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How to Increase Gross Domestic Product

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The Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded yesterday by the Annals of Improbable Research.

And the prize in economics goes to [drum roll] ...

ISTAT -- the Italian government's National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.

The full list is here.

Additional Shakespeare Autopsies

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Following up on Wednesday's Richard III story, Alexandra Petri in the WaPo offers up a bit of dark humor on other Shakespeare tragic characters. The first two are from Scotland, appropriately in light of today's news.

Simian Selfie Follow-Up

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MONKEY-SELF-PORTRAIT.jpg Off-topic but hilarious, David Post at the Volokh Conspiracy has a follow-up on the copyright dispute over this selfie, previously noted on this blog three years ago.

Update:  Abby Phillip has this story in the WaPo.

About Those Witnesses...

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Witness assassination, the light side....
The Onion reports on important new research on a "root cause" of violent crime:

A study published Thursday in The American Journal Of Criminal Psychology has found a nearly perfect statistical correlation between children who were denied a toy they wanted when visiting a store with their parents and the later development of homicidal...
Curious to see if we get a Swift's Law effect on this one.

On Brodway. Or is it Broadwey?

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Off topic but funny, Ellen Huet has this post at SFGate on typos literally set in concrete in the City by the Bay.

Originalism and Pizza Update

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I know that many of you have been in suspense waiting for an update to this post, and it has been a long three years.

Rest assured, Justice Scalia's views on originalism and pizza have not "evolved" (or degenerated, as originalists regard such shifts in the views of other justices).  Art Golab has this report for the Chicago Sun-Times:

Scalia also displayed his famous sarcastic wit throughout, lastly directing it at Chicago deep dish pizza during questioning after his speech. He said he liked both Chicago and New York style pizza, but Chicago style "shouldn't be called pizza" he said. "It's very tasty, but it's not pizza."
More seriously, Justice Scalia's Washington's Birthday speech lamented the decline in American civics education.

Another Clueless Baldwin Rant

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Before you blast someone, especially in public, it's a good idea to make sure you have your facts straight and are aiming at the right target.  The notorious Alec Baldwin is apparently unaware of this.  Nardine Saad reports in the L.A. Times that Baldwin tweeted this on Monday:

"Flying from Nassau, Bahamas 2 NY. TSA 'random selects' my 5 month old daughter 4 a pat down. I am not kidding. #travelinginUSisadisgrace."
The TSA is, of course, a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security.  The TSA does not do the airport screenings in the Bahamas for the obvious (to persons of sense) reason that the Bahamas are not part of the United States.  The esteemed (by many, though I can't fathom why) Mr. Baldwin was apparently unaware that he was in a foreign country being screened by an agency of a foreign government.  So his hashtag says traveling in the United States is a disgrace because of an incident that occurred outside the United States completely out of the control of the U.S. government.

Upon this being pointed out, his "correction" says, "I guess what I'm saying is: Traveling in the US is a pain in the ... ass."  Ms. Saad notes, "Still not the U.S., though, Alec."

Superfluous Adjective Award

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Fred Barnes has this article in the WSJ (subscription) on responses to the State of the Union Address and this year's Republican responder, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Mr. Barnes wins the Superfluous Adjective Award of the day, and is the front-runner for the year, for writing, "She's the only female member of Congress to give birth to three children while in office."
That's satire, of course.  It is the headline of a post at a military satire blog called the Duffel Blog. Very funny.  Ernesto LondoƱo has this story on the blog in the WaPo.

Also on the blog, Pentagon Scraps 'Lightsaber' Weapons Program After Gross Misconduct, Numerous Injuries.

Ariel Castro Failed By System

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The Onion reports:

ORIENT, OH--In yet another glaring indication of the nation's broken criminal justice system, Ohio correctional officers discovered the body of inmate Ariel Castro, a Cleveland man serving a life sentence on rape and kidnapping charges, hanging from his jail cell Tuesday night, prompting strong calls for action from reformers looking to correct America's failed correctional policy.
Off topic but funny.

Eyewitness Focus

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One well-known problem with eyewitnesses is that they are sometimes focused on one aspect and don't see or don't remember other aspects.  The most common example is the armed robbery victim who is understandably focused on the gun and can't describe the robber.

Ellen Huet of the SF Chronicle has this twist on the witness focus phenomenon:

A Defense Shrink Makes Parody Blush

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I have been staying miles away from the Jodi Arias trial because there is only so much I can take.  To sum it up very briefly, Ms. Arias does not deny stabbing her boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend, it's not clear which) 27 times, shooting him, and then slitting his throat.  She is claiming "self-defense" and no, that is not a typo.

As is almost always the case, the defense has shifted away from what the killer did to what, supposedly, she was thinking.  This has the advantage, from the defendant's point of view, that, while that a guy with his head nearly cut off can show up in a photograph to be shown to the jury, the defendant's mind can't, so you can always spin some yarn about it if you're creative enough.

It also has the advantage of allowing the defense to call psychiatric "experts," one of whom I have disrespectfully labelled a "shrink" in the title of this post.  But I have my reasons: The shrink is now testifying about one area of her expertise, to wit, whether Snow White was an abused woman.  And no, I am not making this up.

Drowning in Diversity

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This post has nothing to do with crime, but it's too good to pass up, especially since one of today's posts was about diversity and the next was about dihydrogen monoxide.  This post is about both, after a fashion.

The title, from "The Corner" at National Review Online, says all you need to know.  

City of Phoenix Recruiting Minority Lifeguards
Even If They Can't Swim

The story remarks, "The kids in the pool are all either Hispanic or black or whatever, and every lifeguard is white, and we don't like that," said [a city] official, who cited a language barrier as one of the city's concerns."

Some of us had been under the impression that, for the work of a lifeguard, drowning would be "one of the city's concerns," but, hey, that was then.

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