July 26, 2005
Brilliant Hindsight
For those of you who aren't parents, enjoy your sleep now. Sometimes sleep deprivation can cause parents to do things that make sense at the time, but are obviously stupid in hindsight.

One of my nephews has never taken more than a 15-minute nap since he left the hospital and went home with his parents. Never. Not in his entire life. He is nine-months-old and sleeps through the night, but is wide awake all day long. He stays home with either one of his parents or his grandparents (who serve as free daycare for several hours a day). His mom uses a breastpump to ensure the kid has plenty of milk during the day.

Well, Lady Quixote recently learned that my nephew got formula at night. Mom didn't want the child to run out of breastmilk during the day (when either Dad or the grandparents were watching him), so she used formula at night. Armed with this piece of information, Lady Quixote and the rest of her family started wondering if this is why my nephew could sleep through the night, but not during days. Turns out my sister-in-law is a caffeine addict. It never occurred to her that whatever drugs she takes would be expressed in her breastmilk. No wonder my nephew never naps – he's been consuming caffeine with every bottle. Then he goes home, takes the decaf formula and, well, sleeps like a baby.

Effective immediately, the kid is on 100% formula.

July 20, 2005
Thoughts on Supreme Court Nominee Roberts
Last night President Bush nominated Judge John G. Roberts to be our next Supreme Court Justice. Bush made the announcement in prime time, a first for a supreme court nomination. From this it seems obvious to me that President Bush has learned from the past – the Democrats have smeared some previously nominees while the naively unprepared Republicans just watched. In fact, this smearing of court nominees is now called borking after what happened to Judge Bork.

Since the announcement, I've done some research on Roberts. He is 50 years old, so if he is confirmed by the Senate, he'll likely be on the bench until at least 2030, maybe longer. If I were Bush, I would have been tempted to nominate a 40 year old or someone even younger, but I'm glad he didn't nominate someone in his 60s or 70s.

By reputation, Roberts is a laid-back conservative in the mold of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. This may be one of the reasons why Roberts was picked to serve as one of Renhquist's law clerks in 1980.

Roberts does not have much of a paper trail. As expected the left started attacking him immediately, but if the Republicans hold their ground, they can get the nomination approved. The biggest issue holding the left together, the "right" to abort unborn babies, will be a key issue for the confirmation. Roberts has written a brief where he said that Roe v. Wade was a poor decision that needed overturning, however no one knows if that is his view or not. He wrote the briefing as lawyer for the former President Bush in 1991 and was expressing the views of this client. I hope he shares them, but the current President Bush said he has never asked Roberts his views on abortion. In his speech last night, President Bush said it would have been inappropriate to ask about how Roberts would vote on future cases. I disagree, but President Bush was obviously making a statement to the Senate as well.

I am also concerned by Roberts' lack of a paper trail on virtually all issues. I understand the reasoning as this will probably help him win confirmation, but it may prove to be a mistake. The first President Bush, trying to avoid another borking, nominated a conservative that did not have a paper trail. David Souter's conservative convictions lasted a few years, but he has steadily moved to the left and is one the most consistent left-wing votes on the court (it will not surprise you to learn he was one of the five who greatly expanded the government's ability to seize private property despite the fifth amendment). My one fear with Roberts is that he will be another Souter. Hopefully President Bush is a better judge of character than his father. We shall see.

July 19, 2005
American Canaries
Miners used to keep canaries in the mines for company. Not because they were lonely, but because they were early warning systems. If the local air became hazardous, the birds would pass out or die before people were seriously injured. This gave the miners enough warning to take preventative action.

Remember all the commotion when Newsweek incorrectly stated that Americans were desecrating the Koran? Wonder what the Arabian street will do when they see video of American citizens using legal firearms to blow away a Koran? Team Infidel has elected to serve as canaries for their fellow Americans. If any Islamic terrorists have managed to cross our somewhat porous borders, they will surely make a beeline for Team Infidel.

I'm very interested in comments on this. Should this behavior be legal? For my part, I say yes although I cringe at the potential impact this video will have when shown on Arabian television. And I'd like to publicly thank Team Infidel for their willingness to serve as our canaries.

I've already received a few emails about this post. Yes, Team Infidel is being crude, unpleasant, and not helpful to bringing peace to the world. Yes, my thanking them for being canaries was said tongue-in-cheek. No, I do not condone such behavior, although I support their right to be disagreeable. The first amendment does not just protect your right to your opinion. It protects the right of all individuals to express their own opinions. While disagreeing with Team Infidel's actions, I agree and defend their right to exercise their first amendment rights. I encourage frank discussion about these rights.

Forthcoming Supreme Court Justice Nominee
Tonight President Bush will announce his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra "Wishy Washy" Day O'Connor. Scott Ott has an advance copy of the Democratic response to the nomination. Conservative Republicans will likely complain that Bush forgot he won the election and should have picked a more strict constitutionalist. I'll try to make time to comment once I know who has been nominated.

July 09, 2005
Revised Comment Policy
I enjoy the give and take of civilized free speech, thus I enable comments on my posts. So long as comments meet two basic requirements, all comments are welcome.

The first requirement is that all comments must be polite. We are civilized here at the roundtable and we respect our fellow men and women. I trust that roundtable readers are intelligent enough to express their points without the use of personal insults or profanity.

The second requirement is that all comments must be at least remotely related to the subject under discussion. I have a very liberal view of this. In other words, so long as the comment is not spam, it is probably fine.

I used to allow anyone to comment with no restriction, but found myself spending hours every week battling comment spam. Therefore, I have employed two anti-spam strategies. One, after a post gets old (currently set at two weeks, but I may adjust this), the ability to leave comments is automatically turned off for that post. Two, those who wish to comment must register at TypeKey.

TypeKey is a third-party service with very strict privacy rules (that is, they will not give your information to anyone else). I understand that this step may dissuade some people from commenting, but this is a better solution than my wasting hours each week fighting spam. The nice thing about using TypeKey is that you only need to register once and you can use this service to help fight spam across the blogosphere. Any blogger can sign up for the TypeKey service as part of the war on spam.

Fantastic Movie
Note: For those who want to see the movie, I'll give ample warning before I say anything that might take give away any part of the experience.

When I was growing up, I was a big fan of the Fantastic Four. Somewhere in the garage, I still have hundreds of their old comics that were individually sealed. Assuming they actually last (and survive bugs, hot weather, etc.), I'll give them to my kids when they are old enough to enjoy them. So last night I went to see the new Fantastic Four movie.

The pre-movie experience was bad – it reminded me of why I rarely go to a theater. I arrived about 20 minutes before the scheduled showing. After seating myself, I was bombarded with bad music and a ridiculous number of ads. At the scheduled time, the theater dimmed and then video commercials started. After about 5 minutes of commercials, then the theater played another 5 to 10 minutes of trailers. That was at least entertaining, but some of the trailers were very inappropriate for the young children who were in the theater. Once they start selling DVDs at the same time they release movies to theater (and I am confident that market forces will bring this day to us), I'll probably never set foot in a theater again.

Finally the movie started. It was a blast! It spent a little time up front developing the storyline and introducing the characters. I never would have cast Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm (aka The Thing), but he was wonderful. The characters play their roles straight (similar to Adam West in the old Batman television series) and it was a very enjoyable experience.

The special effects were incredible. Last year I was very impressed by Pixar's The Incredibles, which paid homage to many super hero teams, but especially the Fantastic Four (if you remember, with the addition of their youngest son, the Incredible family had all the powers of the Fantastic Four plus a Flash-type character). Pixar set a new standard for animation with their film. Likewise, the Fantastic Four movie set a new standard for superhero special effects. The final fight scene was worth the price of admission alone.

Fair warning! I'm now going to discuss a few specifics. I don't think reading this will spoil the movie, but if you dislike advance information, you should not read this until after you have seen the movie.

July 07, 2005
Terrorist Attacks on London
I was sending emails back and forth with some British friends when one of them (Paul H.) sent this note. Somewhat distracted as there is a major terrorist incident brewing up in London right now, news is not quite coherent yet but at least 6 explosions are known of. Transport system has been shut down and I must say it looks like the emergency services are handling it extraordinarily smoothly and everyone seems calm if jittery. Disruptive, but not apparently on the scale of the Madrid bombing.

More details are available here. Our prayers and thoughts go out to our British friends.

The BBC will be updating this timeline as more is learned.

Good Intentions
There is an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati makes the case that the good intentions of Westerners is a primary cause of Africa's inability to improve itself in an interview with Spiegel.

I strongly recommend that people read the entire article. It is a valuable perspective that is rarely heard. For those who lack the time, here is a brief summary.

Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.

Africa existed before you Europeans came along. And we didn't do all that poorly either.

...our tailors lose their livlihoods. They're in the same position as our farmers. No one in the low-wage world of Africa can be cost-efficient enough to keep pace with donated products. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria's textile industry. By 2003, the figure had dropped to 57,000. The results are the same in all other areas where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide.

We have to stop perceiving ourselves as beggars. These days, Africans only perceive themselves as victims. On the other hand, no one can really picture an African as a businessman. In order to change the current situation, it would be helpful if the aid organizations were to pull out.

Unfortunately, the Europeans' devastating urge to do good can no longer be countered with reason.

The German government threw money right at Rwanda's president Paul Kagame. This is a man who has the deaths of a million people on his conscience -- people that his army killed in the neighboring country of Congo.

If they really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet.

I encourage you to read the entire article and then think about the best way to spend your charity money.

Tip of the helm to the Poliblogger for the link

July 06, 2005
War on Terror Update
I work at a public university. True to stereotypes, there are many liberal faculty on campus. One of their pet cries is that the intervention in Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror. The next time the topic comes up (and it will, griping about President Bush is one of their favorite hobbies), I am going to show them a copy of this article.

July 04, 2005
Happy Independence Day!
We are very fortunate to live where we do. I hope my fellow Americans have a great holiday. Special congratulations to some very smart Americans for pulling off the most complicated celestial display in human history.

July 03, 2005
Comments and Spam
While I'm working on my anti-spam techniques, it will take a while for your comments to appear. In order to prevent spammers from continuing to fill my comments with ads, I am currently ensuring each comment comes from a reader, not a spambot, before it gets posted.

I hope to get this working better soon, but I'm not a programmer by any stretch of the imagination. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with blogs (short for web logs), you can comment by clicking the permanent link to the entry if the author allows comments. I do. You can get to the permanent link by clicking on the chain icon.

July 02, 2005
Islamic Terrorism Results in Homosexual Marriages
Last March terrorists struck in Spain with the documented intention of changing the Spanish election. They succeeded. The ruling party, the Spanish Popular Party, was a strong favorite to win easily. Instead, enough of the population was scared by the terrorist attacks to vote for their Socialist Party instead.

Outside the obvious withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, how else has the Socialist Party changed Spanish government? Well, they are now in the process of revamping civil marriage in Spain. This new legislation will do two things.

One, it gives homosexuals new rights. Not only does it allow them get married, it legislates that such homosexual couples may adopt children. Since homosexual men are disproportionately likely to commit child abuse, I think this is a grave mistake. Two, the Spanish Socialist Party has always been affronted that many Spanish men do no housework. Now that they are in power, they are forcing all grooms who partake in civil marriages to swear to equitably split all domestic housework. Socialists have always pushed the Nanny State mentality, but this takes it to an entire new level. If you want more details, read this.

One has to wonder what the Islamic terrorists think about this outcome of their tampering with Spanish elections. A direct result of Islamic terrorism is the legalization of homosexual marriages and government insistence that men do more housework. No wonder the ACLU and other American leftists oppose the war on terror.

July 01, 2005
Working on the Roundtable
This weekend I'll be working on the Roundtable - so if things look odd, I'm probably playing with it. However, feel free to leave me a comment if you see something that needs fixing. Right now that is a lot of things, but I'm sure there are some things that I haven't found yet.

The comments aren't working well yet either, but I do get them. It currently takes some time for them to post. At least I haven't been spammed at all since I upgraded to the new version and implemented a few tweaks.