Tuesday, 1 July 2003


Nevada Gov. Kerry Guinn (R-Neptune) is worse than fellow Republican outer-solar-system resident Don Sundquist (R-Pluto), according to Bill Hobbs. It’s some mean feat, but Bill has the goods:

A group of legislators is willing to raise taxes, just not enough the would-be dictator of Nevada wishes, so he’s going to court to make them do it, claiming the state constitution requires them to vote for the higher taxes because it requires sufficient taxes to balance the budget.

Somehow, I don’t see all those Democrats who were incensed that the Texas Rangers were sent out to round up legislators who were blowing off quorum calls being all that upset about this development.

Cue the calliope

It’s time for the Carnival of the Vanities XLI at Amish Tech Support. Next week’s stop: the always-insightful Winds of Change.NET.

Road pricing and anonymity

Brian Micklethwait has a discussion of the privacy issues associated with highway tolls up at The White Rose. Congestion pricing and toll finance are goals that libertarians support, but there are some potential drawbacks to these ideas in the modern “surveillance state.”

Empire and the French

The Dissident Frogman reports on his vacation in Normandy, and notes the disappearance of the American flag from le Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie (a place I had the honor to visit about 13 years ago).

Does this bother me? Perhaps a little. But the Americans who died liberating France, like the Americans who died liberating Iraq, died so the French people and their government would be free to make their own choices. That the French don’t always make the decisions we’d like for them to make is a part of that freedom.

So are they being ungrateful? Yes. Spiteful? Undoubtably. But the freedom they were given was a gift from us (and the British, Canadians, and Poles and others who fought along side us)—the greatest gift America can give the world—and we can no more expect them to use that gift the way we’d want than we can expect a friend to not throw a birthday gift in the back of the closet. And I’d much rather have the French—and the Iraqis—free to decide their own fate in the world, and sometimes getting it “wrong,” than continuing to live under totalitarian rule.

Link via Matthew @ A Fearful Symmetry.

Eugene Volokh thinks that this behavior is worse than the whole “Freedom Fries” nonsense that took place on these shores. He’s probably right on that score at least. Meanwhile, judging from the trackbacks, maybe I’m the only one feeling even vaguely charitable.

Megan wonders why the Germans don’t come in for near as much bashing in the blogosphere. My guess is because (a) they didn’t tell everyone who disagreed with them that they were “missing a good opportunity to keep quiet” and (b) they aren’t French. Now, granted, the second reason is far more compelling if you’re English than if you’re American, but I don’t really pretend to understand it either.

The Dissident Frogman has some important amplifications and clarifications (via Amy).

Bring out da funk, bring in da noise

Mark Pilgrim has removed all the namespaced elements from his RSS feeds. Presumably this makes them non-funky, although the funkiness of the now-elided (but valuable) content:encoded seems debatable—which, I guess, is the whole problem with the “funkiness” issue. One man’s duplication is another man’s way of expressing alternative representations of the same data. (Mark, to his credit, does write up separate excerpts, so they are generally more valuable than your run-of-the-mill “chopped off plaintext representation of the HTML” excerpt feed, like mine.)

He explains:

I want to do all sorts of fancy things that RSS doesn’t allow for. Sure, I could shoehorn a bunch of stuff into namespaces and call it RSS, and it would be, technically; I’ve been doing that for months now. But that’s fundamentally the wrong approach; I see that now. I need a format that is geared for power users like me. It will still have a relatively simple core (probably not as simple as RSS, I mean, how could it be?) but it will have a wide array of well-defined extensions, well-documented, well-maintained, well-organized, and (I hope, someday) well-supported.

Now, I’m not sure where the “power user” line is at; I’m not much of a power user in the grand scheme of things, and even I’d like to see straightforward support for things like geographic and hierarchical aggregation, a unified content model (so my syndication feed, posting API, and TrackBack metadata would share the same code), and sensible treatment of multiple content payloads. I’m not even sure RSS works well for much of anything beyond the “My Netscape” design it started out as. But with RSS and “Echo” soon to be available, people can use the latter when they need to go beyond RSS’s capabilities—without accidentally breaking compatibility with apps that can’t grok advanced features like XML namespaces. And that, my friends, is a Good Thing™.

Sensible things said about marriage

Matthew has a stance on marriage—gay or straight—guaranteed to annoy anyone who’s never read Locke (and probably some of them, too). I won’t spoil it; just go RTWT™.

James Joyner likes the idea in principle, but is concerned about some of the implementation of the details. Given the burgenoning industry surrounding pre-nuptial agreements, I’m not sure we’re that far from solving those problems. And, in terms of inheritance, avoiding probate is largely a matter of having a proper will, and with the inheritance tax on the way out the door the potential tax issues are greatly simplified for people in most states.

Overall, it seems to this non-lawyer like most of the practical benefits of marriage (excepting the tax benefits) are largely duplicated in existing contract law; the trick is to create a “civil union” contract that contains those provisions—durable power of attorney, the method of disposal of assets upon dissolution, etc.