Rod of Asclepius

I was going to make a satire site with directions on how to do self-surgery to save on medical expenses — or if you were not American tough (fuck yeah!), then it would provide instructions to a family member on how to, for example, do a heart bypass or appendectomy.

But Poe’s Law, guys and gals, Poe’s Law.

Someone might take the site seriously. It might be adopted as conservative policy. It might already be a thing.

I was going to call it Hasbro’s New Operation: Bring Your “A” Game Or Daddy is Going To Be Pushing Daisies and It’ll Be All Your Fault, Parasite.

Novel

I’m no worshipper of Elon Musk, but it is telling that when someone attempts to do something truly new in the world, he is criticized and demeaned — while those who create “apps” that help you sell your soul and your data to a corporation are lionized and celebrated.

Hmmm, could there be an agenda here, perhaps? Some propaganda, maybe? Oh, perish the thought!

Part of it is that I believe there is some transference here (for lack of a better term) — hardware is not cool. Rockets these days aren’t even cool. Batteries aren’t cool. Al that physical stuff…just so ugh. That’s the kind of thing the working-class deplorables deal with. Yuck.

Even though Musk is rich, this stench of physicality — of doing real things in the corporeal world — clings to him. Where it’s at is creating an app that gives someone tiger ears and for $1 they can also add a bunny nose, not getting rocket fuel or nickel metal hydride on your hands.

I know Musk has his worshippers and celebrants. Every flashy parvenu will. Rarely do I see though such pushback though even against Mark Zuckerberg who should be a far more despised figure.

Examining why is what I’m doing here, not championing Musk in particular. This derision aimed at Musk is a symptom of our despair and of our abandonment and renunciation of changing the world out there, rather than the world on the screen in front of us. Therefore, anyone who actually does big things credibly well — like Musk — is an implicit threat and critique of that lethargic otiosity.

Inimicus

What…what is happening in the world? When I mostly agree with Glenn Reynolds, I can’t understand anything any more.

Well, now they’ve heard it, and they’ve also heard that a lot of Americans resent the meritocrats’ insulation from what’s happening elsewhere, especially as America’s unfortunate record over the past couple of decades, whether in economics, in politics, or in foreign policy, doesn’t suggest that the “meritocracy” is overflowing with, you know, actual merit.

In the United States, the result has been Trump. In Britain, the result was Brexit. In both cases, the allegedly elite — who are supposed to be cool, considered, and  above the vulgar passions of the masses — went more or less crazy. From conspiracy theories (it was the Russians!) to bizarre escape fantasies (A Brexit vote redo! A military coup to oust Trump!) the cognitive elite suddenly didn’t seem especially elite, or for that matter particularly cognitive.

Just kidding. I have the cognitive toolset to deal with it. One of the reasons you’re seeing the absolutely bizarre and unhinged behavior lately from so many (mostly Dems) is that they do not. The world is metamorphosing in unexpected ways and political alignments are becoming…strange.

I hate to admit this, because I completely and fully support nearly all of the egalitarian agenda of the left (and more), but the apparent focus on bathrooms and who wore what kimono when rather than doing any work on the massive and unrelenting decline in living standards for many Americans — well, that was deadly. It was the meta reason Trump is now president.

Damn, when Glenn Reynolds can see what’s really happened more clearly than most Dems, the world is truly screwed.

Is this politics? If so, est quod est and sum quod sum.

Rationality and rationalization

Strict rationality will never work as a philosophy in this universe for a few reasons.

The first is that there is no reason to undertake (or to fail to undertake) an action using a strictly rationalist framework. All of this at the human level requires morals, ethics, values and desire. Even at the animal level, choices must be made. Decisions depend always on more than mathematical calculations of utility or gain maximization.

The second is that there is no path from and never will be from particle positions and velocities to meta behavior. Possible in principle? Perhaps. But combinatorial explosion means that it’s a path we can never walk in practice to travel mathematically or rationally from the very small to the very not. It simply cannot be done. Thus no rationality because predictive power will always be minimal or at least far less than expected in any real-world system.

The third and more important is that the evidence that the universe itself is rational is not so clear as the empiricists would like you to believe. First, ignore the mumbo-jumbo dispensed by the quantum mysterians, believers that the universe is a simulation, Schrödinger’s damn cat or the usually-wrong statements about Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. You don’t need any of that. All that is required to conclude that the universe lacks rationality is to simply believe as the empiricists demand that the universe is completely deterministic.

Believing this, then ask yourself if the universe is in fact fully deterministic, how can causality possibly work or have any meaning at all? If there is no choice, no volition anywhere in the stack (which is what determinism absolutely and inviolately demands), then everything that follows from causality is illusory: particle interactions, atomic configurations, choices, decisions, predictions, relations between anything and anything else (just another name for causality). Nothing can be said to have caused anything else because from the very first moment of the Big Bang (and perhaps before) it was preordained — coded into the universe as in a computer program. (Does causality make sense in a computer program? Nope! See above.)

In other words, causality and determinism are irreconcilable but both are at the heart of scientific enterprise. This is not some trivial objection. It is a fundamental failure that cannot be hand-waved away nor denied no matter the anguished screams of empiricists everywhere.

Fork in the road

The cover of this anti-evolution book made me laugh.

Yep, it is a real book. Alas.

The blurb is also funny — particularly this part as it’s actually accurate but whoever wrote it (like most of these types) knew nothing about evolution at all.

Are you really the descendant of chimpanzees? The latest scientific evidence says “No Way!”

True, because chimpanzees and humans are both descendants of a common ancestor that probably lived around 7 million years ago.

Sniper

The Girl Who Ran Away to Fight ISIS.

Interesting story and if she’s only done 1/10 the things she said she’s done, pretty damn impressive — but I was more interested in the weapons in her photo.

This one:

The weapon on the left is an easy one. That’s a PKM (BKC), or PK machine gun. That is found all over the world. I’ve fired one before. The barrel overheats easily but other than that it’s durable and reliable like all the Eastern bloc portable weapons.

The one on the upper right is harder. It’s an M4 variant, and I think it’s the Colt Umarex M4 AR 15 22 long rifle, but I am not 100% sure. But it matches the best the visual evidence. I’ve fired the M4 before, but never that variant.

The one in the bottom middle is either an AK-74 or a Chinese-made Type 56 clone of that rifle. The resolution is too potato to tell for sure. I’ve never fired this one before.

And the weapon on the bottom right is also pretty easy. That’s an M249 SAW. I’ve fired this before. It’s an extremely impressive and effective weapon.

Interestingly, in none of the photos is she holding the main weapon she would’ve used to kill ISIS fighters, which is this one, the SVD Dragunov. I have never fired this one before but would like to.

And that’s your weapons wrap-up for the day.

Smoking math

By the way, the primary reason for the mathematicalization of economics is not to improve economics (it doesn’t), but rather to give economists and related who wish to hoodwink and swindle the public an excuse for dismissing lay critics.

Economics could drop 90% of its math and actually be more effective because it’d force it to concentrate on sociology, psychology and other methods of assessing actual human behavior.

Economics in reality is just the sociology of money. The field should reflect this.

Bubbly

Among economists, I’ve often seen this odd idea that “there is no such thing as a bubble.”

While I understand their arguments just fine, I think they are dangerously delusional and since their analysis is limited to economics only — and not sociology or psychology — they (as usual) miss the largest components of what defines, gives genesis to, and deflates a bubble environment.

(As an aside, an indictment of our university system is that it is both too broad and too narrow: too broad in the sense that there is never any unification of fields, just a bunch of disparate electives with no connective tissue, and too narrow in the sense that when a person specializes they focus on one tiny little area and believe by organizational imperatives that nothing else is or can be important. Hence, our modern economists who only can see economics, and a narrowly-defined spreadsheet-fuckery-focused physics-envying economics at that.)

Working backwards, that bubbles cause harm* proves that something unusual and undesirable was occurring. Does one really need other proof? Or is this just assumed to be the normal operations of capitalism?

If you accept the DSGE as some from of truth, then you must arrive at bizarre conclusions that countervail reality as Sumner does.

Nowhere are so many economists so clueless as they are about bubbles. It’s like reading writings from an alien.

Also, the argument that a bubble did not really exist because prices eventually recover — well, that’s about the level of argumentation of a second grader. In other words, all’s well that ends well is not really an argument for anything, it’s more an argumentum ad magicum

*And if you don’t believe the bubble of 2008 popping caused great harm, well, I got nothing for ya.