Sotomayor around the web

As sort of an addendum to my post, here are some of the reactions to the nomination of Sotomayor from around the web, from those I tend to agree with:

DrewM at AoSHQ – How hard should Republicans and Conservatives fight Sotomayor? Pretty damn hard.

Gabe Malor at AoSHQ – We should not be elevating such a small-minded woman to the highest Court.

Patterico – Empathy über alles, dontcha know. Republicans should (emphasis on should) be able to have a field day showing how she’ll move the law to the left.

Power Line – Che Guevara in Robes?

More Power Line – How will this play out?

Michelle Malkin – Identity politics triumphs.

Kevin Murphy at The Jury – questions for Sotomayor.

You keep using that word

…I do not think it means what you think it means.

Charles Johnson, over at LGF, has grown a (rather well-deserved) reputation as an anti-Creationist – to the point where he vehemently opposes allowing anything other than the theory of evolution in a classroom setting. He defends himself most recently by saying that if prominent Republicans believe intelligent design theories should be taught, then they will cost us elections, because they are anti-science.

Unfortunately, intelligent design is not “pseudo-science.” It is a scientific theory that explains the facts we have available to us – much like Darwinian evolution. Both follow the scientific method as far as they can, both have holes in their theories, and both can never be proven as scientific fact. The key difference is that one allows for the existance of a god and one does not (or at least does not allow him/it to be involved).

Mr. Johnson considers himself an agnostic, last I read – however, over the years, he seems to be turning more and more into an athiest, bordering on the evangelical variety. His mental leap from “anti-exclusionist” to “Creationist” to “anti-science” is only further evidence of the violent reaction he has to the idea of science accepting the possibility of God – and so he uses his immensely popular blog to preach against the ID movement with almost the same fervor he uses to decry terrorism, presumably thinking he is being noble, or a “true scientist.” However, stifling a legitimate theory that is supported by a large number of scientists is not noble, or scientific – it is simple censorship, and it’s a sad thing when such a brilliant writer as Mr. Johnson succumbs to this type of thinking.

In support of Patterico

Patterico is doing a “pledge drive” of sorts over at his blog, asking people to send links instead of money, specifically to his brilliant Los Angeles Times Dog Trainer year in review post as a starting point.  I’m more than happy to do so, and let me add that Patterico is in general a great read, and one of a few blogs that I will check routinely throughout the day for updates. You could do much worse with your time than perusing his archives.

In addition, I think it’s great that he’s asking people to send links instead of money. I wish more bloggers would do this, for three reasons. First, it’s sustainable – the same principle as “give a man a fish” versus “teach a man to fish.” As a blog making money off advertising, the more (consistent) visitors he gets, the more impressions and clicks he gets, which will in the long run likely be more profitable than a one-time donation – especially links in high-traffic places.

Second, it’s educational – many people do not realize the importance of the link trading that blogs do in regard to the health and growth of the blogosphere at large. Trading and spreading links does not just make more advertising money, it also creates a greater base of influence for the blogs that are linked – without links from other websites, you may as well not exist on the modern web. In addition, Google (which is, for all intents and purposes, the search engine) weighs links from other sites heavily in its algorithm used to place you on its search results page.

Third, it’s easy – how easy is it to drop a link in an email, or a Facebook post, or a blog entry? It takes 30 seconds of time and shows a little support for someone who provides you with a useful resource – or just plain ol’ entertainment – while costing you nothing. By asking for links instead of cash, Patterico is offering a sincere, meaningful way to support him without breaking open your wallet. Now this isn’t to say that money donations aren’t helpful – they are. But links to his site give him a boost to his traffic, which in turn provides him with more ad profits, more mindshare, and greater incentive to keep writing.

So go take a look, and browse around for a while. And if you like what you see, pass it along.

Supply, demand, oil, and deregulation!

So Chris Byrne linked to a very interesting article from 60 Minutes on oil futures, speculation, and how they caused the price of oil to skyrocket even as the demand for it didn’t go up and the supply didn’t go down. Economics is a fascinating field to me, but only in spurts, so I know entirely too little about the subject. But it’s interesting that the system put in play to allow commodities traders to more easily exchange their goods is now being sucked into the theoretical trading market that’s been the source of most of our recent economic woes. It’s notable that the deregulation of the futures market that allowed for these sort of trades to happen came under the Clinton administration, just like the housing regulations that forced banks into making bad loans – oh, Bill, is there anything you can’t screw up?

The comments section of his site also highlighted a few good points. Mike suggests that the problem wasn’t so much that speculation occurred, as the article indicates, but that it increased suddenly and to a very large degree. Gun Blobber adds the timing of it coincided with the housing crisis, so the money had to be moved somewhere else. Additionally, it’s also escalated by the fact that there is something like 20 times more money invested into futures than the actual value of the underlying securities. Chris also wrote a very extensive post touching on this and other issues a few months back when discussing the problems with Wall Street. I said then and I’ll say it now, the more I realize how our market is propped up, the more I wonder how it’s lasted this long.

As I understand it, the root problem comes from how we have more money in the investment “pool” than we have stuff to actually invest in – or rather, stuff that is deemed worthy of investing in (startup companies may be considered too risky, etc). This causes more money to be bound to an item – like oil, or real estate, or whatever – than what it is actually valued at on the supply/demand scale, which artificially inflates prices. When things get bad for investors, or the value rises so artificially high that the market “crashes,” then that money has to shift somewhere else. That’s why we saw oil rise so high, and then suddenly fall when the money moved.

This sort of thing makes me agree with Chris that we’d be better off if we banned equities trading in, and securities based on, synthetic instruments, and made companies actually invest money into “real” things – or at least put regulations in place to strongly “encourage” this behavior. The massive amount of money floating around would become available to all the garage geniuses out there trying to start the next Google, or just your average joe wanting to start a bookstore down the street. By allowing small businesses to grow, we would help the economy to grow, which would give us yet more opportunities for investment. Of course, as Chris points out, this would kill off the big investment banks and brokerage houses, but they’re little more than bookies at this point anyway. They are, however, getting massive bailouts from the government for running a risky business that finally crashed on them, and that is A Bad Thing.

Take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt, as I’m certainly nothing remotely close to an expert here. I’d love to hear feedback on this issue.

Off into the sunset

Today marks the blogging retirement of Kim and Connie du Toit, people who I have been reading for upwards of five years. It’s been a treat to wake up every morning and read what he had to say, and it will be very wierd, to say the least, seeing that “Other Side” folder in my RSS feed sit at zero. Their farewell posts are up and comments on their site are open until midnight, so if any of you have been affected by their work, as I have, now is your chance to say “thank you” on the record.

To the du Toits, Kim especially, I can only say thank you, a thousand times thank you. For everything. You’ve given me some great advice in the forums and through email over the years, helped me learn a lot about our government, about guns and my rights, and about the world in general. To this day I still refer people to excellent posts of yours from years ago that articulate thoughts better than I ever could. There will be a large, empty hole where your voice was, and while I know you’ll never be replaced, I do look forward to finding your successors.