Reviews of "Flight 93"

The reaction overall seems to be extremely positive. If you are interested in seeing what the audiences who have seen Flight 93 think of the movie: click here for detailed reviews and here for a simple survey. The Wall Street Journal review is here. The New York Times review is here. A brief Chicago Tribune review is here.

Problems with Wikipedia

A word to the wise:

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be altered by anyone with a computer, has proved remarkably useful for pulling political dirty tricks.

Political operatives are covertly rewriting -- or defacing -- candidates' biographical entries to make the boss look good or the opponent look ridiculous.

As a result, political campaigns are monitoring the Web site more closely than ever this election year.

Revisions made by Capitol Hill staffers became so frequent and disruptive earlier this year that Wikipedia temporarily blocked access to the site from some congressional Internet addresses. The pranks included bumping up the age of the Senate's oldest member, West Virginia's Robert C. Byrd, from 88 to 180, and giving crude names to other lawmakers.

The entry for Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia labeled him "too liberal" for his state, in part because of a contribution he received from a political action committee run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. The man who doctored Mr. Marshall's biography now works for his Republican challenger.

In Georgia this week, the campaign manager for a candidate for governor resigned amid allegations he doctored the Wikipedia biography of an opponent in the Democratic primary.

Morton Brilliant was accused of revising the entry for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor to add his son's arrest last August in a drunken-driving accident that left his best friend dead.

The information was accurate and had been in the news, but Mr. Brilliant's boss, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, declared the son's legal troubles out of bounds.

The link to Mr. Brilliant was discovered by Mr. Taylor's campaign, which immediately accused the Cox camp of engaging in "gutter politics" and demanded Mr. Brilliant's resignation.

Some 1,000 volunteer monitors scan changes to Wikipedia's entries to keep them free of obvious partisan editing, factual errors and profanity, said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. . . . .

Other problems with Wikipedia

Wal-mart's Wikipedia War

University of Maryland Discussion on Wikipedia



Candidate for Orange County Sheriff Supports Shall Issue Rules for Issuing Permits

L.t Bill Hunt has received the support of Orange County's largest law enforcement union.

I will issue concealed weapons permits (CCW) to any applicant who is a law abiding resident of the county, meets state mandated requirements and is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. The current Sheriff promised to revamp the CCW process. There have been less than 1200 issued CCW`s in a county of 3 million. The majority have been given to reserve police officers, judges, prosecutors and to reward political supporters. I will depoliticize the process and establish an annual audit to review each application to ensure the process is unbiased, non-political and equitable.

The current sheriff and Hunt's opponent Mike Corona originally ran on a platform to make issuing permits much easier. Hunt proposes to go further. Those interested in helping out Bill Hunt can go here.

"Loose Change": Really Weird Conspiracy Theories about 911

If you want to see a weird and stupid conspiracy movie about 9/11, this is the movie that seems to be getting all the attention: Loose Change.

For example, did you know that it was a cruise missle and not an American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon? Don't worry about all the witnesses. Did you know that Donald Rumsfeld just happened to be safely in his office on the OPPOSITE SIDE of the buidling when the attack occurred? That is simply just too much of a coincidence for these movie producers. Just imagive if Rumsfeld had been outside the buidling at the time! DId you know that the FBI had confiscated security video from a nearby hotel and gas station that would prove their missle theory? Here is one question: why was a missle used for the Pentagon, but commerical planes were used for the World Trade Towers?

Did you know that it was explosives and the planes that struck the buildings that brought down the World Trade Towers? People making warnings about the second tower possibly collapsing is taken as evidence that the collapses were planned in advance. They have some really weird comparisons of other towers that have had fires and not collapsed from around the world. People's statements are explained away as a result of a massive conspiracy and statements are taken out of context by these authors.

I normally wouldn't link to something like this movie, but it is just so bizarre and it is so bizarre that people take this stuff seriously that it merits some mention.

Lynn Swan Leads Rendell in Pennsylvania Governor's Race, that is until independent candidate is included

Including Russ Diamond in the race overwhelmingly takes votes from Republican Lynn Swann. With Diamond in the race, swings the overall polls seven points in Democrat Rendell's direction. This is not surprising given how similar Swann and Diamond appear to be on issues, though it also raises real questions about why Diamond would enter the race as an independent. I assume that Diamond knows that he couldn't win the Republican nomination, but is it just ego to run what will only be a spoiler race for governor?

Republican Lynn Swann, the former football star, now leads Governor Ed Rendell (D), 44% to 41%. That's the mirror image of last month's result.

All four of polls on this race conducted in 2006 have found the candidates within three points of each other. Swann has ranged from 41% of the vote to 45% in the four polls, Rendell from 41% to 46%.

However, Russ Diamond has said he will enter the race as an Independent. Diamond last year formed an organization to oppose a pay raise for state legislators (the pay raise signed by Rendell has since been repealed). He must get 67,000 valid signatures on a petition by August 1 to qualify for the November ballot.

Diamond attracts 16% of the vote if he is included in the poll at this time. Third party candidates often receive more support in early polls than they will actually receive on election day. However, the impact of Diamond's inclusion in the poll is dramatic--the overall poll results switches from a 3-point Swann lead to a 4-point Rendell lead. . . . .


Australian Gun Buyback Failure

What Mexicans think of their judicial system

Who Knew? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are apparently big Ayn Rand enthusiasts?

"Debate over Bonds doesn't say if steroids actually work"

A Small Victory for Private Property Owners

. . . . The majority held, in a ruling that could affect how other states handle property takeovers, that the officials did not do enough when they sent certified mail to 717 North Bryan Street, telling Gary Jones that he was delinquent in his taxes, and when they published a notice of public sale in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

As it turned out, there was no public sale, because no bids were submitted. The state was thus permitted to negotiate a private sale of the property, and it did, to one Linda Flowers. The state then sent yet another certified letter to 717 North Bryan, telling Mr. Jones that his property was about to be sold unless he paid up.

He did not pay, and Ms. Flowers bought the house in 2002 for just over $21,000, about a quarter of its fair market value. Mr. Jones learned about the sale from his daughter, who had learned about it after Ms. Flowers served an eviction notice.

The problem for Mr. Jones — and, as it turned out, for the state of Arkansas — was that he had moved out of the house in 1993, after he and his wife separated, and apparently never knew that it was about to be sold. . . . .

The majority opinion said the justices took the case to resolve a conflict among the federal circuit courts and state supreme courts on whether the Fourteenth Amendment's due-process clause requires the government to take additional reasonable steps to notify a property when notice of a tax sale is returned undelivered.

In this case, at least, the answer is "yes," the majority declared, citing the peculiarities of Mr. Jones's situation. . . . .

Is Lethal Injection Unconstitutional for Death Penalty?

The Supreme Court heard the case this week. Kennedy may very well be the swing vote on this case, and I do not take comfort from the way this question is being asked.

. . . . Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether the state had a minimal obligation under the Constitution to investigate whether it used the most humane method. . . . .

England will try to develop a computer system that will read body language to determine whether someone is carrying a concealed handgun

I don't know about what others think, but this surely seems to me like this would get a lot of false positives.

In an attempt to tackle gun crime in the UK, researchers from Loughborough University are developing an innovative identification system that will use CCTV cameras to spot individuals carrying concealed firearms.

Starting in June, the three-year multi-environment deployable universal software application (Medusa) project aims to develop intelligent software that can detect a person carrying a concealed weapon in real time.

While it is difficult to predict if someone is carrying a gun before crime occurs, Professor Alastair Gale, head of Loughborough University's Applied Vision Research Centre and leader of Medusa, said there are a number of cues the CCTV operator can pick up. These tend to be overt and covert cues (conscious and subconscious) and they will form the base of the intelligent software at the heart of the system.

The team will examine CCTV footage of people carrying concealed firearms to identify characteristics associated with the behaviour of criminals before they commit a gun-related crime. These will include body stance, gait, movement and eye contact with cameras. Once acquired, this information will be used to develop a novel machine-learning system for behavioural interpretation. Armed with this data, the CCTV cameras will scan footage automatically and match behavioural characteristics that indicate if an individual might be carrying a gun. . . . .


Appearing on G. Gordon Liddy's Show Today

I will be on Liddy's national radio show from 11:30 to noon today. It should be fun.

More Gun Control Coming for Australia


Who says that people can't adjust their behavior when the price of gas goes up?

. . . . Opting to let employees work from home as fuel prices have risen, Florida's Kissimmee Utility Authority managed to retrieve the experience and skills of a veteran employee in the billing department who quit last year.

She now telecommutes from a new home 746 miles away.

"I love it. I'm saving gas by not having to go out to do another job," said the employee, Debbie Brandt, from her home in Forest, Virginia.

The utility's customer service workers who have take up telecommuting have proven more productive at home, handling more calls than they did when working in the office, said Jef Gray, Kissimmee's vice president of information technology.

"Here come higher fuel prices again, and again we've got folks who want to work from home and say, 'It would help me with the cost,'" he said. "It's telecommuting to the rescue. Everybody wins."

The practice of telecommuting has taken off in recent years as advances in telecommunications have enabled employees to work efficiently at home on computers and telephones. . . . .

Tony Snow, Congratulations

I wanted to say congratulations to Tony for his new appointment as White House Press Secretary. Tony is one of the nicest people that I have gotten the chance to know. He is unfailingly friendly and kind to everyone who I have seen him interact with. Traits and goodwill that I am sure will serve him well in his new job. Tony also has a strong intellectual side, and he is very smart. Given that he will be both press secretary as well as involved in policy, I think that he could make a real difference in this administration.

How to get a large set of land parcels together without Eminent Domain

Given the Supreme Court's Kelo decision earlier this year, the impression has been left that private firms need eminent domain to get large parcels of property that they need for development. Here is an example of how Apple Computer got 50 Acres together in Cupertino, California. Just showing that it can be done without eminent domain.

Assembling 50 acres of land in Silicon Valley requires more than just a big pocketbook -- it takes discretion, too. If sellers find out a multibillion-dollar company is hunting for land, they're likely to boost the asking price.

So, as with its new products, Apple was equally secretive about its plans for its second campus. . . . .

May be there was another benefit from Fox hunting in Britain

From today's WSJ (subscription needed):

Londoners are being outfoxed by foxes.

Long associated with Britain's leafy countryside, foxes now have become a common sight here. The creatures, which can trash gardens and leave a foul scent, can make unwelcome neighbors and have prompted some city folk to arm themselves with water jets and traps.

Gillian Alman has raised her fences, sprinkled pepper-laced repellents and even thrown water to scare off the fox that tears up her lawn, destroys her plants and steals shoes left outside. "He's a little demon," says Mrs. Alman, 61 years old, who lives on a street of Victorian houses in Balham, a residential district in south London. "He's so daring, he comes right up to the window and looks at us."

Robert Harris spent more than $2,000 on a new fence for his garden to keep out foxes. But they burrowed under it and continue to tear up his garden as well as gnaw through the television cable and cause Mr. Harris's West Highland terrier to bark at night. "The dog sits by the window and goes berserk," says the 80-year-old Mr. Harris, the former chairman of a theater-makeup supplier called Charles Fox. "It really is a nuisance."

For his next attack, Mr. Harris is eyeing a water-jet device that attaches to a garden hose pipe and fires water when an animal approaches.

Experts say foxes and humans increasingly are brushing up against one another as heaps of urban garbage act as a tasty lure and the city limits spread. It's too early to tell what, if any, effect a recent law limiting fox hunting is having on London's foxes. The fox has become a common feature of the city's landscape like the gray squirrel and the pigeon, both also considered by many to be urban pests.

There are an estimated 10,000 foxes living in the London area, some of them very near the financial district, Buckingham Palace, and No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence.

Opportunistic omnivores, foxes feed on pet rabbits and guinea pigs, as well as on worms, beetles, birds, rats and fruit. And they can get into spats with cats. Gardens are a particular problem. . . . .


How could this be?: "Consumer Confidence Highest in 4 Years"

Mayor Bloomberg's Conference on Guns Today

The event, which is being co-hosted by Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, is just one strategy in Mr. Bloomberg's arsenal for cracking down on illegal guns.

Since starting his second term, the issue has been front and center for him. He has testified in Washington against legislation restricting civil use of a gun tracing database. Most recently he has created a new police task force to deal with all gun arrests with the goal of getting a better handle on how the weapons get into the city.

Mayors from Philadelphia, Trenton, Milwaukee, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and a number of other cities are all scheduled to attend the day-long event. It will include a morning symposium and a panel of "leading experts" on gun crimes.

Mr. Bloomberg is hoping the new coalition will leverage its combined force against federal legislation and what they call lax gun laws around the nation.

Gun control proponents, including those at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, have lauded Mr. Bloomberg and said he is fighting a noble cause. Second Amendment advocates say he is going too far.

Author John Lott, who wrote "More Guns Less Crime," said the mayor is wasting his time because gun control does not lead to reduced crime. The problem, he said, is that gun control measures too often disarm law-abiding gun owners and not criminals. "At best it doesn't work," he said. "And at worst it can be counterproductive."

Bloomberg: "London Organized Crime `Out of Control,' Police Officer Says"

Reactions to what Politicians want to do on Gas

My notes: 1) there is a world market for oil. Not making purchases from the national oil reserves which is a good thing because the markets have a better incentive to figure out how much oil to store for emergencies, but these purchases are such a small percentage of total worldwide sales it will have no observable impact on prices. 2) This discussion on price gouging is of course very sad. We had a FTC report just the end of last year on this question. But more importantly, the changes in prices seem to be explained just by the changing world price of oil. 3) Government regulation might in theory make things work better, but the hysterical reaction to these oil issues show how politics makes regulations likely to cause more troubles than they could possibly solve. Finally, on something like price regulations, it seems hard even in a theoretical sense to see how the government is better at picking the right price.

With gas prices on the rise, President Bush on Tuesday offered suggestions for reducing oil costs, including increasing refinery capacity and conservation, to diversify away from oil through the use of alternative fuels like ethanol.

Under pressure from lawmakers and the public who have alleged price gouging by oil companies, the president also said he has ordered a probe of price manipulation and market speculation. On Tuesday, he also ordered a temporary halt of deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Louisiana state House of Representatives votes unanimously to ban confiscation

From today's The Advocate:

People could head into hurricanes and civil crises packing firearms under legislation the state House of Representatives unanimously approved Monday.

House Bill 760 would forbid law enforcement from confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens during times of civil disorder.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said he was appalled that police took guns from people during the riotous days following Hurricane Katrina.

Such confiscations violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms, he said.

He said police officers from New Orleans used Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s emergency declaration as its legal basis to seize firearms.
“It happened hundreds and hundreds of times,” Scalise said. The 911 emergency calling system was overloaded, leaving everyday people exposed, he said.

“Their only protection from the criminal element was their handgun,” Scalise said.


World Price of a Barrel of Oil Goes Up Far More than Price of Oil at Pump

Here is a very interesting graph showing how the price of gas at the pump varies with the worldwide price of a barrel of oil. The price at the pump varies less than the price of a barrel of gasoline, but it is obvious that the price at the pump has gone up much less than the price of a barrel.


Republican still ahead in Illinois Gubernatorial Race

We will see if this continues after Blagojevich's large advertising buy that I mentioned earlier:

In the race for Illinois Governor, Republican State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka now leads Democratic Governor Rod R. Blagojevich 44% to 38%. In March, Topinka led 43% to 41%.
Topinka has now led in three of the four polls we have conducted of the race, albeit modestly for the most part. Our three-poll rolling average continues to show a tight race, with Topinka barely ahead 41%-40%. However, over the course of those three surveys, Topinka has gained ground each time.
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of the contest was conducted April 18, a day after voters learned of a former Republican Governor's conviction on corruption charges. Blagojevich's administration is also being investigated for corruption, which the Topinka campaign has been eager to point out.
The Blagojevich campaign, for its part, has stressed Topinka's past service under the convicted governor, from whom she has sought to distance herself.

Polls on many other races can be found here. Among races that would represent a change in party control there are New Jersey Senate: Kean (R) 43% Menendez (D) 36% and Maryland Governor: O'Malley (D) by 9.


Will Apple Computer's next version of OS X be able to run programs for Windows without Windows?

If this is indeed true, Microsoft could be very upset about their slipped shipping date for Vista.

Remember Steve Jobs' first days back at Apple in 1997 as Interim-CEO-for-Life? Trying to save the company, Steve got Bill Gates to invest $150 million in Apple and promise to keep Mac Office going for a few more years in exchange for a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement? The idea in everyone's mind, of course, was that Microsoft would grab lots of Apple technology, which they probably did, and it quite specifically ended an Apple patent infringement suit against Microsoft. But I'm told that the exchange wasn't totally one-way, that Apple, in turn, got some legal right to the Windows API.

That agreement ran for five years, from August, 1997 to August 2002. Even though it has since expired, the rights it conferred at the time still lie with the respective companies. Whatever Microsoft grabbed from Apple they can still use, they just aren't able to grab anything developed since August 2002. Same for Apple using Microsoft technology like that in Office X. But Windows XP shipped October 25, 2001: 10 months before the agreement expired.

I'm told Apple has long had this running in the Cupertino lab -- Intel Macs running OS X while mixing Apple and XP applications. This is not a guess or a rumor, this something that has been demonstrated and observed by people who have since reported to me.

Think of the implications. A souped-up OS X kernel with native Windows API support and the prospect of mixing and matching Windows and Mac applications would be, for many users, the best of both worlds. There would be no copy of Windows XP to buy, no large overhead of emulation or compatibility middleware, no chance for Microsoft to accidentally screw things up, substantially better security, and no need to even take a chance on Windows Vista.

Blagojevich ads make gun control a major focus of Ilinois gubernatorial campaign

The public would be well served if Blagojevich could actually point to any evidence that the laws that he is proposing lower crime. I don't know of any academic evidence, but if Blagojevich knows, he is keeping the information to himself and just making rhetorical statements.

"It's very difficult to define what is an assault weapon. I mean, a rolling pin could be an assault weapon if you want to look at it that way," Topinka is seen saying in the ad. "She opposes a ban because she says it could ban a rolling pin? What is she thinking?" says a voiceover. "A rolling pin is not an assault weapon. It's an excuse to do nothing," says the governor.

The governor attacked Judy Baar Topinka's opposition to a ban on more assault weapons on two fronts Thursday, with new TV ads and a news conference in downtown Chicago with gun control activists who lost family members to gun violence.

"Mrs. Topinka's position on this is a hazard to public safety," said Steve Young, gun control activist.

"The people that are trying to shout this legislation down are far more interested in buying and selling guns than they are in taking care of us. We're the ones that are left to clean up their mess," said Bill Jenkins, gun control activist.


Elderly man stops man who broke into his home

Southern Mississippi, Wednesday, April 19th

Deputies arrested a suspected burglar Monday after an 85-year-old Saucier man reported he had shot a man who broke into his home.

Harrison County sheriff's investigators said the resident knew Wayne Thomas Clark and identified him as the burglar. Deputies went to Clark's home on Mack Pete Road and found him asleep with two gunshot wounds to his back, said Sheriff's Capt. Ron Pullen.

The break-in and shooting occurred Saturday but wasn't reported until Sunday. Clark was shot with a small-caliber handgun, said Pullen.

Clark, 42, was taken to a hospital for medical treatment and was held without bond at the Harrison County jail. A judge declined to set bond on the burglary charge. At the time of his arrest, Clark was out of jail on bond for a pending stolen property charge.

Gloomy Economic Views? Are people serious? Bush Approval at New Low

"More Americans disapprove than approve of how George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Congress are doing their jobs, while a majority approves of Condoleezza Rice. President Bush’s approval hits a record low of 33 percent this week, clearly damaged by sinking support among Republicans."

Contrast this with today's other headline: "Dow Hits Six-Year High."

Am I missing something? The stock market is convinced that things are going to get better. The polls show the publicly massively believes things are getting worse. Unemployment 4.7 percent and falling. Solid economic growth. Exceptionally high productivity growth. Could it be the media coverage? Is it really just gas prices?

44 percent of Americans think that they pay the right amount of income taxes (hint: near zero)

"According to a poll by Gallup released by USA Today. 48 per cent of respondents think their taxes are too high, while 44 per cent feel they contribute the right amount." Well, given that almost half of Americans effectively pay no federal income taxes, I would say that the 44 percent number is about right.

The problems with Wikipedia

News story on defamation suit: Lott v. Levitt

(Update) From the University of Chicago student newspaper the Maroon:

Freakonomics claim sparks defamation lawsuit
By Kim Velsey
April 21, 2006 in News
John Lott, Jr., a former visiting professor at the University filed a defamation lawsuit on April 10 against economic professor Steven Levitt, co-author of the New York Time bestseller Freakonomics

Lott said the book misrepresents his work on guns and crime, according to court documents. The lawsuit does not name journalist Stephen Dubner, though he co-wrote the book with Levitt.

Freakonomics, which melds Levitt’s economic essays with Dubner’s flowing prose, remains high on the bestseller list. The book’s success, however, may have prompted the legal action, as the lawsuit references the popularity of Freakonomics as a factor contributing to Lott’s damaged reputation.

The lawsuit states that the book “damages Lott’s reputation in the eyes of the academic community in which he works, and in the minds of hundreds of thousands of academics, college students, graduate students, and members of the general public who read Freakonomics.”

The contested material is on pages 133–134 of Freakonomics, in which Levitt writes that researchers have been unable to confirm Lott’s conclusion that right-to-carry gun laws actually reduce crime.

Freakonomics states, “Then there was the troubling allegation that Lott actually invented some of the survey data that supports his more-guns/less-crime theory. Regardless of whether or not the data was faked, Lott’s admittedly intriguing hypothesis doesn’t seem to be true. When other scholars have tried to replicate results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don’t bring down crime.”

According to the lawsuit, Lott acknowledges that his findings have come under scrutiny in the academic community, but he maintains that he used “different data or methods to analyze the relationship between gun control laws and crime.”

The lawsuit states that scholars who have replicated Lott’s work have achieved the same results. “Every time that an economist or researcher have tried to replicate [Lott’s] results, he or she has confirmed Lott’s conclusion.”

Carl Moody, a professor of economics at the College of William and Mary, said he successfully replicated Lott’s findings and published the results in 2001. Moody said Levitt’s accusation is wrong.

The lawsuit, which also names Levitt’s publisher HarperCollins, states that the publisher acted with malice by failing to verify the statements. It seeks a court order to halt sales of Freakonomics until the statements are retracted or amended and also demands that Levitt and HarperCollins pay unspecified monetary damages.

HarperCollins would not comment on the lawsuit, but a company representative said, “HarperCollins Publishers firmly stands behind Freakonomics and its authors, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.”

The ABC show 20/20 featured Freakonomics in an hour-long special on April 14. However, there was no mention of the lawsuit, and Levitt has yet to comment on it publicly. The book’s website, Freakonomics.com, which has Levitt’s and Dubner’s weblogs, includes a brief mention of the pending litigation.

“While we were away [in London promoting the paperback edition of Freakonomics], the economist John Lott filed a lawsuit claiming that Freakonomics has libeled him,” wrote Dubner on his blog.

Lott’s website made no mention of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit has opened up discussion on the veracity of Levitt’s claims and whether a lawsuit is an appropriate forum for an academic debate.

The litigation has also shed light on what can happen when an academic book attains blockbuster status.

“Most academic debate is so trivial no one would care,” Moody said. “If the book had appeared and no one had bought it, it wouldn’t be an issue. But Levitt is accusing this guy of falsifying his results in front of millions of people.”

Here is an earlier story from the Chicago Tribune:

A scholar known for his work on guns and crime filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, co-author of the best-seller "Freakonomics."

John Lott Jr. of Virginia, a former U. of C. visiting professor, alleges that Levitt defamed him in the book by claiming that other scholars had tried and failed to confirm Lott's conclusion that allowing people to carry concealed weapons reduces crime. Publishers Weekly ranked "Freakonomics" eighth this week for non-fiction hardcover books.

According to Levitt's book: "When other scholars have tried to replicate [Lott's] results, they found that right-to-carry laws simply don't bring down crime."

But according to Lott's lawsuit: "In fact, every time that an economist or other researcher has replicated Lott's research, he or she has confirmed Lott's conclusion."

By suggesting that Lott's results could not be replicated, Levitt is "alleging that Lott falsified his results," the lawsuit says.

Lott is seeking a court order to block further sales of "Freakonomics" until the offending statements are retracted and changed. He is also seeking unspecified money damages.

Lott acknowledged in the suit that some scholars have disagreed with his conclusions. But he said those researchers used "different data or methods to analyze the relationship between gun-control laws and crime" and made no attempt to "replicate" Lott's work.

The lawsuit alleges that Levitt and his publisher, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., made the statements with reckless disregard for whether they were true and that the book damaged Lott's reputation.

Neither Levitt nor HarperCollins officials could be reached Monday.

According to the lawsuit, Levitt also defamed Lott in an e-mail that Levitt sent to an economist in Texas last May. The e-mail described work that Lott published in an academic journal in 2001. It falsely stated that Lott's work had not been peer-reviewed and that Lott had blocked scholars with opposing views from appearing in the same issue of the journal, the lawsuit said.

Lott's books include "More Guns, Less Crime: Analyzing Crime and Gun Control Laws," published in 1998. Levitt won the John Bates Clark Medal for economists younger than 40 from the American Economic Association in 2003.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Last week Mr. Lott filed a defamation lawsuit against Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the best-selling Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (William Morrow, 2005). (A copy of the complaint can be found on the blog Overlawyered.) Mr. Lott charges that in the book and in private e-mail messages, Mr. Levitt spread lies about the quality and integrity of Mr. Lott's work (The Chronicle, April 13). Much will hinge on exactly what Mr. Levitt meant by the words "replicate" and "peer refereed."



Appearing on Alan Colmes' Radio Show tonight 11:30 PM

Alan Colmes is nice enough to have me on his radio show again. This time there will be a debate with someone from Public Citizen over the price gouging oil companies. For those interested, you can listen to it live here

New Orleans to start returning firearms: It is about time

More on Mayor Bloomberg's War on Guns


Canadian Government Indicates Intention of Doing Away with Long Gun Registration

The government has indicated its intention to change registration requirements for long guns. However, it will take time to amend the law. Until then, the current law continues to apply. . . .

Every effort is being made to help firearm owners renew their licence before it expires and maintain lawful ownership of their firearms. For example, a renewal notice and a partially completed application form are mailed to licence holders at least 90 days before the expiry date of their licence. Another renewal notice is sent 30 days prior to the expiry date of a licence unless there is evidence that the licence holder has already submitted a renewal application or disposed of the firearms.

Licence renewal notices advise firearm owners of the risks they may face if they fail to renew their licence on time, including potential revocation of registration certificates and penalties under the Criminal Code for possessing a firearm without a valid licence or registration certificate. . . .

"Wheelchair Athlete Wins Right to Race Alongside Runners," Where does one draw the line

It seems to me that the different sports internalize the cost and benefits of setting up their rules. One objection is that racing a wheelchair is not the same as running a race (though the judge says that this woman's times will be (for now) counted separately. My understanding is that wheelchair athletes have an advantage. In the tight turns, what impact would a wheelchair have on the other competitors? Would it change the nature of the race? But where is the natural drawing line when the courts get involved. Recently there was the case where a golf player was allowed to use a golf cart in professional competition. What if the person was a quadriplegic? What special benefits would they be allowed?

A celebrated high school athlete who uses a wheelchair will be allowed to compete in a high school track meet against her able-bodied peers who will race on foot, under a ruling issued yesterday by a federal judge.

Tatyana McFadden, 16, a sophomore at Atholton High School in Columbia, will be allowed on the track at the same time as the other competitors but will be scored separately under a preliminary injunction granted yesterday in Baltimore by U.S. District Court Judge Andre M. Davis. . . .

Her attorney, Lauren Young of the Maryland Disability Law Center, said she believes the ruling will pave the way for other disabled athletes.

"We're thrilled. We hope that other kids with disabilities see they have access to full participation in athletic programs in schools." . . .

Bush Going After Price-Gouging By Oil Companies, Not again

Does Microsoft Benefit From Some Cases of Piracy?

The economics here are interesting, but at the end there are some similarities to the gun control debate.

Microsoft Corp. estimates it lost about $14 billion last year to software piracy — and those may prove to be the most lucrative sales never made.

Although the world's largest software maker spends millions of dollars annually to combat illegal copying and distribution of its products, critics allege — and Microsoft acknowledges — that piracy sometimes helps the company establish itself in emerging markets and fend off threats from free open-source programs.

The gist of the beneficial piracy argument is that the retail price Microsoft charges for signature products such as Windows and Office — as much as $669, depending on the version — can rival the average annual household income in some developing countries. So the vast majority of those users opt for pirated versions.

The proliferation of pirated copies nevertheless establishes Microsoft products — particularly Windows and Office — as the software standard. As economies mature and flourish and people and companies begin buying legitimate versions, they usually buy Microsoft because most others already use it. It's called the network effect. . . .

"Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though," Gates told an audience at the University of Washington. "And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade." . . .

This last quote reminds me of the gun control debate, where we all want to take guns away from criminals but the regulations that do so may have a bigger impact on law-abiding citizens:

Microsoft, like most other software companies, has experimented with technical tricks to prevent copying, such as discs that could be used only once and hardware "dongles" that had to be connected to the PC before a software program could run.

Legitimate users complained bitterly. Such methods caused software bugs and prevented customers from reinstalling programs when their computers malfunctioned, yet hackers quickly subverted each new attempt. . . .


Are you "doomed to a Female's Tastes"?

Art DeVany's website is always interesting. Today he has an amusing piece that I am sure will raise some hackles: "If You Can't Do This, You are Doomed to a Female's Tastes." One may have to read more than a few of his posts to get his argument, but they are interesting.

The risk of cancer from air pollution is fairly trivial

Joel Schwartz has an interesting piece over at Tech Central Station:

Based on EPA's own estimates, air pollution even in the "most toxic" areas of the country poses a miniscule cancer risk. More importantly, EPA's cancer risk estimates are grossly inflated, because they depend on the false assumption that chemicals pose the same per-unit cancer risks at real-world trace exposures as they do at massive laboratory exposures.

EPA released its 1999 National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) late last month. NATA estimates the average and range of air pollution cancer risks by county for the entire nation, based on estimates for 177 different chemicals. . . .

Here are the key numbers. If you believe the EPA, the national average risk for cancer from air pollution is 42 per million people. Including diesel soot raises that risk to 140 per million people. As it is, 330,000 per million people get cancer. So for the average American air pollution raises the risk by about .042 percent.

In Manhattan, the risk from air pollution is "454 per million if you include diesel." Presumably the risk from cancer generally is also higher. but for the sake of argument take the national average cancer rate. In that case, air pollution adds about .1376 percent to the risk of cancer. The question is obvious: what would it be like living in Manhattan without the benefits produced by the pollution? What about anyplace else in the country?


Wal-Mart to Stop Selling Guns in 1,000 stores

This is really major news. I doubt that this would have occurred if Wal-Mart heir John Walton hadn't died last year. In any case, this will have a major impact on the gun industry.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest seller of firearms in the country, said it is discontinuing sales of guns in about 1,000 U.S. stores due to insufficient demand, part of an effort to boost sluggish sales by better matching store merchandise to individual neighborhoods.

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer wouldn't say which stores would stop selling guns and whether sales at those stores had fallen off recently or had always been substandard. The company said the move to stop selling guns at what amounts to about a third of its U.S. stores is part of Wal-Mart's larger effort to improve its "store of the community" program that tailors store products to neighborhood demand.

Some interesting quotes sent around by Dan Gifford

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm ... Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of Iran
April 15, 2006

"I thought about ... the consequences for me saying I was a part of 9/11. I decided to just put my trust in God and tell the truth and time will tell. Even without my testimony, taking into account the emotion of the case, there was definitely a chance I would be found eligible for death."
Zacarias Moussaoui
Confessed al-Qaida conspirator
April 13, 2006

"We [Muslims] have to be the superpower. You have to be subdued. We have to be above you. Because Americans, you are the superpower, you want to eradicate us."
Zacarias Moussaoui
Confessed al-Qaida conspirator
April 13, 2006

Some quotes sent around by Dan Gifford


Canada's Gun Registry Program to Suffer Major Blow in Coming Report

DATE: 2006.04.14
PAGE: 10
COLUMN: Parliament Hill


A potentially explosive audit could "put the nail in the coffin" of the controversial gun registry, according to a Conservative MP.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser is slated to release a damning audit on the Canada Firearms Program next month and has cryptically hinted at a major finding.

"In carrying out our audit of the Canada Firearms Centre, we noted a matter with significant implications for Parliament's control of public spending," she writes after a brief summary of eight chapters.

Tory MP Garry Breitkreuz, a long-time critic of the gun registry, believes the AG will expose more numbers fudged by the former Liberal government. He said Fraser could blow the lid off murky enforcement costs and a shadowy $273-million computer contract he uncovered while in Opposition.

"She could be highlighting the fact that contracts were given out and there's not a proper paper trail," he said. "That's a damning indictment of how a government does business if there's no paper trail and you're shovelling millions of dollars out the door."

Breitkreuz has filed about 550 access to information requests on the gun registry, but still doesn't know the true costs. He predicts the AG's report will be a "significant event that will finally "put the nail in the coffin" of the registry. . . .

"Attempts To Intimidate Scientists About Global Warming"

Clayton Cramer has a nice link to a discussion of the political pressure in the global warming debate.

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In England the Police Don't Always Come Even when You Call Them

These are some pretty scary stories. Despite reading previous stories about police being told to leave the area when a criminal has a gun (see this article in the Washington Post), I even find them somewhat hard to believe:

. . . You can never find a policeman when you want one, they say. Being attacked by a maniac with a gun seems like one of the few circumstances in which I might really want to find one. However, recent cases suggest that the police would refuse to come anywhere near, on the ground that deranged gunmen tend to be a bit dangerous.

Thames Valley Police received a dressing-down this week over their pathetic response to the infamous 'barbecue killings'. Stuart Horgan burst into a family barbecue, shot his estranged wife, her sister and mother, then left. Neighbours repeatedly phoned the emergency services, explaining that the gunman had gone. But the police refused to attend for more than an hour in case he was still around; armed officers waited four miles away. Ambulance crews would not enter without police. Horgan's wife, Vicky, and her sister, Emma Walton, both died.

This week, an inquest heard that Thames Valley Police took almost seven hours to enter a house after another emergency phone call from a terrified woman hiding in a cupboard. By the time they arrived Julia Pemberton was dead, along with her teenage son William, killed by her estranged husband Alan who then shot himself.

And lest anybody think this problem is peculiar to Thames Valley, another inquest this week revealed that Sussex Police refused to go in after Linda Watson dialled 999 to say that her husband Richard had been shot outside their home. Even after a family friend took it upon himself to drive up, check Mr Watson's dead body and report to police, they waited another hour before deciding it was safe to approach.

Mrs Watson's solicitor told the inquest that the police were 'cowardly'. There seems no reason to suppose that officers are personally any more cowardly today. But they are now working within what looks like a culture of moral cowardice.

The damning report into the barbecue killings reveals that in dilly-dallying rather than acting decisively, the police were only following official guidelines. A police force that is ordered not to be forceful, for fear of unknown consequences, seems an appropriate guardian of our safety-first society, which is wary of tackling anything risky. Senior police officers faffing about in the face of murder are not the only leaders reluctant to take responsibility for life-and-death decisions today.

No doubt police also fear that they might be sued by victims or prosecuted by the authorities if they take a risk. After all, wasn't the Metropolitan Police Commissioner himself charged with breaching health and safety laws after the death of a PC who fell through a roof while chasing suspects? It's a wonder that the police don't insist that health and safety inspectors answer 999 calls and carry out a risk assessment of all crime scenes before they agree to tiptoe in. . . .

Thanks very much to John Zumrick for sending me the link. Thanks to L.J. O'Neale for reminding me of the Washington Post article that I added in the first paragraph.

Summary from Today's National Journal Hotline on Midwest Gubernatorial Elections

This is the summary that the National Journal sent out today:

Midwest Going South

Their '02 victories crushed the GOP's grip on midwest GOVs. Four years later, those Dem GOVs (MI's Granholm , IL's Blagojevich and WI's Doyle) are fighting for their lives. Why??
-- First, the economy. The midwest is struggling to evolve from its manufacturing past. IN's Daniels and MO's Blunt, both GOPers, aren't up in '06, but they also aren't popular.
-- None of the three Dem GOVs has had friendly legislatures. It reminds us of how poorly cong Dems received a Dem president in '93 and '94.
-- These GOVs are also suffering from labor pains. Unlike in red states where Dem GOVs are safer, these three have a heavy union presence. All are struggling to balance labor and centrist policies.
-- Expectations? All three replaced GOPers who'd held power for more than a decade. Did they spend too much time re-populating state bureaucracies? Or, perhaps, not enough time?
-- In truth, it's all four factors, and they're turning the midwest into an unexpected ground zero for GOV races this fall.


Global Warming Hysteria

When I used to teach environmental regulation at Wharton, I used to give the class a copy of an article in Newsweek (I believe that it was Newsweek, not Time) showing the earth in an ice block and warning that we had to immediately cover the earth's poles with coal dust to prevent an ice age (snow reflects the sun light back into outer space). It was a pretty scary article. At that time global cooling was claimed to be caused by man-made carbon dioxide. Of course, now the carbon dioxide is said to be a significant cause of global warming. In both cases, something much stronger was likely responsible (energy output from the sun).

This letter from 60 top climate scientists makes the same point that I made in my class:

It was only 30 years ago that many of today's global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.

This is a nice piece from the Daily Telegraph:

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

Does something not strike you as odd here? That industrial carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of earth's recent decadal-scale temperature changes doesn't seem at all odd to many thousands of independent scientists. They have long appreciated - ever since the early 1990s, when the global warming bandwagon first started to roll behind the gravy train of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - that such short-term climate fluctuations are chiefly of natural origin. Yet the public appears to be largely convinced otherwise. How is this possible? . . .

Thanks to Nelson Clayton for sending this link to me.

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Guns at work bill advances in Florida

While I sympathesize with the goal, I have problems with laws that force firms to let their employees have guns at work. I think that firms have it wrong in that the people that they should fear are the people who are going to break the rules, not the ones who obey them. That the regulations leave victims defenseless and encourage attacks, creating safe zones for criminals, not victims. That said, I think that the best approach is to make it so that victims can clearly sue for damages if they are prevented from protected themselves and something bad should happen. My guess is that firms face a strong asymmetry. If something bad happens, they face lawsuits only from victims for the gun being there. Firms don't face lawsuits from guns not being available for people to defend themselves or others.

After six tries, the National Rifle Association has managed to get a committee in the Florida Legislature to endorse one of the worst bills filed in the current session.

In its original form, the bill would have charged business owners with a felony -- punishable by up to five years in prison -- if they prevented employees from storing guns in their cars while at work. . . .

In a "compromise" move, the NRA and its legislative stooges have revised the language to remove the felony charge and -- in theory, at least -- preserve the private-property rights of businesses. The bill now allows bans when "reasonably necessary."

The changes were apparently enough to satisfy the House Judiciary Committee, which approved the bill --despite the fact that "reasonably necessary" isn't defined.

"Nobody on the committee could even define what it means," Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce said. "So how can an employer?" . . .

"Kyoto is pointless, say 60 leading scientists"

Canada's new Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, has been urged by more than 60 leading international climate change experts to review the global warming policies he inherited from his centre-Left predecessor. . . .

"Much of the billions of dollars earmarked for implementation of the protocol in Canada will be squandered without a proper assessment of recent developments in climate science," they wrote in the Canadian Financial Post last week.

They emphasised that the study of global climate change is, in Mr Harper's own words, an "emerging science" and added: "If, back in the mid 1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary." Despite claims to the contrary, there is no consensus among climate scientists on the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change, they wrote.

"'Climate change is real' is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified." . . .


Criminals being left off without even having to show up in court in England.

With England facing twice the violent crime rate as the US, the system is starting to fall apart. As Don Kates wrote to me: "To conserve scarce criminal justice resources England has now moved from not investigating burglary and assault to not prosecuting even the few thugs the police manage to identify and catch." He also noted that since handguns were banned in 1997 violent crime reported to police have gone up, not down as promised.

Burglars will be allowed to escape without punishment under new instructions sent to all police forces. Police have been told they can let them off the threat of a court appearance and instead allow them to go with a caution.
The same leniency will be shown to criminals responsible for more than 60 other different offences, ranging from arson through vandalism to sex with underage girls.

New rules sent to police chiefs by the Home Office set out how seriously various crimes should be regarded, and when offenders who admit to them should be sent home with a caution.

A caution counts as a criminal record but means the offender does not face a court appearance which would be likely to end in a fine, a community punishment or jail. . . .

Well, given the failure of the government to prosecute these criminals, this next article in the Daily Mail is not too surprising:

Six out of ten muggings are never reported because the public have lost faith in the police to do anything, it emerged last night.
The devastating verdict is delivered in a report by Demos, one of Tony Blair's favourite think-tanks. It reveals plummeting public confidence in the police means tens of thousands of offences go unreported.

If, as research cited by Demos suggests, police are not told of 58 per cent of muggings, the 80,780 offences recorded last year would in reality number 192,000.

The list of unreported crimes also includes 35 per cent of violent attacks by strangers, 38 per cent of burglaries and 42 per cent of thefts from vehicles.

Tory home affairs spokesman Nick Herbert said: "When such large numbers of people aren't even reporting offences, the true level of crime is far higher than official figures suggest. . . .

For a picture from the Economist magazine showing how robbery rates have changed over time follow this link (the commentary there is also useful).

Of interest: The results of an online poll of people reading this English newspaper can be found here. Last I looked 94 percent thought that the courts in England were too soft on criminals.

Trying to Keep New Orleans Democratic

Fox News has an interesting story on how far Louisiana is going to make sure that people who have moved out of New Orleans will vote in the upcoming election. The report doesn't mention how the election was already postponed, but they do mention that in order to make sure that people who have moved out of the city will be able to vote $4 million is being spent as compared to the normal $400,000 for an election. The state is spending millions of dollars advertising around the country to encourage people who have moved out of New Orleans (and indeed moved out of Louisiana) to vote.


Economist claims: "Strong economy equals more heart attacks"

If a high-fat cholesterol-laden snack doesn't trigger a heart attack, then a healthy economy just might.

The risk of a fatal heart attack rises when the U.S. economy strengthens and increases further if macroeconomic conditions remain robust over the next several years, according to a study published last month.

The death rate rises in the year the economy expands and grows further if the lower rate of joblessness is maintained, Christopher Ruhm wrote in his study.

A 1 percentage point drop in unemployment is estimated to raise mortality by 1.3 percent or 2,515 additional deaths per year from heart attacks, the study showed. The mortality rate is similar for males and females.

The 20-44 age group is at a relatively higher risk than older persons, especially if the economic upturn is sustained.

Ruhm, an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, used the example of a six-month stint working in another city for what that individual sees as a great opportunity.

"During that period of time chances are you are working so much you are not exercising, haven't had a chance to join a gym, you're eating out a lot, maybe smoking more," Ruhm said by phone from North Carolina. . . . .

Is this possible? Sure. But after looking at the paper, it is primarily conjecture on what is occurring because there is just a simple regression relating unemployment and mortality rates (he tries to summarized a more mixed literature also). Income is not consistently related to mortality. This last result makes me wonder because everything else that I have seen indicates that higher income means that people live longer, and it is a better measure of growth. A measure of the distribution of income growth would also be useful.

Spanish government is scared of Police because they can carry guns

Defense minister Jose Bono said yesterday that he does not approve of the April 22 demonstration called by members of the Civil Guard, Spain's paramilitary police, against the Zapatero administration's failure to fulfill its promises. Bono, surprisingly, said, "I don't like the idea of a demonstration by people who can carry a pistol because they have a short-arm license."

The Civil Guard union that called the demo replied that Bono's statements were "unworthy of a minister."

The Unified Association of Civil Guards announced yesterday that it was considering possible legal action against Bono for his allusion to the officers' right to carry arms. "Bono must know that we Civil Guards and police officers are not gunmen, or criminals, or plotting a coup, but just the opposite," said a joint press release from the Association and the Unified Police Union, both of which represent the majority of officers in their bodies. . . .

Scientists say global warming due to sun

I know that for those who have been following the debate this isn't very surprising, but it is nice to see this information making it out into the media. Just in time for Al Gore's new horror movie, "An Inconvenient Truth":

Climate changes such as global warming may be due to changes in the sun rather than to the release of greenhouse gases on Earth.

Climatologists and astronomers speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Philadelphia say the present warming may be unusual - but a mini ice age could soon follow.

The sun provides all the energy that drives our climate, but it is not the constant star it might seem.

Careful studies over the last 20 years show that its overall brightness and energy output increases slightly as sunspot activity rises to the peak of its 11-year cycle.

And individual cycles can be more or less active.

The sun is currently at its most active for 300 years.

That, say scientists in Philadelphia, could be a more significant cause of global warming than the emissions of greenhouse gases that are most often blamed.

The researchers point out that much of the half-a-degree rise in global temperature over the last 120 years occurred before 1940 - earlier than the biggest rise in greenhouse gas emissions. . . .

So much for Al Gore's claim that time is running out.

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Question about Illegal Alien Bill in Senate

Apparently one of the provisions in the new bill would make it so that illegals could prove that they have been in the country for at least five years and thus be eligible for citizenship. To prove this residency, illegals can provide electric utility bills or other similar documentation. I am not sure who keeps their utility bills for five years plus, but there is another problem. Whatever one thinks about illegals becoming citizens, there is a side issue of possible forgery regarding these documents. An incredibly straightforward solution is that any such documentation would have to be checked by the screening agency with the company that issued the original document and that there would be a criminal penalty if the company altered documents. If there are additional concerns, possibly three types of documentation could be required. Pretty simple, and it would solve many concerns. For some reason though I don't think that the bill will contain this provision.


How to develop without Eminent Domain


Anna Benson on Guns

Anna Benson, the wife of Kris Benson of the Orioles and also well known model and former stripper, has an amazing open letter on her website. All I can say is that her statements here correspond to what my research shows people should do. This is one gutsy lady:

My dad was not a big believer in locking up guns (his valid argument is that if the guns are locked up, it will be too difficult to access them when needed... like when some deranged 200 pound man is busting through my front door). So, my dad kept guns hidden in easily accessible places, and knowing how my curiosity often got the best of me, he did not want to leave me ignorant about safe handling procedures. Thus, right or wrong, he taught me a healthy respect and fear for the firearm. He acknowledged my natural childhood curiosity and addressed it by educating me. These are some of the fondest memories that I hold from my childhood. My dad trusted my intellect and coached me during my shooting lessons. . . .

I am afraid of gun-control lobbyists. I am afraid that their skewed perceptions of safety are threatening my rights. I am an avid supporter of our Second Amendment and, consequently, my right to bear arms. My father has guns, my grandfather had guns, and even my great-grandmother had a pretty little pearl-handled .357 that she carried in her purse (and I guarantee that she would have used it to protect her ninety pound frame from threat). Even my mother carries a .38 special in her briefcase as she heads to work in downtown Atlanta due to an increased amount of carjacking and assaults in the city. And like my father, I share my enthusiasm and respect with my own children. My eight-year-old son frequently shoots with my husband at very safe and controlled ranges. I truly believe that if properly used, guns are a benefit to those who own them. . . .

Boy convicted of possessing handgun in Colorado: Could someone please explain this to me?

Could someone please explain this article to me? If the article is correct that "Colorado law prohibits possession of a handgun by a juvenile but permits parents to give them permission to possess guns in their homes - even without supervision," what is the problem here? The parents say that they gave permission. From the Rocky Mountain News:

An Evergreen High School student who posted Internet photos of himself posing with guns was convicted Tuesday on a charge of possession of a handgun by a juvenile.
The conviction came despite his parents' testimony that they gave him permission to handle guns in their home without their supervision.

Colorado law prohibits possession of a handgun by a juvenile but permits parents to give them permission to possess guns in their homes - even without supervision.

"This is a very difficult case," defense attorney Barrett Weisz said in his closing argument.

"We have pictures that raise images of the Columbine massacre. But if we set the specter of Columbine aside," he said, the boy should be acquitted and sent home.

The photos were posted on the popular teen Web site MySpace.com. The photos showed him posing with a number of rifles and three handguns - a .45-caliber pistol, a .22-caliber revolver and a .357-caliber revolver.

The 16-year-old boy, who has been held in detention since his arrest in February, will be sentenced June 1. He was acquitted on two additional charges of handgun possession.

The judge set a $5,000 bond, but ordered that the boy must be evaluated and a safety plan drawn up before he can be released.

The boy's parents testified they were upset and disappointed with their son when they discovered the photos, but said he had permission to handle the weapons.

"I was not pleased and told him to take (the photos) down," his father testified. "I told him, 'What were you thinking when you took these pictures?' I was upset."

The father, a gun collector and enthusiast who is an airline pilot and retired Air Force pilot, said he gave the boy and his brother extensive training in the safe handling of weapons. . . .

Tony Blair very low in opinion polls

Under the label don't feel too bad because someone else is likely to have it worse: Tony Blair's approval rating is at 30 percent and only 29 percent approve of his government's record to date. To put this in some perspective, in a three party system it has been much harder for Blair to break 50 perent than it has for Bush. Blair can win handsomely with only 40 percent of the vote. On the other hand, given how articulate Blair is, it is amazing that he can be this low in the polls.

Nebraska Officially Becomes a Right-to-carry State

The Nebraska Governor signed the legislation this morning.


Penn & Teller's Show on Gun Control

I have cited this before, but here is a better link. Penn & Teller's show on gun control can be found here. I still wish that the show had done more to question many of the numbers that they repeated on the show.

Thanks to Matt Wilson for this link.


Hillary Clinton comes out for more gun control

New Index on Supreme Court Gun Cases

Alan Korwin has put up his discussion of newly posted case index for the Supreme Court with summaries.


Go Bruins!!!

UCLA takes an early commanding lead over LSU (20-10)!

UPDATE: Well, at least one of my teams won tonight! 59-45 and it wasn't ever remotely close. LSU never had a chance.

UPDATE2: I can't bring myself to put up a separate post following UCLA's loss to Florida. It was a very sorry performance, and I have to confess that I couldn't even get myself to watch the entire game.

Hawaii Repeals Gasoline Price Controls Conceding that they Actually Cost Customers Money

Fox News has a nice report on how gasoline price controls actually cost customers money. I had always thought that the fear of price controls would prevent firms from lowering prices. This case provides one example where that occurred.

George Mason v. Florida is turning out to be a great game

Watching this game right now. 18-17, Florida over GMU, but this is proving to be a tough fought contest. Given I went to school at UCLA and live right near to GMU, I have two obvious teams to route for.

UPDATE: Bummer, GMU just couldn't control those three point shots by Florida. Well, at least I still have UCLA to route for.

Canadians are not so happy about socialized medicine and crime

One-fifth of all living Mexican-born people live in US

This statement from David Frum is an amazing statement. It is incredible how a government can so mess up its economy.

Today, almost one-fifth of all living Mexican-born people now make their homes in the United States. You have to go back to the Irish potato famine to find a parallel. But Mexico is not suffering famine: It is suffering from a comprehensive failure of political and economic leadership.

If this is correct, it implies that something around 25 million mexican-born people live in the US.