October 2006 Archives

Amanda Gefter does a good job explaining black holes, evaporation, and the conservation of information, and her illustration of an elephant caught in a black hole is through-provoking.

Let's say Alice is watching a black hole from a safe distance, and she sees an elephant foolishly headed straight into gravity's grip. As she continues to watch, she will see it get closer and closer to the event horizon, slowing down because of the time-stretching effects of gravity in general relativity. However, she will never see it cross the horizon. Instead she sees it stop just short, where sadly Dumbo is thermalised by Hawking radiation and reduced to a pile of ashes streaming back out. From Alice's point of view, the elephant's information is contained in those ashes. Inside or out?

There is a twist to the story. Little did Alice realise that her friend Bob was riding on the elephant's back as it plunged toward the black hole. When Bob crosses the event horizon, though, he doesn't even notice, thanks to relativity. The horizon is not a brick wall in space. It is simply the point beyond which an observer outside the black hole can't see light escaping. To Bob, who is in free fall, it looks like any other place in the universe; even the pull of gravity won't be noticeable for perhaps millions of years. Eventually as he nears the singularity, where the curvature of space-time runs amok, gravity will overpower Bob, and he and his elephant will be torn apart. Until then, he too sees information conserved.

From the perspective of an elephant, spaceship, planet, or solar system falling into a black hole, it will theoretically appear to take millions of years to actually reach the singularity at the center. During this time, could a falling civilization continue, and perhaps discover a way to escape if one exists? If faster-than-light travel is possible, one might expect that a civilization trapped in a black hole for millions of years would be highly motivated to discover it and use it to escape. We know our universe is full of black holes, and if it is also full of other intelligent lifeforms then some of them have probably fallen into a black hole and potentially discovered how to travel faster than light. If not, then either there aren't any other lifeforms, or FTL travel is impossible.

(HT: GeekPress.)

Bravo to Angelina Jolie for standing up to the corruption that runs rampant through third-world non-governmental aid organizations. As I've written in my many posts about foolish foreign aid, the vast majority of money that's given to help poor and oppressed people tends to go straight into the pockets of the tyrants oppressing them.

An associate of Angelina Jolie has said a lawsuit may be filed on behalf of the Hollywood actress against the head of a Cambodian aid group she alleges misappropriated her donations.

"We are considering filing a lawsuit to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars that is missing and which he was responsible for," Trevor Neilson, who is the philanthropic and political advisor for Jolie and partner Brad Pitt, told The Associated Press in New York Monday.

Neilson was referring to Mounh Sarath, director of Cambodian Vision in Development, to whom Jolie once gave funds for conservation and community development work in Cambodia.

"We have specific evidence (of) him having taken the money, and we are considering whether to file a lawsuit or press charges against him in Cambodia," he said.

Too bad the American government and the rest of the world's big givers aren't as diligent in administering our gifts as Jolie seems to be protecting hers.

This story about growing a liver in a lab highlights the fact that although stem cell research is incredibly useful, embryonic stem cell research specifically has never led to any significant results.

British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.

The technique that created the 'mini-liver', currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.

Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

Umbilical cord stem cells and adult stem cells are leading to all sorts of fruitful treatments that do not require the creation and destruction of human beings as does embryonic stem cell research.

Happy Halloween!

The Times from the United Kingdom has an article about the upcoming American election and labels our Senate as "more powerful" than our House.

The Democrats need 15 net gains to regain control of the 435-member House for the first time since 1994. They can count on perhaps a dozen, but others are too close to call and the residual power of incumbency may be critical. ...

Regaining control of the more powerful Senate is an even harder task for the Democrats, who must make six net gains from 33 seats being contested. Of these, only 15 are held by the Republicans, while at least one seat that the Democrats are defending — New Jersey — could yet be lost.

I think it's a mistake to characterize the Senate as being "more powerful" than the House of Representatives, although each individual Senator has more power than each individual Representative due to the greater membership of the House, if nothing else.

The United States Constitution does give different powers to each house of Congress though, so let's review them. (Please let me know if I miss anything.)

The House:

- "sole Power of Impeachment"

- "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives"

The Senate:

- "sole Power to try all Impeachments"

- Advise and concede or object to treaties and Presidential nominees for federal offices

It's not clear to me that the Senate's portfolio is really more powerful than the House's, considering that they can't propose raising money to fund anything. However, I don't know the practical effect of the House's power to raise revenue.

The video below of Lynn Cheney completely decimating Wolf Blitzer is a joy to behold.

Why can't the Republicans field people like her as candidates? Well, her husband is one, that's for sure.

I think it's pretty significant that American wants less government and yet Republicans are struggling as we approach the 2006 election. Hmmm... maybe Republicans shouldn't have forgotten the principles of Reagan and Gingrich that put them into power?

A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."

The poll released Friday also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans perceive, correctly, that the size and cost of government have gone up in the past four years, when Republicans have had a grip on the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

Discretionary spending grew from $649 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $968 billion in fiscal year 2005, an increase of $319 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Some of that increase is due to the War on Terror -- and Republicans should be saluted for ending the Clinton era of ineffectual diplomacy and cowardly appeasement -- but much of the added discretionary spending has been for big government projects like adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare... essentially attempts to buy votes from one group with money taken from another. That sort of behavior is disgraceful, and the American people know it when they see it.

Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems. ...

"I believe that as a movement, we have veered off course into the dangerous and uncharted waters of big government Republicanism," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, a 110-member caucus that supports limited government and lower taxes.

"Conservatives came to office to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private initiative," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. "But lately, we have increased government in order to stay in office."

I'm not a huge fan of John McCain, but he's right on the money here. It's easy to talk about small government when you're out of power, but once you're the government it takes a lot more moral character to restrain yourself.

There wasn't any posting over the weekend because I was too busy enjoying the gorgeous weather and relaxing! After a stormy Friday it was in the mid-seventies all weekend, with more of the same today, and perfect weather for just about anything other than blogging.

Although it's sad, it shouldn't be a surprise that St. Louis city has been ranked as America's most dangerous city. For whatever reason, islands of leftists surrounded by conservatives always seem to have problems with violence. As the article points out, St. Louis city itself is only a small part of the greater St. Louiss metro area where I live and work, and I can assure you that nowhere else in the region is anywhere near as bad as the city itself.

This Midwestern city has long been in the upper tiers of the annual ranking of the nation's safest and most dangerous cities, compiled by Morgan Quitno Press. Violent crime surged nearly 20 percent there from 2004 to last year, when the rate of such crimes rose much faster in the Midwest than in the rest of nation, according to FBI figures released in June. ...

Morgan said the study looks at crime only within St. Louis city limits, with a population of about 330,000. It doesn't take into account the suburbs in St. Louis County, which has roughly 980,000 residents.

The metro area really includes a lot more than just St. Louis city and county; there are suburbs in other nearby counties, and in Illinois. Wikipedia's list of American metro areas gives the St. Louis metro area a population of almost 2.8 million, so the city itself holds only about 12% of the population. Not to be overly cynical, but I suppose it's good that the criminals keep mostly to themselves.

I'm not very familiar with every city in America's safest and most dangerous cities, but of the ones I know I don't think it's a coincidence that the safest cities in California are also the most conservative.

Just about everyone can agree that Australia's top Muslim imam is wrong in comparing women to meat who deserve to be raped for their immodesty, but the right answer is not always so clear-cut.

A Muslim cleric's claim that women who do not wear the veil are like 'uncovered meat' who attract sexual predators sparked outrage around Australia yesterday.

Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, the nation's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats. ...

In a Ramadam sermon in a Sydney mosque, Sheik al-Hilali suggested that a group of Muslim men recently jailed for many years for gang rapes were not entirely to blame.

There were women, he said, who 'sway suggestively' and wore make-up and immodest dress "and then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years. But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he said, referring to the women victims.

Blaming rape victims who don't wear burkhas is clearly ludicrous and evil, but are all those who cry "rape" completely innocent? (The age of consent in Ohio is 16 years old.)

The week before the show, Mango's entertainment director Holly Everson began to lay the groundwork, recruiting local girls to kick-start the action. In an e-mail to the 17-year-old Falls girl, Everson wrote, ``call me if you want to be part of Girls Gone Wild on Weds. @ Mangos... Ill hook you up, all you gotta do is be there at 9 and dance on the bar all night and have fun.'' ...

The recipient of Everson's invitation doesn't talk like a typical teen. She is direct and well-spoken, and clearly intelligent.

Hard to square that kind of acumen with the girl who at 9:15 p.m. on Sept. 13 rolled into Mango's with a female friend to make $50 to dance on top of the bar and ``get things going,'' as she was instructed. They were among four young girls recruited to liven things up.

The Falls girl says it was made clear to her that she and her fellow insiders would be treated to an open bar.

And what did she drink that night? ``I think a better question would be, `What did I not drink?' '' she replies.

The drunker she got, the more she took off. By roughly 11 p.m., she was gyrating on the bar, exposing everything at one time or another, as perhaps 350 customers hooted their approval and three GGW photographers documented the action, two with video cameras and one with still. ...

As closing time neared, she says, she and several other girls were invited out to the bus. She was the first in line and, after she climbed aboard, she says, the others were barred. While she was partially passed out, the cameraman who had been watching her came up from behind and forced himself on her, she says.

There may have been a rape, but could it possibly be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt"? Is the 17-year-old here completely blameless? In my experience, the commenters who will be hardest on this girl will be other women.

I'm not a big believer in education as America's panacea, but who can argue with Sheriff Joe Arpaio's mandate that his prisoners must learn English?

Non-English-speaking inmates in Maricopa County jails began mandatory English classes on Monday.

At the end of their two-week course, inmates must take a test to see how well they learned about American government, the words to God

"These inmates happen to be incarcerated in the United States of America and in Maricopa County where I run the jails," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement. "And we speak English here, not foreign languages."

Classes will last two hours a day. The curriculum comprises the three branches of government, how a bill becomes law, state government, law enforcement and court services, and jailhouse "situational" terminology.

Sounds like a great idea. If the plan is successful maybe the Sheriff can be hired to run the Los Angeles Unified School District!

My wife tells me that convicted border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean won't get a new trial despite juror coercion.

A dozen members of the House of Representatives have written to President Bush demanding an investigation of the case against two Border Patrol agents sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison for the pursuit and shooting of a drug smuggler and calling for a presidential pardon of the pair.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years and one day despite a plea by their attorney for a new trial after three jurors said they were coerced into voting guilty in the case.

Unfortunately, either Presidential Spokesman Tony Snow isn't familiar with the case, or President Bush is a complete disgrace.

Yesterday Les Kinsolving, WND's correspondent at the White House, asked Bush spokesman Tony Snow whether Bush would use his power of pardon to free the agents.

"That's an unanswerable question, Les. The president is the person who is responsible for pardons. You can tell the network, which made you ask that question, that it is nonsensical," Snow said.

I personally doubt that this will be the last word on the matter... I still have some faith in America.

(HT: The Daily Spork.)

From what I hear, scalpers outside the new Busch Stadium are setting World Series tickets for far less than they can be found online, and often at less than twice face value. If you want to see the Cards beat the Tigers, just showing up with a little cash is probably your best option.

Brendan Miniter argues that "Voters Still Want Tax Cuts" and I think he's right, but his article listing examples of how states are scrambling to cut taxes every which way really highlights to me that if voters really want to get what they want they need to divest political power from the federal government and get more local.

In Arkansas, home to the megaretailer, one of the hottest issues in the governor's race this year is repeal of the state's hated 6% tax on groceries. Getting rid of the food tax has been on the conservative agenda for years, and four years ago repealing it even made it onto the ballot, but lost by a wide margin. Now with the state enjoying a large surplus and Gov. Mike Huckabee retiring, the stars are aligning to abolish the tax that brings in a mere $200 million a year. And it's Democrat Mike Beebe who is leading in the polls with his promise to phase it out. ...

In Colorado, the Republican foundation has crumbled in the past few years. It shouldn't be lost on anyone on the right that two years ago GOP Gov. Bill Owens led the effort to suspend the state's Taxpayers' Bill of Rights to allow for sharp increases in spending and a five-year suspension of rebates the state would otherwise have been forced to mail to taxpayers. Gov. Owens is on his way out now, and it should come as no surprise that Republicans will almost certainly see Democrats capture the governor's mansion next month. Rocky Mountain Republicans are divided and disillusioned. Democrats are not.

The unreported story this election cycle is that while scandals and the war have dominated congressional races, on the state level conservative economic ideas are still winning elections. Voters continue to support promoting economic growth by cutting taxes.

But even states who want higher taxes (*cough* California *cough*) should be able to get what they want, and they'd be better able to if the distant feds didn't have their hands in so many pies. Want public health care? Take it up with your state. Want to follow Kyoto? Do it at a state level, like California. Let's see what happens, and maybe you'll win other states to your cause. Part of the idea behind the federal system is that states should experiment and compete to create the best legislation, but when the federal government is so all-encompassing there isn't much competition to be had... with predictable results.

My brother and I I used to love The Simpsons back when it was funny, and we always told each other that despite all the merchandizing surrounding the franchise the one thing that should be avoided at all costs was turning the series into a movie. But of course, now that the show is terribly bland, they've decided to squeeze one last nickel out of it... and so, The Simpsons Movie. I will never see it. I will pretend it doesn't exist.

Here's a neat little piece that reveals some of the insanity behind pro-abortionists: people complain when aborted babies are thrown in the furnace.

One of the country's leading hospitals is throwing aborted babies into the same incinerator used for rubbish to save only £18.50 each time, it has emerged.

Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge, said it was no longer able to afford the dignified disposal at a local crematorium of foetuses from unwanted pregnancies.

Instead, they are being burnt in the hospital's main incinerator - which is normally used for rubbish and clinical waste.

Pro-life groups are objecting rather tepidly, asking that murdered children be treated with more dignity.

Dr Anthony Russell, Bishop of Ely, said: "I am sorry to know this is the practice currently being adopted by the hospital. I recognise there is a wide range of responses to this issue, but believe the disposal of foetuses should be undertaken reverently and with dignity."

The Royal College of Nursing apparently doesn't even know that being a "parent" requires having a child, not merely a fetus!

The RCN's guide, Sensitive Disposal of all Foetal Remains, says disposal alongside clinical waste is 'completely unacceptable'.

It adds: 'It is acknowledged that sometimes parents don't recognise their loss at the time, but may return months or even years later to enquire about the disposal arrangements.

'Therefore, it is important to respect the wishes of parents who may not want to be involved, but to ensure also that sensitive and dignified disposal is carried out.'

But the Irony Award goes to this unnamed woman who murdered her unborn baby but then summons up the lunacy to complain about how the corpse of her victim is treated:

One local woman, who asked not to be named, said after the heartache of deciding to have an abortion she was mortified to find the hospital had used the same furnace they burn rubbish in to incinerate her terminated baby.

She said: "I am furious and very hurt. Imagine my horror when I discovered that my baby was incinerated in the same furnace as the hospital rubbish."

As James Taranto asks, "Huh? What Baby?".

Contrary to popular opinion, belief does not determine reality.

Men who live as women can now legally use women's rest rooms in New York's transit system under an unprecedented deal revealed yesterday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to allow riders to use MTA rest rooms "consistent with their gender expression," the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced yesterday. ...

One rider feared predators might dress as women and lurk in the women's room.

But Rena Gantz, 23, a college student, shrugged off the settlement.

"It doesn't bother me because it is a reality," she said. "If they believe they are women, they should be treated as one."

I believe I'm emperor of the world... treat me like it.

Rush Limbaugh illustrates once again why, love him or hate him, he is the nation's premier political commentator. Here he breaks down the controversy over Missouri's proposed Amendment 2 and Michael J. Fox's recent ads promoting it.

Michael J. Fox is participating in this disinformation campaign. Folks, I don't care what anybody says, it is unseemly, it is exploitative, and it is downright mean to mislead people who suffer from incurable diseases at the moment or horrible diseases, that there is a cure around the corner if only, if only Republicans could be defeated. There has been a tradition in this country of bipartisan efforts to cure all of these diseases or to come up with vaccinations for them, but never mind that, we're in the process here now of damaging what has traditionally been this bipartisan effort in addressing and curing illnesses by politicizing them. We're now politicizing diseases and illnesses.

The Democrats politicized spinal paralysis and spinal injuries in the 2004 campaign, and now they are politicizing Parkinson's disease, and they've done that, and it's all about stem cell research, and of course embryonic stem cell research. Any bit of information or research that shows progress in either of these areas that does not involve stem cell, embryonic stem cell research, is rejected by the left. Now, why is this? What is so damned important about embryonic stem cell research? Why not adult stem cells? Why not research on umbilical cord blood cells that can be extracted from the blood in the umbilical cord? Because you can't take abortion out of this mix.

Just because it's not being talked about in this campaign, do not be lulled and fooled into thinking that abortion does not remain the sacrament of the Democratic Party and its religion. It is the thing that they will never once compromise on, and they think that anything that stands in the way of embryonic stem cell research is going to be an obstacle to having abortions, and the converse is true. If you can open up the field of embryonic stem cell research and just go out and get an embryo, what do you have to do to get an embryo? I've heard some Democrats say, "Well, an embryo is not fertilized, is it?" How little they know. Of course it's fertilized, and you have to kill it, and of course that advances the notion I told you long ago, folks.

Read the whole thing to be totally informed.

I hate automated phone systems. I loathe them. I never find them useful and always go straight to a real human as fast as possible, and then I tell that human how much I hate their phone system. The only thing worse than pushing the stupid buttons to navigate through an unhelpful menu is when the system requires you to speak to it.

Words cannot describe the burning hatred in my heart for systems that won't let me push buttons and instead make me speak nonsense loudly and clearly for everyone around me to hear. Is it really beyond comprehension that I don't want to yell out my personal information while I'm in public? Even aside from that, anyone talking to those stupid voice recognition systems sounds like an idiot.

After using these systems I'm always super pissed off and unreasonable when I finally do reach a human being.

My brother pointed me to this article reporting that the Navy's railgun test facility has conducted a successful initial firing.

A significant milestone in the advancement of naval gun technology happened with the successful test and standup of an electromagnetic (EM) railgun facility at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division Laboratory, Oct 2.

Working for the Office of Naval Research (ONR), engineers at the laboratory fired a low energy shot, the first in a series of tests required to bring the facility online. Using a 90 mm bore launcher with a copper rail and a power plant capable of delivering 8 mega joules (MJ) of muzzle energy, a 2.4 kg projectile was fired at 830 meters per second, yielding an energy of 0.8 MJ.

“We are one step closer to the future of naval weaponry with the standup of this, the largest operational EM [Electro-Magnetic] facility in the Navy,” said Elizabeth D’Andrea, Ph.D., program manager for the Electromagnetic Railgun at ONR. “The recent advances in science and technology are what has made this technology feasible, as well as collaboration of scientists and engineers across government agencies, industry and the branches of service.”

“With the potential to deliver lethal, hypersonic projectiles at ranges in excess of 200 nautical miles within six minutes, a naval railgun offers a transformational solution for volume fires and time-critical strike,” said NSWC Dahlgren Commander, Capt. Joseph McGettigan.

A railgun with a lateral range of 200 nautical miles might possibly be able to hit a target in low earth orbit (124 miles altitude and up).

Don't miss the latest from David Zucker: The Taxman Ad.

(HT: Pajamas Media.)

You will find the United States order of precedence to be rather useful if you're planning a dinner party.

I've written about environmentalists of the future before, but now they're at it again, advocating and praising poverty rather than science and technology.

Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday. ...

"For more than 20 years we have exceeded the earth's ability to support a consumptive lifestyle that is unsustainable and we cannot afford to continue down this path," WWF Director-General James Leape said, launching the WWF's 2006 Living Planet Report.

"If everyone around the world lived as those in America, we would need five planets to support us," Leape, an American, said in Beijing.

Of course General Leape leaves out inconvenient facts that undermine his already-dubious calculation of how many earths we need. Since I'm in a list-making mood today:

1. As societies get richer, families have fewer kids. Rural Chinese and Indians aren't going to consume as much as we do until their birthrate goes down.

2. American science and technology is the cleanest in the world. We get the most bang for our pollution buck, largely no-thanks to environmentalist organizations like the WWF. Pollution is waste, and waste costs money. Why doesn't General Leape spend a little time praising American ingenuity, the wealth it creates, and the care we can thereby aford to give our environment?

3. No one who has a choice wants to live in extreme poverty like the vast majority of the third world does. Manual labor, no recreation, no health care, chronic diseases, early death. Sounds sucky.

Instead of longing for more poverty, why doesn't the WWF advocate for greater scientific advancements and more wealth? Those would lead to fewer kids, less pollution, and more happiness for everyone. Plus, maybe we'll be able to get a few more earths at some point, and then we can go wild.

I was having a discussion with some Christians the other day that touched on belief in evolution vs. literal belief in the Creation stories in Genesis. Of course the decision is not binary, but people often treat it so. Some other possibilities:

1. We're all replicants a la Blade Runner who were created 5 seconds ago with fully formed memories.

2. As suggested in various sci-fi universes, an ancient alient precursor race seeded the galaxy with its DNA and humanity is one of the byproducts.

3. The creation story of some other religion is true.

4. You're all figments of my imagination, or we're all figments of someone else's imagination.

5. We live in a Matrix-like simulation. (Here's how to survive in a simulation, just in case.)

6. The creation stories in Genesis are figuratively true.

Ok, there's more, but the sixth one is what I want to discuss today. (Of the rest, I find number five most compelling.)

First, so I don't get burnt as a heretic, let me say that I do interpret the Bible literally... at least the portions that are intended to be taken so. It's clear to anyone familiar with the Bible that large portions are intended to be figurative, and a "literal" interpretation of those parts would be nonsense. Jesus taught almost exclusively in parables, by wrapping a spiritual message in a worldly envelope so that his students could understand. Furthermore, huge swaths of prophecy in Daniel, Revelation, the Gospels, and elsewhere use vivid imagery that is intended to convey a message to the readers but not necessarily be taken literally. Consider John's vision of Jesus Christ recorded in Revelation 1:12-16.

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

The returning Christ's hair is like wool, his feet are like bronze, and his voice is like the sound of rushing waters. Clearly the language of metaphor. However, no "like" is to be found where John tells us that "out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword"... but will that be literally true? I doubt it. It seems much more likely that the double-edged sword is an illustration of how the returning Christ's words will divide humanity and bring judgement and destruction.

The Bible contains more than prophecy -- it also contains law, history, poetry, biography, personal communications, letters of instruction, and much more. It's important to interpret the Bible as a whole, a single work with one author who wrote it using many hands. No part of the scriptures can be properly interpreted without an understanding of the whole work, and that includes the question of literal and figurative interpretation. Does this make interpretation harder and more error-prone than if one were to simply declare a literal belief in the Bible? Certainly... but who ever said that understanding God's Word would not require wisdom and discernment?

As for the creation stories, here are a few questions.

Does literal or figurative belief in the creation stories impact one's salvation? I'd say certainly not. They give insight into sin and foreshadow redemption, but those principles can be grasped by a figurative reading of the stories as well. All that is required for salvation is a personal realization of sin, confession thereof, and acceptance of Jesus Christ's death as payment.

Does a literal or figurative belief in the creation stories affect how one lives one's daily Christian life? Again, I don't think so.

And so, why the controversy? Many who are quick to denounce the mere suggestion that the creation stories could be intended to be figurative have no problem figuratively interpreting clear instructions that are explicitly literal. (The passage is long, but I have bolded the portions I wish to draw your attention to.)

1 Corinthians 11:3-16

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

I personally believe that the purpose of this passage is to instruct the church in modesty, and that if men and women dress and act modestly and with propriety suitable for their culture then they are in obedience with these instructions. However, the text itself is clearly intended to be taken literally, and the last sentence in particular rebukes any who would discount the instructions.

If clear commands such as those above can be obeyed as principles rather than exact instruction, then who has a basis for disputing the literalness of the history of the creation stories? I think the topic is fascinating to discuss (as I have just done at length), but arguments over the matter are clearly not profitable for the work of Christ.

My friend Bernardo has re-launched AirShowFan.com with a new design and more awesome pictures than ever. Go take a look!

Here's a terrorist costume courtesy of Bernardo.

Via my lovely wife of exactly one year, here's some of the worst halloween costumes of all time.

Post links to any other inappropriate halloween costumes (but please indicate if they are Not Safe For Work (NSFW) so no one gets in trouble...).

I just got an email from Tradesports saying that they may not be able to process credit card deposits anymore thanks to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act Congress passed and President Bush recently signed. The email from Tradesports says:

We would like to inform you that due to recent legislative changes in the United States, there have been policy changes on the part of several credit card issuing banks. As a consequence, you may experience difficulties in attempting to process a credit card deposit on the Exchange.

While we still process credit card deposits for members, your own credit card issuer has been highlighted to us as one through whom a deposit may possibly be rejected.

I think this is a travesty, not because I have any monetary interest but because I think the site provides an invaluable source of information for newswatchers like myself. I quite enjoy following the odds on everything from political contests to lawsuits, and I hope that the new law doesn't significantly reduce the volume (and therefore quality) of the aggregated data.

Congress needs to pass an exemption for futures markets that are really no different from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Weather Futures.


This evening I see that the Wall Street Journal has an op-ed about political futures markets as well, but it doesn't mention the connection to the internet gambling ban. I scooped them once again!

David Leonhardt has an insightful article about the implications of rising health care costs. And they're not all bad....

The average cost of a family insurance plan that Americans get through their jobs has risen another 7.7 percent this year, to $11,500, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In only seven years, the cost has doubled, while incomes and company revenue, which pay for health insurance, haven’t risen nearly as much. ...

Living in a society that spends a lot of money on medical care creates real problems, but it also has something in common with getting old. It’s better than the alternative. ...

Most families in the 1950’s paid their medical bills with ease, but they also didn’t expect much in return. After a century of basic health improvements like indoor plumbing and penicillin, many experts thought that human beings were approaching the limits of longevity. “Modern medicine has little to offer for the prevention or treatment of chronic and degenerative diseases,” the biologist René Dubos wrote in the 1960’s.

But then doctors figured out that high blood pressure and high cholesterol caused heart attacks, and they developed new treatments. Oncologists learned how to attack leukemia, enabling most children who receive a diagnosis of it today to triumph over a disease that was almost inevitably fatal a half-century ago. In the last few years, orphan drugs that combat rare diseases and medical devices like the implantable defibrillator have extended lives. Human longevity still hasn’t hit the wall that was feared 50 years ago.

Instead, a baby born in the United States this year will live to age 78 on average, a decade longer than the average baby born in 1950. People who have already made it to their 40’s can now expect to reach age 80. These gains are probably bigger than the ones the British experienced in the entire millennium leading up to 1800. If you think about this as the return on the investments in medicine, the payoff has been fabulous: Would you prefer spending an extra $5,500 on health care every year — or losing 10 years off your lifespan?

Yet we often imagine that the costs and benefits are unrelated, that we can somehow have 2006 health care at 1950 (or even 1999) prices. We think of health care as if it were gasoline, a product whose price and quality have nothing to do with each other.

We spend a lot on health care because extending one's life and health beyond the average is always going to be cutting edge and will require the use of sparse resources, be them equipment or a doctor's skill. As Mr. Leonhardt says at the end of his piece: despite the rising cost of health care, it's money well-spent.

Donald Luskin has a great article about why a record-setting Dow is irrelevant.

The Dow is really nothing more than a random collection of arbitrarily selected stocks — and just 30 of them. It hardly represents the overall equity market. The much broader S&P 500 is far more representative, and it behaves quite differently as a result. The proof? Easy: The S&P 500 is nowhere near all-time highs, while by sheer luck the Dow just happens to be.

The stocks in the Dow are all tried and true — and tired — blue chips. They don't come close to representing the real growth potential of the American economy. The Russell 2000 Index, which covers smaller companies exclusively, does a much better job of capturing the spirit of risk-taking that is the heart of investing. And it's been making all-time highs for most of the last two years. ...

And have you ever wondered how the Dow is calculated? The movements of the index each day are calculated based on the assumption that you own an equal number of shares of each of the 30 companies. Is there anyone in the world who actually invests that way? I hope not.

Equal share numbers mean you haven't thought about how many dollars you want to put at stake in each stock. A hundred shares of Microsoft (MSFT: 28.29, -0.23, -0.8%) are worth $2,740. 3M (MMM: 76.40, +0.87, +1.2%) is a higher-priced stock, so 100 shares is worth $7,460 Do you really want to own about three times as much 3M as you do Microsoft? Maybe — but if so, you should have a better reason that just because the number of shares is supposed to be the same.

Since the dollar exposure to stocks in the Dow is a function of their price, the movements in high-priced stocks like 3M influence movements in the index more than the same percentage movement in low-priced stocks like Microsoft. Is there any rational reason why 3M should move the average more than Microsoft?

And suppose that one day 3M does a big stock split, so that its stock price falls from being three times that of Microsoft to only one-third that of Microsoft. Now, for no better reason than the stock split — an economically meaningless event — suddenly Microsoft becomes the one with three times the influence on the movement of the Dow.

And so forth and so on... but he doesn't mention the psychological effect the number has on so many people, thus taking on importance through attribution. But anyway, he's right.

If you want to keep good track of how American markets are doing, get familiar with the S&P 500 and the Wilshire 5000. Watching the rest of the world can take a bit more doing.

Some people need to be hermits.

Every time her neighbors treat their lawns with standard chemical herbicides, Caryl Schonbrun fears for her life.

Ms. Schonbrun, 52, has multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, which she says leaves her vulnerable to whiffs of substances that her system can no longer tolerate. She said that she was sensitive to ingredients in herbicides as well as pesticides, and that exposure to the chemicals could put her body into anaphylactic shock.

“It’s an illness that you have to depend on the kindness of neighbors and friends and hope for the best,” she said.

Well I suppose that would be fine, except that when her neighbors eventually got fed up she tried to force them into kindness at gunpoint.

But Ms. Schonbrun said she had found that was not enough and turned to lobbying the City Council, the mayor, the neighborhood mediator and anyone else she thought might be able to help.

Her goal was to get neighbors either to refrain from using such chemicals or to notify her before applying them.

Her condition and her campaign have left local officials and neighbors grappling with just how much responsibility they all have in coping with one woman’s ailment.

“It’s a pretty complicated situation,” said Diggs Brown, a Fort Collins councilman who has met with Ms. Schonbrun. “How do you balance the rights of one neighbor who is using legal chemicals on their lawn on private property and somebody who apparently has a chemical sensitivity?”

The article goes on to explain that even the existence of such extreme chemical sensitivities is "controversial" and that many doctors and scientists think the condition is entirely psychological. Even if the condition is real, Schonbrun apparently has enough money to take care of herself but still decided to move into an expanding residential neighborhood and impose her condition on her neighbors.

After her diagnosis six years ago, Ms. Schonbrun left her job as a nurse in San Diego and moved with her husband, Bob, to Tucson, where they stayed for a year. When she became even sicker, the couple moved to Fort Collins, a college town of about 130,000 with strong agrarian roots, to build a “safe” house with features that include an elaborate venting system and a tar-free roof to allow her to live as free of offending chemicals as possible. ...

Some people question the Schonbruns’ choice to relocate to their tidy and rapidly expanding subdivision with farms and ranches close by.

“With a condition like that, they choose to move into a residential area,” said Curt Richards, who lives across the street from the Schonbruns and said that the dispute had escalated to the point that he had obtained a restraining order against Mr. Schonbrun. “The bottom line is, we’re not breaking any laws. We have modified how we take care of our property that requires more of my time and money, but that’s not good enough.” ...

“It’s been said that people with this condition are the new homeless,” Ms. Schonbrun said. “We were lucky enough to build a nontoxic home, but it’s still a never-ending struggle to live in a safe all-around environment.”

Whether or not Schonbrun is crazy, she probably needs to isolate herself from the rest of society for her own safety.

(HT: My brother.)

News of an effective anti-cancer virus developed in South Korea is extremely welcome.

When injected into cancerous tumors, the virus quickly multiplies in the cancer cells and kills them, the team said.

The new adenovirus can target only cancer cells and does not harm normal cells, the team said.

Existing viral treatments fail to kill off all the cancerous cells.

"I believe we have found a way to overcome one of the great obstacles to finding a genetically altered viral cure for cancer," Yun Chae-Ok, one of the researchers, told AFP on Thursday.

Following three rounds of injections, more than 90 percent of cancer cells in the brains, liver, lungs and womb of mice disappeared within 60 days, the team said.

Human trials are next, and then more years of development, but the research sounds very promising. Unfortunately, a cure for cancer will mostly affect those who are already beyond childbearing age, so although it would cause a percentage increase in population due to longevity, it probably wouldn't increase the birthrate in dwindling Western nations.

Apparently you can tell as much about a person from their voice as from their picture.

Studies have shown that a listener who hears the voice of someone else can infer the speaker's social class, various personality traits, emotional and mental state, and attributes related to deception.

In research with experimental subjects who listen to voice samples from speakers, subjects are then just as capable of correctly estimating the height, weight, and age of those speakers with the same degree of accuracy as that achieved by examining photographs of those speakers. They both correctly estimate the height, weight, and age of speakers 75 per cent of the time.

This was the conclusion of a study by Dr Robert Krauss and colleagues from the Department of Psychology at Columbia University and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2002.

I'm not sure if I believe that or not, but I certainly think I can picture a stranger when I hear their voice on the phone. If I then meet them in person, however, I'm often very surprised.

It's sometime surprising to consider that even in our society of extreme bounty we may still be suffering from nutritional deficiencies that contribute to our individual and cultural problems. I've written about how lead-tainted Mexican candy is linked with learning disabilities and violence, and now a new study in the UK reaffirms that nutrition is something we all need to take very seriously -- not just by counting calories and watching our weight, but also by ensuring that we get enough of the micronutrients our bodies need.

That Dwight Demar is able to sit in front of us, sober, calm, and employed, is "a miracle", he declares in the cadences of a prayer-meeting sinner. He has been rocking his 6ft 2in bulk to and fro while delivering a confessional account of his past into the middle distance. He wants us to know what has saved him after 20 years on the streets: "My dome is working. They gave me some kind of pill and I changed. Me, myself and I, I changed."

Demar has been in and out of prison so many times he has lost count of his convictions. "Being drunk, being disorderly, trespass, assault and battery; you name it, I did it. How many times I been in jail? I don't know, I was locked up so much it was my second home."

Demar has been taking part in a clinical trial at the US government's National Institutes for Health, near Washington. The study is investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on the brain, and the pills that have effected Demar's "miracle" are doses of fish oil.

It appears that omega-3 is necessary for proper brain functioning, and that without enough of it some portion of the population goes haywire. As Claytron Cramer says, these sorts of discoveries can have revolutionary effects on our civilization.

(HT: New Jersey Coalition for Self-Defense.)

You can really waste some time doing experiments at faceresearch.org.

(HT: GeekPress.)

Here's a neat online book about basic fighter maneuvers straight from a fighter pilot intended to be applied in ever-more-realistic combat flight simulators.

Mark Steyn has a way with words, and I really like his descriptions of how Democrats play at national security like a shell game.

That's always a good question to put to the left: where do you draw the line? In America, the Democrats have turned national security into a shell game: whichever war you're fighting is never the right one. Whenever they're mocked as soft on jihad, they say, oh no, that's not true, we think Iraq is a distraction from Afghanistan. They demand 200,000 troops in the Hindu Kush to go cave to cave to find Osama's remains. So they're not soft on the war. It's just that the pea isn't under the Iraq cup, it's under the Afghanistan cup. You get the distinct feeling, though, that if you took them at their word and said OK, 200,000 troops go in next Thursday, you'd suddenly discover that the pea was no longer under the Afghanistan cup but under the Sudanese one. That's certainly how it felt in the fall of 2001, when the Democrats were insisting, a week in, that it was an almighty quagmire and the Taliban could never be toppled. As a practical matter, no matter how frantically the left scramble the thimbles, whether you look under the Iraqi or Afghan or Sudanese one, you somehow never find the shrivelled pea of The Military Intervention We're Willing To Support.

Democrat and Republican politicians are all power-hungry, but at least the Republican route to power involves American victory and defeat for our enemies.

Two days ago President Bush signed a bill slowly repealing the Wright Amendment that for so long prohibited long-haul flights out of Dallas' Love Field in order to protect American Airlines and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. From its inception the law was arbitrary and anti-competitive, and it's good (especially for the people of Dallas) that it's going to disappear. Wikipedia has some background on the Wright Amendment and explains its motivation thusly:

After the deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1978, Southwest Airlines [headquartered at Love Field] entered the larger passenger market with plans to start providing interstate service in 1979. This angered the City of Fort Worth, DFW International Airport, and Braniff International Airways which resented expanded air service at the airport within Dallas. To help protect DFW International Airport, Jim Wright, a Fort Worth congressman, sponsored and helped pass an amendment to the International Air Transportation Act of 1979 in Congress which restricted passenger air traffic out of Love Field in the following ways:

* Passenger service on regular mid-sized and large aircraft could only be provided from Love Field to locations within Texas and the four neighboring states, (Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico). At the time, all of Southwest's destinations were included within this zone, hence the law had no immediate effect on Southwest's operations.
* Long-haul service to other states was possible, but only on commuter aircraft with no more capacity than 56 passengers.

While the law deterred other major airlines from starting service out of Love Field, Southwest continued to expand as it used multiple short-haul flights to build its Love Field operation. This had the effect of increasing local traffic to non-Wright-Amendment-impacted airports such as Houston/Hobby Airport, the New Orleans Airport, and the El Paso and Albuquerque Airports.

Some people have managed to "work the system" and get around the Wright Amendment's restrictions. For example, a person could fly from Dallas to Houston or New Orleans, change planes, and then fly to any city Southwest served — although he or she had to do so on two tickets in each direction, as the Wright Amendment specifically bars airlines from issuing tickets that violate the law's provisions, or from informing customers that they can purchase multiple tickets that would allow this.

Until recently I didn't even know about this stupid law, and I can't even imagine how many other ridiculous laws we're stuck with that no one affected even knows about.

I certainly don't blame Bono and U2 for moving their operations to the Netherlands to avoid taxes. Everyone hates paying taxes, and we all do whatever we can legally to minimize our payments. Duh. What I do resent is when leftists devise all sorts of ways to spend "public" money but then aren't willing to put up their own cash for the effort.

After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his U2 bandmates earlier this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands. The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5 percent tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate.

So Bono and the rest were already paying far less than the Irish plebes, and now that their special rate is going to be eliminated they jump ship.

For years, Bono and U2 got a better deal than most Irish taxpayers because songwriters paid no tax on earnings from music publishing. That will change next year, when Ireland limits the tax exemption, which also applies to writers and artists. From Jan. 1, artists that make more than 500,000 euros ($625,450) will pay tax on half their ``creative'' income, according to Ireland's Revenue Authority.

Remaining in Ireland would have forced Bono to pay a 42 percent tax on such earnings. Alternatively, the band could have channeled profits through a company to pay the 12.5 percent corporation tax.

Who wants to pay 42% of their income to the government? No one! But some rich leftists are quick to pull their money out of the pot while at the same time haranguing the rest of us for wanting to keep what we earn! Reminds me of environmentalist Barbara Streisand's $22,000 water bill and the like.

All this is aside from the fact that most of the foreign aid Bono advocates is foolish, misguided, and actually serves to strengthen the tyrannical powers that cause third-world poverty in the first place.

Here's a humorously titled article about the proliferation of Congressional staff that make most of the decisions Washington instead of our duly elected leaders. A different way to look at "big" government... not just spending too much money to do too much, badly, but also simply bloated with bureaucrats.

There are now more than 17,000 staffers on personal or committee staffs, a work force bigger than an Army division. Political scholars James Bennett and Thomas DiLorenzo believe that in reality many of them make up a "network of tax-funded 'constituent service' aides whose actual job is to subvert the electoral process--that is, to give incumbents unfair advantages over their already underfinanced challengers."

As long ago as 20 years ago, the growing power of staff attracted the attention of Sen. Barry Goldwater. He took the opportunity to single staffers out for attention in his 1986 "farewell address": "Today's Hill staffers write most of the legislation and speeches, they do all kinds of work that the members of Congress should be doing," Goldwater warned. "It is safe to say that the U.S. Congress is now run by paid staffers, not by people elected to do the job."

The growing power of the staff has in turn fueled the dramatic increase in the number of Washington lobbyists, who perhaps not without coincidence also number about 30,000, twice as many as six years ago. Staffers who leave Capitol Hill often hit the jackpot as high-priced lobbyists or consultants. The sheer complexity and size of government now mean it's often impossible for members to know how to understand and navigate it, so they often turn over that job to their staff or former staffers turned lobbyists.

Anyone who doesn't believe staffers exercise that kind of power on a day-to-day basis should talk to Mark Bisnow, a former aide to such senators as Hubert Humphrey and Bob Dole. "Just watch senators on their way into the chamber for a vote," he told me several years ago. "Many will quickly glance to the side where aides stand compressing into a single gesture the sum of information their bosses need: thumbs up or thumbs down."

Maybe our Congressmen wouldn't have so much free time for instant messaging their pages if they actually had to do real work.

My wife pointed me to an upcoming set of articles by Laura T. Coffey that promises to offer tips on avoiding scams. I'm going to be keeping an eye on the column to see how it develops.

I'm not sure why opponents to Missouri Amendment 2 are framing the debate as a matter of "cloning". The very first provision of the proposed amendment is "(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being." The amendment isn't about cloning, and even if it was, is that really an enormous moral dilemma?

The real problem with the "Stem Cell Initiative" is that it is focused on embryonic stem cell research in which a human being is killed so their cells can be harvested. Isn't there a strong enough pro-life constituancy in Missouri that the issue could be contested based on its similarity to abortion? All the "No Cloning" signs make the opponents of Amendment 2 look like idiots.

Furthermore, there needs to be a serious effort to educate the public about the different types of stem cell research. This essay on "The Case for Adult Stem Cell Research" is a good place to start.

The question of stem cells is currently the dominant subject in the debate over biotechnology and human genetics: Should we use embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells for future medical therapies? Embryonic stem cells are taken from a developing embryo at the blastocyst stage, destroying the embryo, a developing human life. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are found in all tissues of the growing human being and, according to latest reports, also have the potential to transform themselves into practically all other cell types, or revert to being stem cells with greater reproductive capacity. Embryonic stem cells have not yet been used for even one therapy, while adult stem cells have already been successfully used in numerous patients, including for cardiac infarction (death of some of the heart tissue).

Read the rest to educate yourself, and vote no on Missouri Amendment 2 despite the foolishness surrounding the debate.

I'm slowly acquiring tools for working around my new home and I'm looking for recommendations for tools (power or otherwise) that I simply must have for indoor or outdoor maintenance. So far I have all the hammers, screwdrivers, levels, measuring tapes, and other small tools that I think I'll need, but I don't have many power tools. I have a power drill, a chainsaw, and hedge trimmers, but that's about it. What do I need next? A circular saw?

The NYT has an article about marriage falling out of the majority but they don't mention that even though less than half of households include a married couple, the majority of people still live in such households.

The numbers by no means suggests marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry. But marriage has been facing more competition. A growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners, and the potential social and economic implications are profound.

“It just changes the social weight of marriage in the economy, in the work force, in sales of homes and rentals, and who manufacturers advertise to,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “It certainly challenges the way we set up our work policies.”

While the number of single young adults and elderly widows are both growing, Professor Coontz said, “we have an anachronistic view as to what extent you can use marriage to organize the distribution and redistribution of benefits.”

A household with a married couple obviously includes at least twice as many people as a household consisting of a single adult. Although the exact percentage of single member households isn't given, we can determine it from the article.

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier. ...

The census survey estimated that 5.2 million couples, a little more than 5 percent of households, were unmarried opposite-sex partners. An additional 413,000 households were male couples, and 363,000 were female couples. In all, nearly one in 10 couples were unmarried. (One in 20 households consisted of people living alone).

No other percentages are included, but by those numbers it appears that about 45% of households consist of single adults (with or without children), meaning that it's likely that those in the married households still greatly outnumber everyone else.

In all though, I think the evidence in the article demonstrates that marriage is not as important an institution for survival as it once was. Our country has become so prosperous that many people don't find it necessary to have a family to succeed and discover that they can do just fine on their own. That speaks well of our economy, but I hope that such easy survival doesn't lead to decadence and the breakdown of the culture that made our prosperity possible.

I was pleased to read the headline "Woman Sentenced for Lying About Rape" but unfortunately it's wrong, because the woman was actually sentenced for rape herself, not merely a false accusation.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A woman who gained national notoriety for writing a book about being raped, then abandoning her newborn in a college trash been has been sentenced to prison for being the rapist in the case.

Twyana Davis, 30, claimed in 1995 that she had been raped, appeared on television shows to tell her story.

She also formed a nonprofit group aimed to prevent teen pregnancies and provide alternatives for young mothers who didn't want to keep their babies.

But she also was harboring a secret: She wasn't raped. She was the rapist, Franklin County prosecutors said.

As I've written in the past about rape accusations, women who lie about being raped should face the same punishment they hoped to visit upon their victim. More generally, I think anyone who knowingly falsely accuses someone of a crime should be punished similarly.

So Senator Reid made some money off a fast and loose land deal in Las Vegas. I think his behavior was stupid and gives the appearance of unethicality (heh), but it's probably not that big of a deal.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show.

In the process, Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews. ...

The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to Brown's company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later. ...

The senator's aides said no money changed hands in 2001 and that Reid instead got an ownership stake in Brown's company equal to the value of his land. Reid continued to pay taxes on the land and didn't disclose the deal because he considered it a "technical transfer," they said.

Exactly like the "technical transfer" earlier this week when Google bought YouTube with stock. Ownership interest in one company was traded for assets held by another.

It seems clear that Senator Reid violated the Senate's ethics rules, but it doesn't seem that he did so with malicious intent. I think the Senate should censure him and that he should demonstrate his acceptance of responsibility by donating some of his profits to charity.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that the Republicans have no reason to be magnanimous. Democrats blow every Republican molehill up into a mountain no matter how much leeway Republicans give their indiscretions, so why shouldn't the right play by the same rules? Still, Republicans will get themselves in hot water if they try to draw parallels between this land deal and Mark Foley's perversion.

The fishiest part of the whole transaction is also probably the commonest and least likely to draw curiousity from Reid's fellow lawmakers: how did he make $1.1 million profit off a $400,000 property?

Clark County intended for the property Reid owned to be used solely for new housing, records show. Just days before Reid sold the parcels to Brown's company, Brown sought permission in May 2001 to rezone the properties so a shopping center could be built.

Career zoning officials objected, saying the request was "inconsistent" with Clark County's master development plan. The town board in Spring Valley, where Reid's property was located, also voted 4-1 to reject the rezoning.

Brown persisted. The Clark County zoning board followed by the Clark County Commission voted to overrule the recommendation and approve commercial zoning. Such votes were common at the time.

Before the approval in September 2001, Brown's consultant told commissioners that Reid was involved. "Mr. Brown's partner is Harry Reid, so I think we have people in this community who you can trust to go forward and put a quality project before you," the consultant testified.

With the rezoning granted, Patrick Lane pursued the shopping center deal. On Jan. 20, 2004, the company sold the property to developers for $1.6 million. Today, a multimillion dollar retail complex sits on the land.

I expect it's incredibly common for politicians to use their name and position to get a business advantage. I'm not sure how to stop it, and I doubt the Senate will address this issue at all. After all, they're the ones with the investments that consistently beat the market by 12%.

It's always distressing to me to see societies grappling with difficult problems and attempting to find a solution, any solution, other than simple morality.

Britain is one of the most promiscuous nations in Europe, and one of the least aware of Aids, a survey suggests today.

More than half of Britons polled did not use extra protection against HIV, and 22 per cent thought Aids could be caught by kissing.

Health campaigners said the growing ignorance was a result of government failure to promote awareness and poor sex education.

The ignorance is pretty surprising, but the only reliable way of preventing the spread of HIV isn't even mentioned in the article.

The Family Planning Association said: "We do not have mandatory sex and relationship education in schools and what does get taught is part of science. But it is not good enough just to talk about biology. Young people need to be taught how to negotiate using a condom."

Is it also possible that they need to be taught not to be promiscuous? It's as if yes, AIDS is bad, but not as bad as advocating monogamy!

Here's a story from earlier this week that I didn't have time to comment on but that I think says a lot about our changing culture: working women derail their careers in favor of family life.

The exodus of working women is now occurring in numbers too large for employers to ignore. According to the Harvard Business Review, 43 percent of professional women with children step off the fast track at some point. On average, they stay off for 2.2 years.

Perhaps the best part of the story is the bit about how companies are willing to change their whole employment paradigm to keep good employees around in some capacity.

Faced with this giant leak in the talent pipeline, more employers have begun actively recruiting off-rampers, or trying to ensure they never leave.

After Deepa Varadarajan gave birth to premature twins, she reluctantly told her supervisor at Deloitte & Touche she would have to stop working in the first place.

"I told him, 'I guess I'm just going to have to leave. I cannot pursue my career at Deloitte," she said.

But through a pioneering program the company calls Personal Pursuits, Varadarajan can now take an extended leave without derailing her career. Deloitte helps her stay connected to the company, hoping she'll eventually return. ...

And her employer is just as happy with the arrangement.

"How often can you get someone with great maturity and judgment to step into a more junior role and be really happy with it?" said Anne Erni, chief diversity officer at Lehman Brothers.

A fellow at my company recently had to move to Chicago because his wife was accepted to medical school. The company didn't have any jobs in Chicago, so he was going to quit. We didn't want to lose him though, so he became a "virtual" employee, kept his same job, and is allowed to work from his new home and travel when necessary. What a sweet deal, largely enabled by the internet!

These changes will end up affecting everyone, not just career women. Imagine millions of retirees with invaluable knowledge lured into part-time virtual employment. The potential gains for workers and employers are enormous; the effects on social phenomena like social security and retirement are unimaginable.

I'm back from a two-day offsite meeting, so expect things around here to climb back up to their typical level of mediocrity.

Exciting news: we've accepted an offer on our California house and hope to close escrow within a few weeks. Athough I've bought multiple houses, this is the first I've sold, and it's quite a frustrating experience. Most of the problem is probably due to unrealistic price expectations on my part, reinforced by our agent. But hey, it's ridiculous to be ungrateful for gain we will realize when the sale goes through, even at a price that's less than I'd hoped for.

The experience has given me an appreciation for how leftists seem to always feel. I deserved to sell the house for my asking price, and when the buyers offered less they were cheating me out of my rightful due!

Is it just me, or can Communists barely speak English? Says the "Democratic" "People's" "Republic" of Korea (i.e., North Korea):

The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.

It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under scientific consideration and careful calculation.

The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability.

It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.

What the heck? If they can build a bomb, can't they teach at least one commie to speak English?

Via my brother, here's a Slate piece about how North Koreans learn English.

Dogbert: "There's really no point in listening to other people. They're either going to be agreeing with you or saying stupid stuff."

(Soon-to-be-invalid link to 9/20/06 Dilbert.)

Here's a sweet knife my brother pointed me to, the Gerber Military Tactical LMF II - A.S.E.K. Knife. I love knives, but before buying this one I'd better read up on Missouri's knife laws.

Hm, the statutes seem to indicate that knives more than four inches in length are treated as "weapons", whereas there are no prohibitions on shorter blades. However, the page also indicates that courts have enforced weapon rules on shorter blades and even butter knives. The LMF II has a blade that's almost five inches long, so it may not be the right thing for me to get unless I just want to look at it.

It's inexcusable for law enforcement to make mistakes like this one in Washington where sheriffs raided the wrong house looking for porn.

The irate homeowner told by The Spokesman-Review, which did not identify him at his request, that deputies dumped out drawers, went through his wallet and checkbook, seized computers, CDs, floppy disks, VHS tapes and other material and refused to clean up the mess in the raid Sept. 27.

Half a dozen sheriff's vehicles converged on the house, and after taking photographs outside Hines told officers within hearing of the neighbors, "Now let's go inside and get some porn," the owner said. ...

[Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie D.] Knezovich said he plans to adopted a more structured system for checking facts in search warrants, adding that [Detective Timothy D.] Hines probably would not be disciplined.

"I could see it if it was a blatant lack of diligence," the sheriff said, "but sometimes things like that happen. A number can get transposed."

Ridiculous. As atrocious as the incident is, the unnamed victim is far better off than Cory Maye, who is awaiting execution for killing a cop because the police raided the wrong house. Writes Orin Kerr:

The remarkable part of the case is that it seems pretty likely that Maye was acting in self-defense. The police broke into Maye's apartment at night while executing a warrant for drugs, but apparently they had the wrong apartment. Specifically, the police didn't realize that the apartment had been divided into two units, and — at least according to blog reports — Maye was in one and the drugs were in the other.

According to Maye's testimony at trial, as reported in the Hattiesburg American on Jaunary 23, 2004, Maye had no idea that the people breaking in to his apartment were cops, and shot the intruder to protect his young daughter:

Cory Maye, 23, said he was asleep on a chair in the living room of his Prentiss apartment as his 14-month-old daughter slept in the bedroom when he heard a loud crash at his front door.

"I immediately ran to my daughter's room, got a pistol, put in a magazine and chambered a round," said Maye, who is on trial for capital murder in Marion County. "As I laid on the floor by the bed, I heard kicks at the back door. I was frightened, I thought someone was trying to break in on me and my daughter."

Maye testified that it was dark in his apartment when he heard someone breaking into the back door, which was located in the bedroom.

"That's when I fired the shots," Maye said. "After I fired the shots, I heard them yell 'police! police!' Once I heard them, I put the weapon down and slid it away. I did not know they were police officers."

Far worse than irritated neighbors and a disheveled home.

It's depressing to read about FEMA wasting over $100 million on puppet shows to help hurricane victims recover from "mental trauma". Read the whole article, it'll piss you off.

At the Pinitos Learning Center in Boca Raton, disaster workers dressed as "Windy Biggie" and "Sunny" teach 30 preschoolers a song about how the wind is good, even during a hurricane.

"Windy Biggie is our friend.

"Windy Biggie is strong wind.

"She turns, turns, turns, turns around.

"She's knocking things to the ground."

This is FEMA tax money at work. It's also paying for Hurricane Bingo, puppet shows, "salsa for seniors," and yoga on the beach. ...

Doris O'Neal was a Project H.O.P.E. Wilma counselor in Palm Beach County from December through July, when she left because of illness.

"I think it's a waste of taxpayers' money," she told the Sun-Sentinel. "I mean, puppet shows? What is that doing? I felt guilty a lot of days going to work and earning a paycheck." ...

After last year's hurricanes, FEMA approved applications from 28 states and the District of Columbia for crisis counseling grants totaling $109 million. ...

SAMHSA and DCF officials acknowledged that they do not know whether anyone who attends the shows and presentations is actually suffering any trauma from the storms. Many people receiving Project H.O.P.E. services told the newspaper that they have no hurricane-related distress. ...

The preschoolers at Pinitos Learning Center could not even name the hurricane that the Wilma Project H.O.P.E. team came to discuss.

"Tornado!" shouted one boy.

"Windy Biggie" and "Sunny" told the toddlers a story about two children in a hurricane -- shopping for supplies with their parents and riding out the storm in a safe room. They sang the "Windy Biggie Song" nine times.

Joel Kimmel, a Coral Springs psychologist who does crisis counseling, viewed tapes of Project H.O.P.E. presentations provided by the Sun-Sentinel.

"I'm lost as to what these people are trying to accomplish," he said. "I don't see how teaching these kids this song is helping them in any way. It's very confusing and may even be damaging."

What a disgraceful scam and a waste of America's sympathy and resources.

The South Florida Katrina team organized a picnic in April at Snyder Park in Fort Lauderdale that "was fun when staff and survivors were able to interact, play games and enjoy activities," says one report. Three days later, Project H.O.P.E. managers treated 29 team members to lunch at Benihana "to alleviate stress after the team had worked so diligently on the Katrina Picnic."

Help, I'm stressed! I've been working really hard pointing out tragic government waste! Someone take me to Benihana.

Here's a question I've been pondering for a while. Would it be possible to create an image that, when far away, is clear to a nearsighted person but blurry to a person with good vision?

John F. Harris has written a good article about how new media is a powerful political weapon, and although he focuses a lot on the negatives he also points out that Republicans at least see a lot of positives in the new landscape.

Former congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) ended his political career over sexually charged e-mails to former House pages. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) stumbled over his puzzling use of the word "macaca" and his clumsy response to revelations about his Jewish ancestry. Former president Bill Clinton had a televised temper fit when an interviewer challenged his terrorism record.

All three episodes, however, were in their own ways signs of the unruly new age in American politics. Each featured an arresting personal angle. Each originally percolated in the world of new media -- Web sites and news outlets that did not exist a generation ago -- before charging into the traditional world of newspapers and television networks. In each case, the accusations quickly pivoted into a debate about the motivations and alleged biases of the accusers.

Cumulatively, the stories highlight a new brand of politics in which nearly any revelation in the news becomes a weapon or shield in the daily partisan wars, and the aim of candidates and their operatives is not so much to win an argument as to brand opponents as fundamentally unfit.

New media is really fulfilling the promise of the "global village", gossip and all. Just like these sorts of personal attacks factor heavily in small-group dynamics, new media is allowing people to network more extensively and thereby redefining "small". No village chief would be selected without public knowledge of his dirty laundry, and now national politicians face the same scrutiny on a much larger scale. For people who complain about past generations of corruption and cronyism in government -- me included -- new media may lead to vast future improvements as the old dogs retire.

The article also has an astounding quote by former president Clinton ackowledging that the old media has long been an ally of the left.

But he [Clinton] said Democrats of his generation tend to be naive about new media realities. There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies -- and will rebut political accusations and serve as referees on new-media excesses.

"We're all that way, and I think a part of it is we grew up in the '60s and the press led us against the war and the press led us on civil rights and the press led us on Watergate," Clinton said. "Those of us of a certain age grew up with this almost unrealistic set of expectations."

Only unrealistic when it comes to the new media, who don't tend to be leftist lapdogs. The older generation of rightwingers seems to have a better grasp on reality.

One of those who salutes the changing landscape -- with as much passion as Clinton deplores it -- is Cheney, who said he considers the breakdown of what he called an old media "monopoly" as among the most favorable trends of his years in politics. He said the change requires politicians to grow a thicker skin. Once while shaving, he heard Imus referring to someone as "Pork Chop." Only after a few minutes did he realize the host "was talking about me. I'm Pork Chop. And I laughed like hell."

"Sometimes it's pretty trashy," he said of new media's rise. "But I guess I'd put the proposition that there's more time and opportunity for policy discussions and debate than there used to be."

And that's exactly the point. No censorship in the global village -- everyone gets to know everything, and everyone gets to have their say.

Former House majority leader Dick Armey has a great op-ed about the European perspective on competition that explains a great deal about why so little technological innovation is born in this once-great continent.

In the United States, the antitrust laws are premised on consumer harm. No consumer harm, no antitrust violation. Vibrant competition is the gold standard for U.S. authorities. Europe has a completely different take, as suggested by the fact that they require a "Commissioner of Competition." For Europe, managed competition is the ideal, with regulators taking an active role in designing the market and products that consumers ultimately can purchase. Dominant firms can compete, but not too hard. This world diminishes innovation for the sake of protecting big business, leaving consumers to bear the cost.

This distinction between Europe and the United States is more than a cultural quirk. It has substantial implications for American companies trying to survive in a global economy and a significant impact on consumers. Rather than consumer sovereignty, the European market is ruled by a web of regulations that undermines the efforts of American firms trying to design better products that attract customers. ...

Rather than listening quietly to European pleas for economic cooperation, U.S. officials should take the opportunity to expound on our own version of competition, which is a world dominated by consumers, not big business operating hand in glove with regulators. In an increasingly global marketplace, the United States cannot afford to capitulate to cooperate.

I completely agree with Armey's proposed solution. Just as our government needs to do more to promote other American values abroad, our country needs to fight for economic freedom and the free-market system.

(HT: Real Clear Politics.)

Good grief, Gateway Pundit is all over the Mark Foley scandal and it looks like Democrats may have known a lot more than they've admitted... and kept it secret so they could whip it out before the election!

What we know now...

Radical Gay Rights Activists held on to information about Representative Foley for months and years. These "Rights Activists" knew that representative Foley had relationships with "young men less than half his age." They did their own investigation on Foley. They even flew in their sources in to be interviewed about the Representative. They shared this information with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They held on to the information for over a year. They wrote about how they would break the story at midterm elections.

So... despicable as Mark Foley appears to be, Democrats knew about it and let it go until the opportune moment. Maybe they aren't too concerned about Foley's actual perversions after all.

Drudge is now linking to a post on Radar Online about the "bogus" blog that started it all. Christopher Tennant details how the blog appears to have been set up a couple of months ago specifically to break the news about Foley, and how it has since been abandoned. Plus, a connection to DailyKos.

I want a Constitutional Amendment that throws out every elected office holder and prohibits them from ever again setting foot into the capital.

But now Drudge reports claims that it's all a prank.


**World Exclusive**
**Must Credit the DRUDGE REPORT**

According to two people close to former congressional page Jordan Edmund, the now famous lurid AOL Instant Message exchanges that led to the resignation of Mark Foley were part of an online prank that by mistake got into the hands of enemy political operatives, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

According to one Oklahoma source who knows the former page very well, Edmund, a conservative Republican, goaded an unwitting Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos. The prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats.

Having just moved to the St. Louis area from Los Angeles I'm still trying to get up to speed with local politics... but it's no surprise to discover that Democrats play dirty everywhere. Republican Senator Jim Talent has had numberous campaign signs torn down, and now the vandals are caught on tape. Guess who?

Signs in a Springfield, Missouri were consistently vandalized recently even generating coverage on Missouri news outlets. Talent supporters kept replacing the signs, they kept getting vandalized, etc.

So, they captured the crime on film and realized it was McCaskill volunteers ripping the signs down!... Nice!

Gateway Pundit even has mugshots and names to go along with the video. The girl, Christin Green, values her vagina so much that she proclaims it tastefully on her shirt. Unfortunately Chris Worth leaves us in the dark as to his level of genital-esteem, assuming he has any. Not at all tacky!

This travesty joins that of the high-ranking Democrats in Milwaukee who slashed some van tires so old people couldn't go vote for Republicans. In that case though the perps weren't mere campaign workers, they included the son of Democrat Representative Gwen Moore and a former acting mayor of the city. Disgraceful.

In the comments please post links to other instances of election interference or voter fraud... let's see if we can find more Democrat or Republican thugs.

Aside from the what-did-he-know-and-when-did-he-know-it questions surrounding Mark Foley's resignation, Larry Kudlow identifies lots more reasons why Dennis Hastert should resign as Speaker of the House.

Rather than a winning message of economic growth, a strong defense, and optimism for the future, Hastert has given us silence. And where’s his response to the House Democrats, who take every opportunity to speak up? ...

Seldom does he make himself available to the press, including various cable and broadcast talk shows. He has operated as a behind-the-scenes player, someone who is worried more about process and compromise than advancing Republican philosophy.

And there are consequences to such reticence. Tax reform has gone by the wayside. So has spending reform. So has free trade. So has true immigration reform. ...

Hastert doesn’t lead; he drops the ball.

He never discusses key election issues, particularly economic issues. Where is he on the Bush bull market for stocks; or the not-too-hot, not-too-cold, but steadily expanding Goldilocks economy; or the resiliency of the American consumer; or plunging gasoline prices; or the remarkable profit-making health of U.S. businesses in the aftermath of President Bush’s supply-side tax cuts?

I've never been a fan of Hastert, and I think it's past time for him to go.

Here's an amazing development I'd take advantage of if I were an undergrad: Indian tutors who work over the internet and charge as little as $2.50 an hour.

Private tutors are a luxury many American families cannot afford, costing anywhere between $25 to $100 an hour. But California mother Denise Robison found one online for $2.50 an hour -- in India.

"It's made the biggest difference. My daughter is literally at the top of every single one of her classes and she has never done that before," said Robison, a single mother from Modesto.

Her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, is one of 1,100 Americans enrolled in Bangalore-based TutorVista, which launched U.S. services last November with a staff of 150 "e-tutors" mostly in India with a fee of $100 a month for unlimited hours.

Considering that $100 will buy you an hour of high-end face-to-face tutoring by an American, this is an amazing value. It sounds like TutorVista has built a great business model:

"We've changed the paradigm of tutoring," said Krishnan Ganesh, founder and chairman of TutorVista, which offers subjects ranging from grammar to geometry for children as young as 6 years old to adults in college.

"It's not that the U.S. education system is not good. It's just that it's impossible to give personalized education at an affordable cost unless you use technology, unless you use the Internet and unless you can use lower-cost job centers like India," he said over a crackly Internet-phone line from Bangalore. "We can deliver that."

Many of the tutors have masters degrees in their subjects, said Ganesh. On average, they have taught for 10 years. Each undergoes 60 hours of training, including lessons on how to speak in a U.S. accent and how to decipher American slang.

They are schooled on U.S. history and state curricula, and work in mini-call centers or from their homes across India. One operates out of Hong Kong, teaching the Chinese language.

This is very exciting to me... maybe I'll re-take some of the calculus lessons I can barely remember from my freshman year.

Husbands and wives can own property jointly and transfer it between themselves in all sorts of tax-exempt ways, and it strikes me that these advantages could be exploited by what I'd call a "chain marriage". In a chain marriage, the spouses are of widely differing ages and the marriage exists purely for the preservation of wealth.

Example: A 60-year-old man marries a 30-year-old woman. When the man dies at age (say) 90, the now-60-year-old woman marries a 30-year-old man. No children (if any) ever inherit anything; instead, wealth is simply passed from husband to wife in perpetuity. Contractual arrangements could be made to prevent the younger spouse from leaving the marriage and taking half the money.

Has anyone ever done anything like this? Is this sort of exploitation simply too difficult to maintain for many iterations?

As cellphones spread like wildfire over the African continent it should be humbling to leftists that big corporations are helping poor Africans in more practical ways than tree-huggers and socialist NGOs could ever imagine.

Huddled under a spiky tree next to the new cellular mast, Mhlapo interrupts a family meeting to check an SMS and deftly fires off a reply.

"Now I can contact my children. Before we had to wait months for them to come," she said in a mix of Sotho and Afrikaans, tucking her prized phone away inside a striped dress.

Mhlapo says she spends as much as 200 rand on airtime some months. Margaret Chinhete, a Zimbabwean woman who lives down the gravel road says she spends about 100 rand a month on her new phone, but easily covers that with the extra cash she makes from selling crafts now she can contact customers by phone.

"When I bought this I had never made a phone call. Now I use it to call business contacts. It saves me from walking kilometers every day and I have doubled my monthly earnings," Chinhete told Reuters, as she hauled home her wares.

Rural areas of the third-world are skipping over telephone lines completely and going straight to cell service, which requires less infrastructure per service area and per person. The testimony above shows that the technology immediately enhances quality of life, and as more people get connected the network effect will keep the benefits growing. Combined with ultra-low-cost computing, rural Africa may be able to leapfrog decades of development and have internet connectivity before electricity grids.

As events unfolds it appears that House leaders knew about Mark Foley's perversion for several years without removing him.

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., denounced sexually explicit instant messages Foley sent in 2003 to pages as"vile and repulsive"and denied that House leaders had access to them.

However, Hastert and others, including Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., the chairman of the House campaign effort, for months had been aware of a questionable 2005 e-mail exchange between Foley and a Louisiana teen.

GOP leaders are facing questions of a cover-up while Democrats across the country seize on the scandal, demanding an independent investigation and calling for some Republicans to resign their leadership posts.

Republican candidates, meanwhile, are distancing themselves from Foley and seeking inquiries. Some Republicans also are calling for accountability from GOP leaders who knew about some of Foley's behavior and failed to take action.

"If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership,"said Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican in a competitive re-election fight in Connecticut.

I'm glad some Republicans are standing up to the complicity of the party leadership with Foley's immorality, but I'd go farther than Representative Shays and say that no Congressman who knew of Foley's actions deserves to remain in office. Even if Foley committed no crimes, his actions were reprehensible and he should have been thrown out of the House; Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution gives the House the power to expel a member for any reason with a two-thirds majority. Any Congressman could have entered such a motion or even held a press conference, but none had the courage to do so.

That the Democrats have done worse is irrelevant. Frankly, no one expects the Democrats to take the moral high road -- and they don't claim it. The Republican party is supposed to stand for family values, for personal accountability, and for a definite boundary between right and wrong. When we condemn Democrat politicians for their plentiful despicable acts but then do the same ourselves we undermine not only our moral authority, but also every other cause we advocate. How will the War on Terror fare if Democrats take control of Congress because Foley wasn't cast out from among us earlier? How many babies will be aborted because Roe v. Wade continues to stand as law? How many innocents will be victimized by thugs because their own right to carry weapons continues to be infringed? How many will continue in poverty because of misguided wealth redistribution schemes?

Thanks a bunch, Republican "leaders". With your pathetic play-along attitude you've severely threatened everything our party claims to stand for. America will suffer for it.

Readers of this site probably won't be surprised to learn that I'm generally in favor of Larry Shirley's suggestion that parents of criminal children should be sterilized.

Charleston City Councilman Larry Shirley says the robbery of a downtown video store - allegedly by a band of kids, including one too young to be charged - is a sure sign society has gone awry, and it's time to start a "dialogue."

And one of the things he says needs to be talked about is whether bad parents should be sterilized.

"What we've got is a failure in society, whether it's in Mount Pleasant with yuppie parents or whether it's on the East Side with poor crackhead parents," Shirley said Friday. "We pick up stray animals and spay them. These mothers need to be spayed if they can't take care of theirs. ... Once they have a child and it's running the streets, to let them continue to have children is totally unacceptable." Deadbeat dads might ought to be sterilized as well, he said. ...

If a child is too young to do time for a crime, his folks ought to do it, Shirley said.

I think that last sentence serves as a fine justification for forced sterilization. Children aren't uncontrollable forces of nature -- and when they're too young to be responsible for their own actions their parents should be held accountable unless there's compelling reason why not. In addition to potentially throwing the parents in jail, sterilization seems like a great preventative measure since bad parents now aren't likely to be any better after serving their sentences.

I don't see any reason why imprisonment would be acceptable but sterilization wouldn't be. Some states allow/require chemical castration of sex offenders, and sterilization isn't much different. Leftists will argue that sterilization is a unique infringement on a person's possession of their own body, which is true, but it's disingenuous for them to promote the liberal welfare state that enables these bad parents without also giving the expansive government the ability to mitigate the negative effects of that liberalism.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2006 is the previous archive.

November 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Email blogmasterofnoneATgmailDOTcom for text link and key word rates.

Site Info