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Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Subject:Abattoir
Time:6:53 pm.
Libertarian cow : Abattoirs were originally for the treatment of sick cows not the wholesale slaughter for meat they have become.
Libertarian human : Governments were originally for the protection of the people not the corrupt special interests.
Comments: Read 3 or Add Your Own.

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Subject:Seeing Like A State
Time:11:20 am.
Seeing Like A State
by James C Scott
This is probably the most important anarchist work of the decade. Even though Scott is not an anarchist and defends some level of state action he nevertheless provides anarchists with vast quantities of intellectual ammunition. His central idea is that, a particular world-view which he calls 'high modernist' is responsible for many atrocities of the 20th century.
Read more...Collapse )
Comments: Read 17 or Add Your Own.

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Subject:Empires of the Silk Road
Time:6:12 am.
Excellent presentation of an obscure area of history and demographics. Probably not for people who don't already have a moderate knowledge of the peripheral civilisations he mentions e.g. Roman, Arabic, Chinese. The importance of the Central Asian trading zone has been obscured since it was bypassed by the European oceanic trade starting with Portuguese voyages to Asia. This led to a dramatic decline in the volume and wealth of trade in Central Asia. The decline was completed by the partition of Central Asia between Russia and China. The Central Asians are now viewed as merely barbaric herders with no real economy or culture of their own.
Read moreCollapse )
Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Subject:Silk Road to Ruin
Time:8:14 am.
In Empires of the Silk Road the author maintains that the internal economic collapse of the Roman Empire not only allowed the 'barbarian' invasions but caused them indirectly. Since the Eurasian tribes depended on trade with the Romans, the failure of the Roman economy led to a failure of the tribal economies also. This gave them an incentive to uproot and invade Roman territory at the exact time Rome was weak. Since it already seems likely that Roman economic collapse was caused by the centralisation and militarisation of the economy by Imperial decrees, it follows that this economic mismanagement in the name of military strength caused military disaster too.
Riffing on this we can speculate that the collapse of the US economy will not cause the Mexicans to leave as some anti-immigrant thinkers wish. In fact Mexico's economy might collapse even further than America's and cause more Mexicans to flood in. Since the south of border area is already awash with armed bands due to the war on drugs there will be plenty of guns to attack US officials attempting to stem this tide. The neo-cons will finally have a nice little war close to home. Naturally this will lead to paranoid claims that the Spanish wish to destroy our English freedoms and the only solution is to nuke Mexico City and Madrid.
Comments: Read 2 or Add Your Own.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Subject:Jews and the tragedy of universalism
Time:8:33 am.
esr has really lost the plot again. Certainly Jews are over-represented in movements attempting to dissolve ethno-tribal bonds. It is understandable since those bonds were usually an obstacle to their own participation in society. However, the Jews who were most involved in these activities never seem to be trying to exempt Jews from this assimilation. esr seems to imagine some sneaky Jews preaching secular philosophy and then secretly living as religious Jews at home and despising gentiles. This is a very common allegation against Jewish intellectuals but the evidence is totally lacking.
esr is always willing to break taboos which is often good. In some cases he falls in love with his own train of thought and forgets to look for evidence.
Comments: Read 2 or Add Your Own.

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Subject:Gun Ban Predictions
Time:1:38 pm.
I admit my predictions were too pessimistic. Maybe the Democrats have used up so much political capital on healthcare that they won't be able to move on gun issues.
Comments: Read 1 or Add Your Own.

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Subject:Suppression of Science Within Science
Time:11:07 am.
Lomborg’s text employs the strategy of those who . . . argue that gay men aren't dying of AIDS, that Jews weren't singled out by the Nazis for extermination. So global-warming denialism is as much beyond the pale as AIDS denialism. Except that – and perhaps you’ve noticed – Duesberg has never denied that AIDS exists, he just has a different explanation for what caused it. And Lomborg doesn’t deny that global warming is occurring, he doesn’t even question that human activities are contributing significantly to it, he is just making a cost-benefit argument.
The chickens are coming home to roost. Decades of support from centralized governments have caused centralized bureaucracy to overwhelm good science. You can have millions for research but only if your research isn't going to rock the boat. When you take the King's money you are the King's servant no matter what he told you beforehand.
Comments: Read 18 or Add Your Own.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Subject:Peace in our time
Time:11:34 am.
I am sure that intervening in Uganda and Yemen is immensely beneficial to world peace.
Comments: Read 2 or Add Your Own.

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Subject:Evolutionary Psychology Bingo
Time:1:18 pm.
Mood: amused.
Some mockery of Ev Psych
Comments: Read 1 or Add Your Own.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Subject:Beyonce
Time:5:49 pm.
Now Mr. President, Mr. President, I’ll let  you give your speech, but first I just gotta say this:  Beyonce isn’t fighting two wars.  TWO WARS!  Beyonce ain’t sent nobody to Bagram.  But you go ahead and get your prize for peace, that’s cool and all, but Beyonce totally deserved it more.
He is late to the meme, but good.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Subject:Inflation
Time:4:55 pm.
Imagine you are on an aircraft carrier with 4000 sailors on board. Each sailor gets issued 3 ration tickets every day by the paymaster. The sailor can then get a meal in one of the ship messhalls. The paymaster realizes he can issue an extra ticket to himself every day and get 4 meals. Nobody will notice. After a while the other officers begin to notice the paymaster is eating 4 times a day. He issues them with 4 tickets each day to keep them quiet. Eventually even the Captain is in on the deal. Meanwhile the chef has noticed that his stores are being depleted too fast. He is forced to cut the amount of food in each meal because the total amount has already been budgeted. As more people join the group getting 4 tickets a day the normal ration size has to get smaller.
Soon the ordinary sailors get annoyed by the small portions since they only get 3 tickets a day. The Captain orders the paymaster to give everyone 4 tickets a day since this is the easiest way to solve the problem. After a few days the paymaster starts the cycle again by giving himself 5 tickets a day. I am not going to follow that process any further. But we can analyze what happened in the first cycle. When only a few privileged people were getting 4 tickets a day, they received more than their fair share. Everyone else received less. Once everyone got 4 tickets, there was an equal share for all. However the ordinary sailors still got cheated. Also they will be cheated again when the new 5 ticket scam starts operating.
This is a description of inflation that clearly shows that the politicians and their friends benefit from inflation because they are effectively stealing from the ordinary people. Of course a real monetary inflation process is much more complicated but the general scam is the same.
[What do you think of this as a very basic introduction to inflation?]
Comments: Read 39 or Add Your Own.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Subject:Institutional Review Board
Time:5:08 pm.
A judgment body from whose decisions there is no appeal; secret regulations, unknown, typically, even to body members; an ever-widening scrutiny, even of mundane activities, for unconforming ideologies.
We can see the bureaucratic mindset of prior restraint in its full horror here. Every attempt by any person to rationally investigate a topic must first obtain approval from religious or secular ethicists (witchdoctors). It would be far better to allow any investigation without restraint and then provide recourse to civil or criminal procedures when important ethical rules are breached. The irrational sects have always longed to bring science under their power and IRBs empower them to do so. I expect their stranglehold on research to become ever tighter.

Criticism of an IRB, however gentle, is probably career suicide for any researcher. Since there is no appeal from their decisions they are likely to punish anyone who dissents by curtailing their research projects. (I base this purely on my cynical view of human nature not any actual evidence.) I found one brave skeptical commenter on this subject :

But in his account, the FBI was not Harper's biggest problem; it investigated a threat of nuclear terrorism and closed the case with reasonable efficiency. The IRB, by contrast, apparently offered no such resolution. Perhaps Price needs to worry less about the National Security State and more about the Human Subjects Protection State.
Comments: Read 9 or Add Your Own.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Subject:Holocaust: The Ignored Reality
Time:1:09 pm.
Good summary of Soviet and Nazi planned exterminations :
By starving Soviet prisoners of war, shooting and gassing Jews, and shooting civilians in anti-partisan actions, German forces made Belarus the deadliest place in the world between 1941 and 1944. Half of the population of Soviet Belarus was either killed or forcibly displaced during World War II: nothing of the kind can be said of any other European country.
Via Who is IOZ?
Comments: Read 10 or Add Your Own.

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Subject:Toyota
Time:5:36 pm.
There is an old fallacy still current amongst leftists that companies thrive by providing bad products. The most common example is that cars are made to last a set period and then rapidly deteriorate. Now it is true that some companies followed a strategy of deliberately limiting the life of their cars. The market has decisively rejected this ploy. Toyota has for decades been renowned for cars and engines that last longer than most others. Their resale value remains higher than normal even when they age. Toyota has since become the largest car company in the world and is strongly profitable. This proves that people do in fact recognize durability as a value (just not the only value).
Furthermore Toyota has for decades pursued cost containment strategies for continuously improving productivity and reducing waste of materials. This was done for profit reasons yet is is also good for the environment. Every saving of raw materials means that less natural resource are used to make cars.
Lately Toyota also developed a hybrid car. This is a bad idea on the whole but it is probably the least bad way the environmental movement's agenda could be furthered.
So Toyota is eco-friendly, profitable and produces good cars. Why are American politicians not begging Toyota to take over American companies and introduce better management? Instead they ignore Toyota and praise incompetent wasteful companies that produce inferior cars.
Comments: Read 6 or Add Your Own.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Subject:Gay Marriage
Time:3:42 pm.
I am not personally opposed to gay marriage. It seems pointless to forbid such a thing, but I do have some comments for those who are enthusiastic about it.
1. Regarding the recent California Supreme Court decision : They can't declare a part of the constitution to be unconstitutional. It is their job to interpret the constitution as it applies to certain legislation or litigation. They can't decide to ignore a part of the constitution, any more than your cable guy can decide not to install the Disney channel because he hates mice. Not their job!
2. Single people are also subject to much of the same discrimination as gays who are not allowed to marry. If gays receive no medical, pension etc. benefits then single people don't get those either. Why should a married person whether gay or not, get more benefits (really money) for the same job? If you buy a newspaper on the street do you give the guy an extra dime if he claims to be married?
3. As for such access issues as hospital visitation or health proxy. These also discriminate against single people if enforced. If a single person cannot specify a friend of either sex for such a role, then that is also discrimination. A single person might prefer to have a friend of the same religion (or non-religion) to make a health care decision in an emergency. Why should they have to be married to do so?
In short gay marriage is really a red herring from a libertarian POV. Unequal rights for married people versus single people is the real discrimination.
Comments: Read 11 or Add Your Own.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Subject:Blog
Time:2:22 pm.
There is now another blog for the Boston Objectivist Network.
If anyone has a paid account feel free to create a syndicated feed. (See 'About' page of that blog for the link.)
Comments: Read 5 or Add Your Own.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Subject:Organ replacement
Time:5:41 am.
Obtaining FDA approval is still a major hurdle, in part because cells obtained from different people may not behave alike and because recipients can have varying responses to the same kind of implant
As usual the FDA is killing people for frivolous reasons. Existing organ transplants have the same problems of variable inputs and results. To hold mechanical substitutes to a higher standard than existing therapies makes no sense. They are already an improvement due to greater availability (once in production). They don't need to justify their existence by being higher quality too.
Patients who are about to die and know that they are still months away from receiving a donor organ have nothing to lose by taking a chance on artificial replacements.
Comments: Read 3 or Add Your Own.

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Subject:Construction and Perversion
Time:11:25 am.
I need some fairly urgent house repairs done. I have been waiting this week for 4 separate builders to return my call and give a quote. How bad can the economy be, if not one of them bothers to do so? I suspect the stimulus is working. Construction workers would rather have a long term overpaid government contract than do a quick market priced job for me. The perverse thing is that I am paying via taxes for them to do useless make-work construction but I can't get them to do useful work at any price. Thanks FedGov - no wonder I love you so much.
While I am ranting I might as well start on a related topic :
In 1945 American engineers threw a bridge over the Rhine in one day despite hostile fire. In 2007 American engineers throw a 2 lane road bridge over a single line railway track in only ... 18 months. I realize that the Rhine bridge was only a temporary bridge with minimal safety requirements. However, there have been many advances in material and mechanical technology since 1945, not to mention complete absence of bullets and artillery. How can it take five hundred times longer to build a shorter bridge?
Comments: Read 8 or Add Your Own.

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Subject:Dead Aid
Time:2:44 pm.
Development aid does more harm than good in Africa, says Zambian economist and author Dambisa Moyo, so we should stop it. She has the ear of at least one African president, Paul Kagame of Rwanda. 'Why should Bono be the one to determine economic policy in Africa?
Comments: Read 2 or Add Your Own.

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Subject:Administration Fail
Time:4:05 pm.
So, Obama gave the British Prime Minister a set of DVDs :
- "2001: A Space Odyssey"
- "Casablanca"
- "Chinatown"
- "Citizen Kane"
- "City Lights"
- "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"
- "It's a Wonderful Life"
- "Lawrence of Arabia"
- "On the Waterfront"
- "Psycho"
- "Raging Bull"
- "Schindler's List"
- "Singin' in the Rain"
- "Some Like It Hot"
- "Star Wars: Episode IV"
- "Sunset Boulevard"
- "The General"
- "The Godfather"
- "The Graduate"
- "The Grapes of Wrath"
- "The Searchers"
- "The Wizard of Oz"
- "To Kill a Mockingbird"
- "Vertigo"
How could they leave out V for Vendetta?
Comments: Read 7 or Add Your Own.

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