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  • Capitalizing on Patriotism

    April 19, 2007
    Finally, I've received some unsolicited commercial email that has nothing to do with Section 419 or natural male enhancement. The flag-waving proprietors of The Patriot Shop have kindly sent me a message reminding me that today is Patriots' Day, the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The good people at the Patriot Shop also, understandably suggest you take the opportunity to purchase some suitably red, white 'n' blue items from them to celebrate the occasion. While they have a fine selection of items, including the ever popular "Annoy a...
  • Flooded homes vs. stranded fish

    April 19, 2007

    In the New York Times today, there was a photo of a submerged subdivision near Wayne, N.J. as a consequence of torrential rain and winds from the nor'easter that raged through the Northeast earlier this week. Undoubtedly many of the homes were flooded and household furnishings damaged.

    Right under the photo was another article titled “Fish may be stranded in flooded areas.” Seems that in Connecticut — also hit by bucketing rain —

    . . . environmental officials are concerned that as many as 50,000 of the freshly stocked fish were swept away by the northeaster and might now be swimming in flooded fields and backyards. . . .

    People who find the wayward trout are being asked to pick them up and put them into the...

  • In Antitrust They Trust

    April 19, 2007
    Satellite radio pioneers XM and Sirius are finally going down the long-expected merger path, but not without a fight from the usual suspects. Mel Karmazin and others testified this week before the Senate Commerce Committee, where some members expressed skepticism about the supposedly Goliath-like corporate giant that would result.
    XM Sirius logo mashup
    Our take is here, summarized below:
    While...
  • The Collapse of Private Insurance: Part XXVII

    April 18, 2007
    A federal jury verdict yesterday in Lousiana requiring Allstate to pay several million dollars it didn't expect to further underlines the inherent problem with our mixed public/private homeowners' insurance system. Allstate has every reason to contend that everything stems from flooding (covered by government) while homeowners, faced with National Flood Insurance Program coverage that has a $350,000 cap, want to have as much non-flood damage as possible. With a house totally destroyed, it's really just guesswork as to who is right. In this situation, private insurance companies have every reason to cut back on coverage. Louisiana's state government was the state's fourth largest property insurer before Katrina. In the wake of this decision, it may well become the largest.
  • Greening of the Pentagon?

    April 18, 2007
    Eleven former generals have just published a report warning that global warming poses a "serious threat" to U.S. national security" via increased severity and frequency of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and the like, and "acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world." The report calls on Congress and Defense Department to ensure that climate issues are "fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies." There are several problems with this report. The generals uncritically accept the alarmist view that global warming will dramatically increase the severity and frequency of droughts, floods, hurricanes, and disease. This is all very dubious. They also seem blithely unaware that investing significant resources in such highly...
  • China at the U.N. -- on climate change

    April 18, 2007
    In a meeting on Tuesday China told the United Nations Security Council it doesn't have the competence to deal with climate change issues:
    The developing countries believe that the Security Council has neither the professional competence in handling climate change -- nor is it the right decision-making place for extensive participation leading up to widely acceptable proposals.
    China was responding to the British foreign secretary's call for that body to deal with climate change's effects on peace and security. Developing countries are divided on the issue of the U.N. taking on climate change in the Security Council. While Secretary General...
  • Ethanol may cause more smog, deaths?

    April 18, 2007
    Does use of ethanol fuel generate more smog and health problems than use of carbon-based fuels? Check out the new study by a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor, written up in an AP story today.
    "It's not green in terms of air pollution," said study author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor. "If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don't do it based on health grounds. It's no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse."
  • In search of "dystopia"

    April 18, 2007
    Last weekend, as the Nor'easter pelted the area, we curled up in front of a fire and watched Blade Runner — Director's Cut. Hadn't seen this classic dystopic movie since its original release in 1982. I'm not going to review the film here (see it for yourself). “Blade Runner” did start a discussion about when the word “dystopia” was first used, and when did it became a common term. As a dame d'un certain age, I asserted that it didn't come into common usage until 30 or more years ago.
    Dystopia doesn't appear in my older edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, nor in my Webster's Unabridged — so a hard-copy search didn't get results. Online, a Google search produced over 2 million references, including lots of...
  • Re: Guns in Virginia

    April 17, 2007
    Following up on Eli's post below, the blog Classically Liberal (linked to from Freedom News Daily) notes that not only is the Virginia Tech campus a gun-free zone, but that last year Virginia Tech administrators actively opposed a bill to allow college students and employees to carry on campus if they held "a valid concealed handgun permit."
    The legislation went to the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. And the vote was a quick one. The process was over almost before it began. A spokesman for Virginia Tech was thrilled at the results. He...
  • Guns in Virginia

    April 17, 2007
    I wrote about the tragedy at Virginia Tech in National Review Online. My piece, which I wrote really quickly, went up yesterday and, as more information comes out, some of what I wrote may be overtaken by events. Here's one interesting thing I found out while researching the piece that didn't make it in: although Virginia Tech's own campus code of conduct forbids any weapons (even fencing foils) on campus, Virginia itself has pretty liberal laws about concealed carry. According to packing.org, existing Virginia state law explicitly forbids carry on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. I'm no expert on firearms laws or the legal status of public university judicial codes, but this might imply that, the college's own...

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