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Gun Control Outrage of the Day

I keep holding out hope that this story is some sort of bizarre hoax. Via Alex Massie:

A former soldier who handed a discarded shotgun in to police faces at least five years imprisonment for "doing his duty".

Paul Clarke, 27, was found guilty of possessing a firearm at Guildford Crown Court on Tuesday – after finding the gun and handing it personally to police officers on March 20 this year.

The jury took 20 minutes to make its conviction, and Mr Clarke now faces a minimum of five year's imprisonment for handing in the weapon.

[. . . ]

In his statement, he said: "I took it indoors and inside found a shorn-off shotgun and two cartridges.

"I didn't know what to do, so the next morning I rang the Chief Superintendent, Adrian Harper, and asked if I could pop in and see him.

"At the police station, I took the gun out of the bag and placed it on the table so it was pointing towards the wall."

Mr Clarke was then arrested immediately for possession of a firearm at Reigate police station, and taken to the cells.

I say I hope this is all a mistake or prank, because this story seems to be getting very little attention in the press, and it seems like it would be. Although it apparently was in the Sun print edition.

I honestly don't know how people like Radley Balko or our own Randall McElroy read these things constantly and stay sane. I'm an economist and get pretty annoyed at bad policy, but rarely does it make me feel physically ill like reading this story did. Disgusting.

They are not there to help you

I haven't really been following this story, but Mary Theroux has a great post on a high-school gang rape and the lamentable lack of consequences for the school authorities:

A few weeks ago a 16 year old high school girl was gang-raped for a period of over two hours in a poorly-lit courtyard on the campus of her high school during the homecoming dance. While there have been outpourings of horror, sympathy for the victim, funds raised for her future, etc., I’ve seen absolutely no call anywhere for holding the school officials accountable. On the contrary, local media has accepted and reported the crime as “nearly inevitable:”

Charles Johnson, one of the high school’s security specialists said, “We know that courtyard, and we’ve been waiting for something to happen there.”

Belichick: genius or madman?

The talk around the NFL is about New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick's decision on Monday night. For those who haven't heard, his team was up by 6 points with about two minutes left in the game. It was 4th and 2 from their own 30 yard line. In other words, almost everyone making the decision would have punted. But Belichick decided to go for it. He is either being accused of being arrogant for taking the risk or of not having confidence in his defense.

The play came up about 6 inches short (officially), Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts got the ball back, and proceeded to score a touchdown with 13 seconds left to clinch the win.

Immediately after the game, the reaction on various internet forums that I visit was 99% against Belichick; I was one of the few sympathetic souls. Over the last 24 hours since the game ended, a few more people are coming to his defense.

The reason I believe very few people support Belichick's decision is that most people are not very good at probabilistic thinking. Hindsight is 20/20. As I see it, the decision is as follows:

A) Punt the ball. Colts get the ball around their own 30 or 40, and Peyton Manning has to go 60 or 70 yards in 2 minutes. I'd rate the chances of the Patriots stopping him at about 70%.

B) Go for the 4th down conversion. I'd give the chances of success better than even, say, 60%. If they get the first down, Patriots win. On the 40% chance that they don't get the first down, Peyton Manning has to go 30 yards in 2 minutes. I'd give the chances of the Patriots stopping him in that situation 30%.

Note that choice A yields a 70% chance of winning. Choice B yields at least a 60% of winning (converting the fourth down), and probably more (stopping Manning even if they don't convert the fourth down).

Now, I have no problem with anyone who agrees with all this and still thinks the right decision was punting, or anyone who thinks my percentages are off. Heck, I probably would have punted. But my points are:

1) It was a calculated risk.
2) Whether the decision was the correct one is evaluated regardless of the outcome. The correct decision often results in failure.

Is it possible to own a radio frequency ?

Over at FR33 Agents, Pambas! asks, "Is it possible to own a radio frequency ?":

Here is the scenario:

A have a broadcasting station, from which he decide to broadcast in the 100 Mhz frequency music and talk-shows, or whatever cruise is mind. The station can broadcast in a radius if 25 km.

within the is area, B have a property, and can he decide to broadcast on the same frequency has A, with the same range has A broadcast station.

Can B sue A because the radio waves trespass his property ?

Share you though on this one :D Its not has easy has it seems ...

Here's my reply:

If A and B were both information broadcasters competing for consumers, I think they would be motivated to resolve their conflict quickly--sadly, from experience, by forming a cartel. If the cartel could not be enforced, market participants would play a positive-sum game of making the market as attractive as possible to gain new consumers.

The more difficult situation is where B is not participating in the information broadcast market, but is generating noise in the frequency, perhaps by the use of some sparking electrical equipment. In this case, information broadcasters would be creating a secondary market for organizations that could maximize the amount of useful medium for transmission--perhaps insurance companies that could pool the risk of accidental bandwidth pollution across geography and frequency and be large enough to participate in other markets common to the polluter, such as finance or contract reputation. At some stage, the cost/benefits would have to balance so either the polluter would be motivated to reduce his noise, or the broadcasters would abandon their plans to use transmission through the electromagnetic spectrum.

It might be sad for entrepreneur A who invested resources in a broadcast station without considering the problems that may occur, but eventually he and other owners of capital will become more careful in their planning before sinking their resources into new technology.

In short, entrepreneurs swim in this ocean all the time. Over time, more of us will realize that coercion is only a short-term fix for problems at best. As this happens, the growing market for liberty will draw more resources into non-coercive institutions.

Can you think of anything I should add?

Roissy, put down that thesaurus!


The father swiveled his head and made eye contact with me, presumably in search of proximate allies, but I didn’t give him the satisfaction of laughing with him. Instead, I curled my mouth downward and narrowed my eyes, making sure my disgust for him and his Morlockian broodclan was obvious. My eyes swooped slowly over all four of them — a white family from out of town, judging by the faint hillbilly accent I heard. There was the father with close-set eyes and a face wider than it was tall, the sweaty stringy-haired fat pig mother who wheezed with each labored breath, the little boy (a rapscallion in training no doubt), and the little girl. I sneered one word, audible enough for them to hear: “class”. There was a still moment when it seemed as if he and his wife were registering my reaction and deciding what to do about it. The father’s smile dropped and he turned back around.

Fortunately for him, he did nothing. Maybe he could read the seething contempt on my face and sensed the lurid scenario playing itself out in my mind, the visceral desire I had, given the slightest pretext, to shove his filthy loser face into the escalator machinery, ripping his eyes and mouth and flesh and sinew off the bone and kicking the fat brood sow so hard in her bloated belly she is rendered infertile, as her children mewl helplessly nearby. Yes, he made the right decision to shut his trap. He knew, on some deep level, I was his better, and he would get no succor from me.

Mewl? Succor?

Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer

The Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago today. This was part of a longer chain of events leading to the demise of communism as a worldwide phenomenon. Watch here. Jubilation like that gives me goose bumps.

On a personal note, I was a child of seven living in West Germany during this very period. I was too young to understand the significance of it, but not too young to feel the electricity in the air and see it on everyone's face. I could relive that all day long too.

Seasteading: the Anti-Wall

Patri provides a solid analogy to illustrate the basic economic mechanisms behind Seasteading on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

How to think like a Conservative

To a conservative, the character of a society is derived from more than the structure that law gives it. If you are going to reduce Conservatism to one simple phrase, one distinguishing thesis, it would be this: culture matters.

Conservatism argues that people with a healthy culture can form a happy society even with a poor structure of laws. It also posits the converse: that people with an unhealthy culture will not thrive even under the best legal structure.

Libertarianism focuses solely on the structure of laws. To the extent that it acknowledges the culture of a society at all, it insists that culture be left to laissez-fare as a matter of morality. Libertarians assume that societies with any arbitrary culture will turn out okay if the incentives of the law are well-designed.

Change. Hope.

Every generation must relearn the lesson: don't trust politicians.

A year later our candidate that valued technology, openness, and government transparency, the darling of Silicon Valley, is up to the same old bullshit.

Commercial of Note

The 2010 Cadillac SRX commercial features Phoenix's "1901".

On the same geographic theme, here's Kings of Leon's "Arizona".