You Got to Be Kidding Me!

I’m Enjoying My New Category

Posted in Box of Hammers by Stacy McMahon on December 11, 2008

That would be “box of hammers” – as in ‘dumb as a’. Like this South Carolina car dealer’s radio commercial wherein he declares Japanese cars “rice ready, not road-ready” (via Autoblog)

We salute you, Mr. Redneck Blockhead whose solution to mass debt default is to invoke nationalism to push people to make major purchases that could really wait another year or three, so that you can get a nice commission check from one of the self-destructing domestic automakers currently begging on the street outside Congress. That’s some chutzpah right there (I’m sure it’s still OK with him to use that word, at least until Israel starts making cars…)

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What I’m Looking At, and a New Category – 12/8/2008

Posted in Box of Hammers, Computers and Software, Four Wheels by Stacy McMahon on December 9, 2008

* Bailed-out mortgage holders defaulting all over again.

“The results, I confess, were somewhat surprising, and not in a good way,” said John Dugan, head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in prepared remarks for a U.S. housing forum.

You mean bailing out subprime mortgagees didn’t magically make them into responsible citizens who live within their means?

Dugan said recent data showed that after three months, nearly 36 percent of borrowers who received restructured mortgages in the first quarter re-defaulted.

I’m so proud to be an American.

Oh, the new category? “box of hammers”. Should be self-explanatory by now.

* On the other end of the spectrum, the lowly checklist is making a comeback (maybe) in hospitals, where it turns out that there are a few (hundred) too many things per patient to remember during a shift. Based on actual experience, it’s estimated that a $3m investment in creating checklists for standard ICU practices could prevent up to 28,000 deaths a year in the US.

* A guy with some wrenching talent and one hell of a rolodex has built a brand-new Jaguar E-Type from leftover factory parts (and a few aftermarket restoration bits – about 5% of the total) Cool, huh?

* And an interesting discussion about how lawyers (or other companies) do or don’t take advantage of technology in the office. In a nutshell, most people don’t think very far outside the box.

What I’m Seeing on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008

Posted in The Intrawebs by Stacy McMahon on December 7, 2008

* Obama finally goes into some policy specifics, and …it actually sounds good to me. For the most part. I’ve been thinking for awhile that it makes a lot more sense to spend the downturn investing in basic infrastructure, and it doesn’t get much more basic than roads, bridges, and schools.

* A survey of studies shows that birth control pills, among other chemical pollution, are flooding mammalian species (including people) with female hormones. The article cites some crazy observations among fish and wild deer – 2/3 of a deer species in Alaska have undescended testes, male fish in the UK are producing eggs, male birds singing in a higher voice. No such documented effects in humans, but “compelling [implied] evidence” in sex ratios at birth in industrialized countries. Hilariously, the UK is arguing against proposed EU regulations meant to reduce the hormone pollution, but the EU says they should calm down because the regs have plenty of loopholes anyway.

* Nitro, a cheaper alternative to Acrobat. If a lawyer likes the editing features, it must be good.

* (via Instapundit) DPReview has ten budget-priced digital cameras. The better low-end cameras get, the easier it is to tell who is and is not a talented photographer…

* The Wall Street Journal Law Blog is unhappy about the rise in the number of pro se (self-representing) litigants. In my personal experience, it’s better to have a lawyer.

Ten Things…

Posted in Miscellaneous by Stacy McMahon on December 4, 2008

Via Ann Althouse, ten things you’re not supposed to point out (“Am I not supposed to point out this list?”)

1. The will of the people is wrong.

True, but it’s still a best-available solution, as the will of one person can be much wronger (see e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Jim Jones, etc)

2. Everything isn’t “for the best”; we only look for the best and ignore the rest.

True, if you take the saying literally, which I don’t. A better interpretation is that it’s meant to remind us that while we’re not entirely in control of our fate, it’s not completely out of our hands either. Just because the last thing that happened was bad, doesn’t mean the next thing has to be.

3. Nature is evil.

Wrong, but we begin to get the thread of this list …it’s more like “ten things you probably think if you grew up in a rich society and don’t get out much”. If your window into nature is The Lion King, I can see how you’ll think ‘evil’ the first time you find out about that whole food chain thing. Nature isn’t evil, it’s amoral.

4. Patriotism is dumb.

True, but irrelevant – as Mussolini, among others, found at the outbreak of World War I. Anachronistic as it might be, people are hard wired to feel a group identity. If you don’t think you feel one, chances are your group’s ideology includes the conviction that only the unenlightened others are susceptible to an us-vs-them mentality (see e.g. “Obamania“)

5. Christianity is polytheism.

Also irrelevant, except to those who enjoy clever mocking of Christianity. Polytheistic religions haven’t been influential since the fall of the Roman Empire, and devotees of any religion are interested in advancing their exact creed, not measuring the relative drawing power of broad religious categories.

6. Sports are homoerotic.

Obnoxiously wrong. Just because you aren’t a competitive personality (I’m not) doesn’t mean that nobody else is either and therefore people who idolize athletes are secretly gay and hot for them. I admire Bode Miller‘s skiing talent, but I don’t necessarily want to throw back a beer with him, let alone sleep with him. (I’m not hot for Picabo Street either)

7. Traditional gender roles are prostitution.

See #3. Yes, humans are herd animals. Yes, that means it’s in our nature to act like other herd animals. Yes, it’s ridiculous to call it prostitution. Unless it’s your position that apes or gazelles are also prostitutes suffering under the patriarchy.

8. Parents teach their children to lie, and are then infuriated when their children lie.

Yes, hypocrisy – and especially obliviousness to same – are the main block to social progress.

9. Most knowledge is restricted to elite experts, and even they don’t know very much.

As comforting as it is to think that nobody else is any smarter or more knowledgeable than you, it’s just not true. Accepting this fact is better than ignoring it (see #8 above) Most of the people around you have knowledge to share, and you will always be surprised – sometimes shocked – at just how much.

And finally…

10. People are convinced more by how confident someone sounds when making a point than by how correct it is.

No argument there. You tend to expect people to sound unsure if they don’t know what they’re talking about, but I’ve run across several people over the years who can converse with total confidence about things of which they are utterly ignorant. The only way you’d realize it is if you happen not to be ignorant in the same subject.