Oct 152009

“For some people, the urge to regulate is as strong as the urge to copulate.”

That is the commented I posted in response to a David Harsanyi article at the Denver Post:

Who is David Harsanyi? I never heard of him until I followed the links on a Russ Roberts article at Cafe Hayek. Now that I’ve looked at a sample, it looks like he will be a good one to watch.

Here’s how today’s article begins:

How can Americans be expected to wrestle with the myriad of dangers that confront them each day? Insalubrious cereal? Unregulated garage sales? Pools of death? Sometimes it’s too much to process.

You know what we are desperately crying out for? An army of crusading federal regulatory agents with unfettered power. Who else has the fortitude and foresight to keep us all safe?

Mercifully, as The Washington Post recently reported, many of President Barack Obama’s appointees “have been quietly exercising their power over the trappings of daily life . . . awakening a vast regulatory apparatus with authority over nearly every U.S. workplace, 15,000 consumer products and most items found in pantries and medicine cabinets.”

If there’s anything Americans are hankering for in their everyday lives, it’s a vast regulatory apparatus. Hey, it’s dangerous out there.

Oct 102009

A Leviathan Ankle-Biter award goes to the hillbilly Amishman that Ira Wagler met in the south end of Lancaster County, PA.

I never heard of Ira Wagler before today, but I’ll be following his blog from now on. Erik Wesner of Amish America introduced me to it. The article about his experience in the south end is great. Ira was raised Amish, but experienced a bit of culture shock among the Amish down there, and is both funny and informative as he tells you about it. It’s great even without the Ankle-Biter bit.

Here’s something I posted on Erik’s blog about it, though:

BTW, regarding the Amishman who may once have had a run-in with a zoning officer, I am reminded that when I stop on my bike rides to take photos of houses and farms along the way, the places where I’m likely to have someone come out of the house yelling at me, asking what I’m doing, are the places that are somewhat rundown. I don’t know for sure why that is, but given that I myself live on a place that has sometimes been in a state of suspicious compliance with state and local ordinances, I can understand. BTW, these people who confront me also tend to be some of the more interesting characters I meet.

Oct 102009

Blogger Mark Kleiman makes the case that Barak Obama is the right person to have been given the prize as ”the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

The problem is, there are many other contenders for that honor. To name a few:

  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Hugo Chavez
  • Al Gore
  • Wen Jiabao
  • Kim Jong-il
  • Robert Mugabe
  • Vladimir Putin
  • Than Shwe
  • Manuel Zelaya

There is no question that Barak Obama also belongs in that list. But has he really done more than all of those worthies?

Oct 082009

This book looks like it would be fun to read: “Histories Grecques : Snapshots from Antiquity” by Maurice Sartre, translated by Catherine Porter.

I learned about it from David Wharton’s review in The Weekly Standard. Here is the part that sold me:

Sartre proceeds more or less chronologically, but the subjects he chooses to explore at first seem random–for example, some Lydian coins, or a graffito on the leg of an Egyptian statue, or a fragmentary inscription from a jerkwater Macedonian town, regulating who can and can’t use the local gymnasium. The suspicion arises that Sartre is just taking us on an idiosyncratic tour of minor antiquities.

By his own confession, he follows his own interests instead of developing a grand thesis. But an overarching aim becomes clear soon enough: He wants to give us a detailed picture of life as it was lived in the polis by its many and varied inhabitants. Each chapter fills in a few more brush strokes.

Sounds like a man after my own Spokesriding heart. Maybe the example of his book will give me a few pointers on how to pull off such a thing for settlement-era history in the Great Lakes region.

BTW, I am not going to report to the FTC whether Sartre or the publisher paid me to say any of this.

Oct 072009

Before we allow the Obama administration’s FTC to follow in Vladimir Putin’s footsteps by regulating blogs, this needs to get fixed.

From the Washington Times, in an article titled, “Criminalizing everyone:”

By March 2004, federal prosecutors were well on their way to turning 66-year-old retiree George Norris into an inmate in a federal penitentiary – based on his home-based business of cultivating, importing and selling orchids.

Mrs. Norris testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime this summer. The hearing’s topic: the rapid and dangerous expansion of federal criminal law, an expansion that is often unprincipled and highly partisan.

Chairman Robert C. Scott, Virginia Democrat, and ranking member Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, conducted a truly bipartisan hearing (a D.C. rarity this year).

These two leaders have begun giving voice to the increasing number of experts who worry about “overcriminalization.” Astronomical numbers of federal criminal laws lack specifics, can apply to almost anyone and fail to protect innocents by requiring substantial proof that an accused person acted with actual criminal intent.


Oct 022009

But? But??

The WSJ has that word in an article comparing the cities that wanted to get the Olympics. (It was published before the Obamas’ bid was turned down.)

The article is titled, “Is Chicago the World’s Top Sports Town? All Olympic Cities Have Home Teams, but Chicagoans Live and Die by Theirs; 8 Million Tickets.”

After telling about the sports wonders to be found in the Obamas’ home town, it goes on to disrespect the competing cities:

It’s hard to find another Olympic city that compares. Beijing? The city has virtually no professional sports infrastructure. Athens? Yes, its people like soccer and play some decent basketball, but sports is anything but the pulse of the city. Barcelona—like Munich, Rome and Mexico City—has a fervent allegiance to soccer, but not much else on the sports front. Seoul? Montreal? Paris? Moscow? None can make a serious claim to the sports throne.

Sydney and Melbourne may be the most sports-oriented of host cities—their residents go mad for professional Aussie Rules Football, rugby, cricket and soccer teams. But [emphasis added] the towns may be better known for their participation in recreational sports than for their obsession with the various gridirons and pitches.

Huh? A place with lots of participation in recreational sports is somehow not the kind of sports town for the Olympics?

Oh, never mind. I must be living in the past. The days are long gone when professional participation in sports (like that of Jim Thorpe) disqualified one for the Olympics.

Oct 012009

A Leviathan Ankle-Biter award goes to Lisa Snyder of the next county to the north of us, Barry County Michigan. From an AP article headlined, “State to mom: Stop baby-sitting neighbors’ kids.”

Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood’s children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.

Regulators who oversee child care, however, don’t see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she’d be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers.

Fortunately, she is getting support in resisting this state of affairs. Governor Granholm who is working to get the law changed. (It isn’t often I’ll have good things to say about Gov. Granholm. I looked hard for something to snark about but all I can say is that she is doing what needs to be done in this case. And I’m not sure all people in her position would do that these days.)