Monday, June 30, 2003

Two good blogposts...

George Mason Professor David Bernstein (a fellow Brandeis University alumnus, by the way) has two good posts (so far) today:

1) He notes the unfair labeling of Justice Thomas as Justice Scalia's stooge, and points out that "Thomas votes with Scalia far less often than Thurgood Marshall voted with William Brennan, but no one accused Marshall of being Brennan's lap dog."

2) He also laments an anti-semitic attack on his book by the lefty nutjobs at Indymedia: "Remember the good old days, when only the kooks on the right believed in crazy anti-Semitic conspiracies?"

There will be an Undersecretary of Chanting...

I really hope Rep. Dennis Kucinich's run for the Presidency is semi-successful. After all, he may be one of the most genuinely amusing people to watch.

On Sunday, he affirmed his support for a cabinet-level "Department of Peace." This isn't a new idea for him; on July 11, 2001 (exactly two months before the world changed), he introduced H.R. 2459, a bill creating such a department.

Kucinich's web page about the legislation explains that the legislation will:
Establish a cabinet-level department in the executive branch of the Federal Government dedicated to peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to both domestic and international peace.

The Department will create and establish a Peace Academy, modeled after the military service academies, which will provide a 4 year concentration in peace education. Graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution.

The first day of each year, January 1st will be designated as Peace Day in the United States and all citizens should be encouraged to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace in the coming year.

He encourages those who wish to help to:
Hold "Teach-Ins" on the Issue of Peace. Holding a public "Teach-In" on the issue of peace and non-violence is a great way to get your community to debate the issues. You can do this by inviting a public official, religious leaders, educators, heads of organizations or local community leaders who have contributed to promoting peace and justice.

Incidentally, have you ever noticed that the people who say they want to "debate the issues" never actually want a debate? They want to preach.
Circulate a petition to a local leader encourage them to keep the issue of peace and understanding on the local agenda.

Clarendon, Vt. town meeting agenda:
1) New traffic light on the corner of Main and Pine.
2) Issuance of building permit to Johnson Hardware to add wood shed annex.
3) Assist as neutral third party in negotations between Angolan government and UNITA to ensure compliance with the Lusaka Protocol.
4) Restriping of post office parking lot.

This sort of bubble-headed nonsense is what is going to keep President Bush in office for 4 more years.

This just in...

Former President Ronald Reagan is not dead.

Generalissimo Franco, however, is still dead.

Friday, June 27, 2003

How cool is this?

So, I went to an event last night held by one of my clients, and they had door prizes. You put your business card in a bowl and they picked the winners. You had to be present to win. Let me repeat that. You had to be present to win.

So they drew for a prize, and the guy who was picked had left. Oops. So they drew again, and picked me! I (having been smart enough to stay) ended up winning a lovely prize.

So, you're all dying to know what I won, right? I won one of these.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

How to make tea.

The Guardian kindly provides British tips for making a proper cuppa.

One of the references is to George Orwell's step by step instructions which are quite useful.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the pointer.

Iraq's not so terrible, thank you very much...

In this past Saturday's Spectator, Mark Steyn explains that evidently things aren't quite as bad in Iraq now as the left would have you believe.
After I wrote about my trip to Iraq in the Sunday Telegraph and its sister papers, I received quite a few emails from US troops in the country, the gist of which was summed up by one guy with a civil affairs unit near Baghdad: ‘I’m glad to hear somebody report what’s really going on ...the fact that there isn’t anything going on.’ I saw no anarchy, no significant anti-US hostility, and no hospitals at anything like capacity. In other words, I was unable to find Will Day’s Iraq. I don’t honestly think it exists outside his head: as Dinah Washington once sang, ‘Water difference a Day makes’; he has miraculously transformed Iraqi water into whine.

. . .

In October 2001 Faizul-Aqtab Siddiqi, president-general of the International Muslim Organisation, said bombing Afghanistan would create a thousand bin Ladens. It didn’t. In March this year President Mubarak of Egypt said bombing Iraq would create a hundred bin Ladens. So right there you’ve got a tenfold decrease in the bin Laden creation programme. But even that modest revised target wasn’t met. There’s widespread starvation and disease and millions of refugees in Iraq. Except there aren’t. The Baghdad Museum was looted of its treasures. Only it wasn’t.

What all these fictions have in common is the prejudice behind them: the article of blind faith that the Americans are blundering idiots who know nothing of the world. It was this that led Robert Fisk, whom my colleague Stephen Glover regards as a ‘genius’, to suggest in print that when the Yanks claimed to be at Baghdad International Airport they’d in fact wandered by accident on to an abandoned RAF airfield many miles away. Nobody who knows anything about a modern military or even the kind of GPS technology that Chevrolet now include in their mid-price trucks and SUVs would say anything so stupid in print — unless he were so blinded by irrational Yankophobia that he was impervious to anything so prosaic as reality. Likewise, the Guardian’s ‘Gotcha!’ scoop, in which they brayed that Paul Wolfowitz had finally fessed up: the Iraq war was ‘all about oil’. The Guardian was forced to back down when it was pointed out that all Wolfowitz had done was to observe that America had economic leverage against North Korea that it didn’t have against Iraq, because the latter ‘floats on a sea of oil’.

Sparrow rescued.

Well, Norbert woke up this morning and began to tweet, so we brought him out to the Jane Street garden, which has a birdbath. We called the vet, but before we could bring him there, he decided that he was perfectly OK, and flew up to a tree outside the garden. Straight there, too, unlike the Woodstock-like cockeyed flying he had done yesterday, so we figured he was now fine and telling stories to the other sparrows:

"And then these crazy people stuck me in a plant! But they were giving me birdseed, so I thought, you know, I'll ride this train as far as it'll take me! But what kind of a ridiculous name is Norbert?"

So our apartment is now sparrow-free and Norbert has returned to his natural habitat, and my wife, Stacey, and I are being very self-congratulating.

Sparrow rescue.

So we were walking my dog today by a playground near our apartment, and we spotted a baby sparrow who, while evidently sort of able to fly looked, well, kind of stuck and lost.

My wife, who is apparently genetically unable to leave any animal alone (don't even ask about the stray dogs she tried to keep from fighting each other on our honeymoon), first gave the thing some water out of a bottle cap, and well, to make a long story short, we now have a sparrow sleeping amidst a plant in our living room.

The plan is to bring the sparrow to the vet tomorrow, who will make sure the sparrow is OK and then release it back into the wilds of the meatpacking district. Evidently this particular vet is used to this -- my wife has previously brought an injured baby pigeon (yes, a pigeon) there, and the vet took it in.

We have named the sparrow Norbert.

That's gotta be a record.

I set up a new Hotmail account yesterday, just in case anybody took me up on that offer to help with the permalink problem (and thanks for the overwhelming round of indifference, guys) and I have already gotten a spam email, ironically from a company which wants to know if I would like to "Send the spammers packing... for good."

Evidently, in order to show me the need for a spam blocker, they sent me a spam.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

My superb son, David, has told me that there are actually people who are reading this. He asked me to post so that whomever you are would know that I exist. I think, therefore I am! Now you know.

Monday, June 23, 2003


According to an article by Indian Professor M.D. Nalapat in Sunday's Jerusalem Post, India's incessant fighting with Pakistan is a warning against a Palestinian state:
WERE AN independent state of Palestine to be established alongside Israel, the latter would be condemned to the same fate that India has faced for the past 55 years a permanent state of insecurity. Just as Pakistan believes it is the successor to the Mughal Empire and that therefore historical justice demands it reestablish Muslim rule over the whole subcontinent, almost every Palestinian believes that the entire territory "from the river to the sea" belongs to him by right.

Yet just as the "Pakistani" identity was a fiction brought to life by the colonial power, so was the "Palestinian" identity. In reality, there is no "Palestinian people" with features distinct from the other Arabs of the region.

Were an independent state of Palestine to be created, Arab Israelis might suffer from dual loyalty. Just as Pakistan tries to establish its influence over India's 156 million Muslims by posing as their champion, elements within the proposed Palestinian state would try to create an allegiance between Arab Israelis and the new country.

In brief, the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the lines laid out in the road map would not bring peace. Instead, it would condemn Israel to decades of conflict with its new neighbor.

If Israel tries to please the US, the UK, the rest of the EU, and assorted busybodies around the world by failing to ensure that it has defensible borders, and if it agrees to the creation of an entity that by its very nature will be hostile to it, its present leaders are creating a monster that will certainly emaciate, and may even devour, their nation.

Thanks to Israpundit for the pointer.

Anyone out there know how to fix this?

Well, my permalinks appear to be permabroken. I've got many geek-like skills, but HTML coding is not one of them. So if anyone out there knows how to fix it, could'ja let me know?

Man, did Blair ever get square!

Apropos to Tootie, over at The Volokh Conspiracy Prof. Orin Kerr notes that Lisa Whelchel ("Blair") has her own website. Evidently, she's a home schooling devout Christian.

Gotta say, though, from reading the website, Blair seems like a lot more fun to be around than Lisa Whelchel.

She's got this whole Kathie Lee Gifford thing going on. Her husband broke his wrist and while at first she was annoyed at having to ferry him around and write stuff for him (and he's evidently a little anal retentive), she then
asked God to change my attitude. I started looking at this turn of events as an opportunity to serve my husband without reserve. I realized that I don’t often get the occasion to give and serve to this degree. I don’t want to waste this chance to love my husband in so many practical ways.

She's one of those people who is doing all the right things and is raising her kids right and is a tribute to America and a good citizen and while I'm extremely happy that people like her exist I think I'd get diabetes within 15 minutes of entering her house.

That kinda makes me sound mean and cynical, but, well, I'm a New Yorker.

UPDATE: (happydance) Oooh! Oooh! I got a mention and a link on The Volokh Conspiracy! (/happydance)

Oh, for Pete's Sake!

Evidently, a cop in Fall River, Massachusetts was fired for smoking. Now, this was off duty at a party, but evidently there's some immensely stupid law that prohibits smoking by state public safety officials.

Memo to Massachusetts: This is why normal people laugh at you.

A Really Bad Neighborhood

In a tribute to the free market, evidently a Spokane, Washington, landlord is seeking what may be the most undesirable tenants: convicted sex offenders. notes:
Sex offenders have to live somewhere, she tells the Seattle Times, and it might as well be in her apartments in a downtown area largely populated by empty storefronts, away from residential neighborhoods and in a zero-nonsense security environment. The way that [owner/manager Linda Wolfe-Dawidjan] sees it, she is providing a public service. It seems to be working. As one man affiliated with the Spokane police told the newspaper: "It's kind of nice to have them all in one building."

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Justice Something-Or-Other.

So, according to a new Findlaw survey, "only 35 percent of American adults could name at least one current Supreme Court justice. Fewer than 1 percent could correctly name all nine justices."

Evidently Justice O'Connor has the best name recognition -- 25% were able to name her, followed by Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist.

Poor Justice Stevens brought up the rear with only 1% naming him. But, you know, he's kinda boring. When I used to go to see SCOTUS arguments, he was always sorta like the vice-principal, bringing up stuff like jurisdiction and ripeness, as Justice Scalia looked on, politely waiting for Justice Stevens to finish so he could get back to scaring the attorneys.

Meanwhile, 100% of respondents were able to correctly identify "the black girl on The Facts of Life" as "Tootie."

OK, that last thing wasn't really part of the survey, but I'll bet you it's true.

Thanks to SCOTUSblog via The Volokh Conspiracy for the link.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Reminds me of certain members of the Bridge and Tunnel Crowd

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Dancing Hippo!

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Union, Schmunion!

Be glad you're not an HR guy in Indonesia.

OK, I could have SWORN this was an urban legend...

This kid is going to need serious therapy. And so is everyone he's been near in the last few days.

Monday, June 16, 2003

And the award for most inadvertently humorous English URL goes to...

I'll just quote Dave Barry's blog:

A lot of guys are going to be disappointed when they click on

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Second Holocaust?

Someone brought this column to my attention today. It's from The New York Observer of April 15, 2002 and is, well, not so much happy. But I thought the author, Ron Rosenbaum, made a couple of interesting points:

Someone remarked recently at the astonishing hypocrisy of European diplomats and politicians in supporting the Palestinian "right of return" when so many Europeans are still living in homes stolen from Jews they helped murder.

. . . .

Consider that remarkable Joel Brinkley story in the April 4 edition of The Times, in which the leaders of Hamas spoke joyfully and complacently of their great triumph in the Passover massacre and the subsequent slaughters in Jerusalem and Haifa. Two things made this interview remarkable. One was the unashamed assertion that they had no interest in any "peace process" that would produce a viable Palestinian state living side-by-side with a Jewish state. They only wanted the destruction of the Jewish state and its replacement with one in which "the Jews could remain living ‘in an Islamic state with Islamic law.’"

. . . .

The other thing that made the Times interview such a defining document was the description of its setting. The interview with one of the four directors of the Hamas mass murderers, a Dr. Zahar, was conducted in a comfortable home in which "Dr. Zahar, a surgeon, has a table tennis set in his vast living room for his seven children."

If the Israelis were as ruthless as the Europeans take great pleasure in calling them, there would be, let’s say, no ping-pong playing for the murderer of their children.

. . . .

I feel bad for the plight of the Palestinians; I believe they deserve a state. But they had a state: They were part of a state, a state called Jordan, that declared war on the state of Israel, that invaded it in order to destroy it—and lost the war. There are consequences to losing a war, and the consequences should at least in part be laid at the feet of the three nations that sought and lost the war. One sympathizes with the plight of the Palestinians, but one wonders what the plight of the Israelis might have been had they lost that war. One doesn’t envision spacious homes and ping-pong for their leaders.

Legalize "Insider Trading"

Libertarian talk show host Larry Elder has the first part of an interview with Professor Henry Manne today. Manne (who taught my father) has, for years, been spitting into the wind arguing for the repeal of the insider trading laws. The insider trading rules are a perfect example of the law of unintended consequences. Some good points:
Elder: A "little guy" hearing this is going to say, "Well, I'm not an insider -- how could it not harm me that I'm not privy to information that other people are privy to?"

Manne: That was one of the very first myths in this field since my book in 1966. The serious scholars don't make that argument at all any more, because it's very clear that that person is in the stock market, an anonymous market, to sell the shares and doesn't care who buys them. If there's information out there, it may be an insider has it. It doesn't make any difference. Once you make a decision to sell, you don't lose anything when there's an additional buyer in the market, because that person happens to have information. That's absurd.


Elder: Let's talk about the recent state of corporate accounting scandals: Enron, Global Crossing, etc. What impact would insider trading have had on these kinds of scandals?

Manne: I don't think the scandals would ever have erupted if we had allowed insider trading . . . because there would be plenty of people in those companies who would know exactly what was going on, and who couldn't resist the temptation to get rich by trading on the information, and the stock market would have reflected those problems months and months earlier than they did under this cockamamie regulatory system we have.

Unfortunately, regulation often ends up making problems worse -- the Enron and Global Crossing scandals, exacerbated by the regulation of the market, as Manne notes, are now being used as examples of "market failure" requiring more regulation, instead of repealing the regulation which led to the disaster.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Larmes de crocodile

In "An Open Letter to my Israeli Friends" published in the Israeli daily Haaretz, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin explains, apparently with a straight face, that
Between France and Israel, and between the French and the Jewish people, there is a heartfelt relationship that led the father of the great philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, in the midst of the Dreyfus affair, to say that "it is worth moving to a state that tears itself apart over the fate of a little Jewish captain."

Uh, huh. It's a positive that France "tore itself apart" over the Dreyfus affair? There shouldn't have been a Dreyfus affair to begin with! And it shows that huge swaths of the population were so anti-Semitic that they helped tear the country to pieces!

de Villepin isn't done yet. He also notes:
The Holocaust is a part of our common history, as recently noted by President Jacques Chirac, for whom France "will always be inconsolable" for this "irredeemable mistake."

Thanks much, Jacques. That's mighty nice of ya. So France turned its Jews in to the Nazis (except in notable cases like Le Chambon-sur-Lignon which, as a town, saved thousands of Jews) but at least they feel bad about it, folks!

Friday, June 06, 2003

Well, that's a relief.

So, at least in the UK, Nizzle-Shizzling is not a problem.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

A music contest you can win in your underwear.

The east coast regionals of The First Annual U.S. Air Guitar Championship are going to be held this Friday in New York, at the Pussycat Lounge, on Greenwich and Rector. (I'm pretty sure that's a strip club, but if it's actually something like a senior citizen rec center, it needs a name change.)
The west coast regionals are being held the end of June at the Roxy in L.A.
And may I just say that this is a brilliant competition.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Yes, I'm also a neurotic mess.

James Lileks, as usual, has a great online column today. I get, well, nutso, when I don't know where my wife is. It's nice to know that Lileks suffers from the same problem.
I tend to get . . . unhinged when wife & child are very very late, and I can’t raise them. They’d left at two for a bike ride; back in two hours, my wife said. To me that means 120 minutes, each composed exactly of 60 seconds. To my wife, and any other sensible person, it means that indefinable allotment of time that’s longer than an hour but shorter than the entire afternoon. Still, I don’t start to sweat when minute 121 has elapsed and I’ve not seen them through the spyglass or the thermal monitors. In fact I often don’t notice they’re late until they’re really late. Then the sequence starts: “I hope nothing’s happened” becomes “I suspect something happens” becomes “I know for certain that they both fell off a bridge into the Mississippi,” and this leads to horrible conjectures. How long will it take to find them?

I know how you feel, James. I know how you feel.