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3:41 pm - Tue, Apr 8, 2014
7 notes
We are having a moment. Go away.

We are having a moment. Go away.

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3:41 pm
3 notes
Hey, kids! Back in the day, when you weren’t home and you wanted to call someone, you used one of these big things. If you could find one, and you had a dime.

Hey, kids! Back in the day, when you weren’t home and you wanted to call someone, you used one of these big things. If you could find one, and you had a dime.

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12:55 pm
265,591 notes

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12:53 pm
1,429 notes
What a face.

What a face.

(Source: armedskeeter, via capitalismconcarne)

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10:21 am
21 notes

You Can Have My Knife When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Hands

A certain fellow — we’ll call him Fred — broke the law a while ago. He didn’t mean to. He didn’t even know he was doing it. Nevertheless, had he been caught he could have gone to jail — for a year.

Fred lives in Virginia. Last fall he went on a camping trip. Not knowing what the terrain might be like, he stowed a short machete in his backpack — in case he needed to clear away some stinging nettles, or behead a stray boomslang. (Boomslangs are extremely poisonous snakes whose venom makes you bleed to death from every bodily orifice. They are usually found only in sub-Saharan Africa — but why take chances?)

In any event, Fred unwittingly committed a Class 1 misdemeanor. Virginia’s concealed-weapons law makes it illegal to carry “hidden from common observation” not just firearms but also dirks, bowie knives, switchblades, razors and a variety of more exotic items usually seen only in poorly dubbed martial-arts movies. The list also includes machetes.

Fortunately for Fred, he has an ally in his corner — a group called Knife Rights, which is like the National Rifle Association but for knives. Last month Knife Rights won a big (for them) victory when Tennessee repealed a law prohibiting switchblades. Tennessee followed the lead of Alaska, which legalized them in 2013. Knife Rights was behind both efforts.

You wouldn’t think the country has much need for a group like Knife Rights. After all, there is no countervailing force trying to ban knives in America: No Knife Control Inc. or Center for the Study of Knife Policy and Research. There have been no Million Mom Marches for knife control, no congressional efforts to ban big blades.

On the other hand, a few years ago nobody would have expected New York to ban the Big Gulp, either. Now look.

As it turns out, the laws governing knives can be surprisingly restrictive — and in some ways even more restrictive than firearms laws. Example: In Virginia and many other states, you can get a concealed-weapons permit to carry a gun — but if you want to carry a hunting knife under your coat, too bad: You can’t get a permit for that. Switchblades may be technically legal in Virginia, but possessing one is considered prima facie evidence of intent to sell, which is illegal.

In Pennsylvania it’s illegal to bring any knife of any size onto school property, concealed or not. And in New York, Knife Rights has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two men who were charged with carrying illegal weapons after police officers noticed the clips holding their folding pocket knives. The knives had thumb studs enabling them to be opened with one hand, and locking mechanisms to keep them from folding onto the holder’s fingers by accident.

Knives like that are as common as Diet Coke — but New York D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. thinks they should be verboten. Four years ago he settled a case against several diabolical criminal enterprises, including Home Depot and Paragon Sports, for selling them. The stores surrendered almost $2 million for, as Vance said, “brazenly” hawking what he mistakenly called illegal gravity knives. (As the name implies, a gravity knife will open through gravity alone, or through centrifugal force if flicked. Common folding knives won’t.)

The trouble with such restrictions is that knives are dual-purpose objects. They can be used as weapons, just as hammers and baseball bats can, but like hammers and baseball bats they usually aren’t. Most kitchens have several big ones. A few years ago, the fact that people sometimes use kitchen knives in fits of rage led the editors of the British Medical Journal to call for restrictions on them. “We need to ban the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives,” they wrote. That meant any knife longer than two inches.

This was too much even for the usually ban-happy New York Times. But it might not be too much for others. Activist Al Sharpton has suggested we might need more knife control. Gothamist, a major New York website, thought it was a real knee-slapper that “Knife-lovin’ patriots” would object to the city’s tough knife laws: “Who doesn’t enjoy a nice recreational afternoon in the park with a razor sharp gravity [sic] knife?”

Curiously, many dangerous-weapons laws have what seem like gaping holes in them. The Code of Virginia, for instance, doesn’t say a thing about hatchets. The only restriction on axes is a prohibition against hunters bearing them on private property without the owner’s permission. Nor does the Code mention swords, cutlasses or scimitars. But if your untucked shirt conceals a hefty hunting knife on your belt, you’re breaking the law. Once is a misdemeanor, but get caught with a concealed bowie twice and you’re up on felony charges.

Doug Ritter, the chairman of Knife Rights, says some of the blade restrictions have historical roots that are no longer valid, if they ever were. Laws against switchblades proliferated in the 1950s, when visions of street gangs like those in “West Side Story” danced through lawmakers’ heads. Bowie knives — large, fixed-blade sheath knives with drop points — were banned in the 19th century because of their frequent use in duels.

There’s no doubt knives are dangerous — witness the recent spate of knife slayings in China. What’s more, according to the FBI, more than 1,500 Americans were killed by knives or other cutting instruments in 2012. But that’s still just a fraction of the more than 33,000 Americans who were killed by motor vehicles in 2012, and nobody has suggested banning them — yet.

Comments

1:53 pm - Fri, Apr 4, 2014
157 notes
Just sayin’.

Just sayin’.

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2:42 pm - Wed, Apr 2, 2014

The fascinating history of Moorfield Storey — anti-imperialist, first president of the NAACP, and an early libertarian.

Comments

1:31 pm
21 notes

Zoning’s Racist Roots Still Bear Fruit

“Blacks,” said Mayor Barry Mahool, “should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidents of civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into the nearby White neighborhoods, and to protect property values among the White majority.”

Mahool was the mayor of Baltimore who, in 1910, signed into law a racial zoning ordinance. According to Christopher Silver’s “The Racial Origins of Zoning in American Cities,” he was also “a nationally recognized member of the ‘social justice’ wing of the Progressive movement.”

The cities employing racial zoning included many Southern ones: Norfolk, Atlanta, Louisville, Birmingham and more. But they were not limited to the South: Chicago practiced a form of racial zoning, too. San Francisco and other California cities used it to keep Chinese laundries in their place.

Yet the ball really got rolling in Richmond, where a 1911 zoning ordinance made it illegal to sell a house on a majority-white block to a black person, or a house on a majority-black block to a white person.

Even back then, the only color that some people cared about was green. The ordinance was challenged by whites and blacks who wanted to do business with one another. In 1915 it was upheld. “There is no discrimination between the races,” a Richmond court ruled in Hopkins v. City of Richmond, because the law applied to blacks and whites alike. What’s more, the ordinances were written “to do a public good” by keeping “one race from encroaching upon the other. The ordinances are intended to protect each race from harm from the other.”

That justification held for two years, until the Supreme Court struck down racial zoning in Buchanan v. Warley — a case George Mason University law professor David Bernstein has called “one of the most significant civil rights cases decided before the modern civil rights era.” As he wrote at SCOTUSblog back in 2004, the “right at issue” was the “civil right” of property — a right enjoyed equally by both whites and blacks: “ ‘Colored persons,’ Justice [William R.] Day wrote for the court, ‘are citizens of the United States and have the right to purchase property and enjoy and use the same without laws discriminating against them solely on account of color.’ ”

Regrettably, the highest court did not get the last word. No longer able to enforce explicitly racial zoning regulations, many cities used “expulsive” zoning to the same effect, by putting factories in certain neighborhoods to drive blacks out.

They also used other, indirect methods — such as housing betterment. According to Silver, “Richmond’s reform movement produced its own catalog of housing horrors when the Society for the Betterment of Housing Conditions published [a] graphic depiction of the city’s dilapidated black neighborhoods. [The] report made no direct reference to racial zoning as a remedial action but, instead, concentrated on housing codes [and] building regulations.”

Ancient history? Hardly. Progressivism likes to think of government as defending minorities from discrimination by private enterprise. But time and again, history has shown progressive ideas marching in lockstep with racist motives.

In 1954, the Supreme Court allowed the District of Columbia to use eminent domain to eradicate blight. The court’s language was high-toned: “The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive,” it ruled. “The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary.” The victims, however, shared mostly skin tone: The “urban renewal” district to be bulldozed was 97.5 percent black.

In the 2005 eminent domain case Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court allowed government to seize private property for someone else’s ostensibly higher use — condemnation in the name of social progress. Dissenting Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned that “the fallout from this decision will not be random.” She was right. An Institute for Justice study of 184 eminent domain cases occurring since the 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London found condemnation was used disproportionately against minority property holders.

Another study, in 2009, found “a strong and significant … relationship” between low-density zoning policies and racial segregation. Yet another paper, published last year, found that “over half the difference between levels of segregation in the stringently zoned Boston and lightly zoned Houston metro areas can be explained by zoning regulation alone.”

That would not be news to the Bukharian Jews of New York — immigrants from Central Asia whose voluble architectural tastes offend the more subdued sensibilities of their neighbors in Queens. As Melinda Katz, head of the New York City Council’s land-use committee, complained in 2008, the houses in the area “have a specific aesthetic character” and “a lot of the houses that are [now] going up there are just simply too big. … They are out of character.” Oh, gracious.

To Boris Kandov, head of a Bukharian association, the issue looked rather different: “Why are we in America? Because we’re dreaming of this freedom! We were dreaming to build big house!” (New York to immigrants: Dream on.)

Related concerns are now raising hackles in Fairfax County. On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that longtime residents of some neighborhoods have taken to calling or emailing the county’s code-enforcement division with complaints about too many cars in certain driveways and too many people in certain houses. By an amazing coincidence, the objects of the complaints are always immigrants — usually large Asian or Hispanic families. As Tim Cavanaugh observed in Reason three years ago, the attraction of urban planning is that it “allows discrimination but dresses it up as discriminating taste.”

But to the complainers, the issue isn’t race or ethnicity — it’s “quality of life.” You can’t have a bunch of people sharing a house, fixing cars in the yard and so on. It’s out of character with the neighborhood. It causes tensions and creates civil disturbance. And it’s bad for property values. There’s no discrimination in simply wanting the rules enforced, right?

Baltimore’s Barry Mahool would certainly agree.

 

Comments

2:04 pm - Tue, Apr 1, 2014
1,353 notes

The greatest roadside checkpoint stop in history, bar none.

Comments

12:27 pm
3 notes
Your tax dollars at work:
CNBC reports:

Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange, which has been allocated more than $205 million in federal funds, had signed up just 5,744 people in private insurance plans as of last Friday—the lowest enrollment tally in the nation.
That works out to $35,749 in allocated federal dollars per private plan enrollee—making the Hawaii Health Connector the least efficient state-run exchange by that metric as well.

As the accompanying chart shows, most states do much better. But the average is still more than six grand per enrollee. The story doesn’t make clear whether that tab includes the subsidies that help pay for new insurance policies, or simply the administrative cost of running the exchange itself. Neither possibility is encouraging. The second is frightening.

Your tax dollars at work:

CNBC reports:

Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange, which has been allocated more than $205 million in federal funds, had signed up just 5,744 people in private insurance plans as of last Friday—the lowest enrollment tally in the nation.

That works out to $35,749 in allocated federal dollars per private plan enrollee—making the Hawaii Health Connector the least efficient state-run exchange by that metric as well.

As the accompanying chart shows, most states do much better. But the average is still more than six grand per enrollee. The story doesn’t make clear whether that tab includes the subsidies that help pay for new insurance policies, or simply the administrative cost of running the exchange itself. Neither possibility is encouraging. The second is frightening.

Comments

10:04 am
1 note
Yes, he sometimes threw pieces of chalk at students, but they were usually small pieces.

Comments

9:36 am
3 notes
Government Transparency, Washington Style:
The Washington Examiner reports:

Black columns run vertically down 700 pages, devoid of any information about the federal workers who spent thousands of hours doing union work while on the government payroll.
This is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the name of protecting employees’ privacy, USDA withheld their names, duty stations, job titles, pay grades and salaries. It even deleted names of the unions benefiting from the hours spent by these USDA workers who continued to draw full pay and benefits, courtesy of the taxpayers.

This isn’t the CIA protecting sources and methods. This is the Agriculture Department protecting its backside.

Government Transparency, Washington Style:

The Washington Examiner reports:

Black columns run vertically down 700 pages, devoid of any information about the federal workers who spent thousands of hours doing union work while on the government payroll.

This is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the name of protecting employees’ privacy, USDA withheld their names, duty stations, job titles, pay grades and salaries. It even deleted names of the unions benefiting from the hours spent by these USDA workers who continued to draw full pay and benefits, courtesy of the taxpayers.

This isn’t the CIA protecting sources and methods. This is the Agriculture Department protecting its backside.

Comments

2:33 pm - Mon, Mar 31, 2014
150 notes

You Just Can’t Fix Stupid

Virginia Beach sixth-grader Adrionna Harris took a razor away from a troubled student who was cutting himself and threw it in the trash. When school administrators found out, they gave her a certificate of merit for helping a classmate.

Ha, ha! Of course they didn’t. They gave her a 10-day suspension, with a recommendation that she be expelled. For three or four seconds there, she was in possession of a dangerous object in violation of the school’s zero-tolerance policies.

The only reason administrators found out about the incident was that Adrionna volunteered the information. And the only reason she threw the razor away instead of turning it in was because she didn’t want to violate school policy. As she told WAVY-TV, she didn’t want to “hold it in my hand long enough for it to, like, become an issue. The trash can was right there.”

School officials eventually backed down — after getting slammed by bad publicity — and the young lady returned to school a few days ago. Administrators reportedly are tired of taking heat from the public, the poor dears. (Why do bad things always happen to them?)

Nathan Entingh wasn’t so lucky. The 10-year-old who pointed his finger and said “bang” was suspended for what the Einsteins of the Columbus, Ohio, school system considered a “level 2 look-alike firearm.” After agonizing over that decision for weeks, officials decided that, on reflection, they had been right all along. They upheld the suspension.

Entingh got off lucky compared with Jordan Wiser, who spent 13 days in jail on a felony charge because he drove onto school property with a pocketknife in the trunk of his car. Then there’s Taylor Trostle, a middle-schooler suspended for pointing her finger and saying, “pew, pew.” And Andrew Mikel, a Spotsylvania 14-year-old expelled and charged with assault for blowing pellets through a plastic pen tube. And 7-year-old Josh Welch, of the infamous Pop-Tart gun. And too many other cases to list.

Zero-tolerance policies have been around for a couple of decades. They were launched by the 1994 Gun-Free Schools Act, which required expulsion for bringing a firearm to school. But like diaper rash, they did not remain confined to one area. Soon kids were landing in hot water for bringing to school such deadly objects as a butter knife (King William) and nail clippers (Escambia, Fla.). They have gotten in trouble for engaging in such threatening behavior as drawing an Army man (Ouachita Parish, La.) and playing cops and robbers (Sayreville, N.J., and elsewhere). And for taking or handing out birth control (Fairfax), Midol (Pierce County, Wash.), Alka-Seltzer (too many places to name) and even Certs breath mints (Manassas).

Such stories invariably elicit outrage, and from time to time a district here or there will rethink zero-tolerance policies, or claim to. “Rethinking Zero Tolerance: A Few Schools Are Inching Away from One-Strike Policies,” reported Newsweek back in 2001. A decade later, The Washington Post reported “More Schools Rethinking Zero-Tolerance Discipline Stand.”

They must not be the fastest thinkers. In January 2013, a 5-year-old girl was kicked out of kindergarten for “threatening” to “shoot” classmates with a Hello Kitty soap-bubble gun. But don’t worry — this January, The New York Times confidently informed readers that “schools across the country are rethinking ‘zero tolerance’ discipline policies.”

If your brain has more electrical activity than a bowl of lukewarm Jell-O, then you know why zero-tolerance policies are stupid. First, they ignore blatantly obvious distinctions. Gnawing a Pop-Tart into the rough silhouette of a gun does not turn it into a firearm. Breath mints are not a Schedule I narcotic. Fingers don’t fire projectiles.

Second, zero-tolerance policies don’t prevent the incidents they are designed to prevent. Deeply disturbed individuals who commit school massacres — the Dylan Klebolds and Adam Lanzas of the world — are not deterred by rules, and they do not commit mayhem with soap bubbles. So a rule that bans soap-bubble guns in school has zero effect on school violence.

School officials will reply that they have to apply school policies consistently: A knife is a knife, and knives are weapons, even when they are used to spread butter. Nonsense. By that logic everyone on the wrestling team should be suspended for fighting, and a student who sketches a rifle should be punished for “drawing a gun” (which has actually happened more than once).

It’s great that a school district here and there has second thoughts about first-strike policies. But that doesn’t solve the broader problem, which is rooted in a bureaucratic compliance mentality. Just ask Chaz Seale, a Texas 17-year-old who accidentally shoved a Coors into his brown-bag lunch instead of a soda. When he realized his mistake he gave the unopened beer to a teacher. The teacher told the principal, and the principal suspended Seale for three days and sentenced him to two months at an alternative school.

Like Adrionna Harris and countless others, Seale has learned two things from zero-tolerance policies: No good deed goes unpunished. And — as comedian Ron White likes to say — you can’t fix stupid.



Comments

1:56 pm - Fri, Mar 28, 2014
27 notes
thinksquad:

Judge Says Ohio GOP Orchestrated Plot Against Libertarian Party Candidate http://dld.bz/dkAnH

thinksquad:

Judge Says Ohio GOP Orchestrated Plot Against Libertarian Party Candidate http://dld.bz/dkAnH

(via thinksquad)

Comments

12:38 pm
9 notes

Watch this video of a woman whose cochlear implants let her hear for the first time, and you’ll stand up and cheer for the marvels of science and medicine.

Some backstory here.

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