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 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.