Monday, May 29, 2006

Huge Hat Tip our soldiers, and veterans. Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

America's Future...

...belongs to her best and brightest. Dr. Hurd explains:

A recent MSNBC story discusses the sad state of American public schools. Surprise, surprise; President Bush's (and Ted Kennedy's) "No Child Left Behind" act has only led public schools to scramble more to make it LOOK like they're doing better. In actual practice, according to the study, there are more inexperienced teachers than ever; fewer and fewer children are grasping the facts and principles of basic science; and textbooks are being left to do the work while psychologists, claiming that now a near-majority of kids suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, ensure that most children can be excused from the ability to read textbooks since they "can't pay attention."

The story goes on to ask, "Can America compete?"

My answer is an overwhelming yes. Why? Because it isn't the majority of adults (who are presently school-age kids) who will lift the society in the future. It's the brightest, most innovative and most hard-working few who accomplish out of proportion to the rest. They build the businesses, create the jobs, and make the discoveries. These few will rise above the mediocre public school system, as well as the inadequacies that most (but not all) private schools possess. Many innovative geniuses, upon whom we all depend whether we know it or not, do poorly in school, and it's no wonder given the awful state of schools, past and present.

I don't mean to minimize the problem. I don't mean to deny that education, properly done, is profoundly important. I don't mean to back away from my own ongoing position that public schools be phased out, dollars be returned to taxpayers and parents be put in charge of finding education for their kids in the marketplace. What I do mean to suggest is that the best and brightest can rise above a lot of things, so long as they live in freedom. It's worse than futile to think that public schools can do anything to educate kids at all; they're nothing more than babysitting services designed to herd kids together and go through the motions of "socializing" them. Even mediocre schools can usually manage to help kids learn to more or less read and write; but you can forget independent thinking and, according to the MSNBC story, you can forget about math and science skills.

Those who want to think will think, through it all. The public school system will never be good. If you care about the future, and the present, fight for the preservation and expansion of individual freedom. Individual freedom is for everyone, but it protects and nourishes the best, the brightest and the most innovative among us. And that's still the greatest hope for our future. It always has been.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Apple vs. Bloggers

Wired Magazine reports on a court case that Apple brought against two Blog sites that reported on, at the time, [2004] future Apple products. Here's and excerpt:

A California appeals court has smacked down Apple's legal assault on bloggers and their sources, finding that the company's efforts to subpoena e-mail received by the publishers of Apple Insider and runs contrary to federal law, California's reporter's shield law, and the state Constitution.

Read the rest...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blog Addition

I'm adding Principles in Practice, the blog of The Objective Standard, to my blogroll. Doing some housecleaning there, also.

A Case of Envy and Jealousy, me thinks.

"Art Critics" blast Dan Brown and DaVinci Code.

Here's the juicy bits...

..."With its flat prose, stick-figure characters, wooden dialogue, perfunctory scene-setting and an unfortunate tendency to interrupt the action with momentum-killing lectures, the novel is in some ways the unlikeliest of best sellers. Many Chicago writers, critics, scholars and book-industry insiders are flummoxed by the book's success."

...Author James McManus, who teaches creative writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and writes about poker for the New York Times, had a similar experience with The Da Vinci Code. "It's painful to read stuff like that," he says. "Give me some Novocain."

"He's telling you the story and then telling you what to think about the story," says Donna Seaman, associate editor of Booklist, a review journal published by the American Library Association. "He's always preaching."

"There's no interest in psychological complexity, depth, growth, development," says Barbara Newman, a professor of English, religion and classics at Northwestern University. "And I want to say this also: The two villains in the book turn out to be an albino and a cripple, which I think is regressive and prejudicial in a very nasty, stereotypical kind of way. The beautiful people are good; the people who have distorted bodies also have distorted souls. A book that prides itself on being so progressive should have a more enlightened consciousness about disability."

Here's the clincher!

But McManus, for one, argues that the Da Vinci Code phenomenon isn't good for the cause of literature in a broader sense.

"As a person who knows a lot of talented people who write wonderful books and can't get them published, as well as published writers with only a tiny audience, I regret the herd mentality in which everyone needs to read one particular book, leaving so much strong work unread," he says. "It's an unfortunate aspect of human nature that there's so little independence of mind about choosing one's reading material. People are such lemmings, and it's pathetic."

[Gee, I don't think I'm a lemming. Ed.]

Link to full article:

Puff piece on Chavez in the Guardian

He's the new hero of the left - a socialist leader who is tackling poverty in Venezuela while leading the Latin American backlash against 'the empire' of George Bush. But what is Hugo Chávez really like? And how does he feel about being portrayed as a dictator by much of the British press? Jonathan Steele and Duncan Campbell meet him.

Chávez's critics have also made their voices heard. An anti-Chávez website,, has also been running lengthy attacks on the visit, accusing him of human rights abuses, of locking up political opponents, and making a weapon out of la lista (the list) of the several million people who signed petitions calling for a referendum to recall him from power in 2004. They claim signatories suffer discrimination now. There has also been some dissent from people who support what he is trying to achieve. Nicaragua-born Bianca Jagger, for instance, criticised Chávez for supporting the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, even though Ortega has made what she sees as an unholy alliance with the rightwing in his country in this autumn's elections.

[I have stopped buying any Citgo product, years ago. A small protest I know, but nonetheless...Editor]

Full article's link:,,329481171-111259,00.html

Monday, May 08, 2006

Follow-up to May 1 story on Government snooping in data retention...

Here's the latest endorsement, by more Republican's, of government snooping of the ISP records...

WASHINGTON--A key Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives plans to find a way to force Internet providers to keep records of their customers' activities, an aide said Friday.

The aide said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who chairs the House committee responsible for writing Internet and telecommunications law, has pledged to work on legislation related to mandatory data retention--a concept recently endorsed by the Bush administration as a way to crack down on child pornographers.

"We have made a commitment with the congresswoman to address that issue," David Cavicke, general counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said at the Computers, Freedom & Privacy conference here. Cavicke was referring to Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, who has drafted legislation making it unlawful for an Internet provider to delete certain types of customer information.

The Link:

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Via Nick at The Rule of Reason, here's my map of states visited, so far. I've only been to one foreign country, Bermuda.
32 and counting...

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Friday, May 05, 2006

Special Treatment....again

WASHINGTON - Rep. Patrick Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) says he'd taken a prescription anti-nausea drug that can cause drowsiness, but consumed no alcohol, before crashing his car near the Capitol.

In a statement, Kennedy, D-R.I., said the attending physician for Congress had prescribed Phenergan to treat Kennedy's gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, who was not on the scene, said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his Ford Mustang into a barrier on Capitol Hill.

Cannon said the officers involved in the accident were instructed by an official "above the rank of patrolman" to take Kennedy home and no sobriety tests were conducted at the scene. [Italics mine.(If this were you or me, I can hear those handcuffs clicking on our wrists as I write this...)]

Kennedy said that after working Wednesday evening he went home and took "prescribed" amounts of Phenergan and Ambien, another drug that he sometimes takes to fall asleep.

In his statement, Kennedy said he was apparently disoriented from the drugs when he got up a little before 3 a.m. Thursday and drove to the Capitol thinking he needed to be present for a vote.

"At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol," he said.

A letter written by a Capitol Police officer to Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said Kennedy appeared to be staggering when he left the vehicle after the crash about 3 a.m. The letter was first reported by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Kennedy reportedly told the police he was late for a vote, but the final vote of the night had taken place some six hours earlier.

The Capitol Police did not return phone calls for comment.

Kennedy spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College. He has been open about mental health issues, including being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Hampshire can stop the coming federal police state

Has anyone heard the outcome of the Senate vote in NH?


THE NEW HAMPSHIRE Senate will soon vote on what might be the most important bill to protect our freedoms in many years. House Bill 1582, which the House overwhelmingly passed last month, would preclude New Hampshire from participating in the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed last year establishing a de facto national ID card.

The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 as a part of a "must-pass" military appropriations bill, though it had nothing whatsoever to do with the military. It requires that all states comply with certain federal requirements in the creation of driver's licenses, and would likely include a microchip containing information such as a digital photo, Social Security number and digital biometric information like the fingerprint or retinal scan of the license holder. It would force the repeal of several important privacy protections currently in New Hampshire law.

If a state doesn't comply with REAL ID, its residents risk being forced to purchase passports just to drive in other states or enter federal facilities. Thus, it reveals itself to be a Soviet-style internal passport.

History has shown that national identification systems are one of the critical pieces of infrastructure needed to foist complete tyranny upon a nation. They are used as the basis for tracking movements, purchases and monitoring activities

Full Article:

Monday, May 01, 2006

Feds set 'cover' for possible government invasion of ISP records


Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a Republican, gave a speech saying that data retention by Internet service providers is an "issue that must be addressed." Child pornography investigations have been "hampered" because data may be routinely deleted, Gonzales warned.

Now, in a demonstration of bipartisan unity, a Democratic member of the Congressional Internet Caucus is preparing to introduce an amendment--perhaps during a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week--that would make such data deletion illegal.

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette's proposal (click for PDF) says that any Internet service that "enables users to access content" must permanently retain records that would permit police to identify each user. The records could not be discarded until at least one year after the user's account was closed.

Here's the whole story: