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Ether Mind

2010 - Welcome to the Future!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

My prediction for November 4

The votes are in! Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States!...

(Removes the mask, revealing Ashton Kutcher)

you got punk'd!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Introducing the Armed Revolt Clock

No, not really.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

92-year-old woman more relevant than Fed

Here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I voted in February.

Ron Paul, the only candidate who could tell Supply from Demand.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Right Wing Critique of the Week

Awesome:

Joss Whedon's super-villain musical extravaganza, produced for the internet outside of the Hollywood machine and thus devoid of focus-grouped cliches and systematic leftist propaganda.

I used a colon as a verb.

Firefly was okay.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life of Brian

I also watched Life of Brian today and wondered how many people watched the "Think for yourselves!" scene without realizing it was about them.

I never thought I'd say this, but I need a job.

Glib Idealising that is, in fact, empirically and theoretically sound, not that anyone will notice.

My conclusion is that Krugman, like most people and most scientists, uses baseless assumptions to generate a flawed model using slipshod methods, and then projects his own biases onto the model to arrive at an obviously wrong conclusion.

But I'll give him credit for this:

"gut feelings are not a sound basis for policy." - Krugman, The Role of Geography in Development

I suppose I should make at least one counterpoint to what he suggests- and bear in mind that that's not a research paper.

There are no "winners" and "losers" in the geographical distribution of industry unless one subjectively labels industrial concentration as the winner. The individuals in the "backward" agricultural region would have equally high benefits (buying power + clean air etc.) as those in the industrial agglomeration, if there were a relatively easy way to move between the two. AKA a rational market.

There's not. Sheeple tend to stay where they are, which is why they're called sheeple and there are no rational markets.

1) I disagree that they are disadvantaged, though "losers" may be an appropriate term for someone who stays at an economic disadvantage for irrational reasons. That was redundant, but I don't want anyone complaining because they don't understand what I'm saying.

2) The correct solution is to lower mobility barriers for the people involved, not to try to decentralize industry.

2.5) Technological progress is about making the markets more efficient and removing said barriers.

2.6) The logical conclusion is to fire all the economists and socialists and bureaucrats.

Dune Messiah

"We can't stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them "pirates." And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as "criminals." They begin to get used to the idea.

That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law." - Lawrence Lessig

Maybe I support IP laws after all....

I'm not voting

but it astounds me how people can support Obama's ......... economic proposals. I just don't have an adjective concise enough for you.

On the other hand, if I ever run for president, I know how to get Andrew Sullivan's vote.

ManiaC on Krugman

He won the nobel prize, apparently, so I was reading his column. First time ever, actually. I'm also reading one of his papers.

Well, he's obviously a partisan hack and if I could beat him with my crowbar, ending his indirect attempts to control the lives of others, I would.

That said, he's not a bad economist. I disagree with a lot of unapplied science, and his work especially. What's the use of modeling a mercantilist/socialist/whatever economic system that we know is inherently flawed? Shouldn't we be directing our effort to instituting a better one? I don't oppose scientific investigation, even if it seems utterly pointless, although I do oppose its public funding.

In some respects, though, his utterly amoral and consequentialist approach is the conservative and lean one.

As I suspected, they have no clue.

For a while, I thought the Keynesians running the fasci corporatis banks printing presses might be able to stabilize their ridiculous system. Sure, it would be at the cost of the stolen livelihoods of millions of working poor and oil tycoons and children's birthday presents, and it would be longterm epic fail lol, but at least it would accomplish its avowed purpose of restabilizing the monetary sytem at its current level of suck.

Then Bernanke released this pathetic attempt to calm the rioting capitalists and populists.

"As in all past crises, at the root of the problem is a loss of confidence by investors and the public in the strength of key financial institutions and markets."

No, not quite. The root of the problem is an artificially created, unsustainable increase in demand, coupled with local land use restrictions that created a housing price bubble. It was inevitable, inevitable, that it would collapse back to previous levels. Increased leverage requires increased stability in order to accomodate its lower margin of error.

The government then proceeded to pile a minimum wage hike on top of inflationary government spending and a spike in oil prices. The result was a devaluation of the dollar, which increased interest rates, which caused a ballooning in monthly payments for the poor people with ARMs, which caused an increase in default rates, which reversed the profit margins on trillions of dollars' worth of derivative contracts, which necessitated the owners of those contracts to increase their capital cushion to assuage creditors, which sucked all the credit out of the market and caused a series of bank collapses which will surely continue.

First, they tried to treat the most blatantly obvious symptom by propping up the banks. For a year, that was their strategy.

Now, they're trying to treat the immediate cause of that symptom by reinjecting credit.

Now Bernanke has the gall to say,

"History teaches us that government engagement in times of severe financial crisis often arrives very late, usually at a point at which most financial institutions are insolvent or nearly so. In these conditions, the consequences and costs of inertia and inaction can be staggering. Fortunately, that is not the situation we face today."

More rants to follow, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It must be depressing

to be a partisan commentator.

Sure, I hope McCain wins, but that's not enough to make me go vote. It's easy for me to sit this one out and laugh bitterly as the mobs tear down our little bastion of freedom. I know that in my lifetime, things will never get better than they are right now.

But Kristol has to actively cheer for McCain and try to ignore the fact that two ignorami are running for office. It must be painful.

On a side note, we have two pinkos running for office. Why is Obama winning on the economic issue? Do people think his destruction of human liberty will be more efficient than McCain's hastily adopted fascism?

Thinly veiled fantasies of violence aside,

I know someone involved in this site:

http://blog.riseofreason.com/

Let's see if it can hold our interest.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thought Experiment 1

I'm sure this exercise will get me put back on the terrorist watch list, but such is the price that philosophers like Socrates and Ayers must always pay. The tree of liberty etc.

Anyway, anyone who adheres to a reductio ad absurdum Natural Rights philosophy must certainly believe that it's ethically justified to take the law into one's own hands, killing gang members, terrorists, child molesters and politicians. The first catch is that to be ethically justified, a significant amount of time and effort must be spent ensuring that the vigilante is indeed dispensing Justice.

The second catch is that such action, when done for political purposes, is usually counterproductive. Terrorist groups rarely achieve their stated political goals, and neither John Brown nor John Wilkes Booth, those great heroes of the Republic, stopped the birth of the American Empire.

Here's the thought experiment: What would be the practical results of engaging in an assassination campaign against politicians of whatever political stripe you happen to disagree with? It surely depends on the target group; some might be quashed, while others would build a new movement based on their martyrdom.

For our test case, we'll engage in domestic terrorism against "socialism." Hard to define precisely, and in fact, the absence of all socialism is anarchy. We'll target leading congressional Democrats as well as the extremists like Bernie Sanders. Poor guy. How can you do that to his hypothetical family just because he has the courage of his convictions and openly admits what so many other politicians hide? You sick bastards.

Anyway, let's say 5 to 10 national left-leaning politicians were murdered, and those responsible issue a well-written yet oddly rambling manifesto, much like the Unabomber's. What would be the impact?

First of all, it would not educate people about economics, and would only have a direct political effect in that the function of the congressional Democrats would be impaired for a little while.

The public reaction would be some sort of incoherent backlash. The media would spin it as hate groups or right-wing militants (accurately for once). Laws would be passed against the methods employed, banning Uzis or nitrogen or somesuch.

What would be the reaction of Leftist partisans? (Partisans in the literal sense.)

They're always erratic, but one can assume there would be protests full of smelly hippies and lots of foaming rage. Also shock- as often as they decry fascist right-wing tactics, very few surviving leftists have ever actually experienced them.

With luck, they would counterattack, unimaginatively, by attempting to retaliate against congressional Republicans. The net result would be lots of dead politicians, which would be sad. There would be little girls crying on national TV, which would upset all the child molesters who were spared by the wave of vigilantism.

More likely, they would attack local politicians and political activists, because that's easier. (We all know they're lazy, or they wouldn't be socialists.) After brief rioting in Detroit and Los Angeles, everyone involved would be dead or in jail.

Would a pile of dead national politicians have any benefits? It could slow the political process for a while and add a few years to the life of the USA. It could also prompt the formation of a police state, as politicians finally work together for the goal of self-preservation. Secession of any of the several States seems unlikely. The unwashed masses would be apalled, but apparently domestic terrorism is OK now, so it may not have any electoral effect.

Conclusion? Unknown. Thus this type of violence is not acceptable at this time.

Angry Rant at Lost Googlers who Comprise the Bulk of the Site's Traffic

"Sen. Obama is a classic liberal with an outdated economic agenda. We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us." - John Weaver

Via Andrew Sullivan, who has sadly descended into madness again. But to the point:

This quote enlightened me. Often, what is important is not what is said, but what is assumed; up until now, I didn't really grasp the importance of the whole patriotism vs. don't-question-my-patriotism dynamic. Sure, I think Obama is an America-hating commie who will try to take away the guns and religion I cling to bitterly.

What I forgot was that most Americans think of themselves as "real Americans."

Most Americans support stealing from others to benefit themselves. Most Americans are in favor of invading other countries, as long as we only experience triumph. Most Americans prefer to control others arbitrarily rather than have freedom for themselves. Most Americans don't know what the Constitution is, much less what it says.

(The supreme law of the land.)

In short, I had no problem with people calling the Dems a bunch of cowardly socialist scum, because I think most of you are cowardly socialist scum.

Have a nice day.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Updated Constitution

I was reading the US Constitution last week and noticed that it needed a few updates. Although the whole idea of a nation-state is quaint, imho, if the USA collapses in the next few decades people will probably want a new one similar to the old. I assume that right-wing gun nuts will be the principle organizers, so on that basis, I made a few minor changes to the constitution.

*No more women's sufferage. : (

*Half the number of amendments. Many were incorporated into Article 2, Section 1.

*Individual right to bear arms

*No direct election of senators

*Immigration tax based on gold, not dollars.

*Specific dates and deadlines removed since they are no longer needed. Also Article 7 has been replaced with the former 10th amendment.

*Slavery still illegal, all other references removed

*No income tax

*Runoff voting for presidential elections; electoral college still in effect

*Congress may coin money, but not "regulate the Value thereof."

*Congress can no longer regulate interstate commerce.

*Cruel and unusual punishments may be established by the legislature.

It begins thusly:

We the People of the [insert nation here], in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the [insert nation here].

Revised Constitution

Meta-Critique of the Week

http://arstechnica.com/reviews/other/future-of-reputation.ars/1

There's the link. It's the review of a book about privacy, which is indeed a complex legal, social, and ethical topic-

-if you believe in a right to privacy. If you don't, the problem is solved and no legislation or effort need be expended preserving it.

The author and reviewer touch on the key to the counter-argument to the consequentialist argument for privacy: Privacy presupposes a right to carry out the action that is private. If we were assured that no one would try to infringe our free speech, then we could organize in public. In reality, thanks to McCain, it is now illegal for me to organize on behalf of McCain. Not that I'd want to, but now I must pretend that I have readers and that I'm anonymous to avoid the Election Police.

That example was... facetious, but if you're reading this you should be able to come up with your own examples. Really, do you need to be spoon fed?

There are also psychological needs for privacy that arise from our survival instincts, but instinct can be overcome if the basis for it is shown to be fallacious. At any rate, erecting a vast legal edifice in support of "privacy" causes more harm than completely ignoring the free flow of information.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Banking 1 - Utopia

I've been writing a cyberpunk novel (still progressing on my harddrives) that includes a monetary system as follows:

The currency is backed by stock. It appreciates rather than depreciates over time, and instead of physical assets like gold serving as money, which is a waste of gold, the underlying commodity is engaged in productive work while also serving as a unit of exchange.

Further, the currency is not necessarily backed by stock. It IS stock, index funds, or any other tradeable commodity (including metal, product coupons, indentured servants etc.). Prices are quoted in terms of gold or whatever the shopkeeper desires, and the exchange is made on the basis of instantaneous exchange rates on the global market. The market is unregulated and as such runs perpetually.

Nothing physically changes hands; it's all done automatically and electronically. Companies can pay for things by issuing their own stock, though they'd have to be big enough to be listed, and doing so would devalue the stock at the same time. It would be nearly impossible for small companies.

Cash can be produced by simply printing certificates and checking their exchange rates when they change hands. However, anonymous accounts would make cash obsolete.

Individual bank accounts would be a list of serial numbers with constantly fluctuating values. A set of trading rules would govern autonomous electronic agents to trade serials in order to obtain the desired investment portfolio. Shopkeepers would want to continually rebalance their account upon receipt of random currencies. This means that billions of traders would be operating 24/7, potentially eliminating business cycles and market fluctuations.

That depends on the system characteristics- they could also lead to chaotic instability.

The system relies on constant electricity and net connectivity.

Banking 2 will be coming soon. It explains how we start improving the monetary system now.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Clean Energy 2030

http://knol.google.com/k/-/-/15x31uzlqeo5n/1#

Basically, Google has released a plan for reducing CO2 output and providing energy over the next 22 years. It focuses on increasing X source Y%, increasing CAFE standards to Z, and things of that nature. It purports to offer a trillion dollars in net savings by 2030.

1) Net Savings
If there is money to be saved by doing this, people will do it spontaneously. No government action is required, and in fact there is no practical purpose to the production of this report. Now, many of you, like the author, have an incomplete understanding of capitalism, so let me give you some examples.

If wind power is cheaper than coal, utilities will build wind power.

If plug-in hybrids save money on gas, people will buy hybrids.

Note that power companies and individuals are already doing this. Why, then, do we need increased Wind Power mandates and CAFE standards? The answer is that many silicon valley investors and companies, including Google, are investing in Green Tech. They want government subsidies and regulatory monopolies and so forth at the expense of the taxpayer and true energy efficiency.

The cost estimates don't take into account the reactions in other sectors of the economy to the increased resources used on the 2030 plan.

2) Nuclear Power
Presumably, the 2030 plan predicts a slight growth in nuclear energy use because it's politically controversial and the people who are targeted by this propaganda piece oppose it. Leaving aside the unpleasant reality that nuclear is the only medium-term alternative to coal, let's create a logical dichotomy.

If nuclear power is bad, we should destroy the existing plants.

If nuclear power is good, we should build many more of them.

This type of argument isn't intrinsically valid, but the statements are true in this case. Instead of either of the logical courses of action, the 2030 plan suggests a slight increase in nuclear generation. I'd also like to point out that the graph seems awfully smooth, considering the amount of power produced by a single reactor.

Also, they assume, and I quote:

Plug-in [electric vehicle] electricity cost: 7 cents per kWh

There is no source of power that cheap other than nuclear. They also need to go into more detail on the variation in power generated by wind and solar over the course of a 24 hour period if they intend to use the assumption of flex-power, which they do quite often.

3)Oil consumption in 2030
We will probably use the same or lower percentage of global oil production that we use today. However, the amount of oil production is decreasing. The decrease can be estimated accurately by Hubbert's Peak; unfortunately, we can't accurately determine where on the curve we are until the peak has already passed. If it's already occurred, we'll know in a few years.

The economics of oil production are such that the total output will not deviate significantly, so, in order to predict our oil consumption, one must analyze the supply, not the demand. The result is that increasing the efficiency of oil consumption will not reduce the amount of oil consumed but will instead lower prices. This is true because many common economic assumptions do not hold. (The instantaneous supply curve is a flat line in the region of interest).

The paper predicts a 38% drop in consumption, which sounds a little high. It would mean a 38% drop in global oil production. Even if we hit Hubbert's peak in 2006, 24 years would only take us back to oil production levels of 1982, a reduction of 27%.


Conclusion

There are already many other well-written comments on the plan, none of which I have read yet. I'm sure I repeat some of them, but I couldn't stay silent.