Thursday, June 23, 2005

Disgusting and debilitating

I cannot contain my revulsion at the most recent supreme court ruling. The most magnificent development of the 18th century and America was the concept of property rights. This throws everything in the garbage. I have seen homes and land seized for the tunnel in Atlantic City (so that Philadelphia visitors can get to Brigantine more easily without passing through some of the worst neighborhoods), for road expansion (currently happening in front of my parents house in Cologne, NJ) and new shopping centers. This is a blatant upheaval of the foundations of our country and rule of law. If it were not for the importance of this building brick, this kind of talk might be dismissed. Property ownership cannot be underestimated! I certainly hope that any justice who leaves the Supreme Court is one that was part of the majority in this decision and I hope the Congress does everything in its power to appoint strict originalists.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Book Learning

After college, I occasionally try to learn something new. I do not learn much and am not often successful. These attempts invariably involve trying to read a text book. Do instructors deliberately skip derivation steps and providing answers just to keep class rooms in business? Why does it seem impossible to find a book that actually explains a topic clearly? A lot of times the fault is mine for not understanding what level of book I should use to start. Sometimes the book itself claims to be introductory and then you discover it's an introduction for people who are already in-depth in that field and looking at a very esoteric discipline within that field.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Some Sense

I had a 15 minute slice of clear thinking last week. I left work early enough to listen to Rush Limbaugh's show. I'm not a huge fan of conservative radio--as long as the topic is limited government or fiscal matters, it's OK. But that day was a great day. Rush was on vacation and who should be filling in? Walter Williams! I like his economics and self-sufficiency views very much. Now, Walter Williams fills in for Rush regularly, so why should this be particularly exciting? Of course, because he was interviewing Thomas Sowell! Their opinions are well-reasoned, thorough and they make it so easy to understand.

So Your Kid Said Please for the Millionth Time...

I say get them the litle trinket they've worked for so long and hard.

Miss Manners believes that to raise well-mannered children, every time they ask for anything you reply 'Well, I was going to get it for you as a surprise, but it wouldn't be any fun now that you asked for it.' and then watch their crestfallen faces all the way back to the car. What lessons are our children learning? Yes, they are learning that you are absolutely unwavering in giving them anything for which they ask. Shortly, they stop asking you to buy them anything. They are now at your mercy and have learned that their desires are intolerable.

I once read an article (I don't remember which magazine or when it was) that lamented Americans inability to negotiate. I remember there was some story that went like this:

An American is visiting Egypt. He sees a wonderful horse being held by an Egyption merchant. The American tells the Egyptian that he'd like to buy the horse. The Egyptian relays a marvelous history of the importance of the horse and how special it was to him and his family. The story ends with the Egyptian saying that he couldn't bear to be parted from the horse. The American says 'OK' and walks away. The Egyptian shouts after him, 'Hey, I thought you wanted to buy a horse!'

We should not allow our children to forget that they can be influential and if that means occasionally I give in to the 'gimmes' and get requests when we're at the store, then I'm willing. The lesson I want to teach my children is to ask for what they want, be persistant and they just might get it.

Not Commercial My A$$

PBS has been a bore to watch for decades. The two or three decent shows are drowned out by Charitable trust and cereal commercials. I have two children who are young and even I find the kids shows so insipid and boring that I banned them for trying to make my children cooperative, cookie-cutter little mush-minds.

Public Places, Private Faces

There is a common misconception that facilities that allow public acces are 'public spaces'. This has led to many ill-conceived property right infringements. Smoking bans are the most recent example (volokh.com). As more and more behavior becomes stigmatized or as other political trends come to light, this fundamental misunderstanding will become yet another tool to regulate and control.

The misconception has a very obvious origin. A place that any person is generally allowed to enter without being screened in some other way is considered 'open to the public'. Most retail stores, doctor's offices, and real estate offices would be examples. Once a location becomes 'open to the public' it is easy to conflate the terms 'open to the public' with 'public space.' A 'public space' has the very specific connotation of belonging, in some way, to the populace. Most parks, government facilities, public schools and roadways are considered public spaces. A public space is usually 'open to the public.' That both types of facilities are 'open to the public' does not make them both 'public spaces.' True 'public spaces' are wholly owned by the government. The other facilities that allow public access are privately owned by individuals, corporations or other cooperative groups. These are private buildings and businesses.

That 'public spaces' belong to th government, it is often assumed they belong to the people since the government is 'of the people.' The logic, it seems, dictates that 'public spaces' are for everyone in the public and because the government belongs to the people, thus every person has a right to use the space. It is this new right that seems to allow the most harm when combined with the wrong understanding of 'public access.' Once an entity allows public access and is misconstrued to be a 'public space' now it is assumed every person has a right to use that facility or space. This is, of course, sloppy thinking at its most dangerous. Treading on property rights of any entity is harmful to property rights in toto.

Monday, June 06, 2005


A foxglove is starting to open up in a nice secluded spot in my yard. I find that I am more likely to spend time in my yard where I can see some results from effort I have expended.

This is the first poppy. I am impressed with the large-sized blooms and the vibrant color contrasted with the delicate appearance of the petals.

A Stella D'Oro daylily. There are a lot of blooms ready and this is not the first one. This performs really well at the front of my garden.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


I have this fountain in my back yard. I have really enjoyed it.

Another local. He's the third one I've seen this weekend.

A lovely double-columbine. This is smaller than the picture posted earlier though from the same seed pack.

A bumblebee enjoying the lupines I started from seed last year. All lot of the flowers I started from seed are blooming at this time. I must have realized how little of my garden blooms in late spring.

Here is a garden friend enjoying dinner. This is way too close for my comfort. Just after taking this picture I killed something similar to this in the kitchen. Then I sprayed insecticide all around the foundation.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Book Club Selections (that I can remember)

I got to pick Anthem by Ayn Rand and 1984 by George Orwell. Both were too high school. Other books we've had include Confederacy of Dunces, The Red and the Black, The Stranger and Plot Against America. I know there are more, but I've forgotten them (that was when I was just not reading the books).

Plot Against America--American Style

This is the most recent in the string of books selected by the liberal intellectuals (well, at least they're trying to be) in my book club. I found this book full of run-on sentences. It may seem bizarre, but right after being hit in the face with the collectivism of the Jewish neighborhoods, the never-thinly-veiled 'this Repub can take away your rights too and just may because he's a repub just like my fictional character who was never actually elected but who might have wanted to do some really bad things' politics, the most annoying thing was the page-long paragraphs made up of only two or three sentences. I joked that in one sentence you're introduced to the character, given their description, their history, how they ended up in that location and then what happens when they're there.

This is our friend Rocky. The garden behind him is where the pictures below were shot. We adopted Rocky from the local pound. He was found tied to the fence of the pound one morning. He was everything I wanted. I desired a full-grown dog that was already house-broken and less likely to nip, large, short-haired and a breed I knew would bond well with families. He has been perfect for us and the kids.

This is a lovely double columbine. I couldn't get a good picture without standing on my head (though I got close to trying). Also started from seed last year. This picture was taken the second week of May as well.

Here is a Columbine that I started from seed last year. It was a lot of work to plant the seed, feed, water and move it in and out of doors, plant it and then have it not bloom until the next year. This was also taken in the second week of May.

Second week of May in the Northeast. This bleeding heart was planted about three years ago.

Analysis of the original Scooby Doo Cartoon

I love Scooby! I almost like it enough to enjoy the Scooby Doo live-action movies--almost.

What is it about Scooby? I enjoy the mix of different types of kids. I appreciate that the ghosts are never real. The kids always stick with the mystery and the danger until the case is solved. Every one of the gang shows bravery (some with more Scooby-snack prodding than others). There is some adventure because they are teenagers off on their own. Overall, the kids are heroes and the themes are reality-based.

What has been done with Scooby since Cartoon Network bought it is unfortunate in some ways. I think parents and kids who watch the recent movies (like 'Zombie Island') will see shows that promote other-worldliness and a lot of attempted one-up-manship within the team. The new Cartoon Network realization is unworthy of the orginal Scooby.

P.S. I am NOT counting Scrappy.

Felt little

It's over! It's been over for 30 years. It was analyzed til the cows came home over and over. Books, movie, article after article. Just because Felt exposed himself (or his family exposed him) does not mean we need to step back in time. Enough.