You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Another Fun Search Term…

Posted in Politics, The Intrawebs, Urban Planning by Stacy McMahon on June 26, 2007

…leading to this blog.

“free market” urban planning

I don’t know that I’ve specifically addressed that subject, though I hope you can see my leanings in my body of work. If anyone is interested, I do actually have a philosophy on that. Basically, the free market treats land (or housing in particular) as a commodity. Yes, “location location location” matters, and the same house downtown sells for much more than in the suburbs. But within moderately large geographic areas, the market acts as if houses are a identical units sitting on a shelf. This ignores a lot of things that actually do matter to people, from preserving agriculture and open space to the negative effect on traffic of building a large subdivision at the end of a tiny two-lane road. Someone smarter than me might be able to figure out market reforms that would price more of those concerns into private land use decisions, but until then the best bad solution to this market failure is government regulation, including urban planning.


No Eclectic Activities…

Posted in Silly/Funny by Stacy McMahon on June 26, 2007

My neighborhood is a treasure trove of germatikaly kerrect signs. Here’s just one example, spotted the other day while I was attempting to get the exercise that will lead to me looking decent in my tux this fall.

Eclectic Activities

This tree grow zone, no active in athlete!


Posted in Books, Environment by Stacy McMahon on June 25, 2007

I read and sometimes respond to books here, and while I know writers have much better ways to spend their time than giving me remedial instruction on what their book was getting at, it’s nice if one does happen to find his/her way here once in awhile. Randall Fitzgerald did that the other day, commenting on my perhaps-a-bit-harsh remarks about his book The Hundred Year Lie: How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health. (emphasis mine)

As for your claim about the scientific veracity of my arguments and
data, there has been quite a bit of medical and scientific support
for my thesis emerging. In that regard I point you to the book’s website
at for some of those statements of support,
as well as to the Postscript in the newly released paperback version
of the book which details a long list of peer-reviewed science studies
supporting the contentions in my book

The second part is what I had been looking for when I originally read the book. Yes, I could have gone out and located that stuff myself, or looked at the companion website, but my time for such things is limited and it’s nice to be able to see footnotes or endnotes listing the sources for scientific claims, even those — like Fitzgerald’s claims concerning synthetic chemicals — that strike me as basically plausible on first reading. Anyway, thanks to Randall for taking an interest in responding to someone like me who read his book and had what I hope was constructive criticism, even if it was expressed in internet-standard sarcasm.


Posted in Addison, Social Life by Stacy McMahon on June 19, 2007

My first-ever Father’s Day was a resounding success, with Addie enjoying and being enjoyed by Louise’s parents, who repaid the favor with grandparent-class food — quiche for breakfast, and salmon for dinner, or supper as we Catholics call it. The weather was a bit warm for true comfort, but the sun was shining and relaxation was the order of the day as we capped off our weekend with a small gathering of friends back in the city.

You could forget there’s a war on.

We and two friends of ours met J and A in downtown DC after attending the motorcycle show this past winter. One of our friends decided J was interesting enough to keep around, and so Louise and I have seen him more often (and our friend somewhat less often…) These guys are good-natured and friendly, cosmopolitan and not above having a little alcohol-fueled fun. J and our friend had spent the day cooking and amassing beer, while A and his brother R were touring the Virginia Peninsula, from which they returned with a rare jar of honey.

Sadly, we were too tired to stay long, but we try to enjoy J and A’s company whenever we can, since they’ll be serving with the Danish army in Afghanistan in just a few months. Herewith a toast: to our democratic allies — may they serve bravely and well, and may they return safely to many more lazy afternoons of good food and conversation.

Think of The Children!

Posted in Politics, Sociology by Stacy McMahon on June 15, 2007

Glenn Reynolds links a couple of new articles in the steadily-growing dialogue about the appropriate role of safety concerns in children’s play. As mentioned previously, I come down on the side of new experiences even if it risks some scraped knees or a twisted ankle. With typical British forthrightness, they say it better than I could:

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said parents were too risk-averse, particularly after the abduction of Madeleine McCann in Portugal, and youngsters should be allowed to bruise and cut themselves.

Peter Cornall, the head of leisure safety at the society, said children would learn “valuable life-long lessons” by scraping knees, grazing elbows and bumping heads – not least how they would avoid hurting themselves in future – whereas they would learn little from getting RSI from playing games day in, day out on a PC.

Now, I’m not against video games — some of them can be educational, and it’s pretty well established that video games are excellent for developing hand-eye coordination. But playing outside has critical benefits too, like learning to see and identify objects at a distance, developing coordination in your arms and legs (not just your hands,) developing a sense of speed and timing, and just plain physical exercise. And kids who play outside in groups without direct adult supervision develop their imagination, as well as important social skills. I obviously don’t want my daughter to be injured, but if all the above means a trip or three to the ER between age 3 and 18 then I say it’s worth it.

1 + 1…

Posted in wedding by Stacy McMahon on June 14, 2007

Since the biggest chatterbox in my social circle (I promise that’s a compliment!) knows now, I imagine the word is filtering out. I proposed to my girlfriend Louise last month, and she accepted! We are engaged to each other, and also engaged in attempting the impossible — a wedding on a reasonable budget in the DC area, in just six months.

I wish you all could meet this wonderful woman but since many of you can’t, let me describe her for you. She is the kind of person who goes out at 10pm after a long day to get me Tylenol, and doesn’t get mad about it. She’s the kind of person who wakes up in the morning and insists on packing my lunch, even if she’s the one who slept in and is going to be late to the office. She loves gardening and is seriously considering leaving a successful career in PR for a new one as a residential landscape designer. Like any couple we’ve had our ups and downs, but she always rises to the occasion. The anecdote that’s been passed around my family really tells the story — she is the woman who, upon learning about my surprise baby, not only didn’t run away screaming but actually showed up with a book on step parenting. In almost 8 years of friendship we came to know and love each other, and after 6 months of dating I can say for sure now — this is the love of my life, my partner and my perfect match.

Stacy and Louise at 2006 DC Bike Show

Hornet 1000?

Posted in Two Wheels by Stacy McMahon on June 14, 2007

Honda introduced their new Hornet 600 in Europe last year. It’s a little “Japanese-looking” for my taste, but I like the up-to-date injected motor and under-engine exhaust. I’m a fan of naked bikes partly for the easy maintenance (don’t have to take a bunch of plastic off it just to change the oil) and partly for the standard riding position. I don’t know how some guys ride around all day long on crotch-rockets, but I hope their insurance covers the chiropractor.

Anyway, speculation is apparently that Honda might cough up a new Hornet next year with a version of the CBR1000/Fireblade 1,000cc motor. Cool, and Dirck Edge even serves it up with some game optimism:

If the bike materializes, it will likely be introduced this Fall at a European motorcycle show. It is impossible to speculate whether the bike will be available on the U.S. market.

No it isn’t. I can tell you right now that it won’t be. The old Hornet 600, as cheap as an Italian-built bike could possibly be (old F3 motor, no suspension adjustment, no fancy features) sold so slowly in the US that it was only imported in alternate years. We haven’t seen the new one at all, and I would bet money that the Hornet 1000 won’t show up either. Motorcycling in the US is about toys. Big, bad Harley-style cruisers for the middle-aged boomers and flashy sportbikes for the 20-somethings.

Oh well.

Engineering Break: Thoughts on The ME 109 Versus the ‘Spit’

Posted in Aircraft and Flying, Engineering by Stacy McMahon on June 5, 2007

One of my very minor hobbies is reading “period” pilot reports about WW2 fighter planes. The other day I Googled up a dour and uncomplimentary review of the Messerschmitt 109, written by Kit Carson for Airpower Magazine in the mid-70s, and based on some apparently incomplete and selectively reported data from wartime reports page. Shortly after, I found an anonymous response. Diplomatically titled “Why Carson was an Idiot”, it’s an astute, sarcastic and occasionally quite humorous point-by-point rebuttal (italics are quotes from the Carson article):

Intention of this page here is to correct serious errors in this particular article, which happened due to a serious lack of knowledge about the 109 technics and design history. It begins right here (quotes from the article in “italics”):

“But another household work, the highly propagandized Me-109G, was obsolete when it was built and was aerodynamically the most inefficient fighter of its time. It was a hopeless collection of lumps, bumps, stiff controls, and placed its pilot in a cramped, squarish cockpit with poor visibility.”

The nameless author, who does not appear to be a native English speaker, follows up this opening shot with some fairly devastating comparisons of Carson’s quotes to data on competitive planes, especially the Spitfire.



Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on June 4, 2007

I’m not a lady, but I still won’t give away my weight, er, stats. Let’s just say Instapundit’s link yesterday was quite the unexpected boost. Thanks, Glenn!

Apparently I Wish Injury On My Kid

Posted in Miscellaneous by Stacy McMahon on June 3, 2007

Walter Kirn has an op-ed in the NYT on the movement represented by The Dangerous Book for Boys (link via Instapundit):

Today, when I rub the bump above my eyebrow, I like to think it bred a certain toughness — or at least the appearance of a certain toughness — but I have never found myself wishing a similar injury upon my 5-year-old son, Charlie. I would rather that his head remain unfractured, even if that means his psyche remains unchallenged.

To be honest — and I realize some of you will think I’m inhuman — I do wish a similar injury on my daughter Addie, if the only alternative is for her psyche to “remain unchallenged”. Keeping kids in the cooler until their chronological adulthood only keeps them “safe” in the physical sense. The actual result would be something like the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin, which makes a great movie but a lousy life for a real person.

To his credit, Kirn disavows the nanny-ist vision of childhood:

This isn’t the same as endorsing the spread of detachment and inertia among boys. I’m as romantic as any middle-aged man about the formative pummelings of my playground days. I just don’t want to systematize them in the name of reinstating healthy childhood spontaneity.

His point is that danger isn’t the goal of play, just a necessary side effect. So the trick is to allow kids the freedom to get into (and usually out of — without your even noticing) trouble on their own, because that’s how they learn about life. I’m on board with that approach, and prepared to pay the ER bills 🙂

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! (And sorry there isn’t more recent posting for you to peruse — I can only offer that I am legitimately busy in the offline world.)