Leave Us Alone!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Your Phone Records. Delivered.

It looks like it's time to find a new phone company. You see, I'm an Ameritech SBC AT&T customer, and it appears AT&T has been illegally handing its customers' telephone records over to the NSA without a court order. Wired has published testimony of AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, which details AT&T's participation in the program (link via Hit & Run). At The Audient Files, Audient has a two-part post detailing the runaround he got from AT&T when he inquired about the company's handling of his phone records.

If you live, as I do, in the AT&T service area in Ohio, The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has a handy website where you can search for competing local telephone companies. Unfortunately, Qwest isn't on the list, but there are quite a few alternatives to AT&T. The PUCO lists 22 competing companies in my exchange.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Quick Links

Here's some stuff that caught my eye recently from around the blogosphere:

Happy anniverary to The Audient Files!

Andrew Sullivan links to Kings College London's report on per capita prison populations around the world. Once again, the United States ranks #1. Are Americans really that much more violent or larcenous than everyone else, or are we just imprisoning too many people? My money's on the latter.

At The Agitator, Radley Balko has more Cory Maye news and research, including Mr. Maye's appeal brief and analysis of bullet hole evidence.

Catallarchy celebrates John Stuart Mill's 200th birthday.

At Freedom Democrats, Logan Ferree posts some quotes from a recent speech by U.S. Senate Candidate James Webb (D-Va.). Here's one that stood out: "I say to you, the government's power ends at my front door, unless there is a compelling reason to come inside. Leave us alone, and let us live our lives." The Democratic Party could use more candidates like Mr. Webb.

Finally, at the Center for Advanced Sarcasm, Dan Tarrant reports on an unfortunate consequence of tightening border security.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Races of the Week

Barbaro was very impressive in winning the Kentucky Derby and appears to be the most likely winner of Saturday's Preakness Stakes, but, as the even-money morning-line favorite, he'll probably go off at too short a price to justify a bet on him. I'm looking for a colt who can pull off the upset. Like Now just might be that colt. Like Now's front-running style is well suited to Pimlico. The Weather Channel predicts rain in Baltimore tomorrow night, and Like Now's Tomlinson rating indicates that he should like an off track. I'll bet Like Now to win, along with a Barbaro-Like Now exacta. The Daily Racing Form provides free past performances for the Preakness here.

The Form's other race of the week is tomorrow's Pimlico Special Handicap. Wanderin' Boy looks like the prohibitive favorite, but it will be interesting to see how Invasor performs in his North American debut. Invasor was undefeated in Uruguay before shipping to Dubai for the UAE Derby, where he finished fourth. He could be one to watch. Past performances for the Pimlico Special are available here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Sorry I Tried to Kill You.

Here's something I found on William Saletan's Human Nature column at Slate a couple of months ago. I figured I'd save it for today, though:
Evidence is growing that pregnancy is a fight for survival between woman and fetus. Examples: 1) The fetus makes its placenta send blood vessels into the woman to sap her nutrients. 2) To force more blood into the placenta, the fetus injects the woman with a protein that impairs her ability to fix her damaged blood vessels, thereby afflicting some women with pre-eclampsia (very high blood pressure). 3) In mice, the male transmits a gene to the fetus to make it grow larger in the womb, but the female transmits a gene to block this effect. 4) Pregnancy kills more than half a million women per year, which seems not to make evolutionary sense. Best available explanation: Natural selection designed fetuses to hog their mothers' resources, but designed women to thwart this so they'll have enough resources to produce other surviving offspring.

(emphasis in original, entire column here)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

"Pro-Life" = Pro-Black-Market-Abortion

The New York Times Magazine has another great article exposing the true agenda of the so-called "pro-life" movement. In last Sunday's edition, Russell Shorto reported that the social conservatives aren't content merely to ban abortion. Now they're going after contraception. Mr. Shorto quotes Judie Brown of the so-called American "Life" League:
"We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion," says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, an organization that has battled abortion for 27 years but that, like others, now has a larger mission. "The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an antichild mind-set," she told me. "So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception."
(entire article here)

We need to stop calling these people "pro-life" or "anti-abortion." Those descriptions are lies. Reducing the availability of contraception would result in far more abortions than we have now. If these authoritarians were really anti-abortion, they would seek to emulate The Netherlands, where the abortion rate is less than half the abortion rate of the United States. From Mr. Shorto's article:
The Netherlands, where the teen pregnancy rate also ranks among the lowest in the world, has long been of interest to sex educators in the U.S. for the frankness of its approach. The national sex education course, called Long Live Love, begins at age 13. One of its hallmarks has been dubbed "Double Dutch" encouraging the use of both condoms and birth control pills. "It's proven successful," says Margo Mulder of STI AIDS Netherlands, the Dutch health education center. "It shows that when you discuss contraception and protection with students, they actually are careful. And I know that some people in the U.S. say that when you promote contraception, you're also promoting sex, but we've found that when you educate people, they don't have sex earlier. They think about it. So you're not promoting sex, you're helping them to be rational about doing it."
(entire article here, link via Pandagon)

It touched you last!

Did not!

Did too!

It's fun to watch Republicans try desperately to wipe the Taft cooties off of Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati). Here are a couple of examples:

At the RealClearPolitics Blog, John McIntyre quotes an anonymous reader, who wrote:
...do not be surprised if [Blackwell] is able to wage a campaign that paints Strickland as the logical heir to Taftian politics (higher taxes, squishy social views, and the charisma of a fish) and himself as the true reformer.
Mr. McIntyre agrees with his anonymous source:
I have thought for sometime this will be the Blackwell strategy and I think he is well positioned to make a credible case to the voters of Ohio that he is more of an agent of change than the Democrat nominee, congressman Ted Strickland. ... As a strong fiscal and social conservative, something both the current GOP Governor and the Democratic nominee are not, Blackwell has an opportunity to present himself to the voters as the candidate of change in the race.
At Red-State.com, Michael Meckler has tried a couple of times to distance the Republican nominee from Gov. Bob Taft (R-Cincinnati), while attempting to link Gov. Taft to the Democrats. Before the primary, Mr. Meckler asked:
Wouldn't it be ironic if in the fall campaign the Republican gubernatorial candidate was blasting the sitting Republican governor, while the Democratic candidate was left to defend him?
More recently, Mr. Meckler stated:
Yet progressives seem to have a much more charitable view of the governor than do conservatives or the national media. Last week the progressive website AlterNet produced their list of the nation's three worst governors, and Taft was nowhere to be found. Granted, the AlterNet list was based almost exclusively on policy, and here Taft doesn't look all that bad to progressives compared to other GOP governors. After all, Taft raised taxes, pumped a ton of additional money into primary and secondary education, set up a government-funded program that is supposed to dole out more than $1 billion for high-tech research, and fought a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Not so fast, Mr. Meckler. As Modern Esquire points out at Buckeye State Blog:
Mr. Meckler seems to forget that it was conservatives like Bob Bennett and Ken Blackwell that cleared the field so that there could be a Taft Administration while progressives were trying to defeat it. He seems to yet again forget that the tax cuts came from a REPUBLICAN General Assembly headed by self-described conservatives who are now supporting Mr. Blackwell.
Modern Esquire is right. These attempts to tar Ted Strickland as the true heir to Gov. Taft won't pass the laugh test. Only one candidate for governor shares a party with Gov. Taft. Only one candidate stepped aside to give Gov. Taft a clear shot at the gubernatorial nomination in 1998. Only one candidate has been endorsed by Gov. Taft. That candidate is J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My Derby Pick: A.P. Warrior

The pace of today's Kentucky Derby will probably favor a closer, and A.P. Warrior showed that he can come from off the pace in winning the San Felipe Stakes. A.P. Warrior's Tomlinson rating indicates that he should like the added distance, and he has run triple-digit Beyer figures in his last two races. A.P. Warrior is currently 15-1.

For free past performances, courtesy of the Daily Racing Form, go here.