Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cactus Flowers

My front yard is dominated by one rather large prickly pear cactus and once a year it flowers This is that time of year.








…and the red yucca is flowering too.


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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keynes vs. Hayek - Round II

Via Instapundit, we have this music video of Keynes and Hayek facing off in the hearing room/boxing ring. It's a good summary of the philosophical differences between their approaches to the economy. Produced by

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making Space Pay and Having Fun Doing It

Jeff Greason, Head of XCOR, talks about space and civilization in htis inspirational 16 minute video. This quote, about a minute in really struck me:
That's how a Dark Age begins. A Dark Age is not just when you, as a civilization, forget how to do something. It's when you forget that you ever could.

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What Is Fairness?

British Prime Minister David Cameron asked polling organization Policy Exchange to find out what the people think it is.Telegraph Columnist Janet Daly tells us what they found out:

The quite unequivocal reply that was received (with breathtakingly enormous majorities in some forms) came as no surprise to this column. To most voters, fairness does not mean an equal distribution of resources and wealth, or even a redistribution of these things according to need. It means, as the report's title – "Just Deserts" – implies, that people get what they deserve. And what is deserved, the respondents made clear, refers to that which is achieved by effort, talent or dedication to duty: in other words, earned on merit.

She goes on:

Imagine that. After all these years of being morally blackmailed by the poverty lobby, harried by socialist ideologues and shouted at by self-serving public sector axe-grinders, the people are not cowed. Even after being bludgeoned by the BBC thought monitors and browbeaten by Left-liberal media academics with the soft Marxist view of a "fair" society – from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs – they have not bought it. They do not believe that if people are poor, it is necessarily society's fault, and therefore society's duty to deal with the consequences.

The left isn't really interested in alleviating poverty. If the problem of poverty went away they would have no reason for being. Poverty allows them to buy votes with other peoples money.

Read the whole thing.
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

"A Pyromaniac In a Field of Strawmen" - Paul Ryan on Obama's Speech

Congressman Paul Ryan sat down with The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes on Thursday for a wide ranging interview in which he talks about Obama's Wednesday speech but also goes into depth about his budget plans and the whys and wherefores. Watch it here.
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Lower Tax Rates Lead to Higher Tax Revenues

“Tax cuts for the rich are what led to this massive deficit,” is what the Democrats keep yelling. The facts (you know, those pesky things lefties are oblivious to?) are different.  CBO numbers show that from 2003, when the Bush tax cuts went into effect, and 2006, the last year of Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, tax revenues to the Treasury rose from $1.783 trillion to $2.407 trillion, a 35% increase.

Federal Tax Revenues
2003 2006
  Billions % of GDP Billions % of GDP
Individual 794 7.3 1,044 8
Corporate 12 1.2 354 2.7
Other Tax 857 7.9 1,009 7.7
Total 1,783 16.5 2,407 18.4
In January 2007, both houses of Congress were taken over by the Democrat Party at a point when under a Republican Congress the deficit was $160 billion, its lowest point in five years. Go here to see what happened next.
(H/T MBG!)
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Letters from an Ohio Farmer

Steven Hayward over at Power Line links to a fairly new site today called "Letters from an Ohio Farmer."  The site is inspired by the "Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer", penned by John Dickinson under the pen name Fabius contemporaneously and in agreement with The Federalist Papers in the 1787-88 era during the birthing of our Constitution. Dickinson was a collaborator with Thomas Jefferson in 1775 on the Declaration and Causes of the Necessity of Taking up Arms which, perhaps due to the less than catchy name didn't quite take. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence (much better!) the following year but Dickinson abstained from voting on it, hoping for some reconciliation with Britain. Here is Hayward's summary of what the Ohio letters is about:

"These letters are formally addressed to members of the 112th Congress but are also written for the engaged citizen. Many of the large class of new House members came to office in an election marked by an unprecedented populist fervor for constitutionalism. For that is partly what the Tea Party movement is--a populist constitutional movement--something James Madison would have thought at first glance not merely improbable, but an oxymoron, though on second thought he might have celebrated that the Tea Party represents the fulfillment of one of the Constitution's larger purposes, which was to create a reverence among citizens for the principles of the nation."
Read Hayward's whole post for background, then head on over to the Ohio Farmer letters, eight so far, and be inspired.

Update: I just had to call out this paragraph from the most recent Letter, "A Republican Form of Government" :

"Here Madison may have been too optimistic. The lessons of recent American politics suggest that minority factions can be more dangerous than he imagined. The modern phenomenon he failed to anticipate was a government entrusted with so many responsibilities, and so much power and money, that it becomes a faction unto itself, with its own passions and interests adverse to the rights of other citizens. Those in the control room have both the motive and means to steer the ship of state in directions advantageous to themselves, rather than ones preferred by the passengers who employ them."


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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Rick Perry, Meet Salman Khan.

Back in February, Texas Governor Rick Perry challenged the state's colleges and universities to find a way to offer a four year degree for $10,000 or less. Not $10,000 per year, $10,000 total. Including books.  With the technology available today it should be possible. The cost of a four year degree the way it is done now has risen by over 400% from when I collected my degree almost 30 years ago. higher education must be one of a very few enterprises to have had negative productivity growth over time. Wander over to Instapundit and search on the term "higher education bubble" and you will get a 100 or more results. The current higher education system is becoming unsustainable and is an increasingly poor return on investment for the student.

Which brings me to Salman Khan. He may have the answer to how Texas can meet Perry's challenge. Khan was a hedge fund analyst working in Boston. He has some younger cousins that lived in New Orleans who needed tutoring in math. He put together a few YouTube tutorials for them so they could learn at their convenience. He didn't make the videos private, so other people started to watch them and thus was the Khan Academy born. I'll let him tell you the rest of the story in the TED video that follows. I see the question that needs to be answered is the determining how you test to make sure that degree requirements are met. I don't see this as a huge problem but the higher education establishment willl undoubtedly try to make it harder than it needs to be because this won't just upset their rice bowl, it will kick it across the room and shatter it.  The video is 20 minutes. It's worth every minute.

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