Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

November 4, 2008

There is hope!

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:05 pm

At some universities, this would qualify a professor for tenure!

Professor ousted after tearing down McCain yard signs

The St. Olaf (Northfield, Minn.) professor who, in a well-read Huffington Post item, recounted tearing down McCain campaign signs has resigned.

Per the Northfield News, it appears that Philip Busse was forced out.

St. Olaf spokesman David Gonnerman issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

“The St. Olaf College administration first learned of Phil Busse’s self-admitted theft and destruction of campaign signs on the morning of Oct. 31 as a result of his posting on the Internet.

“The St. Olaf administration immediately referred the matter to local law enforcement authorities and commenced an investigation of its own.

“Mr. Busse has tendered his resignation and is no longer affiliated with St. Olaf College.

Busse has been charged with misdemeanor theft.

Here’s a link to the original Huffington Post article. Some excerpts:

By early October, however, there were no McCain-Palin campaign signs on the eastbound stretch of Highway 19. It wasn’t because loyalties had switched, but because I pulled them out.

Sure, I understand that stealing a sign will not change anyone’s mind, and, most likely, will only embolden McCain supporters’ disdain for liberals. Even so, yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.

Today, national politics amounts to slick TV ads and choreographed stump speeches. A vote often feels like a raindrop in an ocean. But this illicit act of civil disobedience was something visceral. It was unscripted and raw expression. It was a chance to stop talking about theories and projections and get my hands dirty. Of course, I realized there was the very real chance my antics in rural Minnesota would be met with a shotgun, or at least a hockey dad tackling me.


But unlike stealing a lawn gnome or a plastic pink flamingo, I admit, stealing a lawn sign is a more heinous crime. There is moral and ethical guilt. I believe in free speech, and also believe and encourage political expression. I guess I could argue that I was flexing my free expression to say “shut up.” But that would put me at the same low-level of political discourse as Bill O’Reilly, who consistently steamrolls over anyone who disagrees with him. If I need to justify my actions, I could argue that I was trying to achieve some great public service for rural voters. In his 2004 book, What’s The Matter With Kansas, Frank Rich explains that working class and family farmers, like these in Minnesota, increasingly vote conservative and against their own interests. By pulling out the McCain signs, I was hoping to curb the impression for passing motorists that family farmers in Minnesota supported McCain. Or, at least that’s the most high-minded explanation that I can offer.

Mature? No. Illegal? Yes. Satisfying? Definitely.

Well, that’s at least one honest Obama supporter!

September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin and the “Gender Gap”

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:00 pm

Everyone keeps asking if Sarah Palin will help the McCain ticket appeal to women voters — especially voters who preferred Hillary Clinton.

What everyone seems to be missing is that Palin will appeal to men — perhaps even more.

Liberal women who care more about liberalism than gender will not switch to McCain because he’s running with a conservative woman. The “Debra” vote — Clinton voters who switched to McCain on the basis of Obama’s lack of “experience” may not be followed by more “experience” voters, especially if they measure experience by years in office. (Obviously, some people will count Palin as “more experienced” than Obama because she’s accomplished more even thought she has about the same number of years in office. But those people probably weren’t voting for Obama anyway.)

The demographic that Palin brings to the ticket is going to include a lot of men who were lukewarm McCain supporters who might have stayed home — but think it’s really cool to have a woman on the ticket who hunts, fishes, likes guns, and does all kinds of “macho” stuff with a husband who’s even more macho (He does multi-thousand-mile snowmobile races!). Seriously: Think about guys who like to go hunting on the weekends, but who’s wives don’t like them to leave for an activity they see as pointless. They will look at Palin and say, “Wow — that’s the kind of woman I like.”

I say this as a male with no interest whatsoever in hunting.

I ran this by Different Mother, who said, “Of course [she'll appeal to men]! She’s gorgeous!”

The Democrats are not going to know what hit them….

August 19, 2008

Is Obama Planning to put Bush on Trial?

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:01 pm

From Byron York at “The Corner”:

The Left and Plans for “Nuremberg-Style” Tribunals for Bush Administration Officials

One thing that hasn’t received much attention in conservative and Republicans circles is the ongoing conversation on the left about the possibility of Nuremberg-style war-crimes trials for members of the Bush administration should a Democratic president take office. I’m not exaggerating or introducing the Nazi analogy myself; they actually use the phrase “Nuremberg-style” when they discuss “war-crimes tribunals.” And they are quite serious (although the more moderate of them prefer a “truth commission.”)

At the Netroots Nation gathering in Austin, Texas last month — that is the successor to YearlyKos — Dahlia Lithwick, of the Washington-Post-owned website Slate, did an interview with the Talking Points Memo site in which she described a panel discussion she had just taken part in on what is known as the “first 100 days of accountability.” Among Lithwick’s observations:

We’re already falling into this trap of either positing Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunals, or nothing, immunizing everyone from John Yoo up and down…but everybody says there’s a lot of gray area in between that, and that accountability doesn’t necessarily mean Nuremberg, it doesn’t necessarily mean nothing, it means possibly a truth commission, possibly appointing a special prosecutor to look at it…

They said that if Bush were (re-)elected, he’d put shred the Constitution and put his political opponents on trial like a tinpot dictator. Perhaps they were engaging in a little Freudian Projection?

August 12, 2008

Police to track every car in New York City?

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:24 pm

CBS is reporting that they New York Police Department is planning to use “Radiation Sensors, Surveillance Cameras Used To Screen & Follow Every Vehicle Entering Lower Manhattan.”

They quote a supposedly representative “NYC resident Sam Mauer” as saying, “Good idea I think. Anything that makes the city safer is a very good idea.”

Well, yes.

But would someone please explain to me exactly how this is going to make the city safer?

If they don’t have a list of terrorists’ cars, how are they going to use this system to stop anything? And if they do have a list of terrorists’ cars, why waste the time and resources to track all the other cars?

And in any case, how is simply “tracking” cars going to stop any terrorist attacks? If they actually have a list of terrorists’ cars, why not stop them at the entry points, instead of tracking them all over the place — perhaps watching as they do their vile deeds, without bothering to stop them?

It seems to me that there is not only a massive invasion of privacy, but no corresponding benefit in terms of safety or security.

Big Sibling is Watching You.

June 19, 2008

Not all Hollywood People are Liberals

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:27 am

At least, not on all issues.

Here’s Angelina Jolie on the Second Amendment:

“If anybody comes into my home and tries to hurt my kids, I’ve no problem shooting them.” That’s Angelina Jolie, revealing her up-with-the-Second-Amendment maternal instincts to Britain’s Mail on Sunday.

And, as an added warning, the protective mom of Maddox, 6, Pax, 4, Zahara, 3, Shiloh, 2, and the still-baking, Brad Pitt-spawned double buns in her oven, points out that she “bought original, real guns of the type we used in ‘Tomb Raider’ for security.”

“Brad and I are not against having a gun in the house, and we do have one,” acknowledges Jolie[.]

May 14, 2008

The “Missing Child” Poster Experiment

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:00 am

Do those “missing child” posters actually work? I’ve heard some stories about kids with pictures on milk cartons and the like being found (or not), but the question in my mind has always been, what is the chance that someone who sees the child will actually see the poster — within enough time to make the connection between the two?

It turns out, most people don’t notice the child — even if the child is sitting right next to the poster.

Local 6 printed missing posters of Britney — a paid 8-year-old actress — and posted them at the entrance of the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando.

Britney sat alone on a mall seat near a missing poster as her father watched from a distance inside a nearby Panera restaurant.

The experiment was to determine how many people would notice or help the girl posing as a missing child.

Local 6 videotaped person after person entering the mall without even noticing the missing child signs.

Others who did see the posters on the doors were videotaped walking by the missing child.

So, people aren’t really that observant, right? OK, so they are busy and thinking about their own things, not looking around, right?

Well, no — it’s worse than that. They stopped a bunch of people who claimed to have noticed the child, but decided to do nothing.

“I saw her but didn’t know what to think,” shopper Megan Reed said.

“I didn’t even see her,” shopper Priseilla Landerer said. “I didn’t notice her.”

The majority of people at the mall who did see a missing person sign also saw the young girl but just kept walking, Local 6′s Donald Forbes reported.

“I took a good look at the poster,” shopper Tony Roush said. “I’m a photographer, so I’m good with faces and I walked in and I was like, ‘That’s the girl. What do I do?’”

Some people said they were fearful of getting involved.

And, some people were afraid of being mistaken for the kidnapper:

“That’s what I was thinking,” a shopper said. “I was scared the mom would pop out of nowhere and be like, ‘Why are you talking to my child?’”

“We don’t want to get really close because some people don’t like it when you bother their child,” shopper Linda Turner said.

Then again, two people did stop and talk to the child and tried to figure out what was going on. In real life, maybe that’s all it takes.

Still, it’s disturbing that people were willing to admit that they noticed and did nothing. I find this more disturbing than if they’d claimed not to have noticed. Why? Because the fact that they admit it means that they think — or think most people would think — that it’s OK to notice and do nothing. And THAT is what’s most disturbing of all.

February 15, 2008

How could that shooting possibly have happened?

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:13 pm

You’ve probably heard the news of the shooting at Northern Illinois University, in which a former student got up on the stage of a lecture hall with a shotgun and two or three handguns, and shot 22 people, five fatally, then killed himself.

The question is, how could that possibly have happened? In Illinois, it’s illegal to carry a gun on campus — or pretty much anywhere for that matter. Didn’t that guy know he could have gotten into a lot of trouble if he’d been caught carrying those guns?

Normally in these situations people call for stricter gun laws. But in Illinois, the gun laws are already pretty much as strict as they can be. Obviously, the message is not getting through to the right people. Clearly, they need a large-scale ad campaign informing the public that’s illegal to carry guns. Better education would have prevented this tragedy … right?

January 24, 2008

Is this slavery?

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:46 pm

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

That Amendment was passed in 1865.

Now, look what happened in Greely, Colorado, in 2008:

Court plucks people off street to serve on juries

he Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 01/16/2008 09:38:39 PM MST

GREELEY, Colo.—With only 39 out of 200 people summonsed for jury duty showing up Wednesday, court officials with emergency jury duty subpoenas headed to the street to randomly pick 50 people to serve on juries.

Witnesses told television stations that administrators approached people walking on the sidewalk, at a grocery store and even a nearby gym, where people in their workout clothes headed to court under a threat of a contempt of court citation.

“This is not right,” Karen McMillan told administrators. She was approached while in a grocery story and ordered to serve.

Doesn’t that sound like “involtunary servitude”? And it was certainly not for the conviction of a crime — anyone convicted of a crime would probably be let off due to potential bias!

“Judge sues over court mishap”

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:38 pm

A judge in Massachusetts is suing his own court for a knee injury sustained when he tripped on the courthouse steps.

Courthouses must have really high insurance rates, since there are lawyers hanging around them all the time. ;-)

It might be worth noting, in this context, that while in the U.S. judges are virtually always (former) lawyers, this is not true everywhere. In some countries, “lawyer” and “judge” are separate career tracks.

November 27, 2007

Girls with Guns

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:28 pm

Meryl Yourish writes:

I grew up in New Jersey, and was taught to hate handguns. Really. Shotguns and rifles were okay if you hunted (not that I ever had the desire to hunt), but handguns? Evil. Death machines. The only reason to have one is to use it to kill someone. People get killed all the time by handguns, mostly people who found one, played with it, and shot themselves or someone else by accident. At least, that’s the lore I grew up on. But I’ve known since I moved to Virginia that it’s a very gun-friendly state, and y’know, I’m a woman alone, and my neighborhood has gone downhill considerably in the last two years. I’ve been thinking a lot about learning to shoot and buying a gun.

Which is why I spent Sunday afternoon at the Blue Ridge Arsenal in northern Virginia learning to load, shoot, and unload four different kinds of handguns. Plus a rifle.

So, you can take the girl out of New Jersey — and you can actually take New Jersey out of the girl, too!

Or can you?

While we were waiting, I could hear some very loud reports from inside the shooting range. I didn’t realize it was going to be that loud, and I have to say, I was starting to get scared. I was wondering if maybe this was one of the stupidest things I’d ever decided to do. By the time it was our turn, I was pretty positive I was going to hate it. Inside the range it was even worse—we had earplugs and ear protection, but it was loud and startling and I was getting really nervous. But I figured I was there, I’d paid, I may as well at least try to shoot. Stretch started me on the rifle at three yards.

Turns out — you can!

You know, it took exactly one shot to make my nerves disappear. I loaded the rifle, locked the bolt, cocked the hammer, aimed, and fired. And I hit the target. Where it counts. …

Granted, it was only three yards, but [Instructor] Stretch told me he started me out close to build up my confidence before moving on to tougher targets. It totally worked. I spent the next few minutes loading, shooting, clearing out the shell casing, loading, shooting, clearing out the shell casing… it was kinda cool to see the little pieces of metal go flying out of the rifle. (I saved the shell casing from my first shot. Think I’ll drill a hole in it and add it to my keychain.) And we moved the target back to seven yards.

The rifle was the most fun to shoot. I’m thinking my first purchase is going to be a relatively inexpensive .22 rifle, especially since everyone tells me that you can buy a brick of 500 .22 rounds for about $10 at Wal-Mart. That’s a lot of hours of target shooting. Have I mentioned how much I really, really liked shooting that rifle?

But there is always time for reflection, even while having, er, a blast:

While I was at the range …, I was absolutely struck by the thought that every single person in the lanes next to me had the capacity to kill every other person there. And so did I[.]

Well, that’s true. But every single person also has the capacity to kill while driving, using household cleaning chemicals or power tools, or by slipping somebody too many over-the-counter pills or some antifreeze.

Society depends on the fact that most people don’t want to kill anybody. And guns in the right hands make it possible to stop some of those who do.

November 21, 2007

Gang Rape Victim Sentenced to 200 Lashes

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:30 am

No, you didn’t read that wrong. A 19-year-old woman was sentenced to 90 lashes of the whip for the “crime” of being raped by seven men. When the appeals court reviewed the case they increased the sentence to 200 lashes! At the same time, they decreased the sentence given to the seven rapists.

As Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up:

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court’s decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as “astonishing”.

The 19-year-old Shi’ite woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by seven men in 2006.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia’s strict reading of Islamic law, a court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.

Last week the Supreme Judicial Council increased the sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two and nine years in jail.

It gets worse: They disciplined the woman’s defense lawyer for publicizing the sentence:

The court also took the unusual step of initiating disciplinary procedures against her lawyer, Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, forcibly removing him from the case for having talked about it to the media.

“The Ministry of Justice welcomes constructive criticism … The system allows appeals without resort to the media,” said Tuesday’s statement issued on the official news agency SPA.

Now you would think that if they were really interesA State Department spokesman told reporters on Monday that “most (people) would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens”.ted in deterring “crime” they would want sentences to be publicized — to discourage other “offenders.” (As if women need to be discouraged from becoming rape victims…)

It [the official news agency SPA] berated media for not specifying that three judges, not one, issued the recent ruling and reiterated that the “charges were proven” against the woman.

Right, so there are three judges who think victims should be whipped, not one. That’s supposed to make it better?

It also repeated the judges’ attack against Lahem last week, saying he had “spoken insolently about the judicial system and challenged laws and regulations”.

In other words, this was no rougue court. The government approves of this decision.

The Bush Administration’s reaction?

A State Department spokesman told reporters on Monday that “most (people) would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens”.

Maybe that’s because “most people” think Islam is a “Religion of Peace.”

(UPDATE: More on the U.S. reaction here.)

October 16, 2006

Bombing — For Free Tuition

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:22 pm

I few days ago, I posted the story of an unemployed fellow who robbed a bank to get arrested, so he could live rent-free in jail until he was old enough for social security benefits.

Now, we hear from that young Palestinians are carrying small bombs through Israeli checkpoints to get arrested — so they can get an Israeli high school diploma while in prison! The Israeli radio broadcaster Arutz Sheva reports:

Faking Attacks in Order to Graduate: Correspondent Haggai Huberman reports on a new phenomenon among the Arabs of Judea and Samaria: Youths carry knives or small bombs across checkpoints in order to get themselves arrested so that they can study for high school matriculation exams at the State of Israel’s expense.

Sitting in jail for a number of weeks or months is a small price to pay, and the returns are significant: A high school diploma, and a high social standing as a “freed terrorist.”

Huberman notes that earlier this week, IDF soldiers reported that they had thwarted an attack in the northern Shomron when they arrested two 19-year-old boys carrying two pipebombs of one kilogram (2.2 lbs.) each. However, the IDF later concluded that the boys were merely trying to get arrested for the purpose of matriculation exams, and that the pipebombs were not designed to cause significant damage.

Hat tip: James Taranto, who adds: “Or maybe they wanted 72 dates to the prom.”

October 13, 2006

A Bank Robbery — for Free Room and Board

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:28 am

People often complain about how criminals in jail get “free room and board” paid for by tax dollars. But most of them would gladly give up the “free” stuff in excahnge for some actual freedom. Yet, we’ve heard the stories — probably urban legends, but maybe true — about how homeless people commit petty crimes in the winter to get into the warm jails for a few months. Now, we have a true story — and it seems even sadder than that:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man who couldn’t find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

“At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there,” Bowers, who turns 63 in a few weeks, told Judge Angela White.

The judge told him: “It’s unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation.”

Well, it certainly is unfortunate. Normally, I’d say that someone who does that should be punished by not being sent to jail, since it’s what he wanted. In fact, the prosecutor considered making that argument:

Prosecutors had considered arguing against putting Bowers in prison at taxpayer expense, but they worried he would do something more reckless to be put behind bars.

“It’s not the financial plan I would choose, but it’s a financial plan,” prosecutor Dan Cable said.

But note that in this case the fellow didn’t actually really steal the money at all. he “stole” it from the teller, then immediately handed it to a guard at the very same bank. If he had changed his mind after teh incident but before trial, I bet he could even have argued at trial that he didn’t actually commit a robbery. (This would depend on the details of how robbery is defined in the law.)

(Hat tip: Orin Kerr.)

A Chilling Effect on Free Speech

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:19 am

One of my favorite blogs, Likelihood of Confusion reports that it is in danger of being shut down by draconian regulations. See, that blog is written by a lawyer licensed in New York, and if certain proposed rules are put into effect, blogging will considered a prohibited form of advertising for lawyers:

Public Citizen’s CL&P (Consumer Law and Policy) Blog wrote last month that New York is considering draconian advertising rules that would essentially make it impossible for lawyers to maintain blogs. I am excerpting liberally, but urge you to follow the link and the discussion at the CL&P Blog:

Stripped to their essence, the proposed amendments would define the term “advertisement” extremely broadly as any public communication made “by . . . a lawyer . . . about a lawyer.” Sec. 1200.1(k). This definition explicitly includes all forms of communication on the Internet, including websites, email, and instant messaging. Sec. 1200.1(m). There is no requirement that the speech be commercial in nature or related to the lawyer’s practice of law.

You might think, given my opinions on some issues, that I’d think it’s a good idea to shut lawyers up. But you would be wrong.

First, I am a strong believer in free speech, and I don’t think one’s speech should be restricted because of one’s choice of profession. I understand there are certain things about their professions that people can’t talk about (e.g., attorney-client privileged information, classified information, trade secrets, etc.), but that’s no reason to restrict speech that is not “related to the lawyer’s practice of law” or anyone else’s practice of any other profession.

Second, any damage that might be done by lawyers (as a class) to society is not done by lawyers blogging, or exercising free speech in any other way. It usually comes about by abusing the court system, with or without the assistance of an equally abusive client. (“Without” in the case of class actions.) How this can happen is a subject for another post — but it has nothing to do with blogging, emailing, instant messaging, or writing articles for newspapers or journals. Or even, usually, with advertising. While there are no doubt some sleazy “ambulance-chaser” types who advertise for socially damaging services, that’s not a big part of the problem, in my view.

Third, there are an awful lot of very good blogs written by lawyers. Likelihood of Confusion by Ronald Coleman is a fascinating blog about trademark law. The Volokh Conspiracy is a great group blog about (mostly) constitutional law and law education. There are several more linked on the blogroll to your right.

But the over-riding concern here is free speech. I’d be against this rule even if all the law blogs were bad. The great thing about the internet is that if thery were bad, they wouldn’t be read.

As Mr. Coleman points out:

You can comment on the proposed rules by writing to:

Michael Colodner, Esq.
Counsel
Office of Court Administration
25 Beaver Street
New York, New York 10004

by November 15, 2006. I encourage it.

Meanwhile, before it’s too late, I’d be interested in Mr. Coleman’s opinion on this case:

“The producer of the canned pork product Spam has lost a bid to claim the word as a trademark for unsolicited e-mails. EU trademark officials rejected Hormel Foods Corp.’s appeal, dealing the company another setback in its struggle to prevent software companies from using the word ‘spam’ in their products, a practice it argued was diluting its brand name. The European Office of Trade Marks and Designs, noting that the vast majority of the hits yielded by a Google search for the word made no reference to the food, said that ‘the most evident meaning of the term SPAM for the consumers … will certainly be unsolicited, usually commercial e-mail, rather than a designation for canned spicy ham.’”

Seems to me that if Hormel had acted earlier — before the use of the word “spam” for junk e-mail were so widespread, they might have had a better case. Is that right? Then again, that’s based on what I (think I) know about U.S. trademark law. The E.U. could have different rules.

October 1, 2006

Does the “anti-war” side have a plan for after we pull out of Iraq?

Opponents of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy are fond of accusing Bush of “not having a plan” for dealing with Iraq after the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. This is, of course, just a self-righteous way of saying they didn’t like the plan Bush actually did have, and that the plan has not lead to perfect results immediately.

Nevertheless, it’s worth asking those who call for an immediate pullout from Iraq, or a timetable for a pullout within a specified short time frame, what their plan is for dealing with the situation that will result from a pullout.

Clayton Cramer has posed this question, and given some realistic answers. All of his answers are worse than the worst likely scenarios resulting from staying in Iraq. As he points out:

But if the American people decide that the cost is too high, what is the alternative strategy? Leaving Iraq alone right now will lead to full civil war, and probably the crowd that likes to torture people to death with power tools will be back in power–just like the way things were under Saddam Hussein. As the declassified Key Findings of the National Intelligence Estimate last week pointed out, if we lose in Iraq, it will embolden jihadists throughout the world. The reason isn’t hard to figure out: it will be perceived that like what happened in Somalia, Americans are weak, and lack the willingness to fight.

What are the options? Here’s Clayton’s list (I’m summarizing here, not quoting — for his more complete explanations click here):

  1. “Fortress America”: Lock down the U.S. at the border and within, and curtail civil rights in the pursuit of terrorists who are here. Of course, it only takes one terrorist to get through — either shipping a nuclear weapon with a long-period timer, or getting one single legal U.S. resident to cooperate. So we are probably looking at more 9/11-scale attacks. (Why is this less likely if we are in Iraq? Because so many jihadists are fighting us over there on their home turf. We don’t want them freed up to attack us at home.)
  2. Make the terrorists happy: Don’t just leave Iraq — forget about stopping the Al-Qaeda-backed genocide in Darfur, give them back Afghanistan, cut off aid to Israel and acquiese when Iran uses nuclear weapons to annihilate Israel. And this will only work until they decide it’s time for all of us to convert to Islam also and replace the Constitution with Shari’a law, at which point we will have to either acquiese to that, or go to war with a much stronger enemy.
  3. Here I’ll quote: “Treat Muslim nations the way they have treated every other nation. Invade them; occupy; convert their mosques into churches; send in troops with orders to kill anyone that gives them any lip; assess a special tax on Muslims; pass laws that give Muslims less legal rights than non-Muslims, not just in ways that matter (say, a ban on Muslims possessing anything more deadly than a butter knife), but in ways intended to degrade them, like the laws that Muslims nations had prohibiting non-Muslims from riding horses.” I don’t think we, as a society, are willing to do that. We still believe in religious freedom.
  4. Prove that Islam is not really as superior as it claims, by nuking Mecca. I don’t think we’re willing to do that, either.
  5. Nuke a lot of Muslims. I don’t think we’re willing to do that, either.

So next time someone tells you we should pull out of Iraq, ask them one question: What’s your plan for after that?

September 21, 2006

Price Gouging (2)

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:12 pm

If the increase in gasoline prices was caused by price gouging on the part of oil companies, is the recent decrease in gasoline prices due to price gouging by drivers?

I’m just askin’….

Public School Arson

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:57 pm

If you are a public school teacher and you start a fire in your classroom, in front of the children in your class, filling your classroom with smoke your students have to breathe — and do this not once, but twice — what one factor might prevent you from being charged with a crime?

a) It was an accident.
b) You were insane at the time.
c) The main fuel for the fire was an American flag.

If you picked (c), you’re right!

A Stuart [Kentucky] Middle School teacher won’t be arrested for burning two American flags in his classroom because authorities said his students were not put at enough risk to warrant charges.

“On two occasions, teacher set fire to combustible material (flag), allowing material to burn in garbage can and on desk, then left the classroom filled with students in an attempt to find water to put the fire out,” the investigation concluded.

Holden burned a flag in two classes, one with 30 students and another with 24 students.

The flags were about 18 inches by 12 inches with wooden poles. He lighted the cloth on each flag while holding it over a small metal trashcan, according to investigation documents.

Holden told school officials that he had wet paper towels surrounding the trashcan on his desk, but several students told investigators that Holden had to leave the classroom to get more water to put out the fire.

As part of the fire department’s investigation, arson detectives questioned several of Holden’s students, and school officials provided detectives written statements of what they saw.

One student told investigators that smoke from the fire made students cough.

“It was smokey (sic), cause I’m like allergic to smoke and the whole room was full of smoke and like I was coughing, a lot of people was coughing,” the student said in a transcribed statement in the file.

Asked whether the fire was frightening, the student replied: “Not really. I just thought he could have dropped the flag and could have, you know, made the whole classroom on fire.”

August 23, 2006

Why Aren’t Jews Rioting?

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:50 pm

Six months ago, Muslims the world over rioted over the publication of some anti-Muslim cartoons in a Danish newspaper.

Now, a reader wrote to me to point out that Iran has set up an entire museum exhibit of anti-Jewish Holocaust cartoons:

Organisers of Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon’s Contest said the museum exhibit, which has drawn more than 200 entries, aims to challenge Western taboos about the discussing the Holocaust.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has drawn international condemnation for dismissing the Holocaust as a “myth”. Nazi Germany killed six million European Jews in World War Two.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction.

Iran’s best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, launched a competition in February for the best cartoon about the Holocaust in retaliation for the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish and other European newspapers.

Notice that Jews are not rioting about this. We are not even rioting “in retaliation” for the Muslim riots before.

In fact, the most strident reaction has been a strong statement by Abraham Foxman of the ADL, who is basically paid to fight antisemitism wherever he can find it.

The Iranian sponsorship and exhibition of a cartoon contest on the Holocaust is outrageous, hateful and cynical.

One should ask two questions: Why is the outrage in the Muslim world to the cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed directed against Jews, who were not responsible for the Danish cartoons? Why, if, as President Ahmadinejad says, the Holocaust is a myth, call for a cartoon contest to deride it?

The questions are easily answered in the fact of the constant drumbeat of anti-Semitism and demonization of Jews and Israel emanating from the Arab/Muslim world, through their media and through leaders such as Ahmadinejad. Everyday, in much of the Arab/Muslim world anti-Semitic and other hateful material is produced for mass consumption.

Denying the Holocaust and deriding the Holocaust are two sides of the same coin and must be denounced by the international community as classical anti-Semitism.

I’m not holding my breath. But perhaps it’s worth pointing out that not all religions are equally tolerant.

July 24, 2006

A Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:36 pm

I’m checking around to see if anyone I know can verify if this is for real. (Translation: I sent an e-mail to one guy I know who used to do research in this field.) If you have any insights or information, please chime in by posting a comment.

This is from the Herald-Sun of Melbourne, Australia:

New hope for Alzheimer’s cure

By Robyn Riley, July 23, 2006

In a world first, Melbourne scientists have developed a once-a-day pill that they claim may cure Alzheimer’s disease. Human trials of the drug start next month.

The drug — called PBT2 — was developed by a team from the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria in collaboration with Melbourne-based Prana Biotechnology.

“It is a major breakthrough and very much a Melbourne discovery,” said Prof George Fink, the director of the Mental Health Research Institute.

“Though much depends on the next phase of human clinical trials . . . early results indicate this drug offers hope to people with Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

The revolutionary drug stops the buildup of a protein called amyloid.

Many scientists accept amyloid is a major cause of Alzheimer’s as the protein is thought to cause the brain to “rust”.

Prof Fink said the drug could significantly prevent Alzheimer’s developing or delay the on-set of the brain disease for many years.

Early clinical testing has confirmed the drug is fast-acting. Levels of amyloid dropped by 60 per cent within 24 hours of a single dose.

It found also that PBT2 suppresses the impairment of memory function.

More human studies begin in Sweden next month and Australians will join a major international trial of the drug next year.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease. It is the major form of dementia, a disease that affects one in four Australians over the age of 60.

Prof Fink said the institute was optimistic about the results of clinical trials and said the drug could be on the market within four years.

(Hat tip: Slashdot)

The “John Stossel question” is, how many people will suffer, die, or go beyond the point of help in those four years it takes to get the drug through regulatory hurdles? I’m not saying I’d take the drug on the say-so of a newspaper article, but that seems and awfully long time to test a drug for a disease that can be fatal or completely debilitating within four years, or even less. Especially when you consider that the drug has already passed Phase I clinical trials — that is, it has already been found to be safe.

So if it’s not likely to hurt people, and no other effective treatments are available, what is the problem with making the drug available now, to patients willing to take it without the Phase II trials showing whether it works or not?

July 21, 2006

Mass murder stopped by armed civilian

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:55 pm

If any of you out there still think there’s no benefit to having ordinary people carry guns, look at this:

8 Grocery Employees Stabbed in Tennessee

By Woody Baird

MEMPHIS (AP) — A knife-wielding grocery store employee attacked eight co-workers Friday, seriously injuring five before a witness pulled a gun and stopped him, police said.

The 21-year-old suspect, whose name was withheld pending charges, was arrested and then taken to a hospital after complaining of chest pains, Memphis Police Sgt. Vince Higgins said. The attack apparently stemmed from a work dispute, police said.

Five victims, one in critical condition, were admitted to the Regional Medical Center, the main trauma hospital for the Memphis area. Three others were less badly hurt and treated at another hospital.

The attacker, chasing one victim into the store’s parking lot, was subdued by Chris Cope, manager of a financial services office in the same small shopping center, Higgins said.

Cope said he grabbed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from his pickup truck when he saw the attacker chasing the victim “like something in a serial killer movie.”

“When he turned around and saw my pistol, he threw the knife away, put his hands up and got on the ground,” Cope told The Associated Press. “He saw my gun and that was pretty much it.”

Police arrived within minutes and took the attacker into custody.

Note that police didn’t arrive until “minutes” after the guy with the gun subdued the guy on a potentially murderous rampage.

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