July 30, 2014

The Mess That Is the Hobby Lobby Case

Hobby Lobby Supreme Court

The Hobby Lobby decision has been all over the news and it seems like everyone has an opinion on it (few people bothering to read the actual opinion from the Supreme Court).  Despite many messages from you asking my thoughts, I haven't written about it for several reasons. I believe this is a case that never should have been brought in the first place because it is a symptom of fact the American system is anachronistic.  It is irrational to tie health benefits to employment.  The idea that you … [Read more...]

The Sultan of Brunei Has Played the Ace of Spades

Sultan_Omar_Ali_Saifuddin_Mosque_02

For several weeks, I've found myself ruminating on a passage from a book I recently read during my research on the good, bad, and benign of multi-tier marketing systems.  This was part of my counter-evidence file; people who strongly opposed the model as currently practiced.  It was written by Steve Butterfield several decades ago and is called Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise.  While I think some of his conclusions are not supported, I keep coming back to this, on page 161: Disaster is broug … [Read more...]

Bask In The Imperial Symbolism

Tolmachevy Sisters

After writing about the mathematics of Borda count voting systems as applied to the Eurovision contest, I realized I never posted the Russian performance, presented by the virginal 17-year old Tolmachevy Sisters.  Bask in the symbolism of both the staging and the orchestration choices.  Those of you with a history or music background will spot it right away. Marketing genius Clotaire Rapaille must be shedding a tear at the subconscious appeals to Russia's unspoken culture code.  (And in some p … [Read more...]

What Bearded Ladies Can Teach Us About 18th Century Borda Count Voting Systems and Making Money

Conchita Wurst

The Washington Post this morning had a story about the political discontentment in Russia over the outcome of the 2014 Eurovision competition.  Given that a few days ago, I outright said I'd personally emigrate were I living in Russia, this confluence of events is particularly timely.  I'm going to use it as an excuse to talk about something known as Borda count systems, which I think more than a few of you will find interesting.  I've been meaning to write a post about this alternative voting … [Read more...]

To The 1,850~ of You Who Live in Russia, I Offer a Serious Suggestion: Emigrate. Now.

St Basils Cathedral Russia

When I wrote this post a year ago predicting the decline of individual freedom in Russia, I never could have imagined how far the country would descend in a mere eleven months.  In addition to the Ukraine conflict, the anti-free speech laws that make it a crime to insult certain religious beliefs, the criminalization of any outward sign that you are gay under the guise of protecting minors, the ban of any potentially offensive words in film and art, and a host of other development that look like … [Read more...]

The Kennons, El Dorado Springs, and The Wall Street Journal

Simone's Drive In

We talk so often about the divide that is slowly happening in the United States as a result of socioeconomic forces.  I did a double take this afternoon when I came across the front page of The Wall Street Journal involving a story based on this reality.  It has a profile detailing how vastly different life experiences are causing two Americas, with nothing in common, to split from each other.  As a case study, it compares Kansas City to a small, little-known, middle-of-nowhere town called El Dor … [Read more...]

Could Russia and Ukraine Be The Clouds of World War III?

Kremlin Moscow War

If you've been paying attention to any newspaper, television, or radio station, the past 72 hours probably seemed like something straight out of a fiction novel or film.  Though the chances are still remote, a series of events has been set into motion that, due to the existence of several mutual defense treaties among various nations, could result in World War III if not diffused quickly. Personally, I'm fairly optimistic it can be avoided as nobody wants a war, but given Russia's behavior t … [Read more...]

Arizona Passes One of the First Segregation Laws In 50+ Years

Arizona Segregation Bill

It's like people never learned anything from the Oklahoma Satanist case last year.  Unintended consequences matter.  Yet, it seems like people don't build them into their behavioral models.  If you open that door, you're not the only one that gets to walk through.  It's so simple.  It's so basic, yet people forget it time and time again. New York Satanists Building a Shrine to the Devil in Oklahoma If you weren't aware of it, a few years ago, some folks in the state were so obsessed with getti … [Read more...]

The Kansas Legislature Is Working to Ban Google Fiber and Make Discrimination Against Individuals Legal

Google Fiber

Terrified by the competition Google Fiber brought to Kansas City with its 1 gigabit upload and download speeds for $70 per month, the Kansas legislature is now considering a bill drafted by the cable industry that would make such municipal infrastructure partnerships illegal.  It is called the Municipal Communications Network and Private Telecommunications Investment Safeguards Act [PDF], or Senate Bill No. 304.   This is a bill written by the cable industry, for the cable industry, that es … [Read more...]

The Debt Ceiling 101 – An Explanation for the Average Person

United States Treasury Department Debt Ceiling

It's time we talk about the debt ceiling and what a debt ceiling default would mean for the United States.  I've avoided this conversation because I was hopeful we would never end up here, again, after the last round of stupidity.  I've also avoided discussing the on-going shutdown of the Federal Government, despite some strong implorations from those of you who have written through the contact form asking me to share my thoughts on it.  The shutdown will have to be put off for another day be … [Read more...]