Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | July 31, 2013

Odds and Ends

1. Steve Saideman: “One of the fundamental problems for the US in its war on terror was its refusal to share intel. Like the tendency to over-classify stuff, the reluctance to reveal key bits of evidence cut against American interests. But the intel folks fought hard to restrict access, citing the fear that it would reveal American ‘means and capabilities’ — how the US gets its info.”

2. Tyler Cowen has a question for development economists and social scientists: “To what extent is the choice of venue for study due to what I will call ‘social science infrastructure’? I don’t mean roads and bridges. I mean having trained armies of local assistants, data gathering and processing facilities, populations which are used to signing informed consent forms, medical clinics which understand how to work with social scientists and register data, and other less visible assets. I once visited a Poverty Action Lab evaluation in Hyderabad and it struck me immediately just how much local assistance they needed to get their study of micro-credit off the ground. As far as I could tell, the local assistance seemed really quite able but of course that cannot be taken for granted in all locales. It has struck me for a while just how many RCT papers appear to be set in a relatively small number of places in Kenya. Presumably these parts of Kenya have a very good social science infrastructure.”

3. Justice Ginsburg: If the Supreme Court hadn’t decided Bush v. Gore, the House of Representatives would have picked Bush.

4. Thoreau: “I categorize coffee shops by their willingness to serve as America’s office space away from home. Starbucks seems to like being America’s office. I fully expect them to merge with Kinko’s/FedEx some day. They couldn’t care less how long you’re there. I think they even leave their wifi on after hours. … Panera refuses to be America’s office. Besides limiting wifi sessions, they have employees who will come and kick you out if you’ve been there too long. …” (Much more at the link.)

5. The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division (the intermediate appellate court in New York State, as we know from watching Law & Order) has ruled 5-0 against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on soda drinks that exceed 16 ounces.

6. From Unwashed Advocate (a former JAG who continues to represent servicemembers and veterans): What the Bradley Manning verdict means.

7. Ken at Popehat on an appalling story from Ohio in which a bank foreclosed on the wrong house — and is dragging its feat on making things right (emphasis in original):

First National Bank of Wellston burglarized Katie Barnett’s house through its own incompetence or the incompetence of its agents. First National Bank was trying to repossess a foreclosed house to sell it, and because its agents (1) decided to find the house by GPS, and (2) didn’t know how to use a GPS, they invaded Katie’s house, changed the locks, and disposed of her possessions. Katie’s house wasn’t being foreclosed upon; she’s not a customer of that bank.

Katie Barnett has asked First National Bank of Wellston to pay her for the possessions it sole and disposed of. First National Bank of Wellston, through its CEO Anthony S. Thorne, claims that it isn’t paying because Katie’s reimbursement list doesn’t match the records that its employees kept of what they took and disposed of. Those would be the same employees who tried to find a house using GPS, failed, burglarized the wrong house, and disposed of Katie’s possessions, in case you were wondering. Mr. Thorne and First National Bank nonetheless regards them as very reliable record-keepers.

Mr. Thorne is also demanding receipts for Katie’s things, and has told her the bank “isn’t paying retail.” Katie, like many people, doesn’t keep receipts for everything, not anticipating that a bank will burglarize her house. Moreover, to the extent she does keep receipts, she keeps them in her house, because once again, she fails to anticipate that a bank will break into the house, take her receipts, throw them away, and then demand that she produce them. Katie also failed to anticipate that someone could burglarize your house and, when called upon to pay you so you can replace your things, sneer that replacements from a second-hand store are good enough for you.

The McArthur, Ohio police refuse to get involved. Would they get involved if Katie burglarized a house? Yes they would. Would they get involved if Katie ran off with someone’s stuff and refused to repay? Yes they would. Will they get involved when a bank — a reliable crony of government — burglarizes a house and drags its feet on repaying the victim? No they will not.

I suspect that, long term, the bad publicity that Mr. Thorne and First National Bank of Wellston, Ohio receive from this case will greatly exceed the $18,000 in damages that Ms. Barnett has claimed.

8. Ann Althouse takes issue with a piece by Ann Friedman in New York Magazine (all emphases in original): “this is unmitigated trash about Hillary. Hillary did not need Bill. Not 2 decades ago, when he was running for President, and not 4 decades ago, when she graduated from Yale Law School. In fact, there was strong pressure on women back in 1992 and 1973, even more than now, to go it alone and not stand behind some man. Hillary knew it was a career risk to go to Arkansas with Bill, and she chose it with eyes open. Friedman is purveying some made-up social history, asserting that we ‘understand’ it, like it’s in our cultural memory. But it’s completely untrue.”

9. Alex Tabarrok on the costs of travel visas.



  1. What strikes me is that the Holy Family evidently were Scandinavian immigrants.

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