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The Wrath of God Shall Soon Strike California

September 7, 2005 at 2:34pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Gays can marry in California, at least in theory. Gov. Schwarzenegger could still whip out his veto pen; he has said that gay marriage ought to be decided by the voters (aren’t they who elected the people who made this law?) or the courts (what happened to opposing “activist” judges?).

Although I congratulate California’s gay population on their success in pushing this issue, I’m still frustrated by my belief that government ought not be so heavily intermingled in marriage in the first place. Marriage essentially consists of two parts: the religious part (for most couples) and the legal part. Currently the government sanctions the religious part by giving religious (and “religious”) leaders tremendous power over the marriage process. The government has also created impressive bureaucracies in order to support the legal (and, in some cases, state-sponsored paternalistic) side of marriage. Why all the hassle? Why the intermingling of government with religion?

Marriage is, at its core, a special type of contract between two individuals. Who those individuals are and the restrictions they put on that contract ought to be up to them, not to the state. Couples should be able to establish a legal bond as loose or restrictive as they like, within a reasonably flexible framework established by the state. (The framework would have to differentiate a marriage contract from other types of contracts between individuals.) None of that has any effect whatsoever on the religious side of things. Weddings go on as usual, churches still get to sanction marriages before God, and couples can still bind themselves via whatever covenant they choose to establish in accordance with their religious beliefs. But priests should not have the right to sanction marriages on behalf of the state, whose interests ought to be strictly secular.


ay, congratulations to California about five years from now when this decision actually takes effect.

Failed State

September 7, 2005 at 2:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

In Failed State, Gregory Scoblete echoes the same basic theme I touched on last Friday.

I don’t know if I should be proud that my thoughts are echoed by an author writing for a major online publication, or if I should be ashamed that they’re echoed in the odd little webmag known as Tech Central Station. Sometimes they feature pretty decent stuff, and other times ... well, other times they get a little goofy.

Bush and Dick on Bourbon Street

September 7, 2005 at 2:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The editors of National Review Online want the 2008 Republican National Convention to be held in New Orleans. Seriously. Can you imagine Bush, Cheney, Rove, and the gang whooping it up in the French Quarter? Neither can I. Poor Rick Santorum would have an aneurism, and he wouldn’t be the only one.

Can you imagine a more transparent attempt to burnish the party’s image after the Bush administration failed with the initial relief effort? Oh wait…

Critics will call it a transparent attempt to burnish the party’s image after the Bush administration “failed” with the initial relief effort. The gesture would, however, reflect the genuine sentiment of Republicans who, like all Americans, want to help a city facing such a bleak future. We heard similar complaints — easily brushed off — about the Republicans’ coming to New York for last year’s convention.

Damn, they really bitch-slapped me with that pre-emptive strike! Boy, I guess since they were able to predict my (and everybody else’s) critique, I must be wrong and they must be right. Well then, laissez les bontemps rouler!

All kidding aside, the Dems have to be really pissed off right now that they didn’t make this announcement first. That dang Karl Rove is just too quick on the trigger. That’ll just make their mockery of the GOP’s decision even more bitter.

If Wal-Mart Ran FEMA…

September 6, 2005 at 11:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Jerrson Parish President Aaron Broussard on Sunday’s Meet the Press:

Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA—we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, “Come get the fuel right away.” When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. “FEMA says don’t give you the fuel.” Yesterday—yesterday—FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, “No one is getting near these lines.” Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America—American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn’t be in this crisis. [Emphasis added]

That Sheriff Harry Lee is a smart man. The same is actually true for a lot of companies and private organizations, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army. What saddens me is that the American taxpayer will learn the exact opposite of what this lesson ought to teach, begging to have more tax dollars thrown into the abyss of promised government “solutions” and getting little to nothing in return. Never mind that this is the same government that caused or exacerbated a whole host of deadly problems in Katrina’s wake.

It’s like putting Homer Simpson in charge of the power plant under the assumption that since he caused the nuclear meltdown, he surely must have the ability to halt the damage, or at least to prevent a similar meltdown in the future.

TGI Labor Day

September 5, 2005 at 8:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Reffing college soccer games is great, but boy can it wipe you out. I reffed three games this weekend, and if today weren’t Labor Day I would have been one worthless employee today.

On Saturday I worked a mens game at Doane College in Crete. The two guys I worked with were great. As a bonus, the esteemed Jimmy Norris tagged along to assess the crew. Actually, it was the center referee who was being assessed as part of his effort to become a national referee, but assessors always give feedback to the whole crew. Save for one minor brain fart—my brain froze up on me and I delayed way too long on one call as a result—Jimmy said I did very well. Cool.

Oh by the way, Doane ended up losing 2-1 to Newman College.

Yesterday turned into an 11-hour work day. I left the house at 10:45am, and I didn’t get home until right around 10:00pm. Ugh. I had a mens and womens game up in Sioux City, Iowa, at Briar Cliff College. For some reason I didn’t work lunch into my plans, so all I had in my gut before the games were a PB&J and 32 ounces of Gatorade. Real smart, I know, especially with temps in the lower 90’s. The games went fine. Briar Cliff won the womens game fairly easily. The mens game not only started 20 minutes late, it went into extra time. That, combined with a bunch of stoppages for injuries and various discipline problems, made the game last nearly three hours. Briar Cliff eventually won that game as well. When I finally got some food after the game I opted for chicken McNuggets, a big bag of chili cheese Fritos, and a Sprite. I had dessert when I got home: Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Can you tell I really crave salt after I exercise?

I fell asleep on the floor in the living room after I had settled in a bit at home. I think I could have slept there all night, except for one little thing. Around 11:30pm, a very strange sensation yanked me from my slumber. I was so tired, it took

me a while to figure out what was wrong. And then I jerked upright. No matter how much I love my dog, I do not care to be awakened by her licking my lips. Ew. I guess that was her polite way of saying “I would like you to let me out to pee, take off my collar, and open the bedroom door so I can crawl into my bed and go to sleep.” Message received.

I then proceeded to sleep until 10:17am this morning, totalling about 11.5 hours of sleep time. I haven’t slept that long in a long, long while. I’ll tell you what, it felt gooood.

My day so far has been pretty relaxed, primarily because my body is too fatigued to do much of anything. I grabbed some fresh veggies out of the garden, whipped up a tasty lunch (sauteed green pepper, anaheim chile, kung pao chile, zucchini, garlic, worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce on top of rice), and practiced my trumpet. Eventually I need to take Daisy for a walk and (irk) mow the lawn. The former will happen; the latter, well, I’m not making any guarantees.

Crunch Time for Bush

September 4, 2005 at 5:23am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Patience with the Iraq War is going sour. Federal reactions to Hurricane Katrina are under fire. And now Chief Justice Rehnquist is dead. As if the Bush administration needed another major issue to contend with. How will the Bush team respond to three simultaneous crises? If the rest of Bush’s presidency is any indication, the answer is probably: not well.

Begin the countdown to somebody posting on Democratic Underground that Rehnquist was actually murdered in a plot orchestrated by Karl Rove “to distract the country from the Bush administration’s failings in dealing with Hurricane Katrina.”

Oh, and if I were a betting man my five bucks would be on Scalia taking over the center



All-Around Government Failure

September 2, 2005 at 2:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The more I think about the failures of various levels of government in Katrina’s wake, the angrier I get. For a long time I wasn’t able to pin down exactly what I thought the failures were. Then I realized: the failures were the most basic failures a government could possibly make. People create governments to protect three things:

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Property

The protection of those three things is at the core of our government’s responsibilities. All we ask of our government is that they keep us alive, let us be free, and prevent others from taking or harming our property. In post-Katrina New Orleans, local, state, and federal governments have failed on all three counts.

If we cannot trust our government to do the only three things it really has to do, what can we trust them to do? That New Orleans has descended into anarchy is not surprising. The government violated its contract with the people, so the people severed the contract. I don’t blame them. That’s not to say I excuse their actions—just because the government fails you doesn’t give you the right to infringe upon the rights of your fellow citizens—but I can at least, on a very basic level, empathize with their fury.

So many levels of government have failed so miserably at such basic tasks, that I can only hope that the reaction nationwide is a strong cynicism toward government in general. Americans have over-trusted their government for too long, in the process forfeiting far too many liberties. Do I actually think Americans will use this unfortunate situation as a catalyst for a general government contraction? No. But a guy can hope.

In Support of Price Gouging?

September 2, 2005 at 12:18am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Two quick lessons in market clearing

price gouging. Excerpts:’s possible by law to keep prices below their market-clearing levels. In politics and law, that’s called “price control.” In economics, the result of that policy is called “shortage.” At any price below the market-clearing level, buyers will want to buy more gasoline than sellers have to sell. The result is either waiting in line, which is a very inefficient means of rationing compared to letting the price rise, or some sort of legal rationing system (no doubt with extra rations for SUV owners and others who “need” lots of gasoline).

And from Jane Galt:

But it hurts! I hear you moan. “What about my Labor Day driving?” Let me translate. What you’re really saying when you say “I don’t want to pay more for gas” is “I don’t want to either use less gas, or use less of anything else”. But as a society, we have to use less gas. You, or someone else, is going to have to consume less of the stuff, because we have less than we used to. If you don’t want to be one of the people using less gas, then you have to be one of the people using less of everything else. Thus will the market pretty efficiently strip out driving by those who value it least.

Or to put it another way, “Yes, of course it hurts. If it didn’t hurt, no one would stop driving.”

University of Nebraska Offers Assistance

September 1, 2005 at 6:54pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

NU President J.B. Milliken announced today that the University of Nebraska would make efforts to assist students and faculty affected by Hurricane Katrina. That’s to be expected. This, however, seems awfully generous:

“For those students eligible for admission who are unable to return to their home campuses for an indefinite period of time, we will immediately accept as many as we can at our campuses. We will allow them to enroll this fall at in-state tuition rates, and provide assistance in quickly registering them for classes, finding housing and whatever additional help they need.” Classes began August 22 in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, so incoming students would have a reasonably small number of class days to make up.  Milliken noted that a number of Nebraska students who were enrolled at Tulane University in New Orleans have already contacted the university. “This is temporary assistance, and when their institutions are able to re-open, we will also help facilitate an easy transfer back home,” Milliken said.

To some degree the offer is in the University’s self-interest. But consider how much of a pain in the neck this could be for NU’s faculty and staff. Surely there are no built-in mechanisms to deal with a large influx of students during a semester, so those mechanisms will have to be created on the fly. If you know anything about bureaucratic behavior, you know that “we’ll just make it up as we go” is rarely heard. More often heard is “Let’s create a committee!” Milliken knows all that. That he is willing to try to make something like this work makes this a very kind gesture.

I wonder how many students will actually accept the offer?

Update: I found an online version of the full text of the announcement

Who is to Blame?

September 1, 2005 at 2:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

It seems everybody is blaming somebody for Big Bitch and the damage she has caused. It’s getting pretty difficult to keep track of all the folks to blame. So I’m making a list.

  • Anybody who opposes the Kyoto Protocol (because they support global warming)
  • The Oil industry (because Nature hates gasoline’s pollution, so she destroyed a bunch of the industry’s equipment)
  • White people (because Katrina is a “black” name and therefore the “black” hurricane is wreaking havoc on the South for years of racial inequality)
  • Gays (because God hates fags)
  • Evangelical Christians (because God hates intolerant Southerners)
  • George W. Bush (because he used funding that could have paid to improve flood prevention measures to pay for the Iraq War)
  • Abortionists (because God hates baby killers)

Did I miss any?

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