Monday, October 30, 2006

U.S. DOJ - Bunch of Indian Givers

The U.S. Supreme Court just allowed the DOJ to indict a company (for anti-trust reasons) despite having already granted it amnesty. Awesome.
Arlington, Virginia – The U.S. Supreme Court today denied a petition filed by Stolt-Nielsen S.A. seeking review of a March decision by a federal appeals court that permitted the U.S. Justice Department to indict the company and two of its executives on criminal antitrust charges, notwithstanding an earlier agreement granting Stolt-Nielsen amnesty from prosecution. The Court’s decision forces Stolt-Nielsen to defend itself in a criminal trial before a federal district court in Philadelphia.

In 2005, that same Philadelphia court found Stolt-Nielsen had not violated the agreement, as the DOJ claimed, and issued an injunction to prevent the indictment of the company and its executives. But the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, also based in Philadelphia, overturned this injunction, saying the courts could not consider the validity of the amnesty agreement until after indictments were issued.
Wow, considering all the inherent advantages that Prosecutors have at trial - and especially Federal Prosecutors - I can't help but think that they're excited about being able to lie at every stage of the game; hell they can even lie in writing now.

This whole system needs to be reworked. Prosecutors simply have too much power and too many of them take positions that are in the interests of noone - let alone the interests of justice.

Oh yeah, link via To The People - which remains a kick-ass blog.

It's Jihad Charlie Brown

Excellence - I think a Fatwa is being issued at this very moment. Follow the link. That's some funny stuff.

Forfeiture laws prove the Government Hates Us.

Here is a post from Nobody's business - linked above. Follow the links and you'll see that Van Bakel is right when he says:

Forfeiture laws were written to prevent Porsche-collecting, mansion-dwelling proven drug dealers from keeping the material profits of their trade. Witness how far we've strayed from that idea: Not only has Gerald Trapp Jr. not been tried in court, much less found guilty; he's not even thought to have been dealing in drugs — he's a first-time offender charged with nothing more than possession. Of a prescription drug. On top of that, the confiscated property doesn't belong to him. The whole thing is a brazen rape of the Fourth Amendment, a mind-boggling abuse of police powers. Just like this case.
Yep. What he said. Also, I think it's time to pass my amendment that prevents law enforcement from "profitting" from the enforcement of the law. None of the revenue Police officers generate should go to their departments.

Speed Cameras Generate Revenue - Hate

People are getting upset enough about these cameras to do something about it. Unfortunately, they generate more revenue than results, so they're probably here to stay.

The cameras detect cars that exceed the speed limit, often with radar technology, and take flash photographs of the license plates so a ticket can be issued. A speeding offense adds three points to a driver’s license. Because drivers who amass 12 points in three years face six-month driving bans, people go to enormous lengths to avoid detection.

In a recent case, 28-year-old Craig Moore, an engineer from South Yorkshire, ran into trouble when, in the words of a spokesman for the Greater Manchester Police, “instead of just accepting that he had been caught traveling above the speed limit, Moore decided to blow the camera apart.”

Link via Hit&Run

Sam Adams - Brewer Patriot

Born and raised in Boston, Adams (1722-1803) was instrumental in securing independence from Great Britain. He not only armed American colonials with unassailable legal and historical arguments for home rule and civil and economic rights, he helped create political and cultural institutions such as the Sons of Liberty (the group that fought against British occupation and masterminded the Boston Tea Party); the "committees of correspondence" (which coordinated activities among pro-independence colonial assemblies), and the Continental Congress (which produced the Declaration of Independence) that made the Revolution possible.

As Puls, a former reporter and the coauthor of 2005's "Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War," notes, "of the major founding fathers, only . . . Adams advocated independence before [the battle of] Lexington. In the critical prewar years, it was Adams who mapped out what became known as American values about liberty, self-government and natural human rights."

An indifferent businessman, Adams was a bust as a brewer and he similarly proved incompetent during a short stint as a tax collector (of all things). But he was a complete success as a patriot, spearheading remarkably effective boycotts against English goods in response to the Sugar and Stamp Acts and writing voluminous, widely reprinted anonymous essays, tracts and articles that made the case for no taxation without representation.

Dubbed "the patriarch of liberty" by Thomas Jefferson, Adams, who eventually served as governor of Massachusetts, helped make the "theme of individual liberty . . . central to the American psyche," Puls writes. More than a decade before the Declaration of Independence, Adams wrote that individuals were "unalienably entitled to those essential rights in common with all men," the core sentiment of Jefferson's manifesto.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

6 word stories...

Wired contacted a bunch of famous writers and asked them to craft very short stories in 6 words. Some of them are wonderful. Very poetic. The link above has all 53. Here are a couple of my favorites...
Dorothy: "Fuck it, I'll stay here."
- Steven Meretzky

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
- Joss Whedon

From torched skyscrapers, men grew wings.
- Gregory Maguire

The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.
- Orson Scott Card

“I couldn’t believe she’d shoot me.”
- Howard Chaykin

Mind of its own. Damn lawnmower.
- David Brin

Mozilla devastates Redmond, Google’s nuke implicated.
- Charles Stross


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Of rights and Culture...

Again Kevin from Smallest Minority continues his discussion on the nature of rights. In the past I haven't been convinced his philosophy was entirely correct, choosing to stand more with his ideological sparing partner Dr. Danny Cline...

Times may be changing. Not completely, but Kevin has made an argument that may just have convinced me that rights may be societal based. He did this around a simple concept of mutually exclusive ideals. If "all men are created equal" and have similar rights, where does our right to kill them come from.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not changing my mind on use of force or the "right of self defense." Violence has a place on this earth, I can only hope I'm part of a "just" violence if need be.

My revelation originating from Kevin's essay, is that maybe the cute Chinese girl I knew was right. We had really great discussions about the nature of freedom, and she believed the Chinese don't have rights and don't even want them. To her, my ideas on property and rights were not universal. I assumed she was just... well wrong. Her Chinese "society" doesn't accept or have "natural" or "God given" rights...

It's hard for me to even type that. It's not something I WANT to believe. I want to believe in rights as described as Locke described.

Anyway, read the above post. It's worth the time.


Monday, October 23, 2006

The Great Pumpkin....

Tis that season again... I though I would post something appropriate for Halloween.

The above link is to one of my favorite pieces of fiction ever. It's simply brilliant. I've read it about 5 times since I found it last year (last time 30 minutes ago). It's about a 10 minute read... and well worth your time.

John Aegard, the author, took Peanuts characters, in particular Linus and his search for the Great Pumpkin and spun them into a Lovecraftian tale of horror while keeping their familiar features true (Snoopy is left virtually unchanged).

If you haven't read H.P. Lovecraft before, he writes in his own very Gothic horror style. A VERY loose comparison might be to E. A. Poe. Most of his stories are short. In particular you can read the Call of Cthulhu (the link is to the actual story) in about 10 minutes. I would read it first if you haven't in the past for 2 reasons. First, the Great Pumpkin is directly modeled after the Call of Cthulhu and secondly, without a feel for the way Lovecraft writes you most likely won't appreciate how freaking genius John Aegard's work is.

Anyway.. I hope you enjoy...


Friday, October 20, 2006

A couple of pics...

These are a couple of pictures I took at this year's Bourbon and Burn. Just scenery. If you wanna see the drunken chaos, you'll have to show up in the spring or visit the B&B website.

Click on the images to see a bigger version (it's worth it).

"The Powerlines"
Old Truck Back in the WoodsWhat straight up looks like



Wednesday, October 18, 2006

America simply isn't going to make it...

Cowards and pansies are going to turn "home of the brave" into a nation of whimpering fagots and girlie men. Yeah I know it's harsh language... but tell me it isn't warranted after reading the above story about a school that has banned kids from playing the game tag.

Celeste D'Elia, said her son feels safer because of the rule. "I've witnessed enough near collisions," she said.

Hey Celeste... get a fucking clue... what kind of kid needs to be protected from "collisions"?

Seriously... I'm going to start an "invite only" country founded on traditional American beliefs. A country where you aren't born into citizenship, but rather where you need to accept the value system or get the hell out.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Cat starts fire, dog saves homeowner...

Maybe I'm just not a cat person... But this story seems typical.

I'm sad to say the pets didn't make it.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Iron F'ing Maiden

Older man, graying hair. Clean shaven. Glasses. Wearing a faded Iron Maiden tee-shirt so worn the black had become almost a light grey. Seven or eight year old girl sitting on his shoulders. She was wearing a brand new Iron Maiden shirt. Bright yellow earplugs hidden behind her curly blond hair. Her tiny arms outstretched attacking the air in unison with the crowd.

Dichotomy was the heart of the show. Old meets New in a mullet rich environment.

Saturday night in Camden NJ Iron Maiden rocked out to a full house. It was their “Matter of Life and Death tour.” The show was a traditional “big” metal show. Lights, lights and more freaking lights. The best “pure” light show I’ve ever seen. The set design was fantastic, sand bags and burnt out buildings. The stage designed to look like a city under siege. Even the floor was painted. Half destroyed structures were everywhere giving Dickenson ample room to jump from platform to platform to get the crowd excited.

… and the crowd was pumped.

So many mullets, but less then you would think for a 30 year old band. Heavy metal parents brought their kids. Next to us sat three high school girls on their own, belting out the lyrics to the classics. The environment was well mixed. I even saw a black lady.

The opening band, while not bad, was a bad stereotype of modern metal. It was if they had a “Be a Metal Band” check off list. Back to back guitar solos. Check. Ask the crowd to clap along. Check. Double bass every song. Check. Growl Lyrics. Double Check. Then there were their song titles. “Blood” “Four words to choke upon” and lets not forget “Suffocating Under Words of Sorrow.”

But no one was there for them.

We went to hear and see the legendary Iron Maiden. The band came out and woke up an otherwise dead audience. So much energy. My one complaint was the band, obviously proud of their first US top ten album, played A Matter of Life and Death from start to finish. While the music was top notch and well played, the unfamiliarity of the songs left about half the audience wanting.

It wasn’t until into the second hour that the crowd really exploded. The first notes of “Afraid of the Dark” had the entire building singing along. Although the encore was short and Maiden only played about 5 of their old songs the show was still top notch, despite wanting more. Maiden’s finishing song was “Hallowed be thy Name”… How tight is that.


Check out Ray's pictures from the same show...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

4 Percent of US Hops up in Smoke...

Good bye sweet hops. Good bye.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Government Seizes Assets - For no reason

Two men traveling south on Interstate 85 southwest of Lexington Tuesday told Davidson County sheriff's deputies that the $88,000 in cash they had hidden in their car was to buy a house in Atlanta.
. . . And there was no reason to believe otherwise.

Officers with the sheriff office's Interstate Criminal Enforcement unit didn't believe the story after a drug-sniffing dog found a strong odor of narcotics inside the car.
. . . Of course they didn't believe it - they didn't want to believe it. And did you know that in independent tests, those drug sniffing dogs are right about half the time. Which narcotics do you think the dog "triggered on?"
No drugs were found, and the two men weren't charged with a crime, but officers did keep the money, citing a federal drug assets seizure and forfeiture law.
. . . No drugs were found, but the officers get to keep the money anyway. Also, these men are going to exhaust at least 15 grand of that money to get the remainder back. You see they have to pay the State's costs for defending their improper asset seizure - that's a great system.
Deputies first stopped the car for following too closely to another vehicle, said Davidson County Sheriff David Grice.
. . . That's awfully subjective by the way. Maybe we should consider giving officers less power to abuse, instead of constantly creating more laws that get arbitrarily enforced.
The two men told officers they had flown from Texas to New Jersey and were driving south to Atlanta to buy a house with the money, Grice said.

Federal investigators arrived and took the cash in order to make a case in federal court that the money would fall under federal forfeiture laws.

If a federal judge agrees with investigators, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office would receive 75 percent ($66,000) of the confiscated money.

"It takes about a year for the money to come back to the county," Grice said.

The money then would make its way into the sheriff's office general fund, where it could only be used for enhancement purposes, such as new equipment or additional training.

Grice said as a general rule the sheriff's office cannot count on forfeiture money, noting the money isn't a sure thing and can fluctuate from year to year.

But the Davidson County Sheriff's Office has had positive results in the past after bringing in $1.6 million in 2005 and $1.4 million in 2004.
. . . I see that Davidson County has perfected the system of theft. I'll bet they get $1.8 million in 2006. Also, nice system wherein the Federal government get's it's cut. I guarantee you that as illegal and abusive as this system clearly is never going to go away (did you know, it was a law created - in it's original form - to get people's goods back from Pirates?).
This year Grice said officers have brought in about $400,000.

"It allows us to buy equipment without using taxpayers' money," Grice said.

Replacing older vehicles, installing newer radios in patrol cars and installing a new camera system in the jail were all paid for by drug forfeiture money, Grice said.
Only $400,000.00 this year. I bet that's just an accounting error. You don't go $1.4 million, $1.6 million then a half-million.

This is where I continue to push my constitutional amendment, which would prevent law enforcement from profitting from enforcing laws. I guarantee you if that passed, asset forfeiture would disappear and we'd have much fewer laws.