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December 26, 2002
Homosexuality Rates Indicate Good Places To Live

I must say that I had thought about this, but never seen anyone else mention it. Sasha Volokh writes about a Washington Monthly article that shows acceptance of a Gay community is a direct indicator of the attractiveness of that place as a place for knowledge workers to live.

My wife and I find all of the cities in this post to be on our short list of places we have lived and are willing to live again - ignoring that there are some Canadian cities on our list that weren't considered here.

Posted by hoffmang at 07:39 PM

A Criminal Hypothesis About Dinner

Theodore Dalrymple puts forward an interesting hypothesis based on the British Journal of Psychiatry study that found that simply giving British inmates vitamins and dietary supplements decreased the occurrence of disciplinary action by 66% versus the control group.

The observation that Dalrymple buts forth with grantedly anecdotal evidence is that the destruction of family meals or simply parents cooking for children takes one of the major social fabric components out of growing up. As such, food becomes a lonely, secondary pursuit. If the British Journal of Psychiatry study is repeatable and correct, these two factors could account for a dramatic swath of criminal behavior.

Thanks to Volokh.com for the reference.

Posted by hoffmang at 02:11 PM

December 25, 2002
*&#@$ Christmas Trees and Other Things

When you are a kid, especially a boy - you see your father pull out his best sailor impersonation fooling with the bloody Christmas tree stand and think to yourself that that will not be you when you grow up. You will sit there, composed, and reflect on the spirit of the season. Take a slow sip of scotch, and try yet again to gently get the stand to perform its ballet of grip, tuck, and stand.

Fat chance.

Actually this year - after completely cleaning out my storage to find the new christmas tree stand we inherited from my grandfather-in-law and finding that it wouldn't work with any tree over 3 microns in diameter - I actually got the darn thing into the old flimsy K-Mart special stand and it stood up. It stood up as long as there were no strong breezes. I hope it makes it through boxing day, but don't mentiontion that to the wife...

Well, the christmas tree stand wasn't as bad as it usually is if you ignore that fact that we locked ourselves out of the house on the way to get the tree in the first place., but then I experienced that other fatherly consternation. A cool new musical toy that likely has more computing power than my C-64 ever had was a hit with the little one, but it didn't seem to actually make any music. Off to the kitchen after fighting packaging that is far more sturdy than the toy included inside. Don't they lose money on this packaging?

It must not have batteries... Open the battery compartment and find - whats this?!? - Batteries! Wow. Hrm... still doesn't work. Maybe their dead. New batteries (see, I'm not completely my Dad) in and - - - NOTHING. Frickin fracken... How the heck am I going to get it back in the steel trap packaging that was invariably nearly ruined upon extrication to then hear a snot nosed Toys'r'us employee tell me that they can't take it back...

Its amazing how we all become our Dads. Pass the PBR.

Posted by hoffmang at 08:01 PM

December 21, 2002
Frist In

I have been surprised at the political savvy that W. has shown and the only sad thing was that the GOP couldn't kick Lott out of the Majority Leader position one week previous. I'm also rather excited to see someone actually intelligent and accomplished in a senior role in the Senate in Bill Frist, but I think the ultimate irony is this.

The last time Strom Thurmond passed out on the Senate Floor, Bill Frist revived him. Kudos to the NYT for pointing this out.


Posted by hoffmang at 11:23 PM

December 17, 2002
Why Care About Gun Rights?

I think this essay and set of responses says most everything one needs to say about why I and others care about gun rights.

Posted by hoffmang at 07:42 PM

DMCA Jury Nullification

Though the jury in the Elcomsoft/Sykarov Adobe Ebook case thought that Elcomsoft broke the law, they nullified the law because they didn't think the company intended to break the law and they didn't think a reasonable person could understand the law. Read the News.com coverage.

I love it. The DMCA anti-circumvention provisions are defeated in court and by nullification no less!

Update: Grr... Bad reporting on C/Net's part lead me to believe this was nullification when in fact the law stipulates that criminal liability under the DMCA has to be willful, and the jury found that the activity here was not willful.

Posted by hoffmang at 12:38 PM

December 16, 2002
Thoughts on a Strong Supreme Court 2nd Amendment Decision

An editorial in USA Today makes some points along the lines of conversations I've been having with folks in the wake of the recent 9th Circuit decision.

Though, I don't agree fully that gun registration would pass judicial scrutiny if the Supremes ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right as I think the privacy issues will hold sway, I do think that lots of other forms of honestly rational gun control schemes could come into play. It would certainly lessen the number one worry of gun owners about registration - namely that gun registration is usually a precursor to confiscation.

Many gun rights supporters have a healthy suspicion of proposals currently put forth in the guise of "sensible" gun control that are often really attempts to chip away at the natural right to own and be armed or outright attempts to start down the slippery slope to ban privately owned arms.

I've discussed a lot of the current gun control regime here in California with supporters and haters alike. For example, I support safety and skills testing, but those requirements have to have common sense around them like reasonable estate transfer regimes, and tests that are legitimately equivalent to a DMV test and not a government list of all gun owners. The worry today is that the anti-gun crowd are really using these as tools to harass gun owners.

With a strong individual rights 2nd Amendment ruling, a lot of gun supporters will join the ranks of those that support training requirements, background check, and other regulation that gain more peace versus hassles gun owners.

Posted by hoffmang at 12:01 AM

December 09, 2002
Reinhardt Made A Large Mistake

In his most recent ruling regarding the assault weapons ban in California, Justice Reinhardt ruled that the exception for retiring police officers was unconstitutional and struck it. The problem is that precedent says that the judiciary can not do that to a criminal statute as a whole bunch of former police officers just became felons. The only way to strike a part of a criminal statute is to strike the whole and let the legislature re-enact it.

Read more about this and other problems with the 9th's decision on Stuart Buck's blog.

Also, Howard Bashman points out that I sent him a query about his actual position on all of this.

Posted by hoffmang at 05:32 PM

December 08, 2002
Cramer on Silveira v. Lockyer

It looks to me like following only a byte behind Dr. Volokh on 9th Circuit arms criticism is Clayton Cramer. His most recent post points out that one of the state supreme court cases that Justice Reinhardt relied upon specifically rules that assault weapons are both the protected weapons and that the residents of the states are the protected persons.

One should scroll down and read his further criticisms.

Posted by hoffmang at 08:55 PM

December 07, 2002
Volokh on 14th and 2nd Amendment

Professor Volokh has a timely article about the interpretation of the 2nd amendment in view of both the 14th amendment and what the reconstruction congress believed the Constitution said, and further what state constitutions infer about the right of individuals to own arms.

Posted by hoffmang at 08:00 PM

December 05, 2002
9th Circuit Rules on 2nd Amendment

Well, the most recent appeals court ruling in the 9th in a case challenging the assault weapons ban has been issued and the 9th finds that the 2nd amendment confers a collective right that individuals do not enjoy.

They do admit that the Second is currently hotly contested and review the full history and literature. There seems to be a few failures in their argument for the collective rights model. First, they split a very fine hair that 2nd is only about militias, glossing over the underlying language about American's enjoying the right to arms. Second, they ignore the procedural and historical reality that States never did supply state owned infantry weapons to the men of the militia. Its like saying that you have the right to free speech, you just don't have the right to buy paper. Finally, they ignore the uncertainty over whether Militia means organized by the State or of the State.

There are two bright spots. First, the equal protection claim that retired law enforcement shouldn't get guns the rest of us can't own looks to be upheld. Moving law enforcement in California back to supporting gun rights will be an important step and will remind them that they are subject to the rules they want to see too. Second, this seems to re-enforce the clear district court split between the 9th and the 5th.

Update: Clayton Cramer weighs in - found via Instapundit.

Update 2: Volokh has weighed in. He presents some of the same thoughts that I had, but is far more eloquent and thorough. My favorite point of his is that while the 9th quotes Miller extensively and is quite a bit more careful to not call Miller definitive as they have in the past, they conveniently skip the Supreme Court's definition of Militia as all white males age 18 to 45 capable of bearing arms.

Posted by hoffmang at 11:54 AM

Prosecutorial Consequences

Glenn Reynolds has a post on the unraveling of the Central Park Jogger muggings. Glenn makes the point that there should be real compensation for folks unjustly imprisoned for a crime.

That leads me to a thought I had last night as I watched Dustin Hoffman perform as Lenny Bruce in Lenny (1974). The despicable violation of Lenny's First Amendment rights combined with the recent rave prosecutions and the Houston K-Mart arrests really got me thinking about a current problem with the justice system.

Namely, there are no consequences for poor prosecution. A policeman can arrest someone and a prosecutor can prosecute them and the worst thing that is likely to happen is for the policeman to have a citizen complaint added to his record and the prosecutor might face a small snag getting elected the next time. Federal liability cases under 1983 face a very high immunity standard and generally fail in all but the most egregious violations. Maybe it is time for a winner take all situation where defendants found not guilty get punitive damages?

Posted by hoffmang at 10:08 AM

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