Thursday, August 22, 2013

From the annals of bad law:
By midcentury some thinkers in the law schools and elsewhere had come to see lawsuits as a kind of surrogate social insurance, identifying deep pockets from whom accident victims might obtain compensation. Justice Roger Traynor of the California Supreme Court, in an influential concurring opinion in a 1944 case called Escola v. Coco-Cola Bottling Co., led the way by proposing that courts should not have to find that manufacturers had behaved negligently to hold them liable for injuries resulting from defects in their products: "Even if there is no negligence … public policy demand that responsibility be fixed wherever it will most effectively reduce the hazards to life and health inherent in defective products that reach the market.”
- "The Rule of Lawyers", by Walter Olson, via Megan Mcardle

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The hyper-partisanship of our bureaucracy:
So has the IRS gone off the rails into hyper-partisanship, leaving behind other more balanced federal agencies? One might imagine that the IRS is different from other federal agencies in ways that would attract employees who more readily support Democratic candidates. Conservative-leaning lawyers might lack the tax-collecting zeal that could lead a lawyer to a career position in the IRS.

The data show, however, that the partisanship of the lawyers in the IRS is not unsual or even particularly extreme among federal agencies. In fact, the lawyers in every single federal government agency--from the Department of Education to the Department of Defense--contributed overwhelmingly to Obama compared to Romney.
Take a look at that table.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Environmental activism commonly doesn't have anything to do with the environment, as evidenced in this article from the environmentalist website The Grist:
The storm has brought a surge of tech-driven initiatives designed to supplant services that have traditionally been viewed as public domain... And on the streets, Google and other companies now run their own, very private version of public transit: a fleet of unmarked buses that shuttle the tech class to and from jobs at corporate campuses south of the city.

Much has been made of Silicon Valley’s private bus system lately because there is much to be made. The private shuttles ferry upwards of 35,000 workers each day between San Francisco and the sprawling tech company campuses 40-50 miles south. That’s about 35 percent of Caltrain’s ridership, and 17 percent of the number that rides the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

They may use the city’s public bus stops, but these are no ordinary buses. They are pure, gleaming white, unsigned and completely anonymous. Riders flash their work IDs to gain access to these luxury shuttles, each outfitted with wifi, of course.

“Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves,” Rebecca Solnit wrote in an essay at the London Review of Books.
When private companies unroll programs for their employees to ride-share, simultaneously lowering congestion and CO2 emissions, they are greeted with outright hostility and anti-capitalist vitriol. This has nothing to do with the environment.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Environmental regulations don't help the environment, and ruin everyday things while they are at it:
The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible.

An ominous regulatory announcement from the EPA came in 2007: “Starting with containers manufactured in 2009… it is expected that the new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”

The government never said “no vents.” It abolished them de facto with new standards that every state had to adopt by 2009. So for the last three years, you have not been able to buy gas cans that work properly. They are not permitted to have a separate vent. The top has to close automatically. There are other silly things now, too, but the biggest problem is that they do not do well what cans are supposed to do.

And don’t tell me about spillage. It is far more likely to spill when the gas is gurgling out in various uneven ways, when one spout has to both pour and suck in air. That’s when the lawn mower tank becomes suddenly full without warning, when you are shifting the can this way and that just to get the stuff out.

There’s also the problem of the exploding can. On hot days, the plastic models to which this regulation applies can blow up like balloons. When you release the top, gas flies everywhere, including possibly on a hot engine. Then the trouble really begins.
This happened to me just a few weeks ago, I hit the release button on the gas can, and was rewarded with a geyser of fuel arching over the top of my lawnmower, a spill far worse than I've ever had with a traditional gas can.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Americans are far more generous than every European nation:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Michael Totten sets the record straight on the Prime Minister of Tunisia:
Ennahda is described as “moderate” in almost every single article published by wire agency hacks, but the only reason it’s relatively moderate is because it’s forced to share power. Tunisia’s Islamists conceded to building a civil state instead of an Islamic state because they face massive resistance and they don’t have enough seats in the parliament to do anything else. Since the police and the army are loyal to the country and not the party, that’s that. If Ennahda had won a majority and had the strength to muscle everything through, we would be looking at a different Tunisia—an Egypt in the Maghreb.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Apparently radio was once controlled by the mob:
From the late 1970s through 1986, radio was controlled by the mob, and you had a lot of people getting hundred dollar bills in record sleeves or cocaine hidden inside cassette tapes.... Yes, the Gambino family. There's a great book on payola in the 1980s by Fredric Dannen called "Hit Men." Basically, there was a cartel of consultants called "The Network" that bribed programmers and was extorting money from record labels. If you didn't pay their billings they'd blacklist your artists.Most famously they had Pink Floyd kicked off the LA airwaves during an extremely successful concert tour as retaliation against their label.This cartel was connected to Piney Armone, a Gambino underboss.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The War on Poverty has failed:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

There is no recovery:

Diana Carew reports "in July 2013, just 36 percent of Americans age 16-24 not enrolled in school worked full-time, 10 percent less than in July 2007."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quote of the day:
It is not dependence per se, which is a universal fact of human life, but dependence without mutual obligation, that corrupts the soul. Such technocratic provision enables precisely the illusion of independence from the people around us and from the requirements of any moral code they might uphold. It is corrosive not because it instills a true sense of dependence but because it inspires a false sense of independence and so frees us from the sorts of moral habits of mutual obligation that alone can make us free.
-Yuval Levin

Friday, April 5, 2013

There is broad scientific consensus that genetically engineered crops currently on the market are safe to eat. After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops (Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Committee on Environmental Impacts Associated with Commercialization of Transgenic Plants, National Research Council and Division on Earth and Life Studies 2002). Both the U.S. National Research Council and the Joint Research Centre (the European Union’s scientific and technical research laboratory and an integral part of the European Commission) have concluded that there is a comprehensive body of knowledge that adequately addresses the food safety issue of genetically engineered crops (Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health and National Research Council 2004; European Commission Joint Research Centre 2008).

These and other recent reports conclude that the processes of genetic engineering and conventional breeding are no different in terms of unintended consequences to human health and the environment (European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation 2010)...

Still, to date, compounds with harmful effects on humans or animals have been documented only in foods developed through conventional breeding approaches. For example, conventional breeders selected a celery variety with relatively high amounts of psoralens to deter insect predators that damage the plant. Some farm workers who harvested such celery developed a severe skin rash—an unintended consequence of this breeding strategy (Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health and National Research Council 2004).
-Scientific American (online), Aug, 2011.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Economist is changing its tune, "The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Realpolitik in the Middle East:
This is one of the reasons conspiracy theories are popular in the Middle East. Bizarre conspiracies actually happen in this part of the world. It’s “normal.” The Syrian regime has been pulling stunts like that one for decades.

The liberal Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid recently highlighted similar shenanigans in NOW Lebanon: “The campaign by the Assad regime included releasing known jihadist and terrorist elements from state prisons at the same time nonviolent protest leaders were imprisoned. This tactic is sometimes called ‘tailoring your enemies.’ It is inherently a risky approach, but can serve to divide enemy ranks by creating a more radical camp in their midst, and in this case, undermining the advocates of nonviolence. This tactic had been repeatedly used by the Assad regime during the Lebanese civil war, allowing it to emerge as the main power broker there.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Every time we look at them, they want more money. Like pigs, you know. Here we’re slaving, and we’re starving and the goddamn workers don’t give a s--- about anything.”
-Cesar Chavez, man of the people
A Washington Post op-ed claims:
Nearly all of the mass shootings in this country in recent years — not just Newtown, Aurora, Fort Hood, Tucson and Columbine — have been committed by white men and boys.
However, that's not what the facts say:
Whites are under-represented by race in mass shootings, as are Hispanics, when you look at percentage of total population. Don’t take my word for it, either; look at the stats kept by über-left-wing Mother Jones.

Over-represented are Asians, like Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, One L. Goh, Jeong Soo Paek, Jiverly Wong, Byran Koji Uyesugi and Gang Lu who are all East Asian, and West Asian/Arabs, such as Nidal Hassan, and Abdelkrim Belachheb, whom the sisters dishonestly label “white.”

Also over-represented are black mass murders like Omar S. Thornton, Maurice Clemmons, Charles Lee Thornton, William D. Baker, Arthur Wise, Clifton McCree, Nathan Dunlap, Colin Ferguson, and we’re not even including the DC Snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, because they are arguably serial killers instead.
There are some problems with the Mother Jones data, but, this is basically right.
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