Gay Marriage Scorecard on the Supreme Court
Let's see… We have four pro-gay-marriage justices, three anti-gay-marriage justices, one justice opposed to expanding federal power in both the Proposition 8 ruling and the DOMA ruling, and one justice in favor of expanding federal power in both rulings.
Do I have that straight? (Pun unintended, oddly enough, until after I wrote that.)
A Brief Note on Conspiracy Theories
It's very hard to keep secrets for very long. Someone (Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, etc.) is bound to talk before long. What does that imply about the theories that THEY are covering up the evidence of the dangers of vaccines, GMOs, depleted uranium, etc.? Why is there no sudden discharge of incriminating emails?
Free Will and Fat
Let's see … The rising obesity rate means we can't attribute obesity to human choices made by free will. I suspect a constant obesity rate would mean the same thing.
Something else to ponder: On the one hand, we see a rising obesity rate. On the other hand, we see a falling heart disease rate. Could the two be connected?
If Plants Can Use Math…
If plants can use math, I intend to ask a rhododendron if P==NP.
On the other hand, the research was done on a plant in the mustard family. It's only a matter of time before horseradish proves the Riemann Hypothesis.
The Next Statist Reaction to the SNAP Challenge
I'm sure my fellow wingnuts have heard of the SNAP Challenge and the rebuttal to the SNAP Challenge.
We must remember that the statist reaction to an assertion that “We don't need this government program when people can do X instead” is almost always to force people to do X. The reaction to “We don't need gasoline price controls because we can drive less instead or use smaller cars” is to force people to drive less or use smaller cars. The reaction to “We don't need expanded Medicaid because much health care spending is wasted” is force people to not waste supposedly scarce health-care resources.
What the above means is that their reaction to our reaction to the SNAP Challenge will be to force people to spend less on food. Downscale fast food that might tempt the poor will be banned. It will be forbidden to buy prepared food unless you can prove your financial ability to pay for it (and grad students can say goodbye to ramen noodles). Individual-size portions are right out.
Freedom in Space
If frontier societies are not always free we cannot assume that Belters or Spacers (or similar future societies in Deep Space) will be free. I suspect that rugged territory that isn't amenable to military action might be the best place to establish a free society. What would be the equivalent of rugged territory in Deep Space?
My guess is that dwarf planets might be the best place. A settlement on or in a very small asteroid might be vulnerable to a laser or bombing attack. A settlement on or in a dwarf planet can burrow inside. On the other hand, a settlement on a large planet (e.g., Earth) cannot cannot burrow that deeply against the pressure gradient. Is there a sweet spot?
On the other hand, maybe a three-dimensional society will suffice.
r Selection, K Selection, and Politics
Koanic Soul's take on r selection, K selection, and politics differs from my take. I think the r vs. K difference has no relation to politics as a whole. In 2008, the Republicans nominated a ticket at the r end whereas in 2012, they nominated a ticket at the K end.
On the other hand, I have earlier mentioned that in most civilizations freer areas were regarded as barbaric. You can think of that as synonymous with r selection. Western civilization was unique in having an area (Middle Francia, currently known as the Blue Banana) that was both K selected and partly free.
My personal preference is for K-selected societies (they have better educational standards for one thing) but K selection can be taken too far. K-selected societies fall for Malthusian propaganda too easily.
If Frogs or Bedbugs Wrote Potboilers…
This Argument Might Prove the Opposite of What Was Intended
I'm sure many of my fellow anti-authoritarian crackpots have come across this speculation on what might have happened if King George III's government could have used traffic analysis. There is a minor problem with it: Back then, governments could really have used traffic analysis.
In the Good Old Days, communications were done using these strange devices called letters and post offices. Post offices, in turn, were usually run by the government. (Anybody who tried bypassing the postal monopoly would be in a pile of trouble.) That monopoly meant that, although the government wasn't permitted to open the letters (and if you believe that…), it could definitely find out who was communicating with whom.
In short, the current controversy is not about some new tyranny but about reviving an old one. That doesn't make it good (especially when you consider the lengths the government went to to try to keep it secret), but we should keep matters in perspective.
Meanwhile, it might make more sense to emphasize that the statist arguments can be used by anti-statists as well. For example, “If you try keeping secrets you must have something to hide…” can apply to the government as well.
A Not-So-New Statistical Technique
A Few Notes on the NSA Controversy
Liberals got what they said they always wanted
For years, liberals have been asking for a government that listens to the people.
They finally got one.
Anything Edward Snowden did …
… could already have been by people less inclined to go public. In other words, our enemies have almost certainly have known about this program for years. Isn't it time for the rest of us to find out?
On the other hand …
… I think the NSA surveillance doesn't go far enough. Instead of just the NSA/FBI/CIA/whoever knowing “whatever you got down there,” everybody should be able to know it. The NSA could not catch the the Tsarnaev brothers because they only have a few hundred or thousand analysts. A few hundred million analysts may be sufficient.
I've said this before.
Does the NHS Spy on Local Police?
The New York State Senate (a gang of authoritarians I last criticized here) has passed a bill to make it a felony to harass or annoy a police officer (seen via Boing Boing (when they're anti-authoritarian I'll include the vowels)). I suspect that might include recording police without permission. This brings up the obvious question: Does the NHS record police brutality? (That doesn't appear to be part of the latest scandal but they might be doing it as part of another program.) Could a crackdown on NHS spying be used by local police departments the way anti-wiretapping laws were?
Artificial Intelligence and “Three Felonies a Day”
I suppose there will soon be an app to warn you if you're about to commit one of the “three felonies a day.” What will be the effects of such an app? Will there be an increased demand for deregulation once more people realize how intrusive the government can be? Will there be less demand for such regulations on the part of politicians once they cannot be used to prosecute anybody they want?
A Brief Note on the Protests in Turkey
I was inclined to be on the protestor's side … until I heard they were environmentalists and preservationists.
If You're Being Chased by Bloomberg …
According to Sultan Knish:
Reports that Bloomberg can be kept away by wearing cloves of garlic are untrue. Bloomberg can stand exposure to garlic and sunlight. However anything with a lot of calories will send him fleeing into the night. If you walk down the street wearing a string of ketchup packets around your neck, no Bloomberg can harm you. If you light up a cigarette while doing it and swig from an open bottle of liquor, you can hear his thin keening cries of pain drifting up or down all the way from 77th Street.
In other words, the Bloomberg can be killed by a steak through his heart.
“Two People Are Spying on You”
If you ever saw an ad that said “2 people are spying on you,” you might be interested to know that the string “2 people are spying on you” got 4320 Google hits but the string “3 people are spying on you” got three (soon to be four) Google hits.
Isn't it amazing how our computers can repel the third spy?
A Brief Note on Libertarian Alliances
Nearly any political movement aimed at removing a given type of government overreach will be an alliance of two wings: 1) anti-government people; 2) people who want to government to lean in the opposite direction. It is a grave mistake for the first group to forget that. For one thing, it enables people defending the government overreach to point out the existence of the second group and think they've made a point about the first.