Shadows

Politics 2009-06-09 12:17

“We see laws as nothing more than the shadows of our predecessor’s customs, lengthened by the years to seem more wise than our own judgement.”

From Fighting For Our Lives: An Anarchist Primer

Government is an Industry

Economics, Politics 2009-05-25 04:23

“Government is just another industry, where countries offer services to citizens, but it has some unfortunate features. It is a geographically segmented monopoly, and since all land is taken, the industry has an enormous barrier to entry. To start a new government you have to beat an old one, which means winning a war, an election, or a revolution. And it has very high customer lock-in: there are barriers to emigration and immigration, and switching countries involves both high financial and emotional costs. These characteristics result in a horribly uncompetitive industry, so it is no surprise that existing firms tend to exploit customers instead of innovating to attract them.”

From Beyond Folk Activism by Patri Friedman

Congress API

Politics, Internet, Infinite Series 2009-04-29 01:47

A Step Away from Demonization

Psychedelia, Politics, Health 2009-04-20 01:14

Dr. Sanjay Gupta was offered the job of Surgeon General of the United States. He turned it down, but note that he can be seen describing the theraputetic benefits of MDMA in this video.

Was the US Founded as a Christian Nation?

Politics, Spirituality 2009-04-14 10:16

“…the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

From The Treat of Tripoli, unanimously approved by Congress in 1796 (via)

Databases and Gay Marriage

Technology, Politics, Silly 2009-04-01 08:24

Cultural norms inform schema design - or is it the other way around? For example, on the subject of gay marriage:

“To be blunt, the systems aren’t set up to handle it. The paper forms have a space for the husband’s name and a space for the wife’s name. Married people carefully enter their details in block capitals and post the forms off to depressed paper-pushers who then type that information into software front-ends whose forms are laid out and named in precisely the same fashion. And then they hit “submit” and the information is filed away electronically in databases which simply keel over or belch integrity errors when presented with something so profound as a man and another man who love each other enough to want to file joint tax returns.”

75th Anniversary of the End of Prohibition

Psychedelia, Politics, Liberty 2008-12-05 05:09

On this day 75 years ago - Dec 5, 1933 - the 21st amendment was passed, repealing alcohol prohibition in the United States.
Read more »

Sexism

Politics, Culture 2008-09-04 12:27

An unusal tale of institutionalized sexism.

Marriage Freedoms

Politics, Dating, Infinite Series 2008-05-15 05:19

Forty years ago, the US supreme court ruled that a state law to bar interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Today we have a similar ruling, this time for same-sex marriage, from the California supreme court. The case for freedom marches steadily forward; I often wish it moved faster, but I’m just glad that we keep moving in the right direction.

Banks Suck

Economics, Politics 2008-02-01 09:56

Banks suck. I roar these words in frustration at least a few times a year, and you might, too. The reason is not hard to guess: banking is an industry subject to heavy regulation, and such industries tend to be very poor at meeting customer needs. (Other examples include health insurance and air travel.)

Banks make most of their money on consumer checking accounts through two mechanisms:

  • Fees, like check printing and overdrafts.
  • Interest on float. You deposit a check, they get the funds from the other bank in about 24 hours, and then they prevent you from accessing the money for the next three days to three weeks. They collect the interest in the meantime.

Both of these mechanisms for making money put their incentives in direct opposition to that of their customers. It’s in the bank’s interest for you to bounce checks, because those fees are a major source of revenue. So giving you tools to make it easier to know what your balance will be on a given day, for example, would actually hurt their revenue.
Read more »