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Archive for September, 2008

Bob Barr on the “War on Drugs”

September 11th, 2008 by Vincent

As always with Barr, better late than never:

As both a U.S. Attorney and Member of Congress, I defended drug prohibition. But it has become increasingly clear to me, after much study, that our current strategy has not worked and will not work.

 It is obvious that, like Prohibition’s effort to eradicate alcohol usage, drug prohibition has not succeeded. Despite enormous law enforcement efforts — including the dedicated service of many thousands of professional men and women — the government has not halted drug use.

Whether we like it or not, tens of millions of Americans have used and will continue to use drugs.

The High Cost of Sexual Assault

September 11th, 2008 by Timothy

From the Ancorage Daily News:

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill — signed into law by Knowles — that banned the practice statewide.

“There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla,” Knowles said

A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla’s newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.

“(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests,” the newspaper reported.

It’s unclear how much Palin personally had to do with the policy, but her appointed police chief objected to its end, and I’m assuming that the mayor of the town could have set a place for it in the budget. However, what’s just as disturbing to me is that the town of Wasilla with its population of 5500 at the time could possible have enough rapes per year to need $14,000 to pay for the exams. That’s possibly 46! Granted the interviewed police chief gives a range of $5,000 to $14,000 and the article says exams cost $300 to $1200, but if you take the mean of both you’re looking at a budget for 12 rapes per year…in a town of 5500. Generally in the US you’re looking at 0.3 rapes per 1000 so in a town of 5500 you’d expect between one and two annually.

Something’s rotten in the town of Wasilla. Damn.

UVA Bans Signage in Total Dick Move

September 9th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Most of the time, when you hear about censorship on college campuses it’s in response to something political in nature – a “bias incident,” a lecture or a newspaper editorial. This, however, is a new one to me:

The University of Virginia has banned homemade signage at all of its sporting events, citing a desire to promote a “positive game-day experience.” Not just offensive or inappropriate signs. All of them. Not even “go team!” Rick Reilly at ESPN was having none of it:

One thing is clear. This is un-American. This isn’t Havana. What’s next? No yelling? No grumbling? No heavy sighing? How are students supposed to effect change at their school? Morse-code flashlights? And if they can censor students at the stadium, what’s to keep them from doing it on The Lawn?

Reilly is right. This isn’t Havana. This is college athletics, where it’s the student section’s job to harangue the opposition into a neurotic mess. If the UVA athletic department is so concerned about hurting people’s feelings, maybe it should relegate itself to activities like croquet and knitting circles. Or perhaps it should promote a positive game-day experience by, I don’t know, winning games. (The UVA football team had a lackluster 5-7 season last year.)

Fortunately, the UVA students are not standing for this nonsense, either. At their most recent home football game, thousands of UVA students held up blank pieces of paper at predetermined times to protest the new rule, proving that freedom of speech is just as alive and well in the sports arena as the political arena. Protest organizers even quoted fellow Virginian (and UVA founder) Thomas Jefferson, who once said ” .. a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing …”

Cross-posted at the CAMPUS Magazine Online blog.

Blogging Up That Hill

September 9th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

So I’m now the Blog Editor of CAMPUS Magazine Online, the online publication of the Collegiate Network. I’ll be writing over there mostly about higher education. I’ll crosspost some of the articles here, but if you’re interested, check out the real deal.

In other news, OC alum and current Zamboni operator Jake Speicher has a personal blog with a long name, and it’s pretty good.

“This Can of Beans Killed Fifty-Eight Polar Bears.”

September 8th, 2008 by Vincent

In an era when we can’t stop hearing about food prices rising at the fastest rate on record, useless environmentalists have come up with yet another way to stick it to the poor: embedding computer chips in food packaging to connect consumers to an online “sustainable food guide” via cell phones!

The guides would help consumers navigate their way through the ethical and ecological decisions about what they eat, the proponents argue.

Information on socio-economic and environmental criteria could be presented simply through “food flowers” – diagrams where each petal represents a different impact, with the shaded area of a petal showing how highly a food item scores.

The more detailed information could be accessed from a website and uploaded from food packaging to our mobile phones.

I wonder if anyone has bothered to think about how much the price of food is going to go up when the government starts requiring that microchips be embedded in every food package, how much it’s going to cost set up and run the infrastructure necessary to store information about countless kinds of food products and pay for bandwidth and electricity to run servers, or how much silicon and other precious minerals will have to be dug out of the ground in poor African countries, shipped across the world, dipped in all sorts of appalling chemicals at a chip-making facility, and then shipped off to food producers/distributors to make this asinine scheme work.

As with the corn-based biofuel fad, this feel-good green scheme looks like a shockingly bad idea that accomplishes nothing whatsoever, costs a lot of money, and sticks it to poor people while making affluent yuppie types feel good about saving the planet.

Here’s hoping the UK government has enough sense to flatly reject this absurd plan.

Sounds About Right, Part 2

September 8th, 2008 by Vincent

Steve Chapman at Reason nails it:

Republicans are big on promoting freedom abroad, but in this country, the term encompasses a lot of things they don’t like—the right to a “homosexual lifestyle,” the right to protest the Iraq war, the right to privacy, the right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and more. Conservatives who once thought Americans had too little freedom now sometimes think they have too much.

Liberals, on the other hand, are wary of embracing freedom precisely because of its historic importance to the right. They fear it means curbing the power of a government whose reach they want to expand.

While they value many personal liberties, they have no great attachment to forms of freedom that involve buying, selling, trading, and accumulating. Those, after all, can involve selfishness, and Democrats, like Republicans, don’t want to protect selfishness.

But freedom isn’t freedom without the right to pursue what you value—money or knowledge, pleasure or sacrifice, God or atheism, community or misanthropic solitude—rather than what others think you should value. It includes the right to go to hell, and the right to tell others to do the same.

The latter is a valuable prerogative that we have not yet lost. After watching the conventions, if you have the urge to use it on either of the two major parties, feel free.

I know I will be, and for these very reasons.

Sounds About Right

September 7th, 2008 by Vincent

Nick Cohen is spot on:

 At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.

In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does. Barack Obama knows it. All last week, he was warning American liberals to stay away from the Palin family. He understands better than his supporters that it is not a politician’s enemies who lose elections, but his friends. [emphasis added]

(Hat tip: Harry’s Place)

Do you know what happens at UO during summer?

September 6th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Absolutely nothing.

But this is pretty funny:

Improbably, the public address voice at San Francisco International Airport is that of an aggrieved and elderly East Coast woman of such indelicate, sandy sonance that, were she not speaking the script of the TSA, she might as easily be swearing bullets at toll scofflaws on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway. This—her unpardonable voice—is only the first of an elaborate series of punishments visited upon the traveler who elects to use S.F.O.

Having been stuck in an interminable layover in SFO with the worst hangover of my life, I can attest to this author’s claims.

P.S. There is actual news (and not only actual news, but good news) coming down the pipe next week.

Melodramatic Posers.

September 4th, 2008 by Vincent

Everyone wants to be iconic.

“Now Listen Here, Northern Exposure…”

September 3rd, 2008 by Vincent

(Hat tip: Althouse)

Paging Harold Bloom

September 2nd, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

 According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription wall), this is what the college crowd is reading right now:

  1. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
  2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
  3. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
  4. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
  5. Eat, Pray and Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
  6. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
  7. Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk
  8. Dreams of My Fathers by Barack Obama
  9. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  10. Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, and Dave Stewart

Two of those are political wankfest autobiographies, one is a comic book and two others are part of a series about a girl who falls in love with a vampire (and later a werewolf). Number 11 is probably a Family Circus anthology or a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Bob Barr ’08!

September 2nd, 2008 by Vincent

The Onion explains Bob Barr’s political philosophy:

(1995–2007) Trying to control the faith, sexuality, reproduction, drug use, and national allegiance of every single American.

(2007–) Aw, Fuck it.

(Hat tip: Reason)