Showing posts from July, 2007

Kidnapping and extortion à la Muammar al-Gaddafi

How to extort money and favors out of a neighboring state:Arrest some volunteers who have come to help people in your country.Accuse them of griveous crimes they didn't commit.Stage a trial in which they are found guilty and sentenced to death.Prolong their ordeal and make more noises and sentences until their home country is willing to trade something big for them.Ship them back home in exchange for a bounty of a deal.You have to hand it to him. It's so preposterous, no one else could have pulled this off but Muammar al-Gaddafi.

How much did the EU pay to get these medics back? About half a billion dollars just to compensate the families of the children - whose deaths were almost certainly due to poor hygiene in Libya's hospitals, and not due to malice on behalf of the volunteers.

Nuclear power is much greener than any alternative

Jesse Ausubel explains how wind power, hydroelectric and solar may be renewable, but are not green. Nuclear power is the only way to satisfy the world's appetite for energy, which will not and should not decrease, in an environmentally friendly manner.

Nuclear has lots more potential than we're using. The only major problem it has is public prejudice. Absent that, the sustainability, safety and security problems can all be solved.

Via Rondam Ramblings.

Neenakost spolov

Most of my posts are in English. This one is in Slovenian because it is a response I originally posted on Libertarec, a Slovenian blog.

Neenakost med spoloma je. Vsaj del te neenakosti je biološkega izvora in se je ne da preseči z naivnimi pobudami, pa naj bodo družbene ali individualne.

Vsaj del neenakosti izhaja iz tega, da imamo moški samo eno kopijo X kromosoma (XY), ženske pa imajo dve (XX). Zaradi tega so ženske genetsko stabilnejše in ima ženska populacija manj variacij pri razvoju, moška pa več. To pomeni, da je med moškimi proporcionalno več nadpovprečnih in podpovprečnih posameznikov, kot med ženskami. Populacija žensk ima zato trdnejše povprečje, populacija moških pa ima več izjemnežev, tako v pozitivnem kot v negativnem smislu.

Ampak ker ima populacija moških več izjemnežev, tudi v pozitivnem smislu, to pomeni, da bodo med najsposobnejšimi posamezniki v vsej populaciji prevladovali moški. To ne pomeni, da med najsposobnejšimi ne bo žensk, ampak pomeni, da jih bo proporcionaln…

American TV

I wasn't much of a TV enthusiast back in Slovenia. There was a period of a few years when I didn't even have a TV, and I didn't miss one. When I needed that kind of entertainment, I went to the movies. Some time later, and largely due to influence from my girlfriend - now my wife - we did get a TV, but I avoided watching it. The reason I avoided it is because, for the most part, the TV programming in Slovenia is worthless. It's not like there aren't enough channels - most cable packages carry 40 or 50 or so. But the problem in Europe is that there are so many language barriers. Most of the channels are in other languages you don't speak, where movies and shows are all synchronized (sometimes badly) into the foreign language. If you are Slovenian and you speak one foreign language well, say English, the channels you can watch are limited to the ones in English and the ones in Slovenian. Apart from National Geographic and Discovery channels, the channels in Engli…

Why are so many Americans in prison?

Excerpt from Loury's article (this part I agree with):This new system of punitive ideas is aided by a new relationship between the media, the politicians, and the public. A handful of cases—in which a predator does an awful thing to an innocent—get excessive media attention and engender public outrage. This attention typically bears no relation to the frequency of the particular type of crime, and yet laws—such as three-strikes laws that give mandatory life sentences to nonviolent drug offenders—and political careers are made on the basis of the public’s reaction to the media coverage of such crimes.I disagree with the latter parts of the article where the author shows naive humanitarianist tendencies. This part is particularly silly:If we take these questions as seriously as we should, then we would, I expect, reject a pure ethic of personal responsibility as the basis for distributing punishment.The ethic of personal responsibility is the only basis on which to distribute anythi…

You get what you pay for?

Thoughts in favor of much better compensation for elected officialsThe position of President of the United States should be paid at least $1 billion per year. $10 billion would be even better.

Currently, the President is paid in the mid six figure range per annum. This means that, over the course of four years, your average President will earn a paltry few million. And that's before tax.

Now, compare the President's salary to the tens and hundreds of millions that a presidential candidate will throw away just trying to get elected. Even if most of the campaign financing isn't their money - figure the number of years of work it takes to even build a foundation from which you can run as a plausible candidate. Now figure in the four years of presidency that - for a good President - should consist of four years of non-stop grueling work.

All of that, for what? The chance of earning a paultry figure of a few million? It's many times simpler to do that in just about any other…

Correspondent Inference Theory

Bruce Schneier comes up with excellent insight into why the terrorists' attack on 9/11 was ill-conceived in the sense of achieving what they want, and why the response from the U.S. public was so utterly, over-the-top misguided and disproportionate. A boring old topic, but Schneier nails it - the article summarizes the gist excellently.

Happy Independence Day!

Today is a good day to remember the founding of the United States.

Suppose that it's 200 years ago and you live in a world full of tyrannies trying to restrict your freedom. The tyrants try to control what you can and cannot do. For doing some actions that are inherently harmless, they will persecute you and burn you at the stake.

The tyrants tax you heavily. They demand that, for every hour you work for yourself, you work another hour for them. If they find you didn't work enough for them, they'll find you and burn you at the stake.

The tyrants go to wars against other tyrants for superficial reasons. In the process, they needlessly kill their own people and the people of the other country. In the name of tyrants, lives are lost; more lives are ruined; people's fortunes are destroyed.

Suppose now that you have a unique opportunity to found a new, independent state in a new territory, to break apart from the oppressors of the past, to create a free country. What do you d…