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Archive for April, 2008

Stuff White People Like is hilarious.

“I like the guy in the white American Apparel shirt with the glasses.”

“Which one? there are eight.”

“The guy with the keffiyeh.”

“Oh yeah, you’re right.  He does look smarter and more political than the other guys.  He’s clearly more sensitive to wind, so he’s probably more sensitive in general.  You should totally date him.”

The full post.

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Is shown most starkly by the graph below.

(Source: NYCLU)

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This case is so absurd that it is difficult to take it seriously. Priya Venkatesan, who taught writing this year at Dartmouth College, is threatening to sue former students under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for criticizing her in course feedbacks. This report has the details along with snippets of Ms Venkatesan’s own writing, which should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind why she got so poor evaluations.

Oh, and Title VII, for those who are unaware, is the primary federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment. For the life of me I don’t see how that can be used to sue the students, who are neither Ms Venkatesan’s employers nor her colleagues. Besides, as any lawyer would point out, they have an obvious first amendment right to censure their professor in evaluations. Maybe Ms Venkatesan has a postmodernist explanation for all this…

Here’s a link to the Dartmouth blog coverage on the matter. Also, my thoughts on Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws.

(Link via Instapundit)

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This is one of the most interesting ideas I have seen in a while.

Needless to say, I am excited. Yet a part of me tells me that it will result in something like what one commenter predicts:

It sounds like a great idea, seeing as anyone with a boat could hook up to whichever jurisdiction they wanted, giving them that almost zero cost of movement.

However, I guarantee–guarantee–that as soon as stuff like this was set up and people were going for drug holidays and cocaine was being moved through them and weapons were sold willy-nilly and gambling and prostitution and all of it, the big countries would just get together and come up with an Oppression Pact, change the maritime laws, and shut it all down.

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“Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

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This is very depressing news.

The Dutch cabinet has proposed a ban on the sale of all hallucinogenic “magic” mushrooms because they could induce life-threatening behaviour.

A bill will now pass to the Dutch parliament, where a majority of lawmakers are expected to back a ban after a teenage French girl who had eaten mushrooms died jumping from a bridge in 2007.

Magic mushrooms are one of the safer drugs — they are non-addictive and less harmful than legal drugs like tobacco. Millions of people have tried them without doing anything remotely approaching jumping off a bridge, and in many cases have found the experience enriching. Yet a single isolated incident seems to be enough for the Dutch to ban it for all. Are the simple concepts of personal liberty and the individual bearing the consequences of his actions so hard to grasp?

As Andrew Sullivan, in whose blog I found this news, writes in this post

When even Amsterdam is becoming a center for extinguishing individual freedom, you know our age is getting darker.

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Apropos of nothing…I remembered myself from ten years back.

When I hated all mongerers of superstition; when I simply could not fathom why the government did not declare the practice of astrology, quackery, faith-healing and all related unscientific mumbo-jumbo illegal; when I would have liked all religious extremists and preachers of hate put behind bars; when the ultimate aim of the government to me was the advancement of a scientific spirit; when I truly believed that the world would be a better place if those who were caught in the warp of irrationality and actively spread dogmatism were silenced, by force if necessary; when I was fifteen.

Today, as then, I believe in the scientific spirit. But I no longer believe in coercion. Does that make me a wiser person?

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The Senate judiciary commitee of New Hampshire has voted against a bill that would decriminalize possession of up to one-quarter of an ounce of the drug. That represents the end of the marijuana decriminalization efforts in that state, for now. It also demonstrates that public opinion (about 60% of NH residents support decriminalization) is not necessarily enough to move stodgy old lawmakers out of touch with reality.

New Hampshire, whose official motto is “Live free or Die”, is one of the most libertarian states in the US. It has no sales tax, no state tax and no public schooling mandates. It is also the only American state without mandatory seat belt and helmet laws. For all these reasons, it is the state chosen by the Free State Project as the destination for all liberty-loving people.

However, as the marijuana episode reminds us, NH still has a long way to go.

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Yes, thats the Ariel Atom for you. At $35,000, it is much, much cheaper than the other fancy sports cars around. And it beats them all in speed.

I would love to own one. Wouldn’t you?

(Link via Instapundit)

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From a CNN news story:

Like hundreds of young men joining the Army in recent years, Jeremy Hall professes a desire to serve his country while it fights terrorism.

But the short and soft-spoken specialist is at the center of a legal controversy. He has filed a lawsuit alleging he’s been harassed and his constitutional rights have been violated because he doesn’t believe in God. The suit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“I’m not in it for cash,” Hall said. “I want no one else to go what I went through.”

Known as “the atheist guy,” Hall has been called immoral, a devil worshipper and — just as severe to some soldiers — gay, none of which, he says, is true.

Link.

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Buoyed by its Supreme Court success on the reservation issue, the Indian government now wants to introduce quotas in private educational institutions as well.

I quote from the report in the Telegraph (emphasis mine) :

The Centre plans to table a bill to introduce quotas and control fees in private higher education institutes in the monsoon session of Parliament.

Aided and unaided private higher education institutes, including management schools, will be covered. But private unaided minority-run institutions will be exempt from the proposed law.

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It’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense. I dont have anything additional to say. It’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, it’s nonsense, I don’t have anything more to say….it’s nonsense. I reject it categorically.

John McCain’s take on his endorser Rev. John Hagee’s remarks that Hurricane Katrina was punishment for the gays and sins’of New Orleans.

Well, I can’t fault McCain on that one!

(Link via Andrew Sullivan)

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I discovered this really cool site today. Among other things, it allows you to upload your favourite piece of music, edit it to make a customized ringtone and then download it to your phone.

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One of the rare economic issues in which I support Obama’s stance. A gas tax-holiday, at this stage, is little more than a populist gimmick. It is bad fiscal policy, bad energy policy, bad environmental policy and — as previous experience shows — will do little to provide consumer relief.

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Virginia Postrel writes in the dynamist blog:

It’s infuriating how all three presidential candidates prattle on about the need to fight global warming while also complaining about the high price of gasoline. The candidates treat CO2 emissions as a social issue like gay marriage, with no economic ramifications. In the real world, barring a massive buildup of nuclear plants, reducing carbon dioxide emissions means consuming less energy and that means raising prices a lot, either directly with a tax or indirectly with a cap-and-trade permitting system. (Alternatively, the government could just ration energy, but fortunately we aren’t going in that direction.) The last thing you’d want to do is reduce gas taxes during the summer, as John McCain has proposed. That would just encourage people to burn more gas on extra vacation trips–as any straight talker would admit.

Here’s the link to the full post.  Also you can read Stephen Postrel’s analysis (linked from Virginia Postrel’s post as well) of carbon tax vs. permit economics here.

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