Things I Wish I’d Said

There are only two meaningful players in economics – the market and force. Anyone who says they want to go around the market wants the option to shoot you.

–Tonia JT McBride

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Duck Season


Urban Meyer's Duck Stamp

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A Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy docked Monday with the International Space Station, less than six hours after launching from Russia’s manned space facility in Kazakhstan.

The Russian capsule roared into the pre-dawn darkness just after 3 a.m. Monday (4:00 p.m. EST Sunday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Russian Anton Shkaplerov, NASA’s Terry Virts and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy aboard.

The craft docked with the space station after a trip lasting five hours and 48 minutes, which the NASA television commentator noted was roughly the time it takes to drive from NASA headquarters in Houston, Texas, to New Orleans, Louisiana.  [emphasis added]

Houston -> New Orleans: 348 miles, per Google Maps.

ISS orbital altitude: 205-270 miles, per Wikipedia.

…you’d think the rocket would be faster than that!

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Achievement Unlocked: Graduate Law School

Joey the Law Grad--Reduced

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History Repeats Itself

A Washington state newspaper is crying foul after a state senator proposed making the paper pay a $150,000-a-year fine for being “one of the top polluters in the county.” It just so happens that the lawmaker, state Sen. Don Benton, had been the subject of a series of critical articles in the same newspaper.

Benton proposed the newspaper fine as 1.5 cents per paper distributed, and said it would only apply to newspapers that have a weekly circulation of over 50,000 because they have the greatest environmental impact. The Columbian is the only paper that fits those criteria in the county, and based on its current circulation its annual fine would be about $150,000.

Hrm.  Is it just us, or does this sound remarkably like Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner, 460 U.S. 575 (1983)?


Differential taxation of the press, then, places such a burden on the interests protected by the First Amendment that we cannot countenance such treatment unless the State asserts a counterbalancing interest of compelling importance that it cannot achieve without differential taxation.

The main interest asserted by Minnesota in this case is the raising of revenue. Of course that interest is critical to any government. Standing alone, however, it cannot justify the special treatment of the press, for an alternative means of achieving the same interest without raising concerns under the First Amendment is clearly available: the State could raise the revenue by taxing businesses generally, avoiding the censorial threat implicit in a tax that singles out the press.

Minnesota’s ink and paper tax violates the First Amendment not only because it singles out the press, but also because it targets a small group of newspapers. The effect of the $100,000 exemption enacted in 1974 is that only a handful of publishers pay any tax at all, and even fewer pay any significant amount of tax. … And when the exemption selects such a narrowly defined group to bear the full burden of the tax, the tax begins to resemble more a penalty for a few of the largest newspapers than an attempt to favor struggling smaller enterprises.

Don’t worry about that silly Constitution thing, Senator; there’s nothing at all wrong with using the power of the state to harass those who speak out against you.

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State of the Liver Address

Good evening, everybody!  We’re here with you live following the State of the Union Address.  We assume you know the rules, but for those who haven’t been here before, you can find them at Reason‘s State of the Union Drinking Game.  Please remember that we’re trained professionals; based on scuttlebutt, it looks like we’ll be drinking enough to tranq an Aussie sailor, so best you amateurs just watch and learn.

We’d also like to thank our sponsor, Listerine, whose fine product we’ll be drinking tonight.  Listerine: when you just have to get that horrible taste out of your mouth.



…and done.  To our hepatologist: we’ll call you about that liver transplant first thing in the morning.  To our herpetologist: do something about that snake, would you?

We, of course, do not advocate such heavy drinking on a regular basis.  Remember, America: alcohol can be dangerous, so vote responsibly.


“…all people have the right to express themselves freely…” …so long as they do so from a designated free speech zone.


Why would Iran need to build a nuke?  I’m sure Eric holder is working fast, and furiously, at getting those weapons over there.


“Let me be clear….”  Ever clear.  Drink!


No, Russian diplomacy, backed by the threat of American force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being dismantled.


Privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.  Drink, and drink hearty, because that’s about 300,000,000 lies right there!


Drones and surveillance programs.  Drink!


“Fight the battles that need to be fought, not that those that terrorists want us to fight.”  So, again, tell us about Syria.


Syria!  Drink!


Treatment for catastrophic illness?  That’s not covered, even for a US Senator.


“Let’s see if the numbers add up!”  We already know yours don’t.


“Pre-existing conditions.”  Damn, I wish I could get that sort of rule on my homeowner’s and auto policies.  I’d wait until after the fire, or the rollover, to buy the insurance.  It’s brilliant!


In case you weren’t aware, Mr. President, we already have several ways to create Individual Retirement Accounts (see, they’re even called that).  In addition to company-sponsored 401(k), we have Keogh, Roth, SIMPLE IRAs, and others.  Again, putting it in bonds won’t even keep track with inflation.  This is just a way to fund the government’s endless spending on the backs of the working class.


Savings bond.  So…loaning money to  That’s not an investment, that’s a way to keep funding a government that is having trouble selling its bonds on the commercial market.


Inequality again.  Drink!


…and give those same businesses more expensive employees, and their suppliers more expensive employees (which will be passed along in higher prices for the supplies)…it’s win-win!


All hail Caesar Obammus!


John gave his employee a raise because his productivity helped the business to grow.  John earned that raise.  You, Mr. President, want to arbitrarily give it to everybody, regardless of performance.  Not the same thing


Income inequality.  Drink!


“…priced out of a college education.”  Pop quiz: does making student loans widely available–that is, does increasing demand for college–work to A) increase price, or B) decrease price?

(Hint: if you got an A) in Economics, you’d know this one.)


Darn skippy.  We have to start that indoctrination early, before they get any unauthorized ideas.


Government spending as investment.  Drink!


If the schools were really teaching critical thinking, you wouldn’t have been elected.


Ah, federal management of education.  Has anybody told this guy that we put a man on the moon before the US Department of Education was established?  Does anybody think our education system is more successful now?


“…needs them in the game…” …so we’ll pay them to stay out of the game!  It’s so crazy, it just might work!


“I’m not dependent upon the government…” …I just want it to keep paying my living expenses.  Two years is not enough!


Yes, we absolutely need to pay people not to work for more than two years!  It’s crazy to expect them to find something productive to do!


“Solar energy.”  You mean like Solyndra?


“Foreign oil….”  Fact check: the US has become a net exporter of oil.  Foreigners are running on American oil.


And speaking of trade, how about we quit bombing the daylights out of the rest of the world, and instead forge “A Capitalist Peace.


“I’ll act on my own!”  I’m Caesar, damnit, I don’t need approval from the Senate!


“…millions outside of Washington who are moving this country forward.”  Uh, yeah.  That’s called a clue, Sherlock.  Progress happens outside the Beltway.


All hail Caesar!


Inequality and upward mobility.  Make it a double!


Government spending as “invest[ing] in this country’s future.”  Drink!


“…not that I have any intend to back off.  ‘Compromise’ means ‘you do what I say.'”


“…lowest unemployment rate…” which is finally getting down to the level you said we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to avoid exceeding.


…and those damned Russians wouldn’t let me start a new one!


…and here we go!


Oh, goody, we have a sideshow!  Duck Dynasty!


The talking heads are killing time while the dog-and-pony show trickles into the chamber, and we’re already hearing references to Pete Seeger.  If we had started the game when the coverage started, we’d already be three sheets to the wind.

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Any further commentary about our procrastination will henceforth be met with derisive laughter, then immediate deletion.

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Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, goes the axiom.  Property rights extend not just to the surface, but infinitely out to space.  This set us to thinking about a Robert Heinlein novella, The Man Who Sold the Moon.  If we could somehow arrange to be directly under the Moon, we’d have ownership thereof.  But the Moon is big.  Really big.  3475 km in diameter.  We’d need to own a piece of land about two-thirds the length of the US in order to claim the Moon.

…but wait a second.  The Earth being round, our property wouldn’t be a column, but rather a cone, with the vertex at the center of the Earth and expanding as we ascend.  Knowing the diameter of the Earth (7918 km) and the distance to the Moon (384,400 km), we can figure out what smaller piece of terrestrial property, located directly under the Moon’s orbit, would project a large enough cone to fully encompass the lunar disc.  A little quick math and we come up with a circular plot of land a bit under 72km in diameter, or a little over 44 miles.

Anybody have some land for sale in Texas?

(For the record, yes, we know the doctrine is no longer still good.  It started to die about the time man started to fly; if it were still good law, we could sue for trespass any passing aircraft.)

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Dime(bag) For Your Thoughts?

Context: discussing Washington and Colorado’s recent legalization of marijuana.

Prof. B.: In Colorado they sold a million dollars’ worth on the first day.

Student: Think of the tax revenues of that.  They’re going to have some great highways.

Smartarse Student: …no pun intended.

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