09 December 2011

Digest: 9 Dec 2011

jwz.org | jwz | Watch a VC use my name to sell a con.
[The VC is] telling you the story of, "If you bust your ass and don't sleep, you'll get rich" because the only way that people in his line of work get richer is if young, poorly-socialized, naive geniuses believe that story! Without those coat-tails to ride, VCs might have to work for a living. Once that kid burns out, they'll just slot a new one in.
Slate | Sam Kean | The Inventor in Hollywood: Richard Rhodes explores Hedy Lamarr’s other career

I'm now perfectly used to seeing something in print or on TV and thinking "Oh yeah, I saw that online days ago."  It's still a strange feeling when I see something reported online that I remember seeing in print several days beforehand. I feel like I'm living in Bizarro World. Or the real world more than 10 years ago.

(To be fair to the internet, this Slate piece has much more information than the print piece I saw a week earlier week.)

Bng Bng | Jason Weisberger | Boars, Gore and Swords: 3rd best Game of Thrones podcast

Note to Self: Check this out when you get around to read Game of Thrones and follow along with their book club.

Note to Others: Podcasts and book clubs seem like they would go together very well. Sort of like Filmspotting's Marathon's feature.

Threat Quality Press | Jeff Holland | Crap, Pirated Digital Comics Got It Right

Everyone recognizes that pirated media is appealing because the price is lower. But that is only half of the picture. The other, equally important half is that the pirated copy is typically a better product.

Venonmous Porridge | Dan Wineman | Gaze Back
The only acceptable demeanor for a TSA officer toward a passenger, especially when the TSO is male and the passenger is female, is abject humility. No one made you take a job where you clinically deprive innocent people of their dignity under threat of force. You signed up for that, and I expect to see the apology on your face at all times. I expect to hear it in your voice; I expect to smell it in your goddamned sweat. And I expect you to wear that apology long after your disgusting daily routine is finally found unconstitutional and your hideous organization is disbanded and its leaders imprisoned. I expect you to wear that apology not because it makes up for all the years you helped ruin America — which it doesn’t — but because it’s simply the bare minimum standard of behavior someone in your position must meet in order to call himself a human being. [...]

People in power never see the abyss on their own, no matter how near to it they push us. It must be shown to them.

Be the abyss.
Hallelujah!

Marginal Revolution | Tyler Cowen | “The moral superiority of the Germans”

I could not be more with Cowen and opposed to Avent on this score.

Coyote Blog | Warren Meyer | I AM Doing Good
Once startups get going, Branson said, they need to start doing good for people, meaning I guess that they buy carbon offsets or something.

Guess what? If my startup is succesful, I am already doing good. I can’t make a dime unless I create value for people net of what they pay me. Every customer walks away from our interaction better off, or they would not have voluntarily elected to trade with me [...]

This, from Carpe Diem, is along the same lines. He looks at an editorial from the DC paper about the entry of Walmart, which says among other things
Despite the peacocking by Gray and others after the agreement was signed, the District is receiving mostly crumbs. Walmart has committed to providing $21 million in charitable donations over the next seven years, an average of $3 million a year. That’s a pittance.
Walmart does not have to do squat for the community beyond its core business, because selling a broad range of goods conviniently and at really low prices is enough. Or if it is not enough, they will not make money. The promise of $21 million to some boondoggle controlled by a few politician’s friends is just a distraction, I wish they had not done it, but I understand that this is essentially a bribe to the officials of the DC banana republic to let them do business.
(1) The idea that a profitable business is definitionally making the world better by creating values for others is such a bedrock postulate of my worldview that I don't think I can have a productive conversation about anything economic with someone who disagrees.

(2) I've been following this case of the DC Walmarts through all the bullshit demands that both the DC government and "concerned citizens groups" have been making. They could not be built soon enough for me. Forget crumbs, DC stands to gain several of the most advanced, revolutionary retail outlets of the last century! Is that "crumbs"?

Popehat | Ken | What Law Enforcement Thinks of Us
Via Radley Balko, we learn of a police raid on smoke shops, including one called Capitol Hemp. So far, so banal — another pointlessly mastubatory gesture in the financially and socially ruinous War on Drugs. What’s notable about this particular raid is that the police, in drafting their affidavit of probable cause in support of a search warrant, argued that display of materials about constitutional rights was probative of criminal activity and criminal intent: [...]

Yes, that’s the same 10 Rules publication that we wrote about here last year — an utterly straightforward, inoffensive exposition about protecting your rights (and your safety) when interacting with law enforcement. The video tells people that they have a right — a right set forth in the United States Constitution — to remain silent and to refuse to give consent to searches. Taking a page from modern pro-statist “what do you have to hide?” rhetoric, the police say that a typical citizen “would not need to know” such information and that it is intended to “deceive law enforcement.”
Whenever I hear someone in authority ask "what do you have to hide?" my first reaction is "From somebody arrogant enough to ask that question? Everything, up to and including the time of day."

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