TOTD 2018-06-15: The Road from Mandalay Bay

On October 11. 2017, there was an atrocity in Vegas.    After it was over, the FBI and local police rushed to declare that it was a lone nutcase, not at all terror related, despite ISIS claiming responsibility.  The media promptly dropped it into the memory hole next to the attempted massacre of Congress by a Bernie supporter.  But not everyone was following the script from the Party.

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TOTD 2018-06-08: An End to Downs Syndrome?

I understand the concern about the increase in abortion of Downs Syndrome fetuses. That clearly has all kinds of ethical problems, and opens a giant can of worms – what genetic abnormalities get the axe?  That’s not what I am talking about here.  This is about something different. Continue reading “TOTD 2018-06-08: An End to Downs Syndrome?”

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TOTD 2018-05-25 Neocon? or Not-a-con?

I had several ideas for what to write about today, then I read something that filled with me with cold fury.

TOTD 2018-05-18 The Boundaries of Plausibility

What if I told you that I could travel faster than light?  Or that I am the reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt?  Or that socialism is the most ethical and rational economic system?  Or that being overweight is good for your health?  How would you respond? Continue reading “TOTD 2018-05-18 The Boundaries of Plausibility”

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TOTD 2018-5-12: To Know and Be Known

A recently released song by two dead men has been weighing on my mind since it came out. The song is entitled “You Never Knew My Mind” off the new anthology album Forever Words. The album consists of songs that were originally poems written by Johnny Cash and adapted into songs by various artists at the request of the Cash family. This particular song was done by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame.

... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-05-04: Why Gold?

I often hear of people talking about the joys of returning to a gold standard.  Why is gold the choice people fix on?

Now, currency is based on its ability to be exchanged for something.  Right now, the US dollar is valuable for being able to pay debts to the US Government.  Even if everyone else refused to accept US currency, you could still pay your taxes in US greenbacks.  This is what gives it value – ability to command labor.  (This is why I have been skeptical of BitCoin etc.  There is a significant chance that BitCoin could end up without any possibility of exchange.  There is nothing backing these cryptocurrencies.)... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-04-20: How Does This End?

I happened on Erick Erickson’s twitter feed, and I was struck by how similar his attacks were to those I have grown accustomed to hearing from the Left.   His argument, in short, was that Christians should condemn Trump because he is not a good person.  It was much more smarmy than that.   It made me think about the feud in conservatism.  How will this end?   Many pundits have denounced their base in the vilest terms.  Where do they go from here?  Even if they drive Trump from office, people are not going to flock back to them.   Kurt Schlicter’s column is instructive.

I can offer some insight into the mindset, as I vitriolically hated Donald Trump in the primary.  I would have cheered his death – my Ricochet track record is pretty clear and cannot be hidden.  I actually left Ricochet after the Indiana Primary because I realized this was driving me crazy.   I thought he was a con man, or worse a Putin wannabe at the worst.  However, I never even considered voting for Hillary, as I thought she was worse in every possible way.... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-04-14: Whence Ratburger?

This is a question of history.  I did some digging into the beginning of the site without particular success, other than revealing that Ratburger launched last December.   What prompted the rise of Ratburger?

Why the name in particular?  Please tell me there is a German co-worker named Herr or Frau Ratburger…... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-04-13: Adam Smith vs. Robert Heinlein

It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people.

-Adam Smith, On the Wealth of Nations

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

When I recently started reading the Wealth of Nations, this comparison came to me quickly, as the very first thing that Smith discusses are the benefits of the division of labor and specialization.  It seems to me that specialization is a benefit to society as a whole, but being a Competent Man is of greater benefit to the individual.  Having useful secondary skills are not usually beneficial to society, but can be quite powerful for the individual if the economy shifts drastically.  There’s also the classic desert island scenario – when there is no civilization, you need to do everything for yourself.
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TOTD 2018-4-6: Mint Penguin Puppies

Linux PenguinI am a fairly experienced computer user, but for years I only used Windows versions.  However, a friend had been using Linux for some time, and suggested that I try it.   I was a bit hesitant, given what I had heard from people – it was a pain to install, only for high end applications like running a server, etc.   However, I pressed on, and went to obtain a copy of Linux – but wait, which one?

Continue reading “TOTD 2018-4-6: Mint Penguin Puppies”

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TOTD 2018-02-07: Experts

Ever since the 19th century, the largest industry in Zambia has been copper mining, which today accounts for 85% of the country’s exports.  The economy of the nation and the prosperity of its people rise and fall with the price of copper on the world market, so nothing is so important to industry and government planners as the expectation for the price of this commodity in the future.  Since the 1970s, the World Bank has issued regular forecasts for the price of copper and other important commodities, and the government of Zambia and other resource-based economies often base their economic policy upon these pronouncements by high-powered experts with masses of data at their fingertips.  Let’s see how they’ve done.
World Bank forecasts of copper price vs. actual price, 1970–1995

The above chart, from a paper [PDF] by Angus Deaton in the Summer 1999 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives shows, for the years 1970 through 1995, the actual price of copper (solid heavy line) and successive forecasts (light dashed lines) by the august seers of the World Bank.  Each forecast departs from the actual price line on the date at which it was issued.... [Read More]

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TOTD 2018-01-14: #NeverTrump Fallacies of the Month

We are bombarded with anti-Trump rants by the establishment #NeverTrump crowd (whether that establishment is Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or whatever).

What they first fail to appreciate is that establishment corruption is why we have Trump.... [Read More]

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