Monday, April 28, 2008

Rockets Players = Bitter

Look at Me! I can Dribble!

Hmmmm... Who Is That Guy Again?

Oh, Yeah...

I'm a Rocket Fan!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rockets Fans = Bitter

I love it! Clutch City? Try

"We lost game 7 on our home court last year" City

or better yet,

"Our star has never made it past the first round of the playoffs" City.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Utah Gets No Love - Again

From Ric Bucher of ESPN:
"Let's be honest: They're Mormon, and they're in Salt Lake, and there's nothing else there. You gotta smile and be happy all the time. This might be one opportunity for fans to get vicious."
Those darn smiling happy Mormons will get you every time.

On the bright side, two computer models picked the Jazz to go to the Finals, and one of them picked them to win.

What If Sports
John Hollinger

That'd put a lot of smiles on Mormon faces.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

TED Talks: Hans Rosling & Emily Oster on AIDS & Poverty

TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design". It is an annual conference that brings speakers from those three areas together. They each give 18 minute talks. Many of these talks can be found for free on the website.

I found TED as I researched and wrote my "American Idol, Bono, and Africa" post from a week ago. I used one of their videos in that post. There are a few more that I have found that make a good follow up to that post, so I'm putting them here:

Hans Rosling has developed some pretty impressive data analyzing and presenting software, and used it in the following two speeches. The data shows some very interesting findings regarding poverty in the world.

Emily Oster is an economist, and in this talk she shows data which debunks most of the things we think we know about AIDS prevalence. Interestingly, just months after this presentation was given, the UN lowered its AIDS estimates.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Cuts for the Rich: 1999 vs 2007

Let's take a married household earning about $45,000, with three dependents, owns a home, and gives slightly more than average to charity (as Republicans are wont to do).

For tax year 2007 this household would pay $0 in federal income tax. In fact, not only would they pay $0, but they would get over $2400 from the federal government. This is not money being refunded to them - it's free money from the government.

Now, if this same household had filed using 1999's tax laws, they would have owed $950. That's a $3,300 swing in the wrong direction.

So, over the next year or so as the Bush tax cuts are debated, the phrases, "tax cuts for the rich" or "tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%" or any derivation thereof, are hereby banned.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol, Bono, and Africa

I watched the "Idol Gives Back" episode of American Idol last night, as well as the one they did last season. The intent of the show is to get people to donate to charity funds like the Children's Defense Fund, the Global Fund, Make It Right, Malaria No More, Save The Children and the Children's Health Fund. This year there were segments on New Orleans and Appalachia, as well as on Africa. The images of poverty and sickness in Africa are particularly compelling, especially in context of that continent's history and perception of never-ending poverty and civil war, as well as malaria and AIDS epidemics. Many of the celebrity presenters became emotional as they asked for donations.

But are donations what African nations need?

In an article titled "U.S., European Subsidies Undercut African Farmers", NPR reveals the following:
The United States ships millions of tons of food aid to Africa each year. While the food is desperately needed in many parts of the continent, some activists and economists say the inflow of huge amounts of surplus Western-grown grain stifles agricultural development in Africa.
In fact, this article is one in a 5 part series that NPR did in October of 2006 titled "Africa's Lagging Development".

In June 2007 the group "Technology, Entertainment, Design" held its annual conference in Tanzania. U2's Bono has long been a vocal proponent of aid to Africa, and in fact was the one that pushed to bring the conference to Tanzania last year. He spoke at the conference, but was actually angered by some of what was said; mainly because rather than focus on more charity work, many presenters instead spoke up about increased investment in entrepreneurship in African nations. One notable presenter was Andrew Mwenda, who said that decades of outside aid has accomplished little in Africa, and in fact can be blamed for the continuing troubles there. A video of his speech follows:

For his part, Bono responded to Mwenda by noting that,
Well, I will tell you that 20 million children in Africa are going to school today as a direct result of debt relief, 3 million right here in Tanzania alone. The reason Ireland now has one of the hottest economies in the world and gets all this direct investment from companies like Google and Intel is that they realized Ireland had an extremely well-educated population. Even I was extremely well-educated. Combine a well educated population with the kinds of tax relief that was offered to companies coming in and you have economic growth. Only the state can offer that package...

3000 African kids will die today of malaria so you have to work on the micro as well as the macro economic issues."
I think that some sort of middle ground between American Idol-like charities and Andrew Mwenda-like entrepreneurial growth is warranted. Clearly there are people suffering today that need assistance. But what about tomorrow? Liz Dolan writes:
I have worried in the past that because so many of the resources that come to Africa come in the form of aid, that Africa's best and brightest are working for NGO's and charities, instead of starting their own small businesses. Two years ago I met a fantastic young man in Lusaka, Zambia running an orphanage. His managerial skills were so impressive that I couldn't help thinking to myself whether the country would be better served if this young man were given the money to start a business instead of an orphanage. Does aid create a brain drain away from agriculture and industry and towards relief work? It clearly can.
Perhaps for too long the emphasis has been on immediate relief at the expense of long term growth - a sort of give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish scenario. Here's hoping we can change that.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Number 11

Who cares if my Final Four picks were a disaster? Who cares if my little sister beat me in our NCAA tournament bracket challenge?

I'm riding a three week stay in the BlogNetNews top 20 political blog rankings, and this week I've ascended all the way to #11.

So there.

Friday, April 04, 2008

TDIH: Martin Luther King Jr Assasinated

April 4, 1968

King was cut down April 4 by a rifle slug that tore through his jaw and spine as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. James Earl Ray, a petty criminal and prison escapee, pleaded guilty to the murder. He died in prison in 1998.

Nancy Pelosi Already Knows

It looks like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is up to her old tricks again.

At this time last year she had "scheduling conflicts" when General Petraeus went to Washington to meet with the US House of Representatives and provide them with classified information and expert analysis of the situation in Iraq. Ms. Pelosi's spokesmen said that she just forgot about the meeting and didn't realize she had the conflict until that very morning. So I wondered if we should start up a collection fund so she could get a pda or blackberry or something. It just seemed like a pretty big deal to miss out on classified information from a four star general, especially at a time when Congress was debating including a withdrawal timeline in a war funding bill. Luckily I had an astute commenter point out that the Speaker probably already knew what the general was going to say, so there was no reason to grace him with her presence.

Well, now General Petraeus is scheduled to visit Congress again. Just like my commenter noted last year, Nancy Pelosi has already made up her mind as to what she wants the general to say:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events” in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.

“I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra,” said Pelosi, referring to a recent military offensive against Shiite militants in the city led by the Iraqi government and supported by U.S. forces.

178th General Conference

This weekend is the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. From

The 178th Annual General Conference of the Church will convene in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, 2008. The Saturday general sessions will be held at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; Sunday sessions will be held at 9:30 a.m. (which includes Music and the Spoken Word) and 2:00 p.m. The general priesthood meeting will be held in the Conference Center on Saturday, April 5, at 6:00 p.m.
In addition to television and radio, all sessions of conference are available online at