The Daily Steve
Monday, June 16, 2003
THAT'S ALL FOLKS -- The real world has rudely intruded on my blogging time, so this space will be dark for awhile. Thanks for reading.
Friday, May 23, 2003
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
SOME TABOOS ARE WORTHWHILE -- This year's Pentagon budget contains funds to research and develop tactical nuclear weapons. Now, this page is all for strategic nuclear weapons (which deter others from attacking or threatening the U.S.) but tactical nuclear weapons would be used on the battlefield to destroy bunkers or wipe out concentrations of troops or weapons.
Fred Kaplan and Peter Scoblic point out that --
- the mere usage of nuclear weapons, no matter the size or effect, would pretty much destroy any and all non-proliferation efforts and
- the usage of any nuclear weapon would create unacceptable levels of fallout and environmental devastation.
The taboo against the usage of nuclear weapons is a good one, and serves the U.S. long-term interests.
Friday, May 09, 2003
TEAR DOWN THAT WALL -- One of Europe's most intractable problems, the division of Cyprus, appears to be solving itself. While the two political sides continue to defy the will of the UN, US, and EU, with notable intransigence from the Turkish Cypriot side, the recent opening of the borders seems to demonstrated the intense popular will for reunification. Since the borders were reopened, anywhere from 25% to 40% of the island's inhabitants have visited the other side, in many cases visiting neighborhoods and homes that they had fled years earlier. The common decency and understanding that ordinary individuals have shown to each other as they visit their former 'enemies' is the truly touching part of this history.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
POLAND'S MOMENT -- Rather surprising to see the new plan to see Iraq divided into several security sectors, with Poland overseeing one of them and leading troops from Bulgaria, the Ukraine, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Its not entirely clear how much of this is by Poland's design or by Rumsfeldian machinations. Needless to say, some EU heavyweights (Germany, France) are none too pleased to see EU aspirant Poland asserting such independence, but regardless its a pretty high profile role.
BILL BENNETT, IDIOT -- Bill Bennett's gambling problems have been well-chronicled-- losses of more than $8m over the past ten years, wiring millions to cover lines of credit, leaving after a night on the slots down $625k. Michael Kinsley pretty effectively (and nastily) lays down the key facts -- you can't be the public face of right-wing virtue for the past few years and do this type of thing. Slate's William Saletan follows up by adding that the typical defense of Bennett's behavior (its his private life, he did not endanger his family), cannot apply to someone like former drug czar and professional moralizer Bennett, who specifically rejects the libertarian argument for most vices.
But what bugs me the most is his choice of games -- slots. Now, its understandable that people enjoy playing the slots from time to time for amusement, but anyone with a rudimentary understanding of probability (and casino economics) has to realise that slots are about the worst bet in the house. Slots are set to have a payout rate of between 85% and 95%, so in effect, if you play for any length of time, you will get back approximately 85 to 95 cents on the dollar. Sure, you might get lucky in the short run, but in the long run (like the losing $8m long run) you will always lose.
Bennett compounds the issue by claiming to have almost broken even in slots. Its almost mathematically impossible. Given the payout rate and the $8m loss, its probable that Mr. Bennett has placed over $50m in bets over the past ten years.
So my advice? Play craps and blackjack. Then mind you own business.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
READY.GOV -- Have you see the odd Ready.gov Homeland Security Graphics? Here's a site that does a direct frame-by-frame parody. And another one that's a little more convenient to read.
Saturday, April 19, 2003
STUPIDITY SQUARED -- Several moderate Republican senators are gumming up the works for President Bush's tax cut proposals (quite properly, we believe). A pro-Bush lobby group is seeking to pressure some of these senators with ad campaigns in their home states. The Club for Growth has, tastelessly, chosen to compare the senators' behavior with that of the French during the Iraq war. In their own words,
''These Franco-Republicans are as dependable as France was in taking down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein,'' Club for Growth president Stephen Moore said in a statement."
This strategy would make a lot more sense if they were not using it to target Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who represents a state where almost a quarter of the population self-identifies as French or Franco-American.