Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Arizona v. Johnson decided

Arizona v. Johnson was decided today. Unfortunately but predictably, the Court ruled to expand police powers, and further the deterioration of the Fourth Amendment. It was unanimous. Apparently, the entire duration of a traffic stop is now a reasonable seizure. This should be troubling to civil libertarians. Orin Kerr has more over at The Volokh Conspiracy. I might blog some more analysis of my own later. I still need to think about and analyze all this a bit more.

Some shenanigans in the Arlington Police Department

Reasons to come to an IHS seminar

If you're a college student or are a recent graduate, and you're interested in learning about the free society and its institutions, you should apply to attend an IHS seminar.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wafa Sultan

This woman is Wafa Sultan. This video was rolling around the Internet a few years ago, but I'm posting it again in case you missed it. It's inspiring and courageous, especially considering that apostasy is explicitly punishable by death, according to the Qur'an. This is repeated often in the Qur'an, considered the infallible word of Allah by Muslims.

On a somewhat related note, I'm reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris. This is a very important book, and I highly recommend it.

Goat detained over armed robbery

This news item from Reuters probably prompts laughter, but it should also prompt some concern.

LAGOS (Reuters) - Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

Vigilantes took the black and white beast to the police saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

"The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat," Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

"We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat," he said.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in parts of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Residents came to the police station to see the goat, photographed in one national newspaper on its knees next to a pile of straw.

We skeptics are fighting an uphill battle against the most ridiculous superstitions. This alone is difficult, but we also have the additional problem of convincing "moderate" types who dismiss the skeptical position as patronizing, dogmatic, or even religious. Emphasizing stories like these can probably sway lots of those people. What's the Harm? is a good site for more fodder like this.

Cross-posted from Charlottesville Skeptics

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Matt Taibbi on Thomas Friedman

Matt Taibbi is ruthless! I found his acerbic prose via Hit & Run.

Monday, January 19, 2009

365 Days of Natalie

A new art project launched on January 1st of this year, 365 Days of Natalie. Natalie Williams will be photographed for a portrait by Vu Bui each day in 2009. Natalie is a very beautiful woman, and the photography is excellent. Here's Day 18, Under the Ceiling.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Jeremy Peronto's Top Fifty Albums of 2008

My friend Jeremy has excellent taste in music, and he compiled a list of what he considers to be the fifty best albums of 2008 on his blog. He did this a while ago, back at the end of December, but his list of music will serve as a buying guide for me for a while. Pitchfork Media's lists of top albums and tracks of 2008 are good, but Jeremy's list definitely rivals those, if it doesn't top them. He posted the list in four parts, 31-50, 21-30, 11-20, and 1-10.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Irrational Chomsky

Chomsky seems just as dishonest in his approach to linguistics as his approach to politics.

Steven Pinker, the Harvard cognitive scientist, who wrote admiringly about some of Chomsky’s ideas in his 1994 best-seller, “The Language Instinct,” told me, “There’s a lot of strange stuff going on in the Chomskyan program. He’s a guru, he makes pronouncements that his disciples accept on faith and that he doesn’t feel compelled to defend in the conventional scientific manner. Some of them become accepted within his circle as God’s truth without really being properly evaluated, and, surprisingly for someone who talks about universal grammar, he hasn’t actually done the spadework of seeing how it works in some weird little language that they speak in New Guinea.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The U.N. fails spectacularly

Is it any wonder that the U.N. is so terrible? "Peacekeeping" forces have unchecked power with no accountability. I'm glad that they're being exposed for the malicious organization that they are. Nothing can justify their actions. Their very existence is questionable, if not entirely illegitimate.

Neko Case has a new single

I'm a big fan of The New Pornographers, so I couldn't resist posting Neko Case's new single, especially since blogging it contributes $5.00 to a good cause. You can download it for free!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Idiot parks Hummer in space for a compact car

I'm intentionally not obscuring the license plate in this picture, to shame the driver of this vehicle. I saw this today.

Old Ultrasound Machine

This is my life. I return to my room to find a really old ultrasound machine. Apparently it still works, too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lynch Motion for Retrial Denied

I just received this e-mail.

Today in Federal court Charles C. Lynch’s motion for a new trial was denied. Lynch brought new evidence to court showing that he had nothing to do with his employee’s alleged street sales. Judge Wu stated that this was not sufficient evidence to acquit Lynch on all counts and so the motion was denied. Lynch’s Federal Public Defender’s then asked for more time for sentencing. Prosecutor Dave Kowal erupted with objections stating that the Defense was wasting the Court’s time. The judge agreed to move sentencing out to February 23, 2009 at 8:30am and the January 12, 2009 date is canceled. Supporters are encouraged to attend the Sentencing at 8:30am and the following Rally on Main Street at noon on February 23, 2009. The Federal Court House is located at 312 North Spring Street, Downtown Los Angeles on the Main Street side of the Federal Building. With the new sentencing date the latest to send in a letter of support to Judge Wu would be February 5, 2009.

For more information visit the website. The website will be updated with the new information within the next couple of days.

Thank you.