Octavo Dia

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Interesting idea I ran across in a real paper. Make having a full-time job a condition of parole. It seems like it would be a good idea, it would keep the parolee's out of trouble anyway, but the main problem I see with it is trying to get a job whilst in prison. Perhaps a conditional parole for a couple of weeks to find a job would be a better idea.

Love and Marriage

In an advice column I read a couple of days ago, a guy was saying that he didn't want to get married because married people were not as happy as unmarried people. He has stumbled upon a great truth of marriage: marriage keeps you together when you don't want to be together. Unhappy, unmarried couples, unless they are seeking dysfunction, do not remain couples, and are thus no longer included in the category of unmarried couples. Like all contracts, marriage obligates parties to remain in a situation which it may not be in their immediate best interests.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I appreciated this zinger from a Answers in Genesis response to some of their fan mail.

"But religion has zero effect on a person's integrity, morality or ethics and can, in fact, more easily justify wrong from necessity as a good thing.

Paging Mister bin Laden, Mister Torquemada and Mister McVeigh..."

"Strange that you would include Torquemada, the instigator of the Inquisition, who would have had us killed, since Protestant Christians were among his victims."

Friday, March 23, 2007

A modest proposal

So Wisconsin has a law proposed that would make sex offenders have bright green license plates on their cars. Sex offenders are so dangerous that we need to know every time they go to a drive through. If only there were some way we could keep them away from new victims. Some sort of, um, big house, you know, with cells for the, um, inmates, where we could, um, imprison them. To bad there's nothing like that available.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who Wrote the Bible?

Just pointing out a logical fallacy in the web page "Who Wrote the Bible" (not the book). "If God exists and the Bible is the word of the Lord, then everything that Christians believe is true." The dependent clause is not a necessary consequence of the first. The imitation of perfection is not necessarily perfect, only a perfect imitation of the perfect is perfect. Since Christians are flawed, are sinners, and act contrary to the wishes of God--for as Roman 7:15 says, "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."--then what they believe can be false, without in any way reflecting on the veracity of the Bible.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam

Interesting article: The SEC stops trading in some stocks who are suspected of being pumped and dumped via spam.

And a random thought: If you asked people whether the government should give everyone a check for $1,625 every year, knowing that it will be financed out of increased taxes, just about everyone would say no. If, however, you ask them if we should have universal health coverage, a lot of people would say yes, even though the second option is a much less efficient means of achieving the end than the first. By the way, $1,625 is the employee part of my insurance premiums for a year.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Interesting reading

Three interesting articles:

Assymetrical warfare: We're just a little too powerful.

Reforming the patent office: Wikipedia strikes again!

And finally, this is an article I read off line, so you'll have to bear with me as I explain it. When Medicare was introduced, it did not create a statistically significant increase in life expectancy (a rough measure of healthcare). It did, however, increase health spending by 37%, and reduce the out-of-pocket health expenses for retirees by 50%.

Why this seems important to me is that I had not thought of health care as a pure money problem before. People seem to be following general economic predictions: they are able to provide vital services for themselves (thus the lack of increase in life expenctancy), but do so at considerable financial cost. When the price of health care is cut by two-thirds, the consumption of healthcare increases by about half that amount. It appears, therefore, that healthcare has an unusually shaped demand curve. Demand is extremely inelastic on the survival edge (the article stated that about one fifth of retirees were spending more than 20% of their income on health care), but becomes quite elastic later on (as nominal fees in the form of co-pays reduce consumption considerably).

The real issue, however, is the essential economic issue: scarcity. Some people think we should ration health care by money, others think we should ration it by queuing. It seems to me that the money approach has been shown to maximize care in the long run.