Archives for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Capitalist Peace

I’m skeptical of the line that, as Thomas Friedman put it, no two countries with a McDonald’s will ever go to war with each other. (Didn’t Serbia have a McDonald’s?). But surely, no two countries with a Hooters…? (I wonder if they call it “Owl Restaurant.”)

Posted on Mar 21, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Healy Pass

While I’m at it, I may as well mention one of the most chest-crushingly beautiful places I’ve ever been, the Healy Pass on the Beara peninsula in Western Ireland. The name is probably taken from some ancestor of mine, though I’m totally ignorant of my own genealogy. The Healys I’m descended from are from County Cork and our coat of arms is about the least glamorous thing you can imagine. It’s three pigs’ heads, not even a sword or anything. Clearly, the Healys were peasants who stank of pig dung and got pushed around by their landlords. I also have a picture of one of my great-great grandfathers on my mother’s side, who served in the Union Navy during the Civil War. The picture, with him in his dress blues, reminds me of that scene in Gangs of New York where the Irish get off the boat and sign right up with the Union recruiter to get a few bucks.

Anyway, the Healy Pass: the West of Ireland is now pretty touristy, and in places, a bit tacky. Some towns in county Kerry remind me of the Jersey shore with shamrocks. But the Healy pass is untouched, and might by itself convince me of the merits of state-owned nature preserves. It looks like Middle Earth.

Update: my dad informs me that the Healy Pass is likely named after Tim Healy, Irish representative in the British Parliament and the first governor-general of the Irish Free State. There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, that during the Easter Uprising of 1916, Healy was asked by a representative of the British government if there was a rebellion in Ireland. “There is,” he replied. “When will it end?” Answer: “When Cromwell gets out of hell.”

Posted on Mar 17, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Happy St. Paddy’s Day

NRO is green today, and they’re running a symposium on “the perfect St. Paddy’s Day.” But they didn’t ask John Derbyshire to contribute. Here’s a nice essay on being Irish-American by Thomas Fleming, historian, patriot, and Jersey City mick. And here’s a favorite of mine by Matt Hogan on How The Irish Wrecked Civilization. Chiefly through police brutality and ritualized public vomiting, it seems.

Posted on Mar 17, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

What Are You In For, Kid?

I used to joke about the local library having a “Wanted” Poster with my picture on it. It’s no joke, apparently:

the cops found Jones had a warrant out for “detaining city property” and missing a related court date. They promptly clapped the cuffs on the 20-year-old man.

Turned out he had 18 books, worth a total of $268, long past due to the Burlington Public Library (search).

“I told [the police], ‘They’re right on the table, take them,'” Jones told KOMO-TV of Seattle. “They said, ‘No, we have a warrant, we have to arrest you.'”

Posted on Mar 16, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Blogiversary

Today is my three-year blogiversary. Looking back over three years of accumulated commentary makes you all too familiar with your own authorial voice. “George Bush sucks. Nothing matters. Wiseass comment.” Man, I’m sick of my schtick. Then again, it’s better than most people’s. So we press on.

Posted on Mar 16, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Recent Rentals

I would avoid Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow unless you are possessed by an overmastering desire to see Gwyneth Paltrow punched in the face. But if you are, it’s about 1:15 in.

I would also avoid Napoleon Dynamite. It’s one of those movies, like Garden State, that’s full of fake quirk. That is, what it lacks in plot and character development (and it lacks a lot), it tries to make up for by accentuating the oddball nature of its characters well past the point of plausibility or artistic sense. The result is about as authentic as those mass-produced T-shirts at Old Navy, bearing pre-faded logos like “Stew’s Rib Shack” and “Iron Man Gym: Detroit” from old drive-thrus and sports clubs the wearer’s never been to. Movies like this try too hard in one sense, but in another, they don’t try hard enough. There’s plenty of bizarreness surrounding us in everyday life (or maybe it’s just my life). In order to make a film with quirkiness that rings true, you have to, like, observe and take notes, not just make up a bunch of nonsense that has nothing to do with the way people actually live in Utah or New Jersey.

However, I wholeheartedly recommend UFC 47, featuring Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, and some good undercard fights. After its late-90s trouble with the law, when most UFC events were held on offshore oil platforms or from various locales in sub-saharan Africa it’s nice to see the UFC hit the big time in Vegas. They’re even starting to draw some Hollywood stars: recent bouts have included Shaq, George Clooney, and Cindy Crawford at Octagon-side. In particular, I have newfound appreciation for Juliette Lewis, who seems to show up at every fight, and is bubbly and bloodthirsty at the same time in prefight interviews.

Posted on Mar 13, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Don’t Panic

Justin sends along the following ABC News piece on the risk of terrorism:

A secret FBI report obtained by ABC News concludes that while there is no doubt al Qaeda wants to hit the United States, its capability to do so is unclear.

“Al-Qa’ida leadership’s intention to attack the United States is not in question,” the report reads. (All spellings are as rendered in the original report.) “However, their capability to do so is unclear, particularly in regard to ‘spectacular’ operations. We believe al-Qa’ida’s capability to launch attacks within the United States is dependent on its ability to infiltrate and maintain operatives in the United States.”

The 32-page assessment says flatly, “To date, we have not identified any true ‘sleeper’ agents in the US,” seemingly contradicting the “sleeper cell” description prosecutors assigned to seven men in Lackawanna, N.Y., in 2002.

I’ve suspected this for going on three years now (see here, for example).

If true, it means that both sides of the war debate have overestimated the risks of terror: those portraying the fight against Al Qaeda as a clash of civilizations of World War IV proportions, and those (like me, on occasion) who warn of an apocalyptic backlash resulting from ill-conceived foreign wars. The evidence for either proposition doesn’t seem to be there. In particular, it’s surprising that the estimates for the number of foreign fighters in Iraq consistently remain at around 1,000 or fewer.

I remain concerned about terrorism, but mainly because of its potential to cause “security panics” that lead to permanent legal changes. The D.C. Sniper incident, being totally unconnected to international terrorism, hasn’t lead to a single new law or eroded a single constitutional protection. It’s hard to believe that would have been the case if Muhammed and Malvo had been Al Qaeda operatives.

Posted on Mar 13, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Guns Are Baddd, MmmKay?

Now, the mean-spirited among you may think this video clip is a hilarious example of government incompetence, but that’s not why I’m linking to it. I’m linking to it because I think it’s an inspiring example of grace under pressure and one intrepid DEA agent’s ability to improvise on his feet (after shooting one of them). Note how he incorporates the unexpected incident into his presentation, as a pedagogical example illustrating the entire point of the lecture. Nicely done.

Posted on Mar 11, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Comment of the Week

The week of Feb. 25th, anyway. A commenter on Tim Lee’s blog (which is called, I believe “Refuting Matt Yglesias”) says this about the libertarian-conservative alliance and the possibility of a libertarian realignment:

I suspect it’s just that sometime in the nineties a lot of conservatives with a relaxed attitude towards sex started calling themselves “libertarians”, but never really were. Eventually, we found out that they think it is OK to torture someone on the unreviewable say-so of the executive branch, as long as it makes liberal arts students and the French queasy. Once you accept that, a farm subsidy or two is no big deal.

Posted on Mar 9, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hedging His Bets

Sons of famous dictators tend to be an amoral and profligate bunch: raping women, torturing athletes, and racing fast cars, like Whoday and Whatsay, drinking expensive cognac, kidnapping favorite film directors, and building up an extensive Daffy Duck movie collection like Kim Jong-Il. So what’s the story with Bashar Assad, ophthalmologist? What was the thinking there? “Well, if this inheriting-the-Baathist-dictatorship thing doesn’t pan out for me, at least I’ll have something to fall back on”?

Posted on Mar 8, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Homeschooling in WaPo

The Washington Post Metro section today features a story on area homeschoolers that avoids the typical charges that such kids are freakish, backward, and poorly socialized. In fact, more and more parents are doing it to get their kids away from their public-school peers:

Faith was once the main motivator of home education. No longer. It now ranks second as a motivation for home-schooling, according to a national Education Department survey in 2003. The top concern is the overall academic environment.

Once virtually alone, home-schoolers now can socialize with dozens of like-minded families without leaving their suburb.

My experience with homeschooled kids is limited, and it’s a very skewed sample (all kids of libertarians, some from religious families, some not). But they all struck me as uncommonly mature for their age, which probably comes from spending proportionately more time with adults. It’s something of a historical anomaly to have kids spend as much of their waking hours with kids of their own age as they have for the last century or so, and it’s probably a mistake. Even the best public high schools have their Lord-of-the-Flies aspects, and boarding school with Chad, Scooter, and their drug-addled ilk is hardly an improvement. The kid’s peer group matters greatly in his or her development, possibly more than the parents matter. Throw him or her in with a pack of mouth-breathing public school drones (I can say that, I went to public school) or amoral preppies (I can say that too, I went to a private junior high school), and you can’t be sure what you’ll get. Were I responsible enough to be entrusted with the care of any mammal more complicated than a dog, I might consider homeschooling.

Posted on Mar 7, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Liberal Federalism

Franklin Foer has a piece in the NYT Book Review about liberals’ newfound interest in federalism. It’s a nice trip down memory lane, even if, absurdly, he gives credit to Bill Clinton for the unfunded mandates law and welfare reform:

Prodded by a Republican Congress and a conservative Supreme Court, Clinton actually presided over the revitalized federalism that Sandel imagined, and even spent time in the White House huddling with Sandel and Putnam. Federalism suited his declared ambition to move beyond the era of ”big government.” In 1995, he signed a law prohibiting the national government from imposing new burdens on the states without first providing funds to cover any costs. The welfare reform package he ushered into law a year later gave states enormous latitude in remaking social policy.

Clinton’s commitment to federalism can be judged by his position on medical marijuana, which was hardly better than the Bush administration’s.

I’d like to think that the Republican assault on federalism would lead to a resurgence of decentralist liberalism. But I expect the Left’s interest in subsidiarity will last as long as its exile from federal power. Federalism, it seems, is the political virtue without a natural constituency. It’s easy to be in the Leave-Us-Alone Coalition. It takes principle to sign up for the Leave-the-Other-Guy-Alone Coalition. And there’s no deep commitment to the principle of federalism in either party.

Posted on Mar 7, 2005 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Mauled by Chimps

There’s something extra-nightmarish about the prospect of being mauled by primates, as opposed to say, dogs or alligators. The scene in the Omen, where the baboons swarm Gregory Peck and Lee Remick’s car was scarier than all the actual Satan stuff. And check out this hideous story from USA today. “This episode highlights some of the dangers of privately owning primates,” said a chimp expert. I’ll say it does. Though a plot development along these lines involving Ross and his monkey is one of the only things that could have gotten me to watch Friends.

Posted on Mar 7, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Jailblogging

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for Instalanching the collection on overcriminalization I edited for Cato, and to Ramesh for linking to it on National Review’s the Corner. The combination helped drive the book up about 30,000 places on the Amazon bestseller list. And Amy Phillips has nice things to say about the book here.

Posted on Mar 5, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Hands Up

My cousin Walter’s new band Walking Concert recently had their song “Hands Up” featured on the O.C. You can hear the song here. I’ve also heard them several times in the past couple of weeks on XM. I also highly recommend his former bands Quicksand and Rival Schools. Here’s an interview with him.

Posted on Mar 5, 2005 in Uncategorized | Comments Off