Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One of my major influences, the late Karl Hess

The Death of Politics by Karl Hess
"Libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit: that all man's social actions should be voluntary: and that respect for every other man's similar and equal ownership of life and, by extension, the property and fruits of that life is the ethical basis of a humane and open society. In this view, the only – repeat, only – function of law or government is to provide the sort of self-defense against violence that an individual, if he were powerful enough, would provide for himself."
More from the Death of Politics.

Quote for the day

"Freedom regularly makes ridiculous anyone who thinks he has figured out the limits of what is possible." - Charles Murray, What It Means To Be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Moral licensing!

In the deep recesses of the inner mind is the Great Offset!
We drink Diet Coke -- with Quarter Pounders and fries at McDonald's. We go to the gym -- and ride the elevator to the second floor. We install tankless water heaters -- then take longer showers. We drive SUVs to see Al Gore's speeches on global warming.

These behavioral riddles beg explanation, and social psychologists are offering one in new studies. The academic name for such quizzical behavior is moral licensing. It seems that we have a good/bad balance sheet in our heads that we're probably not even aware of. For many people, doing good makes it easier -- and often more likely -- to do bad. It works in reverse, too: Do bad, then do good.

"We have these internal negotiations going in our heads all day, even if we don't know it," said BenoƮt Monin, a social psychologist who studies moral licensing at Stanford University. "People's past behavior literally gives them license to do that next thing, which might not be good."

The implications of moral licensing are vast, stretching beyond consumer decisions and into politics and environmental policy. Monin published a study showing that voters given an opportunity to endorse Barack Obama for president were more likely to later favor white people for job openings. Social psychologists point to government standards for fuel efficiency as another example of moral licensing at work: Automakers can sell a certain number of gas guzzlers as long as their overall fleet achieves a specified miles-per-gallon rating.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Always look on the bright side of life

It's OK to kick problems down the road. We've got some time!
Life on Earth is wiped out every 27 million years – and we have about 16 million years left until the next extinction, according to scientists.

Research into so-called ‘extinction events’ for our planet over the past 500 million years - twice as long as any previous studies - has proved that they crop up with metronomic regularity.

Scientists from the University of Kansas and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC are 99 per cent confident that there are extinctions every 27 million years.

In the 1980s scientists believed that Earth’s regular extinctions could be the result of a distant dark twin of the Sun, called Nemesis.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Code on the run

Google always appears to be one step ahead.

The free software, called Google App Inventor for Android (http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/about/), has been under development for a year. User testing has been done mainly in schools with groups that included sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates who are not computer science majors.

The thinking behind the initiative, Google said, is that as cellphones increasingly become the computers that people rely on most, users should be able to make applications themselves.

“The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project.

The project is a further sign that Google is betting that its strategy of opening up its technology to all kinds of developers will eventually give it the upper hand in the smartphone software market. Its leading rival, Apple, takes a more tightly managed approach to application development for the iPhone, controlling the software and vetting the programs available.

“We could only have done this because Android’s architecture is so open,” Mr. Abelson said.

Reason asks: "Where Do Libertarians Belong?"

All three writers -- Brink Lindsey, Jonah Goldberg and Matt Kibbe -- in this symposium are cogent, refreshing and passionate about the relationship between libertarians and conservatives.All three make observations that can't be overlooked. However, I say Goldberg and Kibbe get the best of the debate.