Monday, May 26, 2014

Freedom Is Slavery

Robert Birgenau on violence against protesters:
It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not nonviolent civil disobedience.
Robert Birgenau on violence against himself:
[A]s a long time civil rights activist and firm supporter of non-violence, I do not respond to violent, untruthful verbal attacks.
I cannot imagine a definition of "violence" under which being held responsible for an assault that you ordered is more violent than pepper spray and nightsticks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rhetorical Bestiary: iPhone

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every old dude who has ever complained about kids fiddling with iPhones spends about 88% of his time fiddling with his iPhone.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rhetorical Bestiary: The Perfect Number of Teeth

If you do not accept the theory of evolution, I will probably not change your mind. However, I hope I can convince you not to offer this as an anti-evolution argument:
We have the perfect number of teeth to fit in our mouths. While creationism perfectly accounts for that result, evolutionism predicts a contrary result: As our faces evolved from chimpanzee-like faces to human faces, the shortening of the muzzle would have caused the teeth to become badly overcrowded in the front of the mouth.

Rhetorical Bestiary: The Myth of Graded Quantifiers

Salviati: Most prime numbers are odd.
Simplicio: Two is even! Your argument completely falls apart.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Obviously Good Public Policy

The trouble with the water bill is that the Water Bureau just sends everyone a dollar amount each quarter, and the sheeple pay it.
The Water Bureau should email every customer a full table of the rates for water volume, sewer volume, stormwater, and the Superfund surcharge for the harbor. Customers will have to check their meters every quarter and calculate how much they owe to the Water Bureau. (Presumably the billing folks at the Bureau would have to do the same calculations in parallel to ensure they don't get stiffed.)
This will lead for a swell of demands for more efficient water and sewer managment.
Inspired by Jay Ackroyd.

Build Moar Highways!

It has never been clear to me how borrowing money at a negative interest rate will ruin the nation's finances, but fear that it might has led to a shortage in the Highway Trust Fund, which is scheduled to run out of money in August. The solution to this problem, of course, is to build more highways.
Portland did a great job of building us out of congestion, until the 1980 and the last freeway built, I-205. [1]
Apparently this person has never heard of induced demand. This is particularly ironic, because I-205 is the canonical example of induced demand in the Portland metro area.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Other People's Children

Frances Coppola comes down hard on a narrative of children as a lifestyle choice:
[D]escribing children as a "lifestyle choice" is ... economically illiterate, at least at the macro level. At the individual level, having children is indeed a choice. But for society as a whole, children are essential. Without children, there can be no future growth. Just look at Japan.
You can save and invest all you want in order to get ready for retirement, but if there are no younger humans to ship your groceries and stock them at stores, to drill for oil and truck it to gas stations, or to work the electrical stations that provide power to your house, you will have a fucking miserable retirement. You need other people's children even if you decide not to have your own.