Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Al Gore wins Oscar, is a hypocrite

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It's the same old song and dance with these Greenies, folks...


In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

Monday, February 26, 2007

One more egg in the face of the Greenies

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When will they learn that their pseudo-scientific health scares never work? Yet another one bites the dust...

Fish-diet mothers ‘have brighter children’

Women who eat fish during pregnancy have brighter children, according to a study.

The evidence suggests that advice to expectant American mothers to limit fish consumption for fear of mercury poisoning is misguided.

The study supports the contrary advice, given by the Food Standards Agency in the UK, which backs fish as a healthy food. The FSA simply advises mothers to avoid shark, swordfish and marlin, and restrict their intake of tuna.

The new research into children’s behaviour and intelligence suggests that women who follow the US “advisory” issued in 2004 to limit consumption, or cut fish out of their diet altogether, may miss nutrients that the developing brain needs — and so harm their children.

The findings come from a study of almost 9,000 British families taking part in the Children Of The 90s project at the University of Bristol.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Orderly Anarchy of Nature, Dixit Dawkins

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It is well known that nature has been the source of inspiration or outright supply of much of our human technology. There is very little avenue of discovery that has not already been trodden by other species, sometimes more efficiently, sometimes less. But I would like to submit that nature has more to teach us about politics than we might think; and here I am not alluding to the persistent comparisons between a certain politician and certain species of chimpanzees.

All life on this planet came from common ancestors. That much is an ironclad fact, for it still stands after more than a century of constant potential falsifications. How that process of evolution works, if it has a leisurely tempo or a staccato one, is still under debate and yet to be discovered. This should not overly concern us in this context.

What can this possibly have to do with politics? Market Anarchist Theory tells us that a centre of coercive control leads to twisted incentives, immorality, and ultimately a dysfunctional society. Although it is a vast oversimplification, one can reduce it to the sound bite "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Insofar as control is desirable at all, it must start from a foundation of moral agency.

Obviously, moral agency does not apply to the vast majority of the animal kingdom. Most organisms, including humans to a certain extent, are moved by instinct. Only the extreme complexity of the primate brain has managed to somewhat break that mould. We cannot say that species have politics, except in the most metaphorical sense. We cannot say that ants are communists or that beavers are capitalists, and such ideas merely serve to feed wanton anthropomorphism. In the animal world, there is no such thing as voluntary action or coercion, only instinct.

No, this is not what I mean by nature informing politics. The phenotype--the concrete expression of the genes--cannot tell us anything about dynamics. To understand where the real cooperation resides in evolution, we must look at the level of the genotype. It is the genes that are selected for, that survive and perish, and the organism is a giant machine dedicated to the reproduction of those genes. This is shown, for instance, by Hamilton 's Rule: when one organism's "sacrifice" can further the reproductive capacities of siblings to a great enough degree, adaptations will tend towards it as a most optimal strategy.

This is not, by far, an original view. It has been popularized most notably by Richard Dawkins, popularizer of science and leading man in the movement against religion and faith. It is as the former that I quote him here. In his masterpiece Unweaving the Rainbow, he devotes a chapter to analyzing the good and bad metaphors used to describe cooperation in nature. While discussing this, Dawkins makes an interesting analogy:

. . . the point I am making is that genes, for all that they are the separate units naturally selected in the Darwinian process, are highly cooperative. Selection favours or disfavours single genes for their capacity to survive in their environment, but the most important part of that environment is the genetic climate furnished by other genes. The consequence is that cooperating suites of genes come together in gene pools. Individual bodies are as unitary and coherent as they are, not because natural selection chooses them as units, but because they are built by genes that have been selected to cooperate with other members of the gene pool. They cooperate specifically in the enterprise of building individual bodies. But it is an anarchistic, 'each gene for itself' kind of cooperation.

Unweaving the Rainbow, pp. 217-218, emphasis mine

One should not unduly read politics in Dawkins' comments, since he is, after all, a supporter of democracy. But he inadvertently points to a profound truth, which is also the central insight of all of science and social organization: to paraphrase Proudhon, that atomistic processes are the genesis, not the end result, of order. This is both a central insight and very difficult to understand for people who can only understand the simplistic model of centralized control as a means to achieve order, and I suggest that this also applies to the misunderstanding of Neo-Darwinism and Market Anarchy as well.

The idea that "selfish genes" (in a metaphorical sense of course) could achieve, after millions of years, adaptation on the scale of a human body, with all its complexities and interdependency, is mind-boggling. So is the complexity and interdependency of the market. Although he sadly may not realize it, the fact that millions of people come together every day to contribute a tiny little part of the whole that manufactures such mundane items as pens and pencils all the way to nuclear reactors, as dramatically illustrated by the famous essay "I, Pencil," by Leonard E. Read, is just as awe-inspiring as the other items in Dawkins' book.

Not only do genes, only moved by the law of survival and gradual improvement, cooperate to an astonishing degree, but they also organize themselves, either through new innovations in genetic change (such as body symmetry or sexual reproduction), or through the organisms themselves (as ants' nests eloquently demonstrate). Dawkins himself describes a sublime example of how basic individualist self-interest can lead to intricate cooperation networks, in chapter 10 of Climbing Mount Improbable, the complex relationship between wasps and figs.

Evolution also resolves some public good problems, even at the level of the organism. A great number of species provide for their common defence with alarm call systems, sometimes very detailed ones. Some species of birds have vast communal nests with dedicated rooms. These things cannot make no sense if we start from the premise that central control is necessary in order to effect public goods. In the end, we can look at ecosystems, which also have no central control, only the adaptation of species to fulfill various necessary roles.

We know about the Reciprocity Limit in Market Anarchist, which is to say, that primitive Market Anarchist groups are limited by the amount of repeated contact individuals have with each other. We now know that the Industrial Revolution, thanks to widespread division of labour and new modes of communication and transport, cracked the Reciprocity Limit and created the amazing markets from which we now benefit. The Limit explains why genes and organisms of other species do not cooperate as much as humans do, post-Industrial Revolution. Dawkins inadvertently notes this phenomenon as regards to genes:

It is not the genes of any given individual that cooperate particularly well together. They have never been together before in that combination, for every genome in a sexually reproducing species is unique (with the usual exception of identical twins). It is the genes of a species at large that cooperate, because they have met before, often, and in the intimately shared environment of the cell, though always in different combinations. What they cooperate at is the business of making individuals of the same general type as the present one.

Unweaving the Rainbow, pp. 213-214, empasis mine

As for the State, comparisons with actual parasitic species might be fruitful, but no non-human parasite, to my knowledge, has the ability to convince its victim that it is acting in its best interests. This is a distinctly human invention.

Evolution, therefore, is the ultimate expression of cooperation through adaptation. We must, therefore, see the term "Social Darwinism"--which should rather be called "Social Neo-Darwinism," if one is to follow with the times--in quite a new light. The general public objects to "Social Darwinism" on the grounds that the strong dominate and the weak perish. This is, on the face of it, true, but not in the way they think. Certainly strength in the evolutionary sense cannot be physical strength, otherwise the humble earthworm, or the frail hummingbird, would never survive. In the long-term view, strength is the capacity to keep flourishing in the face of changing circumstances, in short to adapt, and weakness is the incapacity to keep flourishing. Physical strength is only one way to adaptability.

The same is true of societies and cultures. Social institutions and systems that try to control the individual lower the adaptation potential of that society, and institutions and systems that try to support the individual and cooperation heighten that potential. And whatever affects the potential of a society affects the life of every single individual within that society.

Some may reply that, despite cooperation, "nature is red in tooth and claw." This is correct, but not a detriment to the process of evolution. Even humans have not yet found a way to transcend the need to harvest vegetable and animal prey for food (at least, not until we invent synthetic meat). Predation is a necessity of biology, and we humans have mastered that down pat. We just haven't quite mastered the cooperation part yet.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Machinery of Freedom episode 11- Economic Projections

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Wherein I discuss the statist argument from public goods, refute it, discuss the many ways in which public goods can be turned into private goods, and reverse it against the statists, and end on the Tragedy of the Commons and externalities arguments, and why the State is our worst enemy in those aspects also.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's NOT democracy!

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I am very, very tired of hearing people say that something is a democracy because it lets people express themselves, or because it is more egalitarian. Please stop this statist nonsense!

A democratic system must have the following:
* A centralized authority which has all the power to decide what is permissible and what is not, and the election of that authority based on popularity, OR
* A centralized authority which directly enforces decisions based on popularity.

Unless it is one of these two, it is not a democracy. So please stop saying the following:

"The Internet is democratic"- no it isn't. The Internet does not have a central authority to begin with.
"Wikipedia is democratic"- nope. It does have a hierarchy, but it is appointed, not elected, and people have a lot of leeway in resolving their own disputes.
"YouTube is democratic"- although it does have a central authority, it is not elected.

If you mean "populist," "egalitarian" or "new media", then SAY "populist, "egalitarian" or "new media"- don't say "democratic" when there's no democracy there.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Zhwazi the Anarchist, Zhwazi the Atheist

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Good anarchist blogs are hard to come by. We try to get all the good ones linked in our sidebar here for the good of our users, as well as for our own selfish convenience.

On that note, I want to introduce a fantastic anarchist-atheist blog that I just came across today, Bored Zhwazi. I found this blog via the Rational Response Squad forums, where a forum member by the name of Zhwazi was advocating anarchy. Anyway, he linked to his own blog in one of the forum posts, I visited it, and I loved what I read.

And I think all you Radical Libertarian readers will love his writing too. Click here to check it out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Machinery of Freedom episode 8- Justice Without Coercion part 1

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 8- Justice Without Coercion part 1
Wherein the nature and purpose of the current State justice system (police/courts/law) is discussed, how it perpetuates evils in practice, and many historical examples of market justice from history are pointed out and analyzed.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Putin: US Makes Others Want Nukes

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President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, pointed out the obvious today and stated that US actions abroad push other countries to pursue nukes:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday blamed U.S. policy for inciting other countries to seek nuclear weapons to defend themselves from an "almost uncontained use of military force."

"Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not solved a single problem, they have become a hotbed of further conflicts," Putin said at the Munich Conference on Security Policy, an annual forum attracting senior officials from around the world.

"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way."

But Putin said it was "the almost uncontained hyper-use of force in international relations" that was forcing countries opposed to Washington to seek to build up nuclear arsenals.

"It is a world of one master, one sovereign. ... It has nothing to do with democracy. This is nourishing the wish of countries to get nuclear weapons," he said.

"This is very dangerous. Nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law," Putin told the gathering.

Hooray for Putin! He is being honest, thank God. I think that more world leaders need to call a spade a spade. Predictably, the White House denied the truth:

The Bush administration said it was "surprised and disappointed" by Putin's remarks.

"His accusations are wrong," said Gordon Johndroe, President Bush's national security spokesman.

The good news is that nobody in the world believes a word Bush says, except for the Republicans and Conservatives within the US. The more the rest of the world speaks out, the more that Americans themselves will realize that they created within their borders the very monster that they want to fight.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Some considerations on health care

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There is a movement dedicated to bringing about socialized health care in the "United States." Such a movement, as we have seen in "Canada," would ruin the health care market and make it conditional to political considerations instead of consumer demand. And contrarily to statist claims, it drives spending on health care up, up, always up.

To understand why the health care market is fucked up, we need to understand the main considerations of freedom and efficacy in a market, which are (in increasing order of integration):

(1) Peaceful competition.
(2) Division of labour.
(3) Technological progress.

The health care market is under attack by the State on all three fronts.

(1) Insurance companies are not allowed to compete in offering the best packages- they are forced by the State to inflate their prices by providing all sorts of needful and needless treatments. This is all good and well for the big insurance companies, because it prevents competition from smaller and more adaptable insurance businesses. Furthermore, the State favours corporations providing insurance over individual initiative. Both of these drive prices up, make insurance out of the reach of the poor, and prevents competition.
The alternative now proposed by statists- to force people by law to buy insurance- would only drive prices even higher and give more power to the big insurance companies. As usual, statism is corporatism at its finest.

(2) The medical guilds do not prevent vertical division (doctors can specialize in all kinds of areas) but they do prevent horizontal division, thus ensuring that the price of labour remains high.

(3) FDA regulations prevent medical advances in order to fulfill political ends, depriving us of life-saving medications and medical tools.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Machinery of Freedom, episodes 1 to 7

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 1- Introduction to Market Anarchy
Wherein the show is introduced, Market Anarchy is defined, Anarchy is explained, the market is explained, the State's efficacy is debunked, and the Market Anarchist (non-)vision for society is expounded upon.
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The Machinery of Freedom episode 2- The Moral Argument
Wherein morality is defined, the Moral Argument and universality are explained and applied to the actions of State agents, the Non-Coercion Argument is explained, and objections are dispatched.

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 3- Applying the Moral Argument
Wherein the Moral Argument is applied to such fields as war, immigration, taxes, democracy, the law, and so on.

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 4- Our Enemy, the "Common Good"
Wherein the construct of the "common good" is exposed, State functions are debunked, and the Argument from the State of Nature is deployed.

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 5- The Joys of Epistemology
Wherein the equality of epistemology and morality is unraveled, the basic principles of rationality are discussed, the Burden of Proof argument is explained, the topic of morality is cleared up, and the Argument for Freedom is explained.

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 6- Know Anarchy, Know Morality
Wherein I make many analogies between statism and religion, and discuss various points which prove that morality is only compatible with Market Anarchy, including: that statism is based on fear, altruism as moral confusion, collectivism leads to relativism, and the law cannot entail moral obligation.

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The Machinery of Freedom episode 7- Rights and Aggression
Wherein the Non-Aggression Principle and the Chosen Aggression Principle are compared and contrasted, and Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics, the Argument from Estoppel and the failure of rights-skepticism are expounded.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

There's Something About PETA

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We already knew this, of course, but it's nice to see that someone else realizes that PETA is pure evil: the Canadian Free Press tells us 7 things you didn't know about PETA.

7) PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, because they support animal-based research that might uncover cures for birth defects and life-threatening diseases. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has said that "even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it."

Talking about the Greenie PETA cunts, they are in the news again for slaughtering animals and getting arrested. Remember to visit petakillsanimals.com for more on this constant nonsense.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Land of the Free

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Support the Troops!

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Alternet has an excellent video where a soldier describes the sacrifices they make every day in Iraq 2.0 here. You don't want to miss it.