Friday, June 28, 2002

Bomber miscellany

I wonder how they arm those bombs the homicide (Hamaside?) bombers use, and how the bombers are trained. "Like this?" BOOM!

Here's an idea to spread - that the bombs are made using pork products.

Want to adopt a potential bomber? This guy does.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Who funded this?

Back to that Pledge of Allegiance thing again. Alright you attorneys out there, tell me this - how much does it cost to proceed with something like this to that level? Is any real human being going to spend that much of their own money to make such an asinine point?

Maybe so, but I smell some professional religion-bashers like the ACLU. They'll leave no slimy rock unturned in their quests to find someone with standing to sue for whatever their cause of the moment is, and they like to bully small towns like Hillsboro, IL, or Republic, MO.

For all we hear about threats to liberty by the "War on Drugs", maybe they wouldn't be such a big threat if the ACLU were fighting them, instead of bitching about fish symbols on a town seal. If they see possible violations of the Establishment Clause as a greater threat to our liberties than civil forfeiture and other excesses, it reflects poorly on the judgment of their leadership.

In a related issue, what would concerned citizens have to do to get federal judges off the bench? And if they do, how can they make sure the SOB doesn't end up in Congress?

UPDATE: It looks like our atheist crusader is representing himself. OK, it still takes time, fees and other expenses. How much is he paying?

And let's not hear any crap from Democrat Senators trying to disown this, especially the ones on the Senate Judiciary Committee. If they honestly don't like decisions like this, they can be pretty sure that Bush's nominees will have different ideas, and they can start confirming some of them instead of playing asinine political games.

Strange English usage

Certain English usages strike me as odd.

For instance, do we "discharge" or "release" pollution? No, we "spew" it.

A few years ago National Lampoon published collections of oddball news stories called "True Facts", where they assembled a whole bunch of clippings about buses running off the road. For some reason these all used "plunge". Go ahead and Google "bus plunge" and see how many hits you get. Somebody has even written a song about it.

You might remember Hillary Clinton's "turtle on a fence post" line. The idea is that it didn't get there by itself. This must be the reason for the current vogue for "shredding" the Constitution - somebody must have tested it with focus groups, found it impressive and faxed it to all the Democrats. Or maybe it's just a sign of the times - 20 years ago when a lot of phone bills came out on punched cards, they might have said "fold, spindle or mutilate" (there's even a movie called "Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate")..

The Democrats contrived the mantra that tax cuts would "blow a hole in the deficit". Where on earth did this one come from? Usage apparently started in the 1996 Presidential campaign, and suddenly this improbable expression was heard everywhere.

Got any more examples?

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Establishment of stupidity

They have some real live wires on the 9th Circuit. They proved it with the shocking decision that the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is un-Constitutional.

From the decision:
Newdow does not allege that his daughter’s teacher or school district requires his daughter to participate in reciting the Pledge.3 Rather, he claims that his daughter is injured when she is compelled to “watch and listen as her state employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in a ritual proclaiming that there is a God, and that our’s [sic] is ‘one nation under God.’ ”.....Newdow asks the district court to order the President of the United States (“the President”) to “alter, modify or repeal” the Pledge by removing the words “under God”; and to order the United States Congress (“Congress”) “immediately to act to remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge.”
As I understand it, the court did not recognize any injury to the plaintiff.

Children are soooo sensitive, you know:
the mere fact that a pupil is required to listen every day to the statement “one nation under God” has a coercive effect.
But this might backfire - the teaching of evolution must surely be coercive to religious kids, whether done in a science class or not. That's because the Establishment Clause cuts both ways - from the same decision:
The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community. Government can run afoul of that prohibition in two principal ways. One is excessive entanglement with religious institutions . . . . The second and more direct infringement is government endorsement or disapproval of religion.[italics mine]
I am not an attorney by any stretch of the imagination, but I noticed this:
Newdow has standing as a parent to challenge a practice that interferes with his right to direct the religious education of his daughter.
Does this mean that the 9th Circuit is recognizing atheism as a religion? If so, maybe they've finally done something right.

What the world, needs now... this gesture to ask for forgiveness

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

A modest proposal

I didn't get hit on the head with a big rock, but reading this post was the next best thing. I think it was the line where he said "So the whole debate about the marriage penalty is complete nonsense. It’s a debate over a non-issue; the pretense that there is a financial penalty to getting married is simply wrong".

Then I got this great idea for raising money for the govt. After all, you know they need and deserve the money, and they'll do something really intelligent with it.

So I thought, who is it who has the extra money to be taxed? After all, that's the idea behind progressive taxation, isn't it? - that we can decide that some people ought to have to pay more in taxes than others even though they don't get any more out of the govt for their money?

Ah, a brainstorm -people with roommates! They're saving money on rent, utilities and other things, right? Why shouldn't the feds get a cut of their savings? Sheesh, you'd think those silly taxpayers thought it was their money when they can see it says "United States of America" right on it.

Here's how it works - all we have to do is make everybody report to the feds and their employers every time they move in with someone else, platonic or not. Compliance would be handled with the fairness and efficiency of the IRS. Failure to comply would incur the same penalties that falsification of income taxes would. There would be regular audits where everyone would be forced to produce utility bills and deeds or leases in their own name. Throw in random bedchecks too - tax them extra if they're sharing a bed and thereby saving even more money. And if they're having sex, count the avoided expense of prostitution as taxable income.

What's this? You think it's none of the feds' business whether you room with someone else or not? Actually, neither is your income, but you have to file income tax forms all the same, so what does privacy have to do with anything? Let the feds count the avoided costs as ordinary taxable income - in the words of the post cited, "if you support a graduated tax schedule, you should support this outcome as well."

I guess that was sarcastic enough to last me a few days. Really, what justification is there for considering the incomes of both married partners in their taxation that doesn't also apply to other cohabitants?

Monday, June 24, 2002

History Channel WTC special tonight

It discusses the construction of the World Trade Center, including a discussion with a man who said that the WTC could withstand a direct hit from a Boeing 707 airliner. This gentleman was in the WTC on 9/11 and has not been identified.

Another way to show baseball standings

As many statistics geeks as there are around baseball, I suppose someone has already done this. But I have to ask - what would the standings look like if the teams were ranked by the number of wins per dollar of payroll? Or per ticket sold?

Life expectancy of women athletes?

No, I don't have a study. I just had the TV on as ESPN beat the drum about Title IX and how it supposedly revolutionized women's sports.

Title IX itself is a subject for another post. For now I'll settle for linking this, and I'll note that once upon a time women's sports were discouraged because they supposedly caused all kinds of "female troubles". Undoubtedly that was overblown, but...

Today ESPN did a series of shows on various female athletes. One of them was on Wilma Rudolph, a track star from the 1960 Olympics. She died in 1994 at age 54.

Various other athletes and coaches offered testimonials on the show. One of them was Florence Griffith-Joyner. It struck me that FloJo is dead too. She was only 38 when she died in 1998.

So I thought of some other famous female athletes and looked them up. Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson Zaharias died at 42. Sonja Henie died at 57.

I couldn't think of any more in the right age group (60+), so the above isn't exactly scientific, and the women above are extreme examples even among athletes. But it struck me how young these women were when they died. How politically incorrect it would be if it turned out that woman athletes had lower life expectancies than the rest of us.


From Drudge, scientists have implanted spider genes into goats, and now the goats give milk that can be used to produce fibers with the strength of spiderwebs.

Let the jokes begin: did you hear about the mad scientist who crossed an owl with a rooster?

Sunday, June 23, 2002

What's the most illegible website?

I nominate Paul Musgrave. I can stand six feet or more from most people's monitors and spellcheck over their shoulders, but this black on dark red scheme as of 6/22 is more than I can deal with. I shouldn't have to change my browser font size or monitor brightness to read a blog.
UPDATE 7/3: Mr. Musgrave has changed the text background for the main body, so that much is visible without technological intervention. The blogroll is still hard to see. (he must be ashamed of it because it doesn't include No Watermelons Allowed. This, even after I mention Evansville and plug a company from there...)

Right on Next Right

Sean McCray is back and is going deep.