Friday, February 29, 2008


1% of us are behind bars.

I think there should be an absolute cap on incarceration spending, and certain other rules, too.

For example, forbid allocation of any more than some percentage of total spending on incarceration (half, say, of what it is now). At the same time, forbid the share of incarceration spending from exceeding the share of other state activities like higher education or what have you.

Such constraints would result in a much better public safety situation in this country. It's too bad that the combined influences of authoritarians on the one hand, and softies on the other, makes this impossible even if you discount self-serving by the PCC (Prison/Cop Complex).

Oh, well...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Barack Obama | Change We Can Believe In | Contribution Matching

Barack Obama | Change We Can Believe In | Contribution Matching

There's nothing in Obama's The Blueprint for Change about some things I care about. Frankly, I don't expect much reform in those areas no matter who winds up being elected.

It's going to be very interesting to watch Mr. Obama for the next decade or so. I think he may make a fine President, and my impression is that Mrs. Obama will make a fine First Lady.

Good luck to them. And to us.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This Wikileaks Business

I don't know the truth regarding Wikileaks and Bank Julius Baer, Wikileaks' domain registrar Dynadot, or much of anything else about this case. For all I know it's not what it seems. But that seems unlikely. Or so it seems. I think.

The Guardian's piece today was pretty interesting: Whistle while you work

The Global Integrity site was new to me. Now I have a bookmark.

The Wikileaks site itself is still online despite the judge's order. You just have to put their IP address into your browser's address bar rather than type the handier name. Wikileaks is at I didn't know about them before, either. Now I have yet another bookmark.

Interesting stuff.

Update: Volokh

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Julius Baer" - Google News

"Julius Baer" - Google News
One thing that strikes me about this Julius Baer business is the disparity in court system responsiveness.

Big money gets a friendly judge to act in hours, effectively trampling all over free speech and representation rights.

Unity08 gets an unfriendly judge who sits on it for months on end, effectively killing off an otherwise potentially viable alternative to big money parties.

I'm surprised not to have seen this angle written up anywhere.

Oh, well...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fake Christians � NBA Great Charles Barkley Calls Conservatives ‘Fake Christians’:
The day will come that barkley will eat his words. If he knew anything, us “fake” Christians live by a standard that all will be judged by. If we are going to judge others, we should be willing to be judged by the same standard. We love people and forgive them, we just don’t like their actions. Same sex marriage and killing babies to name a few things, will only bring God’s judgement on this country. Anyway, by 2014, he won’t need to run for govenor, the USSA won’t need any govenors. Did he get hit in the head too many times?

Drudge still seems like a relatively painless way of checking in with the perspectives of some people with outlooks different from mine. This morning Drudge had a link to a clip of CNN's "Situation Room", in which Wolf Blitzer interviews Charles Barkley, and with Barkley expressing disgust with conservatives, whom he carelessly lumped all together with the label of "fake Christians".

I don't watch "Situation Room" and I don't much care what Charles Barkley has to say, but looking at a few of the comments at the link Drudge provided yielded the gem I quoted above with some added emphasis.

In particular, I was struck by the casual certainty so perfectly reflected in the phrase, "... Christians live by a standard that all will be judged by".

For some reason, I'm reminded of the reaction I received the other day when, responding to a call about a computer malfunction in a control center, I jokingly blamed the malfunction on the perpetual presence of Fox News on a large television image projected on the wall. The operators present saw little humor in my suggestion.

Oh, well...

I like this piece about "conservatives".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bullet Serial Numbers

Bullet Serial Numbers:
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1. Title 41, chapter 12, article 5, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 41-1772, to read:

START_STATUTE41-1772. Ammunition coding system database; sale of ammunition; tax; fund; civil penalty; violation; classification; definition

My son and I joined the NRA a few months ago when we went to one of the gun shows we have here in Arizona (seemingly all the time). What the hell might as well sort of decision it was.

I'm pretty distant from what I imagine the political centroid of the NRA to be, but here are some Democrats giving me gas. Serial numbers on bullets? They've got to be kidding! Presumably these are bright individuals, so what gives? No wonder I'm an independent!

Serial numbers on bullets... Ridiculous. Ridiculous and sneaky, as is most incrementalism.

Oh, well... Read it and weep, as they say:
A. Beginning january 1, 2009, a manufacturer shall code all handgun and ASSAULT weapon AMMUNITION that is manufactured or sold in this state. This section applies to all calibers.

b. Beginning january 1, 2011, a private citizen or a retail vendor shall dispose of all noncoded AMMUNITION that is owned or held by the citizen or vendor.

c. The department shall establish and maintain an ammunition coding system database containing a manufacturer registry and a vendor registry.

D. A manufacturer shall:

1. Register with the department in a manner prescribed by the department by rule.

2. Maintain records on the business premises for at least seven years concerning all sales, loans and transfers of ammunition to, from or within this state.

3. Encode ammunition provided for retail sale for regulated firearms in a manner that the director establishes so that:

(a) The base of the bullet and the inside of the cartridge casing of each round in a box of ammunition are coded with the same serial number.

(b) Each serial number is engraved in such a manner that it is highly likely to permit identification after ammunition discharge and bullet impact.

(c) The outside of each box of ammunition is labeled with the name of the manufacturer and the same serial number used on the cartridge casings and bases of bullets contained in the box.

4. Pay the tax levied by subsection I of this section.

E. A manufacturer shall not label ammunition contained in one ammunition box with the same serial number as the ammunition contained in another ammunition box that is produced by the same manufacturer.

F. A vendor shall:

1. Register with the department in a manner prescribed by the department by rule.

2. Record the following information in a format prescribed by the department:

(a) The date of the transaction.

(b) The name of the purchaser.

(c) The purchaser's driver license number or other government issued identification card number.

(d) The date of birth of the purchaser.

(e) the unique identifier of all handgun ammunition or bullets transferred.

(f) All other information prescribed by the department.

3. Maintain records on the business premises for at least three years after the date of the recorded purchase.

G. The department shall establish the ammunition coding system database within the framework of any existing firearms databases.

H. Access to information in the ammunition coding system database is reserved for law enforcement personnel. The department shall only release information in connection with a criminal investigation.

I. A tax of one-half cent is levied on each bullet or round of ammunition that is sold in this state. The department of revenue shall collect the tax and deposit the tax, pursuant to sections 35-146 and 35-147, in the coded ammunition fund established by subsection J of this section.

J. The coded ammunition fund is established consisting of monies deposited pursuant to subsection I of this section. The department shall administer the fund. Subject to legislative appropriation, monies in the fund shall be used for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the ammunition coding system database prescribed by this section.

K. a manufacturer that fails to comply with this section is subject to a civil penalty of not more than one THOUSAND dollars for the first violation, not more than five thousand dollars for a second violation and not more than ten thousand dollars for any subsequent violation.

L. a vendor who knowingly fails to comply with this section or who knowingly falsifies the records REQUIRED to be kept by this section is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.

M. a person who knowingly destroys, obliterates or otherwise renders unreadable the coding REQUIRED by this section is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.

N. for the purposes of this section, "code or coded" means a unique identifier that has been APPLIED by etching onto the base of a bullet or ammunition projectile.
I think I'll probably buy another gun with my economic stimulus windfall. I think Ruger still makes guns in this country. Maybe a nice pocket pistol. I've always wanted a mini-14, even if it is much more expensive than a decent SKS.

Bullet serial numbers. Right...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Waterboarding is legal, White House says - Los Angeles Times

Waterboarding is legal, White House says - Los Angeles Times:
'Tens of thousands of American Air Force and naval airmen were waterboarded as part of their survival training,' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 'We don't maim as part of our training. We don't mutilate. We don't sodomize. Those are things that are always bad. . . . Intellectually, there has got to be a difference between [waterboarding] and the others; otherwise we wouldn't have done it in training.'
This waterboarding business troubles me. What is it that makes waterboarding sometimes OK?

That waterboarding is useless, along with all torture (whether waterboarding is torture or not) is almost certainly false.

Maiming, mutilation and sodomy, I agree, are always wrong. Why? They shock the consience? I don't know. Topic for another day. I can think of many ways torturing that would always be wrong. But then, I can think of many tortures that seem similar to waterboarding in that they don't involve maiming, mutilation or sodomy.

How about the intent? Is it not torture if the intent is relatively pure?

Some torture is primarily for intimidation. Jacobo Timerman and a thousand tortured Iraqi bodies in the streets come to mind. In contrast, some torture is performed strictly for interrogation purposes. For some reason I think waterboarding may be effective for interrogation because of the hard-wired responses invoked, and less so for intimidation because it's quick and then over (supposedly), but then what of electricity or drugs?

If waterboarding is permissible, why not electric shock? Maybe because it's not as effective, lacking the same hard-wired responses that waterboarding is supposed to have?

I don't know. I'm still thinking about it, but so far I'm open to the administration's reported stance on waterboarding in the most pressing cases.