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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: NotDebonair on July 07, 2010, 07:31:45 am

Title: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: NotDebonair on July 07, 2010, 07:31:45 am
I'll buy that.  Plutonium in nature occurs in amounts calculable in 'parts per trillion'.  Usable amounts have to be synthesized from uranium.  Now we get to find out whether this is the characters making a mistake that the author is using as a plot device, the author has decided that we are in a universe that varies from from the real world, or the author has slipped up.

  ???
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on July 07, 2010, 02:07:56 pm
That biig a piece of straight plutonium would be well in excess of critical mass.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on July 07, 2010, 08:00:57 pm
I'll buy that.  Plutonium in nature occurs in amounts calculable in 'parts per trillion'.  Usable amounts have to be synthesized from uranium.  Now we get to find out whether this is the characters making a mistake that the author is using as a plot device, the author has decided that we are in a universe that varies from from the real world, or the author has slipped up.

  ???


D. None of the above. Read the damned strip.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on July 07, 2010, 08:04:03 pm
That biig a piece of straight plutonium would be well in excess of critical mass.

Not necessarily. First, nobody said anything about straight plutonium. It could be mixed with something that damned any reaction and still have a specific gravity over 18. Second, it depends on the shape. If it were in the same of a thin plate, no critical mass.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: NemoUtopia on July 07, 2010, 09:33:08 pm
Well, I was about to post a reply in one of these asking why everyone was making a big deal about Plutonium. I mean, it's just one in a list of elements...well, Sandy answered that. Think of it like having a lotto ticket, from a gambler's perspective. Of course you know that the MOST LIKELY thing is to get a little loss, break even, or make a small buck. But the whole time you're in suspense wondering if this is THE ONE, the big score. Judging from the brothers' personalities, it's a bit of that, a bit of chatter to pass the time while they work, and a bit of pulling the other's leg. Any number of reasons spring to mind.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: GaTor on July 08, 2010, 12:13:18 am
What Sandy said regarding the shape, which is...critical :-)  After my comment the other day I did a bit of research and found that weapons grade plutonium is usually shipped in the shape of a ring to avoid critical mass embarrassments.  Check this out .:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plutonium_ring.jpg

Stuff sure doesn't look like much.  Then you realize that if you so much as barely touched that thing with your bare finger you'd probably be dead in a couple of weeks not to mention it's other properties.

Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on July 08, 2010, 09:00:19 am
Check this out .:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plutonium_ring.jpg

I did not know that. Very interesting.

Stuff sure doesn't look like much.  Then you realize that if you so much as barely touched that thing with your bare finger you'd probably be dead in a couple of weeks not to mention it's other properties.

I doubt that. When Plutonium and Uranium are prepared for insertion in a bomb, They are highly polished into a slightly sub-critical sphere. The bomb is only armed once there is a go order. Then the bomber crew manually puts the sphere into the bomb. And by manually, I mean with their hands. (The may have worn gloves; I don't remember.) A friend of mine who flew BUFs, said it was warm to the touch. He's 63 and still alive.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: NotDebonair on July 08, 2010, 09:29:13 am
D. None of the above. Read the damned strip.

I waited for the next few bits of the arc and read them.  Then I reread the whole strip from the very beginning.  This is one of those "as you know, Bob" expository segments made sillier by the characters' avoidance of the obvious: any object fitting the description given is most probably an artifact.  Maybe it even made the crater they are working in.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: quadibloc on July 08, 2010, 09:58:37 am
I doubt that.
I think the reference may be to the extreme lethality of Plutonium when inhaled. Even there, though, it may take years, rather than weeks, to die from lung cancer caused by Plutonium-239's intense alpha emissions - or its chemical toxicity.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: GaTor on July 08, 2010, 10:53:02 am
Hmmm, I swear I recall reading that plutonium is so toxic and radioactive that merely touching it would kill you.  Also, during the Manhatten Project or at Los Alamos was ther and accident where one of the scientists picked up the plutonium core and died as a result.  Oh well, more research (luv the internet).  Heh what makes this strip interesting.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: GaTor on July 08, 2010, 11:46:52 am
Okay I stand corrected. While plutonium is highly toxic and I certainly would not recommend anyone touching it, my memory of revolved around the death of Harry K. Daghlian at Los Alamos.  My error is the result I think of the story being hyped through the media and especially the oversensationalized and fictional account of the accident in the movie "Fat Man and Little Boy".  Daghlian had been working alone (against all safety protocols) and had dropped a tungsten carbide bar onto a subcritical mass of plutonium, causing it to go critical.  He fished out the tungsten bar (never touching the plutonium) and was exposed to a massive amount of radiation. Here's a link to the real story and events, the next page has a pretty grusome picture of his right hand which received between 20,000 and 40,000 REMs.

http://members.tripod.com/~Arnold_Dion/Daghlian/accident.html

I'm not one to speak badly of the dead, but the guy has no business doing what he did with only a security guard in the room with him.  I believe Heinlein said something to the effect of " The universe has little pity on stupidity and the penalty is usually death." I'm sure I'm misquoting but this is a classic example of how very smart people can do very stupid (and fatal) things.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Rocketman on July 09, 2010, 09:46:40 am
Yea, I remember years ago once when I had a "brain fart" and touched the spark plug wires of a running engine that I was working on.  Knocked me right on my butt and my hand hurt for a good twenty minutes.  I knew better of course, but sometimes when your concentrating on the job you forget about safety, and it costs.   :o
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on July 09, 2010, 04:50:29 pm
Yea, I remember years ago once when I had a "brain fart" and touched the spark plug wires of a running engine that I was working on.  Knocked me right on my butt and my hand hurt for a good twenty minutes.  I knew better of course, but sometimes when your concentrating on the job you forget about safety, and it costs.   :o

I can top that. When I was a kid, one of my uncles owned a concrete block factory. There was an exhaust fan that removed dust from the air where the blocks were made. While working outside of the area, my uncle didn't notice any dust coming out the vent nor could her hear the sound of the fan. So he stuck his fingers into the exhaust outlet.... I don't recall if he lost 2 or 3 fingers. And back in the '50s, you couldn't get them reattached.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on July 11, 2010, 01:46:06 am
During my tour of duty at my first post, the Vietnam Veterans I worked with, constantly stressed, "STUPIDITY IS A CAPITAL OFFENSE.  IF YOU ARE VERY LUCKY, THE ONLY ONE YOU KILL IS YOURSELF.  UNFORTUNATELY, THAT IS SELDOM THE CASE!"  The vets stressed this verbally and when necessary, physically.  Many had survived several tours in Nam, the Philippines and Thailand.  Stupid received zero tolerance.

One "lucky" individual I'm aware of, tried to duck between a maneuvering tank and a building.  Four ground guides were guiding the tank.  They couldn't get it stopped in time and he was pinned to the building by the tank.  Allegedly he was conscious after being pinned.  As the story went, he lived until the tank was moved and his body hit the ground in two pieces. 
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on July 11, 2010, 07:31:30 am
I can top that. When I was a kid, one of my uncles owned a concrete block factory. There was an exhaust fan that removed dust from the air where the blocks were made. While working outside of the area, my uncle didn't notice any dust coming out the vent nor could her hear the sound of the fan. So he stuck his fingers into the exhaust outlet.... I don't recall if he lost 2 or 3 fingers. And back in the '50s, you couldn't get them reattached.

It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on July 12, 2010, 03:52:54 am
I'm currently operating a 2000 ton press in the stamping section of a auto plant.  We work hard at stopping stupid before it occurs.  I'd rather keep what I have instead of losing pieces or my life. 
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on July 13, 2010, 09:26:00 am
I'll buy that.  Plutonium in nature occurs in amounts calculable in 'parts per trillion'.  Usable amounts have to be synthesized from uranium.  Now we get to find out whether this is the characters making a mistake that the author is using as a plot device, the author has decided that we are in a universe that varies from from the real world, or the author has slipped up.

Imagine a plutonium storage device that consists of many small compartments containing little bits of plutonium, and the compartments themselves are made of hafnium. Then you might get a significant amount of plutonium in one place that was relatively stable.

Could such a thing survive 30,000 years, from the last time humans went to space? Maybe....

What if instead somebody carefully hid a lot of plutonium 15 years ago? Why would they do that? A powerful power plant? A bomb? It's been hidden for some time, as part of some subtle government plot, and it may have degraded some but still be usable. But no, that idea is not very plausible because if somebody had it hidden for some important plot, they would find ways to guard it. They would notice if somebody came along to dig it up and they'd have ways to stop them. Since nobody has done anything to stop the prospectors, it probably isn't what's going on.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Mabuse on July 14, 2010, 01:48:04 am
Since nobody has done anything to stop the prospectors, it probably isn't what's going on.


Well I think we can reconsider the prospect now.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: deliberatus on July 28, 2010, 03:14:29 pm
What if it was a impacted power pack from a space probe from years gone by? The asteroids were (looking backwards from the time of the events in the strip) explored for many years by probes using fission related power, either reactors or isotope batteries. If it hit fast enough, it could have buried itself, with debris falling back in to cover it.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on July 28, 2010, 11:00:30 pm
What if it was a impacted power pack from a space probe from years gone by? The asteroids were (looking backwards from the time of the events in the strip) explored for many years by probes using fission related power, either reactors or isotope batteries. If it hit fast enough, it could have buried itself, with debris falling back in to cover it.

Can't think of any old or proposed space probe with anything within several orders of magnitude of that mass of plutonium (or whatever the masscon is made of).  Except for an Orion, but the plutonium in an Orion would in discrete pieces as separate strokes of the propulsion system.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on July 29, 2010, 11:28:15 am
Can't think of any old or proposed space probe with anything within several orders of magnitude of that mass of plutonium (or whatever the masscon is made of).  Except for an Orion, but the plutonium in an Orion would in discrete pieces as separate strokes of the propulsion system.

There could be one started after our time. I like it when Sandy provides foreshadowing of things like that ahead of time, but sometimes it would interrupt the story too much.

Another possibility would be something that a government secretly hid for some nefarious purpose. They think nobody will notice it, but somebody notices the mass and starts trying to mine it. The pirates could be government agents whose job is to protect it. Guys who get the job of fixing problems that hardly ever happen tend not to be first-class highly-competent agents....
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on July 30, 2010, 01:41:57 am
J Thomas, I really hope you never have to bet your life on that belief.  People who do such jobs are competent and efficient.  The higher the level they work, the better their skills.  Amateurs need not apply.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on July 30, 2010, 06:50:16 am
J Thomas, I really hope you never have to bet your life on that belief.  People who do such jobs are competent and efficient.  The higher the level they work, the better their skills.  Amateurs need not apply.

Dough560, my experience has been that all organisations have some slackers and incompetents who can't be fired, and whoever organises things tries to put them where they'll do the least harm. In lethal situations they tend to get killed off but typically they get some better people beside them killed first.

Defending a secret installation that could go for many years without being found is precisely the sort of job such people might be assigned. If you can rely on them not to reveal it, at least. They're out of the way and as long as they don't actually have to do anything they won't have chances to mess up.

That's certainly not the task you give to your best people. Those get active missions, and training in the meantime, so they stay sharp.

I don't know that these are government agents at all. But look what they've done. They stole the ship without B&E noticing, and presumably they've left B&E to die. But in reality by giving B&E the intiative it's completely predictable in the story that they will lose. If they were competent efficient government hitmen they would have killed B&E -- two shots. Bert would be dead and Ernie would have perhaps 2 seconds to react before he was dead too. Instead of wandering off to wait for B&E to die, they could then proceed immediately to the next step in their plan.

So quite likely they aren't government agents, because there are lots of other ways the plot can go. And if they are government agents they might have some sort of constraint that requires B&E to die naturally so it can look like sheer stupid accident. But without some special plot twist to give them a solid reason to do it that way, I can confidently say they are not super-competent agents. Because they have made a serious mistake that will make them *losers*.

Of course I hope I'll never run up against that sort of thing either. There's no reason for government agents to kill me, but if they did ever try the odds would be heavily in their favor. Like, I'm walking down the street thinking about a math problem and somebody comes within 4 feet in front of me and pulls out a gun, a .22 with hollow point and I don't notice. He shoots and misses. I look up and say "Did you hear a car backfire or something?" He shoots and misses. *Then* I have some sort of chance to do something to survive, assuming his backup is equally bad....
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on August 02, 2010, 12:51:42 pm
From four feet, at an oblivious and nonresponsive target, "he shoots and misses?"

I suspect that even the average badgewearing donut feeder could manage such a shot, and have never been accused of overestimating their capabilities.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: BMeph on August 02, 2010, 01:05:51 pm
... this is a classic example of how very smart people can do very stupid (and fatal) things.

Well, "smart" and "dumb" are relative term. Smart people are those that do dumb things more rarely than dumb people. It doesn't mean that they never do dumb things - I don't know if there's a word in English to describe such a person...  ;)
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 02, 2010, 03:15:32 pm
From four feet, at an oblivious and nonresponsive target, "he shoots and misses?"

I suspect that even the average badgewearing donut feeder could manage such a shot, and have never been accused of overestimating their capabilities.

Yes. I can't spend my life being ready for every possible setup. If somebody wants to kill me and I don't know about it ahead of time, they'll probably succeed even if they're not very competent. I have to live with that possibility.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on August 08, 2010, 06:44:55 pm
Security details will have at least a couple of really competent individuals.  The longer and more remote the location, the larger the force.  As for black operations.....  I would agree with a quick problem elimination.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Plane on August 08, 2010, 09:14:33 pm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklo

Uranium mines have been found in Gabon where the peculair formation of a uranium mine and interaction with the water table caused a self starting sustained reaction, a natural fission reactor pile, the effect on the ore was to deplete the fissionable isotopes.


How unlikely is a naturally occuring breeder reactor?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on August 08, 2010, 10:24:14 pm
There's a old saying, "If it can be imagined, it can happen."
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on August 12, 2010, 01:13:17 am
Security details will have at least a couple of really competent individuals.  The longer and more remote the location, the larger the force.  As for black operations.....  I would agree with a quick problem elimination.

You may have known a few more security details than I have.  Never met any competent individuals in them .  But then I was never attached to any black ops, I just fixed their avionics [incompetent assholes] back in the 70s).

You type as though you respect those dicks.  Even when I was in the USAF, I didn't.  And that was well before I was actively libertarian, let alone anarchist (took a bit longer, I'm a slow learner).  (I was a relaxed libertarian [don't fuck with me, I won't fuck with you] until the IRS fucked with me).  (And every instance of the word F R A C K in this message is supposed to be F U C K, somebody has to adjust this forum to allow free speech or at least to enable the spell-check feature).
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on August 16, 2010, 11:46:49 pm
The good ones, and I've worked with a few, I have a lot of respect for.  Many of the missions suck, but in today's world, need to be done.

However, J Thomas' scenario postulated a secret base with a security detail made up of incompetents....  who set out to eliminate a security risk through attempted murder, through indirect means.  I'd really like to examine the logic used to reach such an assumption.

As for black ops.  Not NO, but HELL NO !  I had enough brushes with that life to know I wanted nothing to do with it.

Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 17, 2010, 10:42:22 am

J Thomas' scenario postulated a secret base with a security detail made up of incompetents....  who set out to eliminate a security risk through attempted murder, through indirect means.  I'd really like to examine the logic used to reach such an assumption.

Not a secret base. A secret mass concentration. Not a bunch of people making heat, using fuel and consumables, trying to avoid making unusual EM radiation even while they accomplish whatever their base is intended to do.

I don't know what a government would want a secret mascon for. A big bomb? Some sort of unattended supply cache? A special EMP bomb or something, that could somehow disrupt communication over a giant volume of space currently filled with communicating AnCaps? Some kind of sensors? I dunno.

But given a secret with high mass, they might have somebody who's supposed to keep it from getting disturbed. Whoever is in charge of that might be assigned to protect dozens of other minor secrets. Far from home. Long-term. They might have already spent several years waiting for something to happen, and this is the first threat that's shown up.

People lose their edge with that sort of job. It won't get the best black ops guys in the first place, unless the tasks look absolutely vitally important.

If you want to maintain their competence, you'll rotate in fresh people at minimum every two months. And you'll have occasional tests, where you send your own inspectors in to infiltrate the thing, pretending to be AnCaps doing it, and if they don't get caught quickly they reveal themselves with reprimands, and if they do get caught they reveal themselves quickly and pass out commendations.

But it's hard to do all that deep in enemy territory, and excessive activity might attract the very attention you're avoiding. Maybe better to be inconspicuous. It's just a mascon, and not a particularly visible one. Assign some guys to protect it that you don't trust to do a good job, and you don't have to worry about them messing up something else. If nobody finds the mascon which is by far the most likely case, then it won't matter how good a job they'd have done.

Doesn't every military have jobs like that? Checking on ground sensors in northern Canada? Guarding an embassy in Niger or Mali? Tasks which could become vitally important if, say, the embassy was attacked, but which are treated by everybody as punishment details?

Given the original secret mascon I think the rest is not all that implausible. I'm a little unclear what the secret would be, but if it was me telling the story I could come up with something. And after all, since it's a government doing it, it doesn't have to completely make sense.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on August 19, 2010, 10:40:49 am
It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).

You know, I hate to point out the obvious, but, since most people in America these days are stupid to the point of Heinleinian criminality, (and I hope you will excuse the yelling, but...)
ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

Now, if you will engage the parts of your brain that in the past were dedicated to thinking, you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. 
If persons a to z make small payments into a group fund, then if person m gets sick he can withdraw money from the group fund (called health insurance) to pay for the cost of the doctor visit.
Should persons a to l become upset because person m is using up a to l's money, especially when person a to l have never had to withdraw money from the fund, person person m is always doing it?
See, socialism. 

I will understand if your brain has become so atrophied that this does not make sense.  After all, it is not your fault, right?  The government must have done something to your thinking ability, which is why you have you no longer have any, right?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on August 19, 2010, 02:23:29 pm
It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).

You know, I hate to point out the obvious, but, since most people in America these days are stupid to the point of Heinleinian criminality, (and I hope you will excuse the yelling, but...)
ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

What are you getting so excited about?  There is nothing in wdg3rd's quote that suggests disagreement with you. It simply suggests that Obamacare, whatever else it does, will reduce future innovation in health care.  I agree with him and also with you (other than with some quibbling over terminology--see below).

Certainly, Obamacare entrenches the current government-controlled (socialistic) health care system, makes significant health care reform more difficult, raises costs, and probably reduces availability.  Obamacare doesn't cause those problems, it just makes them worse.

you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. ... See, socialism.
A voluntary group activity that can be seen after the fact to have benefited some people more than others is not socialism.

Should health care (of a sort) provided by the VA be considered socialism?  Sure.  Should employer-provided prepaid medical care (called "health insurance"), which is encouraged (but not required) by government, and which is highly controlled by government, be called socialism?  If you want to, OK.  Should Medicare be called socialism?  If you want to, OK.  Should voluntary group "health insurance" be called socialism?  Only if you do so because both the care and the "insurance" are highly government-controlled, but this doesn't really matter since it such a small part of the market.  In summary, I won't object to your calling the US health care system socialism.

By the way, aren't you a little embarrassed by your gratuitous insults?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: jamesd on August 19, 2010, 04:14:00 pm
Now, if you will engage the parts of your brain that in the past were dedicated to thinking, you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. 
If persons a to z make small payments into a group fund, then if person m gets sick he can withdraw money from the group fund (called health insurance) to pay for the cost of the doctor visit.
Should persons a to l become upset because person m is using up a to l's money, especially when person a to l have never had to withdraw money from the fund, person person m is always doing it?
See, socialism. 

Socialism is a gun to your head and a baton in your face.  If we could get to choose what kind of health plan we wanted, then it would not be socialism.  But if what the health plan covers is set by the state, to include coverage for every pressure group and lobby group of medical professionals, to include toupees and involuntary psychiatric commitment and exclude what the state finds too inconvenient or too expensive, (Avastin for cancer) then it is socialism.

For socialism in action, consider the Netherlands, where the treatment for inordinately expensive ailments is a lethal dose of barbiturates.  Last year 0.4% of deaths in the Netherlands, one in two fifty, http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa071143 (http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa071143) were by a barbiturate overdose to which the patient had not consented.  That is socialism.  Death Panels are socialism.

When the Obama regime decided not to cover avastin, because that would cost $1000 per day of life, but decided it would cover sex changes and involuntary psychiatric commitment, that was socialism.  Perhaps the decision on Avastin was reasonable, and perhaps a private insurance company would have made the same choice - but the customers might have chosen a different insurance company.   Medicine is socialist because they are all compelled to cover some things and refrain from covering others, which means the government gets to decide who dies and who lives.  When the Obama regime decides Avastin will not be covered, and the Netherlands puts an overdose of barbiturates in your IV, that is socialism.  If Kaiser had decided not to cover Avastin - well that was the sort of decision they were infamous for, which decisions led to a lot of people switching to a different health fund, and because back then people could and did switch to a different health fund with different policies, not socialism.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on August 21, 2010, 03:38:19 pm
By the way, aren't you a little embarrassed by your gratuitous insults?

No, because they got your attention. 
Because you did not respond to them, it shows that you believed they were not directed at you.  And, by your intelligent response, I can see that that you were right.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on August 21, 2010, 04:16:01 pm
Socialism is a gun to your head and a baton in your face. 

No, that is fascism.

Quote
If we could get to choose what kind of health plan we wanted, then it would not be socialism. 
What if you got to choose your health plan, and the government used the taxes you already pay to cover the costs of that plan. Wouldnt that be socialism?
Wouldnt that be the best of all possible worlds?
Quote
But if what the health plan covers is set by the state, to include coverage for every pressure group and lobby group of medical professionals, to include toupees and involuntary psychiatric commitment and exclude what the state finds too inconvenient or too expensive, (Avastin for cancer) then it is socialism.

Thats not socialism, thats bad (if not totally corrupt) policy-making.
Socialism is where the government uses your tax money to provide you with a good or service that could otherwise be provided (often at a higher cost, or loss of convenience) by private or for-profit companies.

Quote
For socialism in action, consider the Netherlands, where the treatment for inordinately expensive ailments is a lethal dose of barbiturates.  Last year 0.4% of deaths in the Netherlands, one in two fifty, http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa071143 (http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa071143) were by a barbiturate overdose to which the patient had not consented.  That is socialism.  Death Panels are socialism.

Again, that is not socialism.  That is bad medical practice.  Death Panels are not socialism.  Death Panels exist only in Sarah Palin's (and your, apparently) imagination.

Do I really need to take up your time explaining what end-of-life counseling is?  Do you know what 'medical directives' and Do Not Resuscitate orders are?
in case you dont know, these are orders to any medical staff the tell them how a person wishes to be treated if they are not able to speak their wishes directly.

What you and Sarah call "death panels" was a directive to Medicare that would pay a persons primary care physician to ask a terminally ill patient what their wishes are for end-of-life care.
This idea was created to prevent more Terry Schiavos.  If a person has a Do not Resuscitate order, then no-one should be allowed to override it .  Not even the President, on Easter morning.
But, oh no; we cant have people deciding on their own how they wish to be treated by their own physicians, should they be in a position where they can no longer communicate.
No, they have to be pushed aside by celebrity half-politicians who who care more about grandstanding than they do about quality medical care.

And you bought into it.  With all the power of Google at your fingertips, you couldnt be bothered to think for yourself.  That is criminal stupidity.

Quote
When the Obama regime decided not to cover avastin, because that would cost $1000 per day of life, but decided it would cover sex changes and involuntary psychiatric commitment, that was socialism.
Perhaps, but I still think that you are mis-using the term simply because you dont have any wider vocabulary. 
Quote
 Medicine is socialist because they are all compelled to cover some things and refrain from covering others,
Medicine is socialist?  Who is the 'they' you are referring to here?

Quote
which means the government gets to decide who dies and who lives.
And that is worse than an un-elected bureaucrat who only gets a paycheck when *they* decide who lives and who dies?

I think this line indicates that you are drinking too much Kool-Aid.  Are your sure you have never been to Jonestown?

The only evidence you have that government (socialized) healthcare will have secret meetings where they say "Patient x will live and Patient y will die" is from Facebook posting of a celebrity half-politician and talk radio propaganda paid for by th Party out of power.
You have demonstrated that you know how to use Google to back up the points you want to make, but not to find out the truth behind claims you happen to believe in.
This means that you are not stupid, merely another person who is intentionally hate-filled because your people lost an election.

Quote
When the Obama regime decides Avastin will not be covered, and the Netherlands puts an overdose of barbiturates in your IV, that is socialism.
Yes, this is socialism.  However, you neglected to mention that you, as a consumer, get to choose your insurance plan; even under health care reform.  The only socialist part of the healthcare reform plan is that the government is forcing you to be ready in case of a medical emergency.  Wow!  What an onerous thing.
 
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Bob G on August 21, 2010, 04:54:21 pm

ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

So if I pay the local urgent care clinic out-of-pocket to stitch up my arm where it got gashed working on my beater car, that's socialism? Must be -- it's health care.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on August 21, 2010, 05:50:18 pm
I still think that you are mis-using the term [socialism] simply because you dont have any wider vocabulary. 

The word you are all missing is "collectivism." That covers most political "isms." Socialism, fascism (i.e., national socialism), conservatism, liberalism (in its modern meaning)* are all variants of collectivism which is the antitheses and sworn enemy of individualism. ZAP is the logical prerequisite for individualism.

* Libertarianism is basically an offshoot of classical liberalism. The blatant corruption of the word liberal by the lefties, is the most insidious intellectual crimes of the 20th Century.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 21, 2010, 07:36:08 pm

Socialism is where the government uses your tax money to provide you with a good or service that could otherwise be provided (often at a higher cost, or loss of convenience) by private or for-profit companies.

I have the idea that much of your audience firmly believes that in the absence of government all goods and services would necessarily be provided at lower cost and higher convenience by private for-profit companies.

I would like to look at how it could happen that insurance might not be provided at reasonable cost or convenience, independent of government. This of course applies to health insurance. I make no claim that government is likely to help the situation.

The business model: Customers pay a set fee independent of whether they collect the services provided. They can get those services due to events beyond anyone's control. Like a lottery, but backward. We have methods that can reliably give a person cancer, but hardly anybody would give himself cancer so he could collect on health insurance. The money turns unexpected and unaffordable costs into something that might be affordable.

Unlike a lottery company, an insurance company can't predict how many customers will claim benefits in any one year. They must set their prices high enough to make it unlikely that they will get more claims than they can cover.

The larger the insurance company, the smaller the relative variance in claims (assuming that the claims follow a distribution that has finite variance, which could be iffy). That is, the bigger the insurance company the more predictable its costs and the smaller it can cut premiums and still make a fine profit.

Since the largest companies are the most profitable, it is plausible that prices would fall to the point that the smallest company cannot make a profit. How much lower? Perhaps to the point the smallest insurance company can't meet its variable cost? But fixed costs are low, let's ignore them. Larger companies make a profit while the smallest cannot compete -- it cannot compete on price and it cannot compete on reliability. It goes out of business. Then prices fall until the next smallest goes out of business. This continues until there is an oligopoly that fixes prices at a level they can all survive.

New companies mostly cannot enter this market -- they must be big to survive, and they lose money until they get a large market share.

One service that insurance companies provide is to pool risks, and the largest do it the best. A second service is collective bargaining. If you have no insurance and your physician sends you to the hospital, can you negotiate rates? Seldom. After all they don't know what emergency will come up or quite what they will need to do, and they will bill you for it after the fact. If you want a nose job you can shop around and what one surgeon charges $5000 for another might do for $4500, though you may pay well over $100 per visit to get estimates. But in general your place is to let them do whatever they think is best and then you figure out how to pay for it later. On the other hand, can insurance companies negotiate rates with MDs and hospitals? You know they do! And when it's an insurance company that controls 30% of the market, versus a single practice or hospital network, who has the better bargaining hand?

The larger the insurance company, the better they can handle risk and the more advantage they have negotiating. If hospitals agree to a tiny markup for the biggest insurance company, where will they get their money for expansion and innovation etc? The obvious place is from the uninsured who have no recourse. Jack up their prices, they'll take out a second mortgage or whatever. When they're paying everything they have and it isn't enough, try to get more from the smallest insurance companies.

When a company gets its decisive advantage from sheer size, is there any particular reason to expect they will do lots of innovation and cost-cutting etc? Is it only government intervention that can make them stodgy?

Here's a stylized history, how I'd expect health insurance to take over a region. They start by offering catastrophic insurance, to pay rare hospital bills for rare conditions that would cost more than most people could pay. Classical insurance. As they get bargaining clout they negotiate their costs down and hospitals etc increase prices to the uninsured. So more people get insurance.

Then they branch out into routine procedures. Regular checkups and exams etc. The original rationale is gone, these are not unexpected expenses. But they can negotiate low prices, and prices to the uninsured go up.

They branch out to pay pharmaceutical costs. They have marketing clout with pharmacies, so they get lower prices, and drug prices go up for the uninsured.

An oligopoly of insurance companies results in insurance prices rising to the point that most people cannot afford them, even while most people cannot afford uninsured routine healthcare. But businesses can afford it, partly because they can write it off as a business expense and pay less tax. So the employed can still get insurance for their families.

But insurance prices keep going up until businesses can't afford them either -- particularly when they must compete with foreign companies which do not pay those costs. More and more businesses find employee health insurance too big an expense. No one can afford it except the federal government.

And that's where we are now.

How much of that would be different without government? Well, government licenses MDs and restricts the supply. Without government anybody could practice medicine, and the ones who instilled the least trust would charge less, and you could choose a level of medical care you could afford.

Also, if people simply got over the idea that they might need more medical care than they could afford, if they accepted that if they pay for what they can afford and it isn't enough they should just die, then the health insurance companies don't get their opening wedge in.

There are various other things that could be different. Definitely the current healthcare problems have been affected by government, and would be in various ways different without government.

But the pattern I described did not come directly from government until the end, when government could pay when no one else could because no one else has enough money or bargaining clout. It went:

An industry is structured so that the largest companies have a cost advantage and a bargaining advantage. (The bargaining advantage is particularly insidious -- when there's a bargain with a few on one side and many on the other, the many will compete to find the worst bargain for themselves that any of them will accept, while the few do very well. This may not be good for the economy.)

So it tends toward a oligopoly of a few very large companies with little competition. They *might* do a good job anyway, but if there was significant competition there would be consequences for a bad job. And there are not.

Government is one of the most obvious ways to give the largest companies an advantage. There might be a way for government to improve on the unregulated result of this sort of oligopoly. Maybe. But the method would have to be carefully designed and performed.

The natural thought is collective bargaining. In the short run a monopoly can get a great deal from employees, from contractors, and from customers. But if all of those do collective bargaining, then there is no free market at all. With many sellers and many buyers you might get a price that reflects all the needs. With one buyer and one seller most of that information is lost. Similarly when government serves as the collective buyer or seller. This does not improve markets.

There might be a way for government to improve the occasional market which winds up perverse. I don't see an obvious way to do that, but I won't rule it out. There is an argument that there are no private solutions to these problems and therefore we must try government solutions. This argument is wrong. It assume that it is so vitally important to find a solution that we must do whatever it takes. But if it's true that there is no private solution to these partly-failed markets, there might likely also be no governmental solution. If we can't solve it we must live with it, not impose solutions that are even worse.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Rocketman on August 21, 2010, 10:09:50 pm
Socialism is a gun to your head and a baton in your face.

No, that is fascism.
Contrary Guy, it's becoming difficult for me to even converse with you.  You have so many inaccurate and misapplied ideas rattling around in your head that I don't even know where to begin.  I could spend it seems all my free time just trying to straighten you out.  For one thing the facism that you say is socialism are two terms that are nearly identical.  The facists otherwise known as nazi in short stands for "National Socialist Party".
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on August 22, 2010, 04:54:41 pm
I have the idea that much of your audience firmly believes that in the absence of government all goods and services would necessarily be provided at lower cost and higher convenience by private for-profit companies.
It is possible that whatever "audience" you mean is as ignorant as you suggest, but I doubt it.  As a matter of simple courtesy, you might give some evidence before making such a nasty accusation.

Obviously, governments often subsidize certain industries, for various reasons.  For example, a government could collect massive taxes and use them to subsidize opera.  If the government collects enough loot, wastes less than usual, and distributes the rest with less corruption than usual, it might even make good operas more affordable and available than they would be in a free society.  Beyond those with political power who made a fortune investing in opera schools just before the policy was announced, a few of the citizenry (who consider good opera to be more important than anything else) will benefit.  But is this a good idea for society in general?  Of course not.

Government violence and threats of violence can be used to provide certain limited goods or services that, taken out of context, appear to be better than what would be provided in a free society.  I'd expect very few people to disagree.  Those of us who oppose government violence and threats of violence consider the big picture--we recognize that the oppression and impoverishment of the common people should not be ignored.

Since the largest companies are the most profitable,
I would like to look at how it could happen that insurance might not be provided at reasonable cost or convenience, independent of government.[/quote]
It is highly unlikely that in a free society, all of the people that wished to offer insurance services would follow your business model with the same assumptions.  In the past, insurance services have been offered in many different ways, and I see no reason to assume that people in the future would be even less creative.

If you have no insurance and your physician sends you to the hospital, can you negotiate rates? Seldom.
But in a free society, I wouldn't go to a hospital that charged outrageous rates, I'd go to a hospital that made a profit selling high-quality medical services at low rates.  A hospital that tried to overcharge non-insurance customers would immediately lose most of their business.

Besides, in a free society, medical services would cost much less than in a government-controlled medical system.  Estimates would really be guesses and would depend highly on the specific services, but I wouldn't be surprised if typical charges would be around 1/10 of what is now paid in the US.

How much of that would be different without government?
All of it.  Your examples of government controls raising prices and reducing availability of medical care just barely scratch the surface.  Government controls on insurance (medical and otherwise) also significantly raise prices and reduce availability.

But the most important thing is that in a free society, people don't always do what your (or anyone else's) crude model says that they will do.  If there is a way to make money giving people what they want, someone will probably do it, even if it isn't in your model.  Crude models that restrict people to a specific path are only valid if government power forces people to stay on that path.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on August 22, 2010, 05:57:49 pm
It's a bitch to get them reattached even now, half a century or so later.  Full function is still a work in progress.  Personally, I'll go with 'borg bits until the state of the art improves (unlikely with Obamacare).

You know, I hate to point out the obvious, but, since most people in America these days are stupid to the point of Heinleinian criminality, (and I hope you will excuse the yelling, but...)
ALL HEALTHCARE IS ALREADY SOCIALISM!

Now, if you will engage the parts of your brain that in the past were dedicated to thinking, you will realize that any healthcare program that you pay into (or that your employer pays into) is designed to spread the cost of medical care around so that one person doesnt die for lack of money. 
If persons a to z make small payments into a group fund, then if person m gets sick he can withdraw money from the group fund (called health insurance) to pay for the cost of the doctor visit.
Should persons a to l become upset because person m is using up a to l's money, especially when person a to l have never had to withdraw money from the fund, person person m is always doing it?
See, socialism. 

I will understand if your brain has become so atrophied that this does not make sense.  After all, it is not your fault, right?  The government must have done something to your thinking ability, which is why you have you no longer have any, right?

Son, my boss and I pay health insurance for me and La Esposa.  There's no socialism involved, until Obamacare kicks in.  Health insurance for La Esposa is over a quarter of what I would take home, mine is covered by the boss (and if you think he's a socialist, you haven't met him).  I could introduce you to him (and a couple of our warehouse guys that even I would hesitate to cross, from further south than Sandy goes).
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 22, 2010, 06:22:51 pm
I have the idea that much of your audience firmly believes that in the absence of government all goods and services would necessarily be provided at lower cost and higher convenience by private for-profit companies.

Obviously, governments often subsidize certain industries, for various reasons.

Good point. Subsidised products could be less expensive because of that. Of course, since they must buy things from the rest of the economy, they might be more expensive anyway. But you're right and the way I said it was wrong.

Quote
Since the largest companies are the most profitable,
I would like to look at how it could happen that insurance might not be provided at reasonable cost or convenience, independent of government.
It is highly unlikely that in a free society, all of the people that wished to offer insurance services would follow your business model with the same assumptions.

If what they sell is insurance, it's hard to get away from my reasoning. The more customers, the more their conditions average out and the more predictable your income and expenses. A small insurance company can make other assumptions but their wrong assumptions will come back and bite them in the ass.

Quote
If you have no insurance and your physician sends you to the hospital, can you negotiate rates? Seldom.
But in a free society, I wouldn't go to a hospital that charged outrageous rates, I'd go to a hospital that made a profit selling high-quality medical services at low rates.

Well, that's fine for you. In a free society, I wouldn't go to an overpriced mortuary company. I'd go to a miracle-worker who made a profit raising the dead at low rates.

But OK, in reasonably large cities you will have six or more decent hospitals in easy reach, so when you don't have a lot of urgency you can get compare prices and get competing bids etc. That should reduce your medical bills when those conditions are met.

Quote
A hospital that tried to overcharge non-insurance customers would immediately lose most of their business.

Sure, and a hospital that depends for its bread and butter on people who can't afford insurance will surely be quite profitable.

Quote
Besides, in a free society, medical services would cost much less than in a government-controlled medical system.  Estimates would really be guesses and would depend highly on the specific services, but I wouldn't be surprised if typical charges would be around 1/10 of what is now paid in the US.

I get the sense you did not understand my reasoning. That would be my fault, I must not have explained it well enough.

Let me try this example. Imagine that we had a free society that still had a few large automobile companies and some large auto insurance companies. I will agree ahead of time that both of those might be results of government, but I hope you will agree that such things could possibly happen in a free society.

Now, say that Geico got into the car-buying business. They tell all their customers, "We will sell you a new car cheaper than you can get it from a dealer. Choose whether you want low-end, mid-range, or high-end. We will promise to get you a car from one of the big three -- Ford, Honda, or Toyota -- for a low price. Tell us your preferences for color etc and we will attempt to give you what you want."

Say that Geico had 33% of the auto insurance business, and enough of their customers signed up for this deal that they got 25% of the market for new cars.

They go to Ford, Honda, and Toyota and say "We will negotiate with you for 25% of the entire volume of sales for this year. What kind of deal can you offer?"

They resell their cars to their customers at a nice discount compared to retail, and they pocket the difference.

When WalMart does this sort of thing, giving suppliers 3% over cost, is that because of government interference? Couldn't Geico do it if they wanted to? When you're a great big slice of the market, you get a lot of bargaining power. When you're a one-time customer who buys in singles, you don't. If Ford wants to make more profit, they have to get it from their other customers, the ones who can't drive such a hard bargain. And of course, the higher the list price the better the Geico deal looks to their customers.

I don't see that government is needed for any of this. You could argue that in a free society there would be thousands of small insurance companies instead of a few big ones, but I don't understand how that could work. It all comes from standard microeconomics, nothing that requires government. Of course government could get involved and make it worse.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on August 22, 2010, 07:47:44 pm
If what they sell is insurance, it's hard to get away from my reasoning. The more customers, the more their conditions average out and the more predictable your income and expenses.
Of course, but that's not what I'm talking about.  You make many assumptions, including about the business model.  Insurance has worked many ways in the past.  Why do you expect people in the future to always lie down in your rut?

Sure, and a hospital that depends for its bread and butter on people who can't afford insurance will surely be quite profitable.
Bullshit.  It was your idea, not mine:
where will they get their money for expansion and innovation etc? The obvious place is from the uninsured who have no recourse. Jack up their prices,
So I repeat: bullshit.  You suggested that a hospital's main source of profit would be from the uninsured, not me.  Did you think that nobody had read what you wrote?

I've had about all the bullshit that I can take.

I get the sense you did not understand my reasoning.
I agree.  You suggest that in a free society, a large company like Geico might be able to save automobile customers some money.  This is a problem?

If Ford wants to make more profit, they have to get it from their other customers, the ones who can't drive such a hard bargain.
Sure, businesses always want to increase profits.  But if they thought that they could increase profits by raising prices, they would already have done it.  In other words, if they raise prices then they'll lose customers to businesses (such as Hyundai) who give them a better deal.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on August 22, 2010, 08:07:31 pm
If what they sell is insurance, it's hard to get away from my reasoning. The more customers, the more their conditions average out and the more predictable your income and expenses. A small insurance company can make other assumptions but their wrong assumptions will come back and bite them in the ass.

Re-insurance, dude. Don't you know anything? Big and small insurance companies re-insure with their competition all the time. It's really no different than bookies laying off bets with other, competing bookies.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on August 22, 2010, 11:44:57 pm
A little history goes a long way toward curing the fantasies of lazy people.

Once upon a time, a vigorous blend of "friendly societies" took care of insurance needs, and did so much more cheaply and efficiently than today's largely government-entangled efforts. You can look it up.

Even today, there are groups of people - such as the Amish - who find that their version of the "friendly societies" works very well.

In many Asian societies, voluntary cooperatives take care of all the "safety net" functions which certain intellectually lazy westerners assume must be accomplished by government.


Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 23, 2010, 12:03:53 am
A little history goes a long way toward curing the fantasies of lazy people.

Once upon a time, a vigorous blend of "friendly societies" took care of insurance needs, and did so much more cheaply and efficiently than today's largely government-entangled efforts. You can look it up.

Good thought! So if it was done in a "friendly" way instead of by capitalist rules, it might be cheap and efficient.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Scott on August 23, 2010, 01:26:28 am
In a free market, services might be provided by a variety of types of organizations: for-profit, religious non-profit, secular non-profit, co-operative, mutual, fraternal, etc. The common characteristic is they are all voluntarily organized and funded.

I read a few weeks back that there's a doctor in the state of New York who is taking patients on a subscription basis -- that is, for something like $100/year, he will see all subscribers and provide basic medical services for no additional fee. Obviously he can't offer specialized services but he has plenty of patients who love the arrangement. But the insurance industry is not happy and the state health insurance board was, at the time the story was written, trying to shut him down for running an "unlicensed insurance scheme." I don't know what the outcome of that story was, but it reflects the fact that free people can find solutions to sticky problems so long as the state stays out of the way.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on August 23, 2010, 06:40:32 am
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on August 23, 2010, 07:53:12 am
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Ever noticed how movies portray gun stores? They are grim placed filled with grim-faced white men making derogatory comments about... well everything. Contrast that with real gun stores or shooting ranges. In my experience, they are filled with men, women and kids of all races. They mix without regard to any of these "differences" and eagerly swap suggestions and experiences. There is a great deal of friendly humor and banter. And there is less crime than any other business.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: BMeph on August 23, 2010, 11:30:56 am
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Ever noticed how movies portray gun stores?

How about this:
"Statism relies upon only the people in charge having a gun."

My voluntary gift to you...because "the first one is always free...".  ;)
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on August 23, 2010, 11:50:48 am
I used to go to the range frequently in Los Angeles area. Blacks, whites, hispanics, Asians, all mingled together. You could talk to anybody, ask for advice, even borrow a weapon. Kind of blows away the "hateful redneck stereotype."

I often wore a Pink Pistols shirt, and brought a number of gays, lesbians, transgendered folk, and friends to the ranges. Nobody ever gave us any grief. Folks stopped by to chat. My dark-skinned Colombian bf got a free lesson - and danced a jig when he hit the bulls-eye on his first try.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 23, 2010, 11:56:11 am
In a free market, services might be provided by a variety of types of organizations: for-profit, religious non-profit, secular non-profit, co-operative, mutual, fraternal, etc. The common characteristic is they are all voluntarily organized and funded.

Sure. noncoerced, markets are allowed to be free along with everything else.

It's capitalism if the means of production are owned by private individuals and not governments. That does not imply noncoercion.

But if government is coercive by definition, then a noncoercive society cannot have government and therefore cannot have government ownership of the means of production.

So noncoercion implies capitalism, but capitalism does not imply noncoercion.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: macsnafu on August 23, 2010, 01:41:47 pm

So noncoercion implies capitalism, but capitalism does not imply noncoercion.


Perhaps you meant to respond to Terry, not Scott. Scott's post didn't even mention "capitalism", just free markets.  I would say that "free market" does imply non-coercion.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on August 23, 2010, 01:45:54 pm
It's capitalism if the means of production are owned by private individuals and not governments.
There is no commonly accepted precise definition of "capitalism", and your definition is especially unclear since "means of production" is so vague.  (The most important means of production is human ability.)  Is there any reason to introduce such a useless (assuming you're not a historian of economic thought studying Marxist apologetics) definition here?

Most of us are interested in understanding, not obfuscation.

So noncoercion implies capitalism, but capitalism does not imply noncoercion.

"Coercion" is another word that has multiple common meanings which statists often combine deceptively.  But I'll assume that you are using "coercion" to mean something like "the initiation of force", as "force" is typically used in libertarian-oriented discussions.  I'll use "capitalism" to mean "an economy without government interference".  In that case, your quote is true, but so what?  Ending government interference in the economy will obviously not eliminate all crime.

I think you've been told this before.  Please don't recycle cluelessness.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 23, 2010, 07:23:55 pm

So noncoercion implies capitalism, but capitalism does not imply noncoercion.


Perhaps you meant to respond to Terry, not Scott. Scott's post didn't even mention "capitalism", just free markets.  I would say that "free market" does imply non-coercion.

Yes, you are right.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on August 23, 2010, 09:57:10 pm
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Ever noticed how movies portray gun stores? They are grim placed filled with grim-faced white men making derogatory comments about... well everything. Contrast that with real gun stores or shooting ranges. In my experience, they are filled with men, women and kids of all races. They mix without regard to any of these "differences" and eagerly swap suggestions and experiences. There is a great deal of friendly humor and banter. And there is less crime than any other business.


Here in Jersey, it varies.  The ones in the NYC metro area (Bergen, Hudson and Essex counties) are pretty grim and if they have a range that range is filled with folks I'd rather not socialize with (cops).  Gun shops further out are a bit more friendly.  In general, I prefer to go out of the area.  Like over to Pennsylvania (no, not near Philly) or north of Massachusetts.  New York ain't bad as long as you're well away from the Five Boroughs that make up the "City" -- that means a buffer of at least two counties.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on August 26, 2010, 11:59:31 am
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Boy, where have you been?  Capitalism is friendly?  You must not have read any history, or any of the recent business magazines.
Capitalism is winner-take-all, cutthroat competition that tends towards monopoly and the utter destruction of all rivals.  And thats *with* government supervision.

The Gilded Age of Laissez Faire Capitalism was not called The Age of the Robber Barons for nothing you know.  I take it that you have never heard of Standard Oil Co.

Or Enron.

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.
This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.
That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.

Just because you have a friendly agreement with a local store that you frequent often and whose owner knows you and treats you with respect does not mean *all* capitalism works that way.
Business owners are friendly.  Capitalists are not.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on August 26, 2010, 03:05:28 pm
None of your examples are free market, laissez faire capitalism. "Winner-take-all" is a totally political phenomenon. Someone must lose if someone else wins. In market "democracy," any number of "candidates" can win. That is why we have so many choices, even in an only relatively free market. My 2¢. I will let Terry chew you a new one on the details, if he is so inclined.

Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Boy, where have you been?  Capitalism is friendly?  You must not have read any history, or any of the recent business magazines.
Capitalism is winner-take-all, cutthroat competition that tends towards monopoly and the utter destruction of all rivals.  And thats *with* government supervision.

The Gilded Age of Laissez Faire Capitalism was not called The Age of the Robber Barons for nothing you know.  I take it that you have never heard of Standard Oil Co.

Or Enron.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 26, 2010, 06:01:36 pm
Capitalist rules are friendly. Statism is not. The first relies upon voluntary cooperation; the second upon the barrel of a gun.

Boy, where have you been?  Capitalism is friendly?  You must not have read any history, or any of the recent business magazines.
Capitalism is winner-take-all, cutthroat competition that tends towards monopoly and the utter destruction of all rivals.  And thats *with* government supervision.

The Gilded Age of Laissez Faire Capitalism was not called The Age of the Robber Barons for nothing you know.  I take it that you have never heard of Standard Oil Co.

Or Enron.

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.

You are overstating the case. It's easy to make a theoretical argument that under ideal conditions no regulation of any sort is necessary, beyond preventing violence. It is impossible to get winner-take-all because there is no way for a company to fail except by providing inferior services or products. As soon as a business gets too profitable, inevitably new businesses must immediately spring up and provide perfect competition.

So, for example, suppose that one business shuts out its competition by selling below cost until they are all driven out of business. He is being nice to his customers though not to his competitors. He might think he can then raise prices enough to more than make up for the money he spent selling below cost. But it can never ever work. As soon as he raises prices, it is 100% guaranteed that new competitors will immediately rise up and compete with him, and the money he lost selling below cost can never be repaid. Monopolies can never ever exist in a free market, it violates the rules of economics. Only violence can allow monopoly, typically government violence.

Once violence is eliminated, the economy is perfect almost by definition. Market forces will optimise the economy toward it's highest perfection, and while there is some slight inefficiency (because the market cannot respond to this second's prices until the next second, and the delays allow inefficiency), still it is provably the most efficient possible mechanism. No possible alternative could work as well.

As a side issue, consider that for any fixed voting system with more than two candidates, IRV or Condorcet or whatever, it's possible to find perverse cases where the voting will result in a win by the candidate that the majority of voters consider the worst choice. It can be proven that this is true for any voting system. But it is not true for free markets! It can be proven that with free markets, every individual gets everything he is entitled to, and at the lowest cost he is entitled to also.

What if someone discovers a market inefficiency and works to take advantage of it? Say that you realise there will be a shortage of apples in February so you buy apples in October and store them to sell during the shortage? Then you make money and you reduce the inefficiency. You make the shortage less, and the average price less. What if instead you do it the other way round? Like, you might know about the looming shortage so you buy up apples now to make the shortage worse, so that prices for your stored apples will be even higher. It is proven that this cannot ever work. Any time you try to increase market inefficiency rather than reduce it, the result will be that market inefficiency will be reduced anyway and no one will suffer except you.

Perhaps you might argue that the assumptions required for these proofs do not fit the real world. Of course they don't fit the real world! We have governments in the real world that distort economies! If we create a world that fits the postulated economic assumptions, then the economy will have no choice but to behave perfectly.

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This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.

Well, but it's possible. People do attempt boycotts even today. If the people were educated to all boycott businesses that did socially-unacceptable things, then businesses would be careful not to get caught doing socially-unacceptable things.

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That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.

By definition, if you can teach all the lions not to commit violence, then they will not kill wildebeests. You can't argue with that, can you?

Now take it one step further. If all the wildebeest were armed, what could the lions do? They'd better learn to eat carrots.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on August 26, 2010, 07:01:29 pm
Once violence is eliminated, the economy is perfect almost by definition. Market forces will optimise the economy toward it's highest perfection, and while there is some slight inefficiency (because the market cannot respond to this second's prices until the next second, and the delays allow inefficiency), still it is provably the most efficient possible mechanism. No possible alternative could work as well.

I will take this as an announcement by J Thomas that he is a troll.
Am I the last to know?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on August 26, 2010, 07:57:42 pm
I will let Terry chew you a new one on the details, if he is so inclined.
I'm not Terry, but I'll try anyway.

Capitalism is winner-take-all, cutthroat competition that tends towards monopoly and the utter destruction of all rivals.  And thats *with* government supervision.
More true than you realize.  In this, you are talking about a government-controlled economy, which typically encourages (and sometimes requires) monopolies.  Laissez-faire capitalism does not.

Many big businesses tried to form monopolies and cartels in later 19th century and early 20th century.  They failed.  As a result, many big businesses tried to get government to control their industries to eliminate (or at least hobble) competition.  To a great extent, with the help of "progressive" politicians, they succeeded.  If this is what you consider "capitalism", then we do not support "capitalism"--we support laissez-faire.

The Gilded Age of Laissez Faire Capitalism was not called The Age of the Robber Barons for nothing you know.
We know.  Government and big business propaganda (aided by the mainstream media) is not a new invention.

There were certainly many businessmen who received massive government subsidies and other assistance that deserve to be called "Robber Barons".  Among those are the corrupt officials of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads.

There were also many businessmen who did not receive significant government subsidies or other assistance that do not deserve to be called "Robber Barons".  Among those is the builder of the Great Northern railroad, James J. Hill.

Does it surprise you that government-approved textbooks laud the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads while describing James J. Hill (if he's mentioned) as a "Robber Baron"?

I take it that you have never heard of Standard Oil Co.

Or Enron.

I take it that you have heard of those companies but know little about them.  Standard Oil was an example of a laissez-faire company.  It kept improving its efficiency and lowering prices of kerosene and other refined petroleum products, saving consumers lots of money.  That's bad?  It drove competitors out of business, increased its sales, and saved more consumers even more money.  That's bad?  Some of its politically-powerful competitors got the US government to prosecute it, costing consumers (and taxpayers) money.  That's good?

Enron was an example of a non-laissez-faire company.  It depended on government controls for much of its business.  It bet heavily that the Kyoto Protocol would result in government control on carbon (cap-and-trade or something similar), and lost big when that didn't happen.  After California's elimination of the electricity market (and what remained of the free-market regulation), it took advantage of the corruption opportunities that California created, and was caught.  I agree that that was bad, but what does Enron have to do with free-market capitalism?

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.
Partly true.  Businesses will not regulate themselves--if given the opportunity, they will use whatever means they have to maintain and increase their profits.  In a free market, the only method for businesses to make profits is to satisfy customers.  When government controls their market, it's often much easier for a business to make profits by satisfying the politically powerful.  (And, of course, businesses try to get political power to use for their own benefit directly.)

The reason that government controls businesses is because it is in the interest of politically powerful people (including big businessmen).

This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
You misunderstand.  No government does not mean no laws, it means that laws apply to everyone equally.  Government control does not mean regulation, it means the elimination of free-market regulation and (often disastrous) control by the politically powerful (such as big businesses).

Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.
You are confusing political power with free markets.  In a free market, a business that does not satisfy customers will fail.  In a government-controlled market, a business that does not satisfy the politically powerful will fail.  There's a difference.

That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.
What can a business use against customers?  MacDonalds cannot force me to give them money, so I don't.  Costco cannot force me to give them money, but they sometimes offer me good value, so in those cases I do.  Governments can send thugs to force me to give them money, so even though I'd rather not, I do.  A government can take someone's property and give it to a politically powerful businessman, and I hope that never happens to me.

Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 26, 2010, 09:07:58 pm
Once violence is eliminated, the economy is perfect almost by definition. Market forces will optimise the economy toward it's highest perfection, and while there is some slight inefficiency (because the market cannot respond to this second's prices until the next second, and the delays allow inefficiency), still it is provably the most efficient possible mechanism. No possible alternative could work as well.

I will take this as an announcement by J Thomas that he is a troll.
Am I the last to know?

I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on August 26, 2010, 10:06:30 pm
Dude, the Robber Barons are what is known as "political entrepreneurs" - people who used the political system to their advantage, as opposed to free marketeers, who rely upon persuasion and consent.

Can I help alleviate your towering ignorance in any other ways? Are you ready to deal with your lack of humility and respect?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 27, 2010, 08:54:13 am
I was being a bit sarcastic, sorry.

The reason that government rules on business exist is because business has been shown that it cannot regulate its own behavior.

You are overstating the case.

I stand by this. Businesses sometimes regulate their own behavior quite well. It deserves considerable research to find out what conditions make that work better, and what conditions make it work worse. Here's one thing -- large masses of people with poor communication have trouble coordinating their actions.

So for example when large numbers of people try to do a boycott because they are offended at a business's behavior, what would be ideal would be that when the business does a little better then boycott it a little less, and when it does a little worse they boycott it a little more, and when it does what they want they call off the boycott entirely. But what actually used to happen was that they announced the boycott and many of the people who would participate were late to find out. Then they called it off and some supporters didn't find out about it for years. So the signal they wanted to send was blurred and delayed. Boycotts don't work very well.

Businesses regulate themselves OK when they are relatively small cartels doing the regulation. But those also tend to break down. The easiest way for businesses to be regulated is with markets. That has breakdowns when businesses do not have to pay for things they use up etc. Things like pollution and such, where a collection of businesses can create high costs for a collection of people, and it's hard to assign the costs well. Markets face problems when it's hard to establish easy ways to pay for things people would be willing to pay for. (Like, the discomfort of paying cash at toll roads is a big annoyance for customers, and running the tollbooths is a significant expense.) There can be various sorts of market imperfections, but the things the markets do well, they do better than any known alternative. And the things they do badly may also be done badly by some alternatives.

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So, for example, suppose that one business shuts out its competition by selling below cost until they are all driven out of business. He is being nice to his customers though not to his competitors. He might think he can then raise prices enough to more than make up for the money he spent selling below cost. But it can never ever work. As soon as he raises prices, it is 100% guaranteed that new competitors will immediately rise up and compete with him, and the money he lost selling below cost can never be repaid. Monopolies can never ever exist in a free market, it violates the rules of economics. Only violence can allow monopoly, typically government violence.

This was sarcasm. An argument somewhat similar to this can be made. I consider it panglossian. Monopolies and oligopolies might sometimes last long enough to make a lot of money, even without using violence. The attempt to create an oligopoly might sometimes pay off handsomely. They are not completely stable, but they don't need to be. Still, monopolies do tend to be eventually destroyed. And despotic governments tend to eventually be overthrown.

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As a side issue, consider that for any fixed voting system with more than two candidates, IRV or Condorcet or whatever, it's possible to find perverse cases where the voting will result in a win by the candidate that the majority of voters consider the worst choice.

That was overstated. There are however perverse cases available for any voting system. There are perverse inputs available for most feedback systems. People generally walk well, but a small piece of gravel at just the wrong place can make them fall down. People who say that free markets provide feedback and therefore they have to work well for some particular purpose, are being silly. It's like saying that evolution has to produce some particular result.

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It can be proven that this is true for any voting system. But it is not true for free markets! It can be proven that with free markets, every individual gets everything he is entitled to, and at the lowest cost he is entitled to also.

I've seen silly circular panglossian arguments like that. Since free markets are guaranteed to be perfect, whatever you get must be what you ought to get. I don't want to accuse anybody here of making that travesty.

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Perhaps you might argue that the assumptions required for these proofs do not fit the real world. Of course they don't fit the real world! We have governments in the real world that distort economies! If we create a world that fits the postulated economic assumptions, then the economy will have no choice but to behave perfectly.

I've seen this argument from communists and libertarians. Both tend to assume that the evils of the present day come from one particular source, and after that source of evil is removed we will have only good. Both have some valid points about at least some of the sources of the things they disapprove of. Both tend to assume that there are no other sources of badness.

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This fundamental truth will not change if, all of a sudden, there is no government, no laws, no regulation.
Some in this forum will say 'if a business did that, the people would turn to a competing business and the offending business would die.'  If thats not ignorance of the reality of the marketplace I dont know what is.

Well, but it's possible. People do attempt boycotts even today. If the people were educated to all boycott businesses that did socially-unacceptable things, then businesses would be careful not to get caught doing socially-unacceptable things.

I was again being ironical. When you buy something, all the market gives you is the price, and you have a concept of the expected quality. You won't find out whether what you buy is actually what you want or need until after you use it, though. If you care about anything other than price and predicted product quality, you are stepping outside the market. You can try to arrange boycotts etc to educate other consumers about the things you care about which are not reflected in the price.

In general when there are small numbers of sellers and large numbers of buyers, or vice versa, the market will favor the smaller side.

Quote
Quote
That kind of ignorance is akin to saying 'without human interference, a lion will no longer kill wildebeest'.

By definition, if you can teach all the lions not to commit violence, then they will not kill wildebeests. You can't argue with that, can you?

Now take it one step further. If all the wildebeest were armed, what could the lions do? They'd better learn to eat carrots.
[/quote]

This sounds ridiculous, but I stand by it. Of course it would be difficult to teach all the lions not to commit violence. And I don't see how anybody could make a profit by arming wildebeest. But both might be practical when it's human beings instead of lions and wildebeest.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on August 27, 2010, 10:33:47 am
Quote

I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.


One of my pet peeves as an educated person (public schools, no less!) is when people mis-use words simply because they dont know any better.
"ironical" doesnt exist outside of comedy routines; if one expects to be taken seriously, one needs to communicate properly.

If I, with said public school education, can point out said mis-use, imagine what a an "actual" educated person might think.

Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on August 27, 2010, 10:35:41 am
Dude, the Robber Barons are what is known as "political entrepreneurs" - people who used the political system to their advantage, as opposed to free marketeers, who rely upon persuasion and consent.

Can I help alleviate your towering ignorance in any other ways? Are you ready to deal with your lack of humility and respect?


I'm sorry, but I cannot take the advice of anyone who uses the term "dude" seriously.
Why dont you go back to surfing and leave the discussion to the adults.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on August 27, 2010, 01:25:23 pm
Quote

I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.


One of my pet peeves as an educated person (public schools, no less!) is when people mis-use words simply because they dont know any better.
"ironical" doesnt exist outside of comedy routines;

I'm sorry, but you are incorrect about this.

See for example
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony

But more important, apart from anyone who claims authority about the language and how it should be used, in fact people communicate the way they do, and not particularly in ways that experts say they should. When somebody says they know how the language ought to be used and that the common use is wrong, they are claiming an authority they do not have. The actual standard is: if you succeed in communicating, then you have used the language correctly. If you do not succeed in communicating, then you have not.

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if one expects to be taken seriously, one needs to communicate properly.

I'll agree with that. If one communicates in a way that leaves one's target audience not taking one seriously enough to bother to understand, then one fails at communication with that target audience.

The burden is on the communicator to present his ideas in a way they can be understood by his target audience. If that audience reaches out and makes an effort to understand things that he should not have expected them to, then that's a good and merciful action on their part. But he should not expect it.

The person who is trying to communicate has some idea how much value there is in his ideas. Those who are being communicated with don't know what they're getting and they won't know until after they get it. So they have no way to tell how valuable it will be or how much effort is justified on their part.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on August 27, 2010, 01:41:21 pm
ContraryGuy, if you choose to get all hung up on the word "dude", that's merely a way to avoid admitting your enormous ignorance about Robber Barons and other matters of economics. But whatever floats your rubber ducky, child.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on September 04, 2010, 12:14:09 pm
ContraryGuy, if you choose to get all hung up on the word "dude", that's merely a way to avoid admitting your enormous ignorance about Robber Barons and other matters of economics. But whatever floats your rubber ducky, child.

Terry, 1) I was merely pointing out that I find it hard to take seriously people who use surfer lingo.  I assume this was on purpose as I have not seen you use it before.
2) Unlike you(and others) I have never proclaimed myself an expert on anything except perhaps contrariness.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on September 04, 2010, 01:50:34 pm
I have never proclaimed myself an expert on anything except perhaps contrariness.
It's hard to consider someone parroting government propaganda as contrary.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on September 04, 2010, 04:18:24 pm
I have never proclaimed myself an expert on anything except perhaps contrariness.
It's hard to consider someone parroting government propaganda as contrary.

Please explain, in detail, where I am parroting government propaganda.  Unlike some members of our august company, I do not watch Fox News, nor do I regurgitate Glen Beck.

Neither am I a shill for statism; I am no more than i appear, just a guy trying to improve or elucidate the ideas presented on this forum by playing the 'contrary guy'.

When Mutual Admiration Societies develop, they must have that one person who plays the opposite side so they can see where they might be wrong.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on September 05, 2010, 01:28:25 pm
Please explain, in detail, where I am parroting government propaganda.  Unlike some members of our august company, I do not watch Fox News, nor do I regurgitate Glen Beck.

I did, in my previous post in this thread.  I gave 7 quotes from you, and ignoring the last (which is an analogy, and I don't remember whether I've heard an analogy like that used in that way before), the first 6 were essentially the same propaganda that most Americans have heard many times in government schools.  For each quote, I explained your error.  If you want more details, look them up yourself.  As for parroting, every person I've heard repeat such propaganda has had no understanding of it.  (Some, for example, knew nothing about Standard Oil except that it had something to do with oil and was EVIL.)  I have enjoyed discussions with informed people who criticized many of my conclusions, but none of them would have parroted government propaganda as you did.

I have taught myself some history, and it has been clear that aside from the barest facts (such as that the Volstead Act was passed in 1919), much of "history" taught in government schools (and many private schools which follow government-approved curricula) is crude propaganda.  An important part of learning history is to reject that propaganda.

Also, how about your suggestion (in the quote above) that there is a significant difference in the major television networks?  All of the mainstream media, including Fox, report government press releases as if they were true.  All of them generally support government's increasing aggressive war, government's increasing control of people's lives (public and private), government's increasing extraction of wealth from the populace, and government's increasing transfer of wealth to the politically powerful.  Sure, some media people (and perhaps some media organizations) may lean toward increasing government control of people's lives in one way while others may lean toward increasing government control of people's lives in a different way.  And also sure, occasionally some media people (such as your Glenn Beck) support reducing government's power in one area while increasing it in another area.  But it is extremely rare for any mainstream media person to not support increasing government power in major ways.

Or look at local issues.  A mainstream media outlook might express disapproval when a policeman empties his gun into the back of a person who (according to multiple witnesses) committed no crime and did nothing threatening.  But as soon as a government official explains that the policeman "followed procedures", such a story is almost always dropped.  Practically the only time that such a story is not dropped is when a witness makes a video of the encounter which "goes viral".

As far as I can tell (from the experience of me, my friends, my child, and my friends' children), government schools support the fiction that there are significant differences between mainstream media organizations.  "Social studies" classes discuss "current events", based on mainstream media reports.  The discussions almost always center upon trivialities, but the children are taught that such discussions make good citizens.  So, those children who accept the propaganda grow up to discuss Fox vs MSNBC around the water cooler (and feel virtuous doing it), not to discuss whether it is good for government agents to mass murder, maim, torture, destroy, and impoverish.

Neither am I a shill for statism;
If not, you are a very good imitation.
Title: Sorry
Post by: Brugle on September 05, 2010, 01:40:10 pm
Oops, I did it again. :( I think I know why, so this should be the last time.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Azure Priest on September 06, 2010, 09:46:45 am

Or look at local issues.  A mainstream media outlook might express disapproval when a policeman empties his gun into the back of a person who (according to multiple witnesses) committed no crime and did nothing threatening.  But as soon as a government official explains that the policeman "followed procedures", such a story is almost always dropped.  Practically the only time that such a story is not dropped is when a witness makes a video of the encounter which "goes viral".

As far as I can tell (from the experience of me, my friends, my child, and my friends' children), government schools support the fiction that there are significant differences between mainstream media organizations.  "Social studies" classes discuss "current events", based on mainstream media reports.  The discussions almost always center upon trivialities, but the children are taught that such discussions make good citizens.  So, those children who accept the propaganda grow up to discuss Fox vs MSNBC around the water cooler (and feel virtuous doing it), not to discuss whether it is good for government agents to mass murder, maim, torture, destroy, and impoverish.


Live in Red China do you? I can point out numerous examples where the reverse of your wild exaggerations is true. In the majority of cases where there is an allegation of police brutality, the press, regardless of network, play the story to death maximizing the "police is guilty until proven innocent" template in the process. It is on rare occasions that the FACTS actually surface in these "viral videos" that you mention. I can even state a case where a "police brutality" incident was staged with a black teen as the "victim" in the video, but the security camera of the gas station where the event took place shows a very different story from the "viral video" that nearly lost Officer Morse his job. What is the REAL story? The "victim" lunged at police officers, kicked, spit, bit, and refused all requests to call down and surrender. In the "viral" video, Officer Morse is shown slamming the kid's head into the police car "for no reason" as was claimed by the man with the video camera who was interviewed repeatedly as an "expert on police brutality." The station's camera showed the truth, the kid was slammed into the police car, because despite being cuffed and UNDER ARREST, he was still acting in a provocative manner and had grabbed Officer Morse by his private parts, leaving the officer no choice but to strike this punk to make him let go! Here's another tidbit that might have escaped your attention, the man who made the tape alleging police brutality was himself a fugitive. He had an arrest warrant out for him on a felony. ( If memory serves, it was sexual assault.)

The same kind of bias happened with Rodney King. Remember that "victim?" He was high on several drugs, ran from police at over 100 mph, and when stopped, lunged at police and had to be taken down HARD. The media reported over and over again that RACE was the motive for the "beating," ignoring completely Mr. King's behavior. When the riots took place afterwards, little mention was made of the white drivers who were attacked by hordes of punks beaten, hit with bricks and laughed at, until the video of a trucker who was making a delivery and got attacked, "went viral." Only then did the "news" agencies release the FACTS, I mention above.

I wonder how many hard working, honest police officers lost their lives because they had to second guess every move they make out of fear that some wildly edited video would make it to the press or worse to a court room where an activist judge doesn't like the law AS IS, and is just looking for a case where he can rewrite it on the bench.

I find it very distressing when someone instinctively thinks the worst of people who have sworn to "serve and protect" at the cost of their own lives. Do you, Brugle, think that the only reason firemen are on scene is that they have started or are looking to start a fire? Do you think ambulances and their techs rush on the roads because they are looking to CAUSE a trauma? Do you think doctors in the Emergency Room run up and down the street beating up people to fill their hospital beds? Before you answer, think about this, you are walking down the street and a group of thugs approaches you. You have only enough time for one phone call, do you call 911, or do you call whatever person told you that cops just live to hurt people?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on September 06, 2010, 11:03:21 am

In the majority of cases where there is an allegation of police brutality, the press, regardless of network, play the story to death maximizing the "police is guilty until proven innocent" template in the process.

I don't know. I see the stories that the media plays up. I don't see the stories the media plays down. How many of the latter are there? I just don't know.

Quote
It is on rare occasions that the FACTS actually surface in these "viral videos" that you mention. I can even state a case where a "police brutality" incident was staged with a black teen as the "victim" in the video, but the security camera of the gas station where the event took place shows a very different story from the "viral video" that nearly lost Officer Morse his job. What is the REAL story? The "victim" lunged at police officers, kicked, spit, bit, and refused all requests to call down and surrender. In the "viral" video, Officer Morse is shown slamming the kid's head into the police car "for no reason" as was claimed by the man with the video camera who was interviewed repeatedly as an "expert on police brutality." The station's camera showed the truth, the kid was slammed into the police car, because despite being cuffed and UNDER ARREST, he was still acting in a provocative manner and had grabbed Officer Morse by his private parts, leaving the officer no choice but to strike this punk to make him let go!

So Officer Morse had him cuffed and in custody and let him grab Officer Morse's testicles. Is that incompetence or what?

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The same kind of bias happened with Rodney King. Remember that "victim?" He was high on several drugs, ran from police at over 100 mph, and when stopped, lunged at police and had to be taken down HARD. The media reported over and over again that RACE was the motive for the "beating," ignoring completely Mr. King's behavior.

He was probably confused. No matter how many times they hit him he kept trying to get up. If he'd just realized he should completely stop moving until they finished beating him, he'd have come out a lot better.

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I wonder how many hard working, honest police officers lost their lives because they had to second guess every move they make out of fear that some wildly edited video would make it to the press or worse to a court room where an activist judge doesn't like the law AS IS, and is just looking for a case where he can rewrite it on the bench.

I would hope, none. If I have to choose between doing things that save my life but lose my job, versus get killed, I prefer to survive now and handle the consequences later. Unless I'm particularly loyal to my boss and his policies. But I can put an upper limit on the number in 2007. There were 186 police and sheriff's patrol deaths that year, and 81 were from traffic accidents. At most 69 were shootings that could have been avoided if they weren't afraid of the press.

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I find it very distressing when someone instinctively thinks the worst of people who have sworn to "serve and protect" at the cost of their own lives.

It's a psychological thing. I find it kind of distressing that you instinctively side with the guys who can usually get away with anything they want -- unless they side with the law instead of with their comrades. All this instinctive stuff gets in the way.

You point out they can get killed doing it. They are by no means the most dangerous profession and are paid much better than the more dangerous ones. The fatality rate is around 22 per hundred thousand per year, and the most common cause of death is auto accidents -- they drive a lot and not particularly safely. By comparison, the auto accident fatality rate for the whole population is 12 per hundred thousand, down from almost 16 per hundred thousand in 1995.

Of course it's sad when anybody dies, but police deaths are not all that common.

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think about this, you are walking down the street and a group of thugs approaches you. You have only enough time for one phone call, do you call 911, or do you call whatever person told you that cops just live to hurt people?

Neither. Neither one gives me the prospect of any immediate benefit.

I can think of only a few times this has happened since I got out of high school. The one that comes to mind, these four guys looked threatening. They were wearing big black boots, and chains, and leather jackets, and their hair styles looked like they wanted to look dangerous, etc. The way they were walking, I'd have to go right through the middle of them unless I went out into the street. So I walked quick to the door of the porn shop I was passing and went in. One of them chuckled "Yeah, you better run" and they walked on.

If I had been carrying a cell phone, and I called 911, and 14 minutes later the police showed up to ask me what I wanted, what would I tell them? If my jaw was broken it wouldn't be an issue, but otherwise what? "I saw these guys walking down the sidewalk and they looked scary so I called you to come hold my hand. But they went away."

In every real situation like that I've ever been in, by the time it got unambiguous that I was being attacked it was way too late to call anybody.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Brugle on September 06, 2010, 03:20:09 pm
I wonder how many hard working, honest police officers lost their lives because ...
Consider the honesty of police officers.  Case 1: a random person walks up to a police officer, insults the officer, is insulted by the officer, and clubs the officer on the head.  Case 2: a police officer walks up to a random person, insults the person, is insulted by the person, and clubs the person on the head.  An honest police officer witnessing such a crime would treat the criminal identically in either case.  What fraction of police officers would be honest?  Maybe 1 in 1000.

I suspect that the main danger to the rare honest police officer (hard-working or not) would be the 99+% of police officers who are dishonest.

By the way, I've known several police officers over the years.  Most were helpful.  Some were charming.  One was a good neighbor.  And, as far as I could tell, every single one was corrupt, cheerfully accepting law-breaking by police officers that would cause other people to be arrested.

I find it very distressing when someone instinctively thinks the worst of people who have sworn to "serve and protect"
Should I think well of people who break their sworn oath?

By the way, my opposition to police (and other people who consider themselves to be above the law) is not instinctive.  At first I accepted the propaganda from government schools and mainstream media.  I eventually learned better.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: ContraryGuy on September 11, 2010, 12:47:43 am
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I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.


One of my pet peeves as an educated person (public schools, no less!) is when people mis-use words simply because they dont know any better.
"ironical" doesnt exist outside of comedy routines;

I'm sorry, but you are incorrect about this.

See for example
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony

Having read the linked entry, i stand by my assertion: "ironical" does not exist.  There is irony, ironic, and ironically; but no ironical.
Had you left off the 'al' as an educated person would, there would be no problem.

I see now why other educated person who might generally included toward your viewpoint would be turned away by your poor use of grammar. 
Because, you see, they are educated and can see by your use of language that you are not.

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But more important, apart from anyone who claims authority about the language and how it should be used, in fact people communicate the way they do, and not particularly in ways that experts say they should.
Which is why slang, jargon and teachers exist. Each serves a purpose.

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When somebody says they know how the language ought to be used and that the common use is wrong, they are claiming an authority they do not have.
That depends on the authority and reputation of the person doing the correction.  In an AnCap world, there are no teachers because anarchists do not believe they must listen to any authority figure. 
Society will fail, and fall back into statism.  When a child is small, the parent can say "this is how things are" or they might say "pay attention to this person, they are learned."
But as soon as the child is old enough to grasp the concept of anarchism, they will throw off the shackles of teachers, tutors and parents.
"I'm an anarchist" they will say "I need bow to no person, no one shall rule over me."

The older businessman, who value propriety, will have nothing to do with these poorly educated children.

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The actual standard is: if you succeed in communicating, then you have used the language correctly. If you do not succeed in communicating, then you have not.

then it is okay for black teens to speak in Ebonics, or to use hip-hop slang?  Both are English, but neither are effective at communicating with a not Ebonics speaker or hip-hopper.

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if one expects to be taken seriously, one needs to communicate properly.

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I'll agree with that. If one communicates in a way that leaves one's target audience not taking one seriously enough to bother to understand, then one fails at communication with that target audience.

Exactly my point.  Why be ironical, when you can be ironic?  Except that I should expect that, as an anarchist, you bow to no ruler; even one who tries to get you to speak correctly.



Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on September 11, 2010, 03:16:13 am
ContraryGuy prattled: "In an AnCap world, there are no teachers because anarchists do not believe they must listen to any authority figure. "

CG, do you just make this stuff up out of random nonsense, or did you learn it from Hollywood?

In an AnCap society, people would seek to improve their skills; they'd sometimes ask others ( "teachers" ) for assistance. These teachers would not be Officially Licensed and Approved by the Self-Named Government Authorities, but they would no less be teachers and authorities.

Does this work? See the copious experience of home schoolers, for starters. Research indicates that having a degree in Education might actually hinder one's success. Or ask how computer professionals leaned their craft, before any Officially Designated Schools of Computer Science existed.

If this is what passes for "being a Devil's Advocate", you need to practice more.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on September 11, 2010, 07:44:42 am
In an AnCap world, there are no teachers because anarchists do not believe they must listen to any authority figure. 

Have you no shame? You lambaste Terry as being "uneducated" on the basis of one word, then you demonstrate monumental ignorance with the above statement. Please, show us some anarchist literature that supports such nonsense. Someone here needs some education, and it's you. Now isn't that ironic?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: J Thomas on September 11, 2010, 08:37:09 am
Quote

I kind of overstated the case just this once. I was being mildly ironical.


One of my pet peeves as an educated person (public schools, no less!) is when people mis-use words simply because they dont know any better.
"ironical" doesnt exist outside of comedy routines;

I'm sorry, but you are incorrect about this.

See for example
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony

Having read the linked entry, i stand by my assertion: "ironical" does not exist.  There is irony, ironic, and ironically; but no ironical.
Had you left off the 'al' as an educated person would, there would be no problem.

You are being ridiculous.

When I google "ironic" I get 15,300,000 hits
When I google "ironical" I get 2,660,000 hits.

So people use "ironic" to "ironical" on the net by a ratio of about 6 to 1. That doesn't make either word incorrect, and both are about as easy to understand.

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I see now why other educated person who might generally included toward your viewpoint would be turned away by your poor use of grammar. 
Because, you see, they are educated and can see by your use of language that you are not.

Are you saying that you reject ideas because of the source? You say you aren't that well educated but you respect ideas from people because you think they have learned grammar you approve of, and you disrespect ideas from others because of their *grammar*? What a shallow set of values! But you get to choose for yourself. I think it's silly but I'm no authority on how other people ought to think.

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But more important, apart from anyone who claims authority about the language and how it should be used, in fact people communicate the way they do, and not particularly in ways that experts say they should.
Which is why slang, jargon and teachers exist. Each serves a purpose.

Exactly. Some teachers use a special language that others must learn to communicate with them, as a token of respect.

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When somebody says they know how the language ought to be used and that the common use is wrong, they are claiming an authority they do not have.
That depends on the authority and reputation of the person doing the correction.

You give them that authority, as a free choice. When you decide that the language in common use is wrong because some authority told you so, that's also your free choice. You can go around telling people they're using the language wrong all you want. If they choose to laugh at you, that's their free choice too. It doesn't come across well in print, but OK.   Hahahahah.

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The actual standard is: if you succeed in communicating, then you have used the language correctly. If you do not succeed in communicating, then you have not.

then it is okay for black teens to speak in Ebonics, or to use hip-hop slang?  Both are English, but neither are effective at communicating with a not Ebonics speaker or hip-hopper.

Exactly. If you need to communicate with people who don't speak Ebonics then you need to know a language they understand. If you need to communicate with people who prefer Ebonics then it's better if you can speak Ebonics to them.

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if one expects to be taken seriously, one needs to communicate properly.

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I'll agree with that. If one communicates in a way that leaves one's target audience not taking one seriously enough to bother to understand, then one fails at communication with that target audience.

Exactly my point.  Why be ironical, when you can be ironic?  Except that I should expect that, as an anarchist, you bow to no ruler; even one who tries to get you to speak correctly.

Dictionaries today are written by people who try to track how the language is used, rather than how some authority thinks it ought to be used.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Ironical
"i·ron·ic  (-rnk) also i·ron·i·cal (-rn-kl)"

They put the two together. Ironic is first, reasonably enough given its nearly 6:1 ratio.

I guess when I respond to you I'll try to remember to use the words you prefer. And the idea that you are so uptight about this will tend to discourage me from responding to you.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on September 11, 2010, 12:44:02 pm
Dictionaries today are written by people who try to track how the language is used, rather than how some authority thinks it ought to be used.

This has always been true in the English speaking rule. Unlike French, Spanish and other languages, English has never had a "language police." Usage, not some government "academy," has always been the final arbiter. As a result, English has more words than any other language in the world. There is no one to say, no, so English speakers promiscuously borrow words from other languages--e.g., "detente" is French, "caucus" is from aboriginal Algonquin and "amok" is bahasa Malaysia.

The closest thing English has to an official authority is the OED. However, it if filled with popular English and it has no power to dictate anything.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Ironical
"i·ron·ic  (-rnk) also i·ron·i·cal (-rn-kl)"

They put the two together. Ironic is first, reasonably enough given its nearly 6:1 ratio.

Right. This is the way valid argumentation is done. You support your thesis with evidence. Of course, countervailing evidence may also be offered by someone else. Now if someone responds to JThomas' argument by saying "Your mother wears army boots." That is not valid argumentation.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: wdg3rd on September 12, 2010, 03:01:31 am

Right. This is the way valid argumentation is done. You support your thesis with evidence. Of course, countervailing evidence may also be offered by someone else. Now if someone responds to JThomas' argument by saying "Your mother wears army boots." That is not valid argumentation.

Hey, my mother wore army boots.  Though most of the time after basic training she wore white nurse's shoes until her BCD for getting pregnant.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: dough560 on September 13, 2010, 04:27:32 am
RE:  Rodney King.  The only place I found references to the following were in the trade magazines and the gun press. 

The police were equipped with the then new PR-24 Side Handle Batons.  Due to city council budget constraints, Chief Gates purchased limited baton training.  To whit:  The training course concentrated on striking techniques, not control techniques.

Reenactments with personnel who received the full training package, resulted in efficient, uninjured target restraint and capture.

Additionally, King had recently completed a prison sentence and had "bulked up" via the prison's weight room.  Between the time of his arrest and trial, he underwent a training program to "burn off" his additional mass.  By some reports, he lost between 20 and 30 pounds of muscle mass.  Radically changing his appearance.

News agencies controlled fairly complete videos of King's fight with the police.  However, only portions supporting the "Police Brutality" position were shown to the public.  Only under court order were the complete videos obtained and eventually released to the public.  By then, the damage was done. 
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: Apollo-Soyuz on September 15, 2010, 05:20:25 am
so back on topic (sorta, I'm having issues with http://forum.bigheadpress.com/index.php?board=13.0 ), is it just me or did we not find out what the mascon was made of? I assume plutonium is really, really unlikely....
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: terry_freeman on September 15, 2010, 08:56:38 am
I don't think the masscon has been assayed yet; EFT moved to a different story arc for the time being. I'm sure EFT will pick up the masscon thread again after Wally nails the mugger. 
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: macsnafu on September 15, 2010, 12:11:15 pm
In an AnCap world, there are no teachers because anarchists do not believe they must listen to any authority figure. 

What's the point of arguing with someone who creates strawmen like this??  I suppose in an AnCap world, no hiker would trust his compass to point out North, either?  You're mixing up "authority figure" with "authoritarian" figures.  A parent or teacher or doctor (or any specialist or expert) could still be an authority figure, even under AnCap--they just won't have the "authority" that a government official has in a statist society. Someone who leads, guides, advises, or persuades doesn't necessarily have to use coercion to do so. 

Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on September 15, 2010, 07:45:36 pm
so back on topic (sorta, I'm having issues with http://forum.bigheadpress.com/index.php?board=13.0 ), is it just me or did we not find out what the mascon was made of? I assume plutonium is really, really unlikely....

I'm pretty sure it was made of McGuffinite.
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: mellyrn on September 20, 2010, 07:15:44 pm
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
--James D. Nicoll

If you succeed in conveying your idea, you have accomplished more than the person who got prissy over how you conveyed it.  Dude.

(I totally get to talk, because I am eulexic.  I spell better than any spellchecker I've ever met, and write better than anyone I know -- heh, and yes I am well aware of the word I quite deliberately left out of that last claim, for humor's sake, dontcha know.)


Plutonium is indeed highly unlikely.  With 80 million years as the longest half-life of any Pu isotope, we're looking at 50+ half-lives since its most likely formation, meaning that all that remains is less than 9e^-16 of its original mass.  Unless maybe some alien breeder reactor blew up rather more recently.

What's the current market value of Maguffinite?
Title: Re: "Plutonium is Really, Really Unlikely...."
Post by: SandySandfort on September 20, 2010, 11:42:08 pm
What's the current market value of Maguffinite?

By itself, zero. Its only use is as a catalyst to facilitate other activities.