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01 Sep 13:29

A challenge for supporters of anti-price-gouging laws: when does a ‘fair’ legal price become ‘illegal gouging’ - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

A challenge for supporters of anti-price-gouging laws: when does a ‘fair’ legal price become ‘illegal gouging’

Those who oppose anti-price-gouging laws argue that market prices should prevail both before and after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey because those market prices will do a better job of allocating scarce resources than artificially-low, government mandated prices. There is no obligation for those opposing price-ceiling laws to personally suggest what the prices will be, since impersonal market forces will determine prices, which will dynamically change and adjust constantly to the changing market condition.

But it seems like there is an obligation for those who support anti-price-gouging laws to explain to us when a price goes from being an “acceptable” price to being an illegal price that “gouges” the public and motivates legal prosecution of the “price gouging” business or individual. According to Texas law, a business or individual is guilty of “price gouging” when the price is “excessive or exorbitant.” Of course, I guess the Texas Attorney General is the “decider” about when a price “gouges” but what advice would supporters of anti-price-gouging laws give to the attorney general?

Let’s use the actual example of John Shepperson of Kentucky, who in 2005 took time away from his normal job to buy 19 generators, rent a U-Haul truck, and drive it 600 miles to the Katrina-damaged area of Mississippi. John offered to sell his generators at twice the price he paid, to help cover his costs and make a profit. Instead his generators were confiscated, Shepperson was arrested for price gouging, held by police for four days, and the generators kept in police custody. They never made it to consumers with urgent needs who desperately wanted to buy them.

Let’s assume that John Shepperson paid $500 at his local Home Depot for each generator. He had to pay $9,500 upfront (or charge that amount on a credit card), rent the U-Haul, drive 600 miles, find a place to stay while traveling, etc.

Q: Since charging $1,000 per generator was considered to be “price gouging” by the local authorities in Mississippi, what price would have been acceptable to those authorities and to supporters of anti-price-gouging laws? $600, even though that might not have covered all of John’s costs and expenses? $700? $800?

Further, John Shepperson invested a lot of money and took a lot of risks in his entrepreneurial venture, so that should be carefully considered. For example, what if he drove to Mississippi and found out that he wasn’t able to sell all 19 generators, either because there wasn’t enough demand, or he wasn’t able to access all of the willing customers for generators because the roads were impassable due to flooding, etc. What if ten other entrepreneurs got to the affected areas and satisfied all of the demand for generators, leaving John with no customers. Or what if the competition among sellers was so intense that the market price for generators was only $600 and John was barely able to even cover all of his costs?

So who decides what price John Shepperson would have been allowed to charge for generators, and what specifically is that decision based on?

Bottom Line: While it’s easy for “armchair observers” to criticize price-gougers entrepreneurs like John Shepperson for “price gouging,” it’s much more difficult for those who are “long on indignation and short on economics” to convincingly explain to us when a “fair” legal price crosses some arbitrary, squishy, fuzzy line and becomes illegal “gouging.” Are there any supporters of price gouging laws who are up to the challenge? Apply your analysis to John Shepperson, and tell us the maximum legal price he should have been allowed to charge before he was guilty of “gouging.” Explain your analysis in detail.

Prediction: Nobody can successfully and convincingly meet the challenge.

A challenge for supporters of anti-price-gouging laws: when does a ‘fair’ legal price become ‘illegal gouging’
Mark Perry

28 Apr 17:58

Barrett Brown Re-Arrested For Giving Media Interviews Without Permission

by Mike Masnick

The weird, sickening persecution of Barrett Brown continues. Whether or not you like the guy (and every time we post about him, we hear from people who provide reasons why they dislike him), the way he's been treated by our justice system is despicable. If you don't recall, Brown is an award winning journalist, who certainly went deep with Anonymous and other online groups. Eventually that resulted in him being arrested and harassed by prosecutors for sharing a link. When the infamous Stratfor hacks were released, he shared a link to the files to get people to sift through them. Because some of the files included swiped credit card numbers, he was charged with "trafficking" in stolen credit cards. Oddly, right before trial -- realizing how insane it was to charge him over this -- the feds dropped the charges around linking, but pushed forward on other charges because he hid a laptop in a cabinet and (stupidly...) got angry at the FBI when they came to investigate. The odd part is that following a plea deal, the judge sentenced him to an astounding 63 months in jail -- and cited the sharing of the link (again, those charges were dropped, but it sometimes appeared the judge didn't realize that) to explain why.

But the odder part throughout all of this was just how vindictive and petty everyone in the system were towards Brown -- and specifically towards his interactions with the press. The feds sought to stop the media from reporting on Brown's case and got a judge to block Brown or his lawyers from talking to the media. And once he was in prison, the feds cut off his email.

All this weird petty shit, just to stop him from talking to the media.

Late last year, he was released from prison (earlier than expected) and has been complying with all the terms of his release... except, apparently, officials disagreed with that... because he was conducting interview with the media, according to D Magazine, where Brown has been working since his release. The Intercept, which employed Brown as a columnist while he was in prison, has more details, claiming that his check-in officer suddenly claimed that he needed permission before he could conduct media interviews -- something he had not been told at all.

According to his mother, who spoke with Brown by phone after his arrest, Brown believes the reason for his re-arrest was a failure to obtain “permission” to give interviews to media organizations. Several weeks ago, Brown was told by his check-in officer that he needed to fill out permission forms before giving interviews.

Since his release, Brown has given numerous interviews, on camera and by phone. But according to his mother, Brown said that the Bureau of Prisons never informed him about a paperwork requirement. When he followed up with his check-in officer, he was given a different form: a liability form for media entering prisons.

Just last week, Brown was interviewed for two days by VICE, and his PBS interview was set for Friday.

Leiderman said he had not been presented with a formal justification for the arrest but was told that it had “to do with failing to abide by BOP restrictions on interviews.”

That's both astounding and frightening at the same time, and seems like a fairly blatant kick in the face to the First Amendment. There appears to be no other reason for his arrest other than his speech in the form of conducting media interviews (often critical of criminal justice system). Nothing about this makes sense, other than out of pure vindictiveness. And, of course, if the idea was to shut him up about this, it seems quite likely to backfire massively. Not only will Brown continue to be able to talk about on this, but it's drawing much more attention to the issue from many others in the press, wondering what kind of world we live in when you can be arrested for agreeing to do media interviews.

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13 Mar 18:51

Pro trolls are the majority

by (VD)
This is why I don't hesitate to nuke commenters who show even modest signs of possibly being hasbara, or, in the vernacular, paid trolls:
A majority of online and social media defenders of Obamacare are professionals who are "paid to post," according to a digital expert.

"Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time," said Michael Brown. "They were paid to post."

He began investigating it after his criticism of the former president's health insurance program posted on the Obamacare Facebook page. He was hit hard by digital activists pretending to be regular people. She reports that he evaluated 226,000 pro-Obamacare posts made by 40,000 Facebook profiles.

"Digital activists are paid employees; their purpose is to attack anyone who's posting something contrary to the view of the page owner wants expressed," he told Attkisson. "Sixty percent of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time."
Translation: a paid troll will produce 1,356 comments on a single subject. One reason why we don't see very much of that nonsense here is because the moderators and I operate on the principle that it is better to take out an honest critic than to permit a troll to comment freely.

Posted by Vox Day.
13 Mar 18:50

News is Conspiracy Theory +15

by (VD)
Spacebunny joked yesterday that she was old enough to remember when Echelon was conspiracy theory. It has now become readily apparent that what used to be derided as "conspiracy theory" is nothing more than the news, 15 years early. Consider a few historical references from this blog.

The Patriot Act and the IAO are constitutional abominations. The War on Terror is being used exactly in the same way that the War on Drugs has been used for decades - to provide the federal government with the ability to infringe upon the liberty of the American people. Your house can get stormed with a no-knock raid if an anonymous telephone call accuses you of the wrong sort of botany project, and soon the same thing will be the case if you happen to visit the wrong web sites or use dangerous terminology in your emails. Echelon is still out there transcribing American faxes, emails and telephone calls, after all.
- October 22, 2003

The US government sees fit to eavesdrop on everyone inside and outside the United States with its Echelon system, but unlike a parent trying to raise a child, that level of oversight is necessary. Terrorists, don't you know. Why, without it, we wouldn't have caught bin Laden and prevented the 9/11 attacks....
- December 10, 2004

Arrived too late, the act has been done.
The wind was against them, letters intercepted on their way.
The conspirators were nine of a party.
By Caesar the Younger shall these enterprises be undertaken.

Echelon and the Bush administration's spying on Americans will be defended by the Supreme Court, should it ever get that far. Most likely, they'll do so by refusing to hear a challenge against it.
- January 3, 2006

CIALeaks proves, once and for all, that Edward Snowden is one of the greatest heroes in American history. One hopes that the God-Emperor will recognize this and offer him a pardon; it is the CIA that is far more of an enemy to the President and the American people than the Russians these days.

Even better, President Trump should appoint Snowden to be the head of the NSA and charge him with turning it into a government agency that is entirely compatible with the U.S. Constitution and rule by the people. #SnowdenForNSA

Posted by Vox Day.
01 Mar 19:03

Laufman alleged to be leaker

by (VD)
Cernovich Media has the scoop on the alleged Trump administration leaker:
Obama holdover David Laufman is the source of the national security leaks, Cernovich Media can exclusively report. David Laufman, Chief of Counterintelligence, has all classified information regarding espionage pass by his desk.

The leaks have wrongly been blamed on the FBI, sources tell me, leading to a morale issue with the agency.... Laufman, who had donated to Obama’s presidential campaign fund in past election cycles, was the DOJ official who investigated Hillary Clinton in what was promised to be an independent investigation. How an Obama donor could be trusted to investigate Obama’s heir apparent was never explored by the fake news media.

Even worse is that as Chief of Counterintelligence, Laufman has the power to kill any investigations into leaks, a power he has been exercising.
They say it is impossible for a White House to plug the leaks. We'll see.

Posted by Vox Day.
25 Jan 21:17

Are for-profit colleges magical mobility machines?

by Sarah Gustafson

In a recent working paper, Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, and Danny Yagan of the Equality of Opportunity Project investigate how different US colleges perform according to a metric that is of deep sociological interest: How many of their students came from families in the bottom quintile of the income distribution, yet managed to enter the top quintile by their early 30s? That is, which colleges and universities combined relatively broad access to underprivileged students with high rates of intergenerational mobility?

This analysis produces fascinating rankings of institutions of higher education, and a new number of enlightening figures. The first picture reproduced below (Figure V.A in the paper) gives a sense of the central findings. There is a strong relationship between access and success: Schools that admit fewer students from the bottom quintile see more of those students enter the top quintile. The blue dots in the top left of the figure are the Ivies plus a few other highly selective colleges. They admit very few students from poor households, but half or more of them make it to the top quintile of the income distribution.


Chetty et al. define a metric that quantifies this trade-off: the so-called Mobility Rate. This rate is the product of the Success Rate (on the Y axis, the percentage of students among those that come from the bottom quintile who make it to the top quintile) and Access (on the X axis, the percentage of students who come from the bottom quintile). The product of the two, then, is the overall percentage of all students who come from the bottom quintile and make it to the top quintile.
There will always be outliers, and attempts to replicate them may well become fruitless exercises in wishful thinking. Instead, the paper offers a more reliable path forward.
This mobility rate varies from school to school – the curves in the figure above connect schools with the same rate. What the authors take away from this picture is that there are schools which have the same success rate, but very different levels of access. They believe that the colleges that deserve more study – or perhaps even imitation! – are the outliers that combine a given success rate with a particularly high level of access.

It is not clear that this is the best lesson to learn from the paper. There will always be outliers, and attempts to replicate them may well become fruitless exercises in wishful thinking. Instead, the paper offers a more reliable path forward, in Figure V.D.


What this figure shows is that there is an entire category of schools that deliver high success rates for a given level of access: for-profit colleges. While the authors do not highlight this finding, it turns out that these often vilified institutions outperform both public colleges and private non-profit colleges. This difference isn’t smaller either: the mobility rate at for-profits is some 25% higher than at other colleges. This is a stunning discovery that surely merits more attention from researchers and policymakers alike.

The post Are for-profit colleges magical mobility machines? appeared first on AEI.

24 Jan 21:07

(via aranjevi)

(via aranjevi)

21 Dec 14:45

How to Get Vindication

by Scott Meyer

Old school.

For years, YEARS, I told that story, and I got called a liar more times than I can count. I always wondered, why would I want to make a story like that up? Did they think having seen this ridiculous, disgusting spectacle somehow made me feel like a big man?

“You think you’re cool, with your sports car and your successful career? Well wait until you hear my tale of gore, degradation, and animal husbandry! Then we’ll know who’s cool!”

Anyway, I’ll include a link to the relevant clip of Dirty Jobs, but I don’t recommend that you watch it.

30 Nov 14:30

Tragedy in Brazilian soccer

by (VD)
In the aftermath of the plane crash in Colombia that wiped out an entire professional soccer team, there is nothing that can be done except for the families and the nation to grieve. But the various gestures being made by their rivals are touching nevertheless.
The plane was carrying Brazilian club side Chapecoense Real to the first of two games to decide the Copa Sudamericana, South America's second-biggest club tournament. Based in the city of Chapeco, in southern Brazil, the unsung team was having a Cinderella season after defying the odds to reach the finals. The team's goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha, 31, whose heroic last minute save assured their progression, died on the way to hospital after the crash.

Soccer-mad Brazil declared three days of mourning while their opponents Atletico Nacional, of Medellin, asked for the winning trophy to be awarded to the Brazilians in honour of the dead.

Fellow top division Brazilian sides also showed solidarity by offering loan players to Chapecoense and urging the national federation to give it a three-year stay against relegation while the club gets back on its feet.

Meanwhile the legends of the sport - from Lionel Messi to Pele - sent condolences.
These gestures may seem empty and pointless, but keep in mind that they are gestures worth literally millions of dollars. It's the equivalent of one team foregoing a Lombardi trophy and Super Bowl championship, and three other teams voluntarily giving up their chance at the big leagues and the subsequent TV revenue shares and advertising revenue that involves.

It won't bring the Chapecoense players back, but it will ensure they are not quickly forgotten. And it is always inspiring to see basic human decency persevere in the face of tragedy.

Posted by Vox Day.
04 Nov 14:12

Remember remember the 5th of November

by (VD)
Anonymous plants its flag and declares that the information it possesses will be made available "to the public in an organized, searchable, manageable way."
Anonymous 11/03/16 00:09:23 No.95833740

Over the next few days many new documents will be released. The contents of these documents will contain evidence of perhaps the largest coverup in American History. Before this happens we would like to explain ourselves and answer a few questions you may have.

Until this month, WikiLeaks and Anonymous have worked together in building an efficient, detailed, comprehensive set of documents that would be responsible for the incarceration of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and 21 individuals ranging from the DNC, FBI, CIA, and Clinton foundation. These documents will show without a doubt, evidence of Treason, Obstruction of Justice, Election Fraud/Manipulation, and Bribery.

This was intended to be the October surprise. But before the release of these documents, we were contacted by a member of the FBI, as well as another from the CIA, and a week later by the NYPD. All with information retaining to something much darker than even we imagined.

Due to the nature of these leaks, we all worked together as efficiently as possible to ensure two objectives.
  1. That all necessary information would be given to the public in an organized, searchable, manageable way.
  2. Those who provided us with this information would be able to find safety before these releases were made. (This concern wasn't without warrant.)

Anonymous 11/03/16 00:09:46 No.95833807

The new leaks being released this week will provide documents in the form of emails, pictures, and videos. Within these will be evidence of Bill Clinton, as well as at least 6 other Government officials, taking part in sexual acts with minors. As well as evidence of Human trafficking that also included minors.

We believe these pictures and videos were taken for the purpose of political manipulation. In order to make sure all participants followed through on a previously agreed agenda.

These documents were given to us by an American Governement official when he had come to learn that this crime had been covered up by Hilary and her staff through methods including bribery and blackmail. He also told us that due to the restricted access to these documents, they would soon know he was the one who released him to us.

We tried to make arrangements for him to exit the country safely, but he was killed before those arrangements could be carried out. We are still not sure if this is because they became aware of the leak, or if they were scared that he may in the future. In either case, his identity will be made public in this next set of leaks so that he can be honored for the hero that he was.

We will not only be releasing these documents, but we have multiple memebers of the FBI, CIA, and NYBD who will be publicly verifying their authenticity once their safety is assured.

This hack has not come from Russia or anyone else they may try to blame this on. This is a leak from Americas own Government Officials who fear for their safety had the opposed them directly due to reasons that will be made clear soon.

We thank you for your patience, as well as your determination and assistance in helping us expose the corruption that has infested our own government. Democracy will be restored to America.

Remember remember the 5th of November.
The dates would appear to preclude the possibility, but I can't help wondering if the inexplicable suicide of Maj. Gen. John Rossi two days before he was to receive his third star might have been somehow connected to the events that Anonymous is describing.
The Army acknowledged Friday that Maj. Gen. John Rossi committed suicide on July 31, making him the highest-ranking soldier ever to have taken his own life. Rossi, who was 55, was just two days from pinning on his third star and taking command of Army Space and Missile Command when he killed himself at his home at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. ' 
And if you're still dubious about the idea that the Podesta emails refer to children, consider this email:
With enormous gratitude to Advance Man Extraordinaire Haber, I am popping up again to share our excitement about the Reprise of Our Gang’s visit to the farm in Lovettsville. And I thought I’d share a couple more notes:  We plan to heat the pool, so a swim is a possibility. Bonnie will be Uber Service to transport Ruby, Emerson, and Maeve Luzzatto (11, 9, and almost 7) so you’ll have some further entertainment, and they will be in that pool for sure. 
Excitement about further entertainment from children between the ages of 7 and 11? Many of you are parents, have you ever known anyone to talk that way? Now consider a picture from the mother's Twitter account, captioned "Best party of the summer!"

UPDATE: Look, there are three possibilities. A) All of it is true and will be released as stated. B) Most of it is fiction and it's all been done for the lulz. C) All of it is true and none of it will come out. I don't know and neither do you. But, you have to admit, considerably more has already come out than ever before, and the promised release is consistent with the rumors of the circles of power being abuzz.

It will be what it is. Relax. We'll find out soon enough. In any case, all of this is obviously helping the God-Emperor ascend to the Cherry Blossom Throne. And above all, remember Matthew 10:28 and recall that WE do not fear THEM.

Posted by Vox Day.
29 Aug 02:22

Never donate to the Red Cross

by (VD)
I happen to know, from direct personal experience, that the Red Cross is entirely converged and totally corrupt, so it doesn't surprise me in the slightest to hear that the Red Cross is refusing donations in Louisiana unless they can profit from them:
“So as we are headed back home from the River Center in Baton Rouge volunteering our nursing services Dawn and I have come to the conclusion that neither of us WILL EVER volunteer or donate to the RED CROSS. The Red Cross basically takes over the shelters and starts refusing clothes, donations and various volunteer services UNLESS they are previously contracted. So what does that mean….well, 60 boxes of doughnuts were discarded this morning becuase the delivery vendor was not in contract, hot meals were refused becuase the entity providing wasn’t contracted, and medical supplies including medications were trashed for same reason. Clothes that were “donated” needed to be left on the street unless they were “furnished” by Red Cross. As of tomorrow, the shelter we were at will be completely over taken by the Red Cross other than the medical area because they couldnt have the actual room since LSU has a contract with state to provide medical care. Its sad when the military police were helping to “protect” the medical areas from the red cross when there are so many other issues at hand. Anyway, next time to want to donate or volunteer your services, do your homework.”
Don't ever donate to, or volunteer with, the Red Cross. They are fully SJW-converged and they have been for years. This is also why one should NEVER set up a non-profit. They are always quickly converged by the very people who have lots of time and are oh-so-eager to help.

Posted by Vox Day.
24 Aug 17:36

The Tutu Threat

by (VD)
No, that's not a forthcoming book from Simon Hawke, it is what Spacebunny has promised she will make me do if we are able to hit her $5k for 5k target for research for the Crohn's MAP vaccine as part of the Color Run in which we are participating next month.

Personally, I thought it was bad enough to have to be dragged out of bed at some obscenely early hour and then forced to embark upon some hellish modern Trail of Tears while people yell at you, and apparently, dye you like an Easter Egg somehow; apparently they were inspired by Cersei's walk of shame from A Game of Thrones or something.

I tried to point out that running a 5k is something I have done precisely once in my life, and that perhaps a 100-meter sprint for charity might be more in order, but I was outvoted as my treacherous spawn sided with her. Then Spacebunny promised that if the $5k for 5k was raised, both of us would not only run the race, but do so in tutus as well. And that she would post the pictures on Twitter. And that I would post them here.

So, if you are either a) interested in supporting scientific research that may bring an end to the ongoing torture that is Crohn's Disease or b) looking to have a pretty good laugh at my expense, you can do so by supporting Spacebunny's Color Run Page at Justgiving. I have spoken with several members of the research team, it is a lean and efficient organization, and the funds will not be wasted.
Prof. Hermon-Taylor, together with Dr. Tim Bull and other members of the team at St George’s University of London and scientists at the Jenner Institute University of Oxford, developed a modern DNA vaccine against MAP, which is the bacteria suspected of being the primary catalyst for Crohn's Disease. Developing this vaccine took 10 years and cost around £850,000, much of it donated by the families of Crohn’s patients, without whom this new vaccine would not exist.

The Crohn’s MAP Vaccine is a modern, therapeutic vaccine against MAP. Preliminary studies in animals have shown it is safe and effective. Now a trial in humans is needed to take the vaccine from lab to clinic. If effective, the vaccine will not only protect people from developing Crohn's Disease, but will also serve as an effective cure for those already suffering from it.
The money will go to helping pay for the human trial of the vaccine which has already been developed.

Posted by Vox Day.
24 Jul 15:16

#GamerGate was just the beginning

by (VD)
#DNCleaks is the next big revelation in media corruption:
WikiLeaks released over 20,000 emails on Friday allegedly sent from the accounts of U.S. Democratic National Committee officials, including dozens of off the record media correspondence.

Dubbed the “Hillary Leaks series” by WikiLeaks, the leak is comprised of a searchable database of almost 20,000 emails with over 8,000 attachments and photos from the email accounts of top DNC employees.

Some of the most interesting emails to read are those exchanged by DNC staffers as they decide how to respond to media inquiries, and then their off-the-record and deep background responses to numerous national media outlets. The emails contained off the record correspondence with reporters at the Washington Post, Politico, and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

Many emails in the database were sent from the email accounts of DNC’s Northern California finance director, Robert Erik Stowe, communications director Luis Miranda, national finance director Jordon Kaplan, finance chief of staff Scott Comer, finance director of data & strategic initiatives Daniel Parrish, finance director Allen Zachary and senior advisor Andrew Wright, among others.

The emails, according to WikiLeaks, covers the period from January 2015 through May 25, 2016.

Wikileaks said this is just part one of the Hillary Leaks series.
Some of this is really bad. It turns out that, in at least one instance, DNC officials were actually giving instructions to television executives to take people off the air because of what they had just said on the show being broadcast.

#GamerGate proved how the game media was operating in collusion, then showed how the mainstream media established and stuck by a false narrative. #DNCleaks is the first step in revealing precisely who has been establishing those false narratives.

Posted by Vox Day.
30 Jun 11:41

The mask comes off

by (VD)
Remember, the EU proponents always swore up and down that it was not a political project. Of course, as some of us always knew, they lied. Now they're not even bothering to pretend otherwise anymore, as in reaction to Brexit, two foreign ministers propose eliminating all the other national member-states before any other nations are able to escape globalist rule.
The foreign ministers of France and Germany are due to reveal a blueprint to effectively do away with individual member states in what is being described as an “ultimatum”. Under the radical proposals EU countries will lose the right to have their own army, criminal law, taxation system or central bank, with all those powers being transferred to Brussels.

Controversially member states would also lose what few controls they have left over their own borders, including the procedure for admitting and relocating refugees.  The plot has sparked fury and panic in Poland - a traditional ally of Britain in the fight against federalism - after being leaked to Polish news channel TVP Info.

The public broadcaster reported the bombshell proposal would be presented to a meeting of the Visegrad group of countries - made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia - by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

In the preamble to the text the two ministers write: "Our countries share a common destiny and a common set of values that give rise to an even closer union between our citizens. We will therefore strive for a political union in Europe and invite the next Europeans to participate in this venture."

The revelations come just days after Britain shook the Brussels establishment by voting to leave the European Union in a move some have predicted could leave to the break-up of the EU.

A number of member states are deeply unhappy about the creeping federalism of the European project with anti-EU sentiments running high in eastern Europe, Scandinavia and France.
I can't think of anything that will bring about Fixit and Frexit and Nexit, and any number of additional exits faster, than the EU doubling down on political integration. It's prodigiously stupid in any event; it could not be more obvious that economic integration has completely failed. But, as we know, SJWs always double down, and apparently there is no amount of failure and democratic rejection that will even slow down the globalists in their mad grasp for international power.

I have never been more certain that the EU will collapse, hopefully sooner rather than later. Socionomics always predicted the EU's failure to be inevitable, but now we're actually beginning to see it happen.

Posted by Vox Day.
28 Jun 11:15

The problem of peer review

by (VD)
Peer review simply isn't what it is advertised to be; it is not only little more than editing, most of the time it is not even competent editing:
As a scientist with a 15 year career behind me so far, I am afraid that my experiences reflect this. Peer review is excellent in theory but not in practice. Much of the time, the only vetting the papers get are two relatively junior people in a field (often grad students or postdocs) giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down. That is absolutely it. In theory, the editors should make the decisions with the recommendations of the reviewers, but the editors rarely have the time or the expertise to judge the papers and often automatically defer to reviewers. Also, the papers should be reviewed by luminaries of the field, but these folks rarely have the time, and either decline invitations or bounce the work to a student or another trainee. It's not just bad papers that get through, but also good, rigorous, papers that are bounced by this system.

Many if not most of the people in academic science today, at least in biology (my field), are overwhelmed with the need to publish in such high volumes, few people with the needed expertise can afford the time to go over the results in detail. All this while, at the same time and for the same reason, the volume of papers that needs to be reviewed goes up. I've heard of (and had myself) papers havve lingered for 4+ months before they even went out for review.

And, in our rush to publish, we often don't read this literature carefully ourselves but start citing papers anyway, which weaves these potentially weak or erroneous papers even more tightly into the fabric of their field.

It's difficult to care a lot about the quality of your work when you know the extra effort often doesn't help something go through this fickle review process, and when you know people will cite it without really reading it closely. There is little incentive to spend longer on a paper to make sure everything is right and the results are reproducible because there is very little accountability for errors and huge rewards for being prolific.
The ironic thing is that True Believers and the I Fucking Love Science crowd genuinely believe that "peer reviewed science" is the gold standard for evidence. But there is a reason scientific evidence is not automatically allowed in a court of law, let alone considered conclusive, and the more we learn about the defects of peer review, the better we understand that science's credibility is limited.

We have a word for science that is trustworthy, and that word is engineering. Until science can be applied, it cannot be fully trusted to be correct.

All peer review is really designed to do is to reassure the reader that the information presented fits safely within the confines of the consensus status quo.

Posted by Vox Day.
22 Jun 00:50

Sign Up to Vote in the Dragon Awards

by correia45

Free to sign up and no wrongfan shaming for bad think. if you are a sci fi or fantasy fan consider signing up to vote.

You can now sign up to vote in the Dragon Awards

The voting is open to all fans, and it doesn’t cost anything.

19 Apr 16:47

You Ought to Have a Look: Paris Climate Agreement

by Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger, Patrick J. Michaels

You Ought to Have a Look is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science posted by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger.  While this section will feature all of the areas of interest that we are emphasizing, the prominence of the climate issue is driving a tremendous amount of web traffic.  Here we post a few of the best in recent days, along with our color commentary.

With Earth Day and the grand signing ceremony for the Paris Climate Agreement just around the corner, we thought it apt to highlight some relevant stories from around the web, particularly those critical of the central climate control enterprise.

Recall that we have pointed out the Paris Climate Agreement represents little more than a business-as-usual approach that has been spun to suggest that it represents a collective, international effort in response to a climate change “concern.” Increasing opportunities for riding your bike (etc.) now have been rebranded as efforts to save the world. Right.

We’ve shown that the U.S. pledge under the Paris “Don’t Call It a Treaty” Agreement, while a bit more aggressive than many, turns out to basically be impossible. Putting our name on such pledge seems a bit disingenuous, to put it mildly.

On top of all this comes a new economic analysis from the Heritage Foundation that basically shows that the U.S. intension under the Agreement would be mucho bad news. Here are the Key Points from the report “Consequences of Paris Protocol: Devastating Economic Costs, Essentially Zero Environmental Benefits”:


The justifications for all these findings are described in detail in the full report.

Clearly, considering all the negatives stacked up against the U.S.’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, it’s hard to find any justification for signing it that is built upon anything but false premises.

Next up is a notable article (h/t Judy Curry) called “Twilight of the Climate Change Movement” authored by Mario Loyola, Senior Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, that appears in The American Interest. Loyola points out that despite the “fanfare” surrounding the Paris Agreement, “the climate change movement faces big trouble ahead.”  Loyola explains:

Its principal propositions contain two major fallacies that can only become more glaring with time. First, in stark contrast to popular belief and to the public statements of government officials and many scientists, the science on which the dire predictions of manmade climate change is based is nowhere near the level of understanding or certainty that popular discourse commonly ascribes to it. Second, and relatedly, the movement’s embrace of an absolute form of the precautionary principle distorts rational cost-benefit analysis, or throws it out the window altogether.

Lots of good information in this article, including a review of the uncertainties in the science of climate change and how those uncertainties are downplayed, or swept away, in the pursuit of an anti-industrialist agenda—be sure to check out the whole thing.

Extending a look at the dangers of an anti-industrialist agenda, Cato Adjunct Scholar Alex Epstein gave a dazzling performance in presenting testimony before the April 13th hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “Examining the Role of Environmental Policies on Access to Energy and Economic Opportunity.” Alex laid out why restricting energy choice—which is the main premise of centralized efforts to mitigate climate change—is a really bad idea:

The energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry. To the extent energy is affordable, plentiful, and reliable, human beings thrive. To the extent energy is unaffordable, scarce, or unreliable, human beings suffer. 

His written testimony is available here.

But we’d be remiss if we left you only with that.

The real fireworks were in his oral testimony and included a tussle with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a call for an apology or resignation from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and telling the committee that most of them would probably not be alive today without cheap, plentiful, reliable energy. The highlights are available here. It is most enjoyable!

And finally, last, but certainly not least, is the Manhattan Institute’s Oren Cass’s excellent piece in the current issue of National Affairs, titled “The New Central Planners.” The piece critically examines the administrative state’s seemingly unquenchable desire to fix market “failures”—a conceit that is perhaps nowhere more on display than in the climate change issue. Here’s a taste:

By asserting that their frameworks, tools, and data prove government action will enhance market efficiency, economists are engaging in a new form of central planning. It differs in degree from traditional command-and-control socialism, but not in kind. It is less absolute — the market economy provides a baseline until an intervention occurs. It is less totalitarian — plans are executed through rules and incentives that alter the behavior of market actors instead of through the direct assignment of resources. But it is rooted in the same conceit that technical expertise can outperform market forces and deserves deference where applied. It suffers from the same challenges of incomplete information, heterogeneous preferences, and subjective values. It relies on the same refusal to acknowledge the inherent tradeoffs that underlie the allocation of scarce resources. And, as a result, it also reduces democratic accountability, economic efficiency, and total welfare.

The alternative to technocratic planning is not post-modern, nihilistic resignation to the impossibility of evaluating policy. It is an administrative state designed around a recognition that market signals and political preferences provide a better guide than can bureaucratic analysis, that those signals and preferences vary locally, and that optimization requires constant recalibration. Many current efforts at regulatory reform focus on increasing the influence of cost-benefit analysis, but in fact we need to reduce it. Management within the executive, delegation from the legislature, and oversight by the judiciary should all assume that technocratic expertise lies only in designing the specific rules to implement when there is a political demand for intervention, not in determining when such interventions are appropriate.

Oren’s article is so chock-full of good stuff that it’s really hard to decide what to excerpt, so be sure to take the time and read his entire essay. We’ll sure that it’ll be time well spent. The same is true for all of the above articles. You really ought to have a look!

11 Mar 16:54

It’s in the “Want,” Not Just the “Will”

by Guest

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2It was Fall 2013, and I was just finishing up my annual physical checkup. This year was no different: hearing from the doctor about how my bloodwork numbers were incredibly bad and how I needed to explore some other options in my diet (and needed more exercise). I was also informed my weight was at 332 lbs, the heaviest I had ever weighed in my life. When it was time for me to leave the doctor’s office, I even received a gift, considering my numbers were on the edge of me becoming diabetic: I got to take home a blood glucose monitor, just to kind of keep an eye on things. That little device would never come out of the box.

In the meantime, I would go on with my daily routine. Waking up in the morning, after not getting enough rest, dreading getting out of bed and walking on my sore knees and painful plantar fasciitis feet as I got ready for my workday. I just so happened to work at a grocery store, so anything I wanted food wise was available to me on an almost daily basis, and I was sure to take advantage of that. Fresh bakery donuts in the morning, whole frozen pizzas or frozen dinners, conveniently prepared in the break-room microwave for lunch, and pick me up snacks in the afternoon, all right there. I needed those things, because, dang, I was hungry and I was working hard, right?

Sure, I was overweight, but that didn’t mean I hadn’t ever tried not to be. As far as I can remember, I had always been considered overweight. A few years before reaching my heaviest, I had a couple hernia surgeries and each time was reminded that I was “morbidly” obese. At one of these consultations, the idea of bariatric surgery was even pitched to me. So around that time I took interest in some diets, with none of them really staying with me or making me feel like I wasn’t depraving myself of something. I did lose 20 lbs at one point, proving that I could at least lose weight, but it ferociously came back to me with additional weight added on. But in the Spring of 2014, I noticed someone who had lost a decent amount of weight and was determined to find out how they did it. I found out that I needed to look up Mark’s Daily Apple.

Wheels were about to be set in motion, or should I say, I was about to be set in motion on. I really like information and MDA seemed like it had much to offer. So I poured over the website quite a bit, and on July 1, 2014, decided I would give some of the principles a shot. I set what I felt were small, realistic goals, and decided to pursue them. The grocery store wasn’t all bad after all as it’s not a sedentary job, and it did allow me to lift heavy things now and again. There were also a lot of opportunities for me to look at labels and see just what I had been putting into my body, and it alarmed me. I started eating different, kept a watchful eye on my carb intake, and didn’t feel it was unbearable. I never knew I liked almonds so much, or that I could crave a good salad over a bunch of potato chips any day, and heck, grass fed beef tasted so much better than any beef I had eaten in the past.


After a few months the weight was steadily coming off. I decided I would start taking walks outside every now and then. I was enjoying being outside and getting some fresh air and sunlight. However, I knew cold weather season was on the horizon, so, I needed to get indoors, but somehow keep up my activity. So, I joined a gym and just started strolling on the treadmill for awhile. Eventually I decided I wanted to try to speed it up and try the running thing, and decided I wanted to get some sort of weightlifting in as well. The weight continued to come off in a steady manner and I wasn’t starving.


That brings me to where I am now on this journey. I sit here today weighing 178 lbs, having run one 10k and two 5k’s with very reasonable results (2nd in my age group in one!). There will be more runs in my future. But, most importantly, the Primal lifestyle will continue into my future. I no longer have to get out of bed in the morning with my foot or knees hurting. I’ve been to the doctor recently for another one of those annual physicals, and my numbers have taken a complete turnaround, with nowhere close to the word “diabetes” being brought up. Having just turned the age of 40, I think I may be in the best shape I have been in my life.

FEB16My story reads pretty clear and smooth, but, I will be the first to say it necessarily wasn’t, I just didn’t allow myself to give up. I had the foggy low carb flu in the beginning. I had some bumps in the road, but, you just get back to it and tomorrow is a new start. I still have some cravings and I still eat some bad things (80/20 rule, thank you!). You just have to be mindful of yourself and let your body reset, I think that is what has been most impactful to me. When I eat something out of the guidelines now, I can definitely feel how it alters the way I feel, giving me insight into whether I actually want to eat that option in the future. There really is so much more to The Primal Blueprint than the weight loss, I just can’t begin to write it all here and that is why I believe it works for me.

I have always been a little reluctant to write my “Success Story” because, what you have read here are just “chapters.” My story is not done, I can confidently say that with the lifestyle The Primal Blueprint has given me. Along my journey I have heard things such as “Determination” and “Willpower” and it brought to mind to me one day early on in the process, that it was “WANTpower.” So, I extend to you the questions, how bad do you “want” to lose weight, have a better understanding of your body, or even just simply feel better? You can do it, it can be done and with the help of MDA, I became proof!


Tadd Davis

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11 Mar 15:40

$50 Million Renewable Energy Scam

by Eric Worrall
Guest essay by Eric Worrall A Pennsylvania newspaper has reported details of a $50 million alleged renewable energy scam. More shocking is how easy it was, to allegedly defraud government subsidies. An Easton engineer has admitted he rubber-stamped false reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the owners of two Lehigh Valley biofuel companies…
08 Mar 15:53

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)


… is from page 123 of Daniel Griswold’s excellent 2009 book, Mad About Trade:

For a nation, free trade is like fresh air and exercise.  It can be uncomfortable at first as the body adjusts to the new regime.  We breathe hard, we sweat, and our muscles ache.  But soon our aerobic capacity expands, and we discover that we can run faster and farther, we can lift more weight, and we can more quickly shake off the ups and downs of life.  In contrast, protectionism is like lounging on the couch, watching reruns, and eating Cheetos in a stale room with the windows shuttered.  It may feel comforting in the short run, but it leads to flabbiness, fatigue, and decline for the protected parts of the body.

DJBx: And I add: decline, therefore, for the entire body – not to mention stupidity.

17 Feb 18:56

How not to measure temperature (or climate change) #96

by Anthony Watts
From the “global warming data looks better with heat-sinks and air conditioners” department. Dr. Mark Albright, of the University of Washington writes: Here is a great example of how NOT to measure the climate! On our way back to Tucson from Phoenix on Monday we stopped by to see the Picacho 8 SE coop site…
22 Jan 14:52

Pennsylvania Man Slammed to Ground by Cop for Singing Forced to Accept Plea Deal

by Severin Johnson

H/t Remlaps

Over the summer we reported on a story out of Allentown Pennsylvania, involving James Ochse, who is better known as the Allentown singing man in an ultra viral video where he slammed to the ground by a cop.

In the video, Allentown police officer Randy Busch can be seen approaching the singing man. After a few words are exchanged, Ochse is clearly seen turning away to leave but Busch was not having it and decided to slam this small, 90 pound, 63-year-old man face-first on the ground, leaving Ochse screaming in pain.

While tears ran down his face, he is hauled off on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. For singing. Yes, singing. And only singing.

In fact, any claims of him disturbing others and being a nuisance were quickly put to sleep when it was realized that the people were filming him out of enjoyment and even cheered him on during his chorus.

Officer Randy Busch, not realizing he was on camera, submits a police report alleging that Ochse poked him in the chest and was loud and obnoxious. When the video surfaced a day later, it generated nearly a million views overnight, many coming from other countries.

Nobody was in favor with what they saw with many commenters demanding justice. Well “Justice” has finally been served.

James Ochse saw his day in court yesterday morning and upon his so called attorney’s advice, took a plea deal.

Lehigh Valley Live reports:

“On Wednesday, prosecutors withdrew three of the cases and changed some of the remaining charges for a plea deal. Ochse pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and two counts of disorderly conduct, and was sentenced to one year of probation.”

“The interests of the commonwealth and the interests of the client are not so far apart,” Holihan said of the deal. “The police don’t want to deal with Jim, Jim doesn’t want to deal with the police.”

I would like to show you all how they managed to do this. After the obvious assault had taken place, the police managed to arrest Ochse two more times before his trial.

They piled on charges and added the cherry on top that James is on probation for breaking into his old house and hanging there for a few days while his ex was out of town. (Hardend criminal right?)

Lets break down his other arrest too. Ochse was crossing the street with a cane and was nearly hit by an unlicensed, and texting driver.

One would think that Ochse was the victim here but no. Leave it to police to arrest someone for getting too angry when nearly being killed. James hit the car with his cane and was yelling at the driver so therefore, he is a dangerous criminal, right?

The third arrest was for singing. Yes, again. Ochse, aside from being a great singer, is also a brave man. He continued to walk up and down town singing despite his cane and severe injuries. In doing so, the storm troopers of the Allentown Police department were angered and rearrested him. For singing. Again.

The state is even calling Ochse a mental health case. Blasting his medical history all over the media following the guilty plea. The man has served his country in a number of scary places.

He has had it rough but hes a great kind man. It makes me beyond angry to see them do this to him. The guy has some depression issues like many in this country. But he’s not the dangerous nut job they want us to believe he is.

I’ll let you be the judge since I was fortunate enough to sit down with him to talk. Watch the video below.

Seems pretty dangerous, huh? This is how they do it. Spelled out and watched by all of the world. They make the victim the criminal. They use the media to spin their story and the lawyers wrap it all up in a nice little bow.

Wait! That’s not all everyone! We cant forget about the cop that was seen doing something wrong. Remember the one that started this whole chain of events?

Officer Randy Busch never lost a day of work. He was never sanctioned, demoted , docked or even reprimanded. How could he be? All the attention was on the victim right away as a possible criminal. See how they did that? Pretty cool huh?

Video below is Ochse and myself addressing the Allentown City Council after the assault. Not quite the man he’s portrayed to be, is he? Remember this could be any of us. They don’t care about us or justice.

I was able to reach Ochse for a comment and he stated, “It was just a bunch of charges. Too many to fight. I’m innocent but it would not have mattered.”

Ochse also stated that his civil case is still being fought and his attorney in that case is confident his plea will not affect a judgement.

The post Pennsylvania Man Slammed to Ground by Cop for Singing Forced to Accept Plea Deal appeared first on PINAC News.

01 Dec 15:15

A Story about My Mom, Haiti, and Irresistible Math

by Pat

Pat will double your donation and then Heifer International will double that amount. A good day to donate if Heifer International is a charity you are considering supporting.

As I write this blog, Worldbuilders has raised nearly $516,000.

That was going to be my big announcement today, that we broke half a million dollars.

But it turns out I actually have a much bigger piece of news to share.

Today, Heifer International is running a special event in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. For one day, all donations made to Heifer will be matched and put toward their work in Haiti.

There’s two reasons that this is a big deal for me.

The first reason has to do with my mom. I don’t talk about her a lot on the blog, though I think of her constantly.

Marge and Patrick at Beach 1-1

(Here she is. With her little boy, long ago.)

You see, years and years ago, my mom went to Haiti.

It’s a long story, but the nutshell version is that she moved down to Haiti for two weeks to help run an orphanage in Port au Prince. This orphanage took care of babies that people abandoned at hospitals, usually because the babies were really sick, or they had permanently debilitating medical conditions. The parents left the children because they were desperately poor, and had no way to pay for their care.

Marge 1 068 (2) - Copy

But the hospitals couldn’t afford to care for the kids, either. Because the government in Haiti doesn’t pay for that. And the orphanage wasn’t in the nice part of town, so the government wasn’t giving them any money either. As a result, this wasn’t one of those posh orphanages like in Annie. They didn’t have beds for the kids, for one thing. But that doesn’t even begin to paint the picture for you. Huge swaths of Port au Prince don’t have any infrastructure at all, so the orphanage didn’t have luxuries like, say, running water.

Imagine that. Imagine taking care of these poor disabled babies and not having any running water. And I don’t mean that they couldn’t take showers regularly. I mean nothing came out of the faucets. They got water out of a cistern that was open to the air. They hoped for rain to re-fill it, and they had to boil every drop they drank and cooked with.

As a result, my mom came back from Haiti with a parasitic infection that took her years of serious medicine to get rid of.

She also came back with stories.

Marge in Haiti

I could tell you a lot of stories about the time my mother spent there. But the truth is, if you’ve read my books, you already know some of them. When she was there, my mom met an old barefoot man who took care of orphan boys with physical and developmental problems. A lot of times the boys were dangerous to themselves or others.

I saw a picture of him once. My mom said he was barefoot all the time, and she suspected he might have been a Trappist monk at some point in his life.

Sound familiar?

The stories my mom brought back from Haiti gave me my first glimmering realization that not everyone’s life was like mine. Not everyone could microwave a burrito when they got hungry. Not everyone had clean water to drink. There was an entirely different world out there where people were so poor, they had to abandon their babies if they were born sick.

So. That’s the first part of the reason I’m excited about Heifer matching donations today and all the proceeds are going to projects in Haiti. Because the roots of Worldbuilders go all the way back to my mom’s experiences there. The stories she told me.

The second reason I’m excited is when we caught wind of Heifer’s event last night, we gave them a call and did our very best fast-talking. And because Heifer is full of cool people, they’ve agreed to let our fundraiser take part in their event.

This means, that for the entire day, every dollar you donate on the Worldbuilders team page will be matched. (And you’ll be entered in our prize lottery.)

This is great news for us. Huge news. And I can’t thank Heifer enough for being willing to work with us on such short notice to make this happen.

But even so, something hasn’t been sitting right with me. I’ve been up all night rolling this around in my head. I’ve been looking through old pictures and thinking about my mom.

Marge 1 001 (3) - Copy

If my mom was still around, she would be moving heaven and earth today for this fundraiser. She’s be baking cookies and making quilts and talking to people at church. She would be filming goofy stretch goals and helping us package up orders in Tinker’s Packs.

And she’d do more than that. She’d put her money where her mouth was.

But here’s the thing. At the start of this year’s fundraiser, I’d decided that I wasn’t going to donate any more money to Worldbuilders. I’d talked myself out of it. I’d already given a bunch of money to charity this year, (Syrian Refugees, First Book, etc.) I’d done my part. I was going to be done.

And besides, I’ve kinda been saving up to build a house out in the country.

And besides, I already give a bunch of my time and energy to the fundraiser, right?

And then I think about my mom. And I think about kids in Haiti.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

If you donate to Worldbuilders today. I’m going to match your donation. Then we’re going to take ALL that money to Heifer and they’ll match both of us. So if you chip in today, your donation will be doubled, then doubled again.

I’ll match up to 100,000 dollars. I’ll let you do the math on that.

Come on, folks. Let’s be awesome together.

Here’s your link.

[Edit: Hey guys, Amanda here! I'll be in the comments answering questions all day, and we've had a fair number come in already, but you can always email us at questions [@] as well]

19 Oct 21:42

Wolf Claims More Student Hostages

by Commonwealth Foundation

Earlier this week, The Neighborhood Academy, a private school in Pittsburgh, held a rally in the state Capitol to highlight Gov. Wolf’s withholding tax credits for student scholarships.

Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program (EITC), along with the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC), lets businesses contribute funds for scholarships so  thousands of low-income students across Pennsylvania can attend private school.

For students, this is a lifeline to better or safer schools. For schools like The Neighborhood Academy serving high poverty areas, the scholarships are essential to survival.  

Dennis Owens at ABC 27 has the story.

The Wolf administration justifies withholding tax credits by claiming its “hands are tied” due to the budget impasse.

But this makes little sense. The EITC and OSTC are not appropriations that are part of the budget.

Instead, they’re part of Pennsylvania’s tax code. This code is in effect despite the budget impasse. After all, everyone reading this is still paying taxes.

Wolf insists he “won’t cave” in his pursuit of the white whale of higher taxes. In his own words, “I want to keep the pressure up”.

Unfortunately, holding school children hostage has become part of that "pressure."

22 Sep 01:57

svartvitkatt: The kakapo, New Zealand’s flightless parrot...


The kakapo, New Zealand’s flightless parrot (x)

I’ll take a dozen.

17 Sep 21:13

La Heroicas ratas detectaminas africanas.

La Heroicas ratas detectaminas africanas.

02 Sep 16:21

Are You Crazy or is it Just Your Microbiota?

by Kevin Cann

Written by: Kevin Cann

For the millions of people in the world that suffer from mental illness, just snapping out of their negative moods is not an option. You may ask someone why they feel angry or sad all of the time, and they just can’t give you an explanation. They might say something like “I do not know why I feel like this, but I just do.” For those of us that do not suffer from mental illness this may be very difficult to comprehend. However, for those that are suffering, they may not truly know what is bothering them, and there is a reason for this.

We have ten times more bacteria in our bodies than we have human cells. Each one of us is an individual planet that gives refuge to hundreds of trillions of different bacteria. These bacteria actually influence the person that we are, and much like no individual is the same, no individual has the exact same bacterial makeup. These bacteria can actually influence our behavior, and an argument could be formed that they make us who we are.

These bacteria release chemicals into our bloodstream that can cross the blood brain barrier and actually influence our mood and behavior. They release some of the same chemicals used by our neurons. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and some examples of them are serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.

The most popular group of prescription anti-depressants are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). They increase the amount of serotonin around the neuron, and in return our depression and anxiety should diminish. The problem with prescription drugs is over time they lead to desensitization of the receptor cells so more is needed until the system becomes overworked and the medications no longer produce the desirable outcome. This is why medications for mood disorders are constantly being increased and changed.

If mood disorders are a decrease, or loss of balance with these neurotransmitters, and our gut bacteria produce these chemicals, then perhaps the next question should be “is there an imbalance in gut bacteria leading to the imbalance in neurotransmitters?”

This is a question that Dr. Emeran Mayer of the University of California. Los Angeles asked. He and his team looked at MRI scans and microbiota makeup of thousands of volunteers. What they found was nothing short of remarkable. They found that the connections of brain regions differed depending on the makeup of the gut bacteria (1).

This research does not show definitively that our gut bacteria is the cause for mental illness. However, there have been some promising studies performed on mice. One study in particular, researchers fed one group of mice broth that was fortified with lactobacillus rhamnosus, and one group of mice broth without any of the bacteria.

The researchers continued this feeding for approximately a month, and then tested the mice for signs of anxiety and depression. This is done by timing how long it takes the mice to enter unexplored areas of a maze. They also measured mRNA gene expression associated with anxiety and depression and stress levels in the mice. The mice fed the broth with the bacteria showed less anxiety and depression signs than the control group (2).

Now mice are not humans. Humans have a much more complex environment that can influence their emotions in a number of ways. However, many people report an increase in mood and energy when they take up a paleo diet (along with a number of other positive health issues). Perhaps a reason for this has to do with the influence the paleo diet has on our gut flora.

Our gut microbiome has evolved with us from the beginning. Breads, pastas, and other processed foods are a relatively new piece to our diet. Our gut bacteria require fruits, vegetables, and meats to flourish. They actually feed off of the fiber that we do not digest. If we have a diet that is high in processed foods and lower in fruits and vegetables, this can cause an unwanted shift in our gut flora that can lead to negative mood, lower energy, and even obesity.

The answer to having a better mood may not require a prescription (unless prescriptions of probiotics become available). In some cases, like that of major depressive disorder, medication may be a requirement to feel better. Options should always be discussed with a doctor first. However, cleaning up the diet and taking a probiotic does not come with negative consequences. The only consequences of a eating more fruits, vegetables, and meats is feeling better.

02 Sep 15:36

Life Without Parole for a First-Time, Nonviolent Drug Offender

by Nick Gillespie

Over at Red State, Leon H. Wolf introduces us to the heartbreaking case of Sharanda Jones, who is cooling her heels in a federal prison until she dies there.

In 1999, Jones was 

convicted of a single, non-violent drug offense involving crack cocaine. This conviction stemmed from her first ever arrest, and she was not even caught with crack in her possession....

Sharanda was convicted based on the testimony of two government informants who themselves were facing draconian drug sentences. The thrust of their testimony was that they had, over the course of several years, received several shipments of crack cocaine from Sharanda, who according to their understanding had brought the cocaine up from Houston to Terrell (northeast Dallas metro area) for them. There was no allegation that Sharanda had ever committed a violent act, and she was not ever caught with any amount of crack in her possession. By the uncontested testimony at trial, Sharanda did not supply the crack herself or distribute it, but rather acted as a conduit to transfer it from Houston to Terrell.

Sharanda was initially charged with seven criminal counts, and pled not guilty to all seven.

Read the whole thing here and I suspect you'll agree with Wolf's headline plea: "President Obama, Commute Sharanda Jones' Sentence."

Earlier this summer, The Washington Post wrote about Jones. In 2014, the paper noted, Attorney General Eric Holder began granting clemency to non-violent drug offenders who had been model prisoners. There are about 100,000 federal prisoners in on drug charges, "among them thousands of nonviolent offenders sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Most are poor, and four in five are African American or Hispanic."

Jones applied under that program, reported the Post.

It has been a halting process, however. Only 89 prisoners of the more than 35,000 who have filed applications have been freed. They include 46 inmates who were granted clemency on Monday by Obama.

Jones wasn’t among them.

Red State's Wolf concludes

Until a day comes where one [there is] a more politically palatable solution, all Sharanda Jones can do is pray that someday, someone in a position of authority will determine that she has been punished enough, and that she should be given the second chance that we all deep down believe that we deserve for our mistakes.

Jones' case—and all the others like, especially in these early days of the end of the war on pot and, one assumes eventually, the end of the war on drugs—should haunt us all.

Your kids and your grandkids will one day ask, What did you do during the drug war? I hope that we will all be able to answer in a way that makes our descendants proud—and more free.

Hat Tip: Popehat.

02 Sep 15:29

Georgia Cops Shoot Resident, Kill His Dog After Responding to Wrong Home During 911 Call

by Ed Krayewski

Three officers in DeKalb County, Georgia, were responding to a 911 call about a possible burglar outside the last house on Boulderwoods Drive in Atlanta but entered the second house on the street, because, police say, it "matched the physical description of the house." They entered through a rear door they said was unlocked and ran into Chris McKinley, who had been watching a movie with his wife and 1-year-old child before entering another room with his dog. The cops shot McKinley, wounding him, and shot and killed his dog.

What's more, after using potentially deadly force, the police officers did not secure the crime scene they had created. McKinley stumbled outside, and ran into a neighbor who gave him first aid. She says McKinley kept repeating "Why did they shoot me? Why did they kill my dog?"

Police insist they're taking responsibility. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

"Are we perfect?" DeKalb director of public safety Cedric Alexander said. "Absolutely not. But when we find a mistake, we own it. We own the fact that we were at the wrong house. We didn't hide it. We didn't mismanage it. We were at the wrong location based on information that was given to us."

Pro-tip for Alexander: if you're blaming your mistake on what someone else told you, you can't say you're "owning" it. In fact, you're kind of disowning it.

The incident is at least the fourth questionable police shooting in DeKalb County in the last two years. None appeared to result in termination of employment for any police officer.

Alexander wasn't done with the excuses either. More:

Alexander defended officers in DeKalb and throughout the country, saying they "have a tough job."

"In light of everything going on in the country right now, anytime officers have to respond to a call, they're checking and double checking themselves," he said Tuesday. "A lot of the criticisms and mockeries they've sustained across the country and even locally is just unfair."

Perhaps the police officers who shot McKinley and killed his dog after entering the wrong home in response to a possible burglary called should've triple checked. Or, you know, just stopped for a second and thought about what they were doing. But if they're unlikely to face any consequences for their actions, legally, professionally, or otherwise, what incentive would they have to do it?

Police officers have been complaining recently that the national attention paid to police brutality and misconduct has made their job harder. The coverage isn't going anywhere, so perhaps police officers interested in improving their image should take a harder stance against police officers who make mistakes that end with innocent people seriously injured and, in other cases, killed.

h/t Matt W.

02 Sep 15:28

Denver's Unconstitutional Harassment of Jury Nullification Activists

by Jacob Sullum

This Saturday is Jury Rights Day, which commemorates the 1670 acquittal of Quaker leader William Penn by English jurors who refused to convict him even though he had clearly violated a ban on dissenting religious assemblies. Denver is celebrating the occasion by harassing activists who seek to inform the public about the principle embodied in Penn's acquittal: the right of jurors to reject the enforcement of unjust laws, a.k.a. jury nullification.

After two local activists, Mark Iannicelli and Eric Brandt, distributed jury nullification pamphlets outside the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver on July 27, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey charged each of them with seven counts of jury tampering, a felony punishable by one to three years in prison. The seven counts were based on pamphlets received by seven jury pool members.

The statute cited by Morrissey makes it a crime to "communicate with a juror" outside of a judicial proceeding "with intent to influence [the] juror's vote, opinion, decision, or other action in a case." But neither Iannicelli nor Brandt is accused of trying to affect the outcome of any particular case. They were merely distributing general information about jury rights.

Denver conceded such activity is constitutionally protected after David Lane, the attorney who represents Iannicelli and Brandt, filed a First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of two other activists and the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). The city stipulated that "Plaintiffs who wish to engage in peacefully passing out jury nullification literature to passersby on the [courthouse] Plaza are entitled to do so."

Denver promised it "will not arrest or otherwise charge Plaintiffs for handing out literature regarding jury nullification so long as Plaintiffs do not violate Colorado law or Denver's Revised Municipal Code." The city added that "Plaintiffs' proposed intent of peacefully handing out jury nullification literature to or discussing jury nullification with passersby at the Plaza, without more, does not violate Colorado law."

Does that mean Morrissey plans to drop the jury tampering charges against Iannicelli and Brandt? Not according to Lynn Kimbrough, Morrissey's public information officer. "Their charges still stand," she says. "They weren't arrested for passing out literature. They certainly have a free speech right to do that."

Rather, says Kimbrough, they were arrested on suspicion of jury tampering. When I ask her to explain the difference between what Denver deems a crime and what it recognizes as constitutionally protected activity, she says she can't comment on the details of a pending criminal case. It seems activists who don't want to get arrested will just have to guess where the line is.

The speech-chilling uncertainty was compounded by an incident that happened last week, the day after U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez issued an injunction protecting FIJA pamphleteers. Police descended upon Eric Verlo and Janet Matzen, the two activists who had sought the injunction, as they and several associates were passing out FIJA literature at the courthouse.

According to a motion filed by Lane, who asked Martinez to hold Denver Police Chief Robert C. White in contempt of court, the cops seized "all literature regarding jury nullification including about 1,000 pamphlets, a small shade shelter, a table, four chairs, buckets, a cooler, signs and other items." He adds that the officers even "attempted to take personal property such as purses, computers, backpacks and other items" from the activists, but "the pamphleteers resisted the attempts by the police to steal their personal property."

The city says the seized items constituted illegal "encumbrances of the right-of-way" under Denver's municipal code. Although the code does not define that term, a photo Lane submitted along with his motion shows Verlo et al. were not obstructing traffic into or out of the courthouse.

"The only plausible explanation for this is that the police were acting in retaliation for the exercise of the free speech rights of the pamphleteers," Lane writes. It seems Denver is willing to tolerate jury nullification activists in theory but not in practice.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.