Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ABC and the Lost Creators are Being Jerks

Lost ran as an extended episode tonight. That demonstrates and indicates that the creators of the television show, as well as ABC, are somewhat thoughtless and inconsiderate and as I somewhat overstate, they are being jerks. Since ABC ran an extended episode tonight, I missed the ending. I'm pissed. The ending of a show like this is either an average and mundane bit of resolution played to a background of pop music, or it contains a valuable nugget of dramatic importance. I am really, truly mad because I missed what it was. I control my television viewing, or attempt to, in a manner as divorced from the station controlling my schedule as possible. I record a fix number of shows using my VCR and then watch them as my schedule permits and demands. I am often busy on Wednesday and Thursday nights so Lost and Alias must be recorded. The VCR is set to start recording at 9 PM and cease at 10 PM EST; it is faithful and reliable, unlike ABC. I didn't get to see the ending of the show and I was filled in by my online buddies. ABC is effectively snubbing those using standard recording devices. My fellow victims can find out what happened here.

I am not losing perspective. I know that it is only a television program. However I am a man who values constancy and consistency and in fact I need it. I desire and even expect a certain amount of those qualities from others in the proper ways. A one-hour show starts at one time and ends one hour late, as it is recorded in the television guide and as it occurs every week. My VCR turned off at 10 PM EST, just in the middle of what Sawyer was saying to Kate. It cut off a conversation between two major characters in the middle of a sentence; I think it was in the middle of a word! Naturally I get angry when my best-laid, simple, and innocent plans go awry thanks an easily-averted outside force directly interjecting in what should be complete entertainment. jwd (IP: has a similar experience tonight* and no doubt we share a similar sentiment.
I set my DVR timer and of course per usual it cuts it off because the show was exteneded. I got the part where Michael [xxxxxxxxxxxSPOILERSxxxxxxxxxxxx] and the show ended on me. Blast doors come down? Magneto bust out of the wall and declare they're on "Island M" ?

Stupid extended episodes. *grumbles*
Michael Hutchison put it in perspective when he explained who was hurt by this and who will be hurt by this.**
I'm now in the doghouse because I told Melinda that I'd tape Law and Order for her while she's at work, and then Lost ran over so that viewers miss the whole premise of Law and Order. And don't think that's not intentional. It's the networks trying to keep you from watching any other channels, first by eliminating all buffer time between shows and now by not following an hourly schedule.

I was going to say "if only there was a way to make them pay for that" but then I realized that they are digging their own graves. I mean, are they TRYING to encourage more online piracy? Because nothing's going to drive more honest people to appreciate the possibility of Torrent files than having millions of loyal viewers discover that they've missed the ending of their show due to ABC being manipulative jerks. What, are you going to wait for the REPEAT (if ever) to find out? No. I'm not a pirate, but I'm definitely going to have to download the complete Law and Order episode to show my wife.
Lost's creators are violating fair expectations with far too little warning. It's not like my evening's ruined, but to see my plans go unfulfilled because what should be the most simplest of routines and promises is ignored just to edge out other networks' programming concerns is just annoying and inconvenient. I did not get to see the whole episode. They’re yanking my chain. Yet I will be back next week; I suppose that makes me part of the problem.

* Posted on November 30, 2005 at 21:37:29
** IP: Posted on November 30, 2005 at 23:38:00

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

John Cusack is not a political genius

He is one of my favorite actors and High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank are great movies. Serendipity was passable and a great excuse to look at Kate Beckinsale without her husband killing me. Where was I? Oh, yes. I already knew that his political ideas and philosophies were somewhat on the other end from me, which doesn't stop me from enjoying his films. He makes movies and he is good at that job. However his comment to the entiriety of the sociopolitical right, apparently: "So maybe I'm smug, and maybe the Democrats are petty. Maybe you're right. But you're ordering people to their deaths. How are those two things comparable?"

He also claims that the Democrats stand for something (but are poor communicators). To be honest, that is something that is debateable. Democrats should debate that. I could care less whether or not they stand for something, if what is being communicated remains what is being communicated today. If the Democrats do indeed stand for something, I don't care.

The post is too long.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Lovely People At Newsweek Near and Far

Doug highlights Newsweek magazine insulting this country and the President.

They do it somewhere safe though... on the cover of an International Newsweek issue.

Kurt Vonnegut Praises Terrorists

The writer was already a leftist and protested the Vietnam War and the current war in Iraq, but now he's made statements that are quite notably misguided in the least, perhaps moderately stupid... heck, putting bad guys on a pedestal for the wrong reasons with wrong sentiments is one of those things I cannot let go of. Kathryn Jean Lopez notes that "Kurt Vonnegut Praises Terrorists." I cannot improve on her words.

Kurt Vonnegut's words:
discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

"They are dying for their own self-respect," he said. "It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing."

Asked if he thought of terrorists as soldiers, Vonnegut, a decorated World War II veteran, said: "I regard them as very brave people, yes."
Mr. Vonnegut defends terrorism.
Vonnegut suggested suicide bombers must feel an "amazing high". He said: "You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation - it must be an amazing high."
I honestly cannot make a better observations about what this man is saying.
Vonnegut's comments are sharply at odds with his reputation as a peace activist and his distinguished war service. He served in the US 106th Division and was captured by German forces at the Battle of the Bulge.

Taken to Dresden and held with other POWs in a disused abattoir, Vonnegut witnessed the appalling events of February 13-14, 1945, when 800 RAF Lancaster bombers firebombed the city, killing an estimated 100,000 civilians.
I'll point out that terrorists target innocents and innocents specifically. Morally these actions are indefensible. Man is free to explore monster as he wishes, but I'm not always thrilled at the findings, when they look like these.

the speed of light revised

Awhile ago I reviewed and noted the speed of light as a constant, although "a popular misconception is that, according to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, nothing in the universe can travel faster than this speed."

Which is to say that scientists have been working to speed up and slow down the speed of light. A team of scientists led by Luc Thévenaz is using optical fibers in a technique called Stimulated Brillouin Scattering to alter the relationships of the phase velocities within a pulse of light. Different frequency components exist and either they move at the same group velocity or they don't but it's possible to create the illusion that the pulse is moving faster than light.

These experiments don't use special media and there are possible implcations in the telecommunications field.

Ricky Holland

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He is still missing.

It's been awhile.

Who remembers?

I hate these things.  People pray on the innocent.  These

monsters deserve to be kneecapped.  There actually is/was some

controversy growing about the foster parents that the boy was living

with.  I don't believe that was ever conclusively settled; of

course the only way this sort of thing is ever really settled is when

the boy is found and safe.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Listen to the word on the 'Arab street'

The following is an article written by Mark Steyn that I have reprinted here without permission, only because the Telegraph apparently does not keep archives of such material as regular policy. Therefore I am archiving it here. My opinions reflect Mr. Steyn's almost exactly. Original URL:

By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 22/11/2005)

Rumours of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death may be exaggerated. He was reported by several Arab TV networks to have been among eight terrorists who self-detonated in Mosul on Sunday. Still, whether or not he's sleeping with the fishes or the 72 virgins, he's already outlived whatever usefulness he had to the jihad.

On Friday, the allegedly explosive "Arab street" finally exploded, in the largest demonstration against al-Qa'eda or its affiliates seen in the Middle East. "Zarqawi," shouted 200,000 Jordanians, "from Amman we say to you, you are a coward!" Also "the enemy of Allah" - which, for a jihadist, isn't what they call on Broadway a money review.

The old head-hacker was sufficiently rattled by the critical pans of his Jordanian hotel bombings that he issued the first IRA-style apology in al-Qa'eda's history. "People of Jordan, we did not undertake to blow up any wedding parties," he said. "For those Muslims who were killed, we ask God to show them mercy, for they were not targets." Yeah, right. Tell it to the non-Marines. It was perfectly obvious to Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari and his missus what was going on when they strolled into the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel.

Still, Mr Zarqawi has now announced his intention to decapitate King Abdullah. "Your star is fading," he declared. "You will not escape your fate, you descendant of traitors. We will be able to reach your head and chop it off."

Good luck, pal. I don't know what Islamist Suicide-Bombing For Dummies defines as a "soft target" but a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding in the public area of an hotel in a Muslim country with no infidel troops must come pretty close to the softest target of all time. Even more revealing, look at who Zarqawi dispatched to blow up his brother Muslims: why would he send Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, one of his most trusted lieutenants, to die in an operation requiring practically no skill?

Well, by definition it's hard to get suicide bombers with experience. But Mr Shamari's presence suggests at the very least that the "insurgency" is having a hard time meeting its recruitment targets. Though it's much admired in the salons of the West, armchair insurgents such as Michael Moore seem to have no desire to walk the walk. Mr Moore compared the Zarqawi crowd to the "Minutemen" of America's revolution, pledged to take to the field of battle at a minute's notice. Alas, the concept of self-destructing Minutemen depends on the often misplaced optimism of the London bus stop: there'll be another one along in a minute.

Mrs Shamari's brother, Thamir al-Rashawi, Zarqawi's right-hand man and the "Emir of al-Anbar" (i.e., the Sunni Triangle), was killed by US troops in Fallujah last year. Her other two brothers and her brother-in-law all died in engagements with the enemy this year. Sending a surviving member of your rapidly dwindling inner circle to blow up a Palestinian wedding is not a sign of strength.

True, he did manage to kill a couple of dozen Muslims. But what's the strategic value of that? Presumably, it's an old-fashioned mob heavy's way of keeping the locals in line. And that worked out well, didn't it? Hundreds of thousands of Zarqawi's fellow Jordanians fill the streets to demand his death.

Did they show that on the BBC? Or are demonstrations only news when they're anti-Bush and anti-Blair? And look at it this way: if the "occupation" is so unpopular in Iraq, where are the mass demonstrations against that? I'm not talking 200,000, or even 100 or 50,000. But, if there were just 1,500 folks shouting "Great Satan, go home!" in Baghdad or Mosul, it would be large enough for the media to do that little trick where they film the demo close up so it looks like the place is packed. Yet no such demonstrations take place.

Happily for Mr Zarqawi, no matter how desperate the head-hackers get, the Western defeatists can always top them. A Democrat Congressman, Jack Murtha, has called for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq. He's a Vietnam veteran, so naturally the media are insisting that his views warrant special deference, military experience in a war America lost being the only military experience the Democrats and the press value these days. Hence, the demand for the President to come up with an "exit strategy".

In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter's easier. Just say, whoa, we're the world's pre-eminent power but we can't handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don't mind we'd just as soon get off at the next stop.

Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn't such a smart move, but since the media can't seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.

As 9/11 fades into the past, that's an increasingly hard argument to make. Taking your ball and going home is a seductive argument in a paradoxical superpower whose inclinations on the Right have a strong isolationist streak and on the Left a strong transnational streak - which is isolationism with a sappy face and biennial black-tie banquets in EU capitals. Transnationalism means poseur solutions - the Kyotification of foreign policy.

So, just as things are looking up on the distant, eastern front, they're wobbling badly on the home front. Anti-Bush Continentals who would welcome a perceived American defeat in Iraq ought to remember the third front in this war: Europe is both a home front and a foreign battleground - as the Dutch have learnt, watching the land of the bicycling Queen transformed into 24-hour armed security for even minor municipal officials. In this war, for Europeans the faraway country of which they know little turns out to be their own. Much as the Guardian and Le Monde would enjoy it, an America that turns its back on the world is the last thing you need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

X-Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney X vid capture taken from Drudge Report

During a recent live broadcast of the Vice President speaking of criticism of the war in Iraq on CNN there was a persistent X that kept popping up on the screen right over the VP's face. What does this represent? Is it disrespect of the Vice-POTUS? It's claimed to be an honest bug in the switcher machine. Sean Hannity (in today's radio broadcast) speculates that it was mischief by an individual technician. Rush today suggested that Fox News take a camera into their own control rooms and demonstrate how easy to operate such machinery to turn the "X" on or off.

The articles in question are Drudge Reports. I'll switch the links to the Drudge Report Archives as apropriate.

Promoting Alternative Technology and Software

You know those guys that go around promoting all these internet browsers aside from Internet Explorer? You know how these guys have nothing to gain, really, from the expanded consumer use of whatever open-source utility that they favor? They didn't make it or have a hand in making it or are getting paid to promote it. Then they go around telling people to use this alternative technology, especially citing that the software is less vulnerable to hacker attack and viruses because the audience is so small and the hackers are so busy creating stuff to attack all of those IE users out there.

Do you know those guys? Those guys are idiots.

I tell you the truth. If we do have some software that truly is less vulernable to attack by hackers simply because the target is small, then it is incredibly dunder-headed to attempt to make the new browser a standard of any sort and attract attention from said villain hackers whom just a few minutes prior your were announcing your immunity regarding.

What colossal idiocy drives someone to wear shorts saying "punch me here" printed right between the legs...

Die Another Day Buddy Icons and other sweet official Downloads

I cannot believe it's still up. The AIM Buddy Icons put up on the official James Bond web page for Die Another Day are still up. The Die Another Day Buddy Icons are still up for downloading. I assume the rest of the Bond 40th Anniversary downloads and Bond 20 web toys are up as well. I'm going to download me some screen savers and some wallpapers.

Bleeping What in Syndicated?

South Park is now syndicated. I'm certain that the words that are bleeped now are the same words bleeped on Comedy Central.

One word often used is A-hole, although on TV it is unabreviated. Why is the word "ass" in A-hole" un-bleeped but the word "hole" is bleeped? Why not just bleep the entire compound word? The second half doesn't really make the first half more profane given the context.

Whatever Happened to the Ownership Society?

from Imprimis November 2005

Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College

Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate School. He also studied history at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University. From 1985-2000, he served as president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. In 1995, he was the founding chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative, or Proposition 209, a voter-approved initiative which prohibited racial preferences in state hiring, contracting and admissions. He is on the board of directors of the Heritage Foundation, the Henry Salvatori Center of Claremont McKenna College, Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences, the Center for Individual Rights and the Claremont Institute. Published widely in national newspapers, magazines and periodicals on issues of public policy, history and political theory, Dr. Arnn is the author most recently of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education, published in 2004 by Hillsdale College Press.

obviously, the following is a speech; I know not when or where or on what occasion, but here it is. It's Imprimis.

Before Hurricane Katrina flooded the tear ducts of our politicians and the vaults of our treasury, President Bush had us talking about America’s “ownership society.” This is one of the best things he has done. He did it prominently in his reelection campaign. He did it bravely in relation to Social Security, which risks the outrage of the media and the votes of older people who always vote. If he did it in some ways foolishly, never mind. It showed promise because it had us talking about something central for a change. This question of ownership is at the heart of America. It always has been.

“No taxation without representation” echoed in the hearts and spirits of our fathers because it called up the ideas they held most dear. If you may not tax me except as my representative, then for the same reason you may not govern me except by my consent. If you cannot take my property except by law and with difficulty, then my title to my property is real. It is truly mine. I own it. And if James Madison is to be believed, my ownership of my property stands on just the same footing as my entitlement to speak my mind or to say my prayers or to vote my conscience.

It is therefore no accident that the Virginia Declaration of Rights, when it lists our inherent rights, mentions the “means of acquiring and possessing property” alongside life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and safety. This document was adopted on June 12, 1776, less than a month before the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson turned to it in the writing of the Declaration. Several people voted for ratification of both documents.

It is therefore no accident that the Bill of Rights in regard to the federal government, and the 14th Amendment in regard to the states, protects against the deprivation of our “life, liberty, or property” without due process of law.

It is therefore no accident that the idea of one man owning another man was condemned by our Founders, some of them slaveholders themselves who were, and who knew they were, condemning themselves. Our right to our property, by their principles, stems from the same source as our right to all things that naturally belong to us, including our bodies, our conscience, and our relationship with our Maker. One man, said Abraham Lincoln famously, has no right to eat the bread wrung from the sweat of other men’s faces.

If this question of the ownership society is controversial today, it is another among many signs that we are in a time of fundamental dispute. If it has been engulfed for a moment by the Gulf of Mexico, it will come back nonetheless for two reasons: first, because it is engraved upon us by our first coming together; and second, because it is in jeopardy today.

The Direct Assault on Property Rights

This jeopardy is plain in several facts of direct relation to the right to property, and in several indirectly related, through their implications for constitutional government.

Start with the direct. The right to property stands now, after a generation of court rulings and political practices, upon a different footing. This is true at every level of government, from all three branches of the federal government down to the smallest tribunal in the smallest hamlet. Which property owner, wishing to build a house or expand a factory, does not fear exactions, delays and denials that may ensue anywhere and are bound to ensue wherever land is dear?

Right here in southern Michigan, some local officials oppose in principle the “conversion of public land to private,” as when a property owner might take control of the unused alley behind his house. These officials have forgotten, if they knew it, that Michigan was part of the Northwest Territory. Almost the whole of that territory was converted en masse to private use, else we in Michigan would have nowhere to build our homes. The Northwest Ordinance, and the Land Ordinance of 1785 that preceded it, are among the finest pieces of legislation ever passed. They mark a turning away from the use of land and property as a means of control. They part from the practice of the Czar of this and the King of that, that only the Czar and the King may say who owns what and who does what with it. We are the first people fully to recognize that the public interest is best served when private people hold the means of their own existence in their own hands.

In the notorious Kelo v. New London decision this last summer, the Supreme Court has decided that the property of one can be taken and given to another so that the other may make more money and pay more taxes with it. The old man in his childhood home, and the widow in the dwelling where she raised her children, are no longer secure in their abodes. The Fifth Amendment states: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” There is no provision in the document for the taking of private land for other private uses.

In Lucas v. South Carolina in 1992, several members of the Supreme Court opined that Mr. Lucas could be deprived of the use of his property without compensation, so long as any small use was left to him. One Justice was of the opinion that Mr. Lucas should be happy so long as he was allowed to picnic and camp upon his parcel. The land in question was on the sea shore, and Mr. Lucas had bought it at great expense. There were houses to the left and right of him. He did manage finally to prevail, though after years of litigation and massive expense.

Mr. Lucas came out better than poor Susette Kelo. She had purchased a little pink house on the river that had been her dream. The family of one of her neighbors had lived in the region since 1895. Another lives next door to his parents, who have owned the residence since the 19th century (I know these facts from the splendid Institute for Justice, who represented Ms. Kelo).

These takings of land upon the least pretext, and the heavy regulation of land use at every level of government, form the direct assault upon the principle of ownership. The indirect assault is equally dangerous and much more general. Ultimately, it is an assault upon constitutional government itself. To understand this, we must think for just a minute about the foundation of the right to property and our other natural rights.

Why Limited Government?

The key to understanding natural rights lies in the word “nature.” It means the essential attribute of anything, whatever makes a thing what it is. It also means, for living things, the process of begetting and growth by which they come to be and thrive.

The Founders were keen students of this subject. They located the nature of man above the beasts and below God. Being imperfect—partaking of the divine but not divine—man is capable of both good and evil. Free from the government of iron instinct, he must govern himself. Government is therefore necessary, and also natural, to the human being. But in forming governments, we must remember that those who hold the power of government are human, too. They, too, are capable of evil. And so for the same reason that government is necessary, it is necessary that it be limited. In Federalist 51 Madison writes:
But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
Madison is writing here about the organizing principle of the Constitution: separation of powers. That principle means simply that all the powers of government are not to be united in a single set of hands.

Separation of powers is one of the two chief safeguards built into the Constitution against unlimited or despotic government. The other is enumeration. This principle means simply that certain things are delegated to the federal government to do. There are many of these things, and they are important. They make, and they are meant to make, a powerful government, a government powerful enough to defend our rights against enemies foreign and domestic. But although it is to be a powerful government, it is to be also a finite government. It may do the things enumerated, but not others.

Madison had written earlier, in Federalist 10, that the “first object” of government is to protect the “diversity in the faculties of men,” in which property rights originate. Government must, Madison is saying, begin with the job of protecting property. This is the first step toward protecting what he will later define as the “permanent and aggregate interest” of the society. Only a government whose powers are divided, and only a government that is limited in scope, can be trusted effectively to protect civil and religious freedom, of which the right to property is a key element. Only such a government will leave room for people to tend to their own subsistence by the accumulation of the fruits of their own labor. Winston Churchill, especially when he was protesting against the carelessness of generals with human life and property, liked to say that in a free society, money must be allowed “to fructify in the pockets of the people.”

Make no mistake, then, that the condition of the ownership society, as it was conceived by those who built the first one ever to exist, was a government limited in scope, economical in function, devoting its powerful yet finite authority to the protection of individual rights, correctly conceived.

The “Rights” Revolution

“Correctly conceived” is precisely the problem today. The ownership society is, as President Bush says, in jeopardy. It is in jeopardy because government has now grown beyond every constitutional bounds. Over the past generation, our government has been transformed to undertake any project, however remote, miniscule, or local. There is no interest, however isolated, parochial, or private, in which it will not meddle. This is unmistakably a change of constitutional proportion, a change in the very way we live. As it continues, it will necessarily alter not only our relation to the government, but also our habits of mind and the disposition of our character.

Like most powerful and sustained movements in American history, this one begins with a variation on our central idea. This variation has a strong appeal, and there is good in it. That accounts for its strength. It is, however, contradictory of our central idea and destructive of the benefits that originally flowed from it.

The variation is explained beautifully in the short message Franklin Roosevelt sent to Congress in 1944 regarding an “Economic Bill of Rights.” The theme of this message is plainly revolutionary, even if on the surface it pretends only to complete the work done by the American Founders. The rights articulated by the Founders, Roosevelt says, are “inadequate,” because “necessitous men are not free men.” These “economic truths” have become “accepted as self-evident.” They require a “new bill of rights.” He proceeds to list the components in this new bill of rights. The list is compelling in a way that is evident all about us. Today we are constantly making new bills of rights: the Victim’s Bill of Rights; the Patient’s Bill of Rights; the Academic Bill of Rights; soon enough, the Aardvark’s Bill of Rights.

Roosevelt’s list is compelling because it is a list of good, even vital things. The list includes the right to a job, to food and clothing, to medical care and to an education. These things are indeed valuable and some of them necessary to life. And yet they differ from the list of rights in the original Bill of Rights, as Roosevelt admits. While admitting the difference, he conceals the nature of the difference. The rights protected in the original Bill of Rights do not demand anything of another except their recognition. One may pray all he pleases, and others are left free to pray or not, and with all their property intact. Short of slander, libel, or treason, one may say what he pleases and do no harm to another. We may come together, or as the Bill of Rights says, we may “assemble,” and so long as we do not obstruct the traffic, others may go freely about their business.

One can see how the right to property, properly conceived, has this same attribute. If my property is the fruit of my labor, and not of yours, then we have no conflict. You may have your property, and I may have mine. What is good for me is good for you. My having my good deprives you of none of yours, and your having your good leaves me secure in mine.

The interesting thing about this understanding of rights is the harmony it breeds in society. My getting the things of which I am entitled takes nothing from you. I may own what is mine, you may own what is yours, and we may be at peace with each other. This harmony—or to use the political term, this justice—is the reason why our Constitution has lasted so long and our nation has prospered so well. We can all share hope, and in that hope we can all build our property to sustain ourselves and our families, and to provide charity for our neighbor when he is in need.

The Current Crisis

We can see today the effects of the “new self-evident truths” (as if there could be such a thing) and the “new bill of rights.” The system of philanthropy, unique to our country, that had prevented people who suffered misfortune from starving, is now replaced by a general system of taxpayer aid that has encouraged the destruction of family life, the essential way to raise children. This is nowhere more evident than in the fact that the illegitimacy rate in the 1950s, before the federal War on Poverty was launched, was four percent, whereas today it is 35 percent (68 percent among black Americans).

Or consider the “right to an education.” Education was vital to the people who built our country. In the aforementioned Northwest Ordinance, they wrote: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall ever be encouraged.” They proceeded then to provide the most massive subsidy to education that has ever been given in this country. The one exception to the conversion of public land to private was the holding back of 1/36th of the western land for the provision of education locally, and of course under the direction of state governments which had the constitutional power.

Today, by contrast, we have the centralized Department of Education at the federal level. In providing the “right to an education,” it regulates our nation’s colleges in the closest detail (Hillsdale College being an important and rare exception). Since September 11, 2001, defense spending in the U.S. has risen almost 60 percent; spending on higher education has risen more than 200 percent.

What do we get for this money? Not learning. It is notorious that college graduates today know little to nothing of the history of our country or its constitutional meaning. If you doubt this, ask a senior a few questions about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

Nor does the money buy political support for the party that has voted these massively increased subsidies. It is notorious that the beneficiaries of federal aid to higher education, namely those who work in colleges, support the other party by embarrassing margins.

Nor do we get patriotism. In fact, a consortium of colleges is suing the federal government right now because they object only to the requirement that military recruiters be admitted to their campuses as a condition of receiving federal aid. Already these colleges are abiding thousands of pages of regulation. They object to this specific one. Perhaps they have forgotten that Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution—which enumerates the powers of Congress—mentions defense eight times. Education is not mentioned at all.

A good word is due here about many in government today. President Bush introduced the idea of private accounts in Social Security, and it has lately foundered. But the cause has been taken up by a group of young members of Congress. They are proposing variations on the powerful idea, expounded by the American Institute for Full Employment, that the portion of Social Security taken directly from a worker’s pay should be placed in a private account. The other half could be used to pay benefits to those now on retirement or soon to retire. This idea would be a massive step back toward the ownership society in its full meaning.

Likewise, one wonders why those who make law today would not simply emulate the Founders in providing education. If you want to subsidize education, why not find a constitutional way? Why not a tax deduction or even a credit? Anything would be better than the current top-down bureaucratic control of matters that are essentially local or private or both.

It was well known to those who built the United States that education, food, and medicine are important. This importance has been known to nearly any fool, for as long as there has been civil society. The question is only how these things should be provided. Our Founders practiced the art of constitutional government, under which government is limited and people have the right to provide for themselves. Under this system one gets more food, and more medicine, and more education than under bureaucratic rule. Also, he gets his liberty under the law.

It was no small achievement to build the first ownership society known to man. Those who built it thought it fragile. It could be sustained only under the right principles, embodied in and practiced through the right constitutional structure. If we lose that, we will find ourselves in a condition of poverty too deep to measure in money terms.

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College,

PBS Clip Show Commercial Currently Presents...

Every season PBS has a fun little music video clip show thing. Each one runs shots and clips from the programming and episodes that they are proudest to promote. There are usually comforting colorful lines and swirls animating through the advertisement and psuedo-profound comments and imperative statements that are tangentially related to the particular clip that it was framed on top of and these things are usually comforting in some manner. The music is either meant to be inspiring or comforting or both and it is generally the stuff you'lll find playing at Barnes and Noble when you walk inside but you really have no idea what the heck it is that you are listening to.

And it costs eleven dollars. Enough of that.

This season and this month of this year the song is "World Looking In" by morcheeba.

The lyrics that I instantly memorized and used to find the title are
Don't Stop Just Yet We've Got The World Looking In Our Window
If anyone wants to find the complete lyrics (and I wish to hear the complete song and I have not) then they can Google that themselves. That is how I found them.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An Unoriginal Thought On Stalker Songs

Apparently one of my readers/skimmers came from another Blogger site through that odd Blogger bar uptop. Backtracking to there through Sitemeter I found this very concisely and clearly put post on the music industry. It's got vulgar and obscene language so follow at your own risk.

The fact is that people in the music industry think language about stalking and hunting and harrassing as such is supposedly sweet and romantic. This is not news. The best and most famous example is the Police and their song "Every Breath You Take". That's nasty and unfortunate. None of this is new but it should be mentioned every now and then and I didn't know that Clay Aiken had joined the evil crowd. Creeeeeepy. Any teenage girl still think he's warm and cuddly?

DivX for Windows 98

The most recent version of DivX does support my operating system; it now is only compatible with Windows XP and the variants. Currently DivX recommends downloading version 2.6.

I kind of hate that.

MSU Common Sense Online

MSU Common Sense was Michigan State University's second monthly Conservative newsletter/newspaper/periodical. It was the only one that I have not had a hand in creating and also was the only series that I did not contribute to. It also had the shortest lifespan of the three. The first one was the Spartan Spectator, headed by originally by Jason Van Dyke back in 2000. That died after nearly three years and two Editors-in-chief/publishers; there weren't many published issues. Common Sense died after only one year despte that the creators were apparently so serious that they purchased a URL. Common Sense was a quality-enough publication that the Spartan Sword staff archived all the articles in a special section of its homepage here.

The Spartan Sword is the third attempt of the College Republicans, Young Americans for Freedom, and other Conservatives on and of MSU, towards a successful published right-wing voice. I'm actually contributing to this monthly endeavor; how can it fail?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

makes my bones hurt

and all of my sudden my joints feel a bit more stiff.

November 6, 1981 was when I was born. That makes me age today.

If anyone really is curious about that sort of thing, regardless of his or her intent, my Amazon wish list is here. Honestly all I really desire from and through the internet is well-wishes from my comrades and condemnations and ill-thoughts from my enemies.

It's a good life. I'm very blessed.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pinging Misfire

I know that something in the Comics Weblog Update-a-Tron is busted (probably because I'm getting a disproportionate number of hits from that listing today, despite not having created a new post since the weekend.