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Columns by Bob Murphy

Thoughts on the Israeli/Lebanon Crisis
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Bob Murphy 2006-07-26 16:00
Exclusive to STR In fields such as physics or mathematics, you need to spend a good chunk of your lifetime just studying and understanding everyone else's contributions. Then and only then are you qualified to contribute your own ideas to the literature. There would be no point in simply repeating someone else's argument or insight, except insofar as you expressed it more clearly for students...
Bush Would've Invaded Anyway
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Bob Murphy 2005-12-14 17:00
Exclusive to STR In an unusual Q&A session following a recent speech, George Bush repeated the position he has taken ever since his Administration officially acknowledged that its primary justification for invading Iraq (i.e. stockpiles of WMD ) turned out to be bogus: 'I made a tough decision,' Bush said. 'And knowing what I know today I'd make the decision again. Removing Saddam Hussein...
Why Is the Drug Market Violent?
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Bob Murphy 2005-04-24 16:00
In the debate over drug legalization, it is now a standard argument to point out that the violence associated with black markets (e.g. drug gangs using drive-by shootings against their rivals) is not due to the nature of the product itself, but rather to its prohibition by the government. The single best evidence for this claim is that gangsters such as Al Capone killed each other over alcohol...
Thoughts on the "Transfer of Sovereignty"
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Bob Murphy 2004-07-06 16:00
Well, the Bush Administration may have finally done something smart in Iraq : By 'transferring sovereignty' to the Iraqis two days ahead of schedule, it's possible that they thwarted the plans of terrorists who were planning something huge for June 30 (the previously announced date). If such terrorists were as surprised by the announcement as I was, they might have cancelled their plans since...
A Connecticut Yankee in King George"s Court
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Bob Murphy 2004-06-02 16:00
For my recent birthday'yes, I happily accept belated presents'my brother sent me a collection of essays and fiction excerpts entitled Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race (New York: Hill and Wang). Apart from the joy of reading someone as sarcastic and self-righteous as myself, I found Twain's essays quite interesting in their portrayal of the imperialist United States . Twain's commentary may...
Minerva, Epilogue
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-26 16:00
I hope you enjoyed this rough cut of Minerva. For your convenience, the entire draft is available in PDF form here. Please let your friends and acquaintances know about it if they might be interested. And now down to business: If any person or group PayPal's me an advance of $50,000, then I will sign a contract promising to deliver the full-length sequel to Minerva within three...
Minerva, Chapter 43
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-22 16:00
Forty-Three 'Hey Jack,' Dan said to Quinn. 'What the hell . . . .' Quinn said. 'There was a loose wall panel,' Dan explained. 'Well,' Quinn said, 'I'm sorry kid, but I've got to turn around. Your mom would kill me if I took you on this run.' * * * 'A hit,' the operator announced. Yet another incoming missile had been successfully intercepted at sea. 'How long till our jets can fire...
Minerva, Chapter 42
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-21 16:00
Forty-Two President Anthony Black hurled his coffee mug at the wall. Did they think he wouldn't have the balls to do it? Black calmed himself and sat back at his desk. Especially after the briefing, Black was sure that there was simply no other option. Still, killing anywhere from 500,000 to two million people was not something done lightly. Black didn't care about the whining marchers...
Minerva, Chapter 41
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-20 16:00
Forty-One 'Hey, do you know if Jennifer Heyden is working tonight?' Matt asked the pretty waitress as she brought his drink. 'Sorry, don't know her,' she replied. Matt gulped from his beer. He had done nothing but drink and snort since the others had left the night before. 'So what's up with this blockade?' the comic asked from the stage. 'I mean, I can buy a lobster dinner, but I can't...
Minerva, Chapter 40
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-19 16:00
Forty 'So that's where we stand,' Peckard said to the other Trust board members. 'With their stepped up patrols, we run out of fuel reserves in fifteen days if we do nothing.' Ribald stared at the table in front of him. He couldn't bring himself to look at Peckard. 'And the thing with China . . . ?' Kennedy hoped. 'The thing with China ,' Peckard said, 'fell through when the U.S. fleet...
Minerva, Chapter 39
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-18 16:00
Matt sauntered back to the table, a wide smile on his face. 'I just took,' he announced, 'the smoothest shit that has ever been moved by a bowel.' 'Glad to hear it,' Jim said. 'How many sheets of toilet paper?' Nook inquired. 'My friends,' Matt said, 'in this case, wiping was a mere formality.' * * * 'All I'm saying,' Jim said, 'is that I'd be embarrassed.' 'So let me get this...
Minerva, Chapter 38
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-15 16:00
Thirty-Eight 'How many times do I have to tell you,' Ribald said, 'Chairman Peckard is unavailable. I have assumed his duties, so you can tell me whatever it is you want to tell him.' Black leaned back in his chair. Could one of the special ops boys have gotten a lucky break? Probably not. Maybe Peckard had just had a heart attack from the stress. 'Very well,' Black said. 'I have a...
Minerva, Chapter 37
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-14 16:00
Thirty-Seven 'You have no respect for me, do you?' Novak asked, after the others had gone to bed. 'I have treated you with the utmost courtesy,' Mason replied. 'Plenty of thinkers have been Christian,' Novak said. 'Are they all fools as well?' 'But they kept it separate!' Mason said. If Novak wanted to hear it, Mason wouldn't spare him the truth. 'I respect an Einstein because of his...
Minerva, Chapter 36
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-13 16:00
Thirty-Six 'Thank you for the critique of our current policy,' the senator from Iowa said. 'And now, Mr. O'Toole, perhaps you could offer this committee some constructive suggestions?' 'That's why I'm here,' O'Toole said. The room laughed. 'First and most important,' O'Toole began, 'the Black Administration must retake the moral initiative. Too many people, even in the First World...
Minerva, Chapter 35
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-12 16:00
Thirty-Five 'How many jets could they possibly have?' Black asked. 'It's hard to say, Mr. President,' General Merton answered. (Riggs had been sacked after the Hopper fiasco.) 'Could be anywhere from 500 to 2,500.' 'Too many for a direct assault,' Black decided. The public would tolerate a lot at the moment, but not the sudden loss of dozens of pilots or more. 'Fuel is still their...
Minerva, Chapter 34
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-11 16:00
Thirty-Four 'Well?' Tara asked as her husband emerged from his study. 'Hard to say,' O'Toole admitted. 'What does that mean?' Tara asked. 'Either Danny raped her or he didn't.' 'Tara , please calm down,' O'Toole said. 'He's really mixed up. Of course he doesn't think he did'he said he was shocked by the charge.' 'So he didn't rape her,' Tara said. 'Well . . . .' 'Well what?' Tara...
Minerva, Chapter 33
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-08 16:00
Thirty-Three 'That's not good,' Matt said, peering through the binoculars. He could just make out the Navy destroyer. 'Mayday mayday,' Quinn said into the microphone, not knowing if this were the correct terminology but feeling the situation to be an emergency. 'I've got someone right on my ass; do you guys see him?' 'We are aware of the bogey,' the speaker informed the men. 'It is the U.S...
Minerva, Chapter 32
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-07 16:00
Thirty-Two 'The next issue,' boomed the moderator, 'is the situation with Minerva. If elected, how would your administration handle the lawless island? Senator Stumpel, it's your turn to start.' 'The unfortunate situation with Minerva,' the senator said, looking into the television camera, 'is the result of a failure of leadership and diplomacy. With all due respect to President Lympman, he...
Minerva, Chapter 31
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-06 16:00
Thirty-One 'David!' Roderick Dupont yelled. He stood up and waved Mason over to the table where he was sitting with another man. 'Charles, may I introduce to you David Mason, the finest economist and political scientist of our generation. David, this is Charles Emerson, the distinguished biologist.' The two old men shook hands. 'Pleasure to actually meet you, Dr. Mason,' Emerson said...
Minerva, Chapter 30
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-05 16:00
Thirty Dan got up from his computer when he heard the familiar knock. Anticipation built as he headed for the door, even though he knew it had to be a coincidence. 'Matt!' he yelled as he threw open the door. 'What's up, little man?' Matt said as he entered the dorm room. After throwing a duffel bag against the far wall, Matt very deliberately surveyed the room. 'Holy shit dude,' he...
Minerva, Chapter 29
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-04 16:00
Twenty-Nine 'Sure I can't talk you out of this?' O'Toole asked, knowing what the reply would be. 'Yes, Peter,' Mason answered. 'These missile strikes are only the beginning. I feel as if my remaining time is limited.' 'That's not the Mason I used to know,' O'Toole said. 'Back when everyone else was saying Hail Marys at the thought of an invasion from Lugar, you were urging me to buy...
Minerva, Chapter 28
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Bob Murphy 2004-04-01 16:00
Lamas Bordak ran through the department store, knocking over racks of clothes. The siren had been wailing for a full thirty seconds, and she still hadn't found her six-year-old. ' Midi ! Midi !' Lamas finally spotted her son crouched in a corner, sitting on the floor and hugging his knees to his chest. '[Midi , we have to go now!]' she yelled, yanking him off the ground. When the two...
Minerva, Chapter 27
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Bob Murphy 2004-03-31 16:00
Twenty-Seven 'For someone who walked him into a mugging,' O'Toole said, smiling, you're one to talk.' 'Indeed,' Mason agreed, 'but let us not use past mistakes to justify current ones. Peter,' Mason was quite serious now, 'I fear for the future. This belligerence alarms me. Who can say what the United States will do in the next few years? You may never see your son again.' 'You worry...
Minerva, Chapter 26
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Bob Murphy 2004-03-30 16:00
Twenty-Six Vice President Anthony Black tried to conceal his disgust as he surveyed the room. This was the first time he'd met with this particular group of incompetent, overpromoted kiss-asses, and the circumstances were not pleasant. With Carson gaining in the polls, Lympman couldn't miss his photo ops in California . Consequently, Black had to endure the briefing with the 'experts' on...
Minerva, Chapter 25
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Bob Murphy 2004-03-29 16:00
Twenty-Five 'Are you sure you want to do that?' Mason asked Danny. 'You said I should control the center of the board,' Danny answered, being careful to keep his finger on his Knight. 'Yes, but I also said you should keep your extended pieces protected,' Mason reminded him. 'That Knight is guarding your Bishop. Do you intend to remedy that with your next move? Don't forget about him.' '...