Tuesday, December 30, 2008


NY DMV is teh Suck

Even NJ has managed to have a DMV that works: why can't NY do this? Why did I have to wait over 2 hours just to exchange an FL for an NY license?

Of course, when someone like me has a meltdown out of the impatience, your average urban liberal will say "I think you need to get some therapy and an SSRI". But if this makes me a neurotic than a good percentage of suburbanites are neurotics.

Pace your typical urban liberal, most flight to the 'burbs is not due to "white flight" (although this does happen) but simply 'cause most people cannot stand the city. Nu? Why do urban liberals then tend to act like the majority of people are insane for not being able to deal with the crowds, the competition, etc. in the city?

What do most people do when faced with 2 hour waits at an urban DMV? They move to the 'burbs; they start hating government ... they become suburban GOoPers! Calling them off-balance ain't gonna win votes ... if we Dems want to get more votes, we need urban, Democratic liberal centers to be gleaming Cities on the Hill (rather than dismissing that whole concept). If people associate Democrats with urban corruption, government with 2+ hour waits at the DMV, etc., then big government liberalism (in spite of the 2006 and 2008 election results) is dead in the water.

If we want the general populace to embrace New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society liberalism (that does in the large scale work like gangbusters!), we liberals have gotta show people that liberal, Democratic governance works! If big, Democratic cities are cesspools of corruption in which people cannot afford to live, people will think Democrats in charge means that they won't be able to afford the cost of living and that government will be a cesspool of corruption. If we build it (a city on the hill), though, they will come ...

I know I keep harping on this, but why doesn't the Democratic party finally clean house, take the lead against stupid rules and regulations, make sure every DMV in a Democratic city works, etc. ... to show what we Dems. are capable of when we are in charge ... rather than letting big cities and non-running government agencies, and the messes in them win votes for the GOP based on their supposed hatred of gummint and the urbane?

(c.f. letters in the most recent issue of the Queens Tribune which is not yet online alas)

Monday, December 29, 2008


Comments Later Perhaps ...

... but I saw two movies (an old one and a new one) recently: The Tale of Despereaux and Tokyo Godfathers. There is too much to talk about, and I don't feel like typing so much, so discuss these two fine (and religiously themed) movies amongst yourselves: how do they reflect Jewish thinking, e.g.?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Evidence and Regulations

Evedently my HS civics class was an epic fail. They taught about how in a criminal case you can only be found guilty if the government provides evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And in civil law you need to have a preponderance of evidence to win a case.

But evidently in regulatory law (which includes parking violations according to my wife, who is a lawyer), the government doesn't need to provide evidence that the violation occured in order to defend itself if you challenge a fine? The burdon of proof is on the fined person or organization?

I'm all for government regulation, but this inversion of the burdon of proof is ridiculous and invites abuse (and they should have warned us about it in civics ... that there is an end-run around "innocent until proven guilty"): what's to stop cops from issuing parking tickets to people saying "your muni meter receipt was upside down" and then how do you fight that? Show a picture of a right-side up muni meter receipt? Which they could say was taken after you flipped the receipt or something like that?

At the very least, the Dems. should work to change this sorry situation: as I always say, if government were not so annoying (e.g. stupid traffic laws and blue laws), people would hate "gummint" less and be less likely to fall for GOP rhetoric about "gummint".


Free Market Magic

I just love how the Econs 101 explains it all crowd ignores such things as inelasticity ("assume a frictionless spherical cow" anyone? would you trust building the A-bomb to people who understood physics only at that level and ignored any physics more recent than Newton? nu? why should Econs policy be any different?) and even human nature. Markets are find for things people want but what of needs? Market economics, which assumes "wants" not "needs" motivate buying doesn't work so well when demand (or supply) becomes too inelastic.

But it struck me the counter-example is food. Food markets do work (or so I thought) exactly as Econs 101 predicts even if food is something we need. Of course, you could always say that while food is a need, any particular kind of food is a want, etc. So even if aggregate food demand is inelastic, demand in each, particular food market is elastic. Etc. Etc.

But then it occured to me. While people still alas go hungry, etc., we do produce enough food to feed everyone and many people, even the poor get fed. But when did the market start "working" even as well as it does? With the most recent Ag. Tech. revolution. Which was also a revolution of Big Ag.! The market "works" because it is no longer really all that free anymore ... hmmm ....

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Chappy Chanukah

Can you believe the former Kathy Lee Epstein doesn't get why some people might be offended by the wish of "Merry Christmas"? Does she know that little of her own people's history?

That being said: I do sincerely wish my Christian readership a Merry Christmas.

Also, my wife turned me on to a new website: The Root.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Close of Semester Thought

(after having smoked a pipe to celebrate the all but ending of the semester: I've still maybe 1 or 2 straggling late assignments to grade and then to submit the grades -- but I've pretty much survived my first semester teaching! that's worth taking time off to smoke a pipe, ain't it?)

What could be more professorial than standing around in a wool cap, smoking a pipe and pondering Tweedie distributions? A colleague of mine spotted me and commented that I was striking quite the pose ...

Monday, December 15, 2008


The Digital TeeVee Transition is Teh Suck

Have the people who are foisting digital TeeVee on us ever considered that some of us live in apartment buildings in urban or inner suburban areas in which we can't get a TeeVee signal except from the antenna on the roof of the apartment complex? Which means, once TeeVee goes all digital and said antennas don't work anymore, we have either no TeeVee or we have to switch to cable (because the TeeVee signal in our apartment itself is horrible ... since our flat faces the opposite direction of where the television stations are)?

Is this almost forced conversion to cable a bug of the digital switch? or a feature?

Friday, December 12, 2008


A DAS Blog Public Service Announcement

Good morning fellow residents of the NYC area. Yesterday and today, as you no doubt already know, we have experienced a phenomenon known as "rain". Rain occurs when atmospheric disturbances cause the "precipitation" of water from the sky. Rain is a common phenomenon and nothing to be afraid of. For instance, contrary to what you may have heard, people (not even witches) do NOT melt in the rain.

Did you know that rain consists mainly of water with dissolved gasses that make it pH balanced? Did you know that the New York area gets over 3 feet of rain a year?

Rain can be safe and enjoyable if only a few small safety precautions are observed. There is no need to cover you or your children head to toe in plastic: exposure to rain does not harm the skin nor does it cause colds. That being said, wearing only a mico-mini-skirt in cold rain is likely to weaken the immune system, resulting in increased susceptibility to colds. Please dress sensibly in the rain.

Driving in the rain is a challenge to many. Many are concerned that if they go faster than 20 miles per hour, their car will take off like an airplane and cause them to arrive in La Guardia 3 hours late for a business meeting. This does not occur. There is no need to restrict one's speed to 20 MPH on Interstate Highways merely because of rain. Speed limits in this country are typically set so that, except in the worst of weather, it is safe to drive on the road even at the speed limit.

That being said, rain can cause slippery roads and reduced visibility, which lead to potentially dangerous driving conditions. Thus, it is necessary in the rain to slow down below 80 MPH and not drive like the complete asshole you perhaps are. Accidents are no fun for anyone: not for those involved in the accident. Not for those stuck in traffic due to the fact that people don't understand the concept of merging so that any reduction in available lanes immediately causes traffic to exhibit a change from laminar to chaotic flow.

Fellow New Yorkers: I thank you for listening to this important public service announcement. With proper care rain can be fun, enjoyable and even romantic and need not involve catching a cold which is then spread to everyone with a pre-school age child nor accidents that cause 1 hour back-ups over the George Washington Bridge.

Next week we will learn about the white stuff that falls from the sky here during winter. It is not the Angels of the Holy One having bad dandruff. It is called snow ... and again, with a few simple precautions (not driving like a complete asshole, cleaning off your sidewalk before the snow turns to ice, etc.) can be extremely enjoyable.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Epic Fail

I don't know how many of these are true vs. being doctored, but this site is teh funny.

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