December 30, 2006

New URL For My Law Blog

I have had a law blog associated with my firm's website since February 2006, but after an initial burst, didn't post to it much, partly because it was created in iWeb, Apple's proprietary website editing program.

It creates pretty websites and has a simple interface, but the code is kludgy and the blog format in particular has problems, such as creating weird URLs. After Blogger came out with its new version, I did the work to move the old blog posts over to a new format and URL, which is a lot easier to use and loads faster.

I know that other programs are fancier, but I'm used to Blogger and the results are acceptable. The revised site is here. The content isn't new yet, but I hope to post regular long posts on legal issues.

UPDATE: The link was broken. Now it's fixed. My face is red.

December 29, 2006

Prosecuting the Prosecutor

The North Carolina State Bar has bitten the bullet and is after prosecutor Michael Nifong, whose conduct in trying the Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape in the press, apparently for electoral advantage, has been a racially- and politically-motivated disgrace.

Now the Duke Trustees should look into the disgraceful conduct of Richard Brodhead, Duke's President, who joined the lynch mob attacking his own students, rather than taking a careful look at the facts.

Racial animus is apparently considered enlightened, when directed at crac . . ., I mean white folks.

UPDATE: A detailed, knowledgeable discussion of the State Bar charges here.

Vegetable Love

One of my favorite photographers, Rick Lee of West Virginia, displays his orderliness by shopping for groceries every Thursday night.

Rick then posts the most amazing (and sensual) photographs of vegetables. He's on Week 66 by now, and there's always something new.

As Andrew Marvell put it, "My vegetable love shall grow,/ Vaster than empires, and more slow . . . "

Check him out.

December 27, 2006

Apres Gaston, Oscar. Apres Oscar, Gaston.

Independence advocate Oscar Temaru was replaced by Gaston Tong Sang, the Mayor of Bora Bora, as President of French Polynesia.

M. Tong Sang is an "autonomiste" (pro-French) poliitician, and a colleague and supporter of Gaston Flosse, the former President, a buddy of Jacques Chirac.

The Assembly is full of tiny parties, whose coalitions fragment and re-form.

Recently, the cost of living has been going through the roof.

Polynesians' backs are curved from supporting all those fat Frenchmen.

What if They Gave a Photo Op and Nobody Came?

The ineffable John Kerry went to Iraq, called a press conference, and no one showed up, so it was cancelled.

Then he went to breakfast, and even though there were many Massacusetts soldiers there, not a single one sat with him. They must be too dumb to understand the Senator's witty table talk.

As they used to say at the Montessori school, "So sad."

HT: Michelle Malkin.

UPDATE: A commenter, below, says questions have been raised about the timing of the photo and hence whether it accurately shows soldiers' reactions to the Senator's notorious remarks. Michelle Malkin, from whom I borrowed the photo, has been asked similar questions, and responds here. I agree with her: if the photo turns out to be a fake, or a true photo used in a misleading way, I would owe the Senator an apology. According to Michelle's post, the matter remains uncertain.

Contrary to the commenter's implication, I would not want to state inaccurate facts about Sen. Kerry. Although I dislike his politics and his style, both of which are fair game in a public man, I neither need nor want to misstate facts about him.

FURTHER UPDATE: Michelle now rules that the debunker has been debunked.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Debunked, apparently.

The Old Taboos Are Dead. Long Live the New Taboos!

Harold Meyerson is a leftist columnist, I'd say a sort of Social Democrat, who writes for the L.A. Weekly and now has moved up to the Washington Post. I don't know Meyerson's religious affiliation, or even if he has one, but based on his tone and his politics, my guess is he's an secular ethnic Jew, although he might give a nod in the direction of Michael Lerner or Arthur Waskow, two left-wing soi-disant rabbis.

In the WaPo, Meyerson nevertheless writes about the current travails of the Episcopal Church, where a minority of traditionally Christian churches are struggling with the fact that their church has consecrated a practicing homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson, and elected as its head a bishopess, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who endorses Robinson's consecration and the performance by Episcopal priests and priestesses of blessings on homosexual unions. The struggle of the traditionalists has led to some leaving the Anglican communion, others separating themselves from the American church and putting themselves under African bishops who follow a traditional Christianity.

Meyerson, referring to the old Falls Church in Fairfax, Virginia, a dissenting congregation that has voted to pull out of the Episcopal Church, has invented an inversion of the old canard of the International Jewish Conspiracy, the "Orthodox International":
The alliance of the Fairfax Phobics with Archbishop Restaurant Monitor [a Nigerian bishop, Peter Akinola, who allegedly advocated legislation to restrict gay restaurants] is just the latest chapter in the global revolt against modernity and equality and, more specifically, in the formation of the Orthodox International. The OI unites frequently fundamentalist believers of often opposed faiths in common fear and loathing of challenges to ancient tribal norms. It has featured such moving tableaus as the coming together in the spring of 2005 of Israel's chief rabbis, the deputy mufti of Jerusalem, and leaders of Catholic and Armenian churches, burying ancient enmities to jointly condemn a gay pride festival. The OI's founding father was none other than Pope John Paul II, who spent much time and energy endeavoring to reconcile various orthodox Christian religions and whose ecumenism prompted him to warn the Anglicans not to ordain gay priests.

John Paul also sought to build his church in nations of the developing world where traditional morality and bigotry, most especially on matters sexual, were in greater supply than in secular Europe and the increasingly egalitarian United States, and more in sync with the Catholic Church's inimitable backwardness. Now America's schismatic Episcopalians are following in his footsteps -- traditionalists of the two great Western hierarchical Christian churches searching the globe for sufficiently benighted bishops.

In recent years Anglican churches have experienced their greatest growth in the developing world, which could tilt the entire global Anglican Communion toward more traditionalist norms. Only 13 of the 38 national churches within the communion ordain women as priests; only three -- the United States, New Zealand and Canada -- ordain women as bishops.

The American church, by contrast, has largely paralleled the transformation of Rockefeller Republicans into liberal, Democratic secularists. The old joke of New York politicos was that Jews had the incomes of Episcopalians but voted like Puerto Ricans. Now it's the Episcopal prelates who are voting like Puerto Ricans, or, more precisely, like liberal Jews. Some traditionalists fear the church isn't really theistic anymore. The comforting middle ground of the church of yore -- affirming the equality of some, not discussing the equality of others -- has eroded as the demands of women and gays and lesbians could no longer be dismissed.
It is not enough for the Meyersons of the world to be free to believe or not to believe, or to consecrate the homosexual agenda as a litmus test for admission into their supposedly enlightened circles. What is new is that they feel free, in the most Establishment of journals, to denounce followers of traditional religious ideas that have been the norm for centuries.

One would think that Meyerson, having no horse in the Episcopal Derby, would feel a bit sheepish about adopting a tone of hostile sarcasm against dissenters in a church he obviously cares nothing about.

Apparently not.

December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford, RIP

Gerald Ford has passed.

He was a fundamentally decent and sensible man.

We could use more like him these days.

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

This icon is from St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, and is currently on display at the Getty Museum.

December 19, 2006


Pictures of the dawn of the universe, plus a few million years.

The fifty most outrageous quotes of the year.

The origins of the pre-Christmas (Advent) fast, still the rule among the Orthodox, and a convert's reaction thereto (and to other stuff as well).

Georgian (not Atlanta, Tbilisi, in the Caucasus) folk music by the Rustavi Choir, now available on CD. Polyphony like you never heard.

What's Wrong With Fruitcake?

Captain Ed ruminates on the Christmas delicacy, and stirs up the usual swarm of fruitcake Philistines.

I happen to love the stuff, so it you receive one and look upon it as a giant hockey puck, send it this way.

Good ones at the Collin St. Bakery in Corsicana, Texas ("Gone to Corsicana, gonna pick a bale o' cotton), and at this monastery, so they say. I know the Corsicana ones are good, but of the monks' version, I only hear tell.

Boy Sopranos

Links to a Welsh tenor in a duet singing O Holy Night with his boy soprano self, and an English choirboy singing Panis Angelicus.

I have thought all the sordid, unkind thoughts that you have, and perhaps more, God forgive me. Suppress them. There is something divine in this music. Just listen.

HT: The incomparable Anchoress.

UPDATE: I embedded the YouTube link. Too cool.


The folks at Demotivator have developed the world's greatest distraction.

December 15, 2006

Polynesia: Temaru Out Again

Independence advocate and President Oscar Temaru was ousted yet again in a narrow vote in the parliament.

There had been a series of incidents incited by former President Gaston Flosse's thugs, organized in the GIP (Polynesian Intervention Group), ostensibly a disaster-relief squad.

The cost of living is up.

There will be elections December 12th.

December 11, 2006

Comment Ban Poll--Gladwell vs. Sailer

Malcolm Gladwell, he of "blink" and "tipping point," is holding a plebescite on whether or not to ban Steve Sailer from the comment section of his blog.

Gladwell doesn't like Sailer's willingness to argue for empirical, and sometimes inherited, differences between what are defined as races.

"Racism" has become an emotionally charged term. It in fact has a number of different meanings. Sailer thinks there are more inherited statistical differences between races than is currently fasionable. Sailer's not rude, doesn't advocate depriving individuals of rights based on race, or politically economically discriminating against individuals based on their race, as does the President of the University of Michigan. I don't see the problem, but then I don't write popular science books with goofy titles, and so don't have a reputation in that field to defend.

Personally, I'd love to have the traffic Gladwell does, even if it included some trolls and critics. Eating my heart out.

Incidentally, Sailer doesn't allow comments on his own blog.

December 10, 2006

The Black Curley?

William Jefferson, the Louisiana Congressman, was reelected in spite of being under investigation for bribery. Although lately the quality of black elected officials has been particularly bad, and their dishonesty often fails to deter the electorate from reelecting them. Consider Marion Barry.

In earlier days, this phenomenon has not been confined to black elected officials. James Michael Curley, Mayor of Boston, was reelected as an alderman in Boston while in prison:
He is noted for having been elected to the Board of Aldermen in 1904 while in prison, having been convicted of fraud. Curley and an associate, Thomas Curley (no relation) took the civil service exams for postmen for two men in their district to help them get the jobs with the federal government. Though the incident gave him a dark reputation in respectable circles, it aided his image in working class or poor circles because they saw him as a man willing to stick his neck out to help a poor man.
This is not the only similarity between Irish and black Americans, but it will do for now.

Augusto Pinochet Buys the Farm

Chile's Augusto Pinochet is dead. Pinochet was the general who staged a US-backed coup that deposed elected socialist President Salvador Allende.

The ensuing few days were an ugly bloodbath, involving such atrocities as the cutting out of the tongue of the leftist folksinger Victor Jara, the torture and deaths of thousands and the exile of many more. Pinochet's secret police went so far as to carry out assassinations in the US. He's accused of absconding with lots of money from the public coffers as well.

Pinochet's régime instituted market reforms along the monetarist lines favored by the economists at the University of Chicago. Chile has since become a constitutional democracy, and its economy one of the strongest in Latin America, as the World Bank reports in "REGIONAL FACT SHEET FROM THE WORLD DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS 2006--Latin America and the Caribbean." Social indicators seem strong in comparative terms as well.

One should not deny the brutality of his régime. However, if it is true that the middle-run results have been positive, we are faced with the old breaking-eggs-to-make-an-omelet question. Leftists have made this excuse for régimes they like whose innovations they call historically necessary. Was Pinochet's brutality necessary for reforms that led to positive results? If so, how does one weigh one against the other?

UPDATE: Marc Cooper, who worked for Pinochet's predecessor, the ill-fated Allende, points out that Chile has one of the most unequal income distributions in Latin America. This is confirmed by Wikipedia:
Inequality and poverty continue to be the region's main challenges; according to the most recent report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) Latin America is the most unequal region in the world[9]. Moreover, according to the World Bank, nearly 25% of the population lives on less than 2 USD a day. The countries with the highest inequality in the region (as measured with the Gini index in the UN Development Report[10]) in 2006 were Bolivia (60.1) Colombia (58.6), Paraguay (57.8) and Chile (57.1), while the countries with the lowest inequality in the region were Nicaragua (43.1), Ecuador (43.7), Venezuela (44.1) and Uruguay (44.9).
The economy, being export-driven, apparently grows without the larger domestic market that a more equal income distribution might create.

I further venture to suggest that a victory by the forces surrounding Allende would, in the long run, have been worse.

New Template

Well, I used the new Beta Blogger software. This changed the look of the blog, for the better on the whole, but it made the Haloscan comments disappear, at least temporarily, and made some of the photos that were embedded in tables disappear, at least on my Mac iBook using Foxfire.

If you notice any other problems, let me know.

I may go back and edit some posts (not for content), to correct for these effects.

On the whole, I think it looks better . . .

Recent Natural Selection in Humans

A Nicholas Wade piece in the New York Times reports that two mutations for lactose tolerance in human adults arose in East Africa as recently as 3,000 years ago. The ability of adults to digest milk conferred a tremendous adaptive advantage among cattle herders. The mutations prevent the gene from being switched off after weaning. A different mutation with similar effects is found in northwest Europe, where a cattle-based agricultural economy also became dominant.

Aside from its intrinsic interest, this development raises the question--what other selective pressures, other than cattle domestication, have given rise to genetic changes in human populations? Are the tribes and regions that abound in excellent distance runners subject to selective pressures? In societies that reward scholars and test-takers, such as some Jewish groups and the Chinese Empire, does skill at book-learnin' confer a selective advantage? Did the Middle Passage, from Africa to American slavery, confer selective advantages on certain traits? If evolutionary change can be this rapid, lactose tolerance is unlikely to be an anomalous exception.

To consider seriously these important questions, we will have to give up our prudishness about inherited differences between populations.

December 6, 2006

Frightening--Separated at Birth?

Stéphane Dion

Jimmy Carter

For those warm-blooded souls who are ignorant of things Frostbackish, Stéphane Dion is the new leader of the Canadian Liberal Party. His resemblance to the ill-stared Georgian is not purely physical.

Poor fellow.

Nanny Bloomberg

New York City is moving towards telling restaurants what kind of fat to use in their cooking. I kid ye not:
The New York City Board of Health voted yesterday to adopt the nation’s first major municipal ban on the use of all but tiny amounts of artificial trans fats in restaurant cooking, a move that would radically transform the way food is prepared in thousands of restaurants, from McDonald’s to fashionable bistros to Chinese take-outs.

Some experts said the measure, which is widely opposed by the restaurant industry, would be a model for other cities. Chicago is considering a similar prohibition that would affect restaurants with more than $20 million in annual sales.

“New York City has set a national standard,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, who predicted that other communities would follow suit.

Does that mean a bunch of vegetarians in high places could ban red meat?

If they're worried about public health, why not ban sex outside of marriage, to prevent STDs and children growing up in one-parent households? Oh, that's right--sexual freedom is sacred to liberals, but other kinds are optional.

Mayor Bloomberg is a power-crazed freak. If it weren't for Michael Richards, I'd suggest a public hanging.

UPDATE: The learned Judge Posner applies "Chicago school" economic analysis, comes out tentatively in favor of the ban. Yours truly responds with mockery, intended to be respectful, even though I don't practice before Federal courts in the Windy City:

There is medical evidence that we would have less heart disease if we followed the the Ornish diet.

Should the Nanny State therefore ban bacon, cheese, and ice cream? If your analysis is correct, there would be no reason why not.

And why not follow Mao's example and compel the whole nation to exercise at specified times? Or Woody Allen's, and compel everyone to change their underwear daily, and to make sure they do so, to wear it on the outside of their clothes?

Oh, and ban alcohol? (Whoops, been there, done that.)

There is a moral and cultural value, however, in people not surrendering their autonomy and responsibility to a bureaucracy.

December 2, 2006

Swear Me In, And Bring Oreos

If Keith Ellison takes the oath of office on a Qur'an, will the first Rastaman Congressman take his oath while holding a spliff?

December 1, 2006

Not the Wolf You Thought You Owned

Steve Sailer linked to a fascinating post on the origins of the domestic dog by a U.K. "tetrapod zoologist," Darren Naish, who actually looks bipedal to me.

The conventional wisdom is that the dog is descended from some form of wolf, probably an Asian one. Naish points out that wolf behavior is not really compatible with any plausible story of domestication. Wolves are too big too live on camp scraps, too given to fighting over food, too driven to chase prey when early humans probably hunted by stealth, and have the wrong pack structure (only the top wolf pair breeds).

It's more likely, concludes Naish, that there was some form of canid, perhaps similar to the Qatar dog (above) and New Guinea Singing Dog (right) portrayed here, from which the domestic version emerged. Feral and pariah dogs tend to look like these fellows.

Think Indian pariah dogs, Basenji hounds, and Canaan dogs, "third world dogs" in general.

If domestic dogs aren’t wolves, what are they?

All of this begs the question: if domestic dogs aren’t wolves, what are they? The answer seems to be that Canis familiaris is a distinct species with its own independent history. Prior to domestication, it presumably existed as a relatively small, generalized canid that voluntarily adopted the commensal pariah niche still occupied by many dog populations today. This is supported by the morphological and molecular distinctiveness of domestic dogs, by the anatomy and behaviour of primitive domestic dog breeds, and by the archaeological and fossil record.

If this is true then the truly wild ancestors of modern domestic dogs are extinct. True, there are wild pariah-type dogs in various places around the world (there are wild populations of New Guinea singing dogs and dingos, for example), but they’ve been introduced by people. However, the lack of the original wild form in a species that has become domesticated or at least semi-domesticated is not unprecedented nor unusual: Dromedaries Camelus dromedarius, for example, only exist in the wild today in feral form, and are otherwise entirely domesticated, and the wild ancestors of modern domestic horses and cattle are entirely extinct. In fact the eradication of the wild ancestors of a domestic form is thought by some to one of the key historical events that occurs during the domestication process (Dobney & Larson 2006).
I love this stuff. Enough John McCain already. As Ferlighetti says of the dog who "trots freely in the street":
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
fire hydrant
to him
Read the whole thing: first Naish, and then Ferlinghetti.