July 20, 2002

LONG-DORMANT BLOGGER STUART BUCK IS BACK! Stuart was barred from blogging when some judges on the Court of Appeals (where he was clerking) decided it was too controversial for a clerk. He's done clerking now, and offers many interesting thoughts on spectrum, politics, and more.

HERE'S A PRETTY GOOD ARTICLE on weblogs and traditional media, from next week's SF Gate.

WELL, I'M BACK FROM VACATION. Regular blogging will resume tomorrow and Monday, and continue until I take another vacation. Sadly, that won't be for a while.

July 19, 2002

TAPPED is defending cryonics against charges of atheism. Er, make that "silly charges of atheism." There's a lot more over at Rand Simberg's weblog, and at Natalie Solent's, too, with links there to still more discussions.

UPDATE: And be sure to read this post by Jay Manifold.

SPINSANITY SAYS IT HAS IDENTIFIED ANOTHER "SCHEER SMEAR," and proceeds to dissect Bob Scheer's latest column assailing Dick Cheney.

BEST OF THE WEB has information on a planned protest at the Saudi Embassy in Washington next Thursday (if you've been reading InstaPundit, or BOTW, you know why).

It also features a link to this letter from eighteen state attorneys general (including six Democrats) in support of the individual-right interpretation of the Second Amendment. Check out footnote 1.

UPDATE: Bill Quick critiques a study on gun safety that the Washington Post rather uncritically hyped today.

HERE'S A WASHINGTON POST article on the dumb anti-rave legislation I mentioned last week. Here's an earlier piece that Dave Kopel and I wrote on this topic in NRO.

The thuggish idiocy, corruption, and pathetic lack of contact with reality that have marked the War on Drugs are the biggest arguments that our government isn't up to handling the War on Terrorism.

NICK SCHULZ looks at Worldwatch's Lester Brown, who seems to think highly of China's one-child policy, which is effectively a forced-abortion policy.

My position on this is pro-choice: if you want an abortion, you should be able to have one. If you don't, the goverment shouldn't make you.

Brown, I think, illustrates the not-so-latent authoritarianism that pervades too much of the environmental movement.

TOMORROW IS JULY 20TH. Observe the date appropriately, and ask: why were we closer to colonizing space thirty-three years ago than we are today?

KEN LAYNE IS BACK! And so is Camille Paglia!

Come to think of it, you don't see those two photographed together. . . .

I ALMOST FEEL GUILTY about going on vacation after reading this bit from Eric Alterman on Romenesko's letters page:

And while we're on the topic of my moderate liberalism -- along with that of Frank Rich and Robert Scheer -- a sentiment with which I agree, by the way, but I would like my own column in one of the Timeses in return -- I wrote about this very topic on Altercation today, which I'm plugging here, because Jim does not like linking to weblogs and Instapundit seems to be on vacation.

When my absence causes Big Media house bloggers to be reduced to begging on Romenesko's page that's -- well, that's just kind of disturbing.

Of course, maybe this is just the wave of the future. Thiotomoline, anyone?

UPDATE: Eric Alterman emails to object to my use of the word "begging." He says he was just kidding around. I figured that. So was I!

July 18, 2002

INNOCENTS ABROAD is a new blog from Geneva dishing the insider dirt on the ICRC and other "humanitarian" organizations. Well worth bookmarking.

TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: Here's a story from the Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette. Excerpt:

National media tycoon Ted Turner is attempting to wrestle 68 acres on St. Helena Island away from the descendants of slaves who inhabited the coastal region.

Turner claims that he purchased the land as part of 298 acres he acquired for recreational use in 1979, according to a suit filed by the CNNfounder against Lands End Woodlands Inc.

However, members of the Lands End group say the land is part of a 328-acre plat their ancestors bought for $3,200 more than 80 years ago.

"In the 1920s, a group of families that were native island families in the Lands End area purchased this 328 acres," said Gloria Cartwright, one of the heirs to property and secretary of the Lands End Woodlands Club.

Forty-seven Gullah men combined their money to first purchase the land in 1920 and the area has been left mainly undeveloped ever since.

The Gullah people descended from slaves who inhabited the Sea Islands. Because of their isolation, they were able to maintain a distinct language and culture.

"It has been kept rather primitive," Cartwright said. "People just want to have it for their families and subsequent heirs."

Turner, apparently, wants to develop the land. Where's the outrage?

UPDATE: There's outrage in the Carolina Morning News!:

One is a media mogul worth billions of dollars, who reportedly owns more than a million acres of land.

The others are descendants of 47 black St. Helena Island farmers who gave up the chance to make tens of millions in order to keep their heritage and native Gullah land pure for their own offspring.

Now, Ted Turner is suing Lands End Woodland Inc., claiming that 68 acres the descendants say they inherited are actually his.

Turner is asking a Beaufort County judge to rule that the land in question was purchased by him in 1979, to issue an order keeping the descendants from claiming the property and to reward him with actual and punitive damages.

Lands End Woodland Inc., is a corporation set up by the descendants of the original 47 farmers who bought 320 acres in 1920. Of the approximately 400 offspring, all gave up their financial stake in the valuable land several years ago to make sure that none of the other heirs could sell off portions of the land to developers.

"It's common knowledge in the area who owns the property," said Gloria Cartwright, secretary of Lands End Woodland Inc., which is made up of many of the heirs. "We have plats from the 1920s, when this was originally done." . . .

How do they feel about Turner's lawsuit?

"I think they are upset," Davis said. "I think they don't understand why someone who has so much is trying to take something from them."

Turner has been called one of the richest men in America and has been called the largest private landowner in the country, with 1.7 million acres.

A rich white guy is trying to grab land from the descendants of slaves! Where's Michael Moore? Where's Doonesbury? Where's Al Sharpton? Heck, where's Jesse Jackson, who ought to have a score to settle. . . . ?

THE HASHEMITE RESTORATION IDEA has made The Economist! This idea is definitely picking up steam. Just remember where you heard it first!

I THINK THAT TAPPED IS RIGHT to applaud the Senate passage of Paul Wellstone's prescription-drug reimportation bill. I'm inclined to think it's a good idea, given that it promotes competition. But what really tipped me in favor was a truly dreadful newspaper ad I saw against it -- alarmist, devoid of facts, and in the name of an obviously-bogus "association" of "seniors."

NEW CONSPIRACY THEORY FROM CYNTHIA MCKINNEY? Bill Herbert reports on her MLK assassination theories. The truth is out there.

NOW IT'S A TED TURNER LAND GRAB! Jack Shafer, as noted below, has pointed out a land grab by The New York Times. Last night on the local news (I'm on Hilton Head, but I'm not sure if the station was out of Savannah or Charleston), I learned that the media-baron land grabbery is even more widespread than I thought: Ted Turner is apparently trying to snatch a swath of land on nearby St. Helena island from a bunch of Gullah descendants. A little poking around found this story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from yesterday, though it's rather more sympathetic to Turner than the local news treatment was.

Ted Turner: driving the descendants of slaves off their land in pursuit of wicked development plans! I can only imagine the stink that would be made if a crony of George Bush's were doing this. But as it's a Duke of Big Media, we probably won't hear much more.

UPDATE: Eric Alterman doesn't address Ted Turner's behavior, but he does have more today on the New York Times issue.

July 17, 2002

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR LIBERALISM TO BE RIGHT EVEN IF KATIE COURIC ISN'T? Mickey Kaus dares to ask the question, as he notes that Ann Coulter was right about the "airhead" issue. Plus, Jack Shafer zeroes in on hypocritical crony capitalism by The New York Times.

I have to say, I find the "airhead" controversy even less enlightening than the "trifecta" controversy. But hey, I'm on vacation, so this stuff seems less important to me than usual.

The Times story is likely to have legs, though, and illustrates why it's going to be harder than many pundits think for the left to pillory Bush and the Republicans for financial chicanery -- the left sold its financial soul long ago. They're down to trading puts and calls on it now.

UPDATE: If you're less bored with the "trifecta" story than I am (like, you know, if you're not on vacation) Brendan Nyhan has an update over at SpinSanity.Com. I have to say, I find the Al Gore trifecta story the funniest part of this whole long-running affair.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The New York Times has still more scandal-egg on its face, this time involving a swap deal with Enron. Perhaps the Bush Administration will decide to yield to critics' calls for investigation. . . .

THE ONLY SURE DEFENSE OF PRIVACY: My TechCentralStation column is up. There's also a nice piece by Charles Murtaugh on politics and the Kass Council that underscores my point.

July 16, 2002

HEINRICH FAUST is (sort of) defending Martin Walser against charges of antisemitism. He also promises the next installment of his, ahem, rather critical assessment of Stanley Fish for tomorrow.

WILLIAM SALETAN has an interesting inside look at the politics of the Kass Council on bioethics. Conclusion: "When thinkers like Kass claim to be above politics, they aren't just kidding you. They're kidding themselves."

At best.

WHY THE STOCK MARKET IS DOWN AND THE ECONOMY IS UP: An interesting piece from the Christian Science Monitor. Judging by how un-anxious home-improvement contractors seem to be to actually show up, there's not much of a recession out there at the moment. Some folks are doing badly after the bursting of the tech bubble, but overall the economic news doesn't match the stock market's performance.

The market (at least on a P/E basis) has been overvalued for years, and much of this drop probably just comes from people catching on.

It's certainly not the case, though, that the accounting scandals indicate that the tech bubble was a gigantic con. I think that most participants knew that it was a bubble at the time: I remember my Silicon Valley friends joking about it in '98 and '99. People kept putting money in because they figured a greater fool would be left holding the bag later. Sometimes they were right. Sometimes they were the fool.

I think that Coca-cola's new accounting changes indicate that the market is now expressing a strong preference for good numbers. If history is a guide, it'll be that way for a while, until people forget again. And in the meantime, some of the things that only wildly optimistic or deluded investors would have funded will flourish, and lay the foundation for the next boom.

Query for TAPPED: In headlining a post on the stock market "The Bush Economy Goes South," do you mean to imply that the good times were part of the "Bush Economy"? I thought Clinton was taking credit for those.

THE INDEPUNDIT has moved. Note the new url.

OF THE WORLD'S PRESSING PROBLEMS, a shortage of sports weblogs doesn't seem that high on the list. To me, anyway.

FUNNY -- it's been lefty reporters complaining about Gestapo tactics from Ashcroft's justice department, but now it's a righty reporter who's suffered harassment and illegal detention by Colin Powell's State Department.

This is giving the "Bush is Dumb" crowd ammunition.

July 15, 2002

OKAY, I'M OUTTA HERE. I'm on vacation, after all.

FIRE COLIN POWELL: That's the cry over at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Also, Eugene Volokh says that pornography correlates with freedom! At least where women are concerned.

MY SENSE IS THAT LINDH GOT OFF LIGHT: But TalkLeft has been paying closer attention today.

BILL QUICK SAYS that the Wall Street scandals don't seem to be moving Bush's poll numbers much.

MORE REPORTS that China is planning a human spaceflight program. I would much rather see China colonize the Moon and Mars than have nobody do so. But I would rather see Americans get there first.

BRIAN LINSE has an urgent request for fans of the Tower of Power.

RUMOR, ACCORDING TO AN EMAIL FROM A USUALLY RELIABLE SOURCE, HAS IT that someone from the White House will be named FAA Administrator in the near future. I don't have a name, but I have some suspicions.

SAMIZDATA HAS MOVED and has a new site designed by the lovely and talented Stacy Tabb of Sekimori. Visit it, admire it, and set your bookmark accordingly.

There's also a very interesting item there on the debate over cryonics and life extension between Kevin Holtsberry and Dale Amon. Sample quote from Dale:

Kevin Holtsberry tells Dale Amon to drop dead
Well, not really. But he does think life extension is inherently weird. But then I consider a preference for rotting as rather a run for the porcelain goddess philosophy...

I'm inclined to agree with Dale. But, as Dale notes, this is a situation where reasonable people can agree to disagree -- no one is harmed by someone else deciding to be frozen. And, I should point out, even many eminently respectable futurists think cryonics isn't for them: Robert Heinlein refused to be frozen, saying, with apparent seriousness, that it might interfere with reincarnation.

DANIEL TAYLOR of Dreaded Purple Master is back home from the hospital after a heart attack and angioplasty. He plans to find a beach chair by the Gulf and relax. Note to readers: don't wait until after the heart attack to do this. And, by the way, remember that alcohol in moderation is cardioprotective. In light of Taylor's experience, I'm not taking any chances. I plan to medicate with an excellent Shiraz later tonight.

IT'S GOOD TO BE ON VACATION: The Dow plummeted and rose again, and I didn't know or care about it until it was over. (I probably wouldn't have cared much anyway; my investment strategy is based on sloth and inattention, and it's done pretty well even through the downturn, so why change now?)

We've been frolicking on the beach, cooking on the grill, and generally having fun. I finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, an alternate-history novel in which the Black Plague wipes out nearly everyone in Europe, instead of the 30-50 percent, leaving China and the Arabs as the world's great power. Robinson's a bit heavy on mysticism and conversation, but it's still quite an interesting read and very timely. I hope that it gets a lot of readership in the Islamic world.

July 14, 2002

MATT WELCH WRITES that the FBI and Los Angeles' Mayor Hahn failed the truth test after the LAX shooting:

Well, at least now we know how Mayor James Hahn and the local FBI leadership will treat the public during a time of violent crisis:

Like children, who need to be lied to. . . .

It is one thing to be reluctant about jumping to conclusions -- a perfectly normal and admirable tactic in high-profile law enforcement. But it is quite another to cross the line into actively encouraging a rattled public to conclude that it wasn't an act of terrorism. . . .

Residents of L.A. need to trust that their leaders, when under fire, will shoot straight. Hahn and company have failed their first major test.

Welch rips them a well-deserved new one in this Daily News column. Also check out the L. A. Examiner's report on L.A. videographer Mitchell Crooks, a "homeless, confused Nader fan."

And, in an entirely unrelated item, Mickey Kaus explains why miscegenation is cool now!