October 29, 2003

Postrel to Rock Austin

Oh, hell yeah. Virginia Postrel, libertarian philosopher, founder of Reason magazine, and bad-ass at large, will be speaking at SXSW Interactive in 2004 (on my birthday, no less!)

All you fellow libertarian blog-folk, if you've ever considered attending SXSW, consider this your invitation.

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October 25, 2003

Fall Back

Don't forget to turn your clocks back before bedtime tonight.

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Biggest Winner of All Time

When Bobby Bowden coached the Seminoles to a 48 - 24 victory, he became the winningest I-A football coach of all time, surpassing Joe Paterno's old record of 338 wins.

Coach Bowden was modest, saying that he only holds the record "this week," and that the lead could easily swap back next week. Modesty aside, he's been an amazing coach and I'm looking forward to watching him pad his lead for the rest of his career.

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It's never safe in Evanston for the Badgers.

On the strength of a 243-yard ground game, my Wildcats embarassed 17th-ranked Wisconsin today to notch a Homecoming victory.

What a nice change of pace for the 'Cats.

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Sorry, Apple, You Got It Wrong.

It's official: The iPod is a flop.

(At least, to these folks posting back in October 2001...)

Thanks to Tom for making me laugh.

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October 24, 2003

Scalp 'Em!

Andrew explores the economics of ticket scalping laws.

I agree with Andrew that a venue can have an enforceable contract not to re-sell tickets (in legalese, this is a "non transferable license" to enter the venue for the event.)

Disagreed that such contracts are not enforceable by private means. If there are enforcement costs, those can be contracted for. The costs of enforcing all kinds of contracts are provided for. Ever leased an apartment? If they have to hire a lawyer to collect rent from you, guess who's on the hook for those enforcement costs? The renter.

Assuming that the fine print on the back of the ticket is a valid contract (it usually is, and if not, then the whole argument collapses anyway) then there's no reason enforcement costs can't be added as a term of the contract. OK, so maybe you make the ticket a little larger.

And in terms of enforcement, the venues aren't really worried about the low volume of people reselling to friends, but the folks who do so as a business enterprise. (Because that's where the real harm comes in terms of your earlier profit-maximization argument)

Those folks are big targets. Just like the RIAA is primarily going after file-sharers of 1,000 songs or more, venues who wish to make an impact could sue professional scalpers and take the profit out of scalping. That would cure the problem, a lot more quickly than scalping laws.

I suspect the comments on Andrew's site about scalping laws not being the product of a contract enforcement, but out of moral outrage ("if we allow scalpers to resell at market prices, we'll NEVER be able to afford to see the Eagles reunion!"). To the extent that is true, anti-scalping laws are harmful to market forces. Now, if you want to criminalize the contractual violation, that's philosophically different, but it gives preferential treatment to certain types of contracts over other.

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[Ed. - The entry that was here got nuked by an odd MT bug when I rebuilt after delting a duplicate comment. Hmm.]

Anyway, it was a story about how I went to the Blogorama ran into Julia, met Andrew, and then introduced the two of them. See the comments.

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October 22, 2003

One-Time URL Generation with PHP

I don't have a lot of time right this minute to think about the potnetial applications, but it seems to me that using a unique, dynamically-generated URL might be a way to protect comment scripts, form-mail scripts, and even "mailto" links from spammers and bots.

Comments welcome from those with a little more expertise on the subject.

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October 21, 2003

CSS Links

Here's a page with links to several CSS resources, bookmarked for later reference.

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October 20, 2003

Oooooooo, Scary!


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How You Lost My Vote

Dear Mr. Hoff:

I am writing to explain to you how you lost my vote.

Tonight as I sat down for dinner with my family, my phone rang. It was your pre-recorded voice conducting a "survey."

It was very likely, before tonight, that you would have received my vote - after all, I am registered as a Republican, and that's pretty rare in Arlington County. But I will not ever vote for a candidate who thinks it acceptable to make pre-recorded phone calls to my home during the dinner hour.

If you run again in the future, I would be happy to hear about your stand on the issues. Send me a letter, or canvass my neighborhood. But please don't make this mistake again.

Yours truly,
Mike Wasylik

CC: The Republican Party of Virginia

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October 16, 2003

Looking Like Another Vote For (L)

Julian posits that libertarians ought to consider voting for Dean in '04, for reasons I partly agree with and partly disagree with.

First, he ticks off the reasons - mostly obvious by now - why the Bush administration has pretty much delivered everything libertarians oppose. Second, he makes the interesting, and pragmatic, point that a hypotheical Dean administration would have the ability to deliver much of what most libertarians want without being able to deliver what they don't want (socialized medicine, for example) due to the assumed persistence of Republicans in Congress.

Howard Dean, like Bill Clinton, may say he wants to dramatically increase government's role in health care. But with fewer vulnerable candidates than in the 2002 midterm elections, it's Republicans who are likely to have the final say on how and whether that happens. And while they've shown they'll happily roll over for Bush, who seems hell bent on delivering a prescription drug benefit, they'll be just as happy to deny President Dean a talking point when he goes stumping at AARP meetings in 2008.
In short Dean (or another Democratic nominee) has vices which are unlikely to translate into real policy. His virtues - opposition to an imperial foreign policy, greater support for gay rights, and even a qualified federalism, evidenced by his stance on gun rights - are more likely to be points on which bipartisan coalition building is possible.

But, why wouldn't we just vote for the Libertarian candidate? Here's where Julian's logic diverges from mine.

And if one is voting largely for personal satisfaction, that may make a certain amount of sense. Yet people's actual voting behavior indicates that our actual motives in the ballot box are more complex. If you were really going to vote on pure principle, you probably wouldn't vote for any party's candidate, since those candidates are always represent some amount of compromise. Instead, you'd just write in the name of the person you'd most like to see hold the office.
If we take a sufficiently long view, it could be argued that voting Libertarian "sends a message" about the electorate's policy preferences. And that may be. But the message we send is proportioned to the threat we pose.

Well, not necessarily. I vote Libertarian because I really do want smaller government, less regulation, and more freedom. And unlike writing in the name of someone who's probably not even running, when I add my vote to the tally of those who vote the same way I am sending to our leaders a clear and unmistakable message, the same one I have sent them the last two presidential cycles.

If you want my vote, you'll embrace policies like these guys.

Of course, the LP isn't perfect. But of the declared candidates on any ballot, they have a clear, definite statement of policies that most closely resemble the ones I would like to see enacted, in the areas that are most important to me.

But what if I read Julian's advice, thought it over, and voted for Dean? What message would I be sending there? I've argued before that libertarians won't get any respect until they cost someone an election. But doing it by voting for someone like Dean doesn't get us there either. A losing Republican or winning Democrat parsing the election returns, would never know from those results that failure to embrace a freedom-oriented platform decided the election. Coulda been the health care policy. Coulda been pacifism. Coulda been anything - but the least likely conclusion they'll draw is that it was liberty.

Contrast that with an upswell for a libertarian (big L or small L, using Republican Ron Paul as principled example of the latter). There would be no doubt about how to swing that 5, 10, or even 20% of the vote in the next election. And that's a message that voting for Dean could never send.

UPDATE: Over on Hit and Run, Mark Bahner comments:

If you didn't like [Libertarian Party candidate] Harry Browne, it WOULD be rational to write in "Ron Paul," if your ballot allowed write-ins for President.

That in response to Julian's idea of writing in the name of the person you think would be the best choice. Now, I dismissed that idea above, but I think Bahner's got a great point, for a couple of reasons. First, Ron Paul's views are well-known, through his principled votes in Congress and through his status as a former LP candiate for President. Second, as a member of Congress and a Republican, he's got credibility that Libertarian Party candiates sorely lack due to - how shall I say this - a perceived deficit of professionalism.

The only problem with the theory is that a write-in vote for Ron Paul wouldn't show up on the newspaper tallies the next day, as the LP vote totals usually do (albeit at the bottom). Of course, a "draft Ron Paul" movement (a la Clark) could address that problem.

Posted by wasylik at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogorama at Kalorama

Thursday, Oct. 23.

Rendezvous Longue, in Adams Morgan.

It must be time for another Blogorama.

All the cool kids will be there, and Lex will be too.

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October 15, 2003


My iBook is 1 year, 7 months old. I've taken it to Texas twice, Florida once, and New York more times than I can count. I probably ought to be a little more gentle with it considering it is my sole computer for work - all my office information is on it.

Last night, something - probably a video chip - gave out. Without seeing what's on my screen, I obviously cannot work. Fortunately, I've got AppleCare, which means they fix it for free - but I have to ship the computer off for a week or even longer.

This could be Very Bad News. Except for Tom. Not only did Tom help me perform an initial diagnosis and a complete backup of all my client files (via a three-way Firewire chain) he also is saving my bacon by loaning me "Smithers," his PowerMac G4.

Without Tom, I cannot imagine how I might have attended to my clients' needs over the next several days. With Tom's help, I lost only this afternoon.

So, you there, reading this entry... who's your hero?

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October 13, 2003

Memories of Music

She was the second person I met in law school. She was sweet and folksy, and she played guitar like no one I had ever known. Groups of us would go see her play in Tallahassee's smoky bars and rowdy coffeehouses. I would sit near the front and sang along, loud enough for only me to hear as her voice rang out from the small stage. She never did, as far as I know, actually practice law. Last I heard, she was still playing.

Yesterday, I found a tape of hers while cleaning out the stereo cabinet. Today, I found her website. She's still playing, all over the country and in Tallahassee, and there's talk of a new album.


You can must sample some of her music for yourself.

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Banning IP Addresses

Here's a whole flood of IP addressed that just got banned for posting unwelcome spam and illegal pornography links:


Cretins. Your respective ISP's have been notified and I'm taking steps to block access totally at the server level.

UPDATE: Ben and Mena are looking at ways to shut the filthy Russians down. (Not all Russians are filthy, of course - but ones who peddle child smut certainly are.)

UPDATE2: More IP addresses here, and tips on how to block a whole range in MT. Also, adding obstacles in your forms to prevent automated spamming.

UPDATE3: More tips via StopDesign

UPDATE4: Here's a perl script to automatically add ill-behaved IP's to your Deny list in .htaccess - great for those bots looking for imaginary "formmail.pl" files.

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October 12, 2003

Hitched Without a Hitch

The wedding yesterday was a tremendous success. The happy couple are now blissfully wed, the weather gods were generous, and a wonderful time was had by all.

On a pesonal note, I was spared the agony of watching this disaster. (At least the Bucs pounded the Redskins today.) I also got to have an extended conversation with Matt for the first time - as both of us suspected, we have quite a bit of overlap in our personal networks both here in D.C. and during our time at Northwestern.

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October 11, 2003

The Big Day

Congratulations to Don and Michelle who are getting married today. Best wishes for a lifetime of joy and happiness. And babies. Lots of babies.

(Hey, at least I didn't use the word "permalink." )

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October 08, 2003

Clark Crumbling

Although Krempasky's weblog is currently out of commission due to hosting problems, when it comes back up you will be able to see that he predicted, on the day of its birth, that the campaign of WesLey Clark would self-destruct.

Looks like Mike was right: PoliticalWire reports that Clark's self-destruction has begun.

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California Results

A quick note on California Election Results. Together, moderate Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and conservative Republican Tom McClintock got 61% of the vote (48% and 13%, respectively) despite a stunning series of news stories about Arnold in the last several days.

Compare that to the 33% taken by Democratic candidate Cruz Bustamante, who failed to win over a large chunk of those voters (46% in all) opposing the recall.

If Davis and Bustamante are the best the California Democratic party can do, what does that mean for the future of politics in California?

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October 07, 2003

L.A. Times Covers Up for Davis

Columnist Jill Stewart accuses the L.A. Times of covering up accusations that Gray Davis abused his female staff:

Since at least 1997, the Times has been sitting on information that Gov. Gray Davis is an "office batterer" who has attacked female members of his staff, thrown objects at subservients, and launched into red-faced fits, screaming the f-word until staffers cower.
After my story ran, I waited for the Times to publish its story. It never did. When I spoke to a reporter involved, he said editors at the Times were against attacking a major political figure using anonymous sources.
Just what they did last week to Schwarzenegger.

Kaus points to a Bill Bradley story accusing the Times of leaking the groping story to Democratic activists before it was published. There is a web edition of the original story.

Brings a whole new light to the allegations against Arnold, doesn't it?

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October 05, 2003

Informal Limbaugh Poll

Taking an informal poll here... anyone who thought that BOTH Rush Limbaugh AND Bill Maher deserved to their jobs for their on-air comments, please leave a comment, preferably with links to any eveidence of that position.

Conversely, anyone who thinks that NEITHER Rush NOR Bill should have lost his job, please do the same.

UPDATE: I did not know, when I wrote this, that Bill himself has come to the defense of Rush. It may have been a quid pro quo.

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October 04, 2003

Football Links

Bookmark for easy future reference:

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Football Links

Bookmark for easy future reference:

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October 03, 2003

Waiting in the Wings

The stage is empty. My head is full, waiting to be spilled out for the crowd.

Each time a story teller concludes, and Geoff calls someone else, I think to myself, "Whew! I'm glad I'm not trying to follow THAT act." The feeling only gets worse because each story seems more compelling than the one before.

Hearing these people tell their stories, and getting ready to share mine, I feel like I'm making new friends. I certainly am learning more about them than I would sharing chit-chat at a cocktail (or, who am I kidding, keg) party. I'd really like to stay in touch with a lot of them.

I'm waiting, ready to go on stage. The adrenaline rush screams "Go!" but the list says "Wait."

I'm going to tell my story. Not on the web, in the flesh. The best way.

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