And If You Want Love…

Paul at Wizbang celebrates the death of 32.83 people and countless more that have nothing to do with keeping “us” “free”.

Richard: “Fathers, lock up your daughters when that happens.”

Krzysztof Kowalczyk writes about why LISP failed as a programming language:

The proof is in the pudding. Despite everything nice that Paul Graham and other Lisp advocates have to say about how great Lisp is, it failed as a programming language. Ultimate proof: Jabberwocky. It’s a Lisp IDE, presumably written by people who know and love coding in Lisp.

It’s written in Java.

Charley Reese writes on the importance of religion in society. This is something that Leo Strauss seems to think and something Chip Gibbons despises.

Chip Gibbons grabs some pointers about the Federal Reserve System. I think it’s funny he’s been to Jekyll Island, GA. And more.

Grant at the intersection of anthropology and economics considers the different mindsets of Don Boudreaux and Dr. O’Neill.

In Santa Fe recently, Don Boudreaux was speaking extemporaneously. At one point, he paused, looked down, touched the table before him deliberately, and said something like, “I don’t presume to know what’s best for other people [on this topic] or that I could possibly ever know such a thing.”

It was a simple, matter of fact, acknowledgment of the limits of his moral authority and it struck me like a thunder bolt. It seemed to me to reveal an essential difference between two camps of social scientist: those who believe they know the moral order of things, and those who are prepared to defer to the arrangements the world works out on its own.

When I listen to many social scientists these days, they are plumping for their preferred order of things. They take this to be the point, the very obligation, of their scholarship. It is this presumption of moral authority that has shifted their teaching in the liberal arts from a dispassionate engagement to a partisan one, provoking, in the process, the “culture wars” of the 1990s and the present day.

Jon Udell mentions Asterisk. It’s pretty good if you like it out of the box but the code is disgusting if you need to add features.

Dr. Ron Paul gave a speech before the House of Representatives on June 2nd, 2004.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.J.Res. 83, which amends the United States Constitution to allow appointed persons to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives in the event of an emergency. Since the Continuity of Government (COG) Commission first proposed altering our system of government by allowing appointed members to serve in this body, I, along with other members of Congress, journalists, academics, and policy experts, have expressed concerns that having appointed members serve in the House of Representatives is inconsistent with the House’s historic function as the branch of Congress most directly accountable to the people.

A trailer for Fahrenheit 9/11.

Richard wonders if the “my” in “my girlfriend” or “my friend” is something to be worried about. I don’t think so, but I’ve definitely thought about it before. ;)

Ego: I am linked in this post. Hah.

Alex comments on my fire:

You have to give him credit for realizing that he can’t do anything about it and going back to his daily routine. However, I thought maybe some financial plans and shopping for a new place to live might have been in order before blogging. Anyway, check it out. This has to be one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in a while.

I probably would have left my house earlier in the day if the fire trucks weren’t blogging the whole street.

Tony Pierce is as American as apple pie.

why the president is a fucking retard by tony pierce, 110

if you ever go to the special olympics you will see a spirit that is absent from any other sporting activity you’ll ever witness: unconditional love and reward.

even the slowest, most fumbiling child who finishes a race gets a hug. a loving embrace for participating in the event. a symbol and an action that says, you tried and thats all that matters.

you are loved.

the only institution that mimics this behavoir is the united states of america and it’s relationship to the president of the united states, george bush, and the people and things that he supports.

And Tony is the only person to have the balls to say this:

after calling the sitting president a fucking retard id be a fucking asshole if i didn’t celebrate the death of the president who started all this bullshit.

the gipper today met the reaper and ive never believed that on a mans death everyone should kiss his ass if indeed he was an asswipe when he was alive, so fuck you mr president. im glad you’re dead and i wish you had never lived.

(More coverage on that if you’re interested.)

Faré posted The Only Path To Tomorrow by Ayn Rand on his site.

The history of mankind is the history of the struggle between the Active Man and the Passive, between the individual and the collective. The countries which have produced the happiest men, the highest standards of living and the greatest cultural advances have been the countries where the power of the collective — of the government, of the state — was limited and the individual was given freedom of independent action. As examples: The rise of Rome, with its conception of law based on a citizen’s rights, over the collectivist barbarism of its time. The rise of England, with a system of government based on the Magna Carta, over collectivist, totalitarian Spain. The rise of the United States to a degree of achievement unequaled in history — by grace of the individual freedom and independence which our Constitution gave each citizen against the collective.

While men are still pondering upon the causes of the rise and fall of civilizations, every page of history cries to us that there is but one source of progress: Individual Man in independent action. Collectivism is the ancient principle of savagery. A savage’s whole existence is ruled by the leaders of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

Richard links to an Atlantic interview with Niall Ferguson about why America is bad at being an empire.

In a way, if you are the imperial power you have to accept that people are going to hate you however you go about spreading your influence. One of the problems Americans have is this desire to be loved. Legitimacy isn’t necessarily based on affection. It’s based on credibility. And I think what we’re seeing in Iraq is just the latest in a series of tests of American resolve and credibility. It’s not the hatred one should worry about, it’s the contempt. The legitimacy that the United States will achieve if it makes a success of Iraq will outweigh the inevitable resentment. You need to be respected. And the United States has a long way to go before it attains that respect, most obviously in the Middle East.

One of the things he says is that Americans don’t want to be involved in other countries. That is, they would rather run Wall Street businesses than run countries. This is very different than Roman governors or the British elite. I’d like to run a province, why not?

Greg Ransom posts an article by Jonathan Rauch, of Reason, about F. A. Hayek and same-sex marriage. He mentions a quote from Hayek that I have a small thought on, the whole artcle is interesting though.

It was on this point that Hayek was particularly outspoken: Intellectuals and visionaries who seek to deconstruct and rationally rebuild social traditions will produce not a better order but chaos. In his 1952 book The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason, Hayek made a statement that demands to be quoted in full and read at least twice:

“It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depends. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made man submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism.”

In my History of Mathematics class we were talking about Euclid and in the book it mentioned modern critique’s of The Elements. (For those not in the know, The Elements is a Greek book about mathematics from a geometric perspective that was written under Ptolemy at the Museum in Alexandria and was the standard math textbook for almost two thousand years.) One of the main problems is that Euclid tries to define every word he uses in a technical sense, of course the result is that some words have very strange definitions. For example, a point is defined as “that which has no parts.”

The lesson was that reason and definition needs undefined terms and gaps to be comprehensible and useful.

Chip Gibbons worries that WordPress may start charging soon just like everyone else so he’s not sure about switching.

Chip, I recommend reading Mark Pilgrim on WordPress. And the GPL in general. The bottom-line: WordPress is guaranteed to be free forever and even if new versions are not, the old versions can never be taken away so a community could be created to make new versions better if the primary version became non-Free.

I have to write a sentence.

Chip Gibbons writes about why the Democrats should leave off Nader and focus on themselves.

I’m already tired of the Democrats whining about how much damage Nader could do to their efforts to defeat Bush. The Democrats blame Bush for the defeat and blame Nader for being a spoiler in the 2000 election. They never blame themselves for being losers. They are too impervious to reality to admit that their message no longer resonates with voters.

If they think that Nader is going to be a spoiler in the upcoming election, they obviously think it’s going to be a very close election. They need to focus on what it will take for it not to be a close election. Talking about Bush’s whoring to special interests won’t do it because the Democrats are equally slutty when it comes to special interests.

Alexander Payne: Hottie.

Jay Rosen writes about the changing of times for political journalism.

It isn’t. And that is why this belief system is in serious trouble. It answers a political question with an evacuation of politics, toward which professional correctness in journalism allows only neutrality and its endless equivalents– one of which is equal opportunity aggression in the watchdog role. Gopnik saw this attitude not as undesirable, but strangely non-descript.

For it fails to say anything meaningful about the journalist’s role in the American political system as it stands. It is also relentlessly ahistorical, defeating thought about changes in public life that might present new problems or require new ideas. As the press scholar Michael Schudson once wrote, “The news media necessarily incorporate into their work a certain view of politics, and they will either do so intelligently and critically or unconsciously and routinely.”

Dr. Paul Roberts writes about the abysmal performance of “criminal justice” in America.

The purpose of “criminal justice” is to protect the government, not the innocent public.

In the meantime, smile no matter what the provocation as you undergo airport security screening. You can now be arrested for “having an attitude.” A snide remark can get you placed on a “no fly” list for life.

Be very careful what you have in your luggage as fines have been instituted for “inappropriate items.” That decision is a subjective one at the screeners discretion. According to USA today, a bride recently drew a $150 fine for having a wedding gift in her baggage — a silver cake server. Expect no consistency. Just because you clear one airport with an item, don’t expect the next screener to have the same view.

Rick Heller gets through to CNN.

Jason complains about Ralph Nader.

To be blunt, the man is a delusional fool and a narcissist in the worst way. Despite any noble policy ideas he may have, many of which I agree with, there is no doubt that had he not run in 2000, Bush would not have been put in office. One percent of Nader votes in Florida going to Gore would have made it a non-issue. No recount, no stopping of the recount, no Republican Supreme court beknighting Bush, no bumbling, cynical, secretive, destructive Presidency. Thousands of dead people would be decidedly not dead had this egomaniac pulled out once he realized how close it was going to be.

People can shout all they want about Gore’s miserable, uninspiring campaign, but the truth is, it’s Ralph’s fault that Bush is in the White House. It was a nice idea to vote Nader in a non-swing state four years ago, but the world is a much different place now.

He links to this clever site.

Alex Tabarrok writes about the “price of eternal vigilance” and Independence Hall.

Independence Hall is remarkable but I could not enjoy it fully because I was disconcerted by the circumstances of my arrival. I flew into Philadelphia and of course was scanned, wanded, and de-shoed before boarding the plane – this I was prepared for – but it was depressing to walk from the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall and be subjected again and again to gates, armed guards, scanning, searching and surveillance. What is next? Will we be asked to show ID before entering the birthplace of liberty? The experience was upsetting.

Matthew Thomas writes about why Aaron Swartz‘s proposal of “WikiCourt” is flawed.

The WikiCourt model is superficially similar to jury trials. But jury trials work because they are supported by money and by physical force. Judges, court security officers, and (to a lesser extent) jurors are paid to be disinterested participants. And if you lie or misbehave, or if you try to reject a trial’s verdict, you may be fined or imprisoned. But in WikiCourt, you could lie, cheat, or just reject the outcome, and the greatest inconvenience you’d suffer would be having to get a new pseudonym and e-mail address for yourself before rejoining the fray.

What bewilders me most about Aaron’s proposal is his reference to Wikipedia as an example of how collaborative editing by ideological opponents can work. Aaron has contributed substantially to Wikipedia, but so have I, and I’ve seen quite the opposite.

Mitch Ratcliffe writes about Ralph Nader, and why he would be a bad president.

Maybe we need to have the opportunity to vote for someone other than one of the two nominees of the two parties, as Ralph Nader says, but that requires us to ask if Nader would be worth a vote. Here is an accomplished activist, certainly, but has Nader ever demonstrated the ability to build coalitions and to compromise with foes to forge a middle ground on which everyone can live? Pardon me, but Ralph is not good at compromise, as his position on why he should run demonstrates: Simply having another choice doesn’t increase the quality or quantity of democracy in a society. It can lead, through fragmentation of potential coalitions along arbitrary differences, to extremism by a minority government… exactly as it did in 2000 whence last Ralph ran.

The Black Saint writes about Martha Stewart, awesome.

I was reading the latest about Martha Stewart’s trial and quite frankly, it looks like it’s to prison she’s a goin’. The whole case demonstrates how seriously the federal government takes white collar crime. If she’d just shot an unarmed black teenager, she’d be home by now.

Shimon Rura asks about some perl code.

I’ll take the following template as my goal. I’d like to have working Perl that looks like this:

my $title = "Late Night With Conan  O'Brien";
$dbh->db_foreach 'get_matches' q{
    select description, tvchannel, when_start, when_stop
    from xmltv_programmes
    where title = :title
} {
    do_something_with($title, $description, $tvchannel);
    do_something_else_with($when_start, $when_stop);
}

Shimon, I would do something like this:

my $db_foreach = sub {
 my ( $query, $query_args, $sub ) = @_;
 my $sth = $model->dbh->prepare( $query );
 $sth->execute( @{ $query_args } );
 while ( my $row = $sth->fetchrow_arrayref ) {
  $sub->( @{ $row } );
 }
};

$db_foreach->(
 $query,
 [ $title ],
 sub {
  my ( $description, $tvchannel, $when_start, $when_stop ) = @_;
  # Your code
 }
);

Other strategies if you want closer to what you have written would be to find the substrings of $query that start with ‘:’ and see if they are active variables by poking the symbol table, but that is disgusting.

Charley Reese wonders about how to get out of this mess.

I confess, I don’t know how to undo what we’ve done. How do we persuade the federal government to divest itself of some of its power? How do we persuade state governments to leave most of the decisions to local governments? How do we persuade people to pry themselves loose from their TV sets and computers and actually participate in government?

Probably the process will just continue as it is until it implodes. That is what happened in the Soviet Union. Bureaucracy and party decrees got so far removed from reality that everything collapsed. If that happens to us, at least our children or grandchildren will get a chance to start over.

AKMA links to a slew of articles against The da Vinci Code.

have one or two da Vinci Code gigs coming up, and have turned down others — so I have to admit that Dan Brown is putting some money in my pockets. But liberty in the extremism of [intellectual] vice is no defense; Brown profits from the confusion he engenders between hoax and history, between bogus “symbology” and critical history-of-religions research, but (for all the pious rhetoric of “encouraging free inquiry”) he short-circuits the quest for truth by capitalizing on his readers’ credulity.

Laura Miller in the New York Times:

At regular intervals, the book brings its pell-mell plot to a screeching halt and emits a pellet of information concerning a centuries-old conspiracy that purports to have preserved a tremendous secret about the roots of Christianity itself. This ”nonfiction” material gives ”The Da Vinci Code” its frisson of authenticity, and it’s lifted from ”Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” one of the all-time great works of pop pseudohistory. But what seems increasingly clear (to cop a favorite phrase from the authors of ”Grail”) is that ”The Da Vinci Code,” like ”Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” is based on a notorious hoax.

Margaret M. Mitchell:

“Paganism” is treated throughout The Da Vinci Code as though it were a unified phenomenon, which it was not (“pagan” just being the Christian term for “non-Christian”). The religions of the Mediterranean world were multiple and diverse, and cannot all be boiled down to “sun-worshippers” (232). Nor did all “pagans” frequently, eagerly, and with mystical intent participate in the hieros gamos (ritual sex acts). “The Church” is also used throughout the book as though it had a clear, uniform and unitary referent. For early Christian history this is precisely what we do not have, but a much more complex, varied and localized phenomenon. Brown presumes “the Church” is “the Holy Roman Catholic Church” which he thinks had tremendous power always and everywhere, but ecclesiastical history is a lot messier.

Kieran Healy comments on Simon Schama‘s longing for a different style of history.

Once asked what he specialized in, the sociologist Daniel Bell replied, “Generalizations.” It’s a line worth stealing for job interviews, but it tells an important truth. Being a generalist these days is itself a kind of specialization. Like any other role in an advanced division of labor, it depends on thousands of others, most notably all those monographic specialists dug into the archives. Timothy Burke would like to see historians be trained “to write well, to seek audiences outside the academy, to stretch their powers of persuasion.” Those are worthwhile goals, but whereas the mills of academic specialization can grind exceeding small, we can’t all have our own BBC miniseries. Besides, I don’t think Schama simply wants historians to write better prose. Rather, he himself yearns to play the same role today that Macaulay or Gibbon did in their time. He covets the way they could grasp their subject whole and entire and bring it to almost the whole of the reading public. Which of us scribblers wouldn’t want to do the same?

Richard writes about Eric’s four problems and advice giving.

He’s asking for advice, which is also known as asking to be told what to do. It’s odd for people in their twenties to want to be told what to do, having recently been teenagers and hating it when their parents did it. Also, people in their twenties—yes, there are exceptions—have bosses who tell them what to do too. Granted, they’re (hopefully) being paid to do what the boss says, so there’s at least a trade off. But why do it for free?

Metrosexuality Aside

François-René Rideau writes about the Étatistes and their psychosis.

En fait, quand on regarde les choses de plus près, on se rend compte que le problème n’en est un qu’en présence du monopole de l’état, qui suscite et exacerbe ce problème par le principe de l’irresponsabilité des acteurs en présence: les contribuables paient et les usagers reçoivent sans décider, les décideurs ne sont pas tenus comptables de leurs décisions. On cherche en vain un responsable – c’est toujours l’autre. Cette dynamique mène à l’accaparement des ressources par des cleptocrates les plus habiles, et à leur destruction par des zérocrates. Compétition dans la surenchère des jeux de pouvoir: démagogie, lobbying, pressions occultes, népotisme, censure, privilèges, corporatisme, syndicalisme, etc.

In fact, when one looks closely, one will realize that the problem [supposedly solved by the state] only exists in the presence of the monopoly of the state, a monopoly which causes and exacerbates this problem by the irresponsibility it cultivates in every one involved: the taxpayers pay and the users use without decision [because of the monopoly] and the decision makers are not accountable to their decisions. If one seeks the person in charge, it is in vain – the statist will always point to another. This dynamic leads to the success of the most skilled cleptocrats and the destruction of resources by zerocrats. Competition is only possible through shows of force: occult demagogy, lobbying, pressures, nepotism, censure, privilege, corporatism, and trade unionism.

This is a rough translation, I am not fluent in French, so if you disagree incredibly with this it is best to criticize me and my translation rather than Faré, because this might not be what he wrote.

François-René Rideau writes about the great fear of the “market failure.”

Ceux qui justifient l’intervention politique par des scénarios catastrophes ne comprennent pas plus la nature d’un marché libre que celle de l’État; ils en restent à la pensée magique. La grande peur des défaillances du marché n’est autre chose que cette névrose de ceux qui ont peur de la liberté, et se cherchent désespérément en l’État un parent pour les soulager d’avoir à se comporter en adulte.

Those who justify political intervention by these “catastrophic scenarios” do not understand the free market because their nature is tainted by belief in the State: they reason only through and about magic. The great fear of “market failures” is only a result of the neurosis that afflicts those who are afraid of freedom, and hopelessly seek in the State a parent to relieve them of the responsibility to behave as an adult.

See above note about my translation skills.

Faré has written about market failures and public goods before: My commentary on Public Goods Fallacies: False Justifications For Government.

Michael Feldman posts headlines from 2035.

Last remaining Fundamentalist Muslim dies in the American Territory of the Middle East (formerly known as Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, [Syria] and Lebanon

Castro finally dies at 112, Cuban cigars can now be legally imported, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all tobacco smoking anywhere

George Z. Bush announces he will oppose Clinton in ’36

Massachusetts executes last remaining Conservative

Jay Rosen explains that Joe Trippi didn’t say what Reuters said he said at ETech.

The transparency of the anti-establishment Dean campaign made it hard to respond to political attacks from his eight other Democratic opponents and media criticism of the candidate’s missteps, he said.

No quotes in this graph. That’s because it’s wrong and Trippi didn’t say it. It wasn’t hard to respond to attacks. It was hard to explain to Net supporters a.) why Trippi was playing hardball, shifting tactics, concealing his hand, b.) what they should be doing to help Howard Dean win, since this was an emergency. The “transparency” of this “anti-establishment” campaign created problems, yes, but they were not the variety named by Reuters: losing the element of surprise, not replying to criticism, feeling hobbled.

I love this sort of thing calling the Dean campaign transparent in the same breath as saying the official campaign was keeping things from the supporters.

Amy Lamboley criticizes Ampersand‘s description of “rape culture.”

For instance, in the social circles where I spend my time (intellectual, socially liberal, generally coastal) I’m not entirely positive I’ve ever heard the phrase “Be a man” or one of its varients used unironically. Entitlement is out, empathy is de rigeur, and any man who even implies that women are inferior is liable to find himself criticized as strongly by his fellow men as by any women who may be present. If anything, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far away from misogyny here–while men often take grief for holding fairly innocuous stereotypes, women can get away with fairly egregious attacks on men as a whole without fear of social disapproval.

However, when it came to the sort of men I encountered on the streets (of the South Side of Chicago, at least), all of the attitudes Ampersand described were alive and well. While some of them expressed it crudely, and others expressed it suavely, I would certainly agree that majority of men who struck up a conversation on a street corner or yelled and honked from a passing car were looking essentially for a validation of their masculinity, and that it was of no particular interest to them whether or not I appreciated their rather dubious compliments.

Brian Micklethwait writes about what is so great about France and that a French libertarian should focus on those things.

And as for the French social scientists — and especially literary theorists of the post-Modernistical persuasion – who are bullshit artists of the top rank, well, my point is exactly that. French has the best bullshitters in the world. They have utterly conquered American academia, and the achievement is all the more impressive given that it is all such complete bullshit. Persuading someone of the truth can be hard, but it is basically an unimpressive achievement, for in the end the truth speaks for itself. But to foist a pack of lies on a generation of American intellectuals, well, that takes some doing. Lies do not speak for themselves. French lies, on the other hand, have a habit of being believed. French intellectuals, perhaps because they always obey persuasion rule number one (first convince yourself), are hugely persuasive and have immense intellectual self-confidence. Their entire demeanour, when they are foisting one of their Great Intellectual Abstractions on you, says: we are French, so it is impossible that we could possibly be mistaken. It is true. If you do not accept it, this is your loss. Take it or leave it.

This works, again and again.

What French intellectuals think, right or wrong, is a fact in the world of collosal importance. When French intellectuals thought Soviet Communism was good, Soviet Communism was untouchable. As soon as the French intellectuals decided, in the late 1970s, that Soviet Communism was foolishness, it was doomed. That is a simplification, but not nearly as much of one as you might suppose.

My primary philosophical influencer right now is a Frenchman, but there is also the Italian.

Hugh Elliot writes about Love for Valentine’s Day.

So here We are, once again. Valentine’s Day, when Love is reduced to pink and red (the colors of wounds), hearts and apparently naked children holding weapons. It’s an unusual but safe way to categorize what we can’t really describe, replace what we can not or will not express with symbols we can avoid explaining.

You and I, however, are different. Our love is secret. There is apparently no place for this Love, my Love. It does not beg for court intervention nor political gain. It does not need approval from anyone.

He is probably not talking about what you think he is, so click through.

Jack M. Balkin writes about The U.S. Army investigating attendants of a conference on Islam.

What the Army did may or may not violate anybody’s constitutional rights. But there’s a larger threat to free expression and association that we shouldn’t overlook here. By attending conferences and asking for names, the Army is sending a message: if you are the sort of person who goes to these conferences, we may choose to create a file on you. For many people, that will be a strong disincentive to attend conferences, exchange ideas, and speak freely, especially if they have controversial or unpopular views. Moreover, it will also make it more difficult for groups like Biddle’s and Aziz’s to hold conferences on Islam and get funding for them, because some people will be afraid to attend, and potential sponsors will be afraid to become associated with conferences that the Army may be spying on.

Will Baude links to Henry Farrell on the interesting policies of nations.

Many countries impose jail sentences on people who pay kidnap ransoms. The reasoning is obvious – if nobody were willing to pay ransom (because they would face a hefty jail sentence) then nobody would have an incentive to kidnap; therefore everyone (except kidnappers) would be better off.

Richard Tallent has a few interesting questions about Gay Marriage: 1. What software changes would be required, and 2.:

Humans come in two genders, so marriage between two humans of opposite genders makes logical sense. But if legal marriage between persons of the same gender is permitted, why is there still the assumption of pairing? If the “reason for two” is no longer related to procreation and population-pairing by gender, why two? Under the reasoning of gay marriage proponents, how can we possibly deny those same legal rights to a loving man and two women, or a woman and two men? Or more? Why not entire communes of 20 or more people in loving, sexual, long-term relationships with one another? I’m not trying to make a slippery-slope argument here, promise! I’m not even saying that the issue would come up if gay marriage is allowed. I’m also not promoting polygamy or polynamy. I’m just asking, why would we stop at two? Of course, if such a thing ever did come about, the above question of software problems would definitely become an issue!

Jagdish Bhagwati defends globalization. (Amanda, you might want to read this.)

John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, described executives who import services — such as using lower-paid workers in foreign countries to handle customer-service calls and Internet queries from American consumers — as “Benedict Arnold C.E.O.’s.”

In objecting to moving service jobs overseas, Senator Kerry is wrong on two counts. First, his economics is faulty: the practice only adds to the overall economic pie and improves the competitiveness of American companies. In a world economy, firms that forgo cheaper supplies of services are doomed to lose markets, and hence production. And companies that die out, of course, do not employ people.

Second, Mr. Kerry is making a political error. By playing to the understandable but incorrect fears of American workers that outsourcing is “taking away” jobs from Americans, he is painting the Democratic Party into the wrong corner on trade issues.

Free Trade++

Richard plans to start programming more.

MUST: code for an hour. PHP is the only language I know, so PHP it is. As I get more comfortable with the concepts of programming, I hope to move on to Python.

Rationale: it is something I enjoy doing, but it is something that I have little formal training in–other than a university course in Pascal and another one in C++. Knowing a programming language is also something that is [insert here something other than the word "marketable"].

A friend of mine said to me, “You’re so lucky you know how to program: You can do anything. If you ever have a problem, you can just write a program to solve it.” I said, “Yup.”

Lance Arthur posts a photo-essay entitled, The San Francisco St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of Love, to celebrate gay marriage.

Julie Leung is intent on proving to everyone that the Leungs are, in fact, the cutest couple.

Abigail our five year old has been discovering some old songs playing on the radio. She’s particulary fond of an Amy Grant one, one that makes me remember Life Before Marriage. When it comes on the radio, Abigail exclaims “Oh it’s this one!” and then starts dancing around her bedroom. It’s as if the song belongs to our daughter.

I want to tell her, “Hey, do you know that your dad dedicated this song to your mom?” “Do you know that your parents danced to this before you were born?” “Do you know how your dad said these lyrics were about me?” When this song comes on, I can still see Ted’s apartment from thirteen years ago, the stereo in the living room there that’s now in our living room here, my then-boyfriend telling me how the lyrics reminded him of me and our relationship. I can still see the look in his eyes ;)

Philip Greenspun explains where some of the money you pay for a hotel goes.

Expedia, a company spun off by Microsoft in 1999 but presumably still substantially owned by Microsoft and Bill Gates, uses its dominant market position to arrange favorable deals with hotels. The deal might be that Expedia gets to buy up to 50 rooms per night for $75 each, for example. If the market is soft Expedia can resell those rooms to consumers for $100 per night. If the market is tight Expedia can resell those rooms for $200 per night, pocketing the $125 difference between what they charge the traveler and what they pay the hotel. If things are so bad that nobody wants to pay $75 on a particular night, Expedia dumps the vacant rooms back on the hotel. Much of the profits that hotels formerly earned and invested back in their properties is now being captured by Expedia.

I feel like when I say how stunningly hilarious The Black Saint is no believes me, like I’m just saying it or something. I have just recovered from an uncontrollable bout of laughter at the behest of this recent posting:

Generally speaking, I think people wind up having their bodies stolen by Satanists far too easily these days. I mean, how can you ignore all the warning signs? If I’d written this movie, here’s how a key scene would have gone:

Alda: Darling, dinner was delightful. However, I’m afraid I will have to skip our standard post-Scrabble sexual intercourse because Duncan Ely has agreed to let me interview him.

Bisset (impatiently): Good grief, isn’t this like the third time this year you’ve almost had your body stolen by a Satanist? Father warned me about marrying a Harvard man.

Alda: What are you talking about?

Ross Random Bytes responds to John Robb on Atom vs. RSS, who says it would be nice to just have one standard rather than two.

There are no syndication standards today. That’s the problem. There are a bunch of formats and a bunch of people dickering over whose attempt at a standard is the “best”. This is why moving the discussion to a forum devote to the development of standards is so important. Developing a syndication and publishing specification inside the IETF will result in one standard and a bunch of “also-rans”. Today, we have a bunch of contenders – RSS 2, RSS 1, ATOM .3 etc. and this is where the failure lies.

Richard Tallent wonders about the hypocrisy of “decency.”

An important issue that was brought up was that of violence. We in America have a fixation on nudity and excretory functions and sex as being “indecent” (though we all have and do them), yet murder and rape and drug use and drunkenness, maiming and just plain cruelty (things we generally try not to do to ourselves and each other) are staples of our entertainment. I’m not advocating the former necessarily, just pointing out that we are serious hypocrites on the latter. Yeah, I love CSI as much as the other 30,000,000 Americans who watch it every week, but if a Jackson boob is beyond the pale of our cultural acceptance, how are the themes and simulated gore of police dramas placed in prime time every week without controversy?

Tyler Cowen quotes from a story about some research on income inequality.

Some of his more provocative findings concern middle-borns. In families with three or more children, Mr. Conley says, middle offspring are less likely to receive financial support for their education and may do less well in school than their older and younger siblings. The chances that a second child will attend private school drop by 25 percent with the birth of a third, Mr. Conley found, and the likelihood that he or she will be held back a year increased severalfold. Unlike typical first- and last-borns, he reasons, middle children never experience family life as an only child; instead, they are forced to compete with their siblings for money and attention. (In this sense, he concedes, birth order does matter: not as a psychological variable but as a constraint on family resources.)

Michael Feldman covers the Barbie & Ken break up.

This sad, pathetic story is playing out again, as rumors of Barbie Running Wild, gin-soaked vacations in Australia and on certain South Sea Islands, participation in a Doll-swapping ring in an attempt to breath a little life into their moribund relation, and a steamy sex video involving the voluptuous 40-something articulated model and an entire Welsh Rugby Team swirl around the respective camps.

Although we have not yet been able to get our sweaty hands on a copy of the video, numerous still shots have started circulating on the Internet, documenting a sick and twisted descent into perversion and depravity, testifying once again to the seductive allure of the fast lane and its ability to corrupt even the most wholesome of American icons.

Matthew Yglesias wants to rob you and I.

At a different New America event I heard one guy briefly discuss his “Christian libertarian” outlook in response to Amy Sullivan’s Christian liberalism. Basically, he said, all this stuff liberals (and particularly religious liberals) say about the moral imperative to aid the poor, etc. is all quite true. That’s why he thinks he has a duty to live his life virtuously by giving time, money, etc. to helping others. When he does this, he does a good deed personally, and provides help to a second person. If, however, he were to try and force me to give my money to help someone else, that would not be a virtuous act on his part or on mine. Christian compassion is all well and good, but using the state as a surrogate Robin Hood is not.

Now I don’t agree with that at all. Indeed, I think it’s roughly the reverse of correct. Cultivating personal virtue, whether in myself or in others, is irrelevant. The key is to help those in need by hook or by crook and, indeed, in the ideal set-up everyone would just act selfishly and the mechanisms of the state would ensure that our selfish behavior winds up serving the general interest. Like Adam Smith’s invisible hand, but with progressive taxation.

Dienekes quotes Frederica Mathewes-Green on the meaning of Christ’s suffering.

Yet for the first millennium, and continuing in Eastern Christianity today, the Cross means “victory.” In this idea of the atonement (“theory” would be too strong a word for a view expressed with a light, wondering touch, and without expectation of wholly satisfying human curiosity or logic) God in Christ effects a rescue mission. Humans are being held captive by Death, due to their voluntary involvement in sin, and are helpless to free themselves. In a majestic sweep of events Jesus takes on human life in order to die, invade hell, and set the captives free. The focus is much broader than the Crucifixion alone.

[...]

How then could Jesus be a ransom, sacrifice, or offering? Early Christians understood such terms to mean that it cost Jesus his life to rescue us. It was a sacrifice to the Father, as a soldier might offer a superlative act of courage to his beloved general. It was the price of entry into the realm of Death. It cost Jesus his life’s blood to enter Hades and save us, but it wasn’t a payment to anybody.

Frederica notes that the change in Christian interpretation happened in the 11th century. In Dante’s Inferno, written in the 14th century, seems to have a very similar outlook on Christ: Christ is always referred to has having paved the way or “created the path” to Paradise and freeing the souls of Limbo.

Michael Feldman is running a survey. Please fill it out. The Sixty-Second Blog Survey.

Micha Ghertner quotes Brian Caplan on libertarian principles.

[I]t is a common observation among libertarians that everyone follows libertarian principles in his or her private life; it is only where government is concerned that they grant a moral sanction to the initiation of force. And if you asked your average person why it was wrong to commit murders, or rob, or defraud others, one popular answer would be: “That’s just common sense.” Indeed it is; the principle of non-initiation of force is just common sense; which is to say, that even the simplest mind, if it honestly and critically turns itself to the proposition that it is wrong to use violence against peaceful persons, or rob them of what they have produced, can immediately grasp its truth. All that would then be required to establish libertarian moral theory would be to couple this everyday insight of direct reason with the premise, derived from observation, that governments habitually violate the non-initiation of force principle, and then use deductive reason to draw the final inference that most, if not all, of what government does is wrong and must be stopped at once.

Alex Tabarrok posts something too perfect to counter John Edwards.

In his stump speech, John Edwards is fond of empathizing with the plight of a 10-year old girl “somewhere in America,” who goes to bed “praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today, because she doesn’t have the coat to keep her warm.”

Yet, as John Tierney points out, “clothing has become so cheap and plentiful (partly because of textile imports, which Mr. Edwards has proposed to limit) that there is a glut of second-hand clothing, and consequently most clothing donated to charity is shipped abroad. The second-hand children’s coats that remain in America typically sell for about $5 in thrift shops.”

Matt May writes about poker. But what I really link him for is because he says one reason he hasn’t been blogging he because he caught the “blogger blahs.” Hah.

Halley Suitt is most funniest.

I am awash in feeling blessed this morning. For one thing, my eye is NOT awash, which is to say, yesterday was the last day of eye drops I had to take every day for the last month since my cataract surgery. In the week immediately following the operation, you do drops more than six times a day. I had three little bottles. I had to stop whatever I was doing, lie down, do one drop in my eye — wait 3 minutes — do the next drop — wait 3 minutes — do the next drop — wait 3 minutes. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it reminded me of breastfeeding schedules, which when you read them BEFORE you have a baby sound reasonable, but once you have your baby, you suddenly realize, “Oh, I get it, I’m going to spend every minute of every day breastfeeding this baby!”

Alexander Payne has a new style for his blog. Cute.

Tibor R. Machan writes about why compassionate conservatism is impossible.

Compassionate conservatism always was a fraud but just how straightforward a fraud it is can be seen from recent statements from Bush Administration officials.

Why was it a fraud to start with? Because government cannot — yes, literally, cannot — be compassionate toward people with other people’s money. You, I, our friends and neighbors can be compassionate, in the sense that we can consider some people’s misfortune, even bad choices, and reach out to them with our help, be this money or some service we could offer. That’s compassion. But when we see such misfortune and go out to rob a neighbor and hand over the loot to those in need, that isn’t compassion, conservative, liberal or any other kind! It is criminal — maybe we ought to dub it “criminal ‘compassion’”!

Matt May was interviewed about blogs and accessibility. I’m mentioned, wee. Thanks Matt.

What’s so cool about being a blogger? What’s the coolest thing that’s happened in connection to your blog?

I have to say, a lot of people think they’re cool because they’re bloggers. I don’t get that. I think it’s a personal statement that you spend too much time staring at your navel. I do it because I think I have a point of view that a lot of others aren’t going to have, and I like knowing that a few dozen people a day come just to see what I have to say.

As for cool things, I’ve had someone quote myself back to me more than once. That’s good stuff. It shows that my name doesn’t have to stick with people for my ideas to.

This is brilliant observation:

There’s a disconnect between the sort of essay communication that happens on blogs, and the live-action arguments you see on TV. You can reach a deep understanding of each participant’s views online, provided they’re lucid enough to give you one, but it’s hard to arrive at synthesis. With real-time communication, it’s easy to synthesize, but also entirely too easy to oversimplify or omit relevant information. There’s got to be a middle way.

Richard Soon-To-Have-Millions-Of-Babies-With-Women-In-Red Gwai Lo writes aboot taking our “internal cinema” into real life.

I wonder what the cost of taking what we do in our internal cinemas into the real world is. The only people we would embarrass ourselves in front of are strangers. Who cares about those assholes anyway? They don’t know us, and can’t bring our embarrassment up in conversation the next day, because the next day is jusg going to bring a completely different group of strangers. It probably means making a mental script—well, okay, the motion picture metaphor is an easy one to slip into—and substitute the details as necessary. Instead of the above blue dreadlocks, it could be the fact that she’s wearing all red, including hair and shoes. Isn’t that, despite her shy posture, something she does to call attention to herself? Same goes for girls who see the cute guy but shy guy with glasses, who is reading an interesting looking book and is totally not a convenient way for me to insert myself into the scenario. I’ll bet you dollar to doughnuts that he would rather talk to a pretty yet shy girl than be lost in a book. (Hell, he may even be thinking of something to say to you!) It needs to be something like what George Costanza did: exactly opposite of what his instincts told him. I know that saying to someone like that “I couldn’t help notice you’re dressed all in red, but y’know, it works for you. What’s your name?” is exactly the opposite of what I’d say. It’s pretty crazy, but maybe it’s crazy enough to work?

Darren Barrenfoot writes about gender-neutral bathrooms.

Why do we have gender-specific changerooms? Presumably, it’s because of a Puritanical belief that if men and women are permitted to see each other naked, they’ll be unable to control themselves and rampant orgies will ensue.

If that’s the case, then why aren’t our changerooms sexual-preference-specific? Why don’t we have Gay Men, Straight Men, Gay Women, Straight Women and individual stalls for the Bisexuals? I considered this when, while at the Rec Centre (but not in the changeroom), I was hit on by a gay man. My metrosexuality aside, the incident reminded me that the gender-specific changeroom wans’t necessarily a desexualized environment.

Me, I’m for one big changeroom. If an orgy breaks out, all the better.

A Letter to Beatrice

My Beloved Beatrice,

I have recently learned something that has required me to put our relationship in a new perspective and I can only relate this to you in a written form, due to the emotions it elicits. Before I reach the main purpose of this letter, I would like to revisit and relate what I have come to love so deeply about you. In these paragraphs I will take Aristotle’s classification, if for no other reason then to impress those who are so impressed, on friends: those of interest, of love, and of contemplation. This division is not always perfect, and thus many components could easily be rearranged, but how many books are in the Bible is much less important than their complete message–so I press onward.

As the epitome of perfection in a companion, you have excelled more than any other in these ways. I will attempt to reach a similar degree of accomplishment in describing your personality.

Interest

An essential realization that must occur in any relationship is that a person need not only be charming, beautiful, funny, or any other adjective that appears in a personal ad, but also someone with whom one can share the responsibilities of life and parenting with. I see these traits as those pertaining to my personal interest in the kind of life I would like to lead and provide for my children.

In order to minimize the number of important disagreements over what kind of life we’d lead, it would be necessary for my partner and I to share the same basic moral foundations. While our hairs may be split slightly differently, you and I always agree on what sort of actions were good and sorts were evil; what traits are virtues or vices. And equally as important, we both work hard to meet this self-set expectation and requirement.

This hard work of yours that I write of is not only executed in the domain of morality and personal honor, but in all aspects of your life. One cannot watch you work at home or hear of your effort at work without recalling how you quoted about the sin of sloth. But like a hand that would be deformed if it was always open _or_ always closed, you are not an obsessive worker and can leave for tomorrow what should wait for tomorrow. For these reasons I would never have to worry about our family feeling neglected or unprovided for.

Above all, you are a role model for myself and would be for our children. You are trust worthy, moral, dedicated to all your responsibilities, and an honor to the memory of the thousands who made our life possible.

Love

By describing the way you exemplify the necessity of love, I cannot enumerate the things that make me love you, or that I find essential in a future lover; nor would I enumerate such things even if I could. The creator of love hides his materials from our eyes and has placed the secret of one from of happiness beyond a curtain. Suffice it to say that the magical spark of interest in love is present in our relationship and that this is essential quality of the ideal woman, you.

Instead of describing these indescribable causes, I will describe what makes the embodiment of our love–the pleasure and romance we share–the best it can be.

Firstly, our mutual satisfaction is more easily satiated by the basic interests that we share. When a man is still a boy he often wishes to find a girl just like himself so he can have the perfect partner, but this feeling soon fades with the realization that a repeated task becomes tedious and a constantly evolving lifestyle is enriching and exciting. For you and I, we have chosen the second lifestyle. On occasion we will entertain each other with a new idea of our individual making, but if those situations don’t work out, our basic interests provide us with many options.

Secondly, I love that you are naturally upbeat and cheery person. This makes even the most mundane activities with you a spring of enjoyment. Related to this is your important lack of a quality that can only be described as ‘clingy-ness.’ I have dated women who are constantly searching for happiness and completeness outside themselves, whether in new consumables or relationships, rather than being internally happy. Often times, this conception of happiness as emanating from an external source manifests itself in an overly protective and clingy attitude towards people and possessions, while preventing the realization of true happiness. It is admirable and delightful that you do not succumb to this common problem and are truly happy.

And finally, you espouse the virtue of confidence. A confident woman is always beautiful because she has reason to be and believe in her self. A confident woman is never unnecessarily shy, which aides in interesting activities. A confident woman is an active partner, rather than a passive fellow traveler. These maxims and more apply as equally to you as to any woman with a similar state of mind.

Contemplation

The noblest form of pleasure is that of contemplation and the gradual attainment of a more perfect understanding of truth, in all its forms. For this reason, the attributes that you possess with regards to aiding contemplation are among the greatest that exist.

The central activity that enables contemplation is debate or discussion. For this reason, your skills and qualities, as they relate to being an operative debater, are those that caused Aphrodite to tremble.

Firstly, you and I share a similar basic philosophy. Again, like with interests, is it not the best situation to find a replicate, but instead someone with similar sorts of beliefs and axioms so that disagreements are not severe, yet exist. Your earlier mentioned quality of confidence provides these disagreements fresh air, where we can both learn from each other in the impending discussion.

Secondly, you possess a desire to learn and teach that pushes you to be engaged and create these discussions at any opportunity. This is further evidenced by your desire to read about my work, even though you are not employed in the same area. This is evidenced by the encouragement I receive from you to do the same. This is evidenced by the same spark being detected in the eyes of our children who are voracious readers and thinkers.

And finally, you know how to debate in a mild manner that is to the benefit of yourself and your sparing partner. Too often a person seems to think that the purpose of debate is not to grow and to mutually persuade, but to crush an ‘opponent’ to the ground and reap the rewards of victory. You and I do not let our occasional philosophical disputes get in the way of our general happiness and good regard for one another, but see them as an opportunity to return to study with some additional persuasive material.

Conclusion

I have catalogued with my broadest strokes the way you uplift my imagination with possibilities at every thought of our future together, but such platitudes of your greatness cannot capture the true essence that must be experienced. And with this I have reached my closing, upon which I will describe the dreadful realization that provided the impetus for this letter.

You do not exist.

How could I have been so foolish to suppose that Earth contained the perfection only possible within the plane of the angels? For the majority of my life I had been in one relationship after another, some for short stretches of time, some for long, moving ever closer to what I imagined and thought was realized in you. Naturally there were a few back steps because of the inability to predict many things about a person before you are thoroughly involved, but the trajectory was ever upwards as like so many stairs.

I now understand that the pursuit of perfection in this way is nonsensical and can only leave one tired and alone. One can never be truly satisfied with an imperfect partner if one is constantly evaluating the degree of perfection of every possible candidate. I have resolved that instead of conquering new shores, I must find someone like you by some approximation and we must cultivate our gardens, slowly _becoming_ the ideal, rather than seeking a short-cut.

I am truly writing this letter to end the love affair we’ve had over these last few years. It was a great time to wonder together what could be if we ever found each other, but it turns out to be a time fraught with foreshadows of failure.

With best regards,

Jay McCarthy

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

Generally, I would say that I do not like most fiction that is not considered a classic or of the quality sci-fi variety. However, I appreciate Ernest Hemingway a great deal. For this reason, I have just read The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. If you like him, I recommend this collection.

I will highlight my favourite stories, and possibly a few of their parts.

The Short Happy Life Of Francis Macomber

The first story in the collection and possibly my favourite of all his stories. Surprise ending, brilliant dialogue, and truthful thoughts on the lives of men.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Such a sad story about a broken and meaningless life.

The Undefeated

This is a my favourite story regarding bull-fighting.

Ten Indians

The most succinct account of young love I’ve read.

A Natural History of the Dead

This is a story of about battlefield deaths and contains this strange tidbit:

We agreed too that the picking up of the fragments had been an extraordinary business; it being amazing that the human body should be blown into pieces which exploded along no anatomical lines, but rather divided as capriciously as the fragmentation in the burst of a high explosive shell. [p. 337]

The Good Lion

I think I laughed the hardest at this story. This story is about an African lion who “only ate pasta and scampi because he was so good.” He has wings and is an outsider.

“Don’t kill me,” the good lion said. “My father is a noble lion and always has been respected and everything is true as I said.”

Just then the wicked lioness sprang at him. But he rose into the air on his wings and circled the group of wicked lions once, with them all roaring and looking at him. He looked down and thoughts, “What savages these lions are.”

He circled them once more to make them roar more loudly. Then he swooped low so he could look at the eyes of the wicked lioness who rose on her hind legs to try and catch him. But she missed him with her claws. “Adios,” he said, for he spoke beautiful Spanish, being a lion of culture. “Au revoir,” he called to them in his exemplary French.

They all roared and growled in Africa lion dialect. [p. 483]

The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo

Thomas DiLorenzo writes The Real Lincoln.

A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War

Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln were false? What if, instead of an American hero who sought to free the slaves, Lincoln were in fact a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in american history in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britain’s? In The Real Lincoln, author Thomas J. DiLorenzo uncovers a side of Lincoln not told in many history books and overshadowed by the immense Lincoln legend.

Through extensive research and meticulous documentation, DiLorenzo portrays the sixteenth president as a man who devoted his political career to revolutionizing the American form of government from one that was very limited in scope and highly decentralized—as the Founding Fathers intended—to a highly centralized, activist state. Standing in his way, however, was the South, with its independent states, its resistance to the national government, and its reliance on unfettered free trade. To accomplish his goals, Lincoln subverted the Constitution, trampled states’ rights, and launched a devastating Civil War, whose wounds haunt us still. According to this provacative book, 600,000 American soldiers did not die for the honorable cause of ending slavery but for the dubious agenda of sacrificing the independence of the states to the supremacy of the federal government, which has been tightening its vise grip on our republic to this very day.

You will discover a side of Lincoln that you were probably never taugh in school—a side tha calls into question the very myths that surround him and helps explain the true origins of a bloody, and perhaps, unnecessary war.

“A devastating critique of America’s most famous president.”

I found the book very interesting and would recommend it. You might also be interested in some of DiLorenzo’s articles:

Haven’t you heard?

Chip Gibbons quotes and writes about gay genes.

“This is a novel finding,” says Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist and commentator on sexuality at Stanford University in California. “We think of it as genes for ‘male homosexuality’, but it might really be genes for sexual attraction to men. These could predispose men towards homosexuality and women towards ‘hyper-heterosexuality’, causing women to have more sex with men and thus have more offspring.”

[...]

The fact is that “gay genes” would not survive unless they had some survival value.

From an evolutionary perspective, it is a paradox that any genes for homosexuality have survived both in humans and other species since the beginning of time.

I believe there are also social factors that play an even bigger role in explaining how gay genes get passed. It would be a paradox if cultures that are the least tolerant of homosexuality actually increase the frequency of gay genes in the gene pool. Yet, if there is any genetic basis for homosexuality, it follows that cultures that force gay men to marry and have children are also forcing them to pass their genes on.

Gina Smith relates a joke from Steve Wozniak.

First-year students at Med School were receiving their first anatomy class with a real dead human body. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet.

The professor started the class by telling them, “In medicine, it is necessary to have 2 important qualities as a doctor: The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the human body.” For example, the Professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the corpse, withdrew it and stuck it in his own mouth. “Go ahead and do the same thing,” he told his students.

The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead body and sucking on it. When everyone finished, the Professor looked at them and told them, “The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention.

Philip Greenspun understands the best way to use W.

Maybe we should take advantage of the fact that we have our scapegoat in place. We can make a list of all of the countries that we need to invade, install puppet governments in, or steal their natural resources. If W. loses the election we go on a big military spree until mid-January and then Kerry can come in and say “We had nothing to do with the fact that Bush kicked your asses but sadly the U.S. government never apologizes for anything or returns any loot.”

Tom Palmer comments on Team America. I thought it was pretty fabulous too.

Alex Tabarrok:

Annual U.S. Deaths Due to the Flu: approx 36,000.
Annual U.S. Deaths Due to Anthrax: ~1.

Spending on R&D to fight Flu: $283 million.
Spending on R&D to fight Anthrax and other biological agents: $5.6 billion.

Satmandu links to a Bollywood Presidential Debate and an awesome format for recipes!

How to Vote, by Tony Pierce

if you think one guy is a fucking retard, dont vote for him. no matter what.

if you think another guy is a fucking wimp, dont vote for him. no matter what.

pretend you’re the head coach and your team is in the fourth quarter of the superbowl. if you’re happy with the quarterback leave him in. if youre not happy with the quarterback yank his loser ass off the field.

if youre afraid that you will have to explain your vote to your friends/coworkers/family ask yourself how long youve been such a spineless bitch.

Voting Machine Video from Andrew Moroz

Love Politics, by Glenn Parton

Dave Pollard posted an essay by Glenn Parton titled Love Politics about monogamy and why it is Bad.

Let’s shift the focus from the question, what is to be done? to the question, Why can’t people see the obvious? If people could see what is self-evident to the rational mind, then appropriate action would soon follow. That Americans do not see the obvious truth is amply demonstrated by the popularity of George W. Bush.

[...]

The old relationship — namely, monogamy (whose first historical form was patriarchy, but which is now co-dependency or co-ownership) is unnecessarily restrictive, a bedrock value, an unquestioned premise, the ideological basis of State Monopoly Capitalism which is destroying this planet.

The Essay

Fisking this essay would be too hilarious, so I will just highlight some interesting and absurd moments. First, I’ll basically describe the gist: The socialist revolution is not moving as quickly as we’d like, so it must be sped up by destroying as much as possible of the liberal world view. Since the end result is a destruction of private property, private relationships are a good place to start.

Glenn describes the American mind as he sees it:

Americans have a defensive ego-structure — a system of self-deceptions, projections and prejudices that distort our perception of the world — the cost of survival in this harsh and grossly unfair society. This makes us, “as we are”, incapable of forming enduring political communities for social transformation, which is precisely what we must do in order to avoid eco-catastrophe. We cannot get along well enough with one another for long enough to do the things that must be done. All our sincere and noble efforts self-destruct, but we can no longer afford to fail, for now the planet as a whole is in jeopardy. What will bring us and hold us together for world transformation? Erotic love is the last remaining force in the modern world capable of mobilizing, sustaining, and perfecting us for this long and difficult task. [My emphasis.]

What makes this social engineering experiment different than others? No answer.

Like other things that Dave Pollard has linked to, this essay is very anti-technology and would like to see a world of hunter-gathering tribes:

Monogamous marriage, characteristic of modern people, imposes too heavy a weight on human beings. It is not the natural form of human association that corresponds best to human nature; it was a wrong turn, a historical mistake, perhaps facilitated by natural selfishness, but the important point is that it is not irreversible. We need to recapture the freedom and happiness of pre-monogamous tribal love relationships. L. Morgan, after studying the American Indians, came to the conclusion in his book, Ancient Society, that the advanced forms of civilization “will be a repetition, but on a higher level of the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity which characterized the ancient gens.”

Love Politics is the idea that sex, the oldest force in the world for building community, when linked throughout to emancipatory consciousness, is still the basis for building a political community that puts us on the path towards a good society. The way to make us strong enough, wide enough, and deep enough to carry out the required socio-economic changes is to make the entire process an erotic adventure. A group of monogamous couples is a boring place, dead spirit, because you cannot stifle the erotic basis of community and hope to keep it alive and well. Gatherings and meetings of any kind do not work. Politics is bleak in America; we have come down to the primal energy of Eros as the source for a genuine political revival. Only by allowing sexual energy to flow more openly, as in aboriginal societies, can aware people create and sustain enough human cohesiveness and solidarity to make a true beginning…

I am reminded of Don Boudreaux’s discussion of how poverty is the natural state of people, rather than wealth, and because of this there are not causes of poverty in the same way there are of wealth.

It seems to me that Glenn Parton would like to see a destruction of progress and would to like to ensure that it can never happen again by destroying the ideas of individual achievement and action themself.

The Response

Richard, last of the Gwai Los, responds to it and points to some of its weaknesses.

First the weaknesses of the essay, and they are debilitating ones. The last sentence of first paragraph (“That Americans do not see the obvious truth is amply demonstrated by the popularity of George W. Bush.”) effectively dates the article, making it a 2004 polemic rather than a timeless critique. This error—and it is my intention not to defend George W. Bush or Americans by supporting the man and people being criticized but rather to dismiss the device of criticizing a contemporary (and temporary) figure to make a larger point—is not the most eggregious, however. If Parton’s intention was to engage the people’s whose behaviour he wants to change, he could not have picked a worse way to write the following paragraph:

Education is not the primary path for social change because the biggest obstacle we moderns face is not widespread ignorance, but manufactured stupidity, the arresting and distortion of human nature by culture.Americans are arguably the stupidest people on earth, informed and entertained by the infantile and adolescent nonsense of TV and Hollywood. We have forgotten what our tribal ancestors knew, and not (yet?) broken through to high/integral reason that surpasses but also preserves old knowledge. Our knowledge is more and more manipulation of nature and each other, in terms of which we are the very best, the number one country in the world.

Instead of making an excellent point about so-called “education” that treats teaches the same information in the same way over and over, which he does in the first sentence, Parton loses everything he could have gained from pursuing a nuanced argument and calls the people he is trying to convert to his point of view idiots.

Richard curiously writes, “Parton, in short, makes an interesting argument worth considering seriously. He just does it badly.” It seems to me that the argument about loving multiple people is a good argument, or at least an interesting thought. But not Parton’s vision of communist world order he thinks it will make possible.

I deeply enjoyed Dave Pollard’s thoughts on the essay, minus points three through five.

Several respondents have complained about the essay, with the loudest criticism being about his overromanticizing of the ‘free love’ movement of the 1960s (which Glenn and I both grew up during), his apparent misogynism and homophobia, and his preoccupation with the sexual aspects of relationships over the emotional ones. I will confess that I share readers’ concerns on all these scores. At the same time, I believe the underlying message of Glenn’s essay is fundamentally valid, and extremely important. Rather than debate the concerns, I’d prefer to try to restate what I learned from the essay, hopefully in a less provocative way than Glenn’s, and focus the debate on the core ideas and their implications:

  1. Our society, our civilization, morally permits each of us to love, passionately and without limit, only one other person. If we violate this moral rule, we are called ‘unfaithful’, and this is considered a sin, fully justifying jealousy by the first person we loved. If this love manifests itself sexually, it is called ‘adultery’ and is illegal as well as immoral. People who do love more than one person, passionately and without limit, are demonized and shunned in our society.

And this is very apt:

I don’t believe we need this kind of emotional liberation to save the world, but I don’t think it would hurt.

If you didn’t get this from Glenn’s essay, this may be due more to my imagining of what he meant than your misunderstanding. As Daniel Dennett says “On any important topic, we tend to have a rough idea of what we believe to be true, and when an author writes the words we want to read, we tend to fall for it, no matter how shoddy the arguments.” And I expect that Glenn will weigh in himself on what he really meant. But now that I’ve delineated what I got out of his essay, and why I think his basic idea is very sensible and very important, I’d be interested in your thoughts. Naive? Idealistic? Wrong-headed? Insensitive? Or is there something here that bears closer scrutiny, and maybe a real-world trial?

My Response

The thing that I am primarily opposed to in this essay is the statement that there is something wrong in essence with private property or monogamy, and the implication that everyone should (be made) to live in Glenn’s Love Politics.

I think that a liberal society should permit its members to live their lives in any means they choose, provided natural rights are protected and contracts are enforced. For this reason, I do not think that monogamy is a central part of a liberal society and fully support efforts to free up access to the marriage contract. However, monogamy is central part of my life and I surprised at the intellect that reduces all these problems (“anger, violence, hatred, neglect of others, depression, withdrawal, lack of emotional resilience, self-loathing”, “passivity”, etc) to monogamy.

So, go for it brothers! But don’t force me to or force my future children to have to be indoctrinated in your system if I don’t want them to.

Hey, How You Doin’?

Alex Tabarrok comments on Google’s Dutch Auction IPO.

Here is a nice graphic from the NYTimes explaining the Dutch auction IPO. I think Google’s IPO will be a success, it will raise more money for Google than a traditional IPO with its high transactions costs (which flow to the investment banks). Remember the standard to measure success is the cost per dollar of raised funds it is not whether the stock price hits a predefined target and not whether the stock pops. Indeed, Google’s stock price is unlikely to pop. The success of a traditional IPO is often counted by the size of the pop but that is ridiculous. A pop means the firm left money on the table – money which was transferred to a handful of insiders who were allocated stock at the low IPO price. A pop is thus the sign of a bad IPO not a good one. The Dutch auction method ensures that the initial price is a market price (thus Google’s price is unlikely to plummet either). There has been a lot of negative publicity about the Google IPO but my guess is that this was stirred up by the investment banks who are fearful that their halcyon days are ending.

Michael Munger writes about regulations.

This reminds me of my first “professional” job, at the Federal Trade Commission in the first Reagan Administration (1984). In the afternoon, we would take a break from our exhausting day of blocking asinine regulations, and go have a big frozen yogurt at a place right beside the entrance to the Washington School for Secretaries. Sitting there having a yogurt, watching dozens of attractive women walk by, we would sometimes say to each other, “You know, this is criminal. We are just stealing our money.”

But then one of us would state the standard defense, one all of us believed fervently: “Not true! If it weren’t for us, occupying these crucial desks, they might very hire someone who would write new regulations! We are doing God’s work here, gentlemen! We are constipating the intestines of the cow of regulation!”

And then we would all click our foam yogurt cups, and argue about where we would go for happy hour that night. Now, those were the days.

James Wilson on the Bible and the Constitution.

What does this say? That the Constitution is not, and never really was, the issue. That ethically-neutral proceduralism — allegiance to written words — can not and will not preserve liberty or any other ethical principle. Sheer ambition, political will, and persuasion of the people, will override any plain meaning of the words of a Constitution or any other document.

[...]

What I am suggesting is that the Constitution, if the letter of its law was obeyed, would be preferable to the government we have now. But we can’t go back. If the Constitution itself was so good, it would have been obeyed from the very beginning. But near the very beginning, it was violated, and has been violated ever since. Whether from a self-perceived higher ethical law, or expediency, the Constitution will always be violated. It has not been, is not now, nor ever will be, a check on despotism. Yes, Americans will still think of themselves as free and therefore morally superior to other nations. But many public school students in the Soviet Union also used to think of themselves as free. Illusion is not reality, not even the grand illusion of our Constitution.

[...]

The Constitution is powerless against the claims and wants of the people, especially if those wants are moral and religious in nature yet cloaked in secular, “public good” language. No Constitution can protect the people from a charming demagogue that the people themselves support.

If the ethics and the faith of the vast majority of the people favor liberty and decentralization, they will get it and enjoy it regardless of what a Constitution says. But if they want to control other people in other places through the National State, they will get that also, regardless of the paper restraints on the government. And if the people are indifferent, the government will recognize that as well.

[...]

I’d rather fight for liberty rather than for a Constitution, just as I’d rather give my life to God than to the State.

I mentioned something about this in an article and I talked to Michael Williams about it a few weeks ago.

And that’s what I call REAL ULTIMATE POWER

Chris Coyne quotes Fukuyama on emerging democracies.

In countries below the $6,000 threshold we should push for a liberal autocracy as democracy will fail to deliver the desired outcomes. On a related note Pete’s earlier post on whether institutions cause growth and my earlier post on Fukuyama’s latest book on state building.

Empires can provide such a liberal autocracy.

No, THAT’S what I call REAL ULTIMATE POWER

Newmark links to Deborah Solomon interviewing Ray C. Fair.

As a professor of economics at Yale, you are known for creating an econometric equation that has predicted presidential elections with relative accuracy.

My latest prediction shows that Bush will receive 57.5 percent of the two-party votes.

The polls are suggesting a much closer race.

Polls are notoriously flaky this far ahead of the election, and there is a limit to how much you want to trust polls.

Why should we trust your equation, which seems unusually reductive?

It has done well historically. The average mistake of the equation is about 2.5 percentage points.

In your book ”Predicting Presidential Elections and Other Things,” you claim that economic growth and inflation are the only variables that matter in a presidential race. Are you saying that the war in Iraq will have no influence on the election?

Historically, issues like war haven’t swamped the economics. If the equation is correctly specified, then the chances that Bush loses are very small.

But the country hasn’t been this polarized since the 60′s, and voters seem genuinely engaged by social issues like gay marriage and the overall question of a more just society.

We throw all those into what we call the error term. In the past, all that stuff that you think should count averages about 2.5 percent, and that is pretty small.

It saddens me that you teach this to students at Yale, who could be thinking about society in complex and meaningful ways.

I will be teaching econometrics next year to undergraduates. Econometrics is a huge deal, because it is applied to all kinds of things.

Yes, I know one of your studies used the econometric method to predict who is most likely to have an extramarital affair.

In that case, the key economic question was whether high-wage people are more or less likely to engage in an affair. They are slightly more likely to have an affair. But the economic theory is ambiguous because if your wage is really high, that tends to make you work more, and that would cut down on how much time you want to spend in an affair.

Are you a Republican?

I can’t credibly answer that question. Using game theory in economics, you are not going to believe me when I tell you my political affiliation because I know that you know that I could be behaving strategically. If I tell you I am a Kerry supporter, how do you know that I am not lying or behaving strategically to try to put more weight on the predictions and help the Republicans?

I don’t want to do game theory. I just want to know if you are a Kerry supporter.

Backing away from game theory, which is kind of cute, I am a Kerry supporter.

I believe you entirely, although I’m a little surprised, because your predictions implicitly lend support to Bush.

I am not attempting to be an advocate for one party or another. I am attempting to be a social scientist trying to explain voting behavior.

But in the process you are shaping opinion. Predictions can be self-confirming, because wishy-washy voters might go with the candidate who is perceived to be more successful.

It could work the other way. If Kerry supporters see that I have made this big prediction for Bush, more of them could turn out just to prove an economist wrong.

Perhaps you could create an equation that would calculate how important the forecasts of economists are.

There are so many polls and predictions, and I am not sure the net effect of any one of them is much.

Yes, everyone in America is a forecaster. We all think we know how things will turn out.

So in that case, no one has much influence, including me.

François-René Rideau wrote a very Bastiat critique of software patents.

Any successful incentive to innovate that patents may foster leads to a new monopoly where everyone is disincented to innovate anymore, since competition is lessened. The incentive of patents is an incentive to find ways of earning money at destroying the global economy; it makes possible and encourages business models centered around rent-seeking and parasiting the economy at large, to the double detriment of the public, and against the global interest of society. Innovations will be incented not in direct proportion to their global social utility, but in direct proportion of their ability to generate monopoly rent and prevent subsequent social utility. It is the worst inventions that are most incented by the patent systems: those whose patenting detriments the public most.

Patents on public research:

Patents were meant as an indirect way to foster innovation; so far, we have found them to fail on this account. But even should they, by some magic, succeed in certain cases, it would be absurd to patent the results of public research: indeed, in the case of public research, the public has already paid for the research, through taxes, so it needn’t pay for it a second time; the only result of the patent is the monopoly, that restricts the use of the technique that was paid for, and deprives the public from both the technique and from the monopoly rent. And of course, it would be absurd to assert that monopoly is necessary to ensure that the technique would be deployed, since more competitors, as prohibited by the monopoly, could only mean more deployment of the technique (and if no third party wants to deploy it, there’s no need to grant a monopoly to the first-come industrialist so that he may remain the sole exploiter of it).

The patent is absolutely no incremental encouragement to innovate for public research, since the encouragement was already completely given as public funds; but the patent will still have its detrimental effects on the public, and its limiting effects on the use of the discovered technique. Patents issued from public research is proactively negative research; it is citizens paying to be oppressed rather than to be freed.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is a collection of essays about capitalism, primarily from Ayn Rand with contributions from Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Robert Hessen.

For the most part is predictable, but persuasive.

What Is Capitalism?

Ayn Rand refers to a encyclopaedia entry on socialism and why “investing in people” is the best position for a government.

The collectivization of Soviet agriculture was achieved by means of a government-planned famine–planned and carried out deliberately to force peasants into collective farms; Soviet Russia’s enemies claim that fifteen million peasants died in that famine; the Soviet government admits the death of seven million.

At the end of World War II, Soviet Russia’s enemies claimed that thirty million people were doing forced labor in Soviet concentration camps (and were dying of planned malnutrition, human lives being cheaper than food); Soviet Russia’s apologists admit to the figure of twelve million people.

This is what the Encyclopaedia Britannica refers to as “investment in people.”

In a culture where such a statement is made with intellectual impunity and with an aura of moral righteousness, the guiltiest men are not the collectivists; the guiltiest men are those who, lacking the courage to challenge mysticism or altruism, attempt to bypass the issues of reason and morality and to defend the only ration and moral system in mankind’s history–capitalism–on any grounds other than rational and moral. [p. 34]

America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business

The name says the whole of it.

The Property Status of Airwaves

Ayn Rand thinks this “public property” rests on a fallacy.

There is no essential difference between a broadcast and a concert: the former merely transmits sounds over a longer distance and requires more complex technical equipment. No one would venture to claim that a pianist may own his fingers and his piano, but the space inside the concert hall–through which the sound waves he produces travel–is “public property” and, therefore, he has no right to give a concert without a license from the government. Yet this is the absurdity foisted on our broadcasting industry. [p. 122]

The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus

What early 20th century party wrote this platform?

We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunities for employment and earning a living.

The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within its confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand: … an end to the power the financial interests.

We demand profit sharing in big business.

We demand a broad extension of care for the aged.

We demand … the greatest possible consideration of small business in the purchases of the national, state, and municipal governments.

In order to make possible to every capable and industrious [citizen] the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our entire system of public education. … We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents. …

The government must undertake the improvement of public health–by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor… by the greatest possible support for all clubs concerned with the physical education of youth.

[We] combat the … materialistic spirit within and without us, and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of The Common Good Before the Individual Good. [p. 219-220]

Other Notes

I find it very interesting that one of Alan Greenspan’s articles is about what is wrong with the Federal Reserve System. What happened there?