Archive | November, 2008

Core Curriculum

As Firefly/Serenity fans will recall, sometimes it sounded as though the show was all taking place within a single solar system, while at other times there was loose talk about “the galaxy.” Yet the number of colonised planets always seemed too high for a merely solar-system-spanning Alliance – and of course absurdly too low for a galaxy-spanning Alliance.

the 'verse Well, we now have an official map of the Firefly/Serenity ’verse (conical hat tip to AICN) that answers the puzzle once and for all. (Be sure to click on all three pics, as well as reading the text toward the bottom of the page.) It looks like there are five inhabited systems in the ’verse – and the “Core” is neither the center of the solar system nor the galactic core, but a “core” system around which the other four systems orbit. (Is that scientifically possible? Don’t ask me, I’m not Mister Science Guy.)

Yo Ho Ho

pirate flag Now that actual pirates are once again making the news, can we please stop using the term “piracy” for the peaceful dissemination of information? Thanks awfully.

Plato Was Right

The readers of Empire magazine have chosen the ten best movies of all time. Here they are:

1. The Godfather
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
3. The Empire Strikes Back
4. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Jaws
scene from a movie that didn't make it onto the list 6. Goodfellas
7. Apocalypse Now
8. Singin’ in the Rain
9. Pulp Fiction
10. Fight Club

Now I will grant that all the movies on the list are good movies. But the top ten of all time?? Clearly this list was compiled by people who only watch American movies, indeed big-budget American blockbuster movies, and (with one exception) only post-1970 movies. (And even subject to those constraints the choices are not exactly unproblematic.) In other words, they sat down in a five-star restaurant, ate the free rolls, and then left to write their review of the restaurant.

I also remember that back in 2000, hosted a poll on the top ten books of the past millennium, and one popular contender was the first Harry Potter novel.

Rothbard famously wrote:

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.

The moral generalizes.

Forsaking All Others

First I’ve heard this: Ron Paul says he “signed legally binding agreements not [to] run third-party in 2008 if I failed to win the G.O.P. primary. That was the cost for ballot access in several states, 11 total I believe.”

Cato Institute Publishes Leftist Screed!, Pars Secunda

The latest round of dialogue on my anti-corporatism piece is up on Cato Unbound.

Matthew Yglesias’s response:

SUMMARY: In his response to Roderick Long, Matthew Yglesias argues that although corporations naturally seek to win special privileges from the state, libertarianism is far from the obvious solution to the problem. Instead, he reiterates the charge that libertarians often act as corporate apologists and suggests that the net effect of any “free market” advocacy will tend strongly toward corporate power. Cato Institute building with Alliance of the Libertarian Left logo superimposed Liberals may have much to learn from libertarians on certain issues and in some policy areas, but the laissez-faire solution to corporate political influence is unworkable.

Steven Horwitz’s response:

SUMMARY: Steven Horwitz offers several examples of so-called “de-regulation” that only served to benefit corporations, while leaving the government, and therefore the taxpayers, to shoulder the risks of the market. He argues that market competition is a form of regulation, albeit a kind worth wanting, as it forces corporations to respond to consumer demand and punishes them when they fail to meet it. He takes issue with Roderick Long’s lead essay by arguing that “playing defense,” that is, defending today’s corporations when they act consonantly with a fully freed market, is a valuable part of libertarian advocacy; one must nonetheless take issue with these same corporations when they violate the principles of laissez faire, and distinguish carefully between these cases.

Dean Baker’s response:

SUMMARY: In his response essay, Dean Baker declines to tally up a “score” of how well libertarians, or other groups, have defended a truly impartial, laissez faire economy. Instead, he suggests intellectual property as an obvious area where libertarians must challenge corporate power to distort the market. Patents that make health care more expensive and copyrights that artificially restrict whole areas of our culture are obviously concessions to corporatism, and the “extraordinary abuses” undertaken to enforce these privileges should be vigorously challenged. Although libertarianism has been skeptical of both patents and copyrights, Baker suggests that this is an area deserving still further attention, and one in which liberals could perhaps become solid allies.

Randal O’Toole’s, Jerry Taylor’s, and Timothy Lee’s responses to the respondents:

SUMMARY: The discussion this month has focused to a greater than usual degree on the activities of certain Cato Institute policy scholars. The editors thought it appropriate to solicit responses, and we present them here in their entirety.

My own response to the respondents:

TITLE: Keeping Libertarian, Keeping Left

Dean Baker’s response to me and to Timothy Lee:

TITLE: On State Funding and Innovation

My response to Timothy Lee and to Dean Baker:

TITLE: Owning Ideas Means Owning People

(This last isn’t posted yet but should be up shortly.)

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