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28 May 21:37

Liberal MSNBC Asks Focus Group About Clinton Email Scandal — Just Listen to Some of the Responses

by Jason Howerton

An MSNBC focus group excoriated Hillary Clinton for behaving as if she is “above the rules” in regards to her ongoing email scandal.

NBC News senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing spoke to a focus group of young women about the email controversy, and she got some interesting responses.

“I take national security really seriously and the idea that she would have a private email server, it demonstrates someone who thinks that they’re outside of the rules and not accountable,” one woman said. “It’s reckless. The most disappointing part about all of it is I don’t feel like she’s taken responsibility for it.”



One Clinton supporter, Jessica, said she understands the concerns about the email scandal, but claimed Clinton was “not the first person to do this.”

A third woman argued people in positions in power have a “responsibility and a duty to make sure that what they do is transparent.”

“The entire problem with this email server issue is that she’s not being transparent,” she said. “When someone doesn’t abide by the rules, they are not being transparent.”

Watch the full segment via MSNBC below:

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28 May 00:06

Game of Thrones: 11 Heartbreaking Moments

by Matt Fowler

h/t Roumen.ganeff

Warning: Spoilers follow for all of HBO's Game of Thrones that has aired so far, up through the episode "The Door."

Over the course of five and a half seasons, Game of Thrones has had some truly shocking moments, scary moments, violent moments and badass moments. But the most recent episode, "The Door," reminded us that it can also have some truly scarring, sad moments, as we discovered the origin of Hodor's name during a bit of time travel and an epic example of self sacrifice.


Continue reading…

27 May 15:00

Millennials Can't Just "Reject" Capitalism

"Rejecting" economic reality is no different than rejecting physical reality.

27 May 13:20

A “Chilling New Portrait” of Child Predators? Or a Craven Old Way to Scare Us Sh*tless?

by lskenazy


Trying not to scream about this article in the Toronto Star, “Child Abduction and Murder Paint a Chilling New Portrait.” As reader Frankie wrote:

Just the WORST kind of scaremongering!!  They use these huge scary numbers but the bottom line is that in all of Canada, coast to coast, there have been an average of THREE kidnappings a year over the past 50 years.  THREE.  Seems they had to go back 50 years to get enough data to even do a statistical analysis.  More pedestrians were killed just in Toronto last month alone.  This piece makes me so angry!

While you’re reading the piece, keep asking yourself: Who benefits from a study like this? (Boldface, mine.)

Child abduction and murder data paint chilling new portrait

by Robert Cribb

One hundred and fifty-five children have been abducted and murdered in Canada since 1970, most of them young girls snatched near their homes and killed within a few hours by predators with criminal records, according to a survey by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

The findings, which reveal an unprecedented look at child abduction and murder in Canada, are based on public records, court decisions and media reports on cases dating back nearly 50 years.

The study excludes cases where the person responsible (or believed to be responsible) was a parent of the child or close relative.

Of course! Why study the far more common scenario and possibly come up with a way to save MORE kids, when a more exciting scenario beckons?

These cases involve strangers or acquaintances who target children as young as 2, plan an approach, abduct and kill them, according to the preliminary study, obtained exclusively by the Toronto Star. The full study is to be released later this year.

“We were inspired to do this difficult analysis with the idea that what one single child’s story may not be able say, the collective voice of many, could,” says Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Winnipeg-based Centre for Child Protection. “Something that was very impactful was the heinous nature of the crimes committed against the children.

“The degree of violence and brutality is horrifying.”

This data question how well children are protected by Canada’s justice system.

No they don’t. Canada is #8 in a list of Ssafest Places to Live in the world.

Fifty-five per cent of offenders had a prior criminal record and 29 per cent of those were convicted of a prior violent or sexual offence against a child.

Lesley Parrott’s daughter, Alison, was abducted and murdered in Toronto in 1986.

Alison was 11 and lured to Varsity Stadium for a photo shoot. Her body was found two days later near the Humber River.

Francis Carl Roy, who was convicted of Alison’s murder, had been on parole for raping two teenage girls.

“I do think there is real opportunity here for good impact on policies and understanding on the part of families, educators, police, parole boards and judges,” says Parrott. “The things that jump out at me is the parole situation, the luring was there, the murder happening within hours. All the way through there are things that speak to our situation.”

The situation being what? Unstated. Just gobbledygook.

Roy remains in prison.

Here is a partial story — by the numbers — of what the study reveals:

Who are the offenders?

  • 92 per cent of Canada’s child murderers are men.
  • 68 per cent of them are Caucasian in their 20s (the average age is 26 with nearly a quarter under the age of 18).
  • 55 per cent of offenders had a criminal record when the offence was committed. At least 33 per cent of those had committed a violent or sexual offence against a child.
  • 22 per cent of the offenders were either on parole, probation or out on bail.
And on and on it goes. When really — the point is that in the very worst and rarest of circumstances, people murder. And some of them actually did something before. The fact that literally tens of thousands of people who also committed offenses do NOT go on to murder strangers does not matter. This just allows the public to hate and fear anyone who ever served time.
Why does the study ignore the vastly more common scenario — children abused by people they know?
Because that does not garner hits, donations, or government money.
Sorry to be so blunt, but this is scare mongering masked as ‘important” information. The only thing important is to remember how easy it is to create fear under the guise of virtue. – L


Canada! I'm coming for your children! (Drawing by JuanEmanuel )

Canada! I’m coming for your children! Or at least your donations.  (Drawing by JuanEmanuel )

27 May 02:02

Chilling Transcript and More Video Released from Arizona Police Shooting Death of Daniel Shaver (Updated)

by Carlos Miller

In the moments before he was shot and killed, Daniel Shaver was trying his best to comply with orders from Mesa police, specifically Sergeant Charles Langley, who was berating and threatening to kill him while barking out a series of confusing orders, according to a chilling transcript from an officer’s body camera released today.

“Occupants of Room 502, this is the Mesa Police. Listen to my instructions or it’s going to become very uncomfortable for you. The female is to step outside of the  room,” Langley ordered while Shaver was still inside the room with Monique Portillo, a woman he had met with another man earlier that evening before inviting them both back to his room for drinks.

Mesa police had been called to the hotel after people downstairs reported seeing a man holding a gun through a fifth-floor window, which was just a pellet gun Shaver was showing to his two new friends, one he used for his pest control job.

The man, Luis Nunez, had stepped out to call his wife, however, so it was only Shaver and Portillo inside the room when six Mesa police officers stood in the hallway with their guns drawn, ordering them out.

The transcripts shows that Mesa police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford asked another officer for another magazine to keep in his pocket.

Brailsford ended up shooting and killing Shaver with an AR-15 rifle that had the words “You’re Fucked” inscribed on it.

Philip "Mitch" Brailsford the way he looked the night he shot and killed Daniel Shaver.

Philip “Mitch” Brailsford the way he looked the night he shot and killed Daniel Shaver.

“Stop. Stop. Get on the ground. Both of you lay down on the ground,” ordered Langley seconds after they both stepped out.

“Fuck,” says Shaver, a 26-year-old man in town from Texas for a pest control job.

“Lay down on the ground,” Langley orders again.

“I did. I did,” Shaver responds.

“Who else is in the room?” Langley asks.

“Nobody,” responds Shaver.

“You’re positive?” Langley asks.

“I’m absolutely positive,” Shaver responds.

While Shaver appears to be understanding and responding to the questions, Langley begins berating him for not following instructions.

“Okay, since apparently we have a failure to comprehend simple instructions, I’m going to go over some of them again, okay,” Langley says.

“Can you both hear and understand me?” Langley asks.

“Yes,” Portilla responds.

“All right, if you make a mistake, another mistake, there’s a severe possibility that you’re both going to get shot. Do you understand that?” Langley says.

“Yes,” says Shaver, who was married with two children.

Victim Daniel Shaver.

Daniel Shaver with his two daughters.

“I do,” Portilla says.

“Yes,” Shaver repeats. “What the ….”

“This is … shut up, I’m not here to be tactful and diplomatic with you,” Langley says. “You listen. You obey.”

“For one thing, did I tell you to move, young man? Did I tell you ….” Langley asks.

“No, sir. No, sir. No, sir. No, sir,” Shaver responds.

“Put both of your hands …” Langley orders.

“No, sir. No, sir,” Shaver continues.

“Put both of your hands at the top of your head and interlace your fingers,” Langley orders. “Take your feet and cross your left foot over your right foot.”

Langley again asks if anybody else is in the room an Shaver again reassures him nobody is in the room.

Portillo asks if she can go to her room.

“No, you’re not going to do anything but come towards us,” Langley responds.

“Young man, you are not to move,” Langley says to Shaver. “You are to put your eyes down and look down at  the carpet. You are to keep your fingers interlaced behind your  head. You are to keep your feet crossed. If you move, we’ re going to consider that a threat and we are going to deal with it and you  may not survive it.

“Do you understand me?” Langley asks.

“Yes, sir,” Shaver responds.

“Just let me go,” Portillo says.

“Young lady, just shut up and listen,” Langley responds.

“Okay,” she says.

“All right, you are to keep your feet crossed,” Langley orders, apparently talking to Portilla.

“Take both of your hands, place them flat in front of you. You are to push yourself up to kneeling position. Now put both hands in the air. Okay, crawl towards us.”

“I’m so sorry,” Shaver says, apologizing for something that is not clear in the transcript.

Portilla apparently complies with the orders and she is cuffed and frisked.

Langley then turns his attention to Shaver.

“Okay, young man, listen to my instructions and do not make a mistake,” Langley says.

“You are to keep your legs crossed, do you understand me?” Langley asks.

“Yes, sir,” Shaver responds.

“You are to put both of your hands on down straight out in front  of you. Push yourself up to a kneeling position. I said keep your legs crossed.”

“I’m sorry. I just pushed my …” Shaver tries to explain.

“I didn’ t say this was a conversation,” Langley responds. “Put your hands up in the air. Hands up in the air. You do that again and we’re shooting you.”

“No, please do not shoot me,” Shaver pleads.

“Then listen to my instruction,” Langley says.

“Okay, I’m trying to do what you …” Shaver says.

“Don’t talk, listen,” Langley orders.

“Hands straight up in the air. Do not put your hands down for any reason. If you think you’ re going to fall, you’re going to fall on  your face. If your hands go back into the small of your back or  down, we are going to shoot you.

“Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” Shaver says.

“Crawl towards me,” Langley orders. “Crawl towards me.”

“Yes, sir, please ….” Shaver says.

“Don’t …” Langley orders before Mesa police officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford opens fire five times, killing Shaver.


The AR-15 Philip “Mitch” Brailsford used to killed Daniel Shaver had the words, “You’re Fucked,” inscribed on the side.

Brailsford later told investigators he found it to be a “terrifying” experience watching Shaver crawl towards him, even though he was standing behind a wall in a door well, which led to second-degree murder charges filed against him.

None of the officers expressed any shock or regret in that Shaver was now dead, mostly being concerned with getting Portillo out of there, then going into Shaver’s room.

But not before turning off the body camera. Footage from the camera was released Tuesday, but the actual shooting was redacted.

Read the full transcript here.

UPDATE: 11:40 p.m. EST, May 26, 2016.

The 55 second video below was also just released, showing the moments after Shaver was shot and killed, but not the actual shooting.

Shaver’s wife, Laney Sweet, who has been fighting hard to get all the video released, is left to raise two children on her own, not to mention paying for the legal services to seek justice for her husband, so she has set up a Go Fund Me page here to raise donations.

She has also set up the In Memory of Daniel Shaver memorial Facebook page to post updates as well as the Justice for Daniel Shaver YouTube channel to post video updates.

Arizona Judge Releases Body Cam Footage from Daniel Shaver Shooting Death

Arizona Cop Recalls “Terrifying” Experience as He Shot and Killed Unarmed Daniel Shaver as New Crime Scene Photos Surface and Body Cam Video Expected to be Released Today

Arizona Cop Charged with Murder for Killing Daniel Shaver Over Suspected Pellet Gun


Arizona Cop Fired For Killing Daniel Shaver, Who Prosecutors Admit “Didn’t Do Anything Wrong” (UPDATED)

Arizona Cops Kill Man on Business Trip Showing Pellet Gun to Others in Hotel Room (Updated)


The post Chilling Transcript and More Video Released from Arizona Police Shooting Death of Daniel Shaver (Updated) appeared first on PINAC News.

26 May 13:13

“Clean-Energy Jobs Surpass Oil Drilling for First Time in U.S.” So what?

by David Middleton
Guest post by David Middleton   From Bloomberg… The number of U.S. jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction for the first time last year, helping drive a global surge in employment in the clean-energy business as fossil-fuel companies faltered. Employment in the U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster…
25 May 17:40

Denying the Climate Catastrophe: 8. The Lukewarmer Middle Ground

by admin

This is Chapter 8 of an ongoing series.  Other parts of the series are here:

  1. Introduction
  2. Greenhouse Gas Theory
  3. Feedbacks
  4.  A)  Actual Temperature Data;  B) Problems with the Surface Temperature Record
  5. Attribution of Past Warming:  A) Arguments for it being Man-Made; B) Natural Attribution
  6. Climate Models vs. Actual Temperatures
  7. Are We Already Seeing Climate Change
  8. The Lukewarmer Middle Ground (this article)
  9. A Low-Cost Insurance Policy

In this chapter we are going to try to sum up where we are and return to our very first chapter, when I said that we would find something odd once we returned to the supposed global warming "consensus".

First, let's return to our framework one last time and try to summarize what has been said:


I believe that this is a pretty fair representation of the median luke-warmer position.  Summarized, it would be:

  • Manmade CO2 warms the Earth, though by much less than most climate models claim because these models are assuming unrealistic levels of positive feedback that over-state future warming.  One degree C of warming, rather than four or five, is a more realistic projection of man-made warming over the next century
  • The world has certainly warmed over the last century, though by perhaps a bit less than the 0.8C in the surface temperature record due to uncorrected flaws in that record
  • Perhaps half of this past warming is due to man, the rest due to natural variability
  • There is little evidence that weather patterns are "already changing" in any measurable way from man-made warming

The statements I just wrote above, no matter how reasonable, are enough to get me and many others vilified as "deniers".  You might think that I am exaggerating -- that the denier tag is saved for folks who absolutely deny any warming effect of CO2.  But that is not the case, I can assure you from long personal experience.

The Climate Bait and Switch

Of course, the very act of attempting to shut people up who disagree with one's position on a scientific issue is, I would have thought, obviously anti-science.   The history of science is strewn with examples of the majority being totally wrong.   Even into the 1960's, for example, the 97% consensus in geology was that the continents don't move and that the few scientists who advocated for plate tectonics theory were crackpots.

But that is not how things work today.  Climate action advocates routinely look for ways to silence climate skeptics, up to and including seeking to prosecute these climate heretics and try to throw them in jail.

The reason that alarmists say they feel confident in vilifying and attempting to silence folks like myself is because they claim that the science is settled, that 97% of climate scientists believe in the consensus, and so everyone who is not on board with the consensus needs to shut up.  But what exactly is this consensus?

The 97% number first appeared in a "study" by several academics who sent out a survey to scientists with some climate change questions.  They recieved over 3146 responses, but they decided that only 77 of these respondents "counted" as climate scientists, and of these 75 of the 77 (97%) answered two questions about climate change in the affirmative.


We will get to the two questions in a second, but note already the odd study methodology.  If the other 10,000 plus people sent the survey were not the targets of the survey, why were they sent a survey in the first place?  It makes one suspicious that the study methodology was changed mid-stream to get the answer they wanted.

Anyway, what is even more fascinating is the two questions asked in the survey.  Here they are:

  1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
  2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

The 97% in this survey answered the questions "risen" and "yes".

Do you see the irony here?  If you have been following along with this series, you should be able to say how I would have answered the two questions.  I would certainly have said "risen" to 1.  The answer to question 2 is a bit hard because "significant" is not defined, but in a complex system with literally thousands of variables, I would have said one of those variables was a significant contributor at anything over about 10%.  Since I estimated man's effect on past warming around 40-50%, I would have answered "yes" to #2!  In fact, most every prominent science-based skeptic I can think of would likely have answered the same.

So you heard it right -- I and many prominent skeptics are part of the 97% consensus.  Effectively, I am being told to shut up and not continue to say what I think, in the name of a 97% consensus that represents exactly what I am saying.  This is so weird as to be almost Kafka-esque.

This is what I call the climate bait and switch.  Shaky assumptions about things like high positive feedback assumptions are defended with the near-certainty that surrounds unrelated proposition such as the operation of the greenhouse gas effect.

In fact, merely arguing about whether man-made warming exists or is "significant" falls well short of what we really need in the public policy arena.  What we really should be discussing is a proposition like this:

Is manmade CO2 causing catastrophic increases in warming and warming-driven weather effects whose costs exceed those of reducing CO2 production enough to avoid these effects?

It is about at this point when I usually have people bring up the precautionary principle.  So that I am not unfair to proponents of that principle, I will use the Wikipedia definition:

if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action that may or may not be a risk.

The principle is used by policy makers to justify discretionary decisions in situations where there is the possibility of harm from making a certain decision (e.g. taking a particular course of action) when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.

I believe that, as stated, this is utter madness.  I will give you an example.   Consider a vaccine that saves thousands of lives a year.  Let's say, as is typical of almost every vaccine, that it also hurts a few people, such that it may kill 1 person for every thousand it saves.  By the precautionary principle as stated, we would never have approved any vaccine, because the precautionary principle does not put any weight on avoided costs of the action.

So take fossil fuel burning.   Proponents of taking drastic action to curb fossil fuel use in the name of global warming prevention will argue that until there is an absolute consensus that burning fossil fuels is not harmful to the climate, such burning should be banned.  But it ignores the substantial, staggering, unbelievably-positive effects we have gained from fossil fuels and the technology and economy they support.

Just remember back to that corn yield chart.


Bill McKibbon wants us to stop using fossil fuels because they may cause warmer temperatures that might reduce corn yields.  But there is a near absolute certainty that dismantling the fossil fuel economy will take us back to the horrendous yields in the yellow years on this chart.  Proponents of climate action point to the possibility of warming-based problems, but miss the near certainty of problems from elimination of fossil fuels.

Over the last 30 years, something unprecedented in the history of human civilization has occurred -- an astounding number of people have exited absolute poverty.


Folks like McKibbon act like there is no downside to drastically cutting back on fossil fuel use and switching to substantially more expensive and less convenient fuels, as if protecting Exxon's profits are the only reason anyone would possibly oppose such a measure.  But the billion or so people who have exited poverty of late have done so by burning every bit of fossil fuels than can obtain, and never would have been able to do so in such numbers had such an inexpensive fuel option not been available.  We in the West could likely afford having to pay $50 a month more for fuel, but what of the poor of the world?

Perhaps this will give one an idea of how central inexpensive fossil fuels are to well-being.  This is a chart from World Bank data plotting each country based on their per capital CO2 production and their lifespan.


As you can see, there is a real, meaningful relationship between CO2 production and life expectancy.  In fact, each 10x increase in CO2 production is correlated with 10 years of additional life expectancy.  Of course, this relationship is not direct -- CO2 itself does not have health benefits (if one is not a plant).  But burning more CO2 is a byproduct of a growing technological economy, which leads to greater wealth and life expectancy.

The problem, then, is not that we shouldn't consider the future potential costs and risks of climate change, but that we shouldn't consider them in a vaccuum without also considering the costs of placing severe artificial limits on inexpensive fossil fuels.


People often say to me that climate action is an insurance policy -- and they ask me, "you buy insurance, don't you?"   My answer invariably is, "yes, I buy insurance, but not when the cost of the policy is greater than the risk being insured against."

As it turns out, there is an approach we can take in this country to creating a low-cost insurance policy against the risks that temperature sensitivity to CO2 is higher than I have estimated in this series.  I will outline that plan in my final chapter.

26 May 10:15

California: “New law seeks to protect small businesses from ADA lawsuits”

by Walter Olson

California’s unique Unruh Act provides automatic bounty entitlements (often $4,000, plus attorney’s fees) to successful discrimination complainants without having to show any actual injury from their treatment. For many years this has led to a distinctive cottage industry of ADA filing mills that mass-generate accessibility complaints against California businesses to settle for cash, often based on minor instances of noncompliance in facilities open to the public. Correcting the bad incentives created by the Unruh Act appears to be politically out of bounds, but now, at least, following a multi-year push from the business community, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed SB 269, which lays out two escape paths from liability for smaller businesses: by hiring a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) they can get 120 days to fix any violations, and by providing a 15-day grace period before legal penalty for small business to fix the most minor violations, typically involving signage and surface display. [KXTV, NorCal Record, L.A. Daily News] “The number one complaint [in 2015]? Non-compliant loading zones. Number two? Problems with parking lot signage.” [Capital Public Radio]

Meanwhile, in Fresno, some disabled plaintiffs are now suing the lawyers who solicited their involvement in mass ADA filings, saying they broke promises, behaved deceptively, and kept nearly all the proceeds for themselves. [KFSN]:

One of the places the Moores sued is a donut shop in Reedley and one of the problems was with the signage.

The shop had a disabled parking only sign up, but it didn’t have the half that states “Minimum Fine $250” and without that part, this is a violation.

What the Moores may not have known is Doughnuts To Go is managed by Lee Ky, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

“Here I am all my life in a wheelchair and I get around in the community just fine,” Ky explained.

Ky says she never had any accessibility problems at her own store, but she made some updates after she was sued for violations and settled with the Moore Law Firm to make the lawsuit go away.

So when an Action News reporter showed her the video of Ronald Moore, the man who sued her, lifting his wheelchair into his SUV, then walking up to the driver’s seat, she was pretty upset.

“I wish I could be him sometimes,” Ky said. “I wish I could just get up and then walking and all the sudden becoming in the wheelchair. It looks bad.”

California: “New law seeks to protect small businesses from ADA lawsuits” is a post from Overlawyered - Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

25 May 03:00

Ep. 667 Mises and Hayek Caused the Financial Crisis, and the Rest of the World’s Problems, Too

by Tom Woods

The left-wing George Monbiot of The Guardian says the financial crisis was caused by “neoliberalism,” a term Mises and Hayek never used, but a category into which Monbiot places them. He then says pretty much all our problems have been caused by “neoliberalism.” It’s a smorgasbord of stupidity, but (or should I say “so”?) it went viral.

Articles Discussed

Neoliberalism — The Ideology at the Root of All Our Problems,” by George Monbiot
Why George Monbiot Is Clueless About Neoliberalism,” by Juan Ramon Rallo

Related Episodes

Ep. 513 Can We Decide on a Main Problem with Socialism? Also: Why the Austrians Are Right About Monopoly (Jeff Herbener)
Ep. 461 The Fallacies of Bernie Sanders (Grant Phillips)
Ep. 408 The Main Reason Socialism Can’t Work (Mateusz Machaj)
Ep. 337 The Fatal Errors of Socialism (James Otteson)
Ep. 119 The Environment and the Market (Walter Block)
Ep. 96 World-Destroying Fallacies (Bob Murphy)
Ep. 80 Libertarians Are Scary! (Jacob Hornberger)
Ep. 19 Enough About Inequality Already; Here’s the Truth (Contra Krugman)

Other Podcast

Enjoy the Tom Woods Show? You’ll love my once-a-week podcast with Bob Murphy, Contra Krugman!

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26 May 17:08

Does Title IX Prohibit Sexual Harassment in College, But Require It in Locker Rooms?

by Robby Soave

ShowerThe federal government is trying to have it both ways. Either Title IX—a federal statutes prohibiting sex discrimination in schools—requires educational institutional to prevent sexual harassment on a subjective basis, or it doesn't. 

Here's the problem: the Obama administration has issued guidance to schools asserting that they should accommodate the needs of transgender students, and that said accommodations are required by Title IX. Schools must allow kids to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity—their stated gender preference—rather than their biological sex. 

This is an obviously strained interpretation of Title IX. For reference, here's what the statute says: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." 

Gender and sex are obviously not the same thing, so the fact the federal government is construing sex to mean gender strikes me as a straightforwardly incorrect interpretation of the statute. 

That's not all. The government's guidance on trans kids and bathrooms—which I would support, in some form, if the administration was not torturing the law to produce it—simply contradicts its guidance on sexual harassment. 

The Education Department has informed colleges that Title IX requires them to protect their students from sex-based discrimination, violence, and sexual harassment. It has also opined that harassment need not be objectionable to a reasonable person to qualify, and it need not be severe and pervasive. Harassment, the guidance suggests, is based on the subjective feelings of the victim. 

For example: sexually-suggestive jokes are routinely reported to college administrators as examples of sexual harassment. 

Here's where the contradiction lies: If sexual jokes could be said to be a form of sexual harassment under Title IX, isn't it obviously the case that forcing someone to share a locker room with a person of the opposite biological sex is also a form of sexual harassment? Remember, under the government's guidance, harassment is in the eyes of harassed, even if it seems silly to an objective third-party. 

Harvard University Law Professor Jeannie Suk highlighted this inconsistency in a recent New Yorker piece: 

But there is also a growing sense that some females will not feel safe sharing bathrooms, shower rooms, or locker rooms with males. And if a female student claimed that a bathroom or locker room that her school had her share with male students caused her to feel sexually vulnerable and created a hostile environment, the complaint would be difficult to dismiss, particularly since the federal government has interpreted Title IX broadly and said that schools must try to prevent a hostile environment. This is not wholly hypothetical. Brandeis University found a male student responsible for sexual misconduct for looking at his boyfriend’s genitals while both were using a communal school shower. The disciplined student then sued the school for denying him basic fairness in its disciplinary process, and a federal court recently refused to dismiss the suit. 

Continuing to have segregated bathrooms could also put schools in a bind on Title IX compliance. According to the federal government, a transgender girl who is told to use the boys’ locker room, or even a separate and private stall, instead of the girls’ facility, has a claim that the school is violating Title IX. A non-transgender girl who’s told she must share a locker room with boys may also have a claim that the school is violating Title IX. But would she not have a similar claim about having to share with students who identify as girls but are biologically male? Well, not if her discomfort and “emotional strain” should be disregarded. But this week, in a letter, dozens of members of Congress asked the Attorney General and the Secretary of Education to explain why they should be disregarded. The federal government is putting schools in a position where they may be sued whichever route they choose. (Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, declined to comment on this issue.) 

I covered the Brandeis case that Suk is referring to here. Like Suk, I'm concerned that the government is putting schools in the impossible position of having to accommodate the mutually exclusive needs of students. 

But this is what happens when the executive branch ignores the legislative process and instead broadens the scope of an existing law without any input from the public or Congress. 

As my colleague Scott Shackford reports, several states are now suing the feds for forcing them to follow a strained interpretation of Title IX. I have no doubt that much of this opposition to following the law stems from societal animosity to trans people, who fully deserve equal rights, equal treatment, and dignity. I'm generally in favor of letting trans kids use the locker room that makes them more comfortable, as long as schools retain the ability to prevent genuine disruptions and misuse of the policy. But the uncomfortable truth is that the states are right: the federal government's Title IX guidance is reckless, inconsistent, and legally flawed. 

26 May 05:24

Shaken Up About Shaken Baby Syndrome

by lskenazy


On a recent Saturday night, Marine Sgt. Aaron Rasheed was in Manhattan with his wife and three young children, including baby Elijah, who cried part-way through the new documentary they’d come up from Virginia to watch.

I can’t blame the boy.

The Syndrome” is about Shaken Baby Syndrome — a heinous crime we’ve all heard of. Back in the fall, when  Elijah was 3 weeks old, he suffered a seizure. Sgt. Rasheed and his wife rushed him to the hospital. The baby had two hematomas — blood on the brain (or at least it looked like that at the time). How had he gotten them? The parents had no idea.

Tsk tsk. They must be hiding something. Child Protective Services swooped in and accused Rasheed of shaking the baby. All three children were placed in a relative’s custody and Rasheed found himself facing trial. Frantic, he went online and tried to find any information he could about Shaken Baby Syndrome.

He found Susan Goldsmith.

Goldsmith  is the researcher behind  “The Syndrome.” This is her first film, but she’s been a journalist for over 20 years, specializing in child abuse.  Her investigative reporting resulted in two new laws protecting children  in foster care. She was especially revolted by the idea of anyone who’d shake an infant. I guess we all are. But the more she looked into this crime, the more surprised she became.

It turns out that the constellation of three symptoms that “prove” a baby was shaken (a type of brain swelling, brain bleeding, and bleeding in back of the eyes) can actually be caused by all sorts of other problems, including genetic issues, birth trauma — even falling off a couch.

And yet, over and over, distraught parents and caregivers with no history of anything other than loving their babies have been accused of shaking their kids to death, simply because their children presented these symptoms. To this day, about 250 parents and caregivers are prosecuted for this crime every year.

“The Syndrome,” tells the tale of how this new category of crime appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the mid 1990s. Goldsmith found  that some of the same doctors who had actively promoted the Satanic Panic of the early ’90s, accusing daycare workers of things like sacrificing animals in the classroom and raping the tots in Satanic rites, abandoned that narrative when people started doubting its plausibility.

In its wake, those doctors found a new horror  to focus on: Shaken Baby.  As Goldsmith puts it, “They medicalized Satan.” Attention, donations, and research money flooded in.

But after Goldsmith’s film interviews parent after parent who brought their ailing babies to the hospital only to find themselves accused of the sickest, saddest crime possible, it turns to the heroes: doctors who gradually started to question the syndrome.

Consider the case of Natasha Richardson, says one of them, neurosurgeon Ronald Uscinski: She hit her head in a skiing accident and even joked about it afterward. Two days later she was dead.

This happens to children, too, he says. Why would we think it doesn’t? Toddlers toddle. Sometimes they fall. Usually it’s fine, but sometimes it’s tragic. It may be diagnosed as the result of a shaking, but here’s the sticking point: If someone shook a baby so hard that its head went flopping back and forth, the neck would show signs of whiplash, right? And yet, the film notes: none of the hundreds of  “shaken” baby cases Goldsmith reviewed showed serious neck damage.

Not one.

Deborah Tuerkheimer, a law professor interviewed in the film, estimates 1,000 people are in prison today for a shaken baby crime they did not commit. Rasheed was almost one of them, but he was found not guilty. Said the judge, “My heart goes out to you.”

Mine too. Thank goodness this movie exists. Because the potential for injustice is enough to leave anyone shaken.


Worst-first thinking = assuming a heinous crime instead of sad ol' fate.

Worst-first thinking = assuming a heinous, hitherto unheard-of crime instead of sad old fate.


26 May 03:53

Kansas Governor Signs Bill to Halt Implementation of EPA Clean Power Plan

by Mike Maharrey

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25, 2016) – Earlier this month, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill into law that halts state efforts to comply with the EPA Clean Power Plan, at least temporarily.

Senate Bill 318 (SB318) passed both houses of the Kansas legislature comfortably. It prohibits any state agency from engaging in activities relating to implementing the clean power plan until the Supreme Court lifts the stay it issued while it decides on a lawsuit brought by 24 states to block the EPA plan.

The bill would suspend all state agency activities, studies, and investigations that are in furtherance of the preparation of an initial submittal, or the evaluation of any options for the submission, of a final state plan pursuant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, codified as 40 CFR part 60 (Clean Power Plan). The suspension of state agency activities would continue until the stay on the implementation of the Clean Power Plan is lifted.
The AP emphatically states that the state “will suspend all activities in support of the Clean Power Plan until that stay is lifted.” While that is the effect of this particular legislation, it doesn’t follow that the state absolutely has to resume implementation if the SCOTUS lifts the stay. The bottom line is the state has stopped it, and it could very well chose to continue to refuse to implement the Clean Power Plan if it ultimately loses the lawsuit.
In fact, that is exactly the strategy James Madison suggested to deal with “unwarrantable” federal acts – or even simply unpopular acts. He said “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union,” would create impediments and obstructions for the feds, and serve to check federal power.
The EPA has no constitutional authority to exist, much less regulate emission within the borders of a state. Even if the federal government was empowered to regulate air quality, (It isn’t) only Congress has the power to pass laws and make rules – not executive agencies. If the Court refuses to rein in EPA overreach, state refusal to cooperate remains a viable option to stop the unconstitutional mandates in their tracks.
Without state cooperation, there will be no Clean Power Plan.
26 May 16:06

SpaceX is attempting its extremely difficult landing for the second time tonight — here's how to watch live

by Ali Sundermier

SpaceX is about to launch its fifth rocket of the year on Friday at 5:40 p.m. EST. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday.

See the video feed at the end of this post to watch it live.

Although the issues didn't seem to be serious, when it comes to launching massive satellites into space aboard 230-foot-tall rockets, it's better to be safe than sorry.

The Falcon 9 rocket will be launching out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a communications satellite called Thaicom 8 that weighs nearly 7,000 pounds.

Once up, the satellite, built by aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK for Thailand's first satellite operator, Thaicom, will provide TV and internet services to Southeast Asia.

SpaceX's track record for launches has been nearly flawless this year, with four successful launches and three successful landings — and retrievals! — of the first stage of the rockets. One of those successes took place on land in December; two more happened in April and May at sea.

The company will once again attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic. If it succeeds, it'll be:

  • The fourth successful retrieval of the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket
  • The third successful at-sea landing
  • The second successful landing after launching to the extremely high geostationary orbit, more than 22,000 miles above Earth's equator

During SpaceX's last launch, Elon Musk admitted that he wasn't sure if they'd stick the landing, citing the extreme heat and velocity the rocket faced upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

But it did. And although it was a hugely surprising success, the re-landed first stage suffered "maximum damage," meaning that it's not going back to space again anytime soon. Instead, SpaceX plans to use the rocket for ground tests.

Perfecting the landing of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets brings SpaceX closer to its ultimate goal: making these rockets reusable, and thereby dramatically cutting the cost of spaceflight. This launch will give it yet another opportunity to prove that it can achieve this.

A report in Florida Today stated on Thursday that the weather conditions for the flight were looking to be near-perfect, with US Air Force meteorologists predicting a 90% chance of favorable conditions for launch. Hopefully, the clear skies will stick around until tomorrow.

Check out the SpaceX's webcast of the launch below:

SEE ALSO: Here’s what Elon Musk plans to do with the 3rd SpaceX rocket he managed to land

DON'T MISS: Even Elon Musk wasn't sure if SpaceX could nail this incredibly difficult landing

Join the conversation about this story »

25 May 15:00

What Your Browser Says about You That Your GPA Doesn't


I use Maxthon and Brave. Ultra-non-conformist. Must be a stellar performer. ; -)

Companies that are looking for innovators and creative thinkers don't care about your grades.


25 May 18:44

Minimum Wage Pits Employees vs. Customers, Not Employees vs. Management

by admin

This post earlier on the customer service downsides of the new salaried overtime rules got me thinking more broadly about the impact of minimum wage type laws.  Progressives justify such laws by saying that there is a power imbalance between management and employees, and that the government needs to have minimum wage laws to make up for the fact that employees lack power.

But from my experience in the service world, it is wrong to look at the situation as a power struggle between managers and employees.  It is much more correct to look at this as a power struggle between employees and customers.  Let me explain.

Service and retail firms tend to live on razor-thin margins.  Retailers typically live on single-digit profit margins, and those of companies like Wal-Mart are as low as 2% of revenues.  Our company in the service business has a similar experience, averaging profit margins of 3-5% of revenues over the last 10 years.

This is not an accident.  Most service and retail businesses depend on simple service-delivery models using relatively low-skilled workers.  There are many low-skilled workers in the world.  If a company were to start making huge profits with a service model using such workers, it would be easy for others to copy it and hire the same types of workers and undercut them on price.  Margins tend to get competed down to the bare minimum.

No matter how much progressives would like it to be so, when California raises its minimum wage, it probably is not going to come out of company margins, at least in the near term.  Over the 10 years from about 2013 to 2022, California will have raised its minimum wage over 87% from $8 an hour to $15.  Wages and costs like workers comp premiums that are tied to wages are about half my costs.  This means an 87% labor cost increase will increase my total costs 44%.  How is that going to come out of a 4% margin?  It is not.

There are really only two things we can do, individually or in combination.  First, we can raise prices 44%, just to try to stay even.  Of course, some customers will balk and stop buying, and then we will lose business and perhaps have to close (we have already closed over half our businesses in California for just this reason).  Or second, we could cut staff in half to keep wages under control.  Of course, this means customers get served much more poorly, which also may drive customers away.  Other companies like fast food restaurants have a third option of automation, replacing people with machines -- I wish we could do this but right now we have run out of ideas for automating bathroom cleaning and landscape work.

Hopefully, you can see what is going on here.  The real tension here is between employees and customers.  When the state mandates a minimum wage in low margin service businesses (such laws are largely irrelevant to high-margin technology companies and such), compliance is paid for by the customer, either in the form of higher prices or worse service or both.

25 May 20:22

Introducing the global warming speedometer

by Guest Blogger
A single devastating graph shows official climate predictions were wild By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley The new global warming speedometer shows in a single telling graph just how badly the model-based predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have over-predicted global warming. The speedometer for the 15 years 4 months January 2001 to…
24 May 15:10

Your words may predict your future mental health | Mariano Sigman

by (TED Conferences LLC)
Can the way you speak and write today predict your future mental state, even the onset of psychosis? In this fascinating talk, neuroscientist Mariano Sigman reflects on ancient Greece and the origins of introspection to investigate how our words hint at our inner lives and details a word-mapping algorithm that could predict the development of schizophrenia. "We may be seeing in the future a very different form of mental health," Sigman says, "based on objective, quantitative and automated analysis of the words we write, of the words we say."
24 May 17:00

Fugitive Slave Ads Paint a New Picture of Slavery and Resistance

Newspaper ads (placed by slavers) record the heroic efforts of hundreds of thousands of Americans to break free from bondage. 

24 May 15:26

Sweatcoin Pays Brits Blockchain-Based Digital Currency to Get Fit

by Rebecca Campbell

hmm... color me skeptical...

If you’ve ever needed an incentive to get fit, a new app launched in Britain could give you the boost you need. The new fitness app for Apple devices, Sweatcoin, rewards steps people have taken with digital currency, which can be used to buy goods and services.

The British-made app by co-founders Oleg Fomenko, Anton Derlyatka, Danil Perushev and Egor Khmelev, is the latest initiative in a growing fitness economy that features monitoring devices and apps, which reward peoples’ fitness activity with vouchers and discounts.

Their aim is to fix an evolutionary bug called “Present Bias,” which is the human tendency to underestimate things which happen in the future and disproportionately focuses our attention solely on what gives us pleasure right now.

Currently only available on iPad and iPhone in the UK, for every 1,000 steps a user will receive one sweatcoin (SWC) with rewards ranging in value on the Sweatcoin shop. For example, 20 sweatcoins will get you a pair of Apple headphones, 50 sweatcoins will get you a Wii console and a Wii bundle kit, and 1,300 sweatcoins will get you a PS3 and games.

Sweatcoin’s digital currency approach is driven by creating an analogue of fiat currency where issuance and printing requires centralization as the amount of Sweatcoin in variable.

Fomenko, who recently spoke to Bitcoin Magazine, said that there are two things that drive these requirements.

“Sweatcoin can only be issued on the basis of verified movement, and for that we use quantity of movement and geographical location, which can’t be put into the public domain,” he said. “Once issued, we are keen to ensure that Sweatcoin can be accepted and exchanged between any willing party while allowing us to focus on objective one, which is best done in a decentralized fashion.”

As Sweatcoin is community-focused, the use of blockchain technology enables them to engage the community beyond the simple usage of their app as a front-end while enabling them as a business to focus on what they do best – movement verification.

Due to the fact that Sweatcoin’s approach is unique with their goal of helping people burn calories, it requires the creation of a custom solution to achieve this. For that they are using a version of Paxos consensus protocol called Byzantine Paxos.

“Centralized issuance will be using centralized architecture while decentralized transaction processing will use permissioned blockchain using the Byzantine Paxos algorithm,” Fomenko said.

While there will certainly be competition from the likes of British-made start-up, Bitwalking, which is also seeking to launch its own digital currency, Sweatcoin is confident in its software that uses a combination of behavioral and technological solutions to ensure that users can’t fake their activities.

Its first line of defense is limiting one installation per mobile and per device with a cap on the total number of steps accepted per day at 20,000.

“This will not affect most honest users, but it reduces the possible attractiveness for a malicious party to dedicate resources to breaking our platform,” said Fomenko. “The technological solutions we will be using include heuristics, AI, analytical algorithms and other proprietary solutions that are currently being documented.”

This will be the second startup for Fomenko. His last startup,, was a U.K. music app which launched in 2013 and attracted 1.3 million downloads. If failed after its sole investor, a unit of Gazprom Media, pulled out after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and he failed to obtain fresh funding.

Now, however, with their sights set on the future, Sweatcoin’s founders have raised nearly $1 million in funding as well as gained the backing of the Greater London Authority and London Sport. The four co-founders say they are determined to make a success of their health and fitness idea incorporating the use of blockchain technology.

“Sweatcoin’s goal is to help people and make them more active, fit and happy,” Fomenko said. “It will be a business success for us when Sweatcoin starts to have a real value and can be exchanged for fiat currencies.”

The post Sweatcoin Pays Brits Blockchain-Based Digital Currency to Get Fit appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

24 May 11:17

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)


… is from page 427 of H.L. Mencken’s indispensable 1949 collection, A Mencken Chrestomathy; specifically, it’s from Mencken’s marvelous May 27, 1935, essay in the Baltimore Evening Sun entitled “The New Deal”:

Of such sorts are the wizards who now run the country.  Here is the perfect pattern of a professional world-saver.  His whole life has been devoted to the art and science of spending other people’s money.  He has saved millions of the down-trodden from starvation, pestilence, cannibalism, and and worse – always at someone else’s expense, and usually at the taxpayer’s.  He has been going at it over and over again at Washington.  And now, with $4,800,000,000* of your money and mine in his hands, he is preparing to save fresh multitudes, that they may be fat and optimistic on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, 1936, and so mark their ballots in the right box.

* The situation was even worse than Mencken here reports, for he (or a copy editor) forgot a digit: federal spending in 1935 was $14.8 billion.

Here’s a quick back-of-the-e-envelope calculation:

Adjusted for inflation (using the CPI), $14.8 billion 1935 dollars is the equivalent of about $258.47 billion in 2016 dollars.  Because the U.S. population in 1935 was about 127.3 million, that means that Uncle Sam that year spent about $2,030 (in 2016 dollars) for every man, woman, and child in America.  Today Uncle Sam spends annually a hair under $4 trillion – let’s call it, conservatively, $3.9 trillion.  Therefore, today Uncle Sam spends annually – for every man, woman, and child in America’s current population of about 322 million – approximately $12,110.  That’s annual per-capita spending today approximately 6 times more than Uncle Sam’s annual per-capita spending in the year when Mencken penned the above quotation.

24 May 11:00

5 Ways Capitalist Chile is Much Better Than Socialist Venezuela: New at Reason

by Reason Staff

Venezuela's dismal economic situation is getting a lot of press, but elsewhere on the South American continent, where capitalism hasn't been forsaken, things are going better, like in Chile.

Marian Tupy writes:

The story of Chile’s success starts in the mid-1970s, when Chile’s military government abandoned socialism and started to implement economic reforms. In 2013, Chile was the world’s 10th freest economy. Venezuela, in the meantime, declined from being the world’s 10th freest economy in 1975 to being the world’s least free economy in 2013 (Human Progress does not have data for the notoriously unfree North Korea).

View this article.

23 May 17:47

“America is the frontier country. We are not true to our own tradition unless we seek what is new.”

by James Pethokoukis

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, giving the commencement at Hamilton College (via Fortune):

The tradition we’ve inherited is itself about doing new things. The new science of Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton discovered truths that had never been written down in books. Our whole continent is a new world. The founders of this country set out to create what they called a new order for the ages. America is the frontier country. We are not true to our own tradition unless we seek what is new.



So how are we doing? How much is new today? It is a cliché to say that we are living through a time of rapid change, but it is an open secret that the truth is closer to stagnation. Computers are getting faster and smartphones are somewhat new. But on the other hand, jets are slower, trains are breaking down, houses are expensive, and incomes are flat.

Today the word “technology” means information technology. The so-called tech industry builds computers and software. But in the 1960s, “technology” had a more expansive meaning and meant not just computers, but also airplanes, medicines, fertilizers, materials, space travel—all sorts of things. Technology was advancing on every front and leading to a world of underwater cities, vacations on the moon, and energy too cheap to meter.

We’ve all heard America described as a developed country, setting it apart from countries that are still developing. This description pretends to be neutral. But I find it far from neutral. Because it suggests that our tradition of making new things is over. When we say we are developed, we’re saying, “That’s it.” That for us, history is over. We are saying that everything there is to do has already been done, and now the only thing left is for others in the world to catch up. And in this view, the 1960s vision of a fantastic and far better future was just a mistake.

I think we should strongly refuse this temptation to assume that our history is over. Of course if we choose to believe that we’re powerless to do anything that is not familiar, we will be right, but only in a sort of self-fulfilling way. We should not, however, blame nature. It will only be our own fault.

The post “America is the frontier country. We are not true to our own tradition unless we seek what is new.” appeared first on AEI.

23 May 18:27

How did the West get rich?

by James Pethokoukis

Go back two centuries and the average world income per human was about $3 a day, notes economist Deirdre McCloskey in the Wall Street Journal. Now it’s $33 a day, and four times higher than that in advanced economies like the United States, Germany, and Japan. And those numbers — even with the usual inflation adjustment — may well understate things.

Open Source, Wikipedia. Gillis van Tilborch,

Open Source, Wikipedia. Gillis van Tilborch.

So why are we so much, much richer today? After dismissing some alternative explanations, McCloskey arrives at this one:

The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not. By certain accidents of European politics, having nothing to do with deep European virtue, more and more Europeans were liberated. From Luther’s reformation through the Dutch revolt against Spain after 1568 and England’s turmoil in the Civil War of the 1640s, down to the American and French revolutions, Europeans came to believe that common people should be liberated to have a go. You might call it: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To use another big concept, what came—slowly, imperfectly—was equality. It was not an equality of outcome, which might be labeled “French” in honor of Jean-Jacques Rousseauand Thomas Piketty. It was, so to speak, “Scottish,” in honor of David Hume and Adam Smith: equality before the law and equality of social dignity. It made people bold to pursue betterments on their own account. It was, as Smith put it, “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.

For more, check out McCloskey’s recent talk at AEI.

For a lot more, check out her new book “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World.”

The post How did the West get rich? appeared first on AEI.

23 May 20:49

The surprising cleverness of modern compilers

by Daniel Lemire

I wanted to know how a modern C compiler like clang would process the following C code:

#include <stdint.h>
int count(uint64_t x) {
  int v = 0;
  while(x != 0) {
    x &= x - 1;
  return v;

Can you guess?

popcntq	%rdi, %rax

That is right. A fairly sophisticated C function, one that might puzzle many naive programmers compiles down to a single instruction. (Tested with clang 3.8 using -O3 -march=native on a recent x64 processor.)

What does that mean? It means that C is a high-level language. It is not “down to the metal”. It might have been back when compilers were happy to just translate C into correct binary code… but these days are gone. One consequence of the cleverness of our compilers is that it gets hard to benchmark “algorithms”.

In any case, it is another example of externalized intelligence. Most people, most psychologists, assume that intelligence is what happens in our brain. We test people’s intelligence in room, disconnected from the Internet, with only a pencil. But my tools should get as much or even more credit than my brain for most of my achievements. Left alone in a room with a pencil, I’d be a mediocre programmer, a mediocre scientist. I’d be no programmer at all. And this is good news. It is hard to expand or repair the brain, but we have a knack for building better tools.

23 May 13:35

The Individualist Constitution: New at Reason

by Reason Staff

In 2012 Chief Justice John Roberts led the U.S. Supreme Court in upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "It is not our job," Roberts wrote in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, "to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." With those deferential words, Obamacare was saved from legal destruction.

Most conservatives today remain outraged by Roberts' opinion. But according to Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett, one of the architects of the legal challenge to Obamacare, those conservatives don't really understand what it is they're railing against. In the Obamacare case, Barnett writes in his new book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, "the chickens of the conservative commitment to judicial restraint [came] home to roost." For far too long, Barnett maintains, too many legal conservatives, from John Roberts on down, have championed judicial deference to majority rule at the expense of the judiciary's duty to enforce the Constitution and act as a check against the other branches of government. Barnett is now on a mission to upend that orthodoxy. From Reason's June issue, Barnett spoke with Senior Editor Damon Root about the republican Constitution, the specter of judicial activism, the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, and why he worries that "winter is coming" to the U.S. Supreme Court.

View this article.

23 May 17:20

Cops Arrest, Attack Mom Who Let 11-Year-Old Son Drive Golf Cart

by Lenore Skenazy

MallA North Carolina mom who let her 11-year-old son drive a golf cart on a vacation island for about 30 seconds was arrested, wrestled to the ground, handcuffed, and frog-marched onto a ferry to the police station, where she was jailed in leg irons and charged with child abuse.

The mom, Julie Mall, was on vacation with her husband, son, 9-year-old daughter, 22-year-old niece, and their golden retriever, staying at a $1000/night cottage on Bald Head Island. On the evening in question, last July 26, they were riding on a paved path at dusk when the cart was pulled over by an officer.

According to Mark Washburn in The Charlotte Observer, "Mall says there is no question she was wrong." No one is allowed to drive a golf cart without a drivers' license. But what happened next is in dispute.

The  police department report says that after Officer James Hunter pulled over the cart, he identified himself to the Malls and "immediately observed them both to be intoxicated"—a fact the Malls dispute. The police did not conduct any intoxication tests.

The report added that Julie Mall was "agitated and loud" and "interfering with street and pedestrian traffic." The officer said that when he ordered Mall to move off the path, she refused. And then:

“In attempting to secure the custody of the female, same dropped to the ground and began screaming and flailing around, refusing to surrender her hands or obey officer commands,” Hunter wrote.

“Same was physically assaultive and required me to initiate ground control to secure her custody.”

Julie Mall recalls the incident differently. After Officer Hunt pulled them over:

 “Immediately he started berating us,” she says. “He was saying ‘How old is this kid?’ ‘Are you guys drunk?’ ‘I could write you up for child abuse.’ ”

Mall says she had no more than a single glass of wine with dinner hours earlier, and no one was intoxicated.

As the officer’s tirade continued, she says, her son burst into tears. She asked her niece to take the children back to the cottage.

Until now, it should be noted, Mall's only encounter with the police was a 2007 traffic ticket:

Mall says after the sobbing children left, she told the officer she was angry that he had upset them unnecessarily. “I said, ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself,’ and I stuck my finger in his face.”

She says the officer didn’t have a citation book with him, so he radioed for someone to bring him one. A second police vehicle arrived, and later a third.

Four or five officers were conferring there when she asked her husband to drive their golf cart back to the cottage to get mosquito repellent, leaving her alone in the dark with the police.

Four or five officers? What if elsewhere on the island some desperado was picking flowers from a public park? The story continues:

Mall says she was standing on the median of the path tapping away on her cell phone when the officer came over and told her she was blocking traffic and she needed to return to her golf cart – which no longer was there.

Mall says she was standing off the roadway at the time and the police vehicles had the road blocked.

“He said, ‘You need to go back to your golf cart or I’m going to cuff you,’ ” she says. “He lunged across at me, twisting my arm behind my back. I’m hysterical. I’ve never been that scared of anything in my life.”

Scott Mall returned and managed to videotape what came next: His hysterical wife sobbing and screaming on the ground, with the officer's knee in her back. She was then driven to the local station house (where a gaggle of officers were watching Naked and Afraid). From there:

Hunter and another officer took her to the ferry, where about 30 passengers were waiting for the next boat.

When it arrived, she says she was led aboard barefoot – she lost her flip-flops in the struggle – for the trip to Southport. Waiting passengers were told they would have to wait for the next boat because a prisoner was being transported.

Like she's Son of Sam.

On the mainland she was driven to the police office in Bolivia, NC. There she was charged with resisting a public officer, intoxicated and disruptive behavior, and misdemeanor child abuse.

When her handcuffs were removed so she could be fingerprinted, her ankles were shackled instead, and she was put into a jail cell. Bond was set at $1,000. Her husband arrived, paid the bond and she was released.

She returned for her trial on Aug. 20, but Officer Hunter did not appear. The trial was rescheduled for Oct. 2, and again Hunter did not appear. "Without a witness, the state dismissed the case," according to the Observer.

If I were that officer, I'd be AWOL, too.

Elsewhere in the article, the reporter noted that "Bald Head Village has about 25 officers in its Public Safety Department. With a year-round population of 168, the municipality has the enviable ratio of one officer for every seven residents."

Just how enviable it is to have one cop for every seven residents is up for debate. 

23 May 17:07

BREAKING: #RICO20 Edward Maibach tries ’emergency stay’ to retroactively pull Shukla/George Mason University emails from view

by Anthony Watts
People send me stuff. It seems that one of the two main ringleaders of the RICO20 is trying some legal wrangling this morning to head off disclosure of more documents. The legal filings (in links below) show that this morning legal council for Ed Maibach rushed to Richmond court seeking an emergency stay of the…
23 May 17:26

Don't Not Vote

by Jim Harper

A fair number of libertarians pride themselves on not voting. Among their reasons: One person’s vote is so unlikely to influence the outcome of an election that almost any alternative action is a better use of time. That reasoning has appealing simplicity. For consistency’s sake, our hyper-rational non-voting friends should refrain from applauding at performances or cheering at games. People who want to see liberty advance, and not just bask in the superiority of libertarian ideas, should probably vote—and vote loudly.

News that former Massachusetts governor William Weld desires to join Gary Johnson on the Libertarian Party ticket makes the question of libertarians’ voting practices particularly salient in 2016. The major parties’ candidates are the least popular ever.

Here’s a reason why non-provision of the pivotal vote is not a reason not to vote: Voting does more than elect candidates.

Votes are a dazzling roman candle of information supplied to elected officials, their staffs, political parties, journalists, opinion leaders, and future candidates, to name a few. All these witnesses to elections incorporate vote information—not just outcome, but win/loss margins—into their actions and assessments well beyond election and inauguration day.

Here’s one use of vote information that I’m familiar with as a former Hill staffer: Folks in Congress assess each other’s strength and weakness according to electoral margin of victory. When a one- or two-term member of Congress is re-elected by a wide margin, it’s a signal that he or she is there to stay. That member is going to have a vote for a long time and will acquire more power with increasing seniority. The stock of that person and his or her staff rises, and they immediately have more capacity to move their agenda.

The process is the same in reverse. When a longer-serving member suffers a narrow win, that signals blood in the water. That member is likely to draw a more serious, better funded challenger in the next election, and defeat becomes much more likely. The stock of that politician drops, and the ability of that person’s office to advance an agenda falls with it.

Winning is essential, but margins of victory affect margins of power.

In the coming presidential election, margin of victory will have similar dynamics among other groups—and they could be quite substantial. The larger the “protest vote” going to Libertarian Party candidates or others, the more news stories there will be that expose people for the first time to the existence and relative popularity of libertarian ideas, as well as others. While driving up the stock of liberty, a showing for libertarian candidates could drive down the stock of the Republican and Democratic offerings, putting blood in the water around the establishment parties.

Though hard to measure, the social and political consequences of voting are quite real, regardless of a U.S. election’s (binary) outcome. This does not mean that any libertarian should feel obligated to vote. But libertarians who shave and wear clean clothes, to say nothing of those who write or Tweet about liberty, should probably consider engaging in voting as a similar social signaling tool without respect to whether it elects a candidate.

01 May 00:00

Freedom vs. the Bureaucracy

by Scott Rasmussen
Nothing unites Americans more than the belief that each of us has the right to live our lives as we see fit so long as we don’t interfere with the rights of others to do the same. Unfortunately, this is seen as a problem by many who want to rule over us. A diverse nation of 325 million people exercising their freedom is a nightmare for those who believe bureaucrats know best. This attitude was clearly expressed in a truly chilling book, “The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic.” Eric A. Posner and Adrian Vermeule claim that we should dismiss ideas like...
18 May 17:52

What is the Internet’s Favorite Book?

We analyzed millions of book ratings on the website Goodreads to answer an eternal question: Do people prefer James Joyce or Calvin and Hobbes?