Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cab Thoughts 4/27/16

Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference. Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Scientism: 1 :  methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist 2 :  an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

The Smithian moral theory tends, then, in the direction of decentralized, rather than centralized, systems of order.  Even if Smith knows that people will make mistakes regarding their moral sentiments, he worries far more about the dangers of third-party interposition.  The reason is not difficult to understand.  Despite the real risks decentralized orders pose of allowing sentiments or behaviors to arise that we dislike or find objectionable, the good news is that decentralism also allows both competition and dissociation.  If no single set of sentiments, preferences, values, or behaviors can be cemented into policy, people may choose not to associate with those who adopt sets they do not like.--James Otteson
This, again, is the importance of association and the freedom to do so.

In 1803, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806), Haiti’s first ruler, created the nation’s flag by ripping out the white stripe in the French red, white, and blue flag, claiming he would rip white people from the nation. The remaining blue and red stripes represented blacks and mulattos of Haiti. Haiti’s coat of arms sits in the center.

Who is....John Bunyan?

When Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands adopted a VAT--all between 1968 and 1971--their stated revenue goal was neutrality: Gains in revenue from the VAT were to be fully offset by reduced taxes elsewhere. (France already had a VAT but needed to revise it to meet European Economic Community Standards.)
All failed. Government revenues--and spending--rose substantially as a percentage of GDP. In 1967 in France, the year before that country adopted its EEC-compliant VAT, total government revenues were 33.4% of GDP. In 1968, France adopted a VAT rate of 13.6%. By 2014, its VAT rate was 20% and government revenues were a whopping 45.2% of GDP. When Britain adopted a VAT, the government's stated goal was to reduce revenue. That failed, too.
Only one country, Denmark, adopted a VAT to increase revenues. It succeeded.--David Henderson
Tyranny created for our own good: The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. Scary stuff. Consider that until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. The benevolent government searching for national norms. A tyranny created for our own good has no limits because our potential good has no limit.

Bordeaux on Free Trade: There is nothing unique or special about losing a job to imports compare to losing a job to any of the countless other sources of job losses, and (2) any suffering that Jones endures from the economic institution of open trade must be weighed against the benefits that Jones reaps from that economic institution. He then compares the situation to Free Speech, where a politician might be harmed by a columnist's opinion.

The wife of a senior Islamic State leader who was killed in a U.S. raid last year has been charged in federal court with holding American Kayla Mueller hostage and with contributing to the aid worker's death. Mueller, from Prescott, Arizona, was taken hostage with her boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, where he had been hired to fix the Internet service for the hospital. Mueller had begged him to let her tag along because she wanted to do relief work in the war-ravaged country. Alkhani was released after two months. She was not because....women make great prisoners.

Golden oldie:
Although it is much colder on Mars than on Earth, the similar tilt of Earth’s and Mars’ axes means they have similar seasons. Like Earth’s, Mars’ north and south polar caps shrink in the summer and grow in the winter. In addition, a day on Mars is 24 hours 37 minutes—nearly the same as Earth’s. No other planet shares such similar characteristics with Earth.

As Aleppo was about to fall, the Russians seemed to have no interest in negotiating the leadership of Bashar al-Assad. The problem for the US and its regional allies is simple: if Russia and Iran wipe out the opposition on the battlefield, there’s no need for peace talks. The Assad government will have been restored and that will be that. ISIS will still be operating in the  east, but that’s a problem Moscow and Tehran will solve in short order once the country’s major urban centers are secured. Aleppo falling to Assad would mark a truly humiliating defeat for US foreign policy and, more importantly, for the Saudis' goal of establishing Sunni hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is said to have held imaginary conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi as a therapeutic release, according to a new book written by Bob Woodward, as reported in Sunday's edition of The Chicago Sun-Times. I wish she'd talk to Lincoln.

According to the Hesiodic myth, however, instead of giving bountiful gifts, Pandora opened a jar, in modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as "Pandora's box", releasing all the evils of humanity—although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by Hesiod—leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act.(Wiki)
Ah, that audacious Hope again.

The global economy seems trapped in a "death spiral" that could lead to further weakness in oil prices, recession and a serious equity bear market, Citi strategists have warned. Just as if they were thoughtful observers and not mostly to blame.
Education officials across China are aggressively recruiting male teachers, as the Chinese news media warn of a need to “salvage masculinity in schools.”

In 1807, the U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States…from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.” Initially, European indentured servants were far more numerous in the North American British colonies than were African slaves. However, after 1680, the flow of indentured servants sharply declined, leading to an explosion in the African slave trade. By the middle of the 18th century, slavery could be found in all 13 colonies. The trade of African slaves to Brazil and Cuba continued until the 1860s. By 1865, some 12 million Africans had been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, and more than one million of these individuals had died from mistreatment during the voyage. In addition, an unknown number of Africans died in slave wars and forced marches directly resulting from the Western Hemisphere’s demand for African slaves.

An argument that the Bill of Rights gave the government the idea of unlimited power. This from Alexander Hamilton: I go further, and affirm, that Bills of Rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power.

A Pilgrim's Progress sold 100,000 copies in John Bunyan's lifetime, and is still reported to be the most sold book in the world, next to the Bible. It describes Christian's allegorical journey from "this World to that which is to come" and requires him to triumph over Obstinate, Pliable, Worldly-Wise, Ready-to-Halt and Madame Bubble; to negotiate the Slough of Despond and the town of Carnal Policy; to cross the Valley of Humiliation and the Plain of Ease; to rise above Lucre-Hill and the Delectable Mountain; and, like all who would arrive at the Celestial City, to make no purchase at Vanity Fair: "Therefore at this fair are all such merchandise sold: as houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms; lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts-as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.
And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be deceivers, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues and that of every kind.
Here are to be seen, too-and that for nothing-thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood red colour...."

In the Fall of '53 Dylan Thomas left England on his last, fatal, American tour -- for money, he said; for "flattery, idleness and infidelity," said his wife.

AAAAaaaaaaannnnnnddddddd......a graph:

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