Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Why are salries up this year?
With B.J. Ryan and Billy Wagner getting huge long term deals the question is why are they paying more now than projected. One factor is that the 47 million to Ryan is really only worth 37 million in cost today since player salaries go up around 10% a year. Furcal is asking for about 50 mil over 5 years it sounds high but with the magic of compound inflation it is only around 42 mil over 5 years. Also the Cubs ridiculous contracts to Eyre and Howry are a factor. Like Benson before the Cubs essentially decided that the market for relievers would start at that baseline.

Why is liberal Europe so anti free speech.
Europe which is frequently held up as a model of progressiveness and tolerance. However with regards to free speech they don't seem to think of it as important. For example a historian was put in jail for publicly denying the Holocaust. Although I don't really care about Holocaust deniers going to jail I do care about the government saying that merely expressing a view is grounds for jailing. I wouldn't like it if denying global warming was a jailable offense. Or what about denying the effectiveness of farm subsidies. The EU sees no problem with these laws and plans to make racial incitement a crime across Europe. This is an offense which possibly could criminalize supporting Levitt's research on the relationship between abortion and the crime rate. I think a large part of it is the lack of a state church. In general a religion believes that it is the correct one. So in a free market of religion the more information exchanged the better since it will lead people to them. Therefore in America freedom of information and of speech was encouraged. However Europe had state churches. With those you want as little information spread because it could lower your share of the market even if you are superior. Europe had very little time where one religion didn't dominate the country. Eventually it caught up with them because the lack of information which leads to efficient religions led Europe to atheism.

Friday, November 25, 2005

When Politics Goes Too Far
I don't mind the protests outside Crawford these people obviously feel strongly about it. But it gets a bit pathetic when you protest on Thanksgiving. These people are so emotionally against the president that protest is more important to them than their family.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Golden Age of Judiasm.
As a Yeshiva High Scool student my religious teachers will frequently mention (or assume) how the times of the Kings and the Temple was the golden age of Judiasm. I feel that this is largely in the imagination of those talking about it. Here are my conditions for a period to be a religious golden age. A- The country must be in control of itself. This excludes most (basically all) of the Second Temple era when Israel was a puppet state of the Romans. B- The country must be in a time of wealth or at least no starving. C- The country must be largely observant of the Torah. Given that there are possibly two leaders whose time qualified for the description of "A Golden Age." One was Joshua who led the Jews into the land and presided over its capture. The other was Solomon who led the country to peace and prosperity and built the first Temple. Other leaders such as Ezra led a religious revival but the Jews had no control of the land. The Macabees for a short time gave the Jews control but didn't lead a religious revival. David might qualify but having 2 civil wars (David and Absalom) as well as an attempted coup by Adoniah within 40 years makes me leave it out as a time of prosperity. Again the modern State of Israel is an independent political entity but there hasn't been a corresponding religious revival. The second topic about the school is the holidays. For some reason the teachers at my elementary and high school refuse to make any relationship between the holidays and the seasons. It is this ignorance which leads to the question of, " If Succos is about the Succos in the desert then why is it now?" The answer obvious to one who knows about the holidays is that Succos is mainly about the harvest. Take Shavous this holiday has been completely dissociated from the calendar. In all my Shavous sppeches I have almost never heard it mentioned as Hag HaBikurim. I realize that the emphasis isn't on agriculture anymore but I still would like those reasons to be at least acknowledged.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Congress shows its anti-life colors.
Tom Coburn is an obstretician and a Senator from Oklahoma. He promised to remain a citizen doctor if he was elected. The senate ethics committee than said it was wrong to earn money outside the Senate (except for novels or creative works.) This creative exemption is for services which are bought not because you are a Senator. Ignore Gingrich, Boxer and Hatch who cashed in on their Senate experience with some really awful novels/songs. The rule itself is stupid as it pretends that a Senator needs full attention to do his job.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Real Reason I Hate Scooter Libby
Its the nickname because you see kids the indictment started off as a regular case and is now going sooooooooooooooo sloooooowly.

Pat Robertson Please Shut Up.
Proving opponents points that he is a complete moron Pat Robertson predicted a natural disaster to hit a Pennsylvania town which voted out an intelligent design favoring school board. Such statements are irresponsible when attacking individual judges who ban it. But if a town votes on something please show some respect for the democratic process

Why as a Conservative I Can't support the ANWAR Bill.
Congress is deciding whether to allow drilling in ANWAR unless you believe that the pristine beauty of ANWAR is worth several billion dollars you should support this. The problem is that Congress also is subsidizing the drilling to the tune of several billion dollars. If there is enough oil then we don't need the subsidies and even if there isn't a lot then when oil supplies are lower the drilling will start when it is economically sensible. But then again that solution would appeal ro nobody not the enviromentalists or Republicans.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Those who Fail History are doomed to Repeat It.
Congress has decided that what the consumers need to lower the burden of high oil prices are high taxes on oil. These ideas range from very stupid (a tax on profits in excess on x billion dollars) to potentially lethal (a tax on all barrels of oil sold for more than $40 a barrel). At the very least these measures will do nothing to lower oil prices in the short-term and raise the prices later by eliminating incentive for new exploration. But the most probable outcome is that oil companies have no buisness activities in the U.S. to avoid the tax and the Senators who voted their conscience and stuck it to the oil companies will make speeches railing against outsourcing. In fact since oil prices are based on supply and demand and not especially on the cost of drilling and refining it will have wide variance in its profits. Therefore if you cut the highs by a 1/3 extra say then they will have to reduce the lows also. The way to do this is to limit supply to the U.S. to avoid the tax (assuming no loopholes) or put all your costs there to lower profits. So possibly this will eliminate tax revenue or maybe raise gas prices. But then again for the Dems it could bring us one step closer to solar power.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The wins fallacy
Johan Santana was robbed plain and simple. Colon had 21 wins and so won the award. In games Colon started his team had a 67.9% chance of winning and due to their superior bullpen won 72.4% of the time. When Santana started with 1.2 fewer runs of support his team had a 67.2% chance of winning and won 69.6% of the time. A classmate of mine argued for Colon due to the wins. He argued that a pitcher's only job is to win games and that it is a skill separate from ptiching. He said that Colon gave up lots of runs in wins and thus boosted his ERA however he had the skill to prevent more runs than necessary from scoring. In fact Colon had a 7.20 ERA in his losses and a 2.79 ERA in wins Comparatively Santana had a 6.44 ERA in losses and a 2.02 ERA in wins. So not only did he make a stupid statement generally but also the numbers don't support his claim either.

Thoughts on the Torture Bill.
I must say that the WaPost revelations don't surprise or anger me. These terrorists gave up there rights when they attacked civilians specifically. The Senate Bill is stupid since it ruins the threat of torture which is much more effective than questioning and hoping. I do think we should have a special exemption from a pro-terrorist torture bill for the CIA banning it from torture. Frankly I don't trust the CIA with dealing with terrorism. However you have to wonder the mentality of a reporter which prompts him to reveal the location of a secret prison. I mean they're secret for a reason. But these are journalists and they should get a Shield Law to protect them from responsibility for stories.

Riots in Paris
The riots in Paris are not only worrying in the fact that it could happen to all of Europe but it also illustrates the classic flaw in immigration policies. The major problem is that France was too (classic) liberal to close the borders to immigrants on such a large scale. However their welfare system meant that their was a large incentive for immigrants to come from Arab countries and not work. Frequently a country can survive mistakes if they are made uniformly. Take the S&L scandals in the 80's you combined a good idea (bank deregulation) with the politically expedient (insurance of bank deposits). If you remove either one the events don't happen. Or take Vietnam either we could have never gone in or we could have gone in strong. However we went with a middle path which meamt that we caved in to the antu-war movement in America. So France now has a large underclass of immigrants who are largely angry that due to France's employment protection they have no jobs. America doesn't have that problem because most of its immigration is illegal which is controlled by the market. Also America's welfare system is not close to what an illegal will make. Therefore illegals are largely people who want to be here and like the U.S. So then in France you take this mix largely caused by humanist socialism and add in the religious fervor. This is a mix which can explode at any time.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The value of a human life.
This is an annoying factor in debates. You will say that something isn't worth the money since you're spending a billion dollars for one human life. Than the usual response is " You're so evil a human life is priceless." In fact human life is probably valued by peope at $1,000,000 a year including the discount rate I'd guess. Also by Katrina the view has now come up that we should have spent the two billion to stop the hurricane it seems like it costs 200 billion dollars and 10 billion in human life damges (ten years a person.) However this ignores the rate of return on money which on the stock market is about 1.07 over an average of 150 years between hurricanes your expected real cost on the 2 billion is 2 billion times 1.07 to the 75 power which comes out to around 319 billion dollars which means building this levee wouldn't have been the economic decision. Bird flu on the other hand is an immediate danger with a high-risk of happening within the next 10 years this means the money we are spending is probably well-spent.