12-23-10 Hodgepodge

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yearly Break

Each year, during the holidays, I take about a week off from blogging. Due to travel, I'm starting my week a day early -- tomorrow morning. I expect to be back here by January 3 at the latest.

In the meantime, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Weekend Reading

"This ongoing Avastin travesty pits a cancer-fighting drug against a drug-fighting cancer -- an out-of-control federal agency whose mission unashamedly includes choking off patients' access to vital drugs." Tom Bowden -- in "The Avastin Travesty," at PajamasMedia (HT: Amit Ghate)

"Investing isn't like burying a time capsule. You shouldn't entomb your investments on Jan. 1, [and] dig them up a year later to see if anything worked out." Jonathan Hoenig -- in "Punt the Predictions and Focus on Today," at SmartMoney

"In the quiet moments of this holiday time, it can be helpful to stand back and take a look at what's important (and not so important) in your life. In fact, this sort of self-reflection can and should be a part of your everyday life..." Michael Hurd -- in "Examine Your Priorities!," at DrHurd.com

My Two Cents

In the Bowden piece, I particularly liked his discussion of how rational individuals make personal health decisions: based on their informed judgement and priorities, not on what others feel or imagine they should do. This process is what socialized medicine disrupts.

The Hoenig and Hurd pieces both remind me of one aspect of my youthful annoyance with New Year's resolutions. "Why think about such things just once a year?" is basically what I would think. I never abandoned that basic premise, but eventually came to appreciate the usefulness of reconsidering things each year from a long-range or beyond-the-usual perspective. One sometimes can find a need to make a big change. I still don't do New Year's resolutions, but I do look back each year and make whatever changes I think I need to make.

Another thing that would annoy me about New Year's resolutions was the fact that often, the very people who made the biggest production out of them were both obviously fishing for approval and most likely to break their their own promises. While there can be a benefit to making big goals public, I find lip service to self-improvement to be the lowest imaginable form of hypocrisy.


Myrhaf has an interesting post up on the virtue of independence over at New Clarion. The video there shows in lurid (to me, anyway) detail how easily the desire for approval from others can cause some people not to form or express their own judgment.

Three for the Road

1. Via ARI, I have learned that the Brewmaster of one of my favorite breweries, Dogfish Head, has two things in common with me: He was an English major as an undergraduate -- I doubled that with math. -- and admires Ayn Rand. My favorite beer from their line is 90 Minute IPA.

2. Out Christmas shopping most of the day yesterday, I got whatever gifts I could wrapped at the store. I have many talents, but wrapping gifts is not one of them! While watching the wrappers, I recalled a classic Dave Barry column about gift wrapping.

"And the paper WAS festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman.

"And Joseph WAS going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!'

"And Joseph DID rolleth his eyeballs.

"And the baby Jesus WAS more interested in the paper than, for example, the frankincense."

But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:

1. They were wise.

2. They were men.
I laugh every time I read that thing.

3. Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal gives ten reasons for not wanting an iPad for Christmas. I think iPads are kind of neat, but have to agree with all but the last. (The folks in Cupertino do have intellectual property rights...)

-- CAV

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