Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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E-mail address:
jhertzli AT ix DOT netcom DOT com

My Earthlink/Netcom Site

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My other blogs
Small Sample Watch
XBM Graphics

The Former Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse:
Someone who used to be sane (formerly War)
Someone who used to be serious (formerly Plague)
Rally 'round the President (formerly Famine)
Dr. Yes (formerly Death)

Interesting weblogs:
Back Off Government!
Bad Science
Boing Boing
Debunkers Discussion Forum
Deep Space Bombardment
Depleted Cranium
Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine.
Foreign Dispatches
Good Math, Bad Math
Greenie Watch
The Hand Of Munger
Howard Lovy's NanoBot
Liberty's Torch
The Long View
My sister's blog
Neo Warmonger
Next Big Future
Out of Step Jew
Overcoming Bias
The Passing Parade
Peter Watts Newscrawl
Physics Geek
Pictures of Math
Poor Medical Student
Prolifeguy's take
The Raving Theist
Respectful Insolence
Seriously Science
Slate Star Codex
The Speculist
The Technoptimist
Tools of Renewal
XBM Graphics
Zoe Brain

Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
Crank Dot Net
Day By Day
Dihydrogen Monoxide - DHMO Homepage
Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
Libertarians for Life
The Mad Revisionist
Piled Higher and Deeper
Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
Sustainability of Human Progress

Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Brief Note on the Election

Trump lost; Kavanaugh won.

The vote for the House of Representatives was a proxy vote for approval of Trump. Approval of Trump was, in turn, a proxy for for approval of immigration. Immigration won.

The vote for the Senate was a proxy vote for approval of Kavanaugh. Approval of Kavanaugh was, in turn, a proxy for for approval of abortion. Abortion won.

In other words, Americans voted in favor of the recognition of the rights of Potential Americans.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

The Second Amendment and Censorship

How I came to realize the importance of the 2nd Amendment

It was very indirect. It started when I saw Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience in a bookstore. Needless to say, I bought a copy. One of the chapters was “Life (with all its problems) in space” by Alfred Crosby. I then noticed a book by Alfred Crosby Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900 (it's not as nutty as it sounds) in a bookstore. (Bookstores are what we used before the Web was invented.) I bought that and noticed references to Plagues and Peoples by William McNeill. I found and read that and then noticed another book by William McNeill In Pursuit of Power in a bookstore. That was the book that made me realize the importance of free (liber) weaponry.

When only the State could afford the best weapons, we saw increasingly authoritarian governments. This happened in the Bronze Age, in the early Gunpowder Era, and the era between the invention of machine guns and the AK-47. The ability to buy weapons really is important.

The relevance to censorship

But that isn't what I'm talking about in this post. I'm talking about censorship. If we wanted to keep me away taking the Second Amendment seriously, it could be interrupted at many stages.

We could keep professors from publishing ThoughtCrime. We could keep other scholars from citing the professors who published ThoughtCrime. We could ruin the careers of other scholars who cited a professor who published ThoughtCrime and disinvite them from conferences.

This is another case in which a system with many layers is vulnerable to censorship. The Internet escaped that in the early stages because there were (for a while) fewer layers. In other words, we must be very resistant to any attempt to spread a blacklist. It's one thing to shun someone you think is a jerk. It's another thing to shun people six degrees away from him/her/whatever. It might even be worth shunning people who try that (but not shun their friends.)

On the other hand, we've see this before … in the form of secondary boycotts by labor unions. At least you can't get “good goons” any more.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

The Other Side of the Leftward Drift

A few years ago, I speculated:

The leftward drift of formerly-conservative Supreme Court Justices (discussed here) can be explained fairly easily. Much of the time, conservative is a synonym for “willing to crack down on people who are Not Like Us.” When such a conservative becomes a Supreme Court Justice, the people who are Like Us changes from the middle classes to the political activist class and the people who Not Like Us changes from the lower classes to state legislatures.
We now see the flip side of that: We have just confirmed a Supreme-Court Justice who was faced with some of the same tactics used to crack down on people who are Not Like Us: multiple charges so maybe one would stick, threats of draconian penalties in case of failure to cooperate, potential charges for allegedly-false statements, and of course trusting polygraphs. That may immunize him against the leftward drift. Kavanaugh may even be surprisingly liberal on defendant's rights.

On the other hand, don't count on that last.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Conversation between 1978 Me and 2018 Me

1978 me: What's occurring in 2018?

2018 me: We might finally get enough judges on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade. They're holding hearings. There's a professor on one side and someone who spent his school years in a haze on the other.

1978 me: I hope the professor wins and that pro-abortion pothead loses!

2018 me: No, it's the guy in a haze who's backed by pro-lifers.

1978 me: What!?!?!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Internet in Series vs. Internet in Parallel

There's a potentially worrisome development:

One of the things that is becoming clear, to me at least, is that the layered model ( the whole internet is built on, is censorship friendly. And I don't just mean OSI, but the layers in the app layer. I'll unpack.
You can see the rest of the explanation on Twitter, but I'll summarize it here: The Internet currently requires numerous layers to all work together to get something through. If the censorship people can shut off just one layer, they've won. To make matters worse, if they look like they might possibly shut off one layer, the other layers might go along avoid getting caught.

This was not a problem with the classic Internet: just the computers and wires. It wasn't even much of a problem with Usenet. Today, if they can shut off the wires (what the net-neutrality people claim to be worried about), the DNS servers (what the people insisting on US oversight are worried about), the search engines, the anti-DDOS companies, the social networks, the web browsers (the most recent Firefox release sends all DNS requests to a central location), or other things I won't know about until the possemaniacs try taking them over, then they've won.

A mathematical model

If you have 1 layer and 3 providers in each layer and each provider has a 50% chance of folding in response to a possemaniac, then the probability of censorship is 12.5%.

If you have 10 layers and 3 providers in each layer and each provider has a 50% chance of folding in response to a possemaniac, then the probability of censorship is 73.7%.

Maybe the answer is more vertical integration. In other words, a web browser from a search-engine company, an operating-systems company, or a hardware company might not be such a bad idea. This also means the standard response to a potential left-wing oligopoly (break them up!) is wrong-headed.

By the way, how much would it cost to start one minimal viable company in each layer? I suspect it could be done for under a billion. So … All you need is at least one zillionaire (preferably partly retired but with some years left) … I'm sure the Koch brothers, Peter Thiel, Robert Mercer, or even Paul Allen will be up to it.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Reaction to The Transhumanist Bill of Rights—Version 2.0

The Transhumanist Bill of Rights—Version 2.0 (seen via Instapundit) includes (with my reactions):

“All sentient entities should be the beneficiaries of a system of universal health care.”

Does ‘universal’ mean universal? Does this apply to entities in the Boötes void?

“For instance, a cryonics patient has the right to determine in advance that the patient’s body shall be cryopreserved and kept under specified conditions, in spite of any legal definition of death that might apply to that patient under cryopreservation.”

So… If you were accidentally cryopreserved and didn't leave such a directive, you have no rights?

“All sentient entities are entitled to reproductive freedom, including through novel means such as the creation of mind clones, monoparent children, or benevolent artificial general intelligence.”

I'm glad to see this. Version 1.0 was written by Zoltan Istvan, who has also advocated parenting licenses.

“All sentient entities also have the right to prevent unauthorized reproduction of themselves in both a physical and a digital context.”

If such an unauthorized reproduction occurs anyway, does the being in question have rights?

“All sentient entities should be protected from discrimination based on their physical form in the context of business transactions and law enforcement.”

Does that mean you cannot require, for example, the ability to breathe chlorine as a prerequisite for employment?

“All sentient entities have the right to defend themselves from attack, in both physical and virtual worlds.”

“Societies of the present and future should afford all sentient entities sufficient basic access to wealth and resources to sustain the basic requirements of existence in a civilized society and function as the foundation for pursuits of self-improvement.”

Does the first mean you are permitted to defend yourself against the tax collectors needed for the second?

“Lying for political gain or intentionally fomenting irrational fears among the general public should entail heavy political penalties for the officials who engage in such behaviors.”

So… We can hang (or do the equivalent to) environmentalists?

“In addition to the rights enumerated herein, this TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS hereby incorporates by reference all of the rights expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and hereby extends these rights to all entities encompassed by this TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS.”

Uh oh. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes:

These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Idealist translation: All good stuff! No bad stuff!
Realist translation: The preceding 28 articles guarantee hot air. Anything they promise can be set aside if someone influential decides they're inconvenient.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Ban Straws?

Okay. Now they're just trolling us.

The response to bans on plastic straws is, of course, expensive metal straws that can only be cleaned with difficulty. The next step after metal straws will be to notice that not everyone can afford metal straws and to set up a government agency to get metal straws into the hands of the proletariat … who are then expected to be grateful. That, in turn, will be followed by sneering at the people who complained about the original regulation combined with accusing them of being hypocrites when they also criticize the agency.

I have three questions about this:

  1. If a couple with a child are arrested for the illegal manufacture, sale, or transportation of plastic straws, should the child be separated from the parents or should there be a family jail?

  2. How stoned do you have to be to think a plastic straw is a problem requiring a ban?

  3. What do “people of color” think about a straw ban?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Why the Left is Getting Hysterical about Judges

What if they really think that right-wing judges will do as much “legislating from the bench” as left-wing judges have?

This is not entirely a straw-man argument: There is a possibility that right-wing judges might stop “birthright citizenship” for children of illegal aliens. On the other hand, I've heard very little about this from the Left. Maybe they refuse to learn about the Right even to know what the real possibilities are.

One common type of legislating from the bench: Declare that a law that has a “disparate impact” on a favored group is unconstitutional. For example, carbon taxes will have a disparate impact on people in rural areas.

Another common type of legislating from the bench: Declare that the law MUST follow the current social preferences of the ruling class. One possibility is banning bilingual education. Another possibility is declaring that the phytoestrogens in soy feminize men and therefore interfere with the militia described in the Second Amendment. Tofu, tempeh, and even soy sauce will be forbidden to males.

To any Leftists reading this: Yes, some of the judicial decisions you applaud sound that nuts.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A “Bump-Stock” Compromise on Immigration

Let us compare the border-control issue to the gun-control issue.

A common argument for gun control is: “Look at all these gun massacres!” The obvious response is that the massacres are almost always in “gun-free” zones. There is an exception to that retort: The Las Vegas massacre of a few months ago was not in a “gun-free” zone. It may have been more effective than usual due to the use of bump stocks. As a result, the NRA uncharacteristically offered to compromise by accepting a ban on bump stocks.

A common argument for border control is: “Look at all these illegal aliens violating American traditions!” The obvious response is that high rates of immigration is an American tradition. There are two claimed exceptions to that retort: 1) Earlier immigration was mostly of Europeans; 2) the rate was, at most, 1.5% of the already-present population per year.

The first claimed exception might sound valid … except we heard it before.

  • 18th century: These immigrants aren't English; they are different.
  • 19th century: These immigrants aren't Protestant; they are differenter.
  • 20th century: These immigrants aren't Western European; they are differentest.
  • 21st century: These immigrants aren't European; they are [we must invent a new grammatical form for this].
For example, if we send advice to keep Muslims out to the year 1856 by chronophone, it will come out as a Roman Catholic ban.

On the other hand, the 1.5% limit appears to be reasonable. (For today's US, it's about 5 million per year.) So … Maybe we should set a limit of 1.5% of the already-present population per year. If it's exceeded, maybe we can auction off the permits. This will also prevent the nightmare scenario of 300 million Democratic voters arriving tomorrow. The proposed limit will not affect politics much in the short run and, in the long run, the descendants of the New Americans may change their minds as much as Southerners or Catholics have. We can already expect Mexicans to oppose asinine environmental regulations.

One more topic we must consider: The recent protests against enforcing immigration laws are about separating families. On the other hand, separating families is also done for violent or property crimes. On the gripping hand, this isn't a “crime” crime; it is a borderline case … similar to a ban on bump stocks. So … Should children be separated from parents if the parents violated a law against owning bump stocks without a license?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

What Governor Cuomo Should Have Said

Governor Andrew Cuomo said:

As a New Yorker, I am a Muslim. I am a Jew. I am Black. I am gay. I am a woman seeking to control her body. We are one New York​.
He should have continued:
As a New Yorker, I am a fetus. I am Bernie Goetz. I am BlackRock. I am Donald Trump. I am The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and National Review. I belong in the city of Alexander Hamilton and Ayn Rand. I sneer at people worried about “over”population.
Asddendum: I just recalled a possibly-relevant Pauline Kael quote
I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them.
Governor Cuomo is refusing to feel them.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Suggestion for Liberals, Update

A libertarian took my suggestion before a liberal did.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Should Government Control of Space Travel Continue?

Elon Musks's recent stunt of putting his car in orbit has been greeted with whines from people claiming that, since governments started space exploration, we must continue government control. (There have been similar claims about nuclear energy or the Internet.)

That makes as much sense as claiming that, since Silicon Valley was started by a racist, we must ensure it is controlled by racists.

That makes as much sense as claiming that, since post offices were invented by the Persian Empire, all postage stamps must be sold by Iran.

That makes as much sense as claiming that, since Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney, the Disney Corporation must hold a perpetual copyright. This last is particularly important since many of the whines come from critics of Intellectual Property.

Meanwhile, I recommend that, if we free copyright after 70 years, maybe we should also deregulate technologies produced with government support after 70 years.

Monday, January 01, 2018

It's 2018

Aren't anti-agathics supposed to be invented this year?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Miscellaneous Notes

Tap tap. Is this thing on?

A few notes on recent controversies:

Net Neutrality: I'd be more likely to take seriously the claim that Net Neutrality regulations are a matter of ancient tradition if it weren't for the fact that every Net Neuterer has a different definition of Net Neutrality and a different timeline of how the regulations changed. As far as I can tell, Net Neutrality was a matter of custom … like tipping. It was enforced by the FCC frowning hard.

I won't more than mention that whether a foreign nation has Net Neutrality changes depending on rhetorical needs. If it's necessary to find an example to prove that corporations won't adhere to Net Neutrality standards without being forced, then there are lots of examples of nations without Net Neutrality. If it's necessary to say “All the cool nations are doing this,” then those examples disappear.

In the real world, Net Neutrality violations can be divided into:

  • The beneficial (throttling a bandwidth hog);
  • The trivial;
  • The temporary;
  • The imaginary.

Corporations: As far as I can tell, support for Net Neutrality is based on the theory that corporations are all-powerful psychopaths. As far as I can tell, the entities that act most like the way leftists imagine corporations act are governments and online mobs.

In a typical example of anti-corporation prejudice, the SF writer Ted Chiang compared corporations to out-of-control AIs. On the other hand, the original speculation comparing an organization to an AI was Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes which compared governments to AIs. (“What is the heart, but a spring?”). Nowadays, online mobs can also be compared to Leviathan. To paraphrase the movie The Terminator:

The online mob is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop …

The best reason to regard democratic governments as preferable to corporations is that they can be controlled by The People. The People also control online mobs, but that doesn't make them good … especially when you recall that Trump was elected by Twitter mobs.

Corporate power is also much less than many people think, some of whom run the corporations. For example, a few months ago, Cloudflare stopped providing DDoS protection to Daily Stormer, effectively kicking them off the respectable Internet. They tried the same stunt with Ghost Gunner. Ghost Gunner is still there. Blacklists don't work unless they're unanimous.

A personal note: I don't believe in corporate power, not because I disapprove of it, but because I think it's much less than many others think. Some of my actions were done in order to make that point. I joined Mastodon, partly to show that Facebook doesn't have a monopoly. I got a Linux computer partly to show that Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly. I started ordering books from Amazon when people were complaining that Barnes & Noble (or was it Borders?) was becoming a monopoly. (It might be time to change that.)

On the other hand, some right-wing commenters disagree with handling monopolies privately.

The recent tax bill has two problems:

  • It made major changes a bit too suddenly. Making them more slowly so we know what we're doing might make more sense.
  • It looks like it was written for the purpose of raising taxes on New York Times reporters. “The purpose of power is power” is bad. “The purpose of power is revenge” is worse.
“The purpose of power is revenge” might also explain “political movements that appear exceedingly stupid.”

Is free speech only for the powerful? I had trouble understanding the belief that free speech is a tool for the privileged. As far as I can tell, this is based on the theory that the privileged will always be able to censor. In order to level the proverbial playing field, the downtrodden also must be given the privilege of censorship. I find it much more plausible that the privileged will always be able to speak. (If they can be censored, they were not privileged in the first place.)

Ideas I agree with while opposing the proponents: An opinion you agree with may be a “tribal marker” for people you regard as dangerous. For example:

  • Black lives matter.
  • It's okay to be white. (It's more worrisome when “white” is capitalized.)
  • Allah akbar. (God is great.)
  • There's evidence that human action might make the Earth warmer.
  • Sustainable anything.

“Cuckservative” and “neoliberal” mean the same thing: “How DARE you pretend to be on my side while believing in individual rights!”

The use of the term “cuckservative” might be due to one of the more bizarre assumptions of the “alt-right,” that anybody who disagrees with them must be doing so in order to avoid being called names and can be forced in the other direction by enough name-calling.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Free Will Denial

I suspect that a large fraction of left-wing ideology comes from a denial of free will: the belief that free will either does not exist or is valueless. That can have several effects:

  1. If free will does not exist at all, there is little point in defending the right to make your own decisions. If something is desirable, it must be compulsory; if it is undesirable, it must be forbidden.
  2. I've already discussed the effects of the belief that free will only applies to pointless actions.
  3. If an individual's free will cannot affect his/her economic status, anybody rich got that way from ‘society’ (“You didn't build that…”) and the wealth can be redistributed.
  4. Finally, if the combined free wills of all of humanity cannot cause anything good, then either economic growth does not exist or it has bad effects (e.g., global warming).

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Harvey and Zoning Laws

Houston is noteworthy for the lack of zoning. Houston is also noteworthy for a $100 billion flood. Some people insist on connecting the two. Apparently, the riffraff moving in produce floods.

Let's do some arithmetic on the cost of Harvey. It's approximately $15,000 per resident of the Houston metropolitan area. Let's compare housing costs in Houston with housing costs in New York City (where the zoning plague started). The monthly rent for 85 \(\text{m}^2\) (900 Sqft) furnished accommodation in NORMAL area in New York City is $2,828. The monthly rent for a similar apartment in Houston is $1,228. In other words, the Hurricane Harvey cost as much as the additional rent for ten months.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

A Note on Overpopulation

At the population density of The Netherlands (a food exporter, believe it or not), we can support 60 billion people on Earth … four times that if we cover the seas with greenhouse ships.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Common Right-Wing Meme

If the mainstream calls ordinary conservatives Nazis, what will they do when real Nazis come along? Now we have some idea.

Penalty for being a pro-lifer: Winning the lawsuit.

Penalty for dissent on global warming: Getting your name on a Museum wing.

Penalty for homophobia: Getting your name off a declining web browser. (On the other hand, Pale Moon sometimes hangs on PJ Media articles.)

Penalty for Naziism: getting booted off the normal Internet and onto Tor … along with the drug dealers. (On the other hand, it's unfair to drug dealers.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How Powerful Are Online Mobs?

Let's look at recent online mobs.

The mobs after Hobby Lobby and DropBox lost. Period.

The pro-gay-marriage mob lost the battle of Chik-Fil-A. They won a temporary victory over Duck Dynasty but had to retreat. They got Brendan Eich fired but the result was that Firefox is getting increasingly buggy and losing market share.

The feminist mob after James Damore got him a job offer from Wikileaks.

It looks like we have the equivalent of an aging black-belt who, after losing a fight or two, first picked a fight with a couple of white-belts, drew those, and finally went out into the street to beat up a cripple. (The black belt can get away with it only because the cripple used to be an even worse bully.)

I suspect they're marching against “Nazis,” not only to look noble, but also in order to look powerful.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Were They Thinking at Google?

I have a couple of theories on why Google came down on James Damore like the proverbial ton of bricks.

Why there's a crackdown on anything that looks “alt-right” now

The tech industry top people don't actually like feminists (who have a tendency to produce expensive lawsuits) but they made the mistake of surrendering to them (at least verbally) a decade or two ago and it's too late to go back now. They have resolved to not let that happen again.

Meanwhile, opponents of feminism (or left-wing ideology in general) have been saying it's time to imitate left-wing tactics. As a result, the tech industry is trying to stop Feminism II before it starts. It is, after all, very difficult to surrender to two incompatible factions at the same time.

Without the threat of the imitation leftist tactics, disagreeing with company dogma would simply earn a reprimand and a warning to not do that again. With that threat, dissent produces:

The infamous memo might not be “alt-right,” but it can be plausibly claimed to be in “THAT ENTIRE CATEGORY OF THING.”

Was this a false flag?

A conspiracy theory I haven't seen anywhere yet:
Since Google has not actually been promoting that many women, it doesn't look like it is a real feminist-run organization. What if the purpose of coming down on James Damore in such a heavy-handed manner is to provoke such a lawsuit? They might be able to get a court order that they can wave in the faces of the feminists.

If the lawsuit goes the other way, of course, they now have a legal precedent that can be used to fire feminists suing them.

I (and apparently very few other people) noticed that, with a few minor changes, the Zunger response to the Damore memo (including the need to fit in) could be used against feminists.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Identifying Science-Curious but Science-Ignorant People, Part II

The studies I asked for a few months ago are starting, at least as far as brain science is concerned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A Brief Note on Free Speech

Much of what appears to be a violation of freedom of speech is actually a matter of refusing to listen.

Much of the time such a refusal to listen, although not a violation of constitutional rights, is very unwise. If you refuse to listen, you might find that someone you loathe, that you thought didn't have a chance, just got elected President.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Things to Avoid in Health-Insurance Regulation

Any reform of health-insurance regulation must avoid the following:

  1. A death spiral, when people put off buying otherwise unaffordable health insurance until they're sick.
  2. Bankrupting the country, because promises that cannot be fulfilled will not be fulfilled.
  3. Price controls. This includes giving governments the motive, means, and opportunity to institute price controls (e.g., a single-payer system).
  4. A welfare cliff, in which people don't bother looking for a job because you lose more in benefits than the job pays.
  5. Charging people twice for their health care, in which people with private insurance are charged for the government insurance they might be using anyway. (This is based on the fact that families with children in private school still have to pay school taxes.)
  6. (Lest we forget…) Losing the next election.
I suspect this means we're stuck with the individual mandate, at least until the herd of independent minds starts to stampede in another direction.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Accidentally Serious

According to The Borowitz Report:

With a fury that could spell political trouble for Republicans in the midterm elections, Trump voters across the country on Friday expressed their outrage and anger that they still have health coverage.
According to public-opinion polls:
The only item from the Obamacare requirements asked about in this poll that most reject is the individual mandate. Two-thirds of the public want to eliminate that part of the ACA.
In other words, some people really are outraged at being forced to buy health insurance. Maybe Andy Borowitz thought he was being satirical …

In any case, the technical term for people who want to keep price controls on health insurance, oppose the individual mandate, and think of themselves as right wing is “deplorable.”

A Sound Bite for Conservatives

In view of the fact that Obamacare was associated with a jump in death rates, you can try accusing anybody claiming that its repeal will kill people of traveling backward in time.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Suggestion for Congress

The main reason for the continued rejection of the attempted reforms of Obamacare are the horrendous-sounding numbers from the Congressional Budget Office. These numbers appear to be similar no matter how watered-down the bill is. It turns out that almost all of the alleged losses of health insurance come from the repeal of the individual mandate. The sequence appears to be as follows:

  1. The Republicans propose a heath-insurance reform plan.
  2. The Congressional Budget Office issues a pan report claiming millions of people will lose insurance.
  3. Average voters (the “people of the land, the common clay of the new West”) hear about the report and figure it's because the Snidely Whiplashes in charge of insurance companies will throw people off insurance plans simply because they're mean.
  4. They send lots of hysterical phone calls, emails, and letters to Congress.
  5. The Congresscritters and Senators listen and vote it down.
  6. The Republican Establishment looks for something else to water down.
  7. Repeat.
Maybe they should repeal every part of Obamacare but the individual mandate.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Reactions to Microchipping Employees

Some of my reactions to the news that at one company is planning to install microchips in some of their employees:

  • Incredulous stare.
  • The Book of Revelations looks a little less insane now that we have the Mark of the Beast.
  • By the way, why would microchips have to be implanted instead of worn? Is this an attempt at giving the employees something that's hard to remove?
  • Is this what happens when people who are taught that businesses can get away with anything grow up to run businesses?
  • If someone quits rather than do this … will he become a poster boy for government regulation of worker agreements?
  • If he turns out to be a “fundie” worried about both the Mark of the Beast and gay marriage, will the Left abruptly drop him … followed by the Right using him as a poster boy?
  • If his church opens a soup kitchen for illegal aliens, will the Right then drop his case? Will both herds of independent minds start marching in opposite directions?
  • On the other hand, maybe he'll be a poster boy for his next employer: They can advertise “WE HIRE PEOPLE OF PRINCIPLE!”

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Real Problem with Left-Wing Politics

According to a recent article advising liberals on how to win elections:

It's possible to push for the policies you think are important on climate change without making people feel guilty about their hamburgers.
Translation: Don't tell people not to buy hamburgers; just tell people not to sell them.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Brief Note on the Voight–Kampff Test

One of the Voight–Kampff test questions is:

You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, it's crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't, not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?
The capitalist living inside the heads of leftists will not help the tortoise. A British health-care bureaucrat will prevent anybody else from helping.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I Was Wrong

A few years ago, I said:

It's a government regulation that hasn't been discredited yet. Advocate a government regulation in nearly any other field and you'll have libertarians saying “Look at how the State messed things up” In the case of net neutrality, our best argument is “Look at how the State messed things up everywhere else!” This, of course, can be spun as paranoid rantings. (It doesn't help that some of the people involved also engage in paranoid rantings.)
I was wrong. Net neutrality really was associated with bad effects.

Apparently, net-neutrality used to be the law, back when American broadband was rare. Net neutrality is not a matter of “You need to fill out this form for your Internet connection” or “You need permission from Occupy Wall Street to start an ISP” (despite what some people think). It's a matter of “ding ding ding ding khkhkhkhkh…”

I had overlooked this because the Other Side kept insisting that American slowness in adopting broadband was due to capitalism and—like an idiot—I believed them. (In the real world, the “cool nations” haven't been that strong on net neutrality.)

Meanwhile, in 2002–2015, we didn't have net-neutrality laws and had a rapid expansion of broadband. We also saw Comcast smack down Netflix for bandwidth hogging, but that was a feature, not a bug.

More recently, we also saw Verizon's arrogant treatment of ISPs it doesn't like, but it's doing so as a content provider. Strengthening ISPs might stop that.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

They Really Believe This

According a “toot” from the Mastodon Federation (earlier mentioned here):

Mentally, I'd like you to replace "capital" with "big piles of money" wherever you see it. That's a gross simplification but I think it also makes some things more clear.

An economic system is one that determines a) what goods/services should be produced and b) how to distribute them.

Capitalism supposes that a) and b) ought to be determined by (people with) Big Piles of Money

It's "big piles of money-ism".

The explains the persistent belief in folk economics.

On the other hand, the phrase “big piles of the results of the voluntary decisions by consumers-ism” sounds awkward.

In related news, it looks like the Mastodon Federation might be the platform I speculated about here.

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