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Monday, October 31, 2005

Critique of Private Law

I don't think it's worth a rebuttal (or is it a rejoinder?), but anyway here's a funny critique of my article on private law. (Be sure to note the connection between my stance and the hunger blockade of Iraq.)

Socialist Awards

Make sure there are enough categories that everyone can win!

(Hat tip to Elen.)

Items Attended

Sitting in my logic lecture today, I noticed that the lecturer, Colin Hawson, was standing in front of a sign reading, "Do not leave any items unattended." Well, there were quite a few items in the room, and between attending to all of them I caught very little of Hawson's talk.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

hey Fred!

Wilma dropped in for a spell. She was a fun ride while she lasted and left some light disaster porn in her wake. The hangover was annoying. In my case, four days without electricity and a couple of days with no landline phone and a mobile that worked intermittently.

I captured some moments in pixels...for you, dear readers.

But my favorite moment will last only in memory. In the middle of the storm, I watched a fellow walk down his steps dressed only in shorts, shoes and a BIKE HELMET. A cigarette was dangling from his mouth a la Keith Richards. In his arms was a rotten jack-o-lantern. He walked to the middle of the intersection, lifted the pumpkin over his head, and then smashed it on the street. Without checking his grand work, he turned around and nonchalantly walked back up the stairs into his apartment.

The Illusion of the "User"

New at LewRockwell.com.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What Word?

What unusual word occurs most frequently in book titles in your library? I think in mine it's "leviathan":
Leviathan
Crisis and Leviathan
Escape from Leviathan
Against Leviathan
Murder on the Leviathan

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

As Ye Reap, So Shall Ye Sow

My eight-year-old son is apparently writing a mystery tale entitled The Gelato Murder, which takes place in the back streets of Florence, and the last words of which are "Bomb Bawerk."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Decline of Religion

In the cathedral in Truro, Cornwall, I found a pamphlet reading: "One day at a time... A service of music, dance and thanksgiving for lovers of Country annd Western Line Dancing."

Worship in our cathedral to to the sounds of Garth Brooks!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cat Let Out of Bag

The UK government currently is proposing to ban smoking in all pubs. Their latest scheme would allow smoking only if a pub provides a sealed room with "self-closing doors" for nicotine fiends. The Times yesterday reported that a confidant of Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, said, "The aim is to make them as unpleasant as possible."

That pretty much blows the government's cover story, that its motivation for taking this step is concern for the health of non-smokers. If no significant amount of smoke enters the non-smoking area, no further health benefits possibly could come from making the smokers' ghetto "as unpleasant as possible." No, it's obvious the purpose of the measure is to punish smokers for affronting Blair's Puritans by enjoying tobacco.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

plumber's crack pipe

I had a little plumbing problem a month ago. The snowbird upstairs returned from her real home and decided to wash her dishes. The water emptied into my closet. She called Empire Plumbing which is a local company that runs a lot of advertising on TV. They came over and determined the old drain pipe in my ceiling is cracked. They would get back to me the next day with an estimate and the charge for the estimate was $150. It took them TWO weeks to get back to me with an obviously inflated $1750 (not including replacing the ceiling.) Yes, I called them several times to only be told "the estimate guy is out." I found another company which would do the repair and replace the sheetrock for hundreds of dollars less.
I got to thinking. Why did Empire so obviously not want to do the repair? Do they just make their money off estimates? Not a bad business that but how long can you pay for relentless ads on those amounts?

kids just being terrorists

So I'm watching the lastest example of what must be Al Qaeda's best method of jerking the US around: the closing of the Baltimore tunnels. Last week an abandoned backpack closed down some of Los Angeles' mass transportation systems and we all heard about the NYC subway threat of a few days earlier.

I have no idea who is behind these "acts of terror". I have no idea if they are even related, but I do know it is costing Americans millions of dollars to deal with these non-problems. It would be so easy for foreign or domestic terrorists to seriously harm the economy without having to spend very much time or money. Just call a plausible threat into Al-Jazeera or forget a backpack on the El in Chicago and the harm is done. Cheap and efficient.

Meanwhile, an actual bombing basically goes unreported in the Media. After a passing mention in the national news outlets, the tragic story of the University of Oklahoma Suicide Bomber is almost undetectable outside the Blogosphere. Had the bomber not been turned away at the stadium, this would've been top news for weeks and still deserves more scrutiny, especially with a mysteriously appearing suicide note. (Note: in the story above there was no suicide note "discovered" at the time of publication.) Also, smaller but real explosive devices have appeared at Georgia Tech and UCLA student housing. Sure, those were "kids just being kids", but you can't lose a finger from a misplaced backpack or silly phone call...just billions of dollars.

Finishing Sentences

A friend of mine was recently telling me about some identical twins who are so close to each other that they often finish each other's sentences. I said, "But you do that with mine a lot!"

Puzzled, he asked, "I do?"

"Sure -- I get about half way through a sentence, and you say, 'Shut up, Gene.'"

Monday, October 17, 2005

More From the Lovers of Reason and Science

Okay okay, I know there are plenty of Bible-thumpers who say silly things regarding Darwin, but c'mon, this Alter piece in the August Newsweek is just ridiculous. After explaining that intelligent design theory is "unscientific" (presumably because it makes no falsifiable claims), he says that it performs worse in the lab than medieval alchemy. (Apparently it was demonstrated in someone's laboratory that the universe was not designed by an intelligent creator.) But my favorite argument is from the beginning, where Alter shows that intelligent design proponents threaten national security (duh):

Lest you think this is merely of academic interest, consider the stakes: the Pentagon last week revealed that it is spending money to train certain scientists how to write screenplays for thrillers related to their specialties. Why? Because the status of science has sunk so low that the government needs these disciplines to become sexy again among students or the brain drain will threaten national security. One of the reasons we have fewer science majors is the pernicious right-wing notion that conventional biology is vaguely atheistic.

Hampstead Heath

Scenes from Hampstead Heath in London.



Saturday, October 15, 2005

Picture Time!


Eamon, frog, Adam, Lili (TT Tom's daughter), and Emma in Pennsylvania.

The garden of the house where I'm living.

And again.

Looking out my bedroom window.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Bizarro Twin

My wife discovered the "Bob Murphy homepage." The guy's an economist, yep, teaches an honors class, yep, writes popular commentaries on economics, yep, is for inflation and against tax cuts...Wait a second!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The School Janitor Knows Where Your Kid's Desk Is...

"...Do You?"

Have you seen these stupid posters at the airport? So you're telling me that if John Smith goes up to the janitor and asks, "Where's Billy's desk?" the janitor will say, "It's in room 304, fourth row, 2nd from the left"?

Yes, the janitor knows where a particular kid's desk is, in the same way that in a Hitchcock movie all of the guests at the deserted mansion know where the killer is--i.e. in the house with them. But they don't know which particular person is the killer.

(I know, I know, I'm getting too epistemological with the poster that just wants everyone to be an involved parent. I should stop blogging and go play catch with my son.)

The Principled Castro

My lovely wife Rachael alerted me to this article on Gitmo...Notice that, like Hillsdale College, Fidel Castro refuses to accept government funding!

In 1905, in part because of the Platt Amendment, there was an uprising to which the United States responded by occupying Cuba for three years. A 1934 treaty reaffirming the lease granted Cuba and her trading partners free access through the bay, modified the lease payment from $2,000 in U.S. gold coins per year, to the 1934 equivalent value of $4,085 in U.S. Treasury Dollars , and added a requirement that termination of the lease requires the consent of both governments, or the abandonment of the base property by the United States.

...

Since coming to power, Fidel Castro has only cashed one rent cheque, while steadfastly refusing to cash any others, because he views the lease as illegitimate.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wallace and Gromit Fire

Shocking news here: The warehouse containing 30 years of Wallace and Gromit clay models burned to the ground yesterday.

If I were the police, I'd be investigating Gumby's movements during the day very carefully.

Monday, October 10, 2005

FAQ on Anarchy

I gave this talk at the most recent Mises University...

Different Frames

At the cafe this morning, two men sat down and began ordering breakfast for themselves and their absent companion, who they knew was on his way. The waiter, only seeing to of them, kept trying to squeeze what they were asking for into an order for two, and was getting confused because he couldn't make it fit. Finally, one of the men said, "There are three of us." Immediately, the confusion cleared.

I think many misunderstandings are like that -- we hear each other's words fine, but we are using two different frameworks for understanding what is being said.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The First Edition

I've been reading Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. (If the title seems daunting, realize it just means the book on ethics dedicated to his son, Nichomachus.) On the back I saw the heading, "Reviews from the first edition." I expected to see something like:
"That Macedonian bastage better flee town before the Athenians commit a second crime against philosophy but good."

But I guess they didn't mean that first edition.

The Minarchists' Dilemma

Libertarians in favour of a minimal state typically base their case for the state on a public goods argument, e.g.: "Everyone would like to be protected by defense and law enforcement. But it's not possible to make those goods exclusive, so that only those who can pay for them are able to use them. Therefore, they must be provided by a state that taxes everyone for their provision, or there will be too little of them. To keep the resulting state minimal, we need a watchful populace."

But this case crumbles like a house of cards at the slightest touch of a finger to its weak point: Minarchists are asking the populace to solve a much worse public goods problem than the one they started out with. If people cannot work out a solution to the problem of petty criminals' depredations that handles the issue of free riders, then how in the world are they going to solve it when it involves defense against a state to which they have surrendered all of the large weapons, all legal authority, and tremendous resources (from taxation)?

Of course, people can ad do solve these problems, otherwise the 1989 revolutions in Europe would have beeen impossible. And, just so, they can solve the initial problems as well.

As Anthony de Jasay put it, the minimal state is either unnecessary or impossible.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Seen Around the Web

Take a tour of my old neighborhood.

Zod is running for president in 2008. (Hat tip to Rob Dodson.

Harriet Miers has plenty of experience. Knowing George Bush.

Exercise tips from the same site:

Aerobic Equipment

There is a vast array of equipment designed to simulate aerobic activities such as running. These machines are essential for those of you who live in cloud cities where the only streets are those made of vapor and traversed by wizards. Otherwise, go outside for God’s sake.

And did you know there is a sport called chessboxing?

Will Wilkinson make fools of those blaming Bush's "economic libertarianism" for the New Orleans disaster.

The cat's out of the bag.

What's up with Thomas?

And I thought this was a joke at first. (It's not.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Shortest Tale in Western Literature

Cuando desperto, el dinosauria estaba alli.

(When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.)

-- Augusto Monterroso

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Come? Un topo!

Quiz for our readers: what is being "re-worded" below:

X: What wilst thou make or cause, to perform or carry out? thou wilst not kill me unlawfully and with malice? Assistance, assistance, ho!
Y: What, ho! Assistance! Assistance! Assistance!
Z: How now! Any of several kinds of black, brown or grey, long-tailed rodents, resembling, but larger than, the mouse? No longer living, for a coin of silver, no longer living!
Y: O, I am killed by violence!

Prize for the first to answer: a one year supply of veeta-vita-veja juice!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

ride it like a Ford?

For the last several weeks in the South Florida market, Ford Motors has been running an advertisement that is driving everyone I know completely nuts. Where to begin describing it? The Reggaeton-like soundtrack? The bikini clad women who appear older than the teenaged male protagonist? The incessant lyrics that sound like they are singing "ride her like a whore" while all you see in the frame is a crotch shot? The 700 times it is broadcast a day? The "Spanish" version with the poorly enunciated Spanish? There's something to hate for every member of your family. The only group that could possibly like it is the pre-teen Hispanic boys segment who think that they will get invited to beach parties where twenty-something harlots will succumb to their great taste in cars and trucks...when they finally get a learner's permit.

So fed up with reaching for the remote every time the advert appears, I emailed Ford to let them know how vulgar and low class I think the commercial is. They wrote back to tell me that:
By buying commercial time on top-rated shows, we are not making judgment on the specific content of the show but simply making an optimized attempt to reach our many customers through award-winning television programming.

The content of the show??? I guess they were too busy watching the cootchie footage to bother reading my email before posting a form letter. I could get too busy to bother buying another Ford in the future myself. I wonder how sexy that would sound to their financial division. You know, sometimes bad publicity is BAD.

I'll try one more time: FORD! Stop running that inane commercial that everyone HATES.

the chinese ministry of google

Here's the latest reason why I've been looking for an alternative to Google. I haven't found the perfect one yet, but I'm getting warm.

Has Italy Been Doing a Little Conquering?

AltaVista offers me the following:
"Study Italian in Italy
Language courses in Italy - selected universities and academies. Courses and programs in Madrid,
Barcelona, Salamanca and Marbella. Links and information."

On the topic of language, Umberto Eco tells (in Mourse or Rat?) of being given a copy of a book translated into Italian without having the original. The translation said that the first American scientists gathered to create the A-bomb began by conducting corse di treni. He was immediately suspicious as to why "persons who were supposed to discover the secrets of the atom wasted their precious time..." by racing trains. He changed the text to read the Italian equivalent of "training courses," and recommended the translator be fired.

Buckley for Pork

My new article on LRC.

Also, see who will be our new Secretary of Defense.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Planning Ahead

I attended LSE's induction for new PhD candidates on Friday. (See, Jan, even LSE knows that induction is cool.) Our schedule was annnounced,, and we were told that the deadline for submitting our dissertations is September 30, 2009.

I immediately asked for a one day extension.

Why Did Blair Side with Bush

Turns out there's good money in it.