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  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 9:50 am on 11 October 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Utterly predictable (as evidenced by the fact that I did predict it): three major advertising groups have announced that they will ignore the “Do Not Track” header, because of Microsoft’s decision to enable it by default in IE 10.

    How could anyone have failed to see this coming? Advertisers were perfectly willing to honor DNT as long as it was enabled only by the small population of users who care about tracking cookies. Now (at least among IE 10 users) they’d be restricted to tracking only the even tinier population of users who actually volunteer for tracking cookies.

    Unless Microsoft changes their decision, they will have effectively killed DNT. The only way to revive it would be to legislatively require that it be honored (and I fully expect Steve Gibson to endorse that approach). The result could fundamentally undermine the viability of current online advertising business models, which could put a lot of Web sites out of business — or force them behind paywalls.

    I generally accept the premise that Microsoft is not run by idiots, so I’m baffled by why they would do this, when the consequences were so foreseeable. The only explanation I can think of sounds like a conspiracy theory: perhaps it’s all a ploy to undermine their biggest competitor, Google. Google has a lot more to lose than Microsoft, if advertisers are compelled to respect DNT. Perhaps they know that by forcing the issue, they’ll make legislative action more likely, and by making DNT the default, they’ll be taking money out of Google’s pocket.

    At any rate, I’m just glad I don’t use IE. I like targeted advertising.

  • Hober Short 2:28 pm on 24 September 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    I can’t decide how to consider this article‘s treatment of the action pistol sports and their enthusiasts: (emphasis mine)

    Prosecutor: Road rage killing suspect seen in sharpshooter video

    . . .

    Now prosecutors say that video of Bowman at a [USPSA] pistol shooting competition in Puyallup may become an important piece of evidence in the case. It shows that he is an excellent shot – hitting one target after another in rapid-fire succession.

    . . .

    “There’s a concern that somebody who could even, if impulsive, could act this way, presents a danger to the community,” says O’Toole.

    Police tell KOMO News they found a so-called “gun room” during Friday’s search of Bowman’s home, filled with bullet-making equipment, ammunition and rifles. They also found evidence he owns at least one handgun.

    Obviously there is a certain level of media scare-quoting going on here, but most of it is just reprinting the prosecutor’s fear-mongering. The same fear-mongering that the jury in this guy’s case will be exposed to. Whether or not he’s guilty of murder, it’ll be interesting to see what effect this video of a proficient shooter (the raw video claims he won his division at the local match) has on the case.

    Within the action pistol subculture, this guy is more or less average. For someone who shoots as well as he does (in the video, I obviously have no idea about in the alleged murder) the idea that he has a “gun room” with handloading equipment is wholly unsurprising. Hell, I basically fit that description, and so do most competitive shooters I know. Being surrounded by it, it’s easy to forget how scary those kinds of things could be to someone outside the subculture. Media hype around ordering thousands of rounds of ammo online, anyone?

    There’s nothing quite like your hobby being identified as a “danger to the community” by someone with the power to end your life as you know it.

    Gun pedantry follows:

    • The article identifies it as a “sharpshooter video”, but sharpshooter is an IDPA rank, and below his skill level. It should use proper USPSA nomenclature and say “suspect seen in B-class shooter video”. (B-class just a guess based on the video without seeing his hits.)
    • A later article says “No handguns were found [in the suspect’s house], but police did find holsters for a 9mm handgun, which may have been used in the killing.” That is almost certainly police press conference nonsense, since most modern guns can be chambered in a number of common calibers (9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP being the most common) and they’d all fit the same holster. And in the video, he’s shooting a .45 ACP 1911. While 1911s can be chambered in 9mm it is certainly a minority of them, so if it was a 1911 holster they found, the logical leap to it being a “holster for a 9mm handgun” is pretty long.

    Hat tip: Triangle Tactical

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:35 am on 20 July 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s a great story: two armed men try to rob the customers in an Internet cafe, but a 71-year-old man with a concealed-carry permit opens fire on them, sending them falling over themselves as they flee. I don’t know how anybody who hears a story like this can continue to cling to any notion that legal handguns encourage crime.

    However, I’d be interested in Ben’s assessment of the gunmanship of the customer. The security video is a joy to watch; you see one of the thugs threatening the customers, but as soon as he turns his back, the armed customer sees his chance and acts. But I must admit to a bit of unease when I see how close one of the other customers was to the line of fire as he pursued the criminals toward the door. But I have no training and no ability to judge, nor can I argue with the result.

  • Hober Short 1:33 pm on 16 July 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Seeing an article about the latest gun buyback program being instituted in an urban metropolis where guns practically illegal, I realized that economics tells us why these programs aren’t successful: the price is too low.

    A criminal whose livelihood depends on his gun can’t replace that livelihood with two hundred bucks. When you offer to pay a certain amount for something, the people who will sell to you at that price are those whose utility for that good is less than what you’re offering. And unless you offer the fair market value of a functioning handgun ($400+ retail, more on the black market), you’ll get two classes of results: old broken junk (value: zero dollars) and guns that people don’t want around anymore for whatever reason (value: negative dollars).

    It’s all about utility.

    Edit: also, the term “buyback” implies the guns belonged to the government originally. They really should call them “buyouts.”

  • Hober Short 7:27 pm on 29 June 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    An interesting bit of insider baseball from the gun industry concerning form 4473, the tax return-like ATF form that must be filled out each and every time you purchase a gun:

    A question concerning the new 4473

    At the shop I work in, we received a revised 4473 that goes into effect in early July. The only notable change is question 10a: Ethnicity. You have the option of selecting Hispanic or Latino or Not Hispanic/Latino. Is anyone aware of why this was added? Why is that information necessary to complete a NICS background check? Just curious. Thanks for any info.

    And a response from another licensed federal firearms dealer:

    I just got 500 of the old forms today. They went straight to the dumpster.

    Your tax dollars at work.

    The ATF, long-known as a slow-moving and recalcitrant regulatory body invalidated a bunch of printed forms because… they wanted to inquire whether or not purchasers were “Hispanic or Latino”?

    Post-racial administration indeed.

  • Hober Short 10:33 pm on 27 June 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: thinking like an economist   

    Today’s lesson in thinking like an economist: are there negative environmental effects of fracking? Probably. If you believe its staunchest opponents, fracking is an apocalyptically bad idea.

    But what if (as economists are wont to do) we put a dollar value on that negative consequence? Would it be bigger than the economic upside to fracking? Turns out probably not.

    Independent study assignment: since the gains will likely be private and the costs will likely be unpriced externalities like pollution, research the various methods of pricing externalities (e.g. Pigovian taxes, pollution permits) and write one page on the one you like the most.

  • Hober Short 7:32 pm on 10 June 2012 Permalink | Reply  


  • Hober Short 1:20 pm on 5 June 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    An interesting anecdotal report of unintended consequences and anchoring.

    Unexpected benefit of Michigan’s [motorcycle] helmet law repeal

    Working at a hospital (in IT), I got a bit of grief about riding. Every time I would get on the elevator I would at least get a sidelong look, sometimes snarky comments about “donorcycles”, or thoughts on danger, or admonitions to be super careful. And comments about “drumming up more business” for the hospital, of course. It was the only part of riding I didn’t like.

    Then the helmet law was repealed. And I still wear armored gear and a full-face and boots, because, well, donorcycles. For about a week, every person in the elevator asked me if I knew I didn’t have to wear a helmet anymore. Every. Single. Time.

    But then the magic happened. I became a Good Guy. Now every time I get in the elevator, I have strangers thanking me for wearing a helmet, congratulating me for being “a safe one”, and generally praising me for standing there in gear.

    So thank you, Snyder and the MI legislature and all you “no helmet”-ers who lobbied so hard for legally cracked skulls. You took me from being a Bad Guy to being a Good Guy in one week flat, without changing a single thing.

  • Hober Short 11:52 am on 15 May 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Some stats to back up my post a few weeks ago about gun sales trends:

    • Background checks to buy a firearm are up 10.5% year over year.
    • April makes the 23rd consecutive month of rising month over month checks.

    The caveat on this: these background checks are used when dealers sell new or used guns, so it’s not a measure of new guns being sold but more of a measure of the general level of activity buying and selling guns (I want to call it the velocity of guns).

    That said, it tracks pretty well with what I said: interest and sales for guns have been rising for about two years with no end in sight.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:31 am on 14 May 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Displaying her political acumen, Governor Perdue recently responded to the Amendment One vote by saying that the outcome makes North Carolina “look like Mississippi.”

    It was a foregone conclusion that the Mississippi governor’s office would object to this implied insult. But I was particularly delighted with the angle chosen by their lieutenant governor:

    “Gov. Perdue should know that her administration has a lot of work to do to make her state’s business climate ‘look like Mississippi,’ he told NBC-17. “We are creating an environment which encourages the private sector to invest capital in Mississippi, and I would invite any North Carolina-based company wanting to move to a lower-taxed, less-regulated state to look at our business-friendly opportunities.”

    Just a reminder that, regardless of your position, so-called “social issues” are a sideshow at the moment.

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