OSS on Bureaucracy and Sabotage

June 1st, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy.

In January 1944, the Office of Strategic Services created a secret document entitled “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” (available hereas a free audio book) to assist operatives in disrupting the Axis war effort.  It contains the expected stuff about starting fires and shorting electrical systems.  But the most enlightening stuff comes at pages 28–31, in a section entitled “General Interference with Organizations and Production.”  There, we learn that our secret weapon against the Nazi war machine was . . . bureaucracy.  Note these ingenious plots:

Read more…

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Being Poor

June 1st, 2010 No comments

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog.

The big problem with being poor in 21st Century America is not that you can’t afford to buy enough stuff, it’s that you can’t afford to move away from other poor people.

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The Volokh Conspiracy » Shedding Light on the AZ Immigration Law

May 31st, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy » Shedding Light on the AZ Immigration Law.

Eric Rasmusen says:

ARIZONA SENATE BILL 1070 LEGAL ISSUES RAISED BY ARIZONA’S NEW STATUTE REGULATING IMMIGRATION Gabriel J. Chin,* Carissa Byrne Hessick,** Toni Massaro,*** and Marc L. Miller**** May 23, 2010

Eric Rasmusen comments, erasmuse@Indiana.edu

Read more…

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The Imaginary Euro

May 29th, 2010 No comments

King Barack the Verbose – Mark Steyn – National Review Online

The European motive for doing this is to “save the euro” — a currency whose very existence is a monument to the unbounded narcissism of government. The euro notes are decorated by scenic views of handsome Renaissance, Gothic, and classical edifices — just like the White House on U.S. currency. The only difference is that the European buildings do not exist in what we used to call the real world. They’re entirely fictional. That’s Big Government: Even if you don’t build it, they’ll still come. If you invent a currency for a united Europe, a united Europe is sure to follow.

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St. Basil’s Letters of Condolence

May 28th, 2010 No comments

CHURCH FATHERS: Letter 5 (St. Basil)

Who could be so stony-hearted, so truly inhuman, as to be insensible to what has occurred, or be affected by merely moderate grief? He is gone; heir of a noble house, prop of a family, a father’s hope, offspring of pious parents, nursed with innumerable prayers, in the very bloom of manhood, torn from his father’s hands…. Read more…

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David Brooks’s Intestines

May 27th, 2010 No comments

The Right Coast

While I hesitate to ascribe motives, in the case of Brooks I shall make an exception. It really seems to me his ersatz Burkeianism is mostly about allowing him to pose as that irritating object, the liberals’ favorite conservative. And it conveniently allows him to do so without staking out any very specific territory. It’s just, oh, I don’t have any specific principles or ideas, you know; with me it’s about my dispositions, my habits, my gastro-intestinal predilections.

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How to Make Us Happier

May 27th, 2010 No comments

» Faber: Nations Will Print Money, Go Bust, Go to War…We Are Doomed – Big Government

If deficits didn’t matter as many like Economist James Galbraith argue today, why should citizens even pay taxes? It would make everyone happier if they didn’t

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Rortiaric Wisdom

May 25th, 2010 No comments

Trotsky and the Wild Orchids

I could never figure out whether the Platonic philosopher was aiming at the ability to offer irrefutable argument – argument which rendered him able to convince anyone he encountered of what he believed (the sort of thing Ivan Karamazov was good at) – or instead was aiming [10] at a sort of incommunicable, private bliss (the sort of thing his brother Alyosha seemed to possess). Read more…

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Marie Stopes International

May 23rd, 2010 No comments

Mail Online – Peter Hitchens blog

I say that Marie Stopes International (which receives about £25 million a year from the NHS, much of it for killing unborn babies under contract) should be allowed to advertise its repellent services on TV. But on one condition. That each advertisement is followed by both of these: film of an actual abortion of a 24-week-old baby, and a brief documentary reminding viewers that Marie Stopes sent love poems to Adolf Hitler in August 1939, advocated compulsory sterilisation for the ‘unfit’, and cut her own son out of her will because he married a girl who wore glasses.

What sort of organisation would name itself after such a monstrous woman?

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Prof. Jonathan Katz, of Washington University

May 23rd, 2010 No comments

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog

I’ve written about him once. That was in 2002. Washington University had decreed that reporters needed official permission to conduct an interview on campus. According to the new guidelines, a reporter who wanted to conduct an interview on campus was required to notify the Public Affairs office, and a person from that office would have the right to monitor the interview.

So Katz called and asked if I wanted to break the rules. Of course, I said. I went to his office and interviewed him. He wanted to talk about his bosses.

“They’re control freaks,” he said. “This kind of policy is something you’d expect from a corporation. I have nothing against corporations, but a university is a fundamentally different thing.”

He dismissed the notion of a closed campus.

“A university is a small town with public spaces open to all. There is supposed to be a free flow of ideas and people. If you don’t have those things, you don’t have a real university. I’ve done a fair amount of consulting for the defense industry, and I’ve seen more freedom of thought, freedom to disagree, in the defense establishment than I see here.”

By the way, the door to his office was decorated with an American flag. That’s unusual in the physics department.

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In 2010 so far, foreigners killed about 3 times as many people in Arizona as they killed US soldiers in Iraq

May 22nd, 2010 No comments

Update, May 29: More info–still not on murder specifically, and just Phoenix. Read more…

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The Connecticut Attorney=General Owes $18 Million for Malicious Prosecution

May 22nd, 2010 No comments

Fergus Cullen: Richard Blumenthal’s Real Record – WSJ.com

The attorney general has also used the power of the state to bully small businesses. In 2003, he sued Computers Plus Center for $1.75 million in damages for allegedly selling state government machines without specified parts. Mr. Blumenthal issued a press release accusing the business owner, Gina Malapanis, of fraud: “No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the State without severe consequences,” he said. “We will vigorously pursue this case to recover taxpayer money and send a strong message about zero tolerance for contractor misconduct.” Ms. Malapanis was even arrested in her home on seven first-degree larceny charges.

In 2008 the charges against Ms. Malapanis were dismissed. As for the civil case, she refused to plead guilty and countersued the state for abusing its power and violating her constitutional rights. The jury, recoiling at the overly aggressive action that ruined her business, awarded her a whopping $18 million in January. In a handwritten note on court documents, the jury foreman said the state had engaged in a “pattern of conduct” that harmed Ms. Malapanis’s reputation, and cited the state’s press releases impugning her integrity, some of which came from Mr. Blumenthal. Mr. Blumenthal is appealing the decision.

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President of Mexico Slanders US and Says Arizona Policy Is Standard Practice Already in Mexico

May 21st, 2010 No comments

Obama-Prop Calderon Rips USA, Gets Standing Ovation from Dems (But Off-Script He Admits the Truth)

Calderon was on with Wolf “Blitzed” last night on CNN Situation Room. Wolf Blitzer says, “What’s wrong with the folks in Arizona wanting to protect their border?”

CALDERON: In Arizona, there is some racial profiling criteria in order to enforce the law that it’s against any sense of human rights; and, of course, is provoking very disappointing, uh, things — or very disappointing opinion — in Mexico and around the world, even here in America. So to introduce this kind of elements, especially racial profiling aspect that are attempting against what we consider human rights, it’s the principle of discrimination which is against the values of this great nation.

RUSH: Yeah. Who is he to preach to us? For crying out loud, they deport more illegal immigrants from Mexico than we do! How do they catch their illegal immigrants? Do they profile them? How the hell do they find out who’s in their country illegally? Here’s the next question from Blitzer: “So if people want to come from Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador or Nicaragua, they want to just come into Mexico, can they just walk in?”

CALDERON: No! They need to fulfill, uh, a form. They need to establish their right name. We analyze if they have not a criminal precedence.

BLITZER: Do Mexican police go around asking for papers of people they suspect are illegal immigrants?

CALDERON: Of course! Of course!

BLITZER: If somebody sneaks in from Nicaragua or some other country in Central America through the southern border of Mexico and they wind up in Mexico, they can going get a job?

CALDERON: No, no, no.

BLITZER: They can work?

CALDERON: If somebody do that without permissions, we send — we send back them.

RUSH: We didn’t record that ourselves. We didn’t make it up.

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The United Methodists’ World Governance System

May 21st, 2010 No comments

The American Spectator : Resenting African Christianity

Unlike the U.S. Episcopal Church, which is almost entirely U.S. members plus some small dioceses from Latin America and Taiwan, United Methodism is more fully international, with about one third of its members in Africa. Amid growing United Methodist churches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, among others, and a U.S. church losing about a 1,000 members weekly, the 11.4 million denomination likely will soon be majority African. At the church’s next governing General Conference in 2012, probably 40 percent of the delegates will come from outside the U.S., even further diminishing liberal hopes.

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Stark on Science as Evidence for Christianity’s Predictive Success

May 19th, 2010 No comments

Crusades for Christ

Without the religious background, there wouldn’t be any science, because the fundamental notion that separated the West from everybody else was the notion that God is rational and created a rational universe, so there were rules out there to be discovered.

Nobody else looked for the rules, because they didn’t believe they were there to be found. They didn’t believe that the world had been created in the same rational way. The marvelous thing is that these early Christian scientists, including Newton, believed God had created a rational world, went ahead and looked for the rules of that rational world — and darned if they didn’t find them. In an interesting sense, it was a scientific confirmation of the Christian religion.

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Rodney Stark on the Crusaders

May 19th, 2010 No comments

Crusades for Christ

Cultures change. What is overlooked about the Crusaders, and the knights and nobility of the 10th century and thereabouts, is that they were very bloody-minded. They had been raised since infancy to devote themselves to fighting. They were very sinful. They particularly were into coveting wives. And they were very religious.

The fact that these things can be combined strikes the modern mind as bizarre. But you have to deal with it if you’re going to understand these people. They would commit a horrid crime, and their confessor would say, “I don’t know if you can ever get over that one. I don’t know if atonement is in the books for you. But you better walk barefoot to the Holy Land and hope that that works.”

And they’d go. And then come back and sin some more.

 

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The Kind of Thing the Bishops Ought to be Saying

May 19th, 2010 No comments

Article | First Things

the directors of the Legion issued a statement on March 26, which read, “We ask all those who accused him in the past to forgive us, those whom we did not believe or were incapable of giving a hearing to, since at the time we could not imagine that such behavior took place.” On April 25, Fr. Owen Kearns, publisher of the Legion’s newspaper, the National Catholic Register, added, “To Father Maciel’s victims, I pray you can accept these words: I’m sorry for what our founder did to you. I’m sorry for adding to your burden with my own defense of him and my accusations against you. I’m sorry for being unable to believe you earlier. I’m sorry this apology has taken so long.”

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Birds of a Feather

May 19th, 2010 No comments

Dick Blumenthal, Reporting for Duty – WSJ.com

SAT Analogy Practice Test

* “Woody Allen Comes Out in Support of Polanski”–headline, Associated Press, May 16
* “Dodd Defends Blumenthal”–headline, The Weekly Standard website, May 18

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Great Cochrane 2008 Letter on the Milton Friedman Institute Objection Letter

May 19th, 2010 No comments

Comments on the Milton Friedman Institute Protest letter

John Cochrane

July 12 2008

(A group of University of Chicago faculty wrote a petition to our President opposing the foundation of a Milton Friedman Institute to support economic research. The full letter is here. These are my personal comments on that letter. I do not speak for or represent the Institute, the faculty committee, the University, or anyone else.)…

 

“Many colleagues are distressed by the notoriety of the Chicago School of Economics, especially throughout much of the global south, where they have often to defend the University’s reputation in the face of its negative image.”

If you’re wondering “what’s their objection?”, “how does a MFI hurt them?” you now have the answer. Translated, “when we go to fashionable lefty cocktail parties in Venezuela, it’s embarrassing to admit who signs our paychecks.” Interestingly, the hundred people who signed this didn’t have the guts even to say “we,” referring to some nebulous “they” as the subject of the sentence. Let’s read this literally: “We don’t really mind at all if there’s a MFI on campus, but some of our other colleagues, who are too shy to sign this letter, find it all too embarrassing to admit where they work.” If this is the reason for organizing a big protest perhaps someone has too much time on their hands.

“Global south”

I’ll just pick on this one as a stand-in for all the jargon in this letter. What does this oxymoron mean, and why do the letter writers use it? We used to say what we meant, “poor countries. ” That became unfashionable, in part because poverty is sometimes a bit of your own doing and not a state of pure victimhood. So, it became polite to call dysfunctional backwaters “developing.” That was already a lie (or at best highly wishful thinking) since the whole point is that they aren’t developing. But now bien-pensant circles don’t want to endorse “development” as a worthwhile goal anymore. “South” – well, nice places like Australia, New Zealand and Chile are there too (at least from a curiously North-American and European-centric perspective). So now it’s called “global south,” which though rather poor as directions for actually getting anywhere, identifies the speaker as the caring sort of person who always uses the politically correct word.

“The effects of the neoliberal global order that has been put in place in recent decades….”

Notice the interesting voice of the verb. Let’s call it the “accusatory passive.” “Has been put in place…” By who, I (or any decent writer) would want to know? Unnamed dark forces are at work.

“Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world’s population… weakening … struggling local economies”

I can think of lots of words to describe what’s going on in, say, China and India, as well as what happened previously to countries that adopted the “neoliberal global order” like Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Billions of people are leading dramatically freer, healthier, longer and more prosperous lives than they were a generation ago. “Weakening…struggling local economies” is just factually wrong about events on this planet….

This is just the big lie theory at work. Say something often enough and people will start to believe it. It helps especially if what you say is vague and meaningless. Ok, I’ll try to be polite; a lie is deliberate and this is more like a willful disregard for the facts. Still, if you start with the premise that the last 40 or so years, including the fall of communism, and the opening of China and India are “negative for much of the world’s population,” you just don’t have any business being a social scientist. You don’t stand a chance of contributing something serious to the problems that we actually do face.

“the service of globalized capital..”

I was wondering who the subject of all these passive sentences is. Now I’m beginning to get the idea. This view has a particularly dark history. A hint: “Globalized capital” has names like Goldman and Sachs. …

The letter starts with two paragraphs of meaningless throat-clearing. (“This is a question of the meaning of the University’s investments, in all senses.” What in the world does that sentence actually mean?) I learned to delete throat-clearing in the first day of Writing 101. It’s all written in the passive, or with vague subjects. “Many” should not be the subject of any sentence. You should never write “has been put in place,” you should say who put something in place. You should take responsibility in your writing. Write “we,” not “many colleagues.” The final paragraphs wander around without saying much of anything.

The content of course is worse. There isn’t even an idea here, a concrete proposition about the human condition that one can disagree with, buttress or question with facts. It just slings a bunch of jargon, most of which has a real meaning opposite to the literal. “Global South,” “neoliberal global order,” “the service of globalized capital,” “substitution of monetization for democratization.” George Orwell would be proud.

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Maybe Economics Is Not as Pure as I Thought

May 19th, 2010 No comments

No comment, please – Politik – Ökonomie – Ökonomie-Nachrichten – Handelsblatt.com

Ignoring Liebowitz was not possible any more, however, after he submitted his counter-study officially as a comment to the JPE in September 2007. Levitt started by asking one of the authors, Koleman Strumpf, for his opinion. Strumpf handed in his reply in November. He defends the study and retaliates by pointing to alleged mistakes in Liebowitz? comment.

In addition, Levitt asked for a report from an impartial referee. The referee recommends publishing the comment in order to “save subsequent researchers from building on a flawed research foundation.” While he advises Liebowitz to rephrase his comment such that it would not contain any overt assertions of data manipulation he sides with him on almost all the critical points and comes to a damming conclusion regarding the file-sharing article: “I would suggest that the authors? conclusions are not warranted given the analysis and evidence that they provide.”

However, Levitt is not inclined to publish the comment. He anonymizes the reply by Strumpf and uses it as a second referee-report on which he bases his rejection of Liebowitz? comment.

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Requirements for Elective Office

May 18th, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy » Connecticut Secretary of State Legally Barred from Running for Connecticut Attorney General

The New Haven Independent reports:

[Susan] Bysiewicz …, a popular Democrat who’s secretary of the state … ran for attorney general instead …. [But] it turned out she might not legally qualify for the job, because she hasn’t been practicing law for the past 10 years.

The matter went to court. Bysiewicz convinced the lower court that even though she hasn’t been appearing before judges or doing technical legal work, her job as secretary of the state could still meet the legal definition of being a lawyer…. [But today the Connecticut Supreme Court] has in fact not been working as a lawyer, and is therefore ineligible to run for attorney general.

The relevant statute reads, “The Attorney General shall be an elector of this state and an attorney at law of at least ten years’ active practice at the bar of this state.”

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New Punctuation Marks

May 18th, 2010 No comments

Marginal Revolution

If you could create a punctuation mark, what would its function be and what would it look like?

That’s from Hudson Collins, loyal MR reader. I’ve always liked the chess marks “!?” and “?!” and wondered why they weren’t used in standard English. The former refers to a startling move which is uncertain in merit and the latter refers to a dubious move which creates difficult to handle complications. Plus “N” could be used to mark sentences with novel ideas.

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Less than 10 Years in Prison for a Deranged Murderer in England

May 18th, 2010 No comments

Woman charged over stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms | Mail Online

In January 2000, deranged Robert Ashman attacked Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones with a samurai sword as he conducted a surgery in his Cheltenham constituency.

Ashman seriously injured Mr Jones and stabbed to death his aide Andrew Pennington as he tried to protect the MP.

Mr Jones required 57 stiches to his hand.

Ashman later claimed he had carried out the attack because his MP was not doing enough to help him after he lost his job, got divorced and was declared bankrupt.

The former engineer was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted murder.

Sentencing the father of two at the time, a High Court judge said Ashman was so disturbed she could not foresee a time when he would be safely released.

But Ashman has since been allowed back on the streets after psychiatrists deemed him fit to be let out.

He is now living in a ‘halfway house’ in Bristol, just 35 miles away from the scene of the killing in Cheltenham.

Although he is supervised by police and has to obey a curfew, he is free to go out alone during the day.

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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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