03 April 2012

Random Blegs

I was traveling for work last week, which is why my posting was so sporadic.  Since I’m trying to catch up on a backlog of writing projects, I thought I’d get started with a handful of random stories that don’t require much comment.  Without further ado:

Game and Realness.  Ferd has a post explaining how Game helps men improve their lives, and also why self-improvement isn’t fake, contra to the assertions of many, many haters.  Quite simply, there is no natural state of being for anyone; we are all dynamic creatures that, by definition, change over time.  Why not change so as to become more attractive to women?

Copying Isn’t Theft.  The Freakonomics blog has a post explaining how copying isn’t theft because IP is non-rival.  Interestingly, Freakonomics has grasped a point that was implicit in the US constitution when it was written over 200 years ago.  IP rights were never about protecting property rights; they were about giving monopoly power to artists, inventors, and innovators for the purpose of improving society via the market function.  I’m not entirely sure how people managed to lose sight of this truth, but I’m glad to see that some have recognized that IP is not the sacred basis of property rights that mega-corporations in the entertainment industry people claim it to be.

Politics and Religion.  People are apparently increasingly distrustful of mixing the two.  Specifically, people are concerned that politicians are talking too much about religion. I agree.  Politicians aren’t doing Jesus any favor by claiming to represent him. In part, this is because most politicians are total scumbags (*cough* Newt *cough*). Also, Jesus didn’t tell people to go into all the world and elect people to defend his interests.  It’s like his kingdom wasn’t of this world or something.  Frankly, the church can’t get far enough away from the state for my liking.

We Are All TerroristsNow.  The DHS’s levels of security theater have reached new heights (lows?), in that the recent brief on signs of potential terrorists now describes actions that describe pretty much everyone at some point in time.  Not on the list?  Has brown skin, talks with a Middle Eastern accent, and is a young male.  Rumor has it that breathing is going to be added to the upcoming revision of the terrorism awareness guide, as a potential indicator of terrorist leanings.

We Are All TerroristTargets Now. In keeping with the above, students are now being bused to “alternate locations” as part of security drills, in a way that is reminiscent—albeit on a more frightening scale—of the bomb drills practiced in WWII.  This is nothing more than a large, wasteful performance of security theater.  In the first place, schools have never been the target of terrorists.  In the second place, schools have never been military targets.  In the third place, this won’t do anything to stop, or even slow down school shootings.  In fact, all it will do is waste gas.  At least this form of propaganda will reinforce our feeling of paranoia and unease, which will potentially lead us into war with some turd-world country.

Attention Whores. Jezebel has a story on journalists who also work as strippers, coming on the heels of the Sarah Tressler story.  It appears that there is more than one woman (and, disturbingly, at least one man) who work as both journalists and strippers.  Two thoughts occur to me.  One, it doesn’t appear that journalism is all that far removed from the world’s oldest profession (cue Bobby Knight).  Two, this makes me wonder if journalists mostly enter that field because they are attention whores who can’t cut it as actors.  In keeping with the latter thought, I would simply note that news/journalism has a remarkable similarity to other forms of entertainment, as Neil Postman brilliantly pointed out in Amusing Ourselves to Death and again in How To Watch TV News.  Both rely on narrative formats, focus on stories, etc.

Copyright Kills Markets.  Tyler Cowen has a chart showing that copyright kills books sales.  The reasons why aren’t clear, but I’d imagine price and availability are the major determining factors.  I wonder how long it will be until people begin to realize that the utilitarian argument for copyright is utter rubbish.

“Unreasonable Searchand Seizure…”  The SCOTUS apparently ruled that police can strip search anyone who has been arrested for any offense if authorities have reason to suspect that the person in question is carrying illegal substances or firearms.  I wonder if hot chicks will now be viewed with more suspicion by cops now that that anyone can be strip-searched if a cop feels suspicious about something.  (Pro tip for law enforcement officers:  arousal is not the same as suspicion.)

I hope that the pro-security neo-cons are still holding to their claim that they have nothing to hide.  With these new strip search procedures, we’ll be able to tell with certainty whether neo-cons were telling the truth.

Vox on Tribalism.  This is probably one of Vox’s most concisely brilliant pieces.  Two notable observations worth repeating are how civilization takes several hundred years to form, and how little people value civilization.

Racism, LOL.  Heartiste linked to this story on his twitter feed.  The reason why will be obvious after you read the headline and see the first picture.

Global Warming.  Global warming continues its downward spiral as a movement, at least according to the Scientific Propagandistic American.  You can tell the article is a complete pile of steaming equine matter by how the article focuses on small changes in CO2 levels while simultaneously ignoring the main cause of global temperatures (for those who might be scientists, I’m referring to the sun).  Another telltale sign that this article is bunk is how it relies on linear projections of trends.  Writing an algebraic equation is not science; it’s math.

The Value of Religion.  Robert Higgs summarizes his research of state power, and concludes that most of the opposition to totalitarianism come from (wait for it…) religious groups.  Atheists, as might be expected, wimp out when it comes to opposing dictators.  Mostly because they’re so busy supporting them.  Or trying to become one.

Trayvon Martin.  I’ll have more to say about him later.  At first, I tried to ignore the story, but it refused to go away, thanks in no small part to Chuck Rudd.  Now I’ve come to grips with it and I’ll write about it later.

Ferd Needs Help.  Ferd is panhandling again, this time offering a free eBook and a couple e-pamphlets.  Swing by and help a brother out.

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