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."
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A notebook to myself