Saturday, January 21, 2006

Colorado deals with eminent domain

The Senate passed a bill which would prohibit private toll-road developers from using eminent domain. So says the Denver Post. I think what they meant to say was that the state cannot use eminent domain to get property which is permanently sold to private toll-road developers. Actually, they meant to say what they said, they are just trying to garner support and be partisan. Nowhere in the country do private corporations have the ability to use eminent domain. It is a power reserved to the state and federal governments.

Now, in this case I happen to agree with their point of view. This is supposed to be a straight news piece. Report the news, not your bias, even when I agree with it.

My view, in case you care. The latest tollway put in, "The Northwest Parkway", is a great help to me. It was done in a public/private partnership. The state did wind up having to use eminent domain, but they did a fair job of trying to minimize the impact on the property owners affected. A private firm built the road and they get the tolls for the first few years. They will leave a reserve fund for maintenance and then turn ownership over to the state. My hope is that the state will be smart enough to farm out to similar (or the same) private firms to run it for a cut of the tolls going forward.

This arrangement got us a very well made road that completed way ahead of schedule (what was the last public road project that completed ahead of schedule or even on time?). It is better maintained than any state road around. It is cleared of snow earlier and more frequently than state roads. It gets me to the airport in half the time it used to take. It takes traffic off of the state roads which non-toll-payers use. This seems like a good use of eminent domain to me (my personal comfort aside).

The idea of having the state use eminent domain to get property and permanently turn it over to a road developer seems like a bad one to me. It is too likely to produce abuse. Politicians are just too easily bought off. Sorry, that is politically incorrect, they are too easily influenced by large campaign donations.

More teachers raping kids get off

Meet Gary Hoff, then meet Gregory Pathiakis.

Notice that the victims are male here as well. Other than the Vermont looney judge case which is getting national attention all of these cases seem to involve male victims. The sex of the offender, or the attractiveness of the rapist, doesn't seem to be the common thread. Rape a girl, go to jail, rape a boy, probation.

Ann on her game this week

Check out "Chocolate City sprinkled with nuts".

Clash of the old Coots

For an great old equal opportunity offensive cartoon, check this out. (HT: Hugh)

Quinn blasts religious groups

The star of "The book of Daniel" is upset because he thinks that people aren't watching his show because they are religiously offended. I tried to watch it last night. That isn't the problem. It is a terrible show. Less than 15 minutes in I had to give up. It is slow, hard to follow, impossible to believe, and not funny. Other than that, it's great. I switched over to a rerun of Law and Order. Much better.

Should we put Oxygen in mines?

West Virginia's governor made a statement a few moments ago that he is going to drive through the state legislature and WV's Washington reps are go to drive through the national legislature 3 proposals.

1. Rapid response. He made the analogy that an ambulance shows up quickly at his house if he were to suddenly fall ill but the same is not true for a miner underground.

I have no issue with this idea but it seems to me that there were tons of rescue workers at the sites of the last two tragedies very quickly. How much faster can we realistically make it.

2. Electronic tracking. He claims the technology is here to track the locations of the miners electronically is ready.

This is a very difficult problem as this mine in places (and others in that part of the country) goes 2 miles underground. Electronic signals don't travel well through coal and stone and earth. That said, if such technology is ready for prime time we should get it in all of our mines as quickly as possible. It appears that in this case they pretty much knew where the trapped miners were and just couldn't get to them because of fire. That is not always the case. If we can use technology to know very quickly where trapped miners are it should be deployed.

3. Oxygen stations located at periodic intervals in the mine will be mandatory.

This is definitely a double edged sword and probably would have done these poor miners no good. Oxygen fuels fires and explosions. While I am no expert I think we need to hear from credentialled experts before we enact this possibly dangerous mandate. In the last two disasters I have heard numerous "experts" claim that this is an idea that is more dangerous than it is life saving. Small fires get bigger and hotter, small methane explosions get huge. This is all very logical. It is similar to the tradeoff of our soldiers between more armor and more mobility.

All of that said, if the miners know of technology or changes that will make their job less dangerous we should use the body politic to get those changes enacted.

Our prayers go out

It has just been announced at a live news conference that the bodies of the two trapped miners have been found. They did not succeed in finding a place to hide from the carbon monoxide and heat of the fire. They died close to each other.

Our prayers go out to their families and to the rescue workers who battled tirelessly to try to put out the fire and get to the trapped miners in time to no avail.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Great ideas, number 4928

Cobb, over at The Conservative Brotherhood, came up with a great plan to deal with Tookie William's clemency plea. This might actually work until the condemned got to the SCOTUS and they ruled it cruel and unusual. It might be worth thinking about a more viable version of this one though...
I PROPOSE that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, rather than unequivocally deciding to save Stanley Tookie Williams or send the convicted murderer to his death next week, instead conditionally postpone his execution.

The governor should then immediately convene a summit, including not only clergy, grass-roots leaders and elected representatives such as Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, but also current and former Bloods and Crips. The deal: He will spare Williams' life, but only as long as these leaders can keep young black men from killing each other.

Go read the rest.

Chad the Elder stinks

Apparently Chad the Elder is not a frequent flyer. As all frequent flyers know, your shaving kit (shampoo, tooth brush, tooth paste, razor, deodorant, etc), any necessary medications, at least one fresh shirt, socks and change of underwear always go in your carry on.

He is on a great mission though. God speed!

William Rusher on CAP

I wonder why Sen. Teddy didn't want to supeona William Rusher, one of CAP's founders, to testify instead of just demanding his records (which he gave up upon being asked by a non-anonymous source).

Drunken Elephants?

This does not sound like a great idea to me although sometimes extreme circumstances require extreme measures.

Theodore McMillian, RIP

I was unaware of this man or his contributions to our society until I read this Powerline post and the linked obituary.

Ken Salazar to vote no on Alito

Say it isn't so!!!! I am so shocked. Not!

During the last election I was lulled into thinking that my choices were a true centrist (Salazar) or a somewhat maverick hard conservative (Pete Coors). I voted for Coors mostly because I wanted to extend Republican control of the Senate to eliminate the judicial filibusters but thought that for the first time in my life I was presented with a national election vote that was not the lesser of two evils. (I do not mean to imply that Sen. Salazar is evil, it is just an expression). I really liked them both and thought either would be a much better choice than many people that "represented" me in the Senate for years despite my voting against them over and over. A few weeks after the swearing in I was reminded of another expression "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" when the newly seated Senator announced that his pledge not to participate in judicial filibusters (a pledge he gave many times in public, recorded, forums) was ill-informed and now that he understood better, he would participate in filibustering qualified judicial candidates with majority support.

I may still be being naive, but I actually believe that Sen. Salazar believed he was against judicial filibusters when he went to the Senate. And then the corrupting force known as the Beltway Blindness infected him. This force is the reason why there are so few committed centrists in Washington D.C. If you throw your lot in with the Republicans the far right is constantly trying to convince you that you should be a bible thumping absolutist whose voting direction is decided by Jerry and the boys. If you throw your lot in with the Dems, it is even worse. First, very few of the Democrat Senators are center-left, many more are on the extreme. Second, they will withhold positions of leadership and committees if you part company on what they deem to be "party" issues.

This is all politics as usual, except Colorado isn't red or blue. It is a bizarre state politically as I have learned in my 5 years here. We have some of the most liberal cities in America and some of the most conservative representatives from some of our suburban and rural areas. We are truly purple. We are seen as a Republican state nationally mostly because the Republicans have been smarter about running folks closer to the center. In the last election the Dems took control of the state house by getting a clue about this while the Repubs got lazy and stupid. Ken Salazar is on his way to being a one term Senator if he doesn't remember that extremist party parrots don't win state wide elections here, and unlike NY and CA, people here do remember if you kept or broke your word.

16 ft. box truck anyone?

OneRedPaperClip has now traded up to a 1995 Ford Cube Van. This is, IMO, one of the more interesting commerce experiments I have ever seen.

Laugh of the day

For all of you who are tired of the "forward this or else" messages, a smile for the day. Click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Paradox in law again?

Professor Bainbridge (a law professor) points out the paradox in the Supreme court deciding that the federal government cannot prohibit a doctor from over prescribing drugs for a deathly ill patient who wants to die on their own terms. It can, however, prohibit prescribing a natural plant drug (a joint) for the alleviation of pain or nausea in ill patients who will or should live.

Diane Carman is a narrow minded bigot

She is all aflutter about Brokeback Mountain. That is fine. That is why Baskin Robbins makes so many flavors of ice cream. I don't plan to see it, in fact I plan to intentionally avoid seeing it. For that she accuses me of being everything from a closet homophobe to a cretan.

It's the scariest movie since "Fatal Attraction" turned millions of American men into born-again husbands.

No, it's scarier. At least most heterosexual men could summon the courage to see "Fatal Attraction."

I saw Fatal Attraction and didn't think is was scary nor was it, IMO, all that good.
"I'm very traditional when it comes to Westerns," said an otherwise open-minded man, a high school teacher who resorted to the movie-genre-purist cop-out.

"I just don't like relationship movies," said a lawyer, seizing the manly anti-chick-flick defense.

An editor waved me off, saying hell no he won't go, but he'll try to work up the nerve to see it on DVD.

The closest thing to a direct response to why not to see the movie came from a guy who likes his bourbon straight and his women blond and gorgeous. "I just don't want to see two guys humping," he said, adding, "not that there's anything wrong with that."

I was flabbergasted. I know these guys. Every one of them would take serious offense to being called homophobic. And yet talking about "Brokeback Mountain" gives them sweaty palms, shifty eyes and all manner of twitchy body language.

I am not that big on Westerns, but when I choose to watch one I want it pretty traditional. I generally don't like relationship movies. I like my bourbon on the rocks and my woman is a brunette. I watch most of my movies on DVD or HBO because very few movies these days are really worth the money to see in the theater. I have a 65 inch wide screen high def TV and it is rare that a good movie comes out for which the theater experience is going to be sufficiently better than that for the difference between $4.50 and $20. Sue me, but none of that makes me homophobic. Cheap maybe, but not homophobic.

So here is my test to prove that the lack of desire to see this movie on the part of most men has nothing to do with homophobia. If you said to your husband/boyfriend/male friend "I am going to go see a new movie that is out. It is a western romance movie. The main characters are a married male cowboy and a single female cowgirl who ride the range together. They get close, fall in love and decide they need to spend the rest of their lives together. The man goes home to tell his wife he is leaving his family because he is in love with the cowgirl and they ride into the sunset. Want to come with?" What will he say?

I would be surprised if you got anything as polite as "I like my westerns traditional." Mine would be something more like "What have you been smoking and why aren't you sharing?"

It's a chick flick that happens to star to gay guys instead of a straight couple. That is supposed to make it more appealing to me? There is nothing wrong with chick flicks. There is nothing wrong with somebody deciding to put out a chick flick with two gay guys. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the film. There is also nothing wrong with a good blood and guts action war movie with car chases and big explosions and jet fighters and no romance. My wife won't go to see that latter. Does that make her a man hater? No. There is something wrong with the blanket accusation that just because our tastes are different I am somehow inferior to you.

I work in the computer industry and have for 17 years. There is an unusually high number of gay men in that field. It has never bothered me. I have never been accused of being homophobic. I have been accused of being extremely heterosexual at a Christmas (sorry that must have been Holiday) party one year after the Champagne had been flowing for a while. But I have never had a problem working with or partying with openly gay men or women and I have never been accused of being homophobic by anyone who actually knew me.

Ergo, Diane Carman is a narrow minded bigot whose little brain cannot grasp the fact that we are actually a diverse nation. Some men like other men. Some men like tall women. Some men like short women. We don't all like the same kinds of movies or music or cars. And that is a good thing, not a bad thing, although gansta rap probably should be illegal and the world would undoubtedly have been a better place if Disco never happened.

cure for diabetes?

This BBC article suggests that they are going to start trials soon on a procedure which shows promise. It further suggests that if successful it could be in wide spread use in 5-10 years. Let's all cross our fingers.... and our toes... and pray for it. Diabetes kills more American's every year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.

Glaceau Vitamin water

I was at a filling station earlier today. Exciting, huh! I walked into the little store intending to buy a Gatorade. I noticed they had a new product for a little less money so I bought a Glaceau vitamin water, flavor orange-orange. It was OK, didn't quite give me the zing that I get from Gatorade, but I wasn't being picky.

After finishing it I bothered to look at the blurb on the bottle to see what their pitch was. I must reproduce here for your enjoyment. The lack of caps is included on the bottle. Any other typos are mine.

orange-orange (c + calcium)

ah, orange juice commercials, funny stuff. mom cheerily prepares some huge breakfast while the rest of her family sleeps. sure, this could happen. but every morning? please. maybe if mom were heavily medicated, in which case, we wouldn't condone operating a stove or any electrical appliance.

for those of us who don't live in an orange juice commercial, there's still a way to get your morning nutrition. this product has calcium and lots of vitamin c, so you can get your day started right, minus the whole stepford mom thing.

vitamins + water = all you need

I thought it was cute.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Another reporter who skipped math class

From the Denver Post, we have an article that urges minor changes in the US Social Security system that will make it viable until at least 2080.

The laughable proposal, from the office of Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb, would raise the age for full benefits on "younger Americans" from 67 to 68. Further adjustments could be done to the full benefit's age on "really young" Americans if changes in life expectancy occur. They would also slowly up the maximum pay in to $15K/year from the current $13.5K/year that I and many of my fellow Americans pay.

There are a few things one needs to understand to do the math on this topic.

1. The demographics in the US are much like that of most of the "West". We are approaching the mass retirement of the baby boomers and a declining birth rate. When this retirement occurs we are going to find ourselves in a place where every retiree is going to be "supported" by about 3 current workers.

2. Most of those workers don't pay the max. I don't know the exact percentage of the non-baby-boomer workers who make $100,000 or more. Let us assume that it is 10%. If that is the case Chuck Hagel's staff is figuring that they can replace the income of taxing all the baby boomers with a 1% increase in revenues from the rest of us. If it is 20% (which I doubt) you are looking at a 2% increase in revenue.

3. The assertion that the system is viable through 2040 or more is almost laughable. When the boomers retire the Social Security system will quickly go from bringing in more revenue than it pays out to paying out more than it takes in. Further, with a larger percentage of retirees in the population, almost by definition the GDP will fall, ergo general income tax revenues will fall unless worker output increases dramatically. Our current deficit of < 5% of GDP will seem like by-gone glory days.

4. Changing the retirement age by one year for people who already can't retire for 30 years or more seems like a farily reasonable thing to do. In reality, the system will be broke before we get there. It is meaningless. Those of us in that age group don't plan to work until we can receive Social Security. Changing that date one year doesn't change my plans one bit. I am already not counting on seeing a dime of my pay in back. I have to retire based on my savings. Neither a change in my "retirement age" nor an increase of $1K/year in my taxes is going to dramatically alter my life.

5. In the last 2 or 3 decades the life expectancy in the US has gone from 72 to 77+. On first look, this is less than 10%. These numbers are misleading. When looking at a ponzi scheme like Social Security you have to look at the average number of years one pays in and the average number of years one collects. Adults in their 60s today paid in for 35-40 years. They are about to retire. Their life expectancy isn't 77, it is something much higher than that. Some of their peers are already dead, and they figure into the average. Think about it. If you can make the leap that someone who is 75 has a life expectancy of 77 it isn't hard to make the further leap that someone who is 80 has a life expectancy of 77. I assume my insurance company uses tables a little more accurate than this.

When is some brave politician going to hire a few actuaries and accountants and lay out the reality for the general public? If you assume that I plan to work until 67 or plan to die at 77 you are kidding yourself.

Paris goes farther over the cliff

The courts have ruled, and the cops have imposed by force, a ban on a Paris charity handing out ham sandwiches to the homeless because the homeless Muslims were offended and excluded. I am not making this up, go read the whole story. This is like a bad April Fool's joke.


Mark Steyn documents the most bizarre discrimination case I have ever seen. A black Sgt. in London's Metropolitan Police department has won an settlement of 30,000 pounds for being over-promoted because of his race. They are paying him because he admits he was overpaid. I have some potential clients of all races for this guys lawyer, I just want my 10% finder's fee.

Mark Steyn on feminism

Mark Steyn makes the point that the war on terror is the biggest feminist issue ever.

When I read the title I thought I was in for a bit of his prized sarcasm. He is, however, very serious and makes one heck of a case. He does take many pointed shots at his fellow Canadian males, but the point is that if women think things are tough for them now, they can't imagine what life under sharia would be like. That is what this war is about. The bad guys want a caliphate to take over the world. The good guys want women in Iraq and the rest of the world to vote and run for public office and have educational and professional choices.

Continued Prayers for Sharon

It doesn't look good at this point.

The American Thinker on surveillance

The Clintons and their cronies (which includes the NYT) are now all up in arms about presidential surveillance powers. The American Thinker goes back a few years to their position when they were in power. Perhaps the issue here is that, at least most recently, it has been Democratic Presidents who invaded the privacy of political opponents for personal gain. They therefore assume that if George Bush is wire tapping US<->foreign calls the purpose must be to listen in on their planning sessions with Jacques Chirac.

CAP from somebody who worked there

Terry Eastland dispells the portrait of Concerned Alumni of Princeton put forth by Teddy "hiccup" Kennedy, who by the way just got around today to bailing out of a group from his alma mater that excludes women. He has been a dues paying member for 52 years.

OOPS! Hilary did it again

Such is the title of Dick Morris' latest piece.

Shark sticker repels shark attacks?

This is either a creative solution to a serious problem or very creative marketing.

News of the wierd and bizarre

I am still scratching my head at this one:
An Egyptian cleric's controversial fatwa claiming that nudity during sexual intercourse invalidates a marriage has uncovered a rift among Islamic scholars.

There is an old myth that some sects of Conservative Jews mandate that sex is done with a sheet between the husband and wife that has a conveniently placed hole. We may have just found the source of that myth..... except this guy is apparently serious.

British Midland International is disgraceful

They have banned their employees from taking or wearing anything Christian on flights to or from Saudi Arabia. They have further told their female flight attendants (I gather they don't have female pilots...) that they:

must walk two paces behind male colleagues and cover themselves from head to foot in a headscarf and robe known as an abaya, the Mirror newspaper of London reported.

They also cannot take teddy bears or other "cuddly" toys.

The case can be made that the company must/should respect the "culture" of the locations that they fly to. The disgrace is that they have told their employees that they cannot opt out of flights to these locations. Their only option is to opt out of any international flights. At most airlines in the US international crews make more money than domestic crews. The article in this case claims that could result in being forced to give up $30K/year in wages.

As the company insists on being "tolerant" of the destination countries "culture" they have succeded in oppressing the sensibilities of their own employees. Disgraceful.

One shot, One kill, 4100 ft.

Sgt J. Gilliland has a confirmed kill at 4100 ft. If you don't understand how impressive this is go find yourself someone who fancies themselves a good shot with a rifle and ask. The best optical scopes in the world are rated for just over 3000 ft. Thank God he is on our side.

Dry Bones on the campaign trail

No, he isn't running for Prime Minister, he is up for a series of "Best of Blog" awards. Go vote for him. I have twice already.

Denver prosecutors go after Funky Buddha

Apparently (I have never been there) the Funky Buddha is a trendy downtown Denver pick up joint. The crime alleged is aggravated assault. The real crime was that some slimeball broke into their bar at 4am trying to rob it. One of the owners was there closing and shot him. The problem is that the bar is in Denver. In many other communities around the country and in Colorado the local sheriff would have pinned a medal on the guy.

The reason this is interesting is that the recently passed "make my day" law in Colorado isn't explicitly extended to businesses, only residences.

Somebody in the MSM has family in Iraq

Anne Hull is a Washington Post staff writer and has an inciteful piece on the realities of those left at home when Mom goes off to war. Unlike most such pieces I have seen, there is no political purpose in here. A human interest story told for the purpose of human interest. Excellent work. (HT: Rantingprofs)

Ed Whelan on Ted Kennedy on Judge Alito

Ed takes the time to rip apart each of Teddy's arguments against the honorable judge. Worth a read if all you have seen is the nightly news soundbites.

The worst Judge ever award

From the land of loons, Vermont, we have a judge who gave a 60 day sentence to a guy who raped a girl from age 7 to age 11. His reasoning for doing so is that he doesn't believe in punishment. Isn't handing out punishment part of the job of a judge in a criminal court. We can argue about how harsh various punishments for various crimes ought to be, but if you are unwilling to hand out punishment, retire/quit.

The people of Vermont are outraged as are people across the country. It is sad that such a quaint and beautiful little place filled with mostly normal Americans is so routinely made a laughing stock by their elected and appointed representatives. Maybe it is time for a little shake up in politics folks. You might want to start by getting rid of Bernie Sanders. Your credibility in the rest of the country would improve greatly.

Mark Steyn on demography

The point has been made over and over again. The "WEST" has a declining birth rate with many countries below the level of simple sustenance. Few people have ever made it so vividly.

Patterico on the LA Times, 2005

A well written list of arguments of poor journalism at the LA Times led to an extended slam down with a whole host of folks jumping into the mix. Probably more entertaining than educational, but follow the links and watch the fun.

Richi on Can-Spam

If you are interested in such things, this is a balanced but realistic piece on the state of the legal fight against spam.

A different perspective

In Lebanon the Model, Michael J. Totten makes the case that we should pay more attention to Lebanon in a geo-political sense. I admit I know little about the realities in that country but assuming Mr. Totten's claims are sane it would seem there are good lessons to be learned there.

Blackfive on Heroes

The USA Today made the mistake of claiming that only one member of the military is up for the "button" for acts of bravery in the GWOT. Blackfive took umbrage and lists four others up for the nation's highest military honor. He does us the service of linking to their stories. They are well worth a read.

Laugh for the day

Day by Day hits a home run on the Bill Roggio kerfuffle (sp?).

Magna Cum Saudi

This Powerline post points to this Solomon Amendment story in the Investor's Business Daily which makes the point that while the military recruiters are not allowed on the campus because of their "homophobic" policies, representatives of truly oppressive and openly homophobic regimes are welcomed with open arms. The money quote in my opinion from the Investor's piece is:

Of course, this righteous indignation is somewhat selective. While banning recruiters because of "don't ask, don't tell," they welcome and honor members of Congress who voted for it. Last year, Rep. Nita Lowey, who voted for it in 1993, was welcomed to the Pace University School of Law last year to receive the "Pioneer of Justice and Equality for Women and the Law."

As is the case on many topics for liberals, their anger is pointed in the wrong direction. The military's policy is what it is because congress said so, and then-President Bill Clinton signed the bill. The military doesn't have any choice in the matter. They are attempting to follow the law as enacted. Given a choice I think the military might have a different policy. Harvard might like it more or less, but the current policy is the "fault" of the congress and the military recruiters can't do a thing about it. Are recruiters from congressional and senate offices allowed on the Harvard law campus? I suspect so.

Creative 21 year old now millionaire

I read this story a week or so ago. I have since seen a small blurb that his page is full, so he has earned $1M USD on a single web page.