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Debunking a McMyth

My new article for Jewsweek is now online. It's a review of Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me. Here's a taste:

The Era of Big Mafia is Over

[I]f you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band...
- Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty (p. 46)

PALERMO, Sicily (Reuters) - The good news is that the Sicilian Mafia has slashed the rates it charges "clients." The bad news is that it has vastly expanded its client base.
Read more »

What is the purpose of a university?

Will Baude expresses cautious disapproval of college athletics:

A question is whether recruiting chess players is like recruiting athletes (and thus, in my view, highly suspect). My initial inclination is to disapprove-- not because chess isn't an important skill, but because it seems to me that little good is done by paying money to get students to come to the school who wouldn't have done so anyway, merely so that the school can present a particularly good team at a game.

Block vs. Epstein: Advantage Epstein

The Block-Epstein debate over eminent domain is now online.

I've looked forward to listening to this debate ever since J. H. Huebert first announced it last month. I appreciate Huebert's efforts in organizing the event and making the audio recording available for those of us unable to attend in person. Read more »

Volokh vs. Roberts: Advantage Volokh

Eugene Volokh has never chosen a more deserving subject for criticism than Paul Craig Roberts, whose views on both race and economics predate the 18th-century. Read more »

I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so

Why do the Japanese get all the cool toys first? There oughta be a law!

Tokyo - Sony announced its upcoming digital video recorder (DVR) "type X" at a press conference in Tokyo earlier this week. The DVR will offer seven TV tuners as well as 1 TByte storage capacity. ...


Tyler Cowen expresses boyish wonder at some of the ideas found in Patently Absurd: The Most Ridiculous Devices Ever Invented:

The sociologist will be interested in "Interpersonal-Introduction Signaling System." Using a small hand-held device, you broadcast a signal indicating that you are interested in meeting someone. You can be rejected without (major) embarrassment on either side.

When you look into the Bureaucracy, the Bureaucracy looks into you

Following in the tradition of such brave lefty "documentaries" as Bowling for Columbine and Super Size Me comes The Corporation, which concludes that if the corporation is a person, it would be a psychopath: singularly self-interested, irresponsible, harmful to others, manipulative, grandiose, unremorseful and completely lacking in empathy, all because its one and only concern is to maximize profits for its shareholders. Read more »

The Law and Economics of Wigs

No, not the 17th-century British political party. I'm talking about the head coverings worn by bald men, Orthodox Jewish women, and yes, even by Whigs.

Jewish law prescribes a strict code of modesty for both men and women, but the law is especially strict for women. In the presence of men (except for their husbands), Orthodox women must wear sleeves to their elbows, skirts (no pants) past their knees, high necklines to their collar bones, and must cover their hair if they are married. Read more »

Can You Hear Me Now?

FARGO, North Dakota (AP) -- A man who said he was fed up with his cellular phone service went to a Fargo mall and started hurling phones across a store, striking an employee and causing more than $2,000 in damage, authorities said.

Jason Perala, 22, of Fargo, told The Forum newspaper that he planned only to yell at employees at Verizon Wireless. Read more »

Tip To Spammers

Here's a tip for spammers: If you want to get people to open file attachments contaminated with a virus, judging from this comment thread and what are currently the top requests on search engines, it appears that all you need to do is name the file "The Nick Berg Video." Read more »

The American Way?

I'm in the middle of watching VH1's "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs ... Ever." Coming in at #20 is Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue," an angry ode to jingoistic warmongers.

Now, if it was up to me, the 50 most awesomely bad songs ever would consist entirely of country music, but this song is especially heinous, with the lyrical gem, "We'll put a boot in your ass / It's the American way."

Comedian Nick Kroll deadpans, Read more »

Double, Double Oil and Trouble

A surprisingly sensible post about oil prices and reserves from Australian social-democrat, economist, and Crooked-Timberite John Quiggin. Quiggin's post, in turn, is a comment on this surprisingly sensible NY Times article by Paul Krugman Read more »

The Real World: Protectionist Style

No, this is not about everyone's favorite MTV reality [sic] show. Instead, it's a neat little Nozickian thought-experiment about the fairness of outsourcing and sweatshop labor. In the now infamous discussion thread, Evan Williams suggests the following:

Gender Benders Redux

I'd like to follow up on one point I missed in my previous critique of Daniel Moore's post about libertarianism/Objectivism and gender.

In his original argument, Moore writes: