1. My Word has a good post on the politics of the Lord of the Rings as an entry, but the blog offers a lot of good commentary so its worth checking out.
2. Robert Holcomb's entry is a insightful comment on the political use of profanity, at least by the democratic candidates.
I myself wonder if the candidates think that gratuitous use of profanity will somehow, through either shock value or some such, connect them with younger voters and make them think they're cool. Note to candidates who use profanity for such purposes: You're not.
And in the non-political blog section I'd say that Spam Townis worth looking into for a neat expose on the stuff that drives most of us nuts.
Let's face it I'm not going to buy drugs from an unsolicited email, I'm not looking for enlargement of a certain body part and do not want any of this misleading emails spammers are sending to my inbox. Now if they'd quit spamming with misleading senders and subject lines I could tolerate it, but when you send from and subject lines that are misleading and look like they might actually be from someone I know, or from someone I actually do business with, I'm not impressed.
Legal Affairs Has an article, written by Emily Bazelon, on Judge Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court. An interesting look at a very interesting conservative/libertarian- leaning, and very eloquent, judge. It's worth the read.
After an earthquake that may have killed more than 20,000 people, you'd think the Iranians would welcome assistance from any source. After all they've even welcomed assistance from the "Great Satan" the USA.
A pity these mad mullahs care more about their politics than helping their people. Considering Israel has a great deal of experience in search and rescue and treating victims of trauma (much of the trauma being caused by groups financed and supplied by Iran), and has sent rescue teams to other earthquake locations such as Armenia, it is quite astonisdhing that Iran would reject humanitarian assistance from Israel. They also lost an excellent chance to better relations through humanitarian activities.
Twas the Night before Christmas, and all through the land, no booze could be bought, not even beer in a can.
Michigan has "Blue Laws" restricting the sale of alcohol on Sundays, and also on Christmas (MCL 436.2113). Signs were up in many a store stating that alcohol could not be sold, so if you ran out after 9 p.m., you were out of luck with your bananas flambe.
The default rule in Michigan is that alcohol cannot be sold on Sundays at all unless a county government has a referendum and the proposal to allow alcohol for sale passes by a majority of the popular vote.
But even if a county allows the sale of alcohol on Sundays, it cannot be sold from 2 a.m. until after 12:00 p.m., and alcohol also cannot be sold from 9 p.m. on December 24 and 7 a.m. on December 26.
Blue laws are an anachronistic hangover (pardon the pun) so to speak from the time when the state was strictly regulating moral behavior, and one should be in church on Sundays and should not be violating the sabbath by drinking etc. Some counties in Michigan even maintain anti-hunting bans on Sundays, once again to make sure the faithful go to church. Of course these laws don't do much for the morals of adherents of other faiths, especially when they could often use a drink themselves.
Interestingly, many state courts have upheld these laws in the face of challenges based on religious diuscrimination, not to mention First Amendment establishment of religion issues. The courts declare that a Sunday or Christmas ban on sales of alcohol is not done for religious purposes but for the secular purpoose of a rational and reasonable relationship to the public health, safety, morals or general welfare because thereby protection is afforded all citizens from the evils attendant upon uninterrupted labor.Silver Rose Entertainment v. Clay County, 646 So. 2d 246 (1994). The Florida Court of Appeals in this case by example even concluded that a ban on the sale of alcohol on Christmas was likewise permissible as Christmas has secular components and the sale of alcohol can be banned as well to allow people to spend time with their families but it notes that vendors can still sell food and non-alcoholic beverages, and the court holds that in any case if people want to up the octane of their eggnog they can buy the alcohol ahead of time.
(If anyone else can follow the logic here let me know - apparently vendors should have time off for their families but should still be open to sell food and beverages, but it would apparently be too laborius for them to sell demon rum).
The court held that the governmental purpose of preventing people from consuming alcohol during Christmas was permissible and did not run afoul of the establishment clause as discouraging the consumption of alcohol on Christmas doesn't establish religion and was done for secular purposes.
Other states have similarly upheld such bans on sales on Sundays and Christmas.
Does anyone else really believe that banning the sale of alcohol during the time of Christian church services on Sundays and on Christmas does not have a primary religious purpose and has entangled government with a specific religion and violates the Establishment clause, not to mention equal protection issues for people of other faiths?
I appreciate Tyler Cowen's kind linking and pitching of my blog.
I hope you find this blog to be interesting and you'll return often to see what's new. As far as I know, it is still the only numismatic blog, and more particularly the only one dealing with ancient coins, on the web.
Be sure to check out my Guide to Collecting Ancient Coins, which is still in progress, and the various exhibits of ancient coins for your viewing pleasure, as well as my various commentaries. Thanks for dropping by.
As Christmas is approaching quickly, I thought the posting of a historically relevant coin would be in order (superb image courtesy of Amphora Coins).
This silver denarius of the Roman Emperor Tiberius is typically thought to be the Tribute Penny mentioned in the Christian Bible (Matthew 22:16, Mark 12:13 and Luke 20:22).
On the obverse the portrait of Tiberius.
On the reverse, the empress Livia seated right as a personification of the Roman goddess Pax with an olive branch.
Amphora has this excellent example of the coin in extra fine condition for sale for $2000.00. Less fine examples can be obtained for less.
For a view that the tribute penny mentioned in the bible might not in fact be this coin, see Michael Marotta's interesting article Six Casears of the Tribute Penny. The Bible sadly does not fully describe the coin mentioned (the work was clearly not written to satisfy future numismatists in their quest for the coin's identification) so the true tribute penny may always be in some doubt.
Like many historical controversies concerning the ancient world, this one will likely never be fully resolved. The current conventional wisdom among numismatists is that this coin is the Tribute Penny.
Since Hanukkah begins at Sundown on December 19th, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a relevant antiquity for the holiday.
This oil lamp dates from the First Century B.C., which is after the time of the Jewish Maccabean revolt against the Hellenic Syrians that is commemorated on Hanukkah (which occured around 165BC).
Judea at the time was occupied by the Syrians, who under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, had ordained that the Jews convert to a Hellenistic style of worship and to acknowledge him as a god. This didn't sit well with the Jews and a revolt for Independence occurred, led by the Maccabbees, who eventually drove the Syrians out and restablished the independence of Israel.
Hanukkah is often called the Festival of lights beacause of the legend of a miracle that occurred during the rededication of the Temple after the Syrains had been beaten by the Maccabees. When the Jews sought to rekindle the menorah in the Temple sanctuary, they found only enough holy oil to last one day, yet miraculously, the small portion of oil burned for eight days – the length of time required to retrieve new purified oil. While this legend seems to have developed long after the Maccabees threw out the Syrians and restored the temple, it is where we get the celebration of the eight days of Hanukkah.
The lamp and many others like it are available for $125 from Harlan J. Berk. Not bad for a piece of history over 2000 years old. As you can guess from the price, there are a lot of these lamps still in existence today and available for the interested collector.
As part of my continuing series (read the first part here), on Public museums' loss and mismanagement of our history, we have another example of why the past is too important to be left in the hands of museum curators alone -- namely because it tends to either slip through - or stick to - their fingers.
The Dayton Daily News reported on November 16, 2003 that more than 3,500 items are missing/lost/stolen from the US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Among the missing items are a 37mm antiaircraft gun; machineguns; bayonets; missiles; patches; astronaut memorobillia; medals and in particular medals belonging to the first Black American combat aviator which were stolen in 1990.
Impressively an entire working Peacekeep Armored Vehicle was stolen by a former museum Chief of Collections. The Chief was under suspicion for some time and had been ordered to return items in the past. But he wasn't fired or removed from the musuem because, as the Major General who was the Director of the Museum stated, "You can't just summarily fire people" due to, as the article reports 'strong civil service protections'. It apparently took so long to finally catch him because "The bottom line is nobody looked at the documentation," The General said. "The auditors didn't. The OSI didn't."
So the next time someone argues that all artifacts should be under the care of professionals, and the next time someone parrots Indiana Jones's statement from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade that an artifact "belongs in a museum", you may want to point out that collections, even at a secure facility such as an Air Force base, guarded by career Civil Servants, still are highly vulnerable to losses, mismanagement and outright theft.
Indeed, the reason such thefts and inventory losses are so easy is that the public employess at museums tend not to have a personal stake in the collections, if they did, then perhaps they would be less tolerant of a loss of irreplacable atifacts of our history.
Unless you've been in a stupor all weeked, or have been dealing with a 19 day old baby (yes I didn't hear about it until Sunday night as I was otherwise engaged and sleep deprived, you know by now that Saddam Hussein has been captured by American forces.
He gave up without a fight after being found in a hole, thus continuing to emulate his patrons and weapon suppliers, the French.
It certainly looks like, in contrast to constant leftist bleatings of "quagmire", the US is not only doing things right, but doing the right things in Iraq and will hopefully start doing them throughout the Middle East.
This inane comment is courtesy of the New York Times News Analysis section, and the recipient of my first right and proper Fisking.
The Supreme Court that upheld the new campaign finance law on Wednesday was a pragmatic court, concerned less with the fine points of constitutional doctrine than with the real-world context and consequences of the intensely awaited decision.
Fine points like "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech..." Yes, that First Amendment is just a little fine point of constitutional doctrine, nothing to worry about. If advertisements related to political figures running for office are not protected and are not core political speech that shall not be abridged than what is? Oh, this didn't restrict the press' freedom to shill for their favorite candidates close to election time, ok, understood.
Although the outcome was unexpected — few people had predicted that the court would uphold all the law's major provisions so unequivocally — the majority's approach to its task should probably have come as no surprise.
Right, we shouldn't be surprised when the Court uses the Bill of Rights for toilet paper, especially with the liberal and centrist ideologues on the bench currently.
It was the same 5-to-4 majority that barely six months ago navigated the court's encounter with an even more contentious issue in American life, affirmative action, and produced a decision that was similar in important ways.
Yes indeed it was similar, in that both decisions are totally wrong, outcome determinative, and counter to the tenents of the Constitution.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion in that case upheld affirmative action in higher education, drawing on a conclusion that its benefits "are not theoretical but real" and taking a posture of judicial deference to "complex educational judgments in an area that lies primarily within the expertise of the university."
I'm damn glad she wasn't on the court in Brown v. Board of Education, she would likely have deffered to the "complex educational judgments in an area that lies primarily within the expertise of the" school board. Perhaps she would have upheld segregation as weell on the point that 'its benefits "are not theoretical but real" '.
The opinion left the same four justices who dissented on Wednesday fuming that the majority had evaded the command of precedents that made any official counting by race almost insuperably suspect, just as the dissenters complained this week that the majority had failed to give sufficient weight to the First Amendment rights of campaign donors and speakers.
Its not just the 'same four justices' who are fuming. Anyone that expected this court to do its job and follow precedent and uphold the Constitution are likewise amazed at this upholding of a blatantly unconstitutional law designed to protect political incumbents and the media's control on information flow in the lead up to an election.
In the campaign case, Justice O'Connor shared the assignment of writing the majority opinion with Justice John Paul Stevens. He has long been the court's most outspoken supporter of campaign finance regulation, dismissing the First Amendment objections as insubstantial. She, on the other hand, had been largely a mystery, having voted on both sides of the issue over the years while writing less than three pages of opinions in her own voice.
Unlike redistricting cases, on which Justice O'Connor has been deeply engaged, campaign finance issues "didn't seem to motivate her," Prof. Richard L. Hasen, an election law specialist at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said on Thursday. "We never knew where she stood," he added.
And by golly, we still don't, perhaps she just enjoys swinging from side to side every now and then to get her name in the news and to hell with the Constitution in the process. She's already turned this court's title from the Rehnquist court to the O'Conor court.
From a majority that included Justice O'Connor, this language was striking. In the court's federalism decisions, a five-justice majority — comprising Justice O'Connor and the four dissenters in the campaign case — has immunized state governments from various federal antidiscrimination laws, refusing to defer to Congressional judgments on a need to bring the states within the laws' coverage.
Those decisions have been increasingly controversial. Against that backdrop, it is possible to view the campaign finance decision as something of a corrective, a pragmatic intervention not only to shape the outcome of the case at hand but also to lower the temperature of an increasingly fraught relationship with another branch of government.
Oh, so forget the Court's constitutional duty as a separate and co-equal branch of government, and forget your task to "say what the law is", This Court's majority also forgot that
The court gave Congress space to breathe," Prof. Robert C. Post of Yale Law School said on Thursday.
Professor Post said he had little doubt that Justice O'Connor's role had been decisive. "Her political antennae moved her," he said. "Things were getting pretty explosive. The tension was too high, and she understood that the rhythm of the court's relationship with Congress had to be attended to, the pace of the conversation had to be lowered."
So the decision was done to be nice to Congress and not to uphold the Constitution. So liberties and core free speech rights are sacrificied in order to reduce the explosive tension? Nice to see the majority of this Court will fight to uphold the Constitution under pressure...oh, right, sorry, this majority just surrendered like a Frenchman at war.
On that theory, Justice O'Connor's central role extends even further than it appeared on Wednesday — not simply to another category on a checklist of constitutional controversies, but also to the web of relationships that anchor the court and its enormous power to the rest of the government. The current Supreme Court term is still young. Given some other cases on the docket, most notably the challenges to the Bush administration's conduct of war on terrorism, it is a role that will again be put to the test.
Yep, O'Connor doesn't just checkoff our Constitutional rights one by one, she also sacrifices the independence of the judiciary on the altar of relationships. This is not laudable and the Times should lose its love-fest with O'Connor. One can only hope her "central role" and its focus "relationships" will get out of the way of those judges on the court that still remember their oaths to the Constitution and can actually read and apply those ten simple words: "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech."
As I noted before, in a letter to Tyler Cowen of the Volokh Conspiracy, public museums are likely not the best repositories of ancient artifacts, and certainly should not be granted a monopoly on possession.
The University of Melbourne, while developing its virtual Museum Project found the following in its archives/collections (read their full progress report here:
Coin discovery 20 ancient coins in an un-labeled plastic bag were discovered by the Curator of Collections, Heather Gaunt, while she was moving things from Old Physics to the new storage space in the Ian Potter Museum. The coins appear to be already in the database, listed as MES 23 - MES 42 in the 1971 Catalogue of Works of Art, and marked as missing when the coin database was started in 1996. They are all identical with MES 21 and MES 22, bronze, issued by Ptolemy X (117-81 B.C.)
Roman glass discovery Two previously unknown pieces of Roman glass were found while collecting for photography the three pieces from the Kaye collection on display in the Lower East dining room at University house. Archival research revealed that one was bought by University House for the Ernst Matthaei Memorial Collection of Early Glass in 1984, the other was gift to the House in 1993 from Mr Paul Hackforth-Jones. The two new pieces have now been photographed and incorporated into the database.
They also report that many materials are missing or stolen from the museum.
One carton of antiquities remains missing.
Cross-referencing of archival papers with stocktake records and the databases, and some discreet personal enquiries, revealed that a number of objects now confirmed as missing were all stored in three containers. Two of these containers were found on 21 October 1998 (thanks to Robyn Sloggett in Conservation). The two containers found include 10 bronzes and an Iranian belt. But the third container never made it to Old Physics; or if it did, it went missing before photography of the collections commenced.
The bulk of the "Flinders Petrie" collection was in a cardboard carton, probably a bit larger than the usual Boreham's carton. These objects I personally removed from the drawers in the old department library on the 6th floor of Medley East and carried across to the Old Arts storeroom in June 1996. The FP objects include 5 ushabti, three figurines with inscriptions and two without, two other inscriptions, two tiles, two necklaces, two scarabs, a seal, a slingstone, some beads, a Hawk of Seker. Other items also packed into the same carton include a Roman brick and two ceramic antefix fragments, some terra sigillata, 10 small rectangular plaster casts, and a clay model of a "knitting Nancy".
Please give the matter some thought, and ask anyone who might have been in the laboratory or the Gallery storage area at the end of 1996.
One of our best decorated Greek vases, a hydria (MUV 40), was stolen in 1990. Images have now been made from the plates included by Peter Connor in his article "Replicas in Greek Vase-Painting: the Work of the Painter of Lourvre F6", BABesch 56 (1981) 37-44. Check out the images; and please keep an eye out for the vase itself.
Now I'm not saying the University of Melbourne is any better or worse than any other institution, and they likely are better, and they should be accoladed for at least publicly posting their losses and "discoveries". Their virtual museum is a great idea, making their collection or artifacts more accessible than having it be simply shelved in boxes in a storage area where it can be lost.
But can you imagine a private collector losing a bag of 20 ancient coins for a period of time of around twenty-seven years (1971-1998)? While it may happen, losing items seems to be a far more common occurrence for a museum.
It would be interesting to see the state of other museums' lost & found departments, not to mention their uncataloged collections.
Likewise, I wonder how many of the antiquities "lost" in the looting of the Baghdad Museum had already been lost, misappropriated or misplaced before the looting, and the looting will serve as a decent explanation to cover up the prior inventory losses?
Addition (Dec 16/03): I've added a post of another example of public museum mismanagement of historical artifacts here
This Roman silver denarius, in about Very Fine (aVF) condition features portraits of both Marc Antony and Cleopatra (Cleopatra the Seventh to be exact).
As you can see from her portrait Cleopatra would likely not win a beauty contest today. But she did have huge...tracts of land. She ruled Egypt, which was then the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, and possesed its rich treasury. Ancient writings also speak of her keen intelligence and wit, and she clearly possessed both attributes as she participated in the high-stakes power politics of the era.
Egypt at the time was a tremendous net exporter of grain, and Cleopatra was quite a catch for any ambitious Roman. First Julius Caesar and than Antony were associated with her. Cleopatra was the last of the Macedonian rulers of Egypt. She was descended from Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great's Generals, who upon Alexander's death took Egypt as his own kingdom.
The Ptolemies ruled Egypt in much the same fashion as the Pharoahs had, and they institutes a monetary system that was closed to the outside world (For more on this see Richard Hazzard's book on Ptolemaic coinage for more information on this subject).
This picture of the coin is courtesy of Amphora Coins and is up for sale for $1,600.00, not a casual purchase, but certainly a coin the bespeaks of history and of the two tragic figures whose tale has been immortalized in writings from the ancient times, the middle and modern ages, and also on film in the modern era.
You have to read the entire artcle to get the full story: Over 6,400 cases refeered for prosecution, of which 2,700 have been concluded, often with the person getting a few months in jail and being deported, so these threats are bwing removed from our country.
Even if the headline that only 23 get sentences of 5 years or more, that is still 23 terrorists put away. Many of the others receiving lesser sentences and being deported still committed some crimes, and we're better off without them.
Of course, the Detroit news has two tear-jerking stories of overeach and overuse of the "terrorism" label - One use against a guy who used a pipebomb to blow up his girlfriends car, and another against a trucker that made harrasing phone calls.
But of course, that's only 2 examples of overreach out of 6,400.
The article also quotes Imad Haddad of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the same Imad Haddad that sent a threatening letter to the President of the School Board in Dearborn, advising him to declare Eid a holiday or face "serious ramifications and unexpected unhealthy consequences".
The Odyssey Marine Exploration Company, after a ten year search, has found the wreck of the S.S. Republic. The Republic was a ship that was carrying over 20,000 gold coins when it was sunk by a hurricane in 1865. The ship lies about 100 miles off the Georgia Coast.
The Republic was a Union steamship carrying money and supplies from New York to New Orleans.
The value of the find is estimated at 120-180 million dollars today in collector value.
The discoverers have already recovered 1,750 coins, both gold and silver.
Shipwreck coins tend to have a vast collector interest and appeal, especially if from a famous ship or discovery. I expect the collector interest and thus the value of these coins to be very high as this seems to be a massive discovery.
More on the find can be found here, here, and here. The news of the great discovery has been picked up in places as far away as Israel and Australia.
Congrats to the Odyssey Marine Exploration Company after their ten year effort!
One of the most famous types of Ancient coins is this silver Tetradrachm (4 drachma) coin of the city of Athens.
With the Athenian Owl on the reverse, with the Greek letters A th E, signifying Athens. On the obverse is the head of Athena, Greek goddess and patron of Athens.
Interestingly, the coin has what is called a "test cut" on the owl. Test cuts were made by ancient businessmen to check the quality of the coin (making sure it was not a counterfeit) before they received it as payment.
The condition of the Coin is EF, or Extra-Fine. The coin is listed on Harlan J. Berk's bid or buy sale and some lucky buyer got this nice example of a historic type for $325. Not a bad price for a coin that is from 430 BC, or 2433 years old.
If you want to give someone a truly unique Christmas, Channukah or other seasonally appropriate present this year, I'd suggest looking at the sites of the coin dealers listed here on my blog.
As noted on Little Green Footballs, Abdurahman Khadr admitted to training at an Al-Qaeda terrorist training camp for three months, but he claims he was only captured in Afghanistan because he was an Arab.
Its also interesting that after he was released, he was dropped off in Afghanistan and made his way to Sarajevo with no identification . . . an interesting trick.
Abdurahman Khadr said he spent three months training under Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan known to intelligence agencies as a top al-Qaeda trainer.
"It was an al-Qaeda-related training camp," said Mr. Khadr, 20, adding he attended the camp in 1998 at the behest of his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, wanted by the United States for his suspected ties to Osama bin Laden.
He said he learned how to use Russian assault rifles and that his older brother Abdullah had also trained, but he said that was "a very normal thing" and that many young men trained to fight the Northern Alliance rebels then at war with the Taliban.
"Everybody went to training camp in Afghanistan," he said.
Interestingly enough the curriculum of the camp as reported by The National Post, according to Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam, included:
explosives, sabotage and How to blow up the infrastructure of a country. including The enemies' installations, special installations and military installations, such installations as electric plants, gas plants, airports, railroads, large corporations, gas, gas installations and military installations also....Hotels where conferences are held as well as assasinations.
And the Canadian Government just let this Khadr, an admitted supporter of the Taliban and admittedly trained by Al-Qaeda to commit acts of terrorism, back in the country to live in the Greater Toronto Area (Scarborough).
Before it has even been released, pirates are selling the next version of Windows (Codenamed: Longhorn) for six Malaysian Ringgit (or US$1.58). It is apprently a copy of the prerelease version.
Its obvious that pirates can crack any Microsoft Security codes, so Microsoft, when you finally do release Longhorn, could you please get rid of the asinine, time-wasting and byzantine registration/security protection that you added to Windows XP?
Oh, and make it a bit more secure and more crash resistant please. Having reinstalled my PC with XP twice in the past six months, its getting a little old, especially having to chase down the myriad of patches required to keep it running.
The Republicans need to understand that they cannot out-Democrat the Democrats because:
1. Whatever entitlement they come up with, the Dems can only top it.
2. It is futile as the people you're trying to woo by being the Democrat party lite, want the "Real Thing" and will still vote Democrat.
3. You're ticking off your own base and potential supporters by massive spending that will burden the current working generation and future generations in debt to cover entitlements for the baby boomers and the others on the first tier of the Medicare/Social Security/Prescription Drug ponzi scheme.
The European Union Report on AntiSemitisn in the EU, which was suppressed as the EU-tocrats didn't like its pointing out that the current increase in Anti-Semitism in Europe is attributable to both Islamists/Muslims and left-wing/right-wing anti-globalization types ihas been leaked to the Jerusalem Post and is available here. (Hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy).
Go read it and you will realize that for all its current so-called refinement and polish, old Europe just hasn't changed its stripes all that much. What was it again about those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it?