Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Too Good to Pass Up

Lileks has a wonderful, exquisite, and powerful screed up for your viewing pleasure. Go forth and read the Screed now, you'll be glad you did.

Was it really a Mad Cow?

Unconfirmed reports state that as the suspect cow was being led away it said:

"I'm not mad, I'm just pissed off, so Mooo!".

New Blog Showcase - Some Blogs Worth Checking out

Some interesting new blogs that are worth looking at, courtesy of the Truth Laid Bear's New Weblog Showcase:

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.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Interesting Article on Judge Kozinski

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.

Mad Mullahs of Iran Reject Israeli Aid

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.

But they won't accept any help from Israel.

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.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Blue Law Special in Aisle 1

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?

Monday, December 22, 2003

Welcome to Marginal Revolution Readers

Welcome readers of Marginal Revolution!

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.

Coin of the Week - A Tribute Penny

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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Antiquity of the Week - A Judean Oil Lamp

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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Indiana Jones And The Lost Items From Museums

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.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Saddam Capta! (Saddam Captured)

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.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Most inane comment on the Campaign Finance Decision yet....

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 courts are to regard the constitution, and the constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature, the constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply."

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."

Coins and Antiquities They Didn't Even Know They Had

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.

Stolen vase.

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Coin of the Week - a denarius of Antony and Cleopatra

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.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Its how you look at the numbers

The Detroit News has a headline reading Fed dragnet snares few terroristswith an accompany subtitle "U.S. nabs 6,400, but only 23 get sentences of 5 years or more".

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".

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

A Tremendous Sunken Treasure of Coins Found

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!

Coin of The Week - A Tetradrachm of Athens

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.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Canadian Arab back home in Toronto after being released from Guantanamo

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.

The Canadian National Post has more on the story.

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).

Oh Canada.

Malaysian Software Pirates Already Selling the Next Version of Windows

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.

Hat Tip: Gigalaw.com

Republicans need to quit acting like Democrats on the domestic front

Quit spending like drunken sailors that is.

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.

EU Report on AntiSemitism in Europe now available

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?

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Major Life Changing Event on Monday

Haven't blogged for a while due to the birth of my first child, a girl, this Monday the 24th at 7:54pm. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 7.4 ounces and perfect. Mother and baby are both doing fine and we're home now. I upload an appropriately cute picture in due time.

Thought: Life doesn't get much better than this, and this is one of the greatest accomplishments in life ever. Truly a life-altering experience.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Portland 7 Tapes Released

Little Green Footballs reports that prosecutors have released tapes of the members of the Portland Seven having conversations that ranged from their desire to kill lots of Jews to just cutting off the heads of nonMuslims in general, bomb making etc.

All the members of the Portland 7 have pleaded guilty to various charges and are awaiting sentencing.

Wait a minute, weren't all the Leftist groups proudly proclaiming the innocence of the Portland 7 and how they were poor innocents just being profilied and victimized by Ashcroft's evil Justice department.

Where is the left's reaction now? We're waiting.

Oh, I get it, no apologies from the Left, no admission that yet again they were wrong and that these people were in fact guilty as hell, just silence.

Note to all concerned - especially the media that doesn't question the leftists when they make these dumb proclamations - the Left's credibility has long past reached its nadir and it just keeps on falling.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Arabs' Allegations of Racial Profiling in Dearborn Unproven

It turns out that Arabs, who are 1/3rd of the population in Dearborn make up gasp 1/3rd of the court cases, as reported by the Detroit News. So much for the racial-profiling seething and whining.

"I agree the numbers may not be consistent with what (Arab) people believe, in traffic cases especially," said Imad Hamad, Midwest director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

True, what "Arab people believe" (at least those represented by the AAADC) rarely does seem to concord with the numbers or reality.

I also love the caption to sidebar of the article "Judge Mark Somers talks to Jihad Hamood, who was found guilty of having overloaded Dumpsters. Many Arabs believe they are targets of the justice system."

I guess Jihad is just an internal struggle to not overload one's dumpsters.

Democracies at War

A commentor who goes by the handle of happycynic on Little Green Footballs just posted a comment that has one of the most apt explanations of how western democracies fight wars:

"Basically, democracies fight wars poorly for quite some time, ignoring the threat out of lethargy until they get really pissed off, and then they up and kill everything they can find."

Enemies of the West note: Attacks against soft, weak, decadadent, western democracies are at your own peril.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Coin of The Week - A Denarius of The Emperor Nero

A Denarius of the Emperor Nero, with the permission and courtesy of Harlan J. Berk Ltd..

This Coin is in Very Fine (VF) Condition and is dated 67-8 C.E.

Nero's pudgy face is quite apparent on this coin and the Obverse reads IMP NERO CAESER AVG II. (More on understanding Roman Coin legends in a later post).

On the Reverse of the coin is SALUS. Salus was the Roman deity of health and a protector of the Roman people.

This coin is on Harlan J. Berk's Bid or Buy price list, which is a rather unique auction system. The estimated price listed is the top price the coin will sell for, so if you feel the need to own it and don't like to wait for an auction to end and can't live with the fear that you might be outbid, you can buy it outright for that price. Or you can bid on it a reasonable amount and hope to save some money.

The buy price for this coin is $275 and the bid, at the time of my blogging this is $175.

Roman Coins tend to be a popular starting spot for people collecting ancient coins because:
1. They tend to be cheaper than Greek or Judean coins

2. They are incredibly varied. There are many denominations that change over time, and many emperors to collect, as well as themes prominently displayed.

This coin for example, could be part of a portrait collection of Roman Emperors (sort of like collecting all the cards of players on a team), it could be part of a collection of Roman Coins with deities or religious themes upon them, or it could be part of a generalized Roman silver coin collection.

Note: The denarius was the basic unit of the Roman coinage in the Roman Republic and Early Empire, with accompanying gold and bronze coins.

Interesting things going on in the Crescent City

New Orleans is a city well worth visiting and the French Quarter is not to be missed. I visited there last year and had a good time. My friend who is a New Orleans devotee and thinks of it as a second home, even though he's from Detroit and now lives in D.C., sent me the following article where it looks like the N.O. City Council is running afoul of commercial speech protections:

From the New Orleans News

City law in works bans card readers

Clarkson rewrites law tossed by judge

Friday November 14, 2003
By Bruce Eggler

Six days after a federal judge temporarily overturned a city law barring tarot card readers from the vicinity of Jackson Square, City Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson has a new version of the law ready to go

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey issued a preliminary injunction last week suspending enforcement of the previous ordinance at least until a February trial. On Saturday, tarot card readers returned to all four sides of the square for the first time in months.

Clarkson, who wants to restrict the space around the square's perimeter fence to visual artists, called Zainey's ruling "absurd."

The previous law took effect in May. Eleven tarot card readers filed a federal lawsuit against it in June, saying the law limits their right to freedom of expression by discriminating against them in favor of artists.

At Zainey's urging, the readers and artists worked out a compromise that would have let the readers operate without interference on the Chartres Street side of the square. The other three sides would have been reserved for artists.

But the council, at Clarkson's urging, defeated the compromise 4-3 in September, leaving the previous ordinance in place and prompting the card readers to pursue their lawsuit.

Council members said Thursday that they had not had a chance to review Clarkson's latest proposal and had no comment on it.

Her proposed ordinance
. . . . would restrict the area extending 20 feet out from the fence on St. Peter, St. Ann and Chartres streets and five feet out from the fence on Decatur Street to 200 artists, who would pay $20 a year for city permits to paint and sell their work in that space.

An explanation prepared by the city Law Department said the new ordinance is designed to answer Zainey's objection that the previous law illegally singled out tarot card readers and other fortunetellers and performers as unwelcome around the square.

In its explanation, the Law Department acknowledged "an unconstitutional content-based restriction of free speech" in the singling out of fortunetellers and performers.

The new ordinance, however, would not specify tarot card readers or other types of speech or performance.

Instead, the Law Department said, it would ban all types of commercial speech in the designated area, "except for the speech of the artists."

The ordinance would ban anyone but artists from placing easels, tables, chairs or similar furniture in the area reserved for artists.

"By not specifically banning fortunetellers and performers," the Law Department explanation said, "the ordinance is a content-neutral regulation with the single purpose of re-establishing the artists colony."

This still does not seem to be a content neutral regulation. It is now discriminating against commercial entities that aren't painters or the required type of artists. Here it seems to be discriminating against artists who do things other than paint. After all there's a good case that could be argued that Tarot readers etc are "artists", and what happends if they paint a few scrawls while giving a reading? Would that qualify under the ordinance?

Not that I have any particular belief in fortune-telling, but hey, if people want to pay them to get it done, and they make a living on it, then why not?

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Great Russian Short Stories - In English

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Sasha Volokh has a post on some great Russian Short Stories.

I nominated one, Alexander Kuprin's The Outrage, which is an excellent short story, having both a serious subject, yet is full of humor, style and panache.

I could not find it for free online, but, best of all, you can by it from Amazon.com here, used for $3.50. Even better, since it is contained in the work titled Great Russian Short Stories, you get 11 more Russian short stories translated (for those of us who are not fluent in the Ruskiy Yazikh) and ready for your reading enjoyment.

Not a bad way to spend $3.50.

Friday, November 14, 2003

A Guide to Collecting Ancient Coins - Part 3

Continuing the series on collecting ancient coins, with Part 1 available here and part two available here I'll now discuss grading.

To begin, grading is a rather subjective art and rather hard to quantify with scientific precision. One dealer's or collector's Very Fine may be another's Extra Fine. With that in mind, and realizing that few topics spark more controversey when dealing with any collectible, aside from the question "is it fake?", than what is the grade or condition, here is an introductory guide to grading, complete with my own opinions and idiosyncracies.

The grades -- from finest to foulest, along with their common abbreviations -- are:

Mint State (MS) - A controversial grade for an ancient coin, conservative dealers may grade the coin Extra Fine and the more liberal may proclaim it to be mint state. Basically the coin looks as perfect as it did when it left the mint where it was struck. Amazingly, many ancient coins are in such good condition, having been found in hoards buried to preserve the wealth of those facing disaster or uncertainty over the centuries.

Extra Fine (EF or XF) - Very slight wear only on the high points of the coin (Ancient coins are not flat like modern coins and have real depth and the designs on the coin typically "stick out". Hair on the head of the person depicted is easily seen with individual hairs visible.

Very Fine (VF) - The higher spots on the coin will show wear, the design is still fully recognizable and the detailing can be seen. Individual hairs or design lines starting to meld into one another, the lettering at the edges of the coin may be worn but still readable.

Fine (F) - More wear than very fine, the design is still visible but details like hair will be highly worn down so that only the outline of the design may be visible with none of the fine lines remaining, legends are also likely to be flattened and hard to read but still legible.

Very Good (VG) -Coins are heavily worn, on the entire surface of the coin. Outlines of the design remain and the lettering may be extremely hard to read and may have been almost completelty worn down.

Good (G) - Very heavily worn, legends may be badly worn or completely unreadable, much of the design cannot be identified but it may still be possible to attribute and identify.

Fair (Fair) - Legends are worn smooth, only the major elements of the design are visible, often can be identified only by recognizing the potrait or representation upon it or the general type of the coin.

Poor (P) - In this grade it is impossible to tell what the coin was and it is pretty much reduced to just an old small piece of metal that used to be a coin.

Completely Really Amazingly Poor (CRAP) (ok it is not an official condition but the acronym is often heard around the bargain bins at vendor's tables at coin shows).

Note there are also "about" or "Good" grades such as aVF for "about Very FIne". or GVF for Good Very Fine. Typically either a conscientious or optimistic dealer or collector who realizes the coin doesn't quite fit the higher category but nonetheless considers it a cut above the lower category.

Grading has very real effect upon the price of the coin. A coin that may be $20 in VG condition may be $200 or more in VF, depending upon other factors as well such as relative scarcity and the overall appearance and historical importance of the coin, as well as collector interest in the type.

Truth Laid Bear: Blogs to Watch

On the Truth Laid Bear, there are several examples of excellent new blogs. My favorites, excepting my own of course that I just submitted (yes I put the blog post in the political rather than non-political section by mistake, put it down to an oversight during the submission process due to lack of sleep, too much coffee and too much work) are:

1. The Daily Ablution

Nice commentary on current events with the right amount of irony and outrage. Any website with the slogan "Washing Brains Since 2003" has got to be good.

2. eTALKINGHEAD Similarly offers sharp political commentary

In the Nonpolitical area (where my post shoulda went, sigh.) I vote for Bawstin Tech Pundits. It offers good commentary on technology today. I like the cell phone post and also wonder what the value of a TV on a cell phone is, not just in terms of technology lag but because putting a TV on could indeed be maddness, now you're not just talking on the phone while driving in traffic you may be watching it too. I'd rather they perfect cell phone technology first without seeing how many more gadgets they can squeeze into the phone's footprint myself.

Canada, A Haven for Terrorists

The National Press reports that

In one attack, on Dec. 26, 1968, a Palestinian named Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad attacked an El Al plane in Athens with guns and grenades, killing one man.

The PFLP later said the attack was meant "to damage Israeli aircraft and kill Jews." Mohammad moved to Canada in 1987 and has lived here ever since. Attempts to deport him for terrorism have so far been unsuccessful.

So a murderer has been living the good life in Canada for the past SIXTEEN years. It would be interesting to know what exactly is holding up his deportation and why the attempts have been unsuccessful.

So Canada on the one hand is reconsidering allowing El Al flights to land at Toronto due to terrorist threats against them, but lets terrorists live there, probably complete with all the benefits that the welfare state can offer.

Oh Canada indeed.

Detroit and Wayne County to Get $13.7 Mil in Homeland Defense funding

According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit and Wayne County will receive 13.7 Mil for Homeland defense.

The County and City plan to use the money for "more training for its police, firefighters and other emergency personnel, and additional gas masks, chem-bio suits and other critical equipment. "

Hopefully that training will include instruction on Michigan and Federal law for the personnel to the effect that you're not supposed to take a loaded, concealed, unregistered handgun on board an aircraft .

On MicroBlogging

Somewhat like microbrewing, microblogging is a phenomenon of small blogs with their authors blogging with quality (hopefully) on esoteric areas or commenting on the events of the day.

We have the large scale bloggeries such as Instapundit, Volokh Conspiracy and LGF to name a few, and probably some mid-size ones as well.

We'll see if the microbloggeries will grow in size and gain a larger folowing or maintain and develop a small loyal reader base.

Since The Shekel is still in its formative stage, I'll certainly take any comments or constructive criticism to improve the blog and turn it into a microbloggery that people want to read.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Israeli Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Arab Propaganda Film

The Israeli Supreme Court, in a move that highlights Israel's value of free speech and the rule of Law, in contrast to its neighbors, ruled to lift a ban on the showing of the movie "Jenin, Jenin". The movie continues the now many times over disproven lie that a massacre took place and is certainly not balanced.

The decision of the council infringes on freedom of expression above and beyond what is necessary," Justice Dalia Dorner wrote in her decision. "The fact that the film includes lies is not enough to justify a ban of the film."

Its interesting to see that Israel, unlike its neighbors, believes in the marketplace of ideas and freedom of speech, even when that speech is hostile to its very existence. One can only guess the fate of an Arab film maker that put on a balanced or even pro-Israeli film in the Arab world.

From Findlaw

Interesting Coin Find Reported by the BBC (but they misidentify one of the coins).

The BBC reported on April 18, 2003 that Israeli Archeologists have discovered 9 coins from the Bar Kochba Revolt against Rome (132-135 C.E.), in caves near the Dead Sea.

The find included a silver Tetradrachm (or in Hebrew Sela) (The BBC or the arcehologists informing the BBC mistakenly report it as a drachma, a much smaller coin, but the report gives the weight of the coin, which is the same as a tetradrachm, and the obverse and reverse pictured in the article are those that appear upon the Tetradrachms struck at that time.

Coin finds at archeological sites are important as the dating on most coins is pretty well established and the presence of the coins help to date the discoveries found on the site.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

A Guide to Collecting Ancient Coins - Part 2

This is a continuation of my series on collecting ancient coins.

Some Essential Coin Books

A good library is very important in ancient coin collecting. The books are vital in giving information to help you identify and catalog your collection and typically provide a great deal of information not only about the coins, but about the history of the Nation/City/King/Emperor/Usurper/General that struck the coins. The books can aid you in developing your own collecting style and interests. The books will also help you decipher the inscriptions upon the coins and even assist you in dating your coins.

I would recommend, depending on the area of interest that you want to collect, the following books:

For Roman Coinage
David R. Sear. Roman Coins and Their Values. This is the Bible for Roman Coin collecting. Packed with information in a nice sturdy hardcover for years of use.


David Van Meter. The Handbook of the Roman Imperial Coins: A Complete Guide to the History, Types and Values of Roman Imperial Coinage. ( This book costs less than Sear but has somewhat less coverage and is a softcover. However is does have excellent historical information, but Sear is still the collector's standard).


David R. Sear. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values: The Local Coinages of the Roman Empire is an excelent reference if you decide to collect coins of Greek and other cities under the Roman Empire.

For Greek Coinage
David R. Sear. Greek Coins and Their Values. ( A Two Volume Work, and the volumes can be published sepearately. Volume 1 covers Europe and Volume 2 Covers Asia)

For Jewish/Biblical Coinage
David Hendin, A Guide to Biblical Coins. As I've noted before, this is the "Bible" for Jeiwsh and Biblical coin collectors. Order it right from Amphora Coins and David Hendin will personally autograph it for you.

For Egyptian Coins struck by the Ptolemies (The sucessor dynasty to Alexander the Great in Egypt that ruled there until the death of Cleopatra)
Richard Hazzard. Ptolemaic Coins: An Introduction for Collectors.

For Byzantine Coinage
David R Sear. Byzantine Coins and Their Values.

In General

A subscription to The Celator is a must. It has excellent articles, advertisements from the leading coin dealers, and it keeps you on top of what is going on in the world of ancient numismatics.

Also good introductory reading is Michael F. Miller. Classical Greek and Roman Coins: The Investor's Handbook. The investment advice it contains is a bit dated. But the advice about collecting, grading, research and care for your coins, as well as some exquisite coin photographs and descriptions make it a valuable starter text.

Part Three will cover The Grading System used for Ancient Coins.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

What was that about a Religion of peace?

From the AP newswire as reported by the Detroit News :

Fallujah was still gloating three days after a U.S. helicopter was shot out of the sky just south of here. The deeply religious city, filled with loyalists of Saddam Hussein's fallen regime, has become a locus of anti-American sentiment, where U.S. forces are seen as occupiers who must be expelled and reports of American casualties are greeted with chants of "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great.

Those claiming to be fighting the Americans call themselves mujahedeen, or holy Muslim warriors, when signing flyers distributed in the city. Residents routinely refer to the Americans as "crusaders" or "kafara," Arabic for nonbelievers, and Friday prayer sermons are filled with fervent anti-U.S. rhetoric.

Fallujah, 35 miles west of the capital, has a reputation for religious piety, and some say that Wahhabism, a conservative brand of Islam followed primarily in Saudi Arabia, enjoys a following here.
Hardly any women are seen on the city's streets and those who venture out are covered head-to-toe in black veils. Tribal links are vital, and residents are suspicious of outsiders.

Chants of "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great, echo through the city after news of successful attacks against U.S. forces spreads through the community.

Love that religion of peace and piety.

Many casually tell visitors that they curse Americans in their private prayers.
"No one asked the Americans to come to Iraq. If Saddam's regime was dictatorial, it was what God wanted for us," said Atheer Hamed, a 24-year-old laborer and sometime prayer leader. "They don't believe in the Quran or in Prophet Muhammad and that makes them nonbelievers who came to a Muslim nation and made things worse."

What an amazing expo on the Islamists' fatalistic outlook: "If Saddam's regime was dictatorial, it was what God wanted for us".

Damnit Atheer, get with the program, clearly the occupation of Iraq by US forces and the topling of Saddam must also have been ordained by Allah himself, or how can you, in your "Allah wills it" world explain it?

ex-Chief Oliver pleads no-contest and pays a fine

From The Free press.

Former Detroit Police Chief Jerry Oliver entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of possessing an unlicensed handgun....According to an agreement worked out with prosecutors, the charge could be dismissed in 90 days if Oliver stays out of trouble....Oliver paid a $200 fine before leaving.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

State Bar of Michigan Bar Results are UP!

The list of CERTIFIED passers of the July 2003 Michigan Bar Examination, identified by the last six digits of their social security numbers was just posted to their website.

After months of studying, two days of pure "delight" taking the exam, then months of waiting, and finally the results, drumroll please......

I'm ON It. I passed! Wahoo!

Now on to getting sweared in and practicing law for real.

I'll blog more on the bar exam experience later, for now its time to celebrate!

Update: I just received the official envelope and I multistated out with a score of 161 (You need 150 to pass based on your multistate score). So I get some bragging rights but any pass is a good pass. Congrats to everyone that made it.

Further Update: It seems that people are searching Google for michigan Bar Results and finding my site. To see the list of names of those who have been ceretified as passing the Michigan Bar Exam click on Michigan Lawyers Weekly

Prosecutor Charges Oliver with Having an Unregistered Gun

Apparently it seems the Wayne County Prosecutor is not charging now ex-Chief Jerry Oliver with the felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, but is going to move forward with the misdemeanor charge of possessing an unregisterd handgun. Looks like there wasn't an issue about charging him after all.

From the Detroit News.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Chief Oliver Resigns

Jerry Oliver has resigned his position as Chief of Detroit Police over his carrying an unregistered, unpermitted concealed pistol in his luggage.

Wayne County Prosecutor Duggan is apparently still deciding whether to charge him with unlawful carrying of a firearm and possessing an unregistered gun.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Detroit's Mayor Weighs in On Chief Oliver's Gun Troubles

From The Detroit Free Press

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said Wednesday he supports his police chief who is embroiled in an incident involving a handgun, but is unsure what action he'll take if the top cop is charged with a crime.

"I think that the chief needs to have his integrity intact at the end of the day and he needs to make sure that he can lead this department," Kilpatrick said. "And a formal charge may cause some inability for him to do that, and that's what I'm afraid of."
Kilpatrick said he doesn't think Oliver should be charged, but added, "I'm biased. I'm absolutely, 100 percent on the chief's side."

Hmm, Carrying an unregisterd gun (a crime in Michigan) into a secured airport area (a Federal violation for which he has been fined), without a concealed carry permit (a five year felony) and not as a certified Law Enforcement Officer and the Mayor is 100% on his side?

Everyone makes mistakes, but Chief Oliver should be held to the same standards and charges that any other civilian would face if they were caught carrying an unregisterd, concealed, firearm without a permit to carry in, of all places, an airport security checkpoint. Otherwise it will not be Chief Oliver's integrity, but the integrity of the whole justice system that will be in question in Wayne County.

Of course, if Chief Oliver gets a pass for these mistakes, one can only hope the Mayor will be 100% on the side of any Michigander and be as willing to preserve their integrity if they're caught carrying in a no carry zone. Otherwise, perhaps the first violation of Michigan's firearms laws should be a freebie for all?

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Coin of The Week - A Prutah of The First Revolt

This is a bronze coin struck in the second year of the first Jewish Revolt against Rome, 67/68 CE (CE stands for Common Era, another way to say A.D.).

On the Obverse: An Amphora and the Words "Year 2" in paleo-Hebrew
On the Reverse: Vine Leaf and the Inscription "For the Freedom of Zion"

This coin is not only historic but also quite affordable. Amphora coins has it listed for sale for $225.00.

This coin is over 1935 years old and you can still read the inscription and own it for only $225.00. A testament both to the relative abundance of these coins and the wide range of affordable and interesting ancient coins that are in the marketplace today.

The First Rule of the Peace Process is You Don’t Talk About the Peace Process

Just when you thought the Middle East Peace (or is that Piece by Piece?) process couldn’t get any stranger, along comes a trio of Hollywood ‘heavyweights’, Danny DeVito, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt to bring about peace in the region.

Chance of Success of the 'Let's Just Be Friends' tour? Lets just say it’ll take more than The Good Girl, The Renaissance Man and The Devil’s Own to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Now if Hollywood really wanted peace in the region they would have sent soon to be Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger:

Arnie- "Hey Arafat, remember when I said I’d kill you last?”
Arafat- "Yeah man - You did! You did!"
Arnie- "I lied."
Arafat- "Aaaaahhhh!" Thunk.

At least that would be a more productive step on the road to peace and would save far more lives.

Hat Tip for the Friends Tour: The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Freep Encourages Politicians to Spin, Spin, Spin on Sprawl Issues

The Detroit Free Press, in the article LAND USE: Even the smartest policies need the right focus
states that the alternative to emphasizing lively urban by governmental fiat is “standing by idly as metropolitan areas spin farther and farther out like uncontrolled whirligigs.”

The Freep notes that a good slogan is needed to prevent sprawl in order to get Michiganders to accept curbs on sprawl as

the WSU survey also shows they can be influenced by how questions are framed. Imply that a land use strategy might mean fewer backyards, or less housing for young families, and interest nosedives.

Hence the need for a crops-are-tops type of simplicity about a key concept like preserving farmland, or a save-it-at-the-source phrase to stress the importance of steering construction away from crucial wetlands and river headwaters.

The governor's Land Use Leadership Council has laid out the steps, if not the slogans, to move the state ahead. Now the governor and legislative leaders need to keep up the drumbeat.

So the Freep in this editorial is encouraging politicians to beat the drum, and lie, and spin, and sugar-coat the idea of develomental restrictions and so called "smart growth". Don’t tell the truth about the new urbanism and its effects on housing costs and availability, on crime, traffic congestion or any other of the many drawbacks of this supposed urban utopianism, for verily the politicians and the Freep know best. Instead give the it a sweet-sounding, trite and simplistic slogan to deceive the public into accepting this "smartest" of policies and don’t let the downside be known until it is too late.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Unofficial Report on the DC Protests

The following report is from my friend who was on duty during the "Anti-War" demonstration on Saturday:

Well the protesters came, made noise, and most of them have left the city now. (We kept a few who excercised poor judgement.) They left behind a ton of litter, some graffiti, and negative impressions of the Left, but not much else.

First off, the group was a lot smaller than they'd claimed would be there. They stated beforehand that they'd have 40,000 to 50,000 people, and even their own counters now credit them with about 8,000. They did manage to stick more to the anti-war issue than at previous events, but they still have the "Free Mumia" crowd (Mumia-Abu-Jamal, to cop-murdering leftist darling still on death row in PA.) and a few other hangers-on. Most of the protest signs were professionally printed and issued to marchers by either A.N.S.W.E.R. or the Socialist Party. Those two groups appeared to be co-organizing the event, so that tells you where they're really coming from. The Dennis Kucinich supporters were out in force as well. None of the other Democratic Presidential candidates were represented there but there were tons of Kucinich signs and shirts. Kind of tells you where Kuchinich comes from too.

I was assigned to a Reaction squad, so I got to stand out on full riot gear in the hot-spot areas. I started out on the edge of Lafayette Park where the protest parade went by. It sure was nice of all of those "peace marchers" to let me know that I was "facist", a "Nazi" and a "pig". I was called those things several times, as were my contemporaries on the line. My photograph is probably going to be on every Communist Party website tomorrow based on the number of times they ran up to take my picture. I had a great spot where I was the only officer for 25 yards so I attracted more attention than those standing shoulder-to-shoulder a short distance away.

After the parade passed by, we moved down to Constitution Ave, where the parade was supposed to end. Several officers had to be detailled off to go deal with leftists who were threatening Free Republic counter-protesters, but I wasn't one of them. Instead I was part of a team sent to get between the leftists and a few religious counter-protesters who were preaching at the masses with a bullhorn. Of course the left wasn't about to let the religious speakers or the Free Republic speakers exercise THEIR First Amendment rights. They tried to overrun both groups and would have but for our presence. Then that sat there and jeered at us for protecting the people trying to speak. Let's see...a few minutes ago we were protecting YOUR right to speak and assemble, and we were pigs and facists, and now we're giving someone else the same protection and you're actually angry. Is the Left really that clueless about the rights everyone gets here? I guess they think that they're the only ones entitled to Constitutional protections.

All-in-all, the protest was pretty meek and mild. Per our Intelligence division, the big groups had warned their members in advance to behave as a result of their past encounters with Park and DC Police. The word's apparently out now not to get stupid here, and that's ok by me.

One final note about the message and the message-bearers...I couldn't help but notice that most of the attention was focused not on Iraq or our troops but only on excoriating President Bush. The lefties mainly used megaphones to shout obscenities about the President or carried signs cursing him. Very little attention was actually devoted to our troops overseas. Kind of interesting, as it was supposed to be an "anti-war" rally. I also noticed that 99% of the crowd appeared to be white. There were very few minorities there, suprising since the military has such a large number of minorities serving in it. Most protesters appeared to be college kids or college-age slackers, with a few senior citizens tossed in. I theorized afterwards that the entire batch of them probably could have dropped into a big hole in the street and America wouldn't even notice much less miss them. I saw very few people there who even gave the appearance of being productive adults. Also most of the protesters appeared to be angry. They weren't happy people. Now the Free Republic crowd, they were having a ball. Those folks were a laugh a minute according to the squad detailled over there. But the lefties were generally unhappy people and it showed. I guess it must suck to be a poor politically-marginalized white kid.

All in all, it's over, we're all home safe and I got paid pretty well for the day.

And here's a pic of a few of us in action.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Detroit Police Chief Caught With Unregistered Handgun at An Airport, Prosecutor's Office Having Trouble With Nonexistent Issue

The Detroit free Press Reports that Detroit Police Chief Oliver was caught going through Airport security with a concealed pistol in his bag. Carrying concealed in Michigan without a permit is a 5 year felony, but there is a question as to whether he as a police Chief but not yet as a certified Law Enforcement Officer may carry concealed without a permit.

However the pistol was not registered so it should be an easy charge and conviction for posession of an unregistered handgun, but

Prosecutor Michael Duggan and several assistants spent Wednesday afternoon trying to determine whether Oliver should face criminal charges because his personal .22-caliber handgun is not registered in Michigan.
Assistant Prosecutor Rebecca Tenorio, an office spokeswoman, said no decision had been made, but one could come this week.
Tenorio said an issue is whether Oliver was required to register the weapon in Michigan if he had registered it in another state when he purchased it.

There is no issue at all, MCL 28.429 Pistols; safety inspection required; certificate of inspection; exemptions; requirements of
pistol presented for inspection; violation as civil infraction; fine.

quite clearly states that:

Sec. 9. (1) A person within the state who owns or comes into possession of a pistol shall, if he or she resides in a city, township, or village having an organized police department, present the pistol for safety inspection to the
commissioner or chief of police of the city, township, or village police department or to a duly authorized deputy of the commissioner or chief of police. If that person resides in a part of the county not included within a city, township, or village having an organized police department, he or she shall present the pistol for safety inspection to the sheriff of the county or to a duly authorized deputy of the sheriff. If the person presenting the pistol is eligible to possess a pistol under section 2(1), a certificate of inspection shall be issued in triplicate on a form provided by the
director of the department of state police, containing the name, age, address, description, and signature of the person presenting the pistol for inspection, together with a full description of the pistol. The original of the certificate shall be delivered to the registrant. The duplicate of the certificate shall be mailed within 48 hours to the director of the department of state police and filed and indexed by the department and kept as a permanent official record. The triplicate of the certificate shall be retained and filed in the office of the sheriff, commissioner, or chief of police.
This section does not apply to a wholesale or retail dealer in firearms who regularly engages in the business of selling pistols at retail, or to a person who holds a collection of pistols kept solely for the purpose of display as
relics, curios, or antiques, and that are not made for modern ammunition or are permanently deactivated.

So it doesn’t look like the law is unclear at all about needing to register pistols in Michigan even if it may have been registered elsewhere, the Wayne County prosecutors office should know this and not need to delay due to a nonexistent issue. There is no provision exempting pistols registered in other states from having to be registered in Michigan. Since he didn’t register it, Chief Oliver has quite clearly violated this law, not to mention Federal Law concerning undeclared firearms in Airport areas.

Remember, if you or I had brought an undeclared, unregistered pistol into an airport in Michigan, we would be doing what is colloquially known around here as the “Detroit Macarena” (For those of you who don’t know, the Detroit Macarena starts with your hands either in the air or on the hood of a car; progresses to them behind your head; then behind your back; then the snick of handcuffs going on; and then ending with a flourish of you hopping into a police car) and I very much doubt there would be any "issue" about the charges that would be made.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Coin of the Week – Another Shekel

This Coin is a Shekel of Tyre, that was likely struck locally at Jerusalem in 4/3 B.C.E., and the image is from David Hendin's Amphora Coins site.

On the Obverse: Head of Heracles.
On the Reverse: Eagle standing, club in front, with the inscription in Greek "Of Tyre the Holy and Inviolable".

As noted at
Amphora Coins
The silver shekels and half shekels Tyre were the only coins accepted for payment by Jews of the annual half-shekel tribute to the Jerusalem Temple. Meshorer [note- a famous and very knowledgeable Israeli Numismatist] believes that this issue, with "KP" behind the eagle, was struck in Jerusalem, as opposed to the earlier style coins struck in Tyre

This is a Shekel of great historical importance. This coin is also of a great deal of historic interest to collectors as the year of its striking, 4/3 B.C.E., is thought of by scholars to be the year of Jesus’ birth. The money changers in the Temple were likely changing other coins and goods into these shekels for the annual tribute. A very desirable and collectible coin indeed, especially as it was likely struck at Jerusalem rather than in Tyre itself.

Tyrian shekels are quite available on the market today with prices that vary depending on a variety of factors.

When your website is designed to criticize a company online, name your site companynamesucks.com

The Detroit Free Press reports in an article Canton woman caught in web of cyber justice, that a disgruntled customer published a disparaging website about a company and used that company’s name as the URL. The company apparently did not register its name as a trademark at the federal level, and the customer won at the District Court level. The company has appealed to the Sixth Circuit.

My Prediction: The Sixth Circuit will likely overrule the district court.

Had the customer named the site companynamesucks.com she likely would have won based on previous case law that free speech allows for critical or satirical websites and such names do not dilute trademarks(see Ford Motor Co v Enters, 177 F Supp 2d 661 (ED Mich 2001)).

Instead, she simply used the company name, and this likely will prove her undoing. In E. & J. Gallo Winery v Spider Webs, Ltd, 286 F3d 270 (5th Cir, 2002), Spider Webs registered the domain name ernestandjuliogallo.com and made it into a site that disparaged the wine maker. The court held that this violated the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 USC 1125 (ACPA), as it was confusingly similar (in fact the same) as the trademarked name and it was in reality established for commercial reasons.

The ACPA declares that such an activity is improper. The act also prohibits the registration or use of a domain name that is the same or confusingly similar to a mark that was distinctive or famous at the time the name was registered.

The interplay between the fact that she did not create it for profit, and that the company name was apparently not registered federally, as well as the role that Michigan’s trademark and servicemark dilution laws may play in the case should make this an interesting cyber-case to watch.

Go Fish?

There's an active discussion at The Volokh Conspiracy on the Fish symbols that are on many people's cars.

A little web browsing led me to this site: Complete Fish Taxonomy Which shows there are far more schools of fish out there than one might have imagined, including the lawyer fish, which is of course, a Shark.

I myself own This One . I first saw it during a trip in Arizona and asked the driver of the car it was on where she got it from. The Gefilte Fish certainly does cause a few double-takes and often elicits an "I don't get it" response.

As far as offensive, a few of my friends, who are extrememly devout Christians, see nothing offensive about it, but their opinion is hardly a scientific sample.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Student who Beat TSA security charged in airplane incidents

From the Detroit Free Press
A college student who told authorities that he placed box cutters and other banned items aboard two airliners to test security was charged Monday with taking a dangerous weapon aboard an aircraft and was released without bail.

I think that one of the reasons he has been charged rather than just being released is that he rubbed the TSA's nose in the breach by sending an email beforehand stating that he was going to do it, and they still didn't catch him.

Note to all: Government Bureaucracies HATE to be embarrassed and shown to be incompetent, and when they have the ability to nail the person who pointed out the incompetence, they will nail the messenger.

While what the student did was dangerous in that others could have possibly accessed the items, he did perform a service by pointing out a potentially deadly flaw in the current security system that needs to be fixed.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Another Argument for a Free Market in Antiquities

I had written an email to Tyler Cowen of the Volokh Conspiracy supporting the position that there should be a free market in antiquities. His blogging of that email was the spark for the start of this site, so you can thank him or curse him as you prefer depending on how you like this blog.

I'm not the only one that believes that private collectors not only should be allowed to collect ancient artifacts but also that it is a benefit that they do so.

Wayne G. Sales, who regularly writes in the Celator , an excellent magazine for ancient coin collectors, has an excellent article, available online, that highlights the antipathy that the scholarly archeologist / keep everything in museums faction has against private collectors. Mr. Sales' article makes many of the same points I made in my email, and also points out the political machinations of the AIA, the Archaeological Institute of America.

Supply, Demand and Accusations of Gouging

The Detroit Free Press reports that Consumer Advocates and Detroit City Council members are accusing Parking lot owners of gouging and breaking a city ordinance by charging more for parking for Detroit Lions Games than for non-event days.

Can anyone say supply and demand?

Ok, we can debate the nature of the fans who demand to see Lions games but Ford Field IS a nice facility).

Parking during a non-event time is by nature less in demand and thus cheaper than during a high-demand event. Verily, it has been said that there is plentiful parking in the area at 2 a.m. that can even be found for free!

Why should Consumer Advocates be against this, after all doesn't it encourage people to car pool, or at least to be active consumers and shop around for parking? The article itself notes there were parking lots with rates between $15-$50 depending on how close to the stadium you parked. All consumers would need to do is simply not park in the $50 priced lot, and watch as the rates go down at the lot and then park there at the new price, but as long as people want the convenience of close parking to watch the Lions play, the price will stay up.

The ordinance itself, that ordains that a price must be approved and then remain the same for 60 consecutive days (ie if the price is $50 on Sunday, then every Sunday for 60 days apparently must be the same $50 according to how one council member interprets the law) flies in the face of basic economics, not to mention it will certainly have a damper on the development of more parking for downtown Detroit.

Sprawl Is Good.

John Hood of The Carolina Journal has an interesting look at the so called sprawl problem.

He notes the ‘new urbanism’, will likely cause increased crime coupled with the need for increased police resources to combat such crime.

Hood notes other benefits to sprawl:

Sprawl reduces traffic congestion by spreading out origins and destinations, creating various centers of employment and shopping, and generating sufficient highway capacity to accommodate the inevitable rise in auto commuting as societies become wealthier. Sprawl reduces the per-capita need for services overall, when you factor in functions such as law enforcement, and reduces the need to raise property-tax rates by generating more tax revenue per person (the only kind of residential growth that doesn't appear to "pay for itself" is low- to moderate-income multifamily housing). Sprawl reduces tailpipe emissions from automobiles by minimizing the time they spend idling in traffic jams or creeping along in central cities. Sprawl increases opportunities for homeownership among lower-income families by offering attractive new properties for those with rising incomes to purchase in the suburbs, thus moderating the prices of the existing housing stock closer into town, which would otherwise soar (as it has in Smart Growth enclaves such as college towns and the cities of the Pacific Northwest).

As here in Michigan there is currently much hand-wringing about sprawl, and the terrible cry of “do something!” is being heard in the Detroit-area media, it would likely behoove the newspaper editors and legislators to go read his entire column on the subject.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Al Qaeda mounts Dos attack, World Yawns.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

From blowing up the WTC and killing thousands, attacking the USS Cole, and bombing up embassies the best effort that they can muster now is to launch a DoS attack against the Hosting Matters site?

We must actually be on the way to winning the War on (Islamic) Terror.

While this attack was of course against a key strategic asset in the War on Terror, housing many bastions of anti-idiotarianism such as Internet Haganah and Little Green Footballs, these sites are back up and continuing their vital anti-idiotarian and terorist identification and taunting operations as we blog.

In other news, US Military units continue to kick Al-Qaeda ass the world over.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Detroit News Gets it 50% Right but Notably Errs.

The Detroit News , in commenting on the attack that killed 3 Americans yesterday notes that "In intentionally targeting American diplomats for murder in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, the Palestinian terrorists may have finally sealed their fate." Gets it right as to what should happen, but incredibly in the side bar headlined "American victims" after it notes that 49 Americans have been killed but then it goes on to say that "Until now, the most notable American death was that of Rachel Corrie, an activist killed March 16 when she placed herself in front of an Israeli bulldozer destroying the home of a terrorist in Gaza.".

The "most notable" death? So, burning an American flag and then tripping and falling after playing chicken with a bulldozer is a notable death? When Corrie was trying to block that bulldozer from destroying smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza, part of the tunnel system where the explosives that killed the three Americans yesterday likely came from, this makes her death the most notable?

What of all the Americans killed by terrorist bombs as they study, go to work or were traveling in Israel? So to die in an accident is notable, when you are killed by someone who did not intend to kill you is notable, but somehow the deaths of "Goldie Taubenfeld, 43, and her son Shmuel, 3 months, who were visiting from New Square, N.Y" and three other Americans on August 20, 2003 in a deliberate suicide bombing is somehow not notable? From: FreeRepublic.com.

Or perhaps the Americans killed in the deliberate Hebrew University bombing by Arab twereorists were not notable: "Janis Ruth Coulter, 36, of New York City; Benjamin Blutstein, 25, of Lancaster, Pa.; Marla Bennett, 24, of San Diego; David Gritz, 24, who holds dual American-French citizenship; and a fifth person with Israeli and American citizenship who has not been identified were all killed in the bomb blast" from: Newsmax .

So their deaths are not the most notable, only the death of Corrie in her deluded defense of terrorists is somehow the most notable. Maybe the Detroit News really does follow the old adage that "Dog Bites man" isn't news but "Man bites Dog" is news and thus more notable.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

A Guide to Collecting Ancient Coins – Part 1

Collecting ancient coins can be: fun; an investment; done to satisfy your collecting urge; a tangible connection to history; a gateway to expanding your knowledge of the ancient world; a place to throw some of your disposable income; a great way to impress your friends and relatives; a source of personal satisfaction; a way to contribute to our understanding of the ancient world; and much more.

I will have a series of posts that reflect my opinions on how one can get started collecting/investing/possessing ancient coins.

My suggested first step is to browse around and see what fits your interest and budget. Go to various coin dealers’ web sites and look at the coins and prices. You don’t need thousands or even hundreds of dollars to start collecting. Many dealers offer auctions or fixed price lists where you can buy coins for a modest sum, especially if you do not decide to focus your collecting on the gold coins of the Twelve Caesars (more on them later). Try to see if the area you are interested in has coins that apeal to you and also fit your budget.

Also don’t forget your local coin dealers, they may have ancient coins and they will likely let you hold them and the local dealer is often an excellent starting point if they are knowledgeable about ancient coins.

Once you’ve browsed around and seen what the prices are like, you can decide what to collect. Some collectors prefer to collect a representative type series. For example, many collectors try to buy one coin of each of the Roman Emperors. Some prefer thematic collections, such as depictions of animals, buildings, or military items upon coins. Others prefer regional collections, and still others collect on an eclectic basis and buy whatever coins strike their fancy. There really is no wrong way to collect ancient coins, and you can collect and organize your collection as you see fit.

One note of warning: once you hold in your hand a shiny silver, bronze or gold coin that is over 1000 to 2000 years old, you may not only swell with the pride of ownership of this historic item, you might be found by others holding and staring at it while crooning…”yes, my precioussss, I have my precioussss, mine!”

The next post in this series will discuss grading and some essential coin books and resources.

Part 2 in this series can be found here.

Part 3 can be found here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Michigan Democratic Primary Will Offer Internet Voting

From the Detroit News:
Online vote triggers worry
State Dems aim to spur caucus turnout; critics fear the digital divide
By Charlie Cain / Detroit News Lansing Bureau

LANSING -- Despite substantial criticism -- including fears of hackers and the silencing of minority voters -- Michigan Democratic leaders are holding to their plan to allow Internet voting in the Feb. 7 caucus that will select a presidential favorite.

The plan, which is being challenged by seven of the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls, would for the first time allow Michigan voters to use the Internet in a public election. . . .

It's understandable party operatives and candidates get nervous about primary elections, no matter the voting method. When it comes to primaries, Michigan voters have displayed a feisty independent streak.

In the Michigan 2000 Republican Primary, for instance, U.S. Sen. John McCain was the winner, despite the party establishment's solid embrace of George W. Bush.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson shocked the establishment by winning the Democratic primary. And in 1972, George Wallace won the state's Democratic primary amid strong suggestions that Republicans, who knew incumbent President Richard Nixon had the nomination sewn up, crossed over and voted for the controversial Wallace in the Democratic primary.

What the Article doesn't mention is that McCain winning the primary in 2000 was due to Democrats blatantly voting in droves at the Republican primary as Clinton had the "nomination sewn up".

Of course, what goes around, comes around and it looks like Republicans will cross over and vote in the Democratic primary this year...Republicans for Sharpton or Kucinich anyone?

Friday, October 10, 2003

The First Post to the Shekel

Greetings and welcome to my Weblog. As the Title of this Blog states, this site will blog about Coins, the Law and Commentary. I hope you'll find this blog to be both informative and opinionated. There doesn't seem to be any blog that covers the field of numismatics in the bloggosphere yet, so perhaps this will fill a niche.

It is fitting that this, the inaugural post to my Weblog, The Shekel, is about the coin that is the namesake of this blog, The Shekel of the First Jewish Revolt Against Rome.

The Coin pictured above is a silver shekel dated Year One of the Revolt, which was AD 66/67. The Inscription upon the coin is in paleo-Hebrew.

On the Obverse: Cup with the inscription "Shekel of Israel" and an Aleph for Year 1

On the Reverse: Pomegranite with the inscription "Jerusalem The Holy".

The Coin has great historical significance. In AD 66, the Jews revolted against their Roman rulers and declared their independence. The revolt was eventually crushed after five years. The last resisting Jews held out at Masada until they committed suicide rather than being conquered and enslaved by Rome. The Second Jewish Temple was destroyed in this war.

The Picture of the Shekel is from David Hendin's site, Amphora Coins. I encourage you to visit his site to view his wide array of ancient coins and antiquities he has for sale. Mr. Hendin has also written one of the definitive books on Ancient Jewish Coins, and his work is a "must have" for any collector in this area, and also a great read for those interested in history.