Archive for 'news'

Lord of the Princess Bride of the Rings

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


If you like campy crossover, you might like this retelling of Lord of the Rings in Princess Bride quotations. Sample:

The Inn of the Prancing Pony:

STRIDER: I am waiting for Gandalf! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.

STRIDER: I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have a Ring of Power on your right hand?

FRODO: Do you always begin conversations this way?

HOBBITS: Who are you?

STRIDER: No one of consequence.

HOBBITS: We must know.

STRIDER: Get used to disappointment.


The Grey Havens:

SAM: What is it?

FRODO: Open it up.

SAM: A book?

FRODO: That’s right. When I was your age, adventures were called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my uncle used to write when he was adventuring and I used to write it when I was adventuring … and today, I’m gonna give it to you.

SAM: Does it got any sports in it?

FRODO: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles.

SAM: It doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll try and stay awake.

FRODO: Oh, well, thank you very much. That’s very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming. Oh. All right: “There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Tale by Bilbo Baggins.” …

via Heretical Ideas


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D.C. Council likes Drug-Free Pharmacies

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


In an amazingly short-sighted move, the DC City Council has passed a law limiting the reasonable price of drugs in DC to “30 percent over the comparative price in Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom”. There are just so many things wrong with this idea, where do I start?

•Price controls always cause shortages.

•Maximum price limits rapidly become minimum price points.

•The liability environment in Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom is nothing like that in DC, so expenses are not the same.

•Ever hear of the Commerce Clause? Think pharmaceuticals are a national market? By today’s readings, the council has no authority to attempt to regulate this trade.

•The companies are guilty until proven innocent. Lovely.

•Presumably, we’re talking the LOWEST price of Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom.

•Currency fluctuations.

•The drug companies aren’t selling in DC. Local pharmacies are. They buy from a wholesaler that probably isn’t in the district. The wholesaler buys from a distributor that isn’t in DC. The distributor bought from Pfizer. So sue Pfizer. Riiight.

•The Council passes a law lowering the Council’s burden of proof in a lawsuit. No hint of corruption or conflict of interest here, is there?

The quote from bill author Councilman David A. Catania is interesting. “This is not price control, this is not price fixing”. I have a news flash for you David. A law controlling the price IS a price control. Must be a public school graduate.

My first reaction? If I ran the drug company, I’d stop selling in DC. All sales contracts will require that the distributor / wholesaler shall not offer the product in DC nor allow their customer to. Then wait and fill the larger orders destined for drug stores in Maryland, Virginia and surrounding communities. That’s not overreacting. This needs to be smacked down hard, right now.

Catania, chairman of the council’s health panel, said the District’s bill is the first in the nation and he has fielded inquiries from legislators in other states, such as Maine, who are interested in introducing similar bills.

If the drug companies can’t cover all their expenses AND risks, they’ll stop taking risks. I like the idea of new drugs, but research is risky. If the American public likes seeing $500 million dollar liability awards, they should pay for such foolishness when they buy products that get sued. Germany, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom don’t have that kind of silliness, so they get lower prices. Sounds fair to me.

This kind of ‘consumer protection’ only hurts the consumer, and reminds me more of another kind of protection racket.


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Public Employees, Unions, Schools

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


Found at gullyborg via Upper Left Coast.

There is a strike looming for the Oregon Trail School District.

To address his second point first, his conclusion is


Making threats of violence is a crime. … Any striking teacher who harms, or threatens to harm, a substitute teacher should never be allowed near our children again.

I agree fully. But the last I heard, it was specifically not a crime for a union picketer to threaten and in some cases to use violence. If these laws are still on the books, they should be repealed or invalidated soonest. Returning to the first point,

Now I have always thought that teacher’s unions should be barred from striking, the way air traffic controllers and other unions are.

This makes sense to me, but in an inverted sort of way. It’s a rational reaction to an unsane situation. To hit the high points, because

… the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to an education.

and because

when a public union strikes, there is often no alternative for the people .

and finally

This amounts to sheer blackmail, especially when the service withheld is essential to the public as a whole.


Congress made it illegal for certain unions, such as the air traffic controllers, to strike. But Congress didn’t take it far enough. As long as there is no viable alternative to government, it should be illegal for ANY government employee to strike.

I find this to be a rational conclusion, but also wrong. Taking a government job should not be contingent on giving up your civil rights. Organizing to negotiate collectively is the best way to balance the power of the employer. People should not have to give that up when the employer happens to also be the sole employer available in that line of work as well as possessing a monopoly on the use of force. If that sacrifice IS necessary, it should be applied to the smallest number of people possible. Maybe there’s a better answer.

The key phrase in the problem seems to be “As long as there is no viable alternative”. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in having the government actually provide the services. If schools were run by a series of private companies, a strike against one would be of little effect on students. Perhaps the real answer to dealing with public employee strikes is to simply reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum required to provide services that cannot be provided any other way?

The best way to deal this problem is to reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum. Privatize and outsource the rest of the work. Eliminate the unnecessary government monopolies. Then this problem (and others) simply disappear.


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Elderly Couple Hospitalized After Cops Raid Wrong House

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


I’m getting really tired of reading about grandparents getting beat up by SWAT teams. There is no excuse for this kind of abuse.

“We had good information from a reliable source that had been backed up by a purchase of narcotics linked to the address. However, when we arrived at the designated address, there were two houses on the lot. We hit the larger of the two houses.

“It was the wrong house,” (police Capt. Shannon) Beshears said. “The house was totally dark and the TACT members went through to the bedroom looking for the suspects.”

A man and a woman — both in their 80s — were injured as TACT team members secured the house although no drugs were found. There were children in the house also, but they were not awakened, Beshears said.

Beshears said the woman received a dislocated shoulder and the man received bruised ribs. Both were taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, but both asked police not to identify them.

And if this elderly couple DOES try to sue over this, the good captain can just go ahead and sieze their home, since there was a drug arrest made. Later. In the other house.

No police state here, nothing to see, move along.


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The Magic DUI Bullet

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


According to this AP story, California has decided that “Police may enter Californians’ homes without warrants to arrest those suspected of driving under the influence”.

OK then, the police suspect (or claim to suspect) that a person may have been driving under the influence. So they bust in the door if it isn’t opened for them. Arrest the suspect. All without having to demonstrate probable cause.

Now the real fun starts.

Search the entire house for weapons to ‘secure the area’. Look around for other interesting evidence. The infamous ‘arms length’ search for anything else they can find. What the heck, bring in the drug dog from the back seat as well.

When you’re done, drop the DUI for lack of evidence, but charge the poor dupe, or anyone else in the house, with everything else from drugs to child abuse, based on the warrantless search.

That’s civilized justice, Kalifornia style.

Update: The Cranky Insomniac let me know that TheAgitator was ahead of me, and even remembered the very similar Michigan recent case.


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Warning About Nullification

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


Over at Positive Liberty, Timothy Sandefur has a post about Jury Nullification. To snip out the central question (edited):

jury nullification is obviously an important and legitimate part of the judicial system … but … for a juror to lie during voir dire (the “stealth approach”) is a crime, and brazen lawlessness in the jury box—the one place where the law ought to be most carefully weighed and respected—sets an extremely dangerous precedent.”

So, jury nullification is important, legitimate, and even “the point of having a jury system”, but it’s now against the law, so give it up. He trots out reasons not to, even the times that the judges and lawyers, appalled at the freedom the jury might have, have decided to restrict that freedom, but he ignores the elephant in the room.

If the government is violating your civil rights (in this case, your right to judge the law), why are you morally obligated to obey the law and cooperate with the violation?

So I have several points of disagreement. Of course, my disagreements are from a moral standpoint, and not a legal one.

“For a juror to lie to get on a jury so as to nullify the outcome is contempt of court.” Okay, but what if I lie simply because it’s none of their business whether or not I might later decide to nullify?

“brazen lawlessness in the jury box—the one place where the law ought to be most carefully weighed and respected” This is, in my opinion, a self-contradictory statement. The entire point of nullification is weighing the law. The jurors must not be bound by the law if they are to be weighing it.

By characterizing nullification as: “Choosing to participate in order to throw a wrench into the works”, he shows his prejudice. The wrench is the laws depriving jurors of their civil right to judge the law. The ‘stealth option’ is the repair to the system.

The point of the article is that nullification will not end the drug war. I agree. But handing control back to the jury that they are entitled to exercise, is a fight worth fighting all on it’s own.


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America’s no-speech precedent.

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


According to the 1st amendment to the constitution, Free speech in america is protected. Fact.

Except when talking about politics near an election day, except when talking about copy protection techniques, and now except when talking about online gambling in washington state. Where one of the first battles under the flag of this washington bill, is involving someone who was not actually gambling, but merely talking about it.

Every day, the protected free speech of the first amendment is seeming a little more like fantasy. Between the DMCA, the industries trying to legislate their place in our culture, and bills similar to this one, it’s no wonder that businesses are moving out of the country and american individuals are trying to maintain their freedoms by moving their ideas outside our borders. So is that what america coming too? You can do what you want, as long as you don’t do it here?


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Carnival of Liberty 50

Posted on December 9, 2009, under news.


The weekly compilation of articles on the topic of Life, Liberty and Property. This week is the 50th Carnival of Liberty, and I felt the most appropriate theme would be ‘Fifty’ itself in all it’s glory and permutations. Or what I could come up with, at least.

So the obvious place to start is the black birthday. Or, to steal a line from the Great Dark Horde, “You have reached the age you are, your demise can not be far”. Articles on the pessimistic side.

Ogre at Ogre’s Politics and Views shows in NC House Bill 2213 how one man can hold basic rights away from the citizens.

Matt Johnston at Going to the Mat presents Endorsement by School Newspaper Is Questioned. I thinks somebody’s sense of proportion died, in this case.

Steve Faber rings the alarm with The AMT – If You’re Not Scared, You Damn Well Should Be! posted at Debt Free.

“Next time you go to your doctor, know that his or her membership organization is prescribing coercion as a fix for America’s medical ills.” In American Medical Coercion, Revisited posted at MedicaLiberty.

My henchman Matt has a post about America’s no-speech precedent, where he lists a few of the current exceptions to ‘free’ speech.

NStalker at Pragmatic Speak, has You Can’t Legislate Personal Responsibility – But They Try and Try with a follow-up article, More On Personal Responsibility – The KFC Thing

TKC at The Pubcrawler looks at a recent Supreme Court decision and asks “And what of private property rights?”

Lisa at The London Fog cries out against excesses with So much for the checks and balances in our fine democracy.

Next is the realm of the ‘Five-Oh’, where police powers and legal questions are discussed.

Doug Mataconis at Below The Beltway points out wrong-headed posturing in the Senate in The Flag And Freedom

Mapmaster at The London Fog points out a well greased slope with First they came for the vending machines…, while his fellow Londoner, Lisa, appears again describing problems with hate crime legislation in Diversity Discriminates While Government Dictates

As we travel from ‘You can’t say that’ to ‘You must say this’, Matt Barr at New World Man presents We’re all pro-choice here!

Richard G. Combs at Combs Spouts Off presents one more in a long, long list with Ho, hum — more airport security madness

To illustrate that the only thing keeping us safe from the encroaching police state is their own sheer incompetence, Michael Hampton at Homeland Stupidity presents The Keystone Stasi

And of course, the concept of 50/50 leads us to issues of compromise solutions and mixing separate things to achieve something new and different.

The latest new and different critter is discussed by Boxing Alcibiades at Happycrow’s Eyeball Factory in his Libertarian Democrats and the Equality Imperative.

Don Surber at Don Surber identifies a compromise not worth making with Fat tax doesn’t work. A highlight: “We just happen to have a soft drinks tax in West Virginia that covers those sugary drinks. Have had it since 1951. And after 55 years of this nanny tax, West Virginia ranks third in adult obesity and third in adult diabetes.”

A delicious irony served up as “Public institutions will always need a private safety net to catch those who fall through the cracks of the public system” by Michael Hampton at Homeland Stupidity where his Reality-based education describes a reality where “the public schools are dismal failures, especially with severely disabled children, and the private schools are picking up the slack”.

Jon Swift at Jon Swift presents Guantanamo: Kafkaesque, in a Good Way

John posts Hating America at hell’s handmaiden, with the question “How in the hell is protest anti-American?”.

Lonnie Hodge gives us China’s Spyware: The New Manchurian Candidate may be You posted at One Man Bandwidth.

Jack Yoest proposes a modest compromise with Kill Big Bird, Buy a Raptor posted at Jack Yoest. After all, “There’s a war on. It’s been in all the papers. And we all have to pay for it. Sacrifice somewhere.”

Finally, we harken back to the 1950′s for an era of optimism in culture and technology, with articles in a more positive vein.

Brad Warbiany of The Unrepentant Individual, seeing that Brinkmanship Ebbs between China and Taiwan, is cautiously optimistic about their future.

Dana at Principled Discovery keeps us thinking about history (circa 50 AD) with Liberty, the Roman System of Acquired Privilege

The reading of Hudson v. Michigan and the Constitution over at Liberty Corner is that “Contrary to libertarian orthodoxy, the Supreme Court’s decision in Hudson v. Michigan serves liberty and is consistent with the original meaning of the Constitution.”

While it might be a bit tangential to the Carnival, I love a good discussion of the source of Rights. Francois Tremblay gives the case for Why Anarchy is Most Conductive to Natural Rights (part 1) posted at The Radical Libertarian. IndianCowboy answers with Why Anarchy Isn’t A Satisfactory Protector of Natural Rights, Part I posted at OK so I’m not really a cowboy, as the two continue a running conversation.

Also tangential, but interesting, is Rick Sincere’s My Lunch with Dick Cheney posted at Rick Sincere News and Thoughts.

Michael McCullough at Stingray: a blog for salty Christians presents Al Gore and some inconvenient truths about global warming, and gives several reasons why the demon technology is really just a whipping boy.

Tom Hanna at Tom Rants spreads the underreported optimistic news of Federal Deficit Dropping Without Tax Increases or Spending Cuts

And finally, apropos of nothing I know of, NStalker asks, “NASCAR And O’Canada?”

And that’s the carnival for this week. Next week, the 51st Carnival of Liberty will be at Below The Beltway.


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