Thursday, June 24, 2004

Jack Ryan v. 7 of 9

The usual Democratic shills are complaining about a Republican sex scandal, and comparing it to Bill Clinton. Eg, William Saletan of Slate
charges hypocrisy:
Six years ago, Republicans demanded that Bill Clinton be investigated and impeached for having sex with an intern and covering it up. Now their nominee for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, Jack Ryan, is brushing off his then-wife's allegations that he repeatedly pressured her, despite her protestations, to have sex with him in front of other people. Instead of denouncing Ryan, many Republicans are defending him.

But his facts are wrong. Clinton was not impeached for having sex with an intern. He was impeached for lying about it under oath. He first denied it under oath in order to cheat Paula Jones in a civil lawsuit, and then he denied to the grand jury that the affair started while she was still an intern. (His autobiography now concedes that it started while she was an intern.)

You read the released 1999 Ryan divorce papers here, or an AP summary here. (Also here.)

The Chicago Tribune filed the lawsuit to get the papers released,
and it published a history of USA political sex scandals, including this:
Thomas Jefferson: The president carried on a 38-year affair with Sally Hemings, a slave. The relationship resulted in at least one -- and up to six -- illegitimate children.
In fact, there is considerable doubt about the Hemings story. This is some DNA evidence that a male relative of T. Jefferson fathered a child with Hemings, but there are historians with very good arguments that T.J. himself was not the father.

It is not clear why Jack Ryan's papers should be considered scandalous. They tell a personal story that doesn't belong in the newspaper. Much of it is still blacked out. From what I can gather, Jack and Jeri Ryan were married about 8 years and had 1 son. Towards the end of their marriage, her acting carreer took off as she got the TV role as Seven Of Nine in Star Trek Voyager. She then had an affair with another man, and secretly plotted to bail out of the marriage. She was the one that filed for divorce.

In order to make Jack look bad in a custody dispute, Jeri tells a story about how he had a fantasy about having sex with her at a kinky sex club. She refused. This occurred during a period in which Jeri had decided that the marriage was over, but Jack was trying to save the marriage.

What is sad here is that we have laws, courts, and lawyers who give incentives to wives to tells these stories, and judges and newspapers who try to manipulate an election by publicizing a 5-year-old sordid divorce dispute?

A spooky aspect to this story is the TV character Jeri played. 7of9 was absorbed into the Borg Collective, and is still part robot with unknown allegiances towards and evil robotic empire. Jack must have felt like his wife really was being absorbed into the Borg!

Update: Jack Ryan is now out. This is another example of the fact that divorce is usually caused by the wife, but the husband ends up getting blamed anyway.

Update: This story explains the unfairness of the Jack Ryan case. John Kerry also has a bitter ex-wife and some sealed divorce records. It will be interesting to see who thinks that the public has a right to see those records.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Court lets cops hassle couples

The Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Nevada just ruled 5-4 that a suspect has to identify himself to a Nevada police officer investigating a crime, even if he is not under arrest. (Actually, if he is under arrest, he can remain silent under the Miranda rules.)

This might be reasonable if the cops were fighting real crimes. But the whole premise of the case was that the police need to monitor and log minor domestic disputes where no one makes a complaint. Some busybody had claimed that Hiibel had some sort of fight with his wife or girlfriend, and the police insisted on intervening even tho all appeared well when they arrived on the scene.

Conventional wisdom says police need to intervene into domestic disputes, even if the wife is not complaining. People point out how the cops didn't do much when Nicole Simpson called 911, and a couple of years later O.J. stabbed her to death.

I don't buy it. If no one complains, then the cops should butt out. We already have no-fault divorce, in which any wife can walk out of any marriage at any time and for any reason. We have restraining orders, in which bitter ex-wives and ex-girlfriends can make sure that they won't be bothered. We don't need cops going around busting up ongoing marriages.

Clinton's stain

For an amusing Google searrch, check out Clinton stain. Half the hits refer to a stain on Monica's dress, and the other half quote Bill Clinton as saying, "I don't see it as a stain". Funny choice of words.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Low-flying turkey buzzard

John writes that Helmet can't protect you from a low-flying turkey buzzard.
HOLLAND [New Jersey] TWP. -- A motorcyclist was killed in a head-on collision Friday after tangling with a low-flying turkey buzzard, township police said. ...

Witnesses told police the buzzard slammed into Maglori's helmet and the motorcyclist then tried to fight off the 10- to 15-pound bird.

The motorcycle veered into the northbound lane and collided head-on with a stopped vehicle just north of Phillips Road, police said.
After a nasty lawsuit, I am expecting the helmet makers to have to put suitable disclaimers on motorcycle helmets!

The lies of Michael Moore

Even the left-wing ideologue Christopher Hitchens cannot stomach the lies of Michael Moore. See his scathing review of Fairenheit 9/11. In particular, much of the movie complains the Bush administration (actually it was the Bush-hater Richard Clarke) let bin Laden relatives leave the country a couple of days after 9-11-2001. Of course, those relatives are mortal enemies of Osama bin Laden, and were free to travel anyway. But where Moore is particular dishonest is that Moore opposed the invasion of Afghanistan because he claimed that Osama bin Laden is innocent!

Webster writes:
I'll admit that Moore's movie has a liberal bias, but Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (who present themselves as legitimate journalists) have just as heavy a bias. You can find false statements and heavy spin from either one of these people, but I don't here half the country calling them liars. I'm not an ideology, and happen to like Bill O'Reily, and I agree with you on the point that it was O.K. for the Saudis to leave after 9/11. However, saying that the movie is completely full of lies is extreme. Moore takes a stab at "why" Bush does what he does. The "truth" is that no one will ever know why Bush does what he does.

You said in your article that Moore claimed Bin Laden's innocence. That is false, but I'm not calling you a liar. Moore said that Bush didn't put enough effort into going after Bin Laden in Afghanistan. His point was that he didn't put as much effort into Afghanistan because his real target was Iraq (and also because of the pipeline which I don't agree with him on). He does not claim that Bin Laden is innocent. Aside from the liberal spin in this movie there are some good points and I don't think people should be so threatened by it. Just remember it is biased.
My statement about Moore and bin Laden was based on Hitchens saying this:
In late 2002, almost a year after the al-Qaida assault on American society, I had an onstage debate with Michael Moore at the Telluride Film Festival. In the course of this exchange, he stated his view that Osama Bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This was, he said, the American way. The intervention in Afghanistan, he maintained, had been at least to that extent unjustified.
Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are right-wing commentators, and their opinions are certainly biased towards the right. But I have never heard either of them present deliberate lies the way Michael Moore does.

For more info on Michael Moore, see Jeff Jarvis,, and I actually haven't seen his new movie, but I watch Bowling for Columbine, and it was filled with misrepresentations and cheap shots from beginning to end.

Update: See also Fifty-six Deceits in Fahrenheit 911, More Distortions From Michael Moore (Newsweek), The New Republic, Spinsanity,
and a lot of others who point out lies in Moore's movies. Eg, Newsweek says:
we stand by our account that Unger's claims about the Saudi flights, as portrayed in "Fahrenheit 9/11," are contradicted by the findings of the 9-11 Commission.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

50-50 custody is the only fair way

Michael Newdow is now famous for losing his Pledge of Allegiance case because of having lost custody of his daughter, and now he attacks custody law. He is right. The custody standards used by family court are incoherent and create more problems than they solve. He says:
More to the point, what in the world are the "best interests of the child"? Is it "better" for a child to have a tuna-fish sandwich or to eat at McDonald's? Tuna is healthier. McDonald's tastes better. Tuna's cheaper. McDonald's is more fun. Tuna saves on gas. McDonald's gets everyone out of the house. Who's going to value all these factors and decide what's "best"? Whether it's a trivial issue (such as lunch), or one far more important, this multiplicity of factors is involved in the thousands of decisions parents make each day. Add to the mix the impossibility of predicting how care today will impact any given child 10 years from now, and it's clear that no one can determine what is "best." The suggestion that anyone—judges, child psychologists, court-appointed evaluators, etc.—can do this is pure arrogance; arrogance for which there is not one shred of evidentiary support. In fact, it may well be that every custody decision made by these people has been the completely "wrong" one. … How would anyone ever know?

Gmail is too creepy

If you want to know what is bad about Google mail, check out Gmail is too creepy.

I like the fact that Google has forced competing email providers to enlarge their tiny disk quotas. But it bugs me that Google has chosen to use the same domain name for both search and email, allowing both functions to access the same cookies. (That is, when you connect to, it redirects to So Google could correlate my searches with my email content, and sell marketing services based on what it learns.

A lot of people don't seem to mind because Google has pledge to do no evil. But I think that it is unrealistic to expect any corporation to keep such a pledge, even if there were agreement as to what it meant. Google is obligated to do what it can under the law to yield a return to its shareholders. If you want privacy protection, then either lobby your legislators to pass pro-privacy laws, or take your own preventive measures, such as using another email provider.

(This blog is hosted by Google. Thanks, Google, for the very nice free service.)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Lens prescriptions

I just learned that Congress passed a law that went into effect this year requiring optometrists to release contact lens presriptions upon request. Good. There was a loophole in California law where optometrists were required to release eyeglass prescriptions, and to release medical records, but they weren't required to release signed prescriptions that an optician could fill.

You can order contact lenses online, but the vendors are supposed to ask for some sort of proof of prescription. I just tried, so I'll soon see how well it works.

Update: The new law is described as a win-win here, but the NY Times explains that the online lens merchants are losing sales. It appears that the online merchants were doing much of their business by selling refills for expired prescriptions, and the new law requires them to validate the prescription. Furthermore, patients in only 8 states are allowed to have 2-year prescriptions, and everyone else is limited to 1-year prescriptions. So the law is actually a big windfall for optometrists, because everyone has to go get an eye exam every year.

Hardly anyone needs a new eye exam once a year. I am considering posting instructions on how to forge prescriptions.

George writes:
That would be forgery. Are you suggesting that people break the law just to some contact lenses for a few buck cheaper?
No, I don't think that it is against the law for a consumer to forge documents in order to get lenses for himself. Here is the 2004 federal law and the similar 2003 California law. Here are the 2003 House hearings for the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act.

The law requires prescribers to issue written prescriptions, and lens sellers to verify those prescriptions. It says that sellers cannot advertise that they are selling lenses without prescriptions. It says that the law can be enforced by the FTC and by California courts. California law says that optometrists and lens sellers have to be licensed, and misconduct can result in discipline or loss of license.

There are other California laws against forging government documents, and against presenting false documents to someone for the purpose of cheating him out of money. But I don't see anything in California or federal law against a consumer buying lenses with false documents. Nor do I think that these laws were intended to impose any penalties on consumers who just want to buy lenses for themselves.

There are several good reasons for modifying a prescription. One is buying replacement lenses after the 1-year expiration. Another is to get more choice. Optometrists do not want to spend the time explaining the many different types of lenses available, and the various trade-offs, so they just write the prescription for what they think is best. By taking control of the prescription, you can get what you want. Third, if you know a little bit about how lenses work, you can bypass the optometrist altogether. Unless your eyes have some unusual problems, it is pretty simple.
There is a lot of speculation about the real story behind Chalabi leaking the interception of Iranian messages. Eg, see Schneier and this BBC column. My guess is that we didn't really intercept Iranian messages as described to the public, but that the spooks had other reasons for telling the story and nailing Chalabi.

The Day After Tomorrow

Phyllis Schlafly trashes the movie The Day After Tomorrow on Eagle Forum and Imdb.

Even tho promotes this movie as anti-Bush propaganda, I didn't see it that way.

Andy writes:
This comment by Roger was particularly baffling: "When did the movie say that man-made emissions were the cause of the disaster?" Does Roger think the movie is about something else?
Yes, I do think that the movie was about something else. The hero of the movie was a scientist who studied ice ages of the past, and had some theories about them. His theories had nothing to do with man-made emissions, as there were no significant man-made emissions at the times of the previous ice ages. Factoids supporting his quick-onset theory were things like finding a wooly mammoth that had been frozen with food still in his stomach. His theory was not that man-made emissions cause sudden ice age, because he didn't even look at man-made emissions. His theory was that ice ages of the past had occurred suddenly from natural causes.

The mainstream scientists and environmentalists had rejected his theory, and so did the VP. The hero didn't even really believe his theory himself, as he had not run the mainframe simulations that would support his theory.

The VP in the movie looked more like Dick Cheney than Al Gore, but he acted more like Gore. The VP acted like he was in charge of all scientific matters, was very interested in scientific questions, and thought that he was capable of deciding which scientists were right and which were wrong. It sounds more like Gore than Cheney.

Based on the publicity, I expected the movie to have a confrontation between a Cheney clone and some environmentalists, with the environmentalists being proven right. But there were no environmentalists who were proven correct. The climate changes are a surprise to everyone, and the VP adapts to the facts and theories as rapidly as anyone else.
There is new stun gun technology that sounds like science fiction. They are like fancy new ray guns that can be used against rioting crowds, and even stop cars.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Marilyn Zielinski writes that she knows lots of eligible women, and lots of eligible men, but it is much worse for the women because they find the men unsuitable. And why are they unsuitable -- it is because they wear out-of-style shirts!

I think that she is trying to say that the women are way too picky. No men are that picky. Can you imagine a man saying, "I don't want to date her; she wears cheap jewelry." No way. After they are engaged, she is going to wear whatever jewelry he gives her. Likewise, men are happy to let wives or girlfriends buy or select shirts for them.

Every time I hear one of these arguments about how all the good men are married, it is always rooted in some extremely finicky female opinions. In reality, there are plenty of good and available men out there.