Archives for the Month of September 2006 on Jeffrey Quick's Blog

If anyone found me less gentle than usual today

...it was because I awoke to find my beautifully-painted mailbox was the target of a drive-by baseball batting. I had hoped I could straighten it to functionality (if not aesthetic rectitude), but I can't bend it so that the door will close. Some people cannot allow a thing of beauty to exist.

Property, smoke, and mirrors

Joshua Terschek, in a comment about my piece on Ohio tobacco initiatives:

Well, it is clearly your belief that "the law has no right to tell private property owners what do with their property."

Well, yes, that's pretty clearly my belief, and if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, it would not come as a surprise.
This view is clearly not shared by everyone.

And yes, it's a belief not shared by everyone; if it were, we'd be living in a free society instead of the Marxist-lite nightmare that America is today. But "belief" makes it sound like we're talking about some whim, as opposed to "I believe the sky is blue." It's a simple thing, really; to the extent that a business owner does not call the shots in his business, to that extent he is not the owner. And the person calling those particular shots is the owner to that extent. There's something worse than public ownership: private liability with public control, where a person must take on the burden and risk of success or failure, without being allowed to make decisions that could lead to success.
In fact, I (and probably many others) believe great progress has been made by made through the law telling private property owners what they can and can't do with their property.

"The law" is an abstract noun, and can't tell anyone anything. It's a personification that allows the little tyrants of the world to avoid the truth that people tell other people what they can't do with their property. That's what people do when they walk into a polling booth: they either decide others' fate directly, or they hire agents to decide their fate.

I am quite happy things like the FDA and OSHA exist insuring my food meets standards and my workplace is safe.

I'm glad you're happy, and if you want such things, you could have them without forcing ME to have them. You can have a private FDA like Underwriters Laboratories, to confirm that YOUR drugs are safe and effective. Of course, I suspect you'd sneak off and take non-FDA drugs when they proved effective against your ailment. You could choose to work for OSHA employers.

Neither proposal is banning smoking everywhere...just in certain places. Also, I think few would argue that smoking is a fundamental right.
I would; or, more precisely that it's a particular case of a fundamental right: the right of self-ownership.
As someone who both works in the a health related field and is married to a former waitress I will be voting yes to SmokeFree Ohio.

Well, I'm married to a former waitress (who isn't?) who smokes. I don't. I would allegedly benefit from this legislation. I'm still voting no, because it is something neither you nor I have a right to decide. Smoking is something that separates true fans of freedom from lib-lites. It's pretty disgusting, really, and it's hard to allow somebody to do something that obviously self-destructive. And when we allow somebody to allow others to do that on their property, we tend to think that non-smokers are forced to be there. Well, if there were a huge demand for smoke-free bars, there's be more of them.

Since I'm not in the public accomodation business, I'm not going to take your threat personally. But I will call it for what it is: a threat. Not "your opinion" or "your democratic right." But a threat to hire armed goons to fight against everyone in the hospitality industry who doesn't do business your way. And there's no "color of law" that will pretty up that fact.

Aleuts to Chavez: shove your oil

Free heating oil, in a place where it runs $5-6 a gallon, and they turned it down?! Some people don't like being bribed. I'm proud of them.

Makes me ashamed to have been a Michigander

At Oscoda High School "our purpose is to foster academic excellence, personal growth, decision making ability and positive personal attributes for enhancing our democratic society." Evidently that doesn't include "dealing with defeat." Per Boortz, this year's Mighty Owls football team sucked so completely (NO points in the first 4 games) that the school board decided to forfeit the rest of the season. Hey, I can understand wanting to save themselves embarrassment. But if sports have a function in education, that function continues (and is perhaps enhanced) even if you aren't a winner. Certainly I wasn't a winner in PE, unless you count infamy for the 9'54" mile. The kids wanted to play. Their parents wanted them to play. But people were laughing.

Allen kissing black farmer grits

George "Macaca" Allen wants to prove he's not a racist, so he's introducing a racist bill. Go figure.

Since when is "financial assistance through USDA" a "civil right"? Yes, equality under the law is important. But these guys had their chance, and missed it. And you 'Pugs touting Allen as the great conservative hope, tell me what is conservative about bending the law to allow more government handouts?

Dailey and Mizer at it again

They're going after herd-share agreements for raw milk production. And why should anyone need a licence to produce milk to begin with? If pasteurization is so effective in removing pathogens, there's no legitimate state interest in controlling sanitation, and if it isn't effective, why the big push for it?

Bill Peirce gets it.

Homeland Security at Barberton High

They're having some labor problems at Barberton. Some students are sympathetic to the teachers' side of things, and attempted to organize a walkout. 20 of them were suspended...not for walking out, mind you (which is arguably a suspendable offence), but for distributing a flyer telling everyone to go to the gym on Oct. 9 at 10 AM.

Superintendant Lizzie Lolli claims that the issue is student safety...in which case they need to cancel all school assemblies for the year, since the gym is obviously a dangerous place. Who knows, the union (or, more likely, the administration acting in their name) could put a BOMB in there. And she's feeling all virtuous because, after all, the kids could have gotten TEN days instead of one or two.

And it's not just students getting gagged. Teachers have been told not to discuss the suspensions or free-speech issues. Well gee, what if the lesson plan for American history involves Lincoln throwing newspaper editors in jail, or Schenk v. US, or any similar unsavory moments in our history?

If it were my kid being suspended, I'd be out of there. But if I had a kid, he wouldn't be in Compulsory Youth Indoctrination Camp to begin with.

Question of the day

From my wife, watching a mob in some Turd World country shooting guns into the air:

"How can they afford to waste that much ammunition? And why does it never fall back down and hit them?"

A mag full of rifle rounds costs more (in the US at least) than those folks make in a day.

Shifty headline

Issue to allow smoking in some places makes ballot
There's the headline.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An issue that would ban smoking in most public buildings but allow it in bars, parts of restaurants and some other places, has enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 7 ballot, elections officials said Wednesday.
There's the first paragraph.

Think somebody at AP has an agenda? Would they mind explaining where people could smoke under the SmokeFree Ohio proposal that they can not smoke in NOW?

NYC health Nazis take on trans fat

Cigarrettes weren't enough; now they have to ban Crisco.

OK, trans fats are bad for you. No argument there. But let's look at some history. The last generation of health Nazis got saturated fats all-but-banned, which is why we have a trans fat problem (and trans are worse than any saturated fat). Ban hydrogenated oils, and we'll have peroxidized Omega 6-rich veggie oils, which aren't good for you either. And there's acrylamide in those french fries either way. Why don't they just force us to eat raw tofu and be done with it? Oh yeah, [falsetto] the phytoestrogens [/falsetto]. (turns genitals inside out)

Instead of violating private property rights, why don't they just let us THINK and decide for ourselves? I thought all the SMART people lived in NYC; that's what they try to tell us out here in The Flyover. Surely they can just quit eating the stuff. And why don't the fast food companies sue on the basis of the law being a violation of the Commerce Clause? They use it for all else, after all. The proposed Chicago law is a real dilly of a soak-the-rich-corps fit, in the mode of the Maryland insurance-costs law, designed for Wal-mart. I'd like to see a civil-rights suit on that.

A good word for third parties

from Wendell Robinson, Republican for Cuyahoga Co. Commissioner.

I see why he'd say those things; a Republican in Cuyahoga might as well be running third-party. But when you click on his issues, there's nothing about ballot access reform. Granted, it's not really a county issue. But combine it with the fact that he IS a Duopoly candidate, and it looks too much like all talk, no action. The courtesan press deserves Robinson's tongue-lashing. But if there were a 3rd-party candidate for commissioner, would he refuse to debate unless everyone were included? Would he insist on coverage of his opponent? In short, is Robinson willing to put his money where his mouth is?

The Colonel is dead

...and the shooting world will never be the same. Rest in peace, Jeff.

thanks (?) to Beck, who linked somebody who doesn't deserve the link.

Green Senate candidate off in PA

Santorum campaign spokeswoman Virginia Davis said the lawsuit was an attempt by Casey's campaign to silence a candidate who was willing to debate the issues.

"Rather than focus on the issues, Casey and his crew spent weeks stifling democracy and disenfranchising the tens of thousands of voters who signed Green Party petitions," Davis said.

I'd be far more respectful of Davis' crocodile tears if Santorum had ever actually done anything to ease third-party ballot access.

Mag and Nunc in D.

Here's my Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in D, from last summer's concert at Immaculate Conception RC Church. If you like big blowsy Anglican church music, you should find this veddy satisfying indeed.

Last night's premiere

I thought last night's Composer's Guild concert went very well. Even composers represented whose music I don't like or whose professional competence I question came up with interesting and worthwhile music, and performances were excellent.

I got to hear my Ave Regina Coelorum for the first time; the only chance I had had to hear and make comments was in the pre-concert run-through. I'd had my doubts about the value of the piece, but it works quite well. Hearing Brenda Pongracz nail the high stuff (up to altissimo e) was great fun. Some of the ensemble near the beginning was a little loosey-goosey, but it all fell together.

Comments we got included "magical" and "the sweetest thing you've done" ("Sweet" isn't a value I generally seek out; blame it on the BVM), and everyone was fascinated by the Queen of the High Cs.

I also got a recording of the Mac concert yesterday, so I'll be "going poddy" here Real Soon Now.

Eeevul monopolist Starbucks

You KNEW this was going to happen:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The owner of a small coffee company sued Starbucks Corp. (SBUX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Monday, claiming the coffee shop's anti-competitive business practices put her store out of business.

The suit, which seeks class action status, was filed in Seattle federal court by Penny Stafford, the owner of Belvi Coffee and Tea Exchange Inc.

According to court papers, Starbucks violated federal antitrust laws by leasing prime commercial real estate at above-market prices in return for the exclusive right to sell espresso drinks or specialty coffee in those locations.

If there is a problem with property-owners cutting deals with vendors, then Case (and most schools in the US) is in big trouble, because of the widespread practice of giving the soft drink concession on a campus to one company. Is it "an abuse of monopoly power" that forces me to go off-campus for a Coke?

The lawsuit alleges the chain "possesses monopoly power" because it has "at least" a 73 percent market share of the U.S. coffee shop industry.

Starbucks has said it has a less than 8 percent market share of all coffee consumed in the United States.

...which is comparing apples and oranges, as I'm sure most coffee consumed in the US is still made at home or in the office. I suspect the actual market share is lower than 73%, even counting only locations that specialize in coffee, and not gas stations etc.

The suit also claims that, after Stafford found a space at one prime Bellevue office building, Starbucks employees "were directed to stand at the entrance of Ms. Stafford's business for the purpose of handing out free Starbucks drinks."

Awww! so why didn't SHE stand in front of Starbuck's giving out free coffee?

Howell MI has had a reputation for bigotry

...being a sort of past epicenter for white supremacy in the state. Now there's a religious bigot in charge of the high school, dictating what a touring choir from Germany can sing on their premises. And apparently this is just the latest in a number of decisions flouting community values.

Steinberg said much of traditional choral music is religious in nature, and alternatives are limited.

That's just it, and the part that administrators don't get. If you are going to use a choral program to teach the best of Western art and civilization (and if you aren't, why are the taxpayers paying for it?), you can't get away from Christianity. Even now, the church is at the core of the American choral tradition (with all due respect to gay choirs, college choirs, and the few and brave professional choirs). I don't give a rip if kids exit the choir room telling sick blasphemous jokes about Jesus. But if you decide that certain ideas can't be presented because they might offend somebody, well, there went Western civilization.

Economic illiteracy and the American public

Appallingly, 42% of Americans think Bush is manipulating gas prices to win the election for Republicans, in spite of the press actually DOING THEIR JOB and explaining the forces at work. And we want more people to vote?!

Boortz' commentary on this included the following:

1.) I thought Bush was an idiot. If he's so dumb, then how is he controlling the price of gasoline and the world price of oil? Surely such an intellectual lightweight is incapable of lording over the worldwide energy market and controlling it.

Actually, the real evidence that Bush Is A Idiot is that he hasn't used his power to manipulate oil prices to make himself filthy stinking rich, like any other American (even a liberal) would.

Malcolm Arnold is dead.

Thank God. His suffering is over.

The BBC obituary is unfair. "... superficial and flippant... unpretentious". There's a Jekyll and Hyde quality to Arnold's output. Much of his more serious output (esp. the symphonies) is so involved in staring at the squalid recesses of his soul as to be almost unlistenable. And even much of the early chamber music has a shadow side. Painting the guy as a fluffbunny and drunk is just not fair, especially considering that the alcoholism was largely self-medication for bipolar disorder. I think that things like the various sets of British dances are deservedly popular. But there is something about the dark pieces, a kind of spiritual nihilism. There's a certain kinship with Shostakovich, I think, but with Shosty the suffering is never meaningless, and with Arnold it sometimes seems to be.

Oh well; it's for history to sort out, now.

Bye

Off to Michigan to see the 'rents. Back here Tuesday.

Russian governor: screw off all afternoon

The Russians are getting serious about their demographic tailspin. But I don't see the carrot (afternoon delight and free washing machines) being as effective as a stick (ban abortion, restrict birth control). The problem is not that people can't find time to mate; it's that they can find no reason to bring children into the world.

The Justice Department, on the other hand...

Agency Director Eli M. Rosenbaum said that despite her bid to remain anonymous, her past will no longer be hidden. Though he agreed that she appeared pleasant and kind, old and tired, he said, "her presence in the United States nevertheless was an affront to surviving Holocaust victims who have made new homes in this country."

Including her deceased husband? (who never knew about her stint at Ravensbruck?) Or the Jewish charities she gave to?

Yes, she "broke the law"; she omitted information on her immigration application. And Gods only know what Germany will put her through. But I'm really not convinced that justice has been served here.

Grand jury shows some sense

If two adults want to do the nasty, it's not the law's business, even if one is a teacher and the other her student. The Texas legislature made it the law's business, but a grand jury practiced jury nullification, refusing to indict.

Now, it IS the school district's business. Getting your tail where you get your paycheck is a bad idea in general, and one can't afford to get that familiar in a situation where one has to stand in authority. And I don't understand the current rash of hottie female teachers doing their students. It's not like these ladies should have any trouble finding a partner. It might be about power, but it strikes me that the male holds all the real power in these situations, since he can turn her in.

If DESTROYING YOUR CAREER isn't a deterrent, I fail to see how jail would be either.

Better Telemann than Bach

People laugh at the old Leipzig City Council for preferring to hire Telemann instead of Bach for Thomascantor. But they weren't wrong.

Before you decide that I've gone off my rocker, let me say that, yes, Bach was an indescribably greater composer than Telemann was. But "greater" does not mean "better for all purposes." It's part of the Romantic cultural baggage, that we must always listen to the greatest, most imposing music, or we're betraying Art somehow. But yes, when I'm driving home from work, I'd rather hear Telemann than Bach. It's lighter and cheerier, more elegant, but there's still quite a bit of sophistication there. And I'd rather read L. Neil Smith than Finnegan's Wake.

Heck, I even play POLKA MUSIC. There is no way that stuff can be defended on musical grounds. Three chords, regular phrases, tunes pretty much alike, ridiculous lyrics. But it's happy, makes your toes tap, sends beer down well. And in these troubled times, anything that sends beer down (within reason) is a good thing.

Given the constraints of the new music world, where the first performance is often the last, I try to write in such a way that people can substantially "get" the piece on first hearing. But if there's nothing new to "get" on the second or thousandth hearing, then I'm not a very good composer.

If you want to check out how well (or not) I've succeeded, show up Monday night at 8 at Cleveland State's Drinko Hall, in the Music and Communications Building.

Good cop, have a donut

Readers of this blog know that I have an ambivalent attitude toward the police. No, I'm not a Tom Alciere (who lost a political career over his Usenet advocacy of cop-killing as self-defence). Nor am I Hans Werner Henze, or I would have called this post Versuch über Schweine. As a minarchist, I think they have their place. I enjoy having an armed somebody to protect my things and my life. I don't think that necessarily has to be done by government, but traditionally, it has been.

No, the problem with cops is that, of necessity, they have sold their souls. They have to enforce all the stupid laws that our alleged betters have saddled us with. They have some discretion, but if they flat out refuse to arrest for non-offenses, the boss will have words with them.

But a few have honor. Today's tale involves a man I met once while pulling jury duty, an upright citizen who applauds gun control when applied by convenience store owners, but not by the government.

The officer was patrolling his beat in the worst part of Cleveland, and picked up a prostitute. He thought he'd do a little quality-of-life survey, so he asked the whore, "Pardon me for asking, but what do you receive for your services?"

She said, "I try to get $2."

No, not "I get $2", but "I TRY to get $2", implying that sometimes she doesn't succeed.

He told her to get out of the car. He sprayed the back seat down with Lysol, and set her free. There are some people too pathetic to arrest, and some crimes which are their own punishment.

A stopped clock is right...

Clean tackles, no flags, from yesterday's debate:

"I'm a little surprised my opponent says he's a conservative, yet he would use the heavy hand of state government to tell local boards how to spend their money," Strickland said.

and

The most heated exchange in the debate occurred after Strickland expressed concern that some standardized tests were unfair to minority and poor children.

Citing the "soft bigotry of low expectations," Blackwell said he found it "actually disgusting" his opponent wanted to "throw away standards for African-American males."

The press grows a pair re Teddeth Blackland

CLEVELAND (AP) — In a reversal, the candidates for Ohio governor allowed The Associated Press to shoot still photos Wednesday for pool coverage during their second debate.

The campaigns of Republican Ken Blackwell and Democrat Ted Strickland had said photo coverage would be restricted to the candidates' handshake before the debate and interviews afterward.

In a letter to the campaigns, the AP, dozens of its member newspapers and the Ohio Newspaper Association demanded that photo access be given for the full debate. The AP and those organizations were prepared to boycott photo coverage of the debate if full access was not allowed.

That's nice. Now, how about they do something really radical and boycott coverage of the debate unless all candidates are included?

I could have shown up for an hour before work to join the Libertarian unwelcoming committee at Channel 5, but I didn't...I really needed to practice. I heard a bit of the advance auction of stolen goods debate on the way in. And if Blackwell would find a way to bail on the debates that wouldn't make him look bad, he'd be ahead, because he's blowing it on stylistic grounds. You can't have your opponent lay out a plan, and then say "My opponent has no plan". Nor can you get your rhyme groove together and call him "the man without a plan"; imitating Johnny Cochrane is not going to help with one demographic and will actively hurt with another. Blackwell's positions are not unreasonable, at least no more so than Strickland's. But he's losing points on presentation.

Another thing: one questioner threw out the stat that higher education costs 45% more in Ohio than the national average. I'd like to see what went into that conclusion; it seems a little glib. Are we comparing apples to apples? What are the ratio of OH private-college to public-college students? A fair comparison would be to compare Ohio's public universities with other public universities of similar academic standing. The questions are whether Ohio students are getting enough bang for the buck, and whether they can afford the bang.

And it's not bad enough they're watching kiddie porn...

...they're registering to vote. Or being registered.

ACORN has been implicated before in voter registration fraud overzealousness. It amazes me that they're still allowed to do it. They were probably responsible for Harry Quick.

Of course they say, "And thereis no evidence that the type of fraud that this bill seeks to address isanything but an anomaly."[sic]

Peer-to-peer DNA interfacing

Police in Milwaukee have discovered a new threat to America's vulnerable youth: 14 to 16 year olds downloading sexual images of girls their own age. They're understandably curious about such things, and it doesn't even occur to them that it's a felony.

Fortunately, the justice system has some clue that maybe these kids aren't perverts...well, at least not any more pervy than any other 16 year old. But they're still getting sucked into the justice system because, after all, it's a felony and the law is the law, and they're still "causing" the exploitation of young girls.

Really, this should be treated like statutory rape. We don't sweat it when 16 boinks 14. When 19 boinks 14, his picture gets passed around the neighborhood as a notorious sex offender. 14 is "exploited" either way (and my wife and I exploit each other regularly; so what?), but the law assumes that adults should know better. It seems like the same logic should apply to pornography. If 16 looks at 14 and gets sucked up in a kiddie porn sting, you talk to the kid and his parents, explain the situation, and let it go. There is no point in trying these kids, unless they are producing kiddie porn commercially.

"We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening."

Well, of course they did. They're socialists.

I don't think Gyurcsany meant that the entire notion of prosperity for all through robbing the capable is a lie, though it is. They just, uh, miscalculated how much swag was available to be distributed.

Of course he shouldn't resign. He should stay there and clean up his own mess. He won't have long:

Local elections are scheduled in two weeks' time. The Socialists and their liberal coalition allies are trailing [center-right] Fidesz in the polls.

Gods only know why a former Commie-bloc nation voted in socialists to begin with. Was it this list of goodies?

In an effort to rein in a soaring budget deficit, his Socialist-led coalition has raised taxes and announced plans to lay off scores of state employees, introduce direct fees in the health sector and tuition for most university students.

The poor dears will have to PAY TUITION?

Kõrm szivárgás bíbor Kool-aid!

Huck Finn, criminal

In the case of Normal Parm v. Sheriff Mark Shumate, James ruled that federal law grants exclusive and private control over the waters of the [Mississippi] river, outside the main shipping channel, to riparian landowners. The shallows of the navigable waters are no longer open to the public. That, in effect, makes boating illegal across most of the country.

But...but...it's taking property out of the commons and assigning it to private owners! Some kinds of libertoonians tell me that's GOOD!

Now, who will be the first to mine their waters to keep out jet skis? I want to see that. Roarrrrrrr.....BOOM!

UN to go into the nuke business?

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier thinks that the UN should get into the uranium-enrichment business "to stop countries feeling the need to build their own installations," and to provide international control.

To which I can only say "oil for food."

The UN is the last political organization I'd trust with nuclear materials....seriously, below Iran and North Korea. At least with them, you know what you're getting, and they aren't hiding behind idealistic words. With the corrupt UN, we won't know what's going out the back door. And if the UN is enriching uranium, what's to stop the UN for developing its own bomb sub-rosa? could such a project be done off the books, with the UN's budget? Or financed by illicit uranium sales? What happens when every tin-horn dictator decides he's had enough of America, and the UN votes for America to do something "or else", and we find out what "or else" is? These are the folks whose soldiers can't be trusted with a rifle and a penis at the same time, and we're going to let them have fissionable material?!

Steyn on tasteful mourning

This is simply too good not to link:

Every morning I wake up to a gazillion e-mails from fellows wishing me ill,...usually ending with pledges to come round and shove various items in a particular part of my anatomy. There's so much shipping scheduled to go up there I ought to get Dubai Ports World in to run it.

And:
James Lileks wrote the following:

"If 9/11 had really changed us, there'd be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there's a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don't. And we don't seem interested in asking why."


And:
We fight tastefully, too. Last week one of America's unmanned drones could have killed 200 Taliban big shots but they were attending a funeral and we apparently have a policy of not killing anybody near cemeteries out of sensitivity.

Oom-pa!

Just back from playing the largest display of public drunkenness in the US, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, with the Joe Wendel Ensemble.

Continue reading "Oom-pa!"

Bunny killing a felony in Kansas

As if the evolution brouhaha weren't enough, animal cruelty is a felony in Kansas. And what is animal cruelty? Well, according to the authorities in Lawrence, it is cruel to put your rabbit in a plastic bag and then break its neck. Never mind that breaking necks is one of the recommended procedures in the literature for killing rabbits for slaughter. Austin Newport doesn't seem quite all there, and his female "former roommate" seems to have had an agenda. But I'd like to see this go to trial, with a crapload of expert witnesses. And if the jury decides that Newport was cruel, then the judge should make them decide just what methods of rabbit slaughter are not cruel.

Story is here (8/30/06)...trackback and permalik URLs only bring up empty pages.

With all the Brittanys around

...why aren't there more Lorraines? I can see why parents might not call their girls Alsace: too much like Alice. But why not Limousin? It's sort of like Tiffany, redolent of lost elegance. But let's face it, nobody is going to name their child Languedoc.

Race to the bottom for oil?

I wish my father, and everyone else who had a conspiracy theory about the price of gas, would read this:


Large pension and commodities funds are the big traders and they're seeking profits. They've sunk $105 billion or more into oil futures in recent years, according to Verleger. Their bets that oil prices would rise in the future bid up the price of oil.

That, in turn, led users of oil to create stockpiles as cushions against supply disruptions and even higher future prices. Now inventories of oil are approaching 1990 levels.

But many of the conditions that drove investors to bid up oil prices are ebbing.

So they're going to get screwed. And with them, maybe the rest of the economy. And all those union pension funds, that bid up the price of oil and then blamed it on the oil companies.

Natural gas is falling too.

But, of course, it will be Bush telling his buddies in the oil biz to drop the price before the election....

Living without papers: it can be done.

Thomas Ball stabbed a girl in 1963. He did a dozen years in the Michigan pen, then got sent to the funny farm...where he escaped. Wednesday he was arrested.

He hooked up with a woman named Dollie Martin in Tennessee, who didn't ask many questions about his past, and helped him get jobs. She died last year, so he applied for federal assistance. That was his undoing.

I don't condone stabbing girls, and think 20-40 is a little light for that. I don't condone women being patsies. But going to prison for filing for federal benefits dulce et decorum est. And I have to honor his resourcefulness in evading the police for so long. The moral of the story? Your relationships will carry you farther than anything else in life.

The Divine Right of Kings

"For me it is clear: If two-thirds of the Dutch population should want to introduce the Sharia tomorrow, then the possibility should exist," Donner said. "It would be a disgrace to say: 'That is not allowed!'"
Or if they vote for... Mandatory church attendence? Chattel slavery? The Final Solution? ...it's okay?
The justice minister said, according to the Dutch Expatica News, "It must be possible for Muslim groups to come to power (in the Netherlands) via democratic means."

Mob rule and tolerance are incompatible values.

Air America going bankrupt.

I've got to regret this particular flop-in-the-marketplace. If these people can't get their message out in a moral manner, they'll be lobbying the gooferment for a revival of the "Fairness Doctrine" (censorship by cost imposition). Besides, it's a GOOD thing to have people be reminded of the idiocy and intellectual bankruptcy of the Left on a regular basis, just like it's good that folks like Ernie Sanders are on the air, preaching theocracy.

"Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

Patrick Stewart will have his pentagram

...no thanks to the VA, who is still stonewalling on this issue. But the State of Nevada says it's their veteran's cemetary, and what the VA thinks just doesn't matter.

Good on him, about freaking time, but this really doesn't resolve the issue.If somebody worships Donald Duck and dies for his country, then put Donald Duck on the tombstone, already. That this was even an issue is an insult to the dead...ALL the dead, even the ones with crosses.

Eris has returned

The golden apple has rolled into our solar system. And while Michael Brown is right that it was "too perfect to resist", astronomers need to be careful about who and what they evoke fnord. Right after we got Pluto, we got the atom bomb. What gegiftet gift will the Goddess of Discord bring us?

Kallisti!

Sure we're gay

Two elderly British sisters want to be treated as lesbians in civil union, for tax purposes. And I say: why not? I suspect it would be easier for them to simply declare themselves gay and get "married". But there's probably a law against gay siblings getting "married", even though there's no compelling State interest for such a law; after all, it's not like they're going to reproduce. They'd doubtless find such a union "quite improper", but hey, they're old ladies; they can get away with being a bit dotty. And there are folks who would say, "Oh how sweet! It's just like 'gay until graduation': queer until the bier."

These ladies are demonstrating the absurdity of the law. I've been using those scare quotes because the State can't marry gays, for the same reason it can't marry straights: it's not part of a valid apostolic succession, and thus is not able to administer the Sacraments. We're all domestic partners. And what is the State's interest, and the individual's interest, in domestic partnership? If it's security for children, then there's no point in gay "marriage" unless there's already a child, either naturally or by adoption. And if it's about children, wouldn't "one of each" be preferable? If it's about sex, do you want the government to have an interest in your conjugal relations? Just as we don't need a state licence to screw, having a state licence is no proof that we are actually getting any.

No, "marriage" is primarily about estate planning, and certain economic rights and obligations. That being the case, why bring sex into it at all? "Marry" your gay lover, "marry" your sister, "marry" your adult child; I don't care. If the state shouldn't discriminate against homosexuals, why should it discriminate against asexuals?

MI to tell girls they must get poked?

They've had a vaccine for human papilloma virus for three months now, and already the women of the Michigan legislature want to make it mandatory. Hey. I'm all for preventing cervical cancer. But I have a problem when government tells you what to stick into your childrens' bodies, and when the state zaps employers or the Federal government $360 per dose. And oh, before anyone accuses me of misogyny, I'd have the same problems with a prostate cancer shot.

Path Pt. 2

Yes, I sat through it, and Leerless Feeder's address. By the end, I wondered why I felt compelled to relive that horror. I mean, I have never listened to John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls. I've heard a bit, enough to guess that he did that about as well as it could be done, but the taste was enough to tell me to stay well away, for my mental health.

The worst part: after the sheeple were good and riled up, ABC had to have an "investigative report" saying that they were shocked, SHOCKED that people could still buy ammonium nitrate. Oh yeah, lobby your congressman, screw the farmer. I turned in late, and in bad humor.

Yard-sign count on my way home last night

Blackwell: 0
Strickland: 0
Peirce: 11

It doesn't really mean anything. But it put a smile on my face.

My heart bleeds purple Kool-aid

Apparently neither group of Cigarette Nazis have enough valid signatures to be on the ballot.

In the case of SmokeFreeOhio, it's another case of petition technicalities, though this time Blackwell was the source of the problem, and the courts are disallowing the petitions. I suppose that for the sake of consistency, I should be crying about this. But given that there is no right to a public vote regarding the use of private property, I can only applaud.

Who is Big Oil?

...Big Government! And they don't do oil production any better than they do anything else.

Thanks to Balko.

On the last morning of free America

I got to work just before 8:30, as usual, opened up the library, got my email and dealt with it, opened Netscape, around 9...and there on the home page was something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Shrug. Tragedies happen all the time, and I don't pay much attention to them. A few people die, life goes on. Some drunk or crazy private pilot, probably. I didn't click on the headline; I did whatever I'd opened the browser for.

Continue reading "On the last morning of free America"

Path to 9/11

I don't watch TV, but made an exception last night to watch the ABC miniseries. Why? Because the Left had done such a good job of advertising it. Yes, Wile E. Coyote is a client of Acme Political Strategies, Inc., and has managed to blow himself up again. Apparently they succeeded in censoring the series, leaving it to end early by about the amount of time taken by the erased portion of the Watergate tapes. (Some of the missing scenes are discussed here.) But Berger and Albright still come off badly, and as for Clinton, his first appearance is saying "I did not have sexual relations...", and after that, it's impossible to take him seriously. Come on, most of us lived through that; did Clintoon really think he could shove those years down the memory hole?

The reason the Clintoon admin comes off badly is simple truth, and it really makes me wonder why they raised such a brouhaha. The Democratic position, then as now, was that terrorism is a law enforcement problem. (A current iteration of that position may be found here.) If they truly believe that this position is correct, then they should be HAPPY that Albright and Berger are shown putting the position into practice, defending the forces of law and order against those who would violate the rights of weirdbeards. But they know, as the American public knows, that this position has been discredited by history. They want to continue to hold the position (largely because it is not the Republican position) while not having the embarrassing history around. Thus the censorship (and when politicians start talking about broadcast licences, it IS censorship, as much as taxation is robbery at gunpoint, even if the gun isn't brandished at the time.)

I'll be watching tonight to make sure (as rumor has it) that the non-whiny group of clowns is also made to look bad.

Oh yeah, Cooper City FL is prepared for hurricanes

Under the city law, once the city declares a state of emergency, officials would be able to regulate fuel and alcohol sales, close any place of public assemblage and prohibit public possession or display of firearms. In addition, they would be able "to confiscate merchandise, equipment, vehicles or property needed to alleviate any emergency condition."
I see a lot of city officials who need to be unemployed.
Kleiman said Cooper City residents should be happy because their city has taken preventative steps to ensure their well-being.
And if you've taken your own preventive steps to ensure your family's well-being? Kiss them goodbye.

Yee-HA! LPO wins elections appeal.

Libertarian Party of Ohio v. J. Kenneth Blackwell (04-4215)

The LPO’s second claim, which is not moot, is that the combination of two Ohio election regulations – the requirement that all political parties nominate their candidates via primary election and the requirement that all minor political parties file a petition with the Secretary 120 days in advance of the primary – imposes an unconstitutional burden on its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free association, by effectively preventing it from gaining access to the general election ballot in the twelve months preceding a presidential election. Following the analytical framework set forth by the Supreme Court in Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780 (1983), and its progeny, we find that the combination of these two requirements imposes a severe burden on the constitutional rights of the LPO, its members, and its potential voter-supporters. As the regulations are not narrowly tailored and do not advance a compelling state interest, Ohio’s system for registering new political parties violates the Constitution. Thus, we reverse the ruling of the district court.
and:
The State has made no clear argument regarding the precise interests it feels are protected by the regulations at issue in the case, relying instead on generalized and hypothetical interests identified in other cases. Reliance on suppositions and speculative interests is not sufficient to justify a severe burden on First Amendment rights.

This seems to me to be a pretty narrow decision. Judge Clay, in his dissent, wanted to take it farther and consider the strict application of voter law, which the majority found moot. Griffin wanted to declare the whole matter moot. Gibbons wasn't interested in telling the legislature how to run their elections, except to say that the past way wouldn't do...which probably means a lawsuit or two and some hard legislative lobbying.

Still, it's a very fine day when I see Blackwell get spanked.

Warren Jeffs = David Koresh?

Ilana Mercer draws a comparison between the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Branch Davidians, and in the process demolishes the rape charges against Jeffs.

Yes, I think they're freaking weird. But it's their religion. It's not like they're out kidnapping Catholic schoolgirls to serve as supernumary wives.

But does urging someone to engage in what one perceives to be marital sex amount to being complicit in a rape?
Only if you're Catherine MacKinnon. This muddying of the notion of rape can only result in less prosecution of real rape.
As Court TV has reported, "Under state law, it is a crime to have sexual relations with anyone under the age of 18 unless the parties are legally married to each other. Because a polygamous marriage can never be legal, the men marrying teenagers as second, third or fourth wives [are] guilty of statutory rape, or sexual conduct with a minor." Thus a determination of rape here rests not so much on whether evidence exists that a woman was forced to have sex against her will, but on her position in the harem!

Katie Couric is going to need a ratings boost Real Soon Now. I'm waiting for the rabbit screams, the tanks, the fake meth lab, and finally the auto-da-fe'.

Clinton getting a custom hybrid SUV

...a Mercury Mariner. But he really should have gotten...

(rim shot)

...a Hummer

In a Czech speakeasy

..an expat is questioned about life in the states:

And I was, sadly, forced to confirm their fears. Zdanek asked, wide-eyed with disbelief, if you could really go to jail for a joint. I told him about Mandatory Minimum sentancing and Three Strike laws, and he drained a half-liter of beer all in one go
.

Ohioans will vote for youth unemployment

They won't think they're doing that. They won't think, period. What's to think about? Everybody wants more money. But every rise in the minimum wage has led to unemployment among unskilled and marginal workers, which is something this state can't afford, given its precarious economy.

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage (a front group for the AFL-CIO) has put on the ballot something people have no right to vote on: a contract between two people, and the use of an individual's wealth as he sees fit. If there is any chance of defeating this at all, it's going to require a stronger advocate than Ohioans to Protect Personal Privacy, which has built its campaign around what it says are burdensome record-keeping requirements embedded in the amendment. That may be the case, but it's really besides the point. Personal privacy was breached the minute the state stuck its nose into private deals between employer and employee.

A coalition of Commie pastors will be supporting the job redistribution, in spite of Matthew 20.

Germaine Greer should stick to feminism

Evidently she's tired of Steve Irwin's "massive insensitivity" to animals, and while not cheering his death like some rude people,she opined that “It’s no surprise that he came to grief.”

Of course, this is the woman who condemned Lord of the Rings for attracting “spaced-out hippies, environmentalists, free-market libertarians, social conservatives, pacifists, new-age theosophists, sexists and racists the world over.” Gee, doesn't that add up to most of humanity?

“I am sick and tired of programs that tell me that the world is full of wicked, nasty, powerful, deadly creatures," she says. You mean, like the evening news?

And they say Cleveland is poor

From DeCoster:

In Detroit, where the government's "unemployment rate" is the highest of any metro area: "Nearly 7,000 homes, more than a year's worth, are up for sale; 7,422 homes in the county are in foreclosure (that figure swelled by 39% in July alone); and prices from January through June are down 6.6% from the same period last year." Homes in the upper crust Grosse Pointes are taking 1-2 years to sell, if they sell at all. Meanwhile, people are fleeing GM, Ford, and Chrysler (or are getting fired), and are snapping up jobs in places like Charleston, Charlotte, and Georgia. One ex-GM engineer friend of mine, who is in the process of settling at a new job in Charleston said, "It seems like everyone here is from the Detroit area." The Yankee invasion?

Grass-fed or not?

Producers who keep cattle on pasture began asking the Agriculture Department in the late 1990s to set standards to help sell their beef as truly grass-fed.

That was their first mistake. Now the USDA is proposing rules, and nobody is happy about them. The cavil about silage is irrelevant; in much of the country, you aren't going to have grass to feed all year long. But if they don't have to be on pasture most of the time, you're developing an irrelevant label. In any case, why can't grass-feeders get together and start their own certification? Why should it be government's job, and specifically a branch of government bought and paid for by agribiz?

World fat blamed on Western ag policy

I don't much like the righteous tone of this piece. But it's spot-on about the nature of American farm subsidies, which are centered around grain production, either directly used or fed to cattle, and that the world (and us) would be better off without them.

Random thought about people who work with dangerous animals.

I wonder what Roy Horn thinks about Steve Irwin.

"Paris Hilton's" new topless album

The business side of me of course deplores the fraud involved in this, and the trouble that HMV was put through. But as cultural and musical commentary, and a fine prank, Banksy's latest is a home run.

As for "intellectual property" considerations: can one use "Paris Hilton" and "intellectual" in the same sentence without laughing?

The library giveth, the library taketh away

They'd completed a SUMMER READING PROGRAM. You'd think they'd be beyond eating lead paint.

If this showed up as a plotline on Unshelved (and it will), people would be giving Gene and Bill crap because it was unrealistic.

Shanghai educrats imitate Henry Ford

History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we made today. Henry Ford, Interview in Chicago Tribune, May 25th, 1916

The Chinese agree:

When high school students in Shanghai open their history textbooks this autumn they may be in for a surprise. The new standard world history text drops wars, dynasties and Communist revolutions in favour of colourful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs and globalisation.

Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once - in a chapter on etiquette.

Nearly overnight the country's most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today's economic and political goals.

History without Mao is so much easier to teach: no Great Leap Forward, no Cultural Revolution. No spin or editing required. The government has always been your friend and protector.

Judge blocks effort to keep Harry Quick from registering to vote

This was probably just as well, as it was an unwieldy and unfocused attempt to solve the problem.

At a hearing Friday before O'Malley, lawyers for the state said such tactics led to fraudulent registration cards with names like Mickey Mouse and Jive Turkey. The changes would prevent those types of scams, state attorney Richard Coglianese said.
The problem is not voter registration, but people being paid to register voters. And nobody sane would pad their cash cow with obviously false names. They'd use something sensible...like Harry Quick.

Harry showed up at my address during the 2004 election cycle. I found out about him on November when I went to vote. Fortunately, he hadn't signed to vote, though that means nothing as I tend to vote early. I notified the poll workers at that point. I received several other bits of official mail for Harry, which I sent back with notes attesting to his non-existence. Finally, after I moved, the PO forwarded (which they aren't supposed to do) a jury summons for Harry. I think I finally killed Harry off, or at least convinced somebody that he no longer lives in Cuyahoga Co. In the process, I found out that he was probably my big brother (b. 1953) and that he was (surprise!) a Democrat. (as if I would let a Democrat live under my roof. Well, Rusty claims to be a Democrat, but that's for sentimental not for ideological reasons, union girl from the Valley and all that. And since she's my wife I get to do with her literally what I would metaphorically do to Democrats generally.) The relative non-reponsiveness of the authorities didn't help preserve any faith I had in the electoral system.

Seattle: the word is no longer Thunderbird

"Alcohol impact area" -- what a lovely concept! Seattle has 'em, and the mayor, council and state liquor board have conspired to ban sales of 29 brands of beer and wine in the zones, in response to citizen complaints about "homeless alcoholics".

Do I really need to show what's wrong with this picture? Given that some idiot got the idea, and another idiot voted for him, I guess so.

First let's deal with principle...and the principle is equality before the law. Picking out specific brands discriminates against certain manufacturers. More than that, it's racist, given that Old English 800 and Thunderbird (and the others) have a definite association with Certain Ethnics, so that a ban affects them disproportionately. (Would it ever occur to anyone to ban Jägermeister?) There are a lot of equally potent microbrews in Seattle; why aren't they on the list? It is an "alcohol impact area" not a "Colt 45 impact area." And what of the many hard-working people who come home from their Hard Work and like to drink malt liquor?

Then there are the consequences. Since the homeless don't stay at home, or rather, where they stay is home, they'll migrate to other parts of the city where they can buy their favorite tipple, pissing off those neighborhoods. Meanwhile, assuming they don't find equally high-value beverages to sell that aren't on the list, the small stores will go under and we'll have yet more complaining about neighborhoods underserved by groceries and discrimination against the Certain Other Ethnics who run the stores. And it won't dry anyone up; it will just encourage alternative beverages. Maybe there'll be a renaissance of moonshining.

"Well, okay, smarty," you might say. "How would you fix the problem?" Well, I don't see the drinking as a problem separate from that of homelessness. But if it is, there are many solutions, of varying humanity, morality, and constitutionality. My own Modest Proposal is this: since Seattle has shown itself willing to legislate morality already, and in honor of its strong anti-war contingent, I think they should just institute Sharia and be done with it.

Thaks to dustbury, via (accidentally) rightwingprof.

Ohio, put on your scarlet P

COLUMBUS - An Ohio legislative panel yesterday rubber-stamped an unprecedented process that would allow sex offenders to be publicly identified and tracked even if they've never been charged with a crime.

They call this a "civil registry", and those named would be treated as those covered under Megan's law, including being restricted in where they could live.

And whose bright idea was this?

The concept was offered by Roman Catholic bishops as an alternative to opening a one-time window for the filing of civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse that occurred as long as 35 years ago.

In other words, to protect the church's assets, the bishops threw the rest of Ohio to the dogs. That should be worth 7 aeons in Purgatory, at least.

But we all hate perverts, right? Let me spell out a hypothetical, for the paranoia-challenged out there. Let's say I'm a gadfly politician, and I've pissed off the county prosecutor. He trumps up some evidence about me being a child molester and brings it to the judge. The judge is convinced by it, and puts me on the list. There's no trial, so I can't argue against his evidence. Now, let's be optimistic and say I don't have to move, and the neighbors don't much care. (I got notices several times in my old 'hood, and the perp was generally accused of stupid stuff like 19 diddling 15...certainly nothing to fear or change behavior over.) Now, say I run for office, and the opposition does its homework. Bingo! Suddenly the whole freaking nation knows "he's a pervert", and my electability has plunged to just below that of Genghis Khan.

A friend of mine just said she was moving because she did not feel safe being a freedom-lover in Ohio. I derided that remark a little, at the time. I'm not now.

Thanks (I think) to Clairefiles.

No BVM in your yard

Anyone who would buy into any development with a homeowners association is nuts. Anyone who would do so contingent on promises that were not put in writing is a fool. What's this country coming to, when you can't place a 2-foot Virgin Mary in your own yard?

I hope the association board members get stuck with some overpriced property.