Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Monday, February 28, 2005

Libertys Kids

Geek with a .45 found a great site for children called Libertys Kids. There's more than a few adults who should read this stuff too. Best part is here. Pass it on.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Recycling Myths

I guess you could take that either way, depending on which version of the homograph you prefer, but the plastic (*) version is here. From BritBlog.

* I'm too confused to decide if I'm using "Recycling" as a noun, verb, or something else. And I tried to find a direct link to a dictionary entry for homograph, but couldn't. So you'll just have to use this.

15 seconds of fame

Got my 15 seconds of fame in the Denver Post today (near the bottom). "The AARP, which has been buying full page ads in the Denver Post bashing the president's plan to allow people to invest some of their social security taxes in the stock market, encourages its members to buy its mutual funds which invest most of their money in the stock market. Hypocrites!"

Social Security - A better plan?

Seems to me that we can guarantee the solvency of social security without higher taxes, lower benefits, or private or personal accounts by adjusting the retirement age so that it matches the expected income from payroll taxes, with adjustments every 5 years or so to account for demographic and revenue changes. I haven't done the math, but there are 3 variables (maybe more) that affect the solvency of social security. The are 1) the retirement age or the age at which benefits start; 2) the payroll tax revenue from current workers; and 3) the benefits to be paid to retirees. If we are unwilling to either raise taxes or reduce benefits, the only thing left to change is the retirement age.

Here are some sobering statistics:

Percent of pop > 65 Average Remaining Life Expectancy for Those Surviving to Age 65
19305.4% 1940M 12.7F 14.7
19406.3% 1990M 15.3F 19.6
Percentage of Population Surviving from Age 21 to Age 65 Number of Americans Age 65 or Older
1940M 53.9%F 60.6% 19409.0m
1990M 72.3%F 83.6% 199031.9m

The impacts as I see them are as follows. There may be others. 1) The age at which benefits start may well have to be raised to age 75 or more. 2) If people want to stop working at an earlier age, they will have to have some sort of savings in a private or personal account. This is already true for those who retire early now, but it may spur the savings habit.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Birth of Plenty

The Birth of Plenty by William Bernstein was the subject of a book review at Efficient Market Canada last December. The book "Explores the notion that the four factors which led to modern prosperty were property rights, scientific rationalism, efficient transportation/communication, and advanced capital markets." It covers not only the period from the 1820's on, but also some of the major developments in the 1600's and before. I haven't read it, but it sounds interesting.

Gangs Training in the Military

A disturbing story about gang members using the military as a training ground. HT: chrenkoff. I hope they can stop it before it gets too widespread.


is the headline at Washington Monthly on a bill by Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) here (pdf 14 pages). No bill number yet. More info here. Anything that makes the government more open and transparent is a good thing.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Simple Reforms Needed

Anybody who doesn't like all the business scandals we've seen over the past few years should be appalled at what's going on in the climate science field. May make Enron look like a church social. HT: Iain Murray via InstaPundit.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Progressive libertarians

Chris Nolan has a couple of posts about progressive libertarians, here, and here. She (Chris) says "Preaching fiscal responsibility and social tolerance, they'll continue to draw moderates – and this is fundamentally a nation of moderates -- to their way of doing things." More libertarians is good and there are numerous links to follow. No relation to LP founder David Nolan that I know of.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Thank you all for visiting! Didn't know I was that popular. 89 visits today, according to sitemeter (on the left). And I've moved up to a Crunchy Crustacean in the TTLB Ecosystem. We'll see if it lasts.

Another Myth Bites the Dust!

Haaretz International reports that "Swedes, usually perceived in Europe as a comfortable, middle class lot, are poorer than African Americans, the most economically-deprived group in the United States, a Swedish study showed yesterday." Read the whole thing here. Hat Tip: Foreign Dispatches. If you want an easy read on why, try this.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Back Seat Driving (dated 2/10/05) has a comment on and link to microcredit loans and The Year of the MicroCredit. I think these are a great way to help poor people jumpstart their lives. What might help even more, though, are the property rights reforms that Hernando DeSoto discusses here.

Left/Right (Handedness)

chez Nadezhda mentions an article titled "Interhemispheric interaction and beliefs on our origin: Degree of handedness predicts beliefs in creationism versus evolution." Laterality, vol. 9, pp. 433-447 [sub reqd].

It turns out that a growing body of neurological evidence shows that, while the left hemisphere of our brain maintains our current beliefs about the world, the right hemisphere is responsible for playing "Devil's Advocate": detecting anomalies with those left hemisphere beliefs and forcing an updating of beliefs when appropriate. In order for this belief updating to occur, the right hemisphere has to interact with the left, and strong right-handedness is associated with decreased interaction between the two sides of the brain (hence, the lesser degree of belief updating in strong righties).

- Stephen Christman, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
University of Toledo

Which might partially explain why certain folks on the extremes of many political movements are so intransigent.

Update: I'm a southpaw, so maybe I'm easy(ier) to get along with.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

News of the Future

Here's how Alan at thinks the news business will change. Read about the Law of the Flow, the Law of the Fast, the Law of the Few, and the Law of the Many here.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Corporate Responsibility

A group called Citizens for Corporate Responsibility has a model code for corporate behavior here. I think there may be a need for this sort of thing, but we should think about the long term effects first, because government seems to operate according to these principles.

Abuse of Power

One judge's story here. Hat Tip: Geek With A .45. Smaller government would probably stop this by keeping them too busy to come up with these harebrained ideas, but it seems like neither the left nor the right have a clue. Your tax dollar at work.

Media Bias

Will Collier, over at, asks the Mainstream Media "Wouldn't it really be more ethical, and more honest for you to just admit where you're coming from, on a reasonably regular basis, and let your readers make up their own minds?" here. Maybe we ought to have the reporter's political affiliation listed in the byline. Might not hurt for letter writers, too. That might also help separate the thoughtful thinkers from the hacks, as in "Do I really want my party identified with this screed?" (Looks in mirror. oops!) Mine? Libertarian.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Long Tail

Choice, lots of choice, becomes a benefit of an internet society, says Chris Anderson at Wired Magazine. Hat Tip: BizWizDumb. That's only true if the government doesn't get in the way.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Numero Uno

Um, this is my first post. I've had the idea of starting a blog for several weeks; wasn't sure exactly what I was planning to focus on, except that it would probably be political, but not the usual sort of fare found in the blogsphere. Toyed with a couple of ideas; then settled on the name you see above, as a result of reading this.

I'm a software developer for a small company in Colorado; been there a year or two. But I've been writing software for more than 35 years. My first program was written in 1967 in the IBM 1440, which had, as I recall, a card reader, printer, card punch, and 4k of memory, along with the usual assortment of lights, buttons, and switches. Now I write business web applications for IBM's Universe/Unidata (U2) platforms, which are variants of the Pick Operating System.

I got involved in politics more than 18 years ago and have run for office more than a few times (never a winner), and have worked on several issue campaigns and was a mover and shaker on a couple of ballot access bills that became law a few years ago. As a result, it's relatively easy in Colorado to become a minor political party. Not so in other states. Richard Winger, the most knowledgeable ballot access expert in the United States, can be found here.

Other than politics, my main spare time activity is Contradance. No, not country dance, or line dancing, which require both a left foot and a right, which I don't have, figuratively speaking. Contradance is more suitable for someone with two left feet, because there's no "1 2 3, 1 2 3" which I can't do. But I have a lot of fun, meet some people, and get some good exercise.

There won't be much family talk here, because it's just me. Used to be me and the cat, Tanya, a purebreed alley cat (finest kind), but she left for cat heaven a few years ago after 17 years of keeping me company. My folks are still hanging in there at 80+; I have a brother Gary, and a sister, Peggy, who makes ice skating dresses and has hubby, Bob, and two kids who are grown and gone.

One other thing; I used to stutter, but thanks to Patty Walton, I don't have to deal with the physical side of that too much, now. If you know someone who stutters, particularly young children, get them to her asap. She's got a great book, Fun With Fluency, too.

My next task will be to figure out trackbacks and blogrolls and stuff like that. And thanks to Evangelical Outpost for spelling out the blogging basics.