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Friday, February 28, 2014

Why Christians should be libertarians

"Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before."

- 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Note the "minding your own business" part.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Breastplate of Righteousness

"In donning the breastplate of righteousness, the covert deviant assumes a protective shield of superpropriety. His armor has a particularly shiny quality, a refulgence, which tends to blind the audience to certain of the practices. To others in his everyday world, he is not only normal but righteous – an exemplar of good behavior and right thinking. However much the covert participant may be reacting to guilt in erecting his defensive barrier, he is also engaging in a performance that is part and parcel of his being. Goffman remarks that “there is often no reason for claiming that the facts discrepant with the fostered impression are any more the real reality than is the fostered reality they embarass.” The secret offender may well believe he is more righteous than the next man – hence his shock and outrage, his disbelieving indignation, when he is discovered and discredited."

- Laud Humphreys

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is air-to-air combat obsolete?

The last time a US pilot shot down an armed enemy aircraft was 1999.  A US pilot shot down an Iranian drone in 2009, but since it was not a fighter, I don't count that one. In the past 30 years, there have been fewer than 100 air-to-air kills worldwide. 

If stealth is the most important thing, why not use biplanes like the Antonov An-2? If minimizing losses is the most important thing, why not use cheaper, expendable drones?

The odds of the US going to war with a country with a decent air force are next to nil. And even if it did, the US has thousands of more aircraft than either Russia or China. The US has about 2,500 and China and Russia have about 1,000 each.

A lot of those Russian and Chinese fighters are probably junk. The reason Yugoslav fighters failed to shoot down any NATO planes in the 90s was because their equipment malfunctioned.

The whole reason fighters were invented was to protect ground troops and civilians from enemy air attack. If there's a better or cheaper way to do that, that's what should be done.

I strongly suspect the real reasons the F-35 exists are defense pork and the Air Force's desire for a new toy.

If the Air Force was in charge of delivering pizzas, they would demand Ferraris.

Monday, February 24, 2014

All US males between 17 and 45 are part of the militia

10 U.S. Code § 311 - Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is a monolingual or oligolingual world inevitable?

Of the 6000 or so languages in the world today, only about 4% of them are widely spoken. The rest are in danger of extinction. One estimate states that by 2050, 90% of the world's languages will be extinct. 
If that's the case, are we heading to a world where only one or a few languages are dominant? I think so.

The many different measuring systems have mostly been replaced by the metric system. The many different numeric systems have almost completely been replaced by Hindu-Arabic numerals. The many different calendars have largely been replaced by a common one.

The above trend leads me to suspect that the coming language wars will be like Highlander:

If English is Connor Macleod, who is the Kurgan? I say Mandarin.

Or maybe it is English that will lose its head. Whichever language maintains economic and cultural dominance will win.

Another possibility is that the dominant languages will splinter the way Latin and other did.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The UN Sucks

Here's one reason why:
"The United States contributes 22 percent of the funding of the UN. This is more than double of the second biggest contributor, Japan, and five times as much as the individual contributions of France, the UK, and China. It is also more than the total contributions of around 170 nations combined.
What do we get out of it? Well, in 2016, we will get a Human Rights Council composed composed of China, Russia, the Maldives, Cuba, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia."

The Proud Kennedy Tradition

....of crashing into bodies of water

Teddy Kennedy crashed a car into the Atlantic.

JFK Jr crashed a plane into the Atlantic

Patrick Kennedy crashed his car into a fountain.

I leave out JFK and Joe Kennedy's accidents because they occurred in war time. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

The fatal flaw in international constructed languages

Suppose for a moment that second-language learning was not hindered by laziness, linguistic pride, poor memory, or lack of education.  Let us further suppose a magnificent new conlang called Xporanto which can be learned quickly and for free. Even in this ideal situation, there would still be little reason to learn another language.

Most people interact almost exclusively with people who speak the same language. The only people who have a strong motivation to learn another language are those who must interact often with foreigners such as businessmen, scholars, travelers, and immigrants. There is no point in learning a second or other language if you rarely or never use it.

Is there any point in learning to play golf or the trombone if you rarely or never do those things?

I enjoy learning other languages mostly because I have a good memory and it's easy for me. I get a thrill whenever I understand something I read or hear in a foreign language. I get a thrill whenever I learn something new.

For example- did you know John Quincy Adams was nearly swindled into funding an expedition to the center of the earth? The goal was to make contact with mole people and trade with them. The expedition was called off by Andrew Jackson- not because he didn't believe in mole people, but because he thought the earth was flat.

But I digress.

When it comes to international communication, English is head and shoulders above everything else. It's already the language of science, business, pop culture, and aviation. It's the mostly widely taught language in the world and has more non-native speakers than any other language. That may change in a century or two, but for now, English is king.

I think a more promising route for a universal language would be a constructed pidgin based on English.

Laws are like knives

They can help, they can hurt, and they become worthless if they are overused. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The eternal problem of government

"All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible."

Frank Herbert, Dune

Monday, February 17, 2014


Cannibals worldwide expressed anger yesterday at a film that mocked the consumption of human flesh. Protesters chanted slogans and ate American flags. The protests grew in size for several hours until the crowd began to feed on itself.

Grrr, the president of the Council on American Cannibal Relations, said "films like these fan the flames of hatred and push moderate cannibals into extremism." "Mmrrrm!" he added as he began ravenously eating a severed arm.

Other cannibal groups admitted that while they do hunt, kill, and eat people, theirs is a proud tradition with a long history of discoveries in how to hunt, kill, and eat people.

Comedy in Islam

"Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious."

-- Ayatollah Khomeini

Fun fact- Khomeini got knocked out of his coffin during his funeral:

Guess who leads the world in terrorism- a shocking surprise!

Wikipedia has a nice list of the deadliest terrorist attacks.

Of the 325 acts listed:

272 acts of terrorism from Islamic groups
53 acts of terrorism from other groups

OK, I lied. It isn't shocking at all.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dishonest Libertarian Bashing from the Daily Show circa 2005

Here's the clip:

You see, it's those awful toy guns and crazy libertarians who are the problem- not the moronic, trigger-happy cops.

Keep the hard-hitting news coming guys. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Prog learns that the government is not warm and fuzzy

A long slog, but worth reading:

TL;DR version: San Francisco resident calls 911, annoys police, & gets roughed up in jail.

His advice:

  • "Don’t call 911. Obviously, there are exceptions, but the sad lesson is, there are fewer than you’d think.
  • Call Lyft to take you to the hospital. (Worked well when I broke my elbow.)
  • Take such incidents to trial, where justice isn’t veiled by the POBAR. It’s not a matter of litigious vindictiveness. It’s just the only available way. The SF Office of Citizen Complaints is not a valid alternative.
  • Consider wearing a video camera at all times. It has been shown that when police wear cameras and are aware of being filmed, it moderates their behavior. As self reports of the need to use force decrease, so do complaints."
I pity him with the vague sense of compassion I have for all creatures capable of feeling pain. On the other hand, I'm glad this numbskull learned the hard way that government is violence.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wise Words

More laws, less justice.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Southern Democrats did not all become Republicans in 1964

Only 3 Dixiecrats switched parties.

Strom Thurmond

Jesse Helms

Mills Godwin.

Here is a list that did not:

Orval Fabus

Benjamin Travis Laney

John Stennis

James Eastland

Allen Ellender

Russell Long

John Sparkman

John McClellan

Richard Russell

Herman Talmadge

George Wallace

Lester Maddox

John Rarick

Robert Byrd

Al Gore, Sr.

Bull Connor

Monday, February 10, 2014

Do you really support small government?

For me, there are 2 conditions that must be met for you to answer "yes" to that question:

1) you only vote for politicians who promise to cut spending

2) you only vote for politicians who promise to repeal laws.

The only way to return to something resembling small government is through massive cuts in spending and the number of laws and regulations. Anything else is a waste of time.

So, if you support the income tax, or Social Security, or Medicare, or the War on Drugs, or massive military spending, you are part of the problem.

Reductions in the salaries on politicians and bureaucrats are not enough. Nor are cuts to PBS, NPR, or foreign aid be enough. These are good places to start, but that's it.

I emphasize cutting spending because that is the only long-term solution. As long as their is a deficit, that is merely a tax deferred- and one which will be paid through inflation.

As my libertarian pals are fond of saying:


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why is wealth inequality important?

People are already unequal in numerous ways- physical, mental, & psychological. So why focus on inequality of wealth?

I think the reason is that unlike other traits, wealth can be stolen. You can't steal height or youth or good looks from someone else, but you can steal their money or property. Harming someone's body or reputation does nothing to improve yours. Money and property are the only things you can take from someone else that make you better off.

This is the real reason why people complain about wealth inequality. It's interesting that the people who claim to value diversity do not like it when people are different on the basis of wealth. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Masterpiece of Derp

The best thing about derp is that it always tops itself.

In all my years, I have never seen such a masterpiece. In the first minute, he explains that people are greedy and stupid and so can't be trusted.
30 seconds later, he explains that this is the reason we need an organization that will protect people.
Will this protecting organization be staffed with angels, superintelligent robots, or benevolent aliens perhaps? He does not say.
Bastiat looms large with this one.
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Why aren't there any libertarian countries?"- A Response

I have 2 objections to the question. The first is that there are many countries that have some libertarian policies, but no countries that have adopted all of them. The fact that there are no perfectly libertarian countries is like saying that there are no perfect people. Just because things are imperfect does not mean we cannot judge them as being better or worse and look for trends. There are no perfect basketball players but it is clear that some are much better than others. 

The second objection is for the related question "if libertarian policies are so great, why don't more countries adopt them?" To me, this is like saying "if it's better to stay fit, why are there fat people?" It is very hard to establish a limited-government and even harder to keep it that way. As Jefferson said, it is the natural tendency for government to grow and for liberty to shrink. 

Libertarian policies were never claimed to make utopia. The only claim is that work better than the alternatives that have been tried already. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Teachers have the lowest SAT scores, so shut up already about your "low pay"

"Research over the years has indicated that education majors, who enter college with the lowest average SAT scores, leave with the highest grades. Some of academic evidence documenting easy A's for future teachers goes back more than 50 years!"

For me, the most insulting thing is that I would have to jump through many hoops to be a teacher in spite of the fact that I already have experience in it and had higher test scores and grades. 

The impossible math of retirement

I was playing around today with CNN's retirement calculator. In order to live comfortable, I would have to save about 15% of what I earn every year, get small raises every year, and invest in something that gets at least a 6% return. That's also assuming Social Security doesn't break down and inflation does not get worse.

I would type my reaction to the above statement, but I'm afraid I would break the A and H keys of my keyboard.

Even if I could somehow manage to save the required amount every year, what on earth could I invest in to get the 6% return? The inflation-adjusted return of the Dow long-term is about 2%, and after taxes, it drops to 1%.

I can see why so many of my coworkers play the lottery. My current retirement plan is to work until I'm dead. You might recognize this as the default retirement plan for the vast majority of the human race.

You don't have to believe in evolution to be a good scientist or engineer

Bill Nye has recently argued that in order for the US to maintain its lead in science, it must have good science education. To have good science education, evolution must be taught.

I accept evolution, but I disagree with Nye. You did not need to understand or even be aware of evolution in order to design a circuit or perform open heart surgery or prove a mathematical theorem. In fact you could even argue that mandating evolution in classrooms discourages talented creationists from pursuing careers in science, engineering, and medicine.

You can't be a good geneticist, paleontologist, or biologist without understanding evolution, but that's about it.

Saying that children must be taught this or scientist must believe this goes against the entire spirit of free thought that makes scientific progress possible.

I would much prefer if schools spent more time teaching logic and critical thinking than teaching any body of facts. 

Wars are won or lost on morale

Wars rarely end because of the annihilation of one side, although the fall of Carthage and Constantinople are prominent examples. Wars usually end when the morale of one side reaches its breaking point. Here are some examples of events which broke the spirits of various armies/nations:

1. Lee's surrender
2. Hitler's suicide
3. The attack on the US embassy during the Tet Offensive
4. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo

How can morale be maintained?

1. Avoid heavy losses- this is more important than inflicting heavy losses
2. Take and keep territory
3. Make it impossible for your army to retreat (burn bridges/ships)

The absolute worst thing for morale is a stalemate. It does not break morale quickly but it always breaks morale eventually.

Maintaining morale in your own army is much more important than trying to demoralize the enemy. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

401 Ks are a scam

I have heard various people talk about how getting matching employer contributions in 401 Ks is free money and that the long-term stock market trend is 8% annually. I distinctly remembered hearing the 8% line when I had a consultation with an Edward Jones broker.

The long-term trend for the stock market since 1910 is closer to 5% annually, and when you adjust for inflation and capital gains, it bottoms out at 1% annually.

One measly percent. At that rate, it would take about 69 years for a given sum of money to double in value. Most people only get about 40 years to save before retirement.

 Given the random walk of the market, one bad year can wipe out decades' of gains. At least when you buy gold or land, you don't have to worry about it becoming worthless overnight. And even if you put money under a mattress, at least you'd still have the paper no matter what happens with inflation. But when you set up a 401 K, you get nothing except the hope that perhaps someday it will be worth more and you will be alive to enjoy it.

So what to do? You can't just let it sit in a bank- inflation will eat it. The best thing is to plow money into something that will never be worth nothing. The only things that fit that criteria are things like gold, silver, collectibles, and land.