Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm off to Paradise tomorrow morning, so...

...blogging will be very light for awhile. (No, I am NOT strapping on a belt full of dynamite! Flying is far more reliable.) After Paradise, it's on to Ojai, CA for my sister's birthday bash. Back in a couple weeks.

If you need a blog fix, try: or The Volokh Conspiracy

Alice in Wonderland is going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met just scored a photo collection allegedly worth $100,000,000. Included is an 1859 picture by Lewis Carroll of Alice Liddell dressed as "The Beggar Maid." There should be a book or two coming up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Juries & their rightful powers

University of Tennessee law professor Glen Reynolds (Yale Law School 1985) of InstaPundit reviews "Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine" by Clay S. Conrad in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. It's a few years old now, but worth a read
This very short historical summary leaves us at an interesting place. In truth, not many lawyers or scholars disagree with Conrad's thesis as a matter of law. It is widely agreed that juries have the power to refuse to convict - or, in civil cases, to refuse to render a verdict for the plaintiff - where they believe that the result would be unjust, or inconsistent with their view of what the law is or should be...

The real question is not whether juries can do this, but whether they should be told that they can do this. [FN30] And not just whether they can be told by courts or lawyers. As Conrad recounts, those who attempt to *691 inform jurors of this truth by engaging in what certainly looks like classic First Amendment conduct, such as leafleting near courts, often find themselves targeted for suppression by prosecutors and judges when the subject of their leaflets is a jury's right to judge the law. [FN31] Well, that question, at least, should be easy. Suppression of such efforts is simply inconsistent with the First Amendment...

Similarly, the efforts of courts and prosecutors to punish jurors for nullification, chillingly described in Conrad's book, further undermine any claim that such efforts are undertaken in the interests of justice. As Conrad tartly notes, jurors are never prosecuted for convicting wrongly, only for holding out for acquittal...

Bazelon goes on to note that where juries decline to convict on such grounds, it is an important source of information about the popular perceptions of a law's legitimacy:

The reluctance of juries to hold defendants responsible for violations of the prohibition laws told us much about the morality of those laws and about the "criminality" of the conduct they proscribed. And the same can be said of the acquittals returned under the fugitive slave law as well as contemporary gaming and liquor laws. A doctrine that can provide us with such critical insights should not be driven underground.
Reynolds proposes an interesting check on bad judges, prosecutors, and defense attornies.

"Democracy! Whiskey! And Sexy!" as the feller said.

Can't be all bad. Click here for a wonderful Jordanian editorial cartoon on the difference between the Lebanese Pro-Freedom vs Pro-Syrian Fascism demonstrators.

Elves vs Orcs

Pictures from Lebanon at Michael J. Totten. Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

PS: The snow has stopped here.


Suddenly snow is falling as hard as I've ever seen, in flakes an inch across. I hope this doesn't keep up long- I have plans for this afternoon which include zipping about on four wheels, all of which I prefer to keep on the pavement.

It is pretty tho.

It's lightening up...

Making a Statement

Be sure to get some mass transit: you're going to pay for it anyway. Actually, that attitude is a large part of why ppl who pay taxes demand stuff from the government: they think that demanding stuff the gov't doesn't already provide will come out of taxes they already pay.

P.J. O'Rourke in Opinion Journal:
The Heritage Foundation says, "There isn't a single light rail transit system in America in which fares paid by the passengers cover the cost of their own rides." Heritage cites the Minneapolis "Hiawatha" light rail line, soon to be completed with $107 million from the transportation bill. Heritage estimates that the total expense for each ride on the Hiawatha will be $19. Commuting to work will cost $8,550 a year. If the commuter is earning minimum wage, this leaves about $1,000 a year for food, shelter and clothing. Or, if the city picks up the tab, it could have leased a BMW X-5 SUV for the commuter at about the same price.
There is something about hiding the cost in the tax bill which makes advocates think stuff is cheap. And environmentally sane, instead of a grotesque waste of resources.

In a market economy, prices reflect the resources used to provide a good or service. If the resources used can't be recouped, the providers stop providing. That's a good thing. Prices are just shorthand for resources expended, so forcing ppl to subsidize the expensive stuff is literally wasting resources. And in the case of mass transit, it is wasting resources in the name of saving resources. I am told this is properly called "Making a Statement."

Now we canny taxpayers subsidize all sorts of transportation, and some argue that this is reason to subsidise others. I prefer to eliminate as many subsidies as possible so we can make rational choices based on our own preferences and the actual costs of the vaious alternatives.

I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

There's a pile of stars in 2000 galaxies

Lemme see, I think the average is 100,000,000,000 per do the math- I was an art major. 200,000,000,000,000? At numbers like those my comprehension fades to the level of those supposed South American jungle tribes whose numerical system consists of "One, two, three...many."

Clik for a Cool Space Pic of the Day But: How many extra-galactic dudes and dudesses are out there? Or were? Or will be?

And what do they think of Dubya?

No wonder the Germans don't like us.

The whiners.

eBay auction title: "WWI US Trench Art 1918 Fighting Scalping Knife"

Check out what's going on in the background of...

...this pic.

Just imagine yerself some Iranian ne'er-do-well, minding yer own blasphemous business when a buncha chadored super cops barge thru yer 5th floor window, packin' Korans an' AK-47s.

Khomeini's Angels. Jeepers.

Of course, this one is nice too, if a trifle different. So's this one. This one runs a bit counter to the Dour Mullah Model, tho.

On balance, I know where I'd rather live.

Thanks to Wizbang via InstaPundit.

"the biggest democratic protest in the history of the modern Middle East"

Claudia Rosett reports in the New York Sun:
BEIRUT - Flags fluttering, horns honking, and fingers flashing V for victory, Lebanon's opposition converged on downtown Beirut yesterday in the biggest democratic protest in the history of the modern Middle East.

Their numbers - about a million strong - were a retort to the rival protests staged last week by the terrorist group Hezbollah...

Among the most promising aspects of this opposition movement is the extent to which it has brought together disparate factions, namely Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Druze. Previously, the democratic opposition was predominantly Christian...

In recent weeks, both President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have often urged Syria's speedy departure and lent support to Lebanon's democratic protesters...

In Beirut yesterday, it was clear that message has been heard. Unlike the Hezbollah demonstrators with their chants of "Death to America," many in the crowd were friendly to Americans. "Thank's Free World," (sic) said one poster, held high by a woman in a bright red jacket, Rawya Okal, who told me: "We thank Mr. Bush for his position."

...Asking more people what they thought of Americans turned up the same refrain. From a young driver, Fadi Mrad, came the message: "...Please don't let Bush forget us." From a group of young men came not only the message "Our hope is America," and "We believe in democracy in the Middle East," but also praise for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz...

At one point, two young men sitting on a sidewalk mistook this reporter for a Frenchwoman, and called out "Vive la France!" The European nation's president, Jacques Chirac, has also come out in support of the democratic movement. When I told them that I was American, they got to their feet and came over to say, "Welcome to Lebanon."

...yesterday's demonstrators lingered - sitting, talking, waving flags, and savoring a display of public will in which almost one-quarter of Lebanon's 4.4 million people had demonstrated for their right to join the free world.
The Syrian fascists may still crush them as the Chinese communists did protesters in Tiananmen Square, so Dubya better heed their plea not to forget them. As his father did the Iraqis who heeded his call for revolt, only to be slaughtered by Saddam.

Are the Democrats afraid of an investor-class America?

John Zogby, president of Zogby International polling company, has some interesting information in Opinion Journal:
Zogby International's post-election polling reveals fascinating differences between those voters who call themselves members of the "investor class" and those who do not see themselves this way... (The) response to a single question--"Do you consider yourself to be a member of the investor class?"--is a far greater determinant of how they will vote and how they see their world than income, religion, race, marital status, or size of individual portfolio.
Don't miss the table he includes. No wonder the Democrats are opposed to privatizing Social Security: if this result held, the Democrats would go the way of the Whigs.

Responsibilities of Academia

Wretchard at Belmont Club puts it well:
Ironically, the public glare focused upon Ward Churchill's ideas in the aftermath of his "little Eichmanns" essay provided the scholarly scrutiny that the University of Coloardo itself neglected to supply. Did the US government actually specify a 'blood quantum' for Native Americans? Did US troops really distribute smallpox-impregnated blankets to tribes and with what precautions to themselves? Did Professor Churchill really provide the content of books on which his name appears or did he swipe it from some other scholar? Those are questions which have been dissected at length by persons "outside the campus" and even by "Colorado lawmakers". That they were not raised or even contemplated by academic departments at the University of Colorado constitutes a failure of its most basic mission. Universities not in the business of asking these these questions are arguably not institutions of higher learning at all. That neglect, not the discussion which her University went so far out of its way to avoid, "threatens the foundation of liberal higher education".
I'm not wild about all of the readers' comments, tho.


The Marines can park at the UAW again...

...even if they are Bush supporters:
"I made the wrong call on the parking issue and I have notified the Marine Corps that all reservists are welcome to park at Solidarity House as they have for the past 10 years," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement released by the union.
Good for them.

Click here: - News - UAW Now Says Marines Can Park In Lot

Monday, March 14, 2005

Ward Churchill & the 1st Amendment

If you are interested in l'affaire Churchill, here are some thoughts from Dave Kopel at the Volokh Conspiracy -. The latter, BTW is an interesting group blog, mostly by law professors at UCLA and George Mason University.


The Cowboys vs the Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys

If you follow that sport, the NY Times reviews The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism" by Philippe Roger. Conclusion: the French have disliked us for two and a half centuries. I guess that takes Dubya off the hook to a certain extent.
Mr. Roger, who teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, almost single-handedly creates a new field of study, tracing the nuances and imagery of anti-Americanism in France over 250 years. He shows that far from being a specific reaction to recent American policies, it has been knit into the very substance of French intellectual and cultural life...

In 1768, the naturalist Cornelius De Pauw called America a "vast and sterile desert" whose climate nurtured "astonishingly idiotic" men...

Scorn of America became a literary trope. In Balzac's novels, Mr. Roger points out, it is the "good-for-nothings" who go to America...

By the end of the 19th century...One writer referred to Uncle Sam as "Oncle Shylock," resonantly adding anti-Semitism into the mix. In the 20th century, French politicians blamed the United States for joining the First World War too late, then for insisting that France repay its debts.

Intellectuals like Sartre credited the Soviet Union with winning the Second World War and said that England and the United States invaded just to get in on the victory.
Well, that jibes with my impression of Sartre: he never met an authoritarian government he couldn't support. Of course he credited the Soviets: he was a leftie of the European variety, and that is way way way off to the left.

As for the US joining WWI too late, as I recall, Winston Churchill during the 1930s was sorry that we had joined at all. His reasoning: If the French and British hadn't expected the Americans to arrive shortly, they would have negotiated an end to the war a year earlier. Our entry allowed them to demand unconditional surrender by Germany. Shortening the war by a year would have saved over a million peoples' lives, and a negotiated end of the war would have been unlikely to include the crushing reparations payments from Germany which set the foundation for the explosive inflation of the German currency during 1921-22. Those payments both devastated the economy and gave Hitler his opportunity for seizing control.

In other words, if we had stayed out, Hitler might have remained a third-rate artist and the Second World War would never have happened. At least if Winston Churchill was correct. Churchill likely saw hindsight as a lot easier than foresight tho.

UPDATE: There is a book out on the issue of Woodrow Wilson screwing up the world for the next 70 years by taking us into WWI: Click here: Books: Wilson's War : How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and World WarII Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sorta like Hollywood

"...energetic light and hot gas being expelled by the young stars."
Cool Space Pic of the Day makes a nice background pic as well if you clik for a hi res version.

The SNAFUs of War

Max Boot in the LATimes, on Rethinking the Iwo Jima Myth and not understanding that such are the nature of war:
In modern parlance, you might say that Iwo Jima was a battle of choice waged on the basis of faulty intelligence and inadequate plans. If Ted Kennedy had been in the Senate in 1945 (hard to believe, but he wasn't), he would have been hollering about the incompetence of the Roosevelt administration, which produced many times more casualties in five weeks than U.S. forces have suffered in Iraq in the last two years.

No such criticism was heard at the time, in part because of the rah-rah tone of World War II press coverage but also because Americans back then had a greater appreciation for the ugly, unpredictable nature of combat...

It's a shame that so many sentimental tributes to the veterans of the Good War elide this unpleasant reality, leaving us a bit less intellectually and emotionally prepared for the trauma of modern war.
6,000 Marines killed and 20,000 wounded in a five weeks battle, for an island which wasn't all that important? I don't know enuf about the War to have an opinion on that characterization, but imagine the response today if that had been the cost of fighting in Fallujah. The only monument in DC would be an impeachment trial.

Sexual division of labor in Muslim countries is IKEA's responsibility...

...of course. Reuters has the story:
Norway's prime minister says company should alter brochures that show only men assembling furniture.

OSLO, Norway (Reuters) - Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says.

IKEA, which has more than 200 stores in 32 nations, fears it might offend Muslims by depicting women assembling everything from cupboards to beds. Its manuals show only men or cartoon figures whose sex is unclear.

"This isn't good enough," Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was quoted Thursday as telling the daily Verdens Gang. "It's important to promote attitudes for sexual equality, not least in Muslim nations."

"They should change this," he said. "There's no justification for it."...

"Both men and women are featured in our product assembly instructions," the (IKEA) spokeswoman told CNN/Money. "We were sorry to see this report."
I bet they were. People are actually paid to spout this stuff? And make it into law.

While I was in Oshkosh for the decoy show this weekend I noticed that the housekeeper who cleaned our room was a guy, probably in his early thirties, and not obviously an immigrant. I don't know what the national distribution curve is for hotel housekeepers who are locally born caucasian dudes, but from what I have observed they are distinctly a minority. In fact, this was the first such I have noticed.

I thought about that rather briefly (even I have better things to do) and suddenly a monstrous fantasy arose: the Federales have been paying ppl to go from hotel to hotel, demanding as a matter of law that local white guys be represented in the housekeeping work force in proportions equal to their presence in the community.

Extrapolate that a while...the NBA...elite California universities...inner city sexual service providers' agents...the American Indian Movement...the NAACP....the KKK...NOW...

Any of you folks who like litachur...

...of the Kiplingesque variety might get a kick out of The Law of the Blogger :
NOW this is the Law of the Blogger - as old and as true as the sky;
And the blogger that keeps it may prosper, but the blogger that breaks it must die.

As the visits that pump up the hit count, the Law runneth forward and back --
For the strength of the Blogs is the Blogger that never cuts anyone slack.
I wonder if my "furrin" truck will be trashed after that last post. Probably not. Well, I hope not. Only gentlemen with unusually small reproductive organs would do so, so I like to think I'm safe, red-blooded virile Americans that my targets were. They can take a little heat with dignity.

Thanks to the Insta dude for the lead to this noble poem.

Time to Boycott the UAW?

Eric Mayne reports in the Detroit News that:
the UAW International will no longer allow members of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines to park at Solidarity House if they are driving foreign cars or displaying pro-President Bush bumper stickers...

At a time when U.S. armed forces are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, quibbling over parking privileges is "silly," (Marine Lt. Col. Joe) Rutledge said...

"I don't know what a foreign car is today anyway. BMWs are made in South Carolina now."
The UAW has every right to set rules for use of its property, even unpatriotic rules. And the people who support those who risk their lives by serving as U.S. Marines have every right to tell the United Auto Workers's bosses to go jump in the lake.

As Rutledge pointed out, plenty of cars with foreign names are produced here. Plenty more with US auto company names are produced here with some foreign made parts. We are all better off for it, including the union members who pay less for everything because foreign competition keeps domestic producers innovating in order to survive.

Since the UAW appears to be run by ppl who don't even understand that millions of good American jobs are created by international trade, and who unpatrioticly want to take it out on US Marines, it seems foolish to be supporting the current leaders.