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From the Notebook

-Part VI of my Economic Myths Debunked Debunked series is due up sometime this week. I did not forget.

-National Novel Writing Month is on, I’m ‘participating’ in that I’m hoping to get about 30,000 words done on a manuscript I’ve been kicking around for about a year now. Posting may be light[er].

-Read Richard Nixon’s Beyond Peace, his final book, published just after his death in 1994. It was amazing. His views on foriegn policy were nearly prophetic. He warned against a new Russian dictatorship. His predictions about China were dead-on, including the economic influence China would have in the near future. Nixon predicts a credit crisis involving the government’s deficits. And there are some great passages regarding faith, its public role and private necessity. Outside of his views on the drug war and gun control, which comprised about a page or so of the entire book, the whole of the book was outstanding. Nixon creates a framework for what to do in the age of peace. I can’t say enough good things about this book.

-Part V of my dystopian series on the future of healthcare should be up on the MassProLife website sometime in the next week.

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From the Notebook

Cover of "Moneyball: The Art of Winning a...

Cover via Amazon

-Went to see “Moneyball” this weekend. I loved it. It wasn’t what I expected at all. It was a rather intense character study of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, not a baseball movie, not a business movie. The two complaints I heard going into the film were its length and the way former A’s Manager Art Howe is portrayed as a dumb and stubborn ignoramus. Whatever. I thought they could have created more conflict there, that’s what I got from the book. And the baseball traditionalists really were as obdurate and arrogant as portrayed. I would say even more so, just from my perspective on the outside looking in. The length was fine, as good movies don’t need to end soon. I highly recommend seeing it sometime.

-Another movie I recently saw and really enjoyed was “Get Low” starring Robert Duvall. The movie is about an old hermit preparing to die, and wishing to do it in a way that engages the local community he has separated himself from for so long. He doesn’t know it, but this process leads to him giving a confession that had been weighing so heavily on his soul. Really a wonderful movie. Bill Murray plays the part of a desperate undertaker in need of money. Another high recommendation. The movie was released in 2009 and should be available on demand somewhere.

-Read  “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, a book about the ideal interior spiritual life of those on their Christian Walk. Brother Lawrence was a humble cook who was well-known for his intense spirituality, and after his death his sayings, some letters and a short biography were compiled into this short book. It’s a great text for the protestant or Catholic alike.

-Over the coming months a short-story of mine is going to be published in serial by my friends at MassProLife. Parts I&II are up on their website now. The story is a dystopian vision of the near future where good intentions have led to bad policies regarding healthcare in America. As always, I love feedback on my writing whenever I can get it.

-There is one thing the recession has helped, a lot, and that is financial shows on the radio. What were once dull and dry pedantic lectures on saving money and paying off credit cards has turned into wonderful commentary on econometrics, market forecasting and public policy. I can’t remember the last time I heard a money show on the radio scorn a man for investing in penny stocks or not fully contributing to his 401k. I suppose, once these shows are boring again, the recession will finally be over.

A funny thing happened on the way to El Dorado…

Thirty years ago today, sometime around 8pm, the Supreme Court deemed my life worthy of legal protection. It’s not a big deal to me.

From the Notebook

John Stuart Mill

Image via Wikipedia

– Published an article on pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

-Went to the MOB event, saw a few people, actually talked to a few others (Mark, John, Mitch, Brad). Would’ve stayed longer but I was really tired from a long day of fantasy baseball drafts and drinking.

-I have gone through all my old blogger.com blogs and put them under private viewership. Eventually I intend to delete them (all the posts have been transferred to this blog and the archive). If, for some incredibly odd reason you want access to my blogger.com blogs, contact me.

-Saw “Sucker Punch” at St. Anthony Main. There was too much “Girl Power” and not enough Tengu Monster killing, and it was too loud, and I hated the music, and there was too much crying, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit I even paid to see it (I didn’t, thankfully), and it started too slow and ended quite stupidly. But, the Steam-Powered Zombie Nazis (though technically, they weren’t Nazis as it was a WWI fantasy and not a WWII one, regardless) made this film worth seeing.

Books Read:

-Pascal’s Treatise on the Arithimatical triangle. This is part of the Great Books ten-year reading program, and was very difficult to understand (terrible translation). But, I did recognize some of the statistical concepts. Fortunately, there are plenty of youtube videos available that make learning about “Pascal’s Triangle” rather easy. If only I had to factor more binomial expressions in my life.

-“Let’s go to the Movies” by Lester Gordon. I barely consider this a book. It was a collection of trivia, quotes and anecdotes about movies and famous actors and actresses. But, because I’m having a hard time getting books finished, I’m counting it. It’s dated, so don’t bother.

-John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” –Another selection from the Great Books reading program– I liked this essay. It presents the foundation for what we call “classical liberalism” including the limits of government power, the value of free speech, and the limits and requirements for government interventions. Because Mill is an atheist (agnostic), this book might not get read by conservatives as much as it should.

Abortion in the Light

A bar chart depicting selected data from the 1...

Image via Wikipedia

A local couple* created a website to poll people. The poll was about abortion. But unlike other abortion polls, this one was about a specific abortion, not about abortion in general. The couple says they have found a groove. They are worried a baby might interfere with their weight-loss plans. They are worried they got started too late, and that they won’t be able to parent children properly when they’re in their fifties.

In other words, they worry this pregnancy might be inconvenient. They worry about their finances. About their health. The couple has also experienced the heartbreak of miscarriage. And they ask simply, all things considered, should they end the pregnancy? should they continue on with their lives? should they take on the rollercoaster that is parenting?

And the Internet, fueled by the DrudgeReport, has at a 2:1 clip proclaimed “Have the baby.”

Some commenters have attacked the couple, who are admitted conservatives, and claimed the whole thing is just a stunt. That they are publicity hounds. Maybe. Maybe not. We cannot know for sure what is in their hearts.

Regardless of their true intentions, we should act as if they are sincere. And we must be sincere and respectful in responding.

I voted for them to keep the baby. I’m against abortion, no surprise. Some people have even offered to adopt the baby. Great. These results mirror several national polls showing most people oppose abortion depending on the circumstance. (Abortion in cases of rape or incest, or if the life of the mother is in jeopardy, is supported by the public.)

This couple has taken abortion and put it into the light. They have taken a matter people don’t want to talk about and made it a topic of discussion. Not a topic in an abstract sense but in a real sense. They have put ultrasound images of the baby on the website.

Imagine if every abortion were put to a vote. How many would get approval? What reasons could gain popular support?

This is a minority viewpoint, but I think this couple should be celebrated, and supported. Abortion should not be kept in the closet.

*I happen to know this couple.

To Deter

or not to deter:

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

Among the conclusions:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

The facts are clear, having a death penalty for murder prevents murder. I have a lot of misgivings about the death penalty, but I do not have misgivings about preventing needless death. I like to say I err on the side of life. I try not have opinions but rather facts. Facts are beginning to show me erring on the side of life means supporting the institution of the death penalty.

What Can I do?

Portugal Takes First Step Towards Legalized Abortions

Story Here

As much as I disagree with the result, at least Portugal (and all the other countries in the EU) had an actual public debate about abortion. A debate with a democratic vote and involving elected Representatives. Such a democratic event was denied the citizens of the United States.

Random Link o’ the Day:

http://www.prolifeaction.org/links/

MNGOP Press Release:

Republican Party of Minnesota Statement on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

St. Paul- Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey today issued the following statement regarding the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“On the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Republican Party of Minnesota remains unwavering in our commitment to the rights of the unborn. As technology advances continue to demonstrate the viability of human life in the womb, we proudly join millions of Americans in reaffirming our devotion to defend the most vulnerable members of our society.”