Monday, December 31, 2007

Interesting Articles

This is one of the "features" or "services" I hope to provide on the blog. Just a hodgepodge of different articles and blogposts I found around the web that I found interesting and informative:

Donald Luskin has this to say about an interesting looking book called "Liberal Fascism":

National Review's Jonah Goldberg has a new book out -- Liberal Fascism. Love the cover! Like Goldberg, I'm tired of liberals endlessly accusing conservatives of fascism, Nazism, Hilterism, and so on -- when the liberal agenda, is in fact, the very kind of state supremacy that quite literally defines fascism.

Take a look at the cover, a smiley face with a Hitler mustache. Luskin is on point, and no need to expound his comments which pretty much cover what I think. I enjoy Luskin's blog, he usually writes about Economics, so if you enjoy that, visit his site.

Amity Shlaes writes a piece on the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal called "The New Deal Jobs Myth" about a favorite subject among the left vs. right, and many economists,: is a job in the public sector as good as one in the private. Shlaes revists the "New Deal" and touches on "emergencies" creating jobs. My view on this is rather simple. Known as "The Parable of the Broken Window", it comes from an essay by Frédéric Bastiat. If you have never read or heard it, you should check it out, but I will try to sum it up briefly. It deals with a shopkeeper who arrives at his store and finds some hoodlum threw a rock through his window. While it sucks that the keeper has to buy a new window, it does make business for the repair man. The repair man now has money to spend elsewhere, and the "invisible hand", in this case the hand that threw the rock through the window, keeps the economy chugging along. While on the surface this is true, it fails to recognize the fact that because the shopkeeper spent his money on the window, he did not spend it elsewhere, as he originally planned. It simply took money (taxes, anyone?) from one source and gave it to another (social programs?). I plan to revisit this whole topic at another time, so I will leave it at that, but the article is worth a read.

Finally, Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek calls our attention to an article by Joel Kotkin of The Washington Post, about how today's headlines foretell "doom and gloom" for the economy and the coming years, and how in the 70's, the headlines seemed the same. Oil prices high now, Oil prices high in the 70's. The dollar is struggling now, the dollar was taken off the gold peg in the 70's and some thought that when the toilet paper ran out you might as well use the notes as a substitute. They said a piece of the Amazon the size of Rhode Island disappears every day and our kids would never get to see it and guess what, it hasn't gone anywhere. Keep the alarmists in check. Not so long ago many thought the American economy would tank we would be buying groceries with the Yen. It's a cycle guys, it goes up, it goes down, it comes back round again.

2007 review: The year according to Dave Barry

Dave Barry does the year in review. Among the highlights:

It was a year filled with bizarre, insane, destructive behavior, an alarming amount of which involved astronauts.

In short, 2007 was a year of deep gloom, pierced occasionally by rays of even deeper gloom. Oh, sure, there were a few bright spots:

Several courageous members of the U.S. Congress -- it could be as many as a dozen -- decided, incredibly, not to run for president.

O.J. Simpson discovered that, although you might be able to avoid jail time for committing a double homicide, the justice system draws the line at attempted theft of sports memorabilia.

Toward the end of the year, entire days went by when it was possible to not think about Paris Hilton.

Apple released the iPhone, which, as we understand it, enables users to fly, cure cancer, read minds and travel through time.

The plucky, lovable New York Yankees once again found a way, against all odds, to bring joy to the literally billions of people who do not root for them.

Dick Cheney did not shoot anybody, as far as we know.

If you want the full version be sure to check out the whole article.

January 1, 1959, el proximo año...

If you have to ask why that date is in the title, you probably will never understand. That is the day Fidel Castro and his band of merry men rolled into Havana. Since that day, the island of Cuba, and to an extent the world, has been under his power and spell in a way that boggles the mind. I don't want to argue the causes, I don't want to argue who is to blame and what could have been done, or what needs to be done, or who is to blame. The subject has been covered, and will be covered around the world, on other blogs, and for now, this is not the time or the place.

Every New Years Eve Cubans every where lift their glasses and say "el proximo
año en Cuba", just like they did on Noche Buena, just like they did last year, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that, every year, since 1960. Every year, someone says "THIS, is the last one, I can feel it..". Sadly, it keeps getting put off until the next year, and that one is again christened the "last" one. So will this one, be the last one? I don't have a crystal ball, and neither do you. Every year the news of Castro's health is worse and worse and the man just keeps on ticking like a freakin' Timex. Every year thousands of families lose a loved one whose only wish in life was to out live Fidel.

So, what's my point? Well, go ahead, enjoy the time with your family and friends, lift your glasses, and we will all say, or at the very least think, "el proximo año...". We will get it right at some point. He can't live forever. (He can't guys, lets face it.)

New Zealand manhandles Bangladesh

Daniel Vettori got 5 wickets and became New Zealand's all time wicket taker in ODI as the Kiwi's bested Bangladesh by 10 wickets. Bangladesh was all out for 93. Vettori was 5-7 bowling. Brendan McCullum led the offensive charge for New Zealand and was 80 not out. The one sided match was won with 264 balls to spare. The match completed a 3-0 sweep for the Kiwi's. More details at the usual Cric sites like CricInfo.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Rice: Because there are never enough ways to waste your time on the web

My mom sent me a link today for a site called Free Rice. The premise of the site is this: They give you a word and 4 choices. You need to pick the correct definition, and if you do, they donate 20 grains of rice to starving people via the fine folks at the United Nations. You know, the UN that sends "letters of strong rebuke and condemnation" to despots everywhere. They'll stand up to the United States but for dictators elsewhere they put their countries on the Human Rights committee. According to Snopes, the deal is for real. Here are two key questions answered from the sites FAQ :

Who pays for the donated rice?

The rice is paid for by the advertisers whose names you see on the bottom of your vocabulary screen. This is regular advertising for these companies, but it is also something more. Through their advertising at FreeRice, these companies support both learning (free vocabulary for everyone) and reducing hunger (free rice for the hungry). We commend these companies for their participation at FreeRice.

If FreeRice has the rice to give, why not give it all away right now?

FreeRice is not sitting on a pile of rice―you are earning it 20 grains at a time. Here is how it works. When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people.

Now, I realize hunger is not a laughing matter. I see it every day here in Brazil. I remember my father told me one of his last memories of Cuba was a campesino who knocked on his door asking for food, and when the guy's son saw meat on the table he said "Papi, carne!!". Two, three times a week there is a kid who knocks on our door asking for rice, or beans, or milk, coffee, sugar, etc. He's got a system worked out where he will ask us for one thing, the neighbor for another, and he just works his way around the block, and by the time he's done he's got a meal for his family. He changes it up, from house to house, week to week, so everybody pitches in. But 20 grains?!? That's barely a mouthful. And the words are kinda easy for the most part, although they built a program where it gets harder as you get them right, easier if you get them wrong. I think they should rework it whereby the harder words are worth more rice, and the easier ones less, but thats just me.

Anyways, if you are one of those "word people", and you wanna help out a good cause, visit Free Rice, tell'em my mom sent ya!!

Well, today I will spend the day putting the blog together, adding links, playing around with the layout. I hope to have everything together for the first of the year. I am considering mirroring the blog on WordPress, but that might not be necessary. There are things I like about both, but Blogger offers more customization, especially with widgets and gadgets. You cannot play with HTML over on WordPress, at least not that I am aware, but maybe I can figure it out.

On the cricket front, both Tests ended and were rather one sided. Australia dominated India and got their 15th consecutive Test win. The West Indies bested South Africa in "the other" Boxing Day Test. While India looked strong on Day One, Australia is, well, Australia, and showed why they are the best in the world. The Windies came out strong, and the South African bats challenged a bit towards the end. Some feared a Windies collapse, but strong bowling from Fidel Edwards sealed the victory. I will go more into detail on other posts about the remaining Tests, but I just wanted to get a quick post up.

UPDATE 11.51
Well I added most of the widgets/gadgets, whatchmacalits that I was looking for on the side. Still need to add some links but tihs is more or less what it will look like.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

First Post

So what will I write about? Um, whatever I damn well please. Pretty much what ever has my attention at the moment, which can vary: Life, my family, my job, politics, economics, Cuba, United States, cricket, basketball, hockey, NASCAR, soccer... Like I said, whatever I feel like. I guess to start I will link articles and blogposts that I see around the web and I find interesting.