Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! From KPC...

May your troubles be less. 
Your blessings be more.
And may nothing but pumpkins

Come through your back door!

Freedom of Sale

You can have stickers on your car.  Bumper stickers, etc.

In Alexandria, VA (and elsewhere), you can NOT have a "For Sale" sign sticker, though.

Or, can you?  One case.

Another case.

Cool quote: “I can put a bumper sticker on my vehicle about my religious views and moral views,” said McLean, 35 and a lawyer. “Those pocketbook issues are just as important. For me, free speech doesn’t have any qualifiers.” 

Last week, McLean and the foundation filed a lawsuit against the Alexandria government, calling the city’s decades-old no-sale-sign statute an arbitrary ban on commercial speech that violates the First Amendment. “We need the court to formally recognize the importance of the right to advertise and the ability to earn a living,” attorney Christina Martin said. “Free speech is essential to free enterprise.” 

The foundation made a video about the case and also produced a podcast, noting that the streets of Alexandria — and elsewhere — are full of commercial vehicles that offer goods and services for sale. 

With thanks to Chug.  His own letter of response, to Alan Gura:

Too bad we can't make the City refund all the charges (fines and other costs) paid by all the people who received those unconstitutional tickets over the last half century. 

And I have my doubts that the City would eventually get around to repealing the ordinance unless they had gotten some push back. It's depressing to think how many allegedly educated people, not to mention lawyers, dealt with that ordinance over the last 50-plus years and no one questioned it. 

 It is the multitude of idiotic things like this that gradually turned me in to a libertarian.   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lyndon Johnson is still not popular in Vietnam!

From the redoubtable Jason Brennan comes this amazing research paper on the structural grammatical differences between "close the door" and "f**k you".

While the whole piece is a tour-de-force, I recommend page 4 (which, de facto is page 2) in particular to your attention.

This article is definitely NSFW!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Corruption: "Based on my training and experience, I'm going to steal your money"

The real problem with corruption in the U.S. is not at the margins, with bad cops taking bribes outside the law..

It's right at the center of government itself, with agencies using bad rules to take property overtly and using the court system for cover.

This CAF ("civil asset forfeiture") story is remarkable precisely because something like it happens every day.  Or, almost twice a day, because as the story notes there more than 600 CAFs in 2012.


ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report. “How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up....

There is nothing illegal about depositing less than $10,000 cash unless it is done specifically to evade the reporting requirement. But often a mere bank statement is enough for investigators to obtain a seizure warrant. In one Long Island case, the police submitted almost a year’s worth of daily deposits by a business, ranging from $5,550 to $9,910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that based on his training and experience, the pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government seized $447,000 from the business, a cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that has been run by one family for 27 years.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  In today's Scott de Marchi corner....a spider the size of a puppy.

2.  NC has really high gas taxes, and yet claims to need tolls to build new roads.  Why?  Because it raids the highway fund for other purposes.  And remember that the NC has a Republican legislature.  It's not a partisan point.  It's just that politics is theft.

3.  Stay-at-home parents have my great respect.  Stay-at-home kids, much less so.  Todd Rundgren had a song for those kids. It does sound fun, I admit.

4.  Speaking of staying home, Latinos may be stay-at-home voters.  Nobody likes being taken for granted.

5.  If some drunk guy tried this ("What's that lipstick on your neck?"  "Honey, I'd love to tell you, but it's a matter of national security...") it would be laughable.  But if the U.S. government tries it...well, it's still laughable.


Friday, October 24, 2014


Government joke.  Though to be fair, it's really a Congress joke.  So I changed it a little, from the source.

Overheard at the Charles River race:

“Did you hear that one of the teams in the Eights is all members of Congress?”

“No. How are they doing?”

“Much better this year. They kept coming in last in previous races, so they sent someone to spy on the Harvard and Yale teams to try to find out the secret of their high performance.”

“Really?  A rowing spy?  What did the spy tell them?”

“The spy said, 'Look, guys:  The Harvard and Yale crew teams just have one guy yelling.  The rest of you should row!  And in the same direction!'


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This week's sign of the Apocalypse

Here's what the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism recommends for your next trip to the Bullshit State:

Never mind the Angusian level of exclamation point use, consider how low the great state of Massachusetts has fallen.

I'm not sure what's worse, the recommendations or the fact that the recommendations are so borderline untrue.

I checked Wikipedia and it turns out that Lemurs are NOT endemic to MA (who knew?). So they are suggesting traveling to MA just to go to the zoo. And "indoor water slides"? Do the good people of the Tourism office want you to take a time machine back to the 80s and stay at a Holidome? Finally corn mazes (a) are dangerous and terrifying, and (b) require more space than the entire state of MA to construct properly.

What do you think is the over/under on the percent of MA visitors this fall who participate in all three of these activities?

I'll set the number at 2.5%. Tell me in the comments which side you want.

People, if crap like this can happen, why did we even have the American Revolution at all?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oklahoma gettin' smarter, North Carolina gettin' dumber

Cool graph from a group called City Report showing how young educated people are flowing into selected urban areas.

Here the increase in young people with BAs or better in on the vertical axis and the increase in total population is on the horizontal:

As you can see OKC has the second largest increase in young educated people and that increase is large given its overall population growth. Charlotte NC and Raleigh NC are getting relatively dumber as their overall population is growing faster than their young and educated population (Atlanta and Dallas too!).

Interestingly New Orleans, Buffalo and Pittsburgh are losing overall population while gaining a decent amount of young and educated people, while Detroit and Cleveland are stinking in both dimensions.

I guess all those Mungowitz-educated  Duke students are not staying in NC!

Hat-tip to The Upshot!

That Thing....

Ya know that thing where the woman you have been dating online becomes obsessed with you and tries to get into your house by sliding down the chimney?

Nope, me neither.  But it happened to this guy.

As the article notes....there is MORE to this story, somewhere.

Strangely, this is apparently a thing that you women do....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  I'm not sure anyone could blame him.  "Sure, yes, I was on heroin, but you gotta understand:  I'm teaching 8th Graders.  YOU try doing that without narcotics."

2.  You CAN hide--anonymize.  (with apologies to the Eagles)

3.  John Oliver on civil forfeiture...

4.  NO!!! Not. the. chocolate...

5.  Elder Gus brings it.  At first, I thought perhaps The Bishop had taught Elder Gus to dance.  But that can't be right.  Because Elder Gus can dance.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Emails: Hoe Ramming

Emails I actually get:


MIS is lining up to hoe ram the existing tunnel footing this weekend, beginning Saturday. This work is required in order to clear a path for the new steam/condensate lines from the manhole to the areaway. 

We will have this work done prior to 7:00 AM Monday, October 20th. 

First of all, any email addressed to "Myron" is a win.

And then..."Hoe ramming"?  That sound like something Ludacris sang about:  "You doin' Ho activities, with Ho tendencies..."

Reach up in the sky fo' the Ho-zone layah!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I don't know.  This seems a little facile.

On the other is surely true that at least some, and perhaps most, of our expectations about gender roles really are socially constructed.  And if someone wants to "identify" differently, that's okay with me.

I'm not so sure this is okay, with me.  That's a lot to keep track of.  And it's all made up.  I understand, that's the point, that ALL genders and roles are made up, or "socially constructed," and so why not make up better ones.  But I really think that any parent who has been around little boys and little girls will have some doubts about the claim that gender roles are 100% socially constructed.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  Vasalgel.

2.  If this can happen, why do we even have elitest leftist enclaves in the first place?  (nod to CN)

3.  Caring, or not caring, about inequality.

4.  Excellent robots.

5.  Biden.  Oh, Biden, Biden, Biden.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Jimmy Kimmel Awesomeness

Our friends on the left often make fun of the anti-science bias of right.  Fair enough.

But the left has its own tinfoil-hatted goofballs.  The best most obvious examples are the opposition to vaccines, and opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Jimmy Kimmel, bless his heart, has a little fun.

Of course, we eat GMOs all the time.  Things like corn, pork, etc.  Any domesticated species is the result of genetic modification.

But that was through selective breeding, over generations.  Isn't it dangerous to use ....well, whatever it is that scientists use?

That's what these folks want to say.  If you are looking for a blue print for your own tinfoil hat, here's a good one

The odd thing is that the truth is pretty clear.  So why are you "scientific" lefties getting your organic free-range rough cotton shorts all knotted-up?  Could it be that your views are ideological, and not scientific, after all?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

The LMM's account of the morning I had my eye surgery.

Had not eaten for quite a while, was pretty nervous.  The nurse tried to put the needle into the large (but highly wiggly) veins on the back of my hand.  She missed, missed, missed again, and then just tried to pursue the vein around, digging the needle into my hand and wrist.

I could feel myself getting dizzy.  Then really dizzy.  So I said, "I'm getting dizzy."  And then a few minutes later I woke up, with several doctors standing around me.  And with an oxygen tube in my nose.  Apparently I had taken a short vacation away from consciousness.


Nurse, Mary, commented we didn't have a "chair" (which was actually a bed) in our holding pen (my description of waiting area). She said she'd start the IV with you sitting up in a real chair. She asked if I was ok watching her put in the IV. I said no and turned around. You said you were fine. Mary started slapping your hand to get a vein in your lower left wrist. Think she said darn or something like that, said the vein had rolled, that is sometimes does. Said she was sorry, asked if you were ok. At first you said yes. She kept saying she had it in there but it rolled. By this time another nurse had brought in the "chair." Mary nurse started to try to get the vein again.

You said you were starting to feel dizzy and perhaps she should try while you were laying down. Even as you said you were dizzy, I could see your eyes rolling back in your head. The nurse had turned her away from you. Your head went back and I yelled, "he's fainting." She turned around and yelled for a doctor. Dr. Ramos, the anthesiologist, came in and muttered something in doctor language to Mary about what was happening to you.

He walked up to you and slapped both side of your face, yelling Mr. Munger, wake up or are you in there, something like that. He then yelled for another doctor, Dave. With your head back and your face absolutely placid, you then started snorted as if you couldn't breath. Dave hadn't come yet and I yelled for him to come.

Dr. Ramos said to bag you and he and Mary gave you oxygen. Then you started to come to and didn't remember a thing, vaguely remembering you had said you felt a little dizzy. Mary then put you in the bed and had another nurse, Melissa, come in to put in the IV. Mary said she learned her lesson not to start an IV in a chair again. When you passed out you looked just like you did in Chile when you had fainted back on the floor of a restaurant while standing straight up.

LMM's Postscript:  When they said "bag 'em," I thought for half a second that he must be dead.  But then I realized they just meant to give him oxygen.  Still....the life insurance would have been nice.

Nobel Predictions

When it comes to the literature Nobel, nobody knows nothing.

And that's a good thing.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Man bites Iceberg

This is an actual headline from an actual story from the actual internet:

Antarctic sea ice hits an all-time high, NASA blames global warming

 No there is not a typo. That is what the story actually claims.

 People, I'm not gonna read it, I'm just gonna  mock it. Let me know in the comments if I'm being a jerk. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

A Petition against the Young

Man, Mungowitz knows me so well and trolls me so hard!

He pointed me to this Onionesque piece from the mighty Chronicle of Higher Education, requesting that journals please refrain from publishing papers written by grad students for (wait for it), THE GOOD OF THE GRAD STUDENTS!

I am not making this up. You gotta go read this piece.

Here's how I responded to Mungo when he befouled my Facebook feed with this drivel:

"LOL, sure let's ban the one thing grad students can do to empower themselves and keep them dependent on our recommendations and the rank of the school they attend. It has the side benefit of reducing competition in the publishing market too. Genius!!!!"

The argument, if you can call it that, is that students spend too much time trying to publish and not enough on their dissertation so they end up staying in grad school "too long".

And the only solution that occurs to the petitioner is to ban student publications.

I expect my students to publish AND finish their dissertations in 5 years. Many do. I work with them to make journal articles and the dissertation be complements, not substitutes. This is a common practice in economics and a fairly obvious solution to the alleged problem haunting the author of the Chronicle piece.

I've had some late blooming students who could benefit from a 6th year in terms of bettering their job placement, but since they will get some type of job anyway, I leave that decision up to them. It's a pretty tough call and I try to respect their decisions whatever my own personal take may be.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  The sharing economy....with a paring knife and some mayo.

2.  This is about 3-4 miles from our house.  Bachelorette parties? 

3.  Another man who regrets using too much cologne.  Perhaps if he left the window down...or if he hadn't driven a bright red car....or if he weren't an idiot.

4.  Rent-seeking may be unavoidable.  But do we really need to promote it?

5.  Odious Rove:  The George Costanza of American Politics.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Interesting Friedman Interview

Very interesting interview with Milton Friedman.  On wanting to help people, and collectivism.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Legal Horror Stories

Here's two recent ones that really amazed and disgusted me

1. Meth charge dropped after only spaghetti sauce found on spoon

Here's the public defender describing the case: “From what I understand, she was a passenger in a car and had a spoon on her, near her, and I guess the officer, for whatever reason, thought there was some residue,”

I'd give you the cops' version but, "Attempts to obtain the original arrest report from the Gainesville Police were unsuccessful"

Now sure this seems pretty funny, but the woman was in jail for a MONTH AND A HALF! For no other reason that the cop thought she was a meth-head.

2. Before the Law: A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life.

This kid was accused of stealing someone's backpack. couldn't make bail, wouldn't plead out. 3 YEARS LATER, the charges were dismissed!

3 YEARS, people.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

What a confusing world....

So, in Hong Kong, there are protests FOR democracy.

While in Colorado there are protests AGAINST it.  Interesting that when the left disagrees with the majority, then it's protest time.

How confusing.

(with thanks to Susan L.)

Guest Post from MK: Organic / Local is doing great, and so desperately needs help

It's hard to follow the logic of the author here.  A summary, offered by MK, to get us through:

Highlights: - Organic food is now a $35B business and farmers' markets have grown 76%. 

Therefore, they obviously need $52M in federal cash. With numbers like that they need help.

Vilsack says more organic farmers are needed to revitalize the rural economy.  And the rural economy must be in deep manure, because in February Obama tripled the subsidy to local/organic/pious/yogic food to $291M. Who can live on that? 

Plus, people love it! Some (rich, white) people anyway: "“It’s a really nice bump for us because we’ve been getting chump change for research,” said Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic research and advocacy group. 

Still, Mr. Kastel said that given the growth in the organic business, with about $35 billion in sales in the United States last year, he wished "there was more money to study organic practices."