Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Feel Free To Use This Icon

Terri Schiavo icon photo Terri-Icon.gif

Saturday, March 26, 2005

What Motivated The School Shootings At Red Lake?

David Yeagley second-guesses the motives of Jeff Weise:

Jeff allegedly opposed racial intermarriage. That’s hardly assimilation. And Jeff allegedly complained that his teachers (white liberals of the Red Lake high school) condemned him for his ideas of racial purity.

Now the story makes more sense to me, as an Indian. Indians are a vanishing race, vanishing through intermarriage. Jeff opposed this, but he had liberal, white, anti-Indian teachers and counselors, who advocated intermarriage, which he saw as genocide.

M. C. Escher, Call Your Office

A gravity-defying room. (Via GeekPress)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Estonian Government Collapse

Baltic Blog has a report, and does a breakdown on public opinion on the nation's political parties.

Publius has comments. (Via Glenn.)

Update: I don't understand why news services such as Bloomberg and Express Newsline call it a "government collapse." It's not like the entire national government is gone; those not familiar with the situation, or the mechanics of parliamentary rule, might get such an impression. "Government" clearly refers to the prime minister and his administration. The judiciary and the parliament are still on the job, as is President Arnold Ruutel, who has the task of appointing a new candidate to put together a new administration.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

From The Home Office In Darfur

Spoons has a Top Ten list of suggested UN reforms.

"The Government Shouldn't Intrude On A Private Family Matter"

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that statement regarding Terri Schiavo. Riddle me this: who is Terri's family? Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers. They don't agree on whether she shoudl be allowed to die of dehydration. So how can they settle the matter without the government getting involved? I can think of only one way.

Bring back duelling.

Monday, March 21, 2005

High School Takes Musical Requests

The EIA Communiqué reports:

I'm a Fool for the City. Daniel Dorman, a senior at Bonita Vista High School in California, grew tired of hearing the one-tone lunch bell each school day. So he created a mass movement, gathering 300 signatures and celebrity endorsements for his alternative: to have lunch signaled by playing "Slow Ride" – the 1970s rock anthem recorded by Foghat -- over the school's loudspeakers.

After Dorman threatened a hunger strike over the issue, Principal Ramon Leyba agreed to play "Slow Ride" – but only once, as redesigning the school's bell system was out of the question. Foghat was so impressed by Dorman's achievement they invited him, his friends, and Principal Leyba to one of the band's concerts this summer.

The San Diego Union-Tribune treated the story as a tribute to Dorman's activism, but EIA suspects Principal Leyba's LP collection contains Fool for the City, Stone Blue, and some Savoy Brown classics like Lookin' In and Raw Sienna.

Get this. The kid couldn't have been born before 1986 if he's a high school senior. Of all the songs out there, he picks one from 1975. There is some hope for the younger generation.

Don't Know Much About History

Pat Boone draws an ironic comparison:

To illustrate, you can call your weekend-training band of gun nuts a "militia" if you want, but don't say the government is denying your rights if it doesn't expand its definition of the militia and give you the corresponding benefits of funding or support such as restricted highway lanes for your pickup truck convoys!

Likewise, call your same-gender mate your "spouse" if you wish, even have a "wedding" in an agreeable church under your First Amendment rights, but don't say the government is denying your rights if it doesn't expand its definition of marriage and so give you the corresponding rights and standing of the legally married.

Later in the column he states that a radical redefinition of marriage (predicated, I would add, upon a radical redefinition of human sexuality) would have unforeseen and unfortunate consequences. His choice of illustration makes his point more than he realizes.

Boone's use of "militia" is itself a radical redefinition of language. Historically, the militia was the entire body of men eligible for military conscription. The term also refers to irregular civilian-organized-and-led troops, as illustrated in the films The Patriot and, in concept if not by name, Red Dawn.

At some point in time, the second definition was bastardized to mean state National Guard units. Not civilians who band themselves together temporarily in times of war**, but enlistees who report for (wartime and peacetime) active government duty once a month, and who are subject to be sent into war at government discretion.

(**Yes, the "militias" Boone describes are perverting the language as well - militia units are a wartime phenomenon.)

So where has the redefinition of "militia" led us? It has eroded the role of private-sector initiative in armed defense. The very idea of civilians arming themselves and organizing with others against immediate foreign military threats could once be summed up in one word, but no more (except among the few of us who know better). It is no wonder that the idea of an individual arming himself or herself against a home intruder seems so alien to many.

Texas Blogfest 2005

Lord Spatula has recap, and posted a Day 2 pic here. I wasn't there for the photo session because I work night shift and was still asleep at the time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Today's Calvin and Hobbes Strips

SETI, the early years.

I hope the Department of Homeland Security doesn't see this.

Not a role model for PromiseKeepers.

More oppression in America!

Is there a lawyer in the house?

Update: The site featuring these trips has been taken down. You can find the strips elsewhere on the Internet by doing a Google search on the filename (eg. "ch870627.gif").

What I Did On International Eat An Animal For PETA Day

The adventure started at two in the morning for me (I work 10PM-6AM). Brought a meatball sub to work. Ate "breakfast" at about 1:30 PM at the Panda Cafe, a Chinese buffet restaurant named for an endangered species. Bought some frog legs at a local grocery store, baked some as an appetizer before heading to Razzoo's Cajun restaurant for fried gator tail at 9:00 PM before going to work.

Here's a taxonomy of the animal kingdom portion of the day's menu:

** Note: fishes are represented by five classes of Vertebrata. The other four are lampreys, cartilaginous fishes (rays and sharks), lungfishes, and lobe-finned fishes (coelecanths).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Commies Were Right

America really is a land of oppression.

(From the Calvin and Hobbes Archive)

Update: The link is dead. See this post.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Leftist Energy Policy Exacerbates American Indian Poverty

NewsMax reports the high support for drilling at ANWR among Eskimos:

A 1995 Dittman survey yielded similar results, with 75 percent of Alaskans saying they backed ANWR drilling, and just 19 percent opposed.
In the Inupiat Eskimo villages near ANWR, support is even higher. A January 2000 survey in the village of Kaktovik found that 78 percent of residents back more energy exploration in their own backyard. Only 9 percent were opposed.

In 1995, the Alaska Federation of Natives, which represents 80,000 Eskimos, adopted a resolution supporting ANWR drilling, calling it a "critically important economic opportunity for Alaska natives."

Democratic State Senator Dr. Donald Olson explains his constituents' interest in ANWR:

"They do not have running water or a sewer system," he told columnist Deroy Murdock in 2001. "That means they are relegated to Third World conditions where people have to melt ice to bathe and to drink. They use five-gallon containers for sanitation."

The backward sanitation system is a breeding ground for sometimes-fatal cases of hepatitis A - and contributes to high infant mortality rates.

Eskimos actually own 92,000 acres within ANWR's perimeter as a result of a federal grant in the 1980s. But they can't lease exploration rights until Congress opens up the federal part of the refuge.

In other areas of Alaska where the oil companies have been allowed to drill, the standard of living has increased dramatically, the locals say.

But thanks to the success of the environmental lobby in keeping ANWR off limits, the Inupiat Indians have been forced to live in poverty.


Eat An Animal For Peta Day is tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Attention All Bloggers

Sign the Online Coalition's letter to the FEC. Now.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Fidel Castro Would Love Harvard

Harvard seeks to restrict capitalism on campus:

A Harvard University student's fledgling dorm-cleaning business faced the threat of a campus boycott on Thursday after the school's daily newspaper slammed it for dividing students along economic lines.

The Harvard Crimson newspaper urged students to shun Dormaid, a business launched by Harvard sophomore Michael Kopko that cleans up for messy students.

"By creating yet another differential between the haves and have-nots on campus, Dormaid threatens our student unity," the Crimson said in an editorial.

"We urge the student body to boycott Dormaid."

Kopko responds:

"In a free economy it's all about choice, and the Crimson is trying to take choice away from people," the student entrepreneur told Reuters. "I think it's a very uneconomic and narrow view. It's essentially against creating wealth for society."

So, a bunch of Harvard students think that the proper response to income inequality is not to encourage economic mobility but to discourage it, if doing so would attract clients virtually exclusively from higher income classes.

Just think of the stuff that Kopko wouldn't be buying without the Dormaid income. Fewer trips to local restaurants and taverns. Fewer CD purchases. Fewer clothing purchases. These are businesses whose employees include Harvard students working their way through college - some of the very people who can't afford maid service, on whose behalf leftists are protesting. A few more Kopkos might mean a few extra jobs for college students in Cambridge. But Political Correctness would nip that in the bud, just because the prospective customers make too much money.

And I thought the Left wanted the rich to contribute more to the economy.

Monopoly Seeks To Destroy Competition Through New Product Release

No, the story is not about Bill Gates. It's about Fidel Castro. The Kansas City Star has the story (emphasis added):

Pressure cookers and rice steamers, essential tools of the Cuban kitchen, are the new weapons in Fidel Castro's latest battle to reassert control over the nation's economy.

During a 5 1/2-hour speech broadcast on state TV, Castro said 100,000 pressure cookers would be made available each month - an announcement that underscored the communist country's continued retreat toward greater political and economic centralism.

The move "will do away with the rustic kitchen," Castro told the Federation of Cuban Women on Tuesday night, saying the new cookers would use half the energy of the homemade ones they will replace.

The program could wipe out what has become a popular, and in most cases legal, private business that uses molds to make pressure cookers from cheap aluminum. Although imported cookers are sold in stores for about $25 - more than the average Cuban earns in a month - homemade ones cost about $5.50.

At subsidized prices, the government-distributed cookers will cost about the same as the homemade ones. And the government's cookers can be paid for in monthly installments.

Proposal For Education Reform

Rush Limbaugh doesn't want campus liberals to go away completely. From his radio show today:

I want a Ward Churchill on every campus so nobody forgets who these people are.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Stayin' On A Jet Plane

An unusual protest is unfolding in Brussels:

A group of unarmed Iranians staged a protest aboard a Lufthansa jet at the Brussels airport Thursday, refusing to leave the plane and calling for the return of the monarchy in Iran, officials said.

The plane landed at Brussels International airport at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EST) on a flight from Frankfurt, and the protesters stayed behind after most of the 59 passengers got off.

"This is not a hijacking," said police spokeswoman Astrid Kaisen.

"They are sitting on the plane and they don't want to come off," Kaisen said, adding police could not yet confirm the nationalities of the protesters.

(Link via Free Iran! Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi email)

Update: the protesters have given up.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Dan Rather Roundup

Cox and Forkum post a cartoon from last November

InstaPundit links to Dan's legacy.

LGF comments on the final broadcast and links a New York Observer article about the faked document scandal.

NewsMax reports on the final broadcast and has an article on Walter Cronkite's comments on Rather's professional longevity.

RatherBiased has a last word.

Update: Dan Rather's farewell wouldn't be complete without offerings from Accuracy in Media...

...and the Media Research Center:

Animals Beware The Ides Of March

Meryl Yourish announces that the Third Annual International Eat an Animal for PETA Day approaches this March 15. I will attempt to eat at least one species from each of the five classes of the subphylum vertebrata. I'll throw in some arthropoda (the crustecean variety) and mollusca - hello, Chinese buffet. That covers three of the four superphyla of the Animal Kingdom. I may have the superphylum Platyzoa covered also; its various species aren't edible AFAIK, but some are parasites found in edible species.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Feed Me Seymour, Feed Me Now!

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (free but annoying subscription required) reports that the Texas legislature wants to enact a snack tax:

The 3 percent snack tax is aimed at sugary soft drinks, candy, potato chips, pretzels, doughnuts, popcorn and other items that, as one version of the legislation put it, is "not generally considered a major component of a well-balanced meal."

When the state sales tax is added, snack food eaters would be paying more than 10 percent of the value of their unhealthy treats to the state government under the proposal.

Aside from gorging on a new revenues source, backers want to ensure that the "everything is bigger in Texas" saying doesn't apply to waistlines:

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the proposal is seen as a way to raise needed money while also addressing the state's obesity problem.

The tax gluttony doesn't stop there:

By a 6-2 vote, with one abstention, the House panel approved an increase in the state sales tax rate to 7.25 percent from 6.25 percent. The bill also creates a new payroll tax to replace the loophole-ridden franchise tax, but the new version has a rate of 1.15 percent instead of 1.1 percent, as originally envisioned.

The bill also applies the sales tax for the first time to newspapers, auto repair services, bottled water, billboard advertising and car washes. The tax rate for vehicle and boat sales would rise to 7.35 percent from 6.25 percent. Cigarette taxes would go up by $1 a pack.

Update: This story requires a little background. Back in 1994, the Texas legislature passed the "Robin Hood" school finance measure, by which the state government would redistribute school property tax revenue equally among school districts. Some argue that "Robin Hood" essentially creates a state property tax, which the Texas constitution explicity prohibits.

Indeed, the school finance scheme was declared unconstitutional in 2004, but apparently the deciding factor was that "Robin Hood" exceeded a constitutionally-mandated tax cap. Ironically, the decision was praised by leaders of both property-rich and property-poor districts.

Now our overlords representatives in Austin are trying to adhere to the ruling and make up for the lost revenue. Somehow the idea of cutting expenses never occurred to them.

Hillary Clinton, Female Supremacist

Hillary Clinton says:

"Research shows the presence of women [in government] raises the standards of ethical behavior and lowers corruption," Clinton told the Vital Voices' Women's Global Leadership Summit, in quotes picked up by NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News.

Here is a sampling of various female politicians of various levels of ethical repute (links to Wikipedia, unless noted):

Monday, March 07, 2005

More On The FEC And Blogs

Over at the Personal Democracy Forum, Richard Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at Loyola Law School, has some worthy musings on the subject. His chief point is that McCain-Feingold, which does not specifically address blogs, does make explicit references to electioneering activity that scarcely any blogs engage in. Here he addresses the issue of disclosure requirements:

Outside of the Internet, grassroots activity related to federal elections and uncoordinated with candidates is clearly permissible, though when the amount spent on the activity exceeds $250 the spender must file reports with the FEC that identify who is doing the spending and where the spending goes. In practice, the FEC has not enforced this threshold very aggressively, which is probably for the best because the threshold is way too low under current law. (There are no limits on the amount that can be spent by individuals, either within or outside the Internet, independent of candidates and political committees.) The $250 disclosure threshold, even if enforced more aggressively, will provide a safe harbor for much Internet-based political activity, where the marginal cost of setting up an e-mail list or web page is negligible. That is-and this is a point ignored by Commissioner Smith-because much Internet speech is so cheap, it falls below the threshold of even the disclosure rules.

Latr he discusses two chief McCain-Feingold concerns: corporate donations and electioneering activity coordinated with campaigns. Most blogs are neither owned by corporations nor in cahoots with political campaigns; therefore, campaign finance law is silent on most blogs.

However, judges will not necessarily remain silent where the law is, as the recent death penalty ruling illustrates. I suggest that, as a short-term measure against judicial activism, Congress pass a rider to McCain-Feingold explicitly exempting the vast majority of websites (blog or otherwise) that do not engage in the activity that the law regulates. In the long term, McCain-Feingold should be overturned, and campaign regulation should be simplified and brought into accord with First Amendment speech and press freedoms.

And John McCain and Russ Feingold should be defeated in the 2010 primaries when they are up for reelection.

Thought For The Day

From George Will's column on Roper v. Simmons:

If [Justice Anthony] Kennedy represents the mainstream, it is time to change the shape of the river.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stifling Free Speech Week Continues

Declan McCullagh recently interviewed Bradley Smith, a member of the Federal Elections Commission, on the possible effects McCain/Feingold could have on election-related blogging activity. InstaPundit has a plethora of links.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Do I Want To Go To Australia?

On the plus side, I'd get to meet Sasha Castel, whose blog will be going on hiatus while she goes through the bureaucratic maze to become an Australian resident. And the opportunity for south-of-the-equator amateur astronomy is certainly an enticement.

On the bad side, however, the Australian government has now criminalized criticism of religion. Would referring to that nation's Parliament as the "Australiban" run afoul of that law?

I could always hold my tongue for a few days, and then unleash when I get home. Just as I would if I were to visit Iran, China, or Canada.

Update: No, not the Australiban - the New Victorianism (as opposed to the original). The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act of 2001 was passed in one state (Victoria), not nationally. Tim Blair (see comments) and Eugene Volokh have the scoop.

I have two questions:

  1. Do neither Australia nor the Victorian State have a law explicitly protecting speech and press freedoms without added qualifications?
  2. Assuming that equal protection is the law in Australia (as it is in the US per its constitution's 14th Amendment), is there a companion act granting the same treatment regarding nonracial and nonreligious tolerance?

If the answer to either of these is "no," then the New Victorians are in breach of law. If the answer to both is "yes," then whatever documentation of civil rights Australia has is lacking. If the answer to either of these is "no," then the "New Victorians" are in breach of law. If the answer to both is "yes," then Australia needs to update its civil rights protections along those lines.

Update: If the comparison between 19th-century Victorianism and 21st century speech codes seems dubious, consider that both went to extreme ends to keep away from the public square an unseemiless that allegedly threatened social order. In both cases legalism vastly overdefined what is and isn't appropriate for public consumption.

I Want To Go To Lebanon

Details here.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

From My Cold, Dead Hands

The EIA Communiqué has this wonderful story:

When Guavas Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guavas. Entire industries have sprung up describing the practices and abuses of zero tolerance policies in the nation's public schools. Students have been disciplined for handling dangerous weapons and drugs, such as rubber bands, nail clippers and Midol. But the San Diego Unified School District took the zero tolerance policy into negative numbers last week.

According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the district vetoed a plan by an environmental group to plant fruit trees on school campuses. Why? "Fruit trees create more of a mess, and fruit does tend to be used as a projectile with students," said district maintenance and operations supervisor Mark Everts. "This is precautionary." The district did allow the group to plant shade trees and "other nonthreatening, non-fruit-bearing trees."

Speaking as someone who often carries a concealed mango for self-defense, it seems clear that California is in desperate need of a fifteen day waiting period to purchase fruit. Sure, berries are innocent enough, but who has a legitimate need for a "large-caliber" fruit, such as the infamous semi-automatic watermelon? And don't forget Napoleon once dispersed a Paris mob with a "whiff of grapeshot." We don't want roving gangs of juvenile delinquents armed with bananas, do we? Join the movement! If this isn't a ticket to Congress for some aspiring California politician, I don't know what is.

Come to think of it, my ping-pong-ball-firing crossbow can also use cherry tomatoes for ammo...

In Some Countries, Blogging Really Does Get You In Trouble With The Government

In Bahrain, for example, you can get arrested. InstaPundit has a couple of links to that story.

The newly-formed Committee to Protect Bloggers has a list of jailed, threatened, and freed bloggers on its left sidebar. They're not all from Muslim countries:

Jailed: Arash Sigarchi (Iran), Mohammad Reza Nasab Abdolahi (Iran), Mojtaba Saminejad (Iran), Ali Abdulemam (Bahrain)

Threatened: Christophe Grébert (France), Jani Uusitalo (Finland)

Freed: Sina Motallebi (Iran), Farid Modaressi (Iran), Dariush (Iran), Omid Memarian (Iran), Payvand (Iran), Zouhair Yahyaoui (Tunisia)

CPB also reports that more Bahraini bloggers have been detained, and that Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi was questioned about "an allegedly-contentious comment posted months ago on his weblog" about the Prime Minister's approach to Islam.

What's the story on the two European bloggers? Jani Uusitalo has an English translation of his story here; he was ordered by a police official (without delivery or even mention of a court order) to remove allegedly defamatory posts about elementary school children "being terrorized by a deeply religious headmaster and his fellow teachers."

Grébert's is an interesting tale:

According to Loïc Le Meur, Christophe, a French blogger who regularly takes his city's leadership to task on his blog Monputeux was accosted by the police for his blog.

Enraged by Christophe's relentless needling, the mayor apparently sent the Municipal Police to arrest him in the street. His arrest was narrowly averted by the intervention of the National Police.

CPB will be added to the blogroll. I've created a special globe icon for it, to reflect the international scope of both its subject matter and its contributors.

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