Apparently, former Fed chief Ben Bernanke has a new book about how he saved Christmas the economy. That means a bunch of econ bloggers and Serious People have to say something about it. The NYT Sunday Book Review likes it, although they called it “a bit of a slog.” You can buy your own copy here.

In Closing: least of our worries; unfortunately I don’t see a way to solve this problem; I bet we laugh at this fashion trend a decade from now; yeah that’s a problem; breaking the rules; maybe you could have educated the patient up front?; and voting.

Music Monday: October 31

Sure, that’s Halloween. It’s also the anniversary of the founding of the Great State of Nevada. And there’s an interesting story concerning that. It involves lost documents, the most expensive telegraph ever sent, and Republicans trying to steal elections garner additional electoral votes.

So in honor of Nevada’s 150th birthday, please enjoy some Nevada items.

In Closing: how dare victims call sexual assault what it is; sugar; Russians turn back time (in a way); some nice juicy NSA items; wages; Israel; War on Drugs; some random global climate change (formerly global warming) items; maybe they’re not overpriced after all; diversity; smile, you’re on cop camera; fixing COLA would require admitting that inflation is higher than most people know; and American cat cafe.

Music Monday: More of the Same as it Ever Was


It does look like things are getting a lot more complicated in Ferguson. And that’s before the Fed’s version of the autopsy*, and before any grand jury sees evidence. The Genie’s out of the bottle now.

In Closing: imagine that, mandatory insurance didn’t fix some of the stuff it was supposed to; fake news reinvented; feminism’s benefits for men; cyberweapons.


*I’m glad there’s going to be another one, because this last one was done by the guy that testified in the O.J. Simpson trial. Yeah, just what we need is to put a nice controversy icing on this cake of unrest.

A year later, new stuff continues to trickle out

So here we are.

Edward Snowden has been in Russia long enough that his visa has been extended. You can actually buy t-shirts with his face on them. There are people who consider him a traitor and people who consider him a hero. He’s got a huge spread in the current issue of Wired. The list of things we know about the NSA and America’s electronic spy infrastructure thanks to Mr. Snowden just keeps getting longer! Just this week we learned that the NSA has cyberwarfare capabilities and is responsible for a country-wide internet blackout in Syria.

Yet, to paraphrase Yoda, There Is Another. Maybe more than just one other.

And since The Powers That Be can’t seem to stop the obvious violations of what most of us understand to be our rights under the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments, no wonder Millennials are not enthusiastic about politics.

How deep does the NSA Rabbit Hole go?

In Closing: Challenging civil forfeiture; yoga can be manly; cartel profits are going to pot; the economy; banks; I hate that he’s right; politics and you; the real consensus turns out to be further along the curve; math is a harsh reality; damned if you work, damned if you don’t; and the cat that rides the bus.

Put the Outrage where it Belongs

So, this story has been making the rounds: a worker at a Subway sandwich shop was allegedly fired because she left sick. More specifically, she went outside to puke some more and a worker at a nearby Pizza Hut noticed her, calling an ambulance on her behalf. Cue the outrage and petitions saying she should get her job back. As the article points out, Subway has a history of labor violations, so the story is plausible but not confirmed. Remember that the overwhelming majority of these shops are franchised.

Let’s assume that the allegations are true.

Sure, be outraged that this worker was fired for leaving her shift sick. Be outraged that American workers can’t afford to be sick, even on so-called days off.

But remember to be really outraged at the manager. Oh, not for firing a sick employee. Be outraged that he was willing to endanger the health of every employee and every customer of that store.

Justice would not simply be hiring that employee back. Justice would not even be firing that manager. Justice would be random weekly inspections by the local health department every freaking week until they are absolutely sure there will be no more problems. This would, by the way, send a message to every restaurant and fast food joint in town: don’t play games with customer safety.

In Closing: Aw no it’s time for some more NSA and terror related links; more reasons not to like that sportswear company with the three L’s in the name; the DEA somehow thinks FedEx can be responsible for knowing whether or not a package contains prescription medication for which there is no prescription; pretty much the conclusion I reached; funny how the news media refers to Hamas as “militants” when in fact they are the democratically elected government (and shame on the media that a freaking CARTOONIST has to point that out); but it makes a pretty scatterpoint graph; a couple Affordable Care Act links; and LEGO Beach.

Music Monday: The Sea

Today is a holiday in Japan called Sea Day (Marine Day or Ocean Day, if you prefer), so enjoy this little sea shanty from Shogun:


In Closing: Oh yeah get your hot fresh NSA and privacy and War on Terror links right here (H/T Comrade Misfit); the War on [Brown People Using] Drugs, the Police State, and other oddities; uh, that’s still less than one in 5; infrastructure; I hope this crazy woman ends up paying everybody’s legal fees; Why Johnny Can’t Sit Still; Turns out that higher minimum wages are good for job creation (and I have yet to see an iPad run a deep fryer or stock a shelf, thanks); the working poor have jobs, stupid; a couple education items; and a terrifying coincidence.

Crazy Talk

So, it seems clear to me that the War on Drugs isn’t even the War On Some Drugs, but rather the War On Brown People Possessing Drugs.

At what point can we confess this and address the problem? At what point do we stop wasting millions of millions of dollars “fighting drugs” and putting people in prison — breaking up families and ruining future economic prospects outside crime — sometimes for simply being too close to a substance that many people find less dangerous than beer? Why are we not regulating and taxing marijuana instead of wasting time and money fighting it?

And don’t give me any crap about how it’s a gateway drug. The reason it seems to be a gateway drug is that the same petty criminal who sells it to you would rather upsell you to something harder.

In Closing: rape; obese patients prefer diet advice from people whose techniques clearly don’t work; control of information; and Dave Johnson is right again.

We don’t want any trouble

Nobody wants to live in a bad neighborhood, right? And certainly nobody wants to live in the kind of place where the police are continually coming around.

But consider this situation. Imagine you get beaten up. As bad luck would have it, it happens a couple more times. The third time, the cops call your landlord and order him to evict you. After all, you’re a troublemaker. Bad things happen around you, and this town doesn’t want your sort here. Sound far fetched? Unfortunately, laws all over the country designed to make it easier to move known drug dealers and pimps into crappier areas evict criminal neighbors are being used to evict crime victims instead:

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”

Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

After her first “strike,” Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these “strikes,” the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home.

Sure, it’s “domestic assault.” It’s still assault, just as if some random guy beat her up  — except worse! If the cops told her, “Listen, he has to go and we will make sure he does,” that might be understandable. But no, just get out and try not to bleed on anything.

Unfortunately, neighbors that are afraid to call the cops are no better to have around than neighbors that violate the law. If you agree with the ACLU that “Effective law enforcement depends on strong relationships between police and members of the community,” you might consider sending them a couple bucks.

In closing: overdose; problem solving; on real estate, education, and commuting; parking; 15 out of 16 of us lost net worth between 2009 and 2001 (that’s after the real estate bubble popped, for those of you paying attention); one soda a day keeps insulin astray (ok, I strained to make that work); and an internet necessity.