Monday, April 30, 2007

Terminator was never like this...

The punch line with Jim Simon's fortune is that the reductio ad absurdum of creating a civilization to reward homo economicus is that a computer program that simulates a rational economic actor will systematically extract resources from fallible human actors.

T-Shirts of the Damned

"Live for the Moment! You have nothing to lose but your teeth!"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Toward a neo-marxist biological economics

Imagine a game with several players.

Some players experience pleasure when they do something nice for someone else, and experience pain when are prevented from doing something nice. Other players experience pleasure when they get things from other people, and experience pain when they give something to someone else.

People who follow the second set of rules are often thought to "have a head for business", even though "avarice" is one of the nine or so seven deadly sins, while people who follow the first rules are "saints", even when they meet clinical definitions of masochism.

In a set of exchanges where both parties maximize their utility, over time the "Greedheads" will control all the property, while the saints luxuriate in beatific poverty. And there is nothing terribly wrong with this, except that the saints, now below the poverty line, are deprived of opportunities to help others.

However, macroscopically, I can't wrap my mind around why a civilzation would want to centralize power in the hands of ungenerous people. Should there be mechanisms that socially elevates Saints provides them with breeding opportunities? Do we really want a society that encourages stingy DNA to replicate while systematically depriving luminous beacons of light from resources?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

file under "u" for unintended consequences

In the broader thirty year cycle of opera performance styles, as operas slowly oscillate between theatricality and musicality, the over-titles have caused a fundamental shift, that has pushed performances towards theatricality at a faster than expected rate. Without pulling out the MRI scans to show why it is a fundamental structural mistake to read while listening to music, at the recent performances that I've seen, performers completely neglect their pronunciation in favor of acting and their emotions, and the experience is a bizarre hybrid.

Monday, April 09, 2007

If you take something that doesn't belong to you, you should give it back

I really don't think that having a giant fence along the Mexican border is such a bad idea, but, since respecting territorial integrity is such a great idea, rather than having the fence along the 1856 border, why not put it along the 1834 border?

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