The military philosophers

I've already read books 10, 11 and 12 (in that order) of A Dance to the Music of Time and I've just finished book 9, The Military Philosophers. The order is unusual, but that's the thing with being disorganized.

Here are the things that struck me:

1. The Powell dude is incredibly cultured. The breadth and depth of his knowledge is astounding.

2. He's a consummate master of language. He then goes further and adds quirks that you can only do if you really understand the rules. I think this is partly because of the distance in time between him writing and me reading. In other words everyone talked like that then. The quirks I'm talking about manifest themselves in oddly contracted sentences. Far out daddy-o!

3. I find the whole thing quite cold and cerebral, with an elegiac quality.

Star of the Sea: Free markets

Sarah from work (knowing that I'm an advocate of free markets) photocopied some pages from Star of the Sea which contained a newspaper article that said that the free market was to blame for the Irish Potato Famine. I've thought about it on-and-off for several months and I've decided I don't know enough about the history of the period to comment on that particular case.

However in general it is true that free markets as described by Adam Smith did regulate the labour force by starvation. In other words, if the price of labour dropped below a certain point the labourer couldn't feed herself and died of starvation. This reduced the supply of labour, and so the price of labour rose again. It works, but isn't morally acceptable.

The good thing about free markets is that they are the quickest way to make your country rich; the bad thing is that the wealth isn't distributed evenly. That's why I think that government should stop taxing the poorest in society, and in this way redistribute the wealth a bit.


Per capita CO2 emissions

Willem Buiter writes that per capita CO2 emissions aren't important. He's right that what we need is a global tax on every tonne of CO2Eq (carbon dioxide equivalent) emitted. But the revenue from that tax should be re-distributed among countries according to population size, according to the TaxBack idea.


Own-Id: A reader writes

Ariƫn asked of Own-Id:

Why do you make people redirect to your domain? isn't it easier to add the meta

I think the easiest method of delegating your OpenId depends on several factors:

1. Do you have an editable web page under your own domain name?
2. Are you comfortable with basic HTML?
3. Do you know what to add to the html?
4. Do you know the URL of your OpenId server?
5. How easy is it to add a CNAME record to your DNS?

If the answers 1-4 are 'yes' and the answer to number 5 is 'not very', then it's easiest to go ahead and edit the html. If your DNS hosting company has an easy web interface (like GoDaddy) and you're a bit shaky on the other questions, then I'd suggest that http://www.own-id.com/ is for you.


The Opposite of Sex

'The Opposite of Sex' would bear a second viewing. I think there's something wrong with my brain because I find it hard to follow sentences like, "she's my ex-boyfriend's cousin's sister". There seems to be more than average of that sort of thing going on in the film. It's enjoyable and achieves it's aim of avoiding predictable cliches.

Often people walk out during DVDs at my house. This time, nobody walked out!

Java 3000?

After reading a post on the increasing complexity of Java, I wonder if it may be time to have a Java equivalent of the Python 3000 project. I'd start off by getting rid of primitives.


Was the Iraq war legal?

Willem Buiter's post gives me an opportunity to get something off my chest about the Iraq war. The question is: was it legal to go to war?

It's clear to me that to go to war you need permission from the UN in the form of a resolution of the Security Council. The UK tried to secure such a resolution, but was unable to. France in particular was against it. Since the UK failed to obtain UN authorization, it was illegal for the UK to then go to war. The people responsible for the crime are all the MPs that voted in the Commons for war.