TAM Archive: 7.00

Greg Ransom's Ransom's Digest is a cross between Drudge and Arts & Letters Daily but with a classical liberal twist. Ransom moderates the Hayek-L e-mail list and manages the Friedrich Hayek Scholars' Page. If you're interested in anything Hayek (the greatest economist of the 20th Century), then Greg's your man.

Ransom's Digest

Metascene is the rare blog using one of the free web page services (Tripod). Every other blog either has its own domain or takes advantage of weblogs.com. Metascene and TAM are two lonely pioneers in the weblogging world.


James Fallows may have found the Net's biggest weakness. It isn't overboard government regulation; it isn't a crash in the stock market; it isn't the lack of skilled workers; and it isn't crackers or cyber-terrorists. It's a stable power supply.

"Not Enough Juice"

Whether you use Windows or not, I think it would be really cool to win an autographed copy of Windows Me.


BlueLight.com has a nice idea at a pretty decent price, but their BlueLight PC is just ugly.

Susan Lee has a simplistic solution to paying for national defense without taxes: charitable giving. She figures that if federal taxes were eliminated more people would give more. About 4% of total national income would be enough to cover the military. I'd love a nation without taxes, but I'm realistic enough to realize the free rider problem. Government should be limited to a few, specific functions. National defense is one of them.

Oh, I agree with Bill that the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal is great. I've always loved the WSJ's editorial page, and now I get good stuff to chew on. I just wish they would either put the op-eds on Opinion Journal or allow me to only subscribe to the editorial page.

Napster has been saved--for now. Two federal judges granted Napster a stay to continue operating as they have. In a ruling Wednesday, a federal judge ordered Napster to stop letting members trade copyrighted music. This latest ruling means Napster will run unaltered into the foreseeable future.

"Napster Wins Stay in Appeals Court"

Visit StopCarnivore.org to find out how to stop the FBI's ISP snooping technology.

Inside.com reports that WWF champion The Rock will be a part of the Republican National Convention. Scott Collins and Kim Masters report that veep candidate Dick Cheney personally requested The Rock's presence. I'm starting to see how the entertainment world is divided politically: movie mavens (Alec Baldwin) and rock stars (Pearl Jam) are liberal democrats; and golfers and pro wrestlers (The Rock) are republicans. This is just a theory, and there are always exceptions (Ted Nugent, Tom Selleck).

"The Rock and Cheney Tag-Team at 'Main Street' GOP Convention" [via Drudge]

In another bit of showbiz style at the Republican convention, retired General Norman Schwarzkopf will address the convention from the retired U.S.S. New Jersey.

"Powell, Schwarzkopf Will Address Republicans" [via Drudge]

I've been ignoring the Presidential polls because it's the middle of summer and few people are really thinking about November's elections. However, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll not only shows GW having a double-digit lead over AlGore, but more people think GW can better handle issues like taxes, defense, world affairs, and even the economy. AlGore is getting no credit for the robust economy. Not good for Al. But these numbers explain the vicious attacks launched by AlGore and his Democratic allies against Bush/Cheney. So far, the public thinks GW's a better leader so the Dems have to knock him down a peg or two.

"Poll: Bush Leads Gore with GOP Convention Set to Begin" [via Drudge]

The quote of the day comes from Dick Cheney who called for a "great crusade to restore dignity and integrity to Washington, to give our kids and grandkids a government we can once again be proud of."

After scouring the Net for weeks I've finally found ice cream recipes. There are a whole bunch at Makeicecream.com. I'm drooling just thinking about peach and chocolate mint.

I can't believe it's been 8 days since I last posted. I'm not dead, no accidents or health problems, no career-making tests, and nobody in my family died. I guess working wild hours with lots to do and sharing an office with a busy accountant (my mother) kept me from doing my blogging duty. Well, I'm back.

Let's start off with the up-coming shut down of Napster. I guarantee I'm in the minority on this one, but people downloading copyrighted music without the artists' and record companies' permission is wrong! Sure, Napster appears to be a nifty tool for finding music, but it lets people consume music without paying for it. If that's alright with the people and organizations that provided the talent and money to create the music, fine. We live in a free society where people can give their products away (see Netscape and AOL's AIM), but to just take (Napster calls it "sharing") music without such consent is theft. This isn't like making a copy of a CD to a cassette to play on a walkman. This is akin to buying a copy of Windows 2000 and letting everyone on the Net have a copy of it. I think most Napster users would think the latter example is wrong, but will rationalize stealing music by saying the record companies overcharge on CDs or fill albums with one good song and 12 lousy ones, or claim they want to listen before they buy. All this is an excuse to continue getting music without paying.

I'm not sympathetic towards the record companies. Salon's Scott Rosenberg got it right when he wrote, "Instead of going to court, of course, the music industry could be figuring out ways to use Napster to sell more music. After all, here's a piece of software that cultivates people's taste for new music and that appeals to the most dedicated fans. What a sales opportunity!" The music industry has been wasting time trying to perfect its secure music format (through SDMI). So Napster comes along with an easy-to-use product and satisfies a demand no one thought was out there. Hopefully, the industry can take advantage of this wake-up call and figure out a way to sell music over the Net. Maybe Steve Case has some good ideas for the new AOL-Time Warner.

The real problem is the idea Napster planted into the Net consciousness. Gnutella, Napigator, Angry Coffee, and other software are being flooded with new users in response to the Napster shut-down. Unless copyright owners want to go after the millions of people using these technologies, copyright may become extinct. Whether that's good or not is an interesting question. Many artists would continue to make music because that's what they do. Then enjoy the creative process or make music to express their thoughts and emotions. Lack of copyright protection wouldn't stop these people from continuing to be creative and expressive. It might make it financially harder to make music.

For me, the most interesting thing about the Napster war is the attitude of Napster users. Most want access to lots of music, but they don't want to pay for it. Many may say they would love to be able to buy music they find via Napster on the Net, but don't. With Napster being turned off I see lots of whining about the big, bad record companies. Some people will not listen to Metallica on the radio because they oppose having their music stolen via Napster. (How their music changed because of some stance, I don't know.) I smell a sense of entitlement here. Since the Net is a free-flowing medium filled with free stuff, music should be free too.

Napster is like most technologies humans have to deal with. Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should do it.

"Napster Alternatives Booming":

With all the venom spewed out from the Democrats over GW's pick of Dick Cheney as veep, I'm in agreement with Mike that Cheney "is the perfect choice." This guy has a solid conservative voting record--implying that GW won't turn soft when elected President. He also has extensive experience working in government. On defense and foreign policy, Cheney will be a great advisor. On taxes, Lawrence Kudlow calls him "one of the original supply-siders." With a huge budget surplus looming, GW may be shoring up his tax cutting credentials.

Two things are going against Cheney: 1.) He's not flashy; 2.) He harkens back to the past. But these seeming weaknesses may end up as minor strengths electorally. We've had eight years of flash, entertainment, saxaphone playing, underware talk, scandal, and Oval Office orgies from Clinton/Gore. I have a feeling the electorate is looking for leaders who are serious, full of substance, and not as flashy. Also, the public likes GW's dad even though they threw him out of office in 1992. So Cheney's connection to Bush, Sr. isn't really a weakness.

So far, Cheney has defended his voting record admirably, and GW has attacked the Democrats for trying to knock down a good man. It will be really interesting to see who AlGore picks as his veep. Whoever it is, it will be hard for that person to stand up to the stature of Dick Cheney.

This is how government operates: even though there is little evidence that electronic devices (notebook computers, cell phones) interfere with an airplane's electronics, the FAA still has a ban on passengers using them when the plane is below 10,000 feet. Gerry Purdy at Portable Life is tired of this. He wants the government to put up or shut up. I think you know my choice.

"Are Airborne E-Devices a Danger?":

I'm so tired of Lew Rockwell's rhetoric. He's a proud and able defender of the free market, but when it comes to talking politics, I'm sick of his bashing. He already wants to hate GW's administration before he even beats AlGore or implements one policy. He calls Dick Cheney a "mouthpiece for the military-industrial complex." I guess I'm a mouthpiece too because I support a strengthening of the U.S. military after the defunding and demoralization of eight years of Clinton/Gore. Rockwell then calls the Bush/Cheney ticket "an all-oil ticket, one with a history of war-making and war-profiteering." He also offers some silly conspiracy theory about the real reason for going to war against Iraq.

Bash, bash, bash, bash, bash is all Rockwell is able to do. He yaps about limited government, but never mentions what government should do. For Rockwell, it's either a perfect libertarian state (that the Founding Fathers may not have wanted) or Leviathan. While the U.S. is a Nanny State, we still enjoy one of the most free societies in human history. Rockwell only calls for the end of government functions and never offers any transitional stages to get to that final stage. What Rockwell is is an anarchist who can't seem to come out of the closet. Being an anarchist is fine. It's a wrong-headed, but valid political stance. I just wish he would be honest about his stance. Until Rockwell writes or says something to refute my premise, I will refer to him as "Anarchy Lew."

"Dreading GOP Rule":

Congrats to Zannah, who got married last weekend.

B&L&F&R on the U.S. Senate's vote to repeal the death tax:

In passing this measure, the Senate recognised what the House and the legislatures of 39 states have already shown their awareness of -- a "death" tax affects far more than the rich. These taxes have a tremendous impact on the families of successful independent entrepreneurs, small farms and all others who don't have the capacity or breadth of assets necessary to lock up their estates in trusts, foundations and other tax-avoidance measures. Those things are indeed, why this tax isn't hurting the rich, they have the means to protect the financial legacy that they leave behind.

Clinton has, of course, promised a veto, because it would be a sin to a man of his ilk to allow regular everyday people to keep their own money instead of sending it to Washington. If our Congressional leaders have any sense or ability to recognise what is truly good for the constituencies, they will override any veto on this bill.

The Senate should also pass a House bill that would raise the saving limits on IRAs and 401Ks and override a Clinton veto.

Is this the return of the pinkos? The Socialist Party-USA has doubled membership in the past few years, and party leaders expect another doubling in about a year. This doesn't count the number of undeclared-yet-sympathizing members like that woman running for a New York Senate seat and that guy running for President.

"Socialism on Rise in US -- Backlash to Prosperity?":

I stomached enough of Mrs. Clinton's website to come across this little ditty.

Thus sayeth Saint Hillary:

There is nothing I believe in more than every child and every family's right to health care. It should not be a privilege or accident of birth or wealth. It should and must be a right.

While not resurrecting her failed attempt to nationalize 1/7th of the U.S. economy, Hillary claims health care is a right. If health care is a right, why not food, clothes, shelter, Internet access, computers, Game Boys, or Pokemon cards? All of it is good--even necessary--for one's life, but in order for all that stuff to be provided, someone must create them. Someone must grow the food we eat; someone must make the clothes we wear; someone must build the house we live in; someone must build the companies that provide Net service, computers, and entertainment. The "right to health care" isn't like free speech rights or religious rights. The latter rights don't impose anything on anyone else, a right to health care would. We don't force someone to give us paper or a building to exercise our rights to free speech and worship. But a "right" to health care requires doctors, nurses, accountants, managers, secretaries, and the rest of the health care industry to provide their services. Such a "right" costs time and resources. Joseph Knight wrote, "a 'right' cannot be something which must be had at the expense of others."

The problem with health care in the U.S. isn't the excesses of the free market, it's the lack of a free market. The distortions created by tax policy, regulations, and government programs have given us the mess we now have. If Hillary seriously wants to start fixing this mess, she should look at medical savings accounts where people have an incentive to minimize health care costs. I know she isn't for such a plan because it would take power away from the body she wants to join, thus minimizing her own importance.

On that same note, here's a quote from a Leonard Peikoff speech I read during the ClintonCare battle back in 1993:

The right to life, e.g., does not mean that your neighbors have to feed and clothe you; it means you have the right to earn your food and clothes yourself, if necessary by a hard struggle, and that no one can forcibly stop your struggle for these things or steal them from you if and when you have achieved them. In other words: you have the right to act, and to keep the results of your actions, the products you make, to keep them or to trade them with others, if you wish. But you have no right to the actions or products of others, except on terms to which they voluntarily agree.

"Health Care Is Not A Right":

Local (Milwaukee) liberal activist Mikel Holt says the NAACP must stop fighting school choice programs (like the one in Milwaukee) or face becoming irrelevant in the lives of Black Americans.

"School Choice Is The New Civil Rights Battle":

Earthlink rejected the FBI's carnivore Net snooper. They say it adversely affects their network. Earthlink is also fighting a legal battle against the snooping device. Three cheers for Earthlink.

"EarthLink just says no to FBI's Carnivore":

By the way, free trade is still good:

Americans trade because doing so allows us to concentrate on what we do best, thus raising productivity and incomes. We trade because the imports we receive allow us to enjoy a higher standard of living. And we trade because exchanging what we produce with others for mutual benefit is an inalienable human right, whether we trade with a neighbor down the road or a worker on the other side of the world. Given the inherent blessings of free trade, we should not insist that other nations lower their trade barriers before we lower our own. Unilateral trade liberalization is its own reward.

"The Blessings of Free Trade":

In Mona Charen's latest column she remembers Jan Karski, "the first person to alert the West about the Holocaust of Europe's Jews taking place behind German lines."

"Jan Karski, RIP":

Do I want this t-shirt, this t-shirt, the martini glass, or this t-shirt?

[via /usr/bin/girl/]

Unknown News linked to TAM. This blog is listed as "DO-IT-YOURSELF MEDIA." Unknown News seems left-of-center, but I thank them for the link.

Also, Scott Kitchen's The Other Side linked to me. Scott is a Republican, Mets fan, and husband of whim & vinegar's Jen Kitchen. Thank you, Scott.

My portal's going to need some major updating.

The creators of Dolly the cloned sheep want to experiment with cloning human tissue. They want to create human embryos to extract stem cells.

I'm not opposed to human cloning per se. I'm opposed to using human embryos as replenishable resources for experimentation and medical treatment. I consider human life to begin at the embryonic stage. Creating embryos just to suck off stem cells reaks of slavery. No consent would be given. Those human beings would be used as means to others' ends. A freedom-loving person like myself cannot accept that.

"Dolly Creators Back Limited Human Cloning":

I'm so ashamed. I saw this story on weblogs in my local paper Saturday (in the early Sunday edition). Both Metafilter and ETWOF beat me in blogging it. Enjoy nevertheless.

"Staying Afloat on Weblogs":

Some reviews of X-Men. Jonah Goldberg thought it was alright to non-X-Men readers, but it just wasn't right to a big X-Men reader like him:

Bryan Singer, the director of Usual Suspects, was not the best choice for X-Men. The film can't seem to decide whether it's campy or serious and often flip flops between the two sensibilities. He can't commit. Another failing of the movie is that there are not enough villains. Since choosing from across all time for the Brotherhood of Mutants, it would have been nice to have more bad guys than just Magneto, Sabretooth and the Toad. Surely the Blob or the Juggernaut wouldn't have been expensive additions.

National Review Online compatriot, Robert George thought Bryan Singer did a good job in bringing this piece of geek culture to the masses:

Director Bryan Singer's primary job was to take a comic-book series that has nearly a forty-year back story (or twenty-five, if you take the "New" X-Men as the starting point) and do the opposite of what Jonah did. In other words, Singer had to make a movie with a Legion of Super-Geeks waiting in the wings ready to tear it apart palatable to "normal" movie-goers who lack a mutant-watching gene. Singer pulled it off admirably.

In this debate, I side with George. Just read my epinion to get my take.

"Take Two on X-Men":

"Dissent X":

If you want to read something really "pun"ny, check out this story of this "spud"tacular toy.

"The Mr. Potato Head Murders": [via memepool]

Since I work in a bookstore I'm glad metajohn found the ISBN FAQ. I'll also try to remember not to use the phrase "ISBN number." It's just plain redundant.

The publishing industry seems to have found a way to uniquely identify books and book-like products. Why can't ICANN and its critics come to a similar agreement with web addresses?

Frequently Asked Questions about the ISBN:

This week, I bought an ice cream maker. So far, I'm two for two. My batch of vanilla wasn't as creamy as I'd like. I'll have to use whole milk instead of 2% next time. My batch of chocolate was also good--sweet and really chocolaty. I want more recipes, but I've had little luck searching the web. If you have a good ice cream recipe or know of a good web site, let me know.

Big Tobacco lost big time today--to the tune of $145 billion dollars. A bunch of goofy, dumb jurists decided to "send a message" to the tobacco companies. Personal responsibility is chipped away again through our legal system.

This suit was led by money-grubbing trial lawyers who, in their own words, think they're a "de facto fourth branch of government."

"Jury Punishes Big Tobacco with $145 Billion Damages":

"The Florida Tobacco Jurors: Anything but Typical":

I saw X-Men today. Here's a snippet of my epinion:

X-men was probably the most awaited action/sci-fi movie of the summer. Fans of the comic have been waiting years for their favorite heros' debut on the silver screen. Long time fans won't be disappointed with the adaptation and newbies should like the special effects, action, and storyline.

"X-cellent Movie":

Chris Buckley figured out why some people attatch to political parties:

Self-described bookworm seeks literate female for discussions on world affairs, politics, technology, economics, philosophy, Star Trek, Star Wars, Dilbert, and the why the Oscars are sooo long and boring. You don't need to be a political/news junkie, just someone who is aware of the world around them and can put up with an opinion, because I definitely have them. Dinners, movies, Milwaukee's many festivals, and quiet nights alone are high on my list. Send me a note, I will respond.

In the same review of Peter Robinson's new book, Robinson explains why he's a Republican:

It stands for principles that I myself share. I figure that somehow or other I owe it a little emotional involvement.

"Tear Down this Wall": [via Arts and Letters Daily]

The Balitmore Orioles are under investigation by the Justice Department for possible citizenship status discrimination. It seems the Castro-loving owner of the Baltimore Orioles, Peter Angelos, wants good relations with Cuba and won't sign gutsy Cuban defectors who risk their lives to escape that prison island. At least that was reported by the Washington Times back in May. Now, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) requested the Justice Department investigation.

"Justice Confirms Probe of Orioles' Hiring Practices Underway":

Jim Powell has a list of the 20 best books to start learning about libertarianism. Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and F.A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom are two on the list I've read (read my essay on why Road is still vital today).

A Laissez Faire Books editor recommends the 20 best introductory libertarian books:

I found a Harry Potter weblog.

The Leaky Cauldron: [via Medley]

For July 4, Jeff Jacoby wrote a piece on the fates of those courageous men who signed the Declaration of Independence. It was similar to an e-mail floating around the Net. Unlike the Net piece, Jacoby's was completely true. He researched it and fixed the inaccuracies. The Boston Globe objected to Jacoby not mentioning his piece's resemblence to the e-mail. Now, they want him to resign.

"Gagged at the Globe:

Diana Ross' Supremes tour has been cut short by its producers. This wasn't a reunion tour because the two Supremes touring with Ross, Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne, never performed with Ross until this tour. Because of the tension between Ross and original Supreme, Mary Wilson, Ross was the only original member of the group.

I thought the tour was a joke. It's disingenuous to call it a Supremes tour if none of the Supremes ever worked with one another. I also think spending upwards of $250 just to see an aging Diana Ross was way too much.

"Ross Says Producers Canceled Her Supremes Tour":

Some reviews of Harry Potter IV are in.

David Kipen says J.K. Rowling's writing "has turned listless, like something out of the novelization of a bad action movie." He also thinks Rowling should "consider taking a book off to explore her new themes in greater depth, the better to resume Harry's adventures later with fresh enthusiasm."

Deirdre Donahue didn't think the book was so hot either:

Pivotal perhaps, but the fourth installment is a hurried novel that highlights Rowling's ability to crank out pages but shows less of her breathtaking creativity. The trees of this world do not deserve another Stephen King, and the folks at Hogwarts deserve better. Give everyone, including yourself, J.K., a breather.

However, Marta Salij liked the book. She liked how Rowling raised "moral issues" and her "mastery of suspense."

Mixed reviews so far. I wouldn't expect the book to have the same quality as the first three. Writing is hard, and pumping out so much material can wear an author thin.

"Trouble with 'Harry'":

"'Goblet of Fire' Burns Out":

"J.K. Rowling's Richly Plotted Fourth Book More than Lives up to all the Hoopla":

I'm eagerly awaiting The Crystal Method's new album. So to tide me over, I downloaded "Come Together." Meth continues on with their electro-swelled sonic-scape that made its mark on Vegas. Also along for the ride is the hard rhythm that's more tailored for the rock concert than the late-night rave.

Download "Come Together":

"Chairman" Glen Dixon e-mailed me about The Daily Rant. I should have mentioned it since the "Chairman" so kindly linked to me. Glen is losing weight and trying to get people to the polls this November.

The Daily Rant:

David Plotz thinks he knows the perfect MacArthur "genius":

a one-named Berkeley professor who choreographs interpretative jazz dances about how genetically modified food will destroy humanity.

In other words, some lefty, esoteric professor who hates capitalism and thinks mankind is the death-knell of the planet. Well then, I'll never be a MacArthur genius.

"The MacArthur Geniuses":

A quick Harry Potter update: The Barnes and Noble I work at is out of the book. If you didn't reserve a copy ahead of time, you're out of luck at my store. I have no idea when we'll get more. I'm sure I'll be talking to some irate customers tomorrow. But we all know the saying, "You snooze, you lose."

I'm on the lookout for right-wing/conservative/libertarian blogs. ETWOF is great, WOIFM? does well too, and latte throws in the occasional political link when he's not busy dreaming about (privately funded) space flight. Via WOIFM? I've discovered Big & Loud & Formidible & Right. If you have a political blog tell me.

Drudge reports that Disney might buy Apple and Pixar. Would such a venture mean mouse ears on iBooks? Will the "G" in G4 stand for "Goofy?" Would the next Pixar computer animated film feature Regis Philbin? Or would Disney push Apple into the Net appliance market where MickeyMacs could download Disney movies and ABC content through a future broadband pipe?

If this rumor is true, you'll hear loud squawks over the continual consolidation of media. I have no problem with such mergers. It may not be the best for shareholders of the companies, but people should be able to organize businesses in however a manner they seem fit. My concern if whether such combinations actually offer better products and services to consumers. When you merge so many different kinds businesses together, the conglomerate can lose its edge.

"Mega Merge: Insiders See Possible Disney Purchase of Apple Computer, Pixar":

HP2K went almost off without a hitch. For those of you not in the pop culture loop, today was the first day kids (and adults) could buy the latest Harry Potter book. I worked at the Barnes & Noble until the wee hours this morning to satisfy the early demand for the large tome (700+ pages). People started arriving around 9:00 p.m. and got in line at 11:00 p.m. Then we all waited as the clock slowly creeped up to the midnight hour. The clock struck 12, boxes were opened, books flew in one direction while cash flew in the other. We sold about 200 copies in an hour with plenty to spare for those who were willing to wait until the store opened later that morning. There was just a slight problem with our credit card system. It probably got overloaded because of the nationwide rush for the book.

It was exciting. I told a local tv cameraman that I loved the vibe and energy generated by so many people eagerly waiting their book. It was almost like last year's Star Wars passion. I'm also glad kids are flocking over a book. I don't care how much Harry Potter becomes commercialized. The focus will still be the book, and kids will want to read it again and again and again. I wonder how many kids (and adults) slept through today because they were up all night reading?

Unlike Bill Joy, Glenn Reynolds and Dave Kopel doesn't want to see the end of nanotechnology research.

Crushing nanotechnology would be a terrible thing. In fact, the example of biological warfare offers the depressing possibility that adopting Joy's "relinquishment" approach to nanotechnology might actually make things worse. First of all, relinquishment would deprive us of the potential benefits of benign nanotechnology, such as cheap space travel, cancer cures, bodies that stay younger and healthier for longer. Even worse, "relinquishment" would probably accelerate the progress of destructive nanotechnology. In a world where nanotechnology is outlawed, outlaws would have an additional incentive to develop nanotechnology. And given that research into nanotechnology — like the cruder forms of biological and chemical warfare — can be conducted clandestinely on small budgets and in difficult-to-spot facilities, the likelihood of such research going on is rather high. Terrorists would have the greatest incentive possible to develop nanotechnologies far more deadly than old-fashioned biological warfare. This makes Joy's relinquishment argument hard to swallow. At the very least, it suggests that Joy and those who agree with him need to step up to the plate and make some more sophisticated arguments. No one doubts that Joy and the rest have good intentions. But as the example of biological warfare illustrates, good intentions, even when embodied in popular agreements to abandon a technology, don't necessarily have good consequences.

Their argument is very similar to pro-gun advocates who argue that only law-abiding citizens follow gun-control laws, and that just empowers criminals.

"Wait a Nano-Second…":

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Andorra and Cyprus have better health care systems than the U.S. So that's why I see world leaders flying to Cyprus (Greek or Turkish side?) when they get sick. j/k

"We're Number 37 in Health Care!": [via MetaFilter]

The U.S government has been monitoring pro-life groups such as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women of American, and Women's Coalition for Life. This is being done under the Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy (VAAPCON), a secret project to keep tabs on groups that could violently oppose abortion. Mainstream pro-life groups have been mixed with extreme and potentially violent groups and labled as one and the same. This isn't surprising since the Clinton administration is the most pro-abortion Presidency in U.S. history. They can't see the difference between the non-violent Catholic bishops conference and real threats.

Back in the 1960's, the FBI ran intelligence operations against many anti-war groups. These children of the 60's are still complaining about the police-state back then. You don't hear any cries now. Noam Chompsky isn't condemning the U.S. government over VAAPCON. Could it be that the Left will just defend its own ideological causes and all others are left to fight for themselves?

"FBI Database Monitors Catholic Bishops, Pro-Life Groups":

Read my epinion of the Jimmy Page/Black Crowes gig I saw at Summerfest last week.

"Page and Crowes: 6.29.00":

Michelle Malkin--who recently just had a baby--praises Leonard Read's essay "I, Pencil."

"I, Pencil" teaches what left-wing fossils on college campuses to this day refuse to admit: Governments and bureaucrats don't make what people want and need. They only get in the way. It is individuals, cooperating peacefully and voluntarily, working together without mandate or central design, who produce the world's goods and services.

I agree with Malkin that "I, Pencil" is a great essay. It's especially good for people not comfortable with formal economics or had awful econ teachers. The essay combines Adam Smith's "invisible hand" with F.A. Hayek's idea of dispersed knowledge. The good thing is you don't have to be aware of either concept to grasp Read's point.

The "miracle" Malkin refers to is the notion that no one person has the knowledge needed to make a pencil all by himself. Pencils are made by combining the efforts and talents of people all over the world without a central plan. Information is transmitted through the rise and fall of prices. Hayek called this price mechanism a "marvel" and said "if the people guided by the price changes understood that their decisions have significance far beyond their immediate aim, this mechanism would have been acclaimed as one of the greatest triumphs of the human mind."

"The Miracle of a Lead Pencil":

"I, Pencil":

Living in the Milwaukee area, I've had to put up with really high gas prices. The most I've paid is $2.10/gal. Walter Williams has figured out the reasons for such high prices: environmental groups keeping domestic production low; and government-mandated reformulated gas. AlGore may be bashing "Big Oil," but he's really savoring these prices. He hates gas-powered cars and would love to see them disappear.

"Those High Gas Prices":

The story of the Jarbridge Shovel Brigade has been floating around right-wing web sites and talk radio. On Tuesday (7.4), a group of Nevadans defied the U.S. Forest Service and worked on rebuilding a road in a nearby national forest. The Forest Service says repairing the road will hurt fish in a neighboring stream. Locals see this as Washington busy-bodies sticking their noses there they don't belong. Such defiance is good for the civic soul.

"'Shovel Brigade' Protesters Lay Claim to Nevada Road":

I might enjoy The Smack. There's a pic of Ronald Reagan proudly displayed. It can't be that bad then.

The Smack:

Alan Jacobs writes an interesting piece examining Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It wasn't Rousseau's Social Contract that inspired French revolution:

No, it was the Jean-Jacques of the Confessions who was the real popular hero, because he stood against the complexities and hierarchies and dissimulations of the ancien régime by standing for an unaffected "natural" sincerity.

It's a good piece to get a glimpse of one of the founders of modernity.

"The Only Honest Man":

Michelle Malkin on today's "modern-day Robert Frost":

Eminem is just the latest dysfunctional spawn of our Jerry Springer society. Sooner or later, he'll self-destruct. The real threat to our cultural health are those entrenched media intellectuals, lounging backstage with lattes and laptops in hand, who sanction garbage as art, expletives as entertainment, and violent perversion as lyrical poetry.

It isn't just the content of his rhymes that bugs me, it's the lousy rhythm. Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy all have the beat down. Eminem needs to buy a metronome.

"Tune Out Eminem's Pitiful 'Poetry'":

Happy Birthday America!! For 224 years, you've been a shining beacon of freedom to the rest of the world. While not perfect, I proud to say I live in the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

The Declaration of Independence:

A high-resolution scan of the original Declaration of Independence (315K JPEG):

Watch the fireworks in Washington, D.C. via Townhall.com:

Once again the pornography business seems to be getting a head start in using new technolgy. They were quick to embrace the VCR and the Internet. Now they want to pump porn through mobile phones via WAP. I don't mind the occasional glimpse of a beautiful naked woman. Heck, Darva Conger is awfully attractive. But I would hope people would have the decency to view porn in the privacy of their own confines. I don't necessarily want to see someone's fantasy decked out in leather with whips and chains flailing, and I don't want kids exposed to that stuff. I'm not advocating Net censorship. I just hope people will have the common decency and courtesy to view their porn in appropriate places.

"Wireless Porn ... Of Course":

I smell a new meme: fat people are hotter sexually. "The people who are the hottest sexually are fat white people who are burning in the sun," said James Watson, who helped discover DNA. He thinks people with more fat produce more endorphins and are happier. I'll guess either Salon.com or Feed will pick this up within a week with the NY Times to soon follow.

"Extra Fat Means More Happiness, Better Sex": [via Robot Wisdom]

I'm a few days behind on this story, but I can't resist. What's with Larry Ellison? Is he so obsessed with Bill Gates that he hired private investigators to dig up dirt on Microsoft? Ellison should quit wasting time and money on Nixonian dirty tricks against MS and spend more time making his company as good as it can be. If I was an Oracle shareholder, I would be outraged that the man who runs the company I partially own would do stupid stuff like that.

"Ellison Makes No Apology to Microsoft":

Because of this past week's Supreme Court ruling on partial-birth abortion, the Presidential election becomes vital in determining the future make-up of the court. Roe v. Wade was horrible law whether you are pro-choice or pro-life. We know an AlGore administration would appoint judges who would continue Roe's legal monstrosity. G.W. says his favorite judge is Antonin Scalia, a constitutional literalist. His appointments would probably oppose Roe. This shouldn't frighten pro-choicers because the overturning of Roe would only "return the issue to state legislatures, from which a patchwork of abortion laws would soon emerge." It would still require the pro-lifers to persuade the public that abortion should be outlawed.

"Bush v. Gore and Roe v. Wade:

Sean Hackbarth
Allenton, WI

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