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Thursday, July 31, 2003
If you wish hard enough...If you wish hard enough... may just happen.

Okay, now everybody visualize men of principle in congress.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Mickey Kaus links to this delightful Rob Long article about contributing to his local NPR station. I've felt the exact same thing, and though I still listen to KCRW's music programing on the web since I left L.A., I don't contribute.

But I have.

The Moral IssueWhat Would Attila Do?

[a portion of this message was originally contained in an off-line e-mail exchange]

I do think that y'all (including Hewitt and Reynolds) are downplaying the weight of the "moral issue". The moral issue is THE issue. There is a colossal difference between placing bets on where a downed sub is and placing bets on what Prime Minister is going to get killed next.

While I'm positive the Dems were "hyperventilating", I'm also pretty certain that Wolfowitz was lying if he claimed that he had no idea this was going on (if he's not lying, he's incompetent - this project was FUNDED, not skunk works). And in absolute agreement that Poindexter and Tether (at the least) should be fired immediately. Any official that doesn't immediately recognize this to be a morally repugnant idea is just another soulless Machiavellian that shouldn't be anywhere near a position of political or military authority (I'm looking at you, too, Rumsfeld).

Here's the problem: While it is (for example) the job of the military to "kill people and break things", it is the job of the leaders to make sure that they are engaged in a just war against a deserving enemy. Similarly, an amoral approach to intelligence gathering cheapens our civilization, and completely invalidates our moral authority in a conflict (if we had any in the first place). It was Poindexter's job (and Tether's) to FIRST ask the question, "Is this moral?" before asking "Would this work?" To do otherwise would lead us to simply "turn the desert into glass" and threaten the same for any other "enemy" that stands in our way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003
My fellow monkeys have been rightly critical of the now dead DARPA terrorism pool idea. But I feel compelled to defend the underlying priciple involved.

Using a betting system is a very effective way to synthesize expert knowledge. For example, in the book Blind Man's Bluff, the authors recount the true story of how the U.S. found a lost submarine wreck. They had the experts place bets of varying amounts on where they thought the sub could be (higher amounts, obviously, where they thought most likely). Then they used weighted averaging to bring the knowledge of all these experts together. If I remember the story correctly (my library is in transition), while the Soviets were looking vainly for the sub, this method yielded a location very near the sub--within feet, not miles.

This DARPA idea suffered from two key weaknesses. First, the obvious political and moral one--it's in poor taste. Second, and more important, failing to limit "players" to experts who know what they are doing and are not, in fact, terrorists (otherwise, it's like letting Pete Rose bet on baseball when he's the Red's manager).

I'm glad the idea is gone, but I hope it doesn't stifle other creative ideas about how to tap into the vast knowledge of the American people. I remember a commentator (I think it was Mark Steyn, but I can't find the link) mentioning during the beginnings of the war on terror that if Bin Laden makes a video in a cave, somewhere in America there is someone who is an expert on Afghan geology who can call the FBI and give a good guess where he is based on the rock behind him (I think this actually happened). How can evil win against such a country?

Update: Here is the excerpt from Blind Man's Bluff explaining the method.

The New York Times has gotten serious about correctly bylining articles. So even a long stored-away obituary for Bob Hope is carefully credited to Vincent Canby.

How do we know it was "long stored-away?"

Canby died in October 2000.

(Thanks to my friend Jason at Teevee for pointing this out. Here is a link to the NY Post article on this.)

Update: James Taranto e-mailed to let me know he had this in Best of the Web Today on Monday. Damn. I missed that one sentence. He may not believe me now, but I have read every "BotWB" column since it debuted three years ago. (Happy anniversary!)

Death Pool ShelvedPentagon Death Pool Shelved

I don't know who's wacky idea it was in the first place, but thank merciful God the "Pentagon Death Pool" which I referenced in a previous entry has been stopped. The web site front page now goes nowhere, and hopefully that will be the last we hear of such an amoral horror. Here's the Associated Press story (via Yahoo!) on the cancellation.

Now, I don't believe for a minute that Wolfowitz learned about it in the newspaper, and quotes saying that DARPA "didn't think through the full ramifications of the program" make it sound like they want us to believe some intern did this on their own without consulting his superiors.

Current song: Gale-force winds blowing against my recently-broken window Current drink: Nothing now, but a glass of Powers Gold Label once the kids are in bed.

Give me $100 on Al Qaeda

This Pentagon atrocity has neocon foolishness written all over it. (It's the NY Times, so you'll need an ID, but it's free).

The "speculative market" for terror events should be an appropriate accompaniment to another Pentagon Pet Project that has mysteriously escaped scrutiny.

Clarity of vision, indeed. Like Stalin.

Current song: None. Current drink: Four Peaks' Kiltlifter Scottish Style Ale

Monday, July 28, 2003
Strange and sad news from Stratfor, the global intelligence/strategic forecasting company. Stratfor provided invaluable analysis during the Iraq war (readers of the Agonist were reading the analysis without knowing it, thanks to plagiarism). Today's e-mail briefing started with this news:
Stratfor is mourning the loss of its chief analyst, Matthew
Baker, who has been with the company since its inception in 1996.
Matthew, aged 33, was shot and killed at his home in Austin,
Texas, on the evening of July 24.
Apparently he was shot by a neighbor in a property line dispute.
Not to be flip about it, but this confirms my belief that you should avoid talking to your neighbors as much as possible. A very sad story...

Working BlueWorking Blue - Parents Strongly Cautioned!

Okay, todays update from The Smoking Gun includes a "f***ing" hilarious story of a Colorado state public defender trying to justify his client's use of "the eff-dash-dash-dash word" when referring to school principal. Start with this page, which includes many instances of the word, along with great sentences such as:

"Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Robin Williams and countless others have used the F*** family to entertain audiences across the land, enriching their lives with the entertainment and comedic value of F*** and its progeny."

"Literally millions of F***ing recordings have been distributed by national recording artists..."

"...there are roughly eight thousand six hundred words in the English language that begin with the letter F. . . . F*** has the unique distinction of being the only word commonly known as the F word."

So "get the f***" over to The Smoking Gun and take a gander.

Current Song: "F*** School" from the album The Replacements Stink by The Replacements

I noticed this on MacSlash a couple of weeks ago, but kept forgetting to Blog about it, until Robb reminded me. Griffin is introducing a TiVo-like device for radio. If it works, it will be a great gift to those of us who keep forgetting to tune in for Lileks on Hewitt's show.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
I've linked to this wildly inaccurate prediction before, but it's worth noting that most of those people screaming "quagmire" now had predicted a much worse aftermath.
Apart from deaths and casualties resulting directly from hostilities, the aftermath of a conventional war would include civil war, famine, epidemics, refugees and displaced people, and catastrophic effects on children's health and development, according to Medact. The United Nations estimates a war will result in 500,000 direct and indirect casualties.
By those standards, things are going very well indeed. Little Green Footballs has a good cartoon on the subject.

I try to resist linking to Mark Steyn because if I start, I'll link to every article. But this one is just too perfect to resist. At least I'll resist quoting a big chunk of it like Sullivan did.

Saturday, July 26, 2003
MechamI know he wasn't TECHNICALLY recalled, because he was impeached before the recall election could take place, but how about a shout out to former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, who proved to the nation that you don't have to be a Californian to govern your state like a car dealer...

In my entire adult life, we haven't managed to elect a single governor who wasn't either a criminal, a shameless political hack, or, in Mecham's case, both.

I have to say I agree with George Will (sorry, no link - it was an editorial in the print edition of NewsWeek, the "Is Gay Marriage Next?" issue - you know, the one with Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla on the cover) who thinks recalling Davis was a bad idea for Republicans if they want to be successful in garnering California's 1,000,000 electoral votes in the 2004 election. Not just because recall is a Progressive concept, but because whatever candidate (and party) gets elected as Davis's mid-term replacement will be the focus of the voters' wrath in November 2004. There's no way they will be able to fix the problem by then, but everyone will have forgotten who created the problem in the first place.

Current Song: "Insanity" from the album iTunes Music Store Exclusive Track by Liz Phair

ABC may not have free transcripts, but CNN does. Poking around, I came across this interesting read from September 10th, 2001. Aside from the unfortunate "attacking the Pentagon" phrases, it gives a glimpse of how clear Secretary Rumsfeld's vision was and is--and how lucky we were to have him there on that day, the terrible day after that, and the days since.

Friday, July 25, 2003
A book recommendation: Seek by Denis Johnson. Johnson is one of my favorite writers (he wrote Jesus' Son and taught middle school English to one of my co-bloggers). He writes eloquently of Liberia in the first and last piece in Seek, and articulates the horror of the place. He agonizes about his decision to go there a second time, and I hope no editor has the guts to ask him to go again, as much as I'd like his perspective on the current situation. But I highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in Liberia as American troops prepare to go there.

Another scary possibility for Governor: Ozzy.

Thursday, July 24, 2003
It sounds like a children's book title: The Purple Polar Bear. Maybe he's a Libertarian. may be cheaper, but the program as a whole sucks. Follow this link to be overwhelmed with restrictions that Apple simply doesn't place on their music. Here's the list of Apple's restrictions:

1. You may only simultaneously use downloaded music on three Macs at a time. If you want to move songs to a fourth Mac, you must de-register one of the others. You may de-register and re-register systems as frequently as you like.
2. You may copy the downloaded music to as many iPods as you like.
3. You may burn the downloaded music to as many Music CD's as you like, with the caveat that you can only burn the same playlist 10 times in a row before changing the playlist.

Here are just some of's restrictions:

1. You must download your music to a "primary" PC, and then you are limited in the number of "secondary" computers you may transfer the music to. These secondary computers may ONLY play the song, and may not transfer the song to a portable device or burn it to a CD. What happens when you sell your "primary" PC or the hard drive crashes? "The licenses are non-transferable." Also, "You cannot buy your music on one machine and then transfer your primary license to another computer."
2. You are limited in the number of portable devices you may copy the songs to.
3. You are limited in the number of times you may burn a downloaded song to a music CD.

Other things that suck about

1. Not available for Macs. Apple is scheduling a Windows version of iTunes Music Store by the end of the year. has no intention of supporting Macs.
2. They use Windows Media format. Apple uses the MPEG-4 "AAC" format with digital rights management. Its standards are controlled by a cross-industry body. Microsoft controls the Windows Media format.
3. Because of #2, the tracks cannot be played on the leading digital media player, the iPod.
4. Instead of having a spine and insisting that all labels and artists abide by the same "rules" and contract conditions, as Apple did, lets each label specify the number of times a track may be copied and burned.

In short, is a "Windows-style" delivery and playback model, with typically restrictive and obtuse terms of use. I hope the market realizes you don't have to put up with that crap, any more than you have to put up with paying $20 a disc for CD's. And I hope Apple's Windows version of the iTunes Music Store is able to help prove that the market is smarter than it often appears to be.

Nightline covered the recall last night (free transcripts are no longer available from ABC, but this gives the flavor). It was typical patronizing East Coast nonsense; the opening was done like Hollywood credits, the show title was "Total Recall," and there were the obvious shots of surfers and rollbladers. The tone was "there goes that wacky la-la land again," and the discussion of the budget crisis made it sound like it was the GOP's fault (there was no mention of the hysterical open mike gaffe that proved the opposite). I generally like Nightline, but this showed again how out of touch East Coast journalists are with the West (and, thus, much of the country). It's long past time for a great surge in West Coast journalism. Aside from a few good think tanks and blogs (like Claremont Institute, of course), most of the talent goes East...and is assimilated in the collective...

Sunday, July 20, 2003
LoyaltiesBlogging from Colorado Springs, over my Nokia 3160 phone with Bluetooth and T-Mobile unlimited Internet data service. As a result, no links will be provided, because it takes too darn long to do the search and verify the validity of the link.

Anyway, this is just a tease anyway, and probably something that I should have put in e-mail instead of a blog entry, but what the heck...

The tease is this: I'm considering registering as a Democrat, even though I disagree with almost every plank on their platform. Anyone care to guess why, before I finish thinking this through and post my reasons? Send e-mail guesses to the address on the left column of this weblog (or directly to me if you know my address).

Red herring avoidance hint: It is NOT so that I can subvert the party by voting against the strongest candidate in the primary.

Another hint, that may provide its own dead fish: I just finished watching the first half of "Gods and Generals" again.

Current song: Silence as my family and the family we're visiting all sleep. Current drink: Yellow Tail Shiraz, the third glass from three different bottles of wine this evening, the first two being some Zinfandel I can't remember, and the second being BV Coastal Zinfandel. The Yellow Tail was the first I got to pick - I don't really care for Zins. Good, inexpensive ($5.99 at Trader Joe's) Australian wine, whose greatest weakness is an artificial cork, which seems to keep it from lasting more than a day in the fridge.

Friday, July 18, 2003
Dennis Miller goes for the easy meat on the Springer Senate run and still manages to gnaw all the way to the bone.

(Dear Lord, is metaphor abuse contagious?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The Bastard's NerelloWell, it wouldn't be Infinite Monkeys if one of us wasn't praising cheap wine, and I have a beauty to praise tonight:

I'm working up in Rocklin, California (Northeast of Sacramento), which I frequently describe as "Anysuburb, USA", because if you were blindfolded and brought here, you wouldn't have any idea where the hell you were. It is virtually devoid of unique character - it has every national chain restaurant you could think of (Chili's, Applebee's, etc.), including my old standby, Outback Steakhouse. Fortunately, it also has a Trader Joe's, who I would praise even if they weren't one of my customers.

So, after a 9 oz. Outback Special (Sirloin) with 1/2 pound of King Crab, Broccoli for the vegetable, and a salad with only lettuce, cheese, and cucumbers (doing the high-protien Atkins thing, you know), I headed over to TJ's for some red, red wine. I was intending to find a bottle of Grenache, on the recommendation of David, but Trader Joe's seems to have a strange absence of Spanish wines, even when I'm away from the Nazi wine importation laws of Arizona. So, I start looking around for inexpensive Italian, French, or Australian wines, and I stumbled across a gem that I purchased based on its name (80%) and the label on the back (20%).

It's from Marchesi de Montecristo (I think) and it's called "Nerello Del Bastardo" (also recommended in this Blogger entry). See what I mean? How can you NOT buy a bottle of wine called "The Bastard's Nerello"? I'm not really sure I can refrain from buying anything with the word "bastard" in it, but that's my own hangup. Anyhoo, I think the back label speaks for itself:

NERELLO DEL BASTARDO can only be described as a Super Piedmontese wine invented purely for fun. When winemakers in Piemonte wish make Barolo or Barbaresco, the laws governing these wines only allow a certain quantity after aging (minimum 4 years) to be classified Barolo or Barbareso D.O.C.G.

'I Superi' (the excess) can only be sold as table wine even though the products are practically the same. Master winemaker; Marco Del Bianco and Italian Wine Guru; Simon De Giuli Botta came up with this blend of aged wines adding just a touch of something secret.

This creation is a breakthrough in winemaking. One might say this is the illegitimate child of Barolo and Barbaresco hence the name; Nerello del Bastardo meaning; The Bastard's Nerello.

This full-bodied red wine is a perfect compliment to game, red meat pasta rich cheese or even on its own.

"Even on its own." I'll drink to that.

Oh, this was only $5.99 a bottle. Woohoo!

Monday, July 14, 2003
untitledI just had to share this find from Michael Penn's bio on the United Musicians website (click the link, then click on "Michael Penn" on the top of the screen):

Michael's music occupies an important place in the lives of his fans. Sensitive gentlemen across the land put Penn's songs on mix tapes for prospective dates. In this way they appropriate for themselves Michael's insights into relationships. The results are often positive. Mitchell Uzuzap of Santa Cruz says, "I never got so much tail as when I started putting Michael Penn's CDs in my Econoline's stereo. I tried Phil Collins, Eddie Money, Bryan Adams, and those guys; it just didn't work. For whatever reason, Michael Penn is the man for the van."

Current Song: "All That That Implies" from the album Resigned by Michael Penn

Sunday, July 13, 2003
I just watered the trees.

This was a simple pleasure, but a good one: I've lived in a loft in East L.A. for the last four years, and before that spent several years at a beach house, so having a yard to water is a nice change.

A clean, just war against ants, aphids, whiteflies and some moth-like creature is also strangely appealing. Pest eradication requires spraying straight up into the trees, and the cooling mist feels good against the skin I abused so badly this afternoon at the beach with sun, sand and saltwater.

Plus, as I look around my small, simple patio, I picture Ben with a machette, hacking away at the hundreds (or thousands?) of square feet of jungle in the backyard of his new house, under the brutal desert sun.

This also makes me smile.

Saturday, July 12, 2003
The Daily Show - Bush v BushMuch praise once again for The Daily Show - I ran across this link when I was looking for a clip of a Lewis Black segment, and enjoyed the delightful balance between actual contradiction and out-of-context abuse. So, here you go: Bush vs. Bush

Friday, July 11, 2003
Slate has a strange story about wannabee amputees on their cover right now. But the graphic is unfortunate; I thought at first it was going to be a story about all those penis enlargement spams...

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Well, turning 35 seems to becoming a theme here, as it's happened to both Brad and James recently, and will happen to me later this year, if I don't die first. I'm proud to share my birthday with the great Jon Stewart, by the way.

But James brought up growing old, and I thought I'd share the moment when I realized that I was a grown-up. It was about five years ago (I think), and my friend "Fingers" and I were going to see Frank Black and the Catholics play at a Phoenix dive bar. Some local band were opening up for Frank, and The Jar was (typically) packed with kids and very poorly ventilated. I was standing there, at about 11:00pm, eyes red from the billowing tobacco smoke, with beer lapping over my sandals like the surf in Southern California, and I realized the truth: I was a grown up. I hated that the show was so late, that the kids wanted to slam dance, that the band was so damn loud, that my toes were covered with beer, and that the club was so full of smoke. I thought to myself, "why can't we just sit on chairs and listen to the music at a reasonable volume at a decent hour?" I can't be trusted. I'm The Man. Very soon, I will begin telling my daughters how much easier they have it than I did.

Anyway, in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way, I thought it appropriate to post these (edited and excerpted) lyrics to one of my favorite Tool songs, "Hooker with a Penis":

I met a boy wearing Vans, 501s, and a dope beastie-tee, nipple rings, and new tattoos that claimed that he was OGT, from '92, the first EP. and in between sips of coke he told me that he thought we were sellin' out, layin' down, suckin' up to the man. Well now I've got some advice for you, little buddy. Before you point the finger you should know that I'm the man... All you know about me is what I've sold you... I sold out long before you ever heard my name. I sold my soul to make a record...and you bought one...All you read and Wear or see and Hear on TV Is a product Begging for your...dirty Dollar So ... Shut up and Buy my new record Send more money...

Wednesday, July 09, 2003
I'm watching "Jimmy Kimmel Live" right now, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are guests. Matt Stone is wearing pants he had custom made with Larry Elder's picture all over them. That's a pretty good welcome to the South Park Republican party.

And I'm sure it has something to do with freeing Iran.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Ben's ResponseAlthough I'm not (currently) martini-fueled, I do have a few responses to keep the liberty thread going.

Ben said, "Robb, if it were as bad as Deuce says, we'd all be taking up arms and marching on Washington. Right of revolution, baby. Just read the Declaration. It's there."

I've got two responses to that, the first from Deuce: "so nazi germany or the soviet union couldn't have been as bad as everyone says, because the people they ruled over didn't take up arms and march on berlin and moscow."

My response comes from a couple of angles. It is clear from both the Civil War and the day-to-day actions of our leaders that the Declaration of Independence does not have the force of law in the United States. Of course, one could argue that the Constitution does not have the force of law, either. But that is more of a practical problem, while the Declaration has no formal legal force.

Now, I know that the point off the Declaration was to recognize that we have INALIENABLE rights, but the whole point of my description of the U. S. government as a tyrannical power is to say that they are willing to suppress our inalienable rights at gunpoint. Sure, we have the right to march on Washington, and they will naturally respond to our inalienable right to do so by killing (armed and not-so-armed) lovers of liberty dead in our tracks.

Did our founding fathers march on Buckingham Palace? No, they had the practical opportunity to throw off the shackles of tyranny from a location that was easier to defend than an office in downtown London. Today, you'd have to live on the moon to have any hope of defending yourself against the "Redcoats". If the British Empire had anything approaching the technology we have (and the public education / brainwashing solution that we have), the United States would still be British colonies.

Ben: "As for Harry Browne, well, maybe he should be more concerned about getting his own house in order."

This doesn't require much response. Jefferson still owned slaves when he penned the Declaration. The hypocrisy of the speaker does not invalidate the logic of his argument (thank God).

Ben: "Are we more or less free than we were a year ago? A decade ago? How about half a century ago?"

There is not a single meaningful way that we have more liberty today than we had two or even ten years ago. And we have profoundly less liberty than we had 100 years ago. I cannot even board privately owned interstate transportation today without "showing my papers" and being subjected to a warrant-less search by government employees. If I buy a plane ticket the day I travel, I WILL be manually groped by TSA employees at the Oakland airport, with no regard to whether or not I set off any metal detectors. I cannot earn an honest living without having over half of my income confiscated by various government entities. Tell me THAT happened 100 years ago - that didn't even happen in 1776. Under General Ashcroft's policies, my e-mail and telephone conversations can be routinely monitored without any warrant or just cause, and I may never be notified of the surveillance.

I can drive alone down a Scottsdale, Arizona street, posing no risk whatsoever to any other driver or pedestrian and have my photograph taken by an employee of a private company who has no official standing as a police officer, and my wages will be confiscated by the local government when a DIFFERENT employee of the same private company appears in court, having himself witnessed no violation of any law, and accuses me of such a violation. This private company is then paid a COMMISSION by the city for filing this complaint, and the cost of filing an appeal and having access to the evidence presented against me actually exceeds the fine for the violation itself. These costs will not be refunded to me if I win the appeal.

The point is, how is American life today meaningfully different (in terms of personal liberty) from life in England or any number of other countries? If there is, in fact, little difference, then is that primarily because those countries have increased in liberty, or because we have decreased? While the answer is "both", the amount of decrease in our liberty is profound, and there is no indication that either of the major parties have any real interest in the substantial restoration of personal liberty.

Ben: "America leads the world because if it didn't, Russia or China would. If you're going to have a hegemony, I'll take American hegemony any day of the week."

England leads the world because if it didn't, Spain or France would. If you're going to have a hegemony, I'll take British hegemony any day of the week.

I will Blog later about responsible Empires, because I do have some thoughts on the subject that might surprise you given the current conversation, but right now we're talking about liberty, and the fact is, the U. S. government is a liberty-sucking machine, and the fact that Russia and China are worse is of no importance. We deserve better. The Declaration says so. The Constitution says so. And if we believe what the founders were preaching, God says so even when no other document or earthly power acknowledges it.

My apologies for breaching Blog etiquette by failing to include a single hyperlink.

Hitchens hits another one out of the park.

Saturday, July 05, 2003
Liberty's Hangover

Well, it's the morning after our annual celebration of the liberties we imagine we still have. The morning after we Arizonans watch fireworks on television because the real thing causes the entire state to catch fire. Television's just as bad as the "real thing", however. You can always count on the coordinators of fireworks shows in podunk states like ours to select music that is cliched, trite, and/or completely inappropriate. An example of each, taken from last night's televised broadcast of fireworks from an Indian Casino:

Cliched: How many times must we hear James Brown imitating Eddie Murphy imitating James Brown on "Living In America"? Does Whitney Houston's "Star Spangled Banner"-in-a-blender really bring a tear to anyone's eye anymore? Did it ever? Can anyone hear either song without thinking of domestic violence?

Trite: Good grief, if I never hear Neil Diamond belt out "they comin' to America" again, it will be too soon. And who sings that horrible jingoistic revenge ballad about the "Statue of Liberty...shaking her fist" and "we'll put a boot in your ass - it's the American way"? Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhh!

Completely Inappropriate: Clearly, nobody who produces these shows actually listens to the lyrics of the songs they select. Judging from the coverage of people waving flags and weeping (about their gambling losses?), none of the audience listens to the lyrics either. The evidence: every year, without fail, the first song in the fireworks show is "Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen. If it was good enough for Reagan, I guess it's good enough for all off us. And is John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses" really supposed to be pro-America? Why not just cue up a little Rage Against The Machine and get it over with? But this year's classic had to be Martina McBride's "Independence Day", which, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the United States at all, but is, as far as I can tell, a song about burning your ex's house down.

This audience was, mercifully, spared "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.", "God Bless the U.S.A." and "You can still rock in America."

So, as a hangover cure, I submit two sobering links about life in the land of the (formerly) free. First, the "macro" level commentary on Uncelebrating the Fourth by Harry Browne (courtesy of Deuce of Clubs, of course). And second, the "micro" level account of a typical interaction with your friendly local government thugs. Er, I mean "heroes", yeah, that's right. This one's also from Deuce.

On that note, it is kind of Orwellian that we've redefined the word "hero" to mean, in many cases, someone who gets paid to trample your personal liberties and/or kill people at the whim of the government.

Happy 5th of July, I think I'm going back to bed.

Update: A correction - "Independence Day" is not, in fact, about burning your ex's house down. It's about burning your abusive father's house down. I stand corrected, and I take it all back...