Saturday, July 09, 2005

One Month!

Isabel is already one month old. I know this month seems to have passed very slowly for Ame, but it has zipped by for me. It just doesn't seem possible that she's already been with us a month. The birth seems like it was just a few days ago.

Here's one-month-old Isabel!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cultural Item #2

I've become quite a fan of AJ Quinnell's thriller novels. Many thanks to co-worker Val Swift who turned me on to Quinnell's best-known title, "Man on Fire." That one has been made into a Hollywood film twice, most recently in one starring Denzel Washington as the burned-out mercenary John Creasy.

I enjoyed "Man on Fire" so much, that I began to seek out Quinnell's other books at nearby bookstores. No luck. Then I turned to Amazon. No luck. Only "Man on Fire".

After about two months of fruitless searches in bookstores, I finally found two Quinnell titles: "In The Name of The Father," and "Siege of Silence". I was delighted to find them on the shelf! Problem is, I only get to that bookstore once a year. It's in Gibraltar!

The books were so good that I read them both before my plane touched down in Indianapolis.

"In The Name of The Father" was actually fairly timely, as it depicts a fictional struggle between the Vatican and the Kremlin to assassinate the other's leaders- Pope John Paul 2, and Yuri Andropov. Of course, Andropov died in 1981, but he utters a great line in Quinnell's book- "I'll be damned if that bastard Priest outlives me!" And, as it was, the Pope was dying at the time of my trip.

"Siege of Silence" is unique in that it is written in the first person, with chapters alternate back and forth between the two main characters. One is an American spy, the other a Cuban interrogator. There is far less action in this book than in the other two, but wonderful intellectual and emotional tension between the two characters engaged in a mental chess match.

If you venture into any American bookstore, you will find "Man on Fire" on the shelves with other thrillers. The still from the movie is now the cover, with Denzel Washington shielding a little girl. What you will not find on the shelf are any other books penned by Quinnell, not even the two I found in Gibraltar. You would think that even if the other books were awful, a reprinting would be warranted on the heels of one of them being made into a film, with Denzel Washington as the star. Book publishers are in the business of selling books, after all, and the film had to highten interest in Quinell.

I decided that I'd have to go to dreaded Ebay to find other Quinnell books. Don't get me wrong- I always love to sell things on Ebay, and sometimes I like to buy things there, but it's hit and miss, and if what I want is in demand, it's often expensive for what it is.

Well, the Denzel Washington film did highten interest in Quinnell, who has written some 10 other books, including a handful that feature the Creasy character. Those books, "The Blue Ring" and "Message From Hell" show up on Ebay from time to time, but are always bid ridiculously high.

Three copies of "Message From Hell" recently sold. The lowest winning auction bid for any one used, ragged copy sold on Ebay was $42! For a used paperback! One copy is available now for $83- no picture, only a discription claiming, 'good'.

Ame gave me two Quinell books for my birthday- "The Mahdi" and "Snap Shot". She bought them on Ebay and won't tell me the price she paid. One came from Australia. This all scares me, so I try not to think about it when reading the books.

Hello, publisher! If there are 10 people out there willing to pay better than $30 for a paperback by one of your authors, there are 1,000 people willing to pay $7 for the same book. Fire up the presses! Quinnell bibliography.

If you enjoy Tom Clancy's books, but occasionally wanted a lighter, less thoroughly detailed thriller read, check out "Man on Fire" or any other Quinnell book you are lucky enough to find.
Seat Belt Nannies March Onward

For years, pick-up truck drivers had been exempt from Indiana's seat belt laws. This year, the nannies in the Statehouse removed that exemption so that all Hoosiers might be free from having the choice. This is in line with most other states in the Union, so how much further can seat belt laws go?

Turn to Pennsylvania, where a Republican is suggesting that dogs should be strapped in. Full story.
Stevenson said the bill will protect "not only human lives, but pet lives. I think it's going to be a great idea because it's going to cut down on driver distractions."
This Stevenson is one Rep. Tom Stevenson (R-PA), who holds an annual "There Ought to be a Law" contest. Don't listen when conservative talk radio hosts yammer that it is only the Democrats committed to creating a nanny state. Both major parties share the commitment. Libertarians should hold an annual, "Here's a Law that Ought to be Repealed" contest.

I can hear Stevenson grandstanding, saying, "it's for the... dogs," or, "anything we can do to save just one dog". I know this- if we have to strap in our dog Sasquatch, we won't be able to drive anywhere. He'll fight against the strap for the entire drive and pee all over the seat. Dog and human will be miserable together, but lorded after by some mindless nanny law.

Sasquatch. Yes, he can jump the fence.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fighting the Good Fight

Three cheers for the people of Home Place, who appear to be on their way towards repelling Carmel's forced annexation attempt. Indy Star story.

I'm not against annexation that occurs because the citizens want it. I'm against it because I am against the use of force, and because I am in favor of self-determination. Home Place residents don't want to be a part of Carmel, so they remonstrated against the city's unwanted overtures.
Stephen Buschmann, the attorney representing the Home Place property owners, said the trial isn't expected to last past Friday.

"The people in Home Place have done a tremendous amount of work, and now it's down to two days," he said. "I admire citizens like them who are willing to stand up.

I admire the residents of Home Place, too. I hope they ultimately win.
Light Rail and Terror

It seems that when terrorists want a target, they look to mass transit. Witness the carnage in London today. CNN story.

The other place that comes to mind is Madrid's Atocha Station. Ame & I passed through Atocha five weeks before the bombings that hit there when we went to visit Alex. On my last trip, I avoided Atocha. It's a known target, after all.

What seems clear is that busses, trains and rail stations make for excellent collection points for terrorists who think in terms of assembling the most human targets.
Jarvis Medhurst told CNN: "I was working at the Tavistock Hotel and the bus exploded literally 40 meters away from me. There was a massive explosion and a
cloud of smoke, and then when the smoke stated to die down, you could see the wrecked bus, which was on fire.

"There were bodies everywhere. Heads and bits of bodies, heads and arms and legs all ripped away.

Another man, clearly shaken by his experience, described being on a smoke-filled carriage on the same train, he and his fellow passengers afraid to try to leave the train.

"We were all trapped like sardines waiting to die," said Angelo Power. "I honestly thought I was going to die, as did everyone else."

A police spokesman urged Londoners to "stay where you are."

"There's no way to travel around London at the moment," he said.

Isn't it the point of public transportation to eliminate congestion? Well, thanks to reliance on public transportation, London is frozen.

These events provide yet another very sensible reason for opposing public transportation. While 1-3 people in a car is fuel inefficient, it is very efficient in making commuters less appealing as targets for would-be terrorists.
Thursday's Cultural Item #1

The superhero movies, most of which have been grand productions over the years, have consistently left me flat- with one notable exception: the first Christopher Reeve Superman film.

I have consistently ignored the Batman movies, especially as they have increasingly featured the darker side of the Bruce Wayne character. Now it turns out that I'll want to see the current Batman film, thanks to a Washington Post review.

'Batman' flies right for some
Movie about the comic-book hero resonates with libertarians, others.
... "Batman Begins" has become something of a cult hit among fans of free markets, individualism and Ayn Rand, among other things. Perform a cursory Google search with the terms "Batman Begins" and "capitalism," for instance, and you come up with a blogosphere love-fest, with conservative and especially libertarian commentators praising the film's pro-business, anti-statist themes.

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, saw "Batman Begins" recently at the encouragement of a friend at the Objectivist Center, which according to its Web site champions "reason, individualism, freedom and achievement."

Looks like a trip to the multi-plex is in order! I will keep in mind that one pro-capitalism think tank, the Ludwig von Mises Institute has written it's own review, warning that the film does not live up to the Post's hype. All the more reason to see for myself.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Nice Letter, Dennis!

Fellow Libertarian Dennis Derrick of Avon submitted a fine letter to the Indy Star, who printed it today.
As you know by now, the Hendricks County Council voted 7-0 to pass the Colts tax onto us. These are all "fiscally responsible" Republicans that represent us, the taxpayers. The 7-0 vote means we have no one who will even attempt to keep our taxes low.

Taxpayers and small business owners who spoke against it were ignored. Is this true representation of Hendricks County taxpayers? I do have to applaud the Morgan County, which rejected the tax, as having the only County Council that truly represents its taxpayers.

Well said, Dennis! Now it's up to those taxpayers to remember how their Councils voted, and to act accordingly.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Brother, Meet Sister

Yesterday was an outstanding day, as I picked up my son Alex in Cleveland and brought him home to Fishers to meet his sister Isabel for the first time.

Looking at the Rules Affecting Political Parties

I received an interesting suggestion from Ed Gluck of Terre Haute for a policy position to take with my campaign.

He has suggested that the Libertarian Party of Indiana push for conventions for all three parties. This is to save the state money and should lessen the influence of big monied special interests.

I see where it would have the effect of saving the taxpayers some money directly, as the taxpayers pay for the primary elections, and the parties pay for their own conventions.

I disagree, however, that it would take the money interests out of it. After all, if the public isn't paying for primaries via tax dollars, then somebody is paying for the conventions- and with the major parties, that means corporations and special interests.

I am very interested in gaining major party status for the Libertarian Party with my ballot results. If I get 10%, it happens, and we will be part of the primary process too. While that will include us in the cost to the taxpayer, it would give us a powerful tool that the major parties have kept from us all this time. As Indiana is not a registration state, the way the political parties can find out who their supporters are is by checking out who takes a dedicated party primary ballot. Right now, Libertarians cannot take a dedicated party ballot, so Libertarian voters can either not participate in the primaries (which stinks if there are issues on the primary ballot), or they can take an independent ballot and vote only on the issues.

When the Libertarian Party does its homework and looks at who takes the independent ballots, we are getting access to some Libertarians, but also to Greens, Socialists, and non-partisans. It's very efficient for the Democrats and Republicans, and wholly inefficient for us. This is by their design.

I would like to put the Libertarian Party on even footing with the D's & R's in as many ways as possible. Having the vanity license plate money taken away from the D's & R's was an outstanding thing that brought those parties down to our level of having to be self-sufficient, as we have been all along. It has been amusing to watch the Democrats struggle at the state level. They just aren't used to self-sufficiency.

Ed raised an interesting question. I am interested in getting it all wherever I can, so I am open to suggestion. Should Libertarians lobby to make Indiana a registration state, while lobbying for the elimination of the primaries? It would serve to reduce the cost to the taxpayer while eliminating the unfair advantage the D's & R's have over us and any other 3rd party that might come along.