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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

divers discover "holy grail" of lake erie shipwrecks

In the dark and drizzle of June 20, 1868, two ships off the shore of Lorain were on course to pass in the night.

The Cortland, carrying iron ore, was sailing from the west for Cleveland. The passenger steamer Morning Star had left Cleveland bound for Detroit.

Around midnight, a crewman on the Cortland told the first mate to clean the dimming green oil lantern so the approaching steamer would see them.

The mate took down the lantern, and the night grew darker.

Twenty minutes passed, and still the lantern was not returned. Suddenly, the crewman saw the Morning Star heading right for them and ran to the bell.

His warning came too late. The ships collided, sinking both and killing 38 people. Only the Morning Star was recovered.

Now, nearly 140 years later, a dive team believes it has discovered the Cortland, bell and all.
Read the rest of this article from today's The Plain Dealer here .

i despise republicans

Democrats are truly wretched, but Republicans are working hard to make me despise them even more than I despise those on the left. Via The Y Files, I find a truly repellant article from that tries to make the case that Senator John McCain's experience of torture in Vietnam is evidence that torture works! In "John McCain: Torture Worked on Me", Carl Limbacher writes:
Nearly forty years ago, however - when McCain was held captive in a North Vietnamese prison camp - some of the same techniques were used on him. And - as McCain has publicly admitted at least twice - the torture worked!
This is a truly odious lie. What really happened is that McCain "broke" under torture, gave his captors some useless information and signed a confession "admitting" to war crimes. McCain ended up crippled from his treatment as well. Thus the lesson for Dubya and his pro-torture lickspittles is that if you want to get useless information and fake confessions from prisoners at Gitmo, you should torture them until they are physically crippled.

an unhappy anniversary

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, David Kopel notes that today is the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Brady Act by President Bill Clinton. Kopel has a great look back at one of the many lies Slick Willy told:
At the signing ceremony, President Clinton emotionally told the story of a friend of his who was an Arkansas gun dealer. The gun dealer sold a firearm to an escaped mental patient, who then murdered six people.

"My friend is not over it to this day," said the President, as the crowd applauded. "Don't tell me this bill will not make a difference. That is not true. That is not true."

"Not true" turned out to be a pretty good summation of the President's story, which he had throughout the 1992 campaign.
Read the whole thing.

I hate Bill Clinton, not because he got blow jobs in the oval office and then lied about it, but because he worked so hard to deprive people of their rights. Other than gay sex and the right to stick a scissor into the head of a baby moments before birth, Clinton never met a right he liked.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

dr. william f. harrison, abortionist and proud of it

This Los Angeles Times article has got to be one of the most disturbing things I've read in a while. The good doctor Harrison won't retire at 70 - there's far too many babies to abort to stop now.
Harrison opened an obstetrics and gynecology practice, but after the Supreme Court established abortion as a constitutional right in 1973, he decided to take on an additional specialty. Now 70, Harrison estimates he's terminated at least 20,000 pregnancies...

Last February, Harrison injured his head in a fall. He underwent three surgeries and spent months in rehabilitation. His wife urged him to retire.

"There's no one to take my place," he told her.
He has his own moral code of conduct, of course, so we have to respect him for that:
Harrison draws his own moral line at the end of the second trimester, or 26 weeks since the first day of the woman's last menstrual period. Until that point, he will abort for any reason.

"It's not a baby to me until the mother tells me it's a baby," he says.
Yeah, THAT'S logical. There's no absolute reality, whatever we think, that's how it is. Why don't other types of doctors use this line of reasoning? "Your X-ray shows this large lump on your lung, Mrs. Johnson, but not to worry, it's not cancer unless you tell me it is. So what do you say? I only want to make you happy."

the phaser developed, at last

PHaSR, that is, the new hand-held laser weapon developed by the U.S. Air Force according to this article in Jane's. Link spotted on Drudge.

Monday, November 28, 2005

hello $500 gold!

Despite the establishment's best efforts to keep the genie in the bottle, gold is finally breaking through the next major resistance point, with spot gold currently trading at $501.30 in Asia trade. See here. Of course I wouldn't be at all suprised to see it drop again on profit-taking, but Mr. Bernanke probably won't be sleeping too well tonight.

Friday, November 25, 2005

sony sings the "rootkit" blues

I've really grown to loathe Sony over the years, and this is just the latest reason why. To defend their "intellectual property", they have no compulsion to deny your rights to your personal property. This latest fiasco involves their "Rootkit" program, part of the copy-protection software found on some Sony-BMG audio CDs. After finally admitting that Rootkit created a security risk, they issued a "patch". The only problem was that the patch was also a security risk!
At about the same time things went from bad to worse. It was soon discovered that Sony's patch created its own security risk - potentially leaving personal computers even more vulnerable than with the initial rootkit - and was pulled from its website.

The company also recalled millions of CDs, losing tens of millions in revenue and effectively acknowledging that the CD was a hazardous product.

The recall was even bigger than anticipated as Sony disclosed that there were at least 52 affected CDs. Moreover, researchers estimated that the damaging program had infected at least 500,000 computers in 165 countries.
And note this bit of irony:
Finally, just when it appeared that Sony had hit bottom, analysis of the rootkit revealed that it included open source software code contrary to the applicable licence.

In other words, Sony itself may have infringed the copyright of a group of software programmers and be on the hook for significant copyright infringement damages.
Sweet justice! Read the whole BBC article, which specifically addresses the personal property vs. intellectual property issue, not something you see every day in the mainstream media. Link spotted on

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

the state kills

Sometimes the State kills people openly, like in Iraq or at Ruby Ridge but more often than not, it's a the slow death by regulation that kills the most. Via Cafe Hayek, Bob Higgs points to a crucial article by Alex Tabarrok that shows how FDA regulation has led to early death for so many innocents:
Deaths due to the drug lag have been numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Wardell (1978a), for example, estimated that practolol, a drug in the beta-blocker family, could save ten thousand lives a year if approved in the United States. Although the FDA first approved a beta blocker, propranolol, in 1968, three years after that drug had become available in Europe, it waited until 1978 to approve propranolol for the treatment of hypertension and angina pectoris, its most important indications. Despite clinical evidence available as early as 1974, only in 1981 did the FDA approve a second beta-blocker, timolol, for prevention of second heart attack. The agency’s dilatory action with regard to beta blockers alone was thus responsible for probably tens of thousands of deaths.
Tabarrok uses data on off-label presecription to produce a devastating case against the FDA in "Assessing the FDA via the Anomaly of Off-Label Drug Prescribing" (PDF). It's a must read and it's a bit depressing to realize that there is little chance that such a deadly agency will be abolished or even curtailed any time soon. Where's the outrage?

Monday, November 21, 2005

better all the time

The Speculist today lists 10 things to be thankful for and hopeful about in Today's Good Stuff. Item 1 is the Dream Chaser vehicle, which a private company, SpaceDev, is planning to develop to launch paying passengers into space. The interesting bit is that it was designed by NASA 20 years ago but was never built.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

the heroic google

Remember those annoying "pop under" ads that used to plague so many websites? There are still a few around, but thanks to the free market, better advertising methods were devised that benefited bother viewer and seller. led the way:
Sergei Brin and Larry Page, the Google co-founders, were more receptive to internal suggestions that could not be found in a marketing textbook - like text-only ads. These could be created by a business of any size; the format would permit a business to try out hundreds, even thousands, of variations, statistically measure the results and see which ones drew clicks and which did not. This would please advertisers.
and success is copied:
Today, Yahoo and MSN serve up text-only ads in the same peripheral locations on the page as Google, and use an almost identical format. Like Google, they also are fighting the good fight against pop-ups, and forbid advertisers from linking to pages that will bop the user in the nose. Google's model is copied for a simple reason: its ads produce profits that prove that size does not matter.
The New York Times has a great article that explains it all, "How Google Tamed Ads on the Wild, Wild Web".

Thursday, November 17, 2005

it was 20 years ago today...

that Calvin and Hobbes, the best comic strip ever, was first published. Actually, I'm a few hours early; it was first published 18-NOV-85.

south park takes on scientology

Earlier this evening I watched last night's episode of South Park, which took on Scientology in a scathing manner. Click here for a snippet. It had a tendency to hit you over the head with its message but it was worth it.

The best part was the end credits, which hit home the reality of the "Church" of Scientology's unrelenting use of litigation to prevent people from criticizing it. In particular, the "church" uses copyright laws to prevent anyone from discussing copyrighted church documents. It's as if a Christian church had a copyright on the Bible and then sued any atheist who critiqued it using long passages from the work itself. This is another example of how a powerful entity is able to stifle free speech using intellectual property rights.

happy birthday, statist scum!

David Gordon has an excellent takedown of statist bastard Bill Buckley today in "A Birthday Tribute to William F. Buckley, Jr." It's a great overview of Buckley's hostility to libertarianism and his worship of the state and also reviews Bill's purging of the conservative movement of those who wouldn't toe the big government line. It's a must-read.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a sane china policy

James Dorn wrote the Cato Daily Commentary today, which is entitled Let Business Trump Quest For Dominance and which sums up my own feelings about doing business with China exactly. Excerpt:
If future U.S.-China relations are to improve, the prevailing zero-sum, mercantilist mentality must give way to a more positive way of thinking about economic relations and security. What China needs is less government and more markets. And the surest way to achieve that result is to strengthen the policy of engagement. Denying China access to our markets while requiring it to open its markets is hypocritical and will only play into the hands of hardliners who already distrust the U.S.

Since 1978 China has dramatically transformed its economy and increased economic freedom. Congress should see China's prosperity as a positive development, not a threat to U.S. security.
Cato has a bad habit of supporting international trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that enable "managed trade" for corporate elites at the expense of true free trade, but sometimes they have some very good things to say in support of free trade. Read the whole commentary.

night stalker cancelled

Dark Horizon reports:
Executive producer Frank Spotnitz broke the news yesterday, saying "It is with regret that I confirm 'Night Stalker' has been canceled". ABC confirmed it will start airing alternate programming this week with a permanent replacement likely be announced shortly.

Overall, "Night Stalker" averaged 5.53 million viewers for its first five airings, making it the network's least-watched series.
As a kid, I was a big fan of the original series. I never watched the new one because the premise, a re-make instead of a follow up, never appealed to me, even though the show had the delectable Gabrielle Union as a co-star. I think there would have been so many excellent possibilities if the lead character had been the son of the original character, perhaps investigating his father's mysterious disappearance. Oh well! I think there is an episode coming up still so maybe I will see it before it goes off the air.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

the windy city

Apologies to our loyal readers for the lack of posting. I'm visiting jmc here in Chicago and we are having fun, fun, fun! We'll be off in a few hours to have some brunch down in China Town and then the girlfriend and I are flying back home later today.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

two good points about single payer healthcare

Tyler Cowen says:
The successes, or supposed successes, of most West European systems do not constitute evidence that a single payer system is a good idea.
and even more importantly:
single-payer national health insurance violates every economic law known to mankind
I'm convinced.

Monday, November 07, 2005

thanks, scotus

Thank goodness the Supreme Court has preserved the power of the government to take land from a tire shop owner so that Sears can open a...wait for it!...a tire shop!!!

Spotted via The Agitator.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

drudge headlines vs. reality

I've noticed from time to time how some headlines that appear on The Drudge Report don't quite match the content that they link to. A case in point is his headline today which reads "NOVAK: CONCERN OVER AGE SLOWS MCCAIN PREZ FUNDRAISING...". If you actually read this Bob Novak column you will find that the relevant part reads as follows:
Sen. John McCain, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, has gotten a tepid response to a New York City fund-raiser Monday for his "Straight Talk America" political action committee.

McCain signed a Sept. 27 letter announcing his appearance at the St. Regis Hotel Nov. 7. The price was $1,000 per person for a 6 p.m. reception and $5,000 per person for a 7:30 p.m. dinner.

Many New York contributors to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign were reluctant to attend this year's event. The fact McCain will be 72 years old for the 2008 presidential campaign was cited to explain lack of enthusiasm, as was the senator's support for the Iraq war.
So why does Drudge's headline mention the age factor, but not McCain's stance on the Iraq war, which is mentioned in the same sentence? Is the age thing more important simply because it appears first in the sentence, or is it just that Matt Drudge supports the Iraq war and would rather not draw attention to the fact that such a stance might be unpopular?

Friday, November 04, 2005

great minds think alike

Matt Welch echoes my thoughts on the Online Freedom of Speech Act in "Democrats—Not for Free Speech Anymore!":
I think this quote speaks volumes about some Democrats' Mel Stuart–like internal dissonance on the First Amendment. I am a friend of free speech, they assure us at every turn, but we need to draw lines, because when yucky people spend money to communicate a political message through the news media, it's just like child pornography, reckless endangerment, and intellectual property theft. Combine this attitude with a general cluelessness about the unintended speech-impairing consequences of FEC rule-making, and you get the obscene sight of the New York Times editorial board, which bathed itself and Judith Miller in the holy waters of the First Amendment in 15 different editorials, arguing with a straight face that "The bill uses freedom of speech as a fig leaf."
It's not that hard to explain left-wing opposition to free speech. Lefites believe "fairness" is categorically more important than freedom and are happy to restrict the latter in the name of the former even if it makes everyone worse off.

i'm a perfect 10

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

Spotted via Classical Values.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

democrats vs. free speech

Today, the Democratic Party helped kill the Online Freedom of Speech Act. In "Democrats defeat election-law aid for bloggers", Declan McCullagh reports:
he vote tally in the House of Representatives, 225 to 182, was not enough to send the Online Freedom of Speech Act to the Senate. Under the rules that House leaders adopted to accelerate the process, a two-thirds supermajority was required.
Why did this happen? A Democrat explains:
Rep. Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat who opposed the bill, said during the floor debate: "We don't allow child pornography on the Internet. We don't exempt it from consumer safety laws...We don't because we think those laws are important." Campaign finance regulations should be extended as well, he said.
That's right, online political speech is like child pornography!

Of course, former FEC chairman Bradley Smith said it best:
We now more heavily regulate political speech through campaign contributions and speaking and independent expenditures and so on, than we regulate pornography over the internet, than we regulate simulated child pornography, than we regulate flag burning[.]
Thanks, Democrats!

where's the outrage?

Radley Balko has an excellent column up at regarding the military cover up of the details surrounding the death of Pat Tillman. Excerpt:
At every turn, the U.S. military has exploited, desecrated, and, ultimately, turned its back on Tillman’s heroism. The Pentagon has since closed its doors to Tillman’s family, sharing information about his death only when compelled to do so by members of the media, or by the Tillman family’s newfound allies in Congress.
We now know that Tillman died in friendly fire, shot accidentally by members of his own platoon. Soldiers interviewed in subsequent investigations have since testified that it was apparent to everyone involved that Tillman died from friendly fire the moment he was taken off the battlefield. A series of serious errors by Army commanders and Tillman’s fellow soldiers — none of them by Tillman himself — led to his unnecessary death. These events were tragic, but they certainly don’t reflect poorly on Tillman, his bravery, or his memory.
Balko goes into more detail on the coverup and it's just bizarre that the military would go to such lengths to lie to the public and Tillman's family.

I'm not holding my breath waiting for anyone involved to get punished, but it would be nice.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


In a review of Robert Higgs' Against Leviathan, David Gordon quotes H. L. Mencken:
"People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist?"
More Mencken is on display over at Liberty & Power as Kenneth R. Gregg reprints HLM's credo.