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This is the archive for May 2005

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Apparently, Viagara can make you go blind. So maybe the old wives tale is true afterall. If they also find an increased incidence of hair on the palms among Viagra users, it would explain everything.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

There's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that the EU constitution is going down in flames. The bad news is that they aren't really asking the voters.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Please read the last, short, article in this blog.

It seems like just a normal guy, going about his normal business. It takes on a whole different meaning when you know that the blogger that wrote that, and his sister, were tied up and stabbed to death minutes later by the man mentioned in the blog.

It's one thing to look at the number of people murdered - usually for incredibly trivial reasons - and think about how bad that number is. It's another thing to look at them one at a time.

That this can happen, and so often in our society, is no accident.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Anakin's line "you're with me or you're agaisnt me" has grabbed all the headlines as an obvious slam at Bush. But that's not the line that bothered me.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The FAA has decided to start regulating space. Not access to it and travel to and from it, as is arguably their job, but the use of it once we get there. Their newest proposal would "prohibit obtrusive space advertising". I'm completely against this. (Hat tip: Tom's Astronomy Blog)

We're going to buy advanced tickets for a 3:00 showing tomorrow. Why so specific? Because we have busy schedules? Because we are meeting friends there? No, it's because theaters have air conditioning

UPDATE:The link is useless now, but the idea was that it was predicted to be 110 degrees that day, a record for the date, and a near record for all time in Tucson. I don't have air conditioning in my home.
Baseball's drug scandal is so 20th century

So says Simon Smith at The tagline for the article says "...genetic modification of athletes not only to improve competition, but also to improve humanity", and while the article fails to explore this idea as fully as it could, it got me thinking.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I recently discussed how voluntary trade can make 2+2 equal 5. A corollary article about communism might describe how it does just the opposite. I won't write that article here, at least not for now, but I've gotten a good start on it in some comments a commie-friendly blog called "Thudfactor". It's a discussion about the (imaginary) differences between communism and fascism, but there's a bit of economic meat to it as well.

Let's watch and see how many comments I can get through before someone recognizes the superiority of my logic and resorts to ad-hominem.

UPDATE: So far no vicious attacks or irrational outbursts. They've even proved me partially wrong on a secondary point. I'm pleasantly surprised. Thudfactor seems to have some thoughtful people on it.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The founders of Intel both have their own laws now. Gordon Moore is famous for his law about the capacity and speed of computers doubling every 18 months, a law which has held up remarkably well for a long time.

Well now, co-founder Andy Grove has his own law:
"Technology will always win. You can delay technology by legal interference, but technology will flow around legal barriers".

I whole-heartedly agree. And though I might say that I'm here to help it, the truth is, it doesn't need my help.
Some otherwise anonymous commenter named "birdwoman" left a very insightful comment on my article about economics. She said, in effect, that she knew these things before, but had not seen them put into words. This made me, in turn, realize that the purpose I had in mind when writing it was not to teach people something they didn't know, but to "teach" (if that's the right word) something to people that they already did know, but didn't know they knew it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I'm not going to try to figure out all seven here, though I'd enjoy suggestions in the comments, but there's one that I know will be on my list. No, it's not Google, though they will probably be too.

Wikipedia is simply amazing. Google some even mildly obscure term, and Wikipedia will almost definitely be in the top ten, if not number one. What makes it work is the fact that there is nobody controlling how it works. You can go on there and add anything you want, even deliberate lies, yet it still works.

It's predecessor, Nupedia, was a more or less traditional approach. Though anybody could submit an article, it had a formal peer-review process that made sure that any article submitted had cleared a high hurdle of accuracy, accountablility before it ever saw the light of the internet. It based its credibility and level of expertise on these processes.

It failed.

Nupedia's successor, Wikipedia, threw out all the formality of peer review along with any hint of accountability. It was not only a popular success, but it acheived a level of credibility and expertise that, if not quite as firm as traditional encyclopedias, was good enough for most purposes. And it did it with an accessibility that absolutely put to shame that of any traditional scholarly sources.

Though there was no one guiding it, no-one and no process assuring credibility and expertise, these qualities emerged from the chaos of allowing anyone to add anything they wanted, subject only to the editing of the next guy who may or may not correct any inaccuracies or outright lies. It's an example of spontaneous order, which I mentioned in my first Advancement Tech article.

Without centralized control, order emerged from the chaos. Without authority, it became authoritative. Without accountability, it became trusted. This is an inspiration to those of us who see order in markets and private law that can emerge from the chaos of everybody ruthlessly pursing their own self-interest.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

At the first mention of "Economics", most people's eyes glaze over. That's no surprise, as "the Dismal Science" as it is called is so overwrought with arcane equations and contrived concepts that I sometimes wonder if even economists really understand it.

A big part of that obscurity does one thing: it hides one simple, basic fact of economics that any 8-year old boy who has ever traded baseball cards could understand. It doesn't require complicated proof, or ideological agreement, and it won't require any math beyond 2+2. All it requires is an explanation that integrates facts you already know, and simple, nearly self-evident logic. And no, it's not the law of supply and demand. It's not nearly that complicated.

These equations and charts and hifalutin' ideas seem to have little bearing on real life, and to a large extent, they don't. This one fact does, however. It is so fundamental to real life, and so simple, that if you really understand it, if you accept it, it will change everything about how you see economics. It may even turn you into a capitalist.

So if you've made it this far, read on. If you're one of those people who says "I will never become an evil capitalist, no matter what evidence and facts I see", then go ahead and move on to the next blog.

It's been a while since my last post here, but I've been busy blogging, in a way, nonetheless.

I help run an eBay business in addition to my full-time job and my blogging duties here. Actually, my partner, Sally does all the work, I just help out. We're what's called in eBay lingo a "Trading Assistant", which means that we sell other people's stuff on consignment.

EBay now does about 35 billion in sales every year, and in 2003 over 388,000,000 items were sold on eBay (listings totaled almost 800,000,000).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

This blog has a long political "heritage", if you want to call it that. But advancement is the antithesis of politics. I'm here to talk about more, so much more, than politics. Things that will make politics a distant, slightly odd, memory.

Technology is number three in my "big four" topics. It, like all the others, has ramifications for the other three. I'll be listing, as much for my own benefit as yours, those areas of technology - I'll call them "Advancement Tech" - that I think pertain to the other three in ways that have the potential to advance the human race in ways unimaginable to us now. All of those I list pertain to each area.

I'll post them in a series of four articles over the next week or so, the next three each pertaining to one of the areas of Life, Intelligence, and Freedom. This is just a catalog, a way to organize a much larger discussion that will be ongoing here, and so I won't explore any of them in depth here. But these are the areas to watch, both to keep up with the cutting edge of human advancement and to be alert to emerging business and investment opportunities.

There are a few areas of technology that are so broad, or so fundamental to other areas, that I can't fit them into any of the other three categories. So they'll just be here in the Technology category, but they have application to all four aspects of Human Advancement.
I'm involved in Blog Explosion now, to try to get some visitors to this thing. The basic idea is that you surf other member sites, for 20 seconds each (they have a way of enforcing this) to earn credits that get other members to surf your site.

Though you can buy credits outright, I'm doing the surfing thing right now. This has two benefits. The first is that I can broaden my horizons a bit, and see parts of the blogosphere I might never get to otherwise. The second, and most important, is that I get to see other blogs the way my new visitors are seeing mine.

I've learned a lot from this, in only a few hours of surfing.

  • You're only as good as your top article

Sunday, May 08, 2005

What to do about this government thing? Police states, socialism, protectionism, nationalism... Pretty soon it gets to be that the concientious Advancer runs into some real obstacles. Well, New Hampshire may be the last place in the U.S. with some true sense of freedom, even at the highest levels.

Witness this very Advanced response to a silly new idea some busybody came up with:
So when a bill came up in early April to consider allowing robotic traffic cameras at the busiest crossroads, mocking laughter from the [State House] gallery preceded the measure's demise.

Strident opposition to this bill would have given it credibility with the public, possibly (probably) resulting in its eventual enactment, if not this time, then next. Compromise would have had it enacted even sooner.

Laughter is just what the doctor ordered. Don't argue, don't meet them halfway. Don't give them sanction of any kind. Don't grant them the legitimacy of being taken seriously.

The people who vomit these sort of ideas all over the shoes of advanced society thrive on opposition and argument. They swallow compromise in great greedy gulps. Both make them stronger by making them important.

They are not important.

Laugh. Move on. Advance
"...and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." - Genesis 11:6

"Where are the flying cars?" - IBM television commercial ca. 2000

Some of you may know the context of the Genesis quote. It is from the story of the Tower of Babel. The Bible is chock full of stories of God punishing man for the sin of Advancement, but this one seems particularly egregious (at least in my limited knowledge of the Bible).

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You may have noticed the new look. If you're new to the site, check out this article about why I'm doing this.

There's a picture of a slightly strange looking building at the top of the page, and two quotes. They all mean something. They almost, but not quite, serve as a complete summary of this endeavor.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R, CO) was on Fox News this morning talking about illegal immigration and Driver's Licenses. There's a bill running through congress ("like shit through a goose" would be a good analogy, but I won't go there) to standardize the identification requirements for getting a Driver's Licence from state to state. Tancredo, and apparently many others, believe that this will "slam the door" on terrorists trying to get into the US.

Setting aside for the moment how ludicrous that is, Tancredo made a very telling statement that deserves further examination.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Richard blogged this before I could get to it. His article covers the gut reaction points, and pretty much gets it right by me. But I wonder, what would advanced humans do about this.