Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too - Part XXVII (Parenting edition)

From Sh*, (yes, I know that's not the real website name):

"A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed."

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too - Part XXVI

From a recent Thomas Sowell column entitled "Promises and Riots" -

"Economists are the real "party of No." They keep saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch -- and politicians keep on getting elected by promising free lunches."

Well, yeah

From AOL this morning:

I can see where you could get into a bit of trouble over something like that.  

(Okay, okay, here's the story.)

Unreliable Research?

“There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded.” – John Ioannidis

The Atlantic magazine recently published a story entitled “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science.”  The story is a profile of statistician and medical doctor John Ioannidis, and of his work. His work -- the debunking of medical research, specifically medical research that is flawed, biased and potentially harmful.  Among his most startling conclusions:

>> Forty-one percent (41%) of the most highly regarded medical findings from 1992-2005 had subsequently been shown to be wrong or significantly exaggerated.  These were widely accepted and commonly used findings such as hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women, vitamin E to reduce the risk of heart disease,  coronary stents to ward off heart attacks, and daily low-dose aspirin to control blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

According to Dr. Ioannidis, the reason for such flawed research becoming common practice was basically this – 
1) if a researcher is attracted to a concept that has a good chance of being wrong, and 
2) said researcher is motivated (for whatever reason; “money and power” come to mind) to prove it right, and 
3) there is wiggle room on how the evidence is collected or assembled, then 
4) the researcher will probably succeed in proving wrong theories as right.

The kicker, as it almost always is, is money.  Sound familiar?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A deadlocked Congress is no victory

Yesterday morning, Cole Shooter, a "guest host" on KFYO's LFN (Lubbock's First News) commented that he would be perfectly happy with a deadlocked Congress, because if they were deadlocked then government spending couldn't increase.

It's a mistake to perceive a deadlocked Congress as any sort of victory for limited government.  The ratchet effect toward a bigger government still works -- first, in that many entitlement programs have automatic increases which add to federal spending, and which increases continue even if Congress does nothing.  

Liberals also advance the power and scope of the federal government when in office (as we've seen so well the last two years.)  If Conservatives merely keep the status quo when they're elected, rather than reverse the growth, the result is a slow but sure realization of Liberal objectives.  A slow defeat is still a defeat.  The only victory possible for Conservatives is the appropriate reversal and cancellation of government programs (including unlegislated mandates by government regulatory agencies; e.g. EPA.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

A great Christmas story that doesn't involve Christmas

Instead, it involves Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  

This story sort of puts the spirit, not only of the holiday, but of our humanity, into context. (And it's not what you expect.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Antoine Dodson Christmas

If you're not already on the Antoine Dodson train, you're missing out on one of the biggest internet memes of 2010.  This trip is worth the twenty minutes or so it will take.  Start out by being introduced to Antoine:

Question:  How does the internet leave poetry like that alone?
Answer:  It doesn't.

And now, the birth of the Christmas classic, the Carol of the Bed Intruder (it's worth watching the whole video, but if you're in a hurry go to the 3:15 mark):

Thursday, December 09, 2010

WikiLeaks, WMD & Bush

Larry Elder has a recent column entitled “The WikiLeaks Vindication of George W. Bush.”  In this column he delineates pretty well the case for a mass media apology to President Bush.  Bush was raked over the coals pretty badly for supposedly lying (“Bush lied, people died, “ remember?) during his 2003 State of the Union address about Iraq obtaining uranium from Africa.  Joe Wilson, the infamous Valerie Plame’s husband, made his reputation by denying that Iraq had uranium.

One positive aspect of the WikiLeaks mess is the revelation that Iraq did indeed have yellowcake uranium which could have been enriched to produce nuclear weapons.  Thus George W. Bush was telling the truth, and Joe Wilson (along with the rest of the anti-Bush crowd) was either lying or wrong.  Read Elder’s column for details.

In the column, Elder references the work of Wired magazine’s writer Noah Schachtman.  In his story “WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq – With Surprising Results,” Schachtman writes, “But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years [after 2003] U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.”


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too - Part XXV

In Mona Charen’s recent column “Two Chances at History,” she applauds the Washington Post’s acknowledgement that the movie “Fair Game” is made up largely of distortions and outright inventions.  The movie purports to be the true story of the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson incident.  Plame was the CIA agent supposedly “outed” because of leaks to the media by the Bush administration.  Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s assistant, was convicted of perjury. Convicted, Charen says, “because his memory of conversations differed from others.”  She also says, accurately, “The man on trial did no leaking.  The man who did the leaking is not on trial.” (Note: read the Wikipedia entry on Scooter Libby -- the first couple of paragraphs, anyway, to get the gist of what happened.  Then read the "criticisms of the investigation" at the end, along with the results of Plame's lawsuits.  You'll get an idea of how trumped-up the whole mess was, and how unfairly Libby was, and is still, being treated.)

However, my interest is in a broader truth that Charen observes.  She says, “Liberals always get two shots at history – one as events unfold, and another when playwrights, screenwriters, novelists, and other arbiters recount events later.  It’s a crime against truth, but it happens every day.”

Think of the people who know history only from the movies, and you’ll see that she’s got a point.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Apparently so

Politico headline: "Bush job approval rating higher than Obama's"

(The story's about how Bush's approval and popularity have rebounded from the lows at the end of his presidency.)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Other People Say Smart Stuff, Too - Part XXIV

Jonah Goldberg, in a recent column about Barack Obama’s changing his mind and rejecting oil development off the Atlantic coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for at least five years:  Few presidents have talked a bigger game about pragmatism while pursuing a dogmatic agenda.