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The Defenestration of Blog

My blog has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.


2.28.2006

Cinnamon Toast Crunch: A Salute


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This stuff is amazing.  Really.  It's always the first thing I eat when I get a variety pack of 8 mini-cereals.  Yesterday I decided to spring for a whole box.  What a great move...or mistake, depending on how you look at it.  I can't stop eating this stuff.  I've already had 3 bowls today, and that doesn't include handfuls that I grabbed here and there. It's so sweet and cinnamony, but not to the point of cloying.  Even though the pieces are rather thin (compared to, say, Cheerios), they hold their own when saturated with milk, maintaining their crunchiness to the very last piece.   I'm fiending for some right now. They should have called this stuff Cinnamon Toast Crack. The food engineers at General Mills hit a grand slam with this one.


In short, anybody who hasn't had this cereal in a while should buy themselves a box (or at least a variety pack).  If you have it and you don't come around to my point of view, all I can say is that you're a jerkface.

Ashes to ashes, dust to...diamonds??

After I die, my family better do this to me. It would be totally pimp.

2.27.2006

It's about damn time

The Smithsonian is starting a hip hop collection. Maybe I'll actually walk over there one day.

Eccentric billionaire creates Papist ghetto

The founder of Domino's is a fundy nut who is creating a town for all the other fundy nuts. I think this is a positive for the rest of society. Instead of social rent-seeking to the detriment of society, they will isolate themselves and be the only ones harmed by their own crazy rules (ie no sales of contraceptives).

For the same reason, I think we should have a kibbutz movement in this country. Limit the transfers and rent-seeking to the people who want it while leaving the rest of us alone.

2.25.2006

The Tipping Pointers, by Defenestrationov Tipwell

How much should you tip for a cheap meal (say, a lunch special) at a full service, sit-down restaurant? The first step in answering this question is to be clear about what we are tipping for: service. You are receiving the following services at a restaurant whether you're spending $7 or $25:
Setting table
Seating
Menus
Water
Taking order
Preparing food
Bringing food
Refilling water
Bringing check
Processing credit card
Bussing
Dishwashing

The difference between the $7 and $25 meal is primarily that the cost of the ingredients is higher for the latter. This is irrelevant to the wait/bus staff and the value of the service they have provided you. The secondary issue is the more intensive food preparation, which is the most important thing the restaurant does. That is the only reason that the tip should be partially tied to the price on the check. Still, a linear relationship starting from the origin doesn't really make sense, given that the waiters are running around and taking care of you for an hour no matter what you're spending. In my opinion, the line should originate at a Y-intercept that represents a 17.5% tip on the average dinner entree.
Let:
B=The price of your bill, in dollars, before tax
E[B]=The average menu price of a bill at dinner, in dollars
G=the deserved gratuity rate, expressed as a decimal from 0 to 1
T=The tip, in dollars

If B >= E[B] then T=(G)x(B)

This is just saying that if your bill is average or above, to use the standard tip rate times the bill formula.

If B < E[B] then T=(G)x(E[B])

This is saying that in a situation where you ordered a relatively cheap meal, you should not take into account how little you spent. Rather, just tip as if you ordered the average entree at dinner.

Typical Example:
I order $7 worth of food and receive service worthy of a 16.5% tip. The average entree at dinner costs $15. Thus, I would tip .165 x $15=2.475. Of course, the classy thing here would be to round up to $2.50.
I think this works out pretty fairly. If were to simply tip 16.5% on my $7 bill, I would only be giving $1.16, which seems to me like an insult.
To illustrate this graphically, I created a chart that shows you how should tip for various bills at a restaurant with a $15 E[D] at the 16.5% rate.
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Under no circumstances do you tip less than $2.50. Then the graph kinks upward at the point where B>E[B].

Naturally, there ought to be an empirical research agenda for this problem. Do customers already behave this way? Or is it simply a matter of multiplying the check by 15%?
One possibility would be to study credit card receipts on which customers have left tips. There may be some financial privacy concerns, but if the restaurant were to provide each transaction in a spreadsheet referenced only by an ID number, this would totally be a feasbile study.

Whether the study confirms my model or not, this is prescriptive, not just predictive. PDA and cell phone tip calculators should calculate tips my way, or at least come with the option of doing so.

This has been one of the more creative ways of procrastinating on my midterm studying...

Just how is this supposed to help consumers?

The Minnesota Commerce Department on Thursday announced plans to fine a gas station chain $140,000 for repeatedly selling gas below the state's legal minimum price.

The fine against Midwest Oil of Minnesota is twice as large as any imposed on a company since 2001, when the state established a formula based on wholesale prices, fees and taxes to determine a daily floor for gas prices.

Pray tell, why would we be punishing a company for being efficient and best meeting the needs of consumers (especially at time of record gas prices)?
The price law was intended to prevent large oil companies from driving smaller competitors out of business, but some critics argue it fails to protect consumers.

So there you have it. It helps a few powerful small local gas stations who must have lobbied or bribed some officials to get a law on the books. All of this at the expense of consumers. Wonderful.
What do state officials have to say about this insidious and dangerous phenomenon of competition and voluntary, pareto-optimizing transactions?
Kevin Murphy, deputy commissioner of the department, called the violations "willful, continuing, and egregious and warrant a substantial penalty."

Whither the consumer? Death to the entrepeneur?
Critics have argued that it ends up costing most customers an extra dollar or more to fill up, without adding to tax revenues.
Defenders of the law say it's critical to protect small and medium-sized stations.
They note that unlike large chains, those stations often can't cushion below-cost gasoline with sales of other merchandise.

This really makes me sick. Somehow, state officials got the idea that small independent gas stations have some inherent good associated with them, and therefore a right to exist, even at the expense of consumers. Pure corruption.
Full Story

2.19.2006

Declaration

I know I'm like 10 years late on this, but the Wu Tang Clan has changed my life.

2.16.2006

My apartment is so messy

I took the garbage out a few days ago but I didn't replace it with a new bag. All of my garbage is strewn about the apartment, staring me in the face. It's really just awful. I might as well be living in a puddle of santorum.

2.15.2006

Brokeback to the Future [must see]

A trailer for Back to the Future III with the music from the Brokeback trailer. They select lines and scenes out of context to make it appear that Marty and Doc are...well you get the idea.

Thanks MH!

Call for submissions: Anti-Semitic cartoons

A Danish paper publishes a cartoon that mocks Muslims.
An Iranian paper responds with a Holocaust cartoons contest -
- Now a group of Israelis announce their own anti-Semitic cartoons contest!

I think this contest is perfect.

Rick Moranis Country Album: EPIC

With all that country and bluegrass filling our home, I wound up writing a song or two. And then another. I’d call up friends and sing the songs over the phone. Paul Perlove, my dear friend and sometime comedy writing partner encouraged me to do something with the songs. Although I’d done a lot of music for SCTV and sang the songs in the film “Little Shop of Horrors”, it had been a while since I’d recorded any music.
http://www.rickmoranis.com/


Listen to the clips, it's catchy!

Kudos to J.O. for the find.

2.14.2006

I think I once ate a potato chip shaped like Mohammed

THOUSANDS of people flocked to southern Egypt today to seek blessing from a calf they believe was born as God's reply to the publication in Europe of cartoons depicting the prophet, police said.

Some 20,000 thousand people had gathered in front of Mohammed Abu Dif's house in the village of Tunis to see the holy mammal, whose skin folds when he was born reportedly formed the words "There is no God but Allah", a police official said on condition of anonymity.

He said the villagers flocked from all over the southern governorate of Sohag to the farmer's house and had to be dispersed by police, who feared the gathering could get out of control.

Witnesses said they believed the calf was "Allah's response to current attacks against Islam", the official said.

Full story

Thanks JT!

The Meme Test (from a pretty cool quiz site)

All Your Base
You scored 51 Intelligence, 18 Humour, and 30 Charisma!
Man...step AWAY from the game console...



Mind-numbing, computerized, and possibly living in a basement: you are All Your Base.


You are taking over the world with the sheer power of your geekdom, however, so well done there.



Learn more about your meme at Planet Tribes.



My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 66% on Intelligence
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 3% on Humour
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 66% on Charisma
Link: The Meta-Meme Test written by LaurelXIII on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Bulldog owner keeps it real

On Wednesday night, an Adelanto man fought off two attackers who barged into his house, roughed him up and then made off with his beloved 6-year-old English bulldog, Tank.

After enduring a fistfight, the dog’s owner pursued the robbers and grabbed onto the back of the crooks’ pickup truck and was dragged several hundred feet, according to sheriff’s officials.

Full Story

This man is to be commended for standing by his bulldog and fighting tooth and nail for his freedom.

2.13.2006

I have a tooth ache and no dental insurance

Time for some adverse selection...

2.12.2006

Phone pic #1: My kind of advertisement

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From that nebulous region of 18th street between Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan...

2.11.2006

Iran celebrates 27th anniversary of Islamic repression

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I am pretty sure that the X's means they do not like the flags they are wearing. Also, a little heads up to the jerk on the right: the stars are not supposed to be arranged in a 5x10 grid. They are supposed to be staggered in two different alternating row patterns. Dick.

Ranking of the World's Best Looking Flag Designs

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Living on Washington's Embassy Row, I come across lots of flags in the course of a day. I was looking up some mysterious flags I saw in Georgetown when I decided that the world needed a ranking of the best flags. I went through all of the flags listed on the CIA World Factbook flag page for this project. I ranked the flags on aesthetic appeal. I was looking for simplicity, elegance, and appealing color schemes. I tend to be a big fan of flags that look good on a sunny day. I also like a simple symbol in the middle. Thus, Israel, Switzerland and Canada did very well (the bold yet basic colors didn't hurt). The Scandanavian flags are all winners. Qatar is simply awesome. [This is in no way an endorsement or bashing of any nation, government, or policy.]

1)Qatar
2)Canada and Israel (tie)
4)Norway
5)Iceland
6)Switzerland
7)Sweden
8)Yemen
9)United Kingdom
10)Ireland

Honorable mentions:
Best resembles a graphic from Donkey Kong: Gibraltar
Most cracked out: Brazil
Funkiest: South Korea
Trippiest: Macedonia
Dark Side of the Mooniest: Marshall Islands
Most threatening: Saudi Arabia
Looks Most Like Postage: Saint Pierre and Miquelon
MC Escher's Wet Dream: Isle of Man
Most Gangsta: Mozambique
Most likely created by a guy watching a Disney movie while tripping on acid: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

2.09.2006

Truly Darwinian: the Shiite Ashoura holiday

If anybody knows where I can find some reliable statistics on the number of fatal infections related to Ashoura (which I assume is Farsi for "tetanus acquisition day") please post in the comments.
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A Shiite marks the ceremonies of Ashura at a Shiite Muslim shrine near Damascus February 9, 2006. (Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters)

If this is what they do to themselves...

What makes you think that a Shiite theocracy would hesitate to use a nuclear weapon the second they get their hands on it?
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An Iraqi Shi'ite devotee gashes his head with a knife during an Ashura ritual ceremony in Samawa, 170 miles south of Baghdad February 9, 2006.
(Mohammed Ameen/Reuters)

You can always convert to another religion...

Don't have to beat yourself up over it!


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Afghan Shi'ite men beat themselves with chains to commemorate Ashura in Kabul, Afghanistan February 9, 2006. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

There oughtta be a law! (This one is even better)

In Beirut, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah urged Muslims worldwide to keep demonstrating until there is an apology over the drawings and Europe passes laws forbidding insults to the prophet.

FoxNews
So now they aren't seeking a law forbidding the humiliation of religions, just one to protect "the prophet."

Gambling: why is this so bad?

The Gretzky family is under fire for their connections to a gambling ring. Why are they such villains? How did the criminalization of gambling ever come to be? It doesn't really make any sense to me. It's totally consensual. The government isn't even losing any tax revenue since it's a zero sum game.

The funniest website button ever

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2.08.2006

Profiles in total Sweetness: Mountain Dew

I'm not one to buy into image, but I have to say that I felt totally extreme walking into Econometrics with my can of Dew, shaved head, and snowboarding jacket. "Wow," my classmates surely thought, "that guy can probably do some mean moves on the halfpipe."

I haven't been on ESPN II yet, nor have I even been snowboarding, but drinking that soda was the greatest rush I have had in a while, since I normally abstain from both caffeine and processed sugars. First of all, this stuff tastes really good. I don't remember it being so delicious last time I tried it (high school?), but they have definitely changed the formula. I'm not about to make a habit of it though, as it has 46 grams of processed sugar and 55 mg of caffeine.

BTW, Mountain Dew does NOT shrink your penis, balls, or sperm count...

It's times like these that I'm glad I didn't take a Senate staffer job

I would probably show up at work in a haz-mat suit.
Story at CNN

Congressmen live like pigs

They make decent money (about $155k if i recall correctly) but they tend to already have a home in their district, which means they are only renting in DC. Speaker John Boehner has a two bedroom English basement apartment for which he pays $1600. That's pretty close to the accomodations I shared with a roommate when I first moved to the area. Both of us were fresh law school dropouts with little or no money. I was an intern earning $700/month and he was just beginning his job search. I even know people my age who have even lived in the same buildings as senators. Pretty wild.

It's also well known that 6 congressmen live in a townhouse for which they each pay $600 per month. That might have more to do with fraud than cheapness/brokeness.

2.07.2006

Raise your right hand hook and repeat after me

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DON'T DROP THE SOAP!


The hottest growth industry: Danish flags

I was wondering how much money Islamic mobs spend on flags of the countries they hate. I was also wondering where the money goes. It turns out, at least in the Palestinian case, that the money does not flow to Denmark after all, as most Danish flags are made in Taiwan. Amusingly, the subject of their most intense hatred, Israel, supplies them their Israeli flags. Of course, they are paying VAT, some of which goes toward perpetuating the very policies they protest against.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/679578.html

Sometimes I wonder if Islamists are just kidding

This is actually from the Hamas charter. I expected to see something like "PSYCH!!" at the end.
They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realization of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48677

2.06.2006

Doesn't this make you crave some square burgers?

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I pass by it every week on my way to a class in Maryland.  It's the largest Mormon Temple in the world.



There oughtta be a law!

Qaradawi has called for "sanctions on countries that published the cartoons in their newspapers. We demand an international law forbidding religions from being humiliated, and we held a rally as a response to these injuries. These are the ways to respond."

Full Story

One useful expenditure of our tax dollars that is not being undertaken

Iran demands halt to broadcasts from West; Dubai complies
ABU DHABI — Iran has forced the United Arab Emirates of Dubai to halt live Persian-language television broadcasts.

Western diplomatic sources said the broadcasts contained Western programming and discussed democracy. They said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his advisers regarded these broadcasts as part of a U.S.-led effort to foment unrest in Iran.

"There were harsh messages sent to Dubai by the Iranian president personally," a diplomatic source said. "In the end, neither Dubai nor the central UAE government sought a confrontation."

The broadcasts were meant to be beamed in Iraq in a project financed by Holland.

Iran also pressured Holland to end support for the Persian-language broadcasts. The sources said Teheran awarded several major projects to the Netherlands in wake of its decision to withdraw support for the broadcasts.

The United States has not supported the financing of opposition broadcasts to Iran. But Sen. Rick Santorum, a leading Republican, has introduced the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which has garnered support of nearly 50 members.

Santorum's bill would increase support for a free media in Iran. This would include the beaming of anti-regime broadcasts from both within and outside of the United States.

World Tribune

The only reason that there could possibly be any Iranian support for such a self-destructive regime is asymmetric information. This could go a long way towards solving that.
Now if only somebody could beam some broadcasts to red state America...

I am now convinced that political Islam functions as a sort of mass psychosis

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4684652.stm

The Islamists' best defense

What do you do when somebody challenges your ideology? Normally, you attempt to refute him with logic and evidence. Of course, if your ideology is indeed bankrupt, immoral, and violent, then there isn't very much left to say.

2.04.2006

Quote of the Week

Speaking on French television on Thursday, Mr Sarkozy said "it's taking a little while, because this is a state based on the rule of law, but when you're taken in by France [as an immigrant] and you're not French you do something other than setting fire to your neighbours' cars".

(My brackets)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4676672.stm
I must also register my disgust at BBC putting the term rioter in quotes.

2.03.2006

Ever wonder why Islamists can't accept Israel while they let infidels rule over Spain?

The short answer is that they apparently never gave up on Andalusia. This is just one more example of how Islamists will settle for nothing less than total world domination.
The children's website Al Fateh, property of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, demands in its most recent issue the return of the Spanish city of Seville to the "lost paradise" of Al Andalus, as the Muslim part of Spain was called during its existence between 711 and 1492. The web magazine, whose name means "conqueror," says it is for "the young builders of the future."
The web magazine, whose name means "conqueror," includes an article in which the city of Seville itself is the narrator, saying, "I beg you, my loved ones, to call me to return along with the other cities of the lost paradise to Muslim hands so that happiness may reign in my lands. Dress me, for I am the bride of the land of Al Andalus."

http://www.spainherald.com/2414.html

Puppies: The newest victim of the drug war

You know how dumb government policies lead to adverse unintended outcomes for people? The drug war has always been one of those, but now it's also bad for puppies!
A twisted crew of Colombian drug dealers turned purebred puppies into cuddly drug couriers by surgically implanting them with packets of liquid heroin, federal authorities said Wednesday.

And sadly...
A local veterinarian had stitched a total of 3 kilograms of heroin into the bellies of six pups. Three of the doggies later died from infection after the drugs were removed.
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/LegalCenter/story?id=1566608