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Sep 28, 2008
Politics

A bailout that does not remove the mandates that banks issue bad loans is worse than no bailout at all. It just guarantees that when this happens again, next time it'll be even bigger.

How about repealing the Community Reinvestment Act, at the very least pending an investigation?

How about instead of banning corporate parachutes, we ban subprime mortgages entirely? How about phasing in requirements for a 10% down payment, minimum? (And make these clauses airtight; I don't care how ethnic you are, pony up the dough or GTFO.) Both of these are actually fairly bad ideas for various reasons, but I think both would be better than this bill's policy of transfusing blood into a bleeding patient and declaring victory!


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Jul 18, 2008
Politics

Over the past couple of years, I've been turning into a skeptic on the global warming theory, in particular the idea that mankind's actions have effectively doomed us to an uncomfortably hot planet (since the putatively required solutions are all completely unimplementable).

I will grant that my politics would seem to incline me to such skepticism, but I try to decide based on the science, not the politics. If the world truly is heading for disaster, I want to know.

It is very hard to judge a science that you have no experience in, but there is one metric that you can correctly use as an educated outsider to determine whether a scientist is on the right track or the wrong track: the accuracy of predictions. If a prediction is correctly made, it favors a theory, proportionally to the difficulty of the prediction. If the prediction is wrong, it is very solid evidence that the theory or model is wrong. This judgment can be often be made by anybody, especially when it's a question of something simple like temperature.

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Jun 25, 2008
Politics

One of the things I sometimes fiddle with in the back of my head is how to fix school curricula to better serve students and society. One of the stronger ideas I have is that economics (and ideally, game theory) should be taught, replacing a lot of really dumb mathematical holdovers like trigonometric identities for a semester or two.

And over the last few weeks, I've been really wishing that we'd been teaching economics for the past fifty years instead of other silly things, because the blinding stupidity on exhibit in the recent oil debates is really starting to get to me.

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Mar 01, 2008
Politics

It's going to be an interesting Presidential campaign, no matter what. All plausible candidates have glaring flaws in them.

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Feb 26, 2008
Politics

The idea of the Lincoln-Douglas debates are deeply ingrained in the American psyche, but I think it's time to face up to the fact that that era of the debate has passed.

Instead, I wish the candidates would do a written debate. I don't just mean "Send them each a bunch of questions and publish both responses", I mean an interactive series of answers and rebuttals. Randomly choose half the questions to send to the one candidate first, half to the other. Set some word limit. (And if were up to me, I'd tell the candidates that it's a hard word limit; send me 600 words instead of 500 if you like, but I'll just cut you off mid-sentence...) Stop at two or three iterations. In the internet era, I'd give them as many hyperlinks as they wanted and not count them against their word count, and invite the candidates to continue after the official debate on their own websites, if they like, giving both of them the last word.

We'd probably learn a lot more. The problem with debates is that they provide abundant opportunities to fail with little chance to succeed, so candidates play it so safe that you or I could probably write the responses actually given in debates. The name of the game becomes saying as little as possible; not nothing of course, but as little as possible. Making it a written debate would tend to turn that around; you have all the time in the world to vet a response, so you could actually say something conclusive, and back it up with links and references.

Of course, this is all predicated on the false assumption that politicians want to educate us about them, rather than adopting emotional sales techniques that involve feeding as little information as possible while pushing as many emotional buttons as possible.


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