Friday, May 27, 2005

My Kind of Meme

Once again, I try to get back into posting with a meme. Poliblogger has a Friday Fun Meme that I can enjoy.

Ten things I have done, that most people haven’t:

10. chipped a tooth on the bottom of a swimming pool. (still gives me the shivers just thinking about it.)
9. had some poetry published.
8. shook the hand of Spiro Agnew.
7. successfully made REAL fudge (the recipe is here.)
6. pulled a fire alarm.
5. eaten haggis (in Scotland).
4. seen Lassie in "person" (did you know "she" is really a "he?").
3. been the cause of a power outage...that affected 400+ buildings...over 1 square mile. (don't ask.)
2. smelled chlorine gas (silly teenage experiment that could have killed me!)

And the #1 thing that I have done that most people haven't is:

1. Stood on (and then sat down on) the top of a nuclear reactor (it wasn't running at the time, silly...and yes all my kids ARE perfectly normal!).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dan Fogelberg Saves the Flaming Duck

Question: How do you maintain your TTLB rank when you don't post?
Answer: Write a post about a popular subject and put the right words in the title.

Unfortunately, my real job (you can thank email2blogger for this post) continues to intrude on my passions. I had expected to see the Flaming Duck sink into the primordial ooze of the TTLB but that didn't happen. Why? One single post about the Dan Fogelberg cancer announcement continues to garner enough Google hits to keep my head above water (which shouldn't be hard for a duck but when you don't post...).

Is this how the big boys do it? Write about popular subjects and then get indexed by Google? You learn something new every day!

Update: As of 25May05, 84 of the last 93 searches that resulted in a referrer to the Flaming Duck contained the words "Dan Fogelberg." Dan, I love your music and wish you only the best in your cancer treatment but I love you even more for the visitors you send to the Flaming Duck!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Test of Email2Blogger

Question: What would a test of email2blogger look like?
Answer: A lot like this!

Sorry, just had to test some functions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Confirmation?:This MSM Error Causes Deaths

Fox News this morning is also reporting that the story may be confused from a report that a Gitmo detainee was flushing Koran pages in protest to his treatment. Don't know if this is a seperate confirmation or simple MSM parroting. You can read my initial feelings about this at This MSM Error Causes Deaths.

Monday, May 16, 2005

This MSM Error Causes Deaths

A story in Newsweek about US Officials flushing copies of the Koran down the toilet has been proven unfounded. Somehow, "sorry" just doesn't cut it.
We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Whitaker wrote in the magazine's latest issue, due to appear on U.S. newsstands on Monday.

This "inaccurate story" lead to 16 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Read the full story at Netscape News.

As a sidebar, I heard a report on ABC that this story could have been confused from an account that an Islamic detainee had torn pages from his Koran and used them to plug a toilet to cause it to overflow. Whether this toilet stoppage story is true or not, I don't know (it was on ABC!) but consider the irony if it is true. We have people killed over a "desecration" that Islamic fundamentalists believed had been perpetrated by officials of the United States when in fact it was a Muslim that had "done the dirty deed." Would the same riot have occurred if the "correct" story had been reported?

I do believe that the MSM just crossed the line from incompetent and mean spirited to dangerous. Where do we go from here?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Ten Things I have Never Done

After a taking a short blogging hiatus, I needed something light to get back into the groove. Luckily, Professor Bainbridge obliged with a short meme called "Ten Things I Have Never Done." Here's my list. I have never...

10. Eaten a mango (but I like kiwi).
9. Painted with oils (I'm pretty good with colored pencil).
8. Scuba dived (only snorkeled).
7. Written a novel (just a couple of poems).
6. Liked Crepe Myrtle (in Virginia, that's weird).
5. Driven a Cadillac (more of a Ford guy).
4. Saw a need for napkin rings (but I like the fancy folded types).
3. Painted my fingernails (but I painted my toenails...once...on a dare...and they stayed inside my shoes!).
2. Wanted a cat (fish are more fun).

And finally, the number 1 thing I have never done (thankfully)

1. Gotten strep throat (go figure).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

This REALLY Ruffles My Feathers!

Question: What could cause me to post when the Flaming Duck is under a "light blogging" warning?
Answer: A statement like THIS by one of our representatives!

This morning, on my drive into work, our local morning drive radio jock, Tony Macrini was interviewing Thelma Drake, U.S. Representative in the 2nd District of Virginia. The discussion turned to health care and illegal immigrants. In regards to the number of uninsured Americans, Ms. Drake said the following:
...about the number 42 million uninsured Americans, Tony, I recently read some information that leads me to believe that half of that may be ILLEGAL IMMiGRANTS. (emphasis added)

Now, it seems to me that a statistician that is smart enough to devise a methodology to count uninsured AMERICANS,should be able to weed out the folks that AREN'T AMERCIANS! What's worse is that I am sure that the people that use the 42 million number are aware that a sizable portion of these people are illegal. They only include them in order to BOOST THE TOTAL FIGURE! >@

I feel better now. I can get back to work.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Warning: Light Blogging Ahead

I don't usually post a "light blogging" notice but this time I can tell it will be several days before I am able to post anything meaningful. Professional commitments (means the boss is cracking the whip) will keep me busy most of this week. Until then, take a little time to read the Understanding Cognition Series on Zenpundit. He got me thinking and my next post will tie in with his thoughts.

Until later...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Carnival of the Trackbacks X

I posted Be Very Careful of What You Ask For at
Wizbang: Carnival of the Trackbacks X.

Death of a Great American

Colonel David Hackworth died May 4, 2005 of Bladder Cancer. He was a truly great american that served his county well.

You can read a great post over at Armchair Generalist: Casual Fridays.

(hat tip: zenpundit)

Flaming Duck Wins Award!

Well, Harvey of Bad Example has awarded your friendly ignited drake the Little Right Wing Circle Jerk Award. (a cheer rises from the crowd)

Thank you, Harvey! I must say, this was quite unexpected. I only write because I like it. I never expected to win an award.

Per the requirements of the award, (as I raise my "right wing" and place my "left wing" on a Bible) I hereby do solemnly assert:
1) Information found on blogs is at least as accurate as information found in the mainstream media.

2) It's morally wrong to hijack someone else's blog.

You can read the full post here: THE EIGHTH OCCASIONAL JERKY AWARDS

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Another Watcher of Weasels Submittal

I want thank Watcher for the honorable mention in the last round of Council voting. It's probably more than that particular post deserved. But being the consumate link whore, I am willing to try again.

Watcher of Weasels

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Be Very Careful of What You Ask For

Question: How do governments fund "public goods" that they produce?
Answer: Taxes!

I am finding the story of Jennifer Wilbanks (the Runaway Bride in Georgia, for the uninformed) very interesting; but not for the reasons you might expect. I am not interested in why she got cold feet a few days before her wedding and ran to Las Vegas. I am not interested in the racial overtones of why she blamed Hispanics for her abduction. I don't even care if her fiance still wants to marry her. The story is interesting to planners and other government officials for what it has to say about government financing and this story actually has something to contribute to the government funding discussion.

First, I want to give a quick definition. A public good is product or service that meets two criteria. These criteria are that it is
a) non-excludible and
b) non-rivalous.

From Public goods: A Glossary of Political Economy Terms a public good is a product or service,
"which cannot practically be withheld from one individual consumer without withholding them from all (the 'nonexcludability criterion') and for which the marginal cost of an additional person consuming them, once they have been produced, is zero (the 'nonrivalrous consumption' criterion)."
In other words, once produced, it is
a) difficult to provide to one and exclude others and
b) the use of the good or service does not diminish its use by others.

Some good examples of public goods are emergency services, roads or national defense. A major reason for forming a government is to pool resources that can then be used to produce "public goods" that can be enjoyed by the entire community.

So how does this relate Jennifer Wilbanks? It relates because a recent poll shows that the critics of the situation want Jennifer to pay for the search that occurred. And it's not just a few people. The cited poll shows that the public wants Jennifer to pay for the search by a margin of over 3 to 1! The hue and cry is almost deafening.

Back in March, I wrote a post that talked about how government reacts when you ask it to do something. Government officials are put into office by promising to do the things that their constituents ask them to do. They want to keep their jobs and will likely KEEP doing things that you ask them to do. You can imagine the joy they feel when you ask them to put money into the government coffers via methods other than taxes. This is a politician's dream scenario. Governments are struggling to pay for the increased demands of their citizens. They NEED to find other sources of revenue, revenue such as charges for services like emergency responders or searches. The critics of Jennifer Wilbanks are giving public officials a VERY handy excuse to implement a new fee!

Services like roads and police service and paramedic service are logically a "public good" and therefore quite rightly in the natural province of government. That is the reason we give our government the power to tax. We desire the use of the public goods and are willing to pay for them. The search that occurred in the Wilbanks story was a public good and had already been paid for with tax dollars. "Right," you say, "we can't let someone commit a crime like this and then charge the government for the search. I want the person responsible to pay for it so it doesn't come from tax dollars!" I say, "Be careful for what you ask for."

Let's carry this out a bit further. Should the drunk that causes an accident pay for the emergency services used to help the victims? (Yes!) Should a lost 5-year old pay for the cost of the search? (No?) Should all of our roads become toll roads? (Of course not!) Hopefully you see the slippery slope here. Where do we draw the line?

The problem is one of priorities. Our government (federal, state and local) currently uses much of its available tax base to support things that are not logically a "public good." A perfect example of this is caring for the poor. While caring for the poor is a laudable goal, and I personally contribute much to helping the needy, it is not a "public good." This type of service does not meet our first criteria because it is very easy to focus such help on a single person or family (it fails the nonexcludability test). It also fails the second criteria because the addition of each individual adds a proportional amount to the cost of the service (it fails the nonrivalrous consumption test).

(Some may say that I have set up a straw man because the creation of "public goods" is not the only function of government. I would agree with that statement but would not call it a straw man. The private sector is often more efficient in producing goods and delivering service. When a good or service can be provide by the private sector, it makes sense to leave that to private citizens. This is generally the case for everything other than "public goods.")

So the case of Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride, should be paid for with tax dollars. The provision of the search resources is logically a "public good" and that is a function of government. This may be case where the funds were misspent but in a free society there will be people who misuse the system. Just don't give the government another excuse to reach into our pockets. We pay taxes. We pay taxes to provide "public goods." The real solution lies in getting the government out areas where it shouldn't be and using those funds for the good of us all.

Lessons for New Bloggers

There are lots of "How-To Begin Blogging" posts but the Mudville Gazette did an exceptionally fine job in this recent post. If you're new to the blogosphere, click the link below for some great advice.

Mudville Gazette

New to Me Blog

Thanks to a recommendation from Janette, I have blogrolled Girl on the Right. As in introductory post, I readGirl on the Right. Anyone that thinks "Activists are Boring" is ok in my book.