Morning Links

Monday, May 23rd, 2011
  • Amazing color photographs from the Great Depression.
  • Smoke or deal pot, and the SWAT team will violently break into your home in the middle of the night. But beat a man within an inch of his life, then run from the law, and the SWAT team will come for you in broad daylight, surround your house, make several announcements over a bullhorn, and give you the opportunity to surrender peacefully.
  • Lawmakers, regulators take aim at prepaid credit cards. Because of the drugs.
  • Have no idea if this actually happened. But I hope it did.
  • New York City cracks down on “illegal hotels“, basically making it impossible for a non-profit, private home or apartment owner, or any other party to rent a room to out-of-towners without getting all the proper and prohibitively expensive hotel permits. Great example of how regulation often protects big businesses, and screws over just about everyone else.
  • Time lapse puppy-to-adult video.

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67 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Stick | 

    Do you vote for the candidate with the most expensive ads? How stupid do you think people are?

    Most of them are on the wrong side of the bell curve.

  2. #2 |  jesse | 

    What if FDR had kept his campaign promise and we had stayed out of that useless war, and the gold had not been confiscated, and our money stayed sound.

    Well, we wouldn’t have been able to be the only industrial country, after having bombed everyone else into oblivion, but perhaps our economy and monetary system would have stayed on a straighter and narrower path.

    Not to mention hundreds of thousands of people that would have been left alive, here to procreate, so our country would have possibly trillions of unspent government dollars and millions of unrealized citizens that are now spent and gone on both parts.

    Hey, the Founders were idiots. the USA was meant to project power and politics hither and yon, no expense spared, who are we kidding!!!!!!

  3. #3 |  Doc Merlin | 

    “Smoke or deal pot, and the SWAT team will violently break into your home in the middle of the night. But beat a man within an inch of his life, then run from the law, and the SWAT team will come for you in broad daylight, surround your house, make several announcements over a bullhorn, and give you the opportunity to surrender peacefully.”

    Well, yes, beating a man to death shows you are dangerous and willing to commit violence and SWAT doesn’t want to risk getting hurt. Where-as the average pot smoker isn’t and if they are slow in a pot case he will destroy evidence. SWAT people are rational self-interested human beings just like everyone else, and we should expect them to maximize their own utility.

  4. #4 |  marco73 | 

    Its all part of the SWAT tactics. They didn’t really need any more evidence on the beating guy, they just needed to pick him up. So no hurry, no need to put any citizens (and certainly no cops) in danger.
    But for a drug warrant, you always want to get more evidence. Forced entry in the early morning hours, kill the dog, then point your guns at someone’s kid and demand: “Where are the F** drugs!” People who are scared to death will tell you anything.
    Now if some courts were to start throwing out evidence gathered through such blatant armed force, those armed entry tactics would change. But with the recent shredding of the 4th Amendment by the Supremes, I’d expect forced entries to gather evidence to increase.

  5. #5 |  albatross | 

    Highway:

    As an independent datapoint: My sister worked for several years as a county health inspector. It was *very* hard for her to shut down restaurants, even ones with horrible sanitation. She managed it a couple times for places with godawful problems, and I’m sure that made for noticably less foodborne disease in that county.

    You can and should notice bad sanitation and lukewarm food and avoid it. (And that’s what health inspectors look for, in practice, though with more access than you have–restaurants never seem to let me wander around their kitchen looking for rodent droppings or bugs, testing the temperature of the food in the holding areas, etc.) However, it’s not easy to work out what meal made you sick all by yourself. You either need lab tests, or data from many people who ate the same thing (but didn’t share the rest of their meals) to be sure.

  6. #6 |  Pablo | 

    Speaking of dogs:

    http://www.accessatlanta.com/celebrities-tv/dog-nurses-ligers-after-955632.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm

    Something to make you feel a little better in the midst of all the bad news.

  7. #7 |  JOR | 

    “SWAT people are rational self-interested human beings just like everyone else, and we should expect them to maximize their own utility.”

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Anyone who does anything at all is trying to maximize their own utility and follow their incentives. Nobody ever thinks that is an excuse for anyone but the pigs.

  8. #8 |  celticdragon | 

    So why don’t they just enforce the fucking fire code instead of heaping further burdens upon people who want to offer affordable places to sleep in New York City?

    A fair point.

  9. #9 |  celticdragon | 

    You can and should notice bad sanitation and lukewarm food and avoid it. (And that’s what health inspectors look for, in practice, though with more access than you have–restaurants never seem to let me wander around their kitchen looking for rodent droppings or bugs, testing the temperature of the food in the holding areas, etc.)

    A good example of where government inspection can work with the free market. When you go into a restaurant…look for their health inspection scorecard, and decide for yourself. A Chinese restaurant we went to often suddenly got downgraded to a “B” and we stopped going for some time. Last week, they were back up to a 99% and we had dinner there.

  10. #10 |  albatross | 

    celticdragon:

    Also, many (though perhaps not all) chain restaurants are pretty careful to keep their restaurants up to a higher standard of cleanliness and health than the local authorities demand. ISTR that McDonalds is one example of this. A very long time ago, when I was working at a McDonalds as a college student, I remember that our store owners were utterly unworried about the county health inspector, but were scared to death of failing the McDonalds corporate inspection. (This was an announced inspection–I vividly remember scrubbing the tile floors with a bristle brush, among other things. I think they also did unannounced inspections at various depths.)

  11. #11 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    A good example of where government inspection can work with the free market. When you go into a restaurant…look for their health inspection scorecard, and decide for yourself.

    Except I cannot get my “Boyd Kitchen Safety Rating” service off the ground because of the shitty, but free, government service…which is mandatory. Luckily there are a couple hundred tech industry areas where the “freer” market is able to answer the call without a jack boot getting in the way…for now.

  12. #12 |  albatross | 

    Boyd:

    Franchise/chain restaurants are one counterexample. AAA ratings (hotels and restaurants, though the hotel ratings are more useful) are another. Zaggat guides (and all their competitors) are still another. So I’m not seeing the dead hand of government keeping you out of this market.

    The dead hand of government may well be keeping you from running a restaurant that would achieve the goal of safe food in some non-approved way (for example, you could serve your hamburger and chicken rare when ordered that way, but serve only irradiated meat so there wouldn’t be enough surviving pathogens to make anyone sick even without cooking). But it’s not keeping you from rating existing, open restaurants on whatever basis you like.

  13. #13 |  Highway | 

    albatross, that kinda furthers my point. So the government can’t even shut it down when there’s an observed problem. That’s because the process becomes political, no? On top of that, what do you think really changed in the time between the restaurant you like being ok (with you going to it) to them getting a “B” rating, and then recovering it to a 99%? Did they fire someone? Was some less than optimal ingredient sourced? Was a general practice changed? Or was the problem just cleaned up, and they get their good rating and back to business as before? You don’t know, and because the government inspector’s not coming back for six months or a year, it’s hit or miss whether they’ll catch it next time.

  14. #14 |  Highway | 

    Sorry, the second part was addressed to celticdragon again.

  15. #15 |  celticdragonchick | 

    albatross, that kinda furthers my point. So the government can’t even shut it down when there’s an observed problem. That’s because the process becomes political, no?

    How so? Isn’t that what you should want when you allow the market to make the choice? It really does take a monumental screw-up to get shut down, but a B rating at a restaurant is a real incentive to get your act together and clean up, since customers start staying away.

    I am not seeing your problem here.

  16. #16 |  Highway | 

    My problem is the faith that’s put into a government system, without actually knowing anything about the government ratings, and without any provision of effectiveness of the government system. The B rating might never have happened if the inspection was a different day, or a different inspector. Or maybe it’s just known that it got a ‘B’ rating, without knowledge of the scale. Perhaps a B is something like “Dumpster overflowing” because the trash company missed a pickup cause some jerk was parked in front of the dumpster. Or perhaps a B is something like “cleaning products stored too close to dishwasher”. Or maybe a B is something really bad, but not a worse rating because it’s the first time it was found.

    albatross’ point (well, what I took from it) was that even restaurants with an F don’t get shut down by regulators. Sometimes they don’t even have to post the rating, other times they hide it. There was a funny picture going around the internet a year or more ago of a restaurant that posted the F rating warning in their window… with similar letters around it spelling out something about the restaurant so it was hidden. So the reliance on government ratings and inspection to ensure safe food preparation just doesn’t hold up. Yet it’s treated like an end-all, be-all.

  17. #17 |  albatross | 

    Highway:

    My knowledge is limited to a small number of cases, but in those cases, my sister *was* able to close down the “F” rated restaurants, albeit with a lot of effort. But she couldn’t really close down the “C” restaurants. In her county, they didn’t even have to post ratings, though I think that’s a good idea.