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Cultural vandals in Botanic Gardens

What they have done to the ancient trees in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens by ring-barking them is horrible. What is says about the mentality of certain sections of the human race is much worse. The cretins who did this were born by mistake. The world would be a better place if they had never existed. Moreover, [...]

Genes & neurology – virtue & criminality

The “ought implies can” principle of ethics suggests that it is only if people are morally autonomous that they should be required to act ethically. So what if neurology or genes program people to behave in a way that society condemns? Is a pedophile an evil monster or simply a human with predetermined, unusual tastes? [...]

Aussi media lynch mob

The man who shot himself in a burning house that had been attacked with tear gas rather than go back to jail was described as a “Mad Dog” by most of Australia’s press. Certainly by newspapers such as The Age. He had assaulted his girlfriend and faced the prospect of returning to jail after already [...]

Gun control in the US will fail

One can empathize with “the tears, the thoughts, the prayers and the broken hearts” (a synthesised quote from several newspapers) that Americans are expressing/experiencing in relation to the murder of 26 people in Connecticut. The murders of the 20 mostly 6 or 7 year old school children naturally create a feeling of deep sadness and, [...]

Economics of the Sicilian mafia

There are a few academic papers on this topic (see here) but my interest is in the sheer inefficiency of gangster-like rule of a country. I have not read any of the scholarly accounts but have gleaned most of my insight from Peter Robb’s meandering Midnight in Sicily – it is one of the most [...]

US imprisonments

Nearly 1 American in 100 is in prison – the exact figure is 0.8% of the population. This is astonishingly high and 4-5 times the level of other developed countries. The Australian rate is 0.17% for example. At the Becker and Posner blog these statistics are discussed. Becker argues that imprisonment is effective in reducing [...]

Carl Williams

I was saddened by the death of Carl Williams. He was a murderer who probably killed more people than he was convicted for. When I look at the guy’s face he seems to be someone I might have enjoyed a beer with. I feel sorry for his family and friends. The crime wars in Melbourne [...]

A murder conviction

The murder of Mersina Halvagis at the Fawkner Cemetery in 1997 was a haunting event. It was a senseless act of brutality. I remember seeing on a television newscast the anguish of her father Mr. George Halvagis after the murder. His obvious pain sent a message to every father who was watching. Mr Halvagis still [...]

Nikki taught Cho

Nikki Giovanni (more here) was one of Cho Seung-hui’s professors and is supposed to be a great black poet.

Below is one of her poems. It might help us understand her now deceased student.

The True Import of Present Dialogue, Black vs. Negro (For Peppe, Who Will Ultimately Judge Our Efforts) by Nikki Giovanni [...]

Gun control: murder & suicide rates

Christine Neil and Andrew Leigh have released a fascinating paper on the effects of the Federal Government’s gun buyback on murder and suicide rates in Australia. Generally the authors are careful to not read too much into their statistical findings but overall conclude that the buyback has reduced the number of murders from between 2–36 [...]

Hakeem Hakeem & limits to compassion

Hakeem Hakeem has been sentenced to 24 years jail for the violent rape of a 63 year old woman and for raping and assaulting 3 teenagers all in a period of 3 days. Before the attacks he had been chroming and using amphetamines. The 63 year-old woman he attacked spent more than a week in [...]

Noble Park riots

Noble Park is 30 km south east of Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a rapidly urbanizing part of Melbourne with fairly cheap land and a high migrant population. During the 1980s it had one of the most notorious street gangs in Melbourne. Last Friday night it had a fully-fledged riot with a clearly criminal element supported by [...]

Penalising drunks who kill

More interesting analysis from the law and economics, Becker-Posner blog. This time B-P address drink driving penalties. I like this blog so much because it addresses significant issues of social importance using the sort of economics any well educated person can understand.Gary Becker estimates that the cost per drunk driver arrested of drunk driving in [...]