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Stephen Fry on MS Windows as an Ugly Office

May 18th, 2010 No comments

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Ted Turner on Disasters as God’s Wrath against Our Sins

May 18th, 2010 No comments

Ted Turner: Is God speaking in Gulf Coast spill? – Religion – CNN.com Blogs

“I’m not a real religious person, but I’m somewhat religious. And I’m just wondering if God is telling us he doesn’t want us to drill offshore,” he said. “And right before that we had that coal mine disaster in West Virginia where we lost 29 miners,” as well as repeated mining disasters – “seems like there’s one over there every week” – in China.

“Maybe the Lord’s tired of having the mountains of West Virginia, the tops knocked off of them so they can get more coal. I think maybe we ought to just leave the coal in the ground and go with solar and wind power and geo-thermals where it’s applicable.”

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The Obama Administration Embarassing Us Abroad: Condemning Arizona to Foreigners

May 17th, 2010 No comments

Power Line – Apologizing For Arizona

QUESTION: Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.

You’ve Got to Be Kidding . . . – Jay Nordlinger – The Corner on National Review Online

I hope I have read that incorrectly, or am interpreting it incorrectly. Did we, the United States, talking to a government that maintains a gulag, that denies people their basic rights, that in all probability harvests organs, apologize for the new immigration law in Arizona? Really, really?

A month ago, President Obama told the leader of Kazakhstan that we were still — you know: working on our democracy. An Obama national-security aide, Mike McFaul, said, “[Obama has] taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States.” (For a write-up, go here.) “Historic steps”? I suppose he meant national health care, socialized medicine. I suppose, by “democracy,” he meant social democracy. Hard to tell. I don’t think he meant that the Justice Department was going to make the New Black Panthers stop intimidating voters.

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The Arizona Immigration Law

May 14th, 2010 No comments

We were talking about the Arizona law a week ago at lunch. AG Holder hasn’t read the statute, but you can! I found the text at:

http://www.keytlaw.com/blog/2010/04/anti-illegal-immigration-law-part-1/

The law indeed does not allow police to stop just anyone and ask for their papers, even if there is “reasonable suspicion”, unless the policeman has already stopped them for something else, a “stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state”

Also noteworthy is that a person cannot be detained if he has an Arizona driver license, a “tribal enrollment card”, or any government ID that requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance.

There is private enforcement to prevent city nullification of the law. We wondered how it would work. The trick is that it doesn’t allow suits based on decisions not to prosecute or detain in individual cases, only to city “policy or practice” not to prosecute or detain. That sounds workable.

“H. A person who is a legal resident of this state may bring an action in superior court to challenge any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that adopts or implements a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws including 8 United States Code sections 1373 and 1644, to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. If there is a judicial finding that an entity has violated this section, the court shall order that the entity pay a civil penalty of not less than one thousand five hundred dollars and not more than five thousand dollars for each day that the policy has remained in effect after the filing of an action pursuant to this subsection.

I. A court shall collect the civil penalty prescribed in subsection H of this section and remit the civil penalty to the state treasurer for deposit in the gang and immigration intelligence team enforcement mission fund established by section 41‑1724….”

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Cheap Adoptees

May 14th, 2010 No comments

Marginal Revolution

The paper finds the cost of adopting a black baby needs to be $38,000 lower than the cost of a white baby, in order to make parents indifferent to race. Boys will need to cost $16,000 less than girls.

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Arizona, New Mexico, and Immigration

May 14th, 2010 No comments

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog

In other words, there is much more illegal immigration into Arizona than into New Mexico, which is why there is much more concern about it in Arizona.

And that raises a fundamentally important question: Why don’t illegal immigrants want to go to New Mexico when it’s full of Hispanics and nice white people? Why do illegal immigrants prefer to go to Arizona, with its relative shortage of vibrancy and its Not Nice White People? Why, indeed, have illegals preferred states like Georgia in recent years over New Mexico?

Because New Mexico is economically stagnant and backward.

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Federal Immigration Enforcement

May 11th, 2010 No comments

Deported illegal immigrant gets $145,000 after New York City jails him for too long at Rikers Island – NYPOST.com

Federal immigration agents have office space on Rikers Island, and the city allows them to interview roughly 4,000 inmates each year. They put a hold, or “detainer,” on 3,200 of those inmates who they discover are illegals.

But ICE often fails to transfer those detainees within the required 48 hours of their criminal cases being resolved, multiple jail sources said.

“We just release them now,” one high-ranking jail supervisor said. “It’s ICE’s problem to go find these guys.”

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Immigrant Crime—100% of Crime in One Category

May 11th, 2010 No comments

» Media Take Note: In Arizona County, Of 64 Highway Chases Last Month, Not One Perp a U.S. Citizen – Big Journalism

This weekend on Phoenix’ KFYI, radio host Terry Gilberg interviewed Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. The Sheriff’s message to Contessa, Katie and all the rest? Come ride along side me in the patrol car. You’ll see the real story.

During the interview, he conveyed a remarkable statistic:

Last month alone, just in one patrol region, we had sixty-four pursuits. That means people who were driving a vehicle, failed to yield, took off like a bat out of hell, running red lights, creating traffic wrecks, numerous people were killed in these wrecks over the last several months, and who are these people? Not one of them was a U.S. citizen.

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Heroin Is Legal in Mexico

May 10th, 2010 No comments

Mexico Decriminalizes Drugs; Law May Be Example for U.S. – TIME

Quietly and with little ado, Mexico last week enacted a law to decriminalize possession of small amounts of all major narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and crystal meth. Anyone caught in Mexico with two or three joints or about four lines of cocaine can no longer be arrested, fined or imprisoned. However, police will give them the address of the nearest rehab clinic and advise them to get clean.

Most surprising was how easily and painlessly the reform slipped into Mexican law. The bill was originally filed in October by President Felipe Calderón, a social conservative who is waging a bloody military crackdown on drug cartels.

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Resistance to Media Misinformation

May 8th, 2010 No comments

Instapundit

Forget the Arizona bill itself. What this poll says is that despite weeks of national-media coverage that was unrelentingly negative, calling the bill racist, drawing Nazi analogies, etc. — only 15 percent are really against it. Sorry guys — you’re still talking, but people aren’t listening.

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Shifty Links at the NYTimes and Wash.Post

May 6th, 2010 No comments

Instapundit

GOVERNMENT REGULATORS GAVE BP A PASS: “The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental-impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.”

I had linked the original WaPo version of this below, but, strangely, that link now goes to a completely different story. So here it is again. Thanks to reader Joseph Nunke for pointing out this odd behavior at the Post, and for sending the new link. We saw similar behavior from The New York Times with a critical story about the Administration the other day. Hmm. Anybody at the WaPo or the NYT want to explain this? ‘Cause it looks pretty bad.

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Ivy Leaguers Going for High Paying Jobs

May 5th, 2010 No comments

James Kwak has an excellent post,
Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street? « The Baseline Scenario

 …
The typical Harvard undergraduate is someone who: (a) is very good at school; (b) has been very successful by conventional standards for his entire life; (c) has little or no experience of the “real world” outside of school or school-like settings; (d) feels either the ambition or the duty to have a positive impact on the world (not well defined); and (e) is driven more by fear of not being a success than by a concrete desire to do anything in particular. (Yes, I know this is a stereotype; that’s why I said “typical.”) Their (our) decisions are motivated by two main decision rules: (1) close down as few options as possible; and (2) only do things that increase the possibility of future overachievement. Money is far down the list; at this point in their lives, if you asked them, many of these people would probably say that they only need to be middle or upper-middle class, and assume that they will be.

The recruiting processes of Wall Street firms (and consulting firms, and corporate law firms) exploit these (faulty) decision rules perfectly. The primary selling point of Goldman Sachs or McKinsey is that it leaves open the possibility of future greatness. The main pitch is, “Do this for two years, and afterward you can do anything (like be treasury secretary).” The idea is that you will get some kind of generic business training that equips you to do anything (this in a society that assumes the private sector can do no wrong and the public sector can do no right), and that you will get the resume credentials and connections you need to go on and do whatever you want. And to some extent it’s true, because these names look good on your resume, and very few potential future employers will wonder why you decided to go there. (Whether the training is good for much other than being a banker or a consultant is another question.)

The second selling point is that they make it easy. Yes, there is competition for jobs at these firms. But the process is easy. They come to campus and hold receptions with open bars. They tell you when and how to apply. They provide interview coaching. They have nice people who went to your school bond with you over the recruiting period. If you get an offer, they find out what your other options are and have partners call you to explain that those are great options, but Goldman/McKinsey is better, and you can do that other thing later, anyway. For people who don’t know how to get a job in the open economy, and who have ended each phase of their lives by taking the test to do the most prestigious thing possible in the next phase, all of this comes naturally. (Graduate schools, which also have well-defined recruiting processes, are the other big path to take.) The fact that most companies don’t want new college graduates makes it easier to go to one of the few that do.

The third selling point — not the top one, but it’s there — is the money. …

The same factors are also largely true for top law school graduates, although for them the money is understandably more important. …

But the other factors are also very important. If you go to a top law school, it is simply easier to get a corporate firm job than any other job. They all come to campus at the beginning of your second year, most people can get a job simply by following the interview process, you work there for one summer, and then you get an offer to come back. Even if you don’t want to work at a firm, it makes rational sense to do it for that summer to get the offer as Plan B.

By contrast, it’s hard to get a public interest job. Most public interest organizations don’t have the money to hire a lot of people, and many don’t want people right out of law school. So the usual route is you have to apply for a competitive fellowship to work at a public interest organization, and then you have to hope they’ll hire you for good after that year. It’s hard. And that’s how Plan B becomes Plan A. And besides, many prominent corporate lawyers have gone on to important positions in Washington, so there is still the possibility of future greatness.

 
  

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The judge’s opinion in the Michigan militia bond hearing

May 4th, 2010 No comments

The judge issued a 30+page memo on the Michigan militia case. It sure looks as if the government has no evidence of any crime. The judge freed the defendants on bond because of that.

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As Dean Minow Said, if Your IQ Is Lower, You’re Inferior

May 4th, 2010 No comments

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog

“Harvard” stands for “intelligence,” extreme far right edge of the IQ Bell Curve smarts. America is increasingly stratified by IQ, and the resulting class war that the clever are waging upon the clueless means that having Harvard’s endorsement of your brainpower is ever more desirable. …

Yet, Harvard’s IQ elitism sharply contradicts its professed egalitarianism. The typical Harvard professor or student considers himself superior to ordinary folks for two conflicting reasons: first, he constantly proclaims his belief in human equality, but they don’t; and second, he has a high IQ, but they don’t.

Further, he believes his brains weren’t the luck of his genes. No, he earned them. Which in turn means he feels that dumb people deserve to be dumb.

Ivy League presidents aren’t much worried that the left half of the Bell Curve will get themselves well enough organized to challenge the hegemony of the IQ overclass. No, what they fear is opposition to their use of IQ sorting mechanisms, such as the politically incorrect but crucial SAT, from those identity politics pressure groups who perform below average in a pure meritocracy, such as women, blacks, and Hispanics. But, they each boast enough high IQ activists, like Nancy Hopkins, to make trouble for prestige universities.

So, Harvard, like virtually all famous universities, buys off females and minorities with “a commitment to diversity” — in other words, quotas. By boosting less competent women, blacks and Hispanics at the expense of the more marginal men, whites, and Asians, Harvard preserves most of its freedom to continue to discriminate ruthlessly on IQ.

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Getting into Harvard the Expensive Way

May 4th, 2010 No comments

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog

Here’s some fun gossip I heard from a fellow about the Harvard Number. He’s a reasonably well connected gentleman. On the other hand, he’s my only source for this and I don’t have the connections to check up on this, so take it for whatever it’s worth.

The Harvard Number is the amount of money Harvard would want as a donation for accepting your kid as an undergraduate. It’s not the kind of information they post on their website. You have to ask the right people in the right manner.

He said he just found out that the current Harvard Number — assuming your kid’s application was “competitive” (i.e., there’s some chance your kid would get in even if you didn’t write a check) — is $5 million.

If your kid’s “not competitive,” then it is $10 million.

If there are about 1,800 freshmen at Harvard each year, then Harvard could admit, say, 100 competitive applicants whose fathers (typically, hedge fund guys) write the Harvard Number on a check — without tangibly lowering the quality of the class. That’s, theoretically, a half billion per year in virtually free money. How could an institution resist that temptation?

Quid pro quo arrangements aren’t supposed to be tax deductible as charity, but how often does the IRS get the goods on this? In practice, a big chunk of the Harvard Number gets refunded by the taxpayers.

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Professor Smith on Thought Crime at Harvard Law

May 2nd, 2010 No comments

The Right Coast

The young woman expresses a view that X is a scientific possibility, where X is a thing on the list of things that are not allowed to be the case, and the young woman is then exposed to what must be a traumatic degree of institutional opprobrium. Surely this establishes that there is a list of things at Harvard Law School anyway of things that may not be thought, except utterly privately, and in no event expressed, not even privately, or at least not without plausible deniability, which email makes difficult. While I can see difficulties with such a policy, it would seem only fair, and consistent with the rule of law, to make this list public in advance, so students, staff and faculty know what things they should not think. Had the student in question known in advance that X was a thought crime, she could have taken steps not to think it, and if she were to, she could have at least done so in a way so that she could claim she had not. This latter especially is a good skill for a lawyer to develop.

Professor Volokh has elaborated his view (follow the links above) that a university is the sort of place where truth is the highest value and people should pursue it without fear or favor. I agree with this insofar as I think it would be an interesting experiment to set up such an institution and see how it worked. But I don’t think it’s wise to pretend this is what we have now. I confess I wonder if such a thing is even possible, though in saying this, I might just be kidding. At a minimum, before I come out as a hero of free speech and academic freedom, I would at least like to know what the costs and benefits are.

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Businessmen and Finance

May 2nd, 2010 No comments

Even in business, there is a lot of suspicion of capital markets. Here’s something a former GE vice president has written. Basically, he  thinks speculation and risk-taking is immoral,   that markets shouldn’t be allowed to make bets on whether companies or assets are overvalued, and that they should be required to have collateral even if they don’t want it. The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation » Goldman Sachs: Being “Legal” Doesn’t Make It “Right”

But, in such an era, the “it was legal” defense is inadequate because regulators and the public (and some customers) are asking “is it right?”

Two related examples.

First, Goldman is defending against the SEC complaint in the court of public opinion by saying that the synthetic CDO was a transaction between sophisticated parties (“consenting adults,”) that everyone knew there would be a long and short side of the transaction, that it did not mislead the long side of the transaction, which had every incentive to understand the CDOs packaged in the instrument.

But, the underlying question is whether a synthetic CDO transaction — which is unrelated to the “real economy,” just a bet between well-heeled parties that creates significant economic risk — is “right.” There is a strong view that these transactions are not right. Goldman needs to defend not only its actions in the particular case but also take a position on whether such transactions are appropriate and under what conditions.

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Government Not Enforcing Law:Immigration

April 30th, 2010 No comments

Instapundit

I love your blog. But I must object to your recent statement: “Shifting from border security to internal security is both an admission of failure at the borders, and a much more far-reaching and intrusive approach.”

I am a Federal Agent who works the line in Arizona. While I cannot speak officially for my agency, and risk considerable discipline for speaking out otherwise, the MAJOR failure we have regarding immigration security and control is with internal security. While we are failing at the borders, and I am there on the ground, there is no way in hell we will EVER hope to achieve border security while internal security (meaning enforcement) remains virtually nonexistent. I am not impugning ICE Agents who are focusing on criminal aliens; they are simply overwhelmed with manpower issues not to mention overloads on the docket, among other things.

Illegals know they are home free once away from the border. Achieving even a fairly shallow degree of internal enforcement will discourage border crossers from illegally entering the country if they believe their chances of being caught and returned to their native country will be high even if they successfully evade capture at the border. We must remove or at least ameliorate the magnet that draws them here.

Moreover, I believe you will find, upon examination, the Immigration and Nationality Act (particularly after the last amnesty of 1986) specifically calls for this “far reaching and intrusive approach” of internal enforcement, which was meant to “get tough” with immigration as a result of the amnesty deal. The laws have been on the books for decades; the problem, of course, is that political interests on both the right and the left have forced public officials with immigration enforcement agencies, namely Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to virtually abandon the interior enforcement of laws already on the books (policy vs. law).

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Michigan Militia: The Government’s Pitifully Weak Case

April 29th, 2010 No comments

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Michigan militia case is abuse of power by the Justice Department, a chance to grab headlines but without any evidence of the sedition they are charged with.

My Way News – Judge asks feds to show militia did more than talk

A federal judge challenged prosecutors Wednesday to show that nine members of a Michigan militia accused of plotting war against the government had done more than just talk and should remain locked up.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts heard nearly 10 hours of testimony and arguments over two days. She did not make a decision about whether the nine will remain in custody, saying only that a ruling would come soon.

The members of a southern Michigan group called Hutaree have been in custody for a month. An indictment accuses them of weapons violations and a rare crime: conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government by first killing police officers….

 
An undercover agent infiltrated the group and secretly made recordings that have been played in court. While there is talk about killing police, it’s not specific. In one conversation, there are many people talking over each other and laughing.

Roberts pressed that point more than once as Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet argued in favor of keeping the nine in jail. The judge suggested she didn’t hear or read in the transcripts any indication that violence was imminent….

 

“It’s now time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny. Time is up,” Waterstreet said, quoting a transcript.

Later, putting the transcript aside, the prosecutor said: “The theme is the brotherhood is the enemy – all law enforcement.”

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The Decline of Marriage

April 29th, 2010 No comments

The End of Marriage? Posner – The Becker-Posner Blog

I wonder if the biggest reason for the decline of marriage isn’t simply the substitution of the State for the Father. Nowadays, a man who fathers children without marriage can avoid paying for them while resting assured that they will be well funded, if not fathered in other ways, by the government. This “cuckoo strategy” of getting other men to pay for your offspring may be quite successful.

As the post mentioned, cohabitation and marriage have become closer substitutes because of legal changes. If divorce is easy, then marriage loses much of its usefulness. It does provide a legal default for splitting assets at divorce, but it provides almost no legal commitment value. It used to be that at least an assetless man who got married was able to thus demonstrate to his wife that he wouldn’t marry anybody else later (because of bigamy laws). Now he isn’t restricting his options by marrying now.

Note that contract hasn’t replaced marriage because the law doesn’t let it. There is no assurance that judges will enforce marriage-like contracts, or even that they will order money damages for breach. Because of the lingering idea of marriage, a contract that would be enforceable in business— e. g., money damages awarded to a party who is unfaithful— isn’t likely to be enforced between a man and a woman. Maybe it would— but it’s “equity”, not “law” and you have to get a judge who likes your contract.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | 04/29/2010 at 01:28 PM

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The Smith Article on Porn at the SEC

April 29th, 2010 No comments

The Right Coast: Towards a behavioral economic theory of porn viewing at the SEC Tom Smith

Towards a behavioral economic theory of porn viewing at the SEC
Tom Smith

     In this paper I consider whether lax enforcement of rules against viewing pornography by SEC employees may be in fact a form of executive compensation that allows the SEC to pay employees less than they otherwise would for a similar level of expertise and diligence. Porn viewing at work is usually regarded as a classic instance of agency costs, in particular, shirking behavior. Rather than carefully reading the registration statement of a new variable annuity product, for example, and carefully considering whether it has complied with all the requirements of inter alia the Investment Company Act, the SEC worker may spend two hours perusing the archives of Jenna Jameson’s greatest hits. However, in order to agree to do the former task without the opportunity to do the latter, the SEC worker would in equilibrium insist on being paid a higher salary or enjoying other perks, such as the opportunity to play wastebasket basketball for extended periods. The second part of the paper is an extended comparison between porn viewing and insider trading as unorthodox but potentially efficient forms of executive compensation. Finally, porn viewing provides SEC workers and investment bankers with a common interest, even though investment bankers prefer live sex shows, which are typically beyond the means of SEC workers, unless they want to go to the really sleazy places. This cultural commonality, I argue, actually improves the SEC regulatory function by giving them a sympathetic insight, through the activation of mirror neurons, into the investment banking culture and business.

09:36 AM | Permalink…
 
 
Comments
john knox

These insights should also be applied to other agencies. For instance, agencies producing no obvious benefit to society but that simply hinder productivity, i.e. most of them, could be perhaps be improved by said activities. Being distracted from work, shirking, could be a net economic gain. Maybe not pareto optimal but closer. Clearly more research needs to be done. This is a pathbreaking paper that will open an entirely new field for investigation. I’m preparing a grant proposal as soon as I stop typing this comment.

Posted by: john knox | April 28, 2010 at 11:30 AM…
 
 
Eric Rasmusen

Very good. It’s not behavioral economics, tho, because there’s no psychology in your write-up, merely conventional price theory. Indeed, except for the last sentence, it would probably get rejected from a journal as being too obvious.

Something else very basic that you might mention is that there is a niche for at least one organization of Wall Street financiers and lawyers that caters to workers who like the particular fringe benefit of unlimited porn-watching. Most workers do not value that perk very highly, and hence would not take the lower wage it requires. Enough do, however, to make it worthwhile for at least one organization to do that— and if there is only one, it has monopsony power, a further bonus. The SEC, it seems, fills the niche for that particular sort of sexual perversion. Similarly, we’d expect other Wall Street organizations to specialize in S+M, homosexuality, and transvestitism, the size of the niche organization depending on the popularity of the perversion. Goldman Sachs, for example, with its high number of Democratic Party donors, enslaved juniors, and execs who like to show up for Congressional hearings, is perhaps the S+M firm.

Behavioral econ would enter if we go deeper and ask whether the SEC employees who spend all day on porn are truly happy, or whether they were lured in by the apparently utility-maximizing perk of slack effort (is “slack” the right word here, though?) and then are trapped by a compulsion which makes them humiliated and unfilfilled on the one hand and unable to leave for a normal job on the other.

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Obama’s Contempt for the Press

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Why reporters are down on Obama – POLITICO.com Print View

One of the most irritating practices of the Obama White House is when aides ignore inquiries or explicitly refuse to cooperate with an unwelcome story — only to come out with both guns blazing when it takes a skeptical view of their motives or success.

“You will give them ample opportunity on a story. They will then say, ‘We don’t have anything for you on this.’ Then, when you write an analytical graph that could be interpreted as implying a political motive by the White House, or something that makes them look like anything but geniuses, you will get a flurry of off-the-record, angry e-mails after you publish,” one national reporter said. “That does no good. If you want to complain. Engage!”…

 

Asked about some of the more aggressive tactics, including complaints to editors, Gibbs said, “We have to do some of those things. … I certainly believe anyone who goes to an editor does so because it’s something they feel is very egregious. I don’t think people do it very lightly.”

Some reporters say the pushback is so aggressive that it undermines the credibility of Obama’s aides. “The willingness to argue that credible information is untrue is at its core dishonest and unfortunately calls into question everything else the press office says,” one White House reporter said.

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Is the FBI Lying about the Michigan Militia Case?

April 28th, 2010 No comments

toledoblade.com — The Blade ~ Toledo Ohio

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT – An FBI agent who led the investigation of nine Michigan militia members charged with trying to launch war against the federal government couldn’t recall many details of the two-year probe yesterday during questioning by defense lawyers.

Even the judge who must decide whether to release the nine until trial was puzzled.

“I share the frustrations of the defense team … that she doesn’t know anything,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said after agent Leslie Larsen confessed she hadn’t reviewed her notes recently and couldn’t remember specific details of the case.

Judge Roberts is hearing an appeal of another judge’s order that has kept members of so-called Hutaree militia in jail since their arrest in late March.

The indictment says the nine planned to kill police officers as a steppingstone to a widespread uprising against the federal government.

Defense lawyers, however, say their clients are being punished for being outspoken.

Prosecutors fought to keep Ms. Larsen off the witness stand, saying the defendants had no legal right to question her….

She said that because they were still being examined, she didn’t know if weapons seized by investigators last month were illegal.

At other times, Ms. Larsen couldn’t answer questions because she said she hadn’t reviewed investigative reports.

Defense lawyer William Swor asked if the No. 1 defendant, Hutaree leader David Stone, had ever instructed anyone to make a bomb.

“I can’t fully answer that question,” the agent replied.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel defended Ms. Larsen, telling the judge it wasn’t clear until Monday that she would testify.

Judge Roberts, however, said she told the government to be prepared last week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet played an audiotape of what he said were several militia members talking freely about killing police.

The participants talked over each other, often laughed and made goofy noises and disparaging remarks about law enforcement.

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“Woman says former boyfriend hit her in the head with a Chihuahua”

April 27th, 2010 No comments

Woman says former boyfriend hit her in the head with a Chihuahua: HeraldTimesOnline.com

Woman says former boyfriend hit her in the head with a Chihuahua
By Laura Lane 331-4362 | llane@heraldt.com
April 27, 2010, last update: 4/27 @ 4:58 pm

Bloomington police want to question a man who reportedly struck his former girlfriend in the head with her own Chihuahua.

She told officers the man threw the 3-pound dog across the room. It struck her head, then slammed into a wall and slid to the floor, but was not injured.

The incident happened last Monday, but was not reported to police until a second incident between the woman and the alleged dog thrower about 4 a.m. Saturday.

 

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Who to Think About

April 27th, 2010 No comments

God and Mrs. Roosevelt | First Things

an inspirational message by Henry Van Dyke, enjoining one to “think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends, and every day of Christ.”

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Avoiding Paying Legal Judgments

April 26th, 2010 No comments

A good question to think about is what our laws ought to say about the penalty for not paying legal judgments. Currently, as I understand it, you are free to conceal your assets, and the creditor has to find them in order to seize them, which is a huge hurdle. Why don’t we simply require debtors to list their assets, and to reveal their tax returns and boil them in oil if they lie? Remember— they have acted unlawfully, tho not criminally, in refusing to pay their debts, so they can hardly argue that they have a right to privacy. It’s not their money any more.

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Jon Stewart on Moslem Intimidation of South Park

April 25th, 2010 No comments
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Luther on Needing Ten Hands

April 24th, 2010 No comments

SERMON FOR THE DAY OF ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST:

Then you may reply: But how if I am not called, what shall I do then?

Answer: How is it possible that you are not called? You have always been in some state or station; you have always been a husband or wife, or boy or girl, or servant. Picture before you the humblest state. Are you a husband, and you think, you have not enough to do in that sphere to govern your wife, children, domestics and property so that all may be obedient to God and you do no one any wrong? Yea, if you had five heads and ten hands, even then you would be too weak for your task, so that you would never dare to think of making a pilgrimage or doing any kind of saintly work.

8. Again: are you a son or daughter, and do you think you have not enough work with yourself, to continue chaste, pure and temperate during your youth, obey your parents, and offend no one by word or deed? Yea, since the custom of honoring such commands and callings has been abandoned, people go and pray with their rosaries and do like things, not belonging to their station in life, and no one ever thinks he is not faithful in his state or station.

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Barney’s Frank’s Sexuality

April 24th, 2010 No comments

Not Too ‘Hip’ and ‘Edgy’ for Censorship – Mark Steyn – National Review Online

Frank Rich of the New York Times attempted to diversify the tea-party racism into homophobia by arguing that Obamacare’s opponents were uncomfortable with Barney Frank’s sexuality. I yield to no one in my discomfort with Barney Frank’s sexuality, but, with the best will in the world, I find it hard to blame it for more than the first 4 or 5 trillion dollars of federal overspending….

It was time to go for broke and bring out Bill Clinton to explain why the tea parties are the new front in the war on terror. Don’t worry about Iran’s nuclear program, but if you meet a tea-party supporter waving some placard about the national debt, try not to catch his eye and back away slowly without making any sudden movements, lest he put down his placard and light up his suicide belt.

Mr. al Amrikee helpfully explained that his video incitement of the murder of Matt Stone and Trey Parker wasn’t really “a threat but just the likely outcome.” All he was doing, he added, was “raising awareness” — you know, like folks do on Earth Day. On Earth Day, lame politicians dig a hole and stick a tree in it. But aggrieved Muslims dig a hole and stick a couple of comedy writers in it. Celebrate diversity!

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How Pornography Hurts Science

April 23rd, 2010 No comments

Washington Times – : Porn surfing rampant at U.S. science foundation

The Washington Times
Originally published 04:45 a.m., September 29, 2009, updated 07:25 a.m., September 29, 2009
EXCLUSIVE: Porn surfing rampant at U.S. science foundation

Jim McElhatton

EXCLUSIVE:

Employee misconduct investigations, often involving workers accessing pornography from their government computers, grew sixfold last year inside the taxpayer-funded foundation that doles out billions of dollars of scientific research grants, according to budget documents and other records obtained by The Washington Times.

The problems at the National Science Foundation (NSF) were so pervasive they swamped the agency’s inspector general and forced the internal watchdog to cut back on its primary mission of investigating grant fraud and recovering misspent tax dollars.

“To manage this dramatic increase without an increase in staff required us to significantly reduce our efforts to investigate grant fraud,” the inspector general recently told Congress in a budget request. “We anticipate a significant decline in investigative recoveries and prosecutions in coming years as a direct result.”

The SEC has the same problem:

A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.

– An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as “Sex” or “Pornography.” Yet he still managed to amass a collection of “very graphic” material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC’s internal filter, according to an earlier report from the inspector general. The accountant refused to testify in his defense, and received a 14-day suspension.

– Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” earning salaries of up to $222,418

.

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The Goldman SEC Case

April 23rd, 2010 No comments

The government’s complaint is here. Paulson thought certain securities were overvalued, and wanted to short them. It asked Goldman to construct a new security, Abacus, out of them. Goldman hired ACA to choose the securities that would make up Abacus and to go long on it. Goldman told ACA what the idea of Abacus was (without giving an opinion on whether that kind of security was overvalued) and gave ACA Paulson’s list of securities as potential ingredients. ACA chose some of the Paulson securities, and some other securities to make up Abacus. Abacus was a synthetic product, so for every party going long, somebody had to go short. Goldman advertised Abacus as having been designed by ACA. Goldman and ACA went long, and Paulson went short. Various other parties went long or short too.

This sounds fair to me. Paulson thought the securities were overvalued, but he knew that most people didn’t. He wanted one of the overvaluers to put its genuine stamp of approval on Abacus to give it credibility. ACA did that. ACA was under no pressure and no financial interest to approve securities it thought were overvalued. Its stamp of approval was genuine.

From
Conglomerate Blog: Business, Law, Economics & Society

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As I understand it from the complaint, ACA picked every single asset referenced in the portfolio, and the only dispute is over the fact that Paulson, which had no authority whatsoever, suggested some of them to ACA, and ACA didn’t know that Paulson was hoping ACA would make bad picks.

ACA was supposed to be the expert here, which is why it was given full authority. Paulson thought ACA was a stupid expert, which was in fact true, and was helping give ACA rope to hang itself with. But to the extent that ACA was relying on Paulson rather than using its own judgment, isn’t it ACA that is failing in its duty? (Not a legal duty, but its business” duty” to maintain its reputation for doing good work and not just relying on claims by non-experts)
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Eric Rasmusen

Another point. Whenever Goldman puts together a deal, it has multiple parties involved, who pretty much always have adverse interests (each company has to hire its own lawyer, doesn’t it, rather than having one law firm for everybody?). The parties are supposed to know that some of their interests are joint— they all want to get the deal done— and some adverse–they each want a bigger share of the benefits. A party is smart to listen to the apparently helpful suggestions of another party, but stupid to blindly trust them. Isn’t that what happened here?

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Iceland Jokes

April 22nd, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy

Reported by Michael Rubin (The Corner):

[1. I]t was the Icelandic economy’s last wish that its ashes be scattered over the EU.

[2.] Iceland goes bankrupt, then it manages to set itself on fire. This has insurance scam written all over it.

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Cloning Oneself

April 21st, 2010 No comments

Marginal Revolution: Cloning thoughts

I think it’s undisputable that the rest of us, at least, would be better off if there were 100 extra Bryan Caplans around. If nothing else, I’m sure he contributes more in tax revenue than he uses up in services.

The Darwinian question is interesting, and goes to Dawkins’s good Selfish Gene idea. Most of us don’t want a clone of ourselves– we want an almost-clone, but improved in certain ways. We would like our child to have higher IQ, no asthma, and no tendency to be pot-bellied. That would be bad, however, for our genes for stupidity, asthma, and pot-belliedness. There’s an inter-genetic conflict.

There’s also a good philosophic question. If my almost-clone is smart and non-asthmatic, is he really like me? Have I really perpetuated myself? What, especially, if I am centrally defined by my bad qualities—arrogance, cowardice, and stupidity?

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Self Defense Threats in Kansas

April 21st, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy » Kansas Now Allows Threat of Deadly Force in Self-Defense, and Not Just Use of Such Force

You wouldn’t think that it would take a statute to do this. After all, if it’s OK to kill someone to defend against a threat of death or serious injury, the lesser harm of threatening to kill someone should be fine, too. 

But last year the Kansas Supreme Court held that existing Kansas law only allowed a defense for actual use of force, which didn’t include threats; earlier this year, the Kansas Court of Appeals faithfully applied this principle. Fortunately, the Kansas Legislature (apparently prompted by the urging of gun rights advocates) passed a law that — among other things — makes clear that threats of force should qualify as justifiable self-defense, to the same extent that the actual use of force qualifies; and just yesterday, the governor signed the bill. Good work.

On blackmail: the illegality is not in the threat, but in the promise not to carry out the threat if money is paid. It’s perfectly legal for me to say to you that I’m going to tell your wife about your adulterous behavior. What’s illegal is to ask for money to be silent.

In self-defense, the threat is a statement that if you come closer to me with your knife, I will shoot you. It is not trying ot make a deal; it is simply informing you of what will happen— what I would do even if I hadn’t made the threat. A bystander could have made the statement with the same effect: “If you go any closer to Rasmusen holding that knife, he’s going to shoot you.”

The mere announcement that you are going to exercise your legal rights should not be illegal.

If a mother tells her child, “I’m going to spank you,” is that assault even tho the spanking itself is legal? If a boxer tells his opponent, “I’m going to land one right on your nose,” is that assault even tho the blow itself would not be? I hope not. Maybe Kansas will need a couple of other new statutes to cover those cases too, tho.

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A Quaker Joke

April 21st, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy » Kansas Now Allows Threat of Deadly Force in Self-Defense, and Not Just Use of Such Force

the old joke where the Quaker farmer finds a burglar in his house: ‘Friend, I would not harm thee for all the world, but thou are standing where I am about to shoot’.

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Nuclear Proliferation

April 17th, 2010 No comments

Nonproliferation? How Quaint! – Mark Steyn – National Review Online

If you read in the paper that New Zealand had decided to go nuclear, would you lose a moment’s sleep over it? Personally, I’d be rather heartened. It would be a sign that a pampered and somnolent developed world had woken up and concluded that betting your future on the kindness of strangers is a helluva gamble. What Obama and his empty showboaters failed even to acknowledge in their “security” summit is the reality of the post–Big Five nuclear age: We’re on the brink of a world in which the wealthiest nations from Canada to Norway to Japan can barely project meaningful force to their own borders while the nickel-’n’-dime basket cases go nuclear.

How long do you think that arrangement will last? Iran has already offered to share its nuclear technology with Sudan. Sudan? Ring a vague bell? Remember that “Save Darfur” interpretative-dance fundraiser you went to where someone read out a press release from George Clooney and you all had a simply marvelous time? Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed — with machetes. That’s pretty labor-intensive.

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Share of Defense Spending

April 16th, 2010 No comments

Story comments – HeraldTimesOnline.com

Some commentors have been claiming that national defense was half the government budget. Far from it. In 2009, according to the Administration itself 749.7 billion was spent on defense, out of a total of 3,833 billion— 20% of the federal budget, and less than social security by itself. See

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=economic_indicators&docid=f:00mr10.txt

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The Secret Leader of the Tea Party Movement

April 16th, 2010 No comments

Hundreds turn out for Tax Day tea party in Bloomington: HeraldTimesOnline.com

Organizer Parker spoke briefly to the crowd through a megaphone, pointing out the movement’s successes, such as the election of fiscally conservative governors in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as that of Republican Scott Brown to the Massachusetts Senate.

Leiter also spoke to local protesters, saying the mainstream media had tried to give the movement a leader in Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin or Sean Hannity.

“Who is our leader?” he asked. “We are,” the crowd chorused back.

“Exactly,” Leiter said, garnering applause and hoots of appreciation.

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A Sign of Reagan’s Talent

April 16th, 2010 No comments

General Election 2010: How to win the great TV debate – Telegraph

Asked about the age issue in 1984, Reagan generously promised not to bring up his opponent’s “youth and inexperience”. The 56-year-old and much-experienced Walter Mondale couldn’t help joining in the laughter.

So far as I have been able to learn, none of Reagan’s handlers suggested the lines and Reagan didn’t tip them off in advance.

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