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Archive for June, 2006

One Year Anniversary of Kelo

Posted by Chance on June 30, 2006

The one year anniversary of the Kelo Supreme Court decision was actually a week ago, on June 23. For those unfamiliar with the case, the Supreme Court essentially said that the government had the authority to use eminent domain to transfer property from one private citizen to another. The government always had this power when it came to establishing public property, such as parks or highways. But now, the government can take away the property of a small-business owner and give it to Sears or Wal-Mart. The reason for this is because the state or local government can make more in tax revenue.

There are a few good articles on this topic.

The Institute for Justice has a collection of 5 pdf articles.
Cato Institute discusses the California Protect Our Homes Act.
Foundation for Economic Freedom states

No recipient of the fruits of eminent domain can honestly call himself a champion of individual liberty. Free-marketeers routinely support the big retail chain stores against their anti-corporate critics, but companies that lobby for privileges don’t deserve support. How can they demand freedom to operate in the marketplace when they refuse to forswear the receipt of stolen property?

Of course, the New York Times thinks its a great idea.

Probably the most troubling thing about the Kelo decision is that it almost came with a whimper. A year ago, I did not even know about the decision until I happened upon the Institute for Justice website. It seems that no one really talks about it. Watching or reading the news, this decision seemed like it was hardly at the forefront of the headlines. This was one of the biggest decisions the Supreme Court has made in the last few years.

This is why politics is so frustrating. So much time is spent on emotionally charged issues, while many more important issues are on the back burner. To be fair, many state governments are taking steps addressing the Supreme Court decision, but the issue only receives mention in passing in the mainstream media. The flag burning amendment, whether one is pro or con, hardly threatens our liberty nearly as much as this violation of property rights. Gas prices are on the forefront of the news, because it affects everyone. So does the Kelo decision, but no one realizes it.

Politicians love to focus on the more emotionally-charged wedge issues. Some of these issues are worthy of the attention they receive, but so is the Kelo issue. For some reason, this case is not emotionally charged, and I have to wonder why. I guess people suppose it will not affect them. However, many do not know about this in the first place. The whole point is not “oh, people are so ignorant, they need to be informed like me.” Not at all. I just happen to read articles of a libertarian persuasion. I just wonder why the politicians and media are not discussing this issue like they do others. As I said earlier, many legislatures are takign steps to address the problem, but there seems to be no voice from the leadership; any work is almost done behind the scenes. Why are more Republicans not outraged? They should hate big government stepping all over the little guy. Why are more Democrats not outraged? This is a case of big business running all over the little guy. It is an unholy union of big government and big business. Maybe each party’s love of one supersedes the hatred of the other.

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My constant email faux paus

Posted by Chance on June 29, 2006

Well, I keep sending my emails to the wrong people, using my work Outlook account. This has happened three times. I called one of my good friends “baby”, I told some guy from another company that I loved him. So, I was determined that this would not happen again. I looked all around Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird that would ask for a confirmation after I press “Send” to essentially ask me “do you really want to send your email to so-and-so”, just so I am less likely to continue embarrassing myself. Apparently, I cannot be trusted with email without some safety switch.

As it turns out, I have found no built in features. But there is some VBA code coupled with Outlook. VBA is called Visual Basic for Applications, and it is a feature that is coupled with MS Office applications that allows you to customize certain things. The most apparent features are in Excel, where you can create your own formulates, in addition to sum(), average(), etc…

For Outlook, you can create a message box that pops up when you try to send an email. I found the original code here.

Mine is slightly adapted, so that it will ask you if you really want to send the message, then it lists the names of the people your email is going to.

Here is my adapted code:
————————————————————————————-

Private Sub Application_ItemSend(ByVal Item As Object, Cancel As Boolean)
Dim prompt As String
prompt = “Are you sure you want to send message to:”

Dim Count As Integer
For Count = 1 To Item.Recipients.Count
prompt = prompt & Chr(13) & Item.Recipients(Count)
Next Count
prompt = prompt & “?”
If MsgBox(prompt, vbYesNo + vbQuestion + vbMsgBoxSetForeground + vbDefaultButton2, _
“Sample”) = vbNo Then
Cancel = True
End If
End Sub

————————————————————————————-
Okay, the question is, how do you actually use this. In Outlook, and it will only work in Outlook, go to Tools…Macro…Visual Basic Editor, and you should get a screen like this, but without the code. Make sure you click on “ThisOutLookSession” as in the picture. Copy the code in the blockquotes, and save it.

By default, Outlook has a high macro security, so you will have to go to Tools…Macro…Security to play around with your settings. For right now, I lowered my settings, before finding a better fix. You may have to restart Outlook.

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My personal CD wish list

Posted by Chance on June 29, 2006

Here is my personal CD wish list. Not that I really need more CDs, I have plenty, and its typically not a good mental exercise to be thinking about things that I want to have all day. But I thought it would be just a fun post in the midst of my more serious ones. As I mentioned a few posts ago, musical elitism bothers me. I’ll throw names around of less well known bands, but its not because I’m some musical expert or anything, I just happen to listen to a lot of online radio. In fact, I’ll discuss some of the lesser known bands, instead of assuming you should have heard of them, like your popular music magazine does.

Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit – This is the newest album by B & S. B & S is a band from Scotland who sounds like, well, probably not anyone. The closest thing I can think of is 70s pop. They rely on a lot of woodwind and acoustic instruments. They are a break from the 4-piece band. I have 2 of their other albums Dear Catastrophe Waitress and If You’re Feeling Sinister. I recommend both, with a preference toward the former.

Coldplay – X&Y – What can I say? I love their song “Talk”. The best song I have heard on the radio all year.

The Beatles – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles were a band out of Liverpool, England who were around during the 1960s. I’d recommend listening to their stuff sometime.

The Beatles – The White Album – To paraphrase Hank Hill, this is when they “went nuts in India.” While I would never rely on any Beatle as a spiritual guide, this album blows me away. It’s hard justifying 30 bucks on an album (it’s a double).

The Innocence Mission – Befriended – I talked about this band in a previous post. If you have a tendency toward folk music whatsoever, I would recommend checking out this band.

From Bubblegum to Sky – Nothing Sadder than a Lonely Queen – This is the strangest band I have ever, ever heard. I though the lead singer was a girl for the longest time, but it turns out to be some dude. They have some free mp3s floating around somewhere. I don’t even know how to explain them.

U2 & Brian Eno – Passengers: Original Soundtrack – I may have gotten the official name wrong. This was a U2 & Brian Eno collaboration that is not really a U2 album.

So there you go. Josh, I think you may have my mailing address.

Posted in Music | 1 Comment »

Where is God on the political map?

Posted by Chance on June 28, 2006


If that question could easily be figured out, I suppose all Christians would have the same political persuasion. I guess the ultimate question that should be asked is this: What brings the most glory to God?

This is really where the issue of freedom vs. more government comes into play. First of all, let’s look at God wants. I like what James 1:27 says about true religion

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

.

I like this verse because it really tackles the two dimensions found on most political maps, individual morality and collective morality. We know what God expects of us as individuals, but what about as a collective nation? This goes back to the original question: what brings about the most glory to God? Is a nation that passes laws respecting the laws of God more preferable? Or, is a nation full of individuals who obey God from their own initiative more preferable? Or, is it a balance of both? Does passing laws honoring Biblical morality glorifying to God if the individuals of the country do not respect the laws themselves? Should the country make a statement by passing certain laws, or grouping together as a democracy to honor God?

I’ve often heard the arguments that America honors God by letting the government serve as some type of moral guardrail. I’ve also heard the argument that, since God gives us free will to obey or disobey him, that government should give us this freedom as well.

What about giving to the poor? Should the government serve a role in helping the poor? Or is charity much more valuable when it is done voluntarily?

The answers to these questions, on a government scale, are not completely clear. I suppose for now, all I can do is apply God’s word to my own life and be an example to others (not that I do this well by any means, but it is the goal). I have my own idea of the ideal government, but I am always questioning things. I think pondering the big questions of life are vital, but at the same time we should focus on serving God in our own individual lives. Like James says, I should try to live a Godly life, through depending on Him, and do what I can to help out those in need. If we do this, the type of government we have still matters, but it may not matter quite as much. While we try to figure out the big questions, God does give us a roadmap for living out our individual lives, and our lives as a Christian body.

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Smoke-free Colorado on July 1.

Posted by Chance on June 27, 2006

On July 1 Colorado will ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

This is an issue in which I have previously been on the fence for a while. I believed that if a person smokes or not should be up to the owner of the establishment, while, at the same time, believing that someone should be free of second-hand smoke.

The issue is not one of smoker’s rights vs. nonsmoker’s rights, it is really a question of property rights. It seems that many Americans, probably most, believe the right of people to breathe clean air supersedes property rights. I can understand this argument. However, here is the crux of the matter. Is a customer entitled to the services of that business? I would say no. Radley Balko argues that a customer does not have the right to visit a business establishment and demand that the business establishment follow their rules. Balko states

You don’t have the right to walk onto someone else’s property, demand to be served food or drink someone else has bought, and demand that they serve you on your terms. Free societies don’t work that way.

(His testimony may not have been stated in the most diplomatic fashion if you follow the link).

I know it sucks to go into an Applebee’s and, even though you are sitting in the non-smoking section, have some of the fumes from the smoking section waft over. However, I am not entitled to enjoy an Applebee’s burger. Entitled to breathe clean air? Sure. But not entitled to a restaurant.

It is essentially the same issue when it comes to movie and premium television content (public airwaves may be a different issue). If there is something in the programming that offends me, it is my responsibility to avoid it, not legislate it away. The same with restaurants in my opinion.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

I’ll Be Praying For You (I promise)

Posted by Chance on June 27, 2006

I always hate saying that. For one, sometimes it sounds corny, and sometimes it is said among Christians because it is the right thing to say. Also, how many times have I said I would pray for someone, and not actually do it? Countless times I am sure. Now, prayer is important and powerful, and I am not disregarding it. I had a friend who lost a job recently, and fortunately I was able to (possibly) help him out, by sending a resume to someone. In my email exchange, I thought about saying “I’ll be praying for you”, but decided not to, because it may not sound genuine. Praying for others is a genuine way to care for someone, but unfortunately, the phrase has been thrown around too much.

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Things that annoy me (don’t worry, this is not a political post)…

Posted by Chance on June 26, 2006

…is musical elitism. I used to visit several different forums often, some related to music. However, for blood pressure reasons, I stopped, mainly for reasons dealing in the political. One thing that would bother me is the following. Here is an example exchange.

Music_fan: I love respectable and established band*.

Elitest_Spin_Reader: popular band is just a rip-off of some band no one has heard of.

In other words, someone will mention their fondness for a certain band, and Elitest_Spin_Reader will throw around the name of some obscure older band, and suggest that if that person really appreciated music, they would have already heard of this band, and realize that their band is really a clone of the other. Such conversation produces a sense of elitism and self-satisfaction in Elitest_Spin_Reader, that they could know what true music really is, and throw around band names no one has heard (or really cares about).

For instance, some internet post, I forget where, suggested that U2 really ripped their sound from Echo and the Bunnymen. Okay…even if this is the case, U2 obviously did something that the other band couldn’t do, since U2 has received worldwide acclaim, and no one knows who Echo is. Furthermore, when did U2 sound like this other band? Being that U2’s sound has changed and evolved through multiple albums…did Echo also make a political album (War), followed by an atmospheric soundscape album (Unforgettable Fire), followed by a couple of American-influenced albums (Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum), followed by a harder electric guitar driven album (Achtung Baby), followed by a really weird experimental album (Zooropa), followed by a techo album (Pop), followed by a return to a more 4-piece sound (ATYCLB & HTDAAB) etc…? Also, U2 was influenced by other people. That doesn’t mean they were a ripoff.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many talented bands that don’t get much exposure, yet influence more popular bands following them. But that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the more popular, established bands that, most likely, took that sound to another level.

* i.e. U2, Rolling Stones, Beatles

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Who would be at your table?

Posted by Chance on June 26, 2006

Danny Sims has a post that provides food for thought. If you could pick 9 people, dead or alive, to eat with, who would it be? They can be from history, sports, or music.

Since I ripped the idea off Danny Sims, feel free to post your thoughts at his blog, instead of mine.

I pick Jesus (and no, not because its the “correct” churchy-answer, I hate being asked questions like these at church), but, like a commenter said, I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone else. So, to make my answer more interesting, I will limit my answers to mortals.

1. Abraham
2. King David
3. The Apostle Paul
4. Thomas Jefferson
5. Ronald Reagan
6. George W. Bush
7. Bono
8. Albert Einstein
9. Euler, the mathematician.

But, I would trade them all for the previously mentioned person.

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Free markets don’t always mean low prices

Posted by Chance on June 23, 2006

I like what Firey says about free markets.

…more competitive markets do not guarantee low prices — they only guarantee that prices more accurately reflect costs.

I think that many, including myself, assume the opposite. I think that is why so many people, including Republicans, are losing faith in the free market when they see the sky-rocketing price of gas. Sometimes things actually cost a lot. Sure, gas prices can be regulated. A regulated economy can actually have lower prices than a free-market economy. However, as costs of production go up, and these prices stay fixed, producing that product is no longer a desirable option. That is why when prices are regulated, for gas, groceries, anything, shortages occur.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Random Post

Posted by Chance on June 22, 2006

Well, I wanted to post something, simply because I didn’t want the top post to be my lame attempt at being funny. Since I have a short amount of time I’ll just link to somebody else’s blog.

Josh at Gabbatha University is celebrating his 2000th hit!!! Congrats Josh.

Lee at Digital Nicotine, or Nicottine, or Nicccotene, I don’t remember, has a good post on why it is a bad idea to leave Iraq.

Even though Glen Dean is no longer posting for now, I recommend checking out some of his previous articles. My favorite is Why Christians Should Be Libertarians. Not saying that Christians should necessarily be anything, but it provides some good points on why Christians should not think government is their best friend.

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