Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Remember the Sorites Paradox? Take a look at Robert Nozick's Tale of the Slave. It's really the same paradox (unless you consider all citizens to be slaves, and therefore see no paradox). For me, the obvious resolution is that slavery ends in the transition from case 4 to case 5. Moreover, I now suspect at least one writer for The Onion agrees with me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reading this old post of Half Sigma reminded of something that's been bugging since high school. Higher gasoline taxes would mitigate some negative externalities, but surely they would exacerbate some positive externalities too. In my unscientific sample of the blogosphere, this is the first time I've seen this brought up! I blame myself for not putting my thoughts in writing sooner. My hesitation is due to my lack of data. But reading Half Sigma express the qualitative argument below compels me to at least make note of it.
But I fail to see a reason why the government should be discouraging gasoline usage. In other words, I fail to see that gasoline usage results in net negative externalities. I used the word "net" in there because most pundits fail to mention the positive externalities of gasoline usage. When you drive in your car you don't just benefit yourself, but there's almost always some other party who benefits. If you drive to work your employer benefits, if you drive to the store the store owner benefits, if you drive to visit friends and family they benefit from seeing you. To discourage driving is to discourage commerce, and commerce is a good thing.
Summarizing the above, gasoline reduces transaction costs; why should we assume this benefit doesn't exceed the negative externalities of gasoline? I'm not aware of any arguments for pointing the inequality in either direction, nor am I willing to hazard a guess right now.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thanks to a pointer from Tyler Cowen, I'm instantly in love with strange maps. From antipodes to Middle Earth to driving orientation, it's a feast for the eyes.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Would flaxseed oil make me smarter? I'm actually leaning toward eating more tuna. There's lots of evidence for the benefits of omega-3 (the fatty acids, not to be confused with omega_3, the third uncountable cardinal...). Randall Parker has many posts about this. For a while I daily consumed a little can of tuna, but I got tired of it. Perhaps something like Tuna Helper would help...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Continental drift, animated.

Sunday, June 03, 2007