Archive for April, 2007
27 Apr 2007

A Liberal Fantasy: Disarming America

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A liberal indulges in a pretty repulsive bit of fantasy in the Toledo Blade.

Now, how would one disarm the American population? First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty.

Hunters would be able to deposit their hunting weapons in a centrally located arsenal, heavily guarded, from which they would be able to withdraw them each hunting season upon presentation of a valid hunting license. The weapons would be required to be redeposited at the end of the season on pain of arrest. When hunters submit a request for their weapons, federal, state, and local checks would be made to establish that they had not been convicted of a violent crime since the last time they withdrew their weapons. In the process, arsenal staff would take at least a quick look at each hunter to try to affirm that he was not obviously unhinged.

It would have to be the case that the term “hunting weapon” did not include anti-tank ordnance, assault weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, or other weapons of war.

All antique or interesting non-hunting weapons would be required to be delivered to a local or regional museum, also to be under strict 24-hour-a-day guard. There they would be on display, if the owner desired, as part of an interesting exhibit of antique American weapons, as family heirlooms from proud wars past or as part of collections.

Gun dealers could continue their work, selling hunting and antique firearms. They would be required to maintain very tight inventories. Any gun sold would be delivered immediately by the dealer to the nearest arsenal or the museum, not to the buyer.

The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Special squads of police would be formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm.

Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms. If there were, those carrying them would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for “carrying.”

A fine fantasy, if the idea of living like a herd animal under the complete control of the state appeals to you.

I also find it remarkable how eager liberals are to trample the rights of hundreds of millions of Americans in order to attempt to prevent the crimes committed by an infinitesimally small number of deranged people. And I find the limitless faith in these kinds of ameliorist schemes even more remarkable. If you are a liberal, the calculative power of human reason expressed via governmental force is omnipotent. Just pass yourself a law, and “so let it be written, so let it be done.”

Liberals don’t believe that a lot of people would bury or otherwise conceal their guns. Liberals don’t realize that new guns can be built in American basements with hand tools the same way the are built in Afghan villages. Liberals don’t understand that black markets invariably spring up to provide any banned commodity. Existing laws would not have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter from obtaining heroin and cocaine if he wanted them.

27 Apr 2007

Don’t Try This in My House

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Things artists do to books.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Apr 2007

Legal Comedy

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The Washington Post reports a tale of spectacularly excessive litigation.

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson’s pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.

Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay — would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?

He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for “mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort,” for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.

Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50.

By the way, Pearson is a lawyer. Okay, you probably figured that. But get this: He’s a judge, too — an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia.

I’m telling you, they need to start selling tickets down at the courthouse.

Oh, where to start: How about the car? Why should Ki, Jin and Soo Chung — the family that owns Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE in the District’s Fort Lincoln section — pay Pearson $15,000 so he can rent a car every weekend for 10 years?

The plaintiff, who says he has devoted more than 1,000 hours to represent himself in this battle, says that as a result of poor service at Custom, he must find another cleaner. And because Pearson does not own a car, he says he will have to rent one to get his clothes taken care of.

And somebody made this character a judge!

Read the whole thing.

26 Apr 2007

Someone Took Out the Trash at Yale

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Yale’s Hewitt Quadrangle has long unfortunately been permitted by the liberal administration to serve as the locus for leftwing protest art. A number of “shanties” erected to protest the policies of the former government of the Republic of South Africa were an eyesore for several years, until Dr. Elwood Bracey ’58 visiting Yale for a class reunion did us all a favor by setting fire to them.

Local communists had more recently installed the above “sculpture” made from pill bottles to protest pharmaceutical companies’ enjoyment of patent rights. The bottles evidently symbolized all the spongers and looters who allegedly perished because US companies did not simply give away the medicines they spent millions of dollars developing and producing for free.

The Yale Daily News reports that the noisome object

was badly damaged Thursday night, when it was apparently thrown by students involved in secret society Tap Night from Beinecke Plaza into the sunken sculpture garden on the plaza. …

Although no witnesses to the incident could be reached for comment, Jordan Strom ’07 said he had heard that the individuals responsible were a male wearing a Speedo swimsuit, a male dressed “in a baby costume wearing a diaper,” and a male in a purple dress, indicating that the vandalism was a result of secret society Tap Night* activities.

Jordan Strom said he was told that the three males were confronted by witnesses after they threw the pill bottle over the edge of the pit, but that the perpetrators were “too intoxicated to pay much attention.

All of which shows that good men and true still exist at Yale.

“Elwood Bracey, be like him. Dare to Struggle; dare to win.”

* Tap Night is the Spring evening on which new members are “tapped,” i.e. invited to join, Yale’s exclusive senior societies.

26 Apr 2007

Yale Student Flag Burner Gets Slap on the Wrist


AP reports that 23-year-old Said Hyder Akbar received 50 hours of community service and accelerated rehabilitation for setting afire an American flag hanging from a house in New Haven’s Chapel Street.

Akbar apologized to the owner of the house he endangered.

Original story

Follow-up posting

26 Apr 2007

Adolescent Rebellion and Self-Hatred

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Terrye reflects on the liberals’ commitment to bringing about American defeat.

There is a commercial I have seen in which some old baby boomer sitting in a fancy office says he is going to use some service {I forget what it is} so that he can stick it to the man. His young assistant says But sir, you are the man. To which the old boy responds, Maybe.

I think liberals have found themselves in a world in which they are the man. They are the people running the World Bank with all of its phenomenal corruption. They are the people responsible for the United Nations with its corruption and incompetence on display every day. They are the people who railed against the likes of Saddam Hussein for years, only to rail against the United States even more. The truth is if they have to choose between the leader of the free world, the President of the United States and some tin pot dictator with a swiss bank account…they are more than likely to choose the dictator.

For years, they played the rebellious teenager speaking truth to power and now they find they are the power. And guess what? They are no better than the other guy. That is what is eating at them. They know they can’t reason with the Iranians or the Syrians or people like Hugo Chavez or that nutcase in North Korea. They have shown time and again that all they can do is declare defeat and demand reform. They are good at the defeat part, after all it is some other poor bastard who is sitting out on that limb they are sawing off, but the reform part…not so good. They will spend a lot more time complaining about Wolfowitz than they will the 800 billion lost to corruption at the World Bank. After all, if they go after the Mugabes of the world they will lose the support of those dictators. Better to let them line their pockets and pretend not to notice the kickbacks. Just blame the poverty on capitalism and free trade and ignore the obvious thievery.

They will not demand anyone go to jail over the Food for Oil scandal even though it made a mockery of the United Nations, an institution they show reverence for. No, they will go suck up to Assad and pretend he did not kill the political opposition in Lebanon. They will turn their back on democracy in Iraq. They will whine about the Patriot Act, but they will demand we talk to the Mad Mullahs who are proud of the fact that they publicly execute women of ill repute. They will worry over global warming and the supposed end of the world, but they will not deal with the threats that face us in the here and now. They don’t know how.

The Democrats woke up in the world of the 21st century and discovered they are the man. And all they know how to do is bitch. And while bitching might be fun, it doesn’t fix a damn thing.

26 Apr 2007

10 Most Common Passwords


Steve Johnson at the Chicago Tribune lists the most popular choices, and wonders who would tell his password to a pollster?

1. password

2. 123456

3. qwerty

4. abc123

5. letmein

6. monkey

7. myspace1

8. password1

9. blink182

10. (your first name)

26 Apr 2007

This Year’s Brokeback Mountain

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Opening this week in New York fresh from Robert Redford’s Sundance Festival, this year’s answer to Brokeback Mountain takes the contemporary cinema’s defense of forbidden love one step further.

New York Times:

The director Robinson Devor apparently would like viewers who watch his heavily reconstructed documentary, “Zoo,” to see it as a story of ineluctable desire and human dignity. Shot on Super 16-millimeter film, with many scenes steeped in a blue that would have made Yves Klein envious, “Zoo” is, to a large extent, about the rhetorical uses of beauty and metaphor and of certain filmmaking techniques like slow-motion photography. It is, rather more coyly, also about a man who died from a perforated colon after he arranged to have sex with a stallion.

26 Apr 2007

WWI Trophy Means Legal Problems For Smalltown Library

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German Maschinengewehr 08

The Boston Globe reports that the discovery in its attic of a German machine-gun captured in the course of one of the most famous American battlefield feats of valor in WWI has delivered the smalltown library of Nahant, Massachusetts into the clutches of the BATF.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 required fully-automatic weapons (even war trophies) to be federally licensed.

Sergeant Alvin York‘s against-all-odds capture of a heavily fortified German machine gun nest in the Argonne Forest of France 89 years ago made York an American legend.

With seven other American infantrymen, he took 132 German prisoners and silenced German machine guns that had slaughtered Allied troops. His actions earned the humble Tennessee farmer an iconic status alongside Daniel Boone and a title declaring him the greatest American hero of World War I. He was held up as the very embodiment of humility and courage.

Which is why officials at Nahant’s public library were thrilled four years ago to discover what they say is one of the captured German machine guns in the library attic.

“I tripped over the gun one day, not knowing what it was,” said Daniel deStefano, the library’s director. “I picked up what I thought was a pipe. It was the barrel of the gun.”

Library officials say they researched markings on the gun and searched local newspaper archives and town documents for answers about the weapon’s origin, determining that the gun had been given to the town in 1918 by an Army clerk, Nahant native Mayland Lewis.

According to the research, Lewis had plucked the weapon from a pile given up by surrendering Germans and shipped it home. Briefly prized as a souvenir of the war, it was paraded through the town on Armistice Day in 1919 by Boy Scouts who towed it in a red wagon. But over the years it faded from public view.

Its rediscovery stoked dreams of a big windfall for the library, where officials had been pondering ways to finance an expansion of the cramped facility and an upgrade of an antiquated cataloging system. Library officials said they contacted several auctioneers in New England who estimated the weapon’s value at $100,000 and perhaps several times more than that.

But the dreams didn’t last long. Library officials soon learned that the gun is illegal and that they can do very little with it.

Federal gun laws prohibit possession or sale of automatic guns unless they are registered with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In the library attic for years, the German machine gun was never registered. The library isn’t allowed to register the gun now because federal law prohibits new registrations on automatic weapons, except in rare circumstances.

Since it is illegal for the library even to have the gun, Nahant police took it and stored it under lock and key in an evidence locker, forestalling seizure by the ATF.

“We cannot hold onto this weapon,” deStefano said. “If we kept it on the premises, they were going to come and get it, and they were going to destroy it. This is a piece of history. We’re kind of caught between a rock and a hard place.”

The town has appealed to the ATF for permission to sell the gun, but so far, bureau officials have rejected the pleas.

A spokesman for the ATF said yesterday that it would be possible for the Nahant police to register the gun and take responsibility for it, which would prevent it from being destroyed. They could also possibly transfer it to another public agency, but it’s unlikely that it can be sold on the market , according to Jim McNally, a spokesman in Boston for the ATF .

He said the agency — at the request of US Representative John F. Tierney, a Salem Democrat — is researching options that Nahant might be allowed under the law, such as transferring the gun to a private museum.

“There are pretty clear-cut laws when it comes to automatic weapons,” McNally said yesterday. “This is a unique weapon, and it would be sad to see it destroyed. Whether it can raise money for what they’re looking for is another matter.”

In an effort last fall to get special permission to register the gun, town officials approached Tierney and Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry for legislation that would grant the town an exception to the restrictions. Neither Kerry nor Kennedy responded.

Tierney issued a statement yesterday calling the machine gun a “remarkable object” and said his office is engaged in discussions with the ATF.

The library’s machine gun discovery was first reported Monday by The Daily Item in Lynn.

Richard Hallion, a military historian who has studied Hiram Maxim, a Maine native who built the first effective machine gun, said he knew of no other gun from the York battle. He believes that numerous museums might be interested in preserving this one.

But Chris Berg, who owns a company that specializes in historic military weapons, said that the library’s gun is worth little because it is not registered.

“In all honesty,” he said, “it’s only worth $500.” He said if it were registered and legal to sell, he would pay at least $50,000.

25 Apr 2007

Yale Changes Its Mind

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Abashed by nationwide ridicule resulting from Dean Betty Trachtenberg’s ban on stage weapons in university theatrical productions, the Yale administration has announced its cancellation of the ban on free speech grounds. Yale should also reverse its ban on possession of firearms on campus, on second Amendment grounds, but that’s hardly likely, is it?

The Yale Daily News:

Stage weapons will again be allowed in University theatrical productions, in a reversal of last week’s ban, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said Tuesday morning.

Administrators decided Monday afternoon to require that audiences instead be informed of the use of stage weapons before the start of every performance, she said. In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 students dead last Monday, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg had told students that they would be required to substitute obviously fake props for realistic stage weapons in theatrical productions.

Klasky said the University reversed the policy because of concerns about free speech.

“As an institution that has always valued free speech, we wanted to uphold the principles that we have always adhered to,” she said.

Klasky said the policy of announcing the use of stage weapons in advance will hold for all future campus productions.

The ban affected at least two shows that went up over the weekend: the play “Red Noses” and the opera “Orpheus in the Underworld,” and attracted national media attention as well as causing a stir among students involved in theater on campus. Several students complained that the requirement infringed on their free speech, while others pointed out that the policy was unlikely to assuage anxiety about Virginia Tech.

But over the weekend, Trachtenberg, who is retiring at the end of the academic year, said student criticism of the stage weapons ban had been exaggerated.

“I think people should start thinking about other people rather than trying to feel sorry for themselves and thinking that the administration is trying to thwart their creativity,” Trachtenberg said. “They’re not using their own intelligence. … We have to think of the people who might be affected by seeing real-life weapons.”

Klasky declined to name the people involved in making Monday’s decision.

25 Apr 2007

Habitable Planet Discovered

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Only 20 light years away.

Daily Mail

The discovery was announced today by a team of European astronomers, using a telescope in La Silla in the Chilean Andes.

The Earth-like planet that could be covered in oceans and may support life is 20.5 light years away, and has the right temperature to allow liquid water on its surface.

This remarkable discovery appears to confirm the suspicions of most astronomers that the universe is swarming with Earth-like worlds.

We don’t yet know much about this planet, but scientists believe that it may be the best candidate so far for supporting extraterrestrial life.

The new planet, which orbits a small, red star called Gliese 581, is about one-and-a-half times the diameter of the Earth.

It probably has a substantial atmosphere and may be covered with large amounts of water – necessary for life to evolve – and, most importantly, temperatures are very similar to those on our world. …

This new planet – known for the time being as Gliese 581c – is a midget in comparison, being about 12,000 miles across (Earth is a little under 8,000 pole-to-pole).

It has a mass five times that of Earth, probably made of the same sort of rock as makes up our world and with enough gravity to hold a substantial atmosphere.

Astrobiologists – scientists who study the possibility of alien life – refer to a climate known as the Goldilocks Zone, where it is not so cold that water freezes and not so hot that it boils, but where it can lie on the planet’s surface as a liquid.

In our solar system, only one planet – Earth – lies in the Goldilocks Zone. Venus is far too hot and Mars is just too cold. This new planet lies bang in the middle of the zone, with average surface temperatures estimated to be between zero and 40c (32-102f). Lakes, rivers and even oceans are possible.

It is not clear what this planet is made of. If it is rock, like the Earth, then its surface may be land, or a combination of land and ocean.

Another possibility is that Gliese 581c was formed mostly from ice far from the star (ice is a very common substance in the Universe), and moved to the close orbit it inhabits today.

In which case its entire surface will have melted to form a giant, planet-wide ocean with no land, save perhaps a few rocky islands or icebergs.

The surface gravity is probably around twice that of the Earth and the atmosphere could be similar to ours.

24 Apr 2007

Modern Burglar Gun

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Operated by PC.

2:52 video

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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