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Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Gravitational Telescope 

An Einstein Ring.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Re: Riding the Fence 

As is to be expected, mention a controversial issue such as abortion, and critics on the left immediately pull for the heart strings, mount the ad homonym, and run for the moral hills. But lest readers be caught in the web of hypotheticals and "how could you?"s, let me try to return the discussion to a basis in fact, rather than angered rancor. (The original post that sparked the controversy is here)
First, while it is entirely possible that a pregnant minor could have been raped by the very person that a "parental consent" law would require consent from, not getting consent, or even having an abortion, will not change the fact that she has been raped. One commenter noted the removal of amendments from the proposed Florida legislation that would have allowed persons other than the parent to be the consenter in the case of abuse. Again, examine the motives of such a move: It allows hard line pro-choice advocates to speak out of both sides of their mouth, by attempting to remove all obstacles to streamlined abortion, and then crying foul when such contingencies could arise. And let us not forget, if a minor is pregnant, a crime has already taken place regardless of who the father is.
One reader asked whether there was anything crueler than forcing a 13 year old girl to carry a baby to term. The short answer is that while we may be horrified by its implications, if the 13 year old was able to become pregnant, than biologically she is at least capable of carrying the child. Lets remember that no one forced her to have intercourse to begin with, and if they did having an abortion will not change this. Something more cruel? Well, another reader offered a link to a particularly good response to that. Those who blindly advocate abortion in the name of mercy should know what they are supporting: the procedure is by far more cruel and invasive than giving birth, even by cesarean section. I am not advocating that I, or any reader, make that decision for her. The decision rests with her primary care giver, who in this case is the State of Florida. "Force her to carry the child to term" is a twisting of logic. No one forced her to begin the term (there is no mention of rape, but for the hypothetical crowd out there, see above), and the natural consequence of fertile sexual intercourse is (surprise!) pregnancy. The hard truth is that she is not being forced to carry the child. She simply is carrying the child, because that’s what happens when you become pregnant. As repugnant as this may sound, I urge critics to examine comparable comparisons before touting moral maxims. Take, for a base but remarkably applicable analogy, the normal intake of food. Is it forcing a person who consumes a large amount of food to defecate simply by not granting them an enema? Well, ask yourself what the perceived outcome was when that person ate in the first place. They aren't being forced to defecate, that's just what happens after you eat something.
Such arguments aside, the real question rests in what can be deemed the reasonable ago of consent? The tattoo comparison seemed to rub people the wrong way, but there are myriad others: She cannot obtain a tongue piercing, purchase alcohol or tobacco, cannot purchase pornography depicting the very act she took part in (willingly or not), she cannot fill out an online survey, she cannot be employed (14 for a work permit), she cannot be married, in fact if she were a male, and she were responsible for such a pregnancy, she would not have a permanent criminal record since all juvenile records are sealed at 18. Yet the ACLU, and sympathizers, claim she is capable, and indeed encouraged, to make a decision for a dangerous, invasive medical procedure she likely knows nothing about? I must concede that she is in no shape to raise a child, although that is not implicit in birthing the child, but is she in any position to terminate one?

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Why would Putin do this? 

Why would Putin sell missiles to Syria, espcially with US forces next door and Washington threatening Damascus if it doesn't fall into line? Either Putin feels he has little to fear from Bush, or the political costs are outwieghed by the influx of cash from the sale--cash that will help keep Russia's arms industry, its only claim that keeps it from third world status, afloat for a little while longer.

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Priorities 

I think what the most powerful man in the world says, whether you like him or not, a man with the power to level whole cities and countries and end human existance as we know it, deserves to be broadcast over swill like 'The Apprentice'. The FCC should drop a hint to the networks, since they are using public air waves. If they don't get a clue, suspend their license.

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Partisan swill really does sell 

It's true, the advice is right, if you have strong opinions people WILL read your blog, even if they don't like what you say.

I've been too busy to blog lately, but I thank Andrew for keeping this place hopping.

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Riding the fence 

Thank God the ACLU doesn't win them all (at least not yet). Taking a break from our current discussions of foreign policy, I was appalled at the blatant hypocrisy of the ACLU down in Florida.
The ACLU in its appeal on the girl's behalf cited Florida statutes that protect a minor's decision to decide on an abortion.

"No (Department of Children & Families) regulation or state law can override a constitutional right as recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Howard Simon, the organization's executive director for Florida.

We need to dissect the language to really understand the full depths of depravity that the ACLU has sunk to. While shock and disgust at the mere idea of advocating and Abortion for a 13 year old is my gut reaction first and foremost, two things jump out at me from this quote: (1) The article cites a Florida statue protecting abortion, and yet the ACLU's quote is in reference to the constitution, which holds nothing even resembling a discussion of abortion, and ignores the State law that prohibits the State from conceding to an abortion for a minor in any case. Are they appealing based on the statute, or is the ultimate goal to help broaden the legal protection of abortion on "Constitutional" grounds, and perhaps more important (2) "A Constitutional right as recognized by the U.S. Supreme court"? This cuts to the core of the ongoing discussion right there. Constitutional rights are recognized by the constitution.
The ability of the liberal judges to extract a right to anything from a passage in the constitution aside, this case is shocking in that it comes so soon after the ACLU did little to protect the rights of another person "unable to make a medical decision." Need we be reminded the tenacity with which the ACLU and others defended Mr. Schaivo's ability to decide for his wife the matter of life and death, something explicitly enumerated as an "inalienable right" in the declaration of independence and the Constitution?
A quick search of Google reveals Mr. Simon and the Florida ACLU to be rife with contradiction (but are we really surprised?):

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, supported the legislation, noting that his organization for years had advocated electronic monitoring of offenders on probation (4/22/05, link)

and

"The mayor better get good legal advice before he backs the city into doing something the courts will eventually find the city cannot do," said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU.( in regards to a law to mandate a buffer zone around areas containing children to stop sex offenders)(4/26/05, link)

Hmm.

Religious freedom is hardly the only civil libertarian concern the ACLU has downgraded in favor of ant discrimination concerns. The national ACLU, for example, believes that plaintiffs should be able to win ant discrimination lawsuits by showing "disparate impact" (demonstrating the discriminatory effects of the defendant's actions, even if there was no discriminatory intent). This places defendants in a very vulnerable position-even if they acted completely innocently, they can be found liable-but the ACLU seems unconcerned. As Cornell University professor Jeremy Rabkin points out, the ACLU is ''obsessed with due process, except when it comes to civil rights litigation, where they want no due process for the other side.'' ''There's a certain kind of logic to it,'' Rabkin adds, ''They genuinely think you're in the path of social progress if you object. It's not a personal comment on you; it's that you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.'' (10/22/03, link)

and

"The proposed language is one step closer toward creating an environment in public schools where students won't be afraid to speak their minds for fear of offending others," said Zeina N. Salam, co-chair of the Broward County ACLU's Legal Panel and a cooperating attorney on the case. (04/22/05, link)

And last, but perhaps most egregious:

"They can put a good face on it, saying that the grant ran out, but frankly if there wasn't growing opposition to this kind of intrusive, investigatory technique, the funding wouldn't have run out," (Partial birth abortion? No, a terrorism and crime database!) (04/18/05, link)

So what's the point? Well, the simple answer is that the ACLU really doesn't care about the 13 year old girl in question. As usual, she is merely a tool for the ACLU to ride the winds of emotion and popular Liberal opinion, at the expense of human life, pre and post natal. If they did, they would recognize that, despite their rhetoric, an abortion is far more intrusive than giving birth, even for a 13 year old. They would examine their own statements, and realize that it is hardly consistent to fight for (but occasionally against, if that makes any sense) notifying families about ,and protecting minors from, sex offenders, yet opposing laws mandating that parents be notified if a minor wants an abortion. Hell, you have to a have a parent present in order to get a Tattoo in this country, but not to get an abortion! And why? Well, if you follow the ACLU's logic, that’s because the supreme court hasn't put Tattoos into the Constitution yet.
Thankfully, the Florida legislature is moving to create an amendment to the State constitution that would allow for a lasting law on parental notification, and stricter second trimester abortion laws. And surely the ACLU will challenge it. That is, unless they change their mind.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The filibuster debate 

rages on, and Richard Lowry at the National Review chimes in today with an excellent piece highlighting the hypocrisy of the left in their vain attempt to appeal to History. His liberal use of civil rights era comparisons helps expose the convoluted positions of the filibuster supporters, who claim federalism and the sacrosanct right to filibuster as infallible:
Oh, how times change. Democratic Rep. John Lewis is a heroic emblem of the civil-rights movement. He was beaten with other marchers in Selma, Ala., in 1965, spurring passage of a federal civil-rights law that year premised on the notion that Washington couldn't trust states like Alabama to protect its citizens. But during the fight over whether the federal government should act to ensure that Terri Schiavo's right to due process was being honored, Lewis was on the floor of the House pleading, "Where is the respect tonight for states' rights that we said we hold so dear?" Where, indeed?

The truth, sad to say for Rep. Lewis, is that the role and validity of "states rights" have been spelled out again and again, since the constitution. Perhaps a history lesson is in order?
As I would hope the Representative is aware, there was a time before the Civil Rights movement when the calls for States' rights were even louder. In the time leading up to the Civil War, when a fragile peace was held together by balancing slave and free states, Southern states increasingly viewed the Federal Government as a North dominated foreign power, exerting undue power on the states. From The War for States' Rights:

The 10th Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This amendment was the basis of the doctrine of states' rights that became the ante-bellum rallying cry of the Southern states, which sought to restrict the ever-growing powers of the federal government. The principle of states' rights and state sovereignty eventually led the Southern states to secede from the central government that they believed had failed to honor the covenant that had originally bound the states together.

The sight, which seems to be quite sympathetic to the South, goes on to espouse the main fallacy of the States' Rights line of Argument; namely that Slavery is Protected in the Constitution. Strictly speaking, this is not the case. While articles condemning and outlawing slavery were rejected from the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (see Declaration of Independence), there was never any specific clause protecting Slavery in the constitution. A series of legislative act carved the expanding country into slave and free areas over the years. So, the false logic seems to follow that since it is not expressly prohibited in the constitution, it is a matter let to the States. This ignores the actual wording and intent of the 10th amendment. Since matters of interstate commerce are expressly delegated to the federal government elsewhere, and the Federal government had passed numerous legislation on Slavery prior to that point, Slavery could not and cannot be viewed as a matter left to the states.
Returning to the matter at hand, it seems to evade the Democrats who are crying for federalism that the matter of the filibuster, or Terri Schiavo for that matter, has little to do with States' rights. The matter of the filibuster reffers to the parity among party representation, on a national level, and the federal government has entertained legislation regarding the filibuster before. Like slavery, it is not at all an issue of State's rights. In fact, the epitome of equal rights for the states has to be the system of equal and proportional representation. Obstructing a vote, as I have argued before, is not protecting the voice of the minority, it is obstructing the views of both sides from being voiced at all. The matter of Terri Schiavo, which by now has long been over talked, is a question of the United State's obligation to protect the lives of its citizens from undue harm. A national mandate on the level of power next of kin have, and on the validity of life that is not in a deteriorating state, would have cleared up many of the discrepancy that existed precisely because of state to state variance. While the dangers of overbearing central government are great, the ills of weak and decentralized authority have been seen before, and are no better. Someone needs to remind Rep. Lewis that we are not a Confederacy, and then tell him why.

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Down in Maryland 

they have figured outa much more creative way to filibuster...

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

This makes me drool 

If you don't like this, you're not human... Or, a big nerd...

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Friday, April 22, 2005

What's so scary about John Bolton? 

John Bolton is the right man for the job, and the Democrats know it. The reason for their belligerent fear mongering is mainly that he will do what they cannot: utilize some common sense to defend American interests. Mona Charen said it best when she noted that Bolton doesn't believe that the US should leave the UN, but rather
He believes that the United States should lead the body, rather than be led by it.
Absolutely on the mark. And that is what I can't figure out about the democrats. With all their ingrained ability to manufacture shortcomings in Republican nominees and candidates, they seem unable to even acknowledge the rampant history of scandal, corruption and misconduct that the UN has left in the wake of "progress." We have only to look at Darfur, let alone Iraq, to see the consequences of such actions (or inaction). Earlier this week, two investigators in the "Oil-for-Food" scam resigned, claiming the report was too soft on Annan. Perhaps they are unfit for service to the UN also, simply based on their ability to criticize. This all seems so backward anyway, when one considers the fervor with which the left fought the Patriot Act, claiming provisions would allow dissenters to be arrested for disagreeing with government policy. But disagree with their blind affection for a shattered and failing organization, and you are unfit for government service.
What has become of the victim's party? How can they possibly support an organization that actually houses Country like Cuba, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Commission ? The answer is that Senator's like Barbara boxer are so partisan, so angered and invigorated by blind rhetoric, that they would rather support a regime of thugs and criminals than dare to side with a Republican. And incidentally, with America.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rising (French?) Tide 

The blogosphere is buzzing again about the eminent showdown between China and Taiwan (Link to a concise understanding of the current conflict here , The text of the anti-secession law is here). Winds of Change has perhaps the best posting so far, examining far reaching consequences and causes, as well as the geopolitical factors leading to the current Chinese arms buildup. Two facts come out glaringly from the information present: (1) the level of Chinese Naval buildup is astounding:
"...the Chinese are currently embarked on a major shipbuilding program for their navy, a massive buildup where they are currently deploying seven new major ship classes at one time, building up to two of these new ships in each class per year. These include two more Project 956 Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyers (DDGs), the Type 52B DDG, the Type 52C Aegis-like DDG, the Type 54 guided-missile frigate, the brand new Yuan-class diesel attack sub (to augment the advanced Kilo-class (Project 636) they purchased from the Russians), the Project 093 nuclear attack sub, and the Type 094 nuclear missile sub."

7 New major ship classes!?! The sheer volume is astounding.
(2) The numbers seem to favor Chinese air superiority in the strait, in the vent of a conflict (From edefense):
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is huge. The PLA Ground Force has 1.9 million men, 14,000 tanks, 14,500 artillery pieces, and 450 helicopters. The PLA Air Force has 470,000 airmen, 2,550 jet fighters, and 400 ground-attack jets. The PLA Navy has 250,000 sailors, more than 70 submarines of all ages and conditions, including the Han nuclear attack and Xia ballistic missile boats; 20 destroyers; 35 frigates; and numerous other craft.

Assuming that Japan would side with Taiwan, and counting the available US fighters in the area, the balance still tips easily to the Chinese. Were they able to gain air superiority for even a small window of time, the consequences would prove disastrous. The presence of the new Chinese submarine, reportedly capable of staying submerged for days without snorkeling, also seems troublesome, but has been downplayed by US officials. The popular consensus seems to be that the war is inevitable, and estimates vary widely depending on the '08 Olympics as a factor, although Chinese officials have often placed it in the 2006 time frame.
In terms of US involvement, we have never stated overt intentions, although officials have repeatedly warned of intervention should an attack come from the mainland. Taiwan estimates 2 weeks of survival without intervention, China says 6 days. The hope, at least for China, would be to move quickly, as they would be no match for US carrier groups were the United States given time to respond.
The real story of the Day, and the prompting for this rather lengthy post, is the surprising developments involving France(via InstaPundit) Leaving aside for now the obvious snide remarks about pre-emptive warfare and etc., one has to wonder what exactly the French are thinking. Throwing support behind the anti-secession law seems a risky move, even taken in the context of the $600 million airbus deal. Instinct leads me to believe that defensive realism is at play here, as France tries anything possible to balance the EU against the US. Despite dreams to such ends, the only visible outcome of repealing the embargo would be... the invasion of Taiwan. Only this time, it would come with French Weapons

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There is a new Pope 

Benedict XVI

It's cool and mildly exciting, even though I'm Protestant and not Catholic, especially since this hasn't happened since before I was born.

UPDATE: Didn't check the blog first, I was beaten to the punch by one of my comrades. Anyway, I just thought I'd add that Andrew Sullivan is insane.

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The New Pope 

has been elected. Pope Benedict XVI is cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany.
Once the archbishop of Munich, Germany, and for many years prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Ratzinger, 78, was one of the most powerful men in the Vatican and is widely acknowledged as a leading theologian.
As a young priest he was on the progressive side of theological debates but shifted to the right after the student revolutions of 1968.
In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination .
(emphasis mine)

Well, it seems that the church had several victories today. First, and foremost, they elected a new Pope. And second, the cardinals did not cave under the secular pressure and elect a "progressive" Pope. Now, more than ever, the church needs to reinforce the basic moral principles upon which it, and the whole of western society were established: Freedom, Morality, and a universal respect for life and freedom; the love of God and Neighbor that holds us all together. This is the battle the church will face in this new century. John Paul stared down the evils of Communism, and this Pope will have to face this new Challenge, the Challenge of leading a church in a world that all too often considers itself so far "progressed" that it has no need for such things anymore. I, for one, wish him the best of luck.

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

In Defense of death 

The Shiites want Saddam Dead, isn't this a twist. Well, not really.

" Whatever the decision, everyone should follow it, even if the president says he cannot sign it."


I have to wonder where they will attempt to find a jury that is even symbolically unbiased. But even without such a miracle panel, it is difficult to conceive of Saddam not being convicted. So what they are really saying here, is that Saddam must die. A rough sort of pronouncement, but we should not easily forget the crimes of which this man is to be held accountable (From the State Department Website):

-- The terror campaign against the Kurds in northern Iraq killed between 50,000 and 100,000 people and destroyed more than 2,000 villages and towns.
-- Iraqi officials themselves have privately acknowledged that the regime slaughtered as many as 200,000 Shi'a during the 1991 uprisings against the regime following the Gulf War.
-- The deaths of as many as 400,000 children due to malnutrition and disease directly attributable to the regime's neglect and brutality.
-- Systematic and mass executions of prisoners, and the beheading of at least 130 women.

Scott Peterson was convicted of the murder of his wife and unborn child, and sentenced to death. Why? Not only because of the gravity of his crimes, but also because not doing so would only further burden the victims of his atrocities. The same can, and must apply to Saddam Hussein. Who would bear the burden of his life? The people of Iraq would again be subjected to his upkeep. What sort of message does this send to dictators everywhere, and the brutal regimes that commit atrocities daily in Darfur and Iran, North Korea and South America? It may not have the deterrent value it once did domestically, but the death penalty still causes people to pay attention when applied on the world stage.
Precedent also seems to be on the side of Death. As the head of state during the time of these brutalities, and in many cases directly responsible, we must look to the examples of Hideki Tojo, Slobodon Milosevic and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Two are gone, one more will be. And who can argue they shouldn't be. As if the gravity and pure animalistic hatred that encompass Saddam's array of crimes is not enough to warrant a permanent removal from society, one has to ask the question: if not death, what?

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Friday, April 15, 2005

A typical night in the Reynolds household 

from Cox and Forkum:


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Popapalooza 2005 

The Sweet Sistine begins April 17. Sponsored by the new low-carb communion wafers: "I can't believe it's not Jesus!"

Priceless...

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Filibuster Flap 

In the last few days I have become engaged in a heated debate with a fellow maroon about the validity of the so-called "filibuster" of Judicial nominees, during which I have concluded that the problem is, again, misinformation. (For information, Hugh Hewitt here and here are excellent). The frustrating fact, as Hewitt points out, is that this is not about the filibuster. The fact of the matter is that approval of Judicial nominees requires a simple majority, while the democratic filibuster is based on denying a motion to close debate, which requires a 3/5 majority. By requiring the 60 votes for a 51 vote issue, this is essentially circumventing the constitution, and creating a precedent for such abuse and neglect in the future.

And for all the talk about the right of the minority to a voice, everyone seems to be forgetting that the way one voices one's opinion in a democracy is through voting, not via inaction and deception. How far does the line of thinking go for the right for minority dissent become the right for the minority to make the decision de facto for the majority? If opponents of the judges have ideological qualms, let them voice those reservations in the form of a thumbs down vote. That is why they are reviewing judicial nominees, to vote on them. As simple as that. The makeup of the senate reflects the will of the people, and it seems that the democrats wish to usurp the popular sentiment. This process will essentially destroy the idea of any sort of proportional representation, as it will over represent a minority opinion by forcing a vote beyond constitutional mandate. Has anyone thought about the rights of the majority?

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Atlas of the Human Journey 

This is indeed very cool.

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National Review 

echoes my sentiments on the Patriot Act.

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Water can kill you 

And not how you'd think.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the Coming British Election 

Here's a good take on the odds of a Labor victory or a Tory upset, as well as a few great quotes which I will excert for you:
Since everyone knows that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown detest each other and that Brown will almost certainly try to oust Blair from Downing Street in the event of a large reduction in the government's majority, the Labor campaign has set out to demonstrate that they are the warmest of friends. The Minghella film rather overdid this. It showed Blair and Brown in the softest possible focus, seated around a bottle of Highland Spring water, swapping the sappiest platitudes and earnestly agreeing with each other about everything.

One was reminded of the line from that Tory wit Canning: "A sudden thought strikes me: let us swear eternal friendship."

It would, of course, have been almost impossible to disagree with a line like this from Brown: "Every child is precious; every child is unique; every child is special; every child deserves the chance to develop its own potential." But as Tom Utley wrote in the Daily Telegraph, if your own friend said anything like that in the course of a conversation, you would instantly assume that he had been drinking something much stronger than Highland Spring bottled water.

...

Labor was, incidentally, taking a risk by employing the director of a movie called The English Patient when the National Health Service remains dire despite Brown's massive injections of public money. Waiting lists for treatment are so long that the plural of patient is said to be patience.


There's something very foreign about British wit, but than something so very familiar. I love it.

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Where you go to college 

While its true that it isn't as important as it seems when you're fretting about getting the big or small envelope, it seems to me its more important than Everyman makes it out to be. If you want to take advantage of what is offered, where you go does matter. I'm certainly glad I went to the UofC, because it seems to fit me and my nerdiness quite well.

However, if you don't want to study or learn, than you'll get beat by someone who went to a lesser institution but actually learned something much of the time later in life.

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The Editorial Board 

New group blog for college GOPers. I'm a new contributor to it, recruited to spice it up a bit and ellicit some enthusiasm from the other bloggers, since, I guess, I have 'experience'... We'll see what happens, but I encourage all of you to bookmark it and read it regularly. It could be big...

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Barely Legal: The Blog 

Now that I've linked to them twice in the past few minutes, I guess I should just go ahead and say read this blog. It's real good.

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Hot Girls in Law School 

They should be doing better things...

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The Philosopher 

While I may not be in law school, and reading Ayn Rand certainly did not change my life (any philosophy that lets me easily justify baby-killing is a bit beyond me), I do like to debate, argue, and understand. And I'm PROUD of that.

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Are we in the midst of the Fourth Great Awakening? 

Glenn Reynolds thinks not quite. I hope so, but only as long as it involves personal spiritual awakening, and not merely an increase in the 'holier than thou' types.

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More on the liberal disparity at universities 

Cathy Young says that if Professors want to avoid legislative intervention to protect the opinions of the minority, they need to correct their intellectual diversity problems.

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Peak Oil 

Mr. Scalzi thinks that when the going gets tough, the US'll be up to the task of surviving in a world without oil. His commentary is a very positive look at America and Americans and one that I agree with. Check it out.

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MaroonBlog, your source of interrelational controversy, angst, and hot pics!!!!!1111 

Remind me to make more posts like this one, since it seems to really boost reader interest...

UPDATE: Due to reader request, here is a /quote/ hot pic /unquote/ of Jessica Alba.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

An unstoppable apocalypse? 

Gamma radiation burst. No warning. No defense?

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The Ultimate Dance Floor 

It's USB and displays 12 Bit color. Check it out for yourself.

Those guys should clearly be at the UofC, because they're crazy in the awesome way like we maroons are...

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Terror Indictments, The Patriot Act, and Howard Dean 

So, it seems that the raised threat level last august was not in vain. I'm sure we can all remember the storm of accusations that came flying from the left regarding the raising of terror threat levels:
The latest elevated alert — specifically for financial buildings in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. — was issued three days after the end of the Democratic National Convention, as Sen. John Kerry was hoping to bask in the headlines from his nomination...

For former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, there is little question that the latest alert was politically timed.
"You don't know. You can't know. All you can do is put together the facts," he said. "Because of the timing, one would suspect strongly that politics had something to do with this announcement."

Compare those comments with the content of the Star Article Today:

A four-count indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses Dhiran Barot, Nadeem Tarmohammed and Qaisar Shaffi of scouting the New York Stock Exchange and Citicorp Building in New York, the Prudential Building in Newark, N.J., and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia.(emphasis mine)

Needless to say, Howard Dean has had a case of Foot-in-Mouth Disease for some time as it is, but when accusations about terror are being thrown around, it seems useful to remind people of the words that were spoken by the current head of the DNC. More importantly, it only strengthens the argument to support renewal of the Patriot Act. The simple fact, as democrats will crassly remind you, is that there haven't been any terror attacks since September 11. But that is because of the work being done behind the scenes, not in spite of it. The necessity of new tools to fight terror becomes all the more apparent in stories such as these. Clearly we still have problems if these men were apprehended with detailed schematics and plans for buildings in major US cities. The last thing America needs is to further weaken and hamper law enforcement from preventing these sort of things from coming to fruition by removing legal tools and methods already permitted against domestic suspects. Indeed, there hasn't been a terrorist attack since September 11 (if you ignore the anthrax, the DC sniper and Janet Jackson's Breast). Let's keep it that way.

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Intellectual Property, Fanfics, and Slash 

Kirk and Spock, oh my! (Plus why Disney is evil, all from Mr. Scalzi, the author of Old Man's War, a book I like so much I even toyed for a few moments writing a fanfic in the universe...)

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Good thing Berger isn't allowed in the Vatican 

Remarkably, more than a week after I posted about Sandy Berger's weak plea bargain, and compred it to a situation involving Condoleezza Rice, Robert Moran at the National Review poses the exact same question.

Imagine for a second what would happen if Condoleezza Rice were caught by the good folks at the National Archives stealing sensitive documents by hiding them on her person. Would that story generate the same minimal play the Berger theft has? No — it would be a firestorm.

Indeed. He goes on to propose that Republicans push the issue by proposing legislation targeted at tougher penalties for such action. Pushing the Dems into a situation where they either vote for the legislation and clearly indicate their betrayal of the "bergerler," or stall the bill, and provide a talking point for 2006 better than any proposed memo could come up with. What is shocking about the whole story, as has been said before, is the blatant lack of coverage that this whole incident has recieved. The media hype over the so called "torture memo" still hasn't subsided, yet a man who stole and destroyed documents, not allegedly but actually, has been exhonerated by the MSM as a lovable bumbling character from the glorious Clinton years. Thank goodness he didn't attend the Popes funeral, or he might have stuck around to "borrow" some information from the Cardinals.

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A Century of Conclaves 

An interactive on the location of the electors for each conclave in the last century.

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My Girlfriend... 

...said these lads are hot.



Mild jealousy ensued.

UPDATE: All is now right.

Another UPDATE: And now that I've found out that she thinks Ms Bellucci is hot as well, here's some real justice.

UPDATE: And just in case anyone was wondering, my girlfriend is Natalia Estrada. No, I kid you not.

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Ouch 

This is scathing satire:


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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Doing Custer a disservice 

I think it's unfair to compare Custer to the likes of a thug like Kofi Annan. He's simply a gangster like Arrafat, only with more power and more deaths he's caused to account for.


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Want to start collecting classical music CDs? 

Than check out this site: it provides good tips and a brief list of where to begin your purchasing.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Man arrested, cuffed after using $2 bills 

If I were him, I think I would sue them and get lots of more $2 bills. I think a corallary of this story is that Best Buy must hire only young, stupid people to work for them.

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Tragedy? 

A reader asks a valid question about how we are all reacting to the death of the Pope:
...since when is the peaceful and relatively painless death of an 80+ year-old man a "tragedy?"

I would say it is a tragedy for the same reason that we cry at funerals, even though the deceased are believed to be in a better place than we are. Because we don't cry for him, we cry for us. It is we who have lost a great man, a great Pope. His life works were tremendous, and few can hope to leave such a legacy to follow. So it is a tragedy for us, that he could not do more and that we go on without him. Thought provoking comment.

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Twin Towers II Design 

A plan that I actually like.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Clinton Pontificates 

Here's a surprise: Bush and Clinton don't agree on something! Despite recent attempts to remove his foot from his mouth en route to a Hillary '08 Presidential run, Slick Willie is back in the saddle with his less than brilliant comments regarding the Legacy of JPII. After remarking on a "mixed legacy," he threw out the most ironic quote I have heard in some time:
"There will be debates about him. But on balance, he was a man of God, he was a consistent person, he did what he thought was right," Clinton said. "That's about all you can ask of anybody." [emphasis added]

Honestly, the degree of brash disregard for one's own past shortcomings could be the only explanation for that level of moral Pontificating. I was never particularly keen on the whole impeachment deal, although had Newt Gengrich been accused of perjuring himself to a grand jury, I am fairly sure that the Dems would have been out for blood. But to ignore the audacity of this man, in the face of a tragedy touching so many, is to ignore the true legacy of the Clinton regime: mediocre sleaze.
Want to talk about a mixed legacy? There's a chuckler. How quickly we are expected to forget White Water, Waco, The Embassy and USS Cole Bombings, Hillarycare, The Brady Bill...September 11th anyone? (news flash: Bush had been in office less than 9 months...) And who could forget Monica? Today marks the putting to rest of one of the greatest, most influential men of the century. It also reminds us, yet again, of how much a person can show us about themselves in just a few short words. In any event, John Paul II was a man who's legacy will outlive by far the lives and thoughts of his critics. And that's about all you can ask of Anybody.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

UNforgiven 

The Congress has made a gesture toward justice by voting to reduce the US contributions to the UN peacekeeping missions, and rightly so. Stalin's quip about the Pope applies even more so here: without US troops and funding, "How many divisions do they have?" Yet I still shudder at the 25% number... where was the other 75% when the US acted to enforce UN impossed sanctions in Iraq?
But Sen. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the 25 percent cap could lead to the United States falling behind in its U.N. dues, as it did in the 1990s.

Falling behind in its dues? Who else pays as much as the US does? I mean, Oil for Food payed a lot, but to diplomats pockets. I think that Senator Biden, and other congressional Democrats, vastly overestimate the United States' need to pander to this crooked and backward organization. The US has been the only major catalyst for change since the Iraq war, and the UN has done all it can to avoid Human Rights violations in the Sudan, Zimbabwe, Israel / "Palestine" and elsewhere. The US is paying tremendous amounts of money to this organization, and in return the UN has failed spectacularly when the US came to collect. If the UN wants to regain any sort of legitimacy, they need to focus on Human Rights and issues that will garner broad support and re-establish the role the UN was meant to play. And they need to do it with less of our money!

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What hath bush wrought? 

A Kurdish President in Iraq. What a change over three years ago... (via Instapundit)

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Sleaze 

This headline almost isn't funny... then again, it is the French...

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Electioneering the Papacy 

An hilarious short story about a PR firm trying to get an American elected pope.

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Roboshark 

And it's not a joke...

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Uninformed dissent 

The Patriot Act is back in the news (again). More of the same misunderstanding and blind rhetoric about the what is and is not in The Patriot Act. Any more shouting about a knock in the night and you'd think it was actually happening. There is little surprise as to who is chiming in:
"Cooler heads can now see that the Patriot Act went too far, too fast and that it must be brought back in line with the Constitution," said Gregory Nojeim, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office.

What is surprising is the support of the American Conservative Union, which is calling for similiar changes. Both are specifically targeting the two flashy provisions of the act: the so called "Libarary" and "Sneak-and-Peak" sections (215 and 213 respectivelly).
First, let me urge you all, especially the liberals, to READ THE PATRIOT ACT before deciding how or if to argue. These two provisions of the Patriot Act are among the MOST talked about and LEAST understood provisions of the Patriot Act. First of all, and here's a zinger for all the Civil Liberty activist who oppose these provisions on such grounds, both of these are already permisable, legal tools used against US citizens. Thats right, check the justice department memo (check out the legal precedents, pretty damn straight forward), or use your head for a moment. Of course law enforcement can, and should, delay notification of some warrants. It would be difficult to apprehend a child molester if he were informed pre facto that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Even a search warrant can, WHEN DEEMED NECESARY BY A JUDGE, be delayed, since it takes fairly little time to flush Cocaine down a toilet when you know you need to.
And thats the other thing that critics love to forget about seemingly odious portions of the patriot act: any prying into personal lives, phone bills, library records or septic tanks still requires consent of a Judge or grand jury. Let me quote directly from the section in question (the infamous 215):
(2) An investigation conducted under this section shall--

`(A) be conducted under guidelines approved by the Attorney General under Executive Order 12333 (or a successor order); and

`(B) not be conducted of a United States person solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

`(b) Each application under this section--

`(1) shall be made to--

`(A) a judge of the court established by section 103(a); or

`(B) a United States Magistrate Judge under chapter 43 of title 28, United States Code, who is publicly designated by the Chief Justice of the United States to have the power to hear applications and grant orders for the production of tangible things under this section on behalf of a judge of that court; and

`(2) shall specify that the records concerned are sought for an authorized investigation conducted in accordance with subsection (a)(2) to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.

If the ACLU is truly concerned over civil liberties, I wish they would devote some of their vast treasury to actual civil liberty violations.

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An African Pope? 

I don't see why not.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Zimbabwe needs Dubya 

A disappointed but resolute opposition in Zimbabwe is agitating for big changes to the electoral system and constitution following a defeat in the recent election. (The Washington Post, of course, has a different understanding of the circumstances) This, along with the ongoing Darfur debacle, seems like it could be the first real test of the President's exhalant new foreign policy. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate to his critics here and elsewhere that he is committed to catalyzing global change via US influence.
Zimbabwe's crooked ruling party has had a grip on elections for some time, and President-for-Life Mugabe has vowed that he will violently put down any protests to the vote count. Not feeling particularly legitimate, are we? Several weeks ago I posted on the apparent pro-democracy reforms in Zimbabwe, and noted that elections do not make a democracy. Mugabe is another of the "Elected once" elected dictators who justify their continued sham re-election by referencing a sham election that got them into power to begin with. Opposition members are alleging all manner of abuse, including appointing party officials to man election posts and stuffing ballot boxes in tight districts. Unlike Ukraine, however, the people of Zimbabwe will have little outlet to call for a recount or revote, and its doubtful such a vote would even occur. This is perhaps the most critical piece of information:
Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, appoints 30 additional members of the 150-seat legislature, boosting ZANU-PF's majority past the two-thirds mark which allows it to change the constitution at will.

Mugabe has urged the opposition to accept defeat.

Big surprise. Of course, the UN is pretty much powerless at this point, and whatever influence they have is being used procrastinating on Darfur (a worthy subject of attention nonetheless), so it falls to the President. It wouldn't take much, but even just a mention in a speech or address might be enough to draw some global attention to another country at risk of being left behind by the spread of democracy.

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An incredible story 

if you ask me.
"This wasn't a John Wayne move," said Command Sgt. Maj. Gary J. Coker, the top enlisted man in the 11th Battalion, who was near the battle. "He was very methodical. He knew he had the gate and he wasn't going to leave it and nobody was going to make him leave it."

No surprise this was deemed worthy of only the third medal of honor since the Vietnam war.

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Some favorite prayers of the Pope 

Good reading...

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Longegevity: Bad, bad, bad 

I may want to live a very long time, but it seems that human society overall will be incredibly taxed if maximum life expectancy is increased significantly in the near future--an eventuality with a real probability of occuring.

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Cheerleaders want your job... 

...and because they look better than you, they'll get it. So much for brains...

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Games That Shoot Back 

I think this sounds really cool...well, except for the possibility of windows crashing while you're being zapped, thus leaving you spasming on the floor as you're toasted into a hot dog...

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Hard Questions and Answers 

Some things about the Pope you'll hear nowhere else for quite a long time, if ever... (via Instapundit)

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

"The world has lost a champion of freedom" 

Bush and the Pope have always seemed close on their stances regarding abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research. Despite differences on the Iraq war, I can't help but draw similarities between President Bush's doctrine for the middle east and the Pope's own work to spread freedom that President Bush alluded to in his speech. Perhaps his death will draw attention to another time when many doubted democracy could ever flourish in a part of the globe where tyrrany reigned, and how the Pope helped to prove them wrong. Bush's goal of spreading the "transformational power of liberty" seems so much more validated when we examine the legacies and actions of those who came before, and worked to achieve such goals elsewhere. Here's hoping Dubbya's reverence for that legacy will carry over into a continued policy for the spread of human freedom in middle east and around the globe.

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John Paul II 

has died. RIP

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No Pain, No gain 

Marc Theissen has a stirring editorial about the valuable lessons offered by the actions of the Pope in his final hours.
...far from burdening on the Church, this time when John Paul is physically weakest may well be the greatest of his papacy. Here is why: The principal task of the pope is not the effective management of the Church bureaucracy — it is to serve as an effective witness for Christ in the world. John Paul does this more eloquently today, through his silent suffering, than he ever did with words.

Indeed, John Paul has championed many of the causes that he is now a hallmark of;universal respect for life, human dignity, and the value of human suffering. His accomplishments are so many, that it will be tempting to over look his conduct in his final hours. But, in his own words,
"When the body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal."

Perhaps his most stirring homily yet will be the one that he delivers not with his mouth but with his body. It is a rebuff to a cultural devaluation of life that seems to be growing in western society. It is in direct opposition to the utilitarian, dispensible respect with which the elderly and infirmed are regarded. And it is a reminder, and a slap in the face of so-called "bio-ethicists," that personhood and humanity are not to be determined by the condition of the material body. Valuable lessons, in a time when women can be starved to death, because someone doesn't seem to want them anymore. In fact, the suffering of the Pope may be the strongest argument against such treatment, as in a christlike manner he undergoes the same suffering that Terry Schiavo, deprived of all dignity and with no voice to speak on her behalf, underwent without reason or consent. John Paul goes freely to meet his maker, in a manner like Michael Schiavo wanted to portray Terry's passing. As all eyes turn to Rome, one can only hope (and know that the Pope is hoping), that a few will turn inward, on the conduct of weeks prior, and examine perhaps the Pope's most lasting lessons.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

A disturbing trend 

Is this how desperate the College liberals have become? Sort of an indicator of the strength of their position eh?

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Keeping the Schiavo travesty alive 

The cruelty to Terry's family in life continues even after she is dead. Implicit in this denial of media access is that the only person who will have access to the records is Michael Schiavo, who, incidentally, is the person about whom the inquiries of abuse were made. So what is the point? The only semi-plausible explanation is a desire to quell the media firestorm surrounding the incident, but withholding information will only spark more interest. Put the information out there, to remove any doubt. Freedom of information only applies to republican cabinet nominess I guess...
If the only person privy to the knowledge is the accused, than there can be no way of verifying anything. Also, it means that more questions will go unanswered for her parents, and other who first brought up allegations of neglect and mistreatment. When will the courts start to get it right? (as if its not too late already).

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Gmail to give more space 

All Gmail users are getting 2 GB of space per account today. And I've got several hundred invites... Wow, that's more space than my hard drive!

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April Fools from Google 

GoogleGulp is here.

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Sandy Sandy Sandy....(tsk) 

Cnn is reporting that Sandy Berger will probably plead guilty, and prosecutors will recommend a fine and loss of clearance. Not surprising, the plea at least, considering he was caught with his pants down (or to be a little more literal, caught with something down his pants). As to the fine recommendation, I am surprised that there is less of an outcry to make an example of this sort of behavior. But then, I guess it shouldn't be all that surprising. It strikes me as particularly Clintonian, both in the sleazy perpetration of the crime, and the seeming lack of remorse. In fact, Clinton's explanation at the time (VIA the corner), is perhaps the most amusing:
"The innocent explanation is the most likely one, particularly given the facts involved,"
He goes on to make a quip about being "buried beneath papers." Right.
The media has played as a little a part as possible, possibly because this could have implications for madam Billary's assumed presidency. Its not hard to wonder what would have happened had Condoleezza Rice been caught in a similar situation... although the answer is even easier. It is hard to argue that this was, and is, not a blatant obstruction of justice. What about stealing documents vital to a federal investigation doesn't warrant more serious scrutiny and punisment? As usual, the media silence shows more about what is actually going on here than whatever careful comments are being made.

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Pope update 

The Chaplain at my super fine girlfriends catholic college is reporting the Pope to be dead in a circulated E-mail. UpDate: He is basing this on the italian media, according to the e-mail, so this is not yet a confirmation...

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Another tragedy... 

Some italian news sources are reporting that the Pope has Died, or is close to death. Perhaps this will help to temper the media field day over the politics that were stirred up by the Schiavo case. One can only hope, as it would be one of a few positive outcomes from the pontiffs passing.

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Why Campus Intellectual Diversity Matters 

Thoughts from Todd Zywicki.

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