Archive for November 2010

Hey! I’ve Read One Of The NYT’s 100 Notable Books Of 2010

November 30, 2010

I’m not surprised. Most of my reading is of books from the library, which is hardly a cutting edge collection. When I do buy books, they’re either used, or trade paperbacks, or both. Again, not a good way to be on top of new releases.

Anyway, the one I have read, Solar, by Ian McEwan, was notable to me for starring one of the most irredeemable characters I’ve ever encountered. As the Times summarizes:

In McEwan’s funniest novel yet, a self-deluding physicist cheats on his wives, sends an innocent man to jail and tries to cash in on another scientist’s plans against global warming.

That’s not even the worst of him.

Here’s the whole list. If I could remember half the stuff I’ve read this year, I would do a post on the most notable ones. Maybe I will, even though I’ve forgotten half. I mean, if I forgot them, they probably didn’t belong on the list in the first place, right?


I’m Done With College Football This Year

November 27, 2010

Now that Auburn is the national champ, there ain’t much to get excited for. I’ll watch LSU’s remaining games, but knowing Cam Newton will soon hoist the Heisman and the BCS trophy has sucked the joy from the season, no matter how LSU finishes. It sucks when the bad guys win.

Oh sure, Auburn still has to actually beat South Carolina for the SEC title, and then humiliate some second tier team in the BCS title game. But after the Iron Bowl, is there any doubt?

Happy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

From Louisiana, where it’s closer to eighty than seventy, and I just found these about to bloom in my front garden:

If you can’t tell, that’s three gerbera daisies. I planted them last May and enjoyed the blooms all summer. And now fall, too.

Land Of The Obsequious

November 22, 2010


Of note: He can’t do anything about it, and this is less than clear opposition, but Jindal questions the TSA screenings.

I’m Not Saying I’ll Vote Palin In 2012, But . . .

November 20, 2010

As for Obama, I’m quickly  moving from disappointment to hostility. This doesn’t help:

President Barack Obama on Saturday acknowledged some travelers’ “frustrations” with having to go through full-body pat-downs and scans at airports, but he said the enhanced security measures are necessary to keep America safe.

Wrong on both counts. One, they aren’t making anyone safer. Two, they aren’t “frustrating;” they’re humiliating:

A retired special education teacher on his way to a wedding in Orlando, Fla., said he was left humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers recently at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

“I was absolutely humiliated, I couldn’t even speak,” said Thomas D. “Tom” Sawyer, 61, of Lansing, Mich.

Sawyer is a bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag, which collects his urine from a stoma, or opening in his stomach.  “I have to wear special clothes and in order to mount the bag I have to seal a wafer to my stomach and then attach the bag. If the seal is broken, urine can leak all over my body and clothes.”

On Nov. 7, Sawyer said he went through the security scanner at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. “Evidently the scanner picked up on my urostomy bag, because I was chosen for a pat-down procedure.”

He asked for a private screening, and received the same eye-rolling look of disdain anyone who has ever been to a DMV, or who has ever shopped at a Wal-Mart knows well. Sawyer’s attempts to explain his condition were ignored. And then, the finale:

“One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.”

The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, “He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened. But I know they saw it because I had a wet mark.”

Humiliated, upset and wet, Sawyer said he had to walk through the airport soaked in urine, board his plane and wait until after takeoff before he could clean up.

“I am totally appalled by the fact that agents that are performing these pat-downs have so little concern for people with medical conditions,” said Sawyer.

I’m not surprised at all. To the TSA employees and Obama, neither Sawyer or anyone else is a person at all. We’re animals who have no right to our own security or dignity. That’s why I’ll never fly again.

I Don’t Care How We Execute People; I Care About Who We Execute

November 19, 2010

Debates like this one, in Oklahoma, over what mix of chemicals to use in lethal injections truly annoy me. Who cares how the person dies? They’re murderers. Personally, I’d prefer a return to public executions. Set the scaffolds up on the courthouse lawn and make a real example out of them. Even if that won’t happen, though, lets not have vapid arguments about the ingredients in a drug cocktail.

Instead, lets use our energy on the real problem with the death penalty: How we decide who’s going to be executed and who isn’t. Stories like this are what really bother me, and ought to bother anyone with an independent mind:

(Houston – November 12, 2010) The Innocence Project today released DNA test results proving that crucial hair evidence found at the scene of a murder, the only physical evidence linking the accused Claude Jones to the crime, did not belong to Jones. Although he always maintained his innocence, Jones was executed for murdering Allen Hilzendager on December 7, 2000. George Bush, who was awaiting a decision from the Florida Supreme Court on whether the presidential election recount would continue, denied Jones’ request for a 30 day stay of execution to do DNA test on the hair sample. The memo from the General Counsel’s office that recommended against the stay did not tell Bush that Jones was seeking a DNA test of the hair.

At the trial, of course, the hair was the key evidence against Jones. Turns out, it wasn’t his. He tried to have it tested, but Texas officials, more interested in getting things done than in getting them done right, killed him without bothering to do it.

Oh sure, Jones could have done it. Texas officials will respond by saying the disproved hair does not prove Jones is innocent. But that’s exactly the problem. However we do it, does anyone out there feel comfortable executing people who could have done it?

This Song Is Great When Your Car Is Rocketing Towards The Limits Of Its Speedometer

November 18, 2010

Not that I’d know. It’s also awesome in the last half mile of a run when you really want to pick up the pace.

If You Like The Drug War, You Should Love Obamacare

November 17, 2010

Here’s a good example of what I was trying to say in this post (and comments thereto):

If the generation of “limited government” lawmakers freshly chosen to man the trenches in Washington wishes to be taken seriously, the butcher’s bill must include some of the social conservatives’ sacred cows.

Starting with the War on Drugs.

Many conservatives have long argued that the federal government is broadly empowered to prosecute the drug war under Congress’s authority over interstate commerce. In the name of the drug war, they have been willing to allow federal law-enforcement officers to prosecute seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana in compliance with their states’ laws.

Many of those same conservatives are now finding that the terrible, swift sword of expansive federal power that they endorsed in the name of drug prohibition has now been turned on them in the form of Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Of course, I’m not discussing the wisdom of either. The issue is whether either is constitutional. Go ahead and search Article I, section 8 for the part that allows Congress to regulate drug use, or health insurance. Actually, let me save you the effort: You won’t find either. Both laws, rather than finding explicit, or even obvious implicit, sources in the text of the Constitution, are results of very, very broad readings of Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. As the article explains, the Government is currently using drug war cases expanding the commerce clause as justification for Obamacare.

In other words, this is yet another opportunity for the newly vocal limited government crowd to demonstrate some bona fides. If the real concern is an overreaching Congress, then Obamacare and the Drug War must die. If one escapes? Something other than passions for limited government is the real concern.

New (To Me) Music

November 16, 2010

Sometime last summer, I picked up Push the Button by the Chemical Brothers from the used cd store. After one listen, I lost it. Two days ago, I found it in – shockingly – my cd collection, in the C’s. Like I said, it’s not new other than to me, but I’ve had it on repeat in the car since finding it.

The first track is good stuff, especially since it features Q-Tip.

The penultimate is probably my favorite.

Tea Partiers Support (Or At Least Won’t Attack) Civil Liberties?

November 15, 2010


A gay conservative group and some Tea Party leaders are campaigning to keep social issues off the Republican agenda.

In a letter to be released Monday, the group GOProud and leaders from groups like the Tea Party Patriots and the New American Patriots, will urge Republicans in the House and Senate to keep their focus on shrinking the government.

From the letter:

Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues.  We are disappointed but not surprised by this development.  We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.

To this point, I’ve generally scoffed at any tea partier who crows about “limited government,” or who fears “tyranny.” Why? For the same reason I scoff at people who whine about state’s rights, or judicial activism. In the vast majority of cases, those terms are nothing but pretexts for more specific policy preferences. In other words, just as the same people who want states to decide the issue of abortion also want a federal law banning gay marriage, the same people who think an increase in the top  tax rates is the return of George the III also are just fine with the president claiming the authority to, sua sponte, execute American citizens.

I don’t want this to be the case. I really wish we had a large group of actual voters who really want liberty of all kinds. So, I hope I’m wrong about the Tea Partiers. I’d love it if they’d attack not just Obamacare, but also the Patriot Act.

Does this letter mean that will happen? Dunno. My hopes are not high. First, as many have emphasized in many ways, there is no Tea Party, just groups of folks using the name. Sure some leaders have signed this letter, but that carries no official weight. Second, the nut cases who have taken over the GOP over the last few decades have a lot of money and influence. They are not going to give up their power. Third, and most disappointingly, the letter does not ask Republicans to actually work in favor of liberty. There’s nothing about ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or ending extraordinary rendition. All the letter does is ask the Republicans to resist attacking civil liberties; not “to run down any social issue rabbit holes.” I’ll be happy if they take that advice, but not nearly as happy as I’d be if they’d actually support all kinds of liberty, instead of the type that only involves their donors’ pockets.