Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Whizzinator!

Read the article/blog post linked above. Obviously, there is a humorous bent to some of it, but it discusses a pretty serious issue. Educators, especially at government schools, seem to think that children have no rights. Moreover, if you disagree with them, you must be on drugs or something.

Read the following excerpt:

No doubt we'll see a proliferation of cases like these:

[Velvet Poveromo's] son Michael, an eighth-grader at New Milford Middle School, was ordered to take a drug test last month after he argued with a teacher about a missing homework assignment and walked out of class. Poveromo said she was called at work and told to take her son to a drug-testing center. When she initially refused, she was told he would be tested regardless of her presence. "I blew up because I know better," she said. "I know my son is not on drugs." Poveromo relented, however, and brought Michael to a doctor who took his vital signs and decided he was not under the influence.

Teachers and other school officials get to decide who has to take a drug test. Nodding off is grounds enough to force students to submit a urine sample.

In Ewing Township, dozing off in class was enough of a deviation for a high school freshman to be tested. Michael Glappa was ordered to submit to a drug test after he fell asleep in a social studies class. When he refused, he was suspended.

I think that the problem with our government schools is that they suffer from the same mentality as the rest of the government - they think they know what's best for everyone and that certainty should outweigh the views of any individual. Plus, our so-called educators aren't that bright. See here:

...hard data on education student qualifications have consistently shown their mental test scores to be at or near the bottom among all categories of students. This was as true of the studies done in the 1920s and 1930 as of the studies in the 1980s. Whether measured by Scholastic Aptitude Tests, ACT tests, vocabulary tests, reading comprehension tests, or Graduate Record Examinations, students majoring in education have consistently scored below the national average.

So that's probably mean and doesn't serve to impugn all teachers or all school systems, but isn't it a little frightening. I'd love to see some personality tests done on teachers; most of mine were more than a tad dictatorial.

Kid Handsome

Interesting Study on HOV lanes

Apparently, they actually cause accidents (according to the study, a significant amount of them). I don't really have a well-defined opinion of HOV lanes. I am certainly in favor of helping the environment, but I'm not sure HOV lanes actually do that. I do know that the ones on the Virginia side of Washington, D.C. are completely assinine and they certainly don't improve the flow of traffic.

Bias Alert: I truly believe that whoever planned 95 South off 95/495 should be beaten and left in a ditch.

I say this because it always takes a ridiculous amount of time to get out of D.C. on 95 South through VA. In fact, I have noted, whenever there is a really high volume of traffic, they open up all the HOV lanes anyway. It seems to me that if HOV lanes actually worked, the reverse would be true. However, the HOV lanes themselves may not be the problem. The problem is that all the lanes seem to dump back down onto 95 anyway. This means that to exit, you have to re-merge onto the highway, and we all know that people don't know how to merge.

Anyway, there are probably some good, workable HOV lanes, but Virginia has never seen a good one - even the ones on 66 West suck. Is there a way to make these lanes work, or is it just another one of those ideas that sounds good and makes us feel better while not helping anything?

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

Kid Handsome

What Breed of Dog Are You?

I'm a Hungarian Kuvasz. Apparently, I'd make a good guard dog, but (ladies take note) you can keep me in the house. I think it's an appropriately handsome breed.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

Kid Handsome

Is this really a news story?

Apparently, Anne Coulter was heckled at a recent speaking appearance at the University of Kansas (Humorously, the speech took place at a venue called the Lied Center).

I'm not really certain why this sort of thing even makes the news. Look, sometimes I like some of Anne Coulter's ideas, but I think her major failing is in her presentation. Some people have razor wits, she wields a broad sword - it's just not as effective in close quarters.

Kid Handsome

Fair Tax Plan

Read the linked article above about the Fair Tax Plan put forth by John Linder (R) Georgia. The article is by George Will. I believe this plan would revolutionize and expand the American Economy. Detractors of the Bill suggest that the bill would hit the poor hardest, however, I'm not certain how they come to that conclusion.

Essentially, the Plan would impose a 23% sales tax on all items (some staples are excluded), while eliminating personal income, corporate, and estate taxes among others. The bill itself is 133 pages, and considering that the current tax code requires numerous shelves to hold all its vast intricacies, it seems to me that 133 pages is not much to ask. Most exciting to me, is that the plan would eliminate the IRS and its draconian enforcement policies - it will save the United States billions.

Here is a nice excerpt from the linked article:

Under his bill, he says, all goods, imported and domestic, would be treated equally at the checkout counter, and all taxpayers -- including upward of 50 million foreign visitors annually -- would pay ``as much as they choose, when they choose, by how they choose to spend.'' And his bill untaxes the poor by including an advanced monthly rebate, for every household, equal to the sales tax on consumption of essential goods and services, as calculated by the government, up to the annually adjusted poverty level.

I think this is a magnificent idea. Unfortunately, the lobbyists on K Street do not. This bill goes right into the top 5 things I would do if I were able to implement my own changes to the government.

I would:

1. Amend the Constitution so as to prevent any government agency from profiting from the enforcement of criminal and regulatory laws.

2. Pass the Fair Tax Plan.

3. Reestablish the Constitution's original plan and have State Legislators choose their own Senators (rather than the popular vote). To me, this would immediately improve state's rights, and halt the huge growth of the federal imperial government.

4. I would enumerate in the constitution a right to privacy for all citizens, though I do not yet have a plan as to how I would word this amendment, which currently exists because the courts choose to recognize it in very limited circumstances.

5. I would eliminate the McCain/Feingold act, as it is a stupid restriction of free speech (I'm not against election reform), and I would standardize how voting takes place in all national elections (the States would likely follow suit). Part of that would include having to present a valid photo ID to prove citizenship.

What I'm wondering is what our readers would do if they could make any changes. I'm certain many of you will disagree with one or all of my ideas. I'd like to hear any criticism in the comments section. Also feel free to address the Fair Tax Plan.

Hat Tip: Neal Boortz

Kid Handsome

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Licensing Fun

I love dealing with the state and insurance companies. It's fun. In order for me to get the particular business license I need, I have to have a bond. However, in order for me to get my bond, I have to have my license. This makes for a fun process.

It seems silly to me that I even need a license to do what I do, but it seems standard now that everyone accepts that the government can "regulate" anything it wants to regulate (ie. can generate revenue from). At some point not only did we become lessors of property from the government, we also became a society where you have to ask permission if you want to conduct business (if you don't believe me, don't pay your property tax and see if you don't get evicted from your land; also see what happens if you don't pay your business license renewal fees - I'm just saying)

Seems to me that this is a pretty silly model for a government.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Short Story...

Ths is just a little short story I wrote, that grew a little big for the Blog.

If interested, give it a read. It's about 3 pages long. It's called, The second time I awoke that day.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

It's about the Children . . . (for the billionth time)

Here's an article in my hometown paper the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (affectionately known as the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation) about red-light / speeding cameras. Radley Balko has a response here.

I didn't think his response was strong enough, so let me try to put this succinctly. Speed limits themselves were established to alleviate the gas crisis (at least federal speed limits were), they didn't become a "safety" issue until the government realized how much money it was making by enforcing the speed limits. Speed cameras are, perhaps intentionally, inaccurate and set up in a way that make them the most profitable. Also, speed and red light cameras don't work - people drive just as fast as ever (if not faster), they just figure out where the speed and red-light cameras are. This is simply not a safety issue, and, even if it were, I would hate it because it is a rigid system that fails to allow me to use my own good judgment and fails entirely to allow for differences in driving ability. Speed limits themselves don't make any sense because I'm probably safer going 90 mph on a straightaway on a sunny day than I am going 65 mph all bunched up with the rest of traffic (stuck behind trucks that the law won't let me pass).
My final point is that I don't trust the numbers behind the "speed-related deaths." I mean on the one hand all accidents are related in some way to "speed" in that you have to be moving in order to hit something else. I just see it too often where, for lack of a better explanation, accidents are attributed to speed - in fact, I saw it on the local news last night.

Let us know what you think.

Kid Handsome

Government Solves All Our Problems

Contra Costa, California wants to confiscate cars from anyone whose stereo can be heard more than 25 feet away. Wow, are loud car stereos really that much of a problem? Sure they can be annoying for the 20 seconds a day that I am exposed to them, but it isn't like it endangers my hearing or anything like that. Why is government trying to protect me from something that is, at worst, annoying? Look if my neighbor sits in the parking lot and cranks his car stereo too loud for a long period of time, that might be a problem. However, I could just file a noise complaint (assuming that I was too much of a coward to just ask him to turn it down).

Still confiscating someone's car on a first offense? How is that even remotely reasonable? Moreover, my crappy factory radio can be heard from 25 feet away. 25 feet just isn't that far. Look I realize that the confiscation is only for 30 days (let me have your car for thirty days and see how cool you would be with that), but I'm guessing that in addition to the $250 to $1,000 dollar fine, violators get the rare treat of paying towing and impound fees to Contra Costa. Guess what that means, the Government gets probably about five or six grand (maybe more) for every one of the citations they issue. Even better, poor people and teens might not be able to get their cars back, so Contra Costa gets to sell those cars at auction.

So you see what this law is about, don't you? Government revenue generation - that's it. There is no other rational reason for this legislation to be passed. First, they came for our stereos . . .

Ben Franklin said, "Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." And here's one for Otter by, The Great One, "Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing" Ronald Reagan. Further, here's ol' T to the J, Thomas Jefferson, "Most bad government has grown out of too much government."

Finally, here's my favorite one about the danger of an ever expanding government, again, from Jefferson, "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."

Why do we let the Government even consider this kind of legislation? Why does no one seem to care?

Kid Handsome

Otter's Law?

I am trying to stay away from the Terry Schiavo case because to me all the commentary seems more geared toward political posturing than anything else. Any way, I linke the Charles Krauthammer article above to point out something that bothers me.

"There is no good outcome to this case. Except perhaps if Florida and the other states were to amend their laws and resolve conflicts among loved ones differently -- by granting authority not necessarily to the spouse but to whatever first-degree relative (even if in the minority) chooses life and is committed to support it. Call it Terri's law. It will help prevent us having to choose in the future between travesty and tragedy." (emphasis mine)

I know I am flat out stealing this idea from someone (Probably Instapundit), but anytime you have a law named after a person, it is almost certain to be a bad law. The pattern has held true for just about every similarly named law I have encountered. I can only imagine the scope of something called Otter's Law - I guess it would go something like - No television, radio, or other related cinemagraphic outlet may depict any scenes related to the happiness of any person, couple, family or other unit unless that happiness is thoroughly mocked and / or degraded, or the depiction results in the horrific death of said happy unit.

See what I mean?

Seriously, find me a law that is named after a person, and I will show you a bad law, probably a really bad law.

Kid Handsome

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Originally used to track stolen cars!

Is it time for the revolution yet???

This article made me sick. First of all, we got some serious big brother action here. Second of all this was YET ANOTHER case of "Hey, this is for your protection!" turned into "Sorry dumb ass."

Since everything we do (or even think now) is a crime, this is just one more means of governmental coersion.

I actually felt sick after reading this. Good by freedom, it was one hell of a hoot while it lasted.


More...(both from Boing Boing)
According to Forbes, Arlington county in Virginia "has found a new task for its surveillance camera: Starting in March it plans to use the BootFinder to nab people who are on the county's rolls for just about anything, from late park and recreation fees to overdue library books.

According to thenewspaper.com ("A Journal of the Politics of Driving) "If the car's owner is listed as delinquent, the car can be towed -- and if the owner doesn't pay within 10 days the car is auctioned."

Fear of Equalizers

A good post from Eternity Road called "Fear of Equalizers" describes a point of view that hasn't occured to me before concerning guns. I think it does a good job of getting into the mindset of RJR. (For those who don't like to read a lot, the new perspective is the last third...though the article is small).

Looks like freedom is being sold for security by all camps.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Anyone have any music recommendations?

What have you guys heard lately that's any good. Right now, I have so much stuff that I can't listen to it all - so why you ask, am I looking for recommendations?

Funny you should ask. It turns out that I have so much, that I'm completely directionless. It may well be that you guys will recommend something that I already have, but that doesn't mean I've listened to it. What I really want is a point in the right direction.

Also, it doesn't matter what musical genre you recommend. I am pretty open-minded musically - I tend to like just about anything.

Kid Handsome

Friday, March 18, 2005

Your face is busted . . . (x3)

Seriously, discuss amongst yourselves, the following three ugly women are universally pitched to me as "hot." I'm sure there are plenty more, and I would include guys, but I'm not qualified to comment on them - you know, being handsome and all.

1. Renee Zellweger - if her eyes got any smaller and more beady, she'd be a rat. In fact, her cheeks already appear to be no more than food storage pouches. I swear, if I see her, I'll punch her (but that's really an entirely different topic).

2. Sarah Jessica Parker - Am I wrong that her head is so disproportionately large that she could star, without any makeup or prosthetic, in a live action Peanuts movie? Seriously, not a good-looking human being. Also, I don't want to hear about her contribution to fashion. "Fashion" is a scam ladies. Listen, your clothes are only as good looking as you are. Get out of the mall (unless your gym is located there).

3. Nicole Richie - do I really have to comment. She looks kind of like a mix between a frog, a shar-pei, and something else that's bone chillingly ugly.

Kid Handsome

More on Governmment Revenue Generation

Read the post and the comments too. I love the inherent contradiction that the penalty is "civil," but 75% of the proceeds go to the enforcement agency. Genius. Add this to the fact that congress now thinks it can hold hearings about literally anything, and we have a recipe for . . . well, I don't know what, but it's sure to taste awful.

Kid Handsome

Eugene Volokh poses an interesting question

Essentially, Professor Volokh seems to be coming out in favor of one or both of the following propositions:

1). Families of victims or the victims themselves should be allowed to participate in the punishment of those who commit crimes against their relatives; and

2). Punishments should be more cruel than we currently allow (I presume it depends on the case), which in this case (linked within the Volokh post) seems to include torture.

With respect to the first issue, my belief is that removing the victim from the direct process of judging and punishing criminals is a good idea. Remember back in the 1988 presidential campaign when Michael Dukakis was asked, with respect to the death penalty, whether he would support capital punishment for someone who raped his wife (hypothetically, of course). My recollection of his answer was that he, in support of his political position, said that he did not support capital punishment in any case. I always thought that was a really bad answer. By that, I don't mean to impugn those who oppose the death penalty, I myself am unable to formulate a tenable position on this issue, and I fall somewhere in between advocates and adversaries of the death penalty. I always thought a better answer would have been - If someone were to rape my wife, of course I would want them dead. However, I do not want to participate in a system where "justice" is administered by those people most affected and emotionally involved in the issue. In effect, I would be frightened by a system that would place me on a jury given the nature of your hypothetical question. So, in answer to your question, I would want that person to die, but I nonetheless do not support the death penalty- even though we can all envision circumstances where we, as individuals might desire it.

Now, of course, that circumstance is a little bit different than what I believe Professor Volokh is advocating. He is not suggesting that we put family members on the jury so much as he is advocating allowing family members to participate in the development and implementation of the punishment - ie. after the determination of guilt has been made. My view is that this is not a very good idea, and I will relate it to my hypothetical Dukakis answer above. Sure, I might like to come up with some terrible and creative punishment for someone who harmed my family, but in the end, I don't think my participation would really make me feel any better or diminish my loss in any way. In fact, I think on some level I would probably regret that I had participated. Heck, I'll even say that some of that regret might come in the form of believing that I did not do enough or that I didn't inflict enough pain, though that is in addition to the regret I would likely feel at being a killer or sadistic torturer. I guess my personal view is that family members should not be directly involved with deciding the fate of convicts.

The second issue is easier for me. I am not an advocate of torture as a form of justice, and I think there is a difference between vengeance and justice. I think the point of our justice system or of capital punishment is not to show that we can sink down to the level of sick criminals. To me, dead is dead. I read the article linked by Professor Volokh and my view is that the punishment still didn't fit the crime. In fact, in a weird way, this guy, this animal, was provided with the opportunity to die with dignity - right there in front of everyone, this guy died without crying out, without complaining, without asking for mercy. In an odd way, I feel worse knowing that in his mind, somewhere, he probably believed that he showed his punishers that he knew how to die - that he might have felt that he won this small battle, which was probably the only thing he had. Look dead is dead, but I believe that society would have been better off to just put a bullet in his head in a small room somewhere - you know, it seems unbecoming to me that people are advocating sick, sadistic torture even if it's only when - like - it's appropriate and all. Am I wrong to forsee a future where mass murdering lunatics engage in some sick competition to see who can end up with the most horrific death of all time.

I think Professor Volokh is right on one point though. It's when he says:

Naturally, people on the other side are likewise unpersuaded by my views; I can't prove the soundness of my position any more than (I think) the other side can prove the soundness of its. In this area, we quickly come down to moral intuitions and visceral reactions. And, who knows, perhaps mine are wrong. But mere appeals to my humanity just don't do much for me.

I could certainly be wrong too.

Kid Handsome

Update: Just a little aside, but I noted this line from this post on Reason' s Hit & Run:

I also think "turning off her feeding tube" is a euphemism (and not a very inventive one) for "starving her to death." (For my money, the scandal isn't that the system would allow Schiavo to die, but that it requires her to starve rather than just getting a thump on the head or a dose of cyanide.)

I don't know that it's directly on point, but it does seem to be a strange irony that our system prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, but seems to advocate a system where so much suffering is involved.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

More Useless Government Nannyism

The government is now qualified to determine whether your doctor's actions were "medically necessary," not whether the treatment was unreasonable or unlawful. Moreover, if your doctor prescribes something that was not "medically necessary," he or she can now be sent to jail.

Here's hoping you don't suffer some painful injury that gets undertreated because your doctor was afraid to prescribe you the necessary medication. Moreover, and I know you are getting tired of hearing this, If your doctor overprescribes medication to you - you can sue him civilly and receive a remedy. How does it help for the government to get involved and levy its fines and criminal penalties (in the process driving up medical costs by creating a major insurance risk). Oh yeah, here's how, it doesn't.

Kid Handsome

Back to guns....

This comment was oddly enough found under my Jerrymandering Post...

Back to GUN CONTROL and such - Do you REALLY need a gun? When was the last time YOU had a war on your front doorstep? Despite all the media hype about terrorism, there's no arguing that we are probably the safest nation on the face of the planet. Take a trip down to Congo where life expectancy is below 40 thanks to constant strife and disease - now compare that your life now. Do you fear for your life as you drive to your work? Do you worry that there will be no food at the grocery store for your family to eat? Consider that as you drive your import auto to work and pick up your Starbucks.

We have it damn good. But these arguements about removing gun control laws from the books is just silly. Like it or not, laws = order. No, it's not a 100% solution, but I would argue that living in a society with limited rights and order is much better than living in a society with unlimited rights, becuase chaos would engulf society. Think about it - if we had unlimited rights, we would without a doubt impact other individuals, which would cause those individuals to impact others. Undoubtedly, this would cause a chain reaction that result in chaos or disorder - whichever comes first. And, as we all learned in poli-sci, at that point - a leader would emerge, and then we would be back into a society with laws to promote order.

You can't baulk history - now go back to reading your McPaper.

It’s a little early for me to really go on a rant, but I have to reply before I can start working this morning…

When was the last time I fought a war on my front steps? About 4 years ago, for a week or two when I lived with my brother in his crack neighborhood. After a dispute with the local crack dealer that ended in 12 bullet holes in his house and some return fire the police suggested that my brother move. Move, that was it. I’m not saying moving is a bad idea, it’s actually a good one, but moving wasn’t the option one would expect from the police. Since then, guns are always present and readily available in that house. Knowledge that there WILL BE an armed response has kept the peace in the neighborhood. A peace that the police can’t or won’t enforce.

Wait a minute, didn’t I read somewhere that “Law=Order?” Surely “Law=Can’t discharge a firearm within city limits” (I said discharge). I bet there is a “Law=No Attempted Murder”. Hmmm maybe then at least “Law=Sometimes Order”

However, I’m sure that’s not what you meant by fighting a war at the front door. You’re speaking of the armed revolution. The reason the founding fathers gave us the Second Amendment, that outdated and silly idea. Maybe you didn’t hear, these things called Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, they grant us things called “rights” that “limit” the scope of power the government has. One of those rights is the right to keep and bear arms.

I think it’s funny people don’t think we need arms to protect our rights from an oppressive government because we have the Constitution, so they want to ban and seize guns thereby violating the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments to that Constitution. Logic, it’s a bitch.

You speak of “laws=order” Good one RJR. Where do laws get their force? I mean, just because there is a law doesn’t mean compliance is automatic. People respect law for 3 reasons (if all your political theories came from Poli-Sci class, you many not know this. Independent thought is required here). 1) Convenience; its easier to follow the law than not. 2) Moral obligation; you have a sense of right or wrong that matches legal restraints placed on you. 3) Fear; you are afraid of the possible outcomes for your transgression.

Now, law=order, and law is only effective if it’s convenient, you agree with it, or you fear cops. That’s great! That is until it’s not convenient, you don’t agree with it, or you just don’t care. At which point, laws get broken. You speed down the highway. You take more than one wife (good for you). You kill a guy for a pack of over taxed smokes.

Or, in the case of the American Revolution, you break the laws, you end the order, and start a new nation. The Second Amendment gives the people the authority and means to effectively resist bad laws. The right to bear arms is less about fending off the British and Canadians and more about fighting our own tyrannical government.

I submit to you the reason we don’t have violence like we do in the Congo is because we have guns, because we can keep our government in check and because we can defend ourselves. Bitch and complain all you want at the point some law becomes unbearable to you, without the ability to resist it, well…. “Baaaaaaaa”

Sure today we aren’t about to have a revolution, but why take away that option from our grandchildren or their grandchildren?

In the mean time, the right to keep and bear arms is used countless times to protect lives. Just as the threat to use force (fear) keeps people from breaking the law (your ORDER), fear of armed reprisal (our guns) keeps people from robbing, assaulting and raping. Ask the British how their ban on firearms is working out for them.

BTW, Your Chaos theory? Bulk History? What the fuck are you talking about

Otter - Early to work so its early to the bar on this wonderful St. Patricks Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Talk about some Jerrymandering...

Forget Slaughterhouse 5

Harrison Bergeron is Kurt Vonneguts best work. Take about five minutes and read it (it's a short story). I have always viewed it as a paen to individual liberty. It is one of those stories that really shaped my world-view.

Perhaps one of my problems with affirmative action, etc. and other means of judging people on any basis other than merit is that I have always viewed it - in some way - as a precursor to the world of Harrison Bergeron.

Since reading this story, I can honestly say that I've read plenty (though not all) of Vonnegut's work and none of it ever came close to striking me in the way that this story did/does. In fact, with respect to my opinion of his world view, Harrison Bergeron really stands in conflict with much of Vonnegut's other work. Anyways, take 10 minutes and read it.

Kid Handsome

T-Shirts with the Marine Creed Allowed by 7th Circuit

Eugene Volokh makes the interesting point, in the above-linked post, that:

"Seems to me that the court got it right, and that the school officials got it wrong. And they got it wrong because they made a basic error that's unfortunately far too common: They confused violence with wrongful violence.

Using guns to kill innocent classmates is obviously a heinous crime. Using a gun to defend yourself is perfectly proper. An American marine's using guns to kill the enemy is a necessary (though sometimes regrettable) duty. And while we should generally want to create a culture of law-abidingness, a culture of pacifism -- or a culture in which the Marine Creed is treated as the equivalent of gangsta rap -- is a recipe for national disaster."

I have to agree with him on this issue. Moreover, I think it applies to society as a whole (as does Professor Volokh). All too often, our zero-tolerance approach to issues serves no purpose other than to remove individual judgement from the equation. Certainly, we all may quibble with the appropriateness of an individual action, but it is ridiculous to assume that all fact sets will fit neatly inside a rigid code. Most times, zero tolerance is used solely as an excuse to either not think, or as a tactic to avoid criticism for making a judgment-call.

I think it is especially bad in our high-schools (schools in general). To me it's no different than the kids who get suspended for taking advil. I'm glad the student in this case had the fortitude to take this case to court. Hopefully, everyone learned from this process and schools will handle this kind of case differently in the future.

Kid Handsome

Felony Nation?

Are we Felony Nation? Or have we become a Nation of Felons? Glenn Reynolds on what was once a fairly rare class of crime.

Also explores "The Criminalization of Everything" which KH read and reviewed here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Why Don't We Just Ban Guns In Iraq?

Otter makes this genius point last night as we (ok, it was me) were perusing from one reality show to the next.

Seriously, the anti-gun movement in America needs to look no further than the insurgents in Iraq to demonstrate the ridiculousness of the current gun control movement (Note: Insurgents are also called freedom fighters by some early commenters on this blog - which is fine [if, in my opinion, wrong]). Doesn't this prove the adage, "When we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns"? Moreover, unlike here in the States, we actively have an army seeking out these outlaw gun wielders. So, if it can't be effective there, it is unlikely to be effective here.

See searching for guns doesn't do much good to stop crime or terrorism- our army has more success searching for people who are likely to wield guns (or bombs, etc.) for an evil purpose. Moreover, I'm better off if I'm attacked in an alley if I have a gun than I am if I just wait for the police.

Kid Handsome

Lawmakers Are Idiots

Lawmakers in Arizona want to ban cell-phone use while pumping gas. This is based on the urban legend that cell phones can trigger explosions while pumping gas.

However, the urban legend has been disproved. Check it out here.

Either the Arizona legislator is a stupid reactionary, or is incapable of 10 minutes of research (if that), or sees the opportunity to level more fines on citizens in order to rake in more money for his locality (in this case that is the entire State of Arizona).

Here's the thing. We have way too many laws. Many more than are necessary to protect us - and I would argue that most of the new ones just hurt us by criminalizing stuff just because someone is annoyed by a particular behavior (not because they are harmed by it). Thus, our freedoms are curtailed.

Maybe - like term limits - we should limit the number of new laws our respective governments can pass each year or two. That way, we would mostly only have laws when we really needed them (except, and I'm being cynical here - we'd probably just get more laws with huge fines, since that seems to be what the law is about these days)

Hat tip: Radley Balko

Kid Handsome

Radley Balko Points out the start of the anti-porn crackdown

To me, the issue is not so much where you stand on "Pornography," I don't care if you're for it or against it.

What concerns me is that this is another ridiculous abuse of the government's prosecutorial power. As the Balko excerpt states:

Edward Joseph Wedelstedt, the owner of Goalie Entertainment, was indicted on 23 counts of obscenity, racketeering and tax charges. Wedelstedt ran his porn business out of Colorado, but operated stores in 18 states including Texas.
Pornography is big business in North Texas, though it's not illegal unless it's ruled obscene. Authorities said as part of the indictment, a grand jury viewed six videotapes and DVDs that jurors found to be obscene. They described it as hard-core pornography.

Here is why I think this is ridiculous and abusive. First, as Balko points out, the material is bought, sold and produced by consenting adults. Second, and this is my real problem with this prosecution, is that the Government apparently allowed this guy to establish his business across 18 states with nary a single warning that his material was "obscene." Then they show his material to (approximately) twenty-six people who think it's obscene (an who cares about the thousands of people who bought it and, almost by definition, did not find it to be obscene) and instead of say ordering him to cease and desist - they prosecute him criminally. So if he wants to dispute whether the material is obscene, he has to do it at the risk of going to jail. He can't battle it out with the government in a civil court, where if he loses, he can simply stop distributing the material - nope, our regulatory government gets the added leverage of threatening him with serious jail time.

Let me tell you how this will work in the end. Wedelstedt will buckle under to the government. He will plead guilty, pay a fine of several million dollars - directly to the prosecuting authority - and serve either a suspended sentence or a house arrest. This will happen regardless of the fact that he did not intend to do anything illegal (presumably). In fact, whatever it is that he's doing was not made "illegal" until well after he established his business "across 18 states." Moreover, the wholly subjective determination of that illegality was made by twenty-six (26) people based on six videotapes.

See, I don't care if they ban it because it's obscene - that's fine with me. What bothers me is that the government gets to effectively blackmail this guy for millions of dollars, by using the threat of jail time, when a cease and desist order would be just as effective and far more just.

We really need to constrain the authority of government regulatory agencies. Once again, I think that if the Government could not make millions in fines when they prosecute a person like this, they would not be so arbitrary and heavy handed.

It's time to pass my constitutional amendment - actually, it's way past time.

Kid Handsome.

If you like really bad poetry -

Rosie O'Donnel has a blog. At least it's not overtly political (most of the time).

Kid Handsome

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Drunks and Hope....

I emailed this to Chuck the other day... and decided that it would make a decent post today.

Start of email.....

The last paragraph of your last post today really left me wanting to
say something… no disagreement, or whatever… just wanted to say

I am so happy to read things like that last paragraph. It's this type
of action that turns a bunch of people living together into a
community. All members of a society are the police. Every citizen
has a duty to help and protect others. The official police are just
the only members of society that are paid to engage in this behavior
full time.

The citizen police is an idea that has become less popular and is
partially to blame for our current plight both from the aspect of the
community being the police and from the police forgetting they are
part of the community. Every person has a natural right for
self-defense and that right extends to assisting those who cannot help

It's only when people place all their faith in a governmental
organizations for their needs that apathy becomes the norm. "It's not
my job" or "I'm not a cop" that leads to the type of rationalizations
that let people get hurt in plain view of others. I place the blame
for this trend solely on backs of elected officials who increased
their influence by deepening the dependence individuals have on the

Your comment about drunks saving the day was in jest, but I think
something very honest and positive can be seen in that. Drunks act on
impulse and feelings rather that thought and logic. Behavior like
that is one of the reasons I value drinking with others, you get a
better glimpse of a mans mettle when he's had a few. Seeing drunks
rush to the assistance of a lady shows me that real social values have
only slipped just out of sight, and that the instincts that made
America what it is are still there just waiting to be brought to the


Monday, March 07, 2005

A place where no one knows my name.

... a place where no one knows your name.

I go to a place like that.

Every once in a while I just feel like going to a bar. A bar where I can sit atop a stole, drink a beer, eat some wings, and watch the news with subtitles. A place where I can just BE.

Most often, when I go to the bar myself, I go to The Hard Times Café on Route US1. An island in the middle of a parking lot sea, surrounded by strip mall and backed by a bank, the bar isn’t my typical type of haunt. It’s not charming, it’s not classy, it's not shiny, it’s not dark or old or even real. Hard Times is a tiny chain restaurant in an ageing part of Laurel and it isn’t a place I can get a martini. Hard Times has a western theme complete with bullhorns under the TV’s. It’s smoky, kind of dirty, and one of my favorite places.

I can walk into the Hard Times and order myself some wings, a Hop Devil and be happy sitting there alone. More often than not though, alone isn’t a permanent thing. Somehow, someone will say something, and that will usually starts a conversation.

Pubs and bars were created for people to get together and talk. The word Pub itself is short for “Public House.” This is where the Hard Times really shines for me. The patrons are all good, blue-collar working class people. Haven’t met a self important person there, yet they all have a story to tell. They all just want someone to listen.

I like sitting at that bar because I CAN just listen. No one to impress there and almost never am I asked, “what I do,” as if my job defines who I am. No one really cares whom they are talking to; we are all just people looking for a beer. If they want the attention, I’m willing to give it to them. A question here or a comment there is all it takes to encourage a tale or debate.

Edward P. Dowd, from the play Harvey says, people in bars "tell about the big terrible things they have done. The big wonderful things they will do. Their hopes, their regrets, their loves, their hates. All very large because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar.” I like to hear the large things. I like to discuss large ideas.

One of the attributes I love most about alcohol is the instant bond it creates, the brotherhood of booze. Drinkers have drinking in common, and real drinkers embrace that bond. Everyone I meet at the bar is an old friend, and we just need to get caught up. When the walls of sobriety come down, something a little more real happens.

So far, just at Hard Times I’ve met quite a few “old friends.” One man was an Indian born in Africa. His crappy city, which I have forgotten, second largest in his crappy country, which I have forgotten, only had three auto mechanics shops. This man had worked at one of those shops for three years. Required to put in 6 days a week, 10 hours a day for the very occasional tip and for the mere possibility of a future job. Through some miracle his uncle was able to bring him over to this country, and there he was sitting at Hard Times.

We started talking when he noticed me scowl at Michael Moore on the television. He didn’t like him either. What he told me that afternoon, I’ll never forget. He told me that he had just gotten a job at Mr. Good Wrench. After one week of work, they paid him. He said he loved America. They paid him for the work he had done, that was all. He was happy about that. I saw him once again, studying for some kind of mechanics certification. I hope he passed it.

I’ve met a man who is a partner in a demolition company, and heard him tell his tales knocking down buildings. It was amazing to see the pride in his face as he spoke of bull dozers and physics. I spoke with an ex-college professor who now coaches girls volleyball at UM. We agreed on the value of self responsability. I know the man who drives to the local hospitals and picks up all their linen, and his brushes with the law. I know a man who is a teacher’s assistant for problem children, who hasn't given up yet. I spoke with a stereo installer from Best Buy who wants to go back to school. I spoke with... others...

All these people have stories, opinions, and dreams. All of them just want someone to listen to them, take them seriously. I like being that someone.

I like going to a place, where no one knows my name.

Friday, March 04, 2005

3 Cheers for the Mayor of Las Vegas

Told a bunch of school-children that if he were stranded on a desert island he would want to have a bottle of Gin with him.

Wow, he didn't treat the kids as if they were unbreakable, easily scarred trinkets that will ruin society someday if they are, well, exposed to society.

Why does it seem that every one wants to treat kids like mint-condition rookie baseball cards? I like my friend's kids - they are absolutely awesome - but they are actually real human beings with real reactions that include understanding that television is not necessarily real (What?), that adults aren't perfect, and that sometimes they make jokes. Also, I realized that for the most part they make no effort to take us seriously.

I wish the government and those stupid pro-kid (right) activist groups would, you know, take the kids away from the nanny and, like, actually talk to them.

Finally, let me make this point. Though I am happy for you if you have children, I don't want to have my rights and privileges reduced because you decided to have kids.

Kid Handsome

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Is it time for Move On to Move On?

The above is from Instapundit citing an article by Rolling Stone magazine.

I am always amused by articles that point to Move On's failure to: A) actually Move On (who won that election in 2000? Was it really wrong to try to impeach Clinton? Is there really a vast right-wing conspiracy?); B) Advocate any position convincingly or effenctively; and C) Improve the Democratic Party (which used to have some admirable positions before it became the party of saying "no" and "Republicans are evil").

Anyway, Move On has always been pretty much a joke - only now it's the Democrats who may be finding it unfunny.

Also, when was the last time they updated their website?

Kid Handsome

Is the Government Coming After Your 'Blog?

Read the linked article over at Professor Bainbridge about the threat that the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance law poses to your free speech.

Congress shall make no law . . . - Professor Bainbridge gets it.

The campaign finance laws were stupid anyway. All they did was lead to the 527's that everyone was complaining about (and by everyone, I mean the Democrats who, despite outspending Republicans on 527's - at a ratio of over 20 to 1 - still seemed to lose the battle to the Swiftboat Vets). Anyway, Otter is going to disagree here, but John McCain has always been a reactionary and a big government Republican, and he just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. It's at the point where I can see his name on proposed legislation and tell it's going to be a bad bill (and keep your damn hands off Boxing - we don't need you to come in and screw it up even more).

Anyway, read the linked article and decide how you are going to alter your 'blog (if you have one) or how it will affect your favorite 'blog. Can we repeal the McCain - Feingold lunacy yet?

Hat tip: Instapundit

Kid Handsome

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Discuss Amongst Yourselves

No tatoo has ever made any woman look any better.

Ladies, please stop doing this. It may make you feel cooler; you may be addicted to the pain, but please there are other ways to be cool and, for that matter, to hurt yourselves.

Also, this includes those idiots who have their eyelids tatooed so that they don't have to apply eyeliner - and any similar use.

Kid Handsome

This is another clear example of the Idiocy of Government over-regulation

Read the above-linked article from Reason's blog Hit & Run.

Apparently, the local government in Seattle is trying to shut down a Bed & Breakfast by using a ridiculously arbitrary regulation, that runs counter to previously promulgated explanations of how the law works.

First of all, I have some reservations about zoning laws in the first place because they often, needlessly infringe on property rights. Hey folks, if you don't want your neighbors to open a B&B, or paint their front doors green, move into one of those ridiculous covenant communities.

Second, to fully comprehend the ridiculousness of this case, you have to understand the following:

From the linked article:

"According to the city's interpretation of Seattle Municipal Code 23.44.051(6), it would have been fine if the McAfertys had simply remodeled their home. Likewise if they had remodeled it and sold it to someone else who then used it as a B&B. Where they ran afoul of the law was in remodeling their home and subsequently offering rooms for rent. This interpretation is contrary to the explanation offered last year by the director of Seattle's Department of Planning and Development:

I understand that regulations pertaining to bed and breakfast use stipulate that exterior alterations must not be a part of establishing a bed and breakfast use. However, there is no restriction on how much time must transpire between making exterior alterations for a house remodel and establishing bed and breakfast use."

You see people, whenever you cry about how the government should do something to help the little people or small business owners and the like, it is those very people who most often end up getting the short end of the stick.

Kid Handsome

Stupid Gun Laws

Apparently, the head of the Springfield, Illinois chapter of the Million Mom March (an anti-gun group) was arrested for having an illegal weapon. She claims the gun belonged to her deceased son. Maybe Springfield, Ill. is the home of the Simpsons.

Anyway, on another note, yes hypocrisy is rampant, and should be noted. However, why aren't pro-gun advocates coming to her defense. All anyone is doing is making a joke. However, why is there even such a thing as an illegal gun. Seriously, it disgusts me that the article points out that in Illinois, gun owners have to have an ID card. An ID card. Why? Oh yeah, because guns are bad and its a privilege to own one, not a right - the Second Amendment be damned.

Hat tip Neil Boortz

Kid Handsome