Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! From KPC...

May your troubles be less. 
Your blessings be more.
And may nothing but pumpkins

Come through your back door!

Freedom of Sale

You can have stickers on your car.  Bumper stickers, etc.

In Alexandria, VA (and elsewhere), you can NOT have a "For Sale" sign sticker, though.

Or, can you?  One case.

Another case.

Cool quote: “I can put a bumper sticker on my vehicle about my religious views and moral views,” said McLean, 35 and a lawyer. “Those pocketbook issues are just as important. For me, free speech doesn’t have any qualifiers.” 

Last week, McLean and the foundation filed a lawsuit against the Alexandria government, calling the city’s decades-old no-sale-sign statute an arbitrary ban on commercial speech that violates the First Amendment. “We need the court to formally recognize the importance of the right to advertise and the ability to earn a living,” attorney Christina Martin said. “Free speech is essential to free enterprise.” 

The foundation made a video about the case and also produced a podcast, noting that the streets of Alexandria — and elsewhere — are full of commercial vehicles that offer goods and services for sale. 

With thanks to Chug.  His own letter of response, to Alan Gura:

Too bad we can't make the City refund all the charges (fines and other costs) paid by all the people who received those unconstitutional tickets over the last half century. 

And I have my doubts that the City would eventually get around to repealing the ordinance unless they had gotten some push back. It's depressing to think how many allegedly educated people, not to mention lawyers, dealt with that ordinance over the last 50-plus years and no one questioned it. 

 It is the multitude of idiotic things like this that gradually turned me in to a libertarian.   


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lyndon Johnson is still not popular in Vietnam!

From the redoubtable Jason Brennan comes this amazing research paper on the structural grammatical differences between "close the door" and "f**k you".

While the whole piece is a tour-de-force, I recommend page 4 (which, de facto is page 2) in particular to your attention.

This article is definitely NSFW!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Corruption: "Based on my training and experience, I'm going to steal your money"

The real problem with corruption in the U.S. is not at the margins, with bad cops taking bribes outside the law..

It's right at the center of government itself, with agencies using bad rules to take property overtly and using the court system for cover.

This CAF ("civil asset forfeiture") story is remarkable precisely because something like it happens every day.  Or, almost twice a day, because as the story notes there more than 600 CAFs in 2012.

Excerpt:

ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report. “How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up....

There is nothing illegal about depositing less than $10,000 cash unless it is done specifically to evade the reporting requirement. But often a mere bank statement is enough for investigators to obtain a seizure warrant. In one Long Island case, the police submitted almost a year’s worth of daily deposits by a business, ranging from $5,550 to $9,910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that based on his training and experience, the pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government seized $447,000 from the business, a cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that has been run by one family for 27 years.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday's Child

1.  In today's Scott de Marchi corner....a spider the size of a puppy.

2.  NC has really high gas taxes, and yet claims to need tolls to build new roads.  Why?  Because it raids the highway fund for other purposes.  And remember that the NC has a Republican legislature.  It's not a partisan point.  It's just that politics is theft.

3.  Stay-at-home parents have my great respect.  Stay-at-home kids, much less so.  Todd Rundgren had a song for those kids. It does sound fun, I admit.

4.  Speaking of staying home, Latinos may be stay-at-home voters.  Nobody likes being taken for granted.

5.  If some drunk guy tried this ("What's that lipstick on your neck?"  "Honey, I'd love to tell you, but it's a matter of national security...") it would be laughable.  But if the U.S. government tries it...well, it's still laughable.

moremoremore....

Friday, October 24, 2014

Row!

Government joke.  Though to be fair, it's really a Congress joke.  So I changed it a little, from the source.

Overheard at the Charles River race:

“Did you hear that one of the teams in the Eights is all members of Congress?”

“No. How are they doing?”

“Much better this year. They kept coming in last in previous races, so they sent someone to spy on the Harvard and Yale teams to try to find out the secret of their high performance.”

“Really?  A rowing spy?  What did the spy tell them?”

“The spy said, 'Look, guys:  The Harvard and Yale crew teams just have one guy yelling.  The rest of you should row!  And in the same direction!'

"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This week's sign of the Apocalypse

Here's what the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism recommends for your next trip to the Bullshit State:



Never mind the Angusian level of exclamation point use, consider how low the great state of Massachusetts has fallen.

I'm not sure what's worse, the recommendations or the fact that the recommendations are so borderline untrue.

I checked Wikipedia and it turns out that Lemurs are NOT endemic to MA (who knew?). So they are suggesting traveling to MA just to go to the zoo. And "indoor water slides"? Do the good people of the Tourism office want you to take a time machine back to the 80s and stay at a Holidome? Finally corn mazes (a) are dangerous and terrifying, and (b) require more space than the entire state of MA to construct properly.

What do you think is the over/under on the percent of MA visitors this fall who participate in all three of these activities?

I'll set the number at 2.5%. Tell me in the comments which side you want.

People, if crap like this can happen, why did we even have the American Revolution at all?














Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oklahoma gettin' smarter, North Carolina gettin' dumber

Cool graph from a group called City Report showing how young educated people are flowing into selected urban areas.

Here the increase in young people with BAs or better in on the vertical axis and the increase in total population is on the horizontal:



As you can see OKC has the second largest increase in young educated people and that increase is large given its overall population growth. Charlotte NC and Raleigh NC are getting relatively dumber as their overall population is growing faster than their young and educated population (Atlanta and Dallas too!).

Interestingly New Orleans, Buffalo and Pittsburgh are losing overall population while gaining a decent amount of young and educated people, while Detroit and Cleveland are stinking in both dimensions.

I guess all those Mungowitz-educated  Duke students are not staying in NC!

Hat-tip to The Upshot!



That Thing....

Ya know that thing where the woman you have been dating online becomes obsessed with you and tries to get into your house by sliding down the chimney?

Nope, me neither.  But it happened to this guy.

As the article notes....there is MORE to this story, somewhere.

Strangely, this is apparently a thing that you women do....