Wednesday Night Linkorama

  • Fred Phelps and his gang of assholes have been fined $11 million for their protests at military funerals. And before anyone screams “free speech”, the court decision was that this is a private event. The First Ammendment does not give you the right to bust into people’s funerals and scream at them.
  • Read about Karen Tandy, the outgoing Nanny in Charge of Drugs. Ugh.
  • The Democrats tax and spend and tax and spend. If only we had a conservative option.
  • No New Taxes

    Looks like the internet tax ban is going to stay. This is good. Cato has been particularly informative about how putting sales taxes on internet sales will be crippling to start-ups, who would have to write six millions checks a year to every country, city, municipality and state in which someone bought their products.

    The answer to internet taxation, by the way, has been obvious for years. Require every internet company to declare a “home state” and have them charge sales tax based on where they reside. Best thing: it will create tax competition between states.


    I’ve just discovered Megan McArdle’s excellent blog. Today has a fantastic post on school vouchers, where she takes apart the arguments of the opponents.

    My favorite:

    5) Vouchers destroy the public school system So? Having a public school system seems like a dumb goal to me, but even assuming that the very existence of such a system is somehow a worthy thing to aim for, surely it’s achievement should be a second-order priority. The primary goal, it seems to me, should be educating America’s children to reach their fullest potential; after that goal has been achieved, we can turn our attention to things like having teacher’s unions and public schools.

    Read the whole thing. I’m not completely sold on vouchers since I worry about creeping government control. I would prefer to start with simple school choice. But vouchers would certaintly be an improvement over what we have now.

    Dead Potheads

    Just another dead pothead:

    Robin Prosser, a Missoula woman who struggled for a quarter century to live with the pain of an immunosuppressive disorder, tried years ago to kill herself. Last week, she tried again. This time, she succeeded.

    After her earlier attempt failed, Prosser wound up in even more trouble after investigating police found marijuana in her home. She used the marijuana to help cope with pain.

    That marijuana charge was eventually dropped in an agreement with the city of Missoula, and Prosser had reason to rejoice in 2004 when Montanans passed a law allowing medical use of the drug.

    She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

    The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

    At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.

    Another casualty in the War on the Sick. George Bush, Alberto Gonzalez, John Ashcroft, John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia – there is blood on your hands, you puritanical Constitution-raping assholes.

    A Post Without Context

    I don’t want to get into the details, so I will rely on vague generalizations:

    Plagiarism sucks.

    I have never been plagiarized before but it recently happened on another website (a non-political, non-science one where my contribution is anonymous). An article I posted several years ago was recently reposted by someone else with modest changes. Fortunately, the webmaster cottoned on and deleted it.

    Words can not describe what I felt. I had never given plagiarism a second thought before now. I knew it was bad and avoided it myself. In my professional life, plagiarism is a career-killer and I am very thorough in sourcing my papers, almost to the point of absurdity (my bibliographies tend to be very long). But I was never that moved when I heard about it, even in prominent cases like Doris Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose or Ward Churchill.

    But being the victim of it has wrenched my perspective entirely. This was just an article on some free website maybe eight people have heard of. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who get words stolen out of books and papers and see someone else make money off of it.

    Plagiarism is not just stealing someone’s words. It is stealing their mind. It is a cruel violation. The hard work and original thought of one person is stolen by a second. The people who have lost their careers because of plagiarism have deserved everything they’ve gotten and I am now determined, more than ever, to make sure I quote people properly and always give credit where it’s due.

    One of the reasons I started this blog was precisely because of this sort of thing. It wasn’t plagiarism, exactly, but I had e-mailed pundits and writers only to see my ideas turn up in their articles — never with any credit, often with my exact wording. Now I always post my thoughts here first and addend my e-mails with “posted at”.

    Because if I don’t look out for my intellectual property, who will?


    Craig Franklin’s rather idealistic portrayal of Jena has been making the conservative rounds. Radley Balko responds:

    As recently as the early 1990s, LaSalle Parish (where Jena is located) voted for white supremacist and former Klan leader David Duke by a two-to-one margin. In fact, they gave him that margin twice—for governor, and for U.S. Senator. In 1996, the parish again gave Duke the majority of its votes for U.S. Senator.

    Thursday Morning Linkorama

    Deriving star formation histories while writing NSF grants is thirsty work. So you know what that means.

    The return of LINKORAMA!

  • Monkeys are attacking people in Delhi.
  • We move closer and closer to 1984. Rudy claims Freedom is Authority and the British want an Orwellian exercise hour.
  • If you haven’t read Fareed Zakaria’s latest attempt to inject sanity into the Iran debate, do so:

    The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism.” For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.

    Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?

  • Christopher Hitchens on Islamofascism is an appropriate term for what we’re dealing with.