on human mobility

This is pretty sweet.

HT: Greg Mankiw


Breaking up is hard for cowards to do.

How to give yourself an excuse to end a relationship:

…these professionals will trick a spouse or undesirable future daughter-in-law into committing an affair, and provide photographic evidence of the indiscretion.

The ‘future daughter-in-law’ thing is pretty cool, no lies.


Employing someone to entice your would-be insignificant other so that you can have an excuse to end the relationship seems awfully narrow in its utility. For people in casual relationships, this is for cowards.

Imagine an all-encompassing one-to-ten system. If a person is in a relationship with someone three or moreĀ  rating points below him- or herself, this might be problematic. In these cases, your relationship radar requires some calibration. I can imagine a hanger-on that simply doesn’t get that the relationship needs to end. Even in this extreme case, though, the person desiring emancipation should be able to do something sufficiently despicable (other than hiring a con artist) to repel his companion.

Back to the coward thing… what if the person wants to end things but doesn’t want to hurt the other person? Assuming the con-artist deception isn’t discovered (which would presumably be a hurtful revelation), this idea is a tried-and-false approach to ending relationships by… most women ever. The idea of ‘not hurting someone’ makes this a grandiose “It’s not you, it’s me” play, where the very illusion is that it is in fact “You.” Yes, I just called most women cowards.

Okay, so what about people in legally binding relationships, such as marriage? If a person cheats, then a divorce with all the fixin’s (custody, house, et. al.) can be had… assuming this underhanded approach isn’t discovered by an attorney trained in the practice of family law. Good luck with that.

An aside: This reminds me of the Saturday Night Live skit where a fake Federal Express company would maul a package and then take the blame for a delivery arriving late (even though the person sent it late).

A related idea (worth stealing?): How about a company that will take messages and return calls for professional references and job applications? Vandelay Industries? The person on the phone could invariably answer the phone, “Good morning/afternoon/evening, human resources…” and then let the caller provide all the information such that an adequate artifice could be constructed.

Thanks, freakonomics.

Vox on Lincoln


Lincoln was, without a doubt, the worst president the united States of America because he murdered what had been a free and voluntary republican confederation in the name of a Federal Union imposed by violence.

Christians are hypocrites, but so what?

Voting for a political party and representing that party aren’t the same thing. “One time, I saw a Republican kick a dog.” This doesn’t mean the Republican platform is a bad thing. “George Bush kicked a dog.” This also doesn’t mean the Republican platform is a bad thing. However, to a great extent, Bush speaks for the Republican party, and some people will reject the Republican platform for such a canine-abusive indiscretion. So it’s probably better for the party if Bush doesn’t go around kicking dogs.

“George Bush voted to raise taxes.” This also doesn’t mean that the Republican party platform is a bad thing because raising taxes isn’t a part of that platform. As in the previous case, though, Bush speaks for the Republican party, and this act of tax raising is not consistent with that platform, and more than in the dog-kicking case, people may perceive a change in the platform itself because someone who represents that platform has done something inconsistent with it. People might reject the Republican platform because they either don’t like the new take on it, or they don’t like inherent conflict between the supposed platform and the actions of its representative.

Now suppose there is an immutable platform for another political party. Let us call this party “Christianity.” ‘Christians’ might be ‘voters’ and ‘Prophets’ might be representatives of this platform. All the time voters will be doing things that contradict the platform, yet when asked who they’d vote for, these people would still vote for Jesus Christ. People get confused that there is only one “Prophet” and that, as person X is concerned, he can’t contradict himself or betray the platform, because either he’s perfect, dead, or nonexistent, depending on person X’s perspective. All Christians are going to betray the platform. While this may very well mean they are full of crap, it doesn’t mean the platform is.

I think you have to trust that people are capable of distinguishing the two, the preponderance of evidence aside.

Zero for Yahtzee

By swearing or saying racist things on your facebook profile, you’re probably never going to be President of the United States. This might seem a shame, but the likelihood that you’d have been in that job is extremely small, and when multiplied by the benefit of that position (if such a thing could be quantified), the benefit indulging yourself on facebook might actually exceed it. It’s like rolling 12356 in Yahtzee and you’ve already taken your Chance. You just go ahead and take a zero on the Yahtzee because it’s unlikely that, even if you took a zero somewhere else (or took a 1 in your ones), you’d get a Yahtzee… you’d more likely take a zero for Yahtzee anyway. That is, you’re probably going to take a zero for your “President of the United States” slot even if you don’t swear on facebook. You have to be careful, though… you’ll probably take a zero in something you do care about, and you might not even realize it.

Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker

Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker is a very important composition. Whether Rock himself would acknowledge it, the observations he makes in the performance are poignant. His performance is worth watching not only for its entertainment value but also because the ideas are worth considering, even if they are ultimately to be rejected.

A caveat that transcends this: Rock’s ideas are in the world. He doesn’t get to reel them back in, but he also doesn’t own them. He can’t disavow the things he says, and even if he does, all that means is that he’s offering a new opinion on something… that he’s changed his mind. Others who may never have thought these things now may agree with them, even if Rock, the origin of the idea, now disagrees. The messenger and the message are different. (Portentious? Kill the Messenger is the title of a later Rock performance.)

An idea for the moment.

A can of Diet Coke cannot be duplicated like the recording of a song can. This distinction allows a libertarian to become a pirate.

The idea of what constitutes “property” is entirely based in the concept of justice and enforcability. Consider three cases:

A vacuum cleaner
A particular vacuum cleaner’s design
The concept of a vacuum cleaner

A vacuum cleaner can be possessed, stolen, and recovered. It is a paradigm case of what can be owned, and the nature of this ownership is clear and understandable.

A car’s design can be patented, but the ownership of this intellectual property is, to some extent, difficult to enforce. The proliferation of vacuum cleaners that look like the Dyson DC25 is a clear indication that, when innovation occurs in an industry, competitors will mimic, approximate, dupicate, or steal these innovations, and will do so in a way that comes as close as they are able without violating copyright and patent law. The question of the aforementioned mimicry is where the argument occurs, but there is no obvious answer that applies to most particular cases as there is in the question of vacuum cleaner ownership and theft. Even where some violation is identifiable, restoration is extremely difficult (if not impossible), and restitution is arranged in its stead.

The very idea of a vacuum cleaner, the idea that air pressure can be manipulated as a means of applying force to objects, is something absurd to claim ownership of, and even if such an assertion could be defended, to enforce or arrange restitution is nearly impossible.

So my question is: Can a consistent political philosophy include a definition of property where a distinction as to what is and is not property rests between the first two cases above?