The virtue of excellence
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
It's always about the consumers.Always, always, always. Producers produce in order to satisfy consumer desires. Production exists for the purpose of consumption. Any analysis that doesn't come back to the consumers has fundamentally misunderstood the entire purpose of production. And it's usually producers trying to screw the consumers to their benefit, using monopoly tactics. See: all discussions of foreign trade, stimulus spending, the broken-window fallacy . If you're not talking about the consumer, you're doing it wrong. Here's Boudreaux on the topic.
- Subconscious brain concludes something
- Face reflects emotion based on conclusion
- Near the same time:
- Conscious brain receives the conclusion
- Body starts reacting
- Kn@ppster on how momentous this election is:
This is not only not the most momentous presidential election in US history, it's not even the most momentous presidential election of the last two.
- Seth Roberts on the self-experimentation process around pasteurized dairy. My 16 year old son doesn't get acne, but rather digestive issues.
- Garrett Jones with an enormously powerful graph on national spending on education. Summary: Spending on education doesn't raise national growth at all.
- Don Boudreaux on speculators around Hurricane Sandy.
- Milton Friedman on government doings.
The great movement toward government has not come about as a result of people with evil intentions trying to do evil. The great growth of government has come about because of good people trying to do good. But the method by which they have tried to do good has been basically flawed. They have tried to do good with other people’s money. Doing good with other people’s money has two basic flaws. In the first place, you never spend anybody else’s money as carefully as you spend your own. So a large fraction of that money is inevitably wasted. In the second place, and equally important, you cannot do good with other people’s money unless you first get the money away from them. So that force – sending a policeman to take the money from somebody’s pocket – is fundamentally at the basis of the philosophy of the welfare state.
- Kling is supposedly in blog-tirement, but is actually moonlighting around the internet posting smart stuff. Here and here.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Oh. No. We should declare war on the 100-year solar cycles that seem to make bad weather run. War on the Sun!!!!
Among the standard tactics used for arguing in front of a sympathetic group is to build a facade of a position, referred to as a straw-man, and tear it down. This is very effective red-meat tactics, and a pure indication that someone is not trying to understand the value in the opposing position, just to argue against it.
Basic epistemological humility suggests that if there exist lots of smart people who believe stuff opposed to what you believe, they have good reasons for believing it. Hence, dismissing their position as stupid/evil/corrupt is (in an epistemologically sound company of mixed opinions) simply an admission of intellectual inadequacy.
The correct behavior, in idea-first, rather than tribe-first behavior, is to figure out what the opposite of the straw man is for the opposition. What is the strongest argument that they have? What is their steel-man position (Feel free to suggest a non-superhero name here)? And how is it true? If you're busy arguing for your side, this probably isn't a useful path (and probably no one is listening on either side), but if you're trying to understand the opposition, you start with the assumption that there are really smart, honest, ethical people on the other side. And that they believe differently than you do. And then you construct the best position you can for them. If it's easy to knock down, you failed...you're not smart enough. Find someone smarter to do it for you.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
In my universally anti-groupist approach of pointing out that leftism, conservativism, and libertarianism are all coherent, important approaches to the world, I have found a leftism definition that appears more compelling than my standard one-liner. I'm still chewing on it, and find myself less than 75% in agreement, but consider it a very worthwhile read regardless. The author is eminent left-libertarian Gary Chartier, and the article is here.
Personally I score a solid 2/3 leftist...and I bet if Gary and I sat down for a cup of cream, we could hammer out our differences on Exclusion to a position we were both 85% happy with.
Politics are, at their core, ethical positions and statements about importance. Specifically about what is more important and less important. Gary may well have the best explanation I've seen about what leftism finds important. Check it out.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Three states form the base of Democratic political power in the United States: California, New York and Illinois. All three states are locked in an accelerating economic, demographic and social decline; all three hope that they can stave off looming disaster at home by exporting the policies that have ruined them to the rest of the country.I've lived in 2 of 3...and I don't any longer, not by accident. As usual, the migration map is crazy.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
- I am doing semi-standard superslow protocol, with nouveau Aretae-icing treatment:
- Standard superslow:
- 1 set of each exercise:
- 1 rep constitutes a 10 second positive, 10 second negative.
- This is followed by perhaps some half-reps to more fully exhaust the muscle and or some trainer-assisted reps (she's a 95 pound pixie, and can't move any of my weights significantly).
- It ends almost always with some effectively isomorphic activity, as I push with all my might for the final 10 seconds, and the weight goes the wrong way..
- The goal is to completely exhaust the muscle group
- The expectation is between 1 and 3 minutes per 1-set exercise (targetting 1:30 to 2:00).
- After the set, one should not be able to move the machines again.
- I do 3 exercises each session: The new set&sequence is
- Seated Row
- Chest press
- Leg press .
- I am doing this 1x a week,
- Thursday evenings after work, so I always have 7 days rest.
- However, my wife is due in the next 3 weeks, and the baby dropped yesterday, so I may be less than perfect on timing.
- Noveau Aretae Icing treatment
- After my first set, place hands and feet in separate buckets of icewater with lots of floating, barely melting ice (because that guarantees the water is near 32 degrees F).
- Ice for 2 minutes (more or less)
- Then dry hands and feet with towel/paper towel/shirt. Replace shoes sometime before 2nd leg press.
- Repeat the entire set a 2nd time
- This is fully impossible without icing on this time frame.
- leg press especially is super-insanely impossible
- After my 2nd set, repeat the icing.
The experiment: I will be doing this for between 4 and 6 weeks.
Goal: Huge improvements
Exercise 1: Compound row.
- Compound row #1 before icing: 170 lbs @ ~90 sec. This was too much weight.
- Compound row #4: after icing. 150 lbs @ 75 sec. Most of this after the first full rep was partial, and assisted reps and isometrics.
- Plan for next week: 170 twice.
I summarize this as roughly 2 sessions @ 160, which means next week is 170.
I started compound row this week, because I maxed pulldown.
I went from pulldown 100 to pulldown 200 over the course of 3 months without icing. With Icing, though, my pulldown on 3 consecutive sessions was: 205, 220, 240. The machine maxes at 259 pulldown, so I elected to not use this to measure.
Exercise 2: Chest press.
- Chest press #2 before icing: 160lbs @ 90 sec.
- Chest press #5 after icing: 160 lbs @ 75 sec.
- Plan for next week: 170
Exercise 3: Leg press.
- Leg press #3 before icing: 300 lbs @ 90 sec
- Leg press #6 after icing: 300 lbs @ 60 sec
- Plan for next week: 315
Physical results of all-out superslow exercise.
- I get many symptoms of hard exertion after these exercises. Leg press of course is the largest of the impacts. In order of occurence:
- Mild sweat
- Auditory muffling
- Heavy sweat
- Color change (to grey), as per happens to me under heat exhaustion.
- Nausea -- This has only happened once
- I hit point 2 after 2nd exercise, and point 3 after 3rd.
- After icing, 1,2,3 vanished.
- I hit point 3 again, minus the auditory muffling, after exercise 5.
- My wife observed #5 in me after exercise 6. Sweat and greyness fixed via icing.
- My blood sugar was too low today. I was shaking after part of exercise 4, and it got worse along the way. I think the nausea symptoms are blood-sugar related, though, so I don't think it was too bad. I do think it will need to be fixed for next time, via a concoction of Honey and BCAA's (that my work-buddy the competitive cyclist suggested) taken about 45 minutes before the workout.
- I've drunk an insane amount (4 glasses) of raw milk today, as well as having had a 42g protein drink, immediately upon arriving home after the workout (15 minutes later).
- Between exercise #3 (leg press) and walking to the ice, my leg collapsed, not thoroughly able to support my weight. A moment of rest, and I was able to continue.
- This, today, was the hardest exercise routine I've ever done in my life. All 8 minutes of it. I think the icing may have handled the soreness, but the persisting weakness is absurd. We'll see tomorrow.
- I've also been sleeping large amounts. Go to bed, wake up when ready, then go to work. Usually 8 hours. I've been reading on the importance of sleep.
- I've also been standing more than usual. Again..too much reading on the importance of not sitting down.
There are 4 political positions:
- Progressive: Protecting the poor and weak is very important.
- Libertarian: Individual Freedom is the most important.
- Conservative: Don't break the good stuff we've got.
- Normal modern person/fascist: The government has magical economic and moral powers. All we need is the right person in charge.
I am personally
- Naturally libertarian...
- Increasingly progressive...
- a believer, but not an emoter, in conservativism of the Hayek/Sowell/limits-to-knowledge strain.
- convinced that the fascist position is horribly destructive to all good things.
Just because I am writing about the moral case around open borders from a progressive and libertarian position doesn't mean I don't recognize the importance of the conservative "don't break stuff" line.
Because my commentariat is entirely (except for 2-3 folks) anti-immigration, I feel compelled to push the ethical line of just how badly anti-immigration policies screw other thoroughly well intentioned human beings. It's not quite like just sending a drone to kill them for the crime of living in Afghanistan near some folks that some evidence says might be sympathetic to Al Quaeda....but it's not a clear bright line difference from that either.
Are there other considerations? Yes. In fact, IIRC, I referenced those jsut a few months ago, in the anti-immigrationist post which followed my pro-immigrationist one.
As usual...there are competing, important, moral axes. The natural inclination of human beings is to attach to one, and explain away the others as unimportant. It's like Moldbug on security. Important? Sure. The most/only/first importance? Only if you're crazy or obsessive. As with everything it's marginal and tradeoffs-based.
Mr. A, from Country Z makes $0.16 per hour ($2/12 hour day) living in his home country, and because of the kleptocratic government and extra-crappy institutions, he sees no future wherein he makes more than that. So, he takes both items that he owns, sells them to his neighbor, and leaves, heading for country Y, in which unskilled laborers tend to make $6.25 per hour ($50/8 hour day), by simply being willing to do work, with the intention of doing work.
Case 1: Mr. A arrives in country Y, finds regular work, rents a room from someone, and life is good.
This is a pure win for pretty much everyone.
Case 2: Mr. A arrives in country Y, and finds very little work, averaging only $10/day of work, but that's enough to pay for food, and still save half his salary...even if he can't find a room. Maybe he finds a room in a poor part of town for $50/month.
This is still a pure win for pretty much everyone.
Case 3: Mr. A arrives at country Y, and is sent home
This screws A, and the people who hire A to do their work, the landlord, and the taxpayers.
Case 4: Mr. A arrvies at country Y, and is thrown in Jail
This is a win for Mr. A (It's better than his old situation), but a loss for country Y. In this case, Z and Y are indonesia and Australia respectively.
Case 5: Mr A arrives at country Y and is shot.
Case 5.5: Country Y makes it hard enough to get in that Mr. A dies trying to find a way in.
Nearly equivalent to 5.
What will/do people do? In all cases, people basically take some (erroneous, self-favoring) model of the probabilities, sum the product of the probabilities and the payoffs across likely results, and life is good.
From the calculus of Mr. A...the only thing that would prevent him from doing the trip is: high probability of the case 5s.
Case 3 sucks, but no more than before. Case 4 is a win for A.
10% case1 + 10% case2 + 80% case3 is still a win.
From the calculus of a anti-immigrationist, the only thing that's going to stop a relatively steady flood of immigrants is a high probability of case 5s...which is monstrous.
They're coming for opportunity...the laws aren't going to stop them from coming. Now what?
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
One person initiating force to make another person do what the one person wants is evil.What does government do? Almost every single thing the government agents do is:
initiate force to make some folks do what other folks in government want.The rest of it is: try to obscure the simple fact above.
By simple observation: Government is evil.
It is left to the reader to determine whether they think it is a greater evil, a lesser evil, a necessary evil, or an unnecessary evil. The key, of course, is that it is evil regardless.
There are folks who think that we should consort with lesser evils in order to reject greater evils. There are folks who think that consorting with lesser evils is indeed evil, and we shouldn't.
I personally hold with the "don't advocate for evil" position.
Forager tribes run 1 wife per man, with occasionally a very rare man having 2 wives...but the egalitarianism built in to the tribalists is super-strong, mostly as a evolved wife-distribution mechanism. Guys with too much power get killed. It's only agriculture, which allows wealth (and power) accumulation, which in turn allows (and in all known early incarnations, guarantees) huge polygamous systems.
You want monogamy? Enforce equality, as the progressives want. It's the closest thing we're gonna get. On the other hand...you want an explanation of the drive towards equality (which I've never before understood): In non-egalitarian systems guys who aren't at or near the top of the heap don't get any nookie, or kids. As in, the top 10% of the men have 70-90% of the kids. It's probably evolved in real deep.
Matt Ridley's The Red Queen is the best book I've read since Kurzban's bunny book in January. There are friends of mine who didn't nudge me hard enough 10 years ago to read this book who have an accounting to give. More complete review late today, if my wife doesn't have a baby.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
You just have to stop and remember: on any big debate, to think that one side is only motivated by ignorance or deceit doesn't understand the debate. Sure, some, even many, on any side of a big debate are ignorant are tendentious, but as with benchmarking this past recession, reasonable people can quibble with vague categorical definitions.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
People in America believe more in open borders the more the following is true:
1. They treat impact on non-Americans as carrying roughly equivalent moral weight to impact on Americans.
1.1 Their moral tastes are lower on the grouping axes (Purity, Loyalty, Authority).
1.2 They are higher on the (group-independent) human-freedom axis (Liberty).
2. They believe that the benefits to the immigrants are much higher than the costs to the natives.
And the converse. People are opposed to open borders the more they:
1. Think some groups deserve special moral weight (people like me, people who live in America).
2. They believe that the costs to the natives are not much lower than the benefits to the immigrants.
#1 is not debatable...it's a moral taste argument. The is/ought gap is still as wide as ever.
So the argument has a quite narrow flow. What are the costs and benefits?
The entire anti-immigration argument on this blog can be summarized:
- Immigration hurts natives more than you are giving credit.
- Natives take precedence
- The benefit of immigration to the immigrants is absurdly high
- Native liberty only takes a little precedence. (Hans + stealing bread?)
The anti-immigrationist argument over the last few years is..."I'm not interested (A), I'm interested in (1). Let's talk about that instead."
I think the Caplans and Aretaes of the world could be convinced that immigration restriction had some redeeming qualities rather than being near the top of the greatest Western government evils of the modern era (with Obama's drones, non-defensive wars, the Drug War)...if the immigrationist (A) were addressed directly. Talking about (1) simply isn't very persuasive, because it doesn't hit what we see as the crux of the issue.
Similarly, in my last 3 years of blogging, I've never seen an anti-immigrationist even care much about the pro-immigrationist central issue (A). The only topic under discussion is (1). If we immigrationists are to be persuasive at all, we have to address (1).
Anyhow, the blog that's discussing this stuff better than, but on the same side of the issue as I am is here.
Friday, October 19, 2012
The order of events in our minds around ethical opinions concerning real world events:
1. Brain bunny fight below conscious level.
3. Conclusion arrives at conscious mind.
4. Conscious mind creates ex post facto reasons for conclusion entirely unrelated to step 1/2.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
"Advocating immigration does not promote liberty. The two are not connected. There is no evidence that opening one's borders improves the liberty situation. Stop believing this"This statement is clearly false, on a whole pile of axes.
- Immigrants are indeed human beings. If you count the impact on the immigrant as having zero moral weight, this is true, and it's morally crippled. If, on the other hand, you actually care even a little bit about other human beings outside your tribe, the statement is insane. Freedom is heavily purchased by rich countries. Roughly all the rich countries are massively more free than all the poor countries, and it appears that the cause of the freedom is the wealth. As countries get wealthier, they buy more liberty (just like they buy more clean water, and more of everything else good.) The move from Mexico to the USA is massive uptick in the freedom of the immigrant himself...and a negligible effect on the freedom of anyone else. And Mexico is only a moderately poor, moderately unfree country. Ghana, contrarily loses every freedom contest you can find. You already have to accept that only the ingroup counts for this statement to even be conceivable. Otherwise, it's blatantly obvious that immigration is the biggest easy expansion of human liberty available to humankind at the moment. Not least because "Restrictions on human movement are by far the most universal restriction on human liberty that’s socially acceptable today." Really, this is a sufficient argument. But...there's a lot more.
- Wealth matters, even outside the country. The immigration of someone from a poor country to a rich country changes their income & wealth by a factor of between 2 and 100. My departure from pure standard leftish libertarianism is to point out that whatever you care about liberty-wise...wealth is the best way to get there. Any real increase in individual wealth is a de-facto increase in liberty. Wealth is indeed the only social metric we need to measure for darn near any purpose. Given that immigrants increase massively in wealth, natives increase mildly in wealth, and low-skilled natives have unclear but very small impacts given immigrants...this is a big deal.
- Immigration decreases welfare as a fraction of GDP. Caplan, responding to Tino (My favorite anti-immigrationist ) cites the actual studies on immigration numbers:
(a) Almost everyone assumes that immigration increases the size of the welfare state; (b) AGS identified a mechanism going in the opposite direction; and (c) AGS showed that on international data, the net effect of diversity on the welfare state is indeed negative. There is a -.66 bivariate correlation between social spending as a percent of GDP and racial fragmentation, and this relationship persists controlling for per-capita income, region, and age distribution.That's a pretty big impact. More immigrants leads to smaller welfare states, as folks don't want to spend their money on people who aren't like them. It's part of why homogenous Sweden is all-welfare, all the time, and ethnically and linguistically diverse Switzerland has little. More immigration = less welfare state, statistically. Is that a pro-liberty move? And you can't even object to the study in a standard anti-academic fashion, because the economists who study this stuff are, to the extent they are cathedralists, both pro-welfare and pro-immigration, so this study opposes their natural worldview.
- Immigrants don't vote against freedom. The theory that immigrants vote against liberty in a democracy appears to have been tested, and found to be false...despite a whole lot of assuming that it does.
- Non-rich opinions and votes don't actually matter for policy. And even if that's how they voted...it appears that doesn't matter. Turns out that the opinions and preferences of the poor and the middle class have no impact whatsoever on US policy. Even if the poor immigrants tried to vote pro-welfare, it turns out that the system appears to be rigged to only respond to the desires of the rich. How surprising that the cronyism is working as designed.
Inroad is most of exercise (as usual, I remember a post in respectable exercise science, linked from Isegoria, but can't find it). How hard did you work the muscle is 80% of the exercise question. How well you rested it is the rest.
The problem: Inroad is almost 100% of the time mis-experienced, due to a conflation with muscular and whole-body heat exhaustion. When you think your muscle has reached deep inroad failure, most of the time, your muscle has overheated, and reached mild inroad failure. This because heat-dissipation is the fundamental problem in complex systems. Nearly all systems, when complex enough, are constrained more by heat-dissipation than by any other factor.
The solution: It's rather obvious, once you've experienced it. When weight training, achieve massively higher inroads via blood-cooling techniques. Use blood-cooling via the body's heat exchange surfaces (Face, Palms, Soles), and medium cold temperature water (40 degrees F or 5 degrees C for around 2 minutes-- Note, 50/10 degree water appears to have no effect at all, and 35/2 degree water hurts, non-trivially, the non-heat exchange surfaces like your fingers). Alternately, use a cooling glove. I haven't yet tried icepacks on the palms and soles, but this remains my next target.
My assertion: by using blood-cooling techniques, you will separate the muscle and body-heating problem from the muscular inroads problem. This allows you to exercise at a much deeper level of inroads. And if you do that, you will see unbelievable-without-drugs strength and mass gains.
I have no idea how much this would improve other, endurance focused problems, but I suspect that the problem is the same: heat dissipation. And if that's the problem, then we have a solution.
More good news: I can chest press, one rep, almost superslow, nearly my bodyweight...and I'm still fat (Weight oscillated between 205.0 and 213.0 this past weekend, with a 1-day, 7-pound gain recorded). After my one semi-superslow rep (13 second round trip) @ 200, I dropped to 150, and did a shorter full set (1:20-ish). And chest is what I consider my weakest exercise. Why do I care? Martin Berkham, in one of his best posts ever uses chest press = bodyweight x 1.2 as one indication of taking exercise seriously...and training hard for 2 years. I've been training hard for 4 months. And I'm sitting at full bodyweight x1, with an assumption that lean-body weight (again, berkham's calculation) is about 165. Since I'm toting about 40 extra pounds of fat...simply dropping the excess weight would put my one-rep chest press at about 1.3x body weight. Also...the weight continues to increase every week.
I did a full set of pulldowns @ 240...but felt kinda weak. Pretty clear that I am approaching single-rep capability to pulldown 300...but our machine doesn't go that high. I figure that around the time the baby comes (<1 month), I'll need to switch over to row, as our pulldown machine has only 19 pounds left to max, and I think I can already superslow pulldown 260 for 2 reps = 45 seconds. On the other hand...pulldown of 260 is easier than one actual pullup. Next goal: Superslow pullups. And superslow weighted pullups. Once upon a time, back when I was 40 pounds lighter, I was able occasionally to do 2 superslow pullups.
Also, legpress, I managed a full set. This time, in trying to target the glutes better than normal, I moved the seat 1 inch closer, and moved my feet about 1.5 inches up the legpress plate. Still machine-maxed at 445, and in the 1.5 minute range.
Because the kids swim lessons are @ a gym, I've been screwing around with other weight machines occasionally for the last few weeks. Most interesting observation: At some seat positions and angles on the leg press, 500lbs isn't that hard. At other positions, I can't make more than 300 move. Fascinating. I haven't yet even figured out how to do a squat, but I'm pretty sure that my leg press pushing 500 means that my 200 pound self is close to squatting 300 (500 minus my weight). If I skinnied up to 165, I'd be pretty close to squatting 2x my weight.
Regardless, in 4 months of exercise, @ 15 minutes once a week, I'm getting close to what Berkham calls a 2-year goal for a serious weightlifter. Not mad about that.
Once I hit all the Berkham goals, next one is handstand pushups...which I've wanted to be able to do for my entire life, but have never been able to do...even at my strongest, lightest, 14 year old gymnast self, or my 21 year old rock-climber.
The bad news: The water I used wasn't cold enough. I iced the water, but the ambient temperature in the gym is running near 65 degrees, and so the ice all melted, and when I dunked my hands and feet, the water was near 50 degrees (est. no thermometer). This had effectively no blood-cooling effect, duplicating Dr. Pat's finding from a month ago.
The ugly news: I no longer have any idea how people live with the feeling of intense exercise without blood cooling. It feels awful. The physical sensation of cooled blood while exercising is an enormous difference. I bet you could sell cooling glove technology just for the "how you feel" 30 seconds after. For my nascent inner advertiser: "Use it twice, and then try exercise without it. You'll never go back." It's profoundly different, at a point where I'm not sure I ever want to exercise hard again without having some sort of blood-cooling technology nearby.
Next post: A semi-complete theory of exercise.
Monday, October 15, 2012
My current thinking on the matter is that there are basically two known answers to that question.
- Check it yourself
- Accept the community answer.
Aside: Some folks might (or do) suggest that everyone runs #1...but some folks running #1 conclude that #2 is more reliable. I'm not convinced. I think it might be more accurate to say that everyone starts with #2, and some folks depart. Actually, I assert that most folks (almost everyone) tries to depart at one point or another, but most fail, and revert.
Of course #2 leaves no path to truth...just paths to varying community beliefs: The Hindus kids ought to stay Hindu because it's the community answer.
Of course, it's also an Aretaevian too-basic-to-argue position that the truth value of most statements just isn't even an interesting question as compared to the social positioning value of said statements. Which means that no one who is within spitting difference cares about the prior paragraph.
Regardless...that leaves us with epistemology answer #1. Self-checking. And once you're there...Atheism is somewhere between easy and inescapable.
Several versions of Atheism:
A. Atheism is, in the immortally mis-scribed words of Laplace, simply this claim about God:
I find that hypothesis unnecessary.B. The less polite version goes:
I have yet to find a sufficient reason to take the God hypothesis more seriously than the flying purple people eater hypothesis, or Carl Sagan's invisible dragon in the garage.Do you believe in the invisible dragon in my garage or the purple people eater? No? Not "suspending judgement"? Just no, disbelief? Why shold one treat "God" differently? Of course, this takes seriously the etymology of the word: a-theism...without God...which is an entirely different statement than an active denial.
C. More aggressive folks in the atheist tradition argue that there is no even in-principle method to distinguish the actions of a God from a Clarkian advanced alien. Hume started this line over 200 years ago by pointing out that the argument from design perhaps suggests a committee of long-dead gods, rather than a single still-living one...but a lot of folks have extended this line.
D. More aggressive folks in the atheist tradition argue: The god of the Judeo-Christians is morally repugnant. If such a being existed, it counts as monstrous. Any sane modern would call its behavior evil.
E. And then there's the most (?) aggressive philosophical atheist who argue: The philosophical discussion of God is incoherent in one way or another. Not only is there no reason to believe in God...believing in a God is equivalent to believing that 2+2=5. It's not even possible that a God exists.
I personally, at this point, reject rationalist (vs. empiricist) explanations about the world out of hand. The odds of a rationalist's explanation matching reality appears entirely independent of the quality of their arguments...and in counting, any given apparently bulletproof proof of a proposition about the real world has an under 1% chance of being true after test.
Because of my aggressive inductivism...my interest in argument E, though originally my position when I was more rationalist, has faded. Rather, I now sit somewhere between B, C, and D.
Of course, to satisfy the pedantic...there is a separate question from theism: Gnosis. What is your belief regarding the knowability of God? Do you believe you can know whether God exists (Gnostic)? Do you believe a human being can't know that (Agnostic)? If you are an agnostic, like myself , then are you agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist?
FWIW, it appears that the directly opposed position from mine is Edward Feser's gnostic theist point of view.
There are, according to Jon Haidt, premier moral psychologist of our time, roughly 6 moral tastebuds as well. Fairness/Cheating, Care/Harm, Purity/Degradation, Authority/Subversion, Loyalty/Betrayal, and Liberty/Oppression.
My moral tastes:
- Liberty is the over-riding primary concern
- Care and Fairness are secondary concerns
- Purity doesn't interest me at all. I don't know (emotionally) why this is part of the discussion.
- And I can't even comprehend loyalty to a group (loyalty/non-betrayal towards a friend is a completely different thing).
- Further, I am actively pro-subversion of Authority, in all its forms.
- Liberty: 4.8
- Care: 3
- Fairness: 2.8
- Purity: 1
- Loyalty: 0
- Authority: MINUS 2.5
- What political group do you consider yourself part of? If they specify ANY group here...they've addressed allegience to a group, and they are copying the group opinions. No need for further questions.
- If they can't specify a group...then give them a moral foundations quiz. Their 6-part answer about what morally taste determines their opinion about most topics.
- If your ethics are built exclusively around human freedom, concern for other individual human beings, and giving all folks a fair shake, and they don't address the 3 group-oriented axes...then immigration is an obvious winner.
- It requires ingroup thinking (aka reliance on the last 3 moral tastes) in order to reach anti-immigrationist conclusions.
Gosh...that's a hard question...wait...did you say best? Yes. But really, I'm just referencing well known numbers that CoyoteBlog just re-published. RTWT.
It's like there are only two factors you need to count in quality of life. How free-marketeering and how swedish the country is.
In order of preference, my health care preference order is:
- Free Market, really. Like Lasik or Plastic Surgery in the US, or Rich Americans traveling to clinics on the Mexican and Canadian borders, and paying cash to get what they want. Especially, free markets in drugs and doctors. Full incentive stack all the way around: Patients and Doctors and pharma and potential players in the markets all properly incentivized.
- Singapore-style mandated HSAs and mandated Catastrophic insurance...and otherwise free-ish markets. Patients at least incentivized properly.
- German/Kaiser Permanente-style HMO/hospital partnerships with doctors paid by solution, not by procedure. Doctors incentivized properly.
- American style pre-Obamacare hideous insurance incentives that push a system that's so bad that even with a 35% tax subsidy, the country is quickly moving towards singapore-style HSA's, rather than the moronic form of employer-provided insurance. Pharma + Medical procedures incentivized properly.
- Euro-style single-payer system. Government incentivized to minimize costs, make interest groups happy...disincented to innovate or make patients happy. This is a cheaper option than 4, but not for long, if HSA's were to remain legal in the USA.
- Shooting everyone who breathes too much. (not sure about the order here, compared to 5).
It's not like I'm actually pro-American health care.
James M. Buchanan, "Order Defined in the Process of its Emergence"*
*A note stimulated by reading Norman Barry, "The Tradition of Spontaneous Order," Literature of Liberty, V (Summer 1982), 7-58.
Norman Barry states, at one point in his essay, that the patterns of spontaneous order "appear to be a product of some omniscient designing mind" (p. 8). Almost everyone who has tried to explain the central principle of elementary economics has, at one time or another, made some similar statement. In making such statements, however, even the proponents-advocates of spontaneous order may have, inadvertently, "given the game away," and, at the same time, made their didactic task more difficult.
I want to argue that the "order" of the market emerges only from the process of voluntary exchange among the participating individuals. The "order" is, itself, defined as the outcome of the process that generates it. The "it," the allocation-distribution result, does not, and cannot, exist independently of the trading process. Absent this process, there is and can be no "order."
What, then, does Barry mean (and others who make similar statements), when the order generated by market interaction is made comparable to that order which might emerge from an omniscient, designing single mind? If pushed on this question, economists would say that if the designer could somehow know the utility functions of all participants, along with the constraints, such a mind could, by fiat, duplicate precisely the results that would emerge from the process of market adjustment. By implication, individuals are presumed to carry around with them fully determined utility functions, and, in the market, they act always to maximize utilities subject to the constraints they confront. As I have noted elsewhere, however, in this presumed setting, there is no genuine choice behavior on the part of anyone. In this model of market process, the relative efficiency of institutional arrangements allowing for spontaneous adjustment stems solely from the informational aspects.
This emphasis is misleading. Individuals do not act so as to maximize utilities described in independently existing functions. They confront genuine choices, and the sequence of decisions taken may be conceptualized, ex post (after the choices), in terms of "as if" functions that are maximized. But these "as if" functions are, themselves, generated in the choosing process, not separately from such process. If viewed in this perspective, there is no means by which even the most idealized omniscient designer could duplicate the results of voluntary interchange. The potential participants do not know until they enter the process what their own choices will be. From this it follows that it is logically impossible for an omniscient designer to know, unless, of course, we are to preclude individual freedom of will.
The point I seek to make in this note is at the same time simple and subtle. It reduces to the distinction between end-state and process criteria, between consequentialist and nonconsequentialist, teleological and deontological principles. Although they may not agree with my argument, philosophers should recognize and understand the distinction more readily than economists. In economics, even among many of those who remain strong advocates of market and market-like organization, the "efficiency" that such market arrangements produce is independently conceptualized. Market arrangements then become "means," which may or may not be relatively best. Until and unless this teleological element is fully exorcised from basic economic theory, economists are likely to remain confused and their discourse confusing.
James M. Buchanan
Center for the Study of Public Choice
George Mason University (after 1983)
In fewer words (mine):
Just how impossible is central planning?
If free will exists, then the free market designs something that BETTER fills people's wants than God could, assuming a traditional omniscient, omnipotent Judeo-Christian God. What does that mean for human planners chances of success?
Planning is the problem, not the solution.
- Freakonomics on The Cobra Effect: How bad incentives can get. The most important line:
LEVITT: Well I think you start by admitting to yourself that no individual, no government, is ever going to be as smart as the people who are scheming against you. So when you introduce an incentive scheme, you have to just admit to yourself that no matter how clever you think you are, there’s a pretty good chance that someone far more clever than yourself will figure out a way to beat the incentive scheme.
- Garrett Jones @ Econlog explaining the incentive to work, and its relation to effectiveness of government spending. Fascinating, counterintuitive piece.
- Interfluidity on how you ought to be thinking as an economist. Of course, the political incentives are lined up 100% in the opposite direction...but wow. I thought I was thinking radically.
- The inimitable Hanson on Play Hell.
- Jason Brennan on how the US is in many ways substantially less economically libertarian than Europe (There are multiple angles to economic libertarianism).
- Tino Sanandaji, the incarnation on earth of divine wrath via economic statistics has an article on causes of poverty up as well. Turns out that many cultural differences we blame on the welfare state pre-date the welfare state.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
A responsible atheist needs to be informed about religion in order to reject it. But the shallow, smirky atheism that’s au courant is simply strengthening the power of the Right. Secular humanism is spiritually hollow right now because art is so weak. If you don’t have art as a replacement for the Bible, then you’ve got nothing that is culturally sustaining. If all you have is “Mad Men” and the Jon Stewart “Daily Show,” then religion is going to win, because people need something as a framework to understand life. Every great religion contains enormous truths about the universe. That’s why my ’60s generation followed the Beat movement toward Zen Buddhism and then opened up that avenue to Hinduism — which is why the Beatles went to India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Then it all disappeared, when people became disillusioned with gurus. But spiritual quest was one of the great themes of the ’60s that has been lost and forgotten — that reverent embrace of all the world religions. This is why our art has become so narrow and empty. People in the humanities have sunk into this shallow, snobby, liberal style of stereotyping religious believers as ignorant and medieval, which is total nonsense.I don't necessarily agree with the whole thing. I think her artist-ness gives her a view that I don't share. But the first two sentences are fabulous. Actually...the whole interview is fabulous. RTWT. Whether or not you agree with it...and there's much I don't...her anti-tribal clarity is wonderful. I'll be buying the book.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Suppose I am Toyota, and I build a auto-manufacturing system, which allows me to build cars at a cost of 80% of what it costs at GM, by spending 5% extra on parts, and 25% less on labor (absolute, not relative). Is this a good thing? If this approach spreads, it will cause 5 million people from current jobs to become unemployed, as manufacturing in general gets cheaper. Only benefit is that everyone using manufactured items is happier, and saves (about) 20% of what they were spending. And so they spend it on more manufactured stuff (5%), and on services (15%).
Suppose I am a software methodologist, and I can take your software company and improve it's efficiency at delivering software, using Agile methods done well, by 10x. My team of 15 can do what your large company software team takes 150 to do...and faster with fewer bugs...and my people aren't IQ-exceptional. Is this a good thing? Supposing (falsely) that we're writing all the software we want written, spreading the software methodology that I use would result in 90% unemployment among programmers. Should you ban my approach? Is the cost of software dropping by 10x worth putting millions of folks out of work?
Is it worthwhile for the automated industrial looms that constituted the second wave of the industrial revolution to allow 3 low-paid weavers to do what 30 high-paid weavers used to do? Shouldn't we ban that? We didn't. We're now 10-10,000 times richer, depending on how you calculate.
IF we agree that it's a legitimate choice for me (really, this is my job) to advocate switching software methodology to doing things for 10x cheaper...then we have a discussion to have. If you don't...I'd recommend a move back to primitive agriculture. Feel free to work 16 hours a day scraping dirt, in order to have only enough to eat that 1/2 of your children die of malnutrition. That is the result of your policy.
Suppose Yudkowsky's applied Epistemology work (great recently, this October. Rather unusually, I don't have anything to fight about) result in a low-grade AGI that caps somewhere near 2x human intelligence, and which has particular facility with 3D printers. Eli can produce anything made of plastic using his secret slave AGI at a cost of 1/100th what anyone else does. And it takes no workers. Because he can print his own printers. And he can synthesize plastic from the seawater near his house in Berkeley. Is it a net win to destroy every plastics-producing job in the country, just in order to get free plastic stuff?
That's what happened to Agriculture in the rich world. One dude with a tractor and industrial fertilizers can now do the work of 49 dudes without tractors or industrial fertilizers. Win for everyone? For sure. But it was a painful transition. Honestly, we're in the middle of that same transition in manufacturing as well. Robots are cheaper than humans (partly because of government, but mostly because technological improvements). What used to take 50 people to do, currently takes 3, and we're well on the path to 1, or even less.
Suppose that the Russian government announces that not only are they sitting on a quadrillion dollars worth of diamonds, but also that oilfield they found in the Arctic circle contains about a bajillion dollars worth of oil that it costs $1/barrell to extract from the ground. Furthermore, because we so clearly all want the same form of centrally managed communist/fascist/crony capitalist government, they are going to give us as much oil as we can use for free. Take it or leave it?
What if the Klingons dropped a trillion barrels of oil into a newly dug (very deep) lake in Utah, and then flew off? Should we use it?
What if something suddenly becomes (near) free that used to take work to get?
What is the proper response to productivity improvements. My claim is that every single one of the examples I give above gives us a better life...and puts a whole buttload of people out of work. And the better life for people is always the right answer.
From the point of view of folks in this country, sending a pile of steel and $1000 to japan, and getting back a finished car is 100% identical to doing the same trade with yudkowsky's AGI.
Do we like productivity improvements? Or do we advocate a life of poverty, with less stuff and more work? As far as I can tell, that's the only real question. I think it's easy.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Second, here is an article. by a seemingly cogent defender of protectionism (Vox Day), arguing that because people have individual rights, they don't have individual rights. It's just that coherent.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Commentary here please, unless it's strictly software related. If you're in software, and you happened to share the Tom And Geri blog around your software-geek friends, it wouldn't upset me much. Most of the blog authors write well.
Monday, October 8, 2012
In the comments of the last post, Dr. Pat expands my thinking about bunnies notably. On the other hand, I'm not willing to step away from my explanation just yet. Here's my "just so story".
Most people have a group of 5 bunnies that are rather muscular bunnies that focus on group dynamics, group belonging, etc. Their preferences are aligned enough that they usually pull in the same direction. In practice, this means that in conflicts, this particular group of bunnies gets their way most of the time. There is also another bunny who is usually weak and sickly (or a frog) who checks for ideational consistency. That frog usually moves backwards.
In some rare folks, the frog is unusually muscular. Not a normal frog or even a bullfrog, but a big-ass pixie frog who eats rats. He gets what he wants a little bit. Or he has a buddy: 2 giant pixie frogs. These people would land in what Simon Baron Cohen (autism researcher) talks about as high on the systematizing scale. Now, some other rare folks would have group bunnies that were sick...they had polio as baby bunnies. One of the 5 died. The other 4 are crippled and can't walk effectively.
If you run into a person who (a) has crippled group bunnies, and (b) has giant pixie-frogs...then you get a different approach to cognition than you see in most.
That doesn't say it's better.
FWIW, the book that most informed my thinking on Rabbit-Brains is "Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite" by Robert Kurzban. Fabulous book. Rabbits are my wording.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
- Human brains are effectively populated by rabbits. Your conscious mind is like a very small person attempting to ride a large herd of rabbits, which aren't all going the same direction. Your job is to pretend to be in control, and make shit up to explain where the rabbits went, and what you did.
- Humans bunny brains are optimized for social activity, not intellectual activity. If your brain thinks principles first, instead of groups first, it's broken, and not just a little bit.
- Of course, this means that anyone thinking group first is almost completely full of crap regarding their reasoning process. They're (99.86% certainty) making shit up that makes the group look good, and the actual rational value of the statement is near zero. The nominal process "A->B->C" is actually C, now let's backfill with B and A.
- Therefore I'm almost only interested in listening to folks who are group-free. If your brain is broken in the kind of way that prohibits group-attachment...then you're far far more likely to be thinking independently, and shifting perspectives.
- Aside: FWIW, this is the core (unsolvable?) problem that inhabits rationalist groups. There is a deep and abiding conflict between groupism and thinking. The Randians have encountered this most loudly, but it's also there in the libertarians, the extropians, the David Deutch-led popperian rationalists, and the LessWrongers.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Beginning with Robert Barro’s WSJ essay from 1992, many commenters have pointed out that Singapore invests twice as much as Hong Kong, and ends up with roughly the same growth rate and per capita GDP. This is attributed to the fact that Singapore’s government is more interventionist...Adler and Somin @ Volokh on dividends from the Obamacare ruling:
It’s worth noting that the Ninth Circuit just treated the Roberts’ Necessary and Proper reasoning from NFIB as if it were binding. In upholding the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act sex offfender registration requirement, they relied heavily on NFIB’sinterpretation of the Necessary and Proper ClauseAKA: The government doesn't have the authority to do it because it's not a tax.
Almost all US campaign finance law is simply an attempt to shield incumbents, who are ALREADY CORRUPT, from the scolding winds of scrutiny and competition.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The Libertarian position is that tyranny is crappy any which way it comes...and we're thoroughly opposed to all the flavors: They all suck badly.
Tyranny of the Monarch
Tyranny of the Masses
Tyranny of the Nation over the individual (pick a spelling: Fascism, Naziism, Communism)
One would suspect that my IF/Shangri-la/superslow thing is working.
Normalish daily schedule:
Near 7am: Drink 1 16 oz. zero-calorie Monster.
Near 11:30 am: Maybe drink 1 cup of cream, while holding nose. Then drink water to clear taste/smell
Near 12:30 pm: Drink 1 32 oz. giant cup of unsweet ice tea, maybe with a lemon
In reality, these two vary massively..and are sometimes skipped
Near 3:30pm: Drink 1 trenta Starbucks iced coffee, heavy cream..sweetened somehow (pink stuff or sugar)
Near 6:30pm: Eat a hard paleo dinner:
- Salad + fatty dressing
- Big chunk of meat
- thin fatty sauce (butter or meatfat)
- veggies (in butter)
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
I actually prefer the title to the article, and would have preferred that the article delve more into the proposition suggested by the title. However, while I continue to veer to the skeptical side of Eli, and think that he still lives a little on the intrinsicist side of the world...the article is excellent.