Archive for March, 2006

have nothing against immigrants at all. The ones I’ve met are
hardworking, ordinary Joes who just want to make a living. But illegal
immigration is definitely out of control. But we have to be careful that our solutions are worthwhile, and watch out that they don’t make things even worse. Along those lines, Asymmetrical Information has an excellent post asking what problem, exactly, a guest worker program for foreigners is likely to solve. Here’s one quote that jumped out at me:

People don’t employ Guatamalan nannies because they enjoy the illicit
thrill of living on the wrong side of the law; they do so because
Guatamalan nannies, unlike many of their American counterparts, are
quite willing to forgoe things like social security taxes.

I think that’s exactly right. But I think there are also lots of Americans who’d be just as willing to forgo social security taxes. The problem is that they’re not legally allowed to make that choice. The government has decided that employers must pay a premium in time, money, and effort to use American labor. Is it any surprise that many employers have decided it’s really not worth it?

People who hire illegals may or may not get caught, depending on lots of things. Right now the advantages outweigh the possible risks. If we want to re-balance this equation we can either make hiring illegals riskier, or make the advantages of doing so less tempting. We’ve put a lot of effort as a country into the former, but I think we’ve neglected the latter.

I think we need to allow Americans to legally compete for these same jobs. If I want to work a seasonal job and waive social security taxes, then that should be my decision to make. Unfortunately the government has essentially decided that Americans are not competent to make such an decision. Yes, it’d mean less money for the government in taxes. But if the alternative is

There’s a huge market for jobs without strings attached. But right now it’s not Mexicans that are taking those jobs away from Americans — it’s our own government.

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In Cuba, a brave journalist named Guillermo Fariñas Hernandez is on a hunger strike demanding that Castro allow the Cuban people access to the Internet. Castro refuses,  because he knows that keeping his people ignorant and uninformed is the only way to maintain his power.

Read more here.

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Originally uploaded by bcostin.

Today, March 25th, is Maryland Day:

Maryland Day commemorates March 25, 1634. On that day, settlers disembarked from two small sailing ships – the Ark and the Dove – on to Maryland soil. At St. Clement’s Island, they landed in what is now St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

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He had a tiger by the tail.

Buck Owens has died at age 76. He doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions to music, but he was a very influential guy in the country music scene. His style strongly inspired my own favorite country artist, Dwight Yoakam.

Florida Cracker has a nice post here.

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Last month in Westminster, Maryland, the deranged morons from the Westboro Baptist Church oozed into town to protest at the funeral of a local soldier killed in Iraq, as they’ve done at funerals across the country. There was no violence here, but as I listened to the scene on my radio scanner it was clear that the police were keeping the Phelps freaks on a very short leash. After the funeral the lot of them were escorted directly across the county line. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

As a result of this sort of behavior Maryland is one of a number of states that is passing a ban on protests at funerals. From WJZ TV today:

Alarmed by protesters who hold up signs such as "Thank God For Dead
Soldiers" at military funerals, the Maryland House voted Wednesday to
ban funeral protests that use speech likely to incite a fight.

In a very timely post, Constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh examines the Constitutionality of such a ban.

The Maryland bill passed the House easily, with only three dissenters. I admire the nay votes’ willingness to stand on principle (though I wonder how consistent some of them are about that principle) but I think they’re wrong in this case. Personally I think this is a reasonable restriction. There are many other places where these people can protest that do not involve attacking grieving people, or disrupting a ceremony which exists to pay respects to the dead.

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Yes, it’s Captain Kirk’s birthday! William Shatner turns 75 today, though his hair is much younger.

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A very interesting post at RedState on military deaths under the past four Presidential administrations. The numbers will not be what you expect.

And, yes, as noted in his comments and on Instapundit, the military was larger under some of those previous administrations. But when people rant about "grim milestones" in Iraq they’re not discussing percentages, they’re discussing the number of deaths. Nor do they distinguish between combat deaths and accidents.

While it offends some people to say it, the number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are not catastrophic. Far from it, compared to other battles that have gone down in history as resounding victories.

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The book bindery!

No, it’s not an episode of Reading Rainbow. It is a quick and easy way to bind a paperback book yourself with some Gorilla Glue and a simple clamp.

I want to try this. I came up with a very similar idea to fix some of my beat up old magazines (the glue on 1960’s issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics seems to dry up and crumble after a few decades.) I wasn’t sure what kind of glue would be suitable, though.

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Getting Ready for the Race
Originally uploaded by cbonney.

A scenes from the race track in Bowie, Maryland on a cold, rainy day in 1972. I was looking for photos of Baltimore from the 1970’s when I stumbled across tis great set of B&W photos by a user named cbonney.

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In the third week of November
, in the year 1895, a dense yellow
fog settled down upon London.  From the Monday to the Thursday I
doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in Baker
Street to see the loom of the opposite houses.  The first day
Holmes had spent in cross-indexing his huge book of references.
The second and third had been patiently occupied upon a subject
which he hand recently made his hobby–the music of the Middle
Ages.  But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our
chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still
drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the window-panes,
my comrade’s impatient and active nature could endure this
drab existence no longer.  He paced restlessly about our sitting-room
in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping
the furniture, and chafing against inaction.

"Nothing of interest in the paper, Watson?" he said.

"The London criminal is certainly a dull fellow," said he in the
querulous voice of the sportsman whose game has failed him.
"Look out this window, Watson.  See how the figures loom up, are
dimly seen, and then blend once more into the cloud-bank.  The
thief or the murderer could roam London on such a day as the
tiger does the jungle, unseen until he pounces, and then evident
only to his victim."

"There have," said I, "been numerous petty thefts."

Holmes snorted his contempt.

"This great and sombre stage is set for something more worthy
than that," said he.  "It is fortunate for this community that I
am not a criminal."

"It is, indeed!" said I heartily.


That’s an excerpt from "Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Such legendary London fogs appear in the background of many Sherlock Holmes stories.

But these opaque, choking yellow mists they weren’t just a literary invention to add atmosphere, they really happened right up until the 1960’s. Wretchard at the Belmont Club has an interesting post about the fogs and their very real health effects. And about the tendency of people to imagine that the environment has gotten worse in our lifetimes when the exact opposite is true in every measurable way. The air’s cleaner, the water’s cleaner, lifespans are longer, health is better, and the standard of living is higher.

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