Feb 24

Game Theory and Vote Fraud

Any democracy should aspire to a perfect, fraud-free voting system. But today’s loudest complainers on this issue — mainly Democrats complaining about Republican election victories — should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it.

To see why, let’s apply a little game theory to the problem. Ask yourself under what circumstances vote fraud will be most effective, and have the least risk of being detected.

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Feb 23

Outsourcing breeds more jobs

CNNMoney reports:

Demand for technology workers in the United States continues to grow
in spite of American companies shifting more technology work overseas,
according to a new study.

Sigh. Is there, like, some cosmic law that reporters have to be
poisonously ignorant about economics? Of course outsourcing
stimulates domestic demand. Increases in efficiency and better
exploitation of comparative advantage do that.

Maybe I’m just naive, but shouldn’t a reporter at a business
news channel
know better than to subscribe to the fixed-lump-of-labor

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Feb 23

Against Suicidalism from Down Under

Keith Windschuttle gets it. In The Adversary
he identifies the same suicidalist pathology that
Mark Brittingham and Jeff Goldstein and I have been writing about

Windschuttle, an Australian historian, identifies historians and
cultural-studies types on the academic left as vectors of the
disease. I wonder if he’s read Koch on Willi Munzenberg or Haynes
& Klehr’s Denial and gets how thoroughly these
people were piping to a tune that Stalin’s espionage apparat wrote?

For anyone still tempted to believe blaming the Soviets for the
flakiness of academia is just conspiratorial raving, get a load of this
and this:
it seems that during the Korean War the Soviets and North Koreans
thought anti-U.S. dezinformatsiya so important that they gassed their
own people in order to fabricate evidence for a legend that
U.S. troops had used chemical weapons in Korea. They did this with
the clear intention of damaging U.S. prestige, of breaking our will to
oppose Soviet expansionism by making us doubt and loathe ourselves.
We have statements from the people who planned and executed the

They got the result they were after. Left-wing historians like
Gabriel Kolko dutifully repeated legends of U.S. chemical warfare,
terrorism and atrocities in Korea for forty years afterwards. In fact,
Kolko continued to repeat the chemical-warfare legend even after the
Soviets themselves repudiated it in a published 1953 letter to Mao

Whether Kolko himself (or any other individual leftie) was taking
orders from Moscow or was an ‘honest’ dupe fed the legend by Soviet
propaganda organs is not really very significant. What matters is
that Kolko, and all the the rest of the Marxist intelligentsia who
became cogs in Stalin’s memetic war machine, willingly did their part
to injure ‘the main enemy’. They retailed the lies of a tyrant who
murdered more people than Hitler, and they have not yet been called to
account for it.

Say what you will about conservative historians and conservatives
in general (I can find plenty of nasty things to say of them, and
frequently have); at least they never sunk quite so low as to repeat
totalitarian propaganda after the totalitarians themselves had
disowned it.

Feb 17

Ephemeralization against the bureaucracy

Segway inventor Dean Kamen unveils his next act, and it’s a doozy.
He’s invented two devices to address the power
and clean-water
problems in the Third World — essentially, a
rugged still and a generator that burns cow dung. But the real
challenge to conventional thinking is Kamen’s (rightly) contemptuous
dismissal of conventional development economics, and his plan to
end-run govenments.

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Feb 11

Gramscian damage

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.

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Feb 07

Un-ending the Internet

Recently, The Nation ran an article,
The End of the
, that viewed with alarm some efforts
by telephone companies to hack their governing regulations so they can
price-discriminate. Their plans include tiered pricing so a consumer’s
monthly rate could be tied to the amount of bandwidth actually used. They
also want to be able to offer preferred fast access to on-line services
that pay for the privilege — and the flip side of that could
be shutting down services like peer-to-peer networking that big media
companies dislike.

One of my regular visitors. David McCabe, asked me what a libertarian
would do about this. A fair question, representative of a large class
of problems about what you do to constrain monopolies already in place
without resorting to more regulation.

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Feb 04

All she needs is a lab coat and a fright wig

They laughed at me when that bitch Monica rug-burned
her knees in the Oval Office. They laughed at my universal health
care plan. They laughed when I told them of my conversations with
Eleanor Roosevelt’s ghost — they said I was mad.

Mad, am I? I’ll show them mad…soon, I’ll unleash my
mainstream-media minions and deploy my orbital mind-control lasers on
anyone they don’t successfully brainwash for me. Everyone will learn
to rue the day they ever laughed at me. I’ll seize the very White
House itself
and dictate my terms to a trembling world!

Feb 01

How low can they go?

Here’s another one for the file marked “Bush’s opponents are so
deranged that they are good reasons to support him”. At The Corner,
via InstaPundit, Tim Graham has this

Driving in, I had to sample some “progressive talk” on the SOTU [State of the
Union address]. At the Stephanie Miller Show, they were laughing about (and
playing an audio montage of) how many times Bush used the “F-Bomb” last night.
That’s their strange description of the word “freedom.” They also mocked the
mentions of “liberty.”

This is a symptom of how degraded the soi-disant “progressive” wing of
American political culture has become. I don’t like George Bush much, but
as long as his opponents behave like this they make him look like the least
nasty choice.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe “respectable” liberals and the Democratic
leadership will actually come out against treating the words “freedom” and
“liberty” as obscenities or jokes.

I’m waiting…

(…the sound of crickets chirping…)

Jan 27

Oh, Canada! Oh, delicious!

Stephen Harper, the newly-elected Conservative prime minister of Canada,
is huffing and puffing about Canada asserting its sovereignity over the arctic
waters of the Nortwest Passage. “The United States defends its sovereignty;
the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” said Harper at the
end of a news conference, promising to deploy naval icebreakers into the
disputed waters.

The resulting brouhaha is hilarious on so many different levels
it’s hard to know where to start.

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Jan 27

Glenn Reynolds puts it perfectly

Glenn Reynolds writes:

You know, to me Wal-Mart is a lot like George W. Bush. It’s not that I’m that big a fan in the abstract, really, it’s just that the viciousness and stupidity revealed in its enemies tends to make me view it more favorably than I otherwise would.

Thank you, Glenn, for expressing my feelings about both George Bush and Wal-Mart perfectly.

Jan 11

The War Against Humorlessness

From Iowahawk:


Wiccan Coven Association President Ozrius Ravenclaw announced today
that his group would continue a formal economic boycott against
several major US retailers “until they cease their relentless and
cowardly attack on the Solstice.”

Retailers affected by the boycott include Target, WalMart, Dollar
General, Mills Fleet Farm, Victoria’s Secret, AutoZone, and Hy Vee.

“This is ‘Political Correctness’ gone crazy. Where ever you shop these
days, it seems like it’s ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings,’”
said Ravenclaw, who was formerly known as Chuck Sundergard. “Whatever
happened to a good old fashioned ‘All Glory to Gaia’ or ‘Jhakkaa
Solztovo Chthulu?’”

Tractor Supply Company spokesman Kevin Neves denied accusations that
his company instructed sales clerks not to use traditional Wiccan

“We welcome everybody to TSC, regardless of how they celebrate the
season,” said Neves. “We even stock a nice assortment of seasonal
animal sacrifice altars, back in Lawn & Garden.”

I’m a Wiccan. Been one for thirty years. (Yeah, yeah, “I was a
Wiccan before it was cool…”). Now, if I were the kind of humorless
gink at which Iowahawk is aiming, I’d be spluttering with indignation at
this insensitive and hurtful fling at my personal religion thing.

But you know what? I think it’s pretty funny.

Continue reading

Dec 22

Utter IDiots

Leon H. at RedState writes in Intelligent Design (The Debate Isn’t Helping):

In other words, my feeling about Krauthammer, Derbyshire, et al is
basically this: if you wish to denigrate ID and insult its proponents,
go find an ID discussion board (they are legion) and do so there -
don’t use the pages of NR or your token space in the WaPo to do it
in. What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism could come
about by you propounding your opinion on a topic which is neither your
calling nor your area of expertise, and which will insult a
significant portion of the Republican coalition?

What a load of disingenuous crap this is!

I’m not a conservative, myself, and dislike conservatism for many reasons that I have written about elsewhere. But I can sympathize with conservatives who desire to put distance between themselves and the ID movement, which combines purblind stupidity with dishonesty about its actual aims in a way I’ve previously only seen in gun-control proponents.

The ID movement’s claim that it’s not about end-running the First Amendment and turning schools into instruments for the propagation of Christian dogma is just as transparently specious as most gun-grabbers’ claims that they don’t aim to render the Second Amendment a dead letter. Both gangs are enemies of liberty and the U.S. Constitution, and for precisely the same reasons. It’s hardly startling for anyone, conservative or otherwise, to want to avoid being associated with any movement that lies wholesale about its objectives.

And that’s before addressing the numerous gaping logical holes in the “intelligent design” argument. U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, deciding Kitzmiller vs. Dover on December 20th, nailed many of these in his opinion. To actually buy the ID argument requires either a complete inability to do critical thinking or a zealot’s refusal to exercise it.

“What possible benefit to the cause of conservatism” he asks. Maybe…just maybe…Krauthammer and Derbyshire would like to demonstrate that there are some conservatives who are neither liars, religious zealots, nor plain-and-simple idiots.