Friday, September 20, 2002

Whoops. Looks like I spoke too soon. Work commitments just up and bit me in the ass. This blog is going on furlough until further notice. The Saddam Dead Pool continues, however!

Thursday, September 19, 2002

This bitch has got to go. What the hell do the Germans think they are playing at? If Schröder wins the election, then the US should immediately start redeploying V Corps (that's 1st Armored and 1st Infantry) and 3rd Air Force out of Germany. See how they like them apples.

Time for a bit of 'for us or against us', I fear.


Bill Quick has a post on Daily Pundit about the declining relevance of the United Nations. One phrase caught my eye: 'Saddam Hussein's rapidly shrinking lifespan'. It's then I thought, "what we need here is a Saddam Dead Pool". Email me your estimated date of demise for the old tyrant, I'll collect 'em, and the closest guess will win a prize of absolutely no monetary worth whatever. Woohoo!


From the BBC, a report on tanks surrounding Arafat's compound after the latest suicide bombings. They want 20 people inside to surrender. They should give them 2 hours, and if they're not out by then, whistle up a squad of sappers and drop the building already.


Following a link I found on Iain Murray's England's Sword:

What Farscape Character are you?

Actually I'm not nearly as awful as Rygel. Honest.



Captain Courageous of the starship U.S.S. Clueless, Steven Den Beste, once again shows why he is one of the Blogosphere's greatest assets.


My God. I am speechless. Now there is a proposal making its way through the EU to forbid member states from seceding. We need to get out now, while the going is good.

UPDATE: Iain Murray links to this piece as well. In the comments section Trent Telenko asks, rhetorically:

Ahem, if Britain doesn't want to be in the E.U., just which EU army would keep Britain in?

Especially given four Trident subs and no missile defenses for Brussels? (It is not "European").

How much do you want to bet that there is a proposal somewhere in the EU to make Britain's nuclear deterrent dual-key? I wouldn't be surprised if they want to put a zampolit on every Trident sub. Paranoid? Maybe. But if you'd suggested to a Europhile ten years ago that a proposal to limit secession powers would one day see light of day he'd have laughed in your face.


In the Daily Telegraph today, an alarming example of statistical ineptitude. This article makes the absurd claim (in a discussion of child poverty levels), that the median of the income distribution is 'measured by halving the difference between the incomes of the highest- and lowest-paid people in Britain'. Rubbish. The median of a distibution is that value such that half of the population of a distribution is below it, and half above. It is the point at which the cumulative frequency of the distribution = 0.5. It was somewhere around £22,500 p.a. in the UK in 2000/01 (I'm using the value for 60% of 'equivalised' median income for a two-parent, two child household found here), which is around $35,000 p.a.. The reason for using a median rather than a mean is that the median is rather less sensitive to outliers than the mean. The 60% figure derives from the fact that 60% of median in typical income distributions is close to 50% of mean income, which was the measure used previously.

Is it too much to ask that reporters on a quality broadsheet paper be at last vestigially numerate?

ASIDE: of course the whole notion of a 'poverty' level that tracks median income is highly contentious. If you double everyone's salary in real terms, then the poverty level remains unchanged. While it is fair to say that median income 100 years ago would not be considered adequate today, and therefore there needs to be some adjustment of thresholds, anti-poverty campaigners seem to be more concerned about distribution of income than absolute levels. It appears they would rather rich people were poorer, than poor people were richer (at least if their adherence to discredited policies of punitive taxation are anything to go by).

ASIDE 2: if we take the Telegraph's definition as true, then we get some interesting results. According to this report, Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is the richest man in Britain. Let's assume he made several million pounds last year, and the 'lowest paid person' made nothing. Then half the difference between them is half of several million pounds, yielding the result that poverty level in the UK is over a million pounds.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Pace Natalie Solent, I am the most famous Gillies ever, EVER, EVER in the whole history of the internet, ever.


I stopped blogging for quite some time. Why? Because I have to balance my work with my play. I have a real job, a difficult one, and I didn't feel that blogging was an activity that I could perform during working hours (I owe my employers more than that). That left my leisure time, and that was a resource I had to hoard. What was more important, promulgating my (often second hand, maybe - probably - misinformed) opinions to the world, or having a beer with my beloved friends in the scant window I had to do so?

I've (I think) managed to reduce my work-related obligations. This gives me more time to be a smart-ass blogger without impinging on the really important things in my life. - friends, family, me.

So I'm not James Lileks. Who could be? To be in possession of such a transcendental talent is a gift that I can only marvel at. I'm a pretty good software engineer, but I have no illusions that I'm anything special. Lileks can make me laugh until I cry hot coffee flavoured tears, and then do some rhetorical judo that turns the tears to salt. If I could write one hundredth as well as this man, I would go grateful to my grave.

So I'm not Glenn Reynolds. The first man I link to every day. The repository of blogdom. I learn more about geopolitics from Instapundit when Glenn is on holiday than from the BBC when he's not.

There's a whole bunch of websites out there who do this stuff so much better than me. So I'm not William Quick. Or Stephen Green. Or Joe Katzman. Or Steven Den Beste. Or Josh Treviño Or Rachel Lucas. Or Charles Johnson. Or Dawn Olsen. Or Moxie. Or Toren Smith. Or Jim Treacher. Or Iain Murray. Or Natalie Solent. Or all the folks at Libertarian Samizdata, whose recent blogger bash I feel sadly cheated at not having been able to attend by the mundane fact of 8,000 km separation and an empty wallet.

OK, I'm not these people (and they're just a subset of my personal blog pantheon anyway). Do I have anything interesting to say in my own personal capacity? I don't know. I have been commenting daily on quite a few websites. The volume of my comments is sufficient to populate a fair-sized blog. Do I come across as a total prick? I hope not. But if I do, that's my fault. Next time I make a comment on a website, it's going in the blog.

Musings from Costa Rica

Contact me: d a g g i l l i e s @ y a h o o . c o m 

About me

2002/04/14 - 2002/04/21
2002/04/21 - 2002/04/28
2002/04/28 - 2002/05/05
2002/05/05 - 2002/05/12
2002/05/19 - 2002/05/26
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