Thursday, 31 January 2008
Bar Stool Economics
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until on day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceededto work out the amounts each should pay.
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"
"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Driver drops bid to sue family of boy he killed
A Spanish businessman withdrew a controversial lawsuit Wednesday against the family of a teenage boy he struck and killed while driving a luxury car.
Tomas Delgado had filed a suit asking the dead boy's parents to pay him €20,000 ($29,400) on the grounds that the collision that killed their teenage son also damaged his Audi A-8.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.
Perhaps you're suspicious of an approach that can be summed up in just seven words - but that injunction to "eat food" is not quite as simple as it sounds.
It used to be that food was all you could eat, but today there are thousands of foodlike substances in our convenience stores and supermarkets. Brightly coloured packages boast of their low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fibre credentials.
Ingredient panels for once-simple staples such as bread, mayonnaise or yoghurt have been swollen by lengthy lists of additives - what in a more honest age would have been called adulterants.
The result is not just confusion, but a dangerous belief that scientifically endorsed "nutrients" are inherently superior to fresh, unprocessed food.
NHS trusts are dropping homeopathic treatments following debate over whether they work. A study has found that only 37 per cent of 132 primary care trusts still have contracts for homeopathic services while more than a quarter have stopped or reduced funding in the past two years.
In a nutshell, Muslims integrate less and considerably more slowly than non-Muslims and a Muslim born in the UK and having spent more than 50 years there is likely to have a much stronger, separate identity than another non-Muslim immigrant who has just arrived. This includes Chinese, Caribbeans and non-Muslim Indians.
The first finding of the report, which is based on comprehensive survey data and interviews carried out across the water, found that "Muslims do not seem to assimilate with the time spent in the UK, or at least they seem to do so at a much slower rate than non-Muslims". For example, 79pc of Muslims stated that religious identity was very important to them as opposed to 42pc of non-Muslims.
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
What is strange is that, when one actually reads them, one gets the feeling that the real target of the "new atheists" isn't religion at all.
t seems that the new atheists’ real problem is with dogma, and specifically with the dogma of religious faith - with the belief that it is acceptable, even admirable, to believe propositions without logically sound reasons based on good evidence. They aren't really the “new atheists” at all, but the “new anti-dogmatists”.
I'm a bit conflicted about this, I really don't see the need to have shops open 24/7, so having restricted opening hours on a Sunday* I would generally agree with. But the pomposity of the flash banner really wound me up! Des Kelly can worship the magic pink bunny who lives at the bottom of my garden for all I care but the smug, preening, arrogance of his banner pissed me off! In other words, I wish Des Kelly & God would just "get a room".
* stayed in the Latin Qtr. while in Paris recently and almost all the shops where closed, my wife and I where pretty impressed.
Monday, 28 January 2008
My wife and I arrived early, not realising that the Moulin Rouge is set right in the middle of Paris's red light district. I arrived expecting a West-End or Broadway but it's actually like, well, a seedy red light district. Undaunted we decided to have a look around but theres only so many sex shows and sex shops you can be invited into before it all becomes a bit boring and so we ended up popping into a fairly nice English pub for a drink before the show.
Our ticket told (not asked - told!) us to be there at 6.45pm and so we were, where we had the pleasure of joining a huge queue and then left waiting for 1/2 an hour before they decided to admit us. To be fair, once the queue got going it really moved, including the coat room and from which we where quickly ushered to our seats. As seats go we had pretty good ones, good view of the stage with no one blocking our view. Unfortunately the seats where designed (I think) for very small, very slim people and while I'm not very tall I'm definitely not slim. The Moulin Rouge crams 850 seats into an area that probably should accommodate 400, I can only say that this must be where they got the idea for tinned sardines from.
After a mere five minutes of trying to find the least uncomfortable way to sit our waiter arrived to take our order, we both ordered the soup and veal. While we waited for the food to arrived we noticed that our seat was directly over an air vent which blasted (I'm not kidding) cold air into our seating area. Because of this my wife commenced a cat and mouse game with our waiter in an attempt to get the vent turned off/lowered/blocked/us moved which lasted the entire meal but ended with her just getting her coat from the cloak room. They clearly knew about the problem (the girl in the cloak room sympathised) but they had clearly learned the best way to deal with it was to make a half hearted show of trying to solve the problem and running away every time you make eye contact.
Onto the food. I can safely say it was the worst food I have ever eaten (let alone paid for) in my entire life. Honestly, it would make a Dickensian schoolmaster blush. It was vile! the "soup" was vegetables cooked in stock, the veal .... I don't even want to think about it but it was served with plain rice which, while tasteless, we did manage to eat. No coffee or tea was offered.
By now we where in a foul mood and when the show started at 9 I was just about ready to leave, thank god we didn't.
The opening act at the Moulin Rouge is without doubt the gayest thing I have ever seen. I literally watched it with my mouth agape. It was so cheesy and camp and colourful I was blown away. The rest of the show is pretty much the same - amazing sets, outrageous costumes, terrible songs - very very entertaining. They even had a pool of water raised from under stage containing 3 live pythons (not this type) where a "sacrifice" was thrown in, the girl then started grabbing the pythons and wrapping them around here as the poor animals tried desperately to get away - pure magic! The whole night completely redeemed itself, I just wish they hadn't served us food!
This one was my favorite, the bullet ant;
It's a full inch long, it lives in trees and thus can and will fall on you to scare you away from its hive--the one you didn't know was there, because it's in a fucking tree. Before it does this, it shrieks at you. This ant, you see, can shriek.
It's called a Bullet Ant because its 'unusually severe' sting feels like getting shot. On the Schmidt Sting Index, Bullet Ants rate as the number one most try-not-to-shit-out-your-spine painful in the entirety of the Kingdom Arthropoda.
Also--and we do feel the need to stress this--they fucking shriek at you before they attack.
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
It really was funny except for the fact Waters is constantly on radio and television here in Ireland which, for me, is a clear symptom of the utter stagnation in the Irish media. At the very least a disclaimer should be broadcast before he opens his mouth so that children and the impressionable can be shuffled out of the room to protect them from the non sequiturs and straw man attacks that form the basis of most of his uttering's.
He employed a new one today though when he equated the word "fact" with "what everyone knows", which is cool by me - "John Waters is a blustering wanker, everyone knows that - FACT!" (I win!). Anyway, have a listen and discover why the plebs (yes, you and me) should not have opinions and blog, instead we should view the world through the prism of the benevolent Irish media
I was reading Graham Linehans blogg where Pat is shown "interviewing" Jerry Seinfeld and it is nothing short of embarrassing, the buffoon couldn't even get Seinfelds name right.
Here is Pats opinion of his critics. I'm proud to be in that camp.
Monday, 21 January 2008
In any case it was a cracking game. Munster once again showed what they where made off, I just wish they would share the secret with Leinster and Irish rugby. Roll on Munster!
[another] known ewer was kept in Pitti Palace collection in Florence. On display in the Museo degli Argenti, in 1998 it was accidentally dropped by a museum employee, and it shattered.worst bad day ever!
Anyway he directed me to this story on the BBC France's oldest WWI veteran dies which is exactly what it says on the tin. I particularly liked the quote;
"War is something absurd, useless, that nothing can justify. Nothing,"And I also liked my friends opinion on the piece.
See this guy, 69 years in retirement, and on a state pension too I presume. Respect!
Friday, 18 January 2008
The road is a bleak novel, sparsely written and has the feel of a nightmare. Recommended.
This is why democracies need intelligent and informed citizens. It becomes so much easier to fool all the people when they are ignorant of even basic facts, never mind definitions.
I suppose I could just be paranoid, but have a look yourself and see. Thanks to Onegoodmove for the links.
Sorry can't find the third link (I'm beginning to think it might be the same guy and I am paranoid)
Thursday, 17 January 2008
"[three teenagers] witness the erection of a planet-spanning shield around the globe, blocking out the universe. Spin chronicles the next 30 odd years in the lives of the trio, during which 300 billion years will pass outside the shield"
Don't laugh but it was the "300 billion" thing that put me off, I thought it was ridiculous, but I managed to overcome my misgivings and picked it up when i found it for €7 in a local bookshop.
When I started the book I happily discovered that whomever wrote the synopsis got it wrong and only 4 Billion years pass outside the shield (dubbed 'The Spin') which of course is way more plausible. Spin is a rare book in science fiction (at least in my experience) in that the many wonderful hard-scifi elements are keenly balanced by the protagonists reaction to them. How they cope with the inescapable fact that a vastly superior intelligence has taken an unexplained interest in humanity and the dawning realisation that outside the spin, the sun is dying and their prison is now a lifeboat.
Spin is a superb book, an exhilarating read and definitely recommended.
I got the link from seeingtheforest who also have this interesting piece about the long hours Americans work - according to some Republican nut, they like it..
At a press conference today unveiling the stimulus proposal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) justified the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations — instead of working Americans — by arguing that people actually like working long hours:I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.
The material was created from carbon nanotubes - sheets of carbon just one atom thick rolled up into cylinders.
Researchers say it is the closest thing yet to the ideal black material, which absorbs light perfectly at all angles and over all wavelengths.The discovery is expected to have applications in the fields of electronics and solar energy.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Would you rather earn $50,000 a year while other people make $25,000, or would you rather earn $100,000 a year while other people get $250,000? Assume for the moment that prices of goods and services will stay the same.Also on Shermer's website he has an excerpt from his new book "The Mind of the Market" here. I haven't read the excerpt yet but I plan to.
Surprisingly -- stunningly, in fact -- research shows that the majority of people select the first option; they would rather make twice as much as others even if that meant earning half as much as they could otherwise have
Lets start with the notion of a "children's bible book". You've got your cult indoctrination (start 'em young as the Jesuits say), your editing of the bible to tone down all that sex and violence (theres a lot off it in there) and the dressing up of myths as "truth".
Next we move onto the notion of "unclean". WTF! Excuse me by unclean would describe public toilets and certain jokes, but not books, animals or other people. How the hell did the notion that that we should respect this crazy shit get started!? It absolutely infuriates me.
Finally we have a Muslim woman so brainwashed that not only is she entirely satisfied with her second class status but she flaunts and wallows in it to the extent that a book can be unclean. And please, bear in mind, this woman lives in the UK - just where is she getting these notions? Its not the BBC I can assure you.
Thursday, 10 January 2008
CHONGQING, China — Zhang Shiqiang, known as the Nine-Fingered Devil, first tasted justice at 13. His father caught him stealing and cut off one of Zhang's fingers.
Twenty-five years later, in 2004, Zhang met retribution once more, after his conviction for double murder and rape. He was one of the first people put to death in China's new fleet of mobile execution chambers.
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Theres always a temptation to shout "Conspiracy Theory" and ignore the man, however I personally doubt these people get together every year to try and figure how how to make the world a better place for the rest of us.
A Mexican boy glued his hand to his bed because he did not want to go back to school after the Christmas break.Fair play to the guy, he's showed guts, determination and ingenuity - he deserved the day off at least.
"The holidays were such fun," Diego Palacios, 10, who lives outside Monterrey, told Reforma newspaper.
His mother Sandra found him watching television with his hand stuck to the bedstead. "I don't know why he did it," she said. "He is a good boy."
Police and paramedics eventually managed to free him unharmed, and he was only a few hours late for school.
Diego had got up early to fetch some industrial-strength glue from the kitchen.
His mother spent two hours trying to free him with nail-polish remover before calling for expert help.
Diego watched cartoons while paramedics dissolved the glue with a spray.
Monday, 7 January 2008
Friday, 4 January 2008
Thursday, 3 January 2008
I hate ad’s, I do just about everything to avoid them. When an ad break comes on TV I surf, put on the kettle, go to the loo – anything to avoid watching them. But of course I still see them, read them, watch them. I’m bombarded by hundreds of ad’s a day, they are impossible to avoid and that is one of the reasons I hate them. But over the past few years I’ve notice a huge increase in ads that encourage selfishness and I find this really troubling.Advertising is not a passive force – people's actions are affected by it (why else would _anyone_ drink budweiser?), so a constant drumbeat encouraging selfish and petty behaviour is something to be worried about. But are people becoming more selfish? More petty? To be honest I don't know, I think they might be and besides, why glorify selfishness? I think the way advertising is carried out must change. At the very least I think advertisements should not encourage bad behaviour (I feel I would be qualified to define 'bad' in case your wondering ;-).
Off the top of my head here are some of the slogans I’m talking about, I’m not going to link them to products as that would be advertising and besides, more than one product uses each slogan.
"Too Good to Share"
"Just For You"
In an ideal world an advert should only be able to clearly define the what the product is and what it does, so for example any advert for bottled water would look something like this -
ProductName : Bottle Water, It will rehydrate you.A picture of the product could also be shown but not any people, scenery or cute furry animals.
While thinking this post I came across a “controversy” I didn’t know existed – ad-blockers. Apparently people other than vendors and advertisers think they are evil! Don’t believe me? Check this out . I love this quote
“So what about when you install an ad-blocker? That’s bad news, folks, really bad news.”
Now to be fair the author probably thinks its not as bad as say, war or famine, but its pretty darn close by the sounds of it – as far as I was concerned it was all I could do to stop myself running screaming into the hills. This brings me to another thing that annoys me about advertising – the notion that it pays for things - as if sport, the Internet and news papers didn’t exist before advertising. Maybe advertising makes (some) things cheaper (pun intended - it certainly makes them glossier) but this cap-in-hand gratitude we’re supposed to have is infuriating. I know there are always going to be ad’s, I just want them toned down a bit --- ok a lot.
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
29. Dinesh D'Souza
Charges: Wrote a book blaming 9/11 on -- who else? -- liberals, because if we didn't live in a free society, then fundamentalists wouldn't dislike us so. Even conservative nuts blasted D'Souza's empathy for poor al Qaeda. Lately, he's been engaging prominent atheists in debates, revealing himself to be a pseudointellectual ass, and then declaring victory. D'Souza's master plan for attacking atheism is the ridiculous Pascal's wager: Atheists could be wrong, and then they'd go to hell, but if the religious are wrong, then they suffer no ill effect -- aside from living their lives in delusion, of course. And possibly going to someone else's hell for believing the wrong religion. D'Souza seems to think that if he speaks more loudly and rapidly than his opponent, he is winning, but his arguments are weak and idiotic, and he never even attempts to truly debate the existence of any god, which is the ostensible point of these debates. Instead, he likes to compare body counts -- Stalin and Mao killed more than the religious leaders of their time -- rather than actually debate whether there is a God, or for that matter a Jesus. This, of course, is because there is no case to be made.
Exhibit A: "[Atheists] are God-haters... I don't believe in unicorns, but then I haven't written any books called The End of Unicorns, Unicorns are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion." But what if everyone you met did believe in unicorns, and not only that, but worshiped a unicorn, held a book about unicorns to be the divine truth of the universe, invoked unicorns in political contexts, and speechified about how non-believers were indecent people waging a war on morality, which could only be predicated on the unquestioning belief in unicorns? Then, maybe, D'Souza would think about writing that book. But of course, that's not really true, because if that was the world we lived in, then Dinesh D'Souza would believe in unicorns.
Sentence: Spanish inquisition.
What’s Your Consumption Factor?
Some optimists claim that we could support a world with nine billion people. But I haven’t met anyone crazy enough to claim that we could support 72 billion. Yet we often promise developing countries that if they will only adopt good policies — for example, institute honest government and a free-market economy — they, too, will be able to enjoy a first-world lifestyle. This promise is impossible, a cruel hoax: we are having difficulty supporting a first-world lifestyle even now for only one billion people.