Saturday, March 12, 2005

Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"

You are blue collar and Rock n Roll. You Work hard and party harder.

InstaPundit has more about the FEC's potential blog regulations
and it doesn't look good (emphasis mine):
Scott Thomas, chairman of the FEC, spoke before me. He opened with some rather uncharitable remarks regarding fellow commissioner Brad Smith's comments on FEC regulation of blogs, but followed up with a discussion of FEC intent that, although it was supposed to be reassuring, actually left me thinking that the FEC was thinking more seriously about regulating blogs than I had previously believed. I wasn't reassured at all, and the complexity of the reasoning he outlined just illustrated how much discretion -- and how little real guidance -- the FEC has on these kinds of questions.
It's going to take more than a petition -need to write Congressmen.
"In Defense of Terrorism: When is it Permissible to Target Children?”
LGF has a bit on a university that is featuring (featuring!) a graduate student that wrote a thesis with that title. Something tells me the title contains no sarcasm. How Bowling Green can condone it, much less promote it, is beyond me. All in the name of academic freedom, I guess.

Friday, March 11, 2005

It's a VB war!
Some folks are putting together an effort to persuade Microsoft to continue to suport Visual Basic 6. For those of you unfamiliar with VB6, it's an antiquated programming language that has been supplanted by Microsoft's .NET platform (did that help?). Anyway, some are getting a bit snippy about it.

I agree with a post I saw somewhere else (sorry, forgot where): release old Visual Basic to open source and let those that want to keep it around, well, keep it around. No mess for Microsoft, and the people who say they want it can decide just how badly they do.
I signed.
Did you?
Some maniac has gone on a shooting spree
in an Atlanta courthouse. FOXNews has more. My deepest sympathies go out to the families of those killed or wounded.

One question that occurred to me: How did the gunman get the gun away from the officer? One would think that an officer in a courtroom would have to have his weapon secured in its holster, meaning that it's strapped in or whatever the correct term is. How'd the gunman get it? Was it not properly secured?

Just a question.
I feel your pain, buddy.
I swear I had this very conversation about a year ago. In my situation, I was talking to someone who was used to working with some software that assigns user security by an access level number, i.e., administrators have a level of 9999, read-only users have a level of zero and then there's all those numbers in betweeen to assign to different users. Very linear. I think some people get used to that and assume that's the best way to handle security assignments in every situation. Just having some deja vu.
The trade deficit isn't debt.
Nicely explained here.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Sacred Social Security:
From Social Security Choice:
When it comes down to it, Social Security is just another government program subject to the same democratic procedures that all government programs are. That means we can change it, reform it, or even get rid of it.

If Mr. Reich wants something sacred, he can find it in church, not in my paycheck.
Maybe Reich can look to his toilet.
TCS has wrapped up a good review of what it means to be a Libertarian
in a response to some guy's critique of Libertarianism. Long, but good stuff. The concluding paragraph sums it up nicely:
Suffice it to say that libertarians know that we are able to exercise self-restraint not because the Great Nanny in Washington threatens us with chastening, but because we belong to communities, families, and relationships in which the values of healthy living are naturally grown orders.
With apologies to Bill Cosby, "Yes, but what if they're all assholes?".
Renegade Lutherans!
From :InstaPundit (he quoting an e-mail from a reader):
If, say, renegade Lutherans were suddenly to take to the airways, blow up big buildings in Malaysia, behead Muslim hostages, sink (what--dhows owned by Muslim governments) with maximal casualties, blow up as many innoncent Muslims as they could get their hands on--

Would the Western response be to:

a: send them money
b: build them schools
c: march enthusiastically in the streets with each fresh atrocity
d: publish blood libels in the national press, or
e: stop them in their tracks right now right away first thing this afternoon whatever it took.

If you chose any answer but (e) the reader is right is assessing your dhimmitude. Though the reader didn't say so as well as others might have, the dhimmitude of Europe and its cousin the dhimmitude of American liberalism is the Chamberlainism of our time. Except there were not very many Nazis and there are billions of Muslims
Glenn's right, though - you can't justify obliterating all Christians on account of the extremist Lutherans in their midst. Neither can you condemn all of Islam because of Wahhabism.
Speaking of The Crimson,
they have a remarkably silly (even for them) op-ed this morning on a new campus business called Dormaid. As the name suggests, it's a cleaning service for your dorm, run by and for students. Harvard has a number of these, usually run by Havard Student Agencies. One of the more popular is the subscription laundry service, which I didn't use because it was too expensive.

Anyway, the editors at The Crimson believe Dormaid will further divide the campus along class lines:
But as appealing as the thought of a perpetually tidy room may be, (independent of family visits), Dormaid could potentially mess up as many rooms as it cleans. By creating yet another differential between the haves and have-nots on campus, Dormaid threatens our student unity.
Dippy. So, I wrote them:
I take it by today's op-ed (Maid for Harvard? 03/10/2005) that life is becoming more and more boring at my alma mater, for what other possible reason could there be to publish this insipid missive? If Harvard students aren't smart enough to figure out that there might actually be class differences in the Ivy League, then they probably shouldn't be attending an Ivy.

I was a financial aid student, and I thank Harvard for the generous aid package I received, but I didn't whine to the world that a bunch of rich kids were wandering around doing things I coudn't afford. If I wanted to eat out, I saved. If I needed my laundry done, I did it. I didn't sit in my dorm sulking about the unfairness of my having to, gasp, do things myself.

And, if you really think Dormaid will hurt campus life, then you've really got to be concerned that some students have rooms with fully decked-out entertainment centers, complete with multiple videogame consoles, and loads of other, high-end furniture, while others (such as myself in those days) have a dorm with one chair and a small, portable T.V. Do you propose to ban or regulate dorm furnishings, too?

As to the supposed problems springing up between roommates and the use of Dormaid, I think Harvard students are generally smart enough and mature enough to work that stuff out by themselves, don't you?
David, in the spirit of
Eat an Animal for PETA Day, I give you this op-ed from The Crimson. Best line:
Some may doubt the sincerity of my arguments, thinking I am simply a hedonist motivated only by the taste of the Big Mac. But I think that the Big Mac is a useful example here, when we think of the oft-heard geo-political quip that no two countries with a McDonalds have ever gone to war.
Last night, my son and I played City of Heroes together for the first time
and I thought it went very well. He created a katana-weilding fighter and I created a healer that looks a lot like an ambulance (white costume with red stripes and a big, red cross on his chest). I was concerned that it would take him a while to figure out the controls, but he jumped right in and began bashing bad guys with aplomb. I would just sit back and launch radioactive blasts (okay, so he's a funky sort of ambulance) and occasionally invoke a healing power. We ripped through our first couple of missions pretty easily.

That was, until some tanker came up to us and asked if he could join our team. He was a few levels ahead of us, which concerned me, but he said it'd be no problem. He was a nice guy, but it was a mistake to include him. He made the missions designed for my son and I, at our lower levels, too easy. Then we tried one of his and we got slaughtered. I did nothing but perform heal after heal after heal on them and I eventually ran out of power and could heal no more. They both got killed and I just high-tailed it for the exit, making it out with just a handful of hit points. Lesson learned.
I am disturbed
by this article. So far, evangelicals have been fairly quiet on environmental legistlation. Now, apparently, there's a growing move to get more involved -- to pressure the White House and Congressional Republicans into enacting environmental legislation and treaties (like Kyoto). Some have even latched onto the "What Would Jesus Drive" movement (my answer: A touring van; the man had an entourage).

They need to stop. Stop now. The Republican Party is the only party that has any sort of sense about environmental legislation right now. Do you know why we haven't signed Kyoto? Because it's meaningless pablum. It, at best, would slow temperature rise by an almost imperceptible amount, but cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Is there any reputable economist (I don't count Paul Krugman) who believes that Kyoto won't cripple the U.S. economy?

Clean air and water are the result of prosperity. Anywhere man goes, his activity creates some form of pollution. If we were back in pre-industrial days, we'd still have pollution from farming, from artisanry, from natural production of human waste, from the use of horses to get around, etc.

It's the advent of technology -- sewer systems, automobiles -- that led to a precipitous decline in all kinds of communicable diseases and environmental problems. When's the last time you heard of an American getting dysentery or cholera? (Sewer systems, one can see why they'd lead to a decline in disease, but cars? Simple: Cars replaced horses. Horses had a tendency to leave all kinds of waste products all over the place. Once cars came on the scene, a source of disease was removed. People tend to forget that.)

The air and water in the U.S. is getting progressively cleaner. More legislation may actually hamper this process. Witness, for example, what's happening with some older air-pollution producing plants. New technology exists that would allow these plants to seriously curtail their pollution. However, installing the new technology would require recertification of the facility, which would cost millions and place the facility under all kinds of new, far more stringent and costly regulations. It's more cost effective for the facility to be run inefficiently. This needs to change.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Best of the Web Today has a funny:
At the bottom of the page, under The Birds, the Bees and the Cukes:
Lesson 1: What do you call people who put condoms on cucumbers? Parents!
Walter E. Williams for President!
There's a moral dimension to Social Security that few have the guts to address. What moral principle, consistent with liberty, justifies forcing a person to set aside a certain portion of his weekly earnings for retirement and jailing him if he fails to comply? Retirement isn't the only important item for which we should budget. How about a congressional mandate that we set aside a certain portion of our weekly earnings for housing, food, entertainment or our children's education? Were Congress to propose a measure that would require each American to set aside a portion of his weekly earnings for these items, most of us would see it as tyranny. Pray tell, what's the difference in principle for a congressional mandate that requires setting aside earnings for retirement versus a mandate setting aside earnings for housing or our children's education?
Yeah! Read the whole thing.
Jonah has a good article
on the Supreme Court's increasing tendency to consider international law. The money quote:
Justice Stephen Breyer outdoes them all. He's invoked the rulings of the supreme courts of Zimbabwe and India and the Privy Council of Jamaica to support his rulings. "These are human beings called judges who have problems that are similar to our own," he once said, by way of explaining his philosophy. "Why don't I read what he says if it is similar enough?"

Perhaps because what other judges do and say is of no relevance — human beings though they may be. Perhaps because looking abroad for rulings that support your own predilections suggests that you cannot find precedent here at home to support your case? And just maybe citing foreign courts is a slippery slope from which there is no return. Once you start fishing for convenient rulings from the supreme court of Zimbabwe, it's clear that you will look anywhere and use any rationale to rule as you see fit, regardless of what the law, precedent, or the Constitution actually say.
The NYTimes
has a snide op-ed this morning about John Bolton. The gist of their analysis? Bolton is against everything they're for (bi-lateral negotiations with North Korea, the International Criminal Court), therefore he's a horrible diplomat.

They try to use his own quotes against him. On North Korea, they find this comment from an interview Bolton did with the LATimes:
A sounder U.S. policy would start by making it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have 'normal' diplomatic relations with it, and that achieving that goal is entirely in their interests, not ours. We should also make clear that diplomatic normalization with the U.S. is only going to come when North Korea becomes a normal country.
What's the NYTimes's point? As long as North Korea engages in their typical delusional saber-rattling, we're probably not going to have "normal" relations with them. Once they stop being the world's biggest brat, maybe we can get along.

On the ICC, they find some testimony before Congress:
Support for the International Criminal Court concept is based largely on emotional appeals to an abstract ideal of an international judicial system unsupported by any meaningful evidence and running contrary to sound principles of international crisis resolution.
I fail to see how this is damning. The ICC isn't controversy free. And many observers expect its powers to be primarily directed at the U.S. and Israel, instead of the countries that actually need the oversight (Zimbabwe, the Sudan).

The conclusion:
Which leaves us wondering what Mr. Bush's next nomination will be. Donald Rumsfeld to negotiate a new set of Geneva Conventions? Martha Stewart to run the Securities and Exchange Commission? Kenneth Lay for energy secretary?
Has the NYTimes hired a teenager to write their op-eds now?
David, don't forget that what PETA really means:
People Eating Tasty Animals.

Yes, everyday is a Tasty Animal Day for me, too. If I couldn't revel in my carnivorous nature, I think I'd curl into a little ball and die.
This is horrible.
29 children dead in the Philippines from food poisoning. They were eating some fried cassava, which, I didn't know, can be poisonous if undercooked:
Cassava contains amino acid-derived cyanogenic glucosides -- some more than others -- and must be thoroughly cooked to remove toxic levels.

Eaten raw, the human digestive system will convert part of it into cyanide. Two cassava roots contain enough to be fatal.
This is morbid, but my sense of humor can be dark:
The vendor who sold the cassava balls insisted nothing was wrong with them and ate a few to prove the point. Now she, too, is in critical condition.
The Third Annual International Eat an Animal for PETA Day
Details here, with a hat tip to InstaPundit. Of course, for me every day is Eat an Animal Day.
Your own personal lockbox.
Turning the tables on Al Gore's analogy. Of course, the critics would say it doesn't do you any good to have your own lockbox when it's empty. To them I say: Thffffffpt!

To rip off Depeche Mode:
Your own personal lockbox
Someplace to be your stash
Someplace for cash

I've got the key
It is all for me
Such a lament
From the government
They'll never trust me
You know that it disgusts me

My money is mine
And I'm doing fine
Don't you know
I will watch it grow
I'm not a liar
I know I can retire

Control your own fate
Control your own fate

Your own personal lockbox...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

This is pretty darned impressive.
From the 2005 International Show Sculpture Championships:

Joe, I remember playing with mercury as a kid.
I don't remember where, but I do remember making the stuff roll around, split, form back together and all that. Hmmmm, the fact that I played with mercury may be why I can't remember when and where. Maybe I shouldn't have gargled it.
My wife is an active eBayer.
Not active enough to make a living at it, by any means, but she still uses it a lot as both buyer and seller. I wonder what she would think about having to be licensed:
Here’s the response offered by state Senator Larry Mumper, author of the legislation: "It certainly will not apply to the casual seller on eBay, but might apply to anyone who sells a lot," he said. "If someone buys and sells on eBay on a regular basis as a type of business, then there is a need for regulation."
eBay is self-regulating - cheaters are punished. What's the point?
When I was a freshman in high school,
my biology teacher turned on the overhead projector and put a petri-dish on top, projecting an image of a round blob that slid around the dish. She caused divisions and then had them roll together to form one object again. She did this to demonstrate, if I remeber correctly, certain aspects of the definition of life (reproduction, respiration, etc).

She then informed us that the "lifeform" she had been playing with was a pool of mercury, and how all the elements of a definition of life are necessary for life, not just some, because we'd then be able to classify a blob of mecury as life if we got to cherry-pick the necessary elements.

Little did we know that she was exposing us to the torrents of hell.

I've heard some stories about this for a while, and the pharmacists at Target looked at me funny when I asked for a mecury thermometer once. But is mercury really this bad? Don't drink it, no, of course not. But trace elements are being treated with levels of fear that make me wonder if the hoopla is warranted. A relative of mine once told me that, in his science class, they used to play with mercury. They'd roll it across the floor in levels that would shut down some schools for months for decontamination. He didn't know of anyone getting sick or dying.

If any reader out there knows, is the current mercury scare based on anything, or is it over-hyped?
"Hey, you just did something amazingly fantastic!
Where do want to go to celebrate?"


North Korea -- the next great travel destination. See the devastation caused to a culturally rich region by a homicidal mental-midget. Experience the rapture as you are carefully guided through city streets by intelligence services handlers, ensuring you never really see things as they are. Disappear into a gulag, never to be seen again.
MSNBC also has
a nice round-up of reactions to John Bolton's nomination. From various U.N. ambassadors:
"I hope that once he is here he will have a deeper perception of what the U.N. is about," Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said.

Algerian ambassador Abdallah Baali said, "I think when he joins the United Nations he will certainly adapt his views to the United Nations, and I am sure we will work together in a very constructive way."

Asked about Bolton’s past criticisms of the organization, Argentinian ambassador Cesar Mayoral replied: "People change."
I love the theme congruent to each of these quotes: Bolton will bend to our will. Hah!

Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah!

No, I don't think that will happen. I mean, this is the man that the North Koreans so lovingly referred to as "human scum and bloodsucker." Come on, with that kind of ringing endorsement, and that kind of reputation, does anyone think he's going to become just like the parasite-class at the U.N?

My hope is that he's another Jeane Kirkpatrick (if, for no other reason, than that she dated Bill the Cat).
How many years do you suppose it will be
before we have to plaster China? I ask because of a bill that was just announced by the Chinese "parliament" authorizing the use of force to return Taiwan to mainland control, if necessary. I wonder what kind of WWI-style domino-effect that will create. I can't imagine the U.S. would just sit back and let China take Taiwan.

Talks, of course, are still in the works. The problem?
Chinese leaders have appealed repeatedly in recent months for Taiwan to return to talks on unification. But they insist that Taiwanese leaders must first declare that the two sides are "one China" -- a condition that [Chen Chin-jun, a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party,] has rejected.
China will only engage in talks if the Taiwanese concede China's point -- that Taiwan and China are one nation. Gee, do you think if Taiwan says they're really China, China might use that as a pretext to take over?
One of the graduation requirements
at Harvard is that everyone must pass an Expository Writing class. No exceptions. The theory's probably sound (everyone needs to be able to write clearly), but the execution has been lackluster.

This article reminded me of my EW experience. When I was a student, there were different expos subjects available, ranging from fiction writing to various types of social/political classes, but all focusing on developing writing skills. You got into your class by choosing your top three choice, and hoping that you and everyone else didn't pick the same one.

I got "The Problem with Our Schools." Now, my expectation was that the class would be on things like discipline, falling test scores, drop-out rates, gang activity, teacher certification, you know, things that really affect education. Instead, I got sex education, racial bias and ebonics.

I wasn't particularly popular with some of my classmates, as I was the token conservative. Teach ebonics in school? Hell, no. Sex education? Nobody cares. I was surprised this is still an issue. Racial bias? Yes, racial discrimination still exists, but the texts selected by the instructor made me think that racial bias existed solely in the minds of the people perceiving it. Typical essays talked about how parents "felt" they had been discriminated against. My teacher wondered why I was so quick to discount their "evidence." She didn't seem to accept my answer that feelings aren't evidence.

In all, I learned nothing about writing. My sophomore tutorial on constitutional jurisprudence taught me more about writing than my writing class. Go figure.
Speaking of the man who would be Kennedy,
I see that he was at Harvard yesterday, hanging around the Institute of Politics (IOP). This is interesting, though:
While participants were barred from discussing the substance of Kerry’s remarks after the IOP issued a gag order last night, they said they appreciated the chance to have a dialogue with the former Democratic presidential candidate.
I am unaware of the IOP ever issuing a "gag order" when I was on campus. What's that about?
Today's OpinionJournal
has a good op-ed on the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, John Bolton. An entertaining line:
Of course, it would not do if Mr. Bolton's nomination wasn't greeted by the usual bellyaching of our supposed multilateralists. Sure enough, John Kerry obliged, calling the appointment "baggage we cannot afford" and reminding us why Americans prefer to call him Senator.
Other quote of the day:
From a friend, over lunch yesterday:
I had two truck loads of top soil brought in for my yard. I spent all day leveling it to perfection, then overseeded it. Of course, it rained that night and it all washed into the ditch. My yard still looks like crap.

But I have a beautiful ditch.
I suppose we're more like a neanderthal blog.
Quote of the day:
From TCS:
What's the Libertarian Party for if not launching long-shot, ideologically driven quests just to prove a point?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Kansas: hotbed of disreputable causes.
Well, it's good to be known as something, I guess. From Reason's review of What's Wrong with Kansas?. I'll tell you what's wrong: Kansas is flatter than a pancake, that's what.
Joe, you must take a trip to New York
to see this.
No insult to Bono,
but shouldn't the leader of the World Bank be, I don't know, an economist or financial wizard?

From Day by Day.
Picked up a great PC game yesterday.
That would be City of Heroes. Awesome.

I tried a massive online game once before, namely EverQuest, but didn't like it. After trying it for a couple of hours, I gave up on it completely. City of Heroes is different - I can't wait to play it again. The graphics are great, the user interface works pretty well, and I like the concept. Nothing like running around as your own super hero.

Since I have no idea what I'm doing, I thought I'd start off simple by playing a super-strong basher type, a big dude that pummels the bad guys with his fists. So if you're on the Liberty server, look for Angry Hammer. That's me.