Monday, June 28, 2004

Remember the Constitution? Apparently, so did the Supreme Court - good ruling and a good story.

Enemy combatants win right to U.S. courts

Friday, June 25, 2004

It would have been nice if they linked to damn study, but the practical upshot of this is that jobs won't be lost - they'll be moved somewhere else. Lose a job doing one thing, gain a job doing another thing. We might lose customer service reps to smart systems, but who builds the smart systems? This is nothing but another Luddite argument, fostered by buggy whip manufacturers against Ford's Model T.

Smart systems will erase jobs, report warns - News - ZDNet

Thursday, June 24, 2004

You had to have heard about SpaceshipOne, right? Well, check out the pictures, especially the one at the bottom. I love it!
Photos from the First Private Manned Spaceflight - 6/21/04 - Mohave, CA

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Very nicely done future history piece - well worth the read and the consideration.
D.C. Dispatch | 2004.06.22 | Taylor
Wonder how long this will hold up in federal court? The equal-protection clause argument is compelling, unfortunately more so than the Ninth or Tenth Amendment arguments...
COURTTV.COM - TOP NEWS - Utah Supreme Court allows use of peyote by non-Indians

Monday, June 21, 2004

A blow to privacy - why am I not surprised by this? The Supreme Court continues to inore the Constitution (Fourth Amendment) and the teachings of history by helping to further the centralization of power with government.
KRT Wire | 06/21/2004 | Police can require names, Supreme Court rules
Interesting, if a little redundant at times. This quote is worth the price of admission - when asked by Tim Russert about mismanagement of the war in Iraq, Sec'y of State Colin Powell answer started: "Well, it's succeeded in its principal objective of eliminating this regime... "

I agree with the author - it's refreshing to see a government official stating the war was about regime change rather than some kind of neocon morality at work. With this admission, can we now count on the impeachment of Geo. W. Bush? Doubt it, but knowing this was the mindset of the administration, it slants anything else he says.

Colin Powell's Vanishing Credibility by Jude Wanniski
KIRO-TV in Seattle is reporting a story about a man who drowned while swimming at a local lake. According to the news story (watch the video), the family is going to be contacting to county to find out why there wasn't a lifeguard on duty, and why the park they were at wasn't closed because there was no lifeguard on duty.

I think I know why there wasn't a lifeguard on duty - the county doesn't have the money to pay lifeguards. The county has posted signs at all swimming areas that there are no lifeguards on duty, and that people swim at their own risk.

This man's death is a tragedy - he was reportedly a strong swimmer, and the fact that this happened on Father's Day makes it more poignant. The pain the family is feeling is real and needs to be handled, but not by petitioning the county to either hire lifeguards or close local parks. Hiring life guards will require higher taxes, and closing parks just gives the county one less reason to exist. I'm tired of having money stolen from me at gunpoint (yes, all taxes are armed robbery - try not paying them) to help keep people safe from themselves. Life has risks, and in this case, the risk was posted in red letters on a white sign. If this family is illiterate, then our schools have failed us - again (but that's another essay).

One other thing this family needs to know - lifeguards are not required by any law to save lives. I am a trained lifeguard (by the American Red Cross), and one of the things we are taught is that, when someone fights us during a rescue, we should kick away and let them burn themselves out. If we cannot help someone (too big, too much fight, or we would be putting ourselves in danger attempting the rescue), we should kick away and let them go. The reasoning? It's better for one person to drown than for two people to drown. Even if there was a lifeguard there and on duty, there is a chance nothing could have been done. There is no telling what their reaction to that situation would be, although I would guess a lawsuit naming the guard, the county, and the Red Cross would be on it's way through the courts right now.

This was a tragic accident, and this family needs help in dealing with their grief, but turning to the county for some sort of perverted closure by asserting that everyone is incapable of keeping themselves safe is not the answer.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Very interesting analysis of the Supreme Court non-ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance.
Untitled Document
A piece of history I never learned in school - hell, it wasn't until I was out of college that I learned the Japanese had invaded and held parts of Alaska during WWII. Interesting piece, needs to be verified (not that I don't trust the author, I just don't trust media in general), and good analogy to today's endless conflict.

Censorship's Trial Balloons - What happens when wartime news gets censored? By Liam?Callanan

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Not sure what this judge was smoking, but obviously whatever it was made him forget case law and contract law - just because you don't read a contract doesn't make it unenforcable. Ask anyone who failed to read the fine print and got burned. This is the same situation, except the consumers are the ones trying to enforce the contract rather than the business.

Judge tosses online privacy case | CNET

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

It's everywhere - you've heard the story, or read it somewhere. One point to make clear, in case your local talking heads missed it.

The Supreme Court did NOT rule the Pledge of Allegiance to be constitutional. They said the plaintiff didn't have the right to make the case he did. They made no ruling on the Pledge itself.

In other words, this ain't over - there's another case coming through the Ninth Circuit that should force the Supreme Court to make that call, should it get that far. - Atheist father blasts decision on pledge
Crooks in the White House - nothing new, but some good evidence that the President's legal counsel needs to be taken behind the woodshed and given some lessons in law and jurisprudence.

This man, one Alberto Gonzales, showed in Texas that he can take rigidly defined laws and treaties and say they don't apply. With a looser definition in the "War on Terror" and much more at stake, this slippery snake is going to wreak havoc unless he is stopped.

Lone Star Justice - Alberto Gonzales' strange views of international law. By Alan?Berlow

Monday, June 14, 2004

There was a comment to the story I just posted that I had to respond to. I doubt the guy, kjantz, reads my blog, but it's indicative of the type of thinking I run into, and I'd like to respond here anyway.

As much as I dislike and distrust governmental regulatory agencies, I have to admit I distrust business even more, they need to be ridden herd on outside the bloated, expensive, inefficient justice system we've created.

Ridden herd? These companies aren't cattle, they're what creates the Gross National Product of this country, pay taxes, and employ people. In a lot of cases, they're actually in the pockets of politicians for favors, like spectrum in the public airwaves. Businesses that don't get your business don't stay viable for long, whereas politicians are viable for at least a term limit, and most of the time your vote doesn't count if two of your neighbors think the other way. Your distrust of business is less a function of business and more a function of politics, polticians, government corruption, and your own proclivities.

Do you really think a monopoly wouldn't be created is valuable airwaves went up for public bid, and then got resold to the highest bidder? Guess who would pay for that obscene profit taking--the public.

Monopolies are created in two ways - a business provides a service that is so superior that everyone uses it (Microsoft). The second way is that government creates the monopoly to provide "better service" (Amtrak). Now your task is to find two things - another operating system for your computer, and another passenger train from Seattle to New York. I'll wait...

Quite possibly a monopoly would be created - the Baby Bells are busy organizing themselves back into one big company as we speak. But there will always be hold outs, someone who won't sell. In real estate terms, the government can assert eminent domain to get the land. Without the FCC, there courts are the only arbiters, and I trust them more than I trust agencies with no Constitutional authority.

You think no business can afford the price? They'll find a way--perhaps foreign investment.

Like our foreign investments in the Middle East for oil? Business investment is much different than government investment. Without profit, there's no reason for a business to invest in a monopoly. Government invest (i.e. steal your money in the form of taxes and shuttle to other governments) for power.

Monopolies also have another problem - market saturation. Microsoft is fighting this now - when everyone has Windows, there's no one left to sell to. Now what do you do? You need to be profitable, or your company goes under. So to make money, maybe you sell/rent some ofyour airwaves to other people.

You think anti-trust laws are enforceable? Take a look at Microsoft.

They worked as far as I can tell, and as far as they were applied. Microsoft doesn't engage in those practices anymore - was that not good enough for you? Or do you propose Microsoft should have been forcibly broken up by the government? I guess it worked for AT&T...

Proud of the 'free' internet---I don't like spam taking up valuable bandwidth and my allocated mailbox space, the crooks that scam people through these schemes, the porn that is readily available.

Yes I am - I filter my spam, have an ISP that doesn't count filtered spam towards my e-mail limits (free market at work - you should find a new ISP/e-mail provider), am smart enough to avoid the scams, and aren't attracted to the porm.

Your first complaint is a function of a free market - people marketting and advertising their wares via spam. Well, if it wasn't so cost effective to do so, it wouldn't be a problem. In short, they're making more money from the spam than it cost them to send it. Either stop clicking through the spam, or make it cost more for them to send it.

Your second complaint smacks of the mommy state - do we need to protect everyone from scam artists and hustlers? I don't want that job, and I'd resent anyone who came to me trying to do that job.

Your last complaint is absurd - I'm offended by religious television programming. I certainly don't think it should be outlawed - I just don't watch it. For you, it's pornography - don't look, don't buy it, and get on with your life. No one guaranteed this life would be without pain or offense or outrage - if you think your morality trumps mine and entitles you to a law enforcing that morality, you're wrong.

The Internet is a perfect example of what unregulated business is really like.

Yes it is - unfettered business that is driven by market forces. It's beautiful - if I don't want to pay for a service, I don't. If I find it cheaper somewhere else, I take my business there. If I don't like porn, I don't go to those sites.

With government, try not paying for the service sometime - it's called tax evasion, and they'll draw a gun on you to make you pay. If you find a service cheaper somewhere else, you can pay for that while paying the government too - the Post Office still gets your money even if you use Fed Ex or UPS. If you don't like a service, tough - you get it anyway, you can't opt-out of government.

The free market is better than any central planning from government, plain and simple. It is not, however, safer - you might get your fingers burned. That's the price of freedom. And I'm willing to pay it.
Good follow-up commentary on a previous article by the same author. For the record, I'm a proponent of doing away with the FCC, as well as auctioning off national parks and federal wildlife preserves. The White House - well, let's just auction off it's current inhabitant. Oops, wait, already done - big oil got him before my eBay bid got through...

One line he used in this article rings true: "People tend to be better stewards of what they own than of public property they don't."

Abolish the FCC? You're crazy - News - ZDNet

Friday, June 11, 2004

I love Ron Paul. If you can choose where to live, move to Texas and move to his district, and keep voting for him.

Superpower or Superdebtor? by Rep. Ron Paul
Good, but long, essay on the President. I especially liked the comparison by Alexander Hamilton of the President he was proposing for the new Constitution and teh King of England. See if you can spot the differences...

Down With the Presidency by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Interesting - seems there's a Christian group out there trying to do the same thing as the Free State Project, but with a different goal. Ned Barnett, a politcal consultant, is quoted in the story - Ned is right and wrong. States do have a right to secede, always have and always will. However, the federal government took that right away at the point of a gun. That doesn't make it legal or correct, just enforced. Hope these Christians arms themselves well... - Family - Group Wants Christians To Fill S.C., Secede

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Another e-mail, this time more disturbing, from one Gina Clemmer at Smartgirl Technologies, advertising a US$250 Seattle Demographic Analysis Workshop for June 25, 2004. This one takes place in Bellevue, Washington, and promises to teach me how to extract demographic info from the latest census (1990 and 2000) and other survey data. To sell the workshop, they include participant comments from two public agencies (King Country Public Health Department and UW - yes, UW is a public agency as long as the state keeps funding them) and two other organizations (NPower Seattle and Seattle Goodwill).

What's disturbing is what they say I'll be able to do - namely extract, plot, and track demographic data including Poverty, Race, Age, Housing, Language, and Transportation. How do they get that from the census? The census is about apportioning the number of Representatives each state gets to send to Congress(U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, amended by Amendment 14). All the census takers can ask is how many people live at this address, so we can get the right number of congressmen (one for every 30,000 people, again Article 1, Section 2). Anything else is specifically prohibited (Amendment 10).

So these people are telling me how to mine data gathered illegally, and selling CD's full of illegally gathered data as well. Too bad this information isn't in musical form - the RIAA might do something about it then. As it is, this will be ignored by our government, and the people selling this show have no incentive to blow the whistle on themselves.

To stop this, then next census that comes around, make sure you answer what you should - how many people live at the address listed. Anything else is prohibited, and you can explain that to the census taker who shows up, if they have the intelligence to read and understand the simple English of the Constitution (yes, simple English - you want complicated English, try Chaucer or Thomas Pynchon).
OK, I just got the wierdest mail from the Libertarian Party of Washington State (LPWS) - the party was invited by the student Republicans at the Univeristy of Washington in Seattle to participate in a vigil for Ronald Reagan, recently deceased. I've been asked to bring candles, flowers, pictures, and my favorite quotes or speeches. I'm to be there at 9:00pm on June 9.

Now, aside from the (questionable) good karma we get by being invited to a semi-official event by the student supporters of a major political party, why would I want to go to this?

Reagan was called "The Great Communicator" - I've no doubt it was because he was a trained and paid actor in his previous life.

Reagan ran up the federal deficit more than any other president before him and set the stage for Bush the Elder, Clinton, and Bush the Younger to follow in his footsteps.

He's creditted with ending a Cold War that was fizzling out on it's own.

He did not fulfill campaign promises to end welfare.

Maybe I'll go, and bring some of my best quotes - I can guarantee I won't be flattering. Hope I don't get attacked for attacking the (late) Great Communicator.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Brilliant piece on the drug war from a British point of view. I especially liked the contrast between anti-drug policy and anti-terror policy, and how they are both moving in opposite directions, in fact supporting each other's problem.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

Good article sent to me by a motorcycle riding friend. It goes to show that if the government isn't out to get you, your employer may be. Send a message - order pizza from Domino's. And tell Pizza Hut what you think of their damn "policy".

WorldNetDaily: Pizza man saved by gun, but fired for packin' heat

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

This man, more than anyone, makes me want to move to Texas.
Freedom vs. Security: A False Choice by Rep. Ron Paul
While I would in no way label myself "progressive", this brief article makes sense to me. Politics makes strange bedfellows? I don't think so - even stopped clocks are right twice a day.
Ashcroft Degrades American Democracy - Center for American Progress