One of my favorite sweatshirts.
Alcohol and caffeine: The only drugs a retrosexual needs.
Australia’s links to South America have just gotten a bit closer, but not due to economic forces, rather fossil forces. University of Queensland palaeontologist Dr Steve Salisbury was part of an international team of palaeontologists from the US, Argentina and Australia that identified a fossil that had previously only been found in South America.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The National Park Service is considering adding a hotel to Alcatraz Island, site of one of the world’s most notorious prisons.
Unlike the cells afforded to inmates such as Al “Scarface” Capone, the facility would offer upscale accommodations like those now available at the Ahwahnee Hotel in California’s Yosemite National Park.
“People are constantly saying they want to see more of the island,” National Park Service Spokesman Rich Weideman said. “A hotel would be the ultimate experience in visitor access.”
Alcatraz Island is run by the U.S. National Park Service and is already San Francisco’s second most-popular tourist attraction, after its famed cable cars.
About 1.5 million people take ferries to visit the prison cellblock every year, and summer tickets sell out weeks ahead.
But many visitors say they also want to see parts of the 12-acre (5-hectare) island that are closed to the public, including wildlife areas, the room where prison guards bowled and the prison theater where gangsters watched “From Here to Eternity.”
A hotel, likely built in a structure that once housed prison guards, would for the first time offer the general public 24-hour access to “the Rock” and capitalize on the park’s popular night-time tours.
That’s when evening fog shrouds San Francisco from view. But island visitors, like the prisoners before them, can still hear activity emanating from the city. Continued…
Hey, the hell with Alcatraz…Fix the roads in the Smokies
So, the United States Supreme Court today decided that detainees at Guantanamo Bay have the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to protest their imprisonment. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy sounds the high-minded note: sure, there’s the threat of terrorism, but “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”
Thanks for pointing that out, Mr. Justice Kennedy.
Some readers will recall that Justice Kennedy is given to flights of legal hermeneutical expression. In 1993, Kennedy infamously delivered himself of this expostulation about abortion in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey:
These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime [abortion, etc.], choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.
Judge Robert H. Bork, among others, has treated this bloviating gibberish (repeated by Kennedy, with reference to homosexual practices, in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas) to some of the opprobrium it deserves. Now Mr. Justice Kennedy wants terrorists to have a crack at defining their “own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” by granting people who are (most of them) not U.S. citizens, who are indeed sworn enemies of the United States and all it stands for, the civil liberties and protections afforded by the U.S. criminal justice system.
The folly of such a decision can hardly be overstated. Some part of the potential damage is outlined in Andrew McCarthy’s book Willful Blindness, a riveting account of the trial of the mastermind of the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and a brilliant meditation on the limitations of using the criminal justice system as a tool of national security. (”Riveting account”? “Brilliant meditation”? Perhaps I should mention that Encounter Books, of which I am the publisher, published the book.)
The point of the Constitution is to preserve liberty, not to play word games that make liberty vulnerable to its enemies. This is a point that seems to have escaped Justice Kennedy. It did not escape Justice Robert H. Jackson. Writing for the minority in 1949 in Terminiello v. Chicago, a case about free speech, Jackson noted that
This Court has gone far toward accepting the doctrine that civil liberty means the removal of all restraints from these crowds and that all local attempts to maintain order are impairments of the liberty of the citizen. The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.
Alas, Justice Kennedy and his left-liberal confreres have gone far in converting the constitution into a suicide pact. Today’s decision is historic. Please, remember the men and women who signed on to it: Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter John Paul Stevens, and Kennedy. Remember their names. They have just made you, your family, and your country more vulnerable to attack by theocratic fanatics bent on the destruction of Western civilization.
Justice Kennedy’s opinion will appeal to all of the sophisticated “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” spokesmen for peace and comity who crowd the parliaments of the EU and, in the Democratic Party of the United States, are vibrating with anticipation at an Obombamanic attack on the U.S. in November. (Please pardon the unorthodox spelling.) Personally, I believe that the instinct for self-preservation is sufficiently alive and well enough among most voters to prevent the dégringolade that an Obama administration would mean for this country. Most people, I have to believe, do not want to see themselves taxed into penury. They do not relish the prospect choking the engine of prosperity with stupid bureaucratic over-regulation. They object to the erosion of individual liberty in the name of political correctness. They rebel at the sentimental invocation of “change” when it is nothing more than an empty epithet designed to reinforce the prerogatives of a big-government, anti-freedom elite.
What does this recent intervention by the Supreme Court mean? Justice Antonin Scalia got it in one: the decision, he said, “will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” What will Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens say then?
John Hinderaker at Powerline tries to make sense of Obama’s position on Social Security and comes away with an impression of an incoherent, dishonest policy based more on pandering to the politics of envy than on logic.
There is a reason, of course, why the income on which we pay Social Security taxes has always been capped. The Social Security program was intended as a safety net, not as a wealth redistribution program. Since the amount of benefits one can receive is capped, it has always been considered fair to cap the income on which the tax is paid as well.
Obama, of course, is not a courageous enough politician to follow his own logic if it will cost him votes. So, weirdly, he goes on to create an exemption from his own tax increase:
“And, by the way, I think that we should exempt anyone making under $250,000 from this increase, so it will not burden the middle class. Anybody under $250,000 would not be affected whatsoever; 97 percent of Americans will see absolutely no change in their taxes under my proposal, 97 percent.”
This makes no sense. If it is unfair for someone making $100,000 to pay Social Security taxes on all of his income while “billionaires” likewise pay only on their first $100,000 of income, then why isn’t it unfair for the $100,000 guy to pay taxes on his whole income, while the $200,000 earner pays Social Security taxes only on the first half?
The answer, of course, lies in politics rather than logic. There are relatively few voters who earn more than $250,000, while there are a great many earning between $102,000 and $250,000. In fact, this income demographic corresponds with remarkable precision to Obama’s core supporters, the only Americans to be singled out for a tax preference under Obama’s plan. A “new kind of politics,” indeed.
Read the whole post here.
UPDATE: Edited by Management 29 October 2008
The question was asked here a few days ago about what makes life worth living, and I gave a fairly brief and incomplete answer.
Ever since then, I’ve been running the question through my mind, and considering what the answer entails, because it’s quite a loaded question, and the answer encompasses so many things. For every person on this earth, the answer will be different, because that’s how humans are built, and is a great deal of the human condition.
There are a lot of things that encompass my life, and make my life worth living. Certainly, some of them have much more of an impact than others, but they all have an impact.
One is my daughter, 10 months and two days old today, and nothing has more of an impact on my life than her. She’s so precious that I’d do anything for her, anything to protect her, and anything to make her happy. I know that any sacrifice I make is worth it, and I know that I’ll be proud of her for every day of her life. Every little giggle, every little smile, every breath, every toxic odour, it all makes life worth living. There is not a soul on this earth that makes me feel more inspired, that makes me feel so invigorated that I can work long hours and not feel tired, or that can wake me at 3 am without incurring my wrath.
Love is also incredibly important. There is nothing on earth like being loved. It gives inspiration, joy, happiness, desire, and can certainly be a mood-booster. If you’re loved, life seems so much better. All the inspiration, joy, happiness, desire and all the other feelings are enhanced. Love is hard to get, and hard to lose. The love of a good mate or an animal can be wonderful. In fact, it’s been found in studies that having a life partner or a pet can extend life expectancy… except for anyone who is owned by the animal I was, the cleverly named “Kitty”, who was clearly a cat and used to shit all over my carpet. That shortened my life expectancy, because cat crap stinks and raises my blood pressure.
Friends. Friends tie into love, because if they’re a true friend, they love me in some way, even if it’s small. My friends will support me through anything, and they do. My friends are there, no matter what I need and when I need it. There’s been more than one occassion when I’ve called a friend in the middle of the night, and they’ve spoken to me even though they don’t have to, need to, or should do. It’s a very powerful thing. There is very little that is more precious to me than a really great friendship.
Another is my job. I’ve worked for the same man, same company, and in the same position for years. I love my job. My boss is awesome, and he and his wife are close friends of mine. I was close friends with his daughter, until Steff died in a car accident. My job is varied, and has lots of different responsibilities. Although it brings a lot of responsibilities after business hours and during the night, I get a tremendous amount of self-satisfaction out of it. There is nothing like being able to solve a problem that will cost a business hundreds of thousands of dollars with one phone call, simply because you know who to call and what to ask. There is nothing like having the boss rely on you 24/7. There is nothing like feeling the true value of what you’re worth to an organisation.
Freedom is also right up there as one of the most important things in life. It’s what lets me wear what I want, watch whatever I want, read whatever I want, and write whatever I want, as well as many other things. It means I can make my choices for myself, and forces me to live with the consequences of my own decisions. It teaches me to think for myself, to question what I’m told, and to enhance my abilities. That’s fucking powerful.
They’re all fucking powerful.