Thursday, February 26, 2004

Coin of the Week - A Denarius of Commodus

A Coin dated to 180-183 AD of the infamous Roman Emperor Commodus. Staring alongside Russel Crowe in the movie Gladiator.

On the obverse of the coin appears the head of Commodus
On the Reverse, Mars is holding a spear and trophy - a symbol of the Emperor's martial prowess.

There is no evidence that he killed Marcus Aurelius as depicted in the film. The film was correct in Commodus hosting a great many games and spectacles, and Commodus did apparently participate in gladiatorial combat in front of the crowds himself, not to mention dressing up like Hercules, which was unfortunately not depicted in the film.

Commodous, like many Roman Emperors came to a sticky end - Commodus was murded by being strangled in his bath by an athlete in a plot that apparently had the involvement of his mistress.

Click here for a brief bio of Commodus.

This coin is in VF condition and is for sale at Harlan J. Berk with an estimate (top selling price) of $90.00. Not a high price to pay for a silver coin of an infamous emperor.

John Kerry and Adbusters

Perhaps Adbuster's editor Kalle Lasn's antisemitic screed and advocation of terrorism in Adbusters may become a campaign issue.

What does John Kerry have to do with Adbusters you may ask and why might it become a campaign issue? The Answer is simple - his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry - and her donations in support of left-wing causes.

As noted in Front Pages article: Teresa Heinz Kerry: Bag Lady for the Radical Left, Teresa Heinz has given over $4 million dollars to the Tides Foundation.

One of the many leftist recipients of the Tides Foundation's largesse as can be seen in their 2002 report is Adbusters. Of course an anti-capitalist, anti-semite magazine cannot generate enough revenue to support itself, it needs the largess of the Left, to the tune of $81,753.00 in one year alone (they have received similar sized grants in many other years).

Thus Kerry's wife, through the Tides foundation is directly supporting a magazine advocating terrorism and anti-semitism.

One may only hope that someone will ask John Kerry if he supports this charitable giving and the causes to which it is being funelled.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Jordan Complains about Israeli Security Fence

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (prior to 1948 known as Transjordan), that well known upholder of Human Rights is testifying at the World Court complaining about Israel's security fence.

Al Hussein (Head of the Jordanian delegation) called the suicide bombings "horrific." But he also said they must be seen in the context of Israel's four-decade occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which he called "dominating . . . and degrading" to Palestinians.

Instead of course, he advised that Israel to deal with the Palestinian Arabs as Jordan had in 1970-1971 when it went to war with the PLO on its territory, put down their uprising with a vengeance and drove them out of Jordan, killing at a minimum 2000 of the Palestinian Arabs. No he didn't really testify to that effect. Maybe he instead advised the court that Israel should not build the security fence and instead deal with the territory as Jordan had when it occupied the West Bank area from 1948-1967 - by annexing the territory to Jordan.

Ok he didn't testify to that effect either, but a little honesty in his testimony would have been refreshing.

CD Price Fixing Settlement Check Arrives

Yesterday, even before this article was published, I received my check for $13.86 as part of the settlement.

It seems a number of record companies engaged in a price-fixing scheme:
The Distributor Defendants are: Capitol Records, Inc. d/b/a EMI Music Distribution, Virgin Records America, Inc., and Priority Records LLC; Time Warner, Inc., Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., WEA, Inc., Warner Music Group, Inc., Warner Bros. Records, Inc., Atlantic Recording Corporation, Elektra Entertainment Group, Inc., and Rhino Entertainment Company; Universal Music & Video Distribution Corporation, Universal Music Group, Inc., and UMG Recordings, Inc.; Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc. and BMG Music; and Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

These distributors were sued by the various State's Attorney's General's Offices and this settlement resulted.

All of these defendants are also members of the RIAA, the group suing people who share music on the Internet, perhaps had they engaged in less price fixing, keeping the prices of CDs artifically high, there would have been less file sharing and more people legitimately buying the music.

Now should I buy a music CD with the money or really annoy these defendants and buy a pack of CD-Rs?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Totten busts Adbusters

Totten delivers an exquisite beating of Adbusters' head editor, Kalle Lasn, who is an idiotarian, and an anti-semitic communist shmuck besides. Totten doesn't deliver a Fisking, just a good, solid beating, well done in a manner that is a joy to behold. Read this lovely beating right now.

New Entries on the Blogroll

I've now added the following blogs to my Blogroll as writers worthy of a daily read:

  • Michael J. Totten I just came across his blog when reading Instapundit. Simply excellent, exquisite, powerful, writing -- a must see.

  • VodkaPundit Penetrating commentary with a kiss of vermouth. Why I didn't blogroll him earlier I'm not sure as I've been regularly reading his blog.

  • Clayton Cramer's Blog -Excellent writing on Second Amendment issues.
  • Sunday, February 22, 2004

    Ebert's Review of Osama misses the mark

    Roger Ebert's review of the movie Osama errs when after listing a slew of the Taliban's atrocities and mistreatments of women, so ably recounted in the film and as he mentions in the Film, The Circle about the treatment of women in the mullah's Iran, states that The real weapons of mass destruction are ... men.

    Wrong Ebert, the real "weapons of mass destruction" here are the fundamentalist Islamists.

    Ebert even contradicts his statement in his own review when he notes that In this country Janet Jackson bares a breast and causes a silly scandal. The Taliban would have stoned her to death. If you put these things into context, the Jackson case begins to look like an affirmation of Western civilization.

    If Ebert hasn't noticed, Western civilization has a lot of men in it, and men aren't the problem here. Instead, it is fundamentalist Islam, with its misogynist and backwards view of women that is the cause of the horrors highlighted in the film Osama.

    Friday, February 20, 2004

    You can't make this stuff up: Body mix-up during POW exchange deal: Terrorists demand 30 more bodies

    From: Maariv international Edition

    Arab paper: Israel made a mistake and gave Hezbollah the body of Jew instead of a Lebanese drug dealer. Hezbollah demanding bodies of 30 terrorists to correct the mistake.

    Hezbollah claims that Israel made a mistake during the recent prisoner exchange and sent them the body of a Jew instead of that of Lebanese drug dealer Muhamed Biro who died in an Israeli prison when he was 70 years old.

    Hmm, so now Israel has to go kill 30 terrorists to make up for the offense? I'm sure the IDF would be willing to accomodate Hezbollah's demands.

    Also worthy of note is Hezbollah is making all this fusss over the body of a Drug Dealer...I didn't realize that the Hezbollah was not only a terrorist group but also a drug legalization advocacy group, maybe that's why Reuters still can't bring itself to characterize them as a terrorist group, after all it does so much more than just commit acts of terrorism.

    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    New York Times Praises Al-Jazeera

    The New York Times, that well-known bastion of objectivity and ethics, now praises (uncritically and with a straight face no less) Al Jazeera as providing "Balanced Coverage".

    The New York Times in its flattering puff-piece fails to mention that:

    -Al Jazeera journalists actively supported anti-American forces in Iraq

    -Al Jazeera's Website has ran antisemitic articles approvingly quoting Holocaust deniers

    -Al Jazeera's Website is a Pro-Palestinian and biased look at the middle east and lauds suicide bomers as "self-sacrificing fighters" (How's that for the euphemism of the day?)

    -Al Jazeera regularly runs anti-western coverage.

    Interestingly the fawning NYT article also reports that Al Jazeera plans "Al Jazeera for kids." I can just imagine the first feature show: How to be a fair and balanced Suicide Bomber. Nice to see that investigative and objective journalism is still a lost art at the Times.

    Hat tip and go forth and subscriber to it for more information: Honest Reporting.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    Coin of the Week - A Sela of The Bar Kochba Revolt

    Continuing with the Temple Theme of my last post, here's an appropriate coin:

    This is a Silver Tetradrachm or in Hebrew a Sela of Year Two of the Bar Kochba War 132-135 C.E., Struck in 133/34 C.E.

    On the Obverse: Facade of the Temple in Jerusalem (yes, upon the Temple Mount, take that Waqf!) with ark and scrolls viewed from end in center; on two sides 'Jerusalem.'
    On the Reverse: Lulav with etrog at left; Hebrew around 'Year two of the freedom of Israel.'

    This coin is in Extremely Fine condition and is for sale at Amphora Coins for $4,800.00. Not an inexpensive coin by any means, but one of outstanding historical significance and rarity. The coin is yet one more item of proof of a Jewish presence in jerusalem and upon the Temple Mount.

    Now I of course will not object if someone hits the Amazon Tip Box on my site and contributes so I can save up to buy and preserve this wonderful coin.

    Massive Destruction of Archaeological Artifacts

    The Waqf, the Moslem Authority in charge of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been actively excavating and doing a lot of construction work on the site to build yet another Mosque. Not only is this work destablizing the mount and the already existing mosques upon it but it seems to be deliberately aimed at destroying any sign of a Jewish presence on the Mount.

    As noted at Little Green Footballs, due to the excavation, a portion of the Temple Mount's stone embankment collapsed, most likely due to the digging and excavating.

    Of course, as noted in the caption on LGF's page, the "militant Islamic group Hamas vowed February 16, 2004 to exact revenge against Israel over the collapse of a stone embankment". Amazing, when the Arabs are responsible for the collapse Hamas then blames Jews. Go figure.

    The Waqf, without any archeological supervision is digging in the area of King Solomon's Stables and elsewhere on the mount, and seems to be bent on destroying any trace of the Jewish presence there and what the Temple Mount area actually looks like, even using artistically decorated stones from the Jewish Temple period as parts of a retaining wall.

    Incredibly the Waqf denies that there is any Jewish presence:, "Jerusalem Mufti Shiekh Ekrima Sabri told Itim news agency Sunday that there are no historical artifacts that belong to the Jews on the Temple Mount and that construction work in the area is legitimate and legal. He added that the Palestinian and Muslin people have the right to renovate all parts of the mountain."

    This is cultural destruction and barbarism that surpasses the Waqf's islamic bretheren, the Taliban and its destruction of the Budda statues in Afghanistan. Why does it surpass it? Because the Temple Mount is THE holiest site to Judaism and an important Christian site as well, while the Buddah statutes are not the holiest site to Buddhism.

    The lack of world outrage and condemnation over this destruction is appalling. The Israeli Government needs to stop the Waqf from any further construction in order to preserve the holy site. It will be interesting to see whether the world condemns Israel for preventing the destruction of the site, or praises it for preserving this incredibly historic, culturally and religiously significant site - Most of you know what the World's reaction will be.

    Update: Another good summary of the situation can be found here.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    On Ancient Coin Jewelry

    Coins have been used as part of jewelry perhaps for as long as coins have existed.

    Today, many fine examples of coin jewelry abound, using both ancient and modern coins in precious and base metals as part of the design for necklaces, earrings, rings, cufflinks and more.

    The use of ancient coins in jewelry poses somewhat of a quandry to an ancient numismatist: While modern coins are extremely plentiful and minted by the millions, ancient coins are a scarcer resource and are obviously not being produced anymore.

    Jewelry featuring, for example, American Gold Eagle coins, while it eliminates the numismatic value of a bullion coin, the final product exceeds that base value and does not really affect the cost of other American Eagle or other gold bullion coins, as they are so plentiful.

    But, when a highly artistic ancient coin of exceptional quality is mounted in jewelry, the numismatic value of it is lost and it also affects the price of other similar ancient coins by making that type scarcer. Mounting such a piece may also cause it to lose relative value over time as high-grade unmounted coins tend to appreciate in value.

    On the other hand, ancient coins that are plentiful and below the high-end collector grades are often made into jewlery and the product often exceeds the numismatic value of the coin by a considerable margin. A common, worn coin costing perhaps $30 at a coin show or from a dealer's bargain list may be mounted in a precious-metal jewelry item and sold for five or even ten times its numismatic value, as the resulting product turns an otherwise unexceptional coin into a feature of a beautiful new creation.

    As a numismatist, I of course do not want to see the high grade, collectible coins mauled and formed into jewelry so that their intrinsic value is reduced. But, I have no problem with lower grade, more common coins being turned into artistic pieces for sale. Such jewelry offers buyers unique products and also makes ancient coins visible and interesting to the public. Then again, if someone wants to treat their property in a fashion differently than I would prefer, who am I to decide for them?

    A good place to look for and at examples of coin jewelry is Porat Jewlry which has a nice selection of coin-based jewelry as well as other products. I've ordered other jewelry (I haven't bought any coin jewelry myself yet) from Porat and was very pleased with the product and service. Their coins fit my definition of commoner types, so I have no quandry in directing you there to look and enjoy, and perhaps to buy and wear (note - Coin Jewelry is a very unique gift for Valentines Day that may get you in the good graces of your significant other).

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    Blacks in Michigan disenfranchised by the Democratic at?

    First Florida (a butterfly ballot drafted by a Democrat) and now the Michigan Democrat caucus, oh, the shame of it.

    Reported in the Sunday oakland Press, but apparently not available online was a story that many Detroit Blacks were disenfranchised and unable to vote due to the machinations or incompetencies (you pick which one) of the Democrats.

    Polling places had their locations changed to prevent these democrats from voting as they couldn't find the new locations. There is even talk of various Black groups filing a lawsuit to overturn this primary election and rehold it due to the widespread disenfranchisement that took place.

    On searching the web, this story is buried in an article in the Detroit News:

    The state Democratic Party had posted the caucus sites on its Web page and mailed Democratic voters a list of caucus sites statewide, but that list wasn't accurate on Saturday. Brewer denied accusations from the state directors of Howard Dean and John Edwards' campaigns that the problems were disenfranchising presidential caucus voters.

    "You're talking about 1 to 2 percent of 600 caucus sites (being moved) around the state," Brewer said. "Nobody's disenfranchised. ... I think this is much ado about nothing on the part of the Dean campaign."

    Edwards state director Derek Albert, however, said most of the moved sites were affecting minority voters and were robbing them of their right to vote.

    "This is worse than in the '60s," said Albert, who also is chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus. "This is horrible. This election needs to be stopped. Because this is not right."

    Why this story of how the Democrats seem to have disenfranchised many Black eligible voters, and "robbed" them of their right to vote is not frontpage news across the state, if not the nation is beyond this pundit. I'm shocked, simply shocked that there is no great moral outrage against the Democrats preventing minorities from voting.

    No Surprise, Kerry wins in Michigan

    Kerry as expected finished first with 50% of the caucus vote, with Dean in a "close" second with 17%. Source: The Oakland press

    One nice feature of the article is all the fun quotes from Democrats. At least one democrat caucus voter seems to be aware that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but that seems to be ok with him:

    Lawrence Hardy cast his vote at city hall for Dean, saying "I just like the way he talks."

    The Pontiac resident said he was voting Democratic "so people can get jobs and I can grow my social security."

    Friday, February 06, 2004

    Al Sharpton joins in as Plaintiff against Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Group

    The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative group is attempting to place on the November 2004 ballot a referrendum question allowing Michigan's voters to decide if racial preferences should be permitted in public education and government. Of course, opponents, fearing the refferendum would pass by an overwhelming margin are attemptinto stop it from reaching the ballot.

    These same opponents of the referendum, who claimed that as Californian civil rights activist Ward Connerly was assisting the refferendum efforts it was an attempt by "Out of staters" to force their will on Michigan have added a new plaintiff to their case: The out-of-stater and Democrat Presidiential hopeful Al Sharpton.

    Pot....Kettle....Affirmative Action Proponents.

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    Detroit News comes out against Michigan's policy on Interstate Wine

    Michigan Wasting Effort Defending Outdated Wine Law: Prohibition era law, already declared unconstitutional, forbids interstate shipping of wine
    reads the headline in the Detroit News editorial, and they're right. Glad to see both major Detroit papers standing against this ban and the AG's pursuit of an appeal to the Supreme court. The paper even shot down the "it's for the children" argument in favor of the current ban.

    Hopefully the AG takes heed and drops the suit, or the Supreme Court backs the 6th and other Circuit court decisions that have held such bans to be violations of the commerce clause.

    Michigan Dem establishment backs Kerry

    Not Surprisingly, since her husband is the coordinator of the Kerry campaign, Michigan's governor has endorsed Kerry for the Dem nomination. In addition both of Michigan's senators, Levin, Stabenow back Kerry.

    So it seems that Kerry is now The Michigan Dem establishment's candidate. The polls likewise put Kerry far out in the lead with 56% of likely voters with Dean in second with only 9%.

    It looks like other candidates have, looking at this commanding lead decided not to fight as hard in Michigan, which is a shame. The Michigan dems have a habit of backing a flamboyant, in-your-face type of candidate, and Dean would likely appeal to many, especially the Ann Arbor Dem set. After all, The Dems in the previous gubernatorial race backed Trial lawyer Geoffrey Fieger who was the definition of in-your-face against John Engler (Fieger lost).

    You may ask why then isn't there a greater support for Fieger's fellow trial lawyer John Edwards? Because Fieger had - and has - flamboyance, style, panache, and Edwards comes across as a wet noodle.

    I would think that Dean should try harder in Michgian, given the left-set in Ann Arbor and elsewhere. His effort would at least make the primary interesting to watch rather than it being a foregone conclusion of the appointment of the new Dem establishment candidate.

    What happened to "and Michigan" Yeaaarrgh?

    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    In praise of Netflix

    Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolutions has an entry with some good things to say about Netflix.

    I started a membership with Netflix this January and I have been quite impressed myself with this service.

    Movies are shipped quickly and you receive emails when the movies are shipped to you and when Netflix has received them back. The only slowdowns I've seen are during postal holidays, which are not Netflix's fault.

    I'm impressed with the selection, which includes many movies, and especially TV series sets of DVDs (such and the X-Files, 24, Poirot, etc) that many video stores simply don't carry,

    For $19.95 per month plus tax, you can have three DVDs out at any one time. Given the transit time for travel of the DVDs to and from Netflix is about a week, if you watch the movie on the night you receive it, you can get on average three movies per week, or 12 movies a month for a cost of about $1.60 per movie, which beats most video stores for cost, especailly for the movies that are increasingly inappropriately labelled "new releases" (how does a video store get away with calling a movie that has been out on video for over six months a new release?).

    I have been accused of maximizing by my wife as she is amused when i immediately watch a movie and then return it the following day. What can I say, except that I like to maximize my movie watching potential.

    The Free Press almost endorses Free trade in Wine

    Impressivley, the Detroit Free Press in its editorial Out-of-State Wine: Better to compromise on sales than pursue appeal, declares that The Michigan Attorney general should instead of pursuing what will likely be a losing appeal in the Supreme Court, compromise with those who wish to be able to order wine from outside the state and arrange for "controlled direct-to-consumer shipments of beer and wine".

    Not once does the Freep bring up the "its for the children" emotional argument in favor of the ban, and for that I thank them. I'm all for the protection of children, but permitting adults to legally purchase alcohol from other states, whether from online, catalog or mail order sources does not endanger kids any more than an adult being able to buy wine at the corner store.

    I'm glad the Freep is arguing against the protectionist, unconstitutional restrtaint of commerce policies of the State of Michigan. Of course, I'd rather there be no controlled direct consumer shipments, but merely shipments. Allowing "control" may reopen the battle all over again, unless the control is limited say to the limit that an adult must sign for the alcohol on delivery and it cannot be purchased by underage people.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    Michigan Schools "Sexing Up" Their Evaluations to Avoid Failing Grades

    Looks like it isn't just the BBC that sexes up a report every now and then.

    Some Michigan Schools are giving themselves the highest possible self-evaluation ratings to avoid getting a failing grade on their federal and state report cards grading themselves with an A to increase their average above F or D.

    It is not an isolated occurrence as 76% of "troubled" schools statewide gave themselves A's on the report.

    Read the whole sordid mess at the Detroit News: Schools give selves A's, avert failure

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    Arafat's Useless Idiots

    Peace group united in desire to stop U.S. aid to Israel: Members of the group Jewish Witnesses For Peace and Friends acknowledge they're fighting an unpopular battle. Unpopular, how about acknowledging its battle is moronic, if not just idiotarian?

    "Made up of a dozen or so Oakland County and Ann Arbor residents, the group is united by common political beliefs and weekly demonstrations in front of three prominent synagogues in Ann Arbor. Ah, a group with widespread popular support...all of a dozen or so idiots. Ok, it is Ann Arbor and such left-wing idiocy is to be expected, but shame oin the Oakland Press for giving it front page treatment in its paper. Hell you can find more than a dozen people in Ann Arnbor that want Congress to ban Dihydrous Oxide!

    Now for a lovely idiotarian quote: If somebody built a wall in my backyard and I had to apply for a permit to get from my front yard to my back yard, I'd be upset," said Nolin. . Well my dear morally challenged Ara-drone, maybe you should refocus and be upset that those you're supporting have continually committed and attempted to commit suicide attacks against innocent civillians, and as a result the Israeli, like any government would, has moved to protect its civillians from your dear friends. The wall is a response to the terrorist attacks, not a cause. The security fence is working by reducing the number of attacks that get thorough. Too bad if the terrorists and their enablers are upset that its going to be harder for them to attack innocents and they are inconvenienced. They had plenty of opportunities for peace and they have rejected all of them.

    A pity my dear Ara-drone that you fail to condemne these attacks and instead try and castigate Israel, the victim, rather than blame the attackers. If there were no suicide attacks, heck if they were any Arabs in the territories in positions of leadership who were really serious about peace, the security fence would be uncessary.

    In short, you're not even good enough to rank as one of Lenin's Useful Idiots, you and your Ara-dozen are thereby relegated to the term Useless Idiots. Keep on dreaming in peaceful Ann Arbor, where you ahve no worries about a suicide attack against you. Better yet, please refocus your energies and join with others in Ann Arbor who seek to ban Dihydrous Oxide, and leave the Middle East to those with a clue.

    MI Attorney General Appeals Wine sale decision to the Supreme Court

    Seeking to uphold Michigan's ban on internet, catalog and mail-order wine sales, the Attorney general is appealing a decision of the Sixth Circuit Court that such a ban is unconstitutional AS it is in violation of the Commerce Clause, as reported in The Detroit News in an Article ALCOHOL AND THE CONSUMER: Wine buyers see red over law.

    The strongest argument in favor of the current law is the 21st amendment, of course the most emoptional argument is that its "for the children" to stop them from purchasing alcohol online. Amazingly, most states allow such online sales and there have been no reports of masses of minors becoming shicker from online sales.

    The current law restricts competition and consumer choice, and why should we ban adults from a beneficial activity and health (finding wine, beer and spirits that suit their interests and tastes - also a glass of red wine per day is supposedly good for you) just because some kid might use mommy's credit card to buy alcohol online. The argument doesn't wash as most dcarriers require an adult signature for delivery of alcohol and if a kid can't find someone to go to the corner store and buy him a six-pack, he's not going to be smart enough to order alcohol online sucessfully either.

    Hopefully the Supreme Court either refuses to hear the case or overrules this vintage law.