.@TedNordhaus on @Greenpeace saying climate policies are making great strides

Is Sleep a Preference or a Constraint?

Coase to Coase AM

Despite being more than a decade old, Bryan Caplan’s The Economic of Szaz is still sparking debate.  The gist of the article:

Building on psychiatrist Thomas Szasz’s philosophy of mind, this article argues that most mental illnesses are best modeled as extreme preferences, not constraining diseases. This perspective sheds light not only on relatively easy cases like personality disorders, but also on the more extreme cases of delusions and hallucinations.

The economic nature of mental illnesses, addictions, and compulsions is a topic worth exploring.  The problem is that mental illnesses aren’t experienced by everyone, and those who do experience it might experience it in radically different ways.  It’s very tempting for someone struggling with one of these conditions to say that Caplan and Szasz just don’t understand what it’s like to be depressed or addicted.  Other analogues have been floated that might straddle the preference/constraint line, like sexuality or…

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Jihad and the Cancellation of British Passports

Ronald Fiddler, or Jamal al Harith, received £1m in compensation for abuses suffered in Guantánamo but he recently carried out a suicide bombing on behalf of the “Islamic State” (ISIS) group

Review of “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962 (Vol 1)” by Stephen Ambrose

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Published in 1987, “Nixon: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962” is the first volume in Stephen Ambrose’s well-regarded series on Richard Nixon. Ambrose was a historian and the author of more than two-dozen books. He remains one of the best-known biographers of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon but numerous allegations of plagiarism and exaggeration have tarnished his reputation. Ambrose died in 2002 at the age of sixty-six.

This 674-page introductory volume covers Nixon’s life up through his unsuccessful attempt to become governor of California in 1962.  The volume is well-paced, very well-organized, and written in an extremely straightforward and comprehensible style. And where most of Nixon’s biographers seem to adopt a “love him or hate him” attitude, Ambrose approaches his subject with remarkable balance.

Although this biography provides significantly more insight into Nixon’s early life than the single-volume biographies of Nixon I’ve read, it is far less detailed…

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Free Speech Case Funded by Small Donations

One Sock: Heather Roy's Blog

Heather Roy

19 July 2018

Freedom of speech is off to court, thanks to over a thousand small donations. The Free Speech Coalition has filed court action over Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s decision to ban controversial Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from speaking at the Bruce Mason Centre and other Auckland Council owned venues.

Phil Goff’s story keeps changing. First, he announced that the decision was his – a Captain’s call. Then he said that he’d taken the advice of Regional Facilities Auckland, the CCO that manages the venues. And most recently he says it was a matter of safety – he didn’t want the police to get hurt. He is ‘digging in’ despite the public backlash and the Free Speech Coalition’s attempts to give him a back-out option by reversing the decision.

As a society I often wonder if we’ve lost sight of the things that really matter…

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Official corruption, there and here

croaking cassandra

On holiday in the (remarkably for mid-July) sunny South Island, I was reading Dictatorland: The Men Who Stole Africa, by British journalist Paul Kenyon.  It is well-worth reading for anyone with an interest in Africa, or indeed in economic (under)development. Over 400 or so pages, it is a series of accounts of leaders of post-colonial African countries who enriched themselves –  typically almost obscenely so –  from the vast natural wealth of the continent.    There are exceptions of course; notably well-governed Botswana.   And there were countries where idealistic disastrous policies impaired the material wellbeing of the citizenry without any great personal enrichment of the leaders (Tanzania and Zambia under Nyerere and Kaunda are two examples).  But Kenyon’s focus is on a series of countries with abundant natural resources (oil or very fertile land in his particular examples), one or more brutal leaders, and, at very best, mediocre material…

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David Friedman’s appearance in Miami’s Rothbardian Circle

Is the IDF indiscriminately Bombing Gaza?

Tommy Robinson’s appeal: what happened?

The Secret Barrister

Today the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) heard the appeal of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson).

Judgment was reserved, meaning the Court’s decision will not be known for another couple of weeks. However it is worth, given the events of today, having a quick look at what happened. In doing so, I am grateful to the excellent Lizzie Dearden of the Independent who provided a comprehensive live-blog of the hearing from the Royal Courts of Justice, as well as the indispensable Matthew Scott who live-tweeted the hearing, and whose blogpost on the subject tells you everything you could ever need to know.

Background

Some of the background was set out in my first blog after Yaxley-Lennon was committed to prison for contempt at Leeds Crown Court on 25 May 2018. The full facts were, and to an extent are still, unknown. The judgment will, when it is handed down…

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The religious origins of the insanity defence

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