Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Lost your car?

California has had 70,000 vehicles. Seems they've lost 30,000 of them.

Saudi scumbag

The new Saudi ambassador to the US is Prince Turki al-Faisal and he's been a proponent of Wahhabism in his role as head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years. Bush ought to send this guy packing.

Help Katrina Victims

at the Red Cross. I did. Instapundit has more relief organizations here.

Just one question

Dennis Prager has just one question for opponents of the war in Iraq. HT David Meleney

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina, geopolitical consequences

Here. HT Instapundit


Hurricane Katrina is coming ashore tomorrow at New Orleans, Louisiana. It's a category 5 storm, winds 175mph, storm surge of 25 feet, NO is being evacuated. Fox News has mentioned the potential devastation not only to people and property, but also to the some 800 oil rigs in the Gulf and whatever refineries are in southern Louisians and Alabama. Apparently 1/6th of our oil comes through this part of the country, so I would expect that, if there is significant damage as is expected, that gasoline prices will jump significantly and that the stock market may take a serious tumble.
UPDATE:I was wrong about the market. It was up on Monday.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Military deaths, in context

From powerline
The media's breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq--now, over 1,800 deaths--is generally devoid of context. Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.

HT Media Lies

News source

Direct from the horse's mouth.

Regime change, worldwide

It looks like the Congress really likes Bush's second inaugural address.
Tucked inside the House version of a bill that authorizes spending on foreign aid is the language of what is known as the ADVANCE Democracy Act. The act instructs American ambassadors and embassy staffs to draw up democracy transition plans for unfree regimes, with input from nonviolent opposition movements in the various countries. While Congress has passed laws that require America to work with democratic opposition groups for specific countries - such as the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act - never before has it considered a law that would, as ADVANCE proposes, "commit United States foreign policy to the challenge of achieving universal democracy."

HT powerandcontrol

Just like Vietnam


A few questions

Christopher Hitchens speaks, and prompts me to ask a few questions of the anti-war libertarians. Are you one of the peace-at-any-price crowd? What conditions must be met for you to defend someone else's liberty or is your liberty the only one that matters? Is it possible to coexist with "aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies"? Do you really think they will leave you alone? Are you content to wait until they start breaking down your door? Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". Do you care so little for other people's lives that you're willing to do nothing?

Let's suppose, just for argument's sake, that your neighbor is terrorizing some of your other neighbors, but not you. He's throwing bricks through their windows and committing other property damage and life-threatening acts. There are no cops. Your other neighbors, for whatever reason, cannot respond. You have the capability to stop the terror, but at some cost, and talking has produced no results. What are you going to do?

Read this rant, too. I realize that most libertarians aren't this far off the wall, but there's some comparisons worth pondering.

HT Anchoress

Election time

My friend and longtime Libertarian, Doug Anderson is running for Lakewood city council. Lakewood is just west of Denver. If you've can spare a few bucks, please send him a check. I did.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


educational reform. HT newmarksdoor

The Aussies

know how to say it: “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you,”


It seems that animal rights activists terrorists robbed a grave and are refusing to return the body until the relatives, who are owners of a business that breeds guinea pigs for medical research, shut the business down. That's a good reason to NOT support animal rights groups. HT captains quarters via the water glass

More Tabor

I've been attending a progressive meeting for some time now. They're held weekly and, imo, it's a good opportunity to share libertarian viewpoints, particularly on economic issues. Tonight's meeting was a presentation by State Senator Paula Sandoval on Ballot issues C and D. She's supporting C and D, and seemed to mostly have her facts straight, but I felt like I was able to provide a perspective that wouldn't have been heard had I not been there.

One thing she didn't seem to know, or tried to cover up, was the fact that even if C and D do not pass, state spending will still increase. If it's the latter, which I suspect, it could prove to be a potent selling point for a NO vote.

Something else she acknowledged was that the state does not have a rainy day fund. This is another big selling point in favor of a NO vote. If the state isn't astute enough to have a rainy day fund, why should we have to bail them out every time they get in trouble?

I've been encouraging the organizer of this progressive group to get someone from the Independence Institute out to give the NO side and I hope this will happen. I don't know where other progressive meetings are, but Mark Sweitzer might know (from coloradoprogressives).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Virtual federalism

Arnold Kling discusses Incumbent Politicians vs. the Long Tail.
Instead of coalition and compromise, the solution may be to splinter and separate. Allow people to live in any political jurisdiction they choose. Let socialists self-select to live with other socialists. Let libertarians self-select to live with other libertarians. Accommodate the Long Tail by allowing people to choose their political jurisdiction, rather than have it dictated by geography. That is what I mean by "virtual Federalism."

That could be real interesting, being able to choose your political jurisdiction without moving. Might get a lot more people involved. HT Instapundit

Monday, August 22, 2005


A Libertarian activist on the Western Slope, Debbie Schum, sent this around on the local discussion list:

Please bear with me, I know this is a long diatribe of sorts, but it is important to our goal of defeating Ref C.

While exchanging ideas and “selling points” is useful, mostly, preaching to the choir is a waste of time and money.

The people we need to reach are the undecideds and the voters in favor of ref C.

I see letters to the editor from undecideds saying they have not yet heard anything to sway them. And they are right. Here’s why:

My husband is a dyed in the wool Democrat. This guy has a ball cap with a hammer and sickle on it, and Che Guevara stickers on everything. He was going to vote yes on C. I have worked on him for months to no avail. I read him all the freedom works literature, he’s read all the numbers and figures in the paper, and none of this budged him. He is also pretty chip on the shoulder anti-conservative (though he himself is conservative on a few issues!).

Finally, in the last week or so, I have completely changed his mind….he is adamant about voting NO on C now. And here is how I accomplished that:

Liberals do not care about numbers like $3.1 or $3.8 billion. Because that would be money well spent if it is “for the children!” Don’t bother to ask them what they could do with an extra $3 thousand or $6 thousand or so in refunds. We must speak to the liberals in terms they can understand. This does not mean we lie, or we pretend to be liberals.

What do liberals care about? What do liberals value?

Is it “people”? No, they don’t want to help the poor, or the old, or the children….they want the government to do that for them.

What they care about is DEMOCRACY.

The first chink in my husbands armor came when I said “Why would anyone give up their right to vote on where their tax money goes?”

The things that finally convinced him was that I took the proponents argument (the schools will all close, the roads and bridges will all dissolve!) and pointed out that it was sneaky because TABOR does allow these things to go to the ballot. And if these are the things the excess revenues will really be going for, then why “suspend” TABOR? Why not just put those issues on the ballot? If there is no more TABOR, then they don’t have to tell you where the money is going. And don’t have to ask to raise taxes. If C passes, you can be SURE the money isn’t going to children or roads!

This scared him. He wants the money to go to social government programs. But without TABOR, there is no guarantee of that! Again, back to Democracy. He feels comforted that WITH TABOR, he can vote to make sure the money goes to these programs. These are not programs I necessarily value. But leftists do.

We MUST emphasize the fact that TABOR allows these issues to go to ballot, so no, the schools will not just automatically close, and all the roads get shut down. And if these issues can go to the ballot, then there is no need to “suspend” TABOR.

Just to make sure I’m seeing this correctly, I went down to the library and tried this same argument out on the staff and several patrons who were clearly left leaning. I left within 25 minutes having fully convinced them ALL to vote NO on ref C.

Again, preaching to the choir is a waste of time and money. These simplistic arguments work VERY well, where nothing else does.

Debbie Schum

Potent stuff. I may write a letter to the editor along these lines. Thanks, Debbie.

UPDATE:The WaterGlass has a different take.

Dunce of the week

Can be found here, from Forbes.

Comments back on

Comments are now back on for Anonymous users. Blogger has added word verification to comments, which means that you have to enter the "secret" word to get your comment to post. That prevents comment spam, which is what prompted me to turn comments off.

Why are we in Iraq?

Go here to find out who said these words: "Here is the victor announcing the verdict to prostrate the enemy. He can impose a humiliating penalty if he so desires. Yet he pleads only for freedom, tolerance and justice ... I was thrilled beyond words."

Another test

Here's an odd test, one that purports to measure scientific and emotional intuition. My scores were 70 and 77 percent, respectively. I would have thought that my emotional intuition score would be somewhere in the toilet, but, what do I know? HT thewaterglass

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Counters and maps

I have a sitemeter counter at the bottom of this page on the left. I just found out that one of the features they offer is a world map that shows where visitors came from. If you click on the visitors locations on the map, it tells you all sorts of technical information about the visitor. You can click on the counter and it will take you to the page where that feature is available. HT cotillion

War news

Arrests up, bombings down.


gets on conservatives, says foreigndispatches.

The Press and the President

Austin Bay has a great discussion between himself and Jay Rosen on the media relations between the media and the government and their impact on the WOT (or whatever we're calling it these days). Bay has a number of links in the post, all of which should be read.

Saudi Feudalism to end in 15 years

From the Washington Times. HT Austin Bay

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Two futures

for Palestine. HT Instapundit


I just got a call from a political research group doing a survey on Amendment C, which will be on the ballot this November here in Colorado, and on an amendment which may be on the ballot next year which would require school districts to spend 65 percent of their revenue on classroom activities. Currently, the average is 58 percent spent on the classroom statewide. If anything, the percentage should be higher.

"Purity" vs principles

Richard Combs has a must read post for all libertarians, particularly for those in the Libertarian Party. The purists, and I probably used to be one, are doing long term harm to the LP by insisting on a platform that lays out the utopian viewpoint. It's been said by more than a few people that "utopia is not an option", but the party has yet to figure out how to express that without giving the appearance of selling out. There is a Reform the LP caucus, of which I'm a member. We'll see if they can move the LP in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Getting screwed again by Kelo

The plaintiffs in Kelo are getting charged back rent by the city for the time between the filing of the case and the date of the Supreme Court decision. Talk about double jeopardy. HT freedomsight

Noble Cause

Here. HT Instapundit

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Keep quiet and listen

By Victor Davis Hanson. HT foreigndispatches

Monday, August 15, 2005

Al Qaeda timetable

Here. Looks like the WOT (or whatever you wish to call it) might last through 2020, unless we persist and defeat them earlier. HT Instapundit

Meet the Right Wing Michael Moore

Here. HT Instapundit

Doing business

"Doing business in 2005" is the name of an eye-opening report from the World Bank. It ranks 145 nations on a variety of factors: Starting a business, Hiring and firing workers, Registering property, Enforcing contracts, Getting credit, Protecting investors, and Closing a business. The overview mentions Hernando De Soto's The Mystery of Capital, so I'm assuming the book had a fairly substantial impetus for this project, which is in it's second year.
This project is already having substantial impact worldwide. Turkey, for example reduced the time to start a business from 38 days to 9 (76%) and the number of steps involved from 13 to 8 (38%).
The report seems to be well done, with specific procedures developed for measuring tasks in the various countries. Starting a business, for example, measures 4 items to rank nations: Number of procedures, Time (calendar days), Cost as a percent of per capita income, and Minimum capital as a percent of per capita income.
Some of the indicators are being used to drive programs like the United States' Millenium Challenge Account.
Nations that participate in this program are likely to become more competitive with the United States, which means that we will need to undertake significant reforms as well to retain our competitive edge. As they become more prosperous, I think they are less likely to support terrorists, and that means the United States will have less need to have a military presence overseas. That won't change overnight, but if this project jumpstarts ongoing reforms, in 10 to 20 years we should see major progress.
You can find more information and order the report here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Insurgents fighting insurgents

Here. HT Iraq the Model

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Moral Revival

There's a Moral Revival going on, according to David Brooks of the NYT. HT Bird's Eye View


Once upon a time there was a country and a people beset by war. Thousands of people died in the war, civilians and soldiers. In the end, the country was occupied by a foreign power. The defeated army fled the invading army from the battlefield with their weapons in hand and ran into the country to mingle with the civilian population. One of the defeated generals began to form a group to fight back as an insurgency against the occupying power. This group took the form of a secret society, one that had the direct support of part of the population.

Read the whole thing


I've had to turn off comments to Anonymous readers because someone is starting to spam me via the comments. If anyone has a better way of dealing with this, please let me know - email address below my picture.

Another Bingo Game

This one for bloggers and readers. HT cotillion

Blogger Bash Update

Saturday August 20th.

"We’ll be meeting at the Minturn Saloon at 846 Broadway near downtown Denver. Weather permitting, we’ll take over their rooftop patio; if the weather is unfriendly, we’ll probably take over the second floor (with its pool table and games) instead. We’ll start at 7 pm. We’ll end when they kick us out."

Denver City Council

Every Thursday evening, the Denver City Council sends out email notices of their Agenda and Council Meeting Schedule. The links are to pdf documents. They meet Monday Evenings at 5:30 and I think the meetings are televised on Channel 8. The City Council web page is here and you can subscribe to this notification service here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Lessons for an Exit Strategy

Required Reading from Henry Kissinger HT vodkapundit

Googling is a no-no

It's wrong. Don't do it. Google says so. HT goyishekop

Solar Energy

500 megawatts of solar energy with no subsidy. HT goyishekop

The Anglosphere Challenge

I've just begun reading The Anglosphere Challenge by James C. Bennett. It's one of 9 books I ordered recently and I'd like to share a couple of thought provoking quotes from the first chapter with you.
The institutions that most developed nations have inherited from the mid-twentieth century were created primarily from fear. Economic regulation is driven by fear of joblessness; medical insurance systems are driven by fear of disease and premature death; and state pension systems highlight the fear of impoverishment at the end of the working life. ... As these fears diminish, it is likely that people will question the high opportunity cost these systems carry, and be willing to forego the relatively minimal rewards they carry in return for a more open and flexible social system.

People who define themselves primarily as members of collective entities, whether families, religions, racial or ethnic groups, political movements, or even corporations, cannot be the basis of a civil society.

Democracy, modern market economies, and civic states are effects of strong civil society, not causes.

When civil society reaches a certain degree of complexity, democracy typically emerges.

The author says the anglosphere civil society is rooted in history that dates back before the Magna Carta. If he's right about civil society being the root cause for our progress and success, I think there are enormous implications for effecting political change, both here and abroad.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What You Are Not


Spreading Liberty

in Iraq.

Cell phone microphones

can be activated by the cell phone company so they can listen in even when they're not being used.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Looks like the 9/11 Commission's Report contains bogus information. The gist seems to be the Able Danger project (a data mining project) discovered several individuals who it thought should be investigated but the Clinton administration lawyers refused to permit the information to be given to the FBI. One of the individuals was Mohammed Atta. I guess we need to ask the Commission What did they know and when did they know it.

Voting Rights

and responsibilities.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

War on Drugs

gets another victim. HT Say Uncle via publicola

Air America

may be going under. They can't seem to meet payroll, in spite of all the money they ripped off from a Bronx-based community service organization.

Progress in Iraq

All Things Conservative will be reporting on Iraq, picking up the slack from Arthur Chrenkoff, who is shutting down his blog.

Zero Tolerance

Stupidity. HT Donklephant

A Clash of Narratives

is one name for the current struggle between radical Islamists and everyone else. Here's a series of pdf slides that may shed some light on history and viewpoints. HT Austin Bay

Christopher Hitchens

asks some serious questions of anti-war folks. HT Ann Althouse blogging as InstaPundit

Blame Game

Why The Left Blames Us is the title of a post by Richard Combs, local libertarian and excellent writer. It's well worth the read and was selected as 2nd place winner in July, 2005 over at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sandy Berger Pants

may be coming to a clothing store near you! HT ombudsgod

Ward Churchill

gets graded by his students. HT Betsy's Page

The Onion

reports that schools are not doing a good enough job preparing children for unemployment! They don't do a very good job preparing them for employment, either. HT Betsy's Page

Leaving Iraq, or a small part of it

It seems that both the American and Iraqi troops have left Nejaf.

Arthur Chrenkoff

is leaving the blogosphere. He has a new job, no blogging permitted. Darn. His posts on under-reported news from Iraq were a must-read.

Bad reporting

The Rocky Mountain News spent 90 column inches plus pictures and graphs in today's paper talking about diversity problems in the Denver Fire Department but it wasn't until 49th paragraph in the lead story that we learn
Also, many blacks failed to pass the math segment of the test, which consisted of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Many Hispanics fell victim to the reading segment.

That's the sum total of the discussion on lack of preparedness on the part of the candidates. 28 words out of more than 2700, about 1 percent. We don't know what percentage of the candidates failed this or other segments. There's no examination of why they failed. We don't know what percentage of the candidates were minority. In short, a total failure on the part of the reporter to report on what is arguably a much more important factor in the diversity problem.

Earth to reporter April Washington: If you can't read, write, and do simple sixth grade arithmetic, you aren't going to pass the test. And no, these failed candidates aren't victims of anything but their own unwillingness to study. If Editor/Publisher John Temple wants to know why people don't read his rag, this is a perfect example of liberal bias in the mainstream media.

The dirndl

is Europe's most (um) revealing problem and the bureaucrats are keen to cover it up. She can serve me a brew anytime! HT Betsy's Page via Anchoress

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Saudi Arabia

Dr. Demarche tells us that Saudi Arabia has a lot of problems. We need to stay more on top of this than we have been.


The Regional Transportation District, aka RTD, is thinking about charging people to park at the park-and-rides, according to this article in the Denver Post. I think it's a good idea, particularly since RTD gets about 80 percent of its revenues from taxes, not fares. At that ratio, a 2 dollar ride should cost about $10. The only route in the whole system that turns a profit is the #15, which runs up and down, or should I say back and forth, East Colfax. I ran for the RTD board in 1998 and got 7.5 percent of the vote. You can find RTD's web site here. The skyRide is a pretty good deal. It takes you to DIA from various points for between $6 and $10 with free parking. Where else could you park free for a week?

John Roberts

Turns out that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts assisted the plaintiffs in the Amendment 2 case here in Colorado. The people passed a constitutional amendment limiting gay rights and the case went to the Supreme Court, where it was overturned.

Blogger Bash

Blog readers welcome, too.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The economy

is very good. HT neolibertarian

Regime change


I've Got Rights


"The Marine"

nails Bush for not leading, and nails a lot of other people for not having any backbone.