Thursday, June 26, 2008


Just another "what he said" post. For anyone who finds McCain's argument convincing, you completely misunderstand the purpose and scope of economics. But, for the record, I know of several economists who predicted that both the housing market and the dot com debacle were bubbles. Read more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Now this is how you do law.

"Surfing, Orgy, Apple Pie, Boobs." Read more.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What he said. 1000 times.

Videogame Review. Read more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What does "bear arms" mean?

A great Language Log post on the historical linguistics of "to bear arms."

And let's not even get started on that whole keeping arms business. Read more.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If only

I agree with Matt Welch: This Naomi Klein essay makes Obama seem like a dream come true.
Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC, "Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market."

Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed 37-year-old Jason Furman to head his economic policy team. Furman is one of Wal-Mart's most prominent defenders, anointing the company a "progressive success story."

. . .

And here there are more problems, because Obama--who taught law at the University of Chicago for a decade--is thoroughly embedded in the mind-set known as the Chicago School.

He chose as his chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the center-right.

Unfortunately, the picture is not as rosy as she doesn't try to paint it. Yes he hired Austan Goolsbee, but subsequently fired him. And, as Klein points out:
The news is not all bad. Furman claims he will be drawing on the expertise of two Keynesian economists: Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute and James Galbraith, son of Friedman's nemesis John Kenneth Galbraith. Our "current economic crisis," Obama recently said, did not come from nowhere. It is "the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long."

The world is a pretty sinister place for Klein. Obama drops a reference to loving free markets, something pretty much all presidential candidates do at some point, and hires (but then fires) one of the more liberal members of the University of Chicago's department as an advisor, and suddenly it's a huge conspiracy to crush poor people worldwide with the might of America's New Black Fist or something. No. He's a politician, he's pandering just like all the others, and most of his panders have been as an enemy of global trade.

Another fun link, on Jason Furman and Wal-Mart: see him absolutely devastate Barbara Ehrenreich here, because he's an old-fashioned believer in actually supporting his arguments with, like, facts and stuff. Read more.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Best blog title ever

Here. Read more.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dear liberals,

For future reference. Good satire:

Satire so torturously bad it could only motivate people to vote Republican:

Learn the difference. It might help in the future. Read more.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Elegantly put

From a thread about First Person Shooters, internet pal Dess offers a summary of Doom:
doom has dark rooms and flickery lights, but it's not the same kind of darkness. it's not a BROODING darkness, a DREAD darkness. doom uses darkness for jump scares and quick thrills, because doom is about zappa zap zap POW unf unf grrrrRAAUGH zzzzshnowww POM POM RAUGH. whereas it seems like doom 64, and a lot of more contemporary first-person shooters, are more interested in lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk LURK LURK LURK LURK lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk lurk LURK LURK lurk BLAUGH
Read more.

Hayek and the environment

Tom Lee, Megan McArdle, and Hayek on the environment. I agree with McArdle's final conclusions. And by the way, vegetarianism is much, much easier than I thought it would be. Read more.

The Dole

Megan McArdle wrote a bit about health-care a while back. Her conclusion was that there was no moral obligation for the young to pay for the health care of the old, in general. Even if national health care is a good idea, the way it's institutionalized needs to take into account that poor out-of-college kids shouldn't have to subsidize Warren Buffet's health care, period.

Might we extend that logic to veterans? If you are worth $100,000,000 you don't need taxpayers to pay you a very good middle-class income. Especially if you're in a position to influence what taxpayers are paying you. Yes McCain was tortured. Yes he served our country honorably and may have deserved, at least at one point, some compensation for that. No he does not deserve an extra $58,000 dollars a year for it when he's already worth millions and millions of dollars. Over thirty years after the war.

Soon I'm going to be taking a bit from Eliezer Yudkowsky and start a mutli-part series of long-ish entries about voting. Remember this when I get to the part about morality.

(HT Radley Balko, and boy I sure tip my hat to him a lot, don't I?) Read more.

Oil speculation

In lieu of pieces like this, it's nice to have Robin Hanson:
"Manipulation" is an action that causes a harmful chain of events that comes back to benefit the actor. Maybe a large supplier like Saudi Arabia could "manipulate" by holding back production and to benefit them by raising the price of what they sell. But hedge funds are not suppliers. By pushing up prices now via speculation they are betting on higher future prices, not causing them. If anything, their act causes reduced usage now leaving more oil for the future, which lowers future prices, which hurts them. They only gain via the chain of events whereby they win their bets and inform the rest of us that oil will be scarcer than we thought, which if true is exactly what we need to hear.
Read more.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Crude Public Choice

Will Wilkinson has been blogging about cap-and-trade rent-seeking. Curiously, in this entry he writes,
This isn’t just crude public choice theory. It accounts for actual corporate and political behavior rather well.

I don't know what he's talking about. It is, in fact, crude public choice theory, the very basic and most understandable observation: when the government has the power to give rents, people will go out of their way to get them. Read more.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst

Since SEGA officially shut down all of the US servers for PSO: Blue Burst, it seems some fans have taken up hosting their own unofficial servers. They're even offering the game for free. As a game, it's fairly boring--just a 3D hack 'n' slash in which your characters move "like boats," as a friend put it. But like so many other mediocre games, it becomes pretty damn addicting if you play it with other people.

If you decide to give it a shot, you might see me around. I always play as "Swimmy." Read more.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Just how evil is the farm bill?

It's so evil that they worked in a specific clause to make it harder to get information about farm waste and conservation from the government using FOIA.

The offending text:
2) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in paragraphs (3)
and (4), the Secretary, any officer or employee of the Department
of Agriculture, or any contractor or cooperator of the Department,
shall not disclose—

(A) information provided by an agricultural producer
or owner of agricultural land concerning the agricultural
operation, farming or conservation practices, or the land
itself, in order to participate in programs of the Department;
or [the Compliance File]

(B) geospatial information otherwise maintained by the
Secretary about agricultural land or operations for which
information described in subparagraph (A) is provided.[the GIS database file]

Don't worry, there's a little room for freedom of information at the end:
Nothing in this subsection affects. . . the disclosure of information described in paragraph (2) if the information has been transformed into a statistical or aggregate form without naming any— (i) individual owner, operator, or producer; or (ii) specific data gathering site; or (C) the disclosure of information described in paragraph (2) pursuant to the consent of the agricultural producer or owner of agricultural land.

So you're still allowed to find out how much money is being wasted, but only if it aggregates all farmers and farm operations together. Plus you're not allowed to know who gathered the data. That would be too incriminating, I guess?

(HT Radley Balko) Read more.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Like how he works the faked-moon-landing into the rest of his grand conspiracy. Read more.

Is this what makes videogames compelling?

. . . Was, for better or worse, my first thought on reading this. Read more.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's a. . . MADD world?

Via Radley Balko, a story about high school:
Many juniors and seniors were driven to tears – a few to near hysterics – May 26 when a uniformed police officer arrived in several classrooms to notify them that a fellow student had been killed in a drunken-driving accident.

The officer read a brief eulogy, placed a rose on the deceased student’s seat, then left the class members to process their thoughts and emotions for the next hour.

The program, titled “Every 15 Minutes,” was designed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Its title refers to the frequency in which a person somewhere in the country dies in an alcohol-related traffic accident.

About 10 a.m., students were called to the athletic stadium, where they learned that their classmates had not died. There, a group of seniors, police officers and firefighters staged a startlingly realistic alcohol-induced fatal car crash. The students who had purportedly died portrayed ghostly apparitions encircling the scene.

Though the deception left some teens temporarily confused and angry, if it makes even one student think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, it is worth the price, said California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Newbury, who orchestrates the program at local high schools.

He has lots of outraged commentors. I'm not getting too worked up about it. Yes, I agree that causing unnecessary emotional distress in young people is very mean and not a good idea. But it reminds me of the general attitude of high school administrators: "While you're here, you're ours."

It's one of those psychological things--people like to be in control. In certain settings, that feeling is going to clash among people, but at least in your occupation you can still tell yourself that you're in control overall; sure, you've got to be there for a while and not do things you want, but it's by your choice. Children don't get such a luxury. Nor should they, in many circumstances, but 1) Adolescents are people who dearly like to feel that they're in control, and 2) Even in those circumstances, emotional trauma of this sort is totally unwarranted. I'd say a lot of the feelings high schoolers go through are someone else's fault and are mostly unwarranted. (Can you guess I had an unpleasant time back then?) Read more.