Category Archives: Theory of Democracy

Wikileaks, BBBGs and grand stupidities

The usual strategy in this Blog is to wait until the recent, important event is old and all public interest is lost, before I comment on it.

This is not because I abhor of readership, but because I feel that in order to say an intelligent thing about a subject, I need time to contemplate. This time I did the contemplation before it happened. So I am about to do my thing while the wikileaks scandal is still raging. Here are my 2 cents. And I will start with the sound-byte:

19 year-old boys are not adults. Give these boys weapons (the ultimate in big-boom-generating toys), train them to kill, and send them on to a conflict-ridden zone. Now, guess: what they will do there?

If you even imagine that they will do anything other than killing, then you’re a damn fool.

The army is not the problem. It is simply not the solution. You can’t expect a bunch of kids with big guns to build a nation state. Nor should you send them on to do serious police work. It is not their job, it is not their expertise. You train them to fight a war, send them out to face an enemy, and they find themselves in the middle of civilian population. Anyone seriously suggesting that no atrocities will ensue is either a god-damn lier, or pathologically stupid.

Let me repeat myself, at the risk of being crude:

An army is not a peace-keeping force. It is a fighting force.

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One small in favor of Direct Democracy

I’m not quite sure that I like the idea of a direct democracy. But here is a small thought in favor:

Nancy Goldstein, down at the Washington Post, has a piece about the race for senate in Delaware, where she claims for the underdog. There are two candidates in Delaware. One seems like an experienced, rational, thoughtful, man. The other is a disgruntled, confused, and quite wacky, woman (But, no, this is not a gender issue!). Whom would you choose? Nancy Goldstein chooses the wacky girl, which is the one easier to identify with. The rational man is too arrogant. Too know-it-all. Most of all, he is not in need of your sympathy, so he doesn’t get it. Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate in Delaware, was more human – erring, confused, stressed. It stands in her favor in the debate, though the magic is less likely to actually help her win the race.

This is not new stuff. Those who know ancient Greek history should be reminded of Aristides and Themistocles. The others would do well to recall the surprising success of extreme politics throughout the 20th century. It should also remind you of what happens on shows like American Idol, where professionals have meager chance of winning. It is always the not-so-perfect girl-next-door who wins, seemingly “against all odds” – but very likely because she is not so annoyingly perfect. Or have a look at this fact: poll after poll shows that the Israeli public is mostly moderate, but abhors of moderate politicians. A majority wants good policy, but they want it delivered by flawed politicians.

So, if the public is much better at choosing policies than it is in choosing policy-makers, then perhaps, if we let the public choose the policies instead of the policy makers, we will enjoy better policies.

Atheism and Socialism

Or:

Should Atheists admire Monotheism, the same way Socialists love Capitalism?

When I first read Karl Marks’ The Communist Manifesto, I was very much surprised. I expected a demeaning rebuke of Capitalism, a scourge of fire scathing evil wealthy industrialists. But I found nothing of the sort. The Manifesto struck me as a paean for capitalism. It is full to the rim with the praise of capitalism. Marks and Angels are charmed with capitalism. There are a couple of (very big) issues which make capitalism the greatest peak of civilization (so far) in their eyes.

  • The first point is that capitalism has brought an age of limitless capability. Steam BoatsFrom their perspective in the middle of the 19th century, it is more than understandable. As they rightly exclaim, humans can now cross vast oceans in mere weeks. Fertilized crop yield vast amounts of food. For the first time ever, the medical establishment is doing more good than harm. Medicine actually works(!). And on and on. The list is endless. Capitalism has unleashed an enormous power. This power can do much good, and it does.
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Another proof that 0=2

Time for a math riddle. Haven’t done these in a while. Well, haven’t done any in this blog, when I come to think about it. OK. That was enough thinking. Let’s get down to biusiness.

Take a point on the complex plane. Take one which is on the unit circle:

z=e^{i\theta}

Now replace \theta with \phi = \frac{\theta}{2\pi}. We get:

z=e^{i\theta}=e^{2\pi\i\phi}

Which by the simple laws of arithmetic gives us:

z=e^{2\pi\i\phi}=\left(e^{2\pi\i}\right)^\phi=1^\phi=1

So every point on the unit circle is 1!

As a simple consequence we get 1=-1. Add 1 on both sides and get 2=0.

QED.

Can you spot the error?

Moses: A lesson in leadership

Happy Passover to all three readers of my Blog. Today, we shall read a sermon about great leadership at work, and of the relevance of ancient Judaism to our current political life.

These week we, Jews, celebrate the exodus – the miraculous escape of more than half a million Jews from slavery in Egypt. Their 40-years journey through the desert. Mount Sinai. The giving of the Torah. And the epitome of leadership: Moses.

Out of sheer sloth, I will assume that my readers are verse in the stories. For those who are not, take a look at wikipedia. What interests me is the great leadership shown by Moses (and his God). Through the first chapters of their tour of the Sinai desert, it becomes apparent that the people are not fit to be led by the great leader. They tire him by relentlessly asking to be fed, defended, and led. They show more interest in golden statues than in abstract deities. What Moses does in the story, reminds me of Berthold Brecht’s remark regarding the true followers of Moses – The governing party of the late German Democratic Republic:

The people had forfeited the confidence of the government and could win it back only by redoubled efforts.Wouldn’t it be easier to dissolve the people and elect another in their place?

Which is exactly what Moses does. The great leader takes his people on a 40 year travel, so as to rid himself of the bickering mob, and remould their children into a rough warrior-like tribe, capable of mass murder. The People is not fit – so he replaces it. A towering moral example if there ever was one.

Should I have dubbed this post  “a lesson in soviet-type leadership”?

Is crime good?

No, it is not. Of course. But.

Take a look at Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s TED lecture:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Dennis vanEngelsdorp: a plea for bees…“, posted with vodpod

And here is my strange thought:

The extent of parasitic behavior (and predatory behavior is an example of such) is a very good measure of a population’s health. A prosperous population has many parasites. As a population’s health deteriorates, the predators and parasites are the first to disappear.

Can you use this benchmark for human populations? If so, it would probably mean that the more prosperous a human society becomes, the greater will be the amount of a-social behavior it can tolerate.  So, can crime be a measure for cultural success?

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Brother, can you spare me a viable Economic Theory?

Prof. Robert Nadeau, through Scientific American claims that current economic theory is a severe (and irrational) hindrance to fighting global warming.
(the exact link is:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=brother-can-you-spare-me-a-planet ).
The claim is:
  1. Current (neo-classical) economics is based on false premises.
  2. These false premises include this important premise: That nature is irrelevant to economic growth (and that natural resources are boundless).

Because the irrelevance of nature is a premise of Economic Theory, it is not surprising that it pops up as an outcome of Economic Theory. Given the type of models they work with, economists have to claim that fighting global warming is economically inviable. And when they do so, it’s a tautology – what they are actually saying is: “since we assume that nature is irrelevant to Economics, no action to save natural reasorces could possibly be cost-beneficial”. A claim which is, of course, absurd.

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