September 30, 2003
According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-journal Dennis Hope the celestial executive officer and self-described "head cheese" of the Lunar Embassy is claiming to be exploiting a loophole in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. This U.N. treaty is an agreement among all UN member nations that no nation would have sovereignty or control over any of the celestial bodies. Hope believes that since there is nothing in the treaty pertaining to individuals his claim of ownership of the moon as well as all the planets except Earth and their moons is valid. And as the legal owner, he is subdividing.
My official deed should arrive in the mail in a few days. Then I have to decide if I want to put it up on my wall or put it up on Ebay. If you can't wait for me to decide to sell, you get your own piece of the moon here.
September 28, 2003
Apparently Uncle Joe believes that need should be the standard of income and he is willing to fudge the tax code to achieve his goal: tax the more successful (From each according to his ability) and hand it out to the less successful (to each according to their need)
There is of course the Constitutional issue. A computer program run by the airlines, designed by a government contractor, performs and instant background check when I buy my one airline ticket a year. On the basis of what the programs returns I could be flagged as red and barred from flying. It doesn't matter that this designation would be ridiculously wrong, even if it were right I can't see how this would qualify as the due process required before I can deprived of life, liberty, or property.
That is the more rational half of my reaction. The more visceral half I almost hesitate to mention. But the CAPPS II color code system smacks of something much more sinister. At the risk of linking myself to idiotic protesters carrying signs saying Bush=Hitler, the CAPPS colors evokes an image of the Star of David Jews were made to wear by the Nazi's. I understand that as currently proposed the CAPPS system applies only to air travel and that there is no proposal that travelers wear a badge of their designated risk color. This is after all the less rational half of my reaction. It is a reaction that springs from a distgrust (Interesting typo. Somewhere between distrust and disgust - either word works for me) of power and government. It is a reaction that comes not from looking at what the proposal is today, but what it could become in the future if we are too complacent, and not protective enough of our liberty.
And then there is that nagging irrational fear that if I keep writing about this I'm going to have a hard time getting past security the next time I fly.
All of that said, and now that your visit has been counted - you must leave. Not that I don't want you to read every word on this page, but there is another blog I want you to see. The blog is Eject! Eject! Eject!. Finding Bill Whittle's essays, which I did with the help of my good friend at Rocket Man Blog, was like sitting down to a really great steak when you are really hungry for steak.
The essays are not short, much more of king cut of prime rib than a tasty little filet. They are meaty, they are satisfying, and they will fill you up mentally. They are food for the mind and the soul. So, thanks for the hit on my site meter, but get over to Eject! Eject! Eject! now. Bon appetite.
September 26, 2003
September 25, 2003
I covered some ideas about reforming the federal tax system here.
September 24, 2003
September 23, 2003
You can buy a basic BIC ballpoint pen for less than a quarter. It's a simple plastic barrel with an ink tube and a metal point. When it comes to writing instruments it is the essence of form follows function. As of two years ago, you can buy a slightly more expensive version of the same pen with a rubber grip on the end. Or if you prefer you can invest more than $100 in a ballpoint pen from the likes of Cross, Mont Blanc or Sheaffer. The $100 pen and the $.25 pen perform the same function - putting a line of ink on paper. Neither will do much for your penmanship and absolutely nothing for the quality of your writing, the difference - style and design.
What really made clear the essence of the value of style was the flat tire I had yesterday. The flat tire resulted in a trip to the local tire center where while I waited I browsed through a collection of 73 different chrome wheels (I counted them too). The prices, on sale, ranged from a low of $400 for a set of 4 to a high of $1,300 (marked down form $1600). I am guessing that my neighborhood tire store only had on display a small sampling of the available choices for chrome wheels. But even though I understand the value of design, I personally don't see the value of spending $1,300 for the chunk of metal that holds the tire on my car. There are those that do - the guy at the counter told me they've sold 3 sets this month.
September 22, 2003
Then I did the math. Luckily for me that was just adding two numbers together - what I've paid and what my numerous employers have paid. The total would be the estimated balance of my account. As I indicated before math is not my strong suit. When I thought about how much that estimated $70k would be worth today if it had been invested in a few good funds over the last 20 years I couldn't even begin to give a numerical estimate. The closest I could get was a reasonably certain estimate of more than $0.00.
September 19, 2003
How has all this damage been done? It has been done by exploiting security holes and vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system. I am not a lawyer nor anything close to an expert in product liability, but it seems to me that if you produce a product with flaws resulting in damages in to the 10s of billions of dollars there should be some liability here.
What is there defense that the damage wouldn't have happened if the hacker hadn't written the worm? True enough, but would the hacker have done his thing if the flaws in the system hadn't been there?
The bottom line is that millions of users were affected because of flaws in the software they purchased from Microsoft - and based on the numbers from mi2g they took a big hit to their bottom lines. Can someone explain to me why Microsoft is not held accountable?
The choice to live by the sea is an individual one. It is a choice I completely understand and would make myself if I could afford the higher property and insurance costs. But it is a choice that comes with risks. If you want the fresh air an breezes, if you want the beach at your front door, if you want the beauty of the sea outside your windows, you have to accept the risks that come with it. And when all that natural splendor turns ugly and rips off your roof or wipes out your home you can have my complete sympathy. If you were my neighbor you could have every ounce of effort I could spare to help you dig out. What you have no right to is one dollar of my money - beyond what I choose to freely give.
It is a sad commentary on the state of our society that this is even a question anyone would think to ask. It is a tribute to the readers at FOX News.com that only 4% of respondents have said government should pay.
September 18, 2003
Whatever policy proposals that have been made have been completely drowned out by the name calling and insults and the outright lies aimed at the president and his party. Ten candidates are running with the same slogan, "Vote for me I'm not a Republican." The Democratic party was once a party of ideas and ideals. Misguided and wrongheaded as they were, they stood for something. The party of the Donkey is fast becoming the party of the jackass. Defined not by what they stand for but only what they stand against.
September 17, 2003
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Combine this with even a mediocre spell checker and and all of my posts will be readable. Bearable is something I need to work on!
September 15, 2003
September 13, 2003
Now I have 107 channels of cable TV (I could have up to 350 with the cable company's new digital service). I have stations assigned to all 24 preset buttons on the radio in my car ranging from talk radio on a.m. to the fm stations my daughter likes because they play music I hate. In addition to two local papers there are two "national" newspapers, The New York Tines and USA Today. I get an average of 3 magazine solicitations a month. Then there is the internet. With everything ranging from slick corporate websites from the major news outlets, to site from and about every cause on the planet to amateur pundits like myself.
In this environment, congress is trying again to bring back the fairness doctrine. They have tried several times since the FCC abandoned the regulation in 1987. The one time it actually managed to pass it was vetoed by President Reagan. The fairness doctrine was one of the first official governmental diversity programs - although I don't think they called it that back when I was 12. In order to provide for a diversity of opinion the regulation held that if a broadcast station aired one side of any controversial issue they were required to air the other side as well. There was no real standard for what constituted a controversial issue or for what qualified as a fair airing of the opposing view. All a broadcaster could do was try - then wait to see if they broke the rules. Or they could just choose not to deal with controversial issues at all. The fear was that because there were so few sources there would be too few opinions represented.
In the age of modern media there is not opinion on any issue large or small that cannot find an outlet (Unless of course you're appearing on the O'Rielly factor and you happen to disagree with the host) So that clearly cannot be the objective of trying to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine. The objective now is to continue where campaign finance left off in the battle of political incumbents trying to eliminate political debate among the great unelected masses. In the true occasion of bipartisan cooperation politician from both sides of the aisle have united in the common cause of their own re-elections.
Having eliminated those pesky ads about issues that cause them so many problems especially when they are aired so close to an election the entrenched incumbency is seeking to quiet debate that might not show them in their best campaign light. They are all afraid. Liberals are afraid of conservative radio, conservatives are afraid of liberal TV networks. But What has them most afraid is the concept of an informed electorate. They are afraid of an electorate that knows more about what is going on in politics that just what they hear in a 30 second campaign spot. They are afraid that there are media outlets that are beholden to neither party or cause. They are afraid that the camera is on 24/7 and someone is watching everything they do - and telling others what they see.
There is no scarcity of media. There is no lacking in diversity of opinion. The is no reason to pass the fairness doctrine into law. The only people for whom the current media culture is "unfair" in incumbent politicians who feel they have a right to be in office and want to rig the game to stay there.
September 11, 2003
They haven't actually given up on the second attempt yet - using the United Nations to interfere in the war on terrorism, leaving America vulnerable to future attacks. They didn't want us to go after their genocidal terror supporting friend in Iraq. They wanted to let their buddy Sadam play cat and mouse with Blix and his band of merry men. They bought him enough time to hide the things he wasn't supposed to have and bought with the money he got from the oil he wasn't supposed to be selling to them. But that was the best they could do. Thankfully President Bush saw the threat to the nation and said no.
The most recent attempt is by far the cheesiest. Brie, Camembert and Parmesan to be exact.
Calling U.S. firms "pirates," the EU seeks exclusive rights for its 15-member nations to names of consumer goods associated with European regions.
Endless examples include Bordeaux, Chablis, Chianti, feta, parmesan, romano and Roquefort.
The cost to the U.S. in terms of new packaging, branding and marketing would be staggering.
U.S. negotiators predict if the WTO agrees to the restriction, U.S. companies will have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in new labeling and marketing.
Let us hope that if the time comes when the WTO expects the U.S. to participate in what would be self-destructively stupid policy that President Bush again sees the threat to the nation and says no.
When this gambit fails - I wonder what they will try next.
September 10, 2003
Bill Janklow made a stupid mistake behind the wheel of his car - as have we all. I have run a stop sign myself in the past, and can only count it as luck that no one was injured or killed. But in Congressman Janklow's case when he went through a stop sign at an estimated 70 mph someone was killed. These facts are not in dispute. If Bill Janklow had any other occupation than elected representative I too would agree with the position of letting him keep his job until convicted. But I believe that in this case making conviction the standard (and upon conviction if Janklow resigns it will only to pre-empt his expulsion) is setting the bar too low.
The point I was attempting to make in my original post is that on the merrits of his own situation Janklow should step down. That he should send Kennedy a copy of his resignation was just a way to take a parting shot on his way out the door.
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