Independent Country

I wonder why so many people who took the side of Han Solo when they were kids now support the stormtroopers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?

Check out my latest. The Nevada Athletic Commission is wrong, but not for the reason you think:

 The Partial Observer - Should Floyd Mayweather be allowed to fight?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26: Mother Theresa, After Hours

August 26: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1748 – "The first Lutheran denomination in North America, the Pennsylvania Ministerium, is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania." Coffee and cookies were then served in the basement.*

1789 – "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France." Isabel Paterson didn't coin "the humanitarian with the guillotine" out of thin air.

1920 – "The 19th amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote." This started off well for the U.S., electing Harding and Coolidge. Not so great ever since; but really, it wasn't so great before anyway.

Notable quotes:

"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person."

- Mother Theresa (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997)

"If an investigative reporter finds out that someone has been robbing the store, that may be 'gotcha' journalism, but it's also good journalism." 

- Benjamin C. Bradlee (born August 26, 1921)

 "I went to school for clothing and textiles and thought this is what I was going to do. Then I started working in costumes and literally said, 'I don't know if I can take the actors.'"

- Melissa McCarthy (born August 26, 1970)

Song of the Day:

Happy 70th birthday Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground!


* Heard the "coffee and cookies" joke about Lutherans in a Lutheran Mutual radio commercial some ten years ago.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25: Happy Birthday Elivis Costello!

Returning to this "This Day in History" series after a four-month lay-off, if even for a day: 

August 25: this day in history (from Wikipedia)

1609 – "Galileo Galilei demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers."  Why is Galileo considered a hero? He went against the scientific consensus of the day. Those who do that today are marginalized as crazies and quacks.

1883 – "France and Viet Nam sign the Treaty of Huế, recognizing a French protectorate over Annam and Tonkin." How enlightened of the French!

1950 – "President Harry Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize control of the nation's railroads to avert a strike." Today Truman is viewed as a "great" or "near-great" President, because historians like Presidents who act like dictators.

Notable quotes

"To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."

- Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990)

"In my experience of fights and fighting, it is invariably the aggressor who keeps getting everything wrong."

- Martin Amis (born 25 August 1949)

"Things that I grew up with stay with me. You start a certain way, and then you spend your whole life trying to find a certain simplicity that you had. It's less about staying in childhood than keeping a certain spirit of seeing things in a different way."

- Tim Burton (born August 25, 1958)

Song of the Day

Happy 60th birthday, Elvis Costello!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15: the Old Leonardo, the New Emma, and What's Up anyway?

April 15: this day in history (from Wikipedia)

1892 – "The General Electric Company is formed." Created David Letterman and Seinfeld. Good enough for me.

1947 – "Jackie Robinson debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking baseball's color line." Too bad African-Americans don't play baseball anymore.

1955 – "McDonald's restaurant dates its founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois." Best day ever?

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things." Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519)

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."- Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916)

"I'm going to do what I want to do. I'm going to be who I really am. I'm going to figure out what that is." - Emma Watson (born 15 April 1990)

Song of the Day

Happy birthday Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes!

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14: the Queen of Country Music, Serpico, Charley Hustle,videotape, etc.

April 14: today in history (from Wikipedia)

43 BC – "Battle of Forum Gallorum: Mark Antony, besieging Caesar's assassin Decimus Brutus in Mutina, defeats the forces of the consul Pansa, but is then immediately defeated by the army of the other consul, Hirtius." Why are people so ready to die to fulfill the ambitions of politicians?

1927 – "The first Volvo car premieres in Gothenburg, Sweden." Boxy, but good!

1956 – "In Chicago, Illinois, videotape is first demonstrated." Sex and lies were demonstrated a little while before that.

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself." - John Gielgud (14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000)

"An honest cop still can't find a place to go and complain without fear of recrimination. The blue wall will always be there because the system supports it." - Frank Serpico (born April 14, 1936)

"I was born on the day Lincoln was shot and the Titanic sank." - Pete Rose (born April 14, 1941)

Song of the Day

Happy birthday Loretta Lynn!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13: $2 bills, Rocky, ethical instruction, etc.

April 13: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1964 – "At the Academy Awards, Sidney Poitier becomes the first African-American male to win the Best Actor award for the 1963 film Lilies of the Field." I saw this movie a very long time ago, as a kid, and barely remember it. But I recognize the importance of Poitier. If he got stuck in too many roles as the "noble black man," he paved the way for guys like Morgan Freeman, who started taking roles (e.g., The Shawshank Redemption, Seven) in which white actors were originally in mind.

1976 – "The United States Treasury Department reintroduces the two-dollar bill as a Federal Reserve Note on Thomas Jefferson's 233rd birthday as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration." The two dollar bill is one of those minor pleasures in life. I once tried to give money to a homeless man, and he said, "A two dollar bill? I don't want to take that from you!" He saw in my eyes I didn't want to part with it. I wish I had one right now.

1997 – "Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament." Time flies.

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"State a moral case to a plowman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules." - Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) SOURCE

"I feel that everyone who wants to say anything, do anything, should be able to say anything or do anything, within the limits of not hurting another person." - Madalyn Murray O'Hair (April 13, 1919 – September 29, 1995)

"People still come up to me and ask me to sign their records. That's right, records! Man, they don't even make records no more!" - Al Green (born April 13, 1946)

Song of the Day

Happy 72nd, Bill Conti, responsible for the greatest movie soundtrack album of all time.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12: Lonely and dreaming of the West Coast

April 12: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1606 – "The Union Flag is adopted as the flag of English and Scottish ships." And by The Who, which formed round about that time.

1917 – "World War I: Canadian forces successfully complete the taking of Vimy Ridge from the Germans."

1981 – "The first launch of a Space Shuttle (Columbia) takes place - the STS-1 mission." Most people thought we'd have bases on Mars by now; instead it's, "hey, let's settle for orbiting the earth."

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"The fundamental purpose of property rights, and their fundamental accomplishment, is that they eliminate destructive competition for control of economic resources. Well-defined and well-protected property rights replace competition by violence with competition by peaceful means." - Armen A. Alchian (April 12, 1914 – February 19, 2013) SOURCE

"I don't necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that's most vivid in my imagination and work forward and backward from there." - Beverly Cleary (born April 12, 1916)

"There's no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting." - David Letterman (born April 12, 1947)

Song of the Day

Happy 52nd, Art Alexakis!

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014: 400 miles

April 11: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1957 – "United Kingdom agrees to Singaporean self-rule." We need more Singapores. A world of tens of thousands of city-states would be far superior to our antiquated nation-state system.

1976 – "The Apple I is created." Whatever became of that company?

2006 – "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces that Iran has successfully enriched uranium." As is its right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send, Save me, oh, save me, from the candid friend!" - George Canning (11 April 1770 – 8 August 1827)

"A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead." - Leo Rosten (April 11, 1908 – February 19, 1997)

"The things we hate about ourselves aren't more real than things we like about ourselves." Ellen Goodman (born April 11, 1941)

Song of the Day

Stuart Adamson (11 April 1958 – 16 December 2001) of Big Country should have turned 56 today:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 10: rockin' this town

April 10: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1816 – "The Federal government of the United States approves the creation of the Second Bank of the United States." Morons!

1874 – "The first Arbor Day is celebrated in Nebraska." Tree huggers! (Just kidding, this is actually  one of the better holidays.)

1912 – "The Titanic leaves port in Southampton, England for her only voyage." I wonder what we'd employ as a cliche if this didn't sink.

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"Not to know certain things is a great part of wisdom." - Hugo Grotius (10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645)

"A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will in time produce a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer (April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911)

"The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break." - John Madden (born  April 10, 1936)

Song of the Day

Happy 55th Brian Setzer, who gave the 80's a breath of musical fresh air with The Stray Cats:

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

April 9, 2014: Old Man Wisdom, or Damn! I'm good!

April 9: today in history (from Wikipeda)

1865 – "American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war." What was the point of it all? Northerners STILL hate the South. Maybe peaceful separation would have been the best?

1959 – Project Mercury: NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts, whom the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven". Let's see if I remember from the book The Right Stuff:" Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Deke Slayton, Scott Carpenter. Damn I'm good!

1965 – "Astrodome opens. First indoor baseball game is played." Many an old athlete can barely walk now thanks to that AstroTurf.

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"Sex is the driving force on the planet. We should embrace it, not see it as the enemy." Hugh Hefner (born April 9, 1926)

"Political satire became obsolete when they awarded Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize." - Tom Lehrer (born April 9, 1928)

"Live with integrity, respect the rights of other people, and follow your own bliss." - Nathaniel Branden (born April 9, 1930)

Song of the Day

Paul Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) had one of the great voices ever. Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Paying college athletes?

My latest weekly column, including a wrap-up of the NCAA Men's Tournmaet:

,The Partial Observer - Paying college athletes?

April 8: Who owns the night?

April 8: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1730 – "Shearith Israel, the first synagogue in New York City, is dedicated." Probably not the last, or that is now one huge synagogue.

1913 – "The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, requiring direct election of Senators, becomes law." Because campaign fundraising is better use of a Senator's time than governing the country, obviously. 

1943 – "U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an attempt to check inflation, freezes wages and prices, prohibits workers from changing jobs unless the war effort would be aided thereby, and bars rate increases by common carriers and public utilities." Because this is the land of the free!

1952 – "U.S. President Harry Truman calls for the seizure of all domestic steel mills to prevent a nationwide strike." Because this is the land of the free!

Notable quotes (from Wikiquote unless otherwise sourced)

"Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo." Mary Pickford  (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979)

"Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It's the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else's pain is as meaningful as your own." - Barbara Kingsolver (born April 8, 1955)

"Imagine the West built the Berlin Wall to keep East German immigrants out. Would such a policy have been any less wrong?" - Bryan Caplan (born April 8, 1971) SOURCE

Song of the Day

Alex Day turns 25. Cool song:

Monday, April 07, 2014

April 7: 2014: Mayan & Oates

April 7: today in history (from Wikipedia)

611 – "Maya king Uneh Chan of Calakmul sacks rival city-state Palenque in southern Mexico." That's after he asked his personal secretary, "What's on the Calendar today?" (Get it? Mayan Calendar. Thank you. I'll be here all week.)

1541 – "Francis Xavier leaves Lisbon on a mission to the Portuguese East Indies." I wondered if the FX channel was named after him. Then I watched some shows. Probably not.

1967 – "Film critic Roger Ebert published his very first film review in the Chicago Sun-Times." Thumbs up on the hire!

Notable quotes (from BrainyQuote unless otherwise sourced)

"Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid." - Walter Winchell (April 7, 1897 – February 20, 1972)

"Most of us live in a safe world. We don't have to fight for our values, we don't have to fight for our freedom, we don't have a sense of injustice." - Alan J. Pakula (April 7, 1928 – November 19, 1998)

"Look, all administrations, all governments lie, all officials lie and nothing they say is to be believed. That's a pretty good rule."

- Daniel Ellsberg (born April 7, 1931)

"I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what they're doing." - Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939)

Song of the Day:

Happy 65th birthday, John Oates, guitarist for Hall and Oates, who co-wrote this gem. I crank up the radio whenever it comes on:

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Campaign finance laws: product of an imaginary Constitution

For a few years Thomas Knapp has argued that, under the Constitution, there's no such thing as "illegal immigration."

He's right. The Constitution authorizes Congress to make naturalization laws, but nothing concerning immigration, let alone restricting it.

Likewise, the Constitution mentions "commerce" among the states and with foreign nations, but says nothing about what you may produce or purchase within your own state, or about how you operate your own business on your own property.

And yet the mainstream believes in a Constitution that supports immigration restrictions, and that presumes federal control of your own body, choices, and business.

They support an imaginary Constitution which gives all power to Congress and the President except what they're explicitly prohibited from doing, when the language of the real Constitution gives them power to do only what is explicitly authorized, and prohibits them from doing anything else.

Campaign finance laws are the product of this imaginary Constitution. The Constitution says something about elections, but nothing about election campaigns.

It says... "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations" and "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members."

How does this even remotely imply that the arts of persuasion involved to encourage people to vote for a certain candidate for office can be regulated? The election is regulated; the day and manner (e.g., punch hole, electronic, etc.) in which you vote is regulated. But the decision of who you vote for can be influenced by a wide array of factors. The campaign isn't just what comes from candidates, their parties, or SuperPACS. The campaign is all around us, in op-eds, in blogs, in tweets, in what your favorite comedian, celebrity, or investor says. Even in ideologically-driven fiction written decades ago with no particular candidates in mind. Above all, the campaign exists in private conversations.

This should be obvious to anyone. You can't regulate a campaign by arbitrarily setting limits on how much money somebody decides to give to somebody else.

What the campaign finance restrictionists say, however, is that Bob Schieffer should be allowed his rants on CBS, but YOU are limited in how much ad time can be purchased on television. The Chicago Tribune can make a candidate endorsement, but YOU and your friends should be limited by federal law in how many full-page ads you create endorsing a different candidate.

Even if the First Amendment didn't exist, the restrictionists have no Constitutional basis for their existing laws and long-range goals (such as public financing of campaigns). And under the First Amendment, restricting how one chooses to spend one's money in support of a program of persuasion (such as to persuade people to vote for a certain candidate) is tantamount to "prior restraint" of the freedoms of speech and the press.

Most of this has been obvious to me since I started thinking about it as a teenager. And I've long suspected, those who embrace campaign finance restrictions are capable of endorsing any atrocious law, war, program, and policy. And they have.

Now, it may be said that I'm ignoring the "influence of money in politics." Excuse me, but no. Campaign finance laws make politicians less accountable than before. Candidates who are voluntarily transparent are more likely to be trusted by voters, but what are their incentives to be transparent if voters don't demand it?

Campaign finance laws are no substitute for transparency. And what do you expect they will fix? Let's say you gave the campaign limit to your favorite Senator, and Warren Buffett gave him nothing. Both you and Buffett call the Senator's office at the same time. Whose call do you think will be returned first?

Campaign finance laws are unjust, they abridge fundamental rights, and are the product of an imaginary Constitution. They must be repealed.

April 6: here comes your anti-Oscar

April 6: today in history (from Wikipedia)

1896 – "In Athens, the opening of the first modern Olympic Games is celebrated, 1,500 years after the original games are banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I." Despite its many, many flaws, the Olympics at least have anchored nations around something to plan for and look forward to. If politics interferes too much, what's really surprising is that politics haven't interfered so badly so as to destroy the Games. 

1947 – "The first Tony Awards are presented for theatrical achievement." I glanced over the list of Best Musical winners. This is the anti-Oscar; not only does it appear that the most deserving usually won, for the non-aficionado it's kind of hard to even name other musicals.

1973 – "The American League of Major League Baseball begins using the designated hitter." The absolutely best example of trying to "fix what isn't broken." How they thought that the World Series should be played with different rules for each game is mind-boggling.

Notable quotes (from Brainyquote unless otherwise sourced)

"In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available... in America right now." - Merle Haggard (born April 6, 1937)

"Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection." - Neal Boortz (born April 6, 1945)

"It enrages me to see only certain players singled out for the Hall of Fame because they were born with a God-given specialty. When I take my kids to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I want them to experience the full array of talents that make the game what it is today, not just the larger-than-life freaks of nature. I want them to know that you don't have to be the biggest or the strongest to reach your goals, and that hard work and perseverance are also rewarded." - Bert Blylevin (born April 6, 1950)  SOURCE

Song of the Day

Happy 49th to Black Francis of The Pixies!