Lots of traffic recently. At least for me. I don't necessarily know who most of you are. Drop me a line. My email is now on the "About me" page.
I got a visitor from Kiev today. Didn't see that one coming.
I'm also pretty curious to know who's been reading my blog from Duke. And from Denver. I'm assumming I know most of you through Covenant, though I have no way of verifying that. The logs only really give city, state, and ISP. For some, that's a dead giveaway (Hi, Nick!), for others that's not particularly helpful.
Anyways, I'm interested to know who's reading. Comment or send an email.
After spending a week and a half reading legal documents for 6 or so hours a day, everything else seems fuzzy, low-content, ill-reasoned, and unprecise. Even normal, everyday conversation can seem unbearably low-bandwidth. Judicial opinions are dense, fact-intensive, and excruciatingly clear. Switching from that to everyday prose feels like finishing a $200 per head, five course feast at Tavern on the Green and hitting Steak 'n Shake on the way home.*
I had estimated that I would be reading about 100 pages a week. It's more like 250-300, tops. I had thought I'd be working pretty much all the time, because that's what everyone says law school is like. Turns out if you can read and write quickly it's not that bad.
I'm going to try and get some pictures of campus up for those of you who haven't been to Notre Dame, and I shall do so as soon as we get a sunny day.
*Not that the analogy makes any kind of geographic sense, but with respect to cuisine I think it's apt.
California is considering passing a bill legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp. This would be, in essence, a direct challenge to federal rules prohibiting such cultivation.
Federal law always trumps state law. The states may not allow what the federal government prohibits, nor may they prohibit what the federal government requires. States may grant more protections than the federal government, but not even a state constitution may go against federal statutes, let alone the US Constitution as interpreted by SCOTUS.
The Governator can sign this bill with no political risk. It makes the hippies happy, but will not result in the legalization of industrial hemp. Everybody wins.
Hezbollah, to be precise. During the recent Israel-Hezbollah war, UNIFIL, the 2000 "peacekeeping" troops stationed on the ground in Lebanon, published specific and up-to-date information about the movement, location, and disposition of Israeli troops. This is valuable military-level intelligence we're talking about here.
Did they provide any such information about Hezbollah? Need you even ask? "More missiles were fired from some areas than from others" is about as specific as UNIFIL deigned to get, and you can bet they didn't say which areas those were.
UNIFIL is acting to shield one side from the other, while exposing the Israelis to credible tactical and strategic peril.
And we're funding this agency... because?
I've mentioned this several times before, but the WSJ has an editorial about how the left is, well, I guess "shooting blanks" is one way of putting it.
I think this is just the natural outworking of a self-interested attitude and mindset. I think it's also somehow intuitively correct that the side of society who advocates the most anti-civiliational, life-denying positions produces the fewest children.
So, finished most of orientation today. Nothing all that interesting, unsurprisingly.
The big point of interest for the day was my first reading assignments, due the first day of class. Yeah, this is going to take a while, but be an absolute blast. I did about 45 pages of reading in total, split between Torts and Civil Procedure. The latter was pretty straightforward, but the textbook for torts is either organized badly or with a logic that escapes me. I feel as if there's text that's missing, as a lot seems to have been abridged.
Anyways, it took me 3 hours once I finished outlining everything, which is probably at least as long as I've spent studying anything at one sitting. Oddly enough, I'm entirely ready to read more. We'll see if the lustre wears off, but at least for the moment, I think this stuff is really entertaining.
This will be my first entry from Notre Dame and, coincidentally, my 1000th entry on this site.
You know how they always say that the campus bookstore is always a ripoff? That they overcharge you for textbooks that are already ludicrously expensive?
Amazon.com to the rescue, right? Yes, but not in ways you might expect. I just went and got all of my textbooks at the campus bookstore and immediately came back to my apartment to look them up online. The prices are exactly the same. I even saved enough getting one textbook used to pay Indiana state sales tax. I also have the books in my possession now, and Amazon says they'd ship them to me in 4-6 weeks.
This is how capitalism works: if someone comes along and offers a good for less, other players must respond. University bookstores no longer have a stranglehold on access to textbooks, and are now selling them for an un-marked-up retail price.
I can't say all that much about Notre Dame, because I haven't had much official contact there yet. My apartment is decent: nothing fancy, but far roomier than any apartment I've lived in up to this point. It's also furnished, and though Spartan, anything I didn't have to cram in my car for the trip out here is no bad thing.
South Bend is something else though. Things are pretty conveniently located to campus: the mall, Wal-Mart, a Super-Target, and two grocery stores are all within about two miles of campus. But the terrain is unbearably flat. No line of hills out in the distance. You also can't see very far because you've no elevation. Buildings obstruct your view, so you can rarely see for more than a mile. Depressing.
Speaking of the trip: it costs about $70 for me to drive out here one way, including $22 in tolls. This is what's called a "disincentive" towards Ryan driving home more than absolutely necessary.
I'm currently finishing the last odds and ends of moving out of my parents house (for the third time, grrr). Tomorrow morning I move here. I'll be out of touch for two or three days until I can reestablish my net connection. My email is not changing, and I plan on continuing to update this space. Juicy details on the inner workings of law school should follow in a few weeks.
My mailing address is changing, and those of you with whom I am in regular contact can email me for the details. I'm not planning on changing my phone number just yet, but will notify everyone should that happen.
It's been an interesting year, but fortunately one that has ended a lot better than it started. Kind of an upward trend.
Let's see if we can keep it up.
I believe a significant difference of opinion exists between he and I on the moral nature of the state, a difference I shall attempt to explore and describe below.
The main thrust of Paul's post and the gist of his comment to mine seems to hinge on the moral actions of states. Before starting, I would ask him to clearly describe what rules (and kind of rules) states are subject to, and what it means for a state to act in a truly "moral" fashion. What does it mean for a state to be moral? Is it actually possible?
I believe Paul and I are on different sides of a metaethical divide. Paul consistently uses the terms "moral" and "ethical" as honorifics, so what he really seems to intend is "morally/ethically good". I, on the other hand, am not convinced that states are, in fact, the kinds of things whose actions have any kind of moral status at all (or if they do, they're evil).
I am increasingly convinced that it is efficiency, so-called realpolitik, that is the guiding principle for states, not any kind of abstracted moral system. I find myself in the company of legal positivists and pragmatists such as Posner, whose Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy I am currently enjoying. This means I probably also have at least a similar attitude as such political theorists as Hobbes, Mill, Bentham, and Dewey, though I have not as yet pursued their philosophies enough to have a discussion about them, and I believe my ethical formulations remain distinct.
I explored some of these ideas on my own in the summer of 2004 in this post which uses Frank Herbert's Dune as a starting point for the discussion (a book which I am coincidentally rereading).
Paul seems to believe, like many Westerners and especially Christians, that the state is intended and designed to bring about justice. I do not believe this, at least not in the way most Westerners and Christians talk about justice. That isn't why the state is there. The state exists to ensure stability, prosperity, and security for its citizens, to make functioning in a public community predictable, possible, and to the extent that it is feasible, equitable, i.e. to keep the Hobbsian state of nature at bay. The state does not exist to create justice in the Platonic or the Christian sense.
The key understanding upon which this is founded is a refusal to conflate the city of God with the city of man. When God instructs his people to seek the welfare of the city into which he has sent them as captives (Jer. 29), I do not believe that he is talking about heavenly welfare. The passage does not indicate that he is doing such, as it talks about normal, everyday, and largely secular activities: get married, have kids, plant gardens, and build houses. And though God certainly does use the state to punish evildoers (Rom. 13), thereby accomplishing part of his will, this does not mean that the state is a moral agent intended to bring about God's will on earth. God used the Assyrians, a wicked pagan nation that he ultimately destroyed, to accomplish his will for Israel, but they were merely a tool, not an instantiation of his kingdom.
Which is exactly the point: the state is not the Kingdom of Heaven. If you are looking to the state for moral and ethical actions, you're barking up the wrong tree. Not only is that a huge non-starter on a political level (Whose morality? Which justice? And why even bother?), you're asking something from an entity which was never designed to produce such. The state is designed to produce order, not justice.
This is why criticizing the actions of the state for being immoral or counter to principles of Christian charity are so wrongheaded. Of course states go to war with each other for what Christians would judge to be insufficient reasons. It's what they do. Wars and rumors of wars, and whatnot. This is just the way of things. More to the point, the state is, no matter how it may be constituted or who may be in charge, ultimately opposed to the rule of Christ (Rev. 13). It makes war on the saints, and conquers them. Though it may prove useful from time to time, it is ultimately our enemy. Asking it to be moral isn't just asking an old dog to learn new tricks, it's asking, well, the lion to lay down with the lamb.
And now I'll quote myself:
"This may sound like fatalism and/or defeatism, but it isnít. The understanding and acceptance that all political systems are eventually doomed is not cause for despair, but grounds for exceptional flexibility. As representation is no more likely than dictatorship to usher in the final rest, neither seems to me to be morally superior, let alone necessary. The question becomes one of expediency and preference for oneís family and descendents."
The welfare of Athens is not the same as the welfare of Jerusalem. And while there are those of us who do live in Jerusalem, we are currently held captive in Athens. Our peace while in Athens is bound up with the fate of that city, but our peace as citizens of Jerusalem is in no way connected to our earthly home.
Bringing it back to the discussion at hand: it isn't that I think that the deaths of civilians in Israel or Lebanon represent morally good actions. But since I believe all actions of the state to be ultimately opposed to Christ and his church, I'm not all that concerned about it. States do terrible things, but sometimes those terrible things benefit the church. I believe this is one of those times. Ergo, bombs away.
This started as a response to Ben's most recent comment, but quickly became long enough to warrent a post of its own.
Ben, you continue to misunderstand and misrepresent the situation. Your argument is moral equivocation of the worst sort.
This is not a criminal law enforcement operation. In your USA example, the murderer would flee into a building that doesn't want him there, full of people who are distinct from and opposed to the murderer. In the Islamic world, anyone you see walking down the street could be a terrorist. Any building you see could house a missle launcher. Anyone and everyone is a potential target, because after launching their rockets, Hezbollah simply fades into the background. They're getting 10 and 12 year old kids to set off the Katyushas, so not even children are beyond suspicion.
We're also not talking about one murderer in a city of millions of uninvolved civilians. Hezbollah fields a force of thousands of fighters who deliberately do not make themselves identifiable as such. As soon as Hezbollah starts making it clear who is a civilian and who is not, Israel would be immediately unjustified in targeting anyone but them. But by disguising themselves as civilians, they make everyone fair game, a fact which is recognized in the Fourth Geneva Convention (here and here).
Israel gives warning before bombing a village. They tell residents to get out of town or head north 24 hours before bombing. Then they bomb potential hiding places.
These terrorists do not deserve due process. They do not deserve any protections of law. They do not deserve to be "captured, prosectued, and punished". They deserve to be blown to hell.
Come on, Ben. Have you no moral sense of what these men are doing? They're deliberately launching rockets directly at civilian areas, and they're using hospitals, mosques, and densely populated urban areas as staging areas. They know how this works: if Israel doesn't retaliate, they win. If Israel does retaliate, they still win, because people like you cry foul at the merest suggestion of civilian casualties. Nevermind the fact that Israeli civilians are in just as much jeopardy as Lebanese civilians. At least Israel gives fair warning and doesn't indiscriminately carpet-bomb civilian areas. If they really wanted to, they could have completely leveled Beruit by now.
And don't give me any bullshit about "disproportionate" force. Hezbollah has launched thousands of rockets into northern Israel. If that doesn't justify taking off the kid gloves I don't know what does.
Stop granting uncivilized barbarians the legitimacy, dignity, and moral status that properly belongs to civilized nations.
EDIT: I point out, as was pointed out to me by Julian, that perhaps the most telling gaffe in Hardesty's comment is the reference to Israelis as "citizens" but to Lebanese as "civilians", a distinction which contains, arguably, the legitimization of all Israelis as military targets while excluding Lebanese as such. I believe I know Hardesty well enough to not charge him with anti-Semitism, but it is worth noting how the anti-Israeli argument so quickly runs in that direction regardless of the way in which it is communicated.
Remember that Jewish center in Seattle that got shot up last week? Probably not, as it's received approximately zero media attention. Just check this article.
The headling says "Family friend: Wash. suspect was troubled". Sounds like a pity case, right? The details contained in the article reveal that the man, Naveed Haq, is a US born Muslim who, using a 13-year-old girl as a human shield, forced his way into the Jewish center with two semi-automatic pistols, and said that he was upset about US involvement in Iraq, US support of Israel, and Jews pushing his people around.
As the Jawa Report indicates, that's four strikes for "terrorist" over "nutjob".
I think $50 million bail is entirely appropriate.
Here's two images that are also obviously staged. Either this poor woman owns two apartment buildings, or she's walking around with a cameraman looking for bombed structures in front of which to look upset.
Another way Hezbollah and the Lebanese are lying to us: publishing two photos which are obviously of the same place two weeks apart and captioning them as if the same poor woman has lost her home... er... again.
Reuters has responded by pulling almost 1,000 images by one Adnan Hajj.
Reuters has pulled numerous photos they ran when American bloggers pointed out that they'd been obviously doctored or mislabeled. One picture of Beirut had extra smoke added to increase the perceived damage. Another picture of an Israeli jet launching a defensive flare had multiple copies of that flare and a label saying that the flares were missiles.
Then there's the staged photo ops bloggers have pointed out relating to a picture of a man holding an allegedly wounded/killed child. Multiple versions of the picture have been found, with a timestamp difference of several hours. The same man is holding the same girl in each, but in different places.
The Romans had the Goths. The Persians had the Mongols (actually, just about everyone wound up with the Mongols at some point). We, representing 21st century civilization, have the Organization of the Islamic Conference: the president of Iran is rallying the troops to accomplish his ultimate goal, the destruction of Israel. Anyone who thinks they'll stop there is naive at best.
Not able to attain this immediately, he is using bleeding-heart sentiments in both the UN and the West at large to enforce an immediate cease-fire so that they don't continue to kick the motherloving carcasses of his minions in Lebanon and Syria.
We must resist all calls from Islamic regimes for, well, pretty much everything. There should be an end to hostilities as soon as, and no sooner than, Hezbollah is destroyed as an operational force.
Here's a link to a video demonstrating how to completely hijack any Windows XP machine to which you can log in, even as a guest. In about 30 seconds you can go from a restricted guest login to superuser status above Administrator.
Sounds nasty, huh? Well, in one sense it is. Anyone who sits down at your computer can basically take it over unless you've disabled all guest access.
In another sense, it really isn't. If someone has physical access to your computer, you're pretty much screwed anyway. All you need to do is pop in a Knoppix disc or some equivalent and you've got unrestricted access to the computer.
I am aware that there are drive-level encryption algorithms people use to prevent this kind of thing, but short of that, if someone can physically sit down at your computer for any length of time, your computer is unsecure, and I don't think OS makes a difference. Password protected your BIOS? Great. That's nice. If they're sitting at the computer, it's a simple task to flash the CMOS, and locking the case is only a temporary obstacle.
This isn't the kind of security hole that most people should worry about. Most data isn't compromised that way, and this becomes more an issue of operational security than electronic security. The solution isn't to fix the "hole" in Windows - there are other ways of doing exactly the same thing without which you couldn't run any computer at all. The solution is to hire a freaking security guard to ensure that those people who have physical access to your computer are only those people who are supposed to.
Israel has finally sent large quantities of ground troops into Lebanon. Earlier today, commandos raided a hospital in Baalbek, fighting with and neutralizing Hezbollah fighters who had set themselves up there.
Hezbollah insists that the captured individuals were "normal citizens". They may be technically correct, as it seems that the "normal" thing for them to do is to carry around a Kalashnikov and RPGs, using a hospital as a staging area for missle strikes against Israel.
I only worry that they should have 50,000 troops on the ground, not 10,000.
All the video footage you see from Palestine is a lie. Staged. Designed to make the Palestinians look brave and oppressed, and to make the Israelis look terrible.