Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters
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Monday, Mar 31, 2003
Right to bark
John sends this amusing story about a man who barked back at a police dog, and arrested for it. An Ohio appeals court said that he was acting within his free speech rights. Glad to hear we have as much rights as a dog in this matter.
John sends this article about racial stereotype in the new Steve Martin comedy. He says Eleanor thought that the movie was hilarious. A critic says that one black character "started talking like a slave during the movie."
I don't have much sympathy, because a lot of movies break racial stereotypes out of political correctness, and use the most offensive stereotypes about us computer geeks. In The Core, nearly all the characters are white, but the real genius scientist is a black man. Meanwhile, the computer wizard is an ugly and immature kid who has never had a girlfriend and isn't likely to anytime soon.
Motorcycle health insurance
John sends this Chicago Tribune story (reg reqd) about how the Clinton administration subverted the will of Congress in order to deny health benefits to motorcyclists.
Arnett, Rivera disloyal
NBC just fired Peter Arnett, and Fox may soon fire Geraldo Rivera for their un-American activities in Iraq. Arnett only half-apologized for going on an Iraqi gubmnt TV program with anti-American propaganda. Even now he claims that he just said "what we all know about the war" when he said the American-led coalition's initial plan for the war had failed because of Iraq's resistance.
The US anti-war liberals will probably complain that his free speech rights were infringed. But Arnett's statement is false. We don't all know that the US initial plan has failed, and I don't think that it has. I suspect that US military planners deliberately exaggerated the "shock and awe" of the initial attack in order to intimidate the Iraqi military, and convince them that we are serious. Some people thought that the entire Iraqi army would fold and surrender immediately, but I doubt that our generals thought that. The war has made enormous and rapid progress. The 1991 Gulf War was considered fast, and this is faster. For Arnett to say that the US initial plan has failed is to imply that he has some sort of inside info of US weakness, and that he wanted to use that info to give encouragement and support to enemy propaganda efforts.
The initial war plan was a failure. The Gulf War was won in 5 days. Rumsfield thought that we'd kill Saddam Hussein the first day, and then the Iraq Republican Guard would surrender.We bombed Iraq for 44 days before that 5-day ground war. Most pro-war officials have avoided specific predictions about the length of the war.
Sunday, Mar 30, 2003
Programmers are not engineers
Computer programmers in Texas cannot call themselves software engineers unless they get an engineering license, according to this Houston Chronicle story. Texas once investigated a publisher of self-help legal books for violating the laws against non-lawyers practicing laws. It seems ridiculous when applied to programmers, but Texas is just doing what all the states do when they protect various professions from competition.
Volokh objects to this poll question, because it gives an argument for one side without also giving an argument for the other:
15. As you may know, Bush has proposed a 726 billion dollar tax cut over the next 10 years. The Senate has voted to reduce that to 350 billion dollars in order to help pay for the war, reduce the deficit and shore up the Social Security fund. Do you support or oppose this reduction in Bush's proposed tax cut?I have a different objection. I think that it is confusing because of double negatives. Having taught and made up exam questions, I've noticed that people have a lot of trouble with double-negative questions. In this question, the reduction is one negative, and the tax cut is another. Opposing it is another negative. You could even argue that taxation is a negative, because it is a depletion of the amount of money you get to keep. Just try asking someone a question like, "If you successfully oppose a reduction in your tax cut, will you have more money are less?", and see if you get an instant answer. Most people will hesitate because they are unsure.
Volokh is writing a book on academic legal writing. I wonder if he will have a section on double negatives, as academic legal writing is filled with it. I get the impression that lawyers would much rather say "it is not illegal to ..." than "it is legal to ...".
John sends this NY Times article about privacy aspects of web cookies. I use a program called CookieCop to help control my cookies. It is free, and has some nice side-effects, such as blocking ads and pop-ups.
Saturday, Mar 29, 2003
Review of The Hours
Gumma recommended this column about the latest feminist movie, "The Hours".Joe responds:
Deju vu all over again. Maybe we can all just quietly read all our deleted email so as to save the strain on our keyboards.I happened to catch about 10 minutes in the middle of The Hours. It appeared to be unbearably boring, with people staring off into space and turning pages in a book. Not on my list of movies to see. The review ends with:
It's no surprise that this heartless movie is a favorite of the American cultural elite, but for everybody else, The Hours isn't worth five minutes of one's time.My 10 minutes were wasted.
Meanwhile, I just saw The Core, along with the 10 minute short, The Animatrix. The latter was entertaining for fans of The Matrix, and won't make any sense to anyone else. I guess it is suppose to whet our appetites for the upcoming Matrix sequels.
The Core was a silly disaster movie, like Armageddon (with Bruce Willis). Scientists play the big roles, and they just blabber gibberish. Nothing they say makes any sense. Supposedly the earth's core quit rotating, and electromagnetic radiation is about to kill all life on earth. A crew makes a journey to the center of the earth to plant nuclear bombs to kick-start the core and get it rotating again.
It used to be thought that the earth's magnetic field was crucial for deflecting radiation, and permitting life. But now it is known that the earth's magnetic field has flipped direction many times, even in the last million years, so apparently life can survive the temporary loss of the magnetic field just fine.
Some animals use the magnetic field for navigation and migration. Nobody knows how they survived the flips, but they did.
The Core did have some interesting special effects, such as a microwave beam that destroys the SF Golden Gate bridge.
The theorem about prime numbers is old news. It was announced
and verified in August 2002.
Even the NY Times decribed it in Dec. 2002.
Here is more significant new theorem about prime numbers that
was just announced.
The SJ Mercury News story
failed to state the theorem, and had to run a correction
about what little info it did give.
The theorem says that there are arbitrarily large primes p such that
the difference between the next largest prime and p is less
than (ln p)8/9.
This is not as strong as the widely believed conjecture that there
are infinitely many twin primes, but it is much stronger than
previous results in this direction.
I don't agree with the Economist's suggestion that the new
Indian prime algorithm of last year has any bearing on cryptography.
Modern cryptography have use for prime finding algorithms,
but the previously known algorithms are more suitable for
cryptography than the new one.
I don't remember the column Andy mentions, but I would still
maintain that advances in cryptography have made it essentially
unbreakable. A faster prime finding algorithm would actually
make codes more secure, not less.
I don't agree with the Economist's suggestion that the new Indian prime algorithm of last year has any bearing on cryptography. Modern cryptography have use for prime finding algorithms, but the previously known algorithms are more suitable for cryptography than the new one.
I don't remember the column Andy mentions, but I would still maintain that advances in cryptography have made it essentially unbreakable. A faster prime finding algorithm would actually make codes more secure, not less.
Mothers going to war
Here is the Washington Post editorial that [claims] that "Johnson's child is one of tens of thousands who have been left behind while their mothers -- or their mothers and their fathers -- go off to war." The claim is vague about whether it refers to this war, all Amercan wars, or even all wars worldwide in history.
Friday, Mar 28, 2003
C.T. Sell case
John sends this jewish magazine article about C.T. Sell, the dentist who is ordered to be drugged so that he can face trial for insurance overbilling.
Charles Sell is a prisoner of conscience. ... We're writing about him and his case because his treatment by the federal government has been - and continues to be - unconscionable. ... Due to legal expenses, he's already lost his practice, his office, his home and his savings. What more does the government want? His mind?
When I read columnists like this, I assume that they are not telling the whole story. I became convinced that Sell is being unjustly abused when I read the judge's order against him. The feds' case is very weak, and it appears to me that the judge has some sort of personal grudge against Sell. Regardless, it is outrageous that a nonviolent defendant (who should get a presumption of innocence) would be forcibly drugged with experimental psychotropic drugs just so he'll sit quietly in his trial.
I found this in an anti-XML rant:
Adam Bosworth, a programming titan (his resumé includes Quattro Pro, Access, and IE4) recently wrote convincingly about the undue hardship programmers face in dealing with XML.Sounds like his resume is padded. Bosworth managed a predecessor to Quattro Pro, but Quattro Pro was a complete rewrite.
I actually agree that XML is a bad idea. It is over-hyped, and over-complicated, and really doesn't do much that is useful. It was supposed to be concise, easy to create, editable by humans, easy for programs to parse, and be a standardized format for different applications to exchange data. But it really isn't any of those things.
Adam's right, IMHO--the official parsing XML parsing tools are a pain in the ass. Nothing beats good old string search code....In an hour or two you can code up your own parser that sucks out fields 100 times faster and has a more convenient API.The XML gurus say that you are not supposed to parse XML unless you also validate that it is syntactically correct. That way, sloppy and non-conforming XML won't catch on the way that it did for HTML.
XML was also supposed to be concise, easy to create, editable by humans, easy for programs to parse, and be a standardized format for different applications to exchange data.
I hate to admit that Adam might be right about something, but I'm not a big XML fan either. With all the XML hype, I don't think its goals were realized very well.
Not to mention that unless you parse it according to the syntax you might extract something incorrectly, such as from a comment. BTW, at Callidus we use XML extensively as a substitute for binary BLOBS. We have customers that like it as a messaging/web services approach to application integration, although that latter is mostly all talk. No customer yet has actually been ready to do anything with XML in that way.
The Microsoft Palladium product manager is named Juarez. Add that to the list of ironic names. I also enjoyed this parody:
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?George writes:
What is going on? That last post makes no sense! I don't get it.Palladium is a Msft code name for a future product that is supposed to be called "'Next-Generation Secure Computing Base". It was designed to help control piracy. The word warez is a hacker word for pirate software, and Juarez sounds like a Mexican equivalent. The nexus is the trusted root of Palladium that will control what secrets are available to software applications. The dialog is a parody of a scene in the popular 1999 movie The Matrix, where Morpheus tries to explain that Neo's body is in a jar somewhere, and his mental activity is stimulated by a massive computer simulation that is controlled by machines that have taken over the world. Is it funny now? Ok, maybe it is geek humor. I happen to think that it is funny. The movie has a sequel that is about to be released, and I am looking forward to it.
A US general says:
"The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters here in central Iraq.Huhh? Surely they had war games that varied from an immediate Iraqi military surrender, to massive retaliation with the weapons of mass destruction that Bush claims Iraq has. The war has been something in between. I hope that our generals are not too surprised by anything they've seen.
Update: Jonathan send these friendly fire figures. 21% of US WWII casualties, and 39% of US Vietnam casualties. Seems high to me, but the site says the figures are conservative.
Update: Here is a Slate column that says the US may have cheated in the war games.
Friendly fire casualties
I found this on a mailing list:
NBC on 24 Mar 2003 had an item on self-inflicted damage, noting that in the Vietnam War, 24% of U.S. fatalities were due to friendly fire.Is this a realiable figure? It seems very high to me. I could only find this statement in USA Today:
Of the 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War, 81% were killed in combat, the Department of Veterans Affairs says. The comparable figure is 91% in the Korean War and 72% in World War II.The article is written as if the remainder is friendly fire, but I am not sure how this really relates.
Thursday, Mar 27, 2003
I didn't know the feds were shutting down sick web sites. The Smoking Gun has the scoop on the arrest of the operators of GirlsPooping.com.
The entire world pressured the white govt of Rhodesia to turn over political power to black folks in 1980. The NY Review of Books describes what happened. Now the people are starving. Bottom line: the blacks were much better off under white rule.
Supreme Court sodomy
The US Supreme Court is threatening to reverse its infamous 1986 5-4 decision upholding a Georgia sodomy law. Homosexuals were enraged by its finding:
Blackstone described "the infamous crime against nature" as an offense of "deeper malignity" than rape, a heinous act "the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature," and "a crime not fit to be named." ...Here is a Slate article claiming that the above statement is factually incorrect. But having read the argument, I don't see what is factually correct. There have been anti-sodomy laws that go back 100s of years. The Slate columnist seems to think it is false just because there have been some variations in the definition of sodomy over the years.
The article also claims that the word homosexual has only been in use for about 100 years. Before that, people referred only to the acts performed. It is more recent that it has been common to assume that the acts are related to some sort of persistent psychological orientation. But still, I don't see how this is relevant. It is the acts that are illegal in Texas, that is the way it has always been. If psychologists convince us that being a murderers have a different psychological orientation, murder will still be illegal.
In 1960, all 50 states had anti-sodomy laws; now it is only 13, and the laws are rarely enforced. That is evidence that the political process is responding to changes in public opinion. It is not much of an argument for the SC to seize upon this trend, and claim that it is implicit in a constitution that was written 200 years ago.
SF charges dropped
San Francisco has dropped all the felony charges against the war protesters. This is the same city that indicted the police chief because his assistant's son got into a minor scuffle with another drunk coming out of a bar at 2am.
BTW, why are the protesters called "peace protesters" or "anti-war protesters"? They are not protesting the peace, they are protesting the war. So wouldn't war protester be more correct?
From the errata to Ross Anderson's book:
The most embarrassing socially was the reference to Bruce Schneier as Prince Schneier on page 113.Schneier is the author of a popular cryptography book. Calling him Prince Schneier is almost as good as calling him the BS man!
I have the 2nd printing of Anderson's excellent book. The error has been corrected.
Wednesday, Mar 26, 2003
FERC finds price gouging
The Wash Post reports that FERC found that power companies overcharged California for energy. Well duhh.
The whole point of the power deregulation was to let private companies profit by trading energy, and thereby insure that Californians pay a market price for energy. As it turns out, the so-called deregulation scheme was broken, and rigged by California lawmakers so that Californian ended up paying above-market prices for energy. But I don't quite get the point of blaming companies like Enron for taking advantage of the system. Isn't that what California was asking them to do?
I also don't quite get the Californians who blame FERC for not rescuing California from its own flawed energy regulatory scheme. Granted, California is governed by incompetent morons like Gray Davis, whose decisions made the California energy crisis worse and wasted billions of dollars. It was the California energy-market rules that allowed power companies to profit by shutting down power plants and creating short-term price squeezes. And it was Calif. Gov. Gray Davis who prevent California utilities from buying long-term power contracts, until the spot price reached a peak, and then forced them to lock in those peak prices with 10-year contracts.
The real problem was that California had a stupid energy deregulation scheme that only partially deregulated energy, and the California politicians were either unable or unwilling to fix it when it went bad.
Tuesday, Mar 25, 2003
Press committing war crimes
I am amazed at the USA news media showing pictures of Iraqis being held as prisoners of war, after it was claimed to be a violation of the Geneva Convention. The 1949 Geneva Convention on treatment of war prisoners says that prisoners must be protected from public curiosity. TV reality shows routinely obscure the faces of bystanders who haven't signed waivers. The news media also makes an effort to protect the identity of minors when privacy considerations warrant. So why don't TV news shows and newspapers obscure the faces of Iraqi prisoners of war?
Monday, Mar 24, 2003
One of my pet peeves is people who use quote marks for emphasis or some other purpose while criticizing someone else, leaving the reader with the false impression that it is a legitimate quote. The WSJ blog today says:
It's been a couple of weeks since Pat Buchanan's exposé of the "Zionist cabal" that has taken over American foreign policy ...But Buchanan does not use the phrase "Zionist cabal". Meanwhile Buchanan says:
The truth is, those hurling these charges harbor a “passionate attachment” to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what’s good for Israel is good for America.and the quote appears to be of Max Boot, a former WSJ editor. But Boot did not say it, and it is presumably an obscure reference to George Washington's farewell address that only his fellow conservatives would understand. These folks should learn to use italics or something else for emphasis, and not quote marks.
Paying for spam
A new $10/year email service called Mailblocks claims to block spam for you, and has gotten a lot of publicity. But Politech points out that its terms of service announces that it will bombard its subscribers with 3rd party spam, and there is no way to opt-out! Somebody is not too clear about the concept.
The TV news is now pronouncing Qatar as "cutter". This explanation say cutter is more correct. But this seems like foolish political correctness to me. Listen to how the arabs say it, and it sounds more like KUH-tar to me. It sounds like those who want to call mohammedans muslims, instead of mohammedans or moslems, and call their bible the Qur'an instead of the Koran.
The word Mohammadanism is offensive to muslims because it implies that Mohammed was a god, just as Christian implies that Christ was a god. Allah is their only god. The religion is Islam, and the followers are muslims, not mohammedans.I don't think that you are correct. The word Mohammadanism was used to describe the religion for 100s of years. Confucianism and Buddism are religions, and yet their followers do not consider Confucius or Buddha gods. The first pillar of Mohammedanism requires accepting that Mohammed was Allah's most important prophet, and the leader of the religion and the revealer of all the beliefs. The word Mohammedanism is an accurate and non-derogatory term. The word Islam is fine also, altho it is usually used to mean something broader than just the religion.
Minnesota database on imperfect kids
Andy sends this story
Every newborn child in Minnesota will be required to submit to medical testing for congenital disorders and defects -- unless parents make an objection in writing that is based on a conflict with religious tenets and practice. No other objections are allowed.
Sunday, Mar 23, 2003
Glad I skipped them. Sure enough, they gave a documentary award to charlatan Michael Moore, who then griped about Al Gore losing the 2000 election, and another Oscar to fugitive child molester Roman Polanski. Moore had the nerve to say he believes in "nonfiction". Too bad he doesn't believe in facts. His movie is a silly and incoherent polemic for some of his favorite leftist causes. I guess it is nonfiction because of its polemical nature, but I wouldn't call it a documentary.
I think you might have enjoyed parts of the show, Roger. The boos/jeers were actually louder, to my ears at least, than the applause/cheers for Moore. Most of the audience, though, remained silent (shocked? cowed?); maybe the nominees had been asked not to launch into a political philippic should they win (or, in Academy Award-speak, should "the Oscar go to" themDrudge says the Oscar show was the lowest rated in history. So I guess I wasn't the only one who skipped it.
This exchange is followed by a montage, accompanied by Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World," of American foreign policy misdeeds from the 1950's to the present. Their relevance is, again, arguable, but by now it should be clear that Mr. Moore is less interested in argument than in provocation. The last image is of the airplanes smashing into the World Trade Center, accompanied by this text: "Sept. 11, 2001: Osama bin Laden uses his expert C.I.A. training to murder 3,000 people." The idiocy of this statement is hardly worth engaging; it is exactly the kind of glib distortion of history that can be taken as a warrant to dismiss everything Mr. Moore has to say.
Biological loyalty test
I just heard a left-wing radio program called CounterSpin describe the military anthrax vaccine as a "biological loyalty test". The vaccine is controversial, but so are a lot of other vaccines. Why didn't they complain about the vaccine before the war, when others were complaining about it?
The think-tank war
One of the criticisms of the Iraq war is that it is a think-tank war that was planned out by a bunch of NWO neocon intellectuals long before 09/11 or the recent Iraq weapons inspections. Here is the New American Century site. It is a little spooky to see how many of those folks are not close advisors to G.W. Bush.
Saturday, Mar 22, 2003
Ranking the early USA presidents
I rank the first 15 presidents in terms of how conservative they were as followsJohn responds to Andy:
So, let's see the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was good but the Compromise of 1850 was bad? (You attack the Compromise of 1850 because it "allowed" the expansion of slavery - i.e., it preserved the status quo. However, slavery was not in fact extended to any new state after 1850. OTOH, you praise the "successful" Missouri Compromise under which slavery was extended to MO, AR, FL, and TX.)I don't know how to make sense out of Andy's list, unless he defines conservative and explains how the term applies to the American politics of 200 years ago. It is not obvious. Eg, Washington was a revolutionary soldier who killed people in order to upset the existing order and install a radical new kind of gubmnt. I don't see how that was "conservative".
It reminds me of some news reporters who refer to some ultra-radical Islamicist or Communist like Osama bin Laden as a "conservative". Whatever they are, they are not conservatives in any sense of the word. They are not trying to maintain the status quo, and have very little in common with American political movements that use the term "conservative".
Andy responds to John:
By "conservative" I mean what it means today -- adherence to moral and logical principles. Look at the views of the attendees of Eagle Council if you're unsure.John responds to Andy:
So does your ranking of the first 15 presidents reflect their relative "adherence to moral and logical principles"? Obviously not!Andy's definition of "conservative" is incoherent. Mentioning "morality", "Rule of Law", or "logical principles" tells us nothing about how to distinguish conservativism from other philosophies.The Missouri Compromise did not affect FL or TX, and I don't think it even affected AR. It excluded slavery for nearly all of the unorganized Louisiana Purchase, and it solved the slavery crisis for 30 years.By prohibiting slavery *only* in that portion of the Louisiana Purchase north of 36-30 (the southern boundary of Missouri) (except for Missouri itself), the Missouri Compromise in effect legalized slavery in all other federal territories. So it did indeed directly "affect" the territories that became the slave states of AR (1836) and FL (1845).
Pres. Jackson had a legal dispute with Marshall about whether the Cherokee Nation was a sovereignty not subject to USA laws. I don't know who was right, but both sides would say they believed in Rule of Law. Saying that conservatives believe in Rule of Law tells us nothing. If I had to guess, I'd guess that Jackson was more likely to be right.
John and Roger seem to object to the very notion of rating presidents by how conservative they were. Both seem to think that liberals have principles too, and perhaps it's all relative. In fact, only conservatives think principles should trump personal desire. And yes, presidents should be held accountable for their lack of conservatism.I object to calling George Washington a conservative. He was a radical. What could be more radical than leading a revolution? If he were really so faithful to Rule of Law, he would not have led a revolution.
I don't see the USA being so different. When judges are nominated for promotion, the debate is almost entirely political, and not over who can best carry out Rule of Law.
John responds to Andy:
Andy responds to John:John and Roger seem to object to the very notion of rating presidents by how conservative they were. Both seem to think that liberals have principles too, and perhaps it's all relative. In fact, only conservatives think principles should trump personal desire. And yes, presidents should be held accountable for their lack of conservatism.But your rating of the first 15 presidents is obviously not based on your stated criterion - whether principles should trump personal desire.The Missouri Compromise was successful for 34 years, and overruling it in the Nebraska-Kansas Act and Dred Scott decision was the major cause of the Civil War. It banned the spread of slavery above 36-30 (except for Missouri), which was most of the territory at the time. I'm not aware of a meaningful fugitive slave provision in it. (The Compromise of 1850 had a tough federal fugitive slave provision.)But if your stated definition of conservatism is adherence to principles of morality, how can you cite the 1820 Missouri Compromise as a major achievement? A compromise, by definition, is a (partial) surrender of principle.
John wrote, "Liberals appeal to abstract moral principles much more often than conservatives, who rely more on history and culture."John responds to Andy:
Andy doesn't make much sense to me either. Andy acts like conservatives can be identified based on arguments of morality, and Rule of Law. But often these 2 factors are at opposite sides of an issue. Eg, in the fugitive slave law debate, one side had Rule of Law squarely on its side, and the other had the moral high ground.John wrote, "Liberals appeal to abstract moral principles much more often than conservatives, who rely more on history and culture." Liberals do not appeal to "moral principles." They do appeal to terms like "rights" and "equality", but these are not moral principles.Not moral principles? They are the foundation of morality!"Rights", for example, can simply be a demand to do as one desires, without any logic to it.Yes, that's a good definition of rights doing as one desires, without regard to logic. Another name for that is freedom. Another name is moral agency (aka free will). (Andy is really showing his Platonic colors here!)There are pseudo-conservatives who will invoke history and culture rather than making a logical or moral argument that might offend someone. But that approach doesn't speak for the conservative movement.OTC, I the pseudo-conservatives are those who ignore history and culture to make purely logical or moral arguments. That is the liberal or libertarian approach.There are several reasons why the 1820 compromise was conservative, but the 1850 one was liberal. ...Your first and third reasons are basically the same point the 1850 Compromise made it a federal responsibility to enforce the fugitive slave clause (Article IV, Section 2) of the original Constitution.
I've never heard anyone give an argument for prayer in the classroom based on morality and logic. And I don't know what is conservative about the state of New Hamshire dismantling the private Dartmouth College, and making it a state-run school. (Judge Marshall's decision let Dartmouth continue as a private college, based on a theory about upholding contracts.)Liberals do not appeal to "moral principles." They do appeal to terms like "rights" and "equality", but these are not moral principles.
Why do people have Oscar parties? I'd much rather watch the invasion of Baghdad on TV. I last watched the Oscar show about 20 years ago, and it was painfully boring and offensive.
This year, there will probably be dumb actors giving anti-war speeches. Michael Moore may get an Oscar for best documentary, even tho Bowling For Columbine will filled with lies and distortions, and was terrible as a documentary. Roman Polanski could win one, but he won't show up because he is a fugitive for a statutory rape charge. Apparently he has redeemed himself in Hollywood because he made a move about Holocaust survivors. His co-producer won't show up either, because he is facing corruption charges in Poland. If you want to know which movies were good, just look at the box office figures. It is a more reliable indicator.
Friday, Mar 21, 2003
Bob sent this:
PARIS, FRANCE - President Jacques Chirac announced today that France would be deploying two elite units of French troops to Iraq in the event of war. Five hundred crack troops from the 2nd Groupement d'Instruction en Abandonment are mobilizing to assist the Iraqi Army in the finer points of military surrender.He also sends this picture:
Sonicblue announced bankruptcy. It was a pioneer, and made the popular Rio mp3 music players, and the ReplayTV PVR (similar to TiVo).
It is amazing that the PVR has been such a flop in the marketplace. I think that TV is unwatchable without one. If I had to choose between a PVR, VCR, DVD player, HDTV, or big screen TV, I would take a PVR.
Thursday, Mar 20, 2003
For years, Msft email has had a problem with messages that have "begin " at the beginning of a line. I was amused by the official workaround:
To workaround this problem:
Here's another thing that ought to be on Chuck Schumer's bill of rights for cellphone users: 411 listings. The AP story says 5% of US households have gone wireless, and use a cellphone instead of a land line. My kids call a cellphone a cell-o-phone, because that sounds more like telephone.
Diversity may not benefit education
This study says no. I don't have any confidence in these results, but at least it appears to look at the matter as a serious empirical question. Too many others just assume they know an answer, without any analysis.
One of the authors is S.M. Lipset. An earlier survey of his was discredited by mathematician Serge Lang.
USA code tariffs
This ExtremeTech article suggest that the USA should have protective tariffs for American programmers, or else the jobs will move to India and elsewhere.
It makes as much sense to me as having tariffs to protect steel workers, sugar growers, and peanut farmers. We also have special laws protecting the jobs of physicians, lawyers, and other professions. I say we should abolish all these laws, unless people are willing to also protect programmers.
Colorado gun laws
Colorado passed some pro-gun laws, and repealed some anti-gun laws. Good for them. I guess the post-Columbine anti-gun hysteria has now passed in Colorado.
Wednesday, Mar 19, 2003
Poor FBI lab work
John sends this AP story about 3k criminal cases tainted by bad FBI lab work.
If the USA alert level goes up to red, then Andy might have to stay home:
Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down. A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate. "Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related." ...
John wants to nominate Andy for a conservative genius award. He also recommends this article:
Seven of every 10 Silicon Valley companies that Wall Street first sold to the public during the technology boom -- a group that generated some of the biggest first-day gains in stock market history -- are now dead or valued at less than half their initial price. The grim toll raises the question of how much investment bankers, who arranged the stock deals for billions of dollars in fees, were to blame for the carnage. ...It is spouting meaningless buzzwords that comes easily to those guys.
Tuesday, Mar 18, 2003
More on Monroe
James Monroe was a great conservative, and the Monroe Doctrine was his speech. JQA deserves credit, but he was a presidential wannabee trying to appeal to Monroe's constituency. The Doctrine declares our non-interference with respect to the Eastern Hemisphere:This is more nonsense from Andy. Note that Monroe only refers to European powers, and has no bearing on Iraq."It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense. ... The political system of the allied [European] powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments.... Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none."This principle is general, applying to the Middle East as well as Europe.
I never denied regression to the mean. Regression to the mean is a perfectly valid concept. The problem is that Andy misunderstands it.
I dispute Andy's claim that dead languages are any more precise, or better in any way. None of those languages are as precise as English. There is a reason that they are dead languages -- they were lousy languages.
I cited 2 facts IQ scores are increasing, and human intellectual accomplishments in the 20th century exceed all other centuries. Maybe intelligence could decrease, but Andy's arguments are all fallacious.
It's interesting how John, Joe, Liza and Roger are all stridently opposed to this simple proposition that human intelligence has declined. They even seem to be opposed to having a substantive debate about it.It is hard to see what Andy means. Does he mean that average intelligence is declining? Or peak intelligence among geniuses? How does he want to measure? Innate intelligence (like an IQ test)? Or learned intelligence, as measured by tests or accomplishments?
Also, what is the time period? Is he claiming that intelligence has declined over the last 20 years, 100 years, 1000 years, million years, or what?
And where is the evidence? I mention several facts in opposition higher IQ test scores, greater accomplishments in the 20th century, higher literacy rates, etc. The trend over the very long term (100 kyrs) is surely towards increasing intelligence.
English is more precise than those other languages, because of the richer vocabulary and functional syntax. Those dead languages existed before the invention of zero -- they couldn't even express zero!
I agree with Roger.John sent this NY Times story about S. African bushmen who using clicking sounds in their language, even tho the clicks are difficult and awkward. Are they the smartest of all?
Roger and Liza deny that Latin and Greek have a greater precision than modern languages. I can't imagine any objective student of those languages agreeing. For example, this Latin phrase cannot be precisely translated into English "dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux." (Genesis 13). Translations into modern languages introduce a spatial or causative separation between God and light that does not exist in the Latin.My bible says:
God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.If anything, this only shows that Latin is less precise. The original Genesis was not written in Latin.
I admit that language precision is correlated to intelligence. The world's smartest people speak English, and English is the most precise language.
Andy has fallen for the "regression to the mean" fallacy. The same argument would show that people have been getting shorter for the last million years. We'd all be midgets by now!
One of the many fallacies underlying Andy's completely unsupported thesis about the decline of intelligence is his implicit assumption that intelligence is 100% inherited. Experts such as Charles Murray think it is about 60% inherited. People of extraordinary intelligence emerge from nowhere all the time. I doubt that either of Albert Einstein's parents was anywhere nearly as smart as he was.Joe writes:
It's just patently ridiculous to say that Latin is more "precise" than English. I happened to study Latin for four years under excellent teachers who wrote the SAT and AP tests. Certainly you can achieve a wonderful economy of expression in Latin, but my experience is that Latin is, if anything, more ambiguous than English. Many constructions such as the Ablative Absolute are inherently subject to several different translations. We spent many hours in class bickering over alternative interpretations that gave completely different shades of meaning. I am mystified at Andy's confident tone about this - as I recall, he never studied Latin at all.Not only that, but Andy is also confident about just what precisely God meant when he said, "Let there be light"!
John, Joe, Roger and Liza all adhere to humanism in this intelligence debate. None will allow even the possibility that human intelligence has declined.
french military defeats
Bob suggests googling french military victories. Better yet, type it in manually, and hit the I'm Feeling Lucky button. It even works on the French versions of Google. Here is the Newsday story about it. And here is a Geoff Metcalf column about it from over a month ago, so I guess this isn't hot news.
Andy says dead languages are best
The Monroe Doctrine, one of the greatest conservative works by one of the greatest conservative Presidents, does prohibit what we're doing in Iraq. The Monroe Doctrine is based on the fact that our economic and political system is different from the Eastern Hemisphere. We can't install our system in Iraq. It's not possible, so don't kill people trying.My sources say:
The Monroe Doctrine was a statement of foreign policy which proclaimed that Europe should not interfere in affairs within the United States or in the development of other countries in the Western Hemisphere, and that the United States would not interfere in European affairs.See also the Columbia encyclopedia. Invading Iraq does not interfere with European affairs. I don't think that our intention is to install our system in Iraq. We have never installed our system in any other country, and I doubt we'll try in Iraq. Bush loses moral credibility if he fails to act.
The smartest people are nearly always smarter than either their parents or their kids. Andy needs to understand regression to the mean. Does he think that Riemann's father was smarter than Riemann?
All of those languages are grossly inferior to English.
The Monroe Doctrine (Dec. 2, 1823) says that the U.S. will not permit European powers (including Russia) to plant their systems in the Western Hemisphere.And the success of the Bush presidency hinges on disarming Iraq and expelling Saddam Hussein.
Jewish war support
Here is a US News column on whether this statement is true:
If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. [Congressman Jim Moran]Pat Buchanan risks being called an anti-semite again, and addresses the issue in this essay.
I don't think that the statement is true. The war does not benefit Israel very much. It may benefit Saudi Arabia more. But the issue should be openly analyzed. If we were going to war in N.Ireland, it would be fair to ask whether the war was being promoted by Irish-Americans.
Monday, Mar 17, 2003
More war debate
John continues the war debate:
This is the argument that (1) the first Gulf War never ended, (2) a new invasion of Iraq is authorized by the 1990 UN Resolution 678, (3) which is still operative even though (4) its purpose has been fulfilled because Iraq has been completely expelled from Kuwait and (5) the 16 subsequent UN resolutions concerning Iraq (6) have nothing to do with the invasion of Kuwait or any other UN member country and (7) lack the essential words "all necessary means" authorizing military action.As a ratified treaty, the UN Charter is part of the "supreme law of the land" as defined in the Constitution. Article 51 of the Charter recognizes the "inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs on a member of the United Nations." All other use of military force must be authorized by the Security Council.Iraq's attack on Kuwait should satisfy that condition.
Supreme Court a source of rights
Federal courts do not create new rights. I've read that the US Supreme Court has not created a bona fide new right in 30 years -- going back to Roe v. Wade.Warren Court activism is dead. The Rehnquist Court is too timid to take a stand on anything that will have any significant effect. Some decisions might be interpreted as creating a right. Eg, last year the SC said that low IQ folks have a right not to be executed.
So why did the court agree to hear a sodomy case?
Looking for a cheap dialup ISP? This site seems to have a good directory of ISPs.
War is possible UN Charter violation
I am trying to understand when war violates the UN Charter. Is a Security Council resolution needed to endorse the war? Yes, except in self-defense, according to some.
Here is what the UN Charter says:
Article 1: The Purposes of the United Nations are:The UN Security Council has only endorsed war 3 times.
I think that Bush would say that the upcoming Iraq war is completely consistent with the purposes of the UN.
See No Evil
Bob raves about a new book called, See No Evil, The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, By Robert Baer. Here is the Preface. Baer states: "The CIA was systematically destroyed by political correctness, by petty Beltway wars, by careerism, and much more. At a time when terrorist threats were compounding globally, the agency that should have been monitoring them was being scrubbed clean instead."
John sends this story that says:
Nationally, groups like the conservative Eagle Forum, headed by Phyllis Schlafly, have come out in opposition to mandated immunizations, particularly for hepatitis B, although its objections seem to be based on political, rather than religious or medical, grounds. She fears immunization information will be used to create a "Big Brother-like" medical database.If the Eagle Forum objection were purely political, then it wouldn't single out hepatitis B. That 1998 column cited medical reasons for objecting to that HBV vaccine. Eight months later, the official US recommendation to give HBV vaccine to all newborn infants was cancelled for medical reasons, as this later column explains.
John sends this story about high-profile lawyer David Boies getting into his own ethics problems. I don't know why people think that Boies is so smart. He is famous for losing the Westmoreland/CBS libel case, losing the Microsoft antitrust case, losing the Napster case, and losing the Bush v. Gore 2000 recount case. He is now suing IBM over Linux infringing Unix, and will probably botch that case also.
Sunday, Mar 16, 2003
More war debate
John responds to Roger:
Andy responds:>Bush and Blair will certainly be accused of international war crimes. >They may have to spend the rest of their lives defending themselves in >court. They are apparently willing to take that chance.Not sure Bush appreciates the risk. There is a whole infrastructure of lawyers and legal precedents standing by to prosecute those involved in a war. Here are a few illustrations: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/2850043.stm http://nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3200493 http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030312/COBLAIR/TPComment http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030315.coibbi0315/BNStory/International http://www.WorldNetDaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=31535 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27790-2003Mar14.htmlProvided he can prove it is authorized by existing UN resolutions. He has to make the case. It's not obvious.>The act of Congress, P.L. 102-1, merely authorized the president to use >force to implement UN resolutions.Yes, and that is what Bush is going to do, even if it means bombing Iraq.
John's right about the war, but fails to explain why conservatives have allowed themselves to be led down this path. Note that Bush's plans for an unprovoked invasion are unprecedented in US history, and violate the Monroe Doctrine. There's no predicting how bad the political fallout could be.I thought that the Monroe Doctrine only pertained to the Western Hemisphere.
Does Andy's theory predict that the size of the universe is declining?
Andy doesn't even believe most of 20th century science. In math, I guess he believes that Gauss or Riemann was the greatest ever. Maybe so, but the amount of great, original, important, brilliant, etc math coming from the 20th century exceeds the 19th by a factor of about 10 to 1. At least. The same is true in theoretical physics.
John responds to Roger:
I thought that Bush backed the USA out of the ICC. Regardless, I am glad that we have a president with the guts to act without being paralyzed with fear about his own personal retirement.The ICC claims "universal jurisdiction."Note that Congress was authorizing the use of force, and Congress did not make it contingent on the UN agreeing that the use of force was necessary. All Bush needs is authorization from Congress to enforce a UN resolution.P.L. 102-1 was contingent on the UN specifically authorizing the use of force. 102-1 says "The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990)." UN Resolution 678 "authorizes Member States cooperating with the government of Kuwait ... to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660."
Is intelligence declining
The media and academia love to hype intelligence, pretending that the elite is getting smarter and smarter. In fact, human intelligence is surely declining from generation to generation. Entropy is increasing and mutations are always harmful. The collective IQ of the human population must therefore be declining. There is no way around it people are getting dumber. You can debate how quick the decline is, but not the inevitability of a decline.Joe responds:
Intelligence must be declining? OK, so cavemen had higher IQ's than we do? When did IQ peak? With the first person? Let me guess Adam and Eve were the smartest people ever. Andy doesn't believe in evolution, so he doesn't worry about our being smarter than earlier life forms.Actually, it is the rise in IQ scores that is puzzling, and needs to be explained.
When was the last time you read an older writing? In most cases, I've found the ideas disappointingly poorly expressed. It doesn't mean that people are smarter now. We now have the advantage of greater knowledge.
Yes, Andy is totally wrong. If intelligence has been declining for millions of years, then it is tough to explain why there has been more intellectual progress in the 20th century than any other in history.
On the subject of evolution, AMC just broadcast the 1960 movie Inherit the Wind. It is amazing how people think that the movie is factual and then wonder why all the names were changed. Instead it is faithful to a stage play that was supposed to be a anti-McCarthyism propaganda. So it is the movie, not Tennessee law, that suppresses the truth. Here are some links that explain the numerous factual distortions.
Most of those links are to creationist sites that don't believe in evolution. Those creationists are laughingstocks as much as the movie portrayed William Jennings Bryan.Maybe so, and I am not endorsing what they say about their own beliefs about religion or science. But the sites demonstrate that the movie gets the facts wrong from beginning to end. Eg, the movie starts with Bryan being a phony honorary "Colonel" and Darrow objecting. In reality, Bryan was a real Colonel in the army.
The scientific evidence that Darrow submitted did indeed involve bogus and offensive stuff about Piltdown Man and Eugenics. Bryan was not an idiot, and had good reasons for objecting to it.
Saturday, Mar 15, 2003
Felony emotional impairment
JG sends this Denver Post story about a Colorado proposal to create a new felony: the impairment of a child's emotional or psychological development. This is an amazing bad idea, because there is no consensus about what impairs emotional or psychological development, among other reasons.
John circulated an article about House passage of a malpractice reform bill (HR 5).
Iraqi citizens have guns
John sends this Slate article about how Iraqi citizens have guns. Supposedly it is a counterexample to the notion that people have guns in free societies, and they don't in police states.
I'd like to see some more analysis of this point. Have Iraqi citizens always been armed? It has been a very long time since anyone successfully invaded Iraq. Was gun ownership a factor? Is gun ownership undermining allied support for an invasion today? Iraq seems like a police state to us, but are the people there any less free than other Mohammedan countries in the area?
Friday, Mar 14, 2003
Disbar lawyers for filing lawsuits
John sends this story and this LA Times story about the state of California wanting to disbar some lawyers for filing a large number of harassing lawsuits.
Thursday, Mar 13, 2003
Andy against the war
I'm trying to make some sense of the positions here, but cannot find anything coherent.War involves killing people. Better them than us. Failing to act might get more people killed.
John responds to me:
John responds to me again:Bush's position is that Iraq is in serious violation of UN resolutions. France apparently thinks that the violations are not serious enough for war yet, but that is just France's (and Russia's and Germany's) opinion.It's not just their opinion. Like it or not, France has the power to veto UN resolutions. That's the deal the U.S. agreed to in 1945. Some say the U.S. doesn't need another UN resolution to start the war because the existing resolutions concerning Iraq already provide enough authority. However, that case has to be made. We can't just ignore or disregard the UN, as some members of the War Party are now saying. To do so would expose participants to prosecution under the new ICC.The legitimacy of the 1991 Gulf War depended entirely on the UN resolution that authorized it. The U.S. never justified the war by claiming that Iraq threatened our oil supply.>By legality I meant international law. That requires more than >authority from Congress. It means the existence of facts and >circumstances that historically have justified resort to war, as well as >compliance with international agreements like the UN Charter.Those conditions clearly exist. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and threatened our oil supply. We have been in a state of war ever since, as Iraq has never fully complied with our demands.In S. Africa, there was an international consensus that the govt should abolish apartheid. There is no consensus about Israel, except perhaps that Israel should offer the PLO a homeland that leaves Israel with safe and secure borders. Israel has done that. It is not what the arabs want, so there is really no consensus.How many people does it take to make a consensus? Why does it matter how many people agree? The question is whether it is true.The status quo is not the solution.Yes, the status is the solution unless somebody finds a better one. No one has.I don't have any solution for Israel's problems, but it is at war with people dedicated to its destruction and that justifies everything that it is doing.>That last sentence is incoherent and self-contradictory. If you don't >have a solution, that means you must agree that the status quo is not >acceptable or justifiable. Otherwise you are saying the status quo is >the solution.Why? Because bigoted arabs don't want to live next to jews. It is the arabs who seem to want some sort of apartheid, and kick out all the jews. Those jews have every right to live there, and if a hypothetical arab state cannot tolerate that, then it is appropriate for Israel to defend them.Yes, the Jews have the right to live in the West Bank or any Arab country - provided they are willing to live under the same laws that apply to Arabs. There is no evidence the Arabs refuse to live next to Jews as individuals or want to kick them out. They just don't want the Israeli army rampaging through their country.And what are those reasons? Their failure to articulate a clear, overriding reason for war invites speculation about what the true reason may be.>Yes, Israel is at war with its Arab neighbors who have never recognized >its existence. That is Israel's problem, not ours.Yes, it is Israel. Helping Israel is a lousy reason for bombing Iraq. I realize that there are some pro-Israel folks who are gung-ho for an Iraq war. But I don't think that they have much influence on GW Bush or Tony Blair. They want war for reasons that have little or nothing to do with Israel.
For the first 55 years there was no enforcement mechanism. But on July 1, 2002 the International Criminal Court went into force. It's a whole new ball game now. The ICC claims jurisdiction over any alleged war crimes in Iraq.>It's not just their opinion. Like it or not, France has the power to >veto UN resolutions. That's the deal the U.S. agreed to in 1945.Yes, and how many wars have taken place since then without France's approval?
Schlafly Beer inspected!
This PDF report says that "Busch, U.N. Order Schlafly To Submit To Bottling Plant Inspections – Demand Full Compliance".
The US Senate voted 52-46 to endorse Roe v. Wade, and then voted 64-33 to outlaw partial birth abortion. Somebody's mixed up there. The net effect of Roe v. Wade was to declare that a pregnant woman has an unqualified constitutional right to any abortion procedure that any physician wants to do, including partial birth abortion. The only way to ban partial birth abortion is to overturn Roe v. Wade. At least 16 Senators are contradicting themselves.
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003
I am surprised that the Smart girl was found alive. The next question is whether she was a runaway. Most of the time, a missing 15-year-old is a runaway. Surely, she had many chances to escape, if she wanted to.
A number of things are fishy. The sister observed the kidnapping, at 1am, but did not report it until 3am. Why would anyone keep such a secret for 2 hours? I cannot imagine a 9-year-old sitting on such information from 1am until 3am. Months later, the sister announces that Emmanuel was the kidnapper. How would she know, and why didn't she say earlier? According to some reports, Elizabeth Smart had been found by police a couple of times, but she evaded detection by using a false name.
The only explanation I see is that Elizabeth was really a runaway, that she voluntarily ran off with Emmanuel, and she told her sister to say it was a kidnapping. She told her to wait 2 hours to give them a chance to get out of range.
Update: Now Drudge reports that Elizabeth Smart told a cop, "You think I am the girl who ran away." More evidence that she ran away.
Does this ring false
Katha Pollitt writes in The Nation:
Violence is no longer the sacred preserve of men: The NRA does everything short of painting guns pink to sell them to women. For progressive women, in 2003, to fall back on the ideology of woman-as-peaceful-outsider rings as false as Phyllis Schlafly pretending to be a housewife.
Is this a warblog?
To change the subject, what is Roger's position on the war at this stage. Now that we have come this far, if the UN is dithering in two weeks, does he believe we should go?As I see it, Iraq caused us a lot of grief by invading Kuwait in 1990. We backed off when Iraq signed a conditional surrender. Iraq has not complied with those terms. We have given them an ultimatum to comply. If they don't, then I think that we should start dropping bombs until they do, or a new govt is in place.
I am a little concerned that a war will be a big waste of money and resources, without much improvement in American interests in the area. But assuming that the military can achieve its objectives, I think we have to go thru with it now. Otherwise, no one will ever take our threats seriously.
Listening to the anti-war crowd makes me pro-war. They are mostly commie stooges, anti-Israel bigots, anti-Bush leftists, environmentalist wackos who don't think we should be using oil, pacifists, and other nuts.
The trouble with blowing off the UN at this point is that the whole purpose of the war - as stated by the president and as authorized by Congress - is to enforce UN resolutions against Iraq. (The same was true of the first Gulf War.) The stated pretext for both wars is Saddam's violation of UN resolutions.Yes, a lot of lousy pro-war reasons are given as well. We wouldn't goto war to save the Kurds, or bring democracy to Iraq, or to enforce obscure UN resolutions.
I don't object to people theorizing that the real purpose for the war is to support Israel, or to get cheap oil, or to settle a score for Bush Sr. That's not bigoted. But a lot of the anti-war crowd will rant about how Israel has no right to exist, how Israel is terrorist, how Israel is illegally occupying arab land, how the suicide bombers are just doing what they have to do under Israeli oppression, etc. Those anti-Israel positions have no merit. When people express views like that, then I disregard everything else they say.
Then what is a good reason, in your opinion? Or (not necessarily the same thing), what is the true reason that motivates the War Party?What is the War Party? The Repubs and Demos seem more or less equally war-like to me. Clinton also bombed Iraq when he didn't approve of what Hussein was doing, and he also led wars in Yugoslavia.
The legality is based on getting a declaration from Congress. That was done in the Gulf War, and has been done to support all actions so far.
Well, I hope it improves American interests. We may not know for sure for years, if ever.
I don't see the parallel between Israel and S. Africa. The arabs are in a state of war against Israel. Unless and until the arabs either win the war or surrender, Israel has a right to rule them. That is how the world has worked for thousands of years, and I don't know how else it could work.
Israel offered them their own state, and they turned it down, because they prefer to be in a state of war. They are not going away, but they don't seem to be capable of civilized self-government either.
I don't have any solution for Israel's problems, but it is at war with people dedicated to its destruction and that justifies everything that it is doing.
The term War Party doesn't refer to Democrats or Republicans. It means the party (in the generic sense) or faction pushing, promoting, and supporting the war against Iraq. It means the people named here and here.Liza writes:
I completely agree with Roger about the whole Mideast-Iraq situation.Bush's position is that Iraq is in serious violation of UN resolutions. France apparently thinks that the violations are not serious enough for war yet, but that is just France's (and Russia's and Germany's) opinion.
Those conditions justifying war clearly exist. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and threatened our oil supply. We have been in a state of war ever since, as Iraq has never fully complied with our demands.
In S. Africa, there was an international consensus that the govt should abolish apartheid. There is no consensus about Israel, except perhaps that Israel should offer the PLO a homeland that leaves Israel with safe and secure borders. Israel has done that. It is not what the arabs want, so there is really no consensus.
Yes, the status is the solution unless somebody finds a better one. No one has.
Why is it impossible for jews to live on the West Bank? Because bigoted arabs don't want to live next to jews. It is the arabs who seem to want some sort of apartheid, and kick out all the jews. Those jews have every right to live there, and if a hypothetical arab state cannot tolerate that, then it is appropriate for Israel to defend them.
Yes, Israel war is Israel's problem. Helping Israel is a lousy reason for bombing Iraq. I realize that there are some pro-Israel folks who are gung-ho for an Iraq war. But I don't think that they have much influence on GW Bush or Tony Blair. They want war for reasons that have little or nothing to do with Israel.
MOAB is supposed to stand for Massive Ordinance Air Blast. That is surely a contrived acronym, with the real one being the Mother Of All Bombs. Like the USA PATRIOT Act that supposedly stands for United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.
Radio spectrum is unlimited
This Salon article explains David P. Reed's campaign to use the radio spectrum in new ways.
No illegal alien left behind
Andy points out that illegal alien kids get federal funds for learning English:
GRANT AVAILABILITY: School districts with a concentration of immigrant students can apply for federal funds to help pay for activities that will help immigrant students attain English proficiency, meet academic standards, and acclimate themselves to American society. The funds are available under Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act.
VDARE John sends a link to VDARE.com. I'm not sure why, but there are a number of good articles there by Peter Brimelow, Paul Craig Roberts, and others.
Nice NASA pic of North America. Here's a great pic of sunset over Europe, taken from the space shuttle.I didn't know that about big companies importing cheap foreign labor with L-1 visas. The L-1 visa programs seems to have even more loopholes than the H-1B program.
The picture is from RushLimbaugh.com. The boundary line for the sunlight looks like it is cutting right thru Paris. Was Rush trying to make a political statement about how the Sun is setting on France?
Tuesday, Mar 11, 2003
Here is a nice picture of N. America. From NASA.
Unabomber This was reported before, but now there is a book about it. The Unabomber was the subject of a bizarre psychological experiment when he was a student at Harvard, and it may have influenced his worldview.
Suing the deep pockets
John sends this Boston Globe story, confirming predictions that a beer-maker would be sued over the RI nightclub fire. Here is an RI story.
Great Lakes frozen
90% of the Great Lakes are frozen. The article says Lake Superior froze completely in 1979. I didn't think that ever happened. Shipping could be serious interrupted. Where is global warming when we need it?
Public key crypto
I ran across this, from Rick:
That is a good explanation. The method is subject to some attacks, such as the wrong person putting his padlock on, but DH and other public key methods have similar problems. It does illustrate how a secret can be conveyed by passing locks, and not keys.is it possible to give a real-life explanation of the public/private key cryptography without using any complex math? for example, taking a safe and locking valuables with keys and sending to the other side etc.Yes. The traditional example goes as follows. This is closer to an example of Diffie-Hellman key exchange than it is normal public key cryptography, but it is informative none-the-less.
Jews for the war
Virginia Democratic (Irish-American) Congressman Jim Moran is so anti-semitic that some of his jewish constituents voted for his Republican opponent in the last election! And what did he say? He said that the Iraq war depends on the support of the American Jewish community. His statement is probably false, but not anti-semitic.
Update: Slate's Kinsley lists some others who have commented on jewish influence, without being branded anti-semitic.
Santa Cruz protesters
Santa Cruz peace protesters and homeless activists have been blocking the sidewalk in front of the surf shop for 4 days now. Here is the local story. Do they think that surfers are pro-war? Santa Cruz seems to draw these wackos like a magnet:
T.J., 21, a homeless man who moved to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles in December, had been staying up 40 hours straight as part of the protest, without the benefit of coffee.Is coffee pro-war? Or maybe no one will give him the money for a cup of coffee?
Others want to stop paying taxes because:
Protesters say their action, in part, is a response to then-U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s 1982 statements that protesters can march all they want as long as they continue to pay taxes.I think they missed Haig's point. They have to pay taxes to maintain their protest rights, under Haig's logic. They seem to be inspired by the Vice Major, who is a tax protestor himself!
Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Scott Kennedy ... has been withholding a portion of his taxes, and facing the consequences, since 1971. "In the end they charge you interest and penalties," he said. "We’ve had our bank account seized. My wife and I have had our salary seized."Only Santa Cruzans would elect a politician who doesn't even pay his own taxes. Why would anyone want someone managing city tax money, when he refuses to pay himself?
The signs, posted in the 10 county branches last week and on the library's Web site, also inform the reader that the USA Patriot Act "prohibits library workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you." "Questions about this policy," patrons are told, "should be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530."It is not Ashcroft's policy. It is a law that allows the feds to subpoena tangible records records related to foreign terrorists. Volokh's blog says:
It is a general law that allows the FBI to collect evidence in cases involving "foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or . . . international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."It was passed by Congress, signed by Bush, and sunsets in 2005.
New California taxes
This site lists the new taxes that have been proposed to help pay for Gov. Gray Davis's mismanagement of the state.
The whole country is in recession. You can't blame Davis for the recession, and you can't blame him for 9/11.California tax revenues are up about 50% since 1996. The state was running a big surplus when Davis was elected in 1998. His party dominates state politics. The state gubmnt has plenty of money. The problem is Davis's runaway spending that has increased much more rapidly than revenues.
George Will has a new column on this recall effort, and says state revenues have risen 28 percent since 1998.
Ritchie on unix lawsuit
Dennis Ritchie, one of the creators of the original Bell Labs Unix, has put up a web page with USL vs. BSDI documents. That was the case where the Unix owners sued BSD, a unix clone, and lost. The current case against IBM Linux seems similar, and conventional wisdom is that it will fail similarly.
Ritchie suggests that this case might be different, and he might be right. HP and Sun paid millions of dollars for broad Unix licenses that would allow shipping unix clones. IBM only pays for AIX. IBM has been quoted in the press saying that their whole business strategy is to cannibalize AIX (where it pays unix royalties) in favor of Linux (which is royalty-free). IBM's Linux strategy may just be a plan to take over unix, and not pay for it.
Bill to weaken the DMCA
Zoe Lofgren introduced a pro-consumer modification of the DMCA. Hollywood is unhappy:
``As drafted, this legislation essentially legalizes hacking. It puts a dagger in the heart of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,'' said MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti in a prepared statement. ``It would deny content owners the ability to protect their works by technological means.''No law is going to do that. The content owners can use either legal or technological means to protect their works, or both. The legal debate is only over the legal means of protection.
Here is a Mercury News story that is ruined because the editors don't want to include info that is too technical. It complains that a Msft email product puts cryptic characters on the subject line, but fails to give an example, so the reader has no idea if this is a problem or not.
Update: Kristine Heim, the SJMN reporter, responded with 2 examples:
Good suggestion. Here are two examples for you.Yes, these are obnoxious for a subject line.
New book on gun control
Gumma reports that John Lott has a new book titled The Bias against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard about Gun Control Is Wrong. His blurb says:
In his bestselling classic, More Guns, Less Crime, John R. Lott, Jr., proved that guns make us safer. Now, in his stunning new book, The Bias against Guns, Lott shows how liberals bury pro-gun facts out of sheer bias against the truth. With irrefutable evidence, Lott shoots gun critics down and gives you the information you need to win arguments with those who want to ban guns.He promises to post his raw data online.
Lott has been getting some heat from bloggers (eg, see Slate's Noah) because he has used pseudonyms for online discussions. Evidence of dishonsty, they say. If he could lie about his name online, then he might have been lying when he said, "98 percent of the time that people use guns defensively, they merely have to brandish a weapon to break off an attack." Then they compare him to Bellesiles, who was fired from his tenured professorship for faking data in his anti-gun book.
The analogy is wacky. In the case of Bellesiles, the main thesis of his book was wrong, and nearly all of his supporting evidence was fraudulently manufactured. In the case of Lott, the "98 percent" figure is almost certainly in the ball park. It is hard to know exactly, because such incidents are not usually reported, and it is hard to get numbers on crimes being prevented. If not 98%, then what? As for using a pseudonym on the net, that's the norm.
Big Sur hiking accident
A hiker survived a serious fall on the Pine Ridge Trail, near Big Sur on the central coast of California. It is my favorite backpacking trail.
Monday, Mar 10, 2003
Did a meteor wipe out the dinosaurs?
Conventional wisdom is now that a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs 65 myrs ago. They found the meteor crater. The extinction was the same time. It couldn't be just coincidence. Except that much of India was erupting in volcanoes at the same time also. So which is the coincidence?
The obvious theory is that a meteor cause those volcanic eruptions. But geologists say that is impossible.
Now here is where the science gets weird. The previous major extinctions were also accompanied by big meteor hits and huge volcanic activity. More coincidences?
Now the NY Times reports that people are now taking seriously the idea that the meteors and volcanoes could be related. Most scientists still say it is impossible, but keep a watch on this. A coincidence like this has got to mean something.
Illegal alien truck crash
Andy sends this story about a stolen truck full of illegal aliens that crashed while resisting arrest. A "migrant-rights group" says that it is all the fault of the police for chasing a stolen truck!
The psychology journal Developmental Psychology has a well-publicized article about how children watching violent TV shows leads to more agressive adult behavior. I am skeptical, but it claims to control for the obvious correlations.
I'll be skipping the Oscars again. I haven't watched in years, as the show is boring, annoying, and offensive. No doubt there will be some idiotic anti-war speeches this time.
Calif tax on solar power
Gov Gray Davis's power regulators bought electric power at the peak of the market, so we'll be paying artificially high prices for electric power for the next 10 years. Now he wants to tax people who have their own power generators, either from solar or otherwise.
Add this to the reasons to recall Gray Davis.
Sunday, Mar 09, 2003
New copyright book
Lee Hollaar has written a pretty good book "Legal Protection of Digital Information". It costs $155 for the paperback, but it is online free. The online version is more useful because it has links to laws, cases, and other supporting documents. Hollaar's perspective is a little different from the typical lawyer. He is not a lawyer, but he has special expertise in the subject and understands copyright and patent law as well as anyone. Certainly better than the judges writing opinions in the area.
Calif Gov Gray Davis polls only 27%
John and Joe complain about the civil lawsuits over the RI inferno, but those suits are not as bad as the criminal witchhunt. I don't hear them complaining about that. I guess that's not a Republican pocketbook concern!The LA Times poll always showed that a narrow majority opposes the Davis recall effort. That is to be expected. The real question is how those people will vote, once the Davis recall is on the ballot.
I don't think that anyone has been criminally charged in connection with the RI fire yet.
NY Times gripes about conservative court
The NY Times has a long essay griping about how conservatives now control most of the nation's federal appeals courts, especially the 4C (including Virginia). But I found the examples unconvincing. The biggest example was a woman who sued a small production shop for sexual harassment. It sounds to me like the mannequins there were being sexually harassed, but not the woman.
Another case had to do with whether it is unconstitutional for a cop to abuse a suspect in a way that had no law enforcement purpose. The article is written in a way as to imply that it should be obvious to anyone but a right-wing nut that the abuse would be unconstitutional if there is no law enforcement purpose. But it really just the opposite. The Constitution forbids certain punishments and other actions that are meted out as part of govt policy towards criminals; but if some cop murders someone on his own authority, then the Constitution is silent. It is just an ordinary crime like any other murder.
The article fails to find any conservative activism on the 4C that compares to liberal activism (like last week's Pledge ruling) that is common on the other circuits. Just biased liberal reporting from the NY Times.
Bogus RI fire lawsuit
John sends this story about lawyers looking for deep pockets to pay damage claims related to the RI nightclub fire. The deepest pocket appears to be the radio network that advertised the concert. Suing them is defended by a law prof named Carl T. Bogus, who also wrote a book titled Why Lawsuits are Good for America. Yes, that is his real name.
Joe says that Anheuser Busch will be sued 98 times, because AB's logo was prominently displayed in the bar.
You can get the latest news on bogus lawsuits at Overlawyered.com. That is bogus with a lowercase b.
Maybe this is how we'll finally get tort reform - when the media start being bankrupted by bogus claims, they will want some protection.
Saturday, Mar 08, 2003
More RI scapegoats
Teeny weeny flame causes an historic eatery to be shut down. Fire exit that led to a fenced-in lot is another HUGE problem, suddenly.
You can take stimulants like caffeine or amphetamines to increase alertness when you are low on sleep, but now there is another way to go. A modafinil pill (aka Provigil) lets you feel as peppy after six hours sleep as you would after nine. It is prescribed for narcolepsy. If it is as good as it sounds, then getting a prescription should be like getting a Viagra prescription.
Pledge OK in Virginia
John sends this WashPost article about a federal judge who says it is OK for the schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Some US Supreme Court decisions have said so as well. Only a couple of kooky Californa federal judges say otherwise.
That article explains that the original 9C opinion was that the Pledge itself was unconstitutional, because the 1954 Congress resolution supporting the modified Pledge wording was an unconstitutional act for Congress. The latest 9C ruling is ambiguous on the point.
Get college credit for being anti-Bush
The president of a California college is sending a letter to President Bush apologizing for an instructor who gave students extra credit for writing anti-war missives to the White House.Does anybody ever get college credit for supporting a Republican?
Wattenberg describes the coming population decline. The world needs a total fertility rate of 2.1 to maintain a stable population. Europe's rate has dropped to 1.4, Japan to 1.3, and the Third World to 2.9. World population is expected to peak at 9B in 2050, and then decline. The USA rate is 2.1, and is only increasing population because it takes more immigrants than the rest of the world combined, and those immigrants are reproducing rapidly.
Linux under legal cloud
SCO, the current owner of Unix, has sued IBM for stealing Unix secrets and putting them in the open-source Linux. Apparently IBM's AIX includes confidential Unix source code under license from SCO, and IBM has a publicly announced policy of migrating code and features from AIX to Linux.
I am not sure this lawsuit is significant. IBM could just buy SCO if SCO became a problem. For you legal buffs, the above site has the complete complaint against IBM, including the ATT-IBM license and lots of legal details. You can find rants from the open source community here. HP and Sun are not worried, because they have fully paid-up Unix licenses, and can ship Linux or other Unix clones without paying additional royalties.
The popularity of Linux over other unix alternatives is partially because of the GNU culture, and partially because of IBM's endorsement. If Linux becomes tainted, remember that BSD unix is more free, more solid, and now maybe even cleaner legally.
Meanwhile, SSL/TLS came out of a legal cloud, as Stambler lost a patent lawsuit against RSAS and Verisign.
Friday, Mar 07, 2003
War for oil
Some anti-war activists are saying that Iraq war is all about oil, and that it is immoral to goto war to protect economic interests.
Going to war to protect economic interests seems like a pretty good reason to me. Are these people also against jailing bank robbers? Our whole way of life depends on international trade, and that depends on American warships keeping shipping lanes open. You might think that those lanes are kept open by law, or by treaty, or by diplomacy; but ultimately any enforcement has to be by military power. If we renounced the use of force to protect economic interests, then it is hard to see how modern civilization would even be possible. Guns make it all possible.
(I am not entirely convinced that there is an economic justification for an Iraq war. But if there is, that that is a big plus.)
I found this ALA list of banned books. These are books in schools or libraries that drew complaints for various reasons, such as offensive language or unsuitability to the age group. I wondered why the Bible was not on the list. It that because no one ever objects to the Bible? Or that schools and libraries have already removed all their bibles? The Koran was not on the list either.
The page does say that they get objections to materials promoting a religious viewpoint, but I didn't see any religious books on the lists.
Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
The European Union seems to have finally decided to have EU patents that will be good for all of Europe. With declines in the US Patent Office and improvements to the european system, I think it now makes sense for the US and Europe to respect each others patents. Every other country in the world should just abolish its patent office, and pass a law respecting US and Euro patents.
John responds to Andy:
I support the Demos' demand. We the taxpayers paid Estrada to write those memos. They are not confidential and ought to be public anyway. A FOIA request should get them. In Estrada's case, they are the best evidence of his competence and suitability for the court.As I predicted, the Dems just won in filibustering the Estrada nomination. Bush/Gonzales were wrong in pushing Estrada first, who is not even known to be pro-life. The Dems won with their issue that Bush withheld relevant memos written by Estrada. Let's hope this deters Bush from picking a Souter for the Supreme Court.Surely you don't support the Democrats' demand for those memos? It is purely a means of delaying and defeating the nomination. Such memos have never been disclosed for any other nominee. All living former Solicitors General (four Democrats and three Republicans) have opposed releasing the memos. All of Estrada's superiors - the people who received and reviewed the memos - gave Estrada the highest possible commendation.
The former Solicitor General opposition is all the more reason to release them. DoJ types was prosecutors to be promoted to judgeships without any scrutiny. Estrada is a Souter stealth candidate. No one knows where he stands on anything.
Evidently Roger doesn't want Estrada to be confirmed or, at best, is indifferent to his fate. I think that is a big mistake.Yes, I am ambivalent about Estrada. The hearings have told us essentially nothing about his competence or philosophy.
I agree with Roger that the government should release legal memos written by judicial nominees. Bush simply overplayed his secrecy-in-government shtick. Conservatives should be outraged that Bush/Gonzales tried and failed to confirm a nominee based on Souter-like tactics.John responds:
So Andy sides with Chuck Schumer, who leads this unprecedented filibuster because he is convinced that Estrada would be a Hispanic Clarence Thomas. Shame on you!I wouldn't mind seeing a real debate on whether a Hispanic Clarence Thomas would be good or bad. I don't think Schumer could hold his own in such a debate.
Andy responds to John:
John replied, "So Andy sides with Chuck Schumer, who leads this unprecedented filibuster because he is convinced that Estrada would be a Hispanic Clarence Thomas. Shame on you!"All we know about Estrada is that he got good grades in college, he's friends with a right-wing columnist, and he got good recommendations from his DoJ supervisors. That's not enough.
John responds to Andy:
If the Dems succeed in blocking Estrada and the 13 other Court of Appeals nominees who were nominated over a year ago, until we have a Supreme Court vacancy, Bush will be forced to nominate a weaker, more Souter-like candidate for the Supreme Court. I am amazed and disappointed that Roger and Andy can't see that.Andy responds:Certainly not as Jefferson originally wrote it. He attempted, as all opponents of religion do, to impose his own peculiar view of the world. You can see the original draft at http://www.pbs.org/jefferson/enlight/religi.htm . He tried to legislate his hostility to faith and free will, for example.Well, there you have it Andy admits he opposes religious tolerance and freedom, a cornerstone of the American way of life. But he still doesn't explain his position, except to make baseless assertions that Jefferson was an opponent of religion who wanted to imposed his own peculiar view on the world, which is complete nonsense.
John wrote, "If the Dems succeed in blocking Estrada and the 13 other Court of Appeals nominees who were nominated over a year ago, until we have a Supreme Court vacancy, Bush will be forced to nominate a weaker, more Souter-like candidate for the Supreme Court. I am amazed and disappointed that Roger and Andy can't see that."My sources say that Jefferson and Burr were political enemies. What do you think Jefferson should have done -- challenge Burr to a duel?
The stealth strategy is justified by the notion that the best judge is someone who is smart, as evidenced by resume credentials, and unbiased, as evidenced by a lack of public opinions. The strategy is foolish and contradictory. Smart people tend to have opinions. Not very much intelligence is really required to be a judge. Judges make rulings based on their own personal political views. That's why these judicial nominations are controversial. So shouldn't we know what those political views are, insofar as they relate to potential decisions?
John responds to Andy:
Andy responds:It was the Bush/Gonzales stealth strategy that led to the Estrada debacle. The only moral here is the same as in the Souter fiasco don't go the stealth route. The filibuster only succeeded because the Dems could make the Republicans look like they were hiding something. If Bush does picker a Souter-like candidate for the Supreme Court, then he renders himself unelectable in 2004.But Estrada was named to the Court of Appeals, not the Supreme Court. You have to start somewhere! He can't develop the necessary record until he gets on the court and starts judging cases. If he had been given a fair hearing and confirmed promptly, we would already have a 1-2-year track record and paper trail to know whether or not he is fit for the Supreme Court. Following your advice, we will never know.The stricken language makes enormous difference -- which was why it had to be deleted. Jefferson wanted the legislature to deny free will and deny the role of faith. Jefferson's view was the opposite of Hamilton, who wrote in the Farewell Address that religion and morality are the foundation of government.The phrases Andy objects to were deleted with Jefferson's and Madison's approval. It was the amended bill which Madison got passed in the Virginia legislature, and which Jefferson engraved on his tombstone as his proudest achievement. Andy still has not stated whether he unreservedly supports that revised bill - the bill that actually passed. Contrary to Andy, the Farewell Address does not say that religion and morality are the foundation of government. It says that good government depends on respect for religion and morality among the people, giving as an example the fact that courts of justice rely upon witnesses who attach a sense of religious obligation to the oaths they swear. The distinction is subtle, but essential. There is no evidence that Madison or Jefferson disagreed with this.John wrote, "Clearly the metaphor [wall of separation] was intended to protect religious practice ..." Not clear at all. Madison and Jefferson wanted religion out of government. Period. They were wrong.No, they only wanted the government not to privilege or subsidize one Christian denomination over another. They never objected to nondenominational prayer in public institutions. There is no evidence Madison or Jefferson would have supported the modern concept of religion-free government which originated with Justice Hugo Black. Despite a bitter, 20-year political rivalry between the party of Jefferson and Madison versus the Federalist party of Hamilton and Adams, I know of no evidence of any disagreement between the two parties on this issue. They all agreed on religious toleration, which was passed in every state soon after it was passed in Virginia.John wrote, "Madison's discussion of factions, far from being goofy or baseless, is an absolute cornerstone of our entire structure of government." You really have to show your work there. Third parties are factions; abolitionists constituted a faction; single issue groups like pro-lifers are factions; religious movements are factions. Factions are essential and good. To oppose factions, as Madison did, is to oppose principles in politics.By factions Madison meant economic interests. Ideological factions were unknown then. Madison did not oppose factions; he simply recognized that they are inevitable.
Madison's Federalist No. 10 is here.
Drug the crazies
Yeah, and just in this morning's Post there was an article about a schizophrenic man who had paranoid delusions that various government agencies were out to get him. He killed his girlfriend during one of his delusions. I have no idea whether Sell truly is dangerous, but he has done plenty to tick off the judges, including spitting on a female magistrate, intimidating a witness, and allegedly paying someone to murder an FBI agent. I know not all of that is at issue in the Supreme Court case, but the guy isn't exactly a choir boy. People who obstruct the justice system are usually dealt with harshly. The female magistrate is an intelligent, sensible, older woman whom I used know when she worked as an associate in my firm. She is not a wacko. None of you Sell advocates has explained how to comply with the justice system's need to eventually try a person who is accused of a felony but is currently incompetent to stand trial. To say that there is no need ever to try him is not a viable solution. It may well be debatable whether Sell is incompetent (since he has done well on the competency tests) and whether he should be allowed out on bail. But there still has to be a way to ensure that he stands trial eventually.Are you referring to this story about a killer who was found not guilty for reasons of insanity 10 years ago, and is now being let out?
If Sell is a killer, then he deserves whatever he gets. But I base my opinion on the judge's order that Sell be drugged. That order was based solely a dubious psychiatric evaluation and on accusations that he overbilled dental insurance. For that, he is to be doped up with experimental anti-psychotic drugs that are not even FDA-approved.
Now Liza suggests that the real reason for the drugging is that Sell disrespected a judge. If so, that is even worse! That means that a judge is ordering the drugging of a nonviolent defendant because of personal animosities on the part of the judge, and covering it up by lying in the official order. No matter how you slice it, these St. Louis magistrates seem corrupt in their abuse of power, and much worse than what Sell is accused of.
Perhaps Sell should be charged and punished for contempt of court for spitting on the magistrate, but that is entirely separate from the Medicaid fraud allegation for which he has been imprisoned the last 5 years. It is shocking and unacceptable that the court would use the spitting incident to affect the disposition of the Medicaid charges.Liza responds:
I am not suggesting that the real reason for the drugging is that Sell "disrespected" a judge. But his actions tend to confirm judicial conclusions that he is incompetent to stand trial and/or is a threat to the orderly administration of justice.Liza, the trial judge, and appellate judges all mention the spitting incident, and then claim that it has nothing to do with the drugging order. So why do they all keep mentioning it? The only reason I can see is that judges like to stick up for each other, and like to punish anyone who disses a judge.
Sure, it is not just one judge run amok. It is one judge, one magistrate judge, a 2-1 appellate majority, at least one federal prosecutor, two federal shrinks, a prison warden, and probably a few others. Then there are those who tried to use Sell's case to derail the Ashcroft nomination. It is enough to give someone paranoid delusions of the persecutory type.
If this happened in China, we'd all agree that would be a human rights violation. If Sell is crazy, then he shouldn't be treated like a criminal. If he's not crazy, then he shouldn't be drugged.
RI fire investigation
John sends R.I. Club Fire Puts Heat on Inspectors and Tour Manager Pyro Documents Destroyed. I think some of these people are lying to try to avoid jail. We'll soon see.
Dividing blame between the band and the nightclub may be like dividing blame when someone going the wrong way on a one-way street hits a drunk driver. Both are sufficiently at fault to get plenty of blame.
Liza sends this Boycott Delta site about Delta airlines doing credit checks on passengers. She also says San Jose Airport has been identified as one of the 3 airports where Delta will require background checks on its passengers.
Copyright clause not like 2A
John sent this article drawing an analogy between the 2 constitutional provisions with a prefatory clause -- the copyright clause and the gun amendment (2A). The US SC ignored the prefatory clause in the Eldred copyright case, so it might ignore it in the 2A.
I don't buy it. The provisions are not similar at all. One describes a power of Congress, and the other a right of the people. In the copyright clause, the preface is not just stating the purpose, it is stating the power that is the essence of the matter ("The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress ..."). In the 2A, the preface is just stating a fact that helps explain the gun rights that people have and that are stated in the rest of the 2A.
The article says:
those who challenged the 1998 law relied heavily on its prefatory clause - "to promote the progress of science and useful arts."But that's not even true. Lessig and the plaintiff did not introduce any evidence about the promotion of progress, and took the peculiar (and self-defeating) position that the prefatory clause does not bind Congress.
Is Sell crazy?
Is there anybody who knows Sell who doesn't think he's crazy?John responds:
Lots of crazy people are walking around, driving, working, supporting themselves, voting. We don't lock them up.The court did not claim that Sell was a danger to anyone. The forced drugging theory was based purely on making him competent for trial. Presumably he could go off the drugs at the end of the trial. Not sure if he has to stay drugged for the appeal.
I agree with John that a lot of the population is crazy, and that is not reason enough to lock them up or drug them.
The whole Sell case is a farce. if the magistrate judge were really concerned about Sell being able to competently direct his defense, then he'd check to see if Sell's lawyer is current doing what Sell wants. Currently Sell's lawyer is acting contrary to Sell's wishes, according to the St. Louis paper. So I can only conclude that the judge and lawyers want Sell drugged for their own purposes.
The state should force crazy people to take their medication, whether they are on trial or not. Those people are suffering from a chemical brain imbalance, and they are not thinking clearly enough to realize that they need the drugs. I personally know someone who says his life was saved by Prozac. It is a miracle drug.The evidence that prozac and similar drugs are helpful is actually very weak. Here is an American Psychological Association analysis of the benefits, based on the data that was submitted to the FDA by the drugmakers. The researchers had to use the Freedom of Information Act to get the FDA data. They found that the effect of the drugs was only marginally better than that of placebos. And that is according to the drugmakers' own studies. Your friend on prozac might be doing just as well on placebos. There just aren't any convincing studies that prozac is any better.
Scapegoats and France
[Andy's "scapegoat culture" post] is a lot of pontificating, but I still have no idea where you stand on the dog case I presented. How about answering the question?Those guys led a revolution. That makes them radicals, not conservatives.
I agree with John. I note that Jefferson and Madison (as well as Washington) came from Virginia, which Andy recently pooh-poohed as a source of intellectual leadership in the revolutionary period. As to Jefferson's views on religion, I have a copy of a book he put together for the specific purpose of compiling the moral teachings of Jesus. He thought it important to assemble Jesus's moral statements in the Gospels in one slim, easy-to-use volume. So Jefferson was hardly anti-Christian.Andy responds:
As I predicted, the Dems just won in filibustering the Estrada nomination. Bush/Gonzales were wrong in pushing Estrada first, who is not even known to be pro-life. The Dems won with their issue that Bush withheld relevant memos written by Estrada. Let's hope this deters Bush from picking a Souter for the Supreme Court.There is still no vote on Estrada. Today, Bush complained about a possible filibuster. I agree with the Democrats that Bush should reveal Estrada's memos (that the taxpayers paid him to write), and that Estrada should answer questions about his legal philosophies. I want to know where he stands on antitrust law. He would sit on the DC Circuit where unorthodox legal personal philosophies of the judge derailed the Microsoft case. What would Estrada have done? If Estrada is unable to articulate a legal philosophy about such matters, then he is unfit for the court.
The Jefferson Bible was an attempt to separate the ethical teachings of Jesus from the religious dogma. Nothing anti-religious about that. The wall of separation protects religious freedom.
Interstate wine sales legal?
John sends this story about Ken Starr being hired to get the courts to forbid states from certain wine sales regulations. John says: "I disagree with Starr's position. The 21st Amendment gives states the power to regulate the sale of wine."
Wednesday, Mar 05, 2003
Jefferson v. Hamilton
Conservatives like to idolize Jefferson and Madison, but they were not particularly conservative or competent presidents. Both had non-conservative views of religion, which are often used against conservatives today. Moreover, Madison's role in authoring the Constitution is exaggerated, as is Jefferson's insight for the Declaration of Independence.
C. T. Sell
I read in the Post-Dispatch this week that Sell's lawyer considers Sell incompetent to stand trial. Sell disputes this, but nobody else involved in the case takes him seriously on this point.Yes, the St. Louis paper said:
Sell continues to plead for a trial. He argues that he is competent to stand trial. Sell has passed a course and got a perfect score on a test to determine whether he is competent to stand trial, prison records show. Yet, Sell's own lawyer, Short, along with Dreeben continue to argue that Sell is mentally unfit for trial.Saying that there could be a plea bargain is begging the question. All plea bargains are based on expectations about what is likely to happen at trial. Unless you figure out what a trial might do, then there can be no reasonable plea bargain.
Sell's bond was revoked because he was accused of intimidating a witness by pointing his finger.
The problem here is that there is a vindictive and abusive magistrate judge. Sell has even been sold out by his own lawyer, as his lawyer refuses to carry out Sell's wishes.
Dogs v. Pyro
John sends this story about a dog mauling a second-grader at a school playground, and writes:
"It was an accident," he said.Liza says:
Andy, if I were you I'd be a little nervous about what your dog might do if it escaped.Andy responds:
John describes someone's pit bull trespassing a school playground and severely injuring a student. He asks "Under the rules Andy has adopted for the Rhode Island nightclub fire, who should or should not be civilly or criminally responsible for this, and why?"Dog law is strict liability. The dog owner is responsible, regardless of intent.
No, I don't think that France is the main reason for our independence. We would have gotten indendepence with or without France's help. France has been thru 5 republics since then.
US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court has been in the news with some flawed laws: Megan's Law, 3 Strikes, Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). I usually side with the free speech advocates who are attacking the CIPA, but I can't agree with the lower court decision. The CIPA says that libraries must use internet porn filtering if they accept federal money for the computers. The lower court said that it is unconstitutional for the libraries to use filtering. How can filtering be unconstitutional? It is almost impossible to manage a network without doing some filtering. On my personal computer, I have filters set up for spam, ads, pop-ups, worm attacks, etc. They are useful. Millions of people do Google searches with a porn filter turned on (voluntarily). The people who are fighting CIPA are like the people who argue that telemarketers and spammers have a free speech right to waste my time. Filtering is a good thing, and libraries should be allowed to use it.
Update: Even Dalia Lithwick, the idiotic Slate legal columnist, has a hard time siding with her ACLU friends. She mocks Ted Olson for saying that filtering enhances free speech, but in the end she almost agrees with it.
Bob sends these:
"France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes." ---Mark Twain
ACLU invades privacy
John sends this story about the ACLU making some email gaffes. It just paid a $10k fine for some related privacy violations.
Tuesday, Mar 04, 2003
Andy on Sell
Now the conservatives on the Supreme Court are trying to duck the Sell case on jurisdictional grounds. It's 50/50 whether the pro-Sell coalition of 4 liberals plus Kennedy can hold it together to win. The coalition has an outside shot of attracting Thomas in case it loses Kennedy or Breyer.I thought that the Sell article in the St. Louis paper was more favorable to Sell than the articles I saw elsewhere. So I don't know why Andy thinks the St. Louis community is unsympathetic to Sell. Maybe just a couple of St. Louis judges who appear to have some sort of personal grudge against Sell.
All you know is that Scalia is interested in ducking the issue. I don't think that will happen. Scalia is not going to get a majority to say that Sell has to be drugged before he can complain about it.
The state does sometimes try someone who is already serving a life sentence. Why does it have an interest in doing that? My guess is that it doesn't bother, in most cases.
Sell has a right to a speedy trial. If the feds imprison him longer than his maximum sentence while awaiting trial, then I say that they've blown their chance to punish him properly. The more compelling argument is that the feds should really have an extremely strong reason for forcibly drugging a defendant. Even if the feds have some interest in convicting him of a crime for which no additional punishment is possible, then that interest is surely not enough to justify forced drugging.
Roger wrote, "I thought that the Sell article in the St. Louis paper was more favorable to Sell than the articles I saw elsewhere. So I don't know why Andy thinks the St. Louis community is unsympathetic to Sell. Maybe justa couple of St. Louis judges who appear to have some sort of personal grudge against Sell."Liza is unsympathetic to Sell. Does she represent the St. Louis bourgeois/elite?
Gumma writes: "Linda Greenhouse thinks the SC will duck deciding on jurisdiction."
Many legal rules seem harsh until you consider the negative consequences for the judicial system of a contrary rule.John responds:
I am surprised at Liza's uncritical acceptance of the notion that Dr. Sell is not competent to stand trial. What is the basis for that assumption?I reject the claim that Sell's lawyer believes that Sell is crazy or unfit for trial. We don't know that. All we know is that his lawyer has adopted mental illness as a legal strategy.
I also question whether anyone has ever been made competent for trial by taking anti-psychotic drugs. The evidence for the effectiveness of those drugs is very weak.
The obvious thing to do is to just let Sell go, because he has already been punished enough, his crimes were minor, and the feds failed to give him a speedy trial. But let's look at the contrary rule, as Liza suggests. That would mean the feds would maintain a Soviet-style gulag for political dissidents. Political dissidents would be rounded up on petty charges, held without trial, declared mentally unfit, and forcibly given psychotropic drugs. Remember, Sell's only mental illness is that he belongs to a fringe political group and he is paranoid that the feds are out to get him.
Avoiding patent infringement
A discussion in misc.int-property concerned whether the principals of a start-up company can be found personally liable for the company's patent infringement. Lee found this:
The cases are legion holding corporate officers and directors personally liable for "participating in, inducing, and approving acts of patent infringement" by a corporation. Federal Circuit Chief Judge Markey, writing in _Fromson v. Citiplate_, 886 F.2d 1300, 1304, 12 USPQ2d 1299, 1303 (1989).No one could find any of these cases. Here is a later one, where the same court found no personal liability. This 1996 Fed. Cir. case says that it is a matter of piercing the corporate veil. The CEO (who was also the principal shareholder) of the corporation avoided liability.
In Manville Sales the court stated that "to be personally liable for Paramount's infringement under section 271(a), there must be evidence to justify piercing the corporate veil." Id. at 552, 16 USPQ2d at 1593. ... In sum, unless the corporate structure is a sham, as is not here asserted, personal liability for inducement to infringe is not automatic but must be supported by personal culpability. The district court did not find bad faith or fraud or culpable intent on the part of Mr. Holden. The court erred in imposing liability although the corporate veil was not pierced. The ruling that Mr. Holden is personally liable for Custom's infringement is reversed. Hoover v. Custom Metalcraft & Holden, 1996The consensus seems to be that if an entrepreneur wants to go into business making and marketing his potentially patent-infringing product idea, he needs to:
Anne wants to know if a retailer has any liability for selling a product that is later found to be patent-infringing. The answer is yes, but the manufacturer is responsible for paying any damages. The retailer should be able to get an indemnification from the supplier.
No DMCA repeal
The big computer companies do not want to repeal the obnoxious and anti-consumer aspects of the DMCA. See BSA press release.
The popular unix mailer Sendmail has a buffer-overflow bug, C-Net says. A piece of email passing thru a server could conceivably take over the server. Maybe it is time to retire that monster. The manual for using it is 1000 pages long, and all it does is send and receive email.
Here is a review of Feminist Fantasies.
Medical malpractice or statistical malpractice
A NY Times op-ed gives various statistics that purport to show that the medical malpractice problem is really a failure of state medical boards to discipline physicians. Eg, Pennsylvania has a high rate of physicians with several malpractice payments. But that doesn't necessarily mean that a lot of PA physicians are incompetent. Maybe state law makes it easier to sue physicians there. Maybe insurance practice is to settle claims with payments more often. Maybe the state has more HMOs or does riskier procedures. There could be a lot of explanations.
More importantly, maybe most malpractice payments are not for malpractice at all, but for honest mistakes being made by competent physicians. Everyone makes mistakes. No matter how strict the state medical boards are, 50% of the physicians will make an above average number of mistakes.
I do agree that the malpractice payment info should be public, but the public should also understand that a payment by an insurance company is not proof of incompetence.
Monday, Mar 03, 2003
John responds to Andy:
I don't think that Andy ever favored bankrupting the city. I think that he was just lamenting that fact that a lot of big lawsuits against all the deep pockets will be the likely outcome.Liza's response to (John re RI inferno) is correct. Prosser says nothing about crime, which does require mens rea. We shouldn't be jailing people for accidents, unless there is clear statutory notice (like drunk driving). Pyrotechnic entertainment has been used successfully hundreds, or thousands, of times without anyone complaining or passing any laws against it. That's probably why the audience was at the nightclub! Case closed. People should be speaking out against this RI witchhunt, and focus their ire on the politicians and regulatory scheme.OK, so you are retracting your support for bankrupting the town, the manufacturer and the dealer of the soundproofing material?
The band did not intend to start any fire -- they just wanted some pyrotechnics. I don't agree that the band is any more liable. Lining the ceiling with exposed flammable styrofoam seems inherently dangerous to me. Sooner or later, that was probably going to burn, whether anyone used pyrotechnics or not.
The band was just trying to put on a show. The nightclub was trying to save money. I agree with Andy that we should not be jailing people for accidents. Accidents happen.
Forced drugging of Tom Sell
The St. Louis paper reports on today's US Supreme Court hearing on the forced drugging of C.T. Sell. It says:
Justice Antonin Scalia hammered away at Sell's lawyer, Barry A. Short, over whether Sell's case would cause a dilemma for the courts: The federal prosecutors can't bring Sell to trial because of his mental condition. And, Sell refuses to take the medicine, so he's not fit for trial. "I'm truly concerned to the extent that this … could disrupt trials," Scalia said. "It's just a crazy situation. What can be done about it?" ...Scary stuff. The feds have a problem with trying defendants who are unfit for trial, regardless of today's case. The question is whether the prosecutors' problem can be slight reduced by forced drugging. The drugging will only make the defendants fit for trial in some cases, if any.
Some facts favoring Sell are that (1) his alleged crime is just insurance overbilling, not a violent crime, (2) he has already served more than his maximum sentence, and (3) his alleged mental problem is paranoia that the feds are out to get him, and it appears that the feds really are out to get him.
The St. Louis paper says:
Sell, 53, has been in a federal prison hospital for more than five years awaiting his trial. Prison psychiatrists insist Sell is too mentally ill, suffering from a delusional disorder of the prosecutorial type. Sell has said repeatedly that he already knows, as a doctor, that the drugs will alter his brain and he is terrified of that prospect.The NY Times account of today's argument says:
Mr. Dreeben said that medication had the proven ability to restore mentally ill defendants "to a point of rationality where they can decide what they want to do with their life."Sell's irrationality is his anti-govt paranoia. So the feds have drugs that can eliminate anti-govt paranoia? And that is a good thing?
Scalia says Sell can only appeal after the fact:
Under the ordinary rules of appellate procedure, pre-trial orders lack finality and are not appealable. So shouldn't Dr. Sell be required to proceed to trial and to challenge any unwanted medication after the fact, Justice Antonin Scalia wanted to know.Here is the AP story. It says:
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor asked if the government can require children to be vaccinated against smallpox. Justice Anthony Kennedy evoked an image of defendants and witnesses being injected before a trial with drugs that control their behavior. If the government can medicate the dentist, why not a person charged with a traffic violation, Justice Stephen Breyer asked.Here is the Wash Post story, the docket info, and the feds' brief.
Andy sends an update also:
Here we go again liberal arguments alienate the conservative side of the Supreme Court and may lose a winnable case. This time it's in Sell v. U.S.Yes, Penn's jurors were prosecuted. That was in 1670. Since then, only one other juror was prosecuted. That was a Colorado woman named Laura Kriho a few years ago. In spite of that, there is general agreement about the jury powers. Eg, the DC Circuit said, "[The jury has an] unreviewable and irreversible power...to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge ..." (1972). There are more quotes here and here. The only dispute is about whether the jury should be fully informed of their rights and powers. What is unusual about Maryland is that the jurors are explicitly told:
"Members of the Jury, this is a criminal case and under the Constitution and the laws of the State of Maryland in a criminal case the jury are the judges of the law as well as of the facts in the case. So that whatever I tell you about the law while it is intended to be helpful to you in reaching a just and proper verdict in the case, it is not binding upon you as members of the jury and you may accept or reject it. And you may apply the law as you apprehend it to be in the case."In 1895 (Sparf v U.S. 156 U.S. 51, 1895), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that although juries have the right to ignore a judge's instructions on the law, the jury shouldn't be aware of it.
The US Constitution 6A cites this right to a jury trial. If the OJ Simpson and Marion Barry jurors understood it, what excuse does anyone else have?
John responds to Andy:
Liza responds to John:John essentially argues for strict liability in a criminal sense for the band in doing pyrotechnics in the club. He doesn't care about intent.What about the "intent" of the club owner, the manufacturer of the polyurethane soundproofing, the dealer who sold it, the city that licensed the club, and the fire official who inspected it? None of these people had any intent to cause a holocaust. All were less culpable than the band, yet you were ready to consign all these people to bankruptcy.Most crimes require mens rea (intent), and rightly so. Statutes can supplement that for activities like drunk driving, where notice exists but specific intent to harm is lacking. I'm not aware of any pyrotechnics statute, and I oppose ex post facto laws. Besides, pyrotechnics apparently is safe in the absence of highly flammable soundproofing.Check your Prosser. To ignite a large open flame inside a small, crowded nightclub with a low ceiling is inherently dangerous. Hence, the law properly imposes a special duty of care on the person doing it. You don't need a special "pyrotechnics statute." Mens does not require "specific intent to harm"; it just requires specific intent to do the act that caused the harm. Clearly, the band intended to ignite the pyro. It did not go off by accident.
This discussion is getting confused as to criminal vs. tort liability. Criminal liability normally requires mens rea (criminal intent). Tort liability does not. Prosser's treatise concerns torts. Intent is not an element of the non-intentional torts, which include negligence and torts of strict liability. The RI inferno will surely lead to tort liability on the part of someone. Criminal liability is not obvious in this case.Yes, tort liability to someone, but whom? I don't see why the band is necessarily any more liable than the nightclub owner, the building contractor, or the fire inspector. None wanted a holocaust, but they may have all been irresponsible.
Your blog got cut off at 25 Feb.The blog software was set to show the last 30 posts. All of the posts are in the archives -- use the links on the left. I just increased it to 50.
Movie reviews can certainly be unreliable.
Involuntary psychotropic drugging
John sends this NY Times article about the US Supreme Court hearing the issue of whether Charles T. Sell should be forcibly given psychiatric drugs while facing trial for Medicare overbilling. The article is by a psychiatrist who favors forced drugging.
Although well-intended, these depictions of serious mental illness as a free expression of thought, and of pharmacotherapy as censorship, are grievously naïve.A Christian Science Monitor article is more sympathetic to Sell:
Some people see more fundamental issues in the case. "Government action that seeks to change a person's thinking, against his will, is deeply at odds with longstanding conceptions of constitutional liberty," says David Goldberg in a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Drug Policy Alliance.I wonder whether Sell is even in control of the legal arguments being made in his behalf. I doubt that he approved his Supreme Court brief. Sell claims that he is sane, but his lawyer is telling the court that he is not. Shouldn't Sell have a lawyer that truly represents him?
More on RI fire
John essentially argues for strict liability in a criminal sense for the band in doing pyrotechnics in the club. He doesn't care about intent.It is not the jury instruction that gives the MD jury the power. All juries have the power, and anyone who knows anything about jury trials understands that. MD is just a little more explicit about informing the jury of their power.
I had to look up Jonathan Edwards. He was an obscure early American preacher.
I don't know why Andy is fixated on using Nobel prizes to evaluate General Relativity (GR). You have to realize that GR was a breakthru in theoretical physics and astrophysics, but normally Nobel prizes are not given in either theoretical physics or astrophysics.
Next, you have to realize that a number of prizes have been given which were directly or indirectly related to GR. Einstein got a prize in 1921 largely as a result of publicity about experimental verification of GR. Theoretical considerations involving relativity led to the prediction of anti-matter, but the prizes went to those who did the experimental work to find the positron and antiproton.
The influence of GR on 20th century physics has been huge. I don't know why Andy wants to deny this. GR explains atom bombs, black holes, expansion of the universe, red-shifts, GPS, anti-matter, etc.
Sunday, Mar 02, 2003
Get rid of stupidity genes
James Watson, of DNA fame, wants to improve human intelligence by using genetic technology, according to this story. Sensitive subject.
Recycling is bad
Some Swedes say that recycling is bad for the environment.
Sen. Feinstein wants to violate gun laws
John sends Friday and Saturday SF stories about how Sen. Feinstein and other Democrats want Ashcroft to violate federal law and Clinton administration regulations in order to spy on gun owners.
Saturday, Mar 01, 2003
More on the RI fire
I haven't followed this too closely, but are we talking about using polyurethane indoors without covering it with fire-rated drywall? A building owner or inspector is a complete idiot if he doesn't know that any sort of insulation of this type must be covered with taped, fire-rated sheetrock. This is about as basic as it gets. Any insurance company safety inspector would know this as well.Andy writes:
Joe, the flammable polyurethane was the soundproofing. I don't see how it could be covered with fire-resistant drywall.John writes:
I don't understand Andy's eagerness to bankrupt anyone who was tangentially involved in this disaster. What is the justice in that? What is the legal basis?Joe writes:
John is right on the money, as usual. I don't know much about this particular sound insulation, but fiberglass sound batting is often used in buildings to suppress sound. We have it some of our buildings. It is designed to be covered with drywall.Andy writes:
John's email constructs a strawman that I somehow want to bankrupt the town, manufacturer of polyurethane, dealer, etc. No one here supports the trial attorneys in ruining entire industries based on politicized science, least of all me.Joe writes:
What is the big mystery here? A landlord stupidly put flammable foam where it should't have been. Any fire inspector or insurance inspector would know this.John responds to Andy:
I mean the band as a (presumably corporate) entity. A band employee must have purchased the pyro and brought it to the club. The band must have rehearsed using it.Andy writes:
Joe cites a foam dealer who pointed his finger of blame at the club owner, and concluded "What is the big mystery here? A landlord stupidly put flammable foam where it should't have been. Any fire inspector or insurance inspector would know this. ..."John writes:
I agree with your point about the harm of copyrighting building codes so they are not widely available to the public. But that does not get the band off the hook.It is also reckless and irresponsible for a nightclub owner to put in a flammable ceiling that violates fire codes.
Sen. Schumer wants a cell-phone users bill of rights. His list is not what I expected. I want:
John send this story about the Norwegian "DVD Jon" going back to court. and this one about Lexmark getting an injunction against competing ink cartridge makers. They are both example of copyright enforcement going too far.
Language translator problems
Andy sends this:
STUDY BILINGUAL INTERPRETERS MAKE ABOUT 31 MISTAKES PER VISIT
In May, under oath at the antitrust hearing Jim Allchin, group vice president for platforms at Microsoft, stated that disclosing the Windows operating system source code could damage national security and even threaten the U.S. war effort. Now in February, Microsoft signed a pact with Chinese officials to reveal the Windows operating system source code. Bill Gates even hinted that China will be privy to all, not just part, of the source code its government wished to inspect.Either Jim Allchin lied under oath, to prevent code revelation being any part of the settlement, OR the Microsoft corporation is behaving traitorously, by exposing national security issues to foreign governments.As someone responded:
Microsoft was caught lying under oath during the antitrust case, when they presented the obviously doctored video of a browser download. Fabricated evidence.John also sends this story about it.
Ashcroft defends gun rights
Calif AG Lockyer is apparently violating federal law by misusing gun databases and invading the privacy of gun owners. His spokesman says:
"We understood it as a potential criminal action," said Randy Rossi, firearms chief for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, "and our response back to them was we understand what you are saying and we think public safety is paramount and you take whatever step is necessary."In other words, he is violating the law, he is committing criminal acts, and he knows it, but he does it anyway because he disagrees with the law. That is a lousy attitude for an AG.
Lockyer is the same guy who just tried to get a federal appeals removed from death penalty cases because he visited a death row prison! More judges should get out and see the consequences of what they do.
Nutty SF politics
San Francisco's latest nutty controversy relates to a minor incident in which a couple of rookie off-duty cops got into a fist-fight with a couple of others after leaving a bar late one night several months ago. The SF news media kept this story in the news, and now the SF police chief and his top assistants have been indicted for the cover-up. I think that the police chief is black -- not sure about the others.