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

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

libertarian failure?

Yesterday I got an email from The Advocates for Self-Government telling me, and everybody else they sent it to, that they lost their shirt on their last annual conference. The hoped to get 350 people, could get by with 200, but got only 100 attendees. That prompted some broader thoughts about the libertarian movement.

It appears that most libertarians are libertarians first and Americans second. That didn't matter before 9/11 and libertarians made the most progress before then. But today, I think that we must be Americans first and libertarians second in order to have any political success. Whether enough libertarians will come to understand that is debateable. And if those who do understand migrate to the Republican party (Democrats have the same problem we do), then the movement is likely to fail, or will succeed only through a Republican coalition.

UPDATE: I've been a member of the Libertarian Party for about 20 years and I don't ever recall seeing any public displays of patriotism or love of country at any official function of the party, either state or national. None of our candidates express that; they all talk about what needs changing or what's wrong, but I don't think I've ever heard a candidate say "This is the best country in the world", or something to that effect (I've been a candidate and I'm guilty). I am not saying "my country right or wrong" and I'm not a nativist, but we hear NOTHING except bitch, bitch, bitch, and that doesn't attract voters. We have no clue about how good it is here. If you think the US government violates your civil rights, move to England and find out what it really like where there's no First Amendment. America IS an exceptional nation; there's nothing else like it.

My comment about the Advocates for Self-Government was brought up by the question "why would the premiere libertarian outreach organization suffer a 2/3 loss of attendance at its flagship annual event?". Have libertarians lost faith in it or in the movement? There's something bigger going on here, I think, and that's what I've tried to address.

UPDATE II: "When you don't love something you lose it." HT instapundit

Monday, March 27, 2006

Rube Goldberg

Here's a real Rube Goldberg device. HT goyishekop

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Some history about what the founding fathers thought, and a discussion of assimilation and what citizenship means. Here. HT michellemalkin

Saturday, March 25, 2006

American Fried Potatoes

I made American Fried Potatoes tonight (along with a T-Bone steak) with Lucinda's Golden-Butter Potatoes and they were delicious. Lucinda's products come from Colorado's San Luis Valley and are distributed by Coosemans, a worldwide specialty produce distributor. I bought mine from King Soopers, one of several major chains here in Colorado. If your store does not carry Lucinda's products, go to Cooseman's web site and ask them get the ball rolling. Here's a picture and Lucinda's product list (pdf).

American Fried Potatoes: Thin slice potatoes and dice about 3 slices of onion per person. Put a large skillet on the stove, medium heat. Add some Crisco. Dump potatoes and onions in for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. It takes about 3 of these smaller potatoes to equal one standard size Russet potato, so you can fine tune the serving size by adding or subtracting one delicious spud!

Federal Budget Game

You can now fantasize about solving all the federal budget problems. HT betsyspage

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More myopic views from the Denver Post

The Denver Post ran an editorial today supporting higher salaries for legislators, so I sent them the letter below, which they are likely to print, possibly next Sunday.
Instead of giving our state legislators a pay raise, let's cut the time they spend trying to run our lives. How about limiting the legislature to 90 days instead of 120 or reduce the number of bills they can sponsor from 5 to 3?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sailing in Belize

I've been away in Belize sailing with my brother, Gary. Had a great time. The weather was perfect. The snorkeling was great. The food was great. Gary has a 30 foot sailboat, Malaki. It sleeps 2, 4 in a pinch, draws 6 feet, carries a mainsail and a jib and has a diesel engine for tight spots and a dingy for getting to shore and snorkeling. I flew into Belize City on 3/11 about 5pm after changing planes in Houston. He was there to meet me and we took a taxi (with a real friendly driver named Daniel) to the dock closest to his boat. The dingy ride was a bit wet, as the winds were blowing about 25 knots, but we made it safely to the boat.

The next day we sailed down to Colson Cay, about 30 miles south and went snorkeling the next day. Not a lot of fish there, but we did see a big sinkhole (it's on the charts) that was interesting. The surrounding seabed is about 5-6 feet with lots of vegetation and the sinkhole, about the size of a football field, goes down to 10 to 15 feet and has vertical walls like somebody dug it with a bulldozer and a white sandy bottom.

Tuesday we sailed down to Southwater Cay for snorkeling as good as it gets, according to Gary. There were lots of different kinds of fish and I took a bunch of pictures with an underwater disposable camera ($15.00) which turned out fairly well. We went snorkeling again Wednesday at Southwater and then headed back north to some other cay whose name I don't remember where we went exploring in the dingy and saw some pelicans and did some boat repairs. I think that was the day Gary replaced the impeller on the engine water pump.

On Thursday, on our way back north, we anchored in 25 feet of water about a half mile from the reef and about 200 feet from a pile of coral about 3-4 feet below the surface. We rowed the dingy over to the coral and snorkeled all the way around it. Saw some fish and a barracuda about 4 feet long. That night at our anchorage we had three dolphins show up near the boat.

Friday we sailed back to Cucumber Beach Marina and had a great meal at the restaurant there. Saturday it was back on the plane to Denver.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tough Lady

Go watch this tough lady. HT neo-neocon


More food for thought here. HT Read this, too: neo-neocon

Immigration - 15 seconds of fame

The Denver Post has published several columns on immigration lately, so I sent them the letter below this morning. They called back sometime today and said they were considering it for publication, which means they will probably print it in the next few days.

There are many reasons for our immigration problem, but near the top of the list is Mexico's refusal to reform it's onerous business regulations. According to the World Bank, which measures 24 regulatory barriers to business formation, there are significant differences in business regulations between the US and Mexico. A few examples: 1) time to start a business (days) - US (5), Mexico (58); 2) difficulty of firing index - US (10), Mexico (90); 3) difficulty of hiring index - US (0), Mexico (67); 4) registering property - US (12 days), Mexico (74 days). Regime change south of the border might do more to solve our immigration problem than anything else.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Free Trade

is a better way to fight. HT windsofchange

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lifetime stock pick

I was thinking today about investments, and this question came to mind: If you could only buy one stock in your entire life, what would it be? And my answer is IWM, iShares Russell 2000. The Russell 2000 is an index that tracks small-capitalization stocks, which are publically traded companies whose market value (outstanding shares times price) that is less than one billion dollars. Small caps generally perform better than the large and mid-caps, I think because they are more likely to be growth companies.

The iShares Russell 2000 is technically an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), sort of like a mutual fund, and it trades on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol IWM. You can find out more about ETF's here. ETFs are usually safer than individual stocks, because you spread your risk over many companies and, for example, the entire fund never gets hit with things like accounting scandals, plant closures and fires, fraud, and missed earnings estimates, all of which can drop a stock 30 percent or more in a single day. IWM is more volatile than the S&P 500, which means it goes up and down more. Since the long term trend of the market is up, if's possible that you will do better with IWM than the SPY (S&P 500). You can find out more about IWM here. IWM is also very liquid, which means that you won't have any trouble buying or selling your shares. Right now, almost 30 million shares change hands every day.

Disclaimer: I own both IWM and SPY as of this writing.