catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Around the blogs wed 23

with 23 comments

Peter Klein on the use of slides to simplify presentations. And Vernon Smith on the pitfalls of constructivist rationalism.

Steve Horwitz on the magic and mystery of a snowflake. More thoughts on constructivist rationalism.

When I see that snowflake, it engages my reverence for the beauty of the undesigned order of the natural world. Look at the symmetry and detail of that snowflake, and then consider that it is the product of undesigned natural processes. I find it an object of awe that natural processes can produce a thing of such detail, complexity and beauty. It is said that only God can make a snowflake. Well for those who understand the science, or who are atheists, we know that you don’t need God to do so. But even to an atheist like myself, the spontaneous order of nature can (and should!) generate the same awe, reverence, and wonder that the contemplation of God generates in those who believe. Unfortunately, whenever my wonder at the beauty of nature is engaged, it is with a tinge of frustration.

The frustration I feel is that so many smart and caring people seem unable to see and appreciate the identical processes of undesigned order in the social world. “Social snowflakes” are all around us, yet precious few seem to be able to understand and appreciate them to the degree we do the snowflakes found in nature. And too many people think that these “social snowflakes” require a “Creator.”

A medley of links from Michael Warby, ranging from the prospects of China to the performance of  the UN and numerous examples of  government failure.

A change of pace. I don’t know what that is doing in my favorites, my son must have put it there. Don’t ask me why. Is he trying to tell me something?  This is the villain, filmed at Balmoral Beach in Sydney, doing a promotion for Australia as a tourist destination, speaking Hungarian, the language of his girlfriend.


Written by Rafe

December 23, 2009 at 12:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

23 Responses

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  1. Tim Blair has a clip of a “Pivotal Copenhagen Moment.”

    Gordon Brown leads Al Gore into a closet.

    These are the people who plan to lead us to a new, cooler planet.


    December 23, 2009 at 2:26 am

  2. People might be interested in the following:

    To paraphrase, the IPCC chapter authors claimed that there is a high likelihood of the Himilayas being glacier-free by 2035. They referenced a non-peer reviewed study(against their own guidelines) by the WWF. The WWF wasn’t, of course, referencing a peer-reviewed study itself but a report in New Scientist magazine and a report by the WGHG/ICSI. And, moreover, the New Scientist report references the WGHG/ICSI report so it is entirely superfluous. But when you look at the WGHG/ICSI report there is no mention of the claim the reference is supposed to buttress. So where did the 2035 come from? Most likely a mistake involving an article by Kotlyakov that predicted the year 2350, not 2035 and even this prediction didn’t involve the Himilayas being entirely glacier-free.


    December 23, 2009 at 9:20 am

  3. It seems to me that Austrian economics has hit an intellectual dead end. Hayek wrote about this stuff how long ago now? How long ago was the central planning debate? All they seem to be able to do is go on and on about this insight and write stuff about the wonder of snowflakes and hubris in Afghanistan but it really is of very limited relevance in assessing policies less extreme than central planning.

    Basically neoclassical economics has already picked up what is useful in Austrianism but it goes beyond that and comes up with applications and testable predictions like in the New Institutional Economics and institutional design and auction design using game theory.


    December 23, 2009 at 9:43 am

  4. Thanks Dover. But what are two or three centuries in the geological timescale? 🙂


    December 23, 2009 at 9:51 am

  5. Blair on Guy Rundle: “If there were such a thing as a speech-capable squirrel, and if you could imprint every known Marxist text upon that squirrel’s brain, and then if you set the squirrel on fire, it might sound something like Guy Rundle.”

    Excerpt from Rundle’s latest, impenetrable bilge:

    Invoking communism as the positive correlate of a brilliant and constantly challenging critical reading of the current world inevitably leads to questions as to what its positive contents might be – indeed one of the routines at the Idea of Communism conference became a sort of peek-a-boo, whereby a member of the audience would get up and ask whether Nepal/Chiapas/Bolivia constituted a new communism-in-embryo, only to have Badiou or Žižek shake their heads slowly, as if to say, ‘you still haven’t got this “idea” thing, have you?’. What positive content there is seems to rely heavily on the Negri/Hardt – and more Hardt than Negri – notions of the common, as neither public nor private. That’s useful in analysing the process of increasingly abstract enclosures – of given genetic material, language, etc – into intellectual property regimes, but it also simply and unreflectively replicates the US humanities post-doctoral world – a realm of open source, cultural flows and radical personal equality sustained by invisible old property: the massive endowments of the Ivy League.

    Since the act of self-describing is rhetorical anyway, its only criteria of judgement is whether it gets some sort of effect – or whether it instead rushes to get a dividend from a process of getting people to think otherwise what, at this stage, needs to be more concrete and particular, albeit not fragmented and ungrounded in postmodern fashion.

    Not even Mark Bahnisch could make sense of it.


    December 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

  6. CL

    It’s easier to read than a lot of legislation. However, it is also wrong.

    Rococo Liberal

    December 23, 2009 at 12:07 pm

  7. Speaking of Mark Bahnisch…..?


    December 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

  8. Rundle is a shocker.


    December 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm

  9. I think I need new glasses


    December 23, 2009 at 12:48 pm

  10. Yegor Gaidar’s death went unmentioned except by Charles Richardson at the Crikey blog


    December 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

  11. another obit! The author has a dig at Putin too. I sincerely hope she doesn’t get poisoned by the wily KGB murderer

    Because Gaidar didn’t like power, he considered economic reforms to be the most important task. In the end, the reformers and former President Boris Yeltsin fell hostage to the siloviki. They were hostages to corrupt and obstinate generals who started the war in Chechnya and to the Prosecutor General’s Office. That was why they needed to find a successor to Yeltsin who could rein in the Prosecutor General’s Office and the military. They found one from the ranks of the siloviki — Vladimir Putin.

    Gaidar was also a very courageous man. Although he didn’t hold photo ops in the cockpits of fighter jets or pose shirtless while fishing (for which he did not have an ideal physique), it was Gaidar who called people to the streets to rally in support of Yeltsin in October 1993 when armed anti-Yeltsin forces stormed the Ostankino television center. Unlike Putin, Gaidar did not hide from the television cameras for three or four days after every terrorist act. And if Gaidar had been president in 2004, I can guarantee you that he never would have ordered his Nalchik-bound plane to return to Moscow upon learning that Beslan School No. 1 had been seized by terrorists.


    December 23, 2009 at 1:02 pm

  12. I think Gaidar actually saved Russia from reverting back to Bolshevism at one stage in the 90’s

    I think (?) the Economist did an decent obit on him.


    December 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  13. Thomas Frank as the WSJ’s token op-ed leftie shows the parllel universe leftism resides in these days.

    The Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal showed us the same dynamics at work in Washington. Here was an apparent believer in markets, working to keep garment factories in Saipan humming without federal interference and saluted for it in an op-ed in the Saipan Tribune as “Our freedom fighter in D.C.”

    He’s still talking about the Abramoff scandal such as ignoring Senator Nelson was paid $100 million for his state to vote the health care bill and the other crap the Demolition party has been involved with.


    December 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  14. JC – apparently the Demolition Party have inserted a clause in their bill making the so-called “Death Panels” provision binding on all future congresses, which would normally require 2/3 majority for a rule-change, but they are doing it anyway.

    The Demolition Party really should be placed on the State Department’s terrorist watch-list.

    Michael Fisk

    December 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  15. Obama decorates White House Christmas Tree with mass murderer Mao Tse Tung.


    December 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm

  16. In his paper, Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy, shows how CFCs – compounds once widely used as refrigerants – and cosmic rays – energy particles originating in outer space – are mostly to blame for climate change, rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. His paper, derived from observations of satellite, ground-based and balloon measurements as well as an innovative use of an established mechanism, was published online in the prestigious journal Physics Reports.

    The science is not “settled”; not in the slightest.


    December 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm

  17. We really should do an Australian version of this


    December 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm

  18. Foul mouthed Kiwi MP at it again. Nope, not Bird but now we know how representative of his countrymen he is


    December 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  19. Jase:

    Perhaps Bird is related to the guy as the language structure sounds pretty similar.

    Is Birdie partially Kiwi indig?


    December 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  20. Fisk:

    The Demolition party is basically a fascist party these days. I don’t mean in the Nazi sense, but in the Italian/ Spanish/south American context.

    interestingly it has never stopped using the race card in its entire history.


    December 24, 2009 at 1:26 pm

  21. Yeah, like this. Uncanny

    When Harawira went on New Zealand radio to apologise for the racist outburst he only caused more offence by calling the country’s Labour Party leader a “bastard” who should be “lined up against the wall and shot”.


    December 24, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  22. It would be interesting to examine the family tree, or perhaps this NZ dude may be reading Bird’s bogsite… er sorry, I meant blog site and getting influenced by his “cuz”.

    Having said that I really upset that Key hasn’t done the right thing and had Bird deported back to NZ. He did promise me he’d forcibly take the loon back and have a national sorry day apologizing to Australians for the turmoil.


    December 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm

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