Andrew Dalton points out, and explains, a very interesting fluids demonstration.
Commentary from a pro-reason, pro-egoism, pro-capitalism perspective
Andrew Dalton points out, and explains, a very interesting fluids demonstration.
[This is a follow up to a comment left by PM on this post. My response is long enough (and late enough) that I figured it best to make it a new post rather than trying to revive an older thread.]
Suppose lung cancer and breast cancer had an argument. Suppose breast cancer refused to be called a kind of "cancer" because it was *not* caused by smoking. Breast cancer might make a big deal out of this, but it shouldn't persuade the rest of us not to call it cancer.Yet your cancer analogy only has any plausibility and meaning because a normal reader assumes (in objectivist terms: supplies the vast amount of missing but necessary context) that the people making the two diagnoses are rational and use definite, objective (i.e. fact based) means to come to their conclusions. That is the doctors do biopsies, cultures, medical histories, etc. and then apply logical methods to rule out other causes and to confirm the two cancers, and then they refer to the work of other rational scientists who have established that there are indeed similarities between the two types of cancer which are more fundamental than just the specific cause of the particular disease.
Just a couple of items to pass on: John Mauldin's latest letter presents a very good summary of the subprime mess and how we got here. The WSJ had a good story showing the effects of environmentalism (viz. keeping people poor). It also exposes some of the tactics environmentalists so often use, including failing to present all the facts, and failing to compare the alternatives. A few excerpts from it:
While the film gives time to supporters and opponents of the mine, it leaves unsaid that half of the villagers voicing opposition have now either sold their homes or will not have to move, because they live in a protected area where the village's historic structures and churches will be preserved. Viewers who see pristine shots of the Rosia valley won't realize the hills hide a huge, abandoned communist-era mine, leaking toxic heavy metals into local streams--or that while the modern mining project will level four hills to create an open pit, it will also clean up the old mess at no cost to the Romanian treasury.
And there's the rub. Rosia Montana needs a cleanup and development. Three-quarters of its 600 families lack indoor toilets, unemployment tops 70% and the only truly viable crop is potatoes. In "Mine Your Own Business," Andrei Jurca, the local dentist, tells Mr. McAleer "we don't need foreign advocates. We are smart enough to take our own fate in our own hands." Other villagers note that concerns about Gabriel's use of cyanide in gold mining are misplaced. Seven out of nine existing gold mines in European Union countries use cyanide and the allowable limits in Rosia Montana will be lower than all of them.
Perhaps local unemployed miner Gheorghe Lucian says it best: "People have no food to eat. . . . I know what I need--a job." Mr. Soros's Romanian Open Society Foundation is touting "alternative economic activities such as organic agriculture and eco-tourism," unrealistic at best. Stefania Simon, legal counsel for the anti-mine group Alburnus Maior, has no answer for Mr. Lucian. "Unemployment is a problem, but it will not be solved by mining," she told Britain's Guardian newspaper. Noting that Gabriel has only a 17-year lease to mine, she says, "This is a solution for the short term." But right now, even non-permanent jobs and any cleanup of the existing pollution looks like a good deal to people like Mr. Lucian.
I'm off for a week, so I thought I'd leave you with a bit of humor my parents forwarded me the other day (it's fiction as far as I know):
Judy Barnes, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary Clinton's great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana. He was hanged in 1889. The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: "Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1883, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889."
Judy e-mailed Hillary Clinton @ NY.Gov for comments. Hillary's staff of professional image adjusters cropped Remus' picture, scanned it, enlarged the image, and edited it with image processing software, so that all that's seen is a head shot. The accompanying biographical sketch read as follows: "Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."
This post, featuring Paul McKeever's letter refusing to attend a libertarian event, is one of the more encouraging things I've run into in a while. (Paul McKeever is the president of the Freedom Party of Ontario - a group I'm not familiar with but which sounds promising, especially after reading Paul's letter and a few of his comments elsewhere.)
I expect the media to increase its attacks on hedge funds, using their typical broad-brush tactics. I think this excerpt from John Mauldin's letter (quoting from Jon Sundt) does a good job in explaining why such grouping makes no sense and why it should not be considered a market failure when avowed risk-takers suffer a loss on a risky bet:
"Indeed, if you look at the indices for different hedge fund strategies out there, you will find a large dispersion of results for July, with some strategies gaining money and some losing money. The differences between a long/short US manager, a multi-strategy Asia manager, and a leveraged CDO manager are too numerous to mention in this article, but the press would have you believe that these managers are all bound together.
"Let me reinforce my point with a basic but very appropriate analogy. In Japan, there is a distinctive puffer fish called the Fugu. It is served in special sushi restaurants by master chefs. Fugu tingles in your mouth when you eat it. It is supposed to be an exotic aphrodisiac in Japan, where diners spend hundreds of dollars a serving to eat it. The problem is that eating Fugu can kill you. There is an old saying in Japan, 'I want to eat Fugu, but I don't want to die.' People have been known to literally drop dead in sushi bars from cardiac arrest and pulmonary failure if the Fugu they ate wasn't prepared correctly. You have to be a specially trained and licensed Fugu chef to prepare and serve it. Personally, I would want to see the stats of the chef before eating Fugu...just a simple 'number of customers killed' would work for me.
"Now imagine a family in your town called the Griswolds. (You may remember them from the National Lampoon 'Vacation' films.) Suppose for their next trip, the Griswolds decide to travel to Japan and pursue some gastronomical thrills and eat the infamous Fugu. So they do some cursory research, march into a Tokyo Fugu restaurant, plunk down $1,000 and order a huge plate of Fugu. And die on the spot.
"The next morning as you sit at your breakfast table sipping coffee, you read the following headline:
"LOCAL FAMILY DIES EATING EXOTIC POISONOUS FISH IN TOKYO"
"You think to yourself, no problem... you continue sipping coffee... and maybe mutter... 'They should have known better.'
"Now imagine instead that you read the following headline:
"LOCAL FAMILY DIES IN FISH RESTAURANT"
"Your reaction may be very different. You are likely going to cancel your reservation at the local sushi bar until you hear more. What if all fish are tainted? Or is it just that restaurant? Or is it a specific type of fish? You'll have lots of questions, and you might assume, until you know more, that no fish are worth eating.
"My point is that events like these and potential losses should not come as a surprise to knowledgeable and well-educated investors, whether in Bear Stearns' funds (the current focal point of media attention) or other funds. The name of one of the Bear Stearns' funds was 'The High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund.' If this name alone didn't suggest possible concentrations in potentially high-risk investments, I don't know what would. According to one Citibank report, the fund at one point was 80:1 leveraged! In March of this year, the subprime story was all over the news. At a time when most news sources were already talking about interest rate increases hurting subprime borrowers, Bear Stearns appears to have been marketing a fund that invested in illiquid/exotic mortgage credit instruments with high levels of leverage.
"While I don't personally know the full details behind the reasons Bear sponsored this fund, it is clear in my mind that investors seem to have been taken by surprise as to what they had invested in. As I see it, and to return to my analogy, this fund may have been serving up large plates of Fugu to investors clamoring for a bite. The 'diners' appear to have either been unaware of the risks, or more likely, had not seriously considered what could, and in fact did, go wrong.
"Not all CDOs have danger written all over them, but those backed by subprimes would, with the benefit of hindsight, seem to have been quite clearly headed for trouble. It is a very narrow and specialized breed of hedge fund that trades in such a space. Like a sushi 'Fugu' bar, such investing is not typical of all hedge funds. That doesn't mean there aren't billions of dollars exposed to it... it just means it isn't your everyday long/short hedge fund."
This is an interesting essay on the Canadian health care system and socialized medicine more generally. I particularly like the honest and reality-centered manner by which the author came to his present views:
"I was once a believer in socialized medicine. I don’t want to overstate my case: growing up in Canada, I didn’t spend much time contemplating the nuances of health economics. I wanted to get into medical school—my mind brimmed with statistics on MCAT scores and admissions rates, not health spending. But as a Canadian, I had soaked up three things from my environment: a love of ice hockey; an ability to convert Celsius into Fahrenheit in my head; and the belief that government-run health care was truly compassionate. What I knew about American health care was unappealing: high expenses and lots of uninsured people. When HillaryCare shook Washington, I remember thinking that the Clintonistas were right.
My health-care prejudices crumbled not in the classroom but on the way to one. On a subzero Winnipeg morning in 1997, I cut across the hospital emergency room to shave a few minutes off my frigid commute. Swinging open the door, I stepped into a nightmare: the ER overflowed with elderly people on stretchers, waiting for admission. Some, it turned out, had waited five days. The air stank with sweat and urine. Right then, I began to reconsider everything that I thought I knew about Canadian health care. I soon discovered that the problems went well beyond overcrowded ERs. Patients had to wait for practically any diagnostic test or procedure, such as the man with persistent pain from a hernia operation whom we referred to a pain clinic—with a three-year wait list; or the woman needing a sleep study to diagnose what seemed like sleep apnea, who faced a two-year delay; or the woman with breast cancer who needed to wait four months for radiation therapy, when the standard of care was four weeks."
Monday's WSJ carried an editorial detailing the on-going political executions in Iran. It's worth reading not only for the concrete examples of Iran's leaders' mentality and actions -- providing yet more evidence for the need to take care of the Iranian regime before it obtains nukes -- but also more generally to gain a better appreciation of the horror of living under a theocracy and thereby increasing our resolve to oppose its imminent rise here in the US.
This weekend, while waiting for the Bourne Ultimatum (which I highly recommend) to start, I saw the preview for American Gangster. For some reason it really hit me how sad it is that in our culture, it would be inconceivable for Hollywood to portray a (real) businessman as saying "the most important thing in business is honesty ... integrity, hard work..." yet mafiosos are routinely depicted this way. This complete reversal of morality, of victim and culprit, is the reason that I can't watch the Sopranos and probably won't watch American Gangster.
ARI has put up a great audio from this year's Association of Private Enterprise Education conference. Onkar's presentation of freedom and reason vs. force and faith (~min 20) is particularly good, but I recommend listening to the entire discussion. (File can be found on the OAC page.)
Via Paul at Noodlefood comes this cool chart of the wealthiest Americans ever. (I don't quite understand the numerical value on the axis as the caption says they're ranked according to the percentage of the economy (GDP?) that their wealth represented.) Producers one and all, I imagine they differ in this respect from any equivalent list of Europeans.