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Mike Discovers Something
Saturday, March 27, 2003

Amazon rocks. In-Store Pickup rocks hard.

They got this new deal now - you find the book you want, put your zip code into the In-Store Pickup box, and if you're lucky it tells you that your book is available at your local bookstore - at the Amazon price.

No shipping costs. No waiting for the UPS truck. You just click, and go pick it up.

So I click, and I go, and I get my book. Fifteen bucks. Ordinary people in that same store are paying twenty-five bucks for the same frigging book.

Cheaper. Faster. Better for me.

How is this possible? It's possible, because the folks at Borders aren't stupid. Sure, they'd rather sell it to me for $25, but they figure that once I'm already at the Amazon web page they are pretty much going to lose this sale anyway. Why not make me a last-minute offer? After all, even small profit is a hell of a lot better than nothing.

The folks at Amazon aren't stupid, either. They probably get a buck right off the top, with no need for inventory, no need to pay some guy in the shipping department, no need to worry about returns. They basically send two emails, and the deal is done. If I got paid a buck every time I sent two emails, I'd be a fucking millionaire. They got themselves a nice little gig there.

And me? Yeah, that's the beauty part: I come out best of all.

I find my book in seconds, and I know its in stock and waiting right there for me. I don't even have to look for it on the fucking shelf! I get it dirt cheap, too - cheaper than I'd ever get it before - and I get it right now.

Cheaper. Faster. Better for me. That's the kind of capitalism I'm talking about!

Here's another thing - a few months ago I started buying used books from Amazon, and that's worked out great, too. I usually go for the nearly-new volumes, mostly paperbacks, and they average about 10 bucks a pop after shipping. I've bought, and read, more books in the last six months than I have in the last six years.

That's good for Amazon. It's good for the individual book sellers. It's good for me. It's good for the whole goddamn world.

Karl Marx can kiss my fat monkey ass. We got this shit figured out.


Sic Semper Tyrannis
Monday, March 22, 2003




Not so tough now


Very graphic photos here.

He's dead. Trust me on this one...

Update: I'm sorry, I couldn't resist - move your mouse over the "before" image to see the photo change (javascript required).


In a previous post, I described a potentially serious problem for the Kerry campaign, and speculated about how Kerry might respond. (In brief, the story involved Kerry's presence at a meeting where a plot to assassinate six US Senators was seriously discussed; Kerry categorically denied being at this meeting, but newly-uncovered FBI documents place him at the scene).

Thanks to Daily Pundit (via IT) we now have Kerry's response. Are you ready for this?

"I don't remember".

I'm paraphrasing, of course. Even this mendacious denial was delivered indirectly, via campaign spokesman David Wade:

"John Kerry had no personal recollection of this meeting 33 years ago."

Now remember, this was the meeting where John Kerry resigned his leadership position in the VVAW because his colleagues planned the largest mass assassination in American history. Kerry fought against the plan, and quit on the spot rather than be associated with these people any further. This meeting lasted three days.

Is there even a single person in America who believes he does not recall this? Do you suppose that even his own staff believes it?

The funny thing is, I could forgive for this if he came clean, and I suspect a lot of his supporters would, too. It was a long time ago, and things were really crazy then; Kerry spoke up and did the right thing, and no real harm ever came of it. The only thing you could hold against him is the fact he didn't rat out his friends, and even that can be forgiven if you believed that he knew they'd never really do it.

But now he's offered up this obvious lie and all his supporters are supposed to go along with it, even to be a party to it. Just say whatever it takes to win, John. We don't care.

All the pretense is gone. I suppose that will be a good thing, in the end.


Friday, March 19, 2003

This is seriously pissing me off:


A little help, here?

The answer is in the comment section. Thanks, guys!


Serious Issue In Kerry's Past
Thursday, March 18, 2003

This one has been simmering for a while, and now it looks like it's finally broken into the open. Steve at Little Tiny Lies has a nice summary (heavily edited here):

...Kerry was a leader--not just a member--of Vietnam Veterans Against the war, a group that fought to end the Vietnam War back in the seventies ...In November of 1971, VVAW had a meeting, and they seriously discussed assassinating several senators in order to get attention for their cause.

...Kerry's campaign spokesman, David Wade, claims Kerry wasn't at the meeting... Wade claims Kerry resigned from VVAW in the summer of 1971, long before the assassination plot was discussed.

The problem? The FBI had the whole place under surveillance, and they reportedly have files showing that Kerry was present at this meeting. There are also several witnesses, some of whom are Kerry supporters, who also claim that he was there.

Now, Kerry, to his credit, supposedly argued forcefully against the assassination plan, and quit on the spot because of it. So why would he lie about being at this meeting?

Because he doesn't want to face questions like this:



This is a serious problem. It's going to be big news soon.

So how's he going to get out of it? I can already imagine a few different approaches:

1) "Yes, I was there, and no, I didn't report it. Those were difficult times and I was a much younger man. I knew they would never follow through with such an outrageous plan, and I knew I could not remain as their colleague."

This is good, probably good enough to get him out of trouble. It's honest, forthright, and unambiguous. My call? He's not man enough to do this. He doesn't have the character to pull it off.

2) "How DARE you impugn my patriotism! This sort of guilt-by-association is the hallmark of the republican smear machine. I was in Vietnam! I don't have to apologize for anything."

This is a distinct possibility - it makes him look strong, tough, and it dodges the issue. Just the sort of crap I'd expect.

3) "It's all a lie - the evidence is a lie, the witnesses are all lying, the whole thing is preposterous".

This is what we are seeing now, from his supporters. Won't hold up to scrutiny, though.

Stay tuned...

Update: It just keeps getting better:

Mr. Camil was known to colleagues in the anti-war movement as "Scott the Assassin." Mr. Camil told The New York Sun he got the name in Vietnam for "sneaking down to the Vietnamese villages at night and killing people."

According to the Nicosia book and interviews with VVAW members who were involved, at theVietnam Veterans Against the War Kansas City leadership conference, Mr. Camil tried to put his plan into effect. He called together eight to 10 Marines to organize something he called "The Phoenix Project." The original Phoenix Project during the Vietnam War was an attempt to destroy the Viet Cong leadership by assassination. Mr. Camil's Phoenix Project planned to execute the Southern senatorial leadership that was financing the Vietnam War. Senators like John Stennis, Strom Thurmond, and John Tower were his targets, according to Mr. Camil. They were to be killed during the Senate Christmas recess the following month.

After an attempt to parcel out the hit jobs required to kill the senators, Mr. Camil's plan was presented to all the chapter coordinators present and the VVAW leadership. Mr. Nicosia's book recounts, "What Camil sketched was so explosive that the coordinators feared lest government agents even hear of it. So they decamped to a church on the outskirts of town with the intention of debating the plan in complete privacy.When they got to the church, however, they found that the government was already on to them; their 'debugging expert' uncovered microphones hidden all over the place. An instantaneous decision was made to move again to Common Ground, a Mennonite hall used by homeless vets as a 'crash pad.'"

"Camil was deadly serious, brilliant, and highly logical," Mr. Nicosia told the Sun.

The plan was voted down. There's a difference of opinion as to how narrow the margin was.

Here's the best part:

"My plan was that, on the last day we would go into the [congressional] offices we would schedule the most hardcore hawks for last and we would shoot them all," Mr. Camil told the Oral History interviewer. "I was serious."

In a phone interview with the Sun this week, Mr. Camil did not dispute either the account in the Nicosia book or in the oral history. He said he plans to accept an offer by the Florida Kerry organization to become active in Mr. Kerry's presidential campaign. Campaign aides to Mr. Kerry invited Mr.Camil to a meeting for the senator in Orlando last week, but they did not meet directly.


Early reports suggest that the Socialists will be winning the elections in Spain today.

At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, we are seeing a contest between those who would pursue the war on terror, and those who would withdrawal from it. The appeasers appear to have won.

The people who delivered the bombs last week will have won, too. Congratulations to you all.

I predict two direct consequences of this. First, if these results hold, Spain will have bought itself another decade of violent harassment from Muslim extremists. I expect that we will soon hear demands from the terrorists that those arrested for the blasts be released, and why not? This sort of extortion is clearly effective, so it will be employed over and over again. This is what happens when you are weak, and you refuse to fight back.

Second, I expect a similar attempt to influence our election this fall. Frankly, I'd be shocked if the terrorists were to take any other lesson away from this experience. They surely imagine that they have found a valuable insight into the workings of Western democracy, that nothing brings the anti-war voters to the polls like a fresh massacre on their own soil.

Of course, they would misjudge us terribly, but they have gravely misjudged us before.


Of course, I should also point out that we can now expect similar attacks across the rest of Europe.

Just think of it as another of Socialism's gifts to Western Civilization.


Others agree. As do these folks.


Until a few minutes ago, I wasn't so sure. There is good evidence that ETA was solely responsable for this attack, and there is also good evidence to suggest that Al Queda was involved. Others have speculated that both groups may have combined forces, which seems odd, considering the Catholic heritage of the Basque people.

There is still nothing definitive yet, but in my mind, the last piece just fell into place:

In Spain: ETA and Al-Qaeda Forge New Anti-EU Alliance (2001)

The Basque terrorist organization ETA and bin Laden's al-Qaeda cells have joined forces. Their shared goal: to organize and carry out an attack on the EU meeting scheduled for March 2002 in Barcelona, according to two Spanish publications, Tiempo and El Mundo.

According to the reports, which have been confirmed by Italian and French media, representatives of the two terrorist organizations have already met together three times in Brussels in December 2000; in Malaga, Spain in February 2001; and in Barcelona last July.

According to the European reports, the terrorists have planned a suicide attack on the meeting that would entail the use of five car bombs provided by ETA, and delivered by five al-Qaeda suicide drivers. European authorities consider this news credible, and have disclosed that Mohammed Atta--one of the terrorists responsible for the early September attack on the World Trade Center--may have also attended the July meeting between ETA and al-Qaeda in Barcelona.

In its report, Tiempo revealed that, thanks to a tip-off by US Navy intelligence, Spanish authorities were able to prevent another al-Qaeda attack last December. This one would have involved striking American aircraft carriers with suicide vessels filled with the deadly explosive C-4. The attack--like the assault on the USS Cole in a Yemeni port--was scheduled to take place as the two aircraft carriers would have readied to moor at NATO's Rota navy base near Cadiz. The suicide motor boats would have departed from the nearby coast of Morocco, a country with a significant Muslim population.


I've said repeatedly that an attack like this would be a bellwether. The bad guys have regrouped, and reconstituted their ability to project force over distance. They had been unable to do this for over a year.

If they really have rebuilt their ability to logistically support their operations overseas, they will hit us again, here in the US, at their earliest opportunity. They will not wait for us to find them and break them up before they can act.

We are still at war, folks, and we are right in the thick of it.


Others agree.


I was cleaning out some old links when I ran into this old post, which refers to this one, which made my blood run cold when I first read it. It still does.

The short version of the story is that terrorists are known to have trained to capture small groups of civilians, and to kill all of them. The author, (correctly, in my opinion) suggest that the only response to this sort of problem is an instantaneous, desperate counterattack.

People pretty much agree that this is the right thing to do in an airplane, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds, but there is less consensus about it in other situations. A barehanded counterattack against ordinary criminals is arguably not a wise decision, but terrorists are an entirely different matter. Such a decision is a personal one, of course. You, and perhaps those around you, will live and die by the consequences of your actions, either way.

The author does pose an interesting question - do you know how to place an AK into operation? Well, do you? It's quite simple, really.

Here's a typical AK-style rifle:

Typical AK-style rifle

If you want to own a rifle like this, you'll need to learn to store it, shoot it, and maintain it safely, and that's quite a bit more than I can cover right now. Owning a gun, like driving a car, can be a perfectly safe and prudent thing to do, but it requires a minimum of competent training lest you become a deadly hazard to the human race.

However, if you just want to pry an AK from the cold, dead hands of an attacker and make it go bang, that's easy. Assuming it's already loaded, there are just two steps:

Safety/Selector lever

First, we need to release the safety (it's the big lever there, shown in yellow). The back of the lever is fixed, and the front part moves up and down. You press on the red dot there, where there is a little shelf for your finger. Push it DOWN, all the way DOWN. Think of pushing it towards the trigger, to make the trigger work.

Chances are that the gun can be fired now. If you want to be certain (and you do want to be certain) you'll need to perform the next step:

Bolt and charging handle

See that yellowish part? That's called the bolt. The bolt slides back and forth inside the gun, and there's a big spring behind it to keep it pushed all the way to the front. We need to draw the bolt all the way to the rear of the weapon, and then let it go. The little red part there is a handle that sticks out the side of the bolt about a half-inch or so, and that's the part you grab. You can just hook a finger over that lever and pull it back, just as hard as you can. When the bolt goes all the way back, it stops, and your finger can just slide right off. The spring will push the bolt forward again. Don't try to ease it back, and don't try to help push it forward, either. Just slam it back as hard as you can, and let the spring take care of the rest.

If the previous owner had already performed this operation, an unfired bullet will pop out of the side of the rifle and land on the floor when you do this. That's OK, just ignore it.

Now you're ready to go. The rifle will fire one shot each time the trigger is pulled. There is no need to repeat any of these steps, you just keep pulling the trigger until the weapon is empty.

If you've had some experience with other firearms and know how to handle them safely, this ought to be enough for you. If you have not had experience but you think this stuff is worth knowing, the time to get that experience is now. Leave a comment or send me an email and I'll help hook you up with a qualified instructor and help you get started out right. Learning to shoot is safe, it's reasonably inexpensive, and it's a hell of a lot of fun.

It makes it much easier to fight back, too.


The Geek With A .45 has picked up the ball and run with it - he's put up an excellent follow-up post. Don't miss it.

(Via Say Uncle)

Special note to fellow gun-nuts:

I've tried to make these instructions as simple, fool-proof, and as general as possible. Obviously, I glossed over a lot of detail.

One concern I had is that some AK variants do not allow you to fully cycle the bolt with the safety engaged. This requires that we drop the safety first, in violation of usual gun-handling practice.

A second concern was that the selector lever works differently on military, select fire guns. According to this source, the semi-auto position is all the way down. Full-auto is the middle setting.


Odds And Ends
Tuesday, March 9, 2003

Kids today... young women running around with their pants down below their hips and their thongs showing, clear as day. If I believed in god I might believe that my personal prayers had finally been answered, but most people my age only seem to be appalled. Surely this suggests some sort of serious social breakdown, heralding another generation of unwanted children, poorly raised by their oversexualized teenaged mothers.

Well, it might, if teen pregnancy rates not recently fallen to record lows. In fact, teen pregnancies - not the birth rate, mind you, but pregnancies - have been falling steadily for years. Better birth control is part of the reason, but another large factor, surprisingly, is that these kids are having less sex in their teen years than we did. As a result, abortion rates have been falling as well.

Why do I mention it? Because one of my favorite blogs, Marginal Revolution, offers this terrific post suggesting one reason why it may have occurred.

Lots of people won't like it. Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't true.

You've all heard about the new Iraqi Interim Constitution, but you probably haven't had a chance to see it for yourselves. USSC found a copy here, and it's remarkable stuff. Here's a few excerpts:

All Iraqis are equal in their rights without regard to gender, sect, opinion, belief, nationality, religion, or origin, and they are equal before the law... Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of his person.

Public and private freedoms shall be protected... The right of free expression... The right of free peaceable assembly and the right to join associations freely, as well as the right to form and join unions and political parties freely... Each Iraqi has the right of free movement in all parts of Iraq and the right to travel abroad and return freely.

Each Iraqi has the right to demonstrate and strike peaceably... the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice...

Police, investigators, or other governmental authorities may not violate the sanctity of private residences... all persons shall be guaranteed the right to a fair and public hearing... the accused is innocent until proven guilty pursuant to law, and he likewise has the right to engage independent and competent counsel, to remain silent in response to questions addressed to him with no compulsion to testify for any reason, to participate in preparing his defense, and to summon and examine witnesses or to ask the judge to do so. At the time a person is arrested, he must be notified of these rights.

The budding economist in me is particularly pleased by this section, which provides for stable, transferable property rights - the foundation for a free market economy:

The right to private property shall be protected, and no one may be prevented from disposing of his property... No one shall be deprived of his property... Each Iraqi citizen shall have the full and unfettered right to own real property in all parts of Iraq without restriction.

Overall, this is an incredibly ambitious step; if they manage to get even half of this right, they will have accomplished nothing less than a democratic revolution. Getting it even half right will be difficult, and I can promise that there will be many setbacks, and many tough challenges ahead. I can also point out that never, to my knowledge, has any Arab people had an opportunity even remotely like this one. They are entitled to their shot.

Freedom isn't free, and it never has been. You've got to earn it, and you've got be worthy of the prize.

This is the crux, right here - the fate of that last line is the fate of their nation:

Islam is the official religion of the State and is to be considered a source of legislation. No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam, the principles of democracy, or the rights cited in Chapter Two of this Law may be enacted during the transitional period. This Law respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice.

On a related note, here's a bit of happy news:

American casualties have been steadily declining since they peaked last November (414, including 82 dead). The casualties went down to 306 in December, 234 in January and 167 last month. In February there were twenty American soldiers killed in action, or .79 per day. This was the first month, since the war began, that the troops killed fell to less than one a day.

No, it's not over, but this may soon be remembered as "The Worlds Shortest Quagmire".


Until a few hours ago, I actually had some sympathy for Martha Stewart. Insider trading is a rather poorly-defined offense, and Stewart was charged only for lying about her actions, not for the actual sales of her stock. It seemed to me that she had been railroaded a bit, and that this was the sort of case where a little prosecutorial discretion might have been appropriate; I felt that she should have been offered an easier way out.

As it turns out, she was offered such a deal. She was just too goddamn arrogant to accept it:

Newsweek has learned that the Feds gave Martha Stewart an opportunity to avoid prison. Federal prosecutors offered Stewart a deal last April to cop to one count of making a false statement, say several sources familiar with the offer. She would have received probation and could continue working at her company, they say. But she refused to plead guilty to a felony, and a defense source says the Feds couldn't guarantee she would stay out of jail.

And federal investigators say she could have avoided the entire mess if she had confessed in the beginning. Had she admitted wrong doing in early 2002, she could have gotten off with a $200,000 fine and no jail time...

Keep in mind, Stewart was worth hundreds of millions of dollars; at the time, she probably made well over $200k per week in interest alone. She could have 'fessed up, paid her little fine and gone on with her life, but no....

Instead, we get an elaborate, bullshit story that falls apart on the witness stand, burying both her and her broker; worst of all, her shareholders, who were guilty of nothing more than trusting this idiot, lose millions of dollars virtually overnight.

Now, I can forgive greed, especially among ambitious people who have worked hard and built something of great value; greed is part of that equation, and to the extent that greed drives creation, it is a small evil. I can forgive simple dishonestly, having honed that art myself on more than one occasion, and I can forgive a lingering contempt for authority, too; I'd be a hypocrite if I told you any different.

But stupidity? That's harder to forgive. Put your asshat on, and my patience runs out pretty quick.

How many lawyers and advisors do you suppose this woman had? How many of them tried to convince her to own up right away, or to at least accept the deal she was offered? I'd bet these wasn't one of them who suggested she take her chances in federal court. Hell, even I know better than that.

She took a sucker bet, and she lost, and all the people who trusted her lost, too. That doesn't make her a bad person, but it does mean that she deserves what she gets.


Wednesday, March 3, 2003

I'm not in your way, am I?



A Rare Moment Of Sanity
Tuesday, March 2, 2003

Ithaca, NY is a pretty liberal town, sometimes annoyingly so. When I heard that Ithaca's new mayor, Carolyn Peterson, was about to wade into the gay marriage debate I figured we'd have another fiasco on our hands.

Instead, Mayor Peterson devised a plan that is actually humane, democratic, prudent and fair. I was shocked.

Same-sex couples in Ithaca will be allowed to apply for marriage licenses, and the City Clerk will forward their applications to the state. Of course, under current state law these applications will be denied, but then these couples will be in an excellent position to sue the state of New York on constitutional grounds. The city of Ithaca has pledged to be a party to such lawsuits, on the side of the gay couples.

Nobody is breaking the law. The people responsible, on both sides of the dispute, are being held accountable, and a definitive judicial review is almost a certainty. Nobody is ever held in legal limbo, and most importantly, it's an elected official, not an appointed one, that has taken lead here.

It's almost as if we are all acting like grown-ups about this. It's incredible.

I give big credit to Mayor Peterson for crafting this thoughtful solution to a contentious, unavoidable issue. I wish the mayor of San Francisco has done the same.


Feces Flinging Monkey

Excellent Post Of The Week

Kevin at The Smallest Minority offers an outstanding post today, inspired in part by a discussion we had here. He illustrates what I believe to be the great Achilles Heel of our republic; the future of our freedom depends utterly upon the opinions of judges who, all too often, allow their own preferences to color their decisions.

As I read Kevin's post, I was reminded of a terrific Antonin Scalia quote on this very same topic:

"There is no respect in which we [the Supreme Court] are chained or bound by the text of the Constitution. All it takes is five hands."

I didn't remember where I'd found this gem, so I had to google around for it. It was posted last week on Kevin's site!

Warrentless Search In New Orleans

If you haven't heard about this yet, you will - the 5th Circuit recently upheld a 'warrentless search' of a private home. On the face of it, this suggests stunning breach of civil liberties, to say the least.

The Volokh Conspiracy provides a link to the (surprisingly readable) actual decision. It's a complex issue, but personally, I don't have a problem with it. The gist of the matter is this:

We turn initially to the primary issue now before us, namely whether there is an across-the-board, hard and fast per se rule that a protective sweep can be valid only if conducted incident to an arrest. We hold there is not.

This does not mean that the police can just stop by and search your house! Not even in Louisiana.

Please note that this has nothing to do with either the Patriot Act, or even the Federal government, despite some claims to the contrary.


Kerry Throws Clarke To The Wolves

Something tells me he might have a pretty good idea what's in that classified testimony:

"My challenge to the Bush administration would be, if he's not believable and they have reason to show it, then prosecute him for perjury, because he is under oath," Kerry said in an interview, adding 'they have a perfect right to do that."

No word on whether this statement was accompanied by compulsive hand-washing motions.

(Of course, Kerry will probably reverse this position before the month is out...)

(Via RJ)

A Thousand Words


This picture summarizes everything I have to say about the 2004 election.

(Via IT)

Quote Of The Day

Israel Defense Forces soldiers caught a Palestinian boy, aged about 8, wearing an explosive belt at the Hawara roadblock south of Nablus in the West Bank.

Eight. The third grade.

I guess we shouldn't laugh at the airport security people when they search little kids.


The story seems to have changed; now the kid is identified as being 14 years old.

Kids today. They grow up so fast.

Cool-ass Video

Check this out. This is going to save some lives.

(Via BDX)

New Kid On The Block

Manfish, a frequent commenter on my site, has finally let me in on a secret - he's had his own blog, all along. Check it out.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Manfish for fostering my interest in economics. I also appreciate his efforts to keep me honest, which is no easy task at times.

This Just Dosen't Seem Right

Things like this remind me how much I hate campaign finance laws. Most people have no idea that their personal contributions are posted on the web.

(Via BDX)

Blogging - The Early Years

The technology has changed a bit, but the basic idea remains the same...

(Via BDX)

This Is Different

Here's a cool-ass Mars photo unlike any I had seen before.

It Dosen't Get Much Clearer Than This

Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission of the EU:

"It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi said. "Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago," and all of Europe now feels threatened, he told the paper.

Well, that's it, then.

There are lots of Americans who would agree; they will mostly be voting for John Kerry this fall. Most of the rest of us will be voting for George Bush.

It's not about Red and Blue anymore. The war comes first.

Place Yer Bets

The Iowa Electronic Markets currently show Bush leading Kerry, 0.525 to 0.470. This means a $10 bet for Kerry will bring you $21 if he wins.

You like those odds? Then open a trading account and make a few dollars. It's easy.

Update: Al Queda Behind Spanish Terror Attack

Spanish police have arrested a number of people; unconfirmed reports, quoting Spanish radio, say perhaps as many as ten, many from Morocco.

Currently, the regular media in the US is talking about five arrests, majority are Muslims. Details as they emerge...

Update: More details here.


Beware of a possible translation problem - the Spanish seem to use the word "Hindu" to mean Indian, not "follower of the Hundu religion". There are, of course, millions of Muslims in India.

Woman Refuses Caesarean, Charged With Murder

You've got to draw the line somewhere. So, where, exactly?

As Melissa Ann Rowland's unborn twins got closer to birth, doctors repeatedly told her they would likely die if she did not have a Caesarean section. She refused, and one later was stillborn.

I'll go out and take my accustomed position on that high, exposed limb - I'm strongly pro-choice, and I don't think she should be charged with anything, especially not murder.

Charming woman

Let's be clear; this woman, as described in this story, is either a mental case or a total piece of shit. But before your emotions get ahead of you, imagine that she was a Jehovah's Witness instead of an ordinary asshat, and that she had refused medical treatment of religious grounds. That murder charge still sound like a good idea?

Let's further muddy the waters, and imagine that we had different doctors with different opinions about the risks she took. I believe it's ultimately her call to make, even if she's wrong.

Now, I realize that once her children are born, she can, and should, face criminal charges for withholding lifesaving medical care from them, for almost any reason. You have to draw a line somewhere, and reasonable people can disagree about where that line belongs.

I believe you ought to understand your own values, and accept the consequences of them. This is part of my pro-choice position, and I won't be hypocritical or weasely about it. As ugly as this story is, this is the price you have pay for that kind of freedom, and I'll accept that.

Comments are open; please remain civil.


Now, A 'Jihad Jill'?

Raed Al-Anbaki (AKA Susan Lindauer) a former staffer on the Moseley-Braun presidential campaign, has been charged with spying for Saddam. She may have some other interesting issues in her past as well.

I think it's about time for a hanging or two.

Seriously, spying is a capital offense. We don't have to put up with shit like this.

Amazing Photo Of The Week

Imagine you could look into the night sky and see everything there was to see. Well, now you can - it's called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. (This thumbnail image is unimpressive, but the full-sized version is incredible):

Full image

This tiny slice of the sky - one-tenth the diameter of a full moon - contains something like 10,000 galaxies, each containing millions of stars. See that little white box at the top of the picture? Here's what's inside:

Zoomed in

You can't usually see them, but the things are all around us, everywhere - the sky is just overflowing with them.

Check it out. [500k file]

What Were These People Thinking?

The Chameleon Card seems innocent enough at first. It's basically a universal credit card - you can swipe all of your cards into the reader, program the Chameleon with all the data, and then use the Chameleon to make your purchases, switching from card to card with the push of a button.

Hello? Identity Theft??! The bad guys buy this stuff too, you know.

Next time you hand your card to a waitress, think about this one while you are waiting for her to return...

I Hate It When This Happens

Coral Watts is 50 years old. He's probably killed at least twenty people so far, in a series of "savage stabbings, hangings, stranglings and drownings".

The good news is that Watts is in prison in Texas, riding out a 60 year sentence. The bad news?

[...] mandatory release laws aimed at relieving prison crowding require Watts be discharged May 8, 2006. He will be 52.

[...] Watts told authorities when he was sentenced in 1982 that he would kill again if he ever got out.

The death penalty would not have helped us here; Watts was never convicted of murder, although he did later confess to many killings, even leading police to the bodies of three of his victims. The unusual disposition of his case was probably the best the police could do at the time.

A few new prisons would have surely done the trick, though, and Watts, like many of his vicious friends, would remain behind bars where they belong.

If mandatory release is a solution to overcrowded prisons, than mandatory truancy is a solution to overcrowded schools.

If you cannot adequately incarcerate the violent, you have failed as a civilized society. I'm sorry, but this just seems obvious to me.

Quote Of The Day

The Chronicle Of Higher Education on the shocking scientific illiteracy of the Arab world:

Only 370 industrial patents were issued to people in Arab countries between 1980 and 2000. In South Korea during that same period, 16,000 industrial patents were issued.

The "Arab world" as defined here, is comprised of 21 countries. Together, they generate an average of 19 industrial patents per year... you'd think they could at least manage one apiece?

This one, however, just blows my mind:

No more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire past millennium, equivalent to the number translated into Spanish each year.

It's not like all these governments are poor, either; this survey includes some of the richest nations in the world.

Amusing Email Scam

If you work in company that has its own web domain, you've probably been warned about this already: an email, containing a hostile attachment, claiming to be from your company IT staff.

Of course, these guys are pretty indiscriminate...

It's Official

There used to be water on Mars. Lots of it.

Gee, That Didn't Take Long

Revolution in Haiti? A CIA plot, of course.

I bet we did it so we could seize Haiti's abundant material wealth.

None Shall Provoke Me With Impunity


Day By Day, by Chris Muir. Used with permission.

Day By Day, by Chris Muir

Cox And Forkum, Used with permission.

Achewood, by Chris Onstad. Used with permission.

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