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Sunday, July 31, 2005

You Can but You Can't

"In Houston, Texas, beer many not be purchased after midnight on Sunday, but can be purchased anytime on Monday...which happens to begin right after midnight on Sunday! So it's illegal to buy it when its legal to buy it?"

See more weird laws on alcohol.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Great Response in The Battle of Algiers

In my effort to watch all "classics," we rented The Battle of Algiers the other day. There was a great line near the end, when the French have captured the intellectual mastermind of the native resistance. The reporter asked something like, "Don't you think it's cowardly to use women's baskets to deliver bombs against defenseless civilians?" (He was referring to the terrorist acts the FLN had committed to get the French out of their country.) To this the leader responded (not exact quote):

"Isn't it cowardly to use airplanes to drop napalm on defenseless villagers? Of course we wish we had airplanes to deliver our weapons. If you give us your bombers, sir, you can have our baskets."

And no, I'm not saying terrorism is OK, I'm saying it is always wrong to kill innocent civilians to achieve your political goals. This includes governments bombing the crud out of Indochina.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mission Accomplished!

Well, we've achieved our goal in Iraq, of replacing a secular government with a fundamentalist, Islamic one.

What, that wasn't our goal?

Never mind.

Attention Vegans!

Don't read this!

News Flash: Blair Babbbles Incoherently

"Let us expose the obscenity of these people saying it is concern for Iraq that drives them to terrorism," Blair said.

"If it is concern for Iraq then why are they driving a car bomb into the middle of a group of children and killing them?" Blair said.

"They will always have a reason and I am not saying any of these things don't affect their warped reasoning and warped logic."

So, it is Iraq that's motivating these attacks, but it's obscene to mention it? I'm confused.

Full story.

How to Professionally Deal with Editors

New writers often make a botch of this, so I'd like to give them a continuing glimpse behind the scenes of how a veteran at the game makes it look smooth and easy. First exhibit, here is a letter I just sent to an editor who hasnd't responded to a recent -- hmmm -- maybe late last night -- query stating the next story I'd like to -- no, will publish in his fly-by-night vehicle:

Did you receive the brief query I sent about the use of eminent domain to boot XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX?
(Sorry, faithful readers, I can't reveal the gist of my pitch to any of you second-rate, derivative hacks. Now back to the letter:)

If your're still considering it, please just let me know. I realize it was just a sketch for a piece kind of a half-assed one at that -- so please tell me if you'd like it fleshed out. If you think the idea sucks the left mammary gland of a star-nosed mole, you may convey that thought by the prominent appearance of such a mole on the next XXXX Magazine cover. If you wish I'd
just bugger off and leave you alone, then you can signal that by streaking during the next XXXX event, for as long as it takes for security to get a positive ID, and then turning over the editorial "rings of power" -- 3.65 rings he granted to scribbling editors in their halls of flourescent light, wasn't it? -- to me.

Thanks,
Your faithful servant and catamite applicant,
Gene Callahan

The primary principles illustrated in the example above are to put yourself in the editor's shoes, imagine what types of situation he may perceive as facing him in making a decision on your piece, and to suggest creative ways around them

Good luck applying lesson one!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

This Means War!

Now he's gone too far.

Cheating

OK, OK, so in London, I did see another barber on occasion! But I was so far away.

Now, I'm in Pennsylvania, and it just doesn't seem right to go to a barber here. In only three hours, I could be back in that familiar chair in Connecticut, feeling his scissors snipping my hair, smelling his hair tonic...

But those closer, candy-striped poles beckon to me, with their "come hither" look, every day. What to do? I am being torn apart!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Freebird

Check out my friends Sam and Rachel.

Why Do They Hate Us?

Here's a great article by Scott Horton, detailing the work of U of Chicago's Robert Pape. Two excerpts from the article:

Professor Pape says that while al-Qaeda terrorists are twice as likely to be from a country where radical Salafist/Wahhabist Islam is widely practiced, they are 10 times more likely to have come from a country that has U.S. troops stationed in it...

No suicide bombers have ever come from Iran, where there are no foreign troops. Iraq had never seen a suicide bombing on its soil before U.S. troops arrived in 2003. While Ayatollah Khomeini spent the 1980s criticizing American culture, many people agreed, but none resorted to suicide bombing. When bin Laden cited U.S. forces in the land of Mecca and Medina, men hopped on planes with knives.

Nuclear Assault on Iran in Planning Stage

Read about it here.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Maybe the Problem Is...

The other day on the front page of the NY Times, Mayor "Little Mikey" Bloomberg was quoted as saying "Seventh grade is our last, best chance to prepare kids for high school."

Maybe part of the education problem is having a mayor who counts "5, 6, 7, 9..."

New Capital Crime in the UK

Looking somewhat like a Pakistani.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Live Like a Spy

"Or you might simply adapt an ad line from one of the few credit cards the team in Milan seems not to have used: The nightly cost of a room in Milan's Hotel Principe di Savoia, $450; the cost of a Coke from a mini-bar in one of its rooms, $10; the cost of leasing GulfstreamV for a month, $229,639; that feeling of taking the American taxpayer for a ride, priceless."

Read the rest.

Stunning News from Roderick Long!

You can walk from New York to Paris.

Was It Illegal to Burn Valerie Plame?

Jim Henley says, "Of course!"

Who Won the War in Iraq?

Take a guess, then read this.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Great Idea to Promote Movies

This is just an example, but isn't the idea terrific? I think you just give it the names and photos, and it makes the trailer.

dr. strangelove, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the British

How I love British understatement.

I really do believe it to be one of their most charming characteristics. In discussing the horror of the recent bombings, the British have maintained that difficult quality of not getting outrageously hysterical. It's as if they are remarking on a terrible case of white flies the neighbor's begonia has been subjected to. At worst, when they are really riled, it seems more like accounts on golfing from St. Andrews than descriptions of pure evil. God bless 'em, every one.

In Defense of Gigli

You know that infamous flop Gigli, starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez? Well my wife and I just watched it the other night for kicks, and it wasn't half bad. Don't get me wrong, if someone said it was a mediocre film, and that Lopez and/or Affleck were annoying, I'd have no problem. But I was under the impression it was one of the worst films in modern times, and that's just not true. (Give me a break--it had cameos by Christopher Walken and Al Pacino!!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

newsster? mynews? let's call the whole thing $$$

Only yesterday, I was tooling around the various social networking sites answering messages and requests for myself and my various alts (fake personalities.) Checking Friendster.com, I discovered that I had a request from one of the personalities on MySpace.com. Tom works for MySpace. I thought it a bit strange since he isn't in my network on MySpace but I figured that he can just take the whole lot of email addresses on his site and network the other ones. (Though doing that with over 16 million addresses seems a bit tedious.) Because I was a bit impressed with what I assume is an advertising scheme, I decided to okay his request.

Today I read that News Corp is purchasing MySpace's parent company. It will be interesting to see how MySpace changes from here on out. Since I joined nearly two years ago, it has morphed from a simple networking spot to dominating the genre with new features. Mostly, it has been the focus on music that allowed it to pull ahead. It's not on my regular schedule of web surfing though. It takes too long too load and then I'm inundated with requests from crappy rock bands and stripper-like nymphs. It makes me wonder if Rupert Murdoch is finding his own level though. Or maybe a date and a show to take her to.

Edit:
I just came off of Tribe.net where I discovered an advert linked to this. What a weird set of activity.

Eminently Appropriate

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, has plenty of people upset. They include a London Darrow Clements who was clever enough to try to figure out a way to use eminent domain on one of the Justices that voted in favour of the eminent domain ruling. He found one in Justice David Souter.

So what's he up to? He's put forward a proposal to take just that Justice's home and replace it with the Lost Liberty Hotel. Ha. But does he have a case? Well, maybe not, but he does say this:
"This is not a prank" ... "The town of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."
The Boston Herald likes the idea.

Board of Selectmen, you say? So I did a little digging and found the email addresses of the five Board of Selectmen. I penned each of them a letter, a copy of which is posted below:
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 17:42:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Peter Jaworski" Yahoo! DomainKeys has confirmed that this message was sent by yahoo.com.
Subject: Lost Liberty Hotel
To: dadada@weare.nh.gov

Dear Member of the Board of Selectmen,

My name is Peter Jaworski, and I'm a resident of Orono, Ontario, Canada.

I wanted to send you an email to encourage you to support the proposal for the Lost Liberty Hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road.

Should the Hotel become a reality, I will visit it each year. At least once. And I will come with friends.

Also, if possible, I will host the Liberty Summer Seminar (
http://www.libertyseminar.org) in the Lost Liberty Hotel every other year. The event draws between 50 to 75 attendees, mostly Canadians, and mostly from areas outside of Weare. This is likely to continue.

I'm certain that many people, just like myself, would also make use of the Hotel, would spend time in Weare, which would be great for tourism, and good for tax revenues as well.

Sincerely,

Peter Jaworski,
Director, Liberty Summer Seminar,

MA (Philosophy), University of Waterloo,
MSc (Philosophy & Public Policy), London School of Economics.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

217,125 Dead, 439,238 Injured in Iraq Blast

Dec. 18, 2006, AP: 217,125 people died and 439,238 were injured in a suicide bombing in Iraq yesterday. Presidential spokesperson Scott McClellan said that this latest atrocity showed "just how desperate the Saddam dead enders are." John Podohoretz opined on Fox News Daily, "That the terrorists are resorting to such measures reveals that America is decisively winning this war."

A Land of One's Own

Reader Rob Dodson sends in an interesting article on micro-states.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Iconism Gone Mad

As I noted some time ago, symbolic communication is an advance over iconic communication, so icons showing up in many daily devices does not necessarialy represent a unalloyed good. Today I encountered a paradigmatic case. A light in my car came on. The meaning of the light is "explained" by a little icon that looks like the stereotypical lightbulb one finds signifying a "bright idea." SO, did my car just have a bright idea? Does the icon of a lightbulb signify that a warning light just came on?

Sure, in the days when they would put English words on these lihgts, perhaps only 25% of the people in the world could read them. That's certainly better than the .01% I suspect can comprehend the lightbulb.

Popper Again

I respond to Jan Lester on falsificationism.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Murphy Talk on Anarchy

A presentation for those who are very bored, and/or enjoy ivory tower speculation of no practical relevance for the foreseeable future.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Guess Who?

He murdered hundreds of thousands, committed horrific war crimes, cooperated in ethnic cleansing, attacked his own allies, and appeased dictators. Find out who he was.

What Michael J Did Was OK...

because since 9/11 everything has changed.

(Thanks to Jim Henley for the heads up.)

Avert Your Gaze

Stanley Crouch writes:
"One thing we can be sure of is that the sort of hysteria we find very common in Muslim countries will not take place in America or in England. We have both exhibited as much violent hysteria as possible in our separate pasts, but seem to have evolved beyond the primitive levels of violent outbursts at those whose only crime is being a symbol of a hidden threat. There will be no Muslim businesses burned, no Muslims burned alive before cheering crowds, no retaliatory murders of noncombatants."

And absolutely, in no circumstances whatsoever, would we invade a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with any terrorist attack on the US and Britain, murder over 100,000 of its noncombatant residents, and randomly grab its people off the street, stick them in prison without charge, and torture them because they are "a symbol of a hidden threat." Nope, we have evolved way beyond that level.

Friday, July 08, 2005

More Fun From the Mail Bag

In response to my warlord article, I received a few heckling emails. This one gentleman and I went back and forth, concerning his assertion that there will always be a few jerks (not his term) who will desire power and take over. To this I replied that a few jerks can, at worst, kill a few hundred people, and that to achieve carnage on the scale of the State, you need a few jerks issuing orders that are carried out by millions of obedient subjects.

Anyway, when answering my email he quoted my lines where I said that a few jerks can at best kill a few hundred people, and said in retort:

> Sure, just like the Nazi's extinguished the lives of
> over 8 million people
> and Stalin just about 25 million. You really should
> get your nose out of the
> economic texts and into a bit of history.
Now what's really funny about this response is not that it completely ignores my point. No, what's funny is that he is actually arguing that I was too preoccupied with backward bending supply curves of labor to notice that there were these things called Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.

So let's be clear, once and for all: During the course of my schooling (not to mention watching the History Channel), I've heard a few references now and again to these chaps. (And for what it's worth, I have never understood how the examples of totalitarian governments somehow prove that government is necessary for society.)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

enlightenment--dark ages style?

After a ridiculous court battle, Kennewick Man can finally tell us his story. The 9400-year-old skeleton was discovered by accident in 1996 by a group of young men wandering along the banks of the Columbia River. His appearance was so different from what we know as Native Americans, that it was assumed he was a modern Caucasian pioneer--until a primitive spear point hinted at his great age. Native American groups moved in quickly to take charge of the remains but scientists sued to continue their studies. This week those studies began anew.

On a similar note down Mexico way, other archaeological news hit the papers this week. Forty-thousand year old footprints were found in the Valsequillo Basin. This site is part of a cluster of sites that has also seen controversy and no doubt this discovery will only add to it. You see, according to conventional theories, humans didn't arrive in the New World till only about 12,000 years ago and those were only the Mongoloid ancestors of today's Amerinds.

While the evidence continues to mount that very different people entered the Americas at earlier dates, Kennewick Man might be the last ancient who will be allowed to tell us tales of long ago. Sen. John McCain in an very unheroic act that I have to assume is just vote-buying seeks to cover up that information by forcing all ancient remains, Amerind and not, to be doomed to NAGPRA hell.

I don't know about you but if I walk up out of the Earth 9000 years from now and a politician tells me to shut up, I'll be damn pissed.

Warlords in Anarchy (Cool Pic!)

On the one hand, I'm disappointed that the accompanying graphic is far cooler than my article, but on the other, it's really mesmerizing. I suddenly feel the urge to go rent Flash Gordon.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Let's Be Fair!

As I drive past any of the numerous "Drug-Free School Zone" signs along our roads, I can't help but thinking that, in the interest of equity and non-discrimination, there ought to be established a similar number of "School-Free Drug Zones."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Fair Market Value

Some fogged up fellow thinks eminent domain seizures involve the payment of "fair market value" to the person whose property was taken. What rubbish. There is no meaning whatsoever to "fair market value" except what someone will willingly exchange, and eminent domain is only used when the owner is not willing to sell at the state's price, i.e., the seizee never gets fair market value.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Help Screw Souter!

You may already know, but a libertarian in New Hampshire is trying to seize the evil David Souter's house by eminent domain in retaliation for his vote on the Kelo case. Help him by pledging to spend seven nights in the new hotel that will replace Souter's home.

Buy and Fold

The Daily News took a look today at the performance of major stock indices over the past 5 years -- all are down. The Nasdaq is still at 40% of its 2000 high. And the raw numbers ignore inflation, so the real performances are worse than they look. It will take the "buy-and-hold" people who bought in early 2000 decades to get back to even -- just like it did after 1929.