libertarian ramblings

Wednesday, November 05, 2003  

Wow!!! I'm #10 on Google!. How the heck can that happen! Who in the right mind would come here?

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 10:46 PM

I discovered the funniest thing today: It turns out there's two Calblogs. This is funny because I was just contemplating the matter of property rights in the blogosphere. Albeit in a slightly differed category than this situation - I was pondering who owns the posts published on a team blog? Surely, if the blog's owner were paying the contributors, the matter would be given some attention, just as it is in traditional media. I was about to write Eugene and ask him if they had any agreement on that at The Volokh Conspiracy.

But anyway, as for this deal with Justine and I: I'm not upset or anything. I mean, the name is my property, but it's not like I use it much. It's like that old car that you couldn't force yourself to take the lousy offer the dealer made on trade-in when you bought your new one: you brought it home, stuck it in the garage, and never did get around to selling it. So, save for an occasional spin down to the beach to keep things loose and spinning, it just sits there taking up space. The wife keeps prodding you to shed that large piece of excess baggage, even throwing out such enticing ideas as using the money from the sale to convert the half of half of the garage now empty into a comfy, opulent yet elegant office/den, where you can sit in that buttery-soft chestnut leather on hand-carved Black Hickory wingback you've always wanted, and puff away on your Cohibas with no noise from the kids and no harping about the smoke from her. (Reality check: How many of you have previous cars that would even nearly cover the cost of this sort of conversion. And how many of you have wives that would actually allow you to use either the money or the garage space for anything that you are even remotely interested in?).

And I'm not looking at this as some chance to strong-arm somebody. That's not my way. And frankly, as a fellow blogger, fostering a friendship with her is far more important then the exacting some windfall profit.

But the primary focus of my fascination at this moment is the question of what possessed Justene to choose a name that someone else had already laid claim too? Perhaps she has some emotional attachment to the name, which predates her Blogger blog. And, not envisioning the blogosphere, or her blog in particular, to be as big as they have become, she just used the Or perhaps it was CalNewsBlog when she first started it, and then, leaving everything alone, she just changed the label on the skin, without considering the possibility of the name’s previous commitment?

But that was the old Blogger blog. She’s gone bigtime now, and has a proper Movable Type powered board. And look, she’s taken CALBLOG for her domain name as well. Whatever happened with those people who were buying up all the URL's with popular corporate names?

And do I even own the Calblog name? What does one have to do to establish ownership of a blog name?

Whatever. A little sleep and a little phone conversation with Justene, and everything will seem much clearer.

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 3:24 AM

Wednesday, January 08, 2003  

Welcome aboard David. It would be interesting to see some follow-up on this story to see if anything came of these revelations. My guess is no.

This really impeaches the whole credibility of criminal justice system. What we have is a "two-tier" system. Those that can afford a good defense, and those that can't. If you are accused of a crime and your attorney doesn't, as a matter of routine, insist on independent testing of all forensic evidence, you either can't afford it or you've got a bad attorney.

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 11:33 AM

Tuesday, January 07, 2003  

Did anyone watch 60 minutes this last Sunday?

Several years ago, two journalists wrote Tainting Evidence about the problems within
the FBI crime lab and the FBI culture generally. They wrote that the FBI crime had resisted
its science being peer-reviewed, that "forensic scientists" or "forensic specialists" needed to have
no specific training or licensing in order to "practice," and that crime labs, when tested in identifying
hair, paint, blood, etc had terrible rates of errors.

Anyway, according to some FBI people interviewed on 60 minutes, fingerprint analysis is or was supposed to be infallible.

Infallible, except for the following:

A man (a black man, by the way: they are always the criminal type) was convicted on the basis of fingerprint analysis. Eventually, the defense lawyers got the conviction overturned. In the process, what do we learn about fingerprint analysis, the method the FBI calls infallible?

Among the nations of the world, there is no commonly accepted criteria as to what constitutes a fingerprint match. The most exacting nation seems to require that prints show at least 31 points of similarity; the US has no objective standard. Fingerprint experts or examiners go by their own judgment.

Judges have resisted insisting on any hard science to be done to validate fingerprint analysis.

Just how reliable is the judgment of fingerprint examiners? There is a special society of fingerprint examiners and they have a certification examination. The only people who take the test for certification are currently practicing examiners, and approximately one half of those who take the test fail, yet continue working and testify in court.

What about those who pass? In order to pass, a person might in fact make errors in identification of at least two of the 15 items on which he is being tested. So, given the same method that some FBI agents allege to be certain and infallible,
half the police who practice it can't be certified because of their mistakes;
even those who are certified make mistakes.

In the case of the young black man wrongfully convicted, what happened? Two local police officers, poorly trained and uncertified, testified that his prints matched those of the murderer. Two certified FBI agents with lots of experience said that the prints did not match.

The jury convicted the fellow, apparently believing that whatever the local police said must be true. After all, why would a local police officer lie?

The defense took the prints and sent them to the society of fingerprint examiners, which returned a certain conclusion that the prints did not match. At this point, the prosecutor and judge agreed. The young black man was released and his family is suing the police officer(s) who testified wrongly in court as an "expert witness."

To read the full story, go to

Who tells the truth? The journalists who wrote Tainting Evidence or the FBI and its crime lab people?

posted by david | 11:56 PM

Wednesday, May 15, 2002  

Good post T.J. Welcome to the blog.

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 8:32 AM

Tuesday, May 14, 2002  

In Praise of the Gun

Just some stuff that's been on my mind. Enjoy!

There is an over-arching attitude towards firearms in the Western world today, and that is that they are somehow evil. Even those of us who defend people’s right to bear arms sometimes fall into this mindset and defend it either on the basis of people’s right to do things others find bad or on the utility of protecting oneself. I’ve even seen ardent anti-gun control supporters say that, if all guns could be eliminated from the world that it would be a desirable thing.

This notion that guns are just used for violence and are, at best, a necessary and sometimes useful evil must be challenged. Such a view is completely contradictory to historical fact.

It may be a sad commentary on mankind, but people have never been able to gain freedom and equal treatment from their rulers without armed force. Before the invention of the firearm, such force was limited to the wealthy. They were the only ones who could afford the armor, weaponry, and horses that would enable them to be effective fighters. It was this way from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages. Only the wealthy could afford effective weaponry and the training to use it, so the wealthy had a monopoly on the means of violence. And they used this to rule.

The invention of the firearm changed things fundamentally. A gun is a very simple machine to build and to use. They are cheap, and are effective. Now, a peasant could afford a weapon that could take out a nobleman knight on horseback. The wealthy no longer had a monopoly on the means of violence. It is no coincidence that within a few generations of the invention of the firearm the Western world was swept with revolutions and uprisings establishing much more liberal societies.

So, if you enjoy the equality and liberty of modern society and do not want to be ruled by a king who basically owns you as a slave, then say thank you to the firearm. It is what established that liberty. It has done more good for the common man then anything else in history.

posted by Tommy | 7:19 AM

Thursday, March 28, 2002  

I seem to be a trend-setter here. I have been a proponent of a Condoleeza Rice VP bid in 2004 since Bush 43's election. Lee Bockhorn writes about it in this Weekly Standard article. I would disagree with Lee on her ability to attract a substantial black vote; but neither of us have much to back our opinions up though. However, I'm sure there will be much polling among the black electorate in the next year and a half.

Bockhorn also downplays the question of Cheney's health. The question at this point is not whether or not he'll be fit to run in 2004, but 2012 (for a second term as President; he'll be 71, Reagan was 73). He does correctly queestion conservative's trepidation about her stand on abortion. But the GOP, if it hopes to win elections, must embrace the measured position of Kay-Bailey Hutchenson, which reflects the mainstream of American Society.

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 10:01 PM

Wednesday, March 20, 2002  

In this Tech Central Station article. Glenn Reynolds explores the subject of international space law, which has been quite neglected of late. I am particularly interested in the sanctity of private property rights in the absence of territorial rights:

Freedom of enterprise. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty forbids "national appropriation" of territory on the Moon or other celestial bodies, but it does not say anything about private property. Most (though not quite all) legal commentators agree that the Outer Space Treaty does not bar private property rights in those resources, and some argue that, properly interpreted, it actually provides affirmative protection for private parties who want to engage in, for example, asteroid mining.

Anyone who doesn't stare out into the void through rose-colored glasses Knows that ultimately, rights are secured by force-of-arms, the classic province of government. There's no guarentee that everyone's going to play nice up there. Are we to have private militaries to remain secure?

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 1:38 PM

Tuesday, January 22, 2002  

Out of that hotbed of progressive thinking, Texas, we now have pay-by-the-mile auto insurance, I like the idea of insurance only charging for miles driven. But the author, Aaron S. Edlin, advocates confirming the miles driven with GPS systems. The next step then would be to charge not just for how much you drive, but where you drive, and the compilation of large databases on all your travels. Do you think the goverment snoops can keep their fingers out of something like that?

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 2:37 AM

Sunday, January 13, 2002  

Here we learn that Nigeria wants to enter the space race. More power to them. But I did notice this rather ludicrous statement in the BBC article:

"But Nigeria is ideally sited for a space port. Its position just north of the equator means any rocket can harness maximum benefit from the Earth's rotation, which helps catapult the vehicle into space, when it makes the leap into orbit.

That is just bunk. There is a reason the US has a launch facility on the East Coast (Kennedy) and another on the West Coast (Vandenburg): Due to the rotation of the Earth, the West Coast is the best place from which to launch a polar orbiting sattilite, while the East Coast is best to launch equtoral orbiting sattilites. Most communications and weather sattilites are of the latter type.

Misfiring vehicles launched from Nigeria will fall on densely populated West Africa, not a good thing. For the record: The best place on Earth from which to launch a sattilite is in Africa however; the top of Mt Kenya.

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 11:32 PM

Just refered this to Kathleen Parker. I'm also going to post at Terran BBS. May the blog revolution continue!

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 12:20 AM

Saturday, January 12, 2002  

This is the first entry of this blog. It is dedicated to libertarian thinking and California politics.

posted by Kevin L. Connors | 11:56 PM