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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

South Park watch.

Michael Cust
gives a cursory look at South Park's libertarianism at LRC today.

As for me, I have forgiven Mr. Parker for the atrocious, PC episode on The Passion after last week's great episode about Michael Jackson.

From the official SP website, it looks like this week's episode, "Goobacks from the Future," will have something interesting to say about immigration:

Humans from the year 4035 are arriving in droves in South Park! Everything gets a little too crowded when people from the future arrive through a recently discovered time portal. When the boys try to earn some extra money, the time immigrants, who are willing to do the same work for next to nothing, take their jobs.
Check it out tomorrow night at 10 ET (or just download it, like me.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 6:11 PM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Racism in pop music?

I've never watched American Idol and plan on never watching it in the future.

But I have noticed that some people are upset about the latest contestant who failed to make the cut. And since the person who was cut was black, it must be the product of racism. Writes
one editorialist:

Or even more sinister, was it racist? All three were strong black women, so there was an immediate reaction that it had to be a reflection of an America that couldn't stand the thought of a black American Idol.

Except that in the last competition, Ruben Studdard, a black man, won. Maybe that added to it. Lord, can America take two black American Idols in a row?
So apparently all America can do to prove its non-racism is have a black person win American Idol, each and every time.

This is absurd for too many reasons to list here, but having a black win every time would seem to make more commercial sense than having a white win. Take a look at the most recent Billboard Top 10:

1. "Yeah!" Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris (black)

2. "I Don't Wanna Know," Mario Winans Featuring Enya & P. Diddy (black feat. a white and a black, and I doubt kids are buying it because of Enya's whiteness)

3. "Burn," Usher (black)

4. "Tipsy," J-Kwon (black)

5. "Naughty Girl," Beyonce (black)

6. "This Love," Maroon5 (white)

7. "If I Ain't Got You," Alicia Keys (black)

8. "My Band," D12 (Eminem + 5 black guys)

9. "All Falls Down," Kanye West Featuring Syleena Johnson (black)

10. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," Jay-Z (black)

And while I'm at it, what's happened to the Top 40, anyway?

Some of my favorite music is black music, but why is that all anyone will listen to anymore? Jet doesn't even show up on the chart until #33, and, most shamefully, The Darkness, which has deservedly gone to #1 repeatedly in the UK, isn't on there at all.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 4:34 PM

Concert review: The Strokes.

On Friday night, I had four tickets to see The Strokes’ sold out show at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. The show was to start at 7:30, and I arrived at the Aragon at about 5:30, where a bunch kids who were all dressed very similar to one another were, unsurprisingly, already lined up to get in. Then I sold my tickets and went home.

I also went to a Prince concert not long ago, and in that case, I actually went inside the venue and watched the show. He’s in top form right now, so I suggest you go check him out. If you do, you’ll get a free copy of his
new album at the door, and it’s really quite good, too.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 4:01 PM

Review: Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.

After seeing someone on the Reason blog
describe it as “something Homer Simpson would think up,” it seemed to me that 1994’s Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla was something I should see. So I reactivated my Netflix subscription (yes, just for this movie!), and soon the DVD was in my hands.

After watching the thing (all 108 minutes), I don’t think I can bring myself to write a proper review. Instead, I’m just going to describe each and every scene and let you draw your own conclusion as to whether it’s a good movie or the sort of movie you’d like to see for yourself.

So here we go.

1. Tri-Star Logo. The movie was apparently imported and released to video (on the same disc as Godzilla vs. Destroyah, by the way, which I do not intend to watch—and you’ll soon know why) by Tri-Star Pictures. Apparently Tri-Star, which is owned by Sony, releases lots of crap that would never, ever make it to a US theater on video. They even released Quest for the Mighty Sword, which I had the “pleasure” of viewing a few years back.

2. Space. A big cluster of crystals flies toward us, then away from us, then across the screen. Soon, some objects (presumably these crystals) crash on an island on Earth. We see the silhouette of a clearly distraught, screeching Godzilla reacting to this. The title appears on the screen, but the top half of the word “Godzilla” (in Japanese) appears to be chopped off, leading me to wonder if this is the sort of “widescreen” DVD where they just stuck black bars across the top and bottom of the “full screen” picture.

3. As the credits go by, we get some footage of a big robot/drill thing being put together in what appears to be Dr. Evil’s secret headquarters.

4. Next, two characters who I’m going to call Male Scientist and Female Scientist try to persuade a character I’m going to call Telepath Lady to cooperate in “Project T,” through which they hope to telepathically control Godzilla. They’re going to shoot some sort of chip onto Godzilla’s neck, and this will allow a telepath wearing a special helmet thing to mentally control Godzilla.

5. Back in Space, we see a big space moth (Mothra?) and a bunch of little moths. Then we cut back to Telepath Lady who looks sort of wistful.

6. Next we’re on a ship (as in, a big boat) with two new guys, one of whom is dancing around in a Hawaiian shirt, listening to a boombox, saying, “I got nothin’ to worry about! Wooo!” They soon set out on a raft for an island, for reasons not yet explained to us. They run into another guy named Yuki and tell him that they’re from “G Force,” which I assume is the military unit in charge of going after Godzilla. The three of them soon see Baby Godzilla who is, of course, a man in a rubber suit, and who looks even more ridiculous and more cute than you might imagine. How ridiculous? How cute? I'm glad you asked:

7. Back in Tokyo (?), top members of the Japanese military (as well as the Scientists we met earlier) are meeting with officials from NASA, who show the Japanese a video message sent from an American space station. The astronauts on the video scream, and then some giant objects smash through the station walls and the screen goes blank. “We can only speculate,” says the NASA official, “that it was some sort of huge monster.”

8. Telepath Lady is outside on a park bench, where she is visited by two tiny orange fairy twins, who speak to her in unison, and inform her that a “terrible space monster” is indeed approaching Earth and intends to kill Godzilla. This is bad, they explain, because if Godzilla is killed, who will protect the Earth? (This might be some sort of message in support of nuclear weapons, but I certainly didn't watch this movie so I could talk or even think about that.)

9. Back on the island, Yugi is setting up tear gas mines in the hopes that Godzilla will come step on them. And he shows the G-Force men a bullet filled with “blood coagulate” that he intends to shoot into Godzilla’s “weak spot.” That weak spot is, apparently, on Godzilla’s chest, a place where, apparently, no one else has thought to shoot Godzilla in Japan’s 40 year struggle against him.

10. Next we see the space monster approaching Earth. It appears to be something that looks a lot like Godzilla, but shrouded in the crystals we saw earlier. The Japanese military leaders decide they’d better put “Project T” into effect right away, and dispatch the Scientists and Telepath Lady to the island.

11. The Scientists and Telepath Lady arrive on the island. Telepath Lady is pretty cold toward the G-Force guys and Yuki, since they want to kill Godzilla, and the fairies told her that’s bad.

12. Next we see that robot/drill thing they were building during the credits. It’s shaped roughly like Godzilla and has a drill for a nose. Turns out that it’s a spaceship, and they shoot it into space to go fight Space Godzilla.

13. Back on the Island, Telepath Lady smiles at Baby Godzilla. Yuki and Female Scientist have a brief conversation, and then see that Baby Godzilla is stepping on the tear gas mines. The Telepath perceives that Godzilla is coming and they ready the chip that they need to shoot onto his neck to control him telepathically. The Man in Suit (who looks surprisingly good for being just a guy in a suit) emerges from the sea, and they shoot him with the chip. The telepathic control works briefly, but then shorts out (or something) and doesn’t work anymore. So much for that idea (but thanks so much for trying it, filmmakers.)

14. Meanwhile, in space, in what appears to be an asteroid field, Robot Godzilla (as I am now going to call the robot/spaceship/Godzilla-shaped thing) has a fight with Space Godzilla, but to no avail.

15. Soon Space Godzilla lands on the island and has a battle with Regular Old Godzilla. Space Godzilla knocks Godzilla over and then, through the magic of special effects, grabs Baby Godzilla using some sort of tractor beam, and entraps Baby in some sort of crystalline prison. The next morning, everyone prepares to leave the island, except the Telepath who wants to stay. At the last minute, as they are boarding the helicopter to leave the island, one of the G-Force guys, apparently hot for her, decides for both himself and his partner that they will stay too.

16. Back in Tokyo, Scientist explains to the military and NASA people that the space monster has exactly the same “G cells” as Godzilla. “Therefore,” she explains, “We named it Space Godzilla.” The men assembled around the table stir a bit upon hearing this. She explains how this creature must have come into existence, and so you can really understand what’s going on in this movie, I’d better just share the whole thing:

There are only two occasions on which “G cells” were sent into outer space. One, a fragment of Biollante, and two, Godzilla’s flesh attached to Mothra. One of these cells must have been swallowed by a black hole and pushed out from a white hole. It grew very quickly in its own evolutionary system much faster than expected. It assimilated crystal organisms and was exposed to tremendous energy from the explosions of stars. And finally, the most horrific monster was born.

That’s the theory.
Those assembled around the table, including a fat, gap-toothed American smoking a cigar, begin to wonder aloud what they can do now.

17. One of the G Force guys and Yuki have a little talk about nothing much.

18. Back on the island, Telepath Lady is visited by a tiny moth who tells her: “Don’t worry. If you have the power to bring about the meeting of minds, you can beat the space monster!” “You’re right!” agrees the telepath. Before fluttering away, the moth adds, “This beautiful Earth is the property of every living being!” Then the G Force guy who is pursuing her approaches and they talk about the importance of love, how Godzilla has feelings too, and so forth. (Make-outs do not ensue.)

19. In the middle of the night, parties unknown show up on the island and kidnap Telepath Lady.

20. In the morning, Scientist Lady comes with a helicopter and picks up the G Force guys, who express surprisingly little embarrassment about losing Telepath Lady like that. Scientist Lady says something about Yugi, and one of the G Force guys says, “I can’t get along with that guy. All he talks about is Godzilla!” Scientist Lady then explains (and we see in a flashback) that Yugi’s brother was killed while fighting Godzilla.

21. We learn that Telepath Lady has been kidnapped by the Japanese mafia, whom you will remember from such films as Kill Bill and Beverly Hills Ninja. “Why are you doing this?” asks Telepath Lady of her captor. You might expect the gangster to reply, “You’re the telepath, why don’t you tell me?” Instead, he says, “Power. That’s what Godzilla’s about, isn’t he?”

Okay, I can’t keep doing this. We’re not very far past the halfway point in this thing’s running time, but I can assure you that not much more happens after this.

I watched the movie once and, even at super-fast speed, I have to admit that, bad movie buff though I am, I can’t take this one a second time. It’s just interminable.

Suffice it to say that Space Godzilla, who can fly, lands himself in the middle of a city and then Godzilla has to go fight him. Since Plain Old Godzilla can’t fly, he has to smash most of the city on his way to go fight Space Godzilla, and in doing so he makes September 11 look like a model of order and tranquility by comparison.

Space Godzilla dies. Yuki decides that Godzilla isn’t so bad after all (even though Godzilla killed his brother and just finished destroying most or all of their city). Baby Godzilla is set free. The end.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:18 PM

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Celebrate Earth Day.

By celebrating capitalism, of course:

On this Earth Day 2004, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and many other organizations and pundits complain about how polluted and toxic our world has become.

These complaints remind me of the cancer victim who, cured of his horrible disease by medical science, endlessly complains about the scar left from his successful surgery.
Read Don Boudreaux's full
item on how the world has been "cleaned by capitalism."

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:59 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Law student stands up for one of America's most persecuted minorities.

That law student is me, and that "most persecuted" is not some guilty violent criminal, of the sort that many law students donate their precious time to defending through their law schools' clinical programs, helping to ensure that the thugs are back out on the streets harming others again as soon as possible.

No, I'm supporting a much more worthy cause: Wal-Mart.

I've decided to join the fun at
Always Low Prices, and you should too, at least as a reader.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:31 PM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Another one for your list.

No sooner do I
find out about GMU Economics Chair Don Boudreaux's old weblog, months after it began, than he starts a new, even better one with his colleague, Russell Roberts.

Check it out. Often.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 6:50 PM

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began filming yesterday.

Here's a most encouraging
interview with the director.

Summer 2005, which will offer both this and the similarly promising Batman Begins, can't come soon enough.

(Well, sure it can. I have plenty to keep me happily occupied in the meantime. Let's just say I'll look forward to it.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 6:38 PM

DC is poison.

Lew Rockwell writes one of the
best essays on libertarian methodology since Leonard Read's "How to Advance Liberty," and Read's book, Elements of Libertarian Leadership.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:22 PM

TV turnoff life.

When I came to law school, I made a deliberate decision not bring a TV, and it's been great.

TV is bad, not because everything on it is bad (although most of it is), but mostly because it's a huge timewaster. It's just too easy to engage in unplanned TV watching and waste hours channel surfing or watching programming that you'd be embarassed to include if you were going to write down a schedule of all the things you planned to do in a day.

That's not to say I never see any TV shows. I just see them in a way that's most compatible with planning and using my time effectively. Thus, I download the latest episodes of South Park online, and I've been catching up with Smallville using my computer's DVD player. And I watch them without commercial interruption, of course.

For children, however, I would suggest that TV is per se bad, because of the damage it does to attention spans. (Hours upon hours of Sesame Street certainly didn't help mine, even if I can now count all the way to 40.) I would never expose any child of mine to television, let alone use it as a babysitter.

Meanwhile, over at
Reason, Nick Gillespie responds to critics of TV by saying, in essence, "Yeah, well people used to say the same thing about books!" That seems like rather a non sequitur to me. So what? Is Gillespie suggesting that books are no more important to civilization than TV?

He adds: "TV may not be particularly helpful as a substitute for a parent, or a friend, or a babysitter, but like poetry and novels, it has created a common space for pleasure and expression."

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that you don't have to embrace this kind of thinking to be a good libertarian.

Sure, as economists, we can say that people watch TV because they prefer it, and it would be bad to use politics to try to stop them from watching it.

But as otherwise sensible human beings, we can say that TV is crap, and that people who watch it tend to become even bigger crap-for-brains than they already are by parking themselves in front of it for hours. I'm sure if Mencken were around, he would take an approach to the "booboisie's" addiction to the boob tube much different from Gillespie's, but I'm not at all sure that Reason would print it.

Incidentally, Gillespie titles his piece "Ghosts of Ted McGinley," apparently,to remind us of just how hip he and the Reason crew are. He doesn't bother to provide an explanation for the title, but FYI, Ted McGinley is a TV actor whose arrival on a given series usually is an indicator that it will soon be cancelled. Like Gillespie, I'm sure, I learned that from Jump the Shark, a website that chronicles TV series' decline. Unlike Gillespie, I don't mind telling you so, and adding that being in on that particular joke doesn't make me cooler than you.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:06 AM

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Review: Kill Bill Vol. 2.

In my
review of Kill Bill Vol. 1, I said that it was one of the rare films that is best seen in a theater full of rowdy African-Americans.

If you followed my advice on that, here's another idea: Why not see Vol. 2 at a drive-in, like I did? After all, many or most of the films that influenced Quentin Tarantino in making this pair of films are just the sort of thing you would have been likely to find at at a 1970's drive-in, or so I would imagine.

Regardless of where you see Kill Bill Vol. 2, your reaction to it is likely to be different from your reaction to the first film. The first film focused its attention primarily on Uma Thurman's character, "The Bride," dismembering and otherwise slaughtering people in an almost cartoonish, over-the-top way. It was high on energy, action, and blood, and low on plot, but the combination was satisfying, at least to a certain category of film lover, of which I am apparently a member.

Vol. 2 is another story. Or rather, it's the second half of the same story, but it is told in a very different way. Instead of action, the attention here is primarily on dialogue.

Some of the verbal exchanges are classic. My favorite comes early in the movie when Michael Madsen's character, a former assassin who is now a bouncer at a strip club, has an exchange with his coked-up boss after being late for work one too many times. There's another highly entertaining, but absurd, conversation between The Bride, who has just found out that she is pregnant, and another assassin sent to kill her.

When Thurman finally meets up with the last person on her "Death List," Bill, the conversations turn into speeches, the dialogue becomes more tedious than interesting, and the movie drags toward its inevitable conclusion, which is only mildly satisfying compared to all that has come before.

Much of this film is spent covering events that occurred before the first movie. Thus, we get an extended look at The Bride's wedding rehearsal, before the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad bursts in and shoots everyone.

We also get a look at The Bride's martial arts training with Chinese master Pai Mei, whom Roger Ebert appropriately describes as the sort of character who "waits patiently for eons on his hilltop until he is needed for a movie." The training scenes will look familiar to consumers of 1970's kung fu movies, such as Jackie Chan's Drunken Master (which you probably can and should find at your local DVD discount rack, at Walgreen's or similar, for just a few dollars).

There was nothing at all wrong with those scenes (in fact, I really enjoyed the parts with Pai Mei), but I didn't feel like I was getting much more of a story out of them than I had already gotten out of Vol. I. They just tell us things we could have inferred from the first movie about The Bride's history and how she would eventually catch up with Bill, do him in, and be reunited with her daughter.

We are told that Kill Bill was initially one movie that was then split into two. While that may be, the second half of the pair has a rather different feel from the first. Some of the most memorable aspects of the first film were missing. The Bride's borrowed pick-up truck is gone, with minimal explanation. As far as I can recall, we don't see the "Death List" she made in part one even once. The effect where she "sees red" upon seeing one of her enemies upon whom she is about to unleash her wrath is not used. As in the first movie, her first name is bleeped out whenever anyone speaks it, but this suddenly stops partway through the movie, without explanation.

The worst change, for me, was that Thurman does not narrate events in this film as she did in the first one. Vol. 1 was told almost entirely from her perspective. This time, she doesn't narrate at all, and there are many scenes that don't include her, which made the film feel less focused.

Fans who enjoyed the first solely for the action violence are likely to be disappointed by all but one scene, a fight between the Bride and Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah). They battle it out in a trailer, destroying it in the process, until The Bride triumphs, bringing things to a rather, er, unsightly conclusion.

It may be that appreciation for Vol. 2 increases upon repeat viewings of both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and it may also become easier to appreciate when it is inevitably edited together with part one in a special edition DVD set. I'll look forward to finding out.

If you saw the first film and liked it, you should see this one and decide what you think of it for yourself. If you saw the first film and didn't like it, you should see this one, because it's different enough that you just might like it. If you didn't see the first film, you should see this one, because the nonlinear way in which the story is told means that the order in which you watch them doesn't really matter.

So, in short, I'd say you should see it, but with this caveat: Those with an aversion to film violence, or whose tastes are strictly for the conventional, probably shouldn't see either.

(And you shouldn't take your kids, even if it's at a drive-in! What's wrong with some people, anyway?)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 9:09 PM

More on the Supreme Court and bad foreign ideas.

A correspondent sends the following in response to
the item below on the improper use of foreign sources by the U.S. Supreme Court:

While the Justices of the Supreme Court, like all government officials, have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the constitution states that it is the supreme law of the land, overriding all else, it also states that treaties made pursuant thereto are the supreme law of the land as well.

This is the reason Senator Bricker of Ohio, and the American Bar Association, and many others were adament about adding to the U. S. Constitution what has become known as The Bricker Amendment.

The downward spiral, unfortunately, has come mostly from the Supreme Court itself.

This may be seen in Brown v. Board of Education. In that 1954 case, which had many problems, the Justices, inter alia, based their decision on a book by Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish sociologist who also happened to be a Communist bent upon advancing Communist causes worldwide. The actual Supreme Court footnote reads: "And see generally Myrdal, An American Dilemma (1944)."

The case was then used as support for president Eisenhower to nationalize 10,000 Arkansas mlita troops and send in 1,000 partroopers from the 101st Airborne in the Little Rock incident in which then-Governor Faubus made his stand in the schoolhouse doorway, to block the forcible insertion of what the U.S. Surpeme Court termed as "Negro students" into Central High School.

More important, however, is the little-remembered fact that while the governor gained the press attention, U.S paratroopers were roaming the streets of Little Rock under presidential orders, breaking open the faces of local residents with steel-plated rifle butts and prodding them into compliance with fixed bayonets.

Ideas do have consequences, and Gunnar Myrdal certainly has had his way with his.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:16 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004

American law for Americans, please.

Congressman Ron Paul is
correct as usual, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's outrageous use of foreign law in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 9:39 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Are extended April 15 hours about pleasing procrastinators, or propitiating postal parasites?

When I was in the post office the other day, I noticed that, as always, they will have extended hours tonight for people sending their tax returns at the last minute.

I wondered, what purpose does this serve?

Based on my own lifelong observations of procrastinators, I would expect that the procrastinators will wait until the last minute, whenever that last minute may be, regardless of whether it's 5 p.m. or midnight.

So what possible purpose could it serve to keep the post office open late? It's not like Christmas Eve, where you have to be the store open latest in order to compete for the procrastinators, because there is only one post office.

The only purposes, as far as I can tell, are to make the post office seem like a business that responds to consumers' needs when it really doesn't, and to give the postal primates who work there overtime hours -- i.e., to waste even more of the money that taxpayers are being forced to pay.

- posted by
J. H. Huebert at 8:06 PM

Bringing freedom to Iraq.

This story needs to be repeated as much and in as many places as possible:

AN Iraqi has died of his wounds after US troops beat him with truncheons because he refused to remove a picture of wanted Shiite Muslim leader Moqtada Sadr from his car, police said today.
Link via Lew Rockwell.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:36 PM

Hey, say what you want about Bush's murderous, liberty-destroying policies, but you can't deny that the man is articulate!

Virginia Postrel,

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:36 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Who knew? (More essential reading.)

Why didn't somebody tell me that GMU economics department chairman (and my former boss at
FEE) Don Boudreaux has a weblog?

Best of all, the blog consists of his considerable output of letters to the editor, correcting economic fallacies appearing in newspapers and magazines around the country.

I'm looking forward to reading the archives, and then checking it regularly thereafter.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 6:46 PM

Welcome back to The Freeman!

I just noticed that
FEE has restored the proper title, The Freeman, to its monthly magazine, which for a while there was known only by the awkward name, Ideas on Liberty.

My compliments to Richard Ebeling and everyone else involved at FEE on this excellent decision. After all, why let a perfectly good brand name with a 50-year reputation go to waste, especially now that no one remembers the "Freemen of Montana" whose notoriety led to the name change?

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 5:28 PM

Another Chicago opportunity.

The good news: The University of Chicago Federalist Society is bringing Cato Institute Senior Fellow,
Freeman columnist, and American Conservative contributing editor Doug Bandow to campus. He will be speaking Thursday, April 15th, at the University of Chicago Law School, at 12:15 p.m.

The less-than-great, entirely unsurprising news: They're not having him speak on the topic on which he is arguably the strongest, foreign policy. Instead, the topic is "How Politics Distort Environmental Policy." I'm sure it will be fine, but not as challenging to the Federalist Society members as a talk against U.S. imperialism from a conservative/libertarian viewpoint would have been.

The more important news: Block vs. Epstein, Monday May 10!

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 5:03 PM

Monday, April 12, 2004

Chicago and mid-west area readers, mark your calendars!

Is the state's power of eminent domain necessary for a free-market society in which private property rights are respected?

Walter Block and Richard Epstein will go head to head on that issue in their first-ever live debate, on May 10, 2004 at 12:13 p.m. at the University of Chicago Law School.

Dr. Block, a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans and Senior Fellow of the Mises Institute, is an outspoken critic of the Chicago School of economics, and has
published widely in law reviews and economics journals on the feasibility of private production of roads and other so-called "public goods."

Mr. Epstein, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, is one of the most distinguished classical liberal scholars in the world today, and is perhaps best known for his 1985 book, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain.

The debate is sponsored by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and is free and open to the public. Attendees are advised to arrive early and be aware that the doors will be closed and no one will be admitted after the debate begins at 12:13 p.m. For further information, contact me.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:07 PM

Eternal Sunshine is less than stellar, and other movie thoughts.

I am among those
referenced here whose enthusiasm for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was limited because of the pathetic lead characters.

What generally keeps Charlie Kaufman's movies from being great is that they are focused primarily on their strange gimmick plots and on how clever Charlie Kaufman is for having come up with them. Eternal Sunshine was better than Being John Malkovich and Adaptation in this respect, but I still wish I had liked the characters more.

I should note that my dislike of the characters was not for a lack of good acting on Jim Carrey's part. While he really irritates me in Grazer-produced shlock like Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty, I loved him in Man on the Moon and especially The Truman Show, which is one of my favorite movies.

Speaking of Brian Grazer, is there a more execrable producer in Hollywood? (No, I haven't forgotten Jerry Bruckheimer.) The crass, supposedly "family"-oriented product for which Grazer is responsible is just about as bad as it gets, including not only the aforementioned Carrey vehicles, but also the abominations known as The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat. I shudder to think about his forthcoming Curious George movie, which he promises will have "edgy" modern content. Has this man no shame?

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:44 AM

From the cradle to the grave.

Tyler Cowen, who has sometimes been described as a libertarian,
suggests that we in the U.S. might do well to emulate the Finns and hand our children over to the state beginning at age one.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:26 AM

Friday, April 09, 2004

Maybe this Iraq thing will work out okay, even though all of the evidence at present indicates it's an unmitigated debacle!

Ah, Virginia Postrel,
always the optimist.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 10:51 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Passion of the Easter Bunny

Believe it:

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. "He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped," Salzmann said.

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:28 PM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Hell has a game room.

X-Entertainment offers a tour.

I remember when I was a kid my parents didn't want me to play arcade machines because of all the germs on the joystick and buttons. This article reminds me of why they were so, so right...

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:45 AM

Wal-Mart madness.

Wal-Mart wants to make life better for poor people in Chicago, and the left wants to stop them.

posted my thoughts on the Mises Blog.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:26 AM

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Your community is who we say it is.

This Washington Post article laments the unsurprising fact that only eight percent of U.S. churches are "multiracial." In other words, shockingly, people tend to go to church with people who live near, and are generally kinda like, themselves.

The United Methodist Church -- whose leaders never hesitate to take outrageous actions that undoubtedly offend many or most of the churchgoers who pay their salaries -- is seeking to remedy this problem by sticking white churches with black pastors (and vice versa), in an apparent effort to make everyone as uncomfortable and out of their own element as possible.

I always rejected the idea-- often expressed in my church growing up -- that a church should strive to make everyone feel comfortable there. That's an impossible goal. Unless you're in some kind of cult that thinks that only your particular church that you attend possesses the truth, you should feel free to cater to a particular group, and to refer religious seekers, where appropriate, to other churches where they may feel more at home. And that means you will have some "black" churches, some "white" churches, some churches that have only traditional music, some churches that have atrocious contemporary music, some churches where people are expected to dress respectably on Sunday, some lowest-common-denominator churches where anything goes, and so forth. This way, each segment of the market will be happy.

Why do I care about what churches are doing? Because people need to be free (both legally and psychologically) to associate with whom they choose and define their own communities. Religious communities, like families, form an important barrier between state power and the individual. The PC mentality which believes that every community must be all-inclusive destroys the traditional notion of community altogether--and goes nicely in hand with the "inclusive" types' desire for total state power over all facets of our lives.

(Link via Amanda Butler, who also reports on the celebration of Brown v. Board of Education's 50 years of federal tyranny... although she doesn't quite put it like that.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 4:26 PM

Friday, April 02, 2004

Cerebus the Aardvark: Has been or never was?

Various voices around the web are noting the completion of Dave Sim's 300-issue comic book saga, Cerebus, about a sword-weilding talking aardvark in a world of humans. For years, people who have wanted to pretend that comic books are more sophisticated than they generally are have praised Cerebus, and apparently some of them even genuinely liked it. In recent years, Sim's so-called misogyny and slipping storytelling have led most of his old readers to move on to other pretentious stuff.

I picked up and read the High Society volume not long ago. I really wanted to like it. I had read some of Sim's "crazy" essays, and while there was a lot of nonsense in them, it seemed to me that there were also grains of truth in the essays, especially with respect to what he calls the "feminist-homosexualist axis," that few mainstream voices are willing to deal with.

But while High Society was reasonably entertaining, I didn't think it was all that outstanding. On the one hand the satire didn't seem particularly original or devastating. On the other hand, it was mildly amusing, but rarely laugh-out-loud funny.

When I read comics, I don't feel any need to appear sophisticated in my tastes.

Thus, I'd rather read Groo, which isn't afraid to admit what it is, and sometimes even makes a good point.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 3:45 AM

Quote of the day.

"I don’t know where the hell your family is from, but I wouldn’t guess it was Poughkeepsie." -- Richard Epstein, addressing an Indian-American student

(He was right, of course.)

- posted by
J. H. Huebert at 2:17 AM

Worst. Episode. Ever.

as I suspected, it turned out that this week's South Park did indeed sieze upon everything the PC police have said about Mel Gibson and The Passion and went right along with it. The message: Mel is a lunatic with a deep-seated desire to be physically tortured, and the movie only encourages anti-semites like South Park's Eric Cartman.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, they even did a joke ripping on their own hilarious movie, over which they have recently expressed some unnecessary embarassment, BASEketball.

Well, at least they're presumably all done dealing with The Passion. And now we can look forward to other things... like the forthcoming return of Lemmiwinks!

Meanwhile, you can download Gary North's new book, The War on Mel Gibson, for free through this weekend. (Caveat: I haven't read it myself yet.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:12 AM

Copyright 2004 J. H. Huebert.