Logan Clements, Defender of American Rights

"Just Desserts" indeed...

Finally, something to make me smile a little.


Fun Quotes

Randy Barnett has also remarked upon the line I noted from Kelo. He enabled comments to find other good judicial quotes. Given my particular interests, I tend to agree with Will Baude. He posted Judge Kozinski's statement about the 2nd Amendment. I've posted it before, but it bears repeating.
The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed--where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees-- however improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Once again, I find it disheartening that many of the quotes brought out that provide a postive view of individual liberty seem to come from the dissent.

Fight Kelo

I've been reading a lot of the reaction to Kelo online. One of the oft-repeated suggestions is to fight it at the state and local level. I'm all for that, but I didn't quite know how. My position on eminent domain is so far off the charts that it doesn't even register. Any solution I would propose is probably counter-productive.

However, Virginia Postrel points out the text of what a city in Texas did to limit their eminent domain authority. I think it's a hell of a good first step, and something that you should consider trying to get passed in your community. The Castle Coalition has lots of good info as well.

Her post also points out the lack of a well-defined theory of when externalities justify government intervention. That's an interesting subject that I'm not sure is subject to a simple test.

Be Proud

The Houston Gay Pride Parade was this past weekend. Paul has photos. We don't have photos because someone left the camera in the car and nobody wanted to walk back and get it.

One addition this year was the crowd control barriers freakin' everywhere. In years past, the only place with the metal fences was the actual corner of Montrose & Westheimer. The first year J and I went, we ended up on opposite sides of Westheimer. She finally found me because I was standing on one of the barriers at the corner. It's hard to miss a six foot tall guy standing on a five foot tall crowd barrier, even in the madness that is the Pride Parade.

We were standing in front of Sliders this year and the barriers came down at least that far. I guess the HPD mounted cops got tired of shooing everyone back onto the sidewalk every 30 minutes or so, which used to be what happened. The parade itself seemed to last longer than usual this year, too. I have no insight as to why, since I didn't see some floats from years past.

Anyhow, a fun time was had by most, it seemed. You should go next year.


A Different Perspective On Recent Idiocy

Orin Kerr, while indisputably a bright guy, seems to have a great lack of common sense. I base this off his statement here:
It's difficult to distinguish interstate commerce from intrastate commerce and commerce from non-commerce, and it's difficult to distinguish public use from private use.
Well, no, it’s only difficult if you’re confused and/or a lawyer. Interstate commerce is commerce that crosses state lines. No matter what people in the legal profession have argued, if the exchange of goods or services does not cross the boundary of a sovereign state, it’s not interstate. If the commerce is conducted entirely within the boundaries of a state, it’s intrastate. This is not complicated, although the legal profession has made it so. Similarly, commerce is distinguished from non-commerce in that there is an exchange of goods or services. If I give you a watermelon and receive nothing in return, it’s not commerce. Similarly, if I grow a plant in my backyard and consume it myself, it’s not commerce. The concept of exchange is basic to the idea of commerce. No exchange, no commerce. If you give me 20 bucks for some weed, it’s commerce. (Note to constitutional scholars: The concept of "affecting the market" is crap made up by weasels to justify abrogating the Constitution, mmkay?)

In a similar vein, public use is not that hard to distinguish from private use. If the government ends up owning the property, it’s public use. If another private entity ends up owning the property, it ain’t public use. Are we all clear on this? The entire legal profession can argue about how black is white and up is down and bow down before the altar of stare decisis all damn day. It doesn’t change the underlying reality. Which, in case you’re forgetting, is that the city of New London fucked over a bunch of people for the benefit of Pfizer and tried to claim that was a ‘public use’. You don’t need a law degree to see that for the bullshit it most certainly is.

I think it’s time to remind people: just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.

Too Little, Too Late

Upon further review of Justice Thomas’ dissenting opinion in Kelo v New London, I find another belated epiphany:
Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.
Gee, you think? Too bad 5 of your less-than-esteemed colleagues don’t agree.

I am heartened by the widespread anger about this decision, although I doubt it will do much good.


Property Is Theft

A belief apparently held by 5 members of the Supreme Court. After all, if all property is theft, merely reassigning the property is no more or less moral. Right? The Supreme Court today said you can never own property if someone else can generate more revenue for the state from the property than you can. In other words, your home is worth less to the state than a business park, so fuck you, business park it is. Don’t believe me? Look it up. As the opinion for the dissent puts it:
Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded - i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public -in the process.
Does anybody want to argue eminent domain is a good idea anymore? The Supreme Court said the government can take your stuff if somebody else can use it better. The road to serfdom apparently runs right through the middle of fucking SCOTUS.

For those of you that don’t have a clue what I'm ranting about, Kelo v. New London was decided today and Sploid sums it up rather nicely:

SCOTUS Gives Away Your Private Property

Any questions? I only have one. Why am I agreeing, again, with Sandra Day O’Connor? How in the hell did this happen? Apparently, she recently read the Constitution again and realized it just might mean what it says. Too bad the realization didn’t hit her sooner.

GAAAAHHHHHH! I’m so mad I could fucking spit. I leave with you two thoughts that seem applicable.

"No matter how worthy the cause, it is robbery, theft, and injustice to confiscate the property of one person and give it to another to whom it does not belong." ~ Walter Williams

"Ultimately, property rights and personal rights are the same thing. The one cannot be preserved if the other be violated." ~ Calvin Coolidge

J points out to me that SCOTUS has merely confirmed our long-standing opinion that you do not own property, you merely rent it from the state in exchange for property tax. I guess now that bargain is a little more explicit, since they can now evict the low-paying tenants in favor of new high-paying ones.

Pretentious Art Films

I think it was mentioned a while back that we signed up for Netflix. Now, instead of spending the dinner hour watching whatever random thing we find on cable, we watch the latest movie that has come in the mail. Our remedial movie watching is catching up.

The only problem is the sometimes wildly divergent tastes in cinema that occupy YPS Manor. I will watch a lot of things that J wouldn’t even pick up. She tends towards explosions and sci-fi. I’m fine with those, but also like anime, independent and foreign films. Well, in the case of those last two, like may be too strong of a word. I’m willing to give them a try, which is more than J would do if left to her own devices. I will, until I die, be hearing about the 2 hours she’ll never get back after I took her to this. Other, more recent excursions include Demonlover, The Anarchist Cookbook and the as-yet unwatched The Battle of Algiers.

So in this spirit, Ces over at Drink at Work has a list of handy hints.


Asshat Apology

So, did anybody actually read Dick Durbin’s apology? I haven’t found a good full transcript yet, so I’m going off partials from various places. Am I the only one that thinks his apology is akin to saying ”I’m sorry you got offended when I called you an asshat”? He didn’t actually retract his statement. He didn’t say he was wrong and that the comparison was inapt, overwrought and slanderous. He just said he’s sorry people got offended by his comments. He never meant to offend anyone, because, after all, he’s a politician and offending people might cost you some votes. There’s also the “you dumbasses didn’t understand me, that’s why you got offended” part in there that makes it even more special.

Some apology. Would some brave soul like to conduct an experiment for me? Try this approach with your spouse/significant other when the opportunity presents itself. I suggest something along the lines of “Gee, honey, I’m sorry you got upset with me. I’m sorry you didn’t understand what I really meant.” Let me know how it works for you. Me, I know better.


Caption Contest

I have no idea what's going on here.

"He may have crashed his truck, but I got a spiffy portable sewing machine as seen on TV. I even made this tux with it!"

Pick On PETA!

We don't like PETA much around here. First off, they are linked in ways too numerous to count to terrorist organizations. The philosophy, as noted previously, is almost completely vapid.

So once again, PETA is whacking out the animals. I remain ignorant of the ethics of throwing corpses into dumpsters, except to note it is apparently illegal. What makes PETA's slaughter and dumping of animals anymore or less ethical than someone else's? If PETA feels free to kill and discard animals simply because said animals are inconvenient or costly, why is it bad for me to eat animals? Can someone explain this to me in some fashion I can understand? How does "Ethical Treatment" translate into euthanized and thrown in a dumpster? Admittedly, I skipped most of catechism as a child. The only philosophy class I took I snoozed through. (Pass/fail, baby!) So my grasp of ethics is a tad simplistic, running mostly to Kant's Universal Law version of the categorical imperative and the golden rule.

Or can I just call it hypocrisy and be done?

H/t to Darth Apathy.



Well, I guess one of the fun things about following politics right now is watching and betting on the imminent collapse of the Democratic Party. The donks have been around in one form or another for a very long time. They are, however, pushing themselves ever closer to the brink of extinction. There is a huge disconnect between the angry left, which appears to dominate the party, and the average voter.

John Conyers, et al, are setting up make-believe impeachment proceedings in the basement of the House. Are these the actions of people trying to convince people they're serious? They're pandering to the people who are already convinced that Bush should be impeached. The average voter isn't in that group.

Similarly, Sen. Dick Durbin (D – Overwrought) has made some statements calculated to whip the fringe lunatic faithful into an orgiastic frenzy. Unfortunately, his statements and subsequent refusal to apologize for them has made most people think he and his party are lunatics.

Finally, there's Howard Dean. I'm sure he's capable of opening his mouth and not inserting his foot. I'm also sure he hasn't done it lately. Again, he is pandering to the party faithful and MoveOn wing of the donks.

The problem here, as many have pointed out, is that elections are won in the center. The crazy talk coming from the donk party is alienating the center. Somehow, the donks think that's a good idea. I don't see it as winning elections for them.


Archaic Totem of Failure

Dorothy is a genius.

Update: The cartoon that initially made me think that Dorothy was a genius. J has this in her office at work.


Unconstitutional Endorsement & Gitmo

This morning J and I were discussing the whole Koran abuse issues they're having at Gitmo. A thought, somewhat belatedly, occurred to us. Why is the government providing prisoners with Korans in the first place? Isn't that an endorsement of religion if government provides you with religious texts? I think this is blatantly unconstitutional and the ACLU should sue.

It has the nice side effect of derailing any further stories about Koran abuse. Git rid of the Koran and get rid of the abuse.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject of Gitmo, Dick Durbin is an asshat. There are parts of his speech that contain some valid criticism. However, you completely undermine that validity when you use over the top comparisons to make your rhetorical point. It is sufficient to say "This Administration’s detention and interrogation policies are placing our troops at risk and making it harder to combat terrorism." Leave out odious comparisons to totalitarian regimes, if for no other reason than the resulting uproar drowns out any points you were trying to make.

For a quick comparison, let's see how people were treated under the Soviets:
Zayenko, a mousy young man from Kharkov, disdained killing his victims with his own hands. He had a knack for artistic flogging and would end his part of the performance by skinning his victim's hands. The actual killing was left to his assistant, Eduard, who made it a point of honor never to shoot before telling the practically dead man a funny story.
Hmm. Out of all the stories I've read about this, I have yet to hear of US troops skinning anyone. Somebody needs to clue in Newsweek if that's the case.

Nazi comparisons? I think we're a little light on the body count yet. When the trains full of Muslims start running to the gas chambers, feel free to make the comparison. Until then, it's overwrought and reveals you as morally adrift in addition to being a poor speaker.

Pol Pot? Yeah, Gitmo is the same thing as Tuol Sleng or Choeung Ek. In the wildest fantasies of the most deranged leftist, maybe. In reality? Not anywhere close.

The very fact that the US Senate is having a debate on the treatment of the prisoners in Gitmo disproves the comparisons. In any of the regimes mentioned, there wouldn't be an issue about what to do with the prisoners. They'd all be dead.


Myths of Journalism

I made reference a few days ago to the myth of journalist as noble culture-hero. Seems like someone else has given the issue a lot more thought. There’s a lot of good material about journalism as religion, but this quote seems particularly relevant:
In the newsroom faith that I have been describing, Watergate is not just a big, big story with a knock-out ending. It is the great redemptive tale believers learn to tell about the press and what it can do for the American people. It is a story of national salvation: truth their only weapon, journalists save the day. Whether the story can continue to claim enough believers--and connect the humble to the heroic in journalism--is to my mind a big question. Whether it should continue is an even better question.
The idea of a religion of journalism explains a lot of the reaction from professional journalists to media criticism from the general populace. We are questioning their deeply held faith and trying to destroy the temple from without. Of course they're going to react poorly.

Happy Birthday!

The United States Army turned 230 today. I’m going to celebrate by drinking a beer. Of course, that’s how I celebrate everything, so it’s not like it’s a stretch for me. I could sing the Army song, I s’pose, but I don’t sing so well. Maybe I’ll just sing Happy Birthday instead…

Celebrity Jurisprudence: The New Legal Scholarship

Here's a fun topic for all you up and coming 3L's with a seminar due next academic year. There seems to be quite a bit of non-study on the topic of celebrity jurisprudence; what laws do and don't apply to the famous, and how they do and don't apply. I would say this is completely separate from the legal standards held to those who are just simply wealthy, as they are more often prosecuted for their crimes.

Just think about it. There could indeed be some fresh legal theory utilizing choice and conflicts of laws studies and how a non-celebrity defendent might argue that he or she is entitled to be adjudged under the same legal standards as those experiencing the benefits of the celebrity legal system.

Don't buy it? Well here are just a few basic lessons we can all learn from the law about the alternative standards of acceptablility for so-called "celebrities", (i.e. "Celebrity Jurisprudence"):

1. Celebrities are entitled to possessing child porn, and engaging in sexual activity with children (R. Kelly, 2004 & Michael Jackson 2005). The Kelly case actually looks like pretty good precedent for the Jackson case.

2. If you make a sexual assault, or any claim against any celebrity loved by the media, you, the victim, will be publicly disgraced (Kobe Bryant, 2004 & Bill Clinton, too numerous to name).

3. He who can portray his ex-wife as a whore, can just kill her as brutally as he chooses (OJ Simpson, 1995 & Robert Blake, 2005).

4. Professional Athletes can get away with damn near anything (Allen Iverson, 2002, Jayson Williams, Kobe Bryant, et. al.).

5. Celebrities can do just about anything and maintain custody of their children (Courtney Love, among others, ongoing).

6. A "right to privacy" only exists for celebrities with the "correct" point of view (Rush Limbaugh, 2005).

Hit the law libraries now, kiddies...


Jury to Jackson: Pedophilia is your right

So it appears that today's verdict should put all parents on notice that if you are insane enough to allow your children to associate with Michael Jackson, that they are almost guaranteed to be drugged and sexually assaulted, especially if they are boys, and you will have no legal recourse after the crimes occur.

At this point, if you're that dumb...you almost don't deserve any recourse anyway, except for the fact that nobody's kids should be blamed for having idiotic parents.


Make vs. Buy

The always prolific Glenn Reynolds had an article up this week on Tech Central Station. Some guy is apparently preaching the new gospel of personal fabrication. I think it’s time for a little reminder in economic realities.

The idea seems to be that in the nebulous but not too distant future, people will be using some unspecified blend of hardware and software to build their own fantastic collections of personal items. I’m dubious, for little reasons like economy of scale and design difficulty, but I’ll let that part of it slide.

The part that kind of amused me is this one:
Gershenfeld writes that it's possible to do a surprising amount of general-purpose personal design and manufacturing work by combining existing off-the-shelf components in new ways, and he spends a lot of time talking about the results of his experiments in that direction. His discussions are very interesting, but to me the most interesting thing was his discovery that lots of people want this kind of capability -- not because they hope to make money out of it, necessarily, but because they want to be able to make things for themselves that they can't buy elsewhere.
There’s a gaping hole in the argument here that should be familiar to everybody that does product design for living. There is an old story about a manager at Black and Decker walking into a conference room and asking the assembled group why people bought drills. A variety of reasons are proposed, but none strike him as correct. The reason people buy drills, he points out, is not because they have an intrinsic need for a drill. They want a hole. A drill, like all tools, is a means to that end.

In general, people do not “want to be able to make things for themselves”. What people want is the actual thing. People want the custom item, not the ability to make it. The actual manufacturing process is profoundly irrelevant to most people. If magical gnomes built it for them, they would be just as happy, provided they got what they wanted.

Can you build exactly what you want in terms of some consumer items rather than buy one off the shelf? Sure. I’ll use furniture here as an example. I can make the perfect bookcase for any room in my house. I have the knowledge, the tools, and the skills to pull this off. My house is full of bookcases that came in a box from IKEA. Kind of odd, isn’t it? The problem comes down to time and the opportunity costs thereof. All things considered, an IKEA bookcase takes about 4 hours out of my life. I’m figuring two hours, round trip, to IKEA. I’m budgeting another hour to wander the giant maze, get the shelves, and get out. Then it takes another hour back at YPS Manor for assembly. At the end, I have one bookcase. I’ve spent a Saturday morning, but I now have a place to keep more books.

Alternatively, I can spend two hours designing a bookcase. Then I can spend a couple of hours procuring the necessary materials. Then I can spend a few more hours cutting, drilling and routing the materials to size and final dimension. I now can spend a few more hours assembling the case. Then I have to worry about finishing the thing, which takes even more time. All told, I’m probably doing good to get one bookshelf built in a weekend. The opportunity cost of a lost weekend for me right now is pretty high. So it actually would take me more like a month and a half, start to finish, because I can't devote a full weekend to it at any given time. It's going to be an hour here, a couple hours there, and finally, I'll have a bookshelf.

Similarly, for most people, the opportunity cost of building things themselves is pretty high. Learning the skills necessary to do their own design/builds is also not trivial and another opportunity cost to consider. Even the dodge about assembling pre-made components has to reflect this. Figuring out how to do that is going to be time-consuming for a lot of people, not to mention the fact that design is a skill in and of itself. All the skills must be learned in addition to the actual fabrication time involved. Until the learning curve and the opportunity costs come down, most people will buy rather than build. I don’t question the assertion that people are interested in customization. I just question the idea that they are eager to do the work themselves.


Gun Control Works!

If you define 'works' as 'disarms the law-abiding'. Today's example comes from our cousins across the pond. There are days I find absurd the idea of the country which invented the concept of armed citizenry falling so far. A woman in England is going to jail for a horrible crime:
Walker, 48, stormed out of her home with a potentially lethal Walther CP88 gas-powered pistol in her hand and fired six shots at the feet of one of the terrified gang.
Yes, she shot at the ground with an air pistol and for this she gets 6 months in jail. No mention is made of her actually hitting anyone, for which I'm sure she would have been sentenced even more harshly. I find this story almost completely laughable.

Of course, I live in Texas. A long time ago, when I lived in El Paso, a man had his car vandalized repeatedly by a group of youths. He got tired of the situation, and did something similar to what the nice British woman did. Of course, this was Texas, not post-modern Britain. He shot one of the kids four times with a .357 Magnum. The family of dead youth made all the obligatory noises about good kid, would never do this, didn't deserve, &c, &c. The police didn't even arrest the man. There is a great cultural divide between Texas and the rest of the world. Incidents like this convince me I'm on the correct side of that divide.

H/t to Kim Du Toit.

Democrat Diversity

In light of the comments made this week by the DNC Chairman, I wanted to take a minute to point out that, unlike Mr. Dean, we conservatives don't believe that the Democrats are all alike. As a matter of fact, we understand that there are essentially four basic types of Democrats, and in many cases one individual Democrat can be so diverse as to fall into any one or all of these categories.

Wanna-be elitists/self-proclaimed (pseudo) intellectuals

These are people who don't actually experience the real economy. I am not going to go as far as Howard Dean to say that they don't make an honest living, because that is definitely not the case. They just make their living insulated from the same society as the rest of us. They often work in protected positions, which despite gross incompetence, make them almost impossible to terminate. This subset are the government employees, college professors, and union leadership. Some others in the category are not at all educated, but have attained their "brilliance" by way of luck, inheritence, weath and/or fame; these are the actors, musicians, and socialites. Many career politicians fit into this group as well, think Kennedys, Clintons, and John Kerry.

Racists/Race Baiters

This would be the Robert Byrd (D-White Nigger), LULAC, Je$$e Jackson, MECHA, and Al Sharpton wing of the party. Their deal is that one particular race (their own) somehow deserves lots of special goodies at the expense of all others. Of course you can broaden the category to fit the feminist fascists and rabid anti-straight homosexual lobby into this group, even though their similar views are not race based.


There is a reason why you don't hear Republicans whining about felons not getting to vote. Felons don't like conservatives. Conservatives want criminals in jail, punished, and even put to death if appropriate. Criminals are a natural Democrat constituency. They're not going to follow any of the oppressive rules Democrats want the rest of us to follow anyway...pretty much just like Democrats. This group also encompasses illegal aliens and the vast majority Democrats who are currently hold, or have ever held public office.

Traitors and Socialist/Pinko Commies

This is probably the Democrat Party's largest constituency. So many so-called "centrists" don't realize that the core ambition of many of the "activist" groups is economic collectivization coupled with eliminating all people with view points that oppose their own. It is all blame America all the time with this crowd, which encompasses the unions, ACLU, animal "rights" crazies, the "wealthy but guilty", watermelons (environmentalists), anti-globalists, the God-hating crowd, tired old hippies, professional protesters, feminists, academics, and most of the Screen Actors Guild.

So see? We recognize that Democrats aren't monolitic. It is easy to see, however, that these groups do share one common denominator: none of them actually want to live by the same bullshit tripe that they preach to the rest of us.

Three Kinds

We here at YPS will occasionally express our displeasure at the disgusting mess that American public schools have become. Part of this is due to watching what our friend’s children learn. Other parts of it are due to hanging out and drinking with teachers. Finally, the media, when it reports on schools, doesn’t fill us with a warm fuzzy feeling.

As it turns out, the media may have not been accurately portraying the true nature of the problem. Why not? The educrats are lying to them and everyone else. Apparently fudging the numbers has become a national pastime. Sweet!

Of course, my fair neighboring city is leading the way! (World-class, people, world-class!) In addition to the old news that Houston Independent School District blatantly falsified drop-out rates, we have some new tricks:

In a third of Houston’s 30 high schools, scores on standardized exams have risen as enrollment has shrunk. At Austin High, for example, 2,757 students were enrolled in the 1997–98 school year, when only 65 percent passed the 10th-grade math test. Three years later, 99 percent of students passed the math exam, but enrollment had shrunk to 2,215 students. The school also reported that dropout figures had plummeted from 4.1 percent to 0.3 percent. Rather than a sudden 20 percent drop in enrollment, the school had used a strategy of holding back low-scoring ninth-graders and then promoting them directly to 11th grade to avoid the 10th-grade exam.

Creativity! That’s what people like to see from their school districts, right? I’m not thinking so, but I don’t have kids. Maybe this is what you folks out there want for your progeny.

I’d point fingers, but I’m not sure who to blame. The problems are so endemic at this point that everyone involved has to be culpable in some way.

Oh, yes, the title of the post refers to the old saying that there are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.


Good Style May be Just Around the Corner

Looks like T, my sweet, just might get his wish. People are indeed about to start covering the fat. Ladies clothes are about to trend more modest. A Cargo Magazine poll has released what women already know; that men going commando and/or wearing speedoes is gross, sloppy dressers don't rate, and we don't want to kiss dudes with stupid facial hair.

Thank goodness...the sanity is long overdue.


Art and Politics

I have remarked before about the rarity of passionately held political or ideological beliefs translating into great art. I never thought about much beyond the simple observation.

Terry Teachout, on the other hand, has obviously thought about this a great deal. I think he hits the nail on the head:
Turning messy fact into orderly fiction necessarily entails simplification; turning it into artful fiction demands as well that this simplification acknowledge the full complexity of human nature and human experience. These seemingly contradictory requirements can easily be fumbled by the artist whose principal goal is to persuade an audience of the rectitude of his cause. We do not expect him to portray the world creatively, but to tell us the unadorned truth about things as they really are. Yet propagandists are rarely prepared to tell the whole truth and nothing but. They alter reality not in order to "make everything more beautiful" but to stack the deck.
Or, to be slightly less verbose (for once), the artist feels compelled to sacrifice the integrity of the piece to make a point. Mr. Teachout focuses primarily on the failures of progressives to make quality art to express their beliefs, but the situation exists on both sides. How many horrible country songs about freedom and America are there? I still retain a special bit of loathing for Lee Greenwood, all because of this. I don’t mean to suggest that you can’t be extraordinarily successful pandering to your base. However, successful doesn’t mean good. (For a concrete example, look at the entire career of Britney Spears.) I guess it depends on your personal approach to your art. If creating the best work you can is important, ditch the ideology. If not, go for the cheap seats. I would think it makes you just as much of a sell-out as anybody ever was.

Of course, I'm an engineer. At the end of the day, engineering work is judged on a simple and brutal criteria: does it function? It's hard to take an ideological approach to function.



Here’s the US Army’s official account of what was going on in Normandy 61 years ago today. As a bonus, I’ll throw in a link to this list.

Dead Letter

I have read a number of interesting viewpoints on the French and Dutch vote on the EU constitution. My viewpoint on the EU has always been ‘okay idea, horrible execution’. The idea of placing everything under a bureaucracy almost completely insulated from the public always struck me as a bad idea. I am also too much of a libertarian to think that the execution of the EU has been anything but a disaster for individual liberty. However, I only cursorily pay attention. After all, I live in Texas. I have enough concerns closer to me to occupy my time. (Like the idea that the Gulf Coast may be sinking.)

On the other hand, the fine folks at The Economist pay attention to the EU for a living. Their view is that the constitution is now effectively dead. I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed or surprised.

More Boomer Abuse

Neither J nor I are big fans of the baby boomers. Anybody who has to live in the detritus the boomers managed to make of the country should share our animus to some extent. One of the most annoying aspects of the boomers is the tendency to make more of their own generational experiences than the experiences of everyone else. On that topic, Jane Galt hits them squarely:
Baby boomers, many of whom seem to have trouble accepting the fact that time has passed, often seem incredulous that the major formulating events of their lives simply aren't that interesting to everyone else.
My only change to that sentence? The phrase “seem to have trouble” needs to read “are incapable of”. The world has moved on, and yet the boomers refuse to move with it. This is part of why the entire press corps seemed to orgasm last week over the revelation that some senile old man broke the law 30 years ago. (The other part, of course, being the validation of the journalist as noble culture-hero myth, which has taken quite a beating lately.) The boomers are still fixated on Watergate as the seminal event in journalism and politics.

I would just ignore the boomers, but with their impending retirement and imminent cash grab, I can’t afford the luxury of ignorance.

Bad Law Based on Bad Law is Good Law...Stoner's Cause On a Road to Nowhere

I'm not going to pretend to be some fantastic legal scholar. Hell I was part of the "2.0 and go/fuck it, I ain't practicin" crowd back in law school, so what do I care, right? I'm going to leave the real legal case analysis to the experts (I'm not worthy); however, I do have $1.05 to add on the Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U. S. ___ (2005). Whether you agree with the ruling or not, even conservatives have to admit that this opinion does indeed meet that key stare decisis criteria. Now granted, the Wickard v. Filburn 317 US 111 (1942) case was a completely crappy stretch of governmental authority designed to "constitutionalize" the New Deal, but the majority did indeed follow its own (not internationally influcenced) precendent. So, get it done in the Congress...where the fight really belongs.

Now I'm going to digress a bit.

Here's my disclaimer on this topic: I have never used an illegal drug in my life; however, personally, I am in favor of the legalization of all drugs. I say put it in the store and tax it. Drug use is a choice. Take the black market and the tainted poison off the streets; and keep stoners from overcrowding our jails. Of course, such legalization has to come with an expected personal responsibility of the consequences associated with such behavior. You want to shoot smack? Fine, but don't expect the taxpayer to pick up any of your medical bills relating thereto, and don't expect us to pay your rehab when you figure out that you've made a bad decision and hit rock bottom. You get to do drugs without going to jail, in exchange for which, taxpayers get to wash their hands of the drug "problem". And if your kid buys legal coke from CVS and then ODs and dies, you don't get to sue anybody. Your habit, your choice, your problem...done deal.

Now, I have to follow on with the opinion that I don't think any of the pro-medical marijuana crowd, or any of the pro-drug crowd is doing the cause any justice. These people aren't going to get anywhere with the American peoples coming off as Jeff Spicoli, which is what seems to be out there. "I want to smoke weed" is no more of an argument than "I want Bill Gates' money."

I Don’t Think We All Understand ‘Enumerated’

Further evidence comes from today’s decision in Gonzales v. Raich. I think Justice Thomas nails it when he says:
Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.
No, really? The Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers? Clarence Thomas is 57 years old. Surely at some point before now he noticed the tendency of the Federal Government to take more and more power under tenuous justifications at best. Maybe not. He might have been napping. For his entire freakin’ life.

Once again, it’s a damn shame the passage above is from the dissenting opinion.

Update: Radley Balko is all over this decision, with seven posts so far. Via e-mail, J informs me the decision is actually very much in line with previous SCOTUS decisions and can be said to be correct in terms of applying existing law to the question. This puts her squarely in with Orin Kerr. So I guess the tagline for the decision is "Correct, but wrong."


Bring The Noise

Glenn Reynolds is pushing folks to comment on the FEC proposed Internet regulations. Personally, I don’t care what the FEC decides. I can read the Constitution just as well as anyone else. I figure I’ll keep doing what I’m doing until some arm of the government takes official notice. At that point, I’ll reconsider my options. Sooner or later, some judge has to pull his head out of his fourth point of contact and realize what an affront this is to the very concept of free speech. In the meantime, civil disobedience seems like the way to go. If every blog in the country is engaging in prohibited or regulated activity, what are they going to do?

Recent Media Consumption

In between working on the house, going to Waxahachie, and having interesting viral infections I have been reading a little bit. So for your edification, here are some capsule reviews of stuff that’s passed by lately. I also saw a few movies as well.

Stroke Of Midnight
More goth porn from Laurell Hamilton. The story is losing pace to the sex scenes. This could have been a lot better, but has enough concept to keep me reading the next one. Eventually, these books will be nothing but goth porn and I’ll be through. Only recommended if you have a high tolerance for overblown sex between the heroine and, well, just about everybody.

Deadhouse Gates
Excellent book. The Malazan series is shaping up to go head to head with The Song of Ice and Fire as the best long form epic fantasy, period. Go buy it and read it. After you do, ask yourself why Steve Erikson’s American publisher is dragging their feet releasing the next four that have already been published in the UK. I’d buy them from Amazon UK, but for one niggling detail: the Brits publish crappy books. The actual physical item doesn’t hold up worth a damn.

National Treasure
This is a good fun film. A little violence, nothing horribly inappropriate for kiddies if that’s an issue. I’m a sucker for any conspiracy film that involves the Templars, so I was pretty much sold once they dragged in the Knights.

Freddy vs. Jason
Not the best outing for either franchise, but still worthwhile. The logic behind the combination was neatly handled, I thought. Once again we learn that the drunk slut we see naked in the first five minutes is dead meat on a stick (literally). So, young girls, learn from this example: getting drunk and showing your boobies means the psychotic undead killers will get you first. Not showing tits doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll live, but it’s a good first step. Something to keep in mind next time you have a problem with supernatural killers.

Shaun Of The Dead
More zombies! Yay undead! Funny and extremely British. I recommend it, but you have to tolerate some gore for the comedy. I hear they changed it from “Sean” to “Shaun” for the American release, but I don’t quite understand why.


Deep Throated & Felt Up

I only have one comment about the revelation that Mark Felt is the (in)famous anonymous source. I think if you wrote an entire book detailing your thesis about Alexander Haig, you must feel kinda dumb.