December 31, 2005
First things first: Have a safe, happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! The wife, dogs, and I are headed up to visit our friends up in North Carolina, and I’ll probably be a bit light on posting.
But I saw WindyPundit’s list of New Year’s Resolutions, and figured I’d post my own. I did mine in Top-Ten (eight) style, with the most important at the bottom…
8. Cheer Purdue on to a Big Ten Championship!
7. Brew great beer.
6. Get into better shape. I think I’m planning on getting back into martial arts for this one. (This is only #6 because I’m not in great shape, but I’m not in horrible shape either).
5. Finish my garage projects (nicer floor, shelving, toolbox, workbench), so I can complete the below two projects.
4. Build the basement. Need to get the bar built, the poker table set up, and buy some seating.
3. Fence the backyard. No Kipling-esque “good fences make good neighbors” reasoning, but good fences make good doggies.
2. Develop my blogging, to hopefully earn some income (help w/#1 below), grow my readership, and eventually get me prepared to start writing a book.
1. Attack my (non-mortgage) debt situation with impunity. Cut it by 50% or more during the year.
Quick question for my readers. What happens when you put blonde hair dye onto someone’s head with dark brown hair? My wife was trying to frost the tips of my hair today (she likes the California look), and the results were… interesting.
And the dogs went in for grooming today. I don’t know what dog they gave me in place of Spanky, but he sure is funny looking!
My brother is unlucky enough to have a birthday on Dec 23, which means he typically gets presents combined for his Christmas and Birthday. It hasn’t been as bad as he’s gotten older, but I’m sure that fact drastically affected his presents as a child. This year, though, since we did our Christmas presents in November, everyone had a good chance to recover and separate the two occasions.
In typical fashion, I started shopping for his presents on about Dec 21. I live in Georgia, he lives in Texas, so it was pretty apparent something wouldn’t actually arrive by his birthday. So I got him an Amazon.com gift certificate. But gift certificates are highly impersonal, and I don’t roll like that. And he’s a crazy libertarian like I am (he even named his dog Dagny), but hasn’t gotten into Heinlein. So I also got him a copy of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Amazon.com shipped it out on Dec 21. The USPS web site says it is “In transit”. But here’s the kicker. It says it was shipped from Dallas, TX. My brother lives in Corpus Christi, TX. Now, I’m no expert on Texas geography, and I know (from driving across it) that it’s a very large state. But it does not take a week to ship something from Dallas to Corpus Christi. I would hope that it’s already arrived, but at this point I have no idea whether the computer system at USPS is down, or whether the package never made it. I’m going to have to call my brother today and check up on it, as I simply can’t trust the USPS to give me good information. Ugh…
In other news, it appears he’s getting a promotion. Effective tomorrow, Capt Warbiany becomes Major Warbiany. Congrats!
Below The Beltway linked with The Effect Of Government Ordered Monoply
The Unrepentant Individual linked with UPS - For When a Senator Needs it to Get There!
December 29, 2005
I’ve said before that I don’t think racial profiling is useful in itself. After all, there are too many ways to work around racial profiling, especially given the average American’s inability to tell a South American from an Arab. That, coupled with the fact that smart terrorists would actively recruit people who “didn’t look like terrorists”, and I think we can show that racial profiling, in itself, is simply not useful.
Understanding, however, that we have limited resources to spot and stop threats, I suggested previously that we look at “risk groups” and profile accordingly. Obviously, I’m a large young white male, but I certainly believe I should receive more scrutiny than a 55-year-old frail blonde woman. It’s not a racial matter, it’s simply a matter of giving more attention to the people who could do more damage in a situation.
As such, this story caught my eye:
The Transportation Security Administration plans to train screeners at 40 major airports next year to pick out possible terrorists by engaging travelers in a casual conversation to detect whether a person appears nervous or evasive and needs extra scrutiny.
The new security technique, already in use at some airports, adds a psychological dimension to screening by trying to find high-risk passengers based on how they act at checkpoints or boarding gates.
Behavior detection is routine in security-conscious countries such as Israel, where air travelers routinely face aggressive questioning.
U.S. Customs officers have long asked arriving travelers questions, often in random order. If a person gives “stumbling answers,” that could indicate the person has fraudulent travel documents or plans to overstay a visa, says Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Kelly Klundt.
This sounds promising. After all, this isn’t expensive, is vetted by the Israelis (who take security a little more seriously than we do), and seems like it might be an added layer of defense. If we can find ways to more adequately spot people acting suspiciously, it’s pretty likely that we might prevent more nefarious attacks.
Of course, we can’t exactly implement this without some sort of uproar from the usual suspects:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the technique leads to racial profiling and has sued to stop a behavior-screening program run by the Massachusetts State Police at Boston’s Logan International Airport. That program, the first at a U.S. airport when it began in 2002, was challenged last year after a black ACLU official said he was questioned and threatened with arrest if he didn’t show identification.
“If you’re going to allow police to make searches, question people and even make arrests based on criteria rather than actual evidence of criminality, you’re going to have racial profiling,” says Barry Steinhardt, a privacy law specialist at the ACLU.
I’m not one to normally blast the ACLU for actively trying to weaken our defenses against terrorists, but it certainly seems like there’s not very many benign explanations for this. They’re claiming that police will use this to unfairly target Arabs and middle-eastern men. After all, to the ACLU, if we’re not searching every 4th 80-year-old granny at the same time we search every 4th 22-year old bearded Arab, we’re a despicable country.
There has to be a balance here. We need to give our police tools to search out the greatest threats. And behavioral criteria seem to be an excellent way to do that. Can some folks schmooze their way through it and fool a policeman with their answers? Sure, but I have to think that this is better than nothing.
At the very least, this is better than putting a random “SSSS” on a boarding pass to announce to the world that someone is picked for “added security”. I got that on my boarding pass on my way to Cali last week, and remarked to my wife long before we hit the security checkpoint that I got the extra security line, because I have a little bit of sense and can figure out what “SSSS” means. At the very least, we need to find a more discreet way of marking boarding passes. If someone like me knows what “SSSS” means, you will be darn sure that a terrorist does.
This is a common sense reaction to a serious problem. And with anything related to common sense, once the authorities and the interest groups get a hold of it, it has absolutely no chance of surviving.
The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive linked with Rights of the Government to Impose Air Security Measures
The Unrepentant Individual linked with Rights of the Government to Impose Air Security Measures
The Unrepentant Individual linked with Carnivals of Liberties
Louisiana Libertarian linked with Carnival of Liberty 27
Stop The ACLU linked with Carnival of True Civil Liberties
You might have noticed a little bit of a change to the left sidebar… I’ve joined affiliate programs for PartyPoker and Amazon.com. There may be more to come, depending on whether I can find opportunities I like.
I don’t think blogging will ever be something I do as a day job, but I might as well do what I can to get some monetary reward for the time I spend doing it. I’ve used PartyPoker for a couple years, and wholeheartedly endorse the site for online poker. And Amazon is Amazon, it’s about the only place I go shopping for books, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. They’re the 800-lb gorilla of online retailing. I’m looking next into finding some smaller companies I support, such as Northern Brewer, so we’ll see where this takes me.
Over at the Cave of the Curmudgeon, James links to a post by LaShawn Barber discussing the power of blogs. James is specifically interested in this quote of LaShawn’s about anonymous comments and bloggers:
But unrestrained power coupled with little to no accountability is a dangerous thing. As a blogger who’s been the subject of nasty and false statements made by bloggers and in comment sections by anonymous cowards, I know what people are capable of saying when they get caught up in online anonymity. When you’re not man or woman enough to stand behind your words using your own name, high ideals like accountability and responsibility are mere afterthoughts.
I’ve long thought that anonymity can be a dangerous thing. In the online world, it is far too easy to be truly anonymous, and you can easily hide behind a proxy server and completely fake and transient identities if you so choose. But at the same time, there are a large number of bloggers who write using a pseudonym. Many do so because they may blog about things that they don’t want people to know their true identity, or simply because they choose to use a pen name. I don’t know if Samuel Clemens was really trying to hide anything when he used the name Mark Twain.
In the blogging world, I think pseudonymous bloggers can be nearly as credible as bloggers using their real name, for the reasons I spell out below. This is my comment in response to James’ post:
Personally, I use my own name when I blog, but I don’t think it’s required. Where I draw the line is the distinction between anonymity and pseudonymity.
When you’re anonymous, you can spout anything you want without any question of credibility or backlash against yourself. But at the same time, making statements anonymously has none of what is truly the currency of the blog community: credibility.
When you take a pseudonym, you ascribe a name and identity to your thoughts. It doesn’t matter if people know me as “Brad Warbiany” or by the name of my blog, “The Unrepentant Individual”. As long as I am consistent and ascribe the same identity to my thoughts wherever I go, the reputation built on that identity will grow or diminish based upon the credibility I earn.
In most situations, pseudonymous bloggers can be nearly as credible as bloggers using their real name. And in some cases, people need to keep pseudonymous to protect their own real identity. The main difference between bloggers using their own name and pseudonymous bloggers is that a pseudonym is much easier to escape from and discard than a legal name. And that ease is what gives the added credibility to those using a real name. But I don’t consider the jump to be large.
December 28, 2005
As I mentioned before, my sister got me a home-brewing kit for Christmas. In a couple of days, I’m going to get started on that brewing process, and calling myself “excited” would be an understatement.
Well, for Christmas, my wife got me a kegerator, along with a beautiful hardwood tap handle with the Purdue logo. Yes, I love my wife very much. And yes, 2006 is going to be a very good year.
So it is with a heavy heart that I must direct you to this next (hilarious) link, about the Perils of Drinking Beer. Watch yourselves out there, guys… It could happen to you.
Got this one from a coworker…
Dog & Cat Diaries
From a Dog’s Daily Diary:
8:00 am – Oh Boy! Dog Food! My Favorite!
9:30 am – Oh Boy! A Car Ride! My Favorite!
9:40 am – Oh Boy! A Walk! My Favorite!
10:00 am – Oh Boy! Getting petted! My favorite!
11:30 am – Oh Boy! Dog Food! My Favorite!
Noon – Oh Boy! The Kids! My Favorite!
1:00 pm – Oh Boy! The Yard! My Favorite!
4:00 pm – Oh Boy! To the Park! My Favorite!
5:00 pm – Oh Boy! Dog Food! My Favorite!
5:30 pm – Oh Boy! Pretty Mums! My Favorite!
6:00 pm – Oh Boy! Playing Ball! My Favorite!
6:30 pm – Oh Boy! Watching TV with my Master! My Favorite!
8:30 pm – Oh Boy! Sleeping in Master’s Bed! My Favorite!
From a Cat’s Daily Diary:
Day 483 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh food while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape and the mild scolding I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded; must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair; must try this on their bed. Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am ! capable of and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmmm, not working according to plan.
There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary confinement throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell of food. More importantly, I overheard that my confinement was due to my power of “allergies.” I must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.
I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant. He speaks with them regularly, and I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. But I can wait; it is only a matter of time…
…If it weren’t so pathetic.
A United Nations official said Wednesday that Iraq’s recent elections were credible and there was no justification for a rerun of the vote that gave a strong lead to the Shiite religious bloc dominating the current government.
In violence Wednesday, an inmate in a Baghdad prison grabbed an assault rifle from a guard and opened fire, killing eight people, police said. One American soldier was injured in the attempted prison break, the U.S. military said.
Usually they wait until the second half of the story to downplay good news with talks of violence. Apparently, the idea that even the UN thinks* the Iraqi elections were legitimate is such good news that they must counter it immediately.
As Larry Elder says, you should always read and watch the news defensively. That goes for everything, including what you read from sources you agree with, even if that includes me.
*Note: I take anything I hear the UN say, especially regarding election credibility, with a grain of salt. I consider the UN to be only slightly more credible than Jimmy Carter in evaluating whether elections are legitimate.
The Carnival is up over at Target Centermass. A bit of a slow week, with the holiday, but some great posts over there. I submitted my post Surveillance, which was one of several dealing with the Bush wiretap issue.
One post in particular (unrelated to the wiretaps) stood out. This post was titled On Freedom, submitted by OK so I’m not really a cowboy. It is a great discussion of liberty and the chimera known as “positive liberty”. One of the better liberty-oriented posts I’ve seen in a while, and this author is returning to blogging after a long hiatus, so I highly suggest you spend a little time over there seeing what he’s put up so far.
December 27, 2005
Dan over at Searchlight Crusade saw my rant about housing costs, and has extended and elaborated my remarks quite eloquently. This is a truly impressive post on the subject, which might be expected from someone so involved with the real estate industry.
I get back home to my house and my dogs tomorrow, so I’m pretty excited. And for Christmas, my wife got me this, so I’m pretty excited!
December 24, 2005
The wife has been craving authentic Mexican food ever since we moved to Georgia. So we went out to Ernie Jr’s Taco House in Glendale.
I was pretty hungry at the time, and I saw the Grande Burrito on the menu. I’m a pretty big guy, with a pretty healthy appetite, so it sounded like it would hit the spot.
More than half of this sucker got taken home in a box. Had I finished it, they just might have taken me home in a box…
For those of you saying, “That’s not that big, it’s only about the size of your head”, I remind you that I have a very large head.
This is the largest burrito I’ve ever seen. The leftovers are a full meal in themselves. They really need to put a warning on the menu…
In other food-related news, I got to visit the first California location of Portillo’s yesterday as well. For those of you who live in the LA area, head down to Buena Park for a treat. I can personally vouch that it is every bit as good as Portillo’s in Chicago, and that’s pretty damn good. I prefer the hot dogs (ordered with everything) and the Italian Beef (with hot Giardinera peppers), so that’s a good start if you’ve never been there.
December 22, 2005
Had to stop by my old office to take care of a few things, so I hopped online. I was reading this essay on the plane, and had to share it.
This explains in great detail a lot of what I believe about how society works and the individual’s role in relation to his community. It’s a great read…
December 21, 2005
I’m off in the morning to Cali for Christmas with the in-laws… They don’t have high-speed internet, and I don’t have a dialup account anywhere, so I may be incommunicado for some time.
If I get a chance while I’m there, I’ll post, but I’m sure it won’t be a daily occurrence.
Wow, someone has WAY too much time on their hands. It seems the author of the blog has decided to look at a bunch of NCAA football teams, and relate them to characters in The Simpson’s. Some of my favorites:
Penn State: Abe Simpson
Old school. Older-than-old school. At times they almost make you worry they’re losing it, but even then they demand your respect. After all, have you won 357 D-IA games or fought with the Flying Hellfish in WWII? No? Then STFU, whippersnapper! (Came up with this independent of commenters, but since corroborated by numerous people.)
Michigan State: Gil the Salesman
All together now: “Damn, that felt like a Big 10 championship season!” It always begins the same with these guys, so hopeful, so full of promise, but they always manage to blow it sometime before the deal is closed. Since Gil is supposedly based on Jack Lemmon’s sad-sack character from the film adaptation of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” we have some advice for the Spartans: Coffee is for closers. (Thanks to ryno for the suggestion.)
Notre Dame: Montgomery Burns
Been around since the beginning of time; the amount of money and power he controls is massive, absurd, and quite frankly, a little scary. The kind of guy everyone in town loves to hate — but they’d switch places with him in half a second.
But they left out Purdue! Time for me to step in…
PURDUE: Cecil Terwilliger
Cecil has watched over the years as his more popular and successful brother (Michigan/Ohio State) has acheived fame and notoriety, and has grown jealous. Cecil has finally decided to try to equal and surpass the success of those above, but finds that it’s a lot harder as it looks. He may be smart and with a great engineering school, but plans and implementation rarely resemble each other. Flashy quarterbacks and spread-option offenses may look great on paper, but when the time comes to actually put them into practice, it seems to all fall apart.
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