Friday, March 30, 2007

The Culture Wars And Other Thoughts

I can't place precisely where I've heard everything, but there seems to be a great deal of response to Laura Session Stepp's book Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both, in the non-print, non-picture media (also known as radio). I know I heard a story on NPR, and I believe several of the local shows have talked about it. And I'm positive I heard WTIC's local liberal radio personality, Colin McEnroe, talking about the book's thesis.

Rather than go back and link to everything I've read the past few weeks, allow me to briefly summarize what all the fuss is about. (Although if you like, you can read the New York Times story about the book here) Basically, the book is a collection of interviews and personal anecdotes that supposedly indicate the state of the sex lives of American girls in high school and college. According to the book, the "hook-up" culture that is prevalent among young people today fails girls emotionally, and yes, sexually. Critics of the book argue that the book presents the same tired stereotypes of women as helpless and perpetuates a worldview that women need to be protected from sex. I have read through some of the book (I certainly wasn't going to pay for it), and to be fair, I think the book avoids the worst sorts of stereotypes. And, as I heard being discussed on the radio yesterday, surely there are negative emotional consequences from "hook-up" culture for men as well.

But regardless, this debate is not the real question I wanted to raise. McEnroe's comments on the radio yesterday caught my ear, especially seeing as he's not any sort of a conservative or social reactionary. McEnroe made several references to pop culture (most notably rap music) as to one possible reason why this "hook-up" culture has proliferated. But I'd question, 1) whether this culture is as widespread and ingrained as suggested, and 2) whether pop culture actually has and reflects this culture.

The first observation is merely personal, but the second is more normative. I'd really question the assumption that popular culture really encourages our youth to reject relationships and pursue sex without attachment. Yes, we're inundated with hip hop videos and lyrics that portray women as sex objects. But aren't there an equal number of R&B songs about love and heartbreak? And moving beyond music to popular films and television shows, I think one will find that marriage and relationships are portrayed far more positively than one night stands. Really.

How many sitcoms show a husband and wife combination in an effective, loving relationship- or at least a relationship that's a lot preferable to the rest of the world out there? Look at the Simpsons, which has reaffirmed Homer and Marge's marriage countless times in the nearly two decades they've been on the air. The single (like Patty and Selma) and the divorced (like Millhouse's dad) are always shown as lonely, miserable.

Movies like the 40 Year Old Virgin reinforce notions of commitment and love, while rejecting hook-ups."Steve Carrell's character doesn't find real happiness until he finds love= the real sad thing about him was that he was 40 and alone, not that he was a 40 year old virgin.

And among shows that showcase young people, haven't we always seen plenty of relationships- sure maybe there were hook-ups, but relationships are always shown to be more fulfilling, hook-ups more hollow. Just watch a rerun of Dawson's Creek, The O.C., or Friday Night Lights (from what I've heard).

Now I'm not saying that there isn't a contrary mindset out there among certain groups of young people, I'm just saying that this mindset is not well represented in popular culture. I just find this to be a subject of interest because despite all the talk of declining family values in Hollywood, it seems as the though the products from Hollywood just reflect a more modern take on many of the values professed by the religious right. Sure we see a lot more sex and violence, and there's more bad language, but in the end, marriage is still a happy ending, and the family may be more diverse, but it's still just as necessary.

If pop culture really says something about us, then surely these values are present in the hearts and minds of the youth of America as well. What exactly does this mean as far as "hook-up culture" goes- I'm not quite sure. But surely, there's a lot more than what meets the eye, and there's much more complexity than an author, her critics, and a radio show host might otherwise indicate.

Friday Morning Fun

I apologize for the scarcity of postings lately. I've been busy with dog sitting, school, bar prep stuff, the job search, and most importantly, preparing for this Sunday's fantasy baseball draft. Nonetheless, I still felt obligated to share this funny bit from a story in the Nation on the return of Students for a Democratic Society.

But since the new SDS has spread most rapidly on regional campuses and at community colleges, not elite institutions, a more typical chapter--both demographically and ideologically--might be Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, California. There the four SDS members identify themselves as Marxist-libertarian, libertarian socialist, anarcho-syndicalist and communal anarchist, the differences between them being "zilch," they report. Ohio's [Will] Klatt [of Ohio University] says that many people in SDS are "anarcho-something-or-other, but they feel like anarchist organizations are so unorganized that they haven't been effective in creating systemic change."

I mean, who would think that anarchists would have trouble organizing? Also funny are the various labels used by the SDS members in Walnut, California. "Yeah, sure, he might be a libertarian socialist and I might be a communal anarchist, but we agree on everything!" You gotta love college students.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Drug Stuff, Local Edition

U.S. Marines, Dogs, And Other Victims of the War on Drugs

The latest war on drug, botched drug raid news from Radley Balco, here, here, and here.

Also, read about the dog killed in the raid of the home of a non-violent drug offender.

And finally, not so much a botched raid, just a case of excessive police force in which police in Wilmington Delaware shot ex-marine Sergeant Derek Hale to death, after having tasered him three times in front of his children during the course of a drug investigation.

I'll highlight the point yet again- the war on drugs promotes an "us versus them" mentality among police officers, and encourages tactics and the sort of force that should not be utilized against the American people. Innocent victims are hurt and even when it comes tho those actually guilty of drug crimes, it does no one any good to have the police utilize military like force against non-violent offenders.

I'd be happy with a de-escalation of the war on drugs for now, but the reality is that drug prohibition itself turns marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs into harbingers of violence.

TV Leftovers From Last Week

I'm a subscriber to the conservative website's e-mail list, mainly because there are a number of libertarian oriented columnists (Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, John Stossell) that I enjoy reading. This survey from Pat Boone and the Parents Television Council is certainly not the reason why I would subscribe to this e-mail list.

Of course, this got me very interested in the Parents Television Council and what other insane things they were up to. Basically, they don't like much of anything on tv, as you can see from these lists here. Or at least, they don't like any of the non-reality dramatic or comedic programming. The really silly thing is how little sense it makes to consider the age group of 2-17 when examining the suitability of television programs. After all, are we really concerned that our sixteen year olds might be watching House or Lost? And do we really expect prime time television programs to be suitable for four year olds or even for eight year olds? Sure, all ages can enjoy (or not enjoy) American Idol, but there's a good reason why all the Parents Television Council's List of appropriate television programs are lacking in the drama and comedy departments.

Bonus Link: Arrested Development fans will enjoy this Parents Television Council review of their favorite defunct show.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Why I'm A libertarian

One of the things that really irks me is when critics of libertarians portray libertarian defense of the free market as somehow motivated by concern for the wealthy and the powerful. The truth is, true believers in the free market and true libertarians realize that the free market benefits everyone. There are rich and powerful individuals in every economic system that's ever been tried, but ever notice how the poor seem to be the best off when living in a free country?

With all that in mind it was interesting to read this post and that post on the Cato@Liberty blog this morning. Libertarians are the one group who doesn't demand that other people do for them. And as both of these examples show, it's not just about "no handouts for the poor." It's about no handouts to the upper middle class who can already afford to go to college. It's about no giveaways to businesses that can't make any money without government help.

As David Boaz might say, libertarians don't make "I'm for free this or that, but ..." type statements. It was just a very refreshing thing to see this morning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse, Just To My North

Massachusetts Sets Benefits in Universal Health Care Plan.

Those with incomes ranging from 100% to 300% of the federal poverty line will receive a state subsidized insurance rate, but still must pay anywhere between $18.00 and $170.00 per month. Those with incomes greater than 300% of the federal poverty line must obtain their own insurance.

It's funny that those who press for universal health care constantly refer to health care as a right- we're not forced to exercise our other rights, yet not only are the citizens of Massachusetts being forced to obtain health insurance, many of them are being forced to pay out of pocket. If you think this is a step toward a more free country, do not pass Go and proceed directly to Cuba.

Would not a marriage by any other name be as sweet?

From the Volokh Conspiracy's Dale Carpenter comes this story from the New York Times about the growing dissatisfaction among gay couples with civil unions in New Jersey. (The Times story is here for those who are curious.)

Personally, I think this spells bad news for the short term success of the gay marriage movement. First and foremost, gay marriage needs to be about legal rights and legal equality, not social acceptance. And the refusal to embrace civil unions can, somewhat fairly I might add, be seen as legitimatizing the point of view that gay marriage isn't really about legal rights in the first place. To be fair, the Times article cites to some of the problems with the existing civil union law in New Jersey.

Steven Goldstein, head of Garden State Equality, a leading New Jersey gay advocacy group, and David S. Buckel, senior counsel at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said they were aware of more than 20 couples who had obtained civil unions but said they were nonetheless denied rights afforded to married couples. None have yet led to a lawsuit challenging civil unions.

Of course, the fact that prejudice and discrimination still exist should not lead to a boycotting of civil unions. The same discrimination could occur just as easily should gay marriage be passed. Maybe the name "civil union" implies second class citizenship, but it's an institution that imparts rights on par with that of marriage. Pursuit of gay rights and gay marriage stands strongest when it's about individual rights and legal rights- it becomes much more messy when we get into issues of social acceptance.

The fact of the matter is, the push for civil unions and the push for gay marriage should be about equal legal rights for same sex couples. If same sex couples find that the taint of civil unions outweigh the legal benefits of the institution, they're doing themselves (and all of the rest of us who care about equal rights) a disservice.

Steroid Stuff

I don't usually link to very many sports stories, but this piece on steroids by ESPN's Chuck Klosterman is well worth a read. This is not the typical "there's a problem" sort of article, but a more careful glimpse into the hearts and minds of sports fans. How do we reconcile the physical abilities of the supposed non-steroid users when these supposed non-users show some of the same physical prowess as those who were caught using steroids? And as the article points out, if punters like Todd Saurbrun are using steroids, are we really supposed to believe that defensive tackles throughout the league aren't using them?

Old timers certainly don't like steroids, but the real test of time will be how the younger generation feels about performance enhancing drugs. Illegality aside, does the use of performance enhancing drugs really mean much of anything?

For all the press given to pure physical ability, it can be forgotten that many of the best players in the league rely on the sorts of abilities that can't be improved with a pill. Think of Jerry Rice's ability to get open, or the incredible moves and vision of Barry Sanders. As a Patriots fan, I've watched Troy Brown stick around the league for 14 years, while catching 500 plus balls without a whiff of gifted physical ability.

To move to baseball, doesn't it seem as though many of the guilty and supposedly guilty had something lacking in their careers before the steroid scandal came to light? While Mark McGwire may have had a few great years, wasn't his career injury marred? And for all the numbers Rafael Palmiero put up, wasn't there a question about those numbers and his greatness before steroids came to light. And even with Barry Bonds, are steroids just a helpful way to deflect the fact that many fans just don't like him?

As I said, ultimately, the real issue of steroids will be resolved not by sportswriters, but the teenagers and twenty-somethings of today. We look the other way too, but is that to keep our head in the sand, or because it really doesn't matter?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Live Carbon Free Or Die

Apparently, residents of New Hampshire want to pass a resolution asking the federal government to address the issue of climate change.

No word yet on whether this is going to be a non-binding resolution.

Props To The Local Paper, Standing Up Against Stupid Internet Hysteria Legislation

From today's Hartford Courant editorial page: Is internet safety bill needed?

Usually local media outlets are the primary perpetrators of scare news and the primary proponents of scare legislation, so it's nice to see my own hometown paper standing up for common sense. Maybe we don't need laws placing severe restrictions and age verification requirements on social networking websites, maybe we just need better parenting.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This Just In: Lonely Libertarian Returns From Spring Break Much Less Lonely

I think my disdain for personal revelation stems from my dislike of the intrusiveness of reality tv. Nonetheless, news of this magnitude deserves an announcement on this otherwise very non-personal blog. While on spring break in Charleston, South Carolina, I proposed to my girlfriend (now fiance) Larissa. Actually, the proposal took place outside of Charleston, on the beach behind our hotel on the lovely Isle of Palms. It was a wonderful spring break, topped off with the news that I am now engaged.

Sorry libertarian ladies, the lonely libertarian is now officially off the market.

And for those of you who may wonder, yes, can really work.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spring Break, Woooo!

I'll be spending the next week on spring break in North and South Carolina- So don't expect any updates. Spring break, woooo!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Liberal Politics

This just really made me laugh when I caught this poll while trolling at DailyKos: A poll on what cause we (meaning liberals, I guess) should pursue next.

Maybe by the time you read this someone will have voted for learning about polar bears or solar cooking.

Too Much SWAT

Radley Balco brings us the latest in SWAT-team excesses, this time from Akron, Ohio. According to the story, a woman, Georgette Prince was handcuffed at gun point as part of a SWAT-team raid on a local convenience store. Meanwhile, her 12-year old son, who had been waiting in the parking lot, was made to lie on the ground at gun point. Police later apologized for the treatment and insisted that everything had been by the book- the SWAT-team was apparently needed because the target of the raid (which, by the way, was part of a multi-county investigation of a shoplifting ring) was the store owner, whom police believed to be armed and potentially violent.

Let me be very clear about my criticism here (which I believe echoes Radley Balco's criticism). This is not about bad cops and this is not about abolishing the use of SWAT-teams. This is about severely limiting the situations in which we use SWAT-teams.

This sort of use of a SWAT-team should be unacceptable to every single American. In storming a convenience store, during business hours, the police created a risk of violence, and potentially put innocent people at risk. Remember, this raid was about some sort of organized criminal activity- this raid was not conducted because this store owner posed some sort of violent threat to the public at large. Luckily, there was no lasting damage, although there is a terrified mother and child. It's supposed to be the job of the police to protect the public, not terrify them and put them at risk.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More On Medicinal Marijuana

I just wanted to take a minute to expand on my comments last week about medicinal marijuana. I was not clear on my position last week, but allow me to be clear now. I am 100% in support of marijuana legalization (along with legalization of other drugs), but I am opposed to the current trend of state-by-state medicinal marijuana laws. I have several supporting reasons.

First, we currently have a system in which all possession of marijuana is illegal under federal law. As I wrote in my recently published paper, to allow state-by-state exemptions to a nationwide ban undermines the national law, making it much more difficult to enforce. And yes, I hate the idea of a nationwide ban in the first place, but allowing states to bypass federal law is just asking for chaos. And for better or for worse, a majority of the Supreme Court agrees with me.

Secondly, marijuana is a commodity for which the vast majority of demand that exists for it is not medical, but recreational in nature. Medicinal marijuana makes about as much sense as medicinal alcohol. Allowing marijuana for medicinal use only puts legitimate sellers at risk, potentially tempts legitimate sellers into acting illegally by testing the black market, and, as discussed above, makes law enforcement difficult. And remember, that the costs of difficult law enforcement are often paid by the innocent population.

I do support the use of marijuana for medical reasons, but the current political push, in my mind, is troublesome.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Come On Down To South Park

South Park's 11th season premiers Wednesday night at 10:00 on Comedy Central. According to the South Park Scriptorium, this Wednesday's episode will be about "the N-word." And for 24 fans, one of the episodes in this seven episode run will be a 24 parody.

Go God Go!

I hate it when the God-ies get all nasty. Apparently, this Mary Grabar at has taken it upon herself to return nasty anti-Christian rhetoric from atheists in kind. I guess "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" doesn't apply to atheists. This is the article I noticed first, on how atheist democracy is an oxymoron. There's also this: Letter to a stupid atheist.

Now I wouldn't care so much if I hadn't gone out of my way to defend Christians and other religious types when they came under attack from radical atheists. In all seriousness though, the question of God is such a deep, fundamental question of existence, it's hard to believe it's come to this. Now instead of intellectual discourse and debate about the nature of the universe and the meaning of life we have atheists and Christians who hurl insults at one another. Score one for the Christians, because that doesn't sound much like reason and progress, but score one for the atheists too, because defensiveness and cruel insults don't sound very Christian.

I'm don't think there's a need to debunk either of Mary Grabar's pieces. All atheism means is a lack of belief in God, not the multitude of philosophical positions that Grabar attributes to atheism. Atheists can be just as moral as religious folk. In fact, there's no reason that an atheist can't hold the same moral values as a religious person, absent the emphasis on God.

Yes, Even More On Health Care ... But This Is A War Well Worth Fighting

“In the individual market, the federal protections provide precious little help to people seeking coverage,” said Karen L. Pollitz, a research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

This from today's New York Times story on the growing numbers of middle class Americans without health insurance, part of what I believe is a growing movement in the mainstream media to make the case for government mandated universal health care.

My biggest problem here is the vocabulary. The story focuses on Vicki H. Readling, a 50 year-old real estate agent who, after losing her prior health insurance, was not able to obtain new coverage following a diagnosis of breast cancer. According to the Times, this is a typical story for people with serious illnesses. Now, I don't want to overlook the personal tragedy here, the sort of tragedy that's all too well known to many Americans, but merely feeling bad doesn't do anything for the people stuck in these positions. Misidentifying the problem doesn't help anyone either.

First, the problem of covering the health costs of the uninsured is not an insurance problem, in so far as it is a problem in the immediate present. People with serious medical problems can't get health insurance because in all likelihood their immediate medical costs far exceed the costs of medical insurance. The whole concept of insurance is based on insuring coverage for possible future events, not providing discount costs for current expenses. When you have cancer, you need medical treatment, you don't need medical insurance. Insurance coverage mandates or price ceilings would help people like Ms. Readling, but they would also drive up the costs of health insurance for everyone else, and could potentially bankrupt some companies. It makes no sense to mandate that a private company take on a customer that would lose them money.

Of course, the real point of the story is the growing number of middle class Americans who don't have health insurance in the first place. This- in part- is where I most fear the propaganda machine. The troubles of the poor may not be enough to rally support for universal health care, but as Eminem put it back in 2000 in the song "The Way I Am", "Middle America, now it's a tragedy, now it's so sad to see ..."

Of course, the interesting question not raised by the article is the question of what it means for the middle class to forgo health insurance in the first place. At some point you're talking about sacrificing health coverage in order to maintain a certain standard of living. For every individual who forgoes health insurance because of the costs, there may be a similarly situated individual who sacrifices some measure of their standard of living in order to have complete health coverage. The concept of universal health care avoids dealing with the question of whether or not that individual who choose a higher standard of living over health insurance should have their health costs paid by taxpayer dollars. In fact, I think it is one of the reasons that the concept of a compulsory universal system has become more popular.

I'll be honest- I fear the worst. Institution of a mandatory, universal health care system would justify government intrusion into our private lives and our bodies, all in the name of costs to public health.

Is Starbuck Really Dead?

Last night on Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck made her peace with the world, with her mother, and with herself, and literally flew off into the great unknown. It was rather anti-climactic, but I gather that was the point. I was half expecting her to wake up in a Cylon resurrection tank at the very end of the episode, but that would have been too easy. As I've said time and time again, Battlestar Galactica may be one of the most challenging television programs ever made. As viewers, we're left on the hook as to the ultimate fate of a character we care about. She could wake up as a Cylon next week, or even next season- or we may literally never see her again.

Personally, I think she has to be back, on some level- if not as a Cylon, then as some sort of religious icon. All the discussion about her destiny and her greatness- from human and Cylon alike- has to have some meaning, as do the pictures she's painted since she was a child. Unless of course, none of it means anything. Maybe the ultimate point is that there's no such thing as fate, and we're all trapped in a fracked up obsession for meaning in our lives that Starbuck finally escaped from. Or maybe it's about something else entirely. Who the frack knows.

America, Land Of The Free

According to the New York Times, prison inmates will replace migrant workers in Colorado fields. That's right. Instead of paying illegal immigrants dollars per hour, growers will be paying prison volunteers 60 cents per day. I guess all the anti-immigration conservatives were right. There really are Americans out there who want to do these jobs.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Of Rats And Men

Reason's Hit and Run covers this New York Post editorial on the recent discovery of numerous rats at a New York City Taco Bell which had passed it's health inspection only one day earlier.

Jacob Sullum, writing on Hit and Run is right- sometimes the government really does a bad job when it comes to simple health inspections, and perhaps the private sector would do a better job. But as libertarians who'd like to see the law actually move in a more libertarian direction, let's look at the New York Post's editorial in a more positive light. Getting government health policy to move away from truly freedom crushing measures like anti-smoking laws and trans fat bans and focus solely on true public health concerns like restaurant sanitation is, as I said, a step in the right direction. Sometimes I think libertarians get too preachy for their own good. When the rest of the world supports moving the law in a more libertarian direction, let's not chastise them for not being libertarian enough. There's plenty of people who agree with the simple premise that government should not take away our ability to make choices for ourselves. Convincing people that a system of private health inspections is more efficient and effective than a government system is a bit more difficult.

After all, deep down most Americans just want to eat dinner at their local Professor P. J. Cornucopia's Fantastic Foodmagorium and Great American Steakery without any hassles.

I Call "Bullshit" On The New York Times

Is this headline balanced? "Killing Highlights Risks Of Selling Marijuana, Even Legally."

The article is about a medical marijuana provider from Colorado, Ken Gorman, who was murdered in his home. The article is fair to Mr. Gorman, portraying him as a somewhat controversial figure in the medicinal marijuana movement. And the article even hints at some of the problems with permitting the use of marijuana for medical use while continuing to forbid recreational use. However, not once does the article mention the inconvenient fact that legalized marijuana, for any and all uses, would have prevented this murder. So long as there remains a black market for marijuana, it's use, possession, and sale- even in a medical context- poses a risk.

This is the inconvenient truth of the medicinal marijuana movement, and the reason that our focus should be full legalization on the national level, and not the half-assed measures we've seen on the state level.

Americans Like Helping People - Mixed On Socialism

According to today's New York Times, a majority of Americans (even 46% of Republicans) want the government to ensure that every American has health insurance, even at the expense of higher taxes. But, according to the recent New York Times poll, Americans remain divided on the issue of forced participation in a national health care plan.

Fine. Good. Great. I just hope there is a serious discussion about costs before Congress does anything. And remember the real problem with "health insurance for all." For some people, not having health insurance is simply an economic trade off- coverage for the poor is fine, but what about the millions of non-poor who simply choose to forgo the expense of health coverage. If I make $40,000 a year as an independent contractor and decline to pay for health insurance in order to save money, should taxpayers have to support my health care costs?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Galactica Blogging

Complaints about the latest Battlestar Galactica here, here, and of course here from our friends at

To start with, let me just say I've enjoyed this season tremendously- much more so than last year when the show seemed to lack direction in the second half of the season after the resolution of the Admiral Cain/Pegasus storyline. Since the start of the third season the ever present theme has been the choices of the individual and the exploration of why we make the choices we make. Yet all the self-proclaimed critics (who might I add, still watch the show) choose to ignore the fact that Battlestar is first and foremost about people.

My conservative friend at GalacticaBlog calls Ron Moore and company communists for failing to recognize the possibility of a market-based solution to the problem of working conditions in the latest episode. The problem with that is that I don't believe that there's ever been an indication that there is much of a functioning market at work in the fleet and anyhow, markets tend to collapse in the aftermath of the apocalypse- wait, sorry, the second apocalypse. Things are, quite obviously, much, much worse in the fleet since the rescue of the population of New Caprica and as President Rosalin pointed out, working conditions are bad throughout the fleet.

Then there's my Cold Equations friend, who enjoyed the last episode, minus the fact that the storyline wasn't followed to it's logical "cold equation" solution. I don't deny that I felt a little cheated by the resolution- however, this was well within the characters of both Tyrol and Adama. We know Tyrol cares about Callie and his family above all else, so we know he'd give in. And we know Adama is a softie a heart- Lee, Starbuck, and Rosalin have all defied him, and after he takes his big macho stand, he tends to relent and see things their way. To Adama, the leader by nature, it's the defiance more than the differences in opinion that really stings.

And finally, there's the Colossus, who feels the show is getting "just plain silly." Similar to my last paragraph, just because things end well for our characters does not mean that this was a happy ending. What we end up with is more and more people- civilians in the fleet- forcibly being put to work. This is a resolution to the issue, but it's not really a happy one, and it can be debated whether or not it's even a good resolution.

Colossus asks why a better schedule hadn't already been worked out- Considering the drastic measures taken during the episode, you can see why nothing had been done. Colossus asks why people would read and believe Baltar's book- I dunno. Why do people believe Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and other charismatic leaders? I think this subplot really adds to Baltar's fascinating nature as a character. The backstory is completely believable for him- and we all know how adaptable he can be. Who knows if he believes what he's writing, but it may well help keep him alive and he is nothing if not a survivor. And finally, he wonders how the 12 colonies couldn't have solved the issues of social and economic inequality- Some people could say the same things about the United States. And remember, differences before the attack may not have been as prominent- the aftermath of the attacks may have exacerbated some of these colonial differences.

I absolutely love the fact that through all the controversy the show highlights, controversies very relevant to our world today, that not once are we told what to think or what the right answer should be. And I'm amazed people miss this about the show. The characters themselves are shown in a sympathetic light- all of them- even the Cylons who through there exercise of individual choice seem more human than Cylon. Yet the choices of the characters are not subject to moral scrutiny by the writers, directors, and producers.

What we see on the screen is at times heart-breakingly familiar- suicide bombers, torture, war crimes trials, or like last Sunday, poor working conditions and children literally getting hurt sticking their hands in the machines. But these images are meant to invoke an emotional response about the human condition, not about particular political solutions. We're so used to being told right and wrong by the media that when a show actually presents us with an opportunity to think for ourselves, for too many of us are content to fall back into the same old paradigm where TV tells us right from wrong.


My note for the Quinnipiac University School of Law Health Law Journal has finally been published. Those of you with Westlaw or Lexis access can read CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITS TO FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION: THE COMMERCE CLAUSE CHALLENGE TO THE SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT at 10 Quinnipiac Health L.J. 77 (2006).

If you're happy and you know it, don't shake your left hand

Ask 100 liberals about their views on the future and don't expect to be cheered by the results, is the notion pondered by David Goodheart at the UK Guardian. Of course, Rush Limbaugh has been talking about this for years.