Thursday, June 18, 2009

An American Summertime

The first best friend is the most memorable. Everything about being "best friends" is new. It's a lot of responsibility for a six year old. "You mean I'm the best friend??" you say to yourself. "I have to be the BEST?" Talk about pressure. 

I remember my first (non-dog) best friend. His name was David. We were best friends from such a young age that neither of us remember our first encounter. So we did what any reasonable 6 year olds would do: we made up a lie. We convinced ourselves that we met in the hospital just after being born. The way we figured it, if we didn't remember meeting each other, we must have met at a very young age. And when you are six, a "very young age" is, well, birth. And it sure felt like we knew each other from birth. During our summers, we were one in the same. Swim team, day camp, McDonalds, Power Wheels. You name it, we did it together.

I never had an older brother, so I adopted David's old brother. We looked up to Adam like you wouldn't believe. And all of Adam's friends. They listened to Color Me Badd, so we listened to Color Me Badd. They liked Kris Kross, so I (obviously) was Kris and David was Kross. Every summer, life was perfect. I could count on David and I being inseparable. We'd talk about our girlfriends; we'd share Cinnamon Rolls and Wild Thang Burritos; and sometimes we'd talk about Cinnmon Rolls and Wild Thangs while sharing girlfriends. These were the summers I knew for ten years. Mornings we would dread that first jump into the chilly pool, the sun still hiding behind the Sandias. An hour later, we would hop out of the pool and crowd together under the hot water spouting out the shower head. Our first couple years, the shower conversation was focused on boogers and day camp. As we got older, it was girls and the freedom of summer. Clockwork. It was dependable and it was what I knew.


I just found out that David committed suicide. He was 24. We fell out of touch as we became older. The excitement of high school became too much for our summertime friendship. Nobody knows how to cope with growing up, so David and I started to grow apart. High school and college came and went, but my memory of Dave always remained the same. In my eyes, he was the 7 year old who could be tickled by the wind; or maybe the 12 year old breaststroking fiend; or maybe the 15 year old Casanova. No matter which memory I choose, David encapsulates the innocence of my childhood. He is my Rosebud. When my children ask me to describe my youth, I'll describe it as "David Strickman". He's become an adjective in my life. The innocence and purity of an American summertime. 

I knew Dave when our biggest worries were getting caught sneaking out of the pool 30 minutes before the end of practice. Apparently his worries grew bigger, and I just wish he would have called me as they ballooned, so we could take each other back to those summers when our problems weren't so big. I love you David. I hope to see you again someday.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh bother, seriously bad math plagues our nation.

So, I'm eating lunch and watching ESPN's Linda Cohn interview Jamal Mashburn. She's asks him, "Who do you think wins Game 5 of the NBA finals?" Jamal answers that he believes the Magic will pull it out and send it back to L.A. Ms. Cohn responds with a graphic showing America's feeling about the outcome of the series. The graph reads:

Lakers in 5: 48%
Lakers in 6: 40%
Lakers in 7: 10%
Magic in 7: 2%

She then says, "Well Jamal, America disagrees with you! The majority think the Lakers will win in 5!" What's wrong with this picture? (Also, I've noticed this math deficiency has shown itself with ESPN more than once)

Insight from Arnold

The traditional paradigm has this strange dichotomy, in which market behavior is rational and self-interested but policymaker behavior is perfectly altruistic. These idealized constructs are very limiting. Note that the Left tends to complain about the limitations of the rational model of the market actor, while the Right tends to complain about the altruistic model of the policymaker.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This pisses me off...

From the Washington Post
Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a key figure in the health debate, has publicly lectured Elmendorf, saying he has a moral duty to be "creative" and deliver the favorable budget estimates "we have to have" to win broad support.
Absolutely unbelievable. Unless the Wash Post is inappropriately splicing his quote, Baucus needs to resign. He's a raving loony. Elmendorf (Head of the CBO) has ZERO moral duty to be creative. In fact, his job description requires that he not be creative:
The Director of CBO oversees the agency's work in providing objective, insightful, timely, and clearly presented information about budgetary and economic issues.
"Objective". His post was established in order to give unbiased economic analysis of projected programs and budgetary outlooks. Baucus has lost it. As they say nowadays: FML. FMFL. 

Oh Politics....

This is from Greg Mankiw.

The bill would give the federal government power over local building codes. It requires that by 2012 codes must require that new buildings be 30 percent more efficient than they would have been under current regulations. By 2016, that figure rises to 50 percent, with increases scheduled for years after that....

According to the bill's advocates, America's buildings account for perhaps 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse emissions, and technology is available for builders to meet the targets in ways that are economical for building owners. Much of the problem is old buildings that waste huge amounts of energy, which wouldn't necessarily be touched by the new code. But it would be good if builders met these efficiency goals with new construction.

First of all, the bill is 900 words. The stimulus bill out of Congress was 1,000+ pages. How the hell is anybody supposed follow along with either of these. More importantly, I'm sure people are dedicated to the cause of Global Warming and such, and I respect their passion. But if you don't realize that this bill is a ruse for shoveling money to certain constituencies, I think you need to look a little deeper. It may not be "pork", but I'm pretty sure every piece of regulation in these is the result of lobbying to the max. 

More specifically, this "Greening of America's Buildings" is more focused on 'jump-starting the job sector' than any "green concerns". Deceptive. Politics makes me sick and it's good to see Arnold really pouncing on this recently. Here, here, and here. (oh, and here).

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Remember this guy?

Matthew Lesko, the crazy guy that wears the Question Mark suit and sells books about how to take advantage of government programs? I always saw him on Saturday/Sunday morning commercials. Well, now he's back with a great video about the bailouts. I can't think of a better spokesman to poke fun at this debacle. (HT: CafeHayek)

We've turned into a nation of whiners

Read this riveting piece by Tom Brokaw commemorating the heroes of D-Day. It paints a drastic contrast between the 'American Man' and our nation today. My favorite quote:
A poor Kansas farm boy who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Normandy ... lit up when he described the breakfasts during basic training. "Every kind of cereal you could imagine!" he said. "And pancakes and bacon and eggs."
Don't let anybody fool you with their nostalgia for the 'good ole days' when income distribution was more 'fair' (Paulie Krugman). While income distribution was perhaps more even (mathematically speaking), the rising tide has lifted all boats. If you've been reading my blog, you know that, IMHO, one of the leading causes of our current mess is the wuss-ification of America and a generation of adults that knew only good times and had expectations that they were entitled to no form of economic pain. Mutliple Re-fi's, using your home as an ATM; spending more than you take in; etc... I'm not saying that those expectations were idiotic, b/c those adults were just living off a lifetime of experiences that taught them it was okay. To find the silver lining, I'm hoping this depression we are entering will teach my generation the power of living within our means. I know over the course of the last year, I've learned the true power of the dollar. I've been poor as dirt recently and it's a lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The experiences of the first 23 years of my life taught me little about how money is earned, but the last year and a half has been quite educational. For the sake of our future prosperity, I hope others are learning similar lessons.

The wuss-ification of our nation must stop. Life is a beautiful process but much of that beauty is found in the relative difficulties in our individual lives. The darkness in life, makes the light that much more cherished. Children need to be taught how to cope with the inequalities of life. A motto I was entrenched with early in life is that, 'Life isn't fair'. Today there seems to be a rising tide of 'When life isn't fair, go cry about it to somebody and we can fix this problem'. By doing this, we are crippling children from a young age instead of helping them build some emotional muscle. The following two videos are disturbing: