Shared posts

22 Aug 13:40

Quotations of the day on socialism….

by Mark J. Perry

…. are from Ludwig von Mises, writing in Human Action.

1. A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.

2. Every socialist is a disguised dictator.

HT: Dennis Gartman

22 Aug 04:50

The Secret Playbook of Internet Trolls

by George Washington

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
What’s confusing you
Is the nature of my game

- The Rolling Stones

The reason that Internet trolls are effective is that people still don’t understand their game.

There are 15 commonly-used trolling tactics to disrupt, misdirect and control internet discussions.

As one interesting example, trolls start flame wars because – according to two professors – swearing and name-calling shut down our ability to think and focus.

And trolls will often spew divisive attacks so that people argue against each other, instead of bad actions and policies of the powers-that-be.   For example, trolls will:

Start a religious war whenever possible using stereotypes like “all Jews are selfish”, “all Christians are crazy” or “all Muslims are terrorists”.

Yesterday, the alternative news site Common Dreams caught a troll using scores of different user names to spew anti-Semitic bile. (Common Dreams discovered that the same troll was behind the multiple user names by tracking their IP addresses. And the troll confessed to Common Dreams.)

The troll is a “a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website’s discussion of issues involving Israel”.

He posted anti-Semitic diatribes – such as Hitler should have finished the job and killed all Jews – using one alias.  Then – a couple of minutes later – he’d post an attack on the first poster using a different alias, claiming that criticism of Israel is the same thing as anti-Semitism.  (Note: Holocaust survivors and Israeli ministers say it’s not.)

Why would a Jew post vile anti-Semitic comments?  Because normal people are offended by – and don’t want to be associated with – pure, naked anti-Semitism, and so they will avoid such discussions.  If the discussion was originally criticizing a specific aspect of Israeli policy, the discussion will break down, and the actual point regarding policy will be lost.

Similarly, anti-Semitic posts weaken websites by making them seem less reputable. Indeed, Common Dreams says that the troll’s anti-Semitic comments drove away many of that site’s largest donors … dealing a severe blow to its continued viability. That’s exactly what trolls spewing anti-Semitic bile are trying to do: shut down logical discussion and discredit and weaken sites which allow rational criticism of policy.

It is well-known that foreign  governments and large companies troll online. See this, this this, and this. For example, the Israeli government is paying students to post pro-Israeli comments online.

And American students are also attempting to influence internet discussion.

While the Common Dreams troll claims that he’s not sponsored by the state of Israel, government  agencies have manipulated  Internet discussion for years. This includes the use of multiple “socket puppet” aliases.  The potential for mischief is stunning.

Unless we learn their game …

22 Aug 11:49

Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 8/22/14

by Tony Gentilcore

Before we get to this week’s list of Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work I wanted to quickly remind everyone about mine and Dean Somerset’s Excellent Workshop High-Five the weekend of October 18th in Washington, DC.

You may be wondering what the heck is an Excellent Workshop High-Five? Well, for starters we couldn’t just name this shindig “Hey You, Come Hang Out With Us!” or “An American and a Canadian Walk Into a Gym…..

We had to give it some pizzazz.  Hence, the title.

Second, and most important, this is a two-day event, where Dean and I bleed just about everything we know with regards to assessment, program design, coaching, and everything in between.  It’s very much an opportunity to learn from two coaches who have been around the block and who have a TON of coaching experience.  Plus it’s an opportunity to earn some continuing education credits and see what I’m like before and after drinking a Spike.

For more information regarding location, itinerary, accommodations, and price you can go HERE.

Elite Athletic Development Seminar - Mike Robertson & Joe Kenn

There are a handful of coaches where whenever they talk, write, or allude to anything strength and conditioning I’ll drop whatever it is I’m doing and listen and soak up as much information as I can.

Unless I’m getting fed grapes by a Victoria Secret model, then it can wait. But other than that I’m glued.

I have an immense amount of respect for both Mike and Coach Kenn and this seminar series is about as close as you’re going to get to a master class on how to develop freaky athletes as you’re going to get.

The introductory sale of $150 off ends TONIGHT (8/22) at midnight.  In addition everyone who purchases will be able to sit in on a live Q&A with both Mike and Coach Kenn.

What’s more, if you’re a coach or personal trainer the NSCA approved this course for 1.4 CEUs. Holla!

There’s little reason not to jump on the train folks.  Go HERE, and thank me later.

4 Tips You Need to Know For a Bigger Bench Press - Adam Pine

There’s a lot more to building an impressive bench press than you think.  I really enjoyed this article by Adam because he hammers home the importance of the set-up (which is something a lot of trainees never think about).

9 Tips for Dedicated Lifters – Dan John

We should all just shut-up and listen to Dan John.  He’s always right anyway.

2 Bonus Articles From Yours Truly <——- That Be Me

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises For Your Shoulders – this is an article that both myself and Eric contributed to on

So You Think You Can Design a Good Workout? – this is an article I recently wrote for on the topic of program design where I hit on some quick and easy (and I hope self explanatory) tips to make your programs more effective.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

22 Aug 11:00

Friday Funnies: Boots on the Ground

by Chip Bok

21 Aug 19:30

Soviet War Monument in Bulgaria Gets a Splash of Color

by Anthony L. Fisher

Soviet communism remains very uncool in countries that formerly lived under it, which might explain why some very creative and patient graffiti artists have been repeatedly defacing a Soviet Army monument in Bulgaria.Soviet kitsch

The latest unauthorized use of spray paint coincided with the anniversary of the founding of the Bulgarian Socialist Party. The Russian Foreign Ministry is not amused, lodging a note of protest with the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry and issuing a statement of indignation over "the desecration of the grave of Soviet liberator soldiers." According to The Moscow Times:

The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia's Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take "exhaustive measures" to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Though the photo here depicts American pop culture figures like Superman and Ronald McDonald, street artists have also painted the monument blue and yellow (in apparent support of Ukraine) and even put colored ski masks on the heads of statues representing Soviet soldiers (a nod to the persecuted Russian art collective Pussy Riot).

(Hat tip: Liberty Viral)

21 Aug 16:17

If You Like Federal Curbs on School Bake Sales, You Are Going to Love the Results of Obamacare

by admin

From George Will, the logic behind what I call the health care Trojan Horse

Washington’s response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates progressivism’s ratchet: The federal government subsidizes school lunches, so it must control the lunches’ contents, which validates regulation of what it calls “competitive foods,” such as vending machine snacks. Hence the need to close the bake sale loophole, through which sugary cupcakes might sneak: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.

So if school lunch programs are a platform for so much micro-regulation, how much regulation do you think the government takeover of healthcare will justify?  If government is paying most of the health care bills, then any activity that might affect your health is then logically subject to government regulation, if for no other reason than to protect against additional costs.  Motorcycle helmet laws have been justified for years on this logic that helmetless riders impose additional costs on government health programs.  Well, if that works for motorcycling, why shouldn't government be heavily regulating skiing?  Or for that matter, why should it allow people to drive cars at all?  Perhaps we should have to get government approval before every car trip to make sure it is not "frivolous" and creating future health care costs through accident risk.

Or how about that most costly-to-health-care activity of all: sex.  Sex spreads expensive diseases.  It can lead to expensive procedures like abortion.  And of course it can lead to costly pregnancies and, worst of all, new lives that have to be maintained for another 80 years by the government health care system.  If funding school lunch programs leads logically to banning cupcake sales at schools, why won't Obamacare lead logically to micro-regulation of our every activity?

21 Aug 00:14

50 Years Of Political Polarization In One Chart

by Tyler Durden

King County, Texas has seen the biggest shift in political preferences of all US counties since 1960 according to WaPo; but as io9's Mark Strauss notes reveal that during the last two decades, this is not unusual - an increasing number of Americans have chosen to veer Right or Left in their political orientation - with almost no center ground. That trend becomes especially apparent when looking at U.S. election results, county-by-county, since 1960.


As WaPo reports,

We also identified the two counties that changed the most and least between 1960 and 2012. Wyoming County, N.Y., has voted 30-plus percentage points more Republican than the rest of the country in basically every election since John Kennedy first won. King County, Tex., however, has gotten remarkably more conservative.

This is how every single county in the United States has voted vs. the national average since 1960.


The redder the red, the more Republican the county voted than the rest of the country. The bluer the blue, the more Democratic it voted.

Source: The Washington Post

21 Aug 14:35

Obamacare Is A Disaster For Businesses, Philly Fed Finds

by Tyler Durden

Remember all those allegations that Obamacare would be an unmitigated disaster for businesses, especially smaller companies? Well, now we have proof.

As the Philly Fed, which mysteriously soared at the headline level even as the vast majority of its components tumbled, reported moments ago, "in special questions this month, firms were asked qualitative questions about the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how, if at all, they are making changes to their employment and compensation, including benefits."

What the survey found was very disturbing: not only did businesses report that as a result of Obamacare the number of workers they employ is lower than higher (18.2% vs 3.0%), that there has been an increase in part time jobs (18.2% higher vs 1.5% lower), leading to a big increase in outsourcing and most importantly, Obamacare costs are being largely passed on to customers (28.8% reporting higher vs 0.0% lower), the punchline was that while there is basically no change in the number of employees covered (17.6% higher vs 14.7% lower and 67.6% unchanged), there has been a big jump in Premiums, Deductibles, Out-of-pocket maximums, and Copays, which has been "matched" by a far greater reduction in the range of medical coverage and the size of the network.

In short a disaster.

And what's worse, this sentiment will persist long after the current subprime auto loan-driven manufacturing renaissance is long forgotten.

20 Aug 23:00

Konami Flip-Flops On Fan-Remake Of 'Metal Gear', Decides To Shut It Down

by Timothy Geigner

Eventually, video game companies are going to have to come to terms with the fact that their biggest fans can also be immensely creative and that they often want to channel that creativity towards adding to the game franchises they love. Thus far, the vast majority of fan-driven projects having anything to do with video game franchises are met with stonewall takedowns and cease and desist letters. The most frustrating of these are when mixed signals are sent to the fans engaged in these projects, where the people doing the work are under the impression that their efforts have been cleared for takeoff only to be grounded late in development. To treat creative folks who can be amongst a company's greatest fans that way is to bite the hand that feeds them in a very real way.

And now it's happened again. A group of dedicated Metal Gear fans endeavoring to remake the original 1987 NES title in Valve's Source engine and had been in contact with a Konami rep the entire time. After month's of work, Konami apparently just informed them that they no longer had permission and forced them to shut it all down.

"The project has been shut down by Konami," an email sent to the site read. "Seems that they all couldn't agree on the project going ahead."

The mod team also revealed that David Hayter was on board to voice Snake, and had even recorded some lines for it. It posted a work-in-progress trailer showing a rough cut of scenes yet to be animated, complete with Hayter's dialogue.
In correspondence elsewhere, remake organizer Ian Ratcliffe indicated that he had been in regular contact with a Konami representative in the UK about the project and that he'd been given the all clear, with the stipulation that the game not be sold commercially. The carpet was then pulled out from underneath the team by Konami's legal department in Japan. Ratcliffe was far more understanding than many people might have been.
The agreement was made verbally, we first got approval a couple of months back after being told to take the moddb page down. Following that Jay Boor from Konami UK, told me that the agreement was getting written up by Japans legal team. (We were contacted by a couple of guys from Japan initially but since it's all been through Jay.) We were told to keep the page down as they wanted to make the announcement once E3 was out of the way. I'm not really sure what happened to be honest, we had a lot of back and forth with Jay and he was in full support of the project. It seems that the whole of Konami was divided on whether we should go ahead or not but I think ultimately it was Japans decision.

I totally understand their reason in doing so, not matter how disheartened the team is, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for all that they've done, Jay especially. Not to forget the huge amount of support we got from the fans, to which we're more than grateful for. We got to work alongside industry professionals, it's been really inspiring and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. We aren't gonna be sour about the whole thing it's the experience that counts.

We're now in the planning stages of making our own IP, in the words of Liquid Snake - "It's not over yet!"
It's an amazingly gracious and politic reaction to what was essentially the dicking over of the effort of a dedicated group of fans by Konami's legal team. To spend months working on a title, organizing labor, getting some impressive voice talent on board, all in good faith under the notion that a Konami rep had given the green light, and to then have all that work torn away by the very company whose work you love so much must be a hell of a feeling. Sure, Ratcliffe's team should have gotten the correspondence and the 'okay' in writing, but there's still no reason for Konami to dump on their fans like this. There was no commercial interest here, just the love of the game, so to speak. All in the name of copyright.

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20 Aug 22:55

Who-d a-thunk it? Game ranching and private ownership of wildlife for hunting, tourism and meat are saving rhinos, etc.?

by Mark J. Perry

There’s a pretty interesting and stark contrast between two completely different approaches to saving wildlife in Africa (rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and African buffaloes, etc.): a) ban the private ownership and all commercialization of wildlife except for eco-tourism vs. b) allow the private ownership of wildlife and legalize commercial activities relating to wildlife like private game ranching. Most African countries like Kenya take the first approach – individuals are not allowed to own or profit commercially from wildlife. A change in South Africa’s law in 1991 legalizing private ownership of wildlife and private game ranching provides a natural experiment to compare the two approaches.

A recent Bloomberg article provides these details:

1. South Africa’s private game-ranching is a $1.1 billion a year industry and growing at 10 percent annually. Foreign hunters, about 60 percent of whom came from the U.S., spent $118.1 million on licenses to hunt in South Africa in 2012.

2. Private game ranches have increased fivefold to 10,000 since South Africans were allowed to own and profit commercially from wild animals. The game ranches cover 20 million hectares, or about 16 percent of the country’s land.

So what’s happened to the number of wild animals in South Africa?

3. The private game industry is largely responsible for boosting the country’s large mammal population to 24 million, the most since the 19th century, and up from 575,000 in the early 1960s. For example, South Africa now has more than 20,000 white rhinos, 80 percent of the world’s total, up from 1,800 in 1968 when limited hunting was first introduced.

4. South Africa’s law change has also led to a commercial trade in wild animals with captive-bred species ranging from sable antelope to wildebeest sold at wildlife auctions.

And what about the situation in Kenya?

5. Kenya has lost 80 percent of its wildlife since it banned hunting in 1977 and large-mammal numbers are declining by 4.2 percent a year. The country’s elephant population has dropped 76 percent since the 1970s, while rhinos are down 95 percent.

MP: As counter-intuitive and paradoxical as it might seem, the best way to save African elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos from extinction is to kill them and eat them – in limited numbers of course. That is, by allowing private ownership and game ranching in South Africa, wild animals like the rhino have a commercial value that naturally results in greater conservation and protection efforts (“sustainability”) than in countries like Kenya, where wildlife naturally and predictably decline in numbers as victims of the “tragedy of the commons.”

As Steven Landsburg reminds us in The Armchair Economist, “Most of economics can be summarized in four words: People respond to incentives. The rest is commentary.” It shouldn’t be surprising then that wild animals are increasing in numbers in South Africa and decreasing in Keyna – private property rights, commercial use, market pricing, and the profit motive are the incentives that make all the difference in the world.

20 Aug 19:11

Teen Arrested, Suspended for Shooting a Dinosaur (In a Story He Wrote)

by Robby Soave

DinosaurNow that summer is over and school is starting up again, it's time for the torrent of ridiculous "zero tolerance" suspensions and arrests to resume.

Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina, is wasting no time: A 16-year-old student was arrested and suspended for writing a story in which he used a gun to kill a dinosaur. The student, Alex Stone, was assigned by a teacher to write a story about himself. Stone chose to embellish his story with obviously fictional details, like dinosaurs. But the teacher saw the word "gun" and the rest is history, according to NBC-12:

Stone said in his "status" he wrote a fictional story that involved the words "gun" and "take care of business."

"I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business," Stone said.

Stone says his statements were taken completely out of context.

"I could understand if they made him re-write it because he did have "gun" in it. But a pet dinosaur?" said Alex's mother Karen Gray."I mean first of all, we don't have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he's not even old enough to buy a gun."

Investigators say the teacher contacted school officials after seeing the message containing the words "gun" and "take care of business," and police were then notified on Tuesday.

The police arrested Stone and charged him with disorderly conduct. He was also suspended from school for a week.

And just like that, the pop-tart gun suspension has been dethroned as the most absurd zero tolerance story. And it's not even September yet! Well done, Summerville. 

Readers, welcome back to public school.

19 Aug 23:26

Motorcyclist crashes, flips and sticks a perfect landing on a car's roof

by Casey Chan on Sploid, shared by Casey Chan to Gizmodo

Motorcyclist crashes, flips and sticks a perfect landing on a car's roof

If there is such thing as a perfect motorcycle accident, this might be it: a motorcyclist crashes full speed into a car that's changing lanes. That's bad. The crash launches his body into a spinning mess in the air. That's definitely bad. But yet somehow he manages to flip and land standing up on the car's roof.


19 Aug 14:15

stunes530: bittenlipsandbrokenhearts: Get the fuck out Wut.



Get the fuck out


18 Aug 09:00

Why product designs fail

by sharhalakis

by uaiHebert

20 Aug 15:26

Equal Protection Under the Law?

by admin

Equal protection means that the same law applies to everyone, at least in theory.  But compare these two stories:

1. Exxon fined $600,000 for 85 bird deaths in five states over five years

Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay $600,000 in penalties after approximately 85 migratory birds died of exposure to hydrocarbons at some of its natural gas facilities across the Midwest.

The fine amounts to about $7,000 per dead bird.

The oil company pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of waterfowl, hawks, owls and other protected species, which perished around natural gas well pits or water storage areas in Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas over the last five years....

“We are all responsible for protecting our wildlife, even the largest of corporations,” said David M. Gaouette, the United States attorney in Colorado, in a statement accompanying the Justice Department’s announcement.

We are all responsible for protecting our wildlife... except if we are politically-favored solar companies with strong ties to the Obama White House

2. No fines for solar power plant that may be killing 28,000 birds a year

A common sight in the sky above the world's largest solar thermal power plant is a "streamer," a small plume of smoke that occurs without warning. Closer inspection, however, reveals that the source of the smoke is a bird which has inadvertently strayed into the white-hot heat above the plant's many reflecting mirrors. Because the BrightSource Energy plant near Ivanpah uses supercritical steam rather than photovoltaic energy, the sun's heat is reflected off more than 300,000 mirrors to a single point, which is used to drive a steam turbine. The downside of that, of course, is that it's lethal for any wildlife that strays into the picture -- a problem that was recognized well before the facility opened, but now the government has gotten involved.

Government wildlife inspectors believe that insects are drawn to the highly reflective mirrors, which in turn lures local birds to their doom. BrightSource feels that the issue has been overblown, claiming that only 1,000 living creatures will die in a year, but the Center for Biological Diversity believes the actual figure is closer to 28,000. The US Fish and Wildlife service is pushing for more information and an accurate calculation of the deaths before California grants the company any more permits for solar plants.

You can see from the last line that the Feds don't seem to be even considering a penalty, but are just considering whether they should permit such plants in the future.  If the 28,000 figure is correct, this company should be getting $196 million in fines (the Exxon rate of $7000 per bird)  if there was any such thing as equal protection.  Even the company's admitted figure of 1,000 a year is almost 60 times as high as Exxon was penalized for, despite the fact that Exxon experienced the deaths across hundreds of locations in five states and this is just one single solar plant.

The same alternate standard is being applied to the wind energy industry, as I wrote a while back here.

20 Aug 16:27

REPORT: Perry Grand Juror Was Active Dem Party Delegate During Proceedings...

REPORT: Perry Grand Juror Was Active Dem Party Delegate During Proceedings...

(Second column, 2nd story, link)

20 Aug 16:03

Student arrested after writing about killing dinosaur with gun...

Student arrested after writing about killing dinosaur with gun...

(Third column, 14th story, link)

19 Aug 11:31

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from page 235 of Matt Ridley’s 2010 book, The Rational Optimist; (I’m re-reading Matt’s book in preparation for a new class that I’m teaching this Fall semester at GMU; the class is entitled “Economics of Sustainability”):

Suppose you had said to my hypothetical family of 1800, eating their gristly stew in front of a log fire, that in two centuries their descendants would need to fetch no logs or water, and carry out no sewage, because water, gas, and a magic form of invisible power called electricity would come into their home through pipes and wires.  They would jump at the chance to have such a home, but they would warily ask ho they could possibly afford it.  Suppose that you then told them that to earn such a home, they need only ensure that father and mother both have to go to work for eight hours in an office, travelling roughly forty minutes each way in a horseless carriage, and that the children need not work at all, but should go to school to be sure of getting such jobs when they start to work at twenty.  They would be more than dumbfounded; they would be delirious with excitement.

18 Aug 18:47

Rikers Teen Inmate Dies in Agony After Officials Ignore Torn Artery for Months

by Robby Soave

RikersFor months, Andy Henriquez, a 19-year-old inmate at Rikers Island in New York City, complained about chest pain to prison guards. Other inmates who could hear the teen's agonized screams pleaded with correctional officers to help him. But the shoddy medical care Henriquez received did nothing to alleviate his symptoms. Eventually, a doctor wrote him a prescription for hand cream.

Hours later, Henriquez was found dead. An autopsy determined that Henriquez had gradually succumbed to a torn aorta—something a hospital could have treated had medical personnel bothered to conduct cardiac examinations.

That's according to a lawsuit filed against Corizon, the healthcare company for Rikers, by Henriquez's mother, Sandra De La Cruz. DNAinfo's Rosa Goldensohn reports:

“I felt desperate. I felt despair, not being able to help my child,” De la Cruz told DNAinfo New York in Spanish from her lawyer's office recently.

“They should have let him leave. They should have taken him to the hospital. If I could have, I would have.”

De la Cruz is one of more than two dozen New Yorkers who have sued Corizon since 2012, accusing the company of negligence in medical care at Rikers and other correctional facilities. ...

Henriquez's death came two years after New York's Commission of Correctionhad already opened an investigation into other state inmates' deaths under Corizon's watch, city records show.

The outcome of that investigation was unclear and the commission declined to say whether it had finished or what it had found.

The guards claimed that they did not hear Henriquez begging for help, but other inmates reported that the COs did indeed hear Henriquez—they merely chose not to do anything about him. In either case, the COs acted improperly, since they were supposed to be checking on Henriquez every 15 minutes. Officers admitted that these required checks did not take placed, according to Goldensohn.

Henriquez entered Rikers at the age of 16. He was charged with being part of a gang that murdered another teenager, though Henriquez was not actually the one who committed the murder, according to the police. His case had not yet gone to trial by the time of his death.

No matter what his crimes were, he deserved better care than this. Even the useless hand cream was poorly administered; the doctor wrote the wrong name on the prescription.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time this year that Rikers made headlines for killing an inmate via neglect.

More from Reason TV on the incarceration of young people below.

16 Aug 14:12

Mom Creates App That Remotely Locks Kids' Phones Until They Call Back...

Mom Creates App That Remotely Locks Kids' Phones Until They Call Back...

(First column, 13th story, link)

16 Aug 03:19

Cops Shoot 19-Year-Old San Jose Woman After Mistaking Power Drill For an Uzi and Nothing Else Will Happen

by Ed Krayewski

Woman brandishing power drill before being shot by copsWhile the mainstream media is trying to fit surveillance video purporting to show Michael Brown robbing a convenience store of some cigars into the various narratives it's been constructing since protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, propelled the police shooting of an unarmed Brown into the national news cycle, the regular succession of police, or "officer-involved," shootings continue.

Earlier this week, for example, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department shot and killed a mentally disturbed 25-year-old they said later maybe might have been in a gang. In San Bernardino County, a newspaper employee died in police custody after being tased. Police claim the employed, married, father of five was a suspect in an attempted burglary. It's reported cops are "aggressively" seeking people who may have recorded their interaction with the victim.

And yesterday a 19-year-old woman in San Jose was shot and killed by police after they mistook a power drill she was brandishing for an Uzi. ABC 7 news reports:

San Jose police spokesperson Albert Morales says officers arrived at the scene with caller information that gave them reasonable concern their lives might be at risk. 

"We had a call, somebody with an Uzi, threatening to kill family members -- a very, very serious situation, very dangerous situation for our officers. We had communication with this person. Unfortunately, I guess at some point those communications either broke down or the officers felt threatened in some form or fashion."

Officers who did respond had specialized training to deal with the potential the person may have mental health issues. 

There was no one else in the home outside of which the 19-year-old was shot so it's unclear how the 911 call was so botched. Without media attention, don't expect that call, or much more information, to be released. None of these cases appear to be gaining significant media or community attention, so the stories will remain murky, uncertain. It's likely each one will be ruled justified, with little information being shared before then. The victims appear, or are depicted, as mentally unstable. Cops claim in each case that they felt threatened, and residents are expected to give police the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, the other side insists on counting cops who died because things fell on them or they were involved in accidents as "killed in the line of duty" to push the perception of cops working in a "war zone" not of their own making.

Calls by politicians like Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that Ferguson be a "turning point" are largely hollow. Cummings voted against an NDAA amendment in June that would've limited transfers of military gear to local police departments, and none of the establishment activists who have attached themselves to the situation in Ferguson seem to be doing anything to focus people's attentions on the systemic problems behind police brutality, starting with the propensity of most fatal police shootings to be ruled justified in a process shrouded in government secrecy and privilege.

We shouldn't have to read these kinds of stories and speculate about what happened, there ought to be a transparent process trusted by the public that can come to an understandable conclusion, whether you end up agreeing or not. Instead, cops and prosecutors act almost like a team during investigations of police shootings—it shouldn't be surprising given that they do operate as a team in pretty much every other part of their jobs. And police generally control the narrative of a shooting, painting themselves in the most positive light possible and victims in the most negative light possible. Without an engaged national media they often get away with it.

The indictment of Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) for trying to force a district attorney charged with drinking and driving out of office is illustrative here. A district attorney who drinks and drives shouldn't be allowed to keep that job, given how often a district attorney prosecutes drunk drivers. And it's rich to see a prosecutor charge a governor with "coercion" for threatening funding if a DA embroiled in a scandal wouldn't resign, when prosecutors coerce defendants into plea deals all the time. Is Perry enjoying widespread support for trying to force a DA that damaged her reputation out of office? Of course not, the DA is a Democrat so a significant amount of Democrats will back her. Her job is to monitor public integrity. It would seem her job should obligate her to resign after being charged with drunk driving. But prosecutors and cops will act in their own self-interest, especially when their jobs are on the line. And so bad actors are incentivized to help each other. Add partisan tribalism into the mix, and you have a recipe for a big old heap of nothing else happening.

14 Aug 22:02

wait for it… wait for it….............. just fucking...

wait for it… wait for it….............. just fucking do it!!1!

14 Aug 19:10

"Don't Shoot!"

by Tyler Durden

Presented with no comment...



h/t @Russian_Market

14 Aug 17:18

Police and Patents of Nobility

by admin

I don't have much to add to all the commentary on the Ferguson killing, except to say that many, many examples of police abuse of power are covered by libertarian blogs --but seldom more widely -- so it is nice to see coverage of such an incident hit the mainstream.

Defenders of police will say that police are mostly good people who do a difficult job and they will mostly be right.  But here is the problem:  In part due to our near fetishization of the police (if you think I exaggerate, come live here in Phoenix with our cult of Joe Arpaio), and in part due to the enormous power of public sector unions, we have made the following mistake:

  • We give police more power than the average citizen.  They can manhandle other people, drag them into captivity, search and take their stuff, etc.
  • We give police less accountability than the average citizen when things go wrong.   It is unusual even to get an investigation of their conduct, such investigations are seldom handled by neutral third parties, and they are given numerous breaks in the process no citizen gets.

The combination of these two can be deadly.

Ken White at Popehat writes to some of this

If you are arrested for shooting someone, the police will use everything in their power — lies, false friendship, fear, coercion — to get you to make a statement immediately. That's because they know that the statement is likely to be useful to the prosecution: either it will incriminate you, or it will lock you into one version of events before you've had an opportunity to speak with an adviser or see the evidence against you. You won't have time to make up a story or conform it to the evidence or get your head straight.

But what if a police officer shoots someone? Oh, that's different. Then police unions and officials push for delays and opportunities to review evidence before any interview of the officer. Last December, after a video showed that a cop lied about his shooting of a suspect, the Dallas Police issued a new policy requiring a 72-hour delay after a shooting before an officer can be interviewed, and an opportunity for the officer to review the videos or witness statements about the incident. Has Dallas changed its policy to offer such courtesies to citizens arrested for crimes? Don't be ridiculous. If you or I shoot someone, the police will not delay our interrogation until it is personally convenient. But if the police shoot someone:

New Mexico State Police, which is investigating the shooting, said such interviews hinge on the schedules of investigators and the police officers they are questioning. Sgt. Damyan Brown, a state police spokesman, said the agency has no set timeline for conducting interviews after officer-involved shootings. The Investigations Bureau schedules the interviews at an “agreeable” time for all parties involved, he said.

Cops and other public servants get special treatment because the whole system connives to let them. Take prosecutorial misconduct. If you are accused of breaking the law, your name will be released. If, on appeal, the court finds that you were wrongfully convicted, your name will still be brandished. But if the prosecutor pursuing you breaks the law and violates your rights, will he or she be named? No, usually not. Even if a United States Supreme Court justice is excoriating you for using race-baiting in your closing, she usually won't name you. Even if the Ninth Circuit — the most liberal federal court in the country — overturns your conviction because the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence, they usually won't name the prosecutor.

Also see Kevin Williamson.

14 Aug 15:48

To Avoid More Fergusons, Make Cops Wear Cameras

by Nick Gillespie

I've got a column up at that spells out the best policy to minimize incidents like the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri at the hands of the police:

Each of these incidents has an unmistakable racial dimension—all of the victims were black and all or most of arresting officers were white–that threatens the always tense relationships between law enforcement and African Americans. As important, the circumstances of each death are hotly contested, with the police telling one story and witnesses (if any) offering up very different narratives.

Brown’s death in particular is raising major ongoing protestsprecisely because, contrary to police accounts, witnesses claim that he had his hands up in the air in surrender when he was shot. The result is less trust in police, a situation that raises tensions across the board.

While there is no simple fix to race relations in any part of American life, there is an obvious way to reduce violent law enforcement confrontations while also building trust in cops: Police should be required to use wearable cameras and record their interactions with citizens. These cameras—various models are already on the market—are small and unobtrusive and include safeguards against subsequent manipulation of any recordings.

Read the whole piece here.

As Reason's Ronald Bailey pointed out last year, "Watched cops are polite cops." One study he cites found that wearing cameras by Rialto, California cops reduced use of force incidents by 60 percent and complaints against police by 88 percent.

And as Reason's Paul Detrick learned by talking with former Seattle cop Steve Ward, "Everybody behaves better when they're on video." Ward is the head of Viewvu, a company that makes wearable cameras for law enforcement. Watch that interview now:

14 Aug 15:58

Michael Munger: The "State" As A Unicorn

by admin

Michael Munger has one of the most useful articles I have read in a very long time.  As illustrated by the Venn diagram I posted a while back showing the heavy overlap between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, we have much more concurrence in the diagnosis of problems than in the prescriptions for solutions.   Munger gets at the heart of why many people go wrong in these prescriptions

When I am discussing the state with my colleagues at Duke, it's not long before I realize that, for them, almost without exception, the State is a unicorn. I come from the Public Choice tradition, which tends to emphasize consequentialist arguments more than natural rights, and so the distinction is particularly important for me. My friends generally dislike politicians, find democracy messy and distasteful, and object to the brutality and coercive excesses of foreign wars, the war on drugs, and the spying of the NSA. 

But their solution is, without exception, to expand the power of "the State." That seems literally insane to me—a non sequitur of such monstrous proportions that I had trouble taking it seriously.

Then I realized that they want a kind of unicorn, a State that has the properties, motivations, knowledge, and abilities that they can imagine for it. When I finally realized that we were talking past each other, I felt kind of dumb. Because essentially this very realization—that people who favor expansion of government imagine a State different from the one possible in the physical world—has been a core part of the argument made by classical liberals for at least three hundred years....

He follows with this useful test

But they may not immediately see why "the State" that they can imagine is a unicorn. So, to help them, I propose what I (immodestly) call "the Munger test."  

  1. Go ahead, make your argument for what you want the State to do, and what you want the State to be in charge of.
  2. Then, go back and look at your statement. Everywhere you said "the State" delete that phrase and replace it with "politicians I actually know, running in electoral systems with voters and interest groups that actually exist."
  3. If you still believe your statement, then we have something to talk about.

This leads to loads of fun, believe me. When someone says, "The State should be in charge of hundreds of thousands of heavily armed troops, with the authority to use that coercive power," ask them to take out the unicorn ("The State") and replace it with George W. Bush. How do you like it now?

If someone says, "The State should be able to choose subsidies and taxes to change the incentives people face in deciding what energy sources to use," ask them to remove "The State" and replace it with "senators from states that rely on coal, oil, or corn ethanol for income." Still sound like a good idea?

How about, "The State should make rules for regulating sales of high performance electric cars." Now, the switch: "Representatives from Michigan and other states that produce parts for internal combustion engines should be in charge of regulating Tesla Motors."  Gosh, maybe not …

Hat tip:  Don Boudreaux

I spent most of the Bush years asking Conservatives a similar question -- you may be fine when "your guy" has this power, but would you be happy if Al Gore or Nancy Pelosi had it.  And of course I have spent most of the Obama years asking Liberals whether they would be comfortable if George Bush or Rick Perry had similar powers to what Obama has claimed for himself.  Because they will.

I said something similar here, though less elegantly.  I concluded in part:

Technocratic idealists ALWAYS lose control of the game.  It may feel good at first when the trains start running on time, but the technocrats are soon swept away by the thugs, and the patina of idealism is swept away, and only fascism is left.  Interestingly, the technocrats always cry "our only mistake was letting those other guys take control".  No, the mistake was accepting the right to use force on another man.  Everything after that was inevitable.

14 Aug 03:44

Quotation of the day on picking the taxpayers’ pockets to pick energy losers….

by Mark J. Perry

…. is from Matt Ridley’s article “Renewable energy is not working”:

Over the past ten years the world has invested more than $600 billion in wind power and $700 billion in solar power. Yet the total contribution those two technologies are now making to the world primary energy supply is still less than 2 per cent. Ouch.

If we had spent that sum on research, and steadily replaced coal with gas as a source of electricity, we would have done far more to cut carbon emissions and kept prices low. A new report by Charles Frank of the Brookings Institution has come to the startling conclusion that if you encourage gas to replace coal, you get fewer emissions per dollar spent than if you use wind or solar.

In Mr. Frank’s words: “Solar and wind facilities suffer from a very high capacity cost per megawatt, very low capacity factors and low reliability, which result in low avoided emissions and low avoided energy cost per dollar invested.” In short, we are picking losers.

HT: Warren Smith

14 Aug 01:09

SWAT Team Shows Up In Ferguson, Detains Reporters Live Tweeting Their Actions

by Mike Masnick
We've been debating internally whether or not to cover the mess that is currently going on in Ferguson, Missouri. There has been plenty of attention paid to the protests and the failures by police there -- and we frequently cover problems with police, as well as the militarization of police, which was absolutely on display in Ferguson (if you've been under a rock, police killed an unarmed teenager there last week, leading to protests over the past few days -- and the police have been handling the situation... poorly, to say the least). However, the situation was changing so rapidly, it wasn't entirely clear what to cover. The pictures from Ferguson of a very militarized police force were disturbing, and we've been thinking about writing something on that (and we may still). However, this evening, things got even more ridiculous, as not only did the SWAT team show up, but it then arrested two of the reporters who had been covering the events: Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post. Both had been vital in getting out the story of what was happening on the street.

Here are a few of their tweets (prior to being arrested):

I counted 70+ SWAT officers. Guns trained on crowds. Insanity.

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 13, 2014

Overkill in #Ferguson. Officer won't answer my question about why this is needed.

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 13, 2014

This exchange-> RT @AntonioFrench: State Senator asks the #Ferguson police chief if she's going to be gassed again.

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 13, 2014
And then, soon after those and other tweets, another reporter, Jon Swaine from the Guardian, reported that he saw two reporters detained by police in a McDonalds:

Two reporters just cuffed and put in cop can outside Ferguson McDonald's where @WesleyLowery said he and @ryanjreilly were working

— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 13, 2014
Lowery and Reilly each had live tweeted the police entering the McDonald's, followed by a long silence from their accounts:

Police come into McD where me and @ryanjreilly working. Try to kick everyone out.

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 13, 2014

SWAT just invade McDonald's where I'm working/recharging. Asked for ID when I took photo.

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 13, 2014
A fourth reporter on the scene, Matt Pearce of the LA Times, contacted the police chief about the situation, who was apparently surprised at the turn of events and said he'd order them released:

I just called Ferguson police chief to ask about @WesleyLowery and @ryanjreilly, told him what I knew. His response: "Oh, God."

— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 14, 2014

I just talked to the Ferguson chief again about Wes and Ryan. "I told them to release them," he said of the riot command.

— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 14, 2014

Ferguson chief tells me @WesleyLowery and @ryanjreilly's arresters were "probably somebody who didn't know better."

— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 14, 2014
Soon after, both Lowery and Reilly tweeted about their experiences, which were not exactly pleasant.

Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014

Detained, booked, given answers to no questions. Then just let out

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014

Also Ryan Reilly of Huff Po. Assaulted and arrested

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014

@ryanjreilly and @wesleyLowery have been arrested for "not packing their bags quick enough" at McD's #Ferguson

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 14, 2014

Unfortunately my last Vine featuring the officer who assaulted me was deleted when other my phone died.

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 14, 2014
I'm sure that we'll have more on this whole thing, but as GideonsTrumpet notes, Lowery and Reilly were technically detained, not arrested, "which is far more insidious" because there's no accountability. No charges to challenge. Nothing. It's just a way to silence the press who were diligently getting the word out there on what they were doing.

There are all sorts of very questionable activities going on in Ferguson, including intimidation and threats against the protestors exercising their right to assembly and free speech. Detaining reporters in the middle of that is just the latest in a long string of "fuck your constitutional rights" by the (very heavily militarized) police down there.

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13 Aug 15:43

Yes, "FOIA Denial Officer" Is a Real Job Title in the "Most Transparent Administration in History"

by Katherine Mangu-Ward

The latest from the "most transparent administration in history," a letter in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, signed by Taylor D. August, whose job title at the Department of Education is "FOIA Denial Officer." 


The letter does say that it "may be necessary" to release the requested documents. So that's something, I guess.

Related: Is there a FOIA Approval Officer? Do they hate each other? Do they share an office? I've placed a call to DOE. Will update if I actually get a call back.

Via Morgan Smith's Twitter feed.

13 Aug 12:18

REPORT: Thief calls 911 because victim won't leave her alone...

REPORT: Thief calls 911 because victim won't leave her alone...

(Second column, 29th story, link)