Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Are we protecting children, or are we controlling behavior?

It's a legitimate question, given the SCOTUS review of a child porn law. The DOJ says that ads selling 'child porn' hurt children, even if the photographs are fake.

Challengers to the law, including the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, counter that it sweeps too broadly. They say it threatens the marketing of Lolita and other fictional depictions of adolescent sex.

At stake is Congress' latest attempt to prohibit sexual content on the Internet. Backed by 28 states, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement stresses the need to curtail the marketing of child porn to protect the children abused to create it.

Clement, who will argue the case today, stressed in a written filing that because of the Internet "the distribution of child pornography has expanded exponentially." He said even fraudulent offers to buy or sell child porn feed the market.

This may be so, but isn't it an important distinction between controlling the behavior of some wierdo looking at teh internets versus the person who abuses a child for profit? Without a doubt, the latter is a crime. But is the former? If so, against whom?

Now, given most child porn scenarios, I think one can make the case the veiwer or purchaser of (real) child porn where a (real) child was forced to perform is indeed party to the crime, as they have directly or indirectly paid the actual person doing the forcing. But what about a cartoon? A drawing? A digital image? A book?

I don't see how, with no victim, there can be a crime. Frankly, in my opinion, not real child porn could actually keep kids safe from people who would otherwise want the real thing. Further, the sweeping nature of such laws can end up having troubling consequenses, depending on who is doing the interpreting and enforcing. Is a 15 year old girl doing a little dance for her 16 year old boyfriend, or taking racy photos, really a crime?

We need to keep the focus on the victims, and stopping the real crimes.

People who can think: 1. WHO: 0

Agoraphilia has an outstanding explanation of errors in 'scoring', when it comes to the WHO and ranking health care.
Nevertheless, the resulting composite scores are not sensible. Because the five component factors were measured on different scales to begin with, the WHO researchers had no choice but to scale them to make them comparable. When they scaled them, they used the approach described above: they measured a country’s factor score as the percentage of the distance between the lowest-scoring and highest-scoring countries for that factor.

As a result, a factor could have an exaggerated effect on the composite health performance scores if the raw scores for that factor were bunched more tightly than were other factors. If, for instance, if financial fairness ranged from 0.5 to 10.0 on the fairness scale, countries with fairness of 0.5 would be treated as having a fairness of 0. Essentially, a country that is somewhat fair would get treated as not fair at all. (This is assuming the raw fairness measure is meaningful to begin with, which I suspect it is not.)

It doesn't take much thinking to recognize this. Apply this thinking to a number of issues, and you'll find lots and lots of meaningless or questionable conclusions.

If you are keeping track...

Security contractors in Iraq are immune from the laws of Iraq. Because that's how you spread freedom, or something.
Security contractors have immunity from Iraqi law under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq.

This comes to light as 17 civillians were killed by a security force. Certainly no one at this point (well, no one who is talking, anyway) if the killings were justified, but we do know now that the security force was given immunity by the state department.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congratulations Jeff Gordon

As much as it pains me to say it, Jeff Gordon has wrapped up his 6th points championship in NASCAR's top series. He has a 439 point lead over second place Jimmie Johnson, and as long as Gordon starts each of the next 3 races (which he will, due to NASCAR's provisional qualifying process), Johnson can not make that gap up even if he wins each race. (One can only make up 135 points per race).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Magic of Prices

Milton Freidman on pencils, prices, and peace.

It's worth 3 minutes of your life to watch it.

Hat tip: Cafe Hayek

Early Optimism

In most cases, I consider myself an optimist. I know things will turn out well for me, and I always think in terms of the best case scenario vs. the worst case.

Except when it comes to the United States electorate. People who were so befuddled they believed Saddam had something to do with the terror attacks on 9/11, who think cell phones should be illegal on planes because they are annoying, who continue to elect representatives whose primary goal is to get as much money from the Federal teat sent back to their districts.

Charles Burris has a more optimistic take. He thinks the revolution has begun, the catalyst being the Ron Paul presidential bid.

I'm a huge Ron Paul fan, and I'm ecstatic his run is starting conversations like this one. But I don't give the US electorate nearly that much credit. Far too many people are guided by what they see on the tee vee, what they read in Rolling Stone or Newsweek, and their local newspaper. There are still people, lots of people, who equate health insurance with health care. Who think stem cell research was banned by the President, who simply don't understand why what they like about Ron Paul doesn't mesh at all with their statist positions on other subjects.

I hope I'm wrong, that the revolution really has started. But if it has, it's moving awfully slowly. We need to find more ways to move it along.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I wasted an afternoon for that?

A freaking 19-14 loss to the Bills?

There's a big difference between 4-3 and 5-2 when you look at the rest of the schedule. The Ravens are going to have to beat some teams that you might not expect to even get into the playoffs.

Frustrating when you look at how good they were last season.

And how the hell does a professional football player get EXHAUSTED after having to run 70 yards? Who is responsible for their conditioning?

Friday, October 19, 2007

One more example of a choice

Fungible is a neat word.

The important part is the information about the SCHIP recipient, who clearly has a choice to make, and for some reason, lots of people think I (and they) should be forced to subsidize this person's choices.

Not having health insurance in most instances is a choice. I'm all for helping people who can't afford health CARE, and will do it voluntarily. But I won't volunteer to pay for health insurance for someone who chooses a low paying job to chase their dream; do you think you should have to buy health insurance for some guy in a bar band who quits his day job, when that day job provided insurance as a benefit?

Me either.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'd vote for him.

We need more people like this running for office, not less.

Via Permdude

Something to consider

Jacob Sullum at Reason brings up an interesting point in a post about the clowns over at the CSPI.
I could point out that 920 calories for breakfast is not necessarily out of line with the government's own recommendations for male teenagers and physically active men, or that Hardee's "does offer some low-calorie options, including roast beef and chicken sandwiches." But I am most struck by the fact that quotes from activists like Hurley are now obligatory in articles about new menu items at restaurant chains. Even from the perspective of "obesity epidemic" doomsayers, this seems like a strange state of affairs. After all, stories about the plunging prices of big-screen TVs, the hot new video game, or the latest labor-saving device do not typically include critics bemoaning the implications for calorie expenditure. Should they?

I've never really thought about that, but the nanny statists always seem to only go after one side of things - fast food bad, cheap TVs OK; online poker and slot machines bad, state run lottery good.

Maybe we shouldn't give them any ideas.

Stuff I'm spinning

Clutch - Blast Tyrant

Van Morrison - Moondance

Van Halen - Van Halen

Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An Ulterior Motive?

After having experienced quite a bit of air travel over the past few weeks, this article rung quite true.

Hat tip: Ron Smith at WBAL

Monday, October 15, 2007


In true Ravens' fasion, it's been a little ugly, but I'll take it.

I did like the way Boller played, he's looked good this year, and I'd rather have him in the game than a questionable McNair. I also was pleased to see some shots down the field, and even though 5 field goals in a game isn't thrilling football, they are playing to win the game with solid defense and no mistakes on offense. As long as that happens, it will be a good year.


Back to the grind today, after an almost 2 week trip to Napa and Hawaii. Great time, and we needed the break.

I should be back to posting regularly shortly.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Just in case you were wondering, the TSA will confiscate your corkscrew when you go through security at the San Francisco Airport, and you can't take a bottle of wine through, either.

You can, however, buy both at a store once you are past 'security'.

That's how you stay safe from terrorists. The hell with the 4th amendment, we're talking safety, here.