Feedback on the Farm Bill? How about this?

The Agriculture Department is looking for feedback on next year's farm bill; and they are closing the doors on the subject tonight. I guess they aren't too anxious to hear our feedback. I left them some of mine anyway.



Stop the NAIS, the National Animal Identification System. If we start chipping the animals to keep track of them, how long before we're chipping the citizens to keep track of them?

Why does no one understand that creatures aren't born with an RFID tag attached, and consequently there is no way to guarantee that infected animals won't intermingle without being tracked? This is a waste of time boondoggle of a program that sets an extremely bad precedent, profits only the large corporate farms; and it should be stopped immediately.




I probably should have said "Don't pass one, other than to repeal the provisions of the previous ones" but I'm sure I would have been dismissed as a flake with a message like that.

Don't pay farmers not to grow produce, or pay tobacco farmers to grow tobacco while at the same time paying for advertising discouraging smoking. What kind of weirdo is he...?

Dec. 25th, the end of the Soviet Union

Following the election of Mikhail Gorbachev, and the introduction of his reform policies in 1986, the Soviet Union began it's slow breakup. The Berlin wall came down on November 9th, 1989; and the USSR officially ceased existence as a political entity on December 25th, 1991, with the resignation of it's last president, the same Mikhail Gorbachev.

The soviet flag was lowered for the last time on December 31st, 1991.

Another reason to celebrate the holiday season. The end of the only constitutionally socialist state. I can't think of a better reason, myself.

The Principles of '98

Something else to celebrate this season. On December 24th, 1798, the Virginia resolution was passed. Most of the people who have the standard, sub-standard government school education will not know the significance of The Principles of '98 or why they should be something we celebrate today.

The short reason is, because the principles of '98 may be our only avenue of escape from the ever encroaching federal government; by providing a way for the states and their residents to nullify any federal law that they disagree with.

Want to know more? I recommend The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. I found the audio over at Mises.org, but it seems to have rolled off. It's as good a place as any to start, and it's pretty entertaining if you are into history.

The Principles of '98 are expressed in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
which were drawn up and passed in direct opposition to the Alien and Sedition acts. Quoting the Wiki article:
The resolutions declared that the Constitution was a "compact." That is, it was an agreement among the states. The federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it; should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them would be void. Thus it was the right of the states to decide as to the constitutionality of such laws passed by Congress.
Anything the federal government attempted that was outside the direct verbiage of the constitution was an unconstitutional act; and it was up to the states to enforce this if the federal government failed to do so.

Time for these principles to be exercised again.

Christmas: Santa Claus, the Spirit of Giving

Last year I went on a rant concerning the meaning of Christmas, and the debt that we owe to our nation's founders (it's a strange juxtaposition that seems to reoccur every year; a Holiday event that has been hijacked by religion, and a nation in similar straights) and I followed that up with a short rantlet for the well meaning christians and their attempts to set me straight after reading the initial rant.

This year, I think I need to target some of the well-meaning people who share my lack of faith, but figuratively throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Recently I was listening to PennRadio (actually it was November 2nd, but that was too early to write The Christmas Rant) and listened to an hour's worth of broadcast on the evils of Santa Claus and lying to your children. Personally, I've never heard a more hard-hearted hour of radio in my life. Destroying the wonder in the mind of the child. Telling them that the hard, cold world around them is all that there is, so get used to it. How does the imagination grow, constrained by such a weighty burden as that?

Let me tell you a story. The Wife and I discussed whether or not to share the myth of Santa Claus with our children before they were born. I was all for bursting that bubble; better yet, just not even going there. My memories of Santa Claus are anything but pleasant. My mother and father did Christmas to the hilt. Large tree, Santa decorations, pictures with Santa, the works. Once, when we were staying at our grandfather's house in Sacramento, my sister and I heard a noise in the living room. We nearly made it to the door before our fear of being discovered, and not getting any presents, sent us scurrying back under our covers where we finally fell back to sleep. When we awoke the next morning, there were snow footprints on the fireplace hearth. That was the best year. The next to worst was the year when we were particularly nasty to mom and dad, and got switches (sticks to get spankings with, for the uninitiated) in our stockings instead of candy.

Why is that the next to worst? Because the worst year was when we found out that there was no Santa, and suddenly the magic was gone from the Holiday. Santa never came to our house again. Not too long after that, there was divorce and hardship of an all too real nature as the family was torn apart, and there was no more talk of silly little things like Santa Claus. So you can imagine the mindset that I carried with me to the discussion.

For her part, The Wife never experienced an end to the myth. Even after she knew there was no physical person named Santa Claus that visited her house on Christmas eve, the presents from Santa still showed up. The stockings still were filled, even for mom and dad. It wasn't until I met and married her that there was any magic during the Holidays for me, and then only because of her.

She presented an argument that I couldn't defeat. That there was something good in nurturing a sense of wonder in the children. That perhaps Santa isn't a person, but is instead the charitable spirit that lives inside all of us. That the giving (and receiving) doesn't have to end at all.

So, I tell my children that Santa comes to our house, and there is no lie involved in that statement. Santa Claus is the Spirit of Giving, the anonymous benefactor who gives out of the kindness of his heart and doesn't seek to be recognized for his charity. He leaves presents that are from no one, and fills stockings for the people sleeping under our roof, no matter the age. His is a kindly old soul that doesn't get recognized enough these days.

The Daughter figured out that spirit meant just that, a feeling that comes from within, a few years ago. I know that she has figured it out, because gifts appear under the tree, or in the stockings, that The Wife and I have never seen before. Santa Claus lives on in my house.

Oh, you can point to the Wiki entry on Santa Claus, and tell me how he's actually St. Nicholas, and how his gifts were given personally. That he was a real person and he is really, very dead now. Or you can say that he's the mythological figure, Father Christmas, and that as a mythological figure he never existed at all. It's all fine by me, I love a good story. The Red Ranger came calling is an excellent story about Santa Claus, and it's just about as true as any of the rest of them.

You just go right on believing whatever suits you. I know Santa will visit this house on Christmas Eve, no matter what anybody else believes.

...And that's real magic.

Merry Christmas!

Carl Sagan Remembered

Theres a Blog-a-thon for Carl Sagan today. I don't have an entry of my own, but John Scalzi covers my sentiments pretty well with this:
What I do know is that I like his ideas. I like his love of science. I like his faith in humanity. I like how he saw us reaching for things greater than ourselves, because it was in our nature and because it was a fulfillment of our nature. I like how he shared his enthusiasm for the entire universe with everyone, and believed that everyone could share in that enthusiasm. These are things that, in giving them to everyone, he also gave to me, first as an 11-year-old and then continuing on. I've accepted them with thanks and made them part of who I am. If I use them well, I may be fortunate enough to share them with you, as they were shared with me.
I made a point to pick up and read Contact when it came out, because Sagan was the author. Like most things he did, it did not disappoint.

I remember thinking that he left us too soon when he passed on in 1996. We need someone like him with us today, shedding light on the subject of real science.

DRM: One More Time

I've been arguing DRM issues with several people of late. It's a hot button for me. Several people have taken me to task for daring to disregard an agreement; I maintain it isn't an agreement if I'm not given negotiating power, it's a concession. The average user concedes that he is subject to corporate legal boilerplate if caught with his hands in the cookie jar. Case in point, iTunes has no legal basis on which to claim that I cannot modify my own files in any manner I deem necessary, but it's in their contracts anyway. I can't negotiate their unenforcible clauses out of the contract, so they remain in place. They'll just have to catch me, I guess.


* Stealing Fair Use, Selling It Back to you

"Apparently, Hollywood believes that you should have to re-
purchase all your DVD movies a second time if you want to
watch them on your iPod." That's what we said last week,
commenting on the Paramount v. Load-N-Go lawsuit, in which
Hollywood studios claimed that it is illegal to rip a DVD to
put on a personal video player (PVP), even if you own the
DVD.

Well, this week the other shoe dropped. According to an
article in the New York Times:

"Customers who buy the physical DVD of Warner Brothers'
'Superman Returns' in a Wal-Mart store will have the option
of downloading a digital copy of the film to their portable
devices for $1.97, personal computer for $2.97, or both for
$3.97."

So you buy the DVD, and if you want a copy on your PVP or
computer, you have to pay a second time. Despite the fact
that you bought the DVD, and you have a DVD drive in your
computer that is perfectly capable of making a personal-use
copy. Imagine if the record labels offered you this "deal"
for every CD you bought -- pay us a few dollars extra, and
you can have a copy for your iPod. And a few more dollars,
if you want a copy on your computer, too! As LA Times
reporter Jon Healey puts it in his blog: "So from the
perspective of the studios and federal officials, consumers
have to pay for the privilege of doing the sorts of things
with DVDs that they're accustomed to doing with CDs (and LPs
and cassettes)."

This latest bitter fruit from Hollywood is brought to you by
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which treats
"protected" content (like the encrypted video on DVDs),
differently from "unprotected" content (like every audio and
video media format introduced before 1996). Thanks to the
DMCA, Hollywood believes fair use personal-use copies simply
do not exist when it comes to DVDs.

Let's hope Congressman Rick Boucher is listening and will
reintroduce his DMCA reform bill first thing next year.

For this post and related links:

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/10/13/309-10132006.html

To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor

Contact: Rory Davenport of Qorvis Communications, 202-448-9292 or rdavenport@qorvis.com

News Advisory:

What: Press conference to address issues related to online music distribution and erroneous piracy characterization by U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

When: October 17, 2006

4:30pm (London)

11:30am (Washington, New York)

8:30am (Los Angeles)

Where: Online

Special access will be granted to a reserved section on http://www.allofmp3.com

To participate, journalists must send an email to Rory Davenport at rdavenport@qorvis.com. Reporters will receive a confirmation email with the link to the press conference location. Only pre-registered reporters will have access to the press conference. Registration will close on Monday, October 16 at 8 pm (Washington time).

Subject: Mediaservices will address issues related to a business dispute with the major record labels over the online music site AllofMP3.com.

Universal (V), WarnerMusic (WMG), SonyBMG (SNE) and EMI (EMI.L) have repeatedly mischaracterized the company as part of a campaign to secure a more favorable royalty structure. Those companies and their agents, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have enlisted the British and U.S. governments as part of their business campaign.

Mediaservices is convinced that its business model is legitimate and that it maximizes demand for music and spurs consumers to buy more music. The company believes that everyone wins, record labels, artists and distribution companies when the market is broader and deeper. Relying on a handful of artists for the majority of sales is an outdated business model and recipe for disaster for the music industry.

Note: A transcript of the press conference will not be available.

Press

Contact: Rory Davenport, Qorvis Communications, 202-448-9292 or rdavenport@qorvis.com

http://www.usnewswire.com/

Why I am a Libertarian

I'm rehashing an old subject, trying to update it for publishing in the Austin Liberator. As I pointed out in the recent blog post The Vote, I pulled the lever next to "L" again this year, just as I have for the last 10 plus years. I do this because I vote my conscience, rather than worry about wasting a vote.

The only wasted vote is the vote cast for a lessor evil, rather than being cast for a greater good. I vote and refer to myself as a Libertarian, and I do it with pride.




I am a libertarian because I believe in the concept of limited government. When I mention this fact to someone, I usually get the response "But you're really a Republican, aren't you?" Nothing could be further from the truth. I tolerate conservatives, but I'm not one of their kin.

Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat's benign rule. However, I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted (with tacit Democrat support) or why the term "Politically Correct" was ever coined (by a Democrat) Even when the Democrat's dominated the legislature and Democrats held the Presidency, social liberty never increased.

When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a 'bad' thing. Having more of my money to dispose of as I wished seemed like a good thing to me. Having less government interference in my life was one of my goals, as well. I thought I might have something in common with Republicans after all.

Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller, even when the Republicans dominated the legislatures, and a Republican held the Presidency. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation of Americans went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?

When I was told "read my lips" and then watched taxes rise anyway; and when I heard "It depends on what the definition of is is" used as an excuse to cover the questionable activities of a president (activities that were the least egregious of the impeachable offenses that he could have been charged with) I began to see the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he's most likely lying.

I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only 'help' that government can give; and it doesn't even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.

Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom.

Jefferson, Adams and the others who founded this country understood this. The Democratic party (I was told) was the party of Jefferson. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the limited government principles of Jefferson and the founders were abandoned by the Democrats in the 1940 election; which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.

Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it's been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.

Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government.

If there is a core libertarian belief, then this is a good portion of it; that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history.

These were the beliefs of our nations founders; and because I claim these same principles as my own, I must be a libertarian.



I have revised my view several times since this piece was written; suffice it to say, I am no longer libertarian. I reject the label, and most of the philosophy behind the label.  The reasons for this are complex, and I haven't quite worked it all out and written it down yet.  Still, I'm certain that Libertarians are aspiring to something that I see as dystopic in nature.  But that is another story, I hope I get around to writing it.

Hu's On First

Perhaps it's just the fact that I'm someone who has polluted memories of the Abbot and Costello routine Who's on First, but I found this new riff on the old theme Laugh Out Loud funny.

I especially like this version on YouTube, which includes credits for the players so as to inform the politically clueless.







Loose Change: the Other Side of the Story

And speaking of conspiracy theories....

I'm regretting ever mentioning Loose Change in a previous blog post.

I should have realized that there was no evidence for 9/11's of the claims made in the film. If you refer to one of the many sites that address the holes in the theories (Loose Change Guide, for example) it becomes quite embarrassing to have ever referred to the film in anything approaching a positive light.

...Which is not to say I endorse the gov'ts claims, either. Much like Pearl Harbor, it's possible for the gov't to have had no direct hand in the attacks themselves, while at the same time creating fertile ground for the attacks.



I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  If you didn't come here from this post, you probably should go check that one out before drawing any conclusions.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Got into yet another discussion about alternative energy the other day, specifically concerning the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? (which I haven't seen, but wouldn't avoid seeing if I had the chance)

It wandered off that subject and onto the subject of Stan Meyer and water power.

The discussion jogged some of the old gray matter and I remembered a video I was sent a few months back demonstrating this guys technology http://hytechapps.com/aquygen/hhos so I decided to dig and see if they were the same person. They aren't, but the tech seems similar.

I don't know how real any of this is, but there is some good reading (for those who are interested) here: http://waterpoweredcar.com/stanmeyer.html and here: http://www.waterfuelcell.org/

For those interested in getting down to the brass tacks of the subject, go here: http://www.waterfuelcell.org/moreinfo.html

The video that was linked concerning Stan Meyer's invention is more than 10 years old; which begs the question why we haven't seen any further developments in the technology, if it is for real.

I'll leave it to the conspiracy theorists to come up with the answers to that one.

Husband and Father

Two more words that, when I looked, didn't have definitions that came close to describing the meaning of the word.

My dissatisfaction probably stems from the need to have the emotional weight (sometimes referred to as gravitas) of the name be communicated in the meaning.

A husband is more than just the male half of a marriage. A father is more than a sperm doner, less than god himself.

This rant is not finished. There will be more.

Gingrich Wasting His Time

Keith Olbermann has done it again, this time lambasting Newt Gingrich for trashing the first amendment in a bid to become the Republican's next presidential nominee.

I hate to break it to this aptly named lizard of a man, but he's wasting his time. In more ways than one.

He's wasting his time because the average American, who acts like a bull in the china shop when it comes to demanding government programs, which trash the Constitution, on the one hand; will overwhelmingly reject any proposal that appears to limit their ability to obtain instant gratification, especially one that trashes the parts of the Constitution they want to keep. He might as well have cut his own throat, literally.

Talk about cluelessness when it comes to reading what's in the wind.

He's also wasting his time is because the most likely Republican Presidential nominee is someone from the President's administration. Newt is so far out of favor with the President that I can't even begin to imagine what sequence of events might end in his being nominated by his party; let alone elected to the presidency.

No, the most likely Republican nominee is still the youngest, highest ranking member of W's cabinet. And that person is still Condoleeza Rice. Which makes it Rice Vs. Clinton in '08.

You heard it here first.