Friday, February 15, 2008

Random Roundup

I don't usually like to act like a blogger, devotee of original, independent content that I am. Still, sometimes blogging happens. Here's a selection of hat tips and comments from last week, some I wrote, others I didn't quite get to in time.

1. You'd be a fool to miss this one
You'll be surprised as me to know that Fool's Gold, starring the ineluctable (no really, what do you say?) Matt McConaughey, is the number one movie in America. I'm not sure if I believe in Matt's astounding acting chops, but the teaser, in which Kate Hudson whales on him with a three wood, makes it look almost worth spending ten bucks on.

2. Anarchy Ma'am, if you can keep it
IOZ's running a provocative series of posts (again), and this expands briefly on my comments there, perhaps tangentially to his point, which usually tends more towards consciousness than prescription. The opener from his latest one: "Those who complain most loudly about the modern nation-state nevertheless leap to its defense at the mention of other possible arrangements." Do other arrangements really work out?

I've talked about it a lot lately, and I'm sick of talking about, but here it is again. I see empire, in whichever form, as significantly a result of factors such as population pressure, resource pressure, and habitual living standards, and if it's not exactly inevitable, then the State looks like a comparatively stable and natural way for crowded humans to organize themselves. I don't imply a whole lot of scholarly observation there, but I think there's a reason that China these days looks a lot like the U.S. looks a lot like Europe. Interconnected burbclaves sound great, and the pizza delivery sure is a lot of fun, but why should I expect that organization to ultimately go other than the route of Communism or, all too likely, of the federal Republic? Even if we were to somehow arrange the population in a way that kept the S-word out of its vocabulary, then the Party, the Company, or the Church all look rarin' to take its place. (And haven't they from time to time?)

(On the other hand, I respect the idea that it's wise, in a historical sense, to knock the empires down periodically. Not that I relish living in those times. IOZ's arguments about the scale of atrocity have merit.)

I would like to be convinced of feasible alternate arrangements, frankly, and that's one reason I keep reading. And there again, this primitive thinker sees technology as a necessary step to weight the equation toward anything less ghastly than a nation-state. I'm not talking brains in jars here, it'd surely be less ridiculous than that. The birth control pill was a good start, and though I hate to romanticize it, the internet is another seed of a means to allow people to associate voluntarily. Easy access to high-powered weapons? Urm, I don't think I'm ready to go there...

Maybe a free, magical source of energy would do it.

3. Cut the baby in two!
Another hat tip to IOZ, also expanding slightly on a comment.

Cato mastermind Robin Hanson says we should cut our health care spending in half. He's got something of a point in regards to end-of-life spending (but don't you dare bring this up in the eleventh hour with me or mine!), but I'm not sure how Hanson arrives at free entitlements as the best sector to axe. I might have gone for what the rest of the civilized world is doing differently so as to spend half of what we are, presumably avoiding the USAn insurance bureaucracy, but I doubt that shit flies at Cato. Hell, even medicare, which insures the old and infirm exclusively, is at the very least competitve with private care that excludes the poor and chronically ill, even after the rationalizing. (I owe hipparchia a nod for some of those tidbits, but I couldn't find the cite.) I'm not crazy about replacing private insurance with a government committee, not in principle, but it sure does seem to be cheaper.

But Hanson and the liberals both judge wrongly, I think, in overemphasizing life expectancy as a figure of merit, especially since it doesn't even vary all that much between nations of any particular study. Health buys more than years, and a shorter alotment of them can be due to unrelated shit like having to drive everywhere. I'm thrilled that the arthroscopic knee surgeries and carpal tunnel scrapings are probably going to be there when I need 'em, and unless I plan to cross a lot of streets, those aren't going to affect the life expectancy. I'm liking the idea of happy pills too.

4. Another movie I won't bother to see.
All I've got to ask is... how much lipstick we talkin' here?

(Nah, not really. She's cute.)

5. Pho-cking off now
Here's to the chemistry of roasting ginger: Damn, that's delicious. Thanks to the steamy kitchen, via Jim Henley.


twiffer said...

anarchy is untenable. as social animals, we're rather wired for some sort of social structure: state, kingdom, tribe, principality, whatever. left to our own devices, humans will develop government. while our particular form has been skewing more towards federal, rather than state, of late; the advantage is we can, if we desire, change it without resorting to violent revolution. the gov reflects the will of the people, which is mostly: "eh".

Keifus said...

Well, it's hard for me to imagine an aarchy that's not within, like, five minutes or so of being a government.

I worry about the effectiveness of the will the people these days, but like you said, it'd be a different story altogether if they had one (or likely enough, kicking ass is their will).