New at Reason: A new call for corporate accountability.
New at Reason: From September issue, the question of whether libertarianism can include an aggressive foreign policy continues, with Ronald Bailey, Christopher Hitchens, Christopher Preble, and Ivan Eland.
In an attempt to make a law professor in the other Washington look silly, a popular restaurant [in Seattle] is requiring customers to sign a liability waiver before they eat a fat-by-design dessert called The Bulge.
The waiver, a semi-serious gimmick that might be the first of its kind in the United States, is displayed in poster-sized dimensions near the front door of the 5 Spot, an eatery on Seattle's affluent Queen Anne Hill.
"I will not impose any of sort of obesity-related lawsuit against the 5 Spot or consider any similar type of frivolous legislation created by a hungry trial lawyer," the release says. After a diner signs it, a waiter hauls out a sugarcoated, deep-fried, ice cream-swaddled, caramel-drizzled, whipped-cream-anointed banana.
Alastair Bland once took an Anthropology class at UC Santa Barbara.
Hunter-gatherers, I learned, live freer lives, with more leisure time, than agriculturalists. Twelve to eighteen hours per person per week is all time needed by the famous !Kung people of the Kalahari Desert, for example, to collect all the food they need. This leaves more time for reflection and relaxation than most people in our affluent society ever have -- the !Kung don't need to work to pay rent.
So Bland tried a spicy experiment -- live entirely off the land and sea, for 80 days and 80 nights of spear-fishing and fig-plucking. His account is fascinating, and contains some cautionary examples of how getting back to pre-agricultural life ain't all that:
I got some inspiring encouragement from a number of individuals during My Project. They marveled at how great it was and exclaimed that they would some day try to do something similar. They thought it was a good thing to boycott the American market and a shame more people didn't appreciate nature's bounty the way I did. These, though, were usually just acquaintances of mine. The people closest to me, more often than not, criticized what I was doing. They said I was becoming weird and that my obsession was taking over my life. They said that I was alienating myself and that all I ever did was gather, cook, and eat. And I think that if I had had more close friends I would have heard this kind of talk even more often.
The truth is, I almost agreed. Even now I don't believe what I did was very constructive. It was a memorable time in my life, to be sure, and it was a good thing to have tried. But to carry on like that forever would have been, for me, social suicide. To be an individual hunter-gatherer in America is to lead a lonely life. [?]
[E]ven when full and satiated and liberated from the physical desire for food, I couldn't relax, I was held captive by thoughts of food. I sometimes dreamed of figs and climbing around in trees.
Reader Douglas Fletcher passes along a great story about a mysterious radio station in Arizona and a reporter's efforts to track down the man behind it.
Gregg Easterbrook thinks Hurricane Isabel was overhyped. I don't know jack about meteorology, but he seems to make a good case, especially here:
[Y]ou'll hear that property damage is unprecedented. This will be cited by hype-meisters to justify the notion of Isabel as a phenomenal mega-event, and cited by enviros to back claims the hurricanes are increasing in intensity. But of course property damage will set new records: property is becoming more valuable. Between inflation, the strong market in housing values and a 30-year trend of building upscale housing in coastal areas, with each passing year, what stands in the paths of hurricanes is simply worth more.
Rest easy, Atlantic City. Miss America Pageant officials are saying, Damn Hurricane Isabel! Tonight's parade will go on.
Pageant fans and non-fans alike will enjoy Peter Bagge's (pretty much thumbs-up) coverage of the 2000 contest—which as I recall brought in an appreciative piece of mail from a former Miss A herself. (Not the deaf one though.)
Andrew Greeley compares the Bush Team to Joseph Goebbels and the Nazis. But his real stretch is boo-hooing about all the liberal, big government stuff that will not happen because money is being spent on Iraq.
New at Reason: The federal government's new surveillence powers are not really new, but they are absolutely necesessary to fighting terrorism even though they're not being used, so don't worry but don't expect any right to expect privacy. Jacob Sullum explains it all for you.
Interesting piece in the Denver Post about how the pricing strategies of CDs and DVDs differ and what that says about the music and movie bizs' response to the threat of piracy, downloading, etc.
Not until 20 years after the introduction of the CD in the United States did a record label announce across-the-board price cuts that acknowledged consumer anger at paying $19 for one decent Justin Timberlake song. Universal will now drop prices on many CDs to below $10, a breaking point many buyers seem to accept.
In contrast, the movie studios saw the threat from pay-per-view cable and satellite in 1997, when DVDs first arrived here, and slashed prices immediately. DVDs started between $19 and $24; today hundreds of great titles are available in the $10 range. With "Pirates of the Caribbean" still taking in great business in theaters, a two-disc DVD version will arrive before Christmas for $18.
Whole thing here.
[Link via Frankin Harris]
A piece in Fortune touts Modafinil, an anti-narcolepsy drug used "off label" to keep people awake, alert, and hyperfocused, but without the side effects of caffeine or Ritalin or the addictive potential of amphetamines. A friend of mine who's tried it claims that it lives up to the hype. My only concern is that it sounds too good to be true: I can't help but suspect we'll all eventually start losing our memories like the victims of the insominia disease in One Hundred Years of Solitude or something.
WaPo says that the administration's attempt to use steel tariffs ("safeguards" in the new doublespeak) to buy a few steel union votes has backfired. The union support isn't forthcoming, and the industries that use steel have been shedding jobs by the thousands as a result of higher costs. If there's anything worse than betraying your principles in a cynical and destructive attempt at political pandering, it's betraying your principles in a cynical and destructive attempt at political pandering that doesn't even work.
New at Reason: Hurricane Isabel gives a new mission to D.C. public transportation—making people stay home. Charles Paul Freund explains.
Writing in The Nation, Brooke Shelby Biggs describes some of the "independent and small-network stations" that are "regularly whipping the Clear Channel rivals in their markets." I've got a few quibbles with the piece, but it's a nice introduction to some innovative radio outfits -- and it wraps up with a telling quote. "When the mainstream grows, the underground grows with it," one broadcaster says. "People are getting tired of mainstream radio, and they find us."
Conservatives don't like taxes.
Some gays don't like taxes.
Therefore, conservatives hate all gays, even ones who don't like taxes.
This faux exercise in logic (exercise in faux logic?) is prompted by this AP story on ABC News' Web Site:
PHOENIX Sept. 18 � A conservative anti-tax group on Thursday dropped an ex-legislator as president of its first state affiliate. The dismissed man said it was because he is gay, which the group denied.
The Washington-based Club for Growth had been criticized
by some Arizona conservatives for its selection of former Rep.
Steve May as head of the week-old Arizona affiliate.
While critics questioned May's credentials as a conservative on fiscal and school-choice issues, May told The Associated Press, "The real issue is the gay issue. It's unfortunate."
May said in a telephone interview that he received a voicemail from Club for Growth national President Stephen Moore saying the group "thinks we need to make a change in leadership to someone who is less objectionable and to someone who is not a lightning rod."
Moore declined to comment late Thursday.
Club for Growth spokesman Kevin McVicker said the group "categorically denies that they are separating from Mr. May because he is gay. Rather it has to do with policy issues."
He declined to elaborate.
McVicker had acknowledged earlier that May's role as state president was under review because of complaints prompted by a social conservative, Len Munsil, president of the Scottsdale-based Center for Arizona Policy.
On Monday, Munsil urged supporters in an e-newsletter to contact Moore with e-mails to protest May's role.
"Politely let him know conservatives will not support an organization led by a liberal gay activist who has declared war on social conservatives in Arizona," Munsil wrote.
The Washington-based Club for Growth is a supply-side advocacy group that until now has sought only to influence the outcome of congressional races with donations and by running ads criticizing incumbents it opposes.
The Arizona affiliate was to be the group's first foray into state-level politics.
I know the Club for Growth's head, Stephen Moore, very slightly but well enough to know that he's no bigot (Moore, formerly director fiscal policy studies at and currently a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is a hard-core libertarian and socially tolerant; Cato is likewise a group where sexual orientation is not an issue).
This sort of report points to very real friction between conservatives and libertarians--and not the sort of friction that feels good. Despite some common ground--such as a desire for lower taxes--the underlying philosophies are very different. What's the point of keeping more of your own money from the government if you can't spend the extra dough on the lifestyle you want?
Btw, The Center for Arizona Policy isn't just anti-gay--sorry, pro-family. The group also casts a cold eye on gambling, abortion, and folks uncomfortable with Ten Commandments statues being displayed in court houses.
Political columnist Jill Stewart lists some of the stinky, recently-passed Democratic bills sitting on Gov. Gray Davis' desk. Among them:
AB 1309, by Jackie Goldberg. After a school district tears down houses to build a school, this allows a district to go tear down somebody else's house, somewhere else, to put up housing for those originally displaced. The intent is to make white suburbanites, whom Goldberg detests, suffer instead of brown urbanites. Watch for lawsuits by broad-sided homeowners.
AB 1742. If your taxman has more than 100 clients, he now must send your return in via Internet.
The House has passed a bill making permanent the 1998 moratorium on Internet taxes. The original law expires at the start of November.
At The Dissident, Will Wilkinson writes (say that three times fast) about the real reason to oppose the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund:
The next time you get the chance, please protest against the IMF and the World Bank. But do it for the right reason. Do it not because they promote globalization and capitalism, but because they impede it.
The increases in prosperity in the Third World are largely due to the remarkable growth in the economies of Asia, where markets and global trade have been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. However, in Africa, where markets and global trade have generally been repudiated, the people remain, by and large, in the throes of the most desperate poverty. The Bank and the Fund are trying to impose economic globalization through political globalization, and they are failing — indeed, making things worse.
Read the whole thing here.
[Link via Free-Market.net]
New at Reason: Michael Young compares the cases of Taysir Alouni and Ibrahim Hamidi; both are Syrian journalists, both were jailed, but only one has a fan base.
New at Reason: From the September issue, Joli Jensen puzzles over Herbert J. Gans' complex ideas on civic journalism.
The folks at the Center for Democracy and Technology favor changing the Digital Milennium Copyright Act so that big content providers (i.e., the entertainment industry) won't have the right to subpoena Internet Service Providers for the names of users suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted materials. As it stands now, media companies don't have to file a lawsuit to make the request.
Regardless of one's position on downloading, this case highlights the tensions between privacy and copyright--tensions that are growing as content providers become more active in going after alleged infringers. (Yes, a Reason feature story on this very topic is in the works.)
From a Cox News Service report published in the Grand Junction Sentinel:
Seven and a half billion music files on American computers are from peer networks, and 64 percent of households with Web access have at least one digital music file on their computers, according to the NPD Group, a market research company.
Most of the providers subpoenaed in July, including Atlanta-based BellSouth and Earthlink and New York-based Time Warner, have handed over more than a 1,000 customer names to the recording industry association. San Antonio- based SBC Communications, however, refused to hand over the information, saying the subpoenas violate its customers' privacy because the association only needs to allege wrongdoing to file a request.
"Once [the association] makes its filing and pays $25, due process and privacy are out the window," James Ellis, general counsel of SBC, told the panel. "It will be inevitable that the Internet stalker or child molester will use this approach to find victims."
William Barr, general counsel of Verizon, cited Titan Media as an example of a group exploiting the 1998 act. The group, a file sharing network for gay pornography, asked an ISP to hand over the identities of 59 users it suspected of illegally using its network. Titan withdrew the subpoena, but now requires Internet users to buy its material, threatening to use the subpoena process to disclose their identity, he said.
Brownback's legislation would require the copyright holder to file a lawsuit to obtain a customer's identity, not just hand over a document to a clerk.
Music industry leaders said that the Millennium copyright act allows them to enforce valuable copyrights, but does not give them far reaching powers. John Rose, executive vice president of recording company EMI, said it had cut its artist roster by a quarter last year, and laid off 20 percent of its workforce because of digital piracy.
"We are entitled only to name, address, phone number and e-mail," said Cary Sherman, president of the recording association. "That's the same information SBC and Yahoo routinely give out to marketing partners." Alternative proposals by SBC and Verizon would allow Titan to acquire the same information, he said.
Michael Kinsley has a witty column in Slate about K Street and the lobbying culture. My favorite part:
Shortly after I arrived in Redmond (after two decades in D.C.), I got a phone call from a well-known Washington figure who had just left the White House for a K Street law firm. Hey, it was great to talk to me. He missed me in D.C. He was really sorry we'd been out of touch, he said. Very eager to hear how I was doing out here. Happy to have grabbed this chance to catch up. And, by the way, he felt awful, for my sake and for the country's, about the beating a great company like Microsoft was taking, and he would love to be able to help. Could I put him in touch with someone?
I couldn't, but here's the kicker: I had never met this man in my life.
From a 1999 Reason article:
Joel Klein is a famous man. The head of the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice usually toils in anonymity, known only to the in-groups of the bar. Not Klein. He has sued Microsoft, the most prominent company in America's jazziest industry, and demonized the world's richest human, Bill Gates...
Yesterday, the evil Gates finally exacted revenge: His foundation donated $51 million to help the New York City public school system, which Klein now runs.
Anti-communist heroes Vaclav Havel, Arpad Goncz and Lech Walesa have jointly written a Washington Post op-ed urging the Western world to support Cuban dissidents against Fidel Castro's late-life spasms of brutality. Excerpt:
It is the responsibility of the democratic world to support representatives of the Cuban opposition, regardless of how long the Cuban Stalinists cling to power. The Cuban opposition must have the same international support as did the representatives of political dissent in Europe when it stood divided. Statements of condemnation for the government's repression, combined with specific diplomatic steps coming from Europe, Latin America and the United States, would be suitable means of exerting pressure on the regime in Cuba.
It cannot be claimed that the U.S. embargo on Cuba has brought about the results desired. Neither can this be said of the European policy, which has been considerably more forthcoming toward the Cuban regime. It is time to put aside transatlantic disputes about the embargo on Cuba and to concentrate on direct support for Cuban dissidents, prisoners of conscience and their families. Europe ought to make it unambiguously clear that Castro is a dictator, and that for democratic countries a dictatorship cannot become a partner until it begins a process of political liberalization.
(Link via Robert Garcia Tagorda.)
New at Reason: Why are we in Iraq?
Slate's Will Saletan takes aim at pols and pundits who act as though Republicans have a monopoly on lying and cheating.
New at Reason: David Horowitz and Jesse Walker hash out the nitty, gritty, and not so pretty in the "Academic Bill of Rights."
From The Onion:
Revised Patriot Act Will Make It Illegal To Read Patriot Act
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush spoke out Monday in support of a revised version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act that would make it illegal to read the USA Patriot Act. "Under current federal law, there are unreasonable obstacles to investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism, including the public's access to information about how the federal police will investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism," Bush said at a press conference Monday. "For the sake of the American people, I call on Congress to pass this important law prohibiting access to itself." Bush also proposed extending the rights of states to impose the death penalty "in the wake of Sept. 11 and stuff."
Discount airline JetBlue is fervently denying that it has provided confidential passenger information to the federal government in order to aid in the development of CAPPS II passenger profiling software. (CAPPS stands for for Computerized Airline Passenger Pre-Screening System.) An email sent out to concerened customers claimed:
No JetBlue customer information has been shared with the US Government with respect to testing the CAPPS II program currently under design.
Bill Scannell calls bullshit. Turns out that what this incredibly misleading statement means is that JetBlue gave data on 5 million passengers to a government contractor to test a prototype program that wasn't yet being referred to as CAPPS II. That is, the info wasn't used for the program "currently under design." Whatever their definition of "is" is, privacy conscious travellers may want to think twice about flying JetBlue.
Last week, lefty economist Max Sawicky linked a fascinating site devoted to different conceptions of distributive justice. You can observe changes in various economic and social indicators in different countries over time, read about competing theories of distributive justice, take a quiz to determine the theory with which you have the most affinity, compare your own views to those of other visitors, and even construct your own ideal society by playing the distributive justice "game." (So far, the minimal state is the second-least popular alternative: It fares better than strict egalitarianism but not as well as communism.) The characterization of the alternatives in the game strikes me as a bit loaded, as well as embodying some definite assumptions about which personality traits count as "deserved", but it's pretty interesting nevertheless.
My first, semi-serious reaction to the sacking of New York Stock Exchange president, Richard Grasso, who worked his way up from $82.50 a week in 1968 to a platinum parachute of $140 million?
"They"--the old-line WASPocracy--will do anything to stick it to a spaghetti bender who does good! If Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice (which of course it isn't), then busting a goombah's chops is the last acceptable prejudice against European Americans (pop culture may be awash in knuckle-dragging goodfellas but when's the last you even heard a Polish joke?). This is the sort of thing that my sainted mother, the former Therese Guida--who grew up speaking Italian and whose own mother was once kept out of the US for years due to the 1920s' racist immigration laws--used to talk about.
Then an Italian American (whose name even ends in a vowel) I trust on financial matters pointed out, "Fuck that puny thieving scumbag. The interlocking compensation committee scam that Grasso benefited from isn't much different than a bunch of mob bosses getting together on the bocce court to decide how to carve up territory."
Whatever the truth of the matter, this much is certain: The NYSE is an interesting example of self-regulation that is responding to investor concerns. The fact that various public entities are among its biggest investors muddies the waters a bit, but it provides an illustration of how markets correct themselves.
What's the difference between an independent contractor's license and a shakedown? Not much, says Virginia Postrel.
Attorney General John Ashcroft says critics of the PATRIOT Act are stirring up "baseless hysteria" about Section 215 of the law, which authorizes the FBI to demand "any tangible thing" upon certifying to a secret court that it's relevant to a terrorism investigation. (Finding that pro forma trip to court inconvenient, the Justice Department now wants the power to issue its own subpoenas.)
According to Ashcroft, crazy alarmists would have the public believe the FBI is staking out libraries to "ask every person exiting the library, 'Why were you at the library? What were you reading? Did you see anything suspicious?' "
Actually, one of the critics' main points is that you may never know if the FBI snoops through your records, because the people required to provide them are forbidden to talk about it. If the feds approached you directly, at least you'd know they were curious, and (last time I checked) you could decline to answer their questions.
Ashcroft says it's absurd to believe that the FBI wants to know "how far you have gotten on the latest Tom Clancy novel." The government, he says, "has no interest in your reading habits. Tracking reading habits would betray our high regard for the First Amendment. And even if someone in government wanted to do so, it would represent an impossible workload and a waste of law enforcement resources."
Notice that Ashcroft does not deny that the PATRIOT Act authorizes the government to monitor your reading habits (and many other private aspects of your life). He just says the government has no interest in doing so. All it wants to do is catch the bad guys, and if you've done nothing wrong you have no cause to be concerned--presumably because government officials never waste resources, make mistakes, or act maliciously. In other words: Trust us.
New at Reason: Jesse Walker wonders whether there's a difference between the Centennial State's proposed "Academic Bill of Rights" and the infamous Fairness Doctrine.
New at Reason: Ron Bailey gives a blow-by-blow description of last week's GM food ruckus in Valle Verde.
New at Reason: Cathy Young finds plenty of reasons to worry about the War On Terror.
Samuel Nugent of the Mangrove Action Project has written an interesting paper on mangrove forests. "These diverse wetlands," he writes, "found along tropical and subtropical coasts, play an important role as buffer zones between land and sea. They remove silt and sediment from fresh water as it empties into the ocean, while buffering the coast from erosion and storm damage. An estimated 75 percent of all tropical marine fish spend some part of their lives in the rich web of mangrove roots, which are breeding grounds and nutrient-rich nurseries."
Governments, Nugent points out, have not done a very good job of protecting these areas. More often, what's worked is control "by the fishers and farmers who have traditionally inhabited the mangrove forests." As an example, he points to the Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka, which "banded together in 1984 to fortify themselves against the powerful influence of large corporate and political interests. The SFFL now includes 22 percent of the nation's independent fishers and more than 146 fishing communities throughout the country. The federation helped define clear fishing rights for its members and worked with local and regional enforcement agencies to enforce them." The next step, Nugent argues, is to give the fishers full legal rights to their territories.
In addition to its conservation work, the federation funds revolving loans for its members, community education projects, and other mutual aid programs. All in all, not a bad alternative to centralized control.
Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren, plastic surgery survivor and Miss America Beauty Pageant judge, tells USA Today the problem facing Ms. magazine's (relatively) new editor,
''Her challenge is huge,'' says Van Susteren. ''She's got to keep her original base of readers and attract new ones. Our society is constantly changing.''
Last October, Reason took a long look at "how organized feminism has made itself irrelevant."
[Link via Romenesko]
London's Adam Smith Institute kicks off its new blog by asking whether Naomi Klein's No Logo should be subject to its own proposed market remedies.
The Bush team's spin patrol must be getting dizzy. First we had Vice President Dick Cheney giving us a rather interesting tale of close al Qaeda work with Iraq dating back a decade and pronouncing Iraq "the geographic base of terrorism. " Then Condi Rice slightly amended that to the Middle East being "a region from which the 9-11 threat emerged," a horseshoe pit still big enough to justify the invasion of Iraq.
But then Rummy got into the act to express bafflement that two-thirds of the American people think Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Gee, Don could it be cuz we blew the Hell out of his country and zippered his creepy-ass sons, displaying the carcasses like we'd bagged Agog and Magog? That sort of thing makes an impression on your average American.
If this is confusing, don't worry. It'll all change by tomorrow.
The WashPost had an online chat today with reporter Vernon Loeb about Gen. Wesley K. Clark, just about the least inspiring military man to stump for president since good ol' Gen. George McClellan took his best shot against Honest Abe. Even given the weakness of the Democratic field (which is not to suggest that the GOP has anything going for it), I can't imagine that the general will get very far at all.
While the Post chat is wide-ranging and revealing, it regrettably stops short of listing Wes' favorite band, food, soft drink, and color. Here's the opening exchange about this "fascinating" man:
Vernon Loeb: Greetings everybody. Today's topic: Wesley K. Clark. He is a fascinating man, and it will be fascinating to see how he does as a presidential candidate.
Portland, Ore.: Your personality profile of Clark and the comments of those who don't like him or trust him reads like the personality of any man with enough ego and ambition to presume he could be President of th United States. Wouldn't anybody that ambitious rub people the wrong way?
washingtonpost.com: A Fast Climber Who Has Made Some Enemies (Post, Sept. 17)
Vernon Loeb: Yes, you're absolutely right. Similar stories are most likely told about everyone in the field. I think Clark's detractors would say that he's even more ambitious and manipulative than your typical ambitious and manipulative Washington power player. And I think Clark's success as a candidate could well be determined by whether his campaign can establish a sense of steadiness and control, or whether his intense and emotional personality will lead to a political flame out, in which critics attack, and Clark attacks back, and things quickly get out of control and he loses credibility.
Wesley Clark, darling of the establishment Democrats, has a friend on the left end of the party too. Writing to his fans last Friday, Michael Moore stopped just short of endorsing the general's presidential campaign. Next week I suppose we'll see Rush Limbaugh endorsing Ramsey Clark.
Residents living near the adult clubs, however, were ecstatic.
"We couldn't be happier," said West Los Angeles resident Cristi Walden, who said she saw six adult businesses move into her neighborhood in the last 10 years, and complained that prostitution and public sex were destroying her quality of life.
Walden, an anti-strip club activist, was the only "resident living near the adult clubs" quoted.
Looks like Wesley Clark is in.
"If it's illegal to use, it should be illegal to sell," said Gene Russianoff, a senior lawyer at the New York Public Interest Research Group. "Most people who are buying it aren't looking to use it in their backyard or the neighborhood parking lot. They're looking to use it for transportation."
(Electric scooters evidently don't qualify as one of New York PIRG's acceptable alternatives to driving.)
Women's pro soccer is dead. Long live women's soccer. The WUSA has folded just scant days before the Women's World Cup will kickoff. Recall that the USA! USA! USA! victory in the 1999 event was to usher in the glory days of women's professional sport with soccer -- the world's game, i.e., something the U.S. has not dominated over the years -- leading the way.
Except that those involved in the WUSA -- players, execs, sponsors even -- did not understand that the women would have to be content to play in what essentially would be a minor league for a very long time, a decade perhaps, as the fan base grew. That didn't happen has the WUSA burned through $100 million in a pointless attempt at equality of largess with men's sports.
The drawbacks of medical marijuana.
Attention foodies who miss the '90s: The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook is now on sale, with proceeds funding Slick Willie's presidential library.
Among the recipes, reports the AP via WashPost:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chocolate chip cookies, Bill Clinton's chicken enchiladas, Elizabeth Taylor's spicy chicken and Barbra Streisand's Southern lemon ice box pie.
"This dessert was made for a luncheon on August 13, 2000, that we had on our front yard for President Clinton," said a note from Streisand that accompanied the recipe. Many of the recipes include personal notes.
Give credit where credit is due. Early on his presidency, Bill's love handles and ravenous eating habits were seen as markers of his psychological well-being (or lack thereof). But the former tub of goo lost weight and has apparently kept it off, perhaps the better to enjoy bachelor life--er, retirement.
"The same people that fail to wash after using restrooms go on to pick up children, handle food, greet family and use other public facilities," said Dr. Judy Daly, secretary of the American Society for Microbiology, which sponsored the survey.
The survey, conducted last month by Wirthlin Worldwide, was reported at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy at McCormick Place.
The findings indicate many people lie when it comes to hand-washing. In an earlier survey, 95 percent of adults claimed they always wash their hands after using public restrooms.
With the exception of Toronto, there has been no
significant increase in hand-washing compared with observational
studies in 1996 and 2000. And researchers fear rates could drop in
Toronto as SARS fears ebb. During the epidemic's peak, the media
bombarded residents with reminders to wash their hands.
Go here for a partial list of dirtiest airports.
[Link courtesy of clean-handed reader Andrew Lynch]
California's recall may be postponed so everybody can use a new voting machine. But it sez here that "voting officials ... were handed a new problem to consider: whether combining the lengthy recall ballot with the primary in March would produce a behemoth too large for the newer voting machines to handle.
"'It's more than a wrinkle,' said Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack. 'No one even asked the largest county in the state if we had the capacity to run it in March. The answer is no.'"
Want more? A postponement might mean "reopening the ballot to allow candidates to remove their names or new candidates to join the race. State law generally requires that the ballot be set within 59 days of the election."
Sez Mickey Kaus: "One--only one--of the problems of government-by-judiciary is that judges think they know all the relevant facts just from reading the briefs of the parties in the case. But they don't. ..."
Love him, hate him, there is nothing quite like Jude Wanniski tearing into someone. This time it is Dick Cheney's weekend performance on Meet The Press.
Los Angeles City Council members, whose salaries are the highest in the country (in excess of $130,000 a year), have just voted unanimously to ban lap dancing from the porn capital of the world. The law, expected to be signed by Mayor James Hahn, "requires state-licensed security guards to be on duty [at strip clubs] at all times," according to Reuters. "Violators face up to six months in jail and as much as $2,500 in fines." Besides driving still more businesses out of L.A. (and depriving future Courtney Loves of an important revenue source), this gobsmackingly idiotic decision will serve as further workfare for the lefty Council's favorite charity: the LAPD rank and file. Hahn already caved to the police union by delivering a three-day workweek (over the strenuous objections to LAPD management) just after taking office, thereby making it much easier for our cops to moonlight as bodyguards for Death Row records and such.
Speaking of bloggers interviewing economists, Kevin "CalPundit" Drum has one with Paul Krugman, who blames the Milton Friedmans of the world (or more specifically, Grover Norquist and the Heritage Foundation) of helping create a situation where
we're headed for some kind of collision, and there are three things that can happen. Just by the arithmetic, you can either have big tax increases, roll back the whole Bush program plus some; or you can sharply cut Medicare and Social Security, because that's where the money is; or the U.S. just tootles along until we actually have a financial crisis where the marginal buyer of U.S. treasury bills, which is actually the Reserve Bank of China, says, we don't trust these guys anymore � and we turn into Argentina.
Today the Drug Policy Alliance released a detailed, state-by-state catalog of drug policy reform measures adopted since 1996. Depending upon your mood, it is either encouraging or depressing.
Blogger John Hawkins of Right Wing News has conducted a terrific little 20-minute interview with Milton Friedman, on free trade, the progress created by unemployment, the virtues of divided government, and more. Excerpt:
John Hawkins: Are there any political websites you'd like to recommend to our readers?
Milton Friedman: No, I don't really follow any political websites. I think they'll do better reading the Wealth of Nations (laughs)...
John Hawkins: Last but not least, is there anything else you'd like to say or promote?
Milton Friedman: I'd like to promote lots of things. I'd like to promote elimination of drug prohibition. I'd like to promote parental choice in education through vouchers. Those are two things I think are very urgent and important. They're both more important than the harm which Social Security will do.
I think that our policy with respect to drugs is fundamentally immoral and it's really disgraceful that we cause thousands of deaths in South America because we cannot enforce our own laws. If we could enforce our own laws against consumption of drugs, there would be no drug cartels in South America. There would be no -- nearly a civil war in a place like Columbia.
Similarly, I think the performance of our school systems is disgraceful. I think roughly a quarter of the population never graduates high school. We have a lower level of literacy today than we had a hundred years ago. That's no despite, but because of the poor schools, particularly in low-income areas.
Friedman has been the subject of several Reason Q&As, most recently by Brian Doherty in 1995.
Western sexual mores have invaded Bombay -- and run up against a staggering absence of personal privacy. The situation is exacerbated by two more ingredients: Hindu theocrats, and rent control.
The Senate has officially joined the backlash against Michael Powell's FCC.
New at Reason: Isn't television a vast enough wasteland without Washington politicians getting into the entertainment business? Julian Sanchez reviews K Street.
I've seen maybe half a dozen movies based on Stephen King books, but my direct exposure to his output consists of hearing a couple of his short stories read aloud at a dormroom Halloween party in 1988. I'm therefore unqualified to comment on whether he deserves the "annual medal for distinguished contribution to American letters" that the National Book Foundation is awarding him. But I'm happy to see literateurs making a gesture towards taking genre writers seriously, whether or not King is the right pulpster to honor.
New at Reason: From the windswept coast of rugged Cancun, where hearty Celts till the rocky soil using the same crude stone implements their forebears used thousands of years ago, Ron Bailey assesses the collapse of the WTO ministerial talks.
Gathering place for recovering alcoholics wants to be able to let them smoke legally. Applies for a liquor license, because under Alberta law, that is the only way to show that your establishment will not allow minors to smoke. Officials turn down the application because no actual alcohol will be served.
"They weren't looking for a liquor license, they were looking for a smoking license," an official explained. Oh.
"New Terror Laws Used Vs. Common Criminals" reads the AP headline.
How is the PATRIOT Act is being stretched by law enforcement types? As Stan Lee used to say, "Read on MacDuff":
In the two years since law enforcement agencies gained fresh powers to help them track down and punish terrorists, police and prosecutors have increasingly turned the force of the new laws not on al-Qaida cells but on people charged with common crimes.
The Justice Department said it has used authority given to it by the USA Patriot Act to crack down on currency smugglers and seize money hidden overseas by alleged bookies, con artists and drug dealers.
Federal prosecutors used the act in June to file a charge of "terrorism using a weapon of mass destruction" against a California man after a pipe bomb exploded in his lap, wounding him as he sat in his car.
The most disturbing element of the story may be the charge leveled by a spokesman for a criminal defense attorneys organization:
"Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens."
Which should leave PATRIOT Act defenders and critics alike wondering where we'll be in a few more years' time, especially if the sunset provisions in the original act are amended.
New at Reason: With Halloween decorating season just around the corner, we're presenting a delicious nibble from our October goody bag. Michael McMenamin goes to bat for Martha Stewart, whose troubles with the SEC should be packed into a nicely fringed credenza and buried under the hydrangeas.
Reason writers around town: At the Daily Star, I revisit the circular ruins of the academic debate on the Middle East—in particular the rise of the Pipes/Lewis/Ajami wing over the MESA faction, or whatever you want to call them. One thing I should have noted in considering whether the MESA types may be coming back in from the cold was the rise of Noah Feldman, who seems pretty close to the John L. Esposito school in mainstream Middle East studies.
And if none of the above makes any sense to you, you should probably be happy about that.
By the way, my man Pipes made an appearance on LBC the other night, and apparently made no effort to "fine tune the message" for the local audience. As one of my neighbors described it: "All he said was, 'You Arabs are all stupid. You should do everything we tell you to do.'" I think he was quoting Pipes with less than 100 percent accuracy, but I get the impression it didn't go over too well. Sadly, I'm stuck without telly, so I can't say for sure.
Taysir Alouni, the Al-Jazeera reporter who gained fame playing Lowell Thomas to bin Laden's T.E. Lawrence, is facing charges in Spain of funneling money to and recruiting members for al Qaeda. Coverage in Newsweek and the Guardian. The Al Jazeera news readers are all standing by their man, leading to a fashion catastrophe: Their "Free Taysir" buttons clash horribly with their newsdesk suits. Unlike the flag pins our own anchorbots sported briefly after 9/11, the buttons have to be big enough so you can make out the picture of the guy. As a result, the Arab world's most prominent news broadcasters are wearing these big Bozo buttons on their lapels. Alouni, who preferred Taliban activewear in his heyday, wouldn't have had that problem.
The aptly named Michael Puffer, an intrepid investigative reporter for the Danvers, Massachusetts, Herald, asks for a cup of beer at a local hair salon, receives the complementary beverage he requested, and returns the favor by ratting out the owner for serving liquor without a license. Then he brags about the feat in print. It makes you proud to be a journalist.
[Thanks to Doug Geiger for the link.]
If you, like tens of millions of Americans, have tried cigarettes but have never smoked them regularly, you may be surprised to learn that they're instantly addictive. That, at least, is the gloss the press is putting on a recent study of smoking by Canadian teenagers.
According to The Ottawa Citizen, the study, an analysis of survey data, found that "1 Cigarette Can Get You Hooked." The story begins, "The first puff on a cigarette could be enough to hook a young teenager into addiction, according to new Canadian research." The London Free Press likewise has the researchers discovering that "One Cigarette Can Lead to Addiction."
The Citizen reports:
The young smokers were categorized as triers, who had only smoked once or twice in their lifetime; sporadic smokers, who smoked more than three times in their lifetime, but not monthly, weekly or daily; those who smoked at least once a month; weekly smokers, who smoked more than once a week but not daily; and those who smoked daily.
Boldly contradicting its own headline and lead, the Citizen concedes that "none of the triers demonstrated signs of dependence."
And what, exactly, were these signs of dependence?
The youngsters were queried about their tobacco use and whether they smoked at all, how frequently, and what sorts of feelings and cravings it elicited in them. The questions attempt to draw out whether the smokers are experiencing any symptoms of nicotine dependence, while using language that acknowledges the different smoking behaviour of teenagers.
In other words, the researchers decided that teenagers could be addicted to nicotine even if they didn't smoke every day. Hence it's not surprising that they discovered addiction where less keen observers had seen only occasional smoking.
The fact remains, however, that most teenagers who try cigarettes never become regular smokers. For those who do, you could say the habit began with that first cigarette. But did we really need a taxpayer-funded study to tell us that?
One of the most resonant arguments against illegal immigration is that it's, well, illegal. Broken windows and all that. As immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger has said, "People like myself waited for 15 years after I came to this country -- legally -- to get citizenship." I guess it depends on the meaning of the word "legally." From a San Jose Mercury News article:
As a 21-year-old bodybuilder, Schwarzenegger came to the United States in 1968 on a B-1 visa, which allows visiting athletes to compete and train, but bars them from drawing a salary from an American company.
But in his 1977 autobiography, Schwarzenegger said he reached a deal with a legendary figure in the bodybuilding industry "to pay me a weekly salary in exchange for my information and being able to use photographs of me in his magazine."
That arrangement, said a half-dozen immigration attorneys across the nation, appears to have violated the terms of his visa.
Link via Daniel Weintraub.
New at Reason: Nick Gillespie rules against the music industry's latest effort to sue its way back to profitability.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled that the California recall must be postponed, due to concerns over hanging chads and suchlike. The ruling (which you can read here) is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Recall legal blogger Rick Hasen will likely have interesting observations throughout the day.
At the WTO talks in Cancun, Bureaucrash activists set up a "fair trade vs free trade" soda stand, allowing thirsty protesters to decide whether they wanted to pay jacked up "fair" soda prices. Most, surprise surprise, did not. Some "anarchists" then enacted their own form of trade barrier-cum-censorship by forming a human chain around the 'Crashers. I guess this is the version of "anarchism" where all the things governments do are actually OK, so long as they're instead done by black-clad mobs imbued with superior social conscience. Maybe we should rename it "sanctimoniocracy."
In a piece about the decline of good insults in politics, The Wall Street Journal's Eric Gibson asks,
The communists in North Korea managed to call John Bolton, the undersecretary of state who bluntly criticized them, "rude human scum" and a "bloodsucker." How is it that colorless apparatchiks in backward regimes can come up with such colorful locutions when the denizens of a dynamic democracy can't?
Gibson also explains the gibe that caused Sen. Charles Sumner to be on the receiving end of the most celebrated physical attack to take place in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body:
In 1856, Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner called Illinois's Stephen Douglas a "noisome, squat and nameless animal" and, in the same debate, said of South Carolina's Andrew Butler that he had "chosen a mistress . . . who though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world is chaste in his sight--I mean the harlot, Slavery." This gibe prompted the famous caning incident, when Rep. Preston Brooks, a fellow South Carolinian, rose to Butler's defense by belaboring Sumner about the head with a metal-topped walking stick.
Whole thing here.
[Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.]