Recent comments

  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 6 days ago
    Never Say Die
    Web link Bradley Keyes
    Blammo: "...You can twist your brain up in knots on that one..." I'll start with makin' it to 1,000 (I'm near octogenarian now and counting up fast) -- will I still suffer the perplexity of racking my brain to remember why it was I came into this room??? :-( Sam
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 10 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    I'm glad that America would never submit to such foolishness. No, in America, the law would close that blindingly obvious "seed club" loophole by also criminalizing mere possession of unregistered plant material, rather than just sales to the general public. This seems like more Codex Alimentarius nonsense, and we have already been repeatedly told that it was not just the first step on a slippery slope. Yet here we are, making seed merchants into criminals, by political decree. I'd like to catch the bus to interstellar space, please. Earth is doomed. And also apparently full of dangerous unregistered plant material.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 10 weeks 6 days ago
    Never Say Die
    Web link Bradley Keyes
    You will die, eventually. At some point the energy gradient of the universe will no longer be sufficient to support the computational demands of human consciousness. When the whole sky is dark, and you are floating in an unending expanse of cold iron dust, and you haven't yet worked out how to get yourself to a younger universe, you just might not make it another trillion years. My point was that the only way to achieve extreme longevity is make it so that we don't need to check off a thousand items on our survival checklist every day. It has to be automatic, divorced from conscious intent. It doesn't have to be genetic. We could have tiny programmable machines in our bodies doing all the work instead of natural cellular activity, but at the moment, that solution is more difficult than genetics. But even then, we have no idea what causes of death might crop up in people who live to be 200, or 1000, or 100000 years old. You don't know it can kill you until someone dies from it. It may well be that 1000-year old humans can die unexpectedly because they simply remember too much, and a millennium of memory entangles itself to the point where any common, everyday stimulus biochemically cascades into catatonic episodes of drowning in your own memories. You might have to selectively forget things in order to live normally. And if you have to forget the first 500 years of your life 1000 years from now, isn't that almost like the you that you are now is dying in the future, even though the body goes on? Your past self is killing your future self, so your future self has to murder the past self to survive. You can twist your brain up in knots on that one.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 10 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    It is ethically unacceptable for the software designer to allow the resulting program to select an intentional collision decision rather than pruning it. If a collision is truly unavoidable, the only choice for the automaton to make is no choice. Stay in the current lane of traffic, apply the brakes, and minimize damage to the passengers in its cabin. But if either other car is also machine-piloted, the situation changes. The center car can broadcast an urgent warning and request for assistance. This communication can take place many times faster than human reaction time. The other pilot programs can plot a safe way to provide the center car with an accident-avoidance path, as an alternative to minimizing the damage from an unavoidable collision. From the human perspective, when the giant pipe hits the road in front of the center car, several different cars swerve simultaneously, like schooling fish around a dolphin mouth. Traffic behind the obstacle parts and moves around it, slowing immediately to a speed safer for the new condition of the roadway. But without that new information from other machine pilots, the pilot has no choice but to accept the inevitability of a wreck, and simply minimize the damage to itself without trying to dump it on someone else. In reality, the hypothetical is not going to happen. If you are allowing your AI to make an impossible choice with all bad outcomes, you haven't done your job as a programmer. Part of your piloting software should always be evaluating safe contingency paths. And that means not cutting off your escape options by driving between two human-piloted cars in the first place. I even do this as a human driver. I try to be aware at all times of which direction I can swerve if I need to. Most of the time, it's to the right, onto the hard shoulder. If I don't have multiple possible travel paths, it's time to slow down and try to open my options back up. So no, the robot car of the future will not be programmed to hit you. It will be programmed to treat you like a dangerous maniac that is actively trying to maneuver it into assuming fault for an accident. If you match your speed to it, it will change its own speed to get away from you.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 6 days ago
    Never Say Die
    Web link Bradley Keyes
    Blammo: "...We cannot make ourselves live forever..." What you don't understand, Blammo, is that the world revolves around MY belly-button, not yours. My world. Thus, if I die (note I did not say when I die) I'll take the world with me -- including "forever" (well, time as I know it). The advantage of this outlook is in the knowledge that YOUR world revolves around your belly-button, whether you acknowledge it or not. That helps me to understand that you didn't get out of bed this morning looking for ways to denigrate or find fault with me. Is this a joke? Not. It is, as I see it, the root of libertarian philosophy. Everything else is muck-raking. Sam
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 10 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    One jurisdiction down, 50+ to go. Civil forfeiture, as the federals and most states do it, is one of the most unjust and corrupting procedures condoned by the U.S. justice system. Hopefully the change will not only persist, but also spread to other states.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 10 weeks 6 days ago
    Never Say Die
    Web link Bradley Keyes
    We cannot make ourselves live forever. All we can do is discover additional ways to die and avoid them. The specifics of how to avoid them change subtly when you look at different people. The great thing about encoding those specific methods into DNA is that those methods can then be carried out without conscious thought, and without additional economic activity. It becomes free and automatic. The tremendous advantage can be seen by analogy. Imagine two people. One breathes normally. The other must constantly expend conscious effort to inhale and exhale, and must also remember to breathe faster when doing something strenuous, and more slowly when relaxing. The second person has to remember to use an artificial respirator every time they go to sleep. Their friends and co-workers have to be aware that if they ever fall unconscious, to begin pulmonary rescuscitation immediately and unconditionally until the person regains consciousness or until help arrives to take over. A dearth of oxygen exchange in the lungs is just one way to die. Now multiply that difference in effort by thousands of folded proteins and enzymatic pathways. And now try to remember to do something to avoid dying that you didn't even know you had to do in the first place. It really is a great advantage for your body to take care of all that stuff automatically. Unfortunately, it is not a profitable business to identify and transplant those genes that automatically mitigate some cause of death. Pharmaceutical companies derive more revenues from treatments than permanent cures. Open source biology is the only way the genetic advantages of centenarians will ever filter out to the general human population. What if instead of taking an ever-changing list of pills to survive just one more year, you could get an injection of re-engineered cells that would last for decades? The only path to that future is spending the research money now, as an investor, rather than later, as a drug-dependent customer.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 6 days ago
    Never Say Die
    Web link Bradley Keyes
    Megan Scudellari: "...life expectancy soared in the United States over the last 50 years, thanks to better health care and expanded use of vaccines. Medicine today provides my generation with a carefully curated set of healthy-living guidelines: if I don’t smoke, and if I run two miles a day, eat more vegetables and less meat, get regular health screenings and drink a glass of red wine every night, I’ll have a real shot at dancing at the weddings of my great-grandchildren..." Can't resist playing my normal anarchist "devil's advocate". The late Delmar England phrased it this way, which is much better than I can come up with: Truth + truth = truth. Fallacy + fallacy = fallacy. Truth + fallacy = fallacy. There is no compromise. The author did not -- could not, must not -- appeared duty-bound to avoid saying this: "Stay away from doctors and hospitals" So, like most popular fallacies, Megan contributed her share by attributing "healthy-living guidelines" to "Medicine" (the almighty g-d) -- and implied that "...expanded use of vaccines..." were a part of the puzzle leading to longevity. "Science" (much -- most -- tax-funded) craves that I believe in "genetics" as my magic elixir to staying healthy to 100+. Think about it: "...But what if there was a way to distill the essence of this genetic lottery ticket? What if you could pop a pill that would give you the same protective benefits?..." The enormity of the truth is incredible. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    Thanks for posting this, Bradley. AAPS is to the medical establishment much like STR is to mainstream media. Licensing and "board certification" are merely barriers to entry. They serve neither your interests nor mine -- but they do augment the presumed legitimacy of that mindless abstraction we like to call "state". Butler Shaffer describes this in detail with "In Restraint of Trade..." Sam
  • Mark Davis's picture
    Mark Davis 11 weeks 2 days ago Web link Emmett Harris
    I suppose one could say "Better late than never," but I'd be really pissed at the ones who took my life away when I got out.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 11 weeks 2 days ago Web link Emmett Harris
    How many of you are surprised at this? Angry? If you are, I submit you're allowing a large group of psychopaths organized into that mindless abstraction called "the-state" to have too much emotional control over you. Nothing to be done for this poor chap who has been fried by psychopaths. But you can take measures to protect yourself. For starters, abstain from beans. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 11 weeks 3 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    Not only are your children now our children, your fetus is now our fetus. How long will it be before your semen becomes our semen? Or your sperm....or your penis....or your vagina....well, you get the picture. Sex gets everybody's attention. Collectivists play the sex-tunes with supreme artistry. And the memes abound. Sam
  • Steve's picture
    Steve 11 weeks 6 days ago Page Steve
    Ilya Somin generally agreed with Haidt's findings, but with some caveats that I found reasonable: http://www.volokh.com/2012/10/01/the-libertarian-personality/
  • livemike's picture
    livemike 12 weeks 12 hours ago Web link Westernerd
    What baseball is really about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmXacL0Uny0
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 12 weeks 3 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    We have a similar situation here in South Africa. Partly to protect us against ourselves, and partly through sheer greed, the government has, over the past decade or two, levied ever increasing "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Result? There is now a huge underground market for smuggled cigarettes, and of course, a whole new class of criminals has been created, and this in a country that already suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the world.
  • Thunderbolt's picture
    Thunderbolt 12 weeks 3 days ago
    The National Non-Debt
    Page Paul Hein
    Dr. Hein: Beautiful explanation of the perfect con game. Of course the government will, post collapse, try to steal anything tangible, to pay themselves.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 12 weeks 3 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    No doubt those who push these taxes have Mafia connections so they can profit off the smuggling.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 12 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    No doubt the R's will beat him up for doing this. If in fact he does it.
  • mkghandi's picture
    mkghandi 13 weeks 25 min ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    Normally if a bully approaches you on the street and does everything in his power to intimidate you and pick a fight with you, how do you extricate yourself from that situation? Talk to him? Try and reason with a bully? That's like negotiating with a terrorist. No matter what you do, the outcome will be the same.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 13 weeks 1 hour ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    I have on occasion shown my own (primary school) students how to make gunpowder. I'd probably not last long in an American school, and may well receive a transfer to a school in Guantanamo Bay... :-)
  • mkghandi's picture
    mkghandi 13 weeks 1 day ago Web link A. Magnus
    This is what I call the "Caecescu Moment". It was that moment in December 1989 when then Dictator of Romania gave a speech to a very large crowd outside his palace, and the young kids booed him. That set off a revolution, and by Christmas, he was tried and executed. I remember that look on his face when the crowd booed him for the very first time. He was completely surprised by it. And now, the dictatorial NYPD have had their Caecescu Moment on twitter, and although I can't see anyone's face when it happened, hopefully they got the message about peoples non-existent positive feelings about them.
  • mkghandi's picture
    mkghandi 13 weeks 1 day ago Web link A. Magnus
    David Gregory is an a** kissing suckup to the powers that be, and his audience is able to discern that on their own, so they watch something else when he comes on. I'm encouraged by this failure. I'm hoping for many more in all the news media outlets.
  • mkghandi's picture
    mkghandi 13 weeks 1 day ago Web link A. Magnus
    Clapper is the guy that lied to congress about NSA spying. Next to him, Snowden is an angel. The younger people see this juxtaposition. Nobody would hold Clapper up as a role model.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 13 weeks 1 day ago
    The Rights Stuff
    Page Tim Hartnett
    "Contraband’s scent should have been suppressed as a legal pretext for roadside searches years ago. It is impossible to disprove what anyone claims to have smelled, and the litany of abuses in such circumstances could easily fill volumes." Much worse, being arrested by a dog. And don't forget "Clever Hans": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans The dogs get their cues from their handlers, never mind the scent. It's amazing what sorts of things we permit the minions to do to us, and the justifications we are able to swallow for it. As a Colonel House once wrote, "What was done to those who permitted it is almost beyond belief." "If our society is to maintain any level of decency, all members of it need to fear legal strictures equally. If an illegal search is truly illegal, the searchers must be cuffed, printed, arraigned, tried and imprisoned." Not gonna happen. The rulers are not going to let their enforcers be tied up in legal strictures. The only strictures left are informal, generally illegal ones, applied on the spot by the victims. That, or bend over and grab your ankles. After a while one gets the notion that this meme of "rights", far from stopping state abuse, is actually necessary for its continuance. People without such fantasies in their heads would not be looking for the rulers to set things right for themselves, and would take things into their own hands. Then it would stop, because we far outnumber them. They would run out of thugs.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 13 weeks 4 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    I have some doubts about the reliability of the site from which this article comes - it seems steeped in the culture of paranoid conspiracy theories and stuff like that. But let me take the information on face value. Although I am a school teacher myself, I am somewhat reluctant to comment seeing as I am not formally qualified in education. I am instead qualified in the subjects I teach. I have to say, with that first example, I cannot make head or tails of the method they are using to arrive at the answer. On the whole, I think it is a perfectly good idea for kids to understand positional notation, and be able to break numbers into bits and pieces, but the way they do it here seems to me extremely convoluted and indeed incomprehensible. In my classes, kids are expected to be able to do two digit addition and subtraction in their heads, and with enough practice doing that, you quickly develop an ability to break apart numbers into convenient chunks all by yourself. And the notion that any answer will do, as long as the student can come up with some reason for it, is just daft. I expect my students to know their multiplication and division tables. Some of these are already tricky enough to remember; we really need not confuse them even further. Not being qualified in education, I am reluctant to criticize the presumed experts too much, but it seems to me they are over-complicating things. My older brother taught me to read and write when I was six and he was ten. I.e. teaching kids literacy and numeracy is not rocket science. So why all the grand theories and complicated methods and huge bureaucracy? It doesn't seem to make any sense. The old methods, which are now suddenly so bad, produced generations of fine scientists and engineers. I have to wonder why we need to change everything now. The whole issue may well be a fruitful research subject for an investigative reporter. Here in South Africa, a lot of the government's education policy seems to be quite deliberately designed to keep people dumb, and to create ways in which kids who fail a grade can nevertheless be passed onto the next grade. We have become the world's major producer of illiterate and innumerate (and plain useless and quite unemployable) school leavers. The whole thing seems very weird, but there may be all manner of politics behind it that may be worth investigating.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 13 weeks 5 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    I don't foresee the end of schools any time soon. What we might hope to see is the end of is government schools. Of course I am biased, seeing as I am a teacher at the kind of private school I hope will soon replace government schools. :-) Here in South Africa, the current government inherited a fairly good, if extremely regimented, public school system, and within two decades managed to reduce it to utter ruins. But that is of course very good news for people like me: private schools have been mushrooming all over the place.
  • KenK's picture
    KenK 13 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    So will a pneumatic nail gun. And you only have to hit the trigger once.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 13 weeks 6 days ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    This is training children to be passive citizens, willing to take any abuse. The schools are doing exactly what they were designed for.
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 14 weeks 12 hours ago
    Progressive Puritans
    Web link Westernerd
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 14 weeks 12 hours ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety), by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H.L. Mencken
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 14 weeks 2 days ago Web link Emmett Harris
    Telkom also has a monopoly on telecommunications infrastructure. The result is hugely expensive internet. But of course, seeing as government has such a big finger in the pie, and it is such a lucrative way to extort money from already overburdened tax payers, I'm not holding my breath waiting for the situation to change. South Africa is actually a very useful case study for root strikers the world over: government has managed to run almost everything into the ground here, by heavy taxes, draconian labour law, corruption, crony capitalism and general mismanagement, not to mention outright theft by none other than the president himself. We have an election coming up; the very small, and just launched local libertarian party was effectively prevented from participating by the prohibitive cost of registering as participant. So much for the wonderful new democracy. :-)
  • eugenedw's picture
    eugenedw 14 weeks 2 days ago Web link Emmett Harris
    Some good news from, of all places, Zimbabwe: http://mg.co.za/article/2014-04-11-zim-informal-economy-fast-taking-over The article mentions something the article in the original STR post also does: it's pretty difficult for government to extract taxes from such small businesses. All the more reason then to have them. :-)
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 14 weeks 3 days ago
    The Name Game
    Page Paul Hein
    "Why? What’s the difference?" The difference, as others have noted, is that they can beat you up and get away with it. The reason they get away with it, is that their victims usually submit. But it seems lately, people are backed up against the wall and are starting to question automatic submission. Many have given up on it. The house of cards is about to fall. It should get pretty exciting...
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 14 weeks 3 days ago Web link Sharon Secor
    This horror of majority rule is a hangover from the aristocrat Montesquieu. I'm not a fan of it myself, being an anarchist; but I don't imagine "representative government" is any better for liberty than majority rule is. Indeed, in my current state Oregon, between what we get via Initiative and what we get from the legislature, I'll take the former every time, as it consistently leans more toward liberty than the legislature does. What's more, there is a lot less of it; the legislature considers something like 3000 bills every session. Oh, and it is not the job of a free people to ride herd on corrupt "respresentatives".
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 14 weeks 3 days ago
    Defending the State?
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    Paul: "...One manipulates people by manipulating the language they use to think..." A major reason I avoid the use of the term "right" or "rights" in these kinds of essays and conversations. Definition games, indeed. Like "...defining 'state'..." I am a sovereign state. Want me to define "state"? What part of "state" do you not understand? Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 14 weeks 3 days ago
    The Name Game
    Page Paul Hein
    Last sentence, first paragraph: Perhaps, if you’re sufficiently annoyed, you could send a copy to the authorities, asking that they put a halt to such a scam. I submit, Paul, that your essay would have been worthy of a "10" instead of an "8" by simply enclosing "the authorities" in quotation marks. There is only so much I can do about various levels of gangsters grouped into officious-sounding "revenue departments" in every area of the known world. In fact, the link I embedded in the last sentence equally outlines the problem: the writer(s) not only misspelled "Unempathic" in the title (excusable, even as a retired English teacher I often misspell third grade words without "spell-check") -- but also, and far worse, they used the term "...Our Rulers..." also in the title (not excusable). Which makes my point. But they have somehow gotten themselves elected to positions of “public service,” and Lo!! They have thereby acquired the power to control your person and property. It is an amazing, and sadly unappreciated, phenomenon. “Public servants,” it seems, are those privileged people who are to be served by the public. As I said, there is only so much I can do about this. I can abstain from beans, and gently encourage you and all my family, neighbors and friends to also abstain. And I can gingerly sidestep serving the "public servants", except when to do so is impossible or impractical. I have been an "illegal tax protestor" since 1978, but don't necessarily recommend you follow that path. There is a price to be paid flailing at the status-quo, and one needs to be prepared for that expenditure. But if s/he steadfastly stands his ground (and maintains a very low profile) they eventually give up to seek more vulnerable meat to chew. Their resources are limited -- and becoming more so as their economy collapses. I maintain you can be free. Right here, right now. I am a sovereign state. That does not mean that I am bulletproof. It simply means I am sui juris -- fully responsible for managing my own affairs. In the way I walk, in the way I talk, in the way I think. My President maintains the rotation of the earth on its axis. "Our rulers" are not "my rulers". I refrain from involvement in "movements" -- I see that as a fool's game (thanks, Per). I try to share my liberty and my freedom with family and friends -- when they ask. The example I set is far more effective than any group undertaking. Groups end up with leaders who themselves often become tyrannical, full of ego and vanity. I can be free in an unfree world. Sam
  • Thunderbolt's picture
    Thunderbolt 14 weeks 4 days ago
    The Name Game
    Page Paul Hein
    The power of words, Dr. Hein! The barrel of that gun is showing beneath all the perfumed verbiage of the IRS. You must sign the "voluntary" form that says you understand and agree with over 72,000 pages of tax law, at gunpoint, of course. Your signature or your brains on the contract, saith Don Corleone. Same thing. Bitcoins are soon to be used in the marketplace with Bitwasp. Think of the Invisible Man.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 14 weeks 6 days ago
    Defending the State?
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    This may have been part of the original intent, or not, depending upon your interpretation of history.  Regardless, bureaucrats long ago discovered that they could more effectively preserve and consolidate their power by pitching the "public safety" jargon as the weaponry became bigger and more powerful over time...and hence, more capable of competing with and deposing them.  Of course, as with all else Orwellian, up is down, in is out, and black is white.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 14 weeks 6 days ago
    Defending the State?
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    So very true -- as witness words like anarchy (chaos), capitalism (mercantilism), liberal (leftist), libertarian (constitutionalist conservative)...and other similar distortions.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 15 weeks 2 min ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    The saving grace in all of this is that some tiny percentage of the kids that see this already have enough of an innate lie detector that they can sense that official policies like the one that produced the "tripod panic" is not really protecting anyone's safety. But they still don't know what it *is* actually for. All they see is the adults surrounding them, the people controlling every minute of their young lives, completely losing their minds. For the kids who are not yet skeptical enough to doubt the adults, this is compliance training for future submission to authority. Once the populace is trained to instantly obey in any crisis, all that remains to exercise tyranny is to produce a permanent crisis, or a continual series of them. Realize that you are responsible for your own security, always. Come up with your own disaster plan. It may seem cliche, but imagine what you would do if a zombie horde came to town. It stands in for a variety of natural and man-made disasters, from tornado damage to disease outbreak to martial law, anything where you must not only survive, but do so in the face of a persistent and implacable environmental threat to your safety. And be aware that the stress might make people "turn zombie" on you. And in a world where calling the cops just might get *you* shot and killed, just for being a crime victim (LAPD recently shot two stabbing victims when they arrived at the crime scene) you should know that people arriving late to the party might not actually be there for your benefit.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 15 weeks 43 min ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    By government calculus, this story, combined with Blackstone's formulation, proves that 10 guilty persons must have been prevented from escaping each of the 25 years Fleming was unjustly imprisoned. That's 250 hardened criminals off the streets! How can you argue with that? And I eagerly await the news that the former prosecutor who intentionally suppressed exculpatory evidence will be required to compensate Fleming using his own personal time and accounts. Which we should be hearing about.... nnnnow. No? Should be soon. Like now. Huh. I was almost positive that the state would be practically falling over itself to right the wrongs of its employees and designated representatives in the course of their assigned duties. ~sarcasm~ The state steals little bits of our lives every day. Five minutes here. An hour there. Another 40 minutes filling out forms. Two hours on hold correcting transcription errors from entering said forms into a computer. Time that you spent working that was taken as taxes. The truth is that government probably steals 25 years or more away from *everyone's* lives. They just do it a little at a time rather than all at once. Are you as mad about that as you are about this blatant, callous injustice in the article? Did you realize that even after this, the state will continue to take things from this man against his will, with even less in the way of apology or admission of wrong?
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 15 weeks 1 hour ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    I'm sure a lot of people are asking, "Why can the government 'misplace' more money than I will ever see in my entire lifetime, and just shrug it off, when I risk having my power cut off if I come up even $100 short this month?" People will always be more prudent with their own money than they are with someone else's, and they will be more careful with a known someone else's than with a pile of loose cash notionally owned by 300 million anonymous people. The really sad thing is that a lot of people are also telling themselves, "Wow. If only some of that had disappeared into *my* pockets..." And those are the people who will cause the next $12billion to "disappear", with no responsibility, accountability, or consequences.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 15 weeks 1 hour ago Web link Bradley Keyes
    The article describes just one way in which business profits warp the course of scientific inquiry. 170 million (metric) tons of sugar are produced annually, worldwide. You probably eat 33 kg of that total yourself every year. The industry rakes in about $75billion per year. The world spends about 2% of what it makes from its routine business on science and research. The US spends a little less than 3%. That's for all science, across every discipline. From this, we might assume that research specific to promoting and improving sugar and the sugar industry could easily be funded by about $1billion to $2billion per year (wsro.org). Obviously, the sugar industry prefers to fund science that ultimately makes it more profitable, and has a vested interest in suppressing results unfavorable to that end. If sugar is found, in a scientifically verifiable way, to be unhealthy, then who profits? Well, you do, I suppose, since you will know that you should cut your consumption of it. But are you spending 3% of everything you earn on science? You might think that you are when you surrender taxes, but in the most shocking of revelations, much of the $150billion spent on publicly funded science goes to the military (50%). Sugar research might, between health care, general science, and agriculture, manage a fraction of 25% of the public science budget, or a maximum of $38billion. To match the potential of industry-funded science, sugar alone would need to get 2.5% of all remotely-relevant tax-fed research budgets, and more than 85% of that research would need to directly impact public health concerns. And that ignores the fact that the state also wants the science that it funds to make its businesses more profitable, and therefore more exploitable for its own ends. Scientists need to eat and pay rents, too. And being intelligent creatures, they tend to shy away from jobs that would guarantee their future poverty, and possibly risk having their careers destroyed by persistent, coordinated, and well-funded smear campaigns by businesses threatened by any potentially unprofitable truths that may be revealed. So when money and politics get involved, no one even bothers to investigate whether or not excessive fructose consumption is the greatest single factor for deaths from lifestyle-linked diseases. Anyone who would can expect to see colleagues--scientists who set a lower price on their own ethics--contradicting any inconvenient results from the driver's seats of their new luxury cars.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 15 weeks 1 day ago Web link A. Magnus
    So the government that pretends to represent my interests could be replaced by one that no longer pretends. It could also be replaced by one that actually does represent my interests. And, in the longest of all long shots, it could be replaced by nothing at all, like an out-of-control homeowners' association that paid just a bit too much attention to other people's grass. Or even their "grass". Anything could happen, so in my estimation, it is very likely that nothing will.
  • Log from Blammo's picture
    Log from Blammo 15 weeks 1 day ago
    Defending the State?
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    The right to bear arms is a natural derivative of the right to own tools. (I define a tool as any item that magnifies one's capability to perform a specific task.) A weapon magnifies your ability to defend yourself in the same manner that a hammer and nails magnifies your ability to semi-permanently join bits of wood. While the right to bear arms is explicitly enumerated by several states and nations, because the task of defense is particularly important and somewhat difficult, in essence, the weapon is just a tool. It doesn't matter one little bit to what purpose it is intended to be used. People have as much right to own a gun for the purpose of robbing and killing people as they do to own it for the purpose of rescuing innocent children and cute puppies and kittens from harm. The *thing* is not the focus of the statement of rights, but the *person* or the *people*. You have the right to defend your life, liberty, and property--and anyone else's as well. Therefore, you have the right to possess and use any item that helps you to do so. You have the right to own a gun. You have the right to build fences and walls. You have the right to record and retransmit any activity occurring on your land. You have the right to make the notional castle of your home into a castle in fact. And you have the right to own any future technology that is useful for your own protection. Why linger upon wording that includes "state" when these declarations should be saying that people have the "right to defend lives, liberty, and property, by any means at their disposal," and include for the sake of clarity "including but not limited to routine ownership and possession of weaponry and armor." That would be as good as saying that anything the state allows its soldiers to do, it must also allow the public to do. Soldiers have scary-looking rifles? You have to let the people have them. Soldiers have grenades? People get them too. Soldiers drive tanks? The state has to be ok with giant privately owned SUVs on the roads, covered with armor plates, pusher bars, improved tires, and bullet-resistant windows. The very fact that they make reference to the state is a door that swings both ways. Not only are you allowed to defend yourself, but you are also allowed to do so with militarily relevant hardware. "But your honor, the state constitution recognizes my right to bear arms in defense of the state, and considering the magnitude of potential threats to this state, I feel that I am unable to do so effectively without this supersonic fighter jet at my disposal. If I am forced to transfer its ownership to the National Guard, I will no longer be able to exercise my right as effectively." Strike the root.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 15 weeks 2 days ago Web link A. Magnus
    The title of the article implies the government was mine to begin with.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 15 weeks 2 days ago
    Defending the State?
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    Well, “The people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state,” somehow sounds better than, “The people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the rulers.” Which is in turn better sounding than, “The people have a right to bear arms for the defense of the rulers,” which is all they care about. Where would government be without euphemism? Also, the rulers want the people to identify with the state, rather than opposing it, so government pronouncements are full of language that boils down to wrapping themselves in the flag. One manipulates people by manipulating the language they use to think.
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 15 weeks 3 days ago Page Jim Davies
    An ingenious theory, Mike, but since the answer to your question is presented in detail in the article under which you are commenting, I'll not waste time repeating myself - even though I have more of it available now, readers of this exchange may not.   Thank you for your repeated wishes of good luck.
  • mhstahl's picture
    mhstahl 15 weeks 3 days ago Page Jim Davies
    Oh my goodness, Jim!   First of all, I've followed your spat with Paul Bonneau since the beginning-and it is just that, a spat. You and he, and you and I for that matter(though for somewhat different reasons), have a fundamental difference of opinion on philosophy. Sadly, rather than debate the merits of opposing views, you have both engaged in petty name calling. Since you are apparently proud of what ought to be an embarrassment, I'll point out that you started the ad hominem attacks and ceaseless innuendo.   The idea that Paul is a government agent-and now also a communist-is patently absurd...frankly I laughed when I first read it two years ago. I wish Paul would have laughed as well. No doubt there are government agents viewing, or even commenting, here, but I very much doubt that they take the time to become as familiar with the various aspects of philosophy that Paul clearly has. And, bluntly, even if he writes from Fort Meade it does nothing to challenge the views he expresses. Views that you have yet to address. Denigration of a challenger does not prove your position. It weakens it, since it shows you have no intellectual response to the challenge.   That said, I have rarely seen much in the way of moderation on this site-which is something I approve of, frankly, which is why I don't expect any here. In the past several years I can think of only one or two people who have been banned from the site, and in those cases it was due to true trolling. Neither you or Paul are trolls, you have both contributed to the site multiple times.   There have been, to my knowledge, no actual physical threats that would require action, and in all honesty the name calling has been rather mild in my opinion. I have most certainly been called worse many times...sometimes in person. Controversy is good for a website, it draws viewers. If it was my website, I certainly would not get involved in such pettiness, if for no other reason than I'd have no idea where to stop in my censorship. In any event, Rob's decision seems rather apparent, so why the theatrics? If you are unsatisfied, just go!   Clearly you now view this site as a nest of communism, with its owner actively promoting communism. If so, why even try to stick around? Why would you make such silly accusations? It is beneath you. Since you now have more time, I hope you'll consider the following, and respond rationally:   Mudslinging aside, I think your real problem is that you are caught in a catch-22. You are a militant atheist( by that I mean that you are strident in your atheism...it's not a cut), yet your belief system requires that there be an overarching, universal morality that simply must-in order to be universal-contain an element that is greater than the simple product of human minds. "Rights" to you cannot simply be concepts developed by humans in order to organize a society. They cannot simply be, what they are according to history, products of Judeo-Christian Western Civilization; concepts that were developed by theologians in keeping with religious dogma and designed to secure authority for the same. They cannot be arbitrary and open to debate, they must have been "discovered" and as such "universal."   That view is in direct contradiction to your atheism. That is why you can never address challenges to your viewpoint with anything other than logical fallacies-such as appeals to authority-and ad hominem. You don't have any other answer! You can't have. The inconsistency is at the core of your philosophy, it is why you believe everyone must come to agree, through "re-education", with what is your secular religion.   I've challenged you on this point many times over the years, well before Paul started writing about "rights" I believe, and have never gotten a satisfactory defense of your position. I honestly cannot think of one that allows both atheism and universal morality. As close as I've been able to come is a utilitarian argument that it would be better if everyone believed the same. That argument fails, however, since morality transcends utilitarian arguments; you claim to know a universal "right and wrong," not a universal "better." "Better" is of course, always a matter of debate, it is not the absolute that you claim. Which means that such a utilitarian argument itself undermines your viewpoint.   Do you have an answer for this? Anything other than because Aristotle said so, or that I'm a communist?   I have nothing against you, Jim. I think you are totally sincere, and I think that your writing has merit, but I also think your philosophy has a glaring inconsistency. That is not a bad thing, it presents the opportunity for intellectual growth. It is why philosophers debate. You can either address the inconsistency and better understand your own philosophy in the process, you can modify your views to to make them consistent, or you can ignore the challenge and continue to lash out at challengers as though they were attackers. I hope you take the high road. Even if you don't, I hope you, at least privately, take the time to evaluate your position and come to terms with the inconsistency.   In any event, Good Luck!   Mike    
  • Jim Davies's picture
    Jim Davies 15 weeks 3 days ago Page Jim Davies
    Mike, I've found already that one of the benefits of not having to wonder where the next STRticle is going to come from is that I can give more time and attention to your comments. I still haven't got far into this one, but your very first sentence has yielded valuable information.   First, you refer to Paul v Jim as a "squabble." That word usually refers to a minor spat, a clash of personality, a storm in a teacup, yes?  Then Mike, it also reveals that you have very little idea about what's going on. Had you written something like "a fundamental disagreement about the nature of humanity, government and freedom" your keyboarding fingers would have been more weary but you'd have been a heap closer to the facts.   Second (well, first actually), you express surprise that I would "expect" Rob, our Editor, to "jump in to the middle" of this conflict. It's your surprise that surprises me.   See, Rob owns STR. It's his site, his property. So why would he not wish to jump in and resolve a conflict between two of his most prolific writers? To take care of one's property is rather basic, and certainly normal behavior. It's mud season here in New Hampshire, and shortly I shall scrub the car and give her a waxing. Perhaps you'll do the same. We take care of things we own, that's normal. If it were a rental car, I'd probably not bother. So the question is, why would anyone not expect Rob to take care of his property in this way? - the ABnormal response would be for him to ignore it.   Here is what I suspect. I suspect you have already succumbed to the poison Paul Bonneau wrote on March 26th, when he denied that he (or anyone else) has rights. An important member of the infinite set of rights that Paul said nobody has, is the right to property. Thus, I suspect that already in your mind, Rob doesn't actually hold any property rights in STR - because nobody has rights. And that, I'm guessing, is why you phrased your question the way you did.   Property requires owners; air and ocean have no owners because they aren't property, and vice versa. (Hence pollution, incidentally.) Marx tried to solve that logical problem by proposing that all property is properly owned in common, and so embraced Communism. Same word-root, same meaning. Thus, by asserting that we have no rights, which must include property rights, Paul is literally declaring himself a Communist.   So Rob, by continuing to allow him to be published on Strike the Root, is promoting Communism. The irony here is quite rich. He owns the site, yet is using it (inadvertently, no doubt) to advance the view that nobody owns any sites or any other property. Statists everywhere must be chortling with glee. Possibly you begin to see why I said, back in 2012, that Paul is an agent of government, here to spread disinformation. I cannot prove that he is being paid for his work; but if he is not, government is getting one helluva valuable freebie.   Rob's choice has two components. First, I think he was wondering "can I keep both Paul and Jim?" - that's what he set out to do in February 2013. I have answered that bit for him: I've quit, so the answer is no, he cannot. That's off the table. So to the second: "Which of them do I prefer?" - for right now he has Paul the Communist but not me, yet he can reverse that if he wishes, by firing Paul and asking me nicely. Whether he will do so, I have no idea. STR is not my property. It's his.