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Cat call

Since so many of you have asked me what exactly I do these days…

I actually do have some exciting things lined up. None of them involve animal role play, but that’s all I can say for now.

Link thanks to aspiring actor Luke.

Blogroll update

New on the roll:

Barzelay.net — Former Slant EiC David Barzelay has made the leap from livejournal to a real blog.

So it’s Come to This… — Former Slant EiC Colin Dinsmore has a real livejournal.

Liberty Belles — A sharply designed group blog of five libertarian women, including my old friend Anastasia.

Culiblog — Not new, but new to me. An interesting cooking weblog with great photographs.

MagiCentric — MagicRants has moved to MagiCentric, featuring more magical information and less magical ranting.

Powers on loan from God

Many of you have asked me how I accomplish my feats of magic, and I have always declined to answer or pointed to my magician’s oath of secrecy. Now, alas, the truth is out. I, and every other magician on Earth, have been granted my powers by the deity Christopher Roller of Burnsville, MN. I humbly apologize for not acknowledging his contribution earlier.

[Via The Morning News.]

Kelo blues

In catching up on my news and weblog reading, I’m glad I was out of the country for the Kelo decision. First Raich further eviscerates the Commerce Clause, now this makes the “public use” requirement for eminent domain utterly meaningless. From what I’ve read so far, Jim Henley puts it best:

Like where you live? Like where you work? Don’t get too attached. You are there on sufferance. I would say, “That’s true whether you rent or own,” but as of today there’s officially no “ownership” to speak of. Any level of government may take any private party’s . . . um, we had a word “property” that we used, but it no longer applies, anyway, whatever you may want to call it, and give it to any other private party for, essentially, any reason whatsoever. The Court says it has to be a “public purpose,” but the ruling implicitly defines “public purpose” in entirely circular fashion: a public purpose is whatever reason a government does things. In combination with Raich we have now, definitively, moved from “sweet land of liberty” to “sweet land of sufferance.”

Radley has two posts rounding up just a few of the many eminent domain abuses that were just given a bright green light by the Court.

IJ’s press release is here. They’re not giving up on fighting eminent domain abuse just because of this case. Their Castle Coalition is continuing the good fight.

Finally, there is one cheery note amid the depressing news. Freestater Logan Darrow Clements is applying to use eminent domain to seize a home owned by Justice Souter and build the Lost Liberty Hotel in its place:

The proposed development, called “The Lost Liberty Hotel” will feature the “Just Desserts Café” and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon’s Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

“This is not a prank” said Clements, “The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development.”

Brilliant.

1805

That’s the approximate number of spam comments left on my weblog while I was gone. It’s definitely time I get a new moderation system here.

After a whirlwind four capital cities in four days (Rome, Paris, London, and D.C.) I’m finally back in town. I’ll post an espresso report, a few other entries, and possibly some pictures soon. In the meantime, enjoy this photo gallery of travelers doing the touristy hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa pose taken from the wrong perspective. [Via BoingBoing.]

Roman Holiday

Greetings from my last day in Rome, where even the Chinese restaurants have espresso machines!

jakechinese.jpg

Photo courtesy of my new friend Jim’s handy camera phone.

Back to D.C. and regular blogging on Tuesday night…

Can’t stay in one place

I moved two weekends ago, was on a wedding road trip last weekend, and am now preparing to leave for one more excursion. This morning I’ll fly to Houston to connect with my family and on Sunday we’re all boarding a flight to Milan for a two-week tour of Italy. We’ll finish up in Rome on the 25th, at which point I’ll have three days to make my way solo to London for a flight back to D.C. Needless to say, blogging will be light during the next couple of weeks and I may be slow or completely unresponsive with email, though I hope I’ll be able to get into a few Internet cafes while I’m gone.

This will be my first time out of the United States and Canada, so I have a lot to look forward to. I’m most excited, of course, to sample the coffees in the motherland of espresso (I know Italy has it’s fair share of art and history, too, but let’s keep our priorities straight). I plan on downing lots of shots and cappuccini during this trip. I already have one recommendation for an espresso bar to visit; anyone know any others? And in London?

I’ll be back in Arlington on the evening of the 28th with lots of work to do and a deluge of comment spam to delete. Huzzah!

Sticking it to the manicure, revisited

My post on the freestater being arrested for giving an illegal manicure in New Hampshire unintentionally sparked a serious philosophical debate in the comments section. My old friend Chad Horne raised the level of discourse considerably above what usually takes place on this site. I’ve been too scared, I mean busy, to reply until today.

Chad revised and restated his points at length in the original comments section, where another Chad (Wilcox) entered the fray with a free market riposte; readers might want to look there before continuing here. Below I do my best to pull a few summary quotes from Chad Horne’s comments and then post my own thoughts on the matter.
[Read more...]

Geeks in the air, under the sea

Two pieces of news from Slashdot worth mentioning:

1) United Airlines has received FAA approval to install wi-fi networks for in-flight use. It’s still a year away from implementation and won’t be free, but it brings us one step closer to eliminating one of the last places where people might be tempted to read an actual book. [/.]

2) I’ve never been SCUBA diving, but this is very cool. An Israeli scientist has invented a system to extract air directly from water, freeing divers from having to wear bulky compressed air tanks. [/.]

French depression

I was traveling (again) this weekend to attend a couple of weddings, one in Nashville and one in Atlanta. The natural wedding gift from a coffee evangelical like me was a French press coffee maker. The night before I left I went by Williams-Sonoma, but they only had one ridiculously priced model. This was no problem — I figured I would have no trouble picking one up when I arrived in Nashville.

I was wrong. When I bought my own press many years ago, they were easy to find in lots of department stores. This no longer seems to be the case. I was at a mall and went to about five different stores, none of which offered a French press (I eventually found one at a housewares store in Hillsboro Village). Instead they all carried the new, expensive pod-style machines like Nespresso makes. They’re an inferior way of making coffee, but they have a much higher mark-up and they sure do look fancy, so that’s what the stores have shifted to carrying and what customers will see as the best coffee makers.

Conclusion: I hate capitalism.

Playing catch up

I’ve been extremely busy for the past few days moving to a new apartment and just barely getting a book review submitted by deadline. I’ve left the place Court and I shared in Clarendon. It was a great location and she was an ideal flatmate — one of the few people I could tolerate, much less enjoy, living with — but it was time to move on. I’d originally planned on throwing my stuff into storage and bidding D.C. adieu for the summer, but at the last minute a number of plans changed and I decided it was worth sticking around. I was lucky to find a great apartment in Courthouse’s Colonial Village, a sunny complex with lots of grass and no high rises, and move into it this weekend. The downside is that I’m no longer just two and a half blocks from Murky; the upside is I’m now dangerously close to my favorite pho restaurant.

Rather than play catch up with new blog entries, here’s a list of the things I would have written about if I’d had the time:

Radley on Wegmans — Radley has a good op-ed up about the awesomeness of Wegmans grocery stores, the way they defy the expectation that markets produce low culture, and how lame grocery chains like Giant are using politics to block their expansion.

The Village Voice on Starbucks — In contrast, this Village Voice piece about Starbucks is all kinds of stupid. It’s written in reaction to news that Starbucks will have six weeks of exclusivity on retail sales of Alanis Morissette’s acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill (which I admit I’ll probably buy the day it comes out). I needn’t count the ways this op-ed goes wrong for frequent readers of this site, but I do get a kick out this quote from a member of the indie band Antigone, who will apparently have their CDs in Starbucks stores soon. It’s the smartest remark in the article:

“I think the biggest challenge for labels is breaking bands,” says Antigone’s Kristen Henderson, whose band will release its major-label studio debut in August. “The situation with Starbucks is perfect for us because it’s going to get us into 4,400 stores, front and center, and expose our band, our music, our name to a whole group of people who have never known us.” The acoustic Starbucks release doesn’t do the band’s accomplished hard-rock chops—which at times recall the Allman Brothers or the Black Crowes—justice. Still, the twentysomething guitarist feels no shame in having her band associated with the coffee store. “There’s always negative spin, people get like, hate the Man, the corporation—but we’re signed to a major label. We were an indie touring band, but we consider our band a small business. We want to grow our business. . . . It doesn’t really freak us out.”

[Via Starbucks Gossip.]

Portafilter.net — Sticking with the coffee theme, check out this new coffee group blog. The contributors include Murky owner Nick Cho and reps from Eternal Recurrence favorites Counter Culture and Intelligentsia. It’s got a podcast, too.

Love and motivation — There’s some interesting new cognitive science research out about the way romantic love works. Peruse the NY Times article (thanks, Court!) or, even better, read Randall Parker’s take on it.

“Influential magicians” — Google offers an unintentional commentary on the state of the art. [Via The Magic Circle Jerk.]