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OpenMarket: Risk and Consumer Freedom

  • Bureaucrash's Blaze of Glory

    May 11, 2007
    When it rains anti-anti-smoking indignation, it pours. In addition to Brooke's press statement, Jason reminds me that Bureaucrash was hot on this MPAA/smoking tip long ago. Last July several crashers headed out to an anti-MPAA protest march where demonstrators demanded an 'R' rating for any film that includes any smoking whatsoever. This week's policy change didn't go quite that far, but we can all spot a slippery slope when we see one. To re-live those heady days, tune into "Operation Tobacco Road" below. Photos here.
  • These Foolish Things Remind Me of the MPAA

    May 11, 2007
    As Eli informed us this morning, the MPAA has caved into Big (anti-)Tobacco and decided to rate movies that include smoking by adults more harshly than smokeless films. As you might imagine, Brooke is not pleased:
    The MPAA's decision to kowtow to the demands of professional anti-smoking advocates won't do anything to discourage kids from smoking; the Motion Picture Association of America isn't a surrogate parent, and it shouldn't try to be. The only thing this decision will do is make the MPAA's ratings system—trusted by Americans' for nearly 40 years—absolutely meaningless. What's next? A triple-X rating for Fat Albert because it glorifies obesity? An R-rating for the Pirates of the Caribbean because Johnny Depp makes imbibing copious amounts of rum look...
  • Butt Out!

    May 11, 2007
    The Washington Post reports that the The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will now give higher, more restrictive ratings to films that "that glamorize smoking or … feature pervasive smoking outside of an historic or other mitigating context." I don't get it. On balance, it seems that rating standards get less and less tight each year. Films with lots of brutal violence can often get PG or PG-13 ratings. The standards for showing sex gets less and less restrictive all the time. Philip Kaufman's wonderfu 1990 "Henry and June", the first film rated "NC-17", would almost certainly slip by with an "R" today. There's significant academic evidence that exposure to violent media causes violence in real...
  • Cable News Grudge Match: Sam vs. Phil on CNBC

    May 8, 2007
    In case you missed him earlier today, here's our very own Sam Kazman debating Phil Clapp of the National Environmental Trust on federal fuel economy standards:

    Binary Data
  • Even a Caveman…

    May 7, 2007
    A Canadian news site notes that activists have recently formed a new “lobby” group called “Prevent Cancer Now.” They want to alert the world to the alleged dangers of man-made chemicals. However, if they really want to make a dent in reducing cancer rates, they should focus on the most likely causes of cancer -- smoking, poor diets, too much sun exposure -- rather than the fact that a man-made chemical “might” pose risk. Evidence that current uses of such man-made chemicals present a serious cancer problem is scant. Apparently, activists are aware that the primary causes of cancer are NOT manmade chemicals. One of their spokespersons admits: “We totally accept that smoking causes lung cancer and that lousy diet encourages cancer, and all those things. That's all correct. But there's a whole other side to...
  • Another Victim of the Nanny State

    May 4, 2007
    In the spirit of Friday afternoon, allow me to direct your attention to the sad demise of Sudan's only married goat. Her name was Rose, and while her marriage was an arranged one, she reportedly maintained a quiet dignity throughout.
    Sudanese Goat Rose: She lived her life like a candle in the wind. Photo credit: BBC.
  • KFC Lawsuit Thrown Out

    May 2, 2007
    A lawsuit against KFC for using trans fats in its fried chicken has been thrown out. In an appropriately sarcastic ruling, federal district judge James Robertson dismissed the lawsuit, observing that it was so meritless that it could not pass muster even under Washington, D.C.'s broad consumer "protection" law. The suit against KFC made little sense on health grounds. Trans fats, while unhealthy, aren't much unhealthier than traditional saturated fats. Moreover, fried chicken, which contains valuable protein, is far from the most unhealthy food. Kentucky Fried Chicken has a better protein-to-fat ratio than many common dinner items or restaurant meals. It's a lot healthier than foie gras. But since it's fairly cheap and lacks snob...
  • Speed Limits. . . Don't Need 'Em

    April 25, 2007

    Some visitors coming to my home this morning complained of very slow traffic on the beltway at 10:00 a.m. Serious traffic this late in the morning may be a result of some truckers' efforts to bring beltway traffic to a standstill. While I disagree with the protest's objectives I think it's a telling sign that the protest could even work in the first place: the truckers are simply planning to obey all speed limits without fail and travel in multi-lane convoys thereby further slowing down already bad traffic.

    Thus, it stands to reason that the speed limits were obviously too low to begin with. Since the country rightly eliminated the federal 65-mph maximum speed limit in 1995 (after raising it from 55 a few years earlier) lots of less populated areas have set up 75 and, in a few...

  • From the Mouths of Babes: A Poetic Approach to Recycling

    April 24, 2007

    Yesterday's "How Did You Celebrate Earth Day?" post generated an unexpected response from Nishant Magar of the American Chemical Society. Apparently our friends at ACS spent Earth Day celebrating the poetic and artisitc talents of school children. That's right - this year chemists celebrated Earth Day with a "Kindergarten-12th Grade Illustrated Haiku Contest" with the theme "Recycling - Chemistry Can!"

  • Regulated to Death

    April 19, 2007
    The New York Times has an interesting story on how federal privacy and disability-rights regulations may have helped pave the way for the Virginia Tech massacre by hamstringing school officials ("Laws Limit Options When A Student Is Mentally Ill"). Overlawyered links to discussions of how federal privacy laws like HIPAA and FERPA may have contributed to the tragedy. Professor David Bernstein has opened an interesting comment thread at the Volokh Conspiracy, in which lawyers (including me) cite instances in which disabilities-rights laws have been used to prevent...


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