Liberty blogs

Tonight I made some changes to the sidebar at the left. The main thing is the addition of a section of links to other (mostly) libertarian blogs, something I’ve been meaning to do for some time. There’s a lot of Cato people (Catoids) in there along with a few others, mostly in the D. C. area.

The tricky thing was to decide what to do with the overlap between this new section on the sidebar and the pre-existing “Friends” section. Since double-listing would be redundant and because it’s probably more useful to visitors to have all the libertarians in one listing, I decided to make the categories mutually exclusive. So if you run a libertarian blog, I guess we can never officially be friends. That also means Johan Norberg has been demoted from friend to libertarian (or maybe he’d consider that a promotion; I won’t ask him).

I’ve also added a few links in other categories lately, so take look around if it’s been a while. Today’s addition: Tony Packo’s online!


October Torch online

The October issue of The Torch is now online. Highlights include Trapper Michael’s “Yes Virginia, we still have an athletics department” defending Chancellor Gee’s restructuring of the athletics program and a debate over the PATRIOT Act (pro: Seth Wilson; con: Brent Dooley).

My own column is on the DC voucher legislation. Two publications from Cato worth reading on the subject are David Salisbury’s policy analysis “What Does a Voucher Buy?” and Casey Lartigue, Jr.’s op-ed “Mayor Williams wants school vouchers for D. C.


A gay time with Antonin Scalia

Last night I was at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s 50th Anniversary Gala. The food, drink, music, dancing — all great. The speakers were a mixed bag, with Mitch McConnell and William F. Buckley, Jr., being the highlights.

Senator Rick Santorum being asked to lead the audience in saying the Pledge of Allegiance was an omen that not all would be as pleasant, and the remarks by Justice Antonin Scalia proved this expectation true. Despite a request for no visual media coverage, the AP has published this report of the event complete with photo.

The article is good, but by focusing only on what Scalia said about the recent Lawrence decision it misses the more astonishing and alarming quotes — such as Scalia calling the Bill of Rights an “afterthought” to the “real Constitution.” He wasn’t just being overly literal; throughout the speech he derided the liberal emphasis on individual rights as opposed to majority rule.

I’m sympathetic to the idea that our current view of the Constitution is more liberal rights oriented than the Founders’ was (see Akil Amar’s The Bill of Rights for an interpretation like this), but Scalia takes this view to absurd lengths. What, after all, makes the “real” Constitution so good except that it checks a government’s power over minority interests by enumerating and separating powers and establishing a federal system? (Fed 10, anyone?)

Scalia seemed to undercut his own argument when he concluded by praising ISI for bringing conservative minds together. He noted that this is important since people’s thoughts are effected by what the people around them think, which strikes me as a reason to be skeptical of majority rule.

The lesson of the night: hearing Scalia in front of a room full of supporters is a frightening experience.


And his parrot sings “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles!”

Chad Horne sent me this story today about a German man who has trained his dog, Adolf, to give the “Hitler salute” (right paw raised stiffly in the air). The article reads like something from The Slant, as it is revealed that the owner, Roland Thein, sports a Hitler mustache and a military tunic and has a dog house with the name “Adolf” emblazoned above the entrance. Thein is actually being prosecuted under Germany’s anti-Nazi laws, though for other infractions (even in Germany it was deemed unclear whether it was illegal to train an animal to perform Nazi tricks).

What I find ironic is that Adolf is reportedly a mongrel. Wouldn’t a guy so intent upon raising a Nazi dog at least start with a purebred?

[Update 2/21/05: As of today, comments on this entry are closed and many have been deleted. Too many racist morons have found this entry and left anti-Semitic or anti-black comments. I’m reluctant to censor and let it go for a while, but they became particularly hateful lately. I also don’t want the 100 or so visitors per month who find my site through this entry walking away with the impression that that’s the kind of conversation I’m trying to encourage here. If anyone has a problem with that I’m sending nordictypeguy’s Nazi-busting kitten after you.]


A letter from Taco Boy

Ancient rivalries die and a new alliance takes shape, as The Queso Crusader receives a surprising offer from Taco Boy:

It was a hot summer day as I relaxed in my Cantina of Solitude with an ice cold margarita, a steaming bowl of queso, and a fresh batch of tortilla chips, when a note slid under my door. There was only one man who could reach me here, and I steeled my courage as I opened the envelope: it could only have come from my arch-nemesis, Taco Boy. But to my surprise, it was a letter of conciliation [signature typos and grammatical mistakes left in for authenticity]:

To my hated enemy, The Queso Crusher,

It seems that my nefarious plans to strand you in the UP have succeeded! Soon my minions will be upon you like so much fire sauce upon the luscious soft taco! While you may have been spending your time looking for something to do, I have been quite busy.

Upon the end of this thing you call “college”, I departed this country to bring Tacos to less fortunate people. I of course, refer to the people in your own nation who have not yet experienced the glory of tacos! Axl Rose, Bill O’Rielly, Steve Perry, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger looked upon me with teary eyes as I showed them the glories of the taco! Some of my critics have criticize me for not putting such efforts towards feeding the hungry. I tell you, there is a no-brainier when it comes to such nonsense. Which of these people looks more like they need a taco?
Axl Rose needs a taco


No taco for you!

Clearly, the answer clearly Axl Rose. Think about it, there are tons of people willing to pay for the kid to get food. Who is going to make sure that such celebrities like Axl are exposed to such things? Also, he looks a bit famished after another concert.

After a month of doing such charity work, I felt the need for a vacation of my own. The place? The glorious Taco Bell that sits atop of Mt. McKinley! What a sight! AND I get all the Tacos I want!! It’s one of the best places I’ve been to — ever. Sadly, the Taco Bell hurtled to its doom to the bottom of the cliff. Guess we shoulda invested in that insurance. The only casualty was that annoying little dog. Ironic, aint it?

Mt. McKinley Taco Bell

I write this letter to you also to offer to you an alliance. Think about it. Queso Crusher and Taco Boy: ALLIES! The world shall tremble at our might! This is your last chance at redemption before I cover the world in fire sauce, and kill all the infidels.

Your Newfound Ally,
Taco Boy

Taco Boy, I accept your offer to bring tacos to the world, especially to the unenlightened celebrities. However, we will take no action until our alliance is complete. Yes, you know whom we need: Dr Pepper Man. Not just an alliance, but a Tex-Mex Triumvirate! Bring him into this, and the world belongs to us.


The Slant vs. Kristen Hinson

If Kristen Hinson ever retires from The Hustler, she will do to The Slant what Bill Clinton did to stand-up comedians when his time in office came to an end. She provides such easy material for satire that sometimes the biggest challenge she presents is resisting the urge to devote an entire issue to her. [Note to non-Vandy readers: The Hustler is our campus newspaper and, despite recent articles about such topics as sodomy and nipple licking, it should not be confused with the Larry Flint magazine of similar name.]

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at her Hustler editorial from a couple weeks ago, “Sodomy is ‘wrong,’ ‘disgusting’ and ‘perverse.’” This is the only piece of writing I’ve seen at Vanderbilt to get people more riled up than Brett Austin’s infamous “Need-based aid cost us all,” published in the premiere issue of The Torch (I would link to the column, but sadly it has been taken off the Web and dropped into the memory hole). Do a search on the Hustler website for “Kristen Hinson” to see the numerous responses.

Meredith Gray did prevent us from doing an all-sodomy issue, but there’s plenty of Hinson-related content nonetheless. Richie Green disagrees with Hinson, arguing that in fact the GBLT is a damn good sandwich. I actually take Kristen’s side, but do I have any idea what I’m talking about?

Around the Loop asks what other students find wrong, disgusting and perverse, the Top Ten lists upcoming Hustler editorials, and the horoscope, poll, and Other News all make a few references to our favorite Hustler columnist.

Just for fun, here is Hinson’s defense of her anti-sodomy column, and here is her Hustler debut, “Evolution is not a trusted theory by all scientists” (ably satirized by Andy Coz’s unpublished “My shoes turned into a rocketship”).

Please, Kristen, don’t ever retire. It would strain our creativity too much.


Slave reparations? Here, have a muffin!

A Vandy alumnus sent me this link today, suggesting that we might try holding our own Affirmative Action Bake Sale. Conservatives at SMU did it and created an uproar (unfortunately, the administration there allowed a heckler’s veto to end their activity).

Left-leaning students at Vanderbilt have beaten the right to the punch (see my comment at the end of the article). When they did it no one raised any objections; I wonder if, at apathetic Vandy, things would have gone differently if a conservative group had tried it first.


Blast from the past

It’s not Jesus Clothes Day yet*, but one person is celebrating early. Somehow a high school blogger stumbled upon the parody ad created by Justin and me back in fall 2001 and inserted it into her webpage. I’m sure Ryan will be thrilled that his foray into knickers modeling is still getting attention.

*Since we made it up, I guess Jesus Clothes Day can be any day you want it to be. Or don’t want it to be. Just like Gay Jeans Day, which we didn’t make up.


If you blog it, they will come

This weekend this website (the blog and everything else on the domain) made it past the 1,000 visits in a month mark. I’d been expecting it to happen, but it came very close to falling painfully short.

Flashback to Thursday night, when I sat down at the computer to check the stats and see if the thousandth visit had occurred. The result? 999. Perfect; I just had to wait a little while, come back to check again, and then it would be celebration taco time.

But what did I see when I looked again? The server was down! So I sent an e-mail to Adam to tell him what a bastard he was for having a server that crashed at such an inopportune moment and then went off on my road trip not knowing when the site would be fixed.

Fortunately, I did come home to a working website. Adam’s bastardly status was revoked and the thousandth visit had been paid. In fact, as of this writing I’m up to 1,130 visits this month. This rapid growth is heartening for me, though I have to admit I find it surprising and even a little mystifying.

The increase in traffic has inspired me to revise the welcome page to give a better idea of what this site is about. It also includes my “Guide to Good Blogging.” (Not available in stores, act now!)

And Adam — thanks again for hosting the site and putting up with my lack of technical knowledge! I’m having fun with this.


Steven Pinker at AEI

I probably shouldn’t be promoting events at the American Enterprise Institute, but this one has me really excited. They are hosting a lecture by Steven Pinker, one of my favorite science writers and who is now in the psychology department at Harvard. The topic will be that of his most recent book, The Blank Slate, which debunks fears that a scientific understanding of human nature will undermine ethical and political values.

The event will be at AEI on October 7 at 5:30; registration is here.

(The Blank Slate was also one of the first books reviewed in The Torch last year.)


D. C. links

Added a new section of links to the sidebar tonight called “D. C. Links.” The most noteworthy is Tyler Cowen’s amazingly thorough ethnic dining guide. Cowen is an eccentric economist at George Mason who has written extensively on culture. His mini-reviews are often fun to read and he’s not afraid to speak with authority:

“[I]f you donít like [these restaurants], you probably didnít follow my advice for what to order. Or you are to blame in some other manner, I donít know which one, there are many possibilities.”

“How can I get good Mexican food around here? That is perhaps the most common query I receive. The answer: you canít. That being said, here are some options.”

Some of the reviews are more light-hearted:

“Formosa Cafť… Great, great, great. You wonít believe this place exists. Total mom and pop atmosphere, formica tabletops, real Chinese food, excellent prices. Beware the spicy dishes with chiles, even *I* canít really finish them or even get halfway through. Two red stars means the kiss of death here.”

I had the good fortune to have dinner with Cowen in the Georgetown cafeteria this summer at an IHS conference. Rather, I should say we students ate while he wisely declined to partake. Friendly though he was, I made a point to wait until he left to have my Lucky Charms for dessert.

Two of his books are In Praise of Commercial Culture and Creative Destruction. I enjoyed the first more than the second, but both are good and the second is more relevant to globalization debates.

The second new site I think is interesting is this blog map of the D. C. Metro system. It lists local bloggers by their nearest Metro (subway) stop, conveniently superimposed on the familiar colored map. My link is now listed in Rosslyn. I’ve yet to get any practical good from the site, but it’s a cool idea.


Hendrie Top Ten

In honor of the Phil Hendrie free website weekend, here’s a Top Ten list of bits from the show:

10. Art Griego: Top Gun (Maverick and Goose?)
09. Austin Amarka: Zerocks
08. R. C. Collins: Hamlet Soliloquy
07. Pastor William Rennick: Modernized Christmas Pageant
06. Chris Norton: I’ll teach your man to dance
05. Flashback – Bud Dickman: Pee Wee
04. Phil Hendrie (Just Mr. Hendrie): Phil Linton’s Kid Quiz!
03. Don (Others A-M): Easter Bunny staredown
02. Jeff Dowder: Chicks in Space
01. Bobbie Dooley: A dark hole


Phil Hendrie free weekend!

Good news, everybody! The Phil Hendrie Show website is available for free this weekend. It normally costs about $7 a month, and the last time they did this promotion we Vandy students were on vacation and away from high-speed Internet access. The timing is better this time, however, so now all can be exposed to the glory that is the Phil Hendrie Show. (Previously only my unfortunate dorm neighbors were exposed to it, often for hours on end.)

For the uninitiated, Phil Hendrie runs a radio talk show out of L. A. of which I am a fan (some would say I’m obsessed). Like many talk shows, his guests are often stupid or insane. What sets his show apart, however, is that his guests are actually him speaking in funny voices. Real people call in to the show not realizing this and Phil gets to moderate the arguments between the callers and his made up characters.

Sound fun? It is. Sometimes it’s pointed satire, sometimes it’s just silly, but it’s always humorous. The free weekend starts sometime on Friday, so check it out. (For the full length audio files click on the “Classic Clips” link on the main page.)

Note to D. C. friends: the show may air weekdays at 7:00 pm on WCHA 800 AM, but I don’t know for sure.