William F. Buckley Jr. Dead at 82

Obviously, Buckley had a big impact on the United States. He will be missed.



Fired for stopping shoplifter

John Schultz says he lost his job at Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor after he tried to stop a shoplifter from making a getaway. But the company says he went too far and violated a policy that prohibits employees from physically touching a customer - even if that person is carrying a bag of stolen goods.

Schultz says he had just punched out for a break at 7 p.m. on Sunday when he heard a commotion at the front door of the store, 3135 Washtenaw Ave. He said he came to the aid of the manager who yelled for help in stopping a shoplifter. Schultz, the manager and another employee cornered the shoplifter between two cars in the parking lot . . . .

I think that the obvious defense that Schultz could have made was that the manager asked him to stop the shoplifter. My guess is that this blanket rule against touching customers is because of fear of lawsuits.



Copying is the sincerest form of flattery?

From Friday's Wall Street Journal, an article by Mike Cox on the DC gun ban notes that:

Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. In the five years before the 1976 ban, the murder rate fell to 27 from 37 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose to 35. In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

From a piece that I wrote in 2004

Crime rose significantly after the gun ban went into effect. In the five years before Washington's ban in 1976, the murder rate fell from 37 to 27 per 100,000. In the five years after it went into effect, the murder rate rose back up to 35. . . . In fact, while murder rates have varied over time, during the almost 30 years since the ban, the murder rate has only once fallen below what it was in 1976.

This involves only three sentences that total 172 words in the piece, but it is still a little irritating. There were two changes in what I wrote: 1) because three years have gone by since I wrote the original piece the "almost 30 years" that I wrote was changed to "30 years" and 2) "fell from 37 to 27" was changed to "fell to 27 from 37." Otherwise it was identical. The first change is most troublesome because it indicates that Cox (or someone who wrote it for him) probably looked at what I wrote and the date on it in order to make the change.

This is getting to be a fairly common "crime" these days for example with Law Professor Ian Ayres being one of the more recent people caught:
“Several passages in Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres ... new book are unattributed verbatim reproductions or nearly identical paraphrases of passages from various newspaper and magazine articles published in the last twenty years, an investigation by the [Yale Daily] News has shown."

Yet, as some have noted in Ayres' case, "The problem with [Ayres'] explanation---whether used by Ayres or the others---is that it explains how a verbatim quotation can end up unattributed but is not so credible in explaining how an almost-verbatim paraphrase ends up unattributed. . . . But paraphrases in which the sentence structure is altered ever so slightly is much harder to explain as the result of inadvertence."

Labels: , ,


Happy Thanksgiving!

This has been another interesting year with much to be thankful for.



Movies that have attempted to Attack the War in Iraq are bombing

I am not sure what this means. It could either be that people don't want to listen to this type of political lecturing or that the opposition to the war is not that deep. After 10 days in the US (including two weekends), Lions for Lambs has earned $11.6 million. At tickets going for $10, that is only about 1,160,000 people going to see the movie. BEOWULF earned about that just this last Saturday. The BEE MOVIE has been out a week longer than Lions for Lambs, but it earned as much on Friday and Saturday in each third week as Lions for Lambs has made over each entire 10 days.




US Troops Cheating on Medical Tests to Remain Fighting in Iraq

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Our troops are so motivated by the war in Iraq and think that it is so important that they are willing to risk permanent brain injury to stay in the field. These guys are really motivated.

Reports of cheating began surfacing in Iraq during the summer, says Col. Brian Eastridge, a trauma surgeon who supervises medical care in Iraq and Afghanistan from his office in Baghdad.

Troops had obtained copies of an older version of the test and memorized key words used to gauge short-term memory, Jaffee says. Those who fail areas of the test undergo more sophisticated exams for diagnosing brain injury.

If symptoms persist, soldiers are sent home. If symptoms get better in days or a few weeks, patients can be sent back into combat, doctors say. . . . .



Senate security regarding General David Petraeus testimony

Yesterday, two members of Code Pink stood up and yelled during General David Petraeus testified. These two women were dressed all in pink. The same thing happened on Tuesday. It looked like the same two women. I thought that Ike Skelton had promised on Monday that these two women would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Whatever penalty these two women faced, how is it that these two women got into the hearing. It is my understanding that the audience had to get passes to attend the hearing. Why were these two women allowed in? Why did the Democrats want them to attend? Why does the press ask the Democrats why they keep letting these women in the hearing rooms?



Senator Larry Craig Arrested for disorderly conduct in June

Larry Craig has probably been the most important single Senator on the gun issue. This seems like very bad news. It appears as if he pleaded guilty to the charges. If this is true and it is truly very sad, it appears that Craig should resign from the Senate.

Sen. Larry Craig was arrested in June in Minnesota and paid $575 in fines and fees for a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, FOX News learned Monday.

A Hennepin County (Minn.) District Court spokesperson said Craig's case was put off and could be dismissed after one year of unsupervised probation. A 10-day prison sentence was stayed. . . . .

Labels: , ,


Pigeon Dung helped Minneapolis Bridge Collapse


Bill Murray is also a funny guy in real life


Barry Bonds' Home Run Record Tainted by Mechanical Device


A thought on bridges collapsing

Given the tragedy yesterday and all the discussion about it, I just thought that I would look up the number of major bridges in the US. One source, even if the source is of questionable reliability, puts the number at 467. (I didn't count all the covered bridges, though there certainly seems like a lot of those. I also only did one faset count so that I might be off by a couple.) In any case, I think that it has been something like 17 years since the last bridge collapse. 1/(467*17)= 1/7939 is the rate per year that a major bridge collapses. I guess that the rate is a little higher than I would have thought, but the number hopefully gives one some perspective. If the list that I am using is incomplete, the rate of collapses will be lower than what I report.

I am not putting this up to minimize the tragedy, but to give some perspective. Especially since everyone is going to extrapolate from this into claiming that something needs to be done instantly across the entire country.



General George S Patton Speaks out on Iraq & modern world

Sonya Jones points to a great update to General George Patton's famous speach here. This is worth watching.



Schwarzenegger gets into trouble for this?

Some Hispanic leaders lashed out Friday at California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's advice that immigrants should "turn off the Spanish television set" to better learn how to speak English.

Schwarzenegger, who immigrated to the U.S. from Austria, recently told a group of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should stay away from Spanish-language television, books and newspapers.

"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set," Schwarzenegger said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in San Jose, Calif. "You're just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster."

Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., called the governor's advice a "typical sound bite solution to an important issue," said Jim Dau, a spokesman for Sanchez.

Sanchez said immigrants face the challenge of taking an ESL course because of long lines and up to a three-year wait to get into a class.

A Hispanic advocacy group said Schwarzenegger's comments show his "ignorance on immigration issues." . . . .

Is Sanchez saying that these immigrants can only learn English if the government provides it? Possibly if they followed Schwarzenegger's advice, they wouldn't have to rely so much on the government program.

UPDATE: Here is a video of Arnold and Neil Cavuto discussing it here.



Why hasn't someone thought of this before?: Using al-Qaeda's tactics against them


Something to think about this Memorial Day Weekend

For the price that is paid by people fighting to keep us safe please click here. I sometimes wonder how many people actually know what this weekend is about, but this news clip will give you something to think about.

UPDATE: It would be nice if these types of cases discussed here got more attention. The brutal torture of others by Al Qaeda should revolt many, but the stories need to get more press coverage than they do. I did a Google search on the words "U.S. Military Rescues 42 Iraqis Al Qaeda" (I did not use quote marks around the words so any combination of these words should have produced a hit), and I got only two news stories when I searched at 8 PM on Sunday, May 27th. One story was in the Detroit Free Press and another was with WCSH-TV in Maine.

Labels: ,


Israelis Support U.S. Invasion of Iraq


More Guns, Less Crime makes the Modern Library's top 10 list for Nonfiction

The Modern Library has produced its list of the top 100 nonfiction books. The Virtue of Selfishness finished first and my book More Guns, Less Crime just made the top 10. The list has a decidedly conservative/libertarian slant. Still pretty neat, though I wouldn't rank my book above such classics as Thomas Sowell's Conflict of Visions (71) or PJ O'Rourke's Parlament of Whores (72) or Eric Hoffer's The True Believer (20) or certainly F.A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom (16) or Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose (14).


Ask before you eat

One warning that I should give Americans who eat sushi in Japan and that is apparently one of the selections is raw horse. I kid you not. I had to ask about five times before I actually believed the answer that I was getting. I love sushi, but this is going too far.

Labels: , ,

Other thoughts on Japan

1) It has been 19 years since I last visited Japan, and there are a number of things that have changed.
a) There are a lot fewer English advertising signs now, but the ones that you see generally seem to make more sense. When I was here before there were signs such as "I feel Coke" or "I touch Lark (cigarettes)." There are still a few things such as a drink called "body love," but this is more silly than anything else. Most English signs are something like "Great Selection" or "Hair Make," something I saw at many beauty salons. I like the packages in the grocery stores that have an English label reading "tastes great," but the rest of the package is in Japanese and I couldn't figure out what it was inside the bag, though I was tempted to buy it just to find out what tasted so "great."
b) When I was here before it seemed most people smoked. I thought that I needed an air tank with me to go on the trains, and the smoke was unbelievably thick. Now I have seen one person smoking. Before the sidewalks were filled with automatic dispensors for cigarettes, but I have only come across a couple of set ups this time.
c) The population seems visibly much older. I kind of expected this because of everything that I know about the birth rate here, but the ratio of older people on the trains is quite high.

2) Japan has privatized its university system, though it has left many regulations in place (such as restrictions on tuitions). The government has apparently stopped its subsidies and the universities have to make up the difference with getting donations. My host at the University of Tokyo is essentially doing consulting for major companies and turning over the consulting fee as a donation to the university. You can really tell how much he cares about the university, but it seems like are really difficult task to assume that there are enough faculty over enough years who are willing to make that type of sacrifice.

3) One hot topic among academics here is the drop in fertility. I suggested some changes in divorce laws and the property division rules that women would get on divorce. One amazing fact to me is that up until recently women did not get any of the man's retirement fund when there was a divorce. The new rule is that the fund is divided 50-50, but I explained that to the extent the man is the one who invested in market activities and the woman invested in the home, she was still being shortchanged for her investment.

4) Few apartments seem to have dishwashers and no one seems to have disposals. Dryers also seem to be relatively rare, with people hanging their clothes out to dry on their balconies. The cost to women doing these chores must be tremendous and from the comments that I have heard from people, women are the ones who are expected to do these tasks. Someone that I discussed this general issue with noted that it isn't surprising that women don't want to have many kids.

It didn't seem like a joke (I could be wrong), but one professor said he had gotten a dishwashing machine because his wife was "lazy."

5) Japanese book stores are suprisingly colorless. Their books have white covers with writing, but none of the pictures and colors found on books sold in the US. The books are also basically stuffed into every available space. The books aren't displayed nicely where you see the covers as in the US, but you only see the binding.

6) Post cards are very difficult to find. As someone who tries to send them to my friends when I go to interesting places, this has been a time consuming task with little success. strange.

7) Sake doesn't seem to produce the hangover that other alcoholic drinks do. I guess that I knew some of the differences with Sake before, but not as many as I do now. There are two types of Sake, those that are meant to be served cold and those that are meant to be served warm. The cold Sake is the high quality one, but there are many different varieties of that. The very best seem to taste very smooth -- they almost have no taste. The hot Sakes that I tried remind me of Kentucky Bourbon.

Labels: , ,


Happy Mother's Day

By the way, they celebrate Mother's Day on the same day here in Japan.


Why is this movie shown to 12 year olds? Why is it shown at all to students?


An unbelievably bad father

Is this man a candidate for the worst father?

I agree with one of the commentators that if I promise someone my kidney and don't deliver, I should be held liable.

Labels: ,

Man sues dry cleaner for $65 million for losing pants

An amazing story here.



Virus allows hackers access to State Department Computers worldwide


Kurt Vonnegut: RIP

Kurt Vonnegut wrote many interesting pieces, but this is one I enjoyed the most. "Harrison Bergeron" was written by Vonnegut in 1961, but the warning that it gives is just as timely now. Sorry, on second thought, in a time when children's sports often no longer give awards for the winners, I think that the essay is even more important now.



One prof who probably should have gotten tenure

Unfortunately, it is becoming rarer and rarer for professors that actually use economics to explain the world in interesting and useful ways. So many teachers find it easier to go through simple math models that students may remember for a month or two. My eldest son, Maxim, wrote an excellent article for his school newspaper about one such professor, Jeffrey Gerlach.

In the economics department, a professor who is widely regarded as a great teacher, Jeffrey Gerlach, was not retained. . . .

Several objective measures indicate student support for the professor. There were three sections of Economics 101 offered this semester, each with 150 slots and within half an hour of each other. While the class taught by Professor Gerlach was overbooked, with 167 registered, the two other course sections attracted just 89 and 78 students each.

On Ratemyprofessors.com, a widely-used website used by students to share their views on professors, Gerlach has a 3.9 “quality” rating, which is above the 3.6 average for tenured professors at the College. The quality rating is a combination of the “clarity” and “helpfulness” ratings.

“When I teach Econ 101, I include many examples from business, politics and everyday life. I believe economics is very useful for understanding the real world and I try to demonstrate that in class,” Gerlach said of his teaching methods. . . .

If you read the entire article, you will see that the department defends its decision not to give Jeffrey Gerlach tenure based on not the quantity, but the quality, of his work. My question is this: how many other faculty members at W&M have been offered a one year fellowship at MIT or an equivalent school? I could be wrong, but my guess is zero. Here is a guy who seems much better in terms of teaching and at least a solid researcher. What gives? I have a hypothesis, but I will keep it to myself.


Talks this week

Wednesday 1:30 to 3:00
Talk on Affirmative Action in Law Schools
University of Texas at Dallas, Business School

Thursday 3:30 to 5:00
Talk on Abortion and Crime
Baylor University Economics Department

Talk on Media Bias
University of Texas at Austin



Some Europeans Seeing the Quran as Controlling Precedent for Muslims Living in Europe?

Bret Stephens has a disturbing post over at Opinion Journal's Political Diary:

A German woman's lawyer files a motion for an immediate divorce with a judge in Frankfurt on the hardship grounds that her husband has beaten her throughout their five-year marriage and now threatens to kill her. Three months pass; the judge rules: Motion denied.

In the opinion of Judge Christa Datz-Winter, the unnamed woman is not entitled to an immediate divorce under German law because the couple come from a "Moroccan cultural environment, in which it is not uncommon for a man to exert a right of corporal punishment over his wife." When the woman's lawyer objects, the judge cites a passage in the Quran stating that "men are in charge of women." The judge adds that the woman, who is German-born, should have known what she had coming "when she married the Moroccan-born" man.

At this point, the woman's lawyer goes public, and the case becomes a sensation in Germany. "Where Are We Living?" runs the headline of Bild, a mass-circulation tabloid. Politicians also take note: "When the Quran is put above the German Constitution, I can only say: 'Goodnight, Germany,'" complains Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the conservative CDU party.

The judge has since been removed from the case. For the nameless plaintiff, all the publicity will probably secure her divorce, and her freedom. Other Muslim women in similar positions have not been as lucky: Agence-France Press reports that when 23-year-old Samira Bari, of Nimes, France, sought a divorce from husband Mohammed in July 2003, he gouged out her eyes. She is now blind. The case is in court.



Wondering what the Vietnamese think of Iraq

I saw the preview for this movie ("Journey from the Fall") and it made me wonder what the Vietnamese in the US must think about what is happening in Iraq. Surely, they more than almost anyone else must know what is at stake and how the media colors things.



New Documentary by Michael Moore

A discussion on the new documentary on Michael Moore can be seeen here.

On Roger & Me -- Unbelievably, the central claim that Moore couldn't get an interview with Roger Smith was false.

Moore apparently did to these Canadian film makers what Moore accused GM of doing when he filmed Roger and Me. If anything what Moore Moore apparently has also avoided people trying to interview him before. For a movie by Larry Elder see here. Presumably this movie is getting a lot more attention than Larry's is because it was done by progressive Canadians, who have a lot more credibility with the media.



Ann Coulter on Edwards

When people got upset about Ann Coulter's comments about John Edwards I thought that she was referring to this incident about Edwards' obsession with his hair. Unfortunately, Edwards also went after Chenney's daughter being a lesbian during the vice presidential debate.

For those who want more background on Ann's comments see this from Hannity and Colmes.

That said, nothing at all is gained by calling others names. I think that it was a very serious mistake. Let the others look mean. Let others have a monopoly on name calling. I may be idealistic, but let us try to argue on ideas.



Over a Million Page Hits! Thank you

Dear Everyone:

Sometime this past week my blog went over a million page hits. I just wanted to thank you all for taking the time for reading the material that I have put up here. I also want to thank my son, Maxim, who despite going to college, has continued to handle the various problems that have arisen with the blog site over time.

Thank you.




Pedophiles took over English Foster Care System