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Dating advice only a college football coach could give

NEW YORK, New York - Big-time college football coaches are a notoriously stiff and humorless lot, but Texas Tech coach Mike Leach does not seem too worried about his image. A freshman called his weekly television show asking for some recommendations for a first date he was planning, and he gave a rambling answer that included picking a restaurant that has "very little salad" so the woman would be "forced to eat in front of you", going to a coffee shop with "bizarre-looking characters" to give you something to talk about, and finally exchanging "computer schemes" at the end of the night if things went well.

On the stock market and the as-of-now failed "bailout"

NEW YORK, New York - Congress has voted down the "bailout" package and adjourned until Thursday - hopefully a Citizen's Brigade forms to block the doors and not let them back in.

I don't have the time to comment in detail, but I will say this:

I'm a big believer in the stock market in this fundamental sense - that it is essentially a system of communication; the rising and falling of stocks is a referendum on the health of companies and industries, a distributed and decentralized means of determining the best possible allocation of capital.

One might look at the failure of the "bailout" plan and see the reaction of the market and assume that the failure of the plan was a bad thing, because the market is tanking on the news. Already, I watched a closed-caption newscast of an "expert" for twenty seconds in my hotel lobby and saw "the House blew it" scroll across the screen.

The problem with looking at it this way is that not all aspects of our macro situation are represented by a stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. For instance, there's no stock on the market that represents a market judgment on the economic health of and relative burden upon the American taxpayer. Were there such a stock, it would be way up today.

There's no stock that represents a market evaluation of our liberty, of our commitment (paltry though it is) of our government not to interfere in the basic process of letting the market reward successful risks, and punish failed risks. Were there such a stock, it would be way up today.

(If we did have a choice of governments, evaluated by a stock-market-style process, bad governance would come screeching to a halt, but that's another discussion for another time.)

It's good, I guess, that 134 Republicans briefly regained the foggiest notion of the true intellectual foundation of their alleged governing ideology. But don't worry - they'll trade it away at the next dangling of a carrot, probably later this week.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 2-1

This week's pick: Central Michigan (-6.5) vs. Buffalo

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: I know I should have taken Maryland against Clemson. All the trends pointed against Clemson. I just didn't have the heart to do it. As it happend, CMU had to make a comeback and won 27-25, failing to cover.

Record: 2-2

Giada says Mario Batali is not "romantic or sensual"

SEATTLE, Washington - Apparently Giada de Laurentiis thinks she's the only person who brings sensuality into the kitchen. In an upcoming interview in the New York Post Sunday magazine, Giada takes a crack at the pride of Seattle, Mario Batali:

I mean, I love Lidia [Bastianich], but [she’s] kind of boring. And Mario Batali [I] love to death... but he’s not romantic or sensual. Those are the things I bring to the table.

Batali is very sensual. In fact, virtually every driven successful chef has a good dose of sensuality to them.

I would suggest Giada head over to Otto and try the Fennel & Bottarga pizza and re-evaluate her comments.


Roundup of Indians in the news

SEATTLE, Washington -

In Mumbai, a court recently used the results of a brain scan known as a Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature as evidence to convict a woman of murder:

After placing 32 electrodes on Ms. Sharma’s head, investigators said, they read aloud their version of events, speaking in the first person (“I bought arsenic”; “I met Udit at McDonald’s”), along with neutral statements like “The sky is blue,” which help the software distinguish memories from normal cognition.

For an hour, Ms. Sharma said nothing. But the relevant nooks of her brain where memories are thought to be stored buzzed when the crime was recounted, according to Mr. Joseph, the state investigator. The judge endorsed Mr. Joseph’s assertion that the scans were proof of “experiential knowledge” of having committed the murder, rather than just having heard about it...

In Greater Noida, Delhi, a mob of laid-off factory workers killed the CEO:

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, a manufacturer of car parts that has its headquarters in Italy, died of severe head wounds on Monday after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said.
A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: “Such a heinous act is bound to sully India’s image among overseas investors.”

In Durban, South Africa, a comment an Indian made to a white man at a urinal about comparative penis size led to three men getting gunned down:

A worker at the bar, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said a customer of Indian origin had remarked to a white customer while they were both at the urinal in the bar that his penis was bigger than that of the white customer.

"After both men returned to their friends, the two groups began swearing at each other before the group of five Indian men left the scene and all returned with firearms. They opened fire and three guys died on the spot.


Pemco chimes in on the chicks at the bookstore

SEATTLE, Washington - I talked about the women at the bookstore recently. A new "Northwest Profiles" radio ad from Pemco chimed in on the same subject, discussing the "Ghostlike Used Bookstore Waif".

It's whizbang Flash animation or something, so I can't directly link to it but I screenshotted it below and you can dig up Profile #30 on the Northwest Profiles page to listen to the ad.

Promoting bike travel to the point of absurdity

SEATTLE, Washington - This sign appears in the International District, indicating the direction of a twelve mile bicycle route to the airport. Taking a bicycle to the airport! Where are you supposed to carry your luggage? If you pick someone up at the airport, do you put them on your handlebars?

This sign is right across the street from a stop for the 194 bus that will take you right to the airport. If you can't afford the bus fare, you probably have no business at the airport anyway. If you work at the airport and ride your bike there, you already know the route.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Record: 1-1

This week's pick: New Orleans Saints (+5.5) @ Denver

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: New Orleans covers the number, losing 34-32.

Record: 2-1


This correction of the movie review is probably more entertaining than the movie

SEATTLE, Washington - This correction was run by the New York Times regarding its review of the movie Save Me:

A film review on Sept. 5 about “Save Me” confused some characters and actors. It is Mark, not Chad, who is sent to the Genesis House retreat for converting gay men to heterosexuality. (Mark is played by Chad Allen; there is no character named Chad). The hunky fellow resident is Scott (played by Robert Gant), not Ted (Stephen Lang). And it is Mark and Scott — not “Chad and Ted” — who partake of cigarettes and “furtive man-on-man action.”

found via Regret the Error


George Takei: similar to the losers from your small hometown

SEATTLE, Washington - George Takei married his longtime partner Brad Altman this past weekend in Los Angeles.

The notable thing here is not that it's a same-sex wedding, or that it was a multicultural-to-the-point-of-satire ceremony, but that Uhura was the maid of honor and Chekhov was the best man.

Has Mr Takei not made any friends since the late 1960s that could have served in these roles? Someone from the Howard Stern show, maybe? Anyone? This seems just like the rear-guard folks in your hometown, still hanging out with the same high school crowd while everyone with a crumb of adventurousness or ambition left a long time ago.

But congrats to Mr Takei anyway.


Learning not much about the Future of Copyright

SEATTLE, Washington - Perhaps I've marinated myself so thoroughly in the issue of digital-age copyright that I can't learn much more from short essays, but the Cato Unbound series on this issue didn't enlighten me too much.

The lead essay is by anti-copyright activist Rasmus Fleischer ("just give up, copyright cabal, you can't win and you're just becoming a pain in the ass") with reaction essays by Cato scholar Timothy Lee (who proposes a middle ground that doesn't really accomplish much), law professor Tom W. Bell (who doesn't do much besides mention a book he wrote), and law professor Doug Lichtman ("we need copyright, we will pass whatever laws we have to to enforce strong copyright, and you will like it.").

Perhaps they could interest the less marinated.


Bill Gates wiggles his ass in new Microsoft commercial

SEATTLE, Washington -

Gates shakes his ass at Jerry Seinfeld at the end of this.

Single women do not exist at the bookstore

SEATTLE, Washington - I'll often see an attractive or even semi-attractive woman at the bookstore. Even if she's not so hot, if she has a purposeful air about her in the bookstore that's good enough for me.

But I'd never approach such a woman, for two reasons: (1) I'm not inclined to do such a thing under any circumstances and (2) she is 100% guaranteed to already be taken and her man is also in the bookstore.

Every single time I've seen such a woman and keep an eye on her, her guys shows up in short order. If I owned a watch I could set my watch by it: "Boyfriend appears in 5... 4... 3... 2...".

I've done this little mental exercise dozens of times, and it always ends the same way. And I'm only counting times where I've already looked and not seen a ring on the I'm Taken finger.

One or the other or both of the following is happening: (a) every woman that doesn't look like a bridge troll is already taken (b) women don't go anywhere, even a quick jaunt to the bookshop, without their man. Most likely, the poor guy just wanted to go to the bookstore and these chicks, like most chicks, think that if the guy is out of sight for 20 minutes he's off having sex with someone else.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington -

Last week: A blowout win for ASU 41-14

Record: 1-0

this week: Oregon (-7.5) @ Purdue

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: Clearly superior Oregon forgot to show up for the first half and fell behind 20-3, and ended up winning 32-26, failing to cover by 1.5 points. Shit.

Record: 1-1


I'm still incapable of watching a television series

SEATTLE, Washington - I tried watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox last night. It is heavily promoted on Fox during football games and the young hot Terminator has a certain icy appeal to me.

It was all very disappointing. The opening sequence had long stretches of jumpy, over-styled slow motion with some rock song background*. The Terminator, Cameron (a bad name on at least two levels), got injured right at the top of the show and limped around for an hour so I didn't get to see her chops. I can't get into the mood of a one-hour show because I know things will all be well soon (John is trying to jump start a truck as a Terminator approaches! I wonder if he'll get it started?) and this particular episode required suspension of disbelief that was difficult even for science fiction (John seems to repair a corrupted microchip by scraping at it with a screwdriver.)

I give up. I tried. Watching TV is like eating olives for me; I know I don't like it, but I feel bad about it and try again every so often, just to be sure.

* Contrast this with No Country for Old Men, which I recently watched and off the top of my head I don't recall much music at all during the movie. More shows and movies should do this.


Football Lock of the Week

SEATTLE, Washington - I pick one game every week, college or pro, side or total. I wasn't posting them here before but my private clients (i.e. the friends I spam with football picks for no reason) know I went 8-5 last year and 11-3-1 the year before.

This week:
Arizona St. (-14) vs. Stanford.

All Picks for This Season

UPDATE: This was a classic early-season lock - 41-14 ASU.

Record: 1-0


Christina Ricci left her ass on an old movie set

SEATTLE, Washington - Hollywood Tuna is raving about Christina Ricci's new bikini body. Tuna asserts that she has gone from being a "weird looking chubby chick" to a hard body.

I, for one, prefer the higher curvature of the old (i.e. young) Ricci, the one from the days of Buffalo '66 or The Opposite of Sex.


John Stuart Mill on one-man-one-vote

SEATTLE, Washington - If we can't get rid of democracy in favor of a better way of each of us getting the government we want, at least we can look at addressing some of the flaws of democracy. I mentioned in this book review that I find the one-man-one-vote principle to be flawed in that it gives my vote the same weight as that of a less competent or deserving person.

I've thought briefly about different ways to weigh votes (e.g. proportional to taxes paid). Turns out, none other than John Stuart Mill was on the case way back in the 1850s. His essay Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform 1859 proposed a weighted voting scheme.

The first half or so of the essay is a discussion of districting schemes in Britain in the 1850s, dry even by my standards (and I enjoy reading learned 19th century English). He then steers the discussion to his thoughts about what would be "the ideal conception of a perfect representative government, however distant, not to say doubtful, may be the hope of actually obtaining it."

When most people hear you question the one-man-one-vote scheme, they automatically assume that you want to deny the vote to some people. Mill makes it clear that this is not where he stands, and enumerates several reasons why all governed people should have a vote:

First, then, in every system of representation which can be conceived as perfect, every adult human being, it appears to me, would have the means of exercising, through the electoral suffrage, a portion of influence on the management of public affairs...

It is important that every one of the governed should have a voice in the government, because it can hardly be expected that those who have no voice will not be unjustly postponed to those who have. It is still more important as one of the means of national education. A person who is excluded from all participation in political business is not a citizen. He has not the feelings of a citizen. To take an active interest in politics is, in modern times, the first thing which elevates the mind to large interests and contemplations; the first step out of the narrow bounds of individual and family selfishness, the first opening in the contracted round of daily occupations...

Whoever is capable of feeling any common interest with his kind, or with his country, or with his city, is interested in politics; and to be interested in them, and not wish for a voice in them, is an impossibility. The possession and the exercise of political, and among others of electoral, rights, is one of the chief instruments both of moral and of intellectual training for the popular mind; and all governments must be regarded as extremely imperfect, until every one who is required to obey the laws, has a voice, or the prospect of a voice, in their enactment and administration.

He then starts to question whether everyone's vote should count equally. He goes after the notion (repeated over and over at election time, or voter registration time) that your vote primarily gives you a say in your government. What it really does, in practice, is give you a say in everyone else's government:
But ought every one to have an equal voice? This is a totally different proposition; and in my judgment as palpably false, as the other is true and important... [Supporters of one-man-one-vote] say that every one has an equal interest in being well governed, and that every one, therefore, has an equal claim to control over his own government. I might agree to this, if control over his own government were really the thing in question; but what I am asked to assent to is, that every individual has an equal claim to control over the government of other people. The power which the suffrage gives is not over himself alone; it is power over others also: whatever control the voter is enabled to exercise over his own concerns, he exercises the same degree of it over those of every one else.

Given the power that your vote has over others, Mill forwards the idea (which would not make him popular today) that all people are not equally qualified to exercise such power:
If it is asserted that all persons ought to be equal in every description of right recognised by society, I answer, not until all are equal in worth as human beings. It is the fact, that one person is not as good as another; and it is reversing all the rules of rational conduct, to attempt to raise a political fabric on a supposition which is at variance with fact. Putting aside for the present the consideration of moral worth, of which, though more important even than intellectual, it is not so easy to find an available test; a person who cannot read, is not as good, for the purpose of human life, as one who can. A person who can read, but cannot write or calculate, is not as good as a person who can do both... A person who has not, either by reading or conversation, made himself acquainted with the wisest thoughts of the wisest men, and with the great examples of a beneficent and virtuous life, is not so good as one who is familiar with these. A person who has even filled himself with this various knowledge, but has not digested it—who could give no clear and coherent account of it, and has never exercised his own mind, or derived an original thought from his own observation, experience, or reasoning, is not so good, for any human purpose, as one who has. There is no one who, in any matter which concerns himself, would not rather have his affairs managed by a person of greater knowledge and intelligence, than by one of less. There is no one who, if he was obliged to confide his interest jointly to both, would not desire to give a more potential voice to the more educated and more cultivated of the two.

Mill then outlines a sample vote weighting scheme, assigning relative value to farmers, skilled and unskilled laborers, surgeons, members of "learned societies", etc. Mill seems to draw a direct correlation between education and competence as a voter, which is one possible scheme of many, and not really one that I agree with.

Interestingly, Mill's fall-back position (what to do in the absence of the stated ideal system) is to implement a rigorous minimal educational qualification for voting. If you can't make the vote of the smart guys count more than the vote of the dumb guys then yes, we do need to stop the dummies from voting.

found at EconLog