Saturday, November 23, 2002

Sen. Daschle it's the left and Democrats who spew hate-filled speech and threats not the other way round. Here's a brief recounting.
A good piece on the unintended consequences stemming from the lose of medical property rights. Legalize property theft and no one will work to create property. As the old Soviet saying goes...they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.
Bill O'Reilly details how Bill Moyers' leftist agenda is supported by tax dollars. Is Bill Moyers nothing more than Michael Moore with a shave and a haircut?

Friday, November 22, 2002

It appears efforts to reduce US dependence on oil and coal are not going too well. According to Reuters US consumption of energy produced by solar, wind and other renewable sources hit its lowest level in 12 years.
Here's a good way to improve your high school test scores. Kick out, er, encourage your underpeforming students to leave or seek GED's.

An estimated 55,000 students were discharged last year, some for legitimate reasons such as cutting school or turning 21 years old, but many were pushed out to keep them from dragging down school graduation rates and percentages of passing test scores, according to Robin Brown, co-chair of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council, educators and other children's advocates studying the emerging issue. The critics, including parents, say many students could have remained but were encouraged to seek a general equivalency diploma.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Ridge: New Department Is 'Not What You Think'

(2002-11-19) -- Tom Ridge, soon to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the new mega-agency is "not what you think."

"I know a lot of folks think that we're going to be spying on Americans," said Mr. Ridge. "I know that because of all the emails and phone calls from average Americans that we've intercepted." ... (from Scrappleface)
North Korea said that the 1994 nuclear agreement with the US collapsed because of the US led decision to suspend fuel oil deliveries. Gee, and I thought it collapsed because the N. Korean government admitted that they had been producing nukes all along in direct contravention of the treaty. Silly me!
Ilana Mercer has a fine rant on income taxes and why we should overturn the 16th amendment and the income tax with it.

...Frank Chodorov insisted that taxes on income and inheritance were "different in principle from all other taxes." In the seminal work, "The Income Tax: Root of all Evil," he elaborates:

The government says to the citizen: "Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide."

Fundamentally, taxes on income imply a complete denial of private property, which is what socialism is in all its permutations; it rejects man's absolute and natural right to his property and vests property rights in the political establishment. The 16th Amendment did just that. When they incorporated the Amendment into the Constitution, Americans said a resounding "yes" to socialism.
More Tax Dollars at Work
A newly disclosed memo from a Los Alamos National Laboratory supervisor said nearly $1.3 million worth of computers, phones and other property was unaccounted for over a yearlong period. Gee, don't they store nuclear materials over at Los Alamos too. Crack security team, just like those new federal airport security folks. If you don't federalize, you don't professionalize.
Our Tax Dollars at Work
The EPA is spending $715,000 to study whether Ozark Oak trees are polluting the air. And if they do, will there be large rallys by environmental groups to pick up the pace of deforestation?
This class action lawsuit against McDonald's on behalf of obese New York Children is beyond dumb. Isn't it the parents fault for letting the kids eat all those burgers? And I don't remember hearing about anyone ever referring to McDonald's as "healthy". Plus, wouldn't they have to prove that McDonald's is the main source of the obesity? Something tells me these kids ate like crap at home and got all the candy they ever wanted from their parents. Speaking of which, can you sue someone over Halloween?
How many more Jewish schoolchildren are going to be blown to pieces before this is all over? Sharon needs to get serious and stop these little raids where they arrest a bunch of people and then leave. They need to stay for good. When these towns are occupied seems to be the only time that Jewish schoolchildren can go to school in relative safety. There is no peace process. It's about time everyone admitted that.
Shopping for Peace

I am shopping - just in case the president doesn't heed my words, just in case the voices for peace are disregarded, just in case war breaks out. I'm shopping for some hope along with items for a Relief Kit for Iraq.
I pick up a bottle of shampoo and some hope that conditions in Iraq will soften. Life for the ordinary person has been hard. Can human compassion reach across borders and begin to heal the hardships of sanctions?
I pick up a fingernail clipper and hope we can trim our oil consumption. If we were less dependent on Middle East oil how would our policies change?

I pick up four bath towels and dream that they could wipe away the threat of chemical and biological weapons. Can we find ways to feel safe that don't depend on threatening annihilation?
I pick up a package sanitary pads and some hope for a new cycle of peace. Life has its cycles and we seem stuck in a violent whirlwind. Can we hope for a new season of reconciliation?
(via Best of the Web)

The left gets nuttier by the day. Two constant left themes regarding Iraq are 1) The massive numbers of children killed (by the US) because of sanctions. 2) This is all about oil, and if we only rode our bicycles more we wouldn't be after poor Saddam. We have addressed the fallacies of both assertions many times in this blog, but now I want to take a different tack and perform a little thought experiment.

Assume both assertions are true. Let's follow the prescription and end our dependence on foreign oil completely. *Poof* The great engine that runs on water (that the evil oil companies suppressed in the 1940's) is rediscovered and the global need for oil drops to zero. (Also the price). 95% of Iraqs foreign income comes from oil. They also import almost all their food and medicine. If the world stopped using oil, the economy of Iraq (and most of the rest of the Arab middle east) would collapse since none of those countries have used their oil revenue to invest in new industries or diversify their economic base. The number of children dead from famine and lack of medical care would increase many-fold. So how about this for a Berkeley VW beetle bumper-sticker
"I'm selling this piece of crap and buying a Hummer to save a child in Iraq".

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

A German paper has decided to label Churchill a war criminal because of the bombing of civilians during World War II. Would they rather they had been shot one by one?
Jim Jeffords is such an evil opportunist. Apparently he recently approached the GOP about switching back. Does he believe in anything at all? (from Drudge)
So this is a little scary:

Among 18- to 24-year-old Americans given maps:

87 percent cannot find Iraq

83 percent cannot find Afghanistan

76 percent cannot find Saudi Arabia

70 percent cannot find New Jersey

49 percent cannot find New York

11 percent cannot find the United States

Although does it really matter if they can find these places on a map? If 87% of air force pilots flying to Iraq didn't know where it was on a map, then I'd be really worried. If some kid is going to spend his entire life in East Bumblefuck, Kentucky, do we really care?
Line of the day

"In Nevada, voters rejected a ballot measure that would’ve legalized small amounts of marijuana. Opponents said legalizing pot would’ve sent the wrong message to Nevada’s young gamblers and prostitutes."
--Conan O'Brien
Two black holes are about to collide. We should be able to see it in about 100 million years. I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Here is a picture of Michael Jackson dangling a baby from a balcony in Berlin. What a disgusting little freak. Why does he have a baby in his possession anyway? (from

Will the "fair trade" coffee people of Berkeley boycott the lousy robusta beans being imported from Vietnam ? Another example of a communist country producing garbage at the expense of the quality producers. How about a campaign to fight the evil coffee plantation sweatshops of the Vietnamese governement.
Check out this opening to an article

It's a rhetorical question with no response required . . .

Suppose there was such a thing as a time machine. Suppose all the bad-guy Germans of the 1930s and 1940s -- the Gestapo, the Brownshirts, the Blackshirts -- were fed into the time machine and emerged as modern-day Americans. Suppose they all still held the beliefs they had when they died.

So my question is, Which political party would they support now, Democratic or Republican?

Just wondering.

As this article is in a San Francisco publication you know the writer is expecting you to think of the Nazis as Republicans. I have two things to say to this. First, what if I wrote that a bunch of members of the KGB and young Pioneers were fed into a time machine and became modern day Americans, which party would they vote for? Obviously not Republican. Okay so now we are simply at the point where we are arguing whether Nazis or Communists were worse for mankind. Where exactly does that get us?

And if this author was able to get past his programming which automatically makes him consider Republicans to be Nazis he would see that the answer to his question isn't that clear. As Hayek argued quite convincingly in The Road To Serfdom, there really isn't much of a difference between Nazis and Communists as they are both against individual freedom and favor paternalistic societies. They both attracted the same type of people, and in some cases, the same people (Hayek even gave the example of someone who was conflicted over which totalitarian group to join). So I think that things aren't as clear as this writer seems to think. And considering most libertarians (which is an ideology which is exactly the opposite of Communism and Nazism) I know tend to sometimes vote Republican and almost never Democratic, I think the answer is actually the opposite of what the author supposes.
Quote of the Day

"When I hear blacks saying I want more blacks, or liberals saying I want more liberals, that doesn't seem like diversity - that sounds like self-serving pleading."

--Alan Dershowitz, member of Harvard Law's Committee on Healthy Diversity (sounds a bit like the Committee on Public Safety), at a "town hall" meeting on a proposed speech code.
Here are selected lyrics from "The Tax Song" by Elmar Brandt on Schroeder's tax policy (the song is currently very popular in Germany):

I'll jack up your taxes
Elected is elected, you can't fire me now
That's the beauty of democracy.


Dog tax, tobacco tax, car and environment tax,
did you really think that more wasn't on the way?"


Earth-surface-use tax, breathing impact tax
Air's gonna get expensive
And I'm not even close to done.
A tooth-tax for food-chewing
A bio tax on digestion . . .
IBM has just started work on a 100 teraflop computer!!! Maybe IBM should change its name to Cyberdyne Systems.
Once again, I feel ashamed of something that has happened at my alma mater, Penn (this incident even made the Drudge report!!!). Some idiot knuckle-dragging jock Penn student (by the way, I'm not saying all jocks are idiots, I'm just describing a sub-species of jock) poured motor oil on a Princeton debate team member at 4:15 in the morning and then threatened to light it. All the Princeton student was trying to do was sleep in one of the dorm lounges. I bet what happened was that this neanderthal got a flashback to high school when he could pick on "nerds" with utter abandon. He'd better be expelled or I will feel even more ashamed. The most annoying part of this is that there really isn't much of a Penn-Princeton rivalry. Sure, Penn likes to think of Princeton as its main rival, but Princeton generally thinks of the Harvards and Yales as their main rivals. Hell, most Penn students don't even care about who are our rivals (its a very apathetic campus) as they are too busy studying or partying. So this is a lame incident over a lame rivalry.

It also always amazed me how the intellectual standards were lowered for those who played athletics. Penn had some amazingly smart people and then they also had some who were dumber than a box of hair. One good thing that always came out of this though was that it helped me graduate Magna Cum Laude as almost all classes were graded on a curve.

I feel better now.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Check out the Ray Kurzweil interview in Wired.
Hmmm... U.N. sanctions are responsible for all the death and hardship in Iraq since the Gulf War, but Hussein managed to find $3.5 Billion to send to Libya in exchange for safe haven for him and his family according to the TImes of London. He must've searched the cushions of the sofas in all of his 8 palaces to come up with it.
US military technology is definitely getting cool. Check out the microwave bomb:

Military scientists have long been intrigued by the potential harnessing of microwave technology to paralyse enemy capabilities. The US air force used a related technique to disable Yugoslavian power grids during the Kosovo campaign.

Since then, research has advanced so rapidly that US officials believe a single microwave device carried by an unmanned aircraft could hit 100 targets with 1,000 pulses of high-intensity energy on a single sortie.
So an appeals court just upheld the part of the Patriot Act giving the government broad wiretapping powers. Check out this part of the ruling:

"We think the procedures and government showings required under FISA, if they do not meet the minimum Fourth Amendment warrant standards, certainly come close... We, therefore, believe firmly ... that FISA as amended is constitutional because the surveillances it authorizes are reasonable."

So the appeals court just said "close enough" which I honestly didn't think was part of constitutional law. Either a law met the minimum requirements or they didn't. And its not like the minimum requirements were that cumbersome.

And now for something completely different. This decision kind of reminds me of an interchange between Samuel L. Jackson (or at least I think it was him) and Robert De Niro in Jackie Brown:

Jackson: So is she dead?
De Niro: Pretty much.

Buzz Lightyear has foiled a theft at a Woolworth in Hereford. While police searched the area, the thief was hiding under a bridge when his cover was blown as the toy cried: "Buzz Lightyear. Permission to engage."
Mugabe continues along his journey toward fascistic crackpotism. His government has legislated that Zimbabweans will not be allowed to utter any words, or make any movement or gesture that might be construed to be offensive to President Mugabe or any member of his escort, when the presidential motorcade passes.
Another gem from Scrappleface:

Mr. Gore plans to produce his own campaign ads for TV and radio. The spots will feature the candidate himself. The following is an excerpt of a script from one such ad.

MR. GORE: Do you know the central thesis of the The Federalist papers number nine? (PAUSE) Of course you don't.

Have you ever read any of Shakespeare's plays or sonnets all the way through? (PAUSE) I doubt it.

Can you work through a simple quadratic equation? (PAUSE) Don't make me laugh.

Let's face the facts: You people are idiots. You elected George Bush, and then handed him a Republican majority in Congress.

I'm Al Gore, and I'm smarter than you. Don't trust your puny little brain to make the right decision about who should lead our nation. Trust me. I know what's best for this country. Remember, you people are idiots. Vote for Al Gore."
Fred is in top form today as he comments on airport and homeland security.

I had my scuba gear in a shoulder bag. Our highly trained security mechanics pawed at it like monkeys who had found a fruit basket. Great. Kink the hose near a connection and I suddenly don't have air at 130 feet. One of these frauds pulled out my dive computer. He looked as if he wasn't sure whether to inspect it or peel it.

"What is this?" he asked.

"A coconut," I didn't say, or I would still be in jail. I did say, "A dive computer."

He looked at it without comprehension, then asked me again what it was. Presumably he suspected that it might have turned into something else in the intervening two seconds. It's how dive computers are. One minute a computer, the next minute a rainbow-colored unicorn.

Brainless thoroughness complemented thorough brainlessness. They pulled everything out, knowing what none of it was, and stuffed it back in, having accomplished nothing. The exercise was pointless. I had two dive lights containing twelve C-cells. They could have been carefully sealed Semtex. The dive computer could have been full of C4.

And the airlines wonder why people fly less.
Having reached Guad, I was chowing down on really great ribs at Bruno's when a buddy handed me a printout from the Washington Times. First sentence: "Language tucked inside the Homeland Security bill will allow the federal government to track the e-mail, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners and U.S. citizen in its hunt for terrorists."
Once the barrier is breached between governmental and private records, surveillance will grow like kudzu-so that we will be safe. If the government can have access to all existing records to protect us, it will shortly want to create new ones to protect us. At Fort Meade in Maryland broods the National Security Agency, which is not supposed to, and may not, spy domestically. It has phenomenal capacity for intercepting, decrypting, collating, storing. Just the thing for prospecting for terrorists, don't you think? You can bet the Homeland Security people have thought.

Fear not, though. These same Homeland Security people have said that, why no, they would never, ever, do anything wrong, and they even have a Privacy Officer to make sure. What could be more reassuring? Building a system to spy on Americans, the government assures us that it won't use it to spy on Americans, and to protect us against the possibility, the government will provide a Privacy Officer who works…for the government.
Amazon is now listing the Segway Human Transporter for $4,950. Deliveries will begin in Mar, 2003.
Christopher Buckley has a very funny piece in the WSJ about trading stock recommendations for school admissions.

The new SEC unit, nicknamed "Admissions Impossible Squad" will have its work cut out for it. Admissions of children of Wall Street analysts into hard-to-get-into schools have skyrocketed recently. And the Grubman twins have already been accepted into the Buckley School, Groton and Harvard.

An SEC spokesman called the admissions "unusual." Alarms went off when stocks held by the Buckley, Groton and Harvard endowment portfolios rose dramatically after various investment houses upgraded them from "oink-oink" to "must have!" -- Wall Street's highest equity rating.

DARPA is developing cognitive, self-aware weapons systems. If they don't finish Terminator 3 soon, they may have to redo it as a documentary. Actually I think the positive benefits of this technology and related ones far outweigh the risks. It does require some vigilance however. Asimov's three robotic laws built-in from the beginning sound about right.
Here is a good rant on John Miller's piece on how libertarians should stop voting for the Libertarian Party candidate and start voting Republican. Otherwise, they will continue helping the Democrats retain seats in Congress. Here is the most offending paragraph:

"Yet Libertarians are now serving, in effect, as Democratic Party operatives. The next time they wonder why the Bush tax cuts aren't permanent, why Social Security isn't personalized and why there aren't more school-choice pilot programs for low-income kids, all they have to do is look in the mirror."

As the Agitator's rant on this is pretty good I wont rant on for long. I just want to say that I think John Miller forgets that libertarians are radical individualists and no schmuck telling them to conform is going to make them do it. You know some people actually do have ideals and will vote them. Amazing isn't it? Why should libertarians be forced to vote for the lesser of two evils? Plus, I think most libertarians value gridlock since its probably the best way to keep things that are too dangerous from getting done and so don't agree with John Miller's assessment that filibuster proof GOP majorities would be a good thing.

Plus, if you look at the history of political thought, before the Socialists became so prominent, the Conservatives were the main political foe of those who considered themselved libertarian. Libertarians have a history of pissing off conservatives and I really do hope that continues. Gotta keep 'em on their toes.
BASF is developing a spray which mimics the self-cleaning properties of the Lotus plant.
Quote of the Day

"What the hell were we doing yesterday, taking kids out of the stands and beating them?"

--My co-worker Mike hypothesizing on how his favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, could have committed 139 yards in penalties during their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
According to an upcoming book on JFK, he was often in severe pain took as many as 8 medications a day. My question is, exactly how high was he when he was dealing with the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world to the edge of World War III? And how high was he when he started sending additional troops to Vietnam? Or abandoning our Cuban allies in the Bay of Pigs? It's all pretty scary. They should definitely make it a requirement for full medical record disclosure for Presidential candidates. I mean shouldn't people have a right to know if they are voting for someone who is on more drugs than Keith Richards? If my memory serves me correctly (which is always an "if" on a monday morning) Clinton also hid his medical records. Hmmmm, I wonder.
Good piece by Christopher Caldwell in the Weekly Standard on the anti-globalist movement and the recent gathering in Florence.