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09feb2004 to 28jul2004

Junk you may have missed and yet managed to live happily without:

28jul2004 -- I was thinking today that there should be some sort of a Constitutional vetting process for all laws. You know ... maybe a small group of people whose sole job is to make sure that no law oversteps the boundaries set up in the Constitution.
Then I remembered: Oh, yeah; that was supposed to be the job of the judiciary branch.
So ... fat lot of good that did, huh?

28jul2004 -- "Free Speech Zones" ... old news at this point, I suppose, but c'mon now! How much does it take for people to wise up & rise up?

24jul2004 -- "Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? [Shays' Rebellion] And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honorably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is a lethargy, a forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and half for each state. What country before, ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." -- Thomas Jefferson, 13nov1787
Jefferson wrote those words after Shay's Rebellion. Today they sound radical, but should they?
Regarding the political philosophy of Jefferson, Joseph Sobran comments:
"Today it's fashionable to condescend to Jefferson by saying his philosophy is a bit old-fashioned -- plausible in an agrarian society, maybe, but hopelessly out of date now. Jefferson would reply that self-evident truths are never "old": A proposition is either true or false. If his truths were true in 1776, they were always true, and will always remain true.
A slaveowner, Jefferson saw that those truths were fatal to slavery. And his personal conduct on slavery has been rightly criticized on his own principles. But that is all the more reason to take his principles seriously. A man of Jefferson's intellect, merely creating a philosophy to justify himself, would have come up with a very different set of principles."

Can you imagine a modern president delivering a speech solidly grounded in any principles at all, let alone Jeffersonian principles? Try and imagine a Clinton or Bush or Kerry speaking the following words (from Jefferson's brief inaugural address) with conviction:
"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter, with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens, a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."

23jul2004 -- If the Pentagon forms its own intelligence corps, they may be able to conduct covert missions without reporting back to Congress. What happens if a rogue enters the picture? Here's an example: Back in the '80s, one of the staff officers told me, "We had some fucking colonel from the White House calling to deploy us on some crazy mission."
"Who was this guy?" I asked.
"Some fruitcake named North. I told him, `Go piss up a rope. That's not how it works.'"
There has to be a chain of command or things can get out of hand.
-- Former Delta Force founding member Eric Haney

21jul2004 -- Matt Ames's "WHO." Great song, great video. Visions of politicians strapped into chairs to view it with lidlocked eyes are dancing in my head.

(by Matt Ames)

Who is it that can blow up the world fifty times?
Who is it that protects corporate slime?
Who is it that'll barge down your front door?
Who is it that says, Hey you're gonna fight our war, boy?

But what would we do without the government?
Who would inspect the meat?
What would we do without the government?
Who'd paint yellow lines down the middle of the street?

Who is it that sells forests really cheap?
Who is it that puts schoolkids' minds to sleep?
Who is it that's always spreading fear?
Who is it that proclaims the end is near?

What would we do without the government?
Who would deliver the mail?
What would we do without the government?
Who'd build all those brand spankin' new jails?

Who is it that forces you to pay?
Who is it that wastes billions every day?
Who is it that says, Hey you can't smoke that weed?
Who is it that we really just don't need?

What would we do without the government?
Wouldn't we all become drug-crazed murdering slobs?
What would we do without the government?
Where would all those power freaks find new jobs?

(Also available as an MP3)

18jul2004 -- THE PRICE OF VALOR: We train our soldiers to kill for us. Afterward, they're on their own.
Sobering. Highly recommended. A shock in just about every paragraph.
I would be interested to know whether the psychological aftereffects of killing in battle are less for people who truly are defending their actual homeland -- which is to say, those who have a genuine reason to be fighting -- rather than being thrown into battle to "defend" some propagandistic abstract construct called "Homeland," which requires one to kill people for reasons unknown in lands thousands of miles from the home where one actually lives.

17jul2004 -- Work is for sucks ... corporate work, anway -- see Willing Slaves, by Madelaine Bunting. (via Cardhouse Broadcasting Services GmbH)
Also, the C. S. Lewis essay from which Bunting took her title.

16jul2004 -- We seem to be starting a new name-calling theme here at Deuce of Clubs, so why stop now? Here's a way you can name-call your way right out of Mormon heaven, if you're lucky. Summertime is a good time for spotting pairs of earnest white-shirted young proseletizers bicycling around our cities. Whenever you drive past them, roll down your window and shout, as loudly as you can: "KOLOB!"
You don't need to know what "KOLOB!" is supposed to mean. What is important is that the beardless Mormons will wonder: "Who was that, and how do they know about Kolob?!?"
If you have to circle around the block to yell your KOLOB!, where's the harm? The missionaries are giving two years of their lives to spread foolishness and you can't spare a few minutes to fight back?
Also, flashing your titties couldn't hurt anything, could it? Do I know for a fact that it does not?
Yes. I do.

15jul2004 -- Irrelevant rant (for a change, right?): The Arizona Diamondbacks are apparently considering getting rid of their aging ace Randy Johnson. While they're cleaning house they ought to get rid of their broadcaster, that annoying, whiny, pipsqueak Thom Brenneman. It's hard enough to watch a baseball game on television without that little baritone mosquito buzzing in my ear with his stupid "first pitch hacking, first pitch hacking, first pitch hacking" & his laughable toadyism toward anyone in a military uniform. Even fellow military ass-kisser Tom Brokaw, when he can pull his lips off the ass of The Greatest Generation long enough, laughs at little yankee doodle dandy lackey Brenneman. STFU!

13jul2004 -- Is it unavoidable that great young ensemble comics pass with age from hilarity to avuncularity? (See Monty Python)

12july2004 --

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8.
It's hard to see the point of pollsters' ongoing efforts to ascertain the president's "Job Approval Rating" when it seems that so few in the U.S. have the slightest conception of what the chief executive's job really is -- least of all the chief executive himself or the chief contender for his job.

If you listen to John Kerry and George Bush campaign for the Office of President of the United States, you will not ever hear either of them mention the Constitution of the United States in any meaningful way, and on 20 January 2005, when one of those two (I'm just going to go ahead and concede that for the nth election in a row the winner will be the candidate of one of the two Ruling Parties) is sworn in as President of the United States, it is almost certain to be the last time the winner publicly acknowledges the Constitution of the United States.

Now, think about that. No, really think about it. Is it not remarkable that applicants seeking to obtain the position whose job description is summed up in the phrase "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" are never, ever publicly quizzed on their understanding of that document? Is it not also remarkable that candidates who successfully win the office are never taken to task in the wider media for ignoring or violating their oath of office or, in fact, for completely disregarding their job description?

Kerry, for example, recently declared that "the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country." What are some of these "real issues," according to job applicant John Kerry? "Issues such health care, the economy and making America safer in this world." Where in the president's job description -- the U.S. Constitution (specifically, Article II, Sections 2 and 3) -- does Kerry find these "real issues?"

Both Kerry and Bush say things this foolish -- and worse -- every day, and doubtless will do so during the presidential debates. Suppose, however, that this year the debates were different. Suppose that the Libertarian candidate, being listed as an official candidate on the ballots of all fifty states, were allowed to take his or her rightful place in the debates. The Libertarian candidate would press both Kerry and Bush to back up every promise and every proposed act with the constitutional justification for it (as Ron "Dr. No" Paul does in response to every piece of legislation introduced in the House of Representatives). Held to the standards of the Constitution, and therefore limited to basing their utterances on principle, Bush and Kerry would find themselves with no ground whatsoever on which to stand -- which is precisely why the Libertarian candidate will unquestionably be barred once again from every presidential debate. The ruling parties cannot afford to let anyone detract attention from their little political puppet show by demanding adherence to the principle of human freedom or the duties of the office as outlined by the Constitution. During these debates -- essentially their job interviews -- Kerry and Bush will instead appeal to any number of contentless abstractions, such as "American values" or "change."

Take a few minutes to ponder what a remarkable state of affairs this is. Imagine you own a garage and have a job opening for a head mechanic, but you are strong-armed and forced to choose between two applicants who are either unable or unwilling to say a word to you about the upkeep and repair of engines, speaking instead only platitudes and abstractions ("Not to worry, not to worry, for I am strongly commited to ... automotive values!"). Would you entrust the fortunes of your garage to either applicant? Or would you toss the both of them out of your garage by the seat of the pants and look elsewhere for a qualified mechanic?

Update, 09oct2004


30jun2004 --

A man in Boston decides to spend his vacation at the Grand Canyon. He visits his travel bureau, looks at the folder, signs up for a two-week tour. He and his family take the tour, see the Grand Canyon, and return to Boston. May we say that this man has seen the Grand Canyon? Possibly he has. But it is more likely that what he has done is the one sure way not to see the canyon.
Why is it almost impossible to gaze directly at the Grand Canyon under these circumstances and see it for what it is -- as one picks up a strange object from one's back yard and gazes directly at it? It is almost impossible because the Grand Canyon, the thing as it is, has been appropriated by the symbolic complex which has already been formed in the sightseer's mind. Seeing the canyon under approved circumstances is seeing the symbolic complex head on. The thing is no longer the thing as it confronted the Spaniard; it is rather that which has already been formulated -- by picture postcard, geography book, tourist folders, and the words
Grand Canyon. As a result of this preformulation, the source of the sightseer's pleasure undergoes a shift. Where the wonder and delight of the Spaniard arose from his penetration of the thing itself, from a progressive discovery of depths, patterns, colors, shadows, etc., now the sightseer measures his satisfaction by the degree to which the canyon conforms to the preformed complex.
-- Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle, pp. 46-7.

I have seen the Grand Canyon both ways on the same trip. I'm an Arizona native but had been to the Grand Canyon only once, when I was about four years old. Years later participation in the Confluence Project provided a good reason to visit again. From the Official Grand Canyon Established Tourist Vista Sanctioned Viewpoint Stopping Place And Public Toilet, the Grand Canyon does look merely like a postcard, or the cover to every extant album cover I've ever been able to find of Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite.** All ho-hummy. I remember saying so while there & getting looks from whatever nearby German & Japanese tourists spoke English. Fortunately, Confluence-fari impelled us westward from the Official Grand Canyon Bullcrap Do-This Do-That Don't Cross The Yellow Lines Area. We parked alongside the forest road (strictly verboten, as if anyone should care) and hiked through the pines until the forest suddenly dropped off into the Canyon. It was quiet. It was still. It was fucking Grand.

** And I've collected a LOT of them. If you have an LP or CD of Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite with a cover that features a photo that is of something other than the Grand Canyon, please, please send me a scan.

27jun2004 --
Once, a very long time ago, dinosaurs lumbered over parts of what is now Arizona and, departing, left behind them footprints in the muds of time. Occasionally the mud hardened into stone and the prints are pointed out to visitors. Concerning them a pleasant story is told.
"Them footprints," said a guide, "is four hundred million and four years old."
"But how can you be so precise as all that?"
"Well, (apologetically) of course I don't really know nothing about it myself. But when I came they told me they was four hundred million years old. And I been here four years."
-- Joseph Wood Krutch, The Voice of the Desert (1954)

26jun2004 -- How deep is the shit we're in if suddenly even Al Gore starts publicly criticizing government policy on the basis of principle? And not just any principles, but the principles of liberty and the rule of law? And actually cites -- > gulp! < -- Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, & Madison?

As Thomas DiLorenzo says, "The neocon Lincoln idolaters in the Republican Party and its various appendages have done such a good job of getting President Bush to ape the rhetoric and practices of their hero, Dishonest Abe, that they have done what, up until now, I thought was the unthinkable: They have made Al Gore look like a wise, old statesman." I'll say. In "Democracy Itself is in Grave Danger," Gore sounds, as DiLorenzo says, almost like Ron Paul (albeit a Ron Paul who seems not to differentiate between a democracy and a republic). Says Gore:

"Even though we are now attuned to orange alerts and the potential for terrorist attacks, our founders would almost certainly caution us that the biggest threat to the future of the America we love is still the endemic challenge that democracies have always faced whenever they have appeared in history - a challenge rooted in the inherent difficulty of self governance and the vulnerability to fear that is part of human nature. Again, specifically, the biggest threat to America is that we Americans will acquiesce in the slow and steady accumulation of too much power in the hands of one person. "

Gore is right. (Did I just type that? Double-checking ... yep. I did.) Not that he's right about everything in this speech; for example, his memory of the administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush the First, and Clinton fails him when he claims that Nixon's reign was "the last time we had a president who had the idea that he was above the law." But in the context of the image-conscious political world Gore's speech is, comparatively, so unusually blunt ("Are [President Bush and Vice President Cheney] too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick. ... The attorney general, John Ashcroft, is hardly the kind of man who would resign on principle to impede an abuse of power.") and sensible that pointing out even sweeping historical blindness seems almost like nitpicking. And when was the last time you heard a major political figure, in a major policy speech, quote Jon Stewart?

"Ironically, [Dick Cheney's] interview ended up being fodder for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart played Cheney's outright denial that he had ever said that representatives of Al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence met in Prague. Then Stewart froze Cheney's image and played the exact video clip in which Cheney had indeed directly claimed linkage between the two, catching him on videotape in a lie. At that point Stewart said, addressing himself to Cheney's frozen image on the television screen, `It's my duty to inform you that your pants are on fire.'"

Way to go, Al, but ... damn it all, where the hell was all this concern for human liberty (and truth, while we're at it) when you were V.P. and your party was in power, trashing the Constitution? If in 2000 the Supreme Court had instead magically granted you the presidency, would you have cited the principles of Washington or Jefferson or Madison when you were in charge of, say, the "War on Drugs?"

25jun2004 -- Cardhouse Robot sent along a link to Tucson's May Day Mystery, along with a link to this article. Bang goes my life in a haze of Greek translations and inquiries of friends who used to work for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Meanwhile, the May Day Mystery elicits rueful words from someone at Metafilter:

I spent way too much of my time at university learning things that I thought I needed to know. It would be much cooler to go back now that there are so many things that I just want to know. I started to take Greek one semester because it seemed so cool, but it quickly got crowded out by things that I thought were more relevant. I was wrong. Today, what I'd have learned studying Greek would be a lot more valuable than anything I learned in that microbial physiology class.


Woody Harper

11aug1963 - 09jun2004


20jun2004 -- Does anyone take seriously those ridiculous NBC "The More You Know" public service announcements, TV actors, of all people, telling other people how to live their lives? Anyone who does must not realize that "The More You Know," the less likely you are to be a TV actor.

19jun2004 --
Inevitably such a creature is the center of many legends. There seems to be no doubt that he takes the killing of rattlesnakes in his stride, but old-timers insist that he sometimes first surrounds the snake with a circle of spiny cactus joints so that the snake cannot get away. In fact, only a few weeks ago a friend told me that one of his friends had seen a slight variation on this performance when a road runner walled the snake in with small stones before attacking him. But like the milk snake milking a cow and the hoop snake rolling merrily along with his tail in his mouth, this remarkable performance seems never to be witnessed by anyone with a professional interest in natural history and it is usually a friend of a friend who was on the spot. The situation seems much the same as that with ghosts. You are most likely to see them if you are a simple person and have faith.
As a matter of fact, however, you do not always have to be a simple or ignorant person to believe what the simple tell you. A well-educated man recently passed on to me the old superstition that the Gila monster, our only poisonous lizard, owed his venom to the unfortunate fact that nature had not provided him with any orifice through which the waste products of metabolism could be discharged, and that poisons therefore inevitably accumulated. One need only turn a Gila on his back to dispose of this legend which is sufficiently improbable on the face of it. Most of the people who repeat it have pointlessly taken part in the attempt to exterminate these creatures, but have obviously never looked at the bodies of their victims. And yet we still feel superior to the men of the Middle Ages who insisted that the toad had a precious jewel in his head, when they might so easily have found out that he didn't!
-- Joseph Wood Krutch, The Voice of the Desert (1954)

17jun2004 -- "Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the US and Europe." Jumbles the mind to consider what kind of a soul-starved creep one would have to be, to be willing to whore one's self out to DARPA. "No job too dirty for a fucking scientist," said the Junkie. Was he ever right.

17jun2004 -- TV white noise, as described by The Ring's close captioning: "[staticky blurts]."

16jun2004 --
New York, ice cream, TV, travel, good times
Norman Wisdom, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, good times...

Joey's gone, Dee Dee's gone, and now they say Johnny's going, too.
Bad times.

15jun2004 -- A truly free society is disorganized. In a free society, everyone does exactly what he wants to do and takes orders from nobody. Nobody is in charge. Free people don't do what they are told; they only do what they are asked when it is in their own interest or because the person asking also offers something of value like a cash payment, a job, a quick favor, or even love.
Some might think such a disorganized society would be easy to conquer, but it is not. Any society in which people refuse to cooperate unless they agree it's to their own advantage to do so can't be governed except with the permission of all the people or by the massive application of force. It is the "ordered" societies, where people are used to doing what they are told to do, that are easy to take over and govern.
-- Jefferson Mack, Invisible Resistance to Tyranny, p. 15.

14jun2004 -- On Apache Trail in Apache Junction last night was an Impala SS with the Arizona license plate FUHRER.
Hrmmm. SS? FUHRER? Well, lessseeee ... he was born in 1889, which would make him about ... well, about as good a driver as most of the other Apache Junction fossils putt-putting around here, I guess. So, could be. Maybe.

12jun2004 -- A persuasive explanation for the past four days of sanctimonious Stalinesque statist ceremony:

"The presidency represents the opposite of freedom. It is what stands between us and our goal of restoring our ancient rights. And let me be clear: I'm not talking about any particular inhabitant of the White House. I'm talking about the institution itself, and the millions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who are its acolytes. Look through the US government manual, which breaks down the federal establishment into its three branches. What you actually see is the presidential trunk, its Supreme Court stick, and its Congressional twig. Practically everything we think of as federal – save the Library of Congress – operates under the aegis of the executive. This is why the governing elites – and especially the foreign policy elites – are so intent on maintaining public respect for the office, and why they seek to give it the aura of holiness....
Why do we put up with this? Why do we allow it? Why isn't this power immediately stripped from him?
What prevents fundamental challenge to this monstrous power is precisely the quasi-religious trappings of the presidency."
-- From Lew Rockwell's 1996 speech "Down With the Presidency" (Emphasis added)

11jun2004 -- The pat phrase one always hears about people who want their freedom is that trying to get them to do anything in a concerted manner is "like herding cats."

As it should be. If more people were like cats instead of like compliant little mice, we wouldn't be in the collectivist mess we're in.

In a related matter, Frederic Bastiat answers objections to The Free State Project that are based on the alleged contradiction of using (governmental) force to get rid of (governmental) force:

The Desire to Rule Over Others

This must be said: There are too many "great" men in the world -- legislators, organizers, do-gooders, leaders of the people, fathers of nations, and so on, and so on. Too many persons place themselves above mankind; they make a career of organizing it, patronizing it, and ruling it.

Now someone will say: "You yourself are doing this very thing." True. But it must be admitted that I act in an entirely different sense; if I have joined the ranks of the reformers, it is solely for the purpose of persuading them to leave people alone."

-- The Law (1850)

08jun2004 -- The other day I watched the documentary Weather Underground (review), a history of that group of radical anti-establishment collectivists who hated anti-radical establishment collectivists. Ho-hum, verse, chorus, verse, but who'd have believed there'd be a commentary track featuring that madcap married couple, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers? No surprise that their towering smugness and self-importance (staggering, even by Baby Boomer standards), has survived the years undiminished. These days they're both college professors. Seems about right, somehow.
Funniest moment of the commentary: in response to the filmmakers' questionable decision to feature the 1969 Sharon Tate crime scene photos, Dohrn protests, "And look at this criminal act -- they conflated this hideous criminal act of Manson's with The Movement!" Perhaps Dohrn's outrage and indignation have clouded her memory -- she neglects to mention that at the time she gleefully gloated over the Tate-LaBianca murders, telling others in "The Movement" (ack), "Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach. Wild!" Dohrn memorialized "this hideous criminal act" by inventing the three-fingered "fork salute" and proclaiming 1969 "The Year of the Fork." (Further forkery)
Dohrn now claims it was all just a hilarious joke, but nobody in 1969 -- including Dohrn -- took it as a joke. As for Ayres, he has said (in 2001), "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."

07jun2004 -- "Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides"
Bush is described by "insiders" as an out-of-control, megalomaniacal, religious nutball.
Does anyone seriously believe it takes an insider to know that?
(Further on "The Madness of King George")

04jun2004 -- Earnest, Large-scale Miscellany

Though I am 1/4 Finn, I know 0/4 Finnish. Neither does Babelfish, but another free online translation service translated " -- Ameriikan menoa (tietenkin Ameriikan kielellä). Tosi laaja kokoelma juttuja kuvien kera." as: "Ameriikan expense tietenkin Ameriikan linguistic ). Ernest large-scale miscellany tale diagram with."

Translation exercise net result:
Increase in Finnish language knowledge units = 0
Increase in Deuce of Clubs mottos = 1 (see home page)

03jun2004 -- "It just got really quiet, so I went to check on Mars...found him sitting in a box reading a book about trains. These are the moments that make having a two year old worth all the moments when you think you'd rather have a fork in your forehead." -- Longtime D.o.C. pal Ponyboy GirlieToolshed, on parenting
04jun2004 -- Robb L. writes: I just got through reading the "2-year-old-in-box" blurb on your page, and then Emily (my 4-year-old) walked in with a cape and asked me to put on this purple scarf and "be Super Robb." I told her that I would love to but I have to work this morning, so she asked, "Can't you be Super Robb Who Has To Work Sometimes?" How could I say no to that?
As she walked out the door she said, "Okay, I need to go beat up crime." The Platonic form of "crime" had better watch out!

01jun2004 -- "Imagine. There used to be a whole country that trusted its people to run their own lives and manage their own bodies. Really. It wasn't a fairy tale. The place truly existed." -- Claire Wolfe, "Hardyville Does Drugs"

31may2004 -- For those who recognize "Memorial Day" as just another damnfool "holy-day" for those who worship The State, Butler Shaffer explains the militarization of holidays.

28may2004 -- There still are good people who get book deals. It promises to be an eye-opening look at the world of publishing (if Meghann is able to juggle documenting the process of writing a book while actually writing the book)...

26may2004 --
Acoustic Guitar magazine: Does faith still play a part in your songwriting or have you completely left that behind?
Sam Phillips: Fundamentalism was the beginning. It was a very narrow viewpoint. Some people do drugs in their youth; I did Fundamentalism [laughs]. It was good. It was better than doing drugs and a lot of things I could have done, but it certainly had its warps. There were a lot of things I had to heal from and get over, but I certainly learned a lot. Everything having to be black and white and living by rules—it's a very fear-based thing, and it's immature. You have to grow past that at some point if you want to get to the big questions, the real issues in life. I'm grateful I had that beginning—it was a good start—but I don't think I would have gotten anywhere spiritually had I not left that behind.

26may2004 -- Industrial hemp vs. cannibis: If DEA nincompoops applied the same wide-brush lack of intelligence to cookery as they do to pharmacology, it would be farewell forever to the mushroom pizza.

24may2004 --

We're looking for a few good minions...

23may2004 --

On March 20, 1880, there was great cause for celebration in Tucson, for the railroad had at long last arrived. Richard Gird of Tombstone presented the city with a silver spike from the Tombstone mines in honor of the occasion. After a great deal of speechmaking, ballyhoo, and spirits, telegrams were sent all over the country. The "Old Pueblo" had arrived and in her eagerness to boast, telegrams were sent to various dignitaries throughout the United States. This being done, some of her more inebriated citizens decided to send a telegram to Pope Leo XIII at the Vatican, which ran as follows:

To His Holiness, the Pope of Rome, Italy:
The mayor of Tucson begs the honor of reminding Your Holiness that this ancient and honorable pueblo was founded by the Spaniards under the sanction of the Church more than three centuries ago, and to inform Your Holiness that a railroad from San Francisco, California now connects us with the entire Christian World.

But before the telegrapher could send the announcement, some of the more discreet locals advised him to reconsider. It is said that they slipped him a few bucks to "can" the telegram and forget the whole thing. Perhaps suffering from guilt feelings over having not sent the telegram as ethics required, the conscientious telegrapher finally decided that if he didn't send it, the least he could do for the city fathers was give them a reply even if it wasn't genuine. After all, that's how legends are born, and besides, who was he to cast a sour note over the gala celebration by having the Pope ignore Tucson's coming-out party. The telegrapher sat down and penned a reply suitable for the occasion and finishing, he carried the message over to the assemblage, where Mayor Leatherwood received the paper and without bothering to preview the "reply," read aloud:

His Holiness the Pope acknowledges with appreciation receipt of your telegram information him that the ancient city of Tucson at last has been connected by rail with the outside world and sends his benediction, but for his own satisfaction would ask, where the hell is Tucson?

Marshall Trimble, Arizona: A Panoramic History of a Frontier State (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1977), pp. 132-3.

23may2004 -- "I'm just a crazy old poppy-eyed hoot owl! Nuttier than a fruitcake! Some people are so goddam cranky-ass they can't have no fun. Well, I've been havin' fun! You can't say you don't have fun when you come down here! I say, don't hold anything back! Enjoy yourself, relax, and live!" -- Wonderfully sage advice from Joe Bussard

22may2004 -- Sooooooo ... one soldier receives the exact same punishment (one year imprisonment + dishonorable discharge) for taking part in the abuse of Iraqis as another stands to receive for refusing to take part in the abuse -- and murder -- of Iraqis. That's life in the looking-glass world of order-following.

21may2004 -- Insult of the day, from a U.S. expat in Russia: "Lynndie England, you chinless, inbred, runty, androgynous backwoods mutt!"

20may2004 -- A while back, a reader of Reason magazine's Hit & Run page complained that he did not obtain the desired result with the Subservient Chicken using the command "choke your chicken."
I told it "choke yourself" -- and it did. Q.E.D. Reason, my ass!
Meanwhile, Miami-based Burger King has remained mum about the chicken's future but said consumers should not expect to see his image at one of its restaurants.
"That would be far too mainstream," Burger King spokesman Blake Lewis said. "The chicken doesn't do mainstream."

19may2004 -- This is beautiful: The Technoptimist suggests things to say in the course of vehicle registration.

19may2004 -- A marine with a conscience ("I was like every other troop. My president told me they got weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam threatened the free world, that he had all this might and could reach us anywhere. I just bought into the whole thing.... I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it."). A certain army staff sgt. has one, too ("The way we treated these men was hard even for the soldiers, especially after realizing that many of these `combatants' were no more than shepherds").

15may2004 -- Dolores Erickson, the woman who launched a thousand boyhood dreams (and one art car) via her appearance on the cover of the Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass album Whipped Cream & Other Delights, now has her own website:
(Thanks to Jason Sebring for the head's-up)

15may2004 -- Michael Feldman just struck out on his radio program Whad'Ya Know? when he tried calling pay phones listed at The Payphone Project. Nearly every number was a dud. R.I.P. payphones.

14may2004 -- And featuring Robert Winley, as Guy Who Gets Offed By Superhuman Bastard In A Bar in both Near Dark (1987) and Terminator 2 (1991). That's one coolio resume, there, Mr. Robert Winley (which also includes "Rowdy #2," "Tall Convict," and "Mudfish").

12may2004 -- Kurt Vonnegut as The Rambling Man, in "Cold Turkey"

11may2004 -- George W. Bush as The Misunderestimated Man: Why someone capable of being smart chooses to be stupid

11may2004 -- Go, Dr. No!
"Members of Congress decry the fact that the administration did not inform us of these abuses and purposely kept Congress out of the information loop. Yet Congress made it clear to the administration from the very beginning that it wanted no responsibility for the war in Iraq. If Congress wanted to be kept in the loop it should have vigorously exercised its responsibilities. This means, first and foremost, that Congress should have voted on a declaration of war as required by the Constitution. Congress, after abandoning this responsibility in October 2002, now complains it is in the dark." -- Representative Ron Paul

09may2004 -- "2-&-a-half innings to last call! It could go into extra innings! No lead is safe -- MANTEI MAY PITCH!" -- Gravel-voiced beer vendor, regarding a Diamondbacks 4-0 lead (and the woeful relief pitching of Matt Mantei)

07may2004 -- "If you ask a Hostage Rescue Team guy what he thinks of the negotiators, [he] would see them as a bunch of pussies. The negotiators might look at these guys as something a little disturbed, in the sense that these guys, you know, WANT to get up in the morning and WANT to, you know, breach a door and WANT to, you know, drive a tank and, you know, there's something kind of, a little unusual about a person who gets some sort of a charge out of wanting to do those kinds of things." -- Farris Rookstool III, FBI Waco Analyst, interviewed for a Frontline documentary about the government's Waco murders

06may2004 -- "I'm sixteen. I don't give a damn about Michael Jackson." -- Driver of the car in the next lane, whose support I was attempting to enlist on behalf of my claim that Jackson has a child named Blanket

29apr2004 -- Drool fodder. Had I a million & a half, the Tubac Titan Missile Silo would be mine, mine, MINE! Tubac is such a beautiful place, too. My original desert property search focused on missile silos, but at the time the only affordable one was in Kansas, no thank you. When I got my desert property (as it turned out, near another decommissioned Titan silo, though that one apparently was thoroughly destroyed), I thought instead I might like to install a Boeing jet as a home (with wings akimbo, propane flame jets, and a huge trench behind it, for those need-to-fake-a-crash-for-overflying-jets days). But even that would have cost a quarter million at the time (though if I had the money, I might have bought based upon the Simpsons tie-in name "Max Power" alone). But that was all before my stuff got stolen, so now all I need is a large-ish van, one in which I can stand up. And shower. Cos stinky van people stink. Suggestions are welcome.

28apr2004 -- "...there is no other logic than this. If you're going to have an efficient factory economy with decision-making placed in a few hands, and you're fighting against a libertarian tradition, then there's no way to do it except to set up laboratories of psychological conditioning. And it has to be forced because no one in their right mind would go to these places if we didn't have forced schooling. You drop the compulsion law tomorrow in Austin, and it will take about five years for a large cohort of people to figure out a much better way to do this; another five years and the uncertain will follow their lead. Give me 20 years and nobody except a moron would be in these schools. " -- John Taylor Gatto (interviewed by Philip Dru)

Like the man sang (whoever "the man" was, if it wasn't Johnny Rotten), "Schools are Prisons!"

27apr2004 -- Uniformed thugs in Portland, Oregon legally mace, taser, and rough up 71-year-old blind woman and her 94-year-old mother; refuse to apologize. Sing it again, my Portland brother: "I HATE THE POLICE! I HATE THE POLICE!"
And in Texas: Highland Park police handcuff 97-year-old woman, haul her to jail for expired auto registration sticker.
So the question is: Why Does the Public Put Up With Abusive Cops?

26apr2004 -- WHAT THE...?

Saw What the #$*! Do We Know?! yesterday. I didn't read much about the film before going to see it, but I wish I had. It began with a lot of unidentified talking heads -- significantly, the interviewees weren't identified until the credits -- who were presumably experts on quantum physics, but I immediately recognized one of them as New Age huckster guru J. Z. Knight, who claims to "channel" a ludicrously accented, Michael-Jackson-faux-space-commander-clothed, 35,000-year-old disembodied Atlantian warrior called Ramtha.

Why would anyone make a film about quantum physics featuring a New Age charlatan? I don't know, but you could ask the three filmmakers, listed on the film's website as William Arntz ("in 1996, he followed a friend out to Washington and was introduced to Ramtha, with whom he studies currently"), Betsy Chasse ("moved to Washington, where she met Gordie and Ramtha. She married Gordie and became a student of Ramtha."), and Mark Vicente ("he became aware of Ramtha's work in the early 90's and has been a student at RSE (Ramtha's School of Enlightenment) since").

Except for purposes of mockery, I wouldn't bother to see a free showing of a film alleged to be about quantum physics if it were put together by Presbyterians or Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, and I certainly wouldn't have knowingly spent five and a half Federal Reserve Notes and a warm Arizona afternoon watching one put out by devotees of a goofball cult leader -- not even a New Age goofball cult leader who, according to the filmmakers' website, is "one of the great enigmas that scientists have studied in the last decade," who "still baffles scholars" (and who appears to have suffered some very badly performed plastic surgery).

As to the film's content, a capsule summary of Ramtha's teachings pretty much covers it:

"Knight claims that spirit or consciousness can `design thoughts' which can be `absorbed' by the brain and constructed `holographically'. These thoughts can affect your life. If this means what I think it means, then Knight has taken the notion of proving the obvious to new heights: she has discovered that one's thoughts can affect one's life."

My own capsule summary comes from the truncated version of the film's title on the theater ticket stub: "WHAT THE" -- because that was my first reaction after the thing was over -- unlike many in the audience, who applauded. People dumb.

23apr2004 -- Heroism Quiz

1. He "walked away from ... millions because he believed in something bigger,"[*] trading a rich man's existence for life in "a dusty [desert] set on a rocky plain ringed by baked and blasted mountains" [*] -- "an achiever and leader on many levels who always put his ... community, and his country ahead of his personal interests," [*] "fighting for what he believed in. His courage and convictions are what [his] country is built on. He is a hero." [*] He is:

  (a) Pat Tillman
  (b) Osama bin Laden
  (c) None of the above
  (d) Both of the above

2. People who act courageously based on their beliefs...

  (a) ...deserve a certain admiration; right or wrong, at least they're not all talk.
  (b) ...vindicate their beliefs by their actions.
  (c) ...should be admired if their beliefs are right, rather than wrong or, say, just moronic. (After all, who wants to end up admiring Mormons?)
  (d) A little bit country (a), a little bit rock 'n' roll (c).

3. Which of the following expresses the proper attitude of a free human being toward standing armies?

  (a) "It astonishes me to find... [that so many] of our countrymen... should be contented to live under a system which leaves to their governors the power of taking from them the trial by jury in civil cases, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce, the habeas corpus laws, and of yoking them with a standing army. This is a degeneracy in the principles of liberty... which I [would not have expected for at least] four centuries."
"Next time you see a person in uniform, whether you agree with why they are fighting or not, shake that person's hand and give him or her a simple `Thank you.'"
  (c) Unquestioning adulation of people merely for being order-followers, without regard to why they are killing people, is absurd. Weren't the Nazis in uniform? How about the Red Army? The ATF?
  (d) Both (a) and (c).

4. True or False? Admirable qualities or deeds in the service of a bad cause do not redeem it.

  (a) True.
  (b) True.
  (c) If it did, Otto Skorzeny would be a household name.
  (d) Didn't you more or less ask this?
  (e) True, already!
  (f) All of the above.

(See also)

28apr2004 -- Addendum to above -- "HE FOUGHT FOR ... SOMETHING: How to write your Pat Tillman panegyric," by Matt Taibbi
(To understand what was wrong with the Pat Tillman story, you must pay close attention to the phenomenon of American sports fanaticism, and the way the story of sports is sold to the public. There is a moment at which the media brilliantly confuses fantasy and reality by blurring the distinctions between sports fan and American, and it is at that moment that the darker side of patriotism is rammed down the public's throat. Pat Tillman died in the very center of that blur....
When the players are interviewed by ESPN and Fox and CBS about their reactions to their interactions with the soldiers, they almost always have the same answer. "It really puts things in perspective," the linebacker says. "I mean, we're just out there playing a game, while they're risking something more important to defend our freedom..."
Your typical Nation-reading lefty type groans at this sort of stuff, in particular when the players gush over President Bush, but that's because they don't understand football. A true football fan knows that the average NFL player does not—and probably should not—distinguish between the president, and, say, the owner of his team. He's going out there to take hits over the middle and give 110 percent for Tom Coughlin and Ernie Accorsi and Wellington Mara or Bob Kraft—and then somewhere, farther up the chain, sits the secretary of defense and the commander-in-chief. Against the backdrop of this brutal and violent gladiatorial competition, it's the only mindset that makes sense. The game is about passion and violence and obedience and sacrifice; you die for your coach, your fans, your owner, your country. A wandering mind is a liability in team sports. (I should know. I was a liability as an athlete.) You want the guy who does what he's told, the committed soldier, a "machine out there."
It's a flawless, beautiful, completely engrossing fascist fantasy. Within its own parameters it probably cannot be improved upon as escapist entertainment. The problem is, when it's asked to extend beyond its fantastic parameters, when its values are asked to serve as real values for the real world, it becomes completely incoherent and extremely dangerous propaganda. This was on display in the way the Pat Tillman story was handled."
One of the things about football is that there is always another team you have to defeat. War is permanent. This is the central fact of the game. You want a guy who always fights because you always have to fight. Who does he have to fight? The other guy, naturally—it doesn't matter exactly who.
But in life? When you're fighting with guns and bombs? Well, it kind of matters who you're fighting; one ought to know who the enemy is—at the very least. But does anyone know whom Pat Tillman was actually fighting when he was killed? Not according to the news reports. As far as I could tell from most of the breathless paeans that appeared last weekend, the former Arizona State star died protecting our freedom from…a bunch of unidentified guys.
That is what the life of Pat Tillman was reduced to: a soldier's confusing, nightmare death converted into the simpler currency of mainstream sports values. You don't have to ask why, you don't have to ask where, you don't have to ask by whom. All you have to do is stand in a nest of Marines and read off the same old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Because that's true enough for football. We're in a lot of trouble if that becomes enough for life, too.

(See also)

20apr2004 -- Privacy Villain of the Week: The IRS. Happy Hitler's birthday to you, IRS.

15apr2004 --

Uno: There is something especially repugnant about the government's demanding that we report how much money we make and where it comes from. It is the income tax that has made financial privacy an object of nostalgia. The Founding Fathers would be appalled. They abhorred inquisitorial government. Yet that is what the Sixteenth Amendment has delivered us to.... In all the public discussion of the income tax, the key fact gets lost: It's your money. You work for it. You earn it. It's your property. Only you have a right to it. You never freely agreed to surrender it. -- Sheldon Richman, of The Future of Freedom Foundation

Dos: What happens when an honest IRS agent (did you suspect there could be such a creature?) takes a serious look at the foundations of tax law? Disillusioned, the husband and father of two then did the unthinkable: He resigned from his $80,000 a year job at the IRS. "My whole life – the accounting degree, working for a Big Eight [firm] at KPMG, my CPA certificate, working for the IRS – everything professionally revolved around the income tax and its legitimacy," says Banister. "I never even questioned it." -- From "The Tax Man"

10apr2004 -- "At Brenneman Seed & Pet Center [in Iowa City, Iowa], when a clerk in the tropical-fish department asked Mikey what Santa was going to bring him, Mikey said matter-of-factly, `We don't celebrate Christmas. We're Jewish,' which prompted the clerk to bag our two goldfish quickly without further conversation.... On Easter, the big-city paper, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, ran a banner headline:


Other than being offensive and irrelevant to non-Christians, the headline broke all the rules of news judgment that I preached to my students. The event was neither breaking news nor could it be corroborated by two independent sources."
-- Stephen G. Bloom, Postville (p. 19)

07apr2004 -- The Sky Is Falling. Again.

Radio will destroy spectator sports!!! -- Sports franchise moguls, 1930s
Television will destroy Hollywood!!! -- Movie industry moguls, 1950s
Videotape will destroy television!!! -- Television industry moguls, 1970s
Mp3s will destroy popular music!!! -- History-conscious recording industry moguls, 3rd millenium

It's funny how often moguls are the last ones to recognize new or expanding markets for their products.

"When [Larry] MacPhail took over the Dodgers in 1939, he began negotiating with General Mills, the makers of Wheaties, to sponsor Dodger radio broadcasts. In 1938, just before MacPhail arrived in Brooklyn, the three New York clubs had agreed to a five-year ban on radio broadcasting of their games under the theory that such broadcasts would hurt attendance. From his experience with broadcasting games in Cincinnati, MacPhail knew they were wrong -- that radio would serve only to promote attendance, not to hurt it, and when he took over the team in '39, he arrogantly informed the Yankees and Giants that he had not been a party to the ridiculous agreement and that he would not honor it.... And as the Yankees and Giants watched, Dodger attendance soared, and sponsors paid out $113,000 in one year for ads on [Dodger] broadcasts." (Peter Golenbock, BUMS: An Oral History of the Dodgers)

Still, some people refuse to learn from history. At the recent Juno Awards in Canada,"Nickelback was one of several Canadian acts who criticized music fans who continue to download music from the Internet at no cost. If` you go to Costco or a corner store and steal a Pepsi it's still considered stealing,' said Nickelback lead man Chad Kroeger." Fortunately, the same article quoted the more sensible Mr. Alice Cooper:

"On hand to pay tribute to Canadian Hall of Fame entry, producer Bob Ezrin, U.S. rocker Alice Cooper said music downloading hasn't hurt his sales. `It's helped gain me a whole different audience,' the legendary rocker said."

06apr2004 -- I used to wonder about the prevalence of the Navajo last name Begay. The name seemed to have a vague air of white man's imposed piety (like Goodman or Godbehere), but I should have known it originated, Ellis Island-style, through bureaucratic imposition: "When the the government decided that Native American[s] could finally become citizen[s] of You Ess of Aye in 1924, they sent census people to the reservations to account for all the Natives. It is here that English names and surnames were given out - some randomly and jokingly. Some were spared humiliation - in that Native names were translated: thus, Blackhorse, Grey Eagle, Yellowhair, etc. other names were Anglicized: Begay is one of those names. In Navajo - Begay is "Biye'" meaning "his son" or "son of" - so for instance: a census person asks a young Navajo guy what his name is - and all Navajo have been taught that the given names are sacred and to give that out is sacreligious, so they had other common names - so the young might say: Hastiin Tso Biye - meaning, "Big man's son", so the poor guy says, okay, you'll be John Begay (since Begay is the closest he could get at Biye' in English). So that is how Begay - in Navajo - came to be." (Source)

05apr2004 -- By a score of 99 out of 122, it would appear that I do have an "Arizona accent." (The exceptions -- this is for my future reference, by the way; I don't suppose anyone else would care -- are: 18 a; 35 c; 40 c; 41 d; 44 c; 57 a; 59 -- no letter answer -- in Coolidge, we called it "Stick It"; 68 b; 69 b; 79 i; 84 b or d interchangeably; 86 c; 88 g; 91 c; 94 d; 99 a or c interchangeably; 102 k; 103 c or d interchangeably; 105 a or b interchangeably; 107 g (but undoubtedly picked it up from radio); 109 a and b interchangeably; 110 f; 112 b.) In a few minutes' time, you can check your own accent against your state's norms.

03apr2004 --

Exhibit A:
"I went to a vocational school in western Ukraine and opened up a small business repairing VCRs and TVs. But I always was scared by Mafia. One day they came to my place and said they wanted thirty-five percent of whatever I took in or they'd break my neck. They weren't kidding. Then and there, I knew I had to get out. -- Immigrant quoted in Stephen Bloom's Postville (p. 140).

Exhibit B:

Can anyone tell me why 35% forcibly confiscated by organized crime is called extortion, whereas the same 35%** forcibly confiscated by government is called taxation?

**(And more, when all is added up.)

This is why, like the Ukranian in Exhibit A, I'm going to have to get out, too.

02apr2004 -- If it were still April 1st, one might suspect that the headline "`I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'; Whistleblower the White House wants to silence speaks to to The Independent" might be an April Fool's joke (one might be even more suspicious because of the byline: Andrew Buncombe). But search-engine results for "Sibel Edmonds" indicate it's no hoax. Her three-and-a-half-hour briefing was classified, and the politicians are trying to muzzle her with the so-called "state secrets privilege." Lew Rockwell reminds us that, "as always, a state secret means something that would embarrass the state if known by the people."

01apr2004 -- Unfortunately not an April Fool's joke: Motown's Johnny Bristol is dead. He died on 21mar & I meant to note it then. Bristol co-wrote "Someday We'll Be Together," which he recorded in 1961 with his partner, Jackie Beavers. In 1969 it was covered by Diana Ross (without the Supremes, though it was released as a Supremes record) on what may be the greatest pop recording ever. You've probably heard that version a hundred times at least, but sit down with it again sometime and really listen to all the elements going on in Wade Davis's arrangement. That is sharp, sharp pop. People always wonder who the male voice is in the background. That's Johnny Bristol himself. He wasn't supposed to be singing background vocals; Miss Ross was apparently living up to her temperamental reputation that day and wasn't sounding soulful enough, so Bristol was coaching her in her headphones as she sang. Berry Gordy was recording the run-through and declared, "I'm gonna keep this, it's a smash."

30mar2004 -- Internet music piracy has no negative effect on legitimate music sales, according to a study released today by two university researchers that contradicts the music industry's assertion that the illegal downloading of music online is taking a big bite out of its bottom line." The whole story is at The Washington Post, which is one of those crappy news sites that requires you to "register" before they'll let you in. Happily, there is a way to circumvent these idiotic registration requirements:

26mar2004 -- Coolidge, Arizona's Gallopin' Goose tavern, once the barrelhouse haunt of the likes of Waylon Jennings, had been closed for a number of years, was reopened in 2001 (by the fabulously named Festus & Fawnya Eaton), then closed up again a couple of years later. It has recently reopened under new management as a "sports bar" (yaaaaaaaaaay...) -- but with a "cleaned-up" image, which presumably means no more hanging one's bra from the rafters or getting a tattoo in the corner of the bar. So much for history, right? Not according to the Goose's new website, where its latest owners promise that "When you come to our sports bar and lounge, you get a history lesson, too. That's because we have the oldest liquor license in Pennell County." One history lesson our sports bar owners seem to have missed, however, is that there is no such place as "Pennell County." Welcome to Pinal County, new owners of the Gallopin' Goose.

20mar2004 -- Melinda sends along this story of how a typical thieving politician characterizes liberty: "Freedom of mankind, blah, blah, blah."
Under a state law that allows governments to seize land designated as "urbanized and blighted," the city's redevelopment agency went to court and won permission to take more than 700 acres from private landowners.... But four holdout property owners ... have sued over the city's argument for condemning their land, saying it is anything but "urbanized." The region lies 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, set amid a lonely expanse of Mojave Desert dotted with Joshua trees and scrub brush. "You know how the desert looks when it's pristine and hardly anybody's out there and there's no tracks or anything?" said Barry Redfearne, who owns 20 acres. "That's how it looks. And it's been like that for hundreds of years." Redfearne and three other landowners have sued to stop the city from taking their properties, which total 60 acres, but a federal judge has rejected the landowners' request for an injunction to stop Hyundai from building on their land.... California City's mayor, Larry Adams, said the landowners are blocking the town's progress.... "I think it's a matter of one or two (who) probably are true believers in the freedom of mankind, blah blah blah, and they don't like eminent domain," he said.... "It's a matter of principle," said Redfearne, a retired business owner who lives in Prescott, Ariz. "I don't need the money. But the problem is, I don't like to have anything stolen from me."
Perhaps some of us who believe in the Blah Blah Blah of Freedom might want to educate Mayor Larry Adams of California City, California about liberty. Mayor Adams's phone numbers are listed as (760) 373-2539 and (760) 373-3241.

18mar2004 -- Richard Shelton tries to sum up the love of tourist hokum such as is found in -- and is -- Tombstone, Arizona: I get a little cynical about Tombstone and its Wild West hype, and have to remind myself that Americans love ballyhoo. We always have and we always will. It takes different forms at different periods, but it's one of our national predilections. We love to be swindled, even when it's done clumsily and without finesse. We choose to believe in the dream even though we know, somehow, it's a lie. We cherish and reward our flimflam artists, those dream peddlers who can convince us of almost anything. By combining ballyhoo with history and emphasizing bloody violence -- another of our national predilections -- Tombstone has created an irresistible attraction. -- Going Back to Bisbee, p. 181.

(See also)

15mar2004 -- After Saturday's St. Pat's parade, Babs met a mariachi band called Mariachi Aguila. That night we went to hear them play at El Taquito, on west Van Buren in Phoenix. On the way there, I had an odd premonition that I was going to be shot in the head enroute, but not killed.

That didn't happen, but in the middle of an outstanding mariachi set, there was the sound of a small crash. I ignored it (there are always crashes in restaurants) until one of the musicians pointed toward the cash register, just a few feet from where we sat. The crash had been caused by a man wearing a ski mask and brandishing a silver pistol. I half thought it was part of the show, until the music stopped and the band fled the bandstand.

I turned back to the table. Babs, no easy scare, was leaning behind a brick pillar. Clearly, this was a bona fide armed robbery in progess. The band had moved toward the back door with the rest of the patrons. I turned around once again to the register, where things were not going smoothly for the robber. Cash was falling on the floor as he rifled through the drawer butterfingeredly. Butterfingeredly. That's the word I'm going to use.

Sitting in my chair, pinned between a table and a pistol, there was no place for me to go. I figured, nervous as the thief was, if I'm looking at him, maybe he thinks he has a reason to shoot me, but why should he shoot me in the back? So I turned my back to him (sneaking glances from time to time, naturally).

Fortunately, the gunman soon fled with most of the money and all of his bullets. Afterward, the band members were in good humor but apologetic to us, as if this were somehow their fault. I misquoted the words of Marion Ravenwood: "You sure know how to show a guy a good time." Hell of a band, Mariachi Aguila. We're going back to hear them again very soon.

12mar2004 -- government -- n. That entity that protects us from unlicensed teenaged mesh-installers, gaspfaintklunk. (via Reason magazine's worth-bookmarking Hit & Run)

11mar2004 -- Apocalyptic constitutional moment ahead -- and it doesn't concern gay marriage. (For background, see Dudley Hiibel's own site.)

10mar2004 -- Many people seem to think that the word fascist is merely a synonym for collectivism. Fascism is collectivism, but there are various kinds of collectivism. Russell Madden's You Might Be A Fascist may serve as a guide for the perplexed.

03mar2004 -- Yesterday, fed up with being milked by taxes, residents of the ski town of Killington voted to secede from Vermont. Killington officials would like to restore the town to New Hampshire (which originally chartered the town back in 1761). Vermont's legislature is likely to throw a viciously petulant temper tantrum about it; you know how thieves hate for people to take back what belongs to them. Vermont's Secretary of State has already whined, "There is no legal precedent for it.... They don't have the legal authority to secede." (You may recognize that as substantially the same unfounded claim Lincoln made in 1861; unfortunately, the issue then was settled brutally, rather than legally.) Clearly, Vermont's feudal lords don't have the sense of a ten-year-old child. Fortunately for them, there happened to be a ten-year-old child at the Killington town meeting to explain it all to them: "We've been learning about the Boston Tea Party and the Revolution," said fifth-grader Austin Blackman, "and I've made some connections."

Predictably, objections were not based upon principle -- certainly not the principle of human freedom:

Fortunately, the objectors are not representative of the majority of Killingtonians, who voted to secede from Vermont and join their more liberty-loving neighbors in New Hampshire: "The crowd cheered as members from the Free State Project, a group founded on libertarian principles that has based itself in New Hampshire, presented that state's flag to [Town Manager David] Lewis." The FSP members also presented Lewis with a Gadsden flag.

New Hampshire's government is being careful in its public statements, but you can safely bet that if Killington's secession hasn't been accomplished before 20,000 liberty-seeking people move to New Hampshire, it will happen very shortly thereafter.

One has to ask ... if the reasonable idea that being milked by taxes is cause enough to secede, should secession be limited to small ski towns?

27feb2004 -- This belated valentine sticker seems to be addressed to government and those who help inflict it upon us:


26feb2004 -- The Chimpanzee-in-Chief wants a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Pause to let that sink in. That the president who has probably done more to nullify the Constitution than any president since FDR still pretends that what the document actually says matters to the government is joke enough. But should gays be worried? If current government practice has any predictive power, this latest joke of the Comedian-in-Chief might end up being on him. The Tenth Amendment reads: "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," rendering unconstitutional -- anti-constitutional, really -- 99% of what the D.C. government does. In other words, nearly everything the Feds do is the opposite of what the Constitution says it should do. By that precedent, one could almost argue that for tactical reasons gays should support a Constitutional ban on gay marriage.
(Rainy day activity: read the Constitution as if you were going to have to appear in court -- an impartial court, not some monkeyshines Federal one -- to defend, on constitutional grounds, pretty much any current Federal activity.)
(For example, see if you can find any constitutional justification for any Federal involvement with marriage whatsoever.)
(Criminy pete, why can't people just pull their heads out for a change and leave other people ALONE?)

23feb2004 -- Free State supporters working on strategies (at

13feb2004 -- Charlie don't surf, but Babs does. Diamondhead looks on helplessly.

09feb2004 -- "We're grateful to you for retrieving the bank's funds. And we feel we've shown our gratitude by giving you a position as bank's officer. But when you caution Mrs. Mottle's little son about carrying a toy pistol into the bank, that's going TOO FAR!" -- Bank president to Egbert Souse in The Bank Dick
O for the days when such a thing were fodder for comedy, not cops: uno ... dos ... tres ... cuatro ... (&c.)

To Deuce of Clubs