Friday, December 26, 2008
  "against cold" 2



Polistra is thanking Saint Maurus for sufficient relief.
 
  Adverse possession

Half-formed thought ...

In effect, Obama is already serving as President in most of the ways that matter.

Theoretically the Pres has three main tasks: head of the executive branch, head of the military, and final decider on legislation. Bush never even started to perform the first job. The executive branch has been running rogue without supervision since 2001. He did start on the second, but got bored. The military has been running without supervision from 2003 through 2006. He ignored the third as well, never vetoing bills even when he claimed to oppose them.

In short, and in direct contradiction to the standard leftist paranoia, Bush is not a tyrant but a lazy rich boy who spent 6 of his 8 years doing nothing at all.

Old common law includes the 'Doctrine of Adverse Possession', rarely enforced now but still valid. If you own a piece of property but don't occupy it, maintain it, or use it for several years, you've effectively lost your title. A squatter who occupies and maintains the property may gain the title.

Obama is the Adverse Possessor or disseisor. Bush has lost title to the Presidency by failing to occupy and maintain it. Obama, though in theory only the Prezlek, has already started clearing the sidewalks, planting the crops and telling young dickheads to get off the damned grass. He thus owns the office.
 
Thursday, December 25, 2008
  Smart business

A Spokane metal fabricating company was laying off workers, planning to close by the end of the year, when a single smart idea saved it. Tipke's Manufacturing started making roof rakes, a simple gadget that's easy to build from aluminum tubes and sheet stock. And there's an unquestionable demand: we have 36 inches of snow accum, and some flat roofs are already collapsing. Tipke will start selling the rakes directly on Friday, and I'll bet this will keep them going.



I bought a roof rake several years ago (obviously not from Tipke) and it comes in mighty handy down here, bub. Not a lot of fun, but safer than standing on the roof with a shovel.

= = = = =

Update: Tipke sold out their first production run almost immediately on Friday, and they're building another batch. It's nice to see a small manufacturing business showing real innovation and adaptability. This is, of course, the standard American myth, but it doesn't happen often now. Service businesses can still be innovative, but unfair competition from China (along with litigation, regulation, and the WalMart monopoly) makes it much harder for a producer to survive let alone innovate.

= = = = =

Speaking of service, it occurs to me that a septic tank company could make money by literally sucking snow off roofs. Their hose and pump are built to handle sludge, which has about the same consistency as snow. They could use a pole to manipulate the end of the hose, and keep the tank warm so the snow would quickly melt into a reasonable volume of water.
 
Monday, December 22, 2008
  "against cold"



Polistra is praying desperately to Saint Maurus.
 
Sunday, December 21, 2008
  Perfect point

Mark Steyn notes the BBC's continual refusal to name the enemy, especially in Europe.

"Immigrant-dominated", eh? Is that a way of saying it's the most heavily Muslim neighborhood of Sweden's most Muslim city? Ah, well, let's not go that far. All the BBC is prepared to say is that the otherwise non-specific youths' riotous activities were "linked to the closure of an Islamic centre". ...

In my "free speech" crusade up in Canada, I'm frequently lectured by lazy cliche-recyclers that there's no freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. But in a burning city feel free to shout "Nothing to see here!" for another decade or three.


It's a perfect point, but it could be expressed more sharply and forcefully:

... I'm frequently lectured by lazy cliche-recyclers that there's no freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. But the Left has removed our freedom to shout "Fire!" in a BURNING theatre.

= = = = =

And while we're talking about embracing the enemy ... if you want to get really, really, really pissed off, watch THIS SHIT.

It's the official meeting of the 'electors' for President here in Wash state. One of the 'electors' is a Mohammedan female who takes advantage of the situation to denounce America for making war on Allah. The other 'electors', presumably including some 'Republicans', GIVE HER A STANDING OVATION.

Actually, what pisses me off is not the Mohammedan traitor; she's being honest. No, what makes me ferociously angry is the standing ovation. Sultan Bush has brought us down to the point where we can't identify friends and foes. A completely misplaced and mispurposed war, combined with a scorched-earth destruction of our economic base, leaves us in a confused mess. We can't bring ourselves to declare straightforwardly that Sultan Bush belongs to the enemy, yet 100% of the evidence points that way.
 
  Oh, stop.

Local and national newscasters have been repeating this bit of "amazing irony" over and over and over: "What's going on here? We've got all this winter weather happening, and winter won't start until Dec 21! This is weird!"

No, this is stupid. Any normal human understands that the Winter Solstice has very little to do with weather. It's just an astronomical marker. In the northern half of the US, winter runs from mid-November to mid-April. In the south, there simply isn't a season you could properly call winter. (Will Rogers described Oklahoma's winter as "leftover bits and pieces of the other seasons.")
 
Saturday, December 20, 2008
  Big snow

Spokane got slammed on Thursday with two feet of snow in one day. Half of our typical annual snow total. It's not unusual to have two feet of snow on the ground through part of the winter, but this is the first time we've received it all at once.



The city is basically at a standstill.

At least the electricity is still on, because the snow is light and powdery, didn't stick to wires and tree branches.

Ah, yes, global warming. Ten below zero, two feet of snow.

The city gov't has wasted a considerable amount of money on the warming hoax (redoing buildings for low CO2 emissions, advertising fluorescent bulbs, etc). If they had been paying attention to the ACTUAL FACTS of climate instead of the Al Gore scam, they could have spent money on new snowplows instead.
 
Thursday, December 18, 2008
  Language Awards



Professor Polistra is back with a brief year-end collection of odd words and phrases.

(This is her third review ... the awards for 2007 are here, and from 2006 are here.)

= = = = =

Worst word of the year is liquidity, which appears to have no meaning at all. It generates phrases like 'dislocation of liquidity' and 'flooding with liquidity', which also have no meaning at all. There is a normal and ordinary meaning of liquid asset, namely an asset that you can turn to cash easily, while an illiquid asset would be something like real estate or a CD that can't be cashed in before its maturity date. But liquidity from the mouth of Shotgun Paulson clearly has no connection to reality. It is criminal jargon, a verbal bullet that serves only to confuse the proletariat, to panic easily blackmailed legislators into complicity with Shotgun Paulson's gargantuan theft.

= = = = =

Prof P also noticed some odd uses of recreational:

The Valley View fire was started by a "recreational fire", which seems to be a euphemism for a teenager exercising his firebug fetish.

A news item on chlorine-resistant bacteria tells people not to drink swimming pool water or other "recreational water".

= = = = =

Coronate has replaced crown as a verb. This is a good and expectable back-formation from coronation.

= = = = =

Reign in and take the reigns: An expectable change in spelling. Horses are no longer common, so very few people are familiar with reins; but we are still familiar with the idea that a king reigns (= controls).

= = = = =

Defibulator: Almost universal. Prof P doesn't know why the amputation of fibulas has become such a common practice.

= = = = =

MumbaiTheIndianCityFormerlyKnownAsBombay: If you're going to end up saying Bombay after all, why waste all the extra syllables? Just say Bombay. Most Indians call it Bombay, so Mumbai doesn't even qualify as the local name. It's just an affectation of American Elite Communists.

= = = = =

The Prezlek: Professor Polistra has noted this in detail before. The form varies: sometimes it's Snr Obama Oh Excuse Me I Mean Prezlek Obama, and sometimes it's just The Prezlek. Yes, it is the technically proper title, but Prof P doesn't remember such an extreme and constant use of the term in previous transitions.

After Obama is inaugurated, we'll undoubtedly have to hear several months of adaptation again, as the Expert Idiots gradually switch from Prezlek to President. His title will then be The Prezlek Oh Ha Ha Sorry I Mean To Say The President. Dammit, why can't the Expert Idiots just use plain old names? Obama. McCain. Bush. No confusion, no wasted syllables.

= = = = =

Finally, a strange sort of Cajun grammar is spreading through news broadcasts. As usual with peculiar grammatical formations, Fox News is the wellspring.

"Treasury Secretary Paulson, he will be making an announcement shortly."

"Las Vegas authorities, they have said OJ was caught on tape..."

"The Iraqi journalist who threw a shoe at President Bush, he goes on trial next week."

This form, it's not truly new; nearly everyone, they'll do it from time to time. But Professor Polistra, she has noticed it spreading like a (recreational) wildfire in the last few months.

= = = = =


Sidenote: some words noted in earlier Language Awards have disappeared; turned out to be temporary trends. Squirmish for squeamish is gone, and the X's and O's vanished.

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  Nice to see.....

Polistra notes with pleasure that some published authors are starting to ask the critical question: "What good is Wall Street?"

She has been asking this question in various ways for several years. Nice to see someone else is catching on.
 
Monday, December 15, 2008
  Wonderless Life

Watched 'Wonderful Life' a couple nights ago. Must be the 14,319th time I've seen it. Good every time.

Mr Potter and George Bailey are icons, and commentators use them in various ways ... Conservatives seem to enjoy associating themselves with Mr Potter, saying that raw feral capitalism is the source of riches for everyone. Rush has come to resemble Mr Potter remarkably, with his 10-foot-long Premium Premium Premium Corona Corona Corona Cigars and his contemptuous attitude toward everyone who is not Rush. "You miserable little losers only continue to exist because you aren't important enough for me to destroy you." And in 2008 as in 1930, raw feral capitalism has managed to destroy nearly everyone, even some of the rich. (Such as those exquisitely deserving Expert Idiots who fell for the Madoff scheme and lost their silk shirts!)

Watching the movie this year, I came to a new realization. We have skidded into a bizarre planet where the Potter/Bailey difference is no longer relevant. From this distance, Potter and Bailey appear nearly identical. Both were personal bankers, looking their customers in the eye and judging worthiness for loans based on actual knowledge of the customers. Of course they used different standards of judgment, which made them proper competitors serving different parts of the Bedford Falls community. But both of them had standards, and both were motivated to serve their own customers. Neither would have touched the modern Sushi Loan, the tossed salad of uncooked mortgage bits. Both would have recognized this 'financial instrument' as an absolute fraud.

We still have local bankers of the Potter/Bailey type, but they will be destroyed along with everyone else as Shotgun Paulson flies his fleet of private jets, laden with the treasures of a formerly great nation, to his own little Arab hideaway.
 
Saturday, December 13, 2008
  New toy



Once or twice a year I break frugality and buy myself a completely unnecessary toy. This year's choice, inspired by reviewing Polistra's previous musings on the history of bookkeeping, is an "Addometer". It's a beautifully made device, probably from 1927 or so. Made of solid steel, all numbers and instructions engraved and ink-filled. All the dials move smoothly and cleanly, and the carrying and borrowing mechanisms snap and click satisfyingly. The tool and its leatherette case have a wonderful smell, redolent of scientific instruments.

I'd guess this was a store display / demo unit, because the case contains directions and advertising literature, it's quite clean, and the dials show roughly equal signs of wear ... as you'd expect from people trying out random numbers. A machine used in a real office would have coffee and ash stains, and the top few dials would be nearly untouched.

And I'd also guess that the Addometer didn't sell well. The list price was $12.95, equivalent to $150 today, and there wasn't a real niche to justify that expense. If you were a full-time accountant, you'd buy or lease a full-sized adding machine or Comptometer; and if you only needed to run a few sums each day, you'd use pencil and paper. Perhaps the Addometer would be useful if you didn't trust your own figuring skills! Anyway, it's a fine American machine, Union Made, with materials, design and labor of a standard that no longer exists.

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  WPArmth

Spokane's county-level government has a way of getting good things done without much flash or drama. (The city is the opposite: lots of political theater, not much effective action.)

This year the county had an original, sensible and charitable idea: use jail inmates to chop and split wood for poor people who have wood-burning heaters. Gives the inmates something positive to do, gives the poor folks a warm winter.

Bravo!

Story here.
 
Friday, December 12, 2008
  Polistra is not puzzled.



Polistra: GGGGHHHHRRRRAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

Author: Um, could you elucidate?

Polistra: BOB CORKER, YOU ARE A GODDAMNED JAP SPY AND SABOTEUR. MITCH McCONNELL, YOU ARE A GODDAMNED JAP SPY AND SABOTEUR. RICHARD SHELBY, YOU ARE A GODDAMNED JAP SPY AND SABOTEUR. YOUR HOME COUNTRY TRIED TO DESTROY AMERICAN INDUSTRY IN WW2, BUT COULDN'T DO IT. NOW YOU'RE FINISHING THE JOB. I HOPE YOUR GODDAMNED HOME COUNTRY REWARDS YOU WELL.

Author: Hold on, the news just said that Shotgun Paulson will probably come through with enough money to keep GM afloat for a while.


Polistra: Jesus Christ. Well, I guess that's a good thing. Still disgusting, when the Senate is so completely loyal to foreigners that even Shotgun Paulson looks patriotic by comparison. Jesus. What did all those soldiers fight and die for in WW2?
 
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
  Polistra is puzzled



Polistra: Numbers, numbers, numbers!

Author: What?

Polistra: These DC idiots don't make any damn sense. In most cases they look only at raw numbers, neglecting all other phenomena. And in other cases they consider raw numbers to be a crime.

Author: Okay, I'll bite. I've been constantly discussing the first part, but I haven't seen any case where the Expert Idiots dislike the use of raw numbers. What is it?

Polistra: This Blagojevich thing. He's just using pure free-market capitalism. In what we might call the "Political Service Industry", the usual sales transaction is hidden, distributed and indirect, like a cross between a Mortgage-Backed Security and a Zen koan. Companies and unions distribute money in small chunks across a variety of political action committees, and the politician then "happens" by "coincidence" to give them what they want. Well, anyone with any sense knows that you'll get in trouble that way. You're not allowed to sell a car that way, because it destroys the natural relationships of liability and warranties. If something goes wrong, you won't know who to ask. So this Blagojevich is doing business the old fashioned way, straight cash and carry. No hidden fucking derivatives, no distributed fucking liability, no indirect fucking hints. You give me 500,000 fucking dollars, and I give you the fucking Senate seat. What the fuck is wrong with that? Not one fucking thing that I can fucking see.

Author: Now that you put it that way, I can't see anything wrong either. In fact, Blagojevich has returned to the original notion of the Senate. Before the 17th Amendment, each Senator was a direct delegate from the government of his State. They were appointed, I think, by the state legislature. The 17th turned the Senate into an expensive private club that represents nothing, because each Senator isn't really answerable to anyone. We were better off when Senators had to answer directly to the governor and legislature. If we did it the Blago way, each Senator would be directly owned by the governor ... so he would have, as you say, a warranty, a contract to fulfill. Yes, I really like the Blago method. Unfortunately, our DC traitors prefer to represent enemy nations, so they are naturally in a monstrous uproar over this attempt to have a Senator who represents a state.

Polistra: But wouldn't the money have to go the other way around? I mean, the governor would have to buy the senator. In this case the governor is selling the office to the senator.

Author: Hmm. In a strict commercial way, yes ... maybe the analogy doesn't work well. But I still think Blago would effectively own that senator, because the senator would know that Blago could sell the office to a higher bidder at any time.

Polistra: Yeah, that does make sense, even though the analogy fails.
 
Monday, December 08, 2008
  Bravo Blagojevich

Up till now, the Chicago window factory sit-in was pretty much the usual crap ... workers with placards and slogans, Comrade Jessajackson jumping in and running his usual street-theater routine.

It has become truly dramatic and historic with the intervention of Illinois Gov Blagojevich. Because the company's shutdown resulted from Bank of America stopping its credit, the Gov has ordered his state agencies to stop doing business with BoA.

An excellent example of a growing phenomenon. Because Sultan Bush is using the Federal government solely to serve the interests of his Saudi and Chinese bosses, state governors have been forced to take over many functions that are traditionally or constitutionally Federal. In this case, bank regulation is definitely a Federal job, but Sultan Bush has chosen to shower criminal bankers with a monstrous Hanukkah gift instead of punishing or removing them. So the job of punishing bad banks must be done by states and localities if it's to be done at all.


Sidenote: Since Blagojevich has invented a new technique, perhaps we should name it the Blagojcott? No, probably not.....

= = = = =

12/9: The plot thickens, as they say. Blagojevich was hauled off to jail today, ostensibly as a result of a three-year-long investigation of corruption.

Sorry, doesn't wash. The Feds don't arrest people for crimes, they arrest people for being wise guys. Any one of us, just by living and breathing, has violated enough Federal laws or "court" "decisions" to be worthy of jail. We're all in violation all the time; only a few of us get annoying enough to be worth the trouble of arresting, bombing or sniping.

And Blagojevich was terminally annoying. He tried to cancel out Shotgun Paulson's great Hannukah gift. Blagojevich had the gall to use his state government for the interests of Americans, when we all know that government exists solely to serve the interests of Bahrain and Shanghai billionaires.
 
Sunday, December 07, 2008
  Revising Pearl Harbor

Accidentally listened to Unhanged Traitor R F Kennedy Jr's radio program just now. Unhanged Traitor Kennedy Jr is sympathizing with the Japs, talking about their superior morality which made them hesitant to make war on America in 1941. Unhanged Traitor Kennedy Jr said that the Jap military didn't really consider kamikaze attacks until well after Pearl Harbor, as a measure of desperation.

Like everything else said by Dangerous Lunatic R F Kennedy Jr, this is wrong. Factually wrong, logically wrong, treasonously wrong.

In fact the Japs were not only CONSIDERING, they were RECRUITING kamikaze pilots in 1935, NINETEEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE, SIX YEARS BEFORE PEARL HARBOR.

We knew this at the time, though we didn't know when or where the Japs were going to hit us. As Polistra mentioned before, NBC commentator Edwin Hill reported on this knowledge, quoting Congressional testimony from aviation pioneer Clyde Pangborn:

America is threatened by only one enemy, and that enemy is Japan. Japan has perfected man-operated aerial torpedoes in which the plane and the bomb are one, an instrument deadlier than any known weapon. Certain to bring death to the operator, yet thousands of Japanese have already volunteered for the honor of dying as pilots of these infernal modern weapons.

 
  Refreshing

Listening to Obama's news conferences and TV appearances this week... Plain talk is extremely refreshing.

For the last twenty years we've had atrocious communication by our national leaders.

Bush Junior, of course, is brain-damaged and can't speak English at all; worse, he apparently told his spokesmen to avoid speaking English. We've heard nothing understandable from any of them, no evidence that anyone in DC grasps reality.

Bill Clinton is an excellent communicator when he chooses, but he chose instead to play cutesy word games. As a fan of grammar and semantics, I enjoyed his parsing exercises, enjoyed finding the seven hidden meanings under each phrase, but as a citizen I hated the lack of believable information.

Bush Senior could speak English but lacked basic teaching and selling talents. He treated us like children who couldn't be trusted to hear the truth; treated us as low-level subordinates who had no "need to know".

Polistra has been begging and pleading from the start: Just tell us what you're doing and why. We're smart enough and mature enough to understand, and to sacrifice when needed. But we are also mature enough to need a reason for the sacrifice. Treat us as adults, and we'll respond like adults.

Obama is finally doing what any good leader should do, and it's damned fine.
 
Saturday, December 06, 2008
  Semi?



The Author is working hard this month... two extra spreadsheet assignments along with finishing the latest revision of his courseware product. Going to be pretty well occupied for the next few weeks, but will end up with some nice unexpected money afterward. Can't complain.

Author likes to describe himself as "semi-retired". Most of the time the "semi" is a euphemism; most of the time he's just plain retired, living off the residuals of his earlier labor and frugality. But right now, the "semi" is meaningful!

= = = = =

Though this isn't Labor Day, FDR's 1939 speech on Labor Day seems appropriate for our times. It shows a different view of economics in which the value of labor counts for something; an economics not based strictly on the ever-increasing flow of numbers.

In this country we insist, as an essential of the American way of life, that the employer-employee relationship should be one between free men and equals. We refuse to regard those who work with hand or brain as different from or inferior to those who live from their property. We insist that labor is entitled to as much respect as property. But our workers with hand and brain deserve more than respect for their labor. They deserve practical protection in the opportunity to use their labor at a return adequate to support them at a decent and constantly rising standard of living, and to accumulate a margin of security against the inevitable vicissitudes of life. The average man must have that twofold opportunity if we are to avoid the growth of a class conscious society in this country.


Zmirak's latest column expands on this theme. What is value? It's not merely the price you get at the moment when you sell something. Value is created or added by labor. If you haven't done some work to make or improve a real item, there isn't any value. In fact our current bubble isn't even based on "property" as in FDR's comparison; it's just plain numbers.

The media constantly jabber about a trillion dollars of "wealth" disappearing when the Wall Street Casino changes its odds, but that isn't "wealth" because it never represented any real value. The stocks didn't rise because of any worker's labor, and they don't fall because a worker stops working. In fact, a share price usually rises when a company lays off workers! So the stocks are just numbers, indexing the hormone level and cocaine dosage of the Wall Street Bettors at any particular microsecond.

When the ball on the roulette wheel moves from 00 to 13, it's not an increase of value. When it lands on 00, it's not a decrease. In each case, one smart bettor will grab his chips and leave the table, but everyone else loses. There is no increase or decrease of value, and the house always wins. This is not capitalism, it's just betting.
 
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
  The soul-searchers

There's a lot of soul-searching within conservative ranks about the role of religion, with the usual Episcopalian suspects saying the movement has become too religious, and the usual Christian suspects saying it's not religious enough.

Both sides are missing the point.

Religious references are used by the Republican party to keep a certain voting bloc in line. Brand-R has never done one damn thing for those voters. Just as brand-D uses Comrade King's "moral mantle" to keep black voters in line while it never does one damn thing for them. Slogans, only slogans.

If a brand-R president were serious about abortion, he would declare a judicial emergency and delete Roe v Wade and all related case law. He would then call out the National Guard to close down all abortuaries.

Does that sound drastic? Unthinkable?

Oh, I don't know. We've called out the troops in recent years to bomb and kill a strange religious cult in Waco that wasn't harming anyone. We've called out the troops to kill a family in Idaho who wasn't harming anyone. Eisenhower called out the troops in 1957 to enforce integration, even though the evidence is clear (and was already clear in 1957) that integration gives no net benefit to black kids. And Lincoln made war on the entire country, killing 600,000 Americans and destroying the South, to stop a perfectly legal secession.

All of those warlike actions were aimed at practices which someone in DC disliked.

None of those disliked practices were deadly.

Abortion is deadly.

When the Feds seriously dislike something, they have never been stopped by teensy-weensy trivial details like laws and constitutions. When the Feds seriously dislike something, they call out the troops and bomb, smash, exterminate, exterminate, exterminate.

So. Do Republican presidents dislike abortion? Examine their actions. They appoint judges who may or may not be against it personally, and then they require the judges to guarantee that Roe v Wade will be untouchable, will be "settled law" forever.

That's not evidence of disliking abortion. That's indisputable evidence of loving abortion and guaranteeing its permanent continuation.

Well then, how about family values? Marriage? What has brand-R done for the family? They've spoken words about stopping "gay marriage". Is that evidence of favoring real marriage, improving the life of real families? No. It's a completely separate matter, which may be icky but has no correlation with marriage.

If a government actually wanted to strengthen families, it would take two steps. First and easiest, get rid of no-fault divorce. If the contract is harder to break, both partners will naturally work harder to maintain the marriage. Second and hardest, restore the economic conditions of the 1950s when it was possible for an ordinary man to support a family without working two jobs, without requiring the wife to work. Is that what brand-R has done? No, brand-R has done the exact opposite. Republicans have encouraged massive illegal immigration and massive outsourcing of factories and jobs. Result: an ordinary man can no longer support a family on his own. Children are deprived of maternal presence, deprived of paternal influence, just as they were in the sweatshops of the early Industrial Age.
 
  Brain anti-trust

Maggie Gallagher at NRO notes:

A new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, based on 5000 face to face interviews in 2000 and 2001, finds "Almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year."

If true, (and of course "diagnostic creep" may be the a major part of this when "binge drinking" and "nicotine dependence" are considered psychiatric disorders among young people), we're in more trouble than we think.


Sensible comment. After all, adolescence is a disorder by any rational standard. Kids are generally sane and cheerful until age 12, then turn weird and crazy for ten years, then (with luck) resume sanity again.

But I'm also inclined to ask about vested interests. First, what do psychiatrists do? They nominally "provide therapy", but it's been proved over and over that "providing therapy" yields no permanent improvement. For some clients it may have the same effect as a placebo or prayer cloth ... activating the brain's "healing receiver" ... but you can get those effects much more cheaply. The only way psychiatrists genuinely improve lives is by prescribing anti-psychotic drugs. The right drug can return an insane person to some degree of normality.

So in fact psychiatrists are in the business of selling drugs at a huge profit. And they have the legally defined ability to declare competing drugs such as tobacco and alcohol to be "disorders".

Isn't that a monopoly? We complain when Big Oil manages to get a legal advantage over other forms of energy. We complain when Big Media gains a legal advantage over bloggers or low-power FM. So why don't we complain when Big Shrink gains a legal advantage over competing anti-psychotic drugs?
 
Monday, December 01, 2008
  Class envy

There's no point in telling people they shouldn't feel class envy, shouldn't hate the rich. It won't work.

Conservative commentators like to say that an economy isn't a zero-sum game; they say Bill Gates gets his money by being productive, not by stealing from you. This is true in a narrow numerical sense, but it misses the point.

In the old face-to-face capitalist system, the rich were still within the bounds of society, within the feedback loop. The doctor or banker responded naturally to his customers and vice versa. If you disliked or distrusted a banker, he lost money; if the banker had good reason to distrust you, no loans for you. The manufacturer paid attention to the well-being of his employees, because his products wouldn't sell if his employees had no disposable income; and the workers responded with diligence and loyalty.

We've broken the loop in several ways: by interposing insurance companies between the doctor and patients; by interposing "financial instruments" between saving and borrowing; by allowing the manufacturer to buy, build and hire overseas.



These disconnections are actual losses, actual thefts. You can't always quantify them, you can't punch them into a calculator, but they are real losses of quality, thefts of the basic necessities of life. And the people intuitively know they've been robbed, but our modern focus on quantity has weakened our ability to report a theft of quality.

When you can't trust a doctor or hospital, you've lost the most important part of medicine.** When a bank doesn't need to attract local savings in order to provide local mortgages, you've lost two things: a secure way to invest your cash, and a natural brake on irresponsible lending. When jobs move to India or Mexico, they are permanently lost, stolen, unrecoverable. The human capital of finely-honed skills and talents, painfully-gained knowledge and culture, is destroyed, discarded, tossed on the rubbish heap.

Yes, in today's situation, normal people have perfectly logical reasons to hate the rich. Granted, some of the rich are still productive in the old sense, and many of the rich are unwilling participants in these destructive trends. But it's mighty hard to separate the few good apples from the rotten barrel.


= = = = =

**The role of trust in medicine has always been intuitively obvious, but some recent studies have pinned it down systematically. Even when you know you're getting a placebo, you feel better and recover faster than when you receive nothing. Our brains apparently have an instinctive slot for "healer", and our health is better when we know that the healer is feeding or applying a concrete item to our body. In pre-scientific cultures, the item might be a potion or a prayer cloth; in post-scientific, the item might be a pill or injection. As long as we trust the healer to select the right item, we heal.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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Major tags or subjects:

Carbon Cult
Defensible spaces
Ethics
Experiential education
Grand Blueprint
Гром победы
Heimatkunde
Language updates
Metrology
Natural law = Sharia law
New toys
Skill-estate
Switchover

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