Wednesday, March 8, 2006

AROUND THE WEB ON 3-8-06

Cross-posted from Gus Van Horn

Welcome to what I think, going into it, will be a shorter than usual weekly roundup. I was busier than usual at work yesterday (when I wrote this) and have the morning meeting I normally do on Thursday a day early. Them's the breaks.

Another Objectivist Blogger to Go Into Business

First, Don Watkins started a magazine from his blog. Then Martin Lindeskog decided to go into business for himself. And Philip Pape ended his brief foray into the blogosphere by starting a business. And now, Zach Oakes has decided to take the plunge!

Good luck, Zach!

Veksler on the Austrian View of Economic Value

I found David Veksler's ruminations on Austrian economics interesting.
My argument is that the subjective theory of value is essentially correct, but incorrectly named, and should be distinguished from two contrasting erroneous views of economic value by calling it the objective theory of value, since market prices are in fact objective.

...

Note that both the intrinsic and the subjective [not in the Austrian sense --ed] theory of value are conductive to arguments for regulating the market because they claim that market prices are arbitrary. If economic values are intrinsic, then prices distract and distort the actual value of goods, and regulation is necessary to keep prices in live with the real values of goods. If economic values are subjective, then regulation is necessary to keep the capitalist bosses from exploiting the helpless masses. This is one of the reasons why it is important for capitalists to explain that prices are neither proxies for some ideal value, nor subjective choices, but objectively reveal the actual values that individuals hold.
South Dakota leaves a loophole.

Gideon Reich notes that South Dakota's new abortion ban has a loophole and concludes: "I suppose we should be grateful that the law's proponents are not yet fully consistent. But then evil never has to be."

Quite true. Just look at their reason for leaving a "grace period" for rape victims: It would be overwhelmingly unpopular to do otherwise. Why not make a good, solid case, once and for all, that a fetus is a human being, and that abortion is murder? Is this an admission that they can't? Or that they place their religious agenda above actually protecting lives and rights (by making sure they first know what these are)? Or both?

This reminds me of another recent example of the contempt held by many social conservatives for the notion that laws should protect individual rights. When Texas wrote a law to ban gay marriage, it literally was a ban on all marriage. Neither the author of the bill nor, apparently anyone else, seems to care. (And, oh yeah. Some doctors who perform abortions there are, technically, subject to criminal prosecution.)

We thus have three examples of contempt for the law: (1) The South Dakota law, which does not consistently carry out its alleged goal; (2) The law in Texas that clearly bans marriage, but is basically being interpreted away; and (3) A legal circumstance created by some other laws in Texas that is also being ignored.

The Mississippi Internet Bubble

Well, the title isn't really descriptive, but I couldn't resist it. The Gaijin Biker notes that some spammers are using some sloppy coding in the web site of the government of my home state to host trackback spam!
As you can see from the above screenshot (click to enlarge in a new window if it's too small), the trackback appears to come from www.ms.gov, which is the official website of the state of Mississippi. But the actual URL is:

http://www.ms.gov/frameset.jsp?URL=http://SPAM-URL

where "SPAM-URL" is the actual URL of the spammer's site, such as "buy-cheap-viagra.com" or what have you. (I've grayed it out in the screenshot to avoid giving him free publicity.)

The URL listed above will display the spammer's site within a frame on the Mississippi site. You can test this out by pasting it into your browser's address bar and replacing SPAM-URL with the URL of your choice.
Banned in Pakistan!

Martin Lindeskog, at whose blog I often cross-post my midweek roundups, can now add another country to the list of states that ban Ego! Grant Jones reports that Pakistan has joined the ranks of states quaking in their boots at the prospect that their citizens might like what someone on Blogger has to say more than what their governments do.

God's Debris

Jennifer Snow, who appears to be well on her way to becoming a book reviewer, has another intriguing bok recommendation.
Reading God's Debris will help you learn how to entertain ideas without accepting them by allowing you to exercise your skill in philosophical detection.

So, I do recommend reading it if you have some spare time and feel like flexing your mental muscles; it's an extremely important exercise. Why? Because, as [author Scott] Adams puts it (amazingly, getting it dead right):

"Ideas are the only things that can change the world. The rest is details."
Toiler makes me jealous.

I don't get to write in cafes. Ever. Wah.
So it seems that some writers enjoy the camaraderie of working with or against (competing with?) other writers. Maybe they enjoy being part of a movement. I don't know. Maybe they simply benefit from each other's enthusiasm and also share insights. I know from my own experience that this can be motivating. But that's not at all why I go to cafes. In fact, I'd rather not speak to anyone while I'm there.

...

That's exactly why I like to find my quiet corner and pretty much ignore everyone else. My favorite spots serve exactly that purpose.
Yep. I selected the parts of this article that appeal the most to my extremely introverted nature, but there's much more in Toiler's discussion of cafe society.

My definition of hell.

And speaking of introversion, I ran across this article on introversion vs. extroversion just before the holidays.
"Bah, Humbug, another party?" or "Happy Holidays, another party!"

Your choice of greeting you exclaim during the holidays may have more to do with your genetic make-up than your mood. For introverts living in an extroverted culture, the holidays and all they entail can be fingernails on a chalkboard. For all those who are introverted, all that holiday socializing seems to be an enormous waste of time and energy. Rather than being out there mingling at parties, introverts would rather be snuggled up reading a nice, fat book.
Or sipping a coffee, hunched over my laptop, and writing in some darkened corner of a cafe. Wah. Again.

But on a serious note, the article does do a fairly good job at explaining introverts to the overwhelmingly extroverted world without making us seem too much like sissies, or wet blankets, or misanthropes -- at least until Jonathan Rauch is quoted saying something about an "introverts rights" movement at the end.... (Rauch also says that introverts are "oppressed" here. Great. Perhaps hell is really some multiculturalist attempting to make your personality type into an "oppressed minority". HT: northstar.)

But I bring the article up because I remembered a very funny quote from it. I strongly prefer to be alone in the morning, so I particularly enjoyed this line: "Not all introverts are as misanthropic as philosopher Sartre, who said, 'Hell is other people at breakfast.'"

Not as misanthropic. I can enjoy other people at breakfast -- if I've been forewarned!

(Come to think of it, maybe I could say, "I can enjoy other people for breakfast. You've been forewarned!" Bwahahaha!)

"Never trust an Objectivist under 40."

And speaking of memorable aphorisms, I picked this one up (from a comment) over at the Software Nerd's blog, where some thoughtful discussion on understanding and integrating Objectivism has been going on.

I guess if I ever need a short blurb in my blog header, I could say, "Almost old enough for Leonard Peikoff to trust."

-- CAV