The birth of tyranny or business as usual?

I’ve been thinking a bit about the morality and legality of the recently revealed unwarranted wiretaps employed by the federal government to detect Islamic terrorists. I don’t know much about the law, but it seems at least plausible that if the government doesn’t need permission to spy on other countries, they shouldn’t need one to do it here, as long as they don’t intend to use it as evidence to put anyone in jail.
Volokh, a lawyers blog, has an analysis of the relevant constitutional and case law.

The strike continues

Still sore from yesterday’s adventure of biking to work, I decided to walk to the 96th Street barricade to carpool. I took a gypsy cab, which cost me $12, shared with two other passengers. That was actually less than the $20 zone pricing he could have charged me. It took a half hour to get to work, which seems to take about the same, no matter if you take the subway, drive or bike. Let me tell you that taking a cab, even if you have to share it, is pretty luxurious.
Today Jane Galt has a posting on how if the strike goes on for longer than 10 days, the union will have lost more money then they walked out over.

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A pox on the Transit Workers’ Union

The Transport Workers Union, Local 100 chapter, has decided to stop operating the mass transit of New York City. That system moves one out of every three American workers taking mass transit on a typical day. It also has the most trains and subway stations of any city.
The workers of the MTA are entitled to strike, it is their right as free men to not work if they don’t like the terms of employment.
Nevertheless, I got up early today, strapped my book bag filled with textbooks and study notes to my back, and bicycled b four miles to the the office. It was cold, tiring, and sweaty work. So unsurprisingly, I’m a bit miffed. The Local 100 membership should be destroyed.
Let’s take these guys out, replace them with robots wherever possible and non-union workers wherever that isn’t possible. Let’s start with an ultimatum. Show up to work tomorrow or you will have a lifetime ban from employment from the NYC and NY state government. Then offer a 25% pay cut, a dramatic reduction in benefits and an elimination of early retirement and defined benefit retirement schemes. Then let’s see what sort of counter offer we get.
City journal, offers the sage suggestion that if they can’t privatize the whole mass transit system, at least privatize the bus system so this doesn’t happen again.

A theory fit for Oliver Stone

Check out this vaugely plausable, detailed and insane sounding theory of how Dave Chappelle ran into all the personal problems that resulted in losing his show. In short, an conspiracy of the leaders of the American Black community.

Just how far beyond an economy of machines are we?

An article in Reason discusses how almost 80% of wealth in the rich world is in the form of intangible capital. Over 90% of variations in intangible wealth are explainable with proxy variables for the level of education in society and the quality of rule-of-law. Which isn’t surprising, but really reenforces that we aren’t spending our aid budgets on things that acutally make people richer.


Nothing but disgustingly cute picture after picture of animals doing silly stuff.

Pay day!

I got promoted, which is, you know, cool.
Go me.
I am now second interior manager in charge of regulations concerning matters arcane and mysterious.

Are Christians better than non-Christians?

Eric Rasmusen has a piece where he says that Christians have an obligation to acknowledge that:

I believe Christians are better than other people. A Christian has to believe that. If he doesn’t, he is denying sanctification — he is saying that even genuine Christian belief has no influence on a person’s behavior. Maybe that is true, but should somebody who believes it be a Christian?

Forget the veracity of this point, it is not a logical conclusion from believing genuine Christian belief has influence on a person’s behavior. If Christianity makes the people who adopt it better, if they start below average then Christianity might be good for individuals, but a bad predictor of their resulting moral quality.
Take for example Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a faith based treatment program for those who abuse alcohol. Check out this blurb about how they conducted their early treatments.

Only the Bible was allowed in the room. Recovered drunks visited the patient and told their success stories. The newcomer had to identify, admit that he too was licked, and that he would do whatever it took. Dr. Bob visited daily. Then, he would explain the disease as they then understood it; and, on the final day, asked two questions to which there was only one answer: (1) Do you believe in God? (2) Are you willing to get down on your knees and pray? The newcomer then gave his life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

That would make you, as far as I am concerned, a Christian. However most people get to AA because they’ve done terrible, sinful things while drinking.
The average atheist might have lived a more morally upstanding life than the average new inductee to AA. So making a predictive call based on who is Christian today depends significantly on what people did before they came to the church.

The decline of the real rates and the equity risk primium or how to make money off of the arrival of immortality.

Most people who die (about 2/3) die for some reason related to old age. However, as we grow in our understanding of apoptosis we close in on technologies we need to reach the end of age. Simply put, we may soon enter an era where lifespan will grow faster than average age.
How can we make money off of this situation? One way is to invest in biotechnology stocks, but with the P/E ration of the drug and biotech companies at at least 35, maybe investing in stocks isn’t the best way to go about making money. One also has to worry about small private companies in which one cannot invest coming from behind with new drugs and treatments.
Instead, save as much as possible, then invest in high (real) yielding bonds, stuff like emerging market debt and junk bonds.
That may seem highly counterintuitive. First, with a 100 or a thousand lifetimes with which to save, why would I want to start now when I could be having fun with my money?.
First we have to consider what an interest rate really represents. Most simply, interest rates are the price of borrowing money. Consider that consumption later is worth less than consumption today.
All that borrowed money must be lent by someone. The willingness of others to lend you money has to do with deferring consumption. Essentially, the believe that it is worth delaying consumption because they will get enough additional consumption to justify the delay. The longer you delay, the greater a premium.
Immortality will change the perception of what constitutes a reasonable delay. We consider it entirely reasonable that doctors spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life to learn their trade because doctors earn much more than most people once they start working. To the cave man, That delay would be absurd, the equivalent of spending 25 years learning to be a doctor today. There would be no way to recoup the investment.
According to “A History of Interest Rates“, in ancient Greece, a land mostly without inflation because the economy ran on precious metal coins and barter, nevertheless saw interest rates of between 8% and 16% to the safest of borrowers. Ancient romans and Greeks had the same life expectancy at birth, and if their demographics were anything like the somewhat later Romans, then they had a life expectancy at five of 48 years. By comparison, the average rich world resident can expect 77-81 from birth, and a bit longer from 5. The social security administration estimates that the return on a safe bond in the US is about 3.5% over the long term.

For get about text to speech, we want text to song!

Let them sing it for you is a website that takes a text input, then converts it to music, where each word you typed is sampled from a song.
You type “this is only a test” and then a crooner sings “This”, “is” comes from a rapper, “only” from a hip hop song you can almost place and so on.