Thursday, May 30, 2002

I'm not generally friendly with the FBI but I can't help but note how bad its PR work has been recently.

Those who do support the Bureau have been neglecting their best arguments.

"Why didn't the FBI catch the terrorists before September 11th?"

1) You can't catch terrorists without spying on them.

2) You can't spy on terrorists in America without spying on Americans

3) The FBI used to proudly spy on Americans but then left-wing politicos ordered us to stop.

4) Left-wing politicos now complain that we haven't been spying on Americans enough. They should have let us continue to spy on Americans like we used to.

5) Maybe we should investigate them for giving aid and comfort to the enemies of America. [Just kidding]

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Don't Nuke Mecca

As tempting as it might seem to nuke Mecca if a weapon of mass destruction is used in the US by Islamic radicals, there are disadvantages.

Nukes are controversial as is the "terror bombing" of civilian populations. Bad publicity. Lots of innocent people get killed.

Try a spiritual response to a spiritual attack, instead.

Here's a better suggestion -- build a cathedral in Mecca.

You have to understand that it's a major no-no for infidels to even visit Mecca. Only the faithful who have submitted [Islam means submission] themselves to God can enter the holy cities of Al Madinah and Mecca. Islamics are free to build a mosque in Rome but Christians, Hindus, Buddists, etc. aren't free to visit Mecca.

Several precendents would allow us to invade Saudi Arabia, confiscate a small chunk of suburban desert outside Mecca and build a a fortress/cathedral there. First there's the left-wing precedent of the war in Kosovo in which Europeans established a new principle of international law which says that we can invade any country oppressing its citizens. SA is certainly oppressing its citizens. Quite a barbaric legal code and loads of religious oppression. The right-wing precendent is that the US can invade any country that's keeping us from freely doing business with them. [The Marines did it an avarage of more than once a year from 1802 to 1940.] The libertarian precedent is that most Saudi territory is unowned (government) land and anyone (say, the 82nd Airborne) is free to homestead it.

The benefit of this construction is that we can build it without harming any innocent people and all the world's Islamic radicals would be compelled to leave the rest of us alone while they attacked it. Their faith would hardly allow them to bother with building demolition in New York as long as the holiest sites of Islam were being profaned by the (hourly) celebration of the Eucharist. And nothing we could do (including torture and execution) would upset Osama bin Laden more. They would be irresistably drawn into a carefully prepared killing ground and eliminated.

To maximise the effectiveness of the attack, the church would have to be Catholic (English, Greek, or Roman). Those denomination's sacerdotal magic (featuring the actual presence of Christ) is much stronger than that of other Christian groups. Shouting Baptists just don't make it for this application.

So then our only remaining question is whether the cathedral should look like this or like this.

Can it ever be moral for a group to do that which is immoral for a member of the group to do?

Even more problematical than regulatory agencies crackdowns on advertizing are the many past cases of regulatory agencies cracking down on substantive writing and religious practice.


FDA burns the books of the Orgone Press claiming they were illegal labelling for Wilhelm Reich's banned Orgone Accumulator.

FDA bans Church of Scientolgy E-meters.

SEC demands that financial newsletters obtain a government license to publish.

CPSC bans a book (in 1984).

CFTC demands that commodity newsletters obtain a government license to publish.

Buffalo News - State considers strict law to track foreign students

ALBANY - State lawmakers are considering requiring New York colleges and universities to quickly report to police the names of foreign students who enroll to qualify for student visas but then fail to show up for class.

Other states have proposed similar requirements, but the New York bill, still at the committee stage, is believed to be the strictest, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

I trust that it's not the showing up for class that will be tracked but rather the students' academdic standing. I knew lots of people who rarely went to class and passed their courses (including me).
Is Emerson Dicta?

Yet another free law school lecture from Eugene Volokh. If you read these daily, you'll gain a free legal education.

See also:

Abortion Cams

Somebody should collect all of these. I'm waiting for the one on the Rule Against Perpetuities.

Why do Libertarians dominate Blogdom?

Easy. Because not all media are created equal.

As G. K. Chesterton says in Heretics:

The truth is, that it is quite an error to suppose that absence of definite convictions gives the mind freedom and agility. A man who believes something is ready and witty, because he has all his weapons about him. he can apply his test in an instant. The man engaged in conflict with a man like Mr. Bernard Shaw may fancy he has ten faces; similarly a man engaged against a brilliant duelist may fancy that the sword of his foe has turned to ten swords in his hand. But this is not really because the man is playing with ten swords, it is because he is aiming very straight with one. Moreover, a man with a definite belief always appears bizarre, because he does not change with the world; he has climbed into a fixed star, and the earth whizzes below him like a zoetrope. Millions of mild black-coated men call themselves sane and sensible merely because they always catch the fashionable insanity, because they are hurried into madness after madness by the maelstrom of the world.

So we've got prepared answers to lots of stuff and can therefore handle the posting loads imposed by Blogging. In a column of a number of years ago on the Libertarian Party, George Will thought it unusual that the LP had a plank on the Moon Treaty (surprise, surprise, they were against it).

Then there's the fact that we are People of the book. Blogging is a writing exercise and in order to be a good writer you have to read a lot.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Nelson's battle plan is revealed on scrap of paper

Vanessa Thorpe, Arts and Media Correspondent
Sunday May 26, 2002
The Observer

It may look like a random doodle, but a rough drawing found almost by chance on the back of a scrap of yellowing paper has proved to be our closest contact yet with the mind of Britain's greatest naval hero.

When Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the French at Trafalgar in 1805, he changed the course of history. Today, following an extraordinary research coup for the historian Colin White, Nelson's lost battle plan is to go on display for the first time in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

News of the discovery of the only hand-drawn tactical map of Trafalgar broke this weekend and has excited historians all over Britain.

Here's the real article from the Journal For Maritime Research:

Nelson’s 1805 Battle Plan

and, thanks to the power of deep linking, here's the plan itself.

Here is a detail.

Sunday, May 26, 2002


Compared to that, lesbian sex seems much less repulsive, much less of an indignity ... pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases .. less likely to transmit STDs ...In terms of raw physical risk, you've got to prefer the girl.
Finally, I'll stress again that this question is in part facetious: I'm pretty sure fathers don't actually devoutly wish for their daughters to be lesbians, and I'm asking this mostly because it's amusing and a bit absurdist to wonder why it isn't this way. But it does have a serious component: Given fathers' notorious sexual protectiveness of their daughters, why don't we see more of the attitude I describe?

I guess that a Freudian could suggest a good motive.

Or a sociobiologist could point out that even though homosexuals can reproduce, a daughter's hetrosexuality maximises the chance that a father's genetic heritage will be passed on to grandchildren. Hetrosexual couples have a higher birthrate than homosexual couples and the female in a hetrosexual couple produces 100% of the couple's natural children. The odds of being the mother are lower if there are two women.

But seriously folks. The main reason is that a majority of (American) people don't think homosexuality is morally right 55% to 38% in the latest Gallup Poll. And I bet that a fair chunk of those 38% who are too chicken to use the term "morally wrong" don't think that homosexuality is a good idea.