Plastic Water Bottles and Felony Murder

What do they have in common? Well, it seems to me that if enough people could believe that their plastic water bottles are causing global warming, then there's easily enough to believe that Christopher Jones caused those two news helicopters to collide, crash, and kill four people. Not only that, but they'll even buy first degree, i.e., premeditation. Apparently, prosecutors are going to try everything they can to charge and convict the man of murder. If you read that article, you'll see that there's a really good debate over the whole issue. No legal stone goes unturned, and it turns out that while nothing exactly like it has ever happened, there is appellate-affirmed precedent for convicting people of murder who didn't murder anyone, so that's good, right? But it's interesting, and it really highlights the value of brilliant legal minds. Hell, there was a time when people far less socially evolved than ourselves could never have made sense of charging, convicting, and electrocuting people for murdering other people when they haven't, in fact, murdered other people. Simpletons! They just didn't have enough brilliant legal minds and prosecutorial fervor. Thankfully, we've evolved past the point of plain facts to where the...


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Land of the Free Update

I've got two freedom updates from Radley, the first here. Twenty-five year jail sentence for Mark O'Hara for possessing 58 Vicodin tablets for which he had a legal prescription. Prosecutors admit he wasn't selling them, but the law provides for a de facto charge of trafficking based solely on quantity. The law said they could get him, so they did. I'm sure it looks great on their resumes. Let freedom ring. Next up, 140 years of jail for four people wrongly convicted, two of them now dead. Small price to pay, since in in keeping them in jail, the State was better able to maintain the integrity of a mob investigation it had going that I'm sure reaped just tons of the one-two punch tough-on-crime and we-protected-you political clout, not to mention ladder climbing and opportunities for appointment to high posts for some of the investigators and prosecutors involved. Upholding freedom for all is a trough job, but thankfully not thankless, anymore. Indeed, it must have been important, since the FBI commended and paid bonuses to the guys who did it -- and later, for keeping it hidden -- clearly, so as not to tarnish the FBI's good name as...


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No Desire for the Unearned

When I lived in Japan from 1984 - 1989, I never once locked my house (blue roof in the center) on the beach in Hayama, about 50 miles south of Tokyo on Sagami Bay. Sometimes I was gone, at sea, for two and three months at a time. Never locked my car, and I probably could have just left the keys inside. I used to say that you could leave a pile of cash in the middle of a busy train station, come back and hour later, and retrieve it. I wasn't exaggerating. You know why it is, don't you? They think too much of themselves to take what they haven't earned.


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We Liked Them Better When They Starved People

Back when China used to export grain in order to demonstrate the economic viability of communism -- all while their people starved to death (20 million is a low estimate) -- they were heralded by the "intellectual elite" as the Truly Enlightened. Now they're producing and supplying inexpensive goods to the entire world, feeding their people, and ushering in economic freedoms and low taxation that's making it -- in practical terms -- an economic model to the world. Now, millions of their people each year are attaining middle-class lifestyles and several hundred thousand millionaires roam freely seeking new and greater entrepreneurial opportunities. Now they produce real economic growth in the double digits every year, as compared to the West's pitiful 2-3%. Now, at long last, our intellectuals finally hate China. Read it. That way, when you start hating China yourself for the good it began to undertake to do a couple of decades ago, and continues and increases to this day, you'll know where the idea came from. Heretofore, my support of China has been measured. They did a lot of evil for a long time and you don't just forget about something like that overnight. But when they begin...


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Honesty, Sincerity, Integrity

First up, I'm out of pocket at the moment. Overnight with family here in Vista, CA, and later today San Diego for a couple of days. We're supposed to have a nice room with a view to the Bay, so if that works out I'll post a photo. What can you say about YouTube? What can you say when the most interesting, indeed captivating thing you saw or heard all day yesterday was a self-recorded video of some "nobody" sitting in his bedroom and coming awake to something he's never had an interest in his entire life? Then note it's been viewed 3,500 times in a few days. Is he worth listening to? Well, you decide, but I say that things like this give me confidence in the human species. It's not that he knows what he's talking about -- he probably doesn't on any issue in the political spectrum you can name. But he does know that he's never, ever in his life seen or heard an honest, sincere politician with the integrity to act always for his stated values without equivocation. He's seeing it for the first time. (rockwell)


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Societal Evolution

Just last night, Bea and I walked down the San Jose Improv to see Richard Lewis and meet some of her family ahead of time for pre-show dining. We got on the subject of some of the timeless things teenagers do, and Bea's brother-in-law remarks that in his day when the cops caught you and your friends with booze, they'd just pour out your supply and send you packing home. Now they cart you off to juvenile hall and put you and your parents through a Technicolor living nightmare that's going to eat up enormous time, expense, and leave everyone pretty much mangled beyond recognition for years to come. But on the bright side, said cops are that much closer to their next "meritorious" citation; lowly prosecutors are that much closer to becoming assistant DA; and everybody involved gets to claim the "tough on 'crime'" nod as department SOP. And nobody even had to get shot at or take a no-shit risk helping an innocent to do it. But what's a little theft of a teenager's best years and spirit for life when there are "cases" to "aggressively pursue?" The two boys tore down the hall of Patton Middle School...


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The Big Lie: “Freedom”

Billy asserts: In any case, people just don't want freedom, now. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "sure they do; this is America." But that only means you don't grasp the distinction he's making in that statement. He's not asserting that people don't think they want freedom; they most certainly do. After all; do we, or do we not live in "The Land of the Free?" You've heard me say it, but always in scare quotes. What Billy is really asserting is that people no longer have a clear grasp of what freedom is. They literally can not properly define it, and I could bet my life on that with little fear. I think he's right about that. I also think that state of affairs will perpetuate politically until such time as people, one by one, understand that they are not remotely close to being free. That happened for me nearly two decades ago, now. For most born here in the last few decades, it will be the realization that they were never fee in the classic American sense of the term. Most people alive today have never known true freedom. They have been fed two lies. The big...


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How Bull Markets Top

Here's the sort of thing to be on the lookout for as signs that a top may be approaching in stocks. The bull market on Wall Street is giving Americans greater confidence prices can go higher as expectations for stock gains reached a five-year high in July, a consumer survey said Friday. Consumers in July thought that there was a 64 percent chance that a diversified stock fund would increase in value, up from 54 percent a year ago and a low of 41 percent in early 2003, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. Of course, that doesn't mean to sell current positions, or, God forbid, short the market. Just a data point and far more important than the actual number is the building confidence measured year after year. It could takes months or even a year or more to get sufficient retail money into the market to create a top. It was just about a year ago that I observed to a friend that since real estate was on the wane, fund managers are going to do everything possible to keep this market climbing in order to gradually woo that capital into the stock market. The...


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“Now we’re gonna get big government”

The quote is Ron Paul, according to his spokesman Eric Dondero, spoken as "one of the first things he said" after 9/11. This, from a substantial Christopher Caldwell piece on Ron Paul in today's The New York Times. Dondero parted with Ron Paul on bad terms, so the story goes, and is opposing Paul in his simultaneous Congressional run. Dondero's reciting of the quote and Caldwell's reporting of it is intended to be an indictment of Paul.


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Urban Transportation

Here's how we mostly get around downtown San Jose these days. This is the entry room into our loft (you enter from the rear), which is right off the kitchen, and then through the kitchen to the main loft space. Since this is the only entry and egress, it's not suitable as a bedroom, and when we initially moved in, we had it set up as a dining room. Only, we always ate at the bar -- which is where all the pictures are taken for the food blogs I do -- or the balcony. And I hated having the TV in the main space. Long story short: we turned this into a TV room with seating that'll turn into a bed for an overnight guest in a pinch. The bikes are your basic cruiser bikes. One gear and reverse pedal brakes. Simple. In fact, that's what Giant call this line: "Simple." His & hers, with a rack I got from Performance Bicycle for maximum space efficiency. I had a mountain bike, but it was just too much of a pain in the ass to maintain and keep tuned, so I never used it and it took up space on...


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And More Food

From a couple of evenings ago. Pan fried Turbot, butternut squash, and a simple green leaf lettuce salad with tomatoes, red onion, and carrot. The turbot was from the frozen section of the new Trader Joe's that opened just five minutes away. Over the years I have always been very happy with the flash frozen, vacuum-packed fish from them and can rarely tell the difference from fresh. In the case, the turbot even had a seasoning already rubbed onto the fish prior to freezing, so I literally had to do nothing but thaw and fry high and quick in oil. The other night, I also got a package of their frozen medley of shrimp, scallops and calamari, and combined with a bit of snapper from another frozen pack (I'll cook up the rest another time), whipped up a delicious pot of cioppino; alas, without the mussels. The butternut squash is also from Trader Joe's. Comes all cut and prepared in a plastic bag that you just slit and place in the nuking machine for a few minutes. I then placed it in a saucepan where I'd heated some butter and olive oil and tossed it in that with a bit...


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Weekend Food Blogging

Hot out of the oven this morning; minutes ago, actually. That's your basic Frittata, or Italian-style omelet, if you prefer. If you make the kinds of omelets where you have to flip them over, but have problem doing that without destroying them, then this might be for you. It's very simple. Preheat your oven to 350-400, put your pan on medium heat on the stove, melt some butter, place your egg mixture (with or without a little water for fluffiness), with some Italian seasoning mixed in, and turn the stove to low heat while you add your (whatever) ingredients to the top. Then toss it in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until nice and puffy. Take it out and let sit for a good five minutes. It's best served warm, not hot. For what's added to the top of the egg mixture on this one, I have very fresh and red Campari tomatoes sliced and spread throughout. Then, while the oven was pre-heating, I sliced some chicken, portabella mushroom, and garlic andouille (I know: contradiction in terms) sausage, with red onion and red and orange mini sweet peppers lightly sauteed in a bit of olive oil. Once this is...


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“The Greatest Death Camp in the History of the World”

Lew Rockwell puts together a nicely comprehensive overview (is that an oxymoron?) of China's history. Take the 10 or 15 minutes to read it, and become, as Lew says, part of "a tiny elite that know anything about [China as a death camp]." The sheer scale of the thing makes even the Soviet Union look benign, and we know that's not true. And yes, I have been cheerleading for China lately; and that's because the people who perpetrated and perpetuated these atrocities are largely dead or no longer in a position to do what they did, anymore. And, there are now hundreds of millions in China born in the last two decades who know nothing of this and bear no culpability -- if it can even be said that anyone subject to such insanity -- such capricious and malevolent brutality -- could bear any moral culpability for anything they did. A human being must have at least an environment conducive to human goodness. When human goodness is rendered impossible because there's no ability to choose good over evil because there is only evil to choose from, humanity has vanished and we're simply talking about non-cognitive animals operating on gut urges...


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La Vie En Rose

Just got back from seeing this excellent film about the jam packed, tumultuous, exhilarating, and tragically short life of Edith Piaf. But as she sang and meant it near the end of her brief 47 years: Non je ne regrette rien. If you're into that sort of thing you'll want to catch it now if you still can, or definitely when it's out on the premium channels and DVD.


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Michael Vick

A quick word on this. As a current two-dog owner and friend of dogs most of my life, I simply cannot comprehend -- even remotely -- how anyone could take any pleasure or enjoyment out of this kind of a bloodsport. Yet, people do. Lots of people do, and it just goes to show the vast disparity of values in this country, and indeed worldwide. That means: unless me or my dogs -- or some person I may presume unwilling -- is being harmed, or clearly going to be harmed, then it's just none of my (or your) business. Those who have various business dealings with Michael Vick -- Atlanta Falcons, Nike, and others -- certainly do have a moral standing in the affair. So do you, indirectly; if you go to Falcons games, buy products with the Falcons logo, or buy Nike. If those and other businesses do what you'd have done had you possessed their authority in the matter, then you've discovered another business that reflects your own values and you might happily spend even more money on them. But if they don't do as you'd have done, then your business and the business of others like you...


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No Rationing; Courtesy of a “Benevolent” State

Of course, that's not the case. A state-run system could decide, as Medicare does, that they'll pay for any and all necessary procedures, and do so quickly. Then there would be no rationing. That was Ezra Klein, a couple of days ago. On the same day, the Guardian reported the full extent of what happens when the State says there will be no rationing. Mugabe strikes again. President Robert Mugabe's order that all shop prices be cut by at least half, and sometimes several times more, has forced stores to open to hordes of customers waving thick blocks of near worthless money given new value by the price cuts. The police and groups of ruling party supporters could be seen leading the charge for a bargain. It's reported that Mugabe dismisses charges that this will only make things worse as "bookish economics." Yea, that definitely looks like a theory-practice dichotomy to me. Both Bruce and Dale handled Klein and his dumb cheerleaders, if you're interested.


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A Distinction to Note

"Brazil plane crash may haunt government" That's what the headline reads. Now, that may indeed mean they're sufficiently afraid of election defeat "haunted" to half-ass emulate the act of serving paying customers, which typically implies -- for starters -- that you don't kill them as the inevitable consequence of objective deficiencies you knew about and could have done something about. Then again, like most Latin-American parasitocracies, they'll probably just shrug it off and...and..."viva la revolucion!" Note that it does not say: "Brazil plane crash may put Government out of business." There's about two centuries, at least, of unlearned lesson there.


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Presumptive Authority

I often get the impression that people don't really get where I'm coming from when I rail against the State. Here's a clue: it turns on the distinction between de facto and de jure authority. What I object to, what I always object to, is a presumption of authority based on anything but the facts in their proper context. Another way of explaining this is that I don't draw non-essential, arbitrary, or meaningless distinctions between individuals, groups of individuals, or institutions such as the State. All are and can only be comprised of individuals and nothing accrues to a group of them -- an arbitrary distinction -- that is not possessed by an individual according to fact and circumstance. This is the founding idea of America, long lost. For instance, there are facts and circumstances that when in play, afford every individual the moral authority to kill someone else. No one ought to be able to circumvent such fact and circumstance, and forming a mob -- regardless of what you call it -- does nothing to change that. But there are also two sides to the coin, and it's for this reason that I can often not only accept, but...


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Admin Note

Got rid of a bunch of stuff that slows loading, including Answer Tips, Snap Previews, Technoratti, Blogbar Search, and other stuff. All cool; but look: if you're not coming here to basically read what I write, then to hell with you anyway. And if you are, you probably pay no attention to all that stuff anyway (except maybe Snap, which has gotten better, and may be the one thing I put back), so I'm just being of service to those who may presume that being of some service to those kind enough to stop by and read is a big part of why I do this. That's all.


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Making Some Difference

One of the blogs on my regular rounds and which I link to a lot is Warren Meyer's Coyote Blog. I've know this for a while, but today he posted something about a service he runs that my family and I enjoy a great deal. McArthur-Burney Falls. I commented at his post. Warren: Good job. It's not really "private," (nor is any "private" property, for that matter) but I get what you're aiming at. In a couple of weeks we'll have our 10th annual family camping trip just down the road, 10 miles south of the 299 / 89 junction at Herford Ranch off Dotty Rd. We enjoy the warm days, cool evenings, and starry skies. In the late afternoon, I fly the glassoff from Hat Creek Rim in a hang-glider. We almost always make a trip up to Burney Falls and have an ice cream or soda in your very nice and clean concession. I'll be looking for those improvements this time around. The falls themselves are beyond beautiful; and even when it's 100 degrees outside and you descend to the falls, it cools down into about the 70s, I'd estimate. Really nice. I had lots of photos, but...


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