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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Contradiction Among Right-Wingers Regarding Violence?

I apologize in advance, because this is really just barely coherent enough to even qualify as a blog post, but nonetheless something struck me when listening to news coverage of the Israeli bombing campaign. The reporter said that 300-and-change people had reportedly died, and then quoted a Bush Administration official who said something like, "It is ultimately the Hamas terrorists who are responsible for this regrettable bloodshed. There will be no peace in the Gaza Strip so long as rocket attacks continue hitting Israeli territory."

It struck me that this type of excuse for the admitted killing of innocent people, is very similar to the Black Pantheresque claim that there will be no peace without justice.

And in response to that, what does the average Rush Limbaugh fan say? Why, he says something like, "I don't want to hear your excuses. Regardless of whatever injustices you may have suffered from racist cops, you can't riot and kill innocent people, you hoodlums! What's this society coming to, when whining leftists try to understand the motives behind the wanton massacre of innocents?"

Presumably the person holding these (in my opinion) contradictory views would say, "Nonsense! We live in a civilized culture in the U.S., and rioting won't achieve anything for blacks. If they have legitimate grievances, they should take them to the ballot box."

But I daresay this advice sounds just as shallow to inner-city kids getting shot by drug squads, as telling Israeli settlers that the best, long run way to get Palestinians from shooting rockets at them is to adopt non-violent methods of protest.

Finally, let me state for the record that I am a pacifist and so of course I think rioting (to protest Rodney King, etc.) is wrong and counterproductive. But by the same token, I think killing hundreds of Palestinians (many of whom are innocent bystanders) in response to a few Israeli deaths is also wrong and counterproductive in the long run.

Press Neutrality

Others have brought this up before, but the doctrine of "press neutrality" often effectively means "give the real story and some complete fabrication equal time." A good example, on an important matter, was when the press treated the Bush administration's farrago of lies about the "Mission Accomplished" banner as serious news. On a lighter note, but illustrating the same point, check out this story from the world of basketball. Somehow, Elena Delle Donne's clear, explicit, and quite plausible explanation that she was burned out is given equal weight with Geno Auriemma's idiotic statement that "we might never know why Delle Donne pushed basketball aside."

Auriemma committed a major recruiting gaffe, and now he's desperately trying to hide that fact. But "press neutrality" demands that reporters give his pathetic attempts to distract us from his mistake equal weight with the heart-felt statements of the 18-year-old girl in question as to why she did what she did.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Recovery Is Just Around the Corner

At a holiday6 party, someone said, "Well, housing prices are bound to recover sooner or later, aren't they?"

"Absolutely," I remarked, "when property values in Rome began to decline around 200 AD, all you had to do was hang on until 15 or 16 hundred and you easily would have gotten your money back."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Common Libertarian Confusion?

By the way, I often think that libertarians may tend to get confused (of course not all libertarians, and of course not all the time) between defending the general concept of property rights and defending such rights as they are currently defined. Now, I think it's fine to have a default position of "Don't tamper with current rights on a lark," but there are times I think it would be a very good idea to tamper with them. For instance, I would have no problem criminalizing what these "Wow Gold" folks have been doing to this blog. I've got to be spending a half an hour per week deleting their comments and the e-mails they generate. I consider what they are doing no different them coming over to my house with megaphones and shouting about "Wow gold" at a cocktail party I'm throwing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wow! Gold!

OK, folks, Andy explained how these blog spammers are ingeniously getting past the word verification feature and spamming this blog anyway. (They get porn surfers to type in the key word for them.) So, does anyone know how to prevent this new maneuver?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Show Of Hands...

When Gene's photo first popped up and it wasn't obvious what those things were, did you think Gene was boasting?

Did you ever have one of those days...

When you just knew that, after 5 1/2 hours on the road, you'd get home to find the toilet bowl full of drowned flying squirrels?




Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Birmingham

Apparently, you can purchase hot dogs embedded in molten uranium ore here:




As well as:






And I learned a remarkable thing about ostriches - all creatures lay ostrich eggs!



At the Cardiff School of European Studies

Some loom like giants among men:




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Senate Report Links Bush to War Crimes?

I'm no legal expert, but that certainly is the appearance Glenn Greenwald gives in this blog post.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Just Saved the Universe From Annihilation

In my gmail account there was an ad that popped up on the margin that said something like, "LLC vs. S-Corp vs. C-Corp. What you'll never read on websites that offer incorporation services." Then it gave a link to a URL that seemed awfully like it would offer me incorporation services.

Concerned about the avoidance of paradox, I didn't click the link, nor am I offering here lest any of Gene's illogical fans click through.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Shrub Should Have Said

Swansea














Lala

If you want to explore new music, and you already spend a lot of time in front of the computer, you should check out the streaming audio on Lala. It's free, and every computer geek knows how to capture the cached audio data for repeat plays. The streams are of decent quality (they say at 128kbps, but many sound better and a few worse. I'm not an audiophile, I don't want to fetish on the purity of sound at the expense of the music.) and the libary is so vast you'd think this offering criminal. I like the service so much I've set up a separate PC to run the streams. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Does Anyone Really Believe Them?

Madoff’s sons, Andrew and Mark, turned him in to U.S. authorities on the night of Dec. 10 after his confession, according to Martin Flumbenbaum, an attorney for the brothers.

“Mark and Andrew Madoff are not involved in the firm’s asset management business, and neither had any knowledge of the fraud before their father informed them of it on Wednesday,” according to a statement by Flumenbaum of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York.


http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aMfFYXi.JhQI&refer=home

My dad is running $15 billion plus, I work for his firm my whole life, everyone on the Street has been questioning how he makes his money without frontrunning for years (I heard more than once that people invested with Madoff because they believed he was actually frontrunning his broker-dealer order flow to make these returns), he was only carrying $1 Billion of open positions at the end of each quarter, making his fees only from trading commissions through the firm we were managing, yet I wasn't aware there was a problem.

Cardiff

The main shopping street:



On a chilly December night, how do Cardiff girls dress?




That Pink Section of the US

I regularly receive academic job listings via e-mail. They arrive sorted by region, and I just noticed that the final region is titled 'Non-US or Canada.' So, if the job location is outside the US, or if it is in the huge frozen region of the northern US, they'll put the job listing in this section.

An Interesting Perspective on the Auto Bailout

HT2 Sandy Ikeda.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things

OK I can't stand seeing Gene's "Motion Debater Light" post still at the top of the blog, so here ya go:

I rent an office and a woman put in a hair salon in the two offices next to mine. (She knocked down the wall. Or rather, she hired someone to knock down the wall.) So I hear all kinds of funny stories if I leave my door ajar. (When is a door not a door? When it's a jar.)

I just heard a lady say, "So Jimmy said to his grandma, 'I'm gonna go home and play with my Wii.' And his grandma said, 'Don't you talk like that!'"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Motion Debater Light

I've got a "motion detector" floodlight over my porch door in Pennsylvania. What it actually does these days is either refuse to come on at all, or shine for a week straight, day or night.

I've decided it's Wabulon's fault. What I believed happened is this: Wabulon was sitting out on the porch reading Atomism and Its Critics, somewhere in the section on Zeno, Epicurus, Lucretius and so on debating motion. The light started reading along, and what it's doing lately is mulling over these positions. One week, it decides, "Parmenides is right! Motion is just an illusion. I refuse to turn on at all." The next week, he buys into Epicureanism and decides that everything is always in motion, and stays on all week.

Bring in the Clouds

OK, folks, what is up with these clouds? Does anyone recognize them as an instance of some meteorological ideal type?






Sunday, December 07, 2008

Brad DeLong Knows Thermodynamics Like He Knows Monetary Theory

After trashing Mises, Brad DeLong has a workplace accident. Be sure to note my wise aleck remark at Dec 6, 9:21 pm, and then someone talks a little Carnot* shop with DeLong at Dec 7, 9:20 am.

* I almost got caught bluffing. I had originally spelled it Cournot (like Cournot duopoly) but fortunately I googled it and realized the ideal heat engine was spelled Carnot. Heh heh damn I'm smooth.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Aaaaaah!

Apple seems to have implemented some across-the-company, strictly enforced, "keep the user completely in the dark" policy for their software engineers. I just received a message saying (I quote from memory), "An error occurred when Time Machine attempted to access the backup drive." (Time Machine is Apple's new backup software.)

Now, I was a software engineer for 18 years, and I was taught that a basic principle of error handling was to give the user as much information about the error that occurred as possible, to allow the user to attempt to fix the problem. And I know that the programmer writing the relevant bgit of code involved in this Time Machine error was checking for specific problems, such as the disk in question not having enough space available to store the contemplated backup, or the disk being off-line, etc, So why in the world is Apple not conveying what the problem is to the user? Does anyone have any idea why Apple is choosing to say nothing more than, "Oops, something went wrong"?

My Favorite Line of Realtor Doublespeak (for today, anyhow)

I called to enquire what my membership dues should be, without including payment for the Political Action Committee.

"Oh," I said, "the fees went up by about $54 this year." Realtor help desk person replied, "No, fees were exactly the same as last year." I objected, "Hey, I did the math, and it's $54 higher!"

"Your payment might appear higher this year because..." she spun thus: "your discount went down."

I need to go back to the dentist.

My Favorite Line

From the Tao Te Ching:
"Ruling the country is like cooking a small fish"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dear John

You say you are thinking of leaving me. Well, so be it; it really makes no difference to me one way or the other. In fact, the whole question is of as little import to me as would be the outcome of an election on some remote Pacific isle.
Serenely yours,
Mary



Where are letters like the above handled?


Here:



Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Q: Who Are These People?

John: Why, that's a marvelous bridge you've designed there!
Mary: Thank you. And your water works are most lovely!
John: It's very gracious of you to say that!
Mary: Not at all -- you are the epitome of professional behavior.

The Avenger

OK, it's bad enough that I blew the engine in my car -- but did they have to give me a rental that I'm sure that John Steed will be jumping out of any second?


Blogroll Changes

Two changes on the sidebar:
1) Crash Landing welcomes the Collingwood/Oakeshott scholar Chris Rolliston to our blogroll with his blog A Single World of Ideas; and
2) We've dropped No Treason from the list, because they haven't posted nuttin' since September.

Do Bullets Keep Radiation at Bay?

If so, we're set: The government is transferring 20,000 troops to the homeland to protect against terrorist attacks.

What's Going On?

According to the Dux bed people, who apparently take of a very Leibnizian perspective on things, everything! I was listening to their ad on the radio this morning. The woman doing the pitch was talking about her grandmother having owned a Dux bed for 56 years now. "What was happening in 1952?" she asked. "Well, Alaska would not become a state for another seven years."

This presumably "happened" continually throughout the year, as the date of statehood became closer and closer. And, of course, the fall of the Roman Empire happened in 1952 as well, in terms of its date becoming more distant.

And so did every other event, past or future, all also happen in 1952. And every other year. History books are going to get really big. Or small, I'm not sure which.

Beth Hoffman, RIP

I just learned that Beth Hoffman of the Foundation for Economic Education died in her sleep last night. I did not know Beth well, but I did meet her a number of times at FEE events, and dealt with her frequently as both an author and proofreader for The Freeman. Beth always struck me as tirelessly devoted to FEE's mission -- as a "behind-the-scenes" persona, she certainly did not expect to receive either fame or fortune for her efforts, but, nevertheless, her efforts always went beyond the call of duty. She always made visiting scholars and authors feel at home at FEE headquarters, and was a constant presence there through several changes of management. I was about to write, "Beth, you will be missed," when I realized that what I really should write is, "Beth, you already are missed!"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Faith

In the 12th century, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides formulated his thirteen principles of the Hebrew faith. They are relevant to our recent discussion of "the Judaeo-Christian tradition" in relation to Islam, for several of them are explicitly directed at one of Judaism's "younger siblings." The principles, with my commentary:

1. The existence of God
Obviously common to all three.
2. God's unity
Against Christianity (the trinity) but not Islam.
3. God's spirituality and incorporeality
Common to all three.
4. God's eternity
Common to all three.
5. God alone should be the object of worship
Hmm, tough one -- Christians would say they agree, but Maimonides probably would have said their practice didn't, what with all those statues of Mary and shrines to the saints.
6. Revelation through God's prophets
Common to all three.
7. The preeminence of Moses among the prophets
Contra both Islam and Christianity.
8. God's law given on Mount Sinai
Contra both Islam and Christianity, in that Maimonides probably meant final and complete law.
9. The immutability of the Torah as God's Law
Contra both Islam and Christianity.
10. God's foreknowledge of human actions
Shared by all three religions.
11. Reward of good and retribution of evil
Shared by all three religions.
12. The coming of the Jewish Messiah
Contra Islam and Christianity, both of which claim their founders as offering the final chapter of the Biblical story.
13. The resurrection of the dead
Shared with both sister religions.

OK, by my count, seven of the thirteen items are held in common by all three religions. Judaism differs from Islam and Christianity alike on another four. For the remaining two, Islam is closer to Judaism than is Christianity. (And recall, Maimonides lived in Muslim lands, and, if anything, would have been biased on pragmatic grounds towards disputing Islamic theology more than Christian theology.)

I present this as evidence supporting my claim that it makes more sense to speak of a "Judaeo-Islamic tradition" and a divergent Christian tradition than vice-versa. (Of course, it makes even more sense to talk of all three together as the "children of Abraham." And, of course, none of this says anything to the "truthiness" of any of the three faiths -- Christianity is to blame for wandering farther than Islam from Judaism only if we already accept Judaism is correct -- if Christianity is the true faith, then it wandered from its roots exactly as far as it had to to set things straight.)