Sunday, March 28, 2010

Capitalism and Democracy and Pressure

I've always looked at capitalism and democracy as the best systems of management that we have because both of them have pressure release valves built in. Economy gets overheated or too cold, natural mechanisms take over and set it on another course. People hate the government, they just elect new assholes.

It's for that reason that I doubt we'll ever see armed rebellion again. There's no reason. Taking up arms happens when there's no way for unrest and pressure to escape the system. Look at France. They had bloody uprising on a near-weekly basis. Compare this to Britain, a paragon of stability in comparison, because Britain had pressure release valves that allowed the expunging of unrest without violence.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who Wears The Genes in This House?

Monsanto, the most evil corporation on Earth if you have seen Food Inc., is currently in an antitrust suit with a bunch of states and companies. Again, all of this comes back to Monsanto's ownership of their RoundUp-Ready soybeans.

First off, Monsanto is not the most evil corporation in the world. They, like many other large companies, are taking advantage of a totally fucked patent, trademark, and copyright world to the detriment of, pretty much, everyone.

What's at issue is that Monsanto owns the genetics to the seeds, which means that if the seeds blow onto your land and grow, Monsanto owns those plants and any possible cross breeds that may arise.

This hasn't always been the case. Previously, it was understood that life could not be patented. This was generally recognized for moral reasons, but I have a different interpretation of the situation.

It has to do with what a patent does. Nominally, it provides a temporary monopoly on a product. It does not prevent people from owning something. For example, Eli Whitney makes the cotton gin. A competitor makes one illegally and sells it to me. I am now the owner of that cotton gin. Even if Eli sues his competitor, he cannot take the one that was already built away from me.

It is not a right of sale, since if Eli builds some cotton gins and sells them, I can lawfully sell them again. The only part left is manufacture. A patent is a monopoly on making the thing. Eli Whitney has the right of manufacture on cotton gins for a set time.

This cannot apply to life. Life is, by its nature, replicative. When a device is made that can reproduce itself, the maker relinquishes, by the very nature of their creation, the right of replication. A patent cannot logically apply. This would apply to any machine that replicates itself. If I create a robot that, when left to its own devices, wanders about, gathering materials, and builds a copy of itself, I cannot patent that.

It's absurd that life can be patented. Our legal system and the judges who allowed this should be ashamed and either throw themselves or be thrown off of a cliff. Morality need not be applied, it's logically nonsensical.

Change the law. Change it now. Life cannot be patented.

Monsanto’s Seed Patents May Trump Antitrust Claims (

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Justification For Life

In everyday life, there are really only three philosophical issues with which people are concerned and should be concerned: God, ethics, and justification.

Other more esoteric concepts are of less importance. For example, the meaning of life. It gets discussed all the time, but what good does it actually do for us when we go to the store for milk?

Ethics is critical because right and wrong are central to our actions involving other people. We do what's right and shun what's wrong. Thus, those two adjectives are REALLY important to define.

Justification is important because we have to understand the reasons behind our actions. My dad will frequently be heard saying that the most important things in life are knowing who you are, what you're doing, and why you're doing it.

Those first two parts sound simple but are really tough. Importantly, I also think that a person who completely lacks those first two parts can bumble happily through life. But why you're doing something is so important. If you don't understand that part, your actions are chaotic. Anything can happen because you don't grasp the motivations of your actions. You are a slave to your own impulses.

Justification allows us to semi-quantify our motivations. God is the complete abdication of justification. There is no philosophically strong way to rely on God as a way to explain our actions. It is lazy justification.

That's where the disconnect between religion and science lies. A religious person can easily be a scientist, but they cannot fully believe in the precepts of analysis and justification since a critical part of their life is predicated on something that is totally devoid of justification.

That is my answer to those who argue that I should simply leave people alone. That religion has a small effect on people's everyday life, and that they would act and be basically the same person with or without religion.

That's entirely possible, but it's also possible that people would be different. No, I think the question of God is critical and that people would in fact be different, and be different for the better. This study drives home the degree to which people rely on God for either direction or justification for actions.

God is important. These people are directing their lives and having an effect on society and those around them based on a philosophically baseless belief! So rarely does philosophy come into the average person's life, but it does here, and does so in a big way.

Is it any wonder that people once used religion to justify the oppression of women, blacks, and other religions? Or that we now have a war being waged against homosexuality? Or that we now have an "our God can beat up your God" situation going on with Islam? Or that evolution is tantamount to heresy? Or that Fox News is WATCHED?

Baseless beliefs are bad, especially when people don't know that they are. It is in this way that religion is fundamentally dangerous.

God Helps with Personal Decisions, Most Americans Say (

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Get.... Out.

The New York Times has been shown a report that outlines what pretty much anyone with knowledge of Africa already knew: aid to Africa is fucked.

The report shows that as much as 50% of food aid to Somalia is diverted to various nefarious groups and not to those poor, needy savages.

Here's a novel idea, GET THE FUCK OUT. I understand that us hyper-advanced, white westerners always know what's best for the rest of the world, but it's painfully obvious that our actions are just doing more damage. We're helping no one.

Yes, we're feeding some people for a time, but the old saying of fish and fishing has been around for a lot longer than Africa and its endless crises. We need to get out now. If we want to help anyone, we have to let them find their own way. We did it, everyone remember the Middle Ages? Yeah. It was a shit-show. But we managed!

People are going to die. Governments will fall. Stuff is going to appear to get worse before it gets better. But that shit must be excised from the system before it has any hope of moving forward. Once they've achieves some degree of stability on their own, we can begin doing business with them. We can let them into the big clubhouse that is the global economy.

Some numbers, Africa is the second largest continent after Asia, and the second most populous after Asia. Near-as-makes-no-difference one billion people live in Africa with the vast majority of them living in poverty. Africa has a massive amount of natural resources.

Western nations give about $100 billion per year to Africa. One percent more, ONE PERCENT, of the global economy going to Africa would result in six times that number. Once the systems are in place, our single most important mission, if we actually care about Africa, is to get their businesses up-and-running. There is nothing more important.

Up until this point, I've ignored the moral question. In my plan, letting lots of people die is fine. But morality certainly comes into the equations, but not in simply giving them food and money.

We must stand by our ideals as a nation and not accept human rights violations in the countries with which we are doing business. Countries rich in resources such as oil are going to develop highly corrupt nascent governments. The west must stand by and reject business with these nations until certain goals of human rights development are met. Basically, we must do what we are not doing with the Arab nations and their oil.

Half of Food Aid to Somalia Is Diverted, Report Says (

Friday, March 05, 2010

Molten Dinos

It's hypothesized that the asteroid impact that nuked the dinosaurs was powerful enough to fling chunks of Earth into orbit. Has anyone done any work on attempting to find chunks of terrestrial rock on the moon to confirm this? Just wondering.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Why Copyright is Totally Broken

I mention TechDirt on a pretty regular basis. It's the best site to read for a quick crash-course in trademark and copyright law and philosophy. This video is a recent speech from Larry Lessig, a strong advocate for copyright reform, and it's an entertaining presentation of the issues at hand.