problem with that?

His actual response?

Well, let's just say he went another direction.
“People think it’s the census or something,” Seinfeld said of the assertion that all pop culture should accurately reflect society. “This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that.”
This is what you can do when you're rich enough and accomplished enough. You can tell the politically correct, Diversity Agitator Crowd to all go pound sand. And that's exactly what he did.

Good for Seinfeld.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Columbia Bars, Restaurants Say "No" to Concealed Weapons

If you give people choices, they'll make the best choice for their personal situation. In the larger picture, it all works out.

Freedom. Voluntary Association. It's a radical concept, bro.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Actor Phillip Seymor Hoffman Found Dead of Apparent Heroin Overdose

Ace has a good point about the debate over drug legalization. Basically, his point is that the choices are a binary set of two choices:
1. Drugs are bad, and therefore must be illegal; or,
2. Drugs are fine, and therefore should be legal, and it's ok to do drugs.
Ace notes that you don't really see a more (dare I say) "nuanced" argument for: Drugs can be legal, yet they're pretty dangerous, so maybe you shouldn't do them.

As usual, Ace is right.

In all of the argument for legalization of marijuana in Colorado, we aren't really seeing anyone say that maybe it's ok to have legalized pot, but maybe we shouldn't be such big cheerleaders for it without the counterbalancing argument of "Maybe we shouldn't smoke pot all the time".

As events like Hoffman's death remind us, drug use has some negative consequences. Yes, this was heroin, not pot, but still, with all this marijuana legalization talk, I'm not hearing about any negative consequences. That's not good.

Remember the line Bill Clinton had about abortion? He said it should be "Safe, legal, and rare"which is a kind of third way of approaching the abortion issue. It's not the cheerleading stance of "Yay abortion", and it's not the prohibitionist stance of "never". He took the path of let's keep it legal, but let's discourage it culturally and socially.

I think that's the right path for some drug legalization. The problem is that we aren't seeing anyone of the legalization side of the argument call for restraint, or rarity in drug use.