January 28, 2012

Resolution: Ignore the Super Bowl

I made it after reading how a player was targeted because of his concussion history: here and here, for example. So far I've been keeping it.

The owners are amoral, the players are thugs, and the fans are louts. There are noteworthy exceptions, but not enough of them.

Historical Perspective on the Megaupload Seizure

From Harvard's Yochai Benkler: here and here. Like the man says, read the whole thing.

Kim Dotcom is an unsavory character, but the real crooks are media executives and their sockpuppets in government. (My first impulse was to use a stronger word than 'sockpuppets'.)

I've said it before and am saying it again: it's not enough to impede SOPA/PIPA. What's needed is to punish the people, in an out of government, who are pushing it. It's not enough for the anti-SOPA Internet constituency to play defense. I'd love to see a bill that reduces copyright terms to three years.

January 23, 2012

Is Any Honest Politician Left Anywhere?

The classic definition is that an honest politician is one who stays bought.

US politicians turned on the tobacco companies after receiving support from them for decades.

Kiwi politicians granted Kim Dotcom residency for a $10M purchase of government bonds--and then conspired with the US to arrest him, seize his assets, and extradite him. What is NZ's cut of the confiscated assets?
In a statement the Immigration Service said that “Mr Dotcom made full disclosure of his previous convictions and they were taken into account in the granting of his residence.

“The Immigration Act allows for discretion to be exercised in certain cases. In this particular case Immigration NZ weighed the character issue and any associated risk to New Zealand against potential benefits to New Zealand.”
They went right after those potential benefits, didn't they? But wait:
The Government has confirmed no minister was involved in the decision, but the Labour Party will insists that given the risks involved one should have been.
That's all right then, if the Government said so.

Afaic Dotcom is no bigger a rogue than the entertainment bigshots are; a fair comparison might show him to advantage. His problem is that his business never got big enough to compete with Hollywood's bribes.

Similar hanky-panky here.

Addendum 20120128. NZ admitted Dotcom. However, he was not allowed to buy the residence he rents, but was allowed to buy another luxury property.

Meanwhile, his assets are frozen, crippling his ability to hire representation. Innocent until proven guilty, uh huh.

Let me not be misunderstood: Dotcom is an unsavory character--but not as unsavory as the people who are going after him.

January 20, 2012

The Megaupload Takedown

Here. (HT: Instapundit.) Here. (HT: Democratic Underground.)

1. IMO this is part of the push to get SOPA passed. Will it work, or will it backfire? Given Republican deference to all things law enforcement, they might back off their newfound opposition to SOPA. Fingers crossed.

2. The victims are foreign nationals who were arrested in New Zealand. The pretext is apparently that a server was hosted in the US: or maybe Amerika isn't bothering with a pretext.

3. Why in the world are foreign governments putting up with this? There are all kinds of phony protests about US imperialism, but for real imperalism...nothing. Hopefully foreigners will protest to their governments the way Americans are protesting about SOPA.

4. Meanwhile, Obama has angered an ally and trading partner rejecting the Keystone pipeline.

5. Context: bupkis happened to the Americans who crashed the world economy.

6. When the chickens come home to roost because of such arrogance, it won't be pretty.

7. In some ways this is worse than Watergate. It is being done on openly a global scale with legal pretexts.

8. Not to forget the maneuvering about Assange and Wikileaks.

9. Having gotten the foregoing off my chest, I acknowledge that the news is very preliminary.

Afterthoughts 20120120:

10. The Megaupload founder Kim Schmitz is a piece of work.

11. NZ police were "happy to assist" the FBI even though there is no intention to try the arrested people under New Zealand law. Maybe NZ is happy for a pretext to get rid of somebody with Schmitz's rap sheet. Or maybe people got suborned.

January 19, 2012

Governance by False Dichotomy

Example: the distribution of wealth in the US. Either it's not a problem, or the government should confiscate the supposed excess. No alternatives enter public discourse.

January 17, 2012

Scott Brown Opposes SOPA/PIPA


Okay, I'll vote for him again. Donate again? Not so sure.

And it's premature to celebrate. I'm not at all sure that the legislation is dead. The politicians are entirely capable of announcing they've fixed the problems, renaming the bill, and ramming it through; or of slipping it into a larger bill.

Afterthought. My message to Brown:

I was pleased to read your Tweet opposing SOPA and PIPA.

I suspect that the corporate backers of these bills are engaging in rent-seeking crony capitalism. Even if one concedes that their points have merit--I do not, for Hollywood has previously worked against innovations like the VCR--, their arguments are overwhelmingly outweighed by considerations of economic growth, fair use, and human rights.

January 15, 2012


The National Bureau of Economic Research has made all working papers more than three years old available for free download.

I am sending them the following:
I noticed your new policy of making older working papers freely available via SSRN.

You have struck a fair, even generous, balance between the public interest, your legitimate organizational interest, and the legitimate interests of your contributors and their organizations. You are setting a rare example at a time when the legitimate concept of intellectual property is being perverted by corporate rent seekers and their bought-and-paid-for politicians.

This infrequent user of SSRN and an even more infrequent user of NBER is taking a moment to say: thank you.
Beau geste.

January 14, 2012

January 11, 2012

To Attack Romney's Record at Bain Is To Attack Capitalism...Who Knew?

Capitalism, too, has its useful idiots.

Lately the emphasis has been on idiot rather than useful.

If It Seems They Can't Get Any Dumber

Conservative cult hero supply-sider Arthur Laffer has mentioned that unrealized capital gains are "currently" not taxed. Apparently he thinks he's refuting Warren Buffett--by putting the matter of taxing unrealized gains on the table ("currently taxed at zero percent"...great choice of words). Undermining his party in order to supposedly win a debating point.

January 5, 2012

They Lie When Their Lips Aren't Moving

It's an election year, the country's finances are fundamentally out of balance, and the candidates, including the incumbent, hardly ever mention a VAT.

Is America No Longer the Land of Opportunity?

So claims WaPo columnist Harold Meyerson. His references sound plausible. Is he cherry-picking them? I'll have to think about it.

Then again, this WaPo piece by David Ignatius, published the same day as Meyerson's, is much flimsier than its companion.

And there is Thomas Friedman's The Way We Used to Be.

Golly, if all these brilliant people had the same idea, it must be Journolist correct.

Seriously: I agree that top US executives are grossly overpaid--but that doesn't mean the answer is for the government to confiscate the money. I suspect the highest-echelon compensation system is a monopoly; if so, it should be treated that way.

January 3, 2012


Why do people usually revert after successful weight loss? Evidence is emerging that the body goes on a war footing after a serious diet. (Anecdote: maybe not if the weight loss is very gradual.)

In other words, the people who have been sanctimoniously lecturing us about health and obesity may have all along have been completely unaware of something fundamental about how the body works.

Something to keep in mind the next time the parasite classes commission "research" and "studies" and use the results to create another regulation to create more phoney baloney jobs for each other for our own good.