Baronger's Scribblings

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Man attempts to rob police station

Yoshimasa Yamada, 26, was arrested for breaking the Swords and Firearms Control Law after he burst into the police office and allegedly screamed out a demand for money only to end up surrounded by police officers.

Apparently the uniforms for the Japanese Railroad, and the police are very similar. The Japanese railroad offices were right next door to the station, which undoubtedly only added to the man's confusion. This is one for the stupid criminals file.

The man demanded money from an officer, who promptly arrested him. If only we could get all criminals to do this.


Social Security - More workers needed

Today's Opinion Journal tackles something that I've been saying for a while. The problem that social security is facing is that there are fewer workers then those that are on social security. The problem can be cured in either of two ways. Either Americans start producing more babies or we increase immigration. Kudos to the journal for even broaching this subject.

I've been of the opinion that we should actually go to active recruitment of immigrants. We need to close down the border, and illiegals since they don't pay into the trust fund. At the same time we make it easier for people to come in legally.


Turkey says names make specious argument.

The linnean classification of certain animal species in Turkey have been changed by the government. The names changed had names of subregions that had seperatist groups in their taxonomic structure. This usually occurs at the species level which, in order to differentiate animals that are in a like genus.

The genus level is the name that is often the common folk name. Thus we would have the generic name for an oak tree. The genus would more specifically state that it is a red oak, white oak or a skunk oak. One of the names that irritated Turkey was Vulpes vulpes kurdistania which was shortened to just Vulpes vulpes. They took away the sub species designation, saying that it gave support to the Kurdistan seperatist movement. So is Turkey being as clever as a fox or are they being ridiculous.

It would be a specious argument on the part of the Kurds, to claim that just because scientists recognize a sub-species of red fox as being native to Kurdistan, that the Kurdistan should be free of Turkey. It would be Turkey claiming that the United States belonged to them, because we had turkeys living here. Turkey needs to rethink this policy, or at least rename the animals after regional landmarks. Now they have the subspecies classified as being identical to a red fox in England. I am hoping that Turkey is cognizant of the effect they might have on how it might effect the classification of other animals.

The linnean classification is: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species (The pneumonic is Kissing Passionately Can Open For Good Sex, or at least this is the dirty and easily remembered pneumonic.)

The major beef I have with this is that it is politically motivated. Species are reclassified all the time as more is learned about their genetic makeup. Species can be split apart or combined with others. This can be a mixed blessing to the many birders out there as it can either take away or add to their species lists. Politics should stay out of the sciences. Also science should stay out of politics, and perhaps scientists should consider ramifications of the names they give.

Hattip: languagehat, tork


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

MilBlog Resurrection

I started reading this one when it first went up. However due to pressure from his superiors it was taken down. It has now been brought to the attention of everyone, via this Army Times article. It is a very raw take on the life of an infantry grunt.

Military blogs will hopefully end up being archived somewhere more permanent then the ephemeral blogsphere. For a while historians were moaning about how letter writing and the keeping of journals had falling by the wayside. Now the internet has resurrected the practice of writing ones thoughts down. This is important since it will enable historians to be able to compile a comprehensive view of what exactly happened. If we want to avoid past mistakes, it is helpful to learn history. Hopefully we will be able to gain insights into what worked and what didn't.

I see a lot of book deals being offered directly to the milbloggers though. We will probably see things like anthologies, which will combine both emails and blogs. I am looking forward to seeing some well written books, by those who have first hand experience on the ground. While journalists can give us a view of what they see, they only see things as an outsider. A soldier understands the deeper meaning of what is happening, and can see things below the surface that an outsider can't. Not to mention that an insider knows the capabilities of his equipment and training, not to mention won't mistake a Bradley for a tank.


Philosopher's Carnival

MixMem points us to another carnival. There is a carnival of philosophers. Am I blogging or am I merely dreaming that I am blogging?


Saturday, March 05, 2005


So is Chris Muir commenting on the FEC situation? The Captain seems to think the same thing.

I know, I know .... if you need the joke explained, or say "get it" you have ruined the joke. Either way both comics work well together today.


The Captain has a post on a NRA interview with Bradley Smith. In the interview Mr. Smith, goes into what exactly is in danger of being censored.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Megatokyo: Ice Cubes

Now for something relaxing. Except it is not relaxing, its a great big, huge cliffhanger. Megatokyo strip 682, entitled Ice Cubes leaves us dangling with too many unanswered questions. All brought about by one question, by Erika. This is my little take on the drama.

Erika: If I sleep with you, will you go away?

This can either be interpreted one of two ways. She wants to get rid of him, and is willing to sleep with him if that's what it takes. She is worried that she will become a one night stand, and that he will leave her after he gets what he wants. One of the overarching themes for the comic is, "broken wings". This makes me think that the answer is the second one.

My Erika theory, is that she is still suffering from being dumped. Her response was to build emotional walls around herself. To flee everything that reminded herself of her previous relationship. She pushes away any relationship, she fears might become intimate. Erika's broken wings, are her inability to form relationships. Now Largo has penetrated her defenses. She has not managed to drive him away. She is confused and this is why she asks the question. She doesn't want to be hurt again, so she refuses to even attempt to fly.

On one level she probably would sleep with him, just so he will go away. However, on a deeper level she wants him to stay. Largo sees her for who she is, and not some idol. The fact that Largo respects her, and said, "love hurts" has breached her walls. Erika is finally seeing Largo as a possibility, and it scares her. Largo is standing by her, despite her abuse. Meimi is the catalyst that opened her eyes to the possibility. Other's are seeing her and Largo as a couple, and now she needs to figure it out if this is something she wants.

Largo, on the other hand, is totally unprepared for this. He doesn't think in relationship terms, and basically ignores girls. Yes he is attracted to her, but is not thinking in relationship terms. This is totally unfamiliar ground to him. I have serious doubts, that he will be able to answer the question. His only hope, is that he will say some equally mysterious 'gamer code'. I hope he doesn't choke on that ice cube.


Internet Forums

The MSM have focused on blogs so much, that forums have been skipped over. If a blog is the metaphorical soapbox in the town square, then forums would be some sort of meeting place. How to categorize them. The smoking room at the country club, the local tavern or a town hall. Two of my regular forums are Megatokyo and Baen's Bar. One is a discussion board dedicated to a web-comic, the other is a forum for a publisher and his authors. The discussions on these boards are not limited to discussing either web-comics or books.

Both forums have an intense politics sections. People from all parts of the political spectrum discuss and debate various issues. The rules of debate vary from forum to forum, the discussion can be mild or heated. The internet is mined for examples that support ones position. Unlike blogs a single thread will have a variety of opinions.

The various forums may be the true crucible for future political discussion. Yes there is feedback in blogs, however what forums do is serve as a conduit. The feedback is even more intense. People from many different parts of the political spectrum are drawn to the same forum. They all may share one common intersect but differ on their politics. The MSM, seems concerned about the internet and segmentation of the MSM dividing the country into blocks that don't communicate. Yet the internet seems to provide the answer once again.


FEC update

The Campaign Legal Center responds. The Blogstorm, well actually it's more of a sudden shower right now. The Center is trying to make sure that a tempest doesn't happen, and it will be just a light drizzle.

The issue the FEC - and the courts - are grappling with is how to deal with online political ads by candidates and parties, and with paid advertising that is coordinated with those groups. As the Internet becomes a vital new force in politics, we are simply going through a natural transition as we work out how, and when, to apply longstanding campaign finance principles - designed to fight corruption - to political expenditures on the Web. Mr. Smith has advocated an extreme position that politicians, parties and outside groups can pay for Internet advertising with "soft money" - unlimited, unregulated checks from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. A federal court rightly rejected that position, saying that the new ban on soft money in our elections obviously applies to Internet advertising, too.

These laws are decidedly NOT aimed at online press, commentary or blogs, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was carefully drafted to exclude them. The FEC has now been asked to initiate a rule-making to work out how to deal with different kinds of Internet political expenditures, and there will be plenty of opportunity for public commentary. The Commission's duty then will be to distinguish candidate and party expenditures, and coordinated independent expenditures, on the Internet (which should be subject to campaign finance law like any other expenditures) from activity by bloggers, Internet news services and citizens acting on their own that should remain unregulated, free and robust.

The problem of course is where the burden of proof is going to lie. The FEC model appears to demand that any ads be regulated. With the IRS the burden of proof is on the tax payer. If I create such links as this and that, do I have to prove that I wasn't paid create them. Do I need to have a legal disclaimer that any ads, I have on my site have not been paid for. Where does this leave the buttons that many bloggers, put up linking back to candidates sites. These are created both by amateurs and the candidates staff themselves. They are offered for free, and are similar to pin buttons and bumper stickers. Hopefully they consider volunteer activity by bloggers as free voluntary service, performed without financial motive. However, we are already regulated in how much we can donate, there is always the danger that we will be regulated in how much we can blog. Remember political blogs can be the equivilant of small unregistered 527's.

The Captain has sent an open letter to congress. I think we are more at the, "ask probing questions" of the FEC for now. The FEC does not itself have a press release on this issue. Yet there are attempts to toss oil on this stormy sea. Yet the key fact remains that, this was caused by comments made by the Chairman of the FEC. I would like to hear from some of the other members of the board. The key fact remains, that government can make some incredibly stupid decisions. If that wasn't true then why else would we need the Supreme Court.

So did Mr. Smith misspeak, and exaggerate his claims? Nothing has been settled yet, however three of the commissioners seem concerned. I expect to see an FEC press release next week sometime. This hasn't yet been picked up by the MSM, and if nothing else major happens will wind up as a political button. We just have to see if the FEC, pushes that button and ignites a blogstorm when they finally decide on the rules. The bigger question though is can blogs and the internet even be regulated. Totalitarian states have tried, can a democracy be more effective?

If a blog is a political action committee of one, that encourages donations; and promotes a candidates causes will the FEC regulate it. If the blogger has a tip jar, which in effect encourages people to donate money so that the blog can continue does it have to be reported. If I support Condi in 2008, will I have to register as a 527.

Edit: The Professor weighs in, while for the Captain it's still anchors aweigh. According to the Professor, this is just a continuation of a smear campaign against Smith. What we need is for the other members to present their views. This is going on the backburner, where it can be watched and the heat turned up if need be.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Cats and Dogs living together?

So has the SEC finally done, what was once considered impossible. According to the Captain, this has happened. From left wing Daily Kos to the right wing Captain, both sides are denouncing the SEC. McCain-Feingold which brought conservative and liberal together, is once again bridging the ideological divide.

So are the reds and blues truly united at last? This new purple movement, seems to be gaining ground. Will we see a serious purple blog storm, that rains down on this law. It all comes down to one fact. This is a first amendment issue, and both sides have streaks of libertarianism in them. The right to speak ones piece, is a fundamental heartfelt right of all citizens.

I haven't seen any hints of this surge of purple anger in the MSM yet. However, since this is already simmering I predict that any move by the SEC, will result in a serious grass-roots movement. A truly purple movement, will have to get the attention of both the SEC and congress. I wonder what they will think of the various bulletin boards and forums, where such issues are also discussed.

Forums for such discussion can occur in the most unlikely of places. Megatokyo is a web comic, yet it too has a forum (for members only), where politics are discussed. Forums have links too, and often have campaign material. The courts keep saying that things can't be unregulated. What next, are they going to regulate someone writing down a website for someone, on a napkin at the corner bar.


Volokh on Blogging

Volokh has written an article, on blogging for the "The Times-Picayune".

I like his reference to books. Just like books there are a lot of blogs; but only a few that are really worth mentioning. In the end the bloggers are the grassroots watchdogs, finaly given voice. Still need to see if the FEC, will carry through with silencing the bark. Hopefully the MSM and blogs will eventually reach a synthesis.


Hegemony vs. Empire

Interesting analysis of the difference. Nato is a Hegemony for example. An empire would be one controling other countries directly. A hegemony if I have it right, would be more akin to a nation being "first among equals."


Political Prisoners coming to the United States?

Will bloggers eventually face arrest for their political views?

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

This article is from written by Declan McCullagh and is contains an interview with FEC commissioner Bradley Smith. Though the article just mentions fines, what happens if a blogger refuses to pay and stop their activity. Do they risk jail time for speaking their political view?

Remember bloggers aren't big media corporations. They don't have the deep pockets to pay such fines. What happens if they can't pay? Will they be confiscation of computers? Will they be jail time and seizure of assets, in order to get the fine out of the political activist. The real question is how far is the government going to be willing to push this. What happens if one side gains the controls of politics. How evenly will the law be enforced?

The Professor has an article on this. I agree with him that this is a violation of the first amendment. Through fines and possibly the threat of jail time the federal government is restricting the speech of it's citizens. The irony is that the internet is creating, the type of grass-roots politics that the FEC is supposed to protect. The FEC was supposed to get the big guy out of politics, now they are trying to get rid of the grass-roots.

So the ultimate question is in a free and open democracy, who is more powerful. Will the FEC or the bloggers prevail. We have seen what grass-root movements have done in totalitarian states, what are they capable of in a free one. What will happen when the first blogger has his computer confiscated?


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Vowel Deprived???

In today's opinion journal's edition of, "Best of the Web", I found this interesting tidbit.

In vowel-deprived Kyrgyzstan, opposition candidates allegedly won only three seats in the parliamentary vote. "Opposition supporters have begun protests to disrupt the second round of voting--to be held on March 13 in more than half of the constituencies. Many are calling for a 'tulip' or 'lemon' revolution comparable to Ukraine's Orange Revolution and the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003."

Vowel deprived Kyrgyzstan? I count ten letters, three of them vowels. Yes, in this case sometimes 'y', is in fact a vowel. That's a good 33% vowel representation. Sure it looks odd, and many people have to pause before attempting to pronounce it. Like a fighter circling his opponent, trying to find a weak spot. Though after a few repeated 'K' sounds, you are off and going. Kyrgyzstan, practically rolls off the tongue.

Of course part of the problem is the number of syllables. "Are there three syllables here, or is that a fourth syllable that I see lurking behind 'g' there?" On first glance, you aren't exactly sure how many there are at . We look about seeking some higher authority. Someone will come down from upon high, with his pronouncement on the subject.

Well Webster's does give us an answer:
Main Entry: Kyr·gyz·stan
Pronunciation: "kir-gi-'stan, -'stän; 'kir-gi-"

There are only three, and when nicely separated the task is easy. According to the CIA you actually have a plethora of ways to pronounce the countries name.
conventional long form: Kyrgyz Republic
conventional short form: Kyrgyzstan
local long form: Kyrgyz Respublikasy
local short form: none
former: Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic

Though it is weird that the, "conventional long form" seems friendly and comforting when compared to the short form. But since this country seems to be joining the redoubt of democracy, we should accept them and learn their name. Slowly but surely the world is turning to democracy. The domino theory turns out to be correct after all. With a nudge and a yell the excitement begins. Now things get interesting, but hopefully not with the implications found in the Chinese curse.

So lets hope this country with the beautiful geography joins us, and another corner of the world is turned towards peace. It would be nice to lounge by placid lake Ysk-kol. Hike in the Tien Shan mountains, which are said to be heavenly. Terrorisim has no place in such a beatiful place, where people deserve to live in peace. Hopefully, this domino too will fall.


Preference Cascade

Looks like Instapundit, has put some thought into what I discussed in my last post too. He terms it a preference cascade, in that suddenly people realized that they were not alone. The sudden emergence of patriotism, after 9/11 was not sole due to the attack. Patriotism, was always there, but it was uncool and so people didn't express it.

Suddenly people realized they were not alone in their feelings, and could find courage in numbers. Why do tyrants use propaganda and secret police, it's to make sure that everyone remains alone in the dark. Statues and paintings and everyone saying that the tyrant is right and good. Anyone who speaks out mysteriously dissapears, so people don't speak. Everyone might yearn for freedom, but who can you trust. After all you know the majority support the tyrant.

Once open communication and a few strong people step up to the plate it is over for the tyrant. Suddenly walls are torn down and new elections are demanded. The truth shall set you free, which is why the enemy of all tyrants is the truth.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

May you live in interesting times???

What is with Canada now? They are so against us having anti-ballistic missile tech, that they don't want us to shoot down any missiles heading toward them. Sorry, just don't get that. Do you think that if push comes to shove, they would still be angry if we did prevent one of their cities from being nuked? I guess this is a case of better to ask forgiveness then to seek permission. I think this is just posturing anyway. They know that we will defend them.

In further news it looks like democracy is breaking out all over the world. I am waiting with baited breath, hoping that this isn't a house of cards that can fall down if breathed on wrong. But then I remember how quickly communism collapsed. I remember thinking just three years prior to the fall in 1989, that the status quo would go on forever. But then again maybe it's the dictators, who are now living in palaces made of cards. The communication age is returning power back to the people. It's hard to feel alone and powerless when, your ears hear the chatter of people speaking thoughts identical to your own.

Pressthink, has an interesting article. Does the abyss stare back. Can, a reporter truly stay detatched and unaffected by what he covers. Is detatchment a myth? If one has no moral anchor, is one doomed to drift with the currents until one hits a reef.. Is relativism, and viewing the world as shades of gray merely saying that one has no morals. Since cameras are known to have an effect in the courtroom, shouldn't reporters finally admit that cameras likewise have an effect in the real world. In a war, can the press really decide not to take sides? It seems that the press may slowly be waking up and seeing that the world does have the colours of morality. It seems that they suddenly realized it when they saw the purple stained fingers of the people of Iraq. Though it might have taken the bloggers, to show them the way.

Who are the terrorists in Iraq fighting? They aren't really fighting the military anymore. Most attacks are on civilians. They deliberately target and kill Iraqis now. What exactly are they fighting for? Actually, the more important question is why are there people in the United States who cheer on the insurgents. It can't be because they don't like the war, because Iraqis are getting killed as they say. After all, one only has to look at which side is deliberately killing innocent Iraqi civilians. The terrorists are trying to stop freedom in its tracks. The election is more about people going to vote. It's about people seeing other people just like them voting, and knowing that they are not alone.

May you live in interesting times? Has this old curse been turned on it's head. It is always hard to be the first one to take a stand. The first person never knows if anyone is going to follow. A small group can dominate and terrorize a large population that is not united. United we stand and divide we fall is easy to say, but it's hard to believe if you don't see the 'we'. That's why leaders are important. They are the ones who take the courageous stand and by doing so encourage others. Like the lone sheriff taken a stand, suddenly by ones and twos the townfolk come out to stand with him. They realize that they are stronger then the outlaws, that steal their freedom and hope.

In order to be a leader, people need to believe in you. Bush has shown that he means what he says and he follows through. Bush answered the basic question of, "you and what army." Democracy is marching like it has an empire at its back. Bullies and Tyrants only respect force and those willing to use it. When today's dictators look at demonstrators today, they also look to Washington to see what the empire is doing. They used to comfort themselves that the giant was sleeping, the tiger had no teeth, the dragon will not fight. It's the difference between a yapping dog that you know won't bite, and the soft low growl of a dog that you know will rip your throat out.

Reputation in the high stakes game of politics is everything. "Speak softly and carry a big stick," only works if everyone thinks that the stick might be used. If you notice Bush is speaking softly right now, as he goes about on his diplomatic rounds. Even more important people are listening. The world sees the blood on our stick, and looks into the eyes of a determined and very awake dragon. It's unfortunate that we had to use our stick, but that's the price one pays for the appearance of weakness. If everything goes well we won't have to use the stick again, any time soon.


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