Archive for March, 2014

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Expertise

March 31, 2014

This is a bit long-winded but funny nonetheless.

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You can never go home any more

March 30, 2014

‘Tom Paine’ is a British ex-pat who’s been writing at The Last Ditch. I ran across his post below when I found it quoted at Samizdata.

Goodbye and good luck

You cannot, as the man said, step in the same river twice. I was away from Britain for 20 years. The Britain I returned to was not the Britain I left. Even though I had visited often, kept in touch with friends and family and followed political developments assiduously while living abroad, it had changed in ways I had not grasped. Perhaps, to be fair, I had changed too.

To me, it now seems a strange, immoral place. For example, I read articles in The Guardian and The Times this week about the abolition of inherited wealth. The Economist also recently wrote about it. It did not even occur to any of these columnists that they were talking about the property of others. They did not create it. They did not inherit it. They have no just claim to it. Yet they have no moral concerns about proposing its seizure. […]

I have tried to make these points both here and face to face with people I meet in my everyday life. All I have achieved is an outward reputation for eccentricity and a powerful inward sense of alienation. As the next General Election approaches offering me no moral choices it is time, alas, to accept defeat.

Everything I might still want to say to you has been said better in this book and this one. I am wasting your time writing anything more than this heartfelt recommendation to read them.

Goodbye and good luck.

I wasn’t certain that this was intended to be Tom’s farewell post but he confirmed that it was in a comment at Samizdata.

Reading his post reminded me of my thoughts that maybe those of us who favor freedom and self-reliance have lost a culture war. Maybe we’ve allowed the debate to be framed in terms favorable to our opponents’ points of view. There are times when I wonder whether I’m becoming an eccentric (as Tom says) or the culture really has changed for the worse in the years since I was young. It can be a tough call.

It helps to recall some Happy Warriors of the recent past, even if I didn’t always agree with all the battles they fought. They re-framed the debates of their time: "There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty."

And all that said, I certainly agree with Tom’s advice that you read Thomas Sowell’s books linked in his post.

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Alarmism muted?

March 29, 2014

Matt Ridley (Mr. Rational Optimist) had an article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal about a report soon to be released by the IPCC. (I wonder whether Professor Torcello has heard of this.)

Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm
Even while it exaggerates the amount of warming, the IPCC is becoming more cautious about its effects.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists’ accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government. […]

Via CoyoteBlog’s We Are All Lukewarmers Now

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Army of the State (3)

March 27, 2014

So much for cameras on cops… Read the whole thing.

He Cooperated with the Cops — and is Paying the Price: The Ordeal of Mark Byrge

When Mark Byrge had a minor traffic accident on a street in American Fork, Utah, he did the “responsible” thing by reporting the incident to the police. He has never stopped paying for that mistake.

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A quick nod to epistemology

March 23, 2014

I saw an interesting post this week (thanks to Paul) that was basically about epistemology. The gist of it was that there are things we know that we know, things we know that we don’t know, and things that we don’t even realize that we don’t know.

All of which, of course, brings to mind Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s saying the same thing.

But it also reminded me of something that Thomas Sowell wrote:

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.

I think Mr. Sowell makes many good points but this is one of the best he’s made. The more I learn, the more I realize how much there is to be learned.

And as I thought about it a bit more, it occurred to me that ‘unknown unknowns’ are what F. A. Hayek was describing in The Fatal Conceit (PDF).

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Dangerous drones

March 22, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jeff sent a link to this video about a quadrotor drone equipped with a 100-round machine gun. It can also self-destruct, as you’ll see in the clip.

The video comes from FPSRussia, who’s been making videos about small arms for a few years now. (And has 5,000,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.)

Jeff’s comment was, "Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out get you."


Then today I ran across this hexarotor drone called CUPID via Gizmag.

That guy acting as the crash test dummy has an amazing confidence in technology, doesn’t he?

The comments for CUPID describe it this way.

Chaotic Moon built CUPID to raise awareness of technology that’s outpacing everything from regulatory agencies to social norms.

So now I’m wondering when I’ll see one of these or read about one of them being used here in the U.S.

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The Kidney Sellers

March 22, 2014

Here’s an interesting video from Reason.tv.

And here are details about Ms Fry-Revere’s book.

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