June 25, 2010

Left-Wing Religious Nuts

Left-wing religious kooks were prominent in the Vietnam war protests, but since then they have been eclipsed by the right-wing variety.

Eclipsed, but still around.

June 23, 2010

Intellectual Property

From boingboing: Canadian Heritage Minister smears DMCA opponents as "radical extremists". My reaction:

Re James Moore: the "radical extremists" are neither radical nor extreme.

Re Antinous / Moderator • #5: Biden's "piracy" is not piracy, and his "theft" is not theft. Btw, "intellectual property" is not property. And an "Internet driver's license" is not a driver's license.
Although in principle intellectual property can be a legitimate constructive social contract, in practice a corrupt political class is seizing more and more of the public domain on behalf of rent-seeking cartels.

Roll back copyright periods to five--ten at the outside--years. Then and only then talk to me about enforcement. And structure policy so that smaller entrepreneurial content creators, who presently are caught in the middle, can get more than crumbs.

The foregoing will be submitted to the linked boingboing piece as a comment. (Addendum: It's here.)

Solar Storm in a Year or Two

It's coming and it might be disastrous for electronics...or not. (HT: Instapundit.)

Will there be any warning, or do solar storms travel basically at the speed of light? Are inexpensive Faraday-cage-like mitigation measures available? If nothing else, maybe I should bargain hunt for DVDs and back up my archives to them. 200 DVDs will almost hold a TB: backing up would be onerous, but not prohibitively so. (Since DVDs are not magnetic storage, they presumably would not be affected by EMPlike events, but this bears explicitly checking in the spirit of due diligence.)

June 20, 2010

Einstein Was Wrong

God is subtle, but He is malicious too--and crazy.

Abstruse Goose explains here and here.

(Btw, having chanced upon A.G., I now check it before checking xkcd.)

A "Conservative" Republican Strikes Again

The more I learn about Orrin Hatch, the more I loathe him. In addition to the material in his Wikipedia bio, he supported weakening the First Amendment via the Flag Desecration Amendment.

His latest proposal:
People seeking unemployment benefits or welfare would have to first pass a drug test under a proposal Sen. Orrin Hatch will try to add to legislation extending the social safety net during this time of economic turmoil.
Unemployment insurance is deducted from workers' paychecks. Therefore, Hatch intends to impede people's access to benefits that they have already paid for.

As for welfare, in theory I can accept the proposition that those who want their fellow citizens to support them via the state can plausibly be required to forfeit some--not all--of their civil rights. Hatch's attitude illustrates how dangerous such a proposition is in practice.

June 19, 2010

Obama and the Spill

From Lightworker to Blightworker.

Alterman on McArdle: Direct Hit or Cheap Shot?

A guru (or gurette) speaks: Revere my teachings. Don't look at how I climbed up to this pedestal.

I occasionally raise an eyebrow at some of my fellow libertarians' relationships with government. NB: I don't claim to be a vestal virgin in that regard.

Still, my occasional reading of Megan McArdle has left me with the impression that she comes from a meritocratic family. Apparently, though, her father made his money by being a lobbyist for the construction industry after being an NYC regulator. Which hasn't much to do with his daughter: I'm not overly exercised that she moved back to her parents when her job disappeared together with the Internet Bubble.

However, if Daddy's lobbying connections got her her job at the post-9/11 cleanup, that bears notice. (Note that the link appears to make that accusation, but only insituates it: ...exactly the sort of job that those "personal contacts" can help you get in the "byzantine" world of construction in NYC.)

I did notice that "libertarian" McArdle moved to...Washington DC. And there met her husband, whose libertarian idealism is also questioned in the link. Whatever the facts of the case may be, this is pretty good rhetoric: ...the deeply hypocritical world of free-market shills who make their money playing the murky world where big government and big business overlap.

June 18, 2010

Self-Replicator in Conway's Game of Life

New Scientist reports. (HT: Slashdot.)

The "creature" replicates itself, but destroys itself in the process of producting a copy.

The Life community immediately realized that the next step is to produce something that creates multiple copies of itself. Two dimensions might be too constrictive for that to work: at least when interactions extend no farther than next-nearest-neighbor. Otoh, do present storage and CPU constraints permit simulation of complex structures in threeor more dimention?(Life on a Cayley tree (with stabilizing boundary conditions at the edge)? Can one increase the complexity of rules together with dimension so that the high-dimension limit does not approach a tree? Life on a fractal?)

1. Note the structural complexity and temporal duration for replication to take place.

2. If it's so hard to simulate reproduction, how hard is it to simulate duplicity in interpersonal and societal dynamics? Maybe history--and the future--are not computable.

Life sites here and here.

June 16, 2010

I Thought My Opinion of Palin Couldn't Get Lower

The British press reports that Palin is planning a photo op with Margaret Thatcher.

Using a person with dementia as a political prop is disgusting and vile. (Hey, she uses Trig.) Hopefully this will be news--but not in the way Palin intends.

What's next, posing with an exhumed Reagan? (If she asked for a photo op with Nancy Reagan, I hope she got turned down. But Nancy Reagan favors stem cell research, which means she isn't a real conservative...)

Shallow Speech about the Deepwater Spill

So, while the oil spews, Obama is going to tell BP to create an escrow fund?
...Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.
What gives him that power? Also:
...just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge -- a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology.
What do a Nobel Laureate and the Powerpoint wizards in the national labs know about drilling technology? (Damn little, which is why I suspect the clean-up hasn't been federalized.) Telling BP to get more equipment: wow, what an idea!

Maureen Dowd (!) hit the nail on the head:
President Obama’s bloodless quality about people and events, the emotional detachment that his aides said allowed him to see things more clearly, has instead obscured his vision. It has made him unable to understand things quickly on a visceral level and put him on the defensive in this spring of our discontent...
There is a lot to disagree with in the column, but the surprise is that there is a lot I agree with.

The Dowd piece was linked by National Review. Obama is bringing us together...

June 15, 2010

Obama and the Spill and Bush

Mark Steyn has written something similar to my previous post.

I keep agreeing that Obama is Bush on steroids and I keep wondering why Bush failed. Can it be that Bush, being born an aristocrat and born again in middle age, could also have seen much of the job as beneath him?

Listen to "God", slap the backs of the Big Dogs, make a few speeches, and all is predestined to fall into place?

A fairly innocuous abortion post by neo-neocon turned into an flame war in the comments. People on the Right jumped all over Mitch Daniels when he suggested a truce in the Culture Wars to focus on out-of-control government growth.

I wonder if Bush's religious right has given us such bad government because fundamentally they think the nitty-gritty of governing are less important than their social agenda? That they want to use government to impose that agenda is pretty obvious, but it's quite another thing to wonder if the only use they have for government is its power to impose their agenda.

June 6, 2010

Obama and the Spill

I wonder if he believes it's below his pay grade: a trifle for mechanics to deal with while he is bringing hope and change and international justice.

(The anecdotes I've read about disputes between engineers and BP corporate suits remind me of the arguments before the launch of Challenger.)

Obama and Israel and China

Obama is annoyed because he has to shaft Israel in order to shaft America's national interests, and Israel is resisting.

Did I say he wants to shaft the USA? My bad. The Washington Post explains:
(Israel) poses a special challenge for President Obama, whose foreign policy emphasizes the importance of international rules and organizations that successive Israeli governments have clashed with and often ignored.
Kenneth Anderson points out what the Chinese may do:
The new strong horse signals its presence, not by conquest – but by the imposition of a rough public order on the high seas that the old strong horse used to enforce, but had become unable to impose by reason of its insistence on a purely utopian rule of law, suitable for Oxford or Marin County, even for open ocean two hundred miles off Somalia. The act that signals China’s hegemony, if it comes, will not be purely self-interested, because pure self-interest is not what hegemony is about – it will be the imposition of a rough but reasonably effective public order mostly beneficial to it – but just enough beneficial to others that they will follow. As they used to follow the United States.
In other words, the Chinese will brutally resolve some international problem which America is conspicuously too dainty to handle.

Not inevitable, but plausible.

Comments: June 2010

On the proposed bailout of "journalism". Also here.

On the Deficit Reduction Commission's deficit: scroll to Posted by: gs | Jun 5, 2010 6:01:45 PM.

On Palin and her similarity to Obama: here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Is there an indoctrination dimension to 'zero-tolerance' policies? Scroll down to 'The Powers That Be'...that's me.

Mitt Romney is the national politician best qualified to oversee the oil spill.

On a Canadian minister's remark that those who oppose the government-abetted corporate takeover of the intellectual commons are "radical extremists".

June 5, 2010

On the Proposed Journalism Bailout

To be submitted as a comment to Professor Bainbridge & accepted here):

1. ProfB, let me presume to clarify your headline: "And/or a Subsidy for the Left?" -> "And/or another subsidy for the Left, including Helen Thomas?"

2. From Jeff Jarvis: "Besides of all the issues this raises concerning government influencing the media, I find it hard to believe voters would be willing to subsidize a broken business model." Silly Jarvis! They have no intention of asking the voters. Did they ask the voters about bailing out GM? About Obamacare?

3. The FTC has been at this for some time: see http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/news/index.shtml .

4. Despite the fact that Big Media are mortal enemies of conservatism and the GOP, Republicans have collaborated in the perversion of copyright law to the disadvantage of the public. Orrin Hatch (R-RIAA) is the most conspicuous, but by no means the only, example. I don't rule out that enough key Republicans can be bought off to allow a "journalism" subsidy to pass.

Hollywood's Corrupt Sock Puppets

These crooks--thieves of the public domain--have labeled themselves The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus:
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse D-RI
Senator Orrin G. Hatch R-UT
Rep. Adam B. Schiff D-CA
Rep. Bob Goodlatte R-VA

Senator Lamar Alexander R-TN
Senator Barbara Boxer D-CA
Senator Thad Cochran R-MS
Senator John Cornyn R-TX
Senator John Ensign R-NV
Senator Dianne Feinstein D-CA
Senator Patrick J. Leahy D-VT
Senator Charles E. Schumer D-NY
Senator Olympia J. Snowe R-ME
Rep. Spencer Bachus R-AL
Rep. Shelley Berkley D-NV
Rep. Howard Berman D-CA
Rep. Mary Bono R-CA
Rep. John Boozman R-AR
Rep. Robert A. Brady D-PA
Rep. Ken Calvert R-CA
Rep. Eric Cantor R-VA
Rep. André Carson D-IN
Rep. John Carter R-TX
Rep. Judy Chu D-CA
Rep. Howard Coble R-NC
Rep. Steve Cohen D-TN
Rep. Tom Cole R-OK
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly D-VA
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. D-MI
Rep. Jim Cooper D-TN
Rep. Joseph Crowley D-NY
Rep. Diana DeGette D-CO
Rep. William Delahunt D-MA
Rep. Lloyd Doggett D-TX
Rep. David Dreier R-CA
Rep. Vernon Ehlers R-MI
Rep. Bob Filner D-CA
Rep. Randy Forbes R-VA
Rep. Bill Foster D-IL
Rep. Elton Gallegly R-CA
Rep. Bart Gordon D-TN
Rep. Jane Harman D-CA
Rep. Paul W. Hodes D-NH
Rep. Darrell Issa R-CA
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee D-TX
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy D-OH
Rep. Zoe Lofgren D-CA
Rep. Ben Ray Luján D-NM
Rep. Michael T. McCaul R-TX
Rep. Michael E. McMahon D-NY
Rep. Mike Pence R-IN
Rep. Adam H. Putnam R-FL
Rep. George Radanovich R-CA
Rep. Laura Richardson D-CA
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher R-CA
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger D-MD
Rep. Bobby Rush D-IL
Rep. Linda T. Sánchez D-CA
Rep. Pete Sessions R-TX
Rep. Brad Sherman D-CA
Rep. Michael K. Simpson R-ID
Rep. Lamar Smith R-TX
Rep. Lee Terry R-NE
Rep. Edolphus Towns D-NY
Rep. Chris Van Hollen D-MD
Rep. Diane Watson D-CA
Rep. Henry Waxman D-CA
Rep. Anthony Weiner D-NY
Rep. Joe Wilson R-SC
Rep. Frank R. Wolf R-VA
I looked their states and parties up. The caucus's Website does not list theses affiliations because, you know, the members risen above such narrow things to whore for Big Media work for the greater good.

I'll return to this post later, but notice immediately that 20 of the 70 members represent California. Notice also that some very senior House Republicans are on board.

June 4, 2010

A Moonbase for Japanese Robots by 2020?

Details here.

It's not a coincidence that they're talking about this soon after the evidence for lunar water has become strong.

What Israel Needs Is Ethnic Cleansing?

This Volokh commenter says Israeli Arabs should be expelled. Understandably, nobody wants to touch the remark. Another Volokh commenter approaches it from the other extreme, i.e. Israeli Jews should be offered US citizenship and land in Texas.

How coupled to cheap Arab labor is the Israeli economy? For that matter, could South African whites have created a defensible homeland (though not the size of South Africa) if they'd been willing to dispense with cheap labor by the black and colored?

Iirc the seeds of the current Muslim problem in Europe were planted back when the European economy was growing rapidly and immigration of cheap labor was encouraged. As for the USA...


For some time I've been thinking that reengineering the nightmarish legal immigration process should go hand in hand with securing the borders. For some time I've wondered if the toleration of illegal immigration is due, in part, to a tacit understanding that the government is no longer capable of implementing immigration competently.

Reason agrees.

Unfortunately, the high-skill people we need most will be disproportionately filtered out by our dysfunctional system.

(I've also read that the USA has the rudest border agents of any major country. Tourists said they enjoyed their visit but would not return because of how they were treated at the border.)

Great News

SpaceX's Falcon 9 commercial rocket has launched and achieved orbit. Bravo.

(I'm extremely disappointed in Obama, but he is on the correct side of this issue in contrast to "conservative" Republicans like Shelby and Hutchison who want to maintain human spaceflight as a pork barrel enterprise.)