Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Global Warming Model Flawed

And while looking at that new blog I linked to below (the Bidinotto blog), I found this great article about how the mathematical model that produced the current "theory" of global warming was inherently flawed.

But after testing Mann's computer program, Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick proved that the program had a built-in bias. A mathematical flaw in the program tended to exaggerate any data that would produce a hockey-stick-shaped spike in temperatures, but to suppress any data that didn't. Even random test data run through the program arbitrarily generated "hockey stick" shapes!


Monday, October 25, 2004


We don't have heath insurance in the US. What we have is a bunch of people contributing money (sometimes not by choice) and a fund that pays people out based on somewhat arbitrary rules.

Tom Maguire outlines a much more reasonable plan (thanks InstaPundit):

The dirty little secret about healthcare insurance is that you have to maximize participation of young childless males either through coercion (single-payer) or obfuscation (make it free, which means take what would otherwise be salary and put it into the insurance pool). These guys don’t use or need the healthcare system except for accidents, so it’s rational for them not to sign up for insurance until they get married and have kids. Their payments offset the higher healthcare utilization of females, the old, etc.

With HSAs guys can chip in early and build a sizable nest egg tax-free for the day when they have a wife and kids, rational behavior that supports family values too. And if they have good genes and a healthy lifestyle, after a time they can take some of that money and buy a motorcycle! After the accident, the balance of HSA savings goes to their beneficiaries.

But some people think we need the nanny state to tell us what's best for us and do it all for us. I don't agree. I want to manage my own money. I don't want to pay money into a fund that goes to someone's acupunturist. I don't want a middle man.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Defining the Virtues

Here are Franklin's 13 virtues as he presents them:

  1. Temperance -- Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence -- Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order -- Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution -- Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality -- Make no expense but to do good to other or yourself, i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry -- Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity -- Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice -- Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation -- Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness -- Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. Tanquility -- Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity -- Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. (Ed -- he really wasn't good at this one!)
  13. Humility -- Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Some of them are about right for me, but others not so much. Being agnostic, I don't think that defining Humility as imitating Jesus is entirely appropriate. Perhaps as I work on this, I'll come up with my own definitions, or even my own virtues. But this is as good a starting place as any.

Getting Started

Getting a blog started is reminding me of the part I hate about my writing job -- the difficult transition from the introduction, or the preface, to the real meat of the book with all the details you really want to provide. Often, I bridge the gap by providing some sort of overview of what you might find inside the book. Maybe a roadmap to all the knowledge you might find inside.

(Also, since I know no one will be reading this brand new blog, I sort of feel like I'm talking to myself... )

Issues you might see on this blog:

  • Politics -- I'm voting for Bush, I don't like Kerry. I'm not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. Rarely has any politician come anywhere near to matching my views.
  • Economics -- Most people know very little about economics. I don't know much, but I find my two semesters in college put me lightyears ahead of most of my peers. Economics is important now, but it's hard to find a really decent analysis.
  • Science -- I was going to be my career, and I'm certainly still interested in new developments. Newspapers have very poor science coverage, so the web has stepped in to fill the void.
  • Education -- Homeschooling, public schools, vouchers, and so forth. I have a son, and he needs an education.
  • Typos and imperfect grammar -- I have an editor at my real job, and if I spend all my time agonizing over the perfect words to use, I'll never manage to post! I still reserve the right to make fun of others' grammar.
  • Technology -- I'm also a bit of a programmer, currently immersed in the world of XML, XSL, and HTML, while I help create my company's new documentation system.
  • Privacy -- I think people deserve privacy. I'm anonymous right now, because my particular views don't tend to be popular in my geographic area or my line of work. Sure, all citizens have freedom of speech, but if I'm afriad my blog will lose me a job or a friend, I'll just never post. So I'd rather be anonymous. It's the way I feel more comfortable online in my 15 years on the 'net and BBSes. If you have a problem with it, well, sorry.


After reading blogs for about three years now, the compulsion to create my own blog has finally overcome my shyness.

I began reading Lileks shortly after 9/11, trying to find hope, information, and comraderie online. Over time, I added more and more blogs to my list, to attempt to quell my passion for knowledge. I realized three years ago, that I didn't know as much about the world as I thought I did, and that knowledge is power. And we needed more power.

So to continue my education, here's my blog: Benjamin's Virtues.

I'm probably the only person who ever enjoyed reading Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. I find him one of the most remarkable people who ever lived. He was a brilliant scientist and inventor, a statesman, a writer, and a champion for those who needed one. And most of all, he was a patriot in the truest sense of the word.

The name of this blog comes from Franklin's dedication to self improvement. He named 13 virtues that he would strive to master. He admits he never achieved anywhere close to perfection, but that the journey was still immeasurably valuable. The 13 virtues are: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility.

Thanks for joining me on my journey through Franklin's Virtues.

"Genius without education is like silver in the mine."