Europeans: Sick On Vacation? Get More Vacation, By Law!

For most Europeans, almost nothing is more prized than their four to six weeks of guaranteed annual vacation leave. But it was not clear just how sacrosanct that time off was until Thursday, when Europe’s highest court ruled that workers who happened to get sick on vacation were legally entitled to take another vacation.

I wonder if that has anything to do with their economic woes. Via Marginal Revolution — Small steps toward a much better world..

Progressives Are *Factually* Incorrect

… there’s a very particular story … embodied since the late nineteenth century in what Tomasi calls High Liberalism.  The High-Liberal political philosophers … rely, against Kant, on a factual story which they take to be so obvious as to not require defense.  I claim that on the contrary their master narrative is mistaken, as anthropology or economics or history. …

The story is, in a few brief mottos to stand for a rich intellectual tradition since the 1880s:  Modern life is complicated, and so we need government to regulate.  Government can do so well, and will not be regularly corrupted.  Since markets fail very frequently the government should step in to fix them.  Without a big government ee cannot do certain noble things (Hoover Dam, the Interstates, NASA).  Antitrust works.  Businesses will exploit workers if government regulation and union contracts do not intervene.  Unions got us the 40-hour week.  Poor people are better off chiefly because of big government and unions.  The USA was never laissez faire.  Internal improvements were a good idea, and governmental from the start.  Profit is not a good guide.  Consumers are usually misled.  Advertising is bad.

No.  The master narrative of High Liberalism is mistaken factually.  Externalities do not imply that a government can do better.  Publicity does better than inspectors in restraining the alleged desire of businesspeople to poison their customers.  Efficiency is not the chief merit of a market economy: innovation is.  Rules arose in merchant courts and Quaker fixed prices long before governments started enforcing them.

Fantastic article. Read the whole thing. Via Factual Free-Market Fairness | Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

Gov. Scott Walker and the University of Wisconsin announce a “self-paced, competency-based” online degree model

This model promises to offer a more personalized college experience to every student in which students can begin and complete courses at any time. Competency exams can be taken from home or work to ensure flexibility and special computer software can be utilized to ensure academic honesty.

One goal is to offer students smaller course segments or “modules.” Rather than molding coursework around a set timeframe, these modules can be designed to contain only the knowledge required within a specific competency. This could benefit working adults who need to start and pause their studies because of work and personal commitments. It could also benefit highly motivated students who are able to move through course materials at a faster pace.

Courses in this new program will be based on competency, not seat time, so students can move on to the next topic when they have mastered the current material.

via Althouse: Gov. Scott Walker and the University of Wisconsin announce a “self-paced, competency-based” online degree model..

PGP founder, Navy SEALs uncloak encrypted comms biz

Phil Zimmermann and some of the original PGP team have joined up with former US Navy SEALs to build an encrypted communications platform that should be proof against any surveillance.

The company, called Silent Circle, will launch later this year, when $20 a month will buy you encrypted email, text messages, phone calls, and videoconferencing in a package that looks to be strong enough to have the NSA seriously worried. Zimmermann says that surveillance by the state and others has increased vastly over the last few years, and privacy improvement are again needed.

"At the very least I want people, as part of their right in a free society to be able to communicate securely," he said in a promotional video (below). "I should be able to whisper in your ear, even if your ear is a thousand miles away."

via PGP founder, Navy SEALs uncloak encrypted comms biz • The Register.

Dear TSA: I am not your “customer”

The TSA should not be streamlined. Administrators should not "review screening procedures." Screeners don’t need additional training. The TSA doesn’t need to be tweaked. It didn’t "go too far" in these specific instances. Its very existence goes too far. The TSA never should have been created in the first place, and it should be abolished now. Immediately. Without hesitation.

I am a "customer" of the airlines I fly. The TSA stands between me and the airline with a credible threat that they will not let us conduct business unless I go through a ludicrous song-and-dance routine that involves partially disrobing and then either being subjected to nude imaging or a full-on groping that involves hand-to-genital contact.

via Sunday Reflection: ‘Dear TSA: I am not your customer’ | Washington Examiner.

Should a man be responsible for supporting a baby he didn’t want?

The social scientist Dalton Conley wrote a provocative Op-Ed, “A Man’s Right to Choose” in the New York Times on this subject a few years ago. He wrote, “But when men and women engage in sexual relations both parties recognize the potential for creating life. If both parties willingly participate then shouldn’t both have a say in whether to keep a baby that results?”

… I tried to imagine I was having an irresolvable conflict with a man over an accidental pregnancy. I told Conley I just don’t see a compromise: It has to be the woman’s choice.

He said, “Then the man shouldn’t be responsible for the baby.”

via Unexpected pregnancy: Should a man be responsible for supporting a baby he didn’t want? – Slate Magazine.

ACLU Phone App Lets You Shoot the Cops

The New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has released an Android application allowing mobile-phone users to easily capture police patdowns on video, which is then automatically uploaded to the rights group’s servers.

The “Stop & Frisk Watch” application, which is soon coming to the iPhone, is in response to the New York Police Department having stopped, frisked and interrogated people at least 685,724 times last year alone. About 87 percent of those stopped were black or Latino, and 90 percent of those stopped were neither ticketed nor arrested.

The app is programmed to work only in New York City, and has three functions:

The “record” section allows easy video recording, which stops when the phone is shaken or when a button is pressed. The video is not stored on the phone, and instead is immediately uploaded to the New York ACLU. The app can also program your phone to automatically lock when recording is finished.

Once the video is uploaded, the app asks for information about where the images were taken, officers involved and other details of the incident. This “report” function also works without video being taken.

The app’s “listen” function provides real-time mapping of where others are using the app to record police.

via ACLU Phone App Lets You Shoot the Cops | Threat Level |

You’re Not Special

“But, Dave,” you cry, “Walt Whitman tells me I’m my own version of perfection! Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!” And I don’t disagree. So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it’s “So what does this get me?” As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.” I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You’re it or you’re not.

via You’re Not Special –

What the Media Choose Not to Know about Trayvon

In reporting this news of George Zimmerman’s return to jail, more than a few media outlets showed the dangerously deceptive image of Trayvon as 11-year-old cherub.

According to the autopsy report, Trayvon was 5’11" tall and weighed 158 pounds, the "ideal healthy weight" at that height being 160 pounds.  He was not the skinny little boy with the Skittles that half of America still believes him to be.  He was at least three inches taller than Zimmerman and only about 20 pounds lighter.

In the past year or so, his social media sites showed a growing interest in drugs, in mixed martial arts-style street fighting, in a profoundly vulgar exploitation of "bitches."  

Trayvon posed for one photo with raised middle fingers, another with wads of cash held in an out-stretched arm.  One YouTube video shows him refereeing a fight club-style street fight.  A cousin had recently tweeted him, "Yu ain’t tell me yu swung on a bus driver," meaning, if true, that Trayvon had punched out a bus driver.

Zimmerman never saw the cute little boy that the TV audience did.  He saw a full-grown man, a druggy, a wannabe street fighter, the tattooed, gold-grilled, self-dubbed "No_Limit_Nigga."  

The article includes a timeline of events that you may find shocking; doubly so, when you realize the major media outlets have not reported it. Via Articles: What the Media Choose Not to Know about Trayvon.

If Politicians’ Honesty Set the Standard for Others

If engineers were no more honest than the typical politician, all of the bridges would fall down.

If accountants were no more honest than the typical politician, every firm would go bankrupt.

If merchants were no more honest than the typical politician, Paris would not get fed; nor would any other city.

If preachers were no more honest than the typical politician, everyone who took their sermons to heart would go straight to hell.

If physicians were no more honest than the typical politician, all of the patients would die.

If carpenters were no more honest than the typical politician, every house would collapse.

If spouses were no more honest than the typical politician, every marriage would be on the rocks.

If used car dealers were no more honest than the typical politician, no one would risk buying a used car.

If electricians were no more honest than the typical politician, we would all be electrocuted.

If soldiers were no more honest than the typical politician, both sides would lose every battle.

Why believe them? Via If Politicians’ Honesty Set the Standard for Others | The Beacon.