Monthly Archives: December 2006

2006 in Review

I just spent a few hours reviewing the last year of postings to see what Windypundit was all about. For me, 2006 was the year in which

Sorry if that was too much about me. Here, go read Dave Barry’s review of 2006. It’s much funnier.

Never Get Busted

The drug liberalization blogosphere is all abuzz over Barry Cooper. He’s apparently a former Texas narcotics officer who has produced a video called “Never Get Busted” in which he apparently explains how to avoid getting arrested for drug possession.

As it happens, I too have a foolproof system for avoiding a drug possession arrest: I don’t possess drugs.

I think we can assume that’s not what Cooper has in mind. Presumably, what he’s really going to teach people is how to possess drugs without getting arrested for possessing them.

He claims to be motivated by a desire to help people who will otherwise suffer under our unreasonable narcotics laws. Of course, if that’s all he wanted to do, he could do what the folks at the Flex Your Rights Foundation did with their Busted video: Release the entire video at YouTube.

Instead, Barry Cooper sells the video at his web site for $24.95, plus $5.95 for shipping and handling. There’s nothing wrong with making some money, but a few things about his operation bother me.

First of all, Barry Cooper sounds a lot like infomercial guru Don LaPre, and that’s never a good sign. You may not know the name, but you’d recognize his delivery. I couldn’t find any online video of LaPre, but here’s a parody of Don LaPre that’s pretty close, and here’s one that’s even closer but kind of long.

Second, the Never Get Busted website is just a little too slick looking, especially when compared with the LEAP web site.

Third, according to Libby at Last One Speaks, he approached Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) a few weeks ago and asked to join their speaker’s beureau. He then began promoting his video and claiming to be a LEAP speaker, even though they had told him he couldn’t use LEAP to promote the video. Since then, LEAP has dumped him.

Fourth, in one of his interviews he says this video holds nothing back. So why is it called “Volume 1”?

Fifth, Barry Cooper is totally unknown in the drug law reform community. The folks at the D’Alliance never heard of him, nor did Libby Spencer, Loretta Nall, Pete Guither, or LEAP. If Cooper really believed in his video, aren’t those exactly the people who’d be getting review copies?

There’s a lot of speculation that this could be some sort of undercover operation, perhaps by the DEA, to get drug users to identify themselves. That seems unlikely to me. I think he’s just a hustler looking for a quick buck.

Time will tell, and I’ll publish my apology if I’m wrong.

The Iraq Victory That Might Have Been

Way back in February of 2003, I published my modest proposal for a victory in Iraq. Basically, I noticed that Saddam Hussein didn’t care what we did in Iraq as long as he thought he was still in power. So we take that to an extreme:

My proposal is that we follow a strategy of encroachment. We just slowly keep creeping into Iraq, building air bases and fuel dumps, military hospitals, roads, bridges, rail links, civilian aid stations, and whatever else we can think of until we control 90% of Iraq without firing a shot.

I’m hardly an expert on military matters, so I was just making stuff up for the fun of it, and a couple months later it didn’t matter because our forces captured Baghdad in only three weeks of fighting.

The way things have gone in Iraq since then, however, I’m beginning to think my plan wasn’t so silly after all.

As our forces crept into Iraq, they would presumably have run into all the problems we’re seeing now, except on a much smaller scale because initially they would have occupied only a small fraction of the country. They’d have had a much better American-soldier-to-insurgent ratio, so they would have a pretty good chance of defeating the insurgency, especially since it’s a lot easier to adapt operations to a small theater than a large one.

Once the insurgency was crushed, our forces could have gone about the process of setting up a working civilization of sorts, with schools and hospitals and trained police and a new Iraqi army to prevent future insurgencies. Only when all this was accomplished would our forces have invaded a little further and repeated the process.

I think the military calls this concentrated piece-at-a-time approach defeat in detail. In my little software engineering world, we call it iterative development. There are three principle advantages of an iterative approach that seem to apply here.

First, with an iterative approach you discover problems early and you can quickly adapt your solution to overcome them.

Second, an iterative approach gives you the option of changing the scope of the problem you’re trying to solve. One of our goals in Iraq was to establish a western-style democracy as a demonstration of a better way for other countries in the region to follow. If we had used in iterative approach, we would quickly have discovered that this was a lot harder in some parts of Iraq than in others. We could have withdrawn from the difficult regions and focused our efforts where they’d do the most good. In other words, we’d have built a democracy from the green zones and left the red zones to Saddam.

(This is similar to modern armor doctrine in which enemy strongpoints are bypassed in favor of achieving other battlefield goals. The strongpoints are then isolated and reduced by follow-on forces.)

Third, an iterative approach keeps your initial commitment small so that if you decide the problem is unsolvable, the cost of giving up is not too high. If you’re going to give up anyway, it’s best to do it as soon as possible to limit your casualties. (The ideal, of course, is to quit before you start.)

Since I know so little about warfare, this is all just mental games. It’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek hindsight on a terrible situation. Someone with real military skills could probably trash my ideas easily, unless they found them too incoherent to analyze (i.e. so bad they’re not even wrong).

I knew that when I started this post. Now that I’ve written it, however, I’m starting to believe that maybe there’s some core bit of a good idea here.

In any case, I’m planning to write a few more modest proposals for winning in Iraq, so stay tuned.

The Post-Apocalyptic Desolation of Christmas Day at the Mall

After enduring a full month of insane shopping frenzy at the malls, I usually find that Christmas Day itself feels like the end-of-the-world.

I’m not a big fan of black and white photos from a digital camera because it seems like faking—the digital sensor always captures a color image—but I think it works for this spread. That last photo was the hardest to get because two or three cars a minute were rolling past the front of the grocery to see if it was open.

XMAS in the TIF

Pesche's Flowers at Christmas
Larger ImagePesche's Flowers at Christmas

This is Pesche’s Flowers, one of the many businesses in Des Plaines, Illinois, that the city claims is “blighted” so they can abuse their eminent domain power to replace it with something they like better.

The city’s materials justifying the TIF show some of the worst views of some of the uglier properties, so I thought I’d break with my usual documentary style to show you one of the prettier views in the TIF.

(Unfortunately, even on Christmas Eve, the parking lot lights were set to come on at sunset. It would have been a nicer image without them.)

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!

I think Miss Claus here would like you to have a Merry Christmas.

sexy Miss Claus

The site I got this from describes it as “a sexy Mrs. Claus.” Unless Santa likes ’em really young, however, I think this must be one of his daughters, thus the “Miss” above. Careful guys, he knows when you’ve been bad.

(Why yes, this is sleazy attempt to keep my stats up over Christmas without having to post very much.)