Private Cities

An excellent Tom Woods Show, on the idea of autonomous Private Cities and how they might work. If you’ve begun to give the show a miss due to dry topics such as the Sherman Antitrust Act, FDA regulation, or Fractional Reserve Banking (I know I had), then this fascinating episode is an excellent corrective. The guest Titus Gebel is very cogent and succinct in presenting an outline of his ideas.

However, the guest’s mention of one prominent group of seasteaders and their progress is out of date. Their attempts to woo the government of French Polynesia appear to have abruptly failed. According to March 2018 reports in Business Insider someone misinformed the government there that the ‘steaders were just trying to set up a libertarian tax haven, and the locals annulled the deal they’d made. It’s a pity. But if the locals were going to be that screwy and unreliable, it’s probably best that the ‘steaders learned that before they even started building platforms out in the ocean.

Picture: Evolo skyscraper design challenge: the ‘Gerridae’ tidewater towers.


Long Now: Steven Pinker

A new Seminar About Long-term Thinking, at the Long Now: Steven Pinker giving a long lecture on the themes of his new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Followed by audience questions with the venerable Stewart Brand.

In the Q&A there’s some moaning about Trump (who I seriously doubt is channelling the 1920s ideas of the likes of Ernst Junger, as is suggested by Pinker), but it’s easily chuckled at for credulously buying into the muddle-headed ‘Trump is Hitler’ stance of the far-left.

Liberty and the Golden Age of Science Fiction

Forthcoming soon an online course in: “Liberty and the Golden Age of Science Fiction” taught from an American libertarian right perspective. Looks like a bit of horror in there, too, judging by the book covers.

Those who listen to the Tom Woods Show podcast will already know about the school which is offering the course. He has a podcast about it here. Unfortunately it appears that the Liberty Classroom is an all-or-nothing recurring monthly fee, and a curious Brit can’t just buy access to this interesting new sci-fi bit of it and skip all the American history courses.

Bjorn Lomborg at The Long Now – .mp3 file now available

The .mp3 audio is now freely available for Bjorn Lomborg at The Long Now. The talk is called “From Feel-Good to High-Yield Good: How to Improve Philanthropy and Aid”. The “things to do” list starts at 17:00 minutes.

Bjorn Lomborg does cost/benefit analysis on global good. There are surprises when you examine what are the highest-yield targets in the domains of health, poverty, education, reduced violence, gender equality, climate change, biodiversity, and good governance. Reducing trade restrictions floats to the top: $1 spent yields $2,000 of good for everyone. Contraception for women is close behind, with a whole array of benefits. For health go after tuberculosis, malaria, and child malnutrition. For climate change, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and invest in energy research.

The vocal delivery is very very fast, and Bjorn’s microphone is also picking up distracting levels of sibilance. I found myself forced to load the file in Impulse Media Player to: i) reduce tempo (speed) to 80%; and ii) tweak down the sliders on the right-hand side of the graphic equaliser. Even then delivery is way too fast, given the type of content he’s trying to explain.

From the questions…

“We found one really good solution for corruption [in Bangladesh, via online eBay-like government e-procurement. After being tested for two years, we found] 12% less corruption…”.