Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mexico and the Drug War

Mexico has decided to take a step toward decriminalizing the use of drugs, as reported by the Washington Post:

Under the law, penalties would be erased for possessing 500 milligrams of cocaine, 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of raw opium and 25 milligrams of heroin, among other drugs. The measure, which has surprised and angered anti-drug groups in the United States, is intended to further shift the focus of Mexico's sputtering drug battle from users to traffickers.

We'll have to wait and see whether this really is a step toward ending the futile war on drugs in Mexico, as so many (especially conservatives) fear it to be. If the police end up using all of the resources that had previously been used to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate end-users in their "shifted focus" on traffickers, then things won't necessarily get better. If it becomes more dangerous to be a drug trafficker, the traffickers will demand more profit. They will become more dangerous people do deal with, or they will hire more dangerous people to protect them.

An anti-drug warrior is quoted in the article:

"Mexico is trying to make the right choices. . . . The Mexican legislation will go a long way toward reducing opportunities for police corruption and harassment in their interactions with ordinary citizens," Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. The group advocates ending the war on drugs.

I hope that's true, and I'm sure that it is to the extent that "with ordinary citizens" applies. If Mexico goes more heavy-handed against the traffickers, however, the opportunities for corruption and corroboration between the traffickers and the police will expand. And the rewards for participating in those now-riskier opportunities will be greater.

Over at, Ryan W. McMaken finds another black cloud in the center of the silver lining of Mexico's move:

The legalization of drugs in Mexico will provide an excellent opportunity for a great many Americans to show their undying love for the police state as they call for greater crack downs against drugs on this side of the border to combat the menace of people carrying 5 grams of pot.

I guess things will get worse before they get better.



Friday, April 28, 2006

Linkfest for Lance Dutson

Wow, does Lance Dutson know how to get the word out, or what? The Boston Globe, the Portland Press Herald and Shel Israel, to name a few, have posted info about the Pay-per-Gate lawsuit. I've done a quick copy-and-paste from Lance's site to give a little more link love to all these folks.

Jeff Jarvis, Robert Cox, Jason Clarke, Shel Israel, James Joyner, Robert Basic, B.L. Ochman, Bill Hobbs, Sean Coon, Alan Herrell, Rex Hammock, Adirondack Base Camp, Wendy Hoke, The Florida Masochist, cehweidel, Don Singelton, Orient Lodge, Gabe Gates, Digg, Ed Cone, Bill Hennessy, VicePR, The Boston Globe, The Portland Press Herald, Dave Winer, Eric Jaffa, Lisa Renee, VillageSoup, Center for Citizen Media, Bill Trippe, Travis Corcoran, Pajamas Media, John Palfrey, Presto Vivace Blog, Robert Ambrogi, PRSpeak

So here's an offer for anyone else who wants some link love from Tor's Rants, for what it's worth. Just link to Lance's post announcing the lawsuit, leave me a comment or trackback on this post, and I'll add a link to your post below. If you've already left a link, same deal. Just let me know about it. Things are a little chaotic out there in t'rati land and in Lance's comments, so please let me know here so I won't miss it. You are not required to link to my blog, but if you would like to, hey, that's ok, too. This linkfest is good till further notice.

Update 4/28: Some more copy-n-paste from Lance's blog:

Eric Scheie, Michael Feldman, James Robertson, about:blank, Eric Siegmund, Overlawyered, the Blogging Times, William Quick, adland, Ron Coleman at Dean’s World, Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Mark Glaser, Scott Johnson, Mark A. Rose, tHg News, smays, Brett Schulte, Big News, Michael Arrington, First Maine Forward, Civil War Cavalry, Dan Gilmour, Robert Scoble, Words Matter

One thing's obvious from even a random sampling of these above links: there are a lot of well-written blogs out there that deserve our frequent visits. Remember the days when you had to pay to get magazines delivered to your home? I think those days are almost over.

Update 4/29: First, some more c-n-p from MWP:

Downbrigade news, The Blog Herald, Pascal Vernier, Bring It On, Seth Finklestein, Publishing 2.0, Silent Running, City Troll, Mike Orren, The Bell Curve Scar, Tris Hussey, Brian Bonner, Journalism Hope, Gary Goldhammer, The Blogging Journalist, Coffeehouse Studio, Lewiston Sun Journal

Lance is really getting an impressive amount of support from all over on this. I'm inspired to know that so many bloggers have realized what's at stake here.

Anyway, here's the first taker on my link offer:

The Right Nation, who also has an English version. However, I think they read too quickly, because I only see a link to this post, not Lance's. So guys, if you come back here and notice, and put up a link to Lance, and leave a comment to let me know, I'll remove the "nofollow" characteristic of your Italian link. This is about Lance's publicity today, not mine.



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Two Red Paperclips

First, I'd like to voice appreciation for Simon, a fellow in the UK who has recently launched a blog, Two Red Paperclips. He's allowing me to rent a spot on his blog for the week. I'm sure most of you are aware of the One Red Paperclip project by Kyle MacDonald (currently traded up to an afternoon with Alice Cooper) which Simon hopes to emulate. Good luck, Simon.

I also wanted to share a statistic for which I'm grateful. Visits to Tor's Rants have been steadily on the climb over the last few months. Thanks for the visits, the interaction, and the return visits.

Thanks for reading Tor's Rants!


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Buddhist I Ching: Reduction

Thursday has graced us with her presence again, so it's time for my second weekly Buddhist I Ching post. This week, my random I Ching hexagram is number 41, "Reduction."

From Thomas Cleary's translation of Chih-hsu Ou-i's commentary:

Once confusion is cured, from this point on one increases enlightenment and reduces mundanity. This is reduction in terms of contemplating mind. Those who contemplate mind believe that the realm of enlightenment is none other than all possible realms of experience; therefore "reduction with sincerity is very auspicious and impeccable."


Even though there are two bowls, they can still be used for presentation; it is only a matter of the right timing of each, it being important to go along with the time.

Folks who are students of the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch will recognize the solidly Ch'an Buddhist outlook that the enlightened mind is little more than the mundane mind bereft of the illusion that it is anything other the enlightened mind.

I've always been fond of the Platform Sutra, with its staging of an illiterate worker possessing the secrets of enlightenment that have eluded the most learned monastics. It's a pattern that I've seen in other sutras, namely the Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, an Indian tantric text in which a householder tells it like it is to bodhisattvas and disciples of the Buddha.

Since part of the genius of Ou-i's commentary on the I Ching is the realization that spiritual insight and social awareness can nurture one another, I'm tempted to see the "two bowls" passage in both lights.

As a Buddhist blogger, I hold both bowls in my hands. One bowl is used, hopefully at the right time, to destroy (reduce) my own preconceptions about Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or what have you, so I can see the people I am blogging about for the human beings that they are. The other bowl is used to help (increase) others' understanding of my position, despite their preconceptions about me.

As a left-libertarian blogger, the two bowls are also important. I need to be able to keep my own mind clear of preconceptions about the people whose stories are told on the web, in order that I might be able to show others that my political point of view has validity.

The difficult part is discerning the right time to do either. Most of us need to do a lot more work on ourselves before we can try to do any work persuading others. I land solidly in that camp.



P.S. Thanks to these folks for making the I Ching graphics!

Maine Web Report Author Lance Dutson Sued by Maine Office of Tourism Contractor Warren Kremer Paino Advertising

Lance Dutson has been slapp-ed with a multi-million dollar lawsuit by Maine Office of Tourism contractor Warren Kremer Paino Advertising. Go immediately and read Lance's post on the subject. He includes links to a summary of the controversy over the MOT's Pay-per-click advertising program, as well as to a pdf file of the lawsuit itself. The suit is only seven pages long, so I encourage everyone to read it. It's highly risible. The biggest punchline: petitioning for a jury trial. I can't imagine any Maine jury finding for WKP.

Of course, the point of this lawsuit is not to win a jury trial. It is to get Lance to stop doing his privilege and duty as a citizen of the State of Maine, namely, criticizing government and its contractors when he perceives that they are doing wrong. This is known as a SLAPP suit, which the First Amendment Project describes as follows:

Generally, a "SLAPP" is a (1) civil complaint or counterclaim; (2) filed against individuals or organizations; (3) arising from their communications to government or speech on an issue of public interest or concern. SLAPPs are often brought by corporations, real estate developers, government officials and others against individuals and community groups who oppose them on issues of public concern. SLAPP filers frequently use lawsuits based on ordinary civil claims such as defamation, conspiracy, malicious prosecution, nuisance, interference with contract and/or economic advantage, as a means of transforming public debate into lawsuits.

Most SLAPPs are ultimately legally unsuccessful. While most SLAPPs lose in court, they "succeed" in the public arena. This is because defending a SLAPP, even when the legal defense is strong, requires a substantial investment of money, time, and resources. The resulting effect is a "chill" on public participation in, and open debate on, important public issues. This "chilling" effect is not limited to the SLAPP target(s): fearful of being the target of future litigation, others refrain from speaking on, or participating in, issues of public concern.

The filing of a SLAPP also impedes resolution of the public matter at issue, by removing the parties from the public decision-making forum, where the both cause and resolution of the dispute can be determined, and placing them before a court, where only the alleged "effects" of the public controversy may be determined. For example, imagine a company asks for a zoning variance to place an incinerator in a residential area. When local residents object to the city council, the company sues them for "interference with contract." The judge hearing the suit cannot decide the real issues -- the location of the incinerator -- but will have to spend considerable judicial resources to decide the side issues of the alleged "damages" or other consequences of the public debate on the real issues.

We fellow bloggers cannot allow any of this to happen.

Lance has some big guns in his corner: the Media Bloggers Association. That group's president said of the lawsuit:

"This case is nothing more than an attempt by a deep-pocketed litigant to bully a blogger for criticizing state officials and state contractors"", said MBA President Robert Cox. "We have successfully defended MBA members in nine previous cases and I don't expect the outcome here to be any different."

Jason Clarke, board member of the MBA, says this over at his blog:

Nobody should forget that while the lawsuit has been filed by the Warren Kremer Paino advertising agency, they are involved in this mess as the advertising agency of record for the Maine state Office of Tourism. As a citizen of the state, I fully expect that the Office of Tourism would have something to say in this matter. So, how are they going to respond? Will they come down in favor of the ad agency that is suing one of their citizens for millions of dollars? Or will they stand up for somebody they are supposed to be working on behalf of?

I can't say it any better than that, so I won't. I'm already on record as being against the very existence of the MOT.

Fellow bloggers, please give Lance and this issue plenty of link love and ranting space. If they take him down, they'll be coming for us, eventually.

Hang in there, Lance.



Linking to: Liberal Common Sense, TMH's Bacon Bits,, Quietly Making Noise

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Multiple RSS Feeds for One Blog

I've been inspired by John's post at Freshblog to do something that I haven't seen on any other blog. John ruminates on RSS and blogs:

The idea that there's a single blogosphere is unhelpful, problematic and clearly bogus. As the number of blogs increases, the number of markets / niches increases, and each niche is inhabited by a select band of bloggers, and addressed by many more. Readers, though, are even more significant than bloggers in this context.

The blogosphere is powerful (and RSS even more so) precisely because, as Steve points out, you can construct a personal information sphere that is as idiosyncratic as you are. Bunker-Buster Bombs and Bunnies? Sure! Geocaching and Google-Cacheing? Absolutely. More importantly, as your interests change, your subs can change too, and reflect the information that you're looking for.

This got me to thinking about the many subjects that I blog about here. Some folks with eclectic interests and plenty of time actually maintain multiple blogs. While I don't rule out the possibility that one of my interests may eventually become a spin-off blog, or that I may come across a spiffy idea for a brand new subject matter that won't fit the character of this blog, for the time being I'm happy to keep all my musings in one spot.

But I know that not all of my Buddhist readers are interested in libertarianism, tho they should be. Nor are many of my libertarian readers interested in Buddhism, tho they should be, as well. And there are some of my readers who are only interested in my take on the goings-on in Maine.

Well, I've figured out an easy way to help those folks limit their exposure to the topics that don't interest them at Tor's Rants. If you click on the RSS subscription menu button in the left-hand column, you'll notice that I've added a few new feeds for your enjoyment. Now you can choose from rss feeds from Tor's Rants that concern only Buddhism, libertarianism, Maine or politics. Of course, if you just can't get enough of my rants on any subject, you can still get an rss feed for all my posts on this blog.

The new feeds from feedburner basically allow you to easily take my categories and see the posts as they appear there. I promise that, in the future, I will be much more disciplined in putting an excerpt in the description box at This is so subscribers to those feeds will get a taste of what the post is like, but will have to come to the blog to read the whole post. Most readers of the main rss feed for the blog should still be able to read posts in their entirety via their rss readers, if they are so configured.

Of course, anybody is already able to follow the rss feed from any of my categories without my knowledge. So if one of my less-populated categories, e.g. "pseudoscience", is what you're interested in subscribing to, by all means go for it! Be aware that all posts at Tor's Rants have an anchor tag of "torsrants" in my account. This means that the correct rss feed for "pseudoscience" posts at Tor's Rants would be:

If you just try to subscribe to:

you will get anything that I've tagged as "pseudoscience," anywhere on the web, not just at Tor's Rants.

If you need any help in setting it up, give me a holler and I'll try my best. I'd be happy to set up a feedburner feed just for you, if need be. And if you need help subscribing to anybody else's category feed, I'd be happy to try and help.



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Lance Dutson Keeps Raking the Muck

If you haven't been over to Maine Web Report lately to see what Lance Dutson's up to, by all means go now. In his most recent post, he reveals to the world just what sort of people he's dealing with.



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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Free Speech and the Maine Christian Civic League

I've been harshly critical of the actions of the Maine Christian Civic League and some of its allies in the Spellbound Lingerie story. But now I have found an issue in which I am totally on their side. (Save this for posterity...It's not likely to happen again any time soon.)

The AP is reporting that:

Three federal judges reacted skeptically Monday to a conservative group that wants to air an advertisement around election time singling out Maine's two U.S. senators on the issue of same-sex marriage.

The Christian Civic League is challenging a provision of federal law that bars corporate and union treasury funds from being used to influence campaigns right before an election.

The league's proposed radio ad represents grass-roots lobbying rather than electioneering, said James Bopp, an attorney for the conservative group that claims its free speech rights are harmed by the law.

In Maine's election primary, scheduled for June 13, Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican, is running unopposed.

So Snowe is running unopposed. Which means that no matter what the CCL does, short of urging a vote for a write-in candidate, she will win the primary.

The content of the ad is not aimed at her primary election at all! Rather, it is an attempt to influence her and Senator Collins' votes on an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution:

A tax-exempt Maine corporation, the league wants to run the ad in advance of an early June vote in the Senate on the Marriage Protection Amendment, which says that marriage is solely between a man and a woman.

The ad says: "Unfortunately, your senators voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment two years ago. Please call Sens. Snowe and Collins immediately and urge them to support the Marriage Protection Amendment when it comes to a vote in early June."

It's only coincidental that the vote on the proposed amendment and Maine's primary vote are happening at about the same time. The fact that the CCL would not be allowed to run their ad under the current election laws shows the great potential for politicians to abuse the laws. Henceforth, to avoid seeing ads placed that request their constituents to lobby them on any issue, all our elected officials need do is schedule the votes very near elections. That's a real erosion of the citizens' First Amendment right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

For the record, I am not only against the Marriage Protection Amendment, but also in favor of marriage rights for homosexuals. I am, however, horrified to be living in a country where people of the opposite viewpoint apparently won't be allowed to make their viewpoint known.



This is this week's open trackback post. Go here for an FAQ on it. In a nutshell, trackback on most nearly any topic (at my discretion) is allowed today and today only, till midnight eastern U.S. time, provided the post has a link to this post. You don't need to be a member of the Open Trackback Alliance to participate.

Linking to: Freedom Watch, Common Folk Using Common Sense, The Median Sib, Planck's Constant

Linked by Global Security Watch, which is more of a blog aggregator than an original blog source. It's not a splog, so I'll reciprocate the link, for which I'm grateful. I also found a link from Conservative Cat, tho the ping didn't hit me. He's talking about -- what else? -- high oil prices. Worth a read.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Buddhist Funeral Rites and the Free Market

The Washington Post has an interesting article about how funeral homes in America are responding to immigrant populations' customs.

One part of the article really caught my eye. It describes how one funeral home found itself catering to Vietnamese-American Buddhists:

Harmon and Doherty met with monks and nuns at Le's home, where, over tea and Vietnamese sweets, they learned about Buddhist funeral customs. Later, Le bought supplies and framed portraits of Buddha from a large temple in Houston and presented them to the home. She made a reference folder for funeral directors so they could advise second- and third-generation Vietnamese families that might be unsure of the rituals.

So Vietnamese-American Buddhists are turning to non-Vietnamese and largely non-Buddhist (Harmon is described as an attendee of a Buddhist meditation group) funeral directors to make sure that a proper funeral rite is observed! Only in America!

Six years ago, a very close friend of mine died. He was one of the people responsible for naming me "Tor." Ben lived a very Bohemian lifestyle, and fancied himself a Wiccan somedays, and, at the very least, always a pagan.

His wife Cheryl asked me to ride with Ben's body from their apartment in Belfast to the crematory in Auburn. As the ride progressed, I became a bit apprehensive about what would ensue at the crematory. The hearse driver had observed our ritual closing of the casket which Peter Stewart had lovingly made, and many of the rest of us had decorated. This was a beautiful casket, with an extremely conspicuous pentacle on top. The driver began to ask about the origins of the ritual, something along the lines of, "Is that what they do in other countries?"

Well, we had pretty much made everything up. We often did as members of the Shebang Street Theatre, which Ben had founded. That idea seemed not to go over well with the driver. It was a pretty quiet trip.

When we arrived at the funeral home (and I wish I could remember the name of it), we found a group of people who bent over backwards to let us celebrate Ben's cremation exactly as we desired. We brought along a lot of paper-mache standards that had figured so prominently in many of Shebang's equinoctial and solstitial performances. They let us display them in the parking lot during the cremation process. The funeral director allowed us to carry Ben into the crematory itself, and advised us as to a good time for last words, before the machine would drown out any conversation.

Given my experience in the cultural isolation of Maine several years ago, I'm not surprized that funeral homes in metropolitan areas are eager to help folks from all cultures mourn their losses.



Linking to: Pirate's Cove, Committees of Correspondence, Pirates! Man Your Women!

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Stevens' Blog

Join me in welcoming my latest blog renter in the right-hand column, The Stevens' Blog. It's the place to go if you're looking for some hard-core Christian evangelism.



Friday, April 21, 2006

FDA Issues Advisory on Smoked Medical Marijuana

Am I the only one who noticed that the FDA made a statement denying the medicinal effect of smoked marijuana on 4/20? Just because of that, I knew it had to be a piece of political theatre. And it was. The most telling part of the press release is at the end, where the FDA is definitely reminding everyone who's boss:

A growing number of states have passed voter referenda (or legislative actions) making smoked marijuana available for a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor's recommendation. These measures are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process and are proven safe and effective under the standards of the FD&C Act. Accordingly, FDA, as the federal agency responsible for reviewing the safety and efficacy of drugs, DEA as the federal agency charged with enforcing the CSA, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as the federal coordinator of drug control policy, do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes.

Scientifically, I'm on their side. I've never seen much more than anecdotal evidence that supports smoking marijuana for medical use. Of course, the government's stranglehold on the testing and research of medical marijuana would account for the lack of hard data on the subject. More research should be done to examine the possible use of marijuana. And it should be conducted by a non-governmental, non-politicized institution.

The basic point of this release is obviously political. One group of people has decided that other people should not be allowed to indulge in a mild vice, even if they are deathly ill.

And the Washington Post reports:

The statement contradicts a 1999 finding from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which reported that "marijuana's active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, the anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms, and should be tested rigorously in clinical trials."

Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Thursday: "If anybody needed proof that the FDA has become totally politicized, this is it. This isn't a scientific statement; it's a political statement."

Mirken said "a rabid congressional opponent of medical marijuana," Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., asked the FDA to make the statement.

Souder, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on drug policy, has said the promotion of medical marijuana "is simply a red herring for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Studies have continually rejected the notion that marijuana is suitable for medical use because it adversely impacts concentration and memory, the lungs, motor coordination and the immune system."

Government has obviously freed itself from the scientific method. It is time for the scientific method to free itself from government.



P.S. I'd like to extend a welcome to readers of Snarksmith editor Michael Weiss's today's blogs column, I Spy Your IP. If you'd like to find more of my recent views on any subject, please use the FreshTags navigation system in the left-hand column, or click on one of the categories with checkers below. You will find a full list of my rants on drugs here.

Since the brunt of Michael's column was about L.A. Times' columnist Michael Hiltzik's pseudonymous blog commenting, I'd like to point out that though "Tor" is not my legal name, plenty of folks have called me by this name for almost fifteen years, and I only blog or comment by this name or an obvious variation, like "MisterTor" where "Tor" was already taken in a system. I'll have to write the story of my naming someday soon. And I also want to make a minor correction of what Michael said: I am a resident of Liberty, Maine. I am a native of Rockland, Maine, but grew up in neighboring Rockport. The hospital where I was born is now a nursing home, so I might someday have the distinction of dying in the same building where I was born.

Linking to: MacBros' Place, Comedian Jenée: People are Idiots

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Where I'm Hanging My Hat This Week

A shout out to Alaskan Anthony Lemons, who has graciously allowed me to rent a space this week on his blog, Wake up U.S. Imagine Mike Savage with a blog. That would be it.



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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Buddhist I Ching: No Error

One of my intents in starting this blog a little more than a year and a half ago was to share some of my understandings of Buddhism as a westerner. I've only done that sporadically to this point.

With this post, I'm inaugurating a new feature that I hope will augment my Buddhism to Everything Else posting ratio. Once a week, initially Thursdays, I will generate a random hexagram from the I Ching, read the commentary by medieval Chinese Buddhist meditation master Chih-hsu Ou-i (as translated by Thomas Cleary), and try and apply it to anything current.

This week's hexagram is number 25, "No Error." It comprises two parts, thunder below, heaven above.

From the commentary:

But whether in worldly affairs of transcendental affairs, helping oneself and helping others, it is necessary to look deeply into oneself to be sure one's mind is free from aberration and one's words and deeds are not mistaken. If inwardly one denies what is correct, outwardly one will make mistakes; then one should certainly not go anywhere or do anything in this way.

This one could almost write itself from here, given the current political situation in the U.S. Look at all sides of opinion about the Iraq war. Hardly anyone appeals to actual facts in discussing it.

The Bush administration's lack of due diligence about prewar intelligence is now widely known. Part of that was likely due to the groupthink phenomenon that prevented dissenting voices from being heard. Yet the administration still stands by its view of the righteousness of its preemptive war, which is its outward mistake.

The most active antiwar voices among us are equally "denying what is correct." They claim that Bush and company "lied" about the reasons for going to war, when the evidence points more to ineptitude and self-deception. Outwardly they therefore make the continual mistake of simply demonizing Bush and his cohort, rather than trying to find means of persuading Bush supporters that the war is unjust.

As a blogger, I feel especially chagrined by the extent to which I fail to keep my mind clear and my writings free from error. In nearly any subject I write about, my personal biases and ignorance will inform my blogging. I can try and reduce this, but the product would no longer be worthy of the moniker "rant."

Is it possible to be a Buddhist who enjoys ranting on a blog? That is the crucial question for me right now. Your views on this, whether you're Buddhist or not, are quite welcome.



P.S. Thanks to these folks for making the I Ching graphics!

Linking to: Liberal Common Sense, TMH's Bacon Bits

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Hampshire Town Cuts Library Spending and Taxes

There has been an important election in Merrimack, NH.

"Last night was a revolt, there's no other word for it," Selectman Dave McCray said the day after the election, in which a grass-roots, anti-tax group aligned with McCray won control of the board of selectmen, cut town spending by $1.5 million and dissolved a 10-year savings fund for a new library.

"It's going to be wonderful for the taxpayers," said Jennifer Twardosky, cofounder of the grass-roots group called Merrimack Cares and a newly elected budget committee member.

Obviously, residents there have had enough of the municipality's extravagant spending.

Contrast that to how the Select Board of Camden, Maine is responding to their budgetary dilemma:

In 2005-06 the town contributed $240,753 to the library. This year the library requested $379,655, a figure the Budget Committee reduced to $350,000. The board approved the committee's recommendation - an increase of 45 percent, but not without a debate.

"I understand how important the library is to the town," said board Chairman John French Jr. "But to accept a $100,000 hit from any department - that's major."

I suspect French won't have any trouble retaining his seat as long as he wants it. However, the library will probably get its money this time around, because its supporters are extremely activist. It would be nice if the budget vote went the other way, for once. Approving the budget with this enormous increase in library funding is tantamount to rewarding the ineptitude of the library directors at planning for the eventual disappearance of funding.

All in all, New Hampshire is looking better every day. Some folks there understand libraries are luxuries, not essential services that the government should provide.



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Tom Cruise, Rod Stewart, Placentas and Unnamed Individuals

The recent comments that Tom Cruise made about eating placenta brought to mind the ceremony Rod Stewart held in which he and his wife buried the placenta of their child under a walnut tree. This brought in turn to mind a story that can be corroborated by someone who shall remain *cough* anonymous.

Seems a tree was being planted in a yard to celebrate the birth of a child. Just before the tree was lowered into the hole, one of the couple ran into the house and reemerged with a small package that was placed in the hole. After the tree was properly planted, someone inquired and was told it was the placenta of the child.

Further inquiries revealed that, though this was the first time the couple had buried the placenta, this was not the first time they had saved the placenta in the freezer. They had intended to bury their first child's placenta, as well. But when the time came, the placenta had gone missing from the freezer.

I'll leave it to the reader to speculate how the last story might come full circle to the first story.



Linking to: Third World County, Stop the ACLU, Diane's Stuff, Stuck on Stupid

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