Firefly

My son and I watched all of the episodes of the Firefly TV show on DVD (via Netflix). We never watched the show when it originally aired, but we like Buffy and Angel and we heard that there’s a Firefly movie in the works, so we decided to check it out.

We liked it so much we’ve decided to buy the DVD set. It’s got all of
the great Joss Whedon characterizations, morality, and dialog. Although it’s set in the future and is definitely science fiction, it has a great old west flavor to it as well; and all of the characters are human. It’s hard to describe. But, if you have any interest I highly recommend it.

GMail

Eugene Volokh makes a lot of sense (he keeps doing that!) about the new Google free e-mail service (here and here). Google will provide 1GB of disk space (WooHoo!), with advanced searching capabilities, but will include targeted advertising based on the content of the messages (as determined by computers, not humans).

A California state senator has suggested banning the service, based on privacy concerns. But, as Eugene says:

It’s about preventing a form of marketing that some people think is distasteful, and that some people think might change people’s attitudes towards privacy (“the idea that e-mail is as private as a letter slowly recedes”).

I don’t think that this is something that the California Legislature should be using its coercive power to do. The government shouldn’t be banning voluntary services — services that many users might find to be quite valuable to them, and to involve no real intrusion on the rights of others — in order to prevent changes to voters’ ideas about e-mail.

Cookies

The bad news is that it’s Tax Day here in the U.S., and the income tax is immoral, and filling out the forms manually is ridiculously painful.

The good news is that Subway is giving away free cookies!

A few years ago, my friend Haym Hirsh quoted me in his .plan file as saying:

“I think making us go through the hell of filing, is like making prisoners dig their own graves.”

Since then, I’ve been using TurboTax for the Web and it’s been a lot less painful (but still immoral).

Anyway, enjoy a cookie if you get a chance.

Update: Check out the comments in which Sasha Volokh craftily draws me into a discussion about something other than cookies.

The 9-11 Commission

Jane Galt has a great post today about the 9-11 Commission (The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States).

She correctly observes that if the expectation is to discover how the attack could have been prevented and to recommend changes that will prevent future attacks, then the commission might end up doing more harm than good.

It’s possible, I would guess probable, that there is no way to do this in a way that is an improvement and maintains the values that we are trying to defend. Certainly, there can be structural and procedural changes that can improve the likelihood that we will do better, and we should pursue those that are reasonable.

But, if we turn the country into a prison, or impose restrictions on commerce and civil liberties with costs that are higher than the security benefits that they provide, then we won’t be solving problems. We’ll be creating them.

As the post says:

Clinton didn’t know. Bush didn’t know. We didn’t know. And the uncomfortable possibility remains that there are more events that we not only don’t know about–but can’t know about. Deluding ourselves otherwise isn’t helping. And if it causes us to take costly, fruitless
measures to reassure ourselves, it could actively hurt us.

Lileks Parental-Terror Watch

From today’s Bleat:

At nine the TV goes off, so Gnat can paint, read, crayon, and counteract the previous 60 minutes spent in a vegetative state. She wants a sausage. I insist she eat grapes first. No grapes are consumed. Well, she’ll starve, then.

I’m sure she learned a valuable lesson from all of this: That her daddy, while in many ways a wonderful man, has stupid theories about television, food and coercion.

And, it reminds her that he can be a real jerk sometimes.