Free State Project

I remember reading about the Free State Project sometime last year. It’s an interesting experiment, where the goal is to get 20,000 people to relocate to a single state, where they then hope to influence the local government to maintain a bastion of liberty. The proposal seems sound.

In the last month, the project has reached the all-important plateau of 5000 members, which resulted in the choice of a state for the project. The selection? New Hampshire was the winner. By 2006, the FSF project hopes to have 20,000 people signed up, and within 5 years of that date, for those 20,000 to have relocated to New Hampshire where they hope to exert their influence on the state government.

Thus far, New Hampshire seems a good choice, and the governor of the state has even chimed in to become a friend of the project. In a state where the motto is Live Free or Die, it seems that the project may be destined for success.

Email Subject Spam

I find it interesting when a reasonably legitimate service (eWeek magazine, in this case) sends out an update with asterisks in the subject line so that spam doesn’t actually read spam. Instead, it is sp*m. Presumably this is to foil filters that look for spam in the assumption that true spam will contain spam in the subject and the email can be safely deleted.

We get a lot of spam, and very rarely does it contain spam in the subject line. Even when it does contain spam, I can’t think of a single instance where the sender of the junk mail has taken steps to protect it from triggering a filter on the word spam.

Just glancing through the mailbox of stuff that kicked out this weekend, I see lots of umlauts, slashes between each letter in sexual, periods in commons spam words such as humungous (sic), cheapest and effective (two periods in that one), and even a tilde in grow. But out of 500 or so junk emails, not a single occurence of spam, in either altered or unaltered form.

It’s interesting that people think that those who send junk emails will actually advertise that fact by including the word spam in the subject. Not just people, but a publication devoted to technology. Do these people really live in the same world as we do, or do they occupy some alternate dimension where those who send junk email actually let you know that that is what they are doing by including it in the subject?

Don’t get me wrong – I understand that some junk mail does come in with spam in the subject. But at least in our installation, that happens so rarely as to be a non-event. The handful of messages that slip through are much easier blocked by a sender blacklist than a keyword check for spam.

Take Off Time or Taxes?

For those of you tired of working already, you might want to skip this piece. It won’t make you feel much better about it.

You see, it turns out that Friday was Take Back Your Time Day. The idea was to take off Friday in a show of solidarity to show that we need to, well, take more time off. Apparently Friday marked the day where we Americans have worked as much as some people in Western Europe will work all year.

Of course, the site doesn’t seem to mention that perhaps we have a higher standard of living, or can pay our bills or what other changes might be a reward for working as much as we apparently do. That could be because there really aren’t any advantages. Or it could be because we like to work as much as we do.

Personally, I’m much more concerned that we have to pay so much money in taxes. If we didn’t lose such a large percentage of our income to taxes, perhaps we’d be able to work less and maintain the same standard of living. Harry Browne, the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, put together a nice essay about the subject this past April 15th. Perhaps instead of worrying what they’re doing across the pond (as they say), we should worry about fixing things here. Then let them do the worrying for us while we enjoy the results of our labors.

Cuba or Bust

For 40 years or so, with the exception of a five-year gap in the late 70s/early 80s, American citizens haven’t been allowed to travel to Cuba. It’s not bad enough that the government takes our money and spends it with abandon. They have to make up rules that govern our choices, too. And if we don’t play along? We get fined.

Apparently the Cuba travel ban holds an average penalty of $7500. For going on vacation. Who in their right mind thinks that this is a good idea? Even if you don’t want people to travel to someplace you don’t like, you’re expecting to engender the support of the people with threats like this?

Now I realize that the current government didn’t put the ban in place. But our president has every intention of trying to keep it. He’s even threatened to veto the decision to end the ban if it should come across his desk.

At least there are finally some light bulbs coming on somewhere in Washington, as today the senate has voted to stop funding the program. I know, that sounds backwards. Remember we’re talking about the government of the United States here. Everything is backwards.

See, the current plan requires funding to make sure no one travels to Cuba. So the senate votes to stop providing funding, which in turn ends the program, because they don’t have any money to make it work! Only in Washington.

Revolutionary Calling

I heard an interesting piece on Marketplace yesterday afternoon. It was about the proliferation of cell phones that come with built-in cameras. A fad only a year or so ago, they are now everywhere. There has been more than one suggestion of banning the devices. While I can see a certain logic to that, it seems that there are some flaws to the logic.

For instance, the article mentions that someone could be on the phone while in reality they are taking a lewd photo. I don’t know about you, but to me a lewd photo probably involves actions that aren’t going to happen in a place where someone on a cell phone might just happen to be standing around. If they do happen, those people probably don’t mind being observed and/or recorded.

It may make sense to ban the phones in places like locker rooms, but you and I know that even if such a ban is ever implemented, there are bound to be violations. If camera phones are outlawed, then only outlaws will have camera phones and all that.

Admittedly, this might curtail your freedoms somewhat if you like to run around the locker room (or your front yard) naked. Of course, that’s only if you mind being photographed without your clothes and a few million of your closest friends having access to the pictures. On the other hand, it may lead to an entirely new attitude on even being naked.

Can such a device be abused? Sure. But so can the telephone. If that’s not true, why is there such a fuss about the do-not-call list? Why do we have caller ID? Why are there unlisted numbers? Abuse is not device-dependent.

Right to Stupidity

This week apparently saw someone ride the falls at Niagara. No barrel, no safety devices. Just man against nature. Maybe that’s the trick. All these people in barrels get thrown all over the place and are eventually pummelled to death. This guy apparently didn’t have any problems, and is even shown walking away from the falls under his own power (he’s also under a towel).

In any case, this is monumentally stupid. Even for Super Dave Osborne, this borders on insanity. But I don’t really have a problem with that. If you want to ride the falls at Niagara, go for it. I’ve been there. Those are some big falls. But hey – if you have nothing better to do, it’s okay by me.

What I don’t understand is why this guy was taken into custody. He may be fined for his actions. For performing an “unlicensed stunt” (as I’ve seen one account mention)? For being a moron? For having nothing better to do one afternoon? This I don’t get. If this guy generates all sorts of copycats – who cares? If someone is dense enough to ride the falls at Niagara, I say let them do it.

Why is the government trying to enforce this sort of thing? I think we ought to encourage the common sense-challenged to undertake more such opportunities. Don’t we live in a country where you should be free to be as stupid as you want to be, without fear of repercussion? When the government steps in to keep you from doing something stupid, it’s just not right.

Update: Apparently the guy was trying to commit suicide. Which makes it bad for him that he didn’t succeed. But my point is the same. Even more so – do you think that being reminded of his inability to do it correctly by being fined for it will really help his state of mind?

No Wonder I Don't Fish

First, wildly ambitious carp start jumping into boats. They knock fillings from teeth, fish-slap you upside the head and generally let you know that they aren’t going to take it any more.

Well now they’ve taken it one step further. Another guy recently died because he got a fish stuck in his mouth. Rumors say that the fisherman in this story may have been re-enacting something he saw on TV. Don’t buy it. The fish are onto us. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rocky Horror Show

Last night, we went out for a night on the town and decided to take in a local production of the Rocky Horror Show. This was not the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but an actual stage production at a theater here in Charlotte.

A couple years ago, I saw a much more professional version of the show at the Circle in the Square in New York City. This was somewhat newsworthy because Joan Jett was in the show. Dick Cavett did a great job playing the criminologist, and more than once stopped hecklers in their tracks with his quick wit.

Continue reading “Rocky Horror Show”

Size Does Matter

I was in an enclosed parking deck the other day, and it actually has large vehicle spaces. Apparently this is the response to those compact cars only spaces that have been popular for a while. That’s okay, fair is fair. But you have to wonder just how many special-purpose parking spaces are needed. Will the insanity ever end?

The part that really got to me was that these were the first spaces in the deck, right next to the elevators! Even the handicapped spaces were further away than these. Unlike those reserved for compact cars, these spots had signs saying you’d be towed if you weren’t in a full-size truck or SUV. To be fair, I don’t think too many SUVs could fit into a compact space. But that’s not the point.

These days, personal vehicles are large enough to carry Robin Hood’s entire band of merry men. They block your view while driving, while turning and now while parking because you have to drive past them to find yourself a space. These are sport utility vehicles, folks. Most have four wheel drive. Let ’em park outside on a hill or something. Drive over a load of rocks and park on the roof. Doesn’t matter. Just get the damn things out of the way.

Really now – how big is big enough? Will we all be driving barns soon?