Saturday, April 22, 2006

Proud Papa

My eldest son Kelsey is growing up much too quickly; he starts high school next year! Over all, he’s a great kid, and he seems to be handling puberty fairly well...the occasional mood swing / attitude problem notwithstanding.

I’m particularly proud of Kelsey’s academic performance this year. In addition to earning As and Bs, he was promoted to AP courses shortly after classes began and he—on his own initiative—signed up for *all* Honors classes for high school.

Yesterday Kelsey walked in rather nonchalantly after school and said, with a humility that is uncharacteristic of a 14 year old: “apparently, I got the highest score in the entire school on the writing portion of the standardized test.” I examined the letter in his hand, the one with the particulars about his score. In essence, it said that his essay was clear, concise, cogent and consistent. He got a 390 out of a possible 400. I’m very proud of him. Who knows, perhaps he’ll start blogging.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Live and Let Live

I’ve not exactly hidden the fact that I’m a Christian, but I am sadly atypical. Having said that, I’d like to mention something that Randall McElroy recently wrote:
I’ve never been too sympathetic to the argument that people can choose to be homosexual (and hence, can choose not to). I know I couldn’t choose to be gay. Think about it. Could you choose to be gay? If you already are, I find it perfectly believable that you couldn’t choose to be straight.
While that seems to be common sense, some folks reject it out-of-hand. Regardless, commenter/contributor Matt McIntosh offers a scientific perspective:
There’s well-documented evidence of brain structure differences between gays and straights. Specifically, Simon LeVay found that the third interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus is more than twice as large in straight men than in gay men, on average. This is roughly the same dimorphism you see between straight men and women. (Notably though, the second nucleus which is also smaller in women was normal-sized in gays.) The INAH plays a crucial role in sexual behaviour, so that’s as big a smoking gun as you can hope to find.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Adios Amigo

It’s a sad day in Blogistan, because Eric will Grumble no more. You see, I am one of Eric’s blog children, which means that he—more than anyone else—inspired me to begin blogging. He’ll be missed, but hopefully his archives will remain for a while. So, go catch-up on some good liberty-minded essays before they’re gone!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happiness is…

…spending a weekend with Stacy in New Jersey, my soon-to-be home state. We had a wonderful time, which simply cannot be conveyed through photos, but…here are two that hint at just how enjoyable this past weekend was.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pavlov’s Blog

Jim Henley rang a bell, and his readers salivated.

It’s actually quite clever…and many of the responses are very funny, in a cerebral, blog-junkie sort of way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Homework Assignment

Are you a critical thinker? Do you value rational thought processes and the proper use of logic? If so, then you ought to check out Chris Wilson’s logical fallacies cheat sheet. Review it carefully, for there will be a quiz.

In the words of Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold): ”Learn it; know it; live it.”

Monday, April 10, 2006

She’s All Mine

Everyone…this is Stacy, my new Love.

[click on image to enlarge]

Friday, April 07, 2006

Exhausted, yet Elated

What can I tell you…life is good. Scratch that—life is great!

Yesterday was quite the eventful day; it was a day of firsts and potential stressors: I flew for the first time…ever. I know, I’m a late bloomer. Anyway, that which necessitated the flight was an interview for a job with a prominent architectural and engineering firm that’s based in Wilmington, Delaware. However, the actual job assignment will be at the office of one of their clients, which is based in New Jersey. Here’s the best part: my new sweetie lives a stones-throw from there! What’s more, She met me at the airport and we spent several hours together…I’m still floating!

Now, it is true that I once ”said never”, but…you know the old saying about “saying never”. I now know why that particular saying is axiomatic: she’s absolutely wonderful!

Oh yeah…about that interview. I thought it went very well, but I’m biased, of course. And initially, the prospective employer told me that a final decision would not be made until next week, as I was one of three interviewees. But get this: I received a call the same day! I was informed that the decision to hire lil’-ol’-me was unanimous! I was beside myself. It’s a big move, but it’s a great career opportunity for me.

Apparently, I’m a latent romantic, because I’m more exited about being closer to Stacy than I am about the new gig; and the new gig is fantastic, so one can imagine just how special She is. I’m exhausted, yet elated!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Immigration and Entitlements

David Friedman counters a common anti-immigration argument—the one that suggests that immigrants will be a net cost to the U.S. economy, vis-à-vis entitlements—with a good argument for “open immigration”.
The existence of a welfare state may indeed make open immigration less attractive. But the existence of open immigration also makes a welfare state less attractive—which, for those who disapprove of a welfare state, is an additional argument in favor of open immigration.

Consider the analogous argument applied intrastate. Supporters of higher levels of welfare generally want them to be provided at the federal level—for a good reason. If welfare is provided and paid for by the states, high levels of income redistribution tend to pull poor people into, and drive taxpayers out of, states that provide them. That provides a potent political incentive to hold down redistribution. This is one example of a more general principle: The more mobile taxpayers are, the more governments, like businesses in a competitive market, have to provide them value for their money, and thus the less able they are to tax A in order to buy the votes of B.

The same argument applies across national borders.
Of course, that is eminently rational; but the current electorate has demonstrated, time and time again, that demagoguery works. Too many of us are simply motivated by, and respond to, emotional arguments. That being the case, as long as the voting franchise is freely given to anyone who has a pulse, is over 18 years-of-age and hasn’t been convicted of a felony, politicians will buy votes with public largess; and entitlements are the preferred currency of our esteemed Representatives.

Yeah…I’m holding my breath.

They took our jobs!

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STAMFORD, CT—In response to criticism over World Wrestling Entertainment hiring policies, World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon defended the league's reliance on Mexican wrestlers as "the only way fans can witness the grueling, bone-crunching maneuvers that American wrestlers want nothing to do with."

McMahon made the remarks after the Border Patrol, an unaffiliated Texas-based tag team known for wrestling masked Mexicans and then reporting them to Immigration and Naturalization Service officials, revealed that dozens of illegal Mexican wrestlers join the WWE each year.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Republicans: typical politicians

Stephen Gordon at Hammer Of Truth has a couple of posts (here and here) that betray the Republican Party’s penchant for paternalistic drug laws and their abysmal record of defending individual liberty.
After considering that most Republicans in Congress favor the continued death and suffering of medical marijuana patients coupled to these calls for the death penalty for recreational use, I retract my earlier statement. There is no hope for the GOP. With extremist views (and they call us extremists?) such as these, there can be no hope for the Republican Party.
With a mid-term election only months away, I’m not sure if I can hold my nose and vote for the Republican candidate…again; but it’s not like the Democrats are any better and the Libertarian Party is negligible, at best. I want to participate in the “democratic process” of our Republic…I really do…but I’m not exactly optimistic about its future.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Neurogenesis, Stress and Poverty

There’s an interesting, though lengthy SEED article about neurogenesis, which highlights the work of Elizabeth Gould of Princeton’s Department of Psychology.
The social implications of this research are staggering. If boring environments, stressful noises, and the primate’s particular slot in the dominance hierarchy all shape the architecture of the brain—and Gould’s team has shown that they do—then the playing field isn’t level. Poverty and stress aren’t just an idea: they are an anatomy. Some brains never even have a chance.
”Some brains never even have a chance” for what, exactly? Obviously, the implication is that since poverty and stress hinder the brain’s regenerative ability, ‘we’, as a society (i.e., the government) ought to eradicate poverty once and for all. You know, just like LBJ’s Great Society was supposed to do over forty years ago. How is that working out?
Gould’s research inevitably conjures up comparisons to societal problems. And while Gould, like all rigorous bench scientists, prefers to focus on the strictly scientific aspects of her data—she is wary of having it twisted for political purposes—she is also acutely aware of the potential implications of her research.
Okay, so leave politics out of it then. But that’s easier said than done…apparently.
“Poverty is stress,” she says, with more than a little passion in her voice. “One thing that always strikes me is that when you ask Americans why the poor are poor, they always say it’s because they don’t work hard enough, or don’t want to do better. They act like poverty is a character issue.”
So what then…we’re to believe that character (or a lack thereof) has nothing to do with poverty? I tend to agree with Will Wilkinson, who wrote:
Why think character issues have nothing to do with, say, neurogenesis? Aristotle says virtue is a hexis, a habit, a settled disposition of the soul to feel and act. Losing neurons, or failing to repair neurons, that are implicated in hedonic tone and motivation surely has something to with habit, virtue, ...character. No?
Will’s post is worth a read. In fact, he—correctly, I think—links poverty to culture, as did I in an essay I wrote in September 2005. Here’s the money quote:
The crux of the problem, in my view, is none other than the refusal to think independently. In other words: the lemmings that follow their peers over the edge get exactly what they’ve earned. Face it, if one chooses to incorporate the mindset and customs of the culture of defeatism, the welfare mentality and a racial inferiority complex (ala Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton, Rev. Whomever), then that one bears the full responsibility for the inexorable consequences. The same applies to the trailer-dwelling, mullet-having laborer that accepts the perceived immutability of his impoverishment, in addition to being certain that the wealthy folks in the gated community across town are to blame.