Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

For your viewing pleasure: No more kings!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Declaration of Independence quotes of the day

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.


He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.


He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:[...] For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world[...]
The Holiday season, con't

A few hours past the halfway mark between Canada Day and the Fourth, go rent Blue State. A cute little charmer of an indie comedy that has a surprising bite to it, this is tale of two Americans trying to move to Canada in the wake of the 2004 presidential election. It paints with a pretty broad brush sometimes, but it does so in a pretty equal-opportunity way (the annoyingly earnest Kerry activist, the Limbaugh-listening military family president, and O, the Canadians...) and mostly in ways that still provide humor based on recognition and on truth. And if some of the movie is more about Canadian stereotypes of Americans and vice-versa than it really is about either place, well, border-crossings are sometimes like that.

Rogue the kid from The Piano Anna Paquin really shines; I hadn't seen her in a lead role before, and while costar Breckin Mayer gets a majority of the character-establishing rat-a-tat dialogue, her character fully balances his on the strength of Paquin's acting.

To American expats in Canada, it's very funny.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Quote of the day runner-up

from Amber Taylor: "Darwin Award Playoffs Begin: Idiots make pilgrimage to site of other idiot's death; are likely to die idiotically." (Click through to see the context.)
Something I had not realized...

that greatly surprised me.

The Solicitor General filed an amicus brief in Plains Commerce Bank v Long in favor of tribal jurisdiction. (The Court ruled the other way, of course.)

That was the correct position for the federal government to take, in its capacity as trustee for Indian tribes and in line with its official policy of encouraging institution-building for self-determination. But just because it's correct doesn't mean I would have expected it.

The brief is quite good. (The SG's office hires pretty good lawyers, after all.) A pleasant surprise-- the first so far, in my reading of the case and its materials.
Quote of the day

From Julian Sanchez:

I was having a conversation with a couple friends the other night about our own ideological trajectories, and I mentioned how my attitude had shifted toward a semi-famous essay by Robert Nozick called “The Zig-Zag of Politics.” This is the one where Nozick was seen as renouncing his youthful libertarian views—though when I interviewed him in 2001, he claimed that reports of his apostasy had been much exaggerated. I used to think this was a befuddling instance of a thinker who’d made some brilliant and original arguments for the libertarian position backing away from it for some pretty poor reasons. I still think that about some of the arguments floated there: Expressing our symbolic concern for the poor is all well and good, but it is a poor justification if the means of doing so are both ineffective and otherwise morally questionable.

But one of the central ideas there—and a theme in much of his later work—was that no deductive moral or political system could embed as much wisdom as the process of deliberation and reform over time. I wrote about this a couple years back when I said, somewhat anachronistically, that Nozick viewed philosophy as a Wiki. I’m certainly the last one out there to idealize or romanticize the democratic process: It’s a field on which ignorant armies clash by night, afflicted with all the problems so familiar to public choice theorists. I suppose one way to put it is that I’ve become more of a Bayesian about politics: I cannot help but notice that lots of folks who are as smart or smarter than I have rather radically different views about what sort of polity is best, and I cannot quite bring myself to conclude that they’re simply watching shadows dance on the cave walls, while I have glimpsed the Forms. And so I don’t, these days, much find myself thinking about the specific contours of libertopia. Instead, I tend to find myself thinking in terms like: “Well, let’s push in this direction and see how it works.” You have to be careful there too, of course, since depending on the details, a government-market hybrid (say) will just give you the disadvantages of both. (See: Healthcare System, United States.) But I think this is the direction you end up pushed in if you take Hayek’s warnings about “constructivist rationalism” sufficiently seriously. On this model, libertarianism isn’t so much a final picture of a just society as a specific sort of toolkit for working on Neurath’s ship.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Canada Day viewing

What else could it be?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The holiday season

If I've counted correctly, today is halfway between Jean-Baptiste and American Independence Day, which means it's time to go watch Les Invasions Barbares, "The Barbarian Invasions," the widely-honored (including with the best foreign-language film Oscar) Quebec film about death, reconciliation, and retrospective wisdom ("Was there an 'ism' we didn't worship?") that also happens to include some very telling bits about the Quebec health care system and the importance of the exit option into the United States.