Sunday, December 18, 2005


This has been cross-posted from Gus Van Horn, and back-dated in deference to "Morris Claws".

I'll be visiting with family over the next week as I take my annual Christmas hiatus from blogging. There will be no roundup next week and I may wait until I am back another week before I re-start these midweek roundups.


Bothenook wonders, and the sailor-like language of his title is entirely appropriate here, why a court has granted an injunction based upon what sound like one woman's schizophrenic delusions. Here, he quotes a story from the Santa Fe New Mexican.
[Crazywoman Colleen] Nestler's application for a restraining order was accompanied by a six-page typed letter in which she said Letterman used code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to convey his desires for her.

She wrote that she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after his show began in 1993, and that he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come East.

She said he asked her to be his wife during a televised "teaser" for his show by saying, "Marry me, Oprah." Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her, and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time.
Crazywoman? That's my touch.

The General, in his quest for self-improvement, has found that he must leave the world of blogging poorer.
After a long and agonizing period of deliberation, I've made the difficult decision to close this blog down. While I immensely enjoy blogging, the time it requires makes it incompatible with attending law school. Thanks to everyone who dropped by, especially my long-term readers.
I'll miss the Benjo Blog, as I am sure the General's other readers will. Stop by to say farewell to his blog and to wish him luck if you haven't already.


Bubblehead once again passes on a story too compelling to skip. He quotes the UK Guardian.
The use of a Trident nuclear missile, or its successor, would breach international law, the government is warned today. Even the threat to use nuclear weapons is unlawful, ministers are warned in a legal opinion by leading human rights lawyers.

"They say use of Trident would infringe what the international court of justice calls the 'intransgressible' - or absolute - requirement that a distinction must be drawn between combatants and non-combatants. Nuclear weapons would also breach the requirement that use of force in self-defence must be proportionate."

"A Trident warhead would be inherently indiscriminate," says Rabinder Singh, QC, and professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, in a legal opinion for the campaigning group, Peace Rights... [bold added]
I think this is nearly the perfect lead-in to ...


... this post, by Diana Hsieh, about Ayn Rand's thoughts on total war.
We may safely say that Ayn Rand was an advocate of fighting only selfish wars for the purpose of defeating the enemy. That's exactly what it means to fight a total war, in that the guiding purpose of all political and military choices must be to end the conflict as quickly as possible by thoroughly defeating the enemy, with as little loss of life on your own side as possible, never sacrificing the lives of your own soldiers for the sake of the enemy. As a general rule, that method also preserves the most lives of enemy soldiers and civilians, even while eliminating the threat they pose. For example, by dropping the bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, rather than fighting a bloody land war, we saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides, particularly and most importantly our own.

Provided that the war itself is legitimate, the responsibility for any and all loss of enemy life, whether soldier or civilian, falls squarely upon the shoulders of the enemy leaders who created the conflict. And ultimately, the majority of people are responsible for their leaders -- whether by active choice in a democracy or passive acceptance in a dictatorship. As for those in genuine opposition, they cannot rightly expect the other countries threatened by their government to sacrifice themselves for their sake. As Ayn Rand so vehemently said in one of those Ford Hall Forum Q&As, that's one reason why our choice of political leaders matters so very much.
Good, passionate stuff. And, oh yeah. She gives some very good blogging advice, too.


The Resident Egoist points to a good essay on "sustainability" he found at TCS Daily (formerly known as Tech Central Station). From the essay, which reminds me of an excellent book, The Doomsday Myth, I read ages ago:
Fifty years ago we had enough's there was widespread concern, made worse by the oil embargo, that the world was running out of oil. Yet, fifty years later, we still have thirty years supply left. How can this be? The reason, of course, is that it costs money to discover new oil, and there is no economic incentive for the petroleum industry to find more than is necessary ...

Robert Tracy posts about an amazing woodblock print over at Illustrated Ideas.
In every way this is a perfect picture. In composition, arial perspective, in the placement of the solitary figure and in color harmony. This is a 20th Century master. He draws like a comic book artist from the American 1950's. Yet the result looks like a serious watercolor painting. Not that woodblock art is inferior to the well known other media....

The Gaijin Biker did some nice detective work in this post, which is a good followup to last week's news on Wikipedia.
I haven't dug into all the pedophilia-related claims made in the OfficialWire press release, and I'm not inclined to. (A Wikipedia administrator responds to the charges here.) But readers should know that the activist group it mentions appears to be a fabrication. And the release itself, like the class action lawsuit, comes from a man with an apparent grudge against Wikipedia, and whose past Internet dealings raise serious questions of their own. [one link omitted]

Myrhaf, a fairly new blogger, is also a pretty bloody good one. And if you're not reading his blog daily, what's wrong with you? Today, he discusses our rather ... er ... Byzantine political system.
Polemics is necessary in political argument, but it's not sufficient. In addition to condemning the bad, we need to understand what we're fighting for. The emphasis of today's political argument is not on giving us reasons to value a politician or a cause, but reasons to revile the other side. Can you blame people if they tune politics out? Who cares about two sides pointing a finger at each other?

During the Clinton presidency I was disappointed when The American Spectator shifted its focus from more theoretical pieces to investigative journalism into Clinton's scandals. "This is what the liberals do," I thought. "Isn't conservatism supposed to be about ideas?"

Conservatism was once the side with all the ideas. What ideas one hears still come from the right, but there has been a marked decrease in big ideas in the last 10 years. The last big semi-cause the Republicans fought for was the Contract For America. Tax cuts and war against militant Islam are good ideas, but the ideological arguments for them have been weak and drowned out by liberal campaigns to hobble Bush with scandal.

Conservatives have given up any lip service they used to pay to laissez-faire capitalism. They have accepted the welfare state. They might want a little less government, but none of them seriously advocates radical free market solutions.
"Byzantine" here, of course, is not being used in exactly its usual sense, but you'll have to pay him a visit to see what I mean.


As a tribute to Chap's often terse style, I'll imitate him here.

This will make your blood boil.


David Veksler, who spent his childhood in the Soviet Ukraine, has a really good post up about rush hour.

Why should have Soviet bureaucrats care about how long we had to wait for non-existent figs? Why should the bureaucrats in charge of the Dallas roads care about the lives squandered away in the daily commute?

I know who did care about our plight: the bazaar merchants who sold us chickens and potatoes. They were tough bargainers, but they were very interested in meeting the wants of their customers. The American supermarket is a bazaar on a grand scale, where I can not only find dried figs 24/7, but a dozen other fruits I have never heard of.

We trust entrepreneurs with our bread, so why don't we trust them with our roads? To a politician, each traffic-plagued driver is a liability, to be appeased by a some highly visible but most likely useless project. How might an entrepreneur look at a traffic jam, if the State did not monopolize transportation?

To an entrepreneur, each tired and miserable driver is a goldmine....


I don't expect this to be my last blog post before the holidays, but, just in case, I wish all my readers and friends out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

-- CAV