Friday, April 30, 2004

Kill Bill
I watched Kill Bill Volume 1 last night for the first time. I had heard it was so violent that it was hard to watch, but I found it so ridiculously unrealistic - with its ten-foot showers of blood and all - that it didn't bother me in the least. If you can imagine an extended, hour-and-a-half-long Black Knight scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail, then you can imagine what Kill Bill is like, except Kill Bill isn't nearly as funny. The only part I couldn't watch was when Uma Thurman's character (whatever her name is - they bleep out her name whenever anyone says it, I guess because it's supposed to be clever) bashes the pervert's head with the door. That hurt to watch.

I suppose I liked it. It's safe to say I was entertained, but it's no Pulp Fiction. The best stuff from Pulp Fiction was the dialogue, but there's not a lot of talking in Kill Bill. I liked it enough that I want to see how it ends in volume 2, so it was a success in that respect.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

How to Increase Crime in America? Follow the Lead of Great Britain
Imagine a night while sleeping peacefully in your bed you are jolted awake by the sound of breaking glass. You hear the sound of footsteps coming down your hallway. Your heart is racing, beating so violently that you are sure that the intruders will hear. You are terrified as you hear the robbers come closer. But wait, you have a gun! Your hands shake as you point it at those who have violated your privacy. And you pull the trigger - BOOM! - the first intruder falls dead. BOOM! - the second falls backwards and then flees from your home. Is this use of force on your part proper given your right to self defense?

Well, apparently not in Great Britain anymore. According to my CATO Policy Report XXVI No. 2, this scenario actually happened to Tony Martin, a 55-year old farmer, in 1999. Martin had been robbed six times before. His intruders both had criminal records with numerous prior convictions. Yet it was Martin who received the ultimate penalty in Great Britain. He got life in prison for killing the burglar, ten years for wounding the other and twelve months for having an unregistered shotgun. As if this weren't enough, the wounded burglar spent 18 months in prison. He then sued Martin for injury to his leg and was awarded 5,000 pounds of taxpayer money to prosecute the suit. Martin's sentence was eventually reduced to five years in prison, but he was denied parole because, he had "expressed no remorse" and he "posed a danger to other burglars." Can you believe this?

According to CATO,
The impact of such policies on public safety has been stark. An amazing trend of nearly 500 years of declining interpersonal violence in England reversed abruptly in 1954 as violence began to increase dramatically. In 2001 Britain had the highest level of homicides in Western Europe, and violent crimes were at three times the level of the next worst country. "One thing which no amount of statistical manipulation can disguise," the shadow home secretary, Oliver Letwin, pointed out in October 2003, "is that violent crime has doubled in the last six years and continues to rise alarmingly." Indeed, with the exception of murder, violent crime in England and Wales is far higher than in the United States. And while the American murder rate has been in decline for more than a decade, the English murder rate has been rising. You are six times more likely to be mugged in London than in New York City.
History buffs will know that it was William Blackstone who identified three "great and primary rights" of individuals: personal security, personal liberty, and private property. Personal security meant, according to Blackstone, "to repel force by force." Well, what happened in 1954 to cause this increasing trend of violence in Great Britain? Again, according to CATO,
Starting in 1920 British governments reversed centuries of common law with the first serious limits on privately owned firearms. . . . By 1937 police were to discourage [firearm permits] for house or personal protection. In 1964 [citizens] were advised that "it should hardly ever be necessary to anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person" and that "this principle should hold good even in the case of banks and firms who desire to protect valuables or large quantities of money." Finally, in 1969 the Home Office announced that "it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person." ...

Stage two came in 1953 when the government introduced the Prevention of Crime Act that made it illegal to carry in a public place any article "made, adapted, or intended" for an "offensive purpose" without lawful authority or "reasonable excuse." An item carried for defense was, by definition, an "offensive" weapon. Police were given broad power to stop and search everyone. Individuals found with offensive weapons were guilty until proven innocent. In Parliament the government admitted the act was "drastic" but insisted the public should be discouraged "from going about with offensive weapons in their pockets; it is the duty of society to protect them." Objections raised during the debate echoed Blackstone and traditional common law practice....

Under common law there was an obligation to help someone being attacked. In keeping with their reversal of common law practice, the government began to warn the public not to go to the aid of anyone in distress. It was best to "walk on by" and leave the problem to the professionals. The 1953 act, which the government claimed it needed to protect the public against juvenile delinquents, has been rigorously enforced against law-abiding people....

The third stage in the suppression of the right to self-defense came in 1967 when a broad revision of criminal law was passed. Tucked within the complex statute was a section that altered the traditional standards for self-defense. Everything was now to depend on what seemed "reasonable" force after the fact. If the victim of an attack harmed or killed his assailant, he could be charged with assault or murder.
And now you know the rest of the story. Can this happen in America? You bet it can!
"A disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack"
David, you may be happy to know that the president of UMass has criticized the author of the article that you mention below.
Disgusting
Andrew Sullivan has a Sontag Award nominee that is simply dreadful. Contrast that attitude with this.
Turning over Fallujah
The Marines are going to end the Fallujah siege and turn it over to these guys:
The deal provides for a new force, known as the Fallujah Protective Army, to enter the city and provide security. It will consist of up to 1,100 Iraqi soldiers led by a former general from the military of Saddam Hussein, Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne said.
This makes me a bit nervous, trusting a member of Saddam's regime, however far removed from the "regime's crimes" he may be. Excuse me for saying this, but this could either be very good or very bad. How loyal is this former general to the cause of freedom? I guess we'll find out soon enough.
He must be watching a different show
Elton John doesn't know what he's talking about. He says American Idol is "incredibly racist". That's a bit of a funny thing to say considering there are no white people left in the competition (the lone white guy was voted off last night). Ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

That lazy Aristotle
I learned from Hit and Run that this painting recently sold for a good chunk of change. It looks more like something you'd find on a cheap poster at ARI, but whatever. Note, though, that everyone on the painting is busy doing something except for Aristotle, who looks like he's about to nod off. The bum. Apparently, in this famous painting, Plato is gesturing as if to say, "Hey, Aristotle, why don't you get up and help me mow the lawn?" and Aristotle's hand gesture suggests, "Nah, I'd rather lie down right about here and take a nap. Someone tell the schmuck on the steps to get out of my way!"
Oh, that liberal media
One of the big stories yesterday was how Kerry was caught in a lie about what he did with his war medals. The headline from the AP, though, is "Kerry Criticizes Bush on Military Record". The best part is my local paper carries this article today, but only prints the first half, skipping everything about the interview on ABC yesterday morning. Brilliant.

UPDATE: Best of the Web says the fact that news outlets are emphasizing Kerry's attacks against Bush over the questions about his medals is significant:
Now, some would argue that the New York Times is showing its own bias by emphasizing the National Guard business. But in fact, Kerry's mentioning of it is highly newsworthy. The man wants to be president of the United States, and he is in such a weak position that he feels it necessary to attack his opponent personally over an ancient issue that is as trivial as anything we can imagine.
Indeed.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I attack the darkness
They should have asked Joe and me about D & D. Ah, so many stories to tell, although they couldn't have published the funniest one, that being Brandon's unintentional, um, "encounter" with a zombie.
@#*%$ Dodge dealer!
We were looking for a new mini-van this weekend, and we had been hearing ads on the radio for a Dodge dealership in a town about an hour's drive away implying they had massive rebates. The ads were claiming they were giving $9000 cash back (Holy massive rebates, Batman!), so we thought we'd better check this out.

I should have known it sounded too good to be true. We drove all the way there, bored kids in tow, to find out what they had was a deal where you could finance up to $9000 more than the car is worth. Argh! Freakin' false advertising, I say! Seriously. The ads never said anything about "financing" or "loans", just "cash". Jerks.

So we ended up replacing our Honda with another Honda, and all is good.