All posts by Rand Simberg

A New Blogging Day Dawns

For those few who have been wondering why my posts have been sparse and sporadic for the last few days, I’ve been engaged in a switchover from Grey Matter to Moveable Type blogging software. It has involved much gnashing of hair and pulling of teeth, but I’ve finally gotten it up and running (at least, assuming that you see this post, and the new look of the site…).

The biggest challenge was in preserving the links to my old posts in the new system, so that archived links from other weblogs will still take people to the relevant posts in the new setup. I think that I’ve succeeded, by generating 400+ referral pages… (good thing I know a little Perl–it would have been murder to do that by hand…).

Anyway, feedback on the new site look is welcome. Also, notice my expanded and reordered link list to the right.

Enjoy.

[Update: Doh! That’s to the left. I was confused ‘cuz it’s on my right from inside this computer thingy…]

[Tuesday Morning Update]

I’m informed that the site is broken in some versions of IE on the Mac. Not owning a Mac, it’ll be hard for me to test, but I’ll play with it today and try to find the problem. I’ll appreciate any feedback from Mac users as I progress.

Congo’s Other Disaster

Both Alex Knapp and David Carr use the Congo volcanic eruption to take amusing jabs at overregulation. However, it’s distressing to see that while the media is now paying attention to this natural disaster in the Congo, that even now, there has been very little noting of the fact that this benighted country has been suffering from the largest and most unreported war on the planet for several years now. And it’s not clear which disaster will ultimately ever be amenable to human intervention–magma buildup, or the equally dangerous accumulation of tribalism, corruption, and failed socialism (thank you, decolonialists!) that continues to ravage much of the African continent.

[Update on Tuesday afternoon]

David Carr informs me via email that I misread his post (to be honest I just gave it enough of a glance to see that it was about the Congo eruption, and satirical):

I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t, in fact, a dig at overregulation but rather to send up the quixotic nature of the EU.

I know it’s just a quibble but I really, really don’t want the EU escaping even one pixel’s worth of my contempt.

Well, let it never be said that I am in any way derelict in my sacred duty to avoid shielding the EU from contempt. (Parse that! I dare you!)

Congo’s Other Disaster

Both Alex Knapp and David Carr use the Congo volcanic eruption to take amusing jabs at overregulation. However, it’s distressing to see that while the media is now paying attention to this natural disaster in the Congo, that even now, there has been very little noting of the fact that this benighted country has been suffering from the largest and most unreported war on the planet for several years now. And it’s not clear which disaster will ultimately ever be amenable to human intervention–magma buildup, or the equally dangerous accumulation of tribalism, corruption, and failed socialism (thank you, decolonialists!) that continues to ravage much of the African continent.

[Update on Tuesday afternoon]

David Carr informs me via email that I misread his post (to be honest I just gave it enough of a glance to see that it was about the Congo eruption, and satirical):

I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t, in fact, a dig at overregulation but rather to send up the quixotic nature of the EU.

I know it’s just a quibble but I really, really don’t want the EU escaping even one pixel’s worth of my contempt.

Well, let it never be said that I am in any way derelict in my sacred duty to avoid shielding the EU from contempt. (Parse that! I dare you!)

Congo’s Other Disaster

Both Alex Knapp and David Carr use the Congo volcanic eruption to take amusing jabs at overregulation. However, it’s distressing to see that while the media is now paying attention to this natural disaster in the Congo, that even now, there has been very little noting of the fact that this benighted country has been suffering from the largest and most unreported war on the planet for several years now. And it’s not clear which disaster will ultimately ever be amenable to human intervention–magma buildup, or the equally dangerous accumulation of tribalism, corruption, and failed socialism (thank you, decolonialists!) that continues to ravage much of the African continent.

[Update on Tuesday afternoon]

David Carr informs me via email that I misread his post (to be honest I just gave it enough of a glance to see that it was about the Congo eruption, and satirical):

I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t, in fact, a dig at overregulation but rather to send up the quixotic nature of the EU.

I know it’s just a quibble but I really, really don’t want the EU escaping even one pixel’s worth of my contempt.

Well, let it never be said that I am in any way derelict in my sacred duty to avoid shielding the EU from contempt. (Parse that! I dare you!)

Score Another One For Blogs

It just occurred to me that there is at least one way in which webloggers can take the credibility high ground vis a vis “traditional media,” particularly of the dead-trees variety. When the NYT or WaPo makes an error (even assuming that you can get them to admit it), they will publish an erratum, perhaps days later, in small print, in some area of the paper usually unrelated to the original crime.

When bloggers screw up (or at least when I do), the erratum becomes part of the post, for posterity. For instance, in my post of a couple posts back, in which I mistakenly confused Bill Jones for Bill Lockyer, while I corrected the original post, I also now have an erratum describing the original error and what I did to fix it. It will remain there until the bits have decayed off the server (or until, in a fit of new media hubris and desire to emulate the professional journalists, I delete it and send it down the memory hole…)

Newspapers might have more credibility if it didn’t seem so much like pulling unanaesthetized teeth to get them to admit fallibility…

[Update at 1:12 PM PST]

Apropos the above comments, I see that Opinion Journal has picked up on The Nation’s screwup in the Bush/Enron story, as I pointed out on Thursday (advantage, Transterrestrial!).

And note that The Nation didn’t issue an errata. First they just tried to change the offending paragraph, hoping nobody would notice, then, when they realized that it was flawed beyond editorial repair, they simply deleted the entire article. As I said, down the memory hole…

Now That’s My Kind Of Cultural Imperialism

Professor Reynolds has a brilliant suggestion this morning.

I think it’s time for the United States to begin a massive public-education program, starting with distributing a lot of translated copies of The Federalist Papers. Most world leaders will probably hate that, which only adds to the fun.

Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to start in our own country. Perhaps even in Congress, though I’m not sure what language that you could translate them into that would have any hope of penetrating their statist skulls…

Now That’s My Kind Of Cultural Imperialism

Professor Reynolds has a brilliant suggestion this morning.

I think it’s time for the United States to begin a massive public-education program, starting with distributing a lot of translated copies of The Federalist Papers. Most world leaders will probably hate that, which only adds to the fun.

Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to start in our own country. Perhaps even in Congress, though I’m not sure what language that you could translate them into that would have any hope of penetrating their statist skulls…

Now That’s My Kind Of Cultural Imperialism

Professor Reynolds has a brilliant suggestion this morning.

I think it’s time for the United States to begin a massive public-education program, starting with distributing a lot of translated copies of The Federalist Papers. Most world leaders will probably hate that, which only adds to the fun.

Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to start in our own country. Perhaps even in Congress, though I’m not sure what language that you could translate them into that would have any hope of penetrating their statist skulls…

Ken, John, And Spike

There’s been a little ongoing discussion amongst Alex Knapp, the Uberblogger, and Boja Willy at Protein Wisdom, about the justice of prison rape (at least, I think that’s what the discussion is about).

I’ve got to go with Alex on this one. California politician Bill Lockyer was rightly castigated when he wished upon Ken Lay a sodomizing roommate named “Spike” a few months ago. That rape ever occurs in our prison system is an appalling indictment of it as an expensive, inhumane failure (at least to the degree that we have any hope for it being rehabilitative–it’s hard to see how this can contribute to an offender becoming a better citizen later), and the cause is the private (and occasionally public, as in l’affaire Lockyer vs Lay) attitudes and casual acceptance or blind eyes of our public officials to it. The War on (Some) Drugs, by overpopulating the system with non-violent offenders who are even more vulnerable to the few violent predators who haven’t been removed from it, in order to make room for them, makes it even worse.

If we truly believe that forced copulation is an appropriate punishment for anyone (though I have trouble conceiving of that as a just desert for anyone except perhaps, in the spirit of eye for eye, a rapist or child molestor), then we should make it the explicit punishment in law, and see if it will get past the Supreme Court and Bill-of-Rights scrutiny (gee, sounds like “cruel and unusual” to me, but what do I know…). Instead, we have a system in which the prison warden is simply given tremendous and arbitrary power over the well-being and ultimate punishment of the prisoners, far beyond what most legislators intended, or even conceived, when defining punishments for various illicit behaviors. And we all know what Lord Acton said about power…

[Monday Errata]

In my original post, I attributed the “Spike” comment about Ken Lay to Secretary of State Bill Jones. A thousand apologies. It was Attorney General Bill Lockyer who, as chief law enforcement officer for the state of California, should be even more ashamed of himself.

[2:10 PST Update]

Reader Quinbus Flestrin has a useful expansion on my theme:

Your presumption that rehabilitation is even a legal purpose of prisons or imprisonment in California is in error. Our betters have made it clear that they do not want anyone ever convicted of any crime to become “better citizens”. They just want to put people away, preferably for nonviolent and victimless “moral” offenses, and use them for slave labor.

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE

SECTION 1170-1170.9

1170. (a) (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the purpose of imprisonment for crime is punishment. This purpose is best served by terms proportionate to the seriousness of the offense with

provision for uniformity in the sentences of offenders committing the same offense under similar circumstances. The Legislature further finds and declares that the elimination of disparity and the provision of uniformity of sentences can best be achieved by determinate sentences fixed by statute in proportion to the seriousness of the offense as determined by the Legislature to be imposed by the court with specified discretion.

* * end CPC cite * *

This provision, enacted overwhelmingly in the 80s IIRC, takes “rehabilitation” out of any legal issues regarding prisons. The only issue is whether punishment is “cruel and unusual”. As prison rape is hardly “unusual”, the only issue left is whether it is “cruel”. Even that is mooted by SCOTUS rulings (don’t ask for a cite, but IIRC the sainted “conservative” Thomas wrote one such decision), that “cruelty” can only be an issue in the *sentence*, not in how the sentence is carried out. If the judge doesn’t say “I sentence you to be raped in prison”, there is no issue.

So, if prison administrators, or prosecutors, decide to set forth prison rape as a policy (the administrators by encouraging it, the prosecutors by not prosecuting offenders), there is no real legal impediment to their doing so. (Don’t ever believe a prosecutor who says they have no discretion over which criminal accusations to prosecute–they have complete discretion.)

With the passage of California’s Prop. 21 in ’98 or so, prosecutors now have virtually complete discretion in whether juveniles are tried and sentenced as adults. Around the same time, Prop. 179 allowed prisons to contract out prisoners for labor in private industry.

The circuit for moral and financial corruption in California’s criminal “justice” system is complete. Prosecutors and police can select children for rape fodder to be used by prison administrators to further debase and corrupt their prisoner slave laborers.

Those who voted for such propositions, or who supported legislators enacting such laws, and who further cried out for more harsh criminal court procedures and sentencing, and “zero tolerance” for kids who even unwittingly carry a plastic butterknife to make their school lunch sandwiches, can now congratulate themselves. Of course, when their child is sent up the river to be Bubba’s girlfriend for carrying a butterknife to school in his lunchbox, they’ll whine that they didn’t really mean it. But the courts will say “Tough, the law is unambiguous. Government can do any of this. It’s nice work if you can get it. If you don’t like it, change the law.”

Don’t get me started on “Zero Intelligence^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HTolerance.” I’ll save that rant for another post.

Moral: Be careful what you ask for. You might get it.

Indeed.

Stop Her Before She Kills Again

Nicholas Stix tears into Tina Brown, calling her a spoiled, serial killer of magazines. He’s not much easier on all of the softheaded liberal moneybags who continue, inexplicably, to worship and fund her (though maybe Talk will be the last straw).

When poor folks think the world owes them a living, we call that a welfare mentality. And when rich folks think the world owes them a living, I call it a … welfare mentality.