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Item 1 - Had an interesting talk with my Economics professor today. I had a disagreement with something that came up today about Externalities. You know, the free rider problem, tragedy of the commons, social goods, the Laffer curve, deadweight loss, etc. Ended up walking him to his office and continuing the discussion there. I mentioned my study of the Cato Institute. Found a lot of common ground and a nice give and take.

I'm doing amazingly well in school this semester, having made 5 As and 2 Bs on exams so far and having only missed one class. I really like my Biology prof and Econ prof. Accounting is a 250 person class, so it's hard to really judge. The others are just passable. But I sit front and center in every single class and I'm never late. It's great. It feels like I'm the only person in the class.

Item 2 - Going to rent two movies. The Siege and Gattaca. Both on the recommendations of others.

Item 3 - Bikes. First, a nicely modded Fireblade. Next, a turbocharged, 1.6 liter, nitrousized Busa trike. Next, a 150 mph purpose built bike and sidecar called The Zeus. Next, Honda's tiny new V5 four-stroke GP bike to compete against the 500cc two strokes, known as the RC211V. And finally, another three-wheeled vehicle (with two wheels in front instead of at the rear) called the T-Rex. Read about a 970 horsepower, daily-driven Dodge Viper!

Item 4 - They're at it again. So predictable. Singin' folk songs and ignorin' reality (gawd, why does so much good music have to have a one-track political agenda?). I saw two stories on "Peace" protestors today, one from San Fran, one from Dallas. I could not believe my eyes and ears. They have the right to do what they're doing (don't think they understand *why* they have that right), but I think these folks are among the largest idiots I have ever witnessed. Almost makes me want to join a counter-protest. But they've become essentially irrelevant.

Item 5 - You know how you're advised not to open attachments to email that you weren't expecting or from people you don't know? Well, now we can add to that: don't open bags of unidentified powder arriving in envelopes or packages from unknown sources. Apparently (as it stands right now), two to three people at least were exposed to laboratory-prepared 'inhalation' Anthrax this way. Only one person actually contracted the disease (he's dead). It may have been a test or a failed attempt.

Item 6 - Listened to a two hour interview (on Charley's show) with Master Sergeant Jess Johnson, US special Forces (Green Beret), Retired. Dozens of cogent points. Master Sergeant Johnson is one of the main forces right now trying to convince the powers that be that we MUST HAVE an aggressive immunization program (Anthrax and Smallpox and others) in this country. The US is woefully unprepared at this time to deal with any sort of massive biological attack. A well-orchestrated, widespread attack on a city like LA, NYC, Dallas, or Chicago (or, -gulp-, the Olympics, where we learned this weekend that both my sister and her fiance would be in February because of some show that Bob is directing--I'm not happy about this at all!) could make the WTC attacks look almost trivial. Once you start investigating all the ways to spread death, you realize what we're up against and what could very well occur in the next decade right here in our home. It wouldn't take that much to literally DESTROY this country.

I talked to Master Sergeant Johnson about the fact that we can't incarcerate bin Laden and his lieutenants (my point is that this would lead to all kinds of hostage-taking, threats, and coercion--he needs to just disappear quietly) and the possibility of conscription. Master Sergeant Johnson believes that some type of mandatory service will have to be imposed at some point in the coming years. He was careful to make the point that it might not be flat out military conscription, but that Homeland Security will be a large factor in the near future, particularly in light of the fact that there are likely to be much more massive terrorist strikes than what we've experienced thus far. The military was decimated under the Clinton administration, being cut in size by 61%, and in fact, the Clinton administration bears some (but not all) of the blame for the lapse in the intelligence capabilities of various US agencies. He also thinks Pakistani President Musharaff is ripe for assassination by a radical Islamic party, a truly frightening speculation considering Pakistan's major nuclear arsenal and launch capability. Tell me again why a missile defense system is a bad idea. It was an intriguing two hours.

Item 7 - Rumsfeld says the coalition has now gained 'air supremacy' over Afghanistan and can conduct humanitarian drops and/or further strikes 24 hours a day without risking AA fire. The irony is he also mentions they're quickly running out of targets. And Taliban soldiers are defecting by the thousands. George Will said a few weeks ago "what can you do to Afghanistan that it hasn't already done to itself?"

Meanwhile, the Taliban now say they've lifted their restrictions on bin Laden. How effective were these restrictions when they allowed Mr. bin Laden to coordinate and order a vicious act of war from across the world? Does anyone else think Pirates of the Caribbean when the Taliban do their little press conferences? Perhaps they need a new PR man. A member of Al Qaeda made a statement today. Promised more terrorist attacks (specifically, more suicide hijackers, but he left the door open for anything). Oh, darn. You mean you guys were going to stop but now that we've bombed the country you're going to keep going? Doh! NATO surveillance planes are now flying over the US mainland. Stay tuned! Keep your eyes and ears open.

Item 8 - I've listened to a lot of radio hosts over the years: Charley Jones, Ernie Brown, Rick Roberts, Philip Rasak, Jim Bohannon, Matt Drudge, Mark Davis, Sean Hannity, Gary McNamara, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingram, Gary Nolan, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager...

But Rush Limbaugh is an interesting case. Back when I was an ignorant 18 year old voting for liberals because I thought it was the nice, green, PC, equitable, compassionate thing to do (circa 1992), Rush Limbaugh was the foe. I had the typical ultra-predictable, programmed, conformist attitude of rebellion. I thought money was bad, Republicans were racist, sexist, dangerous fascists, freedom was a given, patriotism was obsolete, one world government was the way to go, the military was unnecessary and full of killers, guns were 'bad', there was never ever a reason for war or military force, business majors were to be deplored and mocked, and everything about the Democrats oozed kindness, acceptance, equality, concern, etc. And Limbaugh epitomized (I thought) everything bad about 'conservatives' and Republicans. That arrogant rich fatass bigot. Hey, I was an empty-headed kid not even through high school. What do you expect? I hadn't read and hadn't thought independently about ANYthing. Oh, the framework (i.e., my pre-high school upbringing) for what I realized later on was there, and that's why this was only a phase. I grew up and I learned about the world.

Without being too verbose, I'll just say that my road to enlightenment started around the time I finished The Fountainhead. Some say Rand is the philosophical equivalent of a Big Mac, but to a kid used to feasting on stale bread crumbs, it provided the right kind of eye-opening experience.

Anyway, Rush Limbaugh persisted through the years. I don't remember when I decided to tune in the show or how I found it (may have had something to do with being in the car with no tapes and the only alternative being dreadful FM or Laura Schleshinger). But I was already a regular listener of Charley, Ernie, Boortz, and others. Rush Limbaugh is great. He understands the big picture and all the details like no one else and is able to succintly illustrate the basis for his opinions. Nothing illustrated as starkly to me how downright *fucked up* I had been over half a decade earlier than the fact that Rush Limbaugh made mountains of sense. Rush Limbaugh is not a bigot. He is not a racist. He's not a sexist. He doesn't hate poor people. He's not an arrogant bastard. In fact, El Rushbo runs a very good show. He is always willing to give a caller time to speak. He is always respectful. He genuinely appreciates dissenting opinions. The show has a unique pacing and tenor. I've never called in (there are millions of listeners every day), but short of Charley Jones, no other show feels as intimate and relaxed.

But anyway, I find myself agreeing strongly with around 75-85 percent of what The Rushy says. There really is a lot of common ground between a Republican and a libertarian (with a lowercase 'l'). Heck, there are issues I don't agree with the Libertarian Party on (immigration, for instance). My main points of contention with Rush these days would be things like abortion, stem-cell research, and the level of continued criminalization of drugs and Drug War legislation (and Rush is reasonably tolerant of differing viewpoints, unlike Boortz or Drudge). We're on the same page on so much, and Rush is a true joy to listen to and learn from. I find myself nodding, taking notes, marveling.

I think that realization that I knew nothing and thought I knew everything is an interesting phenomenon in my own life. Rush is just one aspect. But I was certainly distressed today to hear the news that Rush is 'effectively deaf', and that within 1-2 months he will be 100 percent deaf in both ears. A recessive gene or some kind of disorder. The future of the show is uncertain. It's too bad. After all my strong feelings during my moron years, he really is a damn nice guy and I wish him well.

"Cuz I... I... I... I... was a teenage... Democrap"