Saturday, September 25, 2004

Paypal policy

I don't know why PayPal has done what they've done about who they'll do business with. But IMO we're way too quick to jump to conclusions about their motives. And heaven forbid that anything would make it less convenient to pay for porn.

It's well known that some customers turn out to be more trouble than they're worth. For instance, I'm guessing we'll be reading a lot about insurance companies refusing to write more homeowners' policies in FL after all of the hurricanes. Is it because of all the Hispanics down there? Or maybe the Haitians, or blacks, or AIDS cases? Or maybe it's discrimination against old people?

No, it's because they can only afford to have so much risk exposure in one place. If they go broke settling FL claims they can't possibly meet their responsibilities to the rest of their policyholders. So although there are ways to abuse the situation, in fact there is nothing inherently questionable about their conduct and in fact there are reasons to recommend it.

Likewise, when I worked in telecom I found that some companies simply refused to serve certain area codes. They were too expensive to serve because of incredibly high levels of fraud and abuse.

In other cases margins are very narrow, so companies take steps to build in a minimum amount of revenue. For instance, telecom companies like to have a minimum charge for service, and Sam's and Costco want a membership fee before they'll let you buy anything.

Maybe the customers require too much service relative to their revenue. For instance, telecom companies also have been known to avoid business that Jerry Falwell might not approve of simply because of the number of disputes. "Honest Mom - I didn't call Dial-a-Slut!". For good or ill, these take a lot of attention and generate a lot of ill will, so who needs it?

Or maybe it's too dangerous. Try getting a taxi or a delivery pizza in the wrong part of town.

Or maybe we can thank lawyers. Has PayPal been sued for facilitating certain types of illegal business?

In short, there might well be any number of perfectly good reasons for choosing not to do certain business. Surely no one is claiming that PayPal has a duty to serve anyone who wants to use them.

So PayPal might have developed a perfectly defensible policy.

Of course it takes time and training to implement a policy. There will be screwups from time to time, and I suspect that that could be the case here. If this is a recent policy change, the staff has both a learning curve and a huge backlog to deal with. Resolving problems is a PITA for sure, but is not ipso facto evidence of ill will or incompetence.

Incidentally, I have used PayPal only for donations, IANAL and I don't stand to make a nickel on this any way it turns out. And I'll note that PayPal takes a smaller cut of donations than Amazon does.

But I have had enough of people who want to scream "Censorship!" at the first sign that others have standards that differ from their own. Unless there is some more evidence I haven't heard yet (and I'm agnostic on this), the scolds who are all over PayPal for their policy statement and possibly unintentionally flawed implementation are no more tolerant than their bogeymen on the Religious Right.

Stop the presses - Men and Women are Different!

Why is it that the scientists seem to be the last to know? Lots more here. If you need pictures, just talk to Dean and I'm sure he'll post something for you.

Well, yeah, there has been some recognition that men and women have different bodies and thus have different problems. But historically this has been what some have called "bikini medicine", as if all of the differences were localized.

But the linked article mentions a number of other things that differ, including interactions with hormone levels - apparently women's problems with inflamed bowels vary with their menstrual cycles, for instance.

Others I have to wonder about. For instance, it says that women are less likely than men to get oral cancer. Yeah, but they're also less likely to smoke or chew tobacco (thank God). You don't need hormones to explain that one. (And my inner Beavis has an alternate explanation for this one and also that periodic bowel thing. I won't hold my breath waiting for the research into such theories, although this research gives me hope.).

What surprised me the most was that heart attacks in women frequently do not involve chest pains and may involve more vague, flu-like symptoms. It'll be interesting to see how evolutionists and others explain this little asymmetry. I suspect it's because women are more likely to go to the doctor - they don't wait for the traditional crushing chest pain.

But hey, read it yourself (same link).

Friday, September 24, 2004

Chernobyl now

Don't miss this from NRO. Actually the real issue with the article is how much we overrate the impact of radiation exposure on our health.

Heaven forbid our forebears had been the same. "You can't build a fire! It will lead to horrible burns and scalding, forest fires, property damage, respiratory problems, cigarette smoking, cancer from barbecuing.... Food will taste better, so people will become obese. Light will be available at night, so people will stay up all night in bars swilling booze they've distilled using a fire. Then they'll go home and breed children out of wedlock..."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Morphine-free poppies

Right here.

It seems that these poppies produce other substances which turn out to be useful precursors for creation of a new generation of powerful analgesics. The article doesn't say if the new substances are addictive.

Don't forget to write...

John Ellis has been predicting that Mary Mapes would take the fall for RatherGate. Surely a guy like Dan Rather couldn't be expected to know intricacies about what typewriter output looked like back in the 1970's, could he? (yeah, right - did he turn in his copy in longhand back then?)

She certainly had earned walking papers for that. But since then more things have come up, and Susanna has the goods on an earlier brush with the law by Mapes. We're not talking DUI here - she was compromising security at federal prisons.

Don't let the door hit you on your way out, sweetie. But don't forget that Dan Rather stays behind smirking at you. Isn't there anything you'd like to tell us?

Labor saver

I may have to switch to Movable Type. Now they have a plugin automatically superscripts the "th" in Rathergate and puts sneer quotes around "news" in CBS "News".

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Charles cautions citizens considering Kerry


Time for a good old-fashioned horsewhipping

It's not quite up there with the bombs shaped like toys that have been used in some wars. But it's so easy to copy I almost hate to publicize it - we know that sick bastards exist, so why give them ideas like this.

Let the punishment fit the crime. Drag the creeps behind a pickup truck face down over the area a few dozen times to be sure to find them all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The definitive timeline for RatherGate


From the standard lefty playbook

Hey, so what if Dan Rather got a little overzealous? We all know that George W. Bush must have received special consideration before getting assigned to the Texas Air National Guard. If the purported "proof" happens to be faulty, it's nothing worse than "lying for justice". (the cite is a comment which appears to have been intended for the next post, so read it for context).

Here's another example of this phenomenon. But no more - I don't have all day.

As the old lefty saying goes "truth is whatever serves the revolution." For the full flavor, read Whittaker Chambers' book "Witness".

Monday, September 20, 2004

The anti-food?

Yesterday 60 Minutes had a segment on morbidly obese people (600+ lbs) trying to lose weight in the clinics of Durham, NC. Some were successful in losing, with one guy down around 400 lb. But for the most part they gained it back despite their efforts.

There's plenty to be read about "emotional eating" or other cases where food is a substitute for something else. I don't have the answer, but I know that I miss my old buff wrestling weight.

Certainly we're captives of our physiology to an extent. And my improvements never happen without lots of regular exercise, which can be hard to do on the road. So losing significant amounts of weight is not trivial.

And certainly everyone has heard of the health dangers of obesity. What starts with extra sweating, susceptibility to injury and loss of flexibility and endurance can continue into heart disease, diabetes... It sure isn't a social plus.

So if it is within their power to do anything about it, why is anyone fat?

If I knew I'd be a millionaire of course, but I suspect that we'll find someday that we're dealing with something more like an addiction. Hmm..

Back in the 60's attempts were made to turn heroin junkies into methadone junkies. They were still addicts, only less destructive ones.

Could there be an answer there? Maybe some

UPDATE: that wasn't supposed to end that way. I would have sworn I told Blogger to post this in draft so it wouldn't show up yet. But then I decided I liked the drama of ending in mid-sentence, as if some dastardly food conspiracy's enforcement division had rubbed me out just as I was about to Expose Them. I had made most of my point anyway, and what can you expect from a guy in his pajamas?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

"A War Hero or a Phony?"

Many have done a good job of reminding us of the truth about John Kerry's military record. I could have linked to many items many times, but for now let's see what MVB candidate Beldar has to say about Nicholas Kristof's NYT op-ed "A War Hero or a Phony?"

Link via Mr. Blog himself, Glenn Reynolds.

Against the spirit...

Sometimes I wonder why we bother to write laws. No matter how brilliant our legislators might be (and certainly never are), they're hopelessly outnumbered and usually far less motivated than those who would defeat their intent - it's only a matter of time. Lynne Kiesling (doesn't that sound like a wine?) offers an example here.

Send that reporter some pajamas...

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a poll that shows Illinoisans prefer John Kerry. (if past experience is any example, this link will probably rot fast)

What motivates the voters?
"I just really hate Bush," said Angela Smothermon, 35, a nurse from Dowell, in Southern Illinois. "My husband is a union member. He used to work a lot, but he hasn't worked since Bush has been in office. I think Kerry can do better."
Cry me a river lady. If I depended on finding work in my chosen career in my home town in IL I'd be in the same boat, but I'd rather work than bitch. And my personal diaspora started under Bill Clinton - should I have blamed him?

Or there's this:
"We've seen (Bush) in action," said Mary Lou Delaney, a homemaker from Carlinville, Ill. "I'll never forget the way he was on 9/11. Kerry scares me - he can't make up his mind about anything."
Said William Fleischman, a salesman from Galesburg, Ill.: "(Bush) has had experience in the (Middle East) region, whereas Mr. Kerry has no experience in running anything except a family fortune."
Hot dog! - some evidence that people actually used some reasoning. And they're both for Bush. Although Mr. Fleischman gives Kerry too much credit - Kerry himself has always lived off someone else's family fortune, and I'm guessing that Teresa runs the financial show in the current Kerry household.

But ignorance could not be denied:
"He (Bush) got us into a war for basically no reason," said Dennis Cassidy of Mount Vernon, Ill., an unemployed child social service worker and Kerry supporter.
Sigh. And people like this can vote.

What the reporter never got around to recognizing is that IL is not a "battleground" state. Only the St. Louis vicinity is a battleground media market, and it contains noted hellholes like East St. Louis and other Dem strongholds nearby. With Alan Keyes running as the Republican candidate for Senate, Bush isn't likely to be spending much time or money in IL either. Heaven forbid that Kerry wouldn't be winning in IL when he's essentially unopposed.

Pajamas? Well, I guess you could have missed this.