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Showing posts from February, 2008

Freedom can't exist without trusting the untrustworthy

This is an extension of the commentary from this post from MichaelW. Have you heard the truism that a person is smart, but people are dumb? On the one hand it's profoundly true. On the other hand we fail to understand that the opposite is also profoundly true. A person is dumb, but people are smart. Dumb people, making sub-optimal individual decisions, somehow manage to combine in aggregate into communities that most often are remarkably robust and remarkably effective. It works with a market, where individuals make poor decisions about what to produce and what to buy. Somehow, with all those individual mistakes the result is highly effective and highly responsive. Compare that flawed mish-mash of poor decisions to what happens when there is directed organization and decision making, usually by experts, and the unwashed masses directing their own lives come out on top. Waaaay on top. It would also work in education, given a chance. Do I trust my fundie neighbor to do the b

Maybe we're turning into Victorians

Or: What I Learned About the World from Reading Historical Romances. I learned that sometimes people get *more* uptight over time rather than less. Victorians, according to custom and any number of novels, were concerned with propriety above all. Certain things were not spoken of and certainly the rougher aspects of life were hidden from young ladies. They were prudes. Read enough novels and eventually a consumer of these delightful escapes will come across one that isn’t Victorian at all, but set in the Georgian era or earlier, or at the very least has a foul mouthed old grandmother who insists on wearing her wig and powder and scandalizing her adult children with accounts of her wild youth. What brought this to mind (in a rather random fashion, which is typical for my brain) was this post of mine and what Joshua said about History. Deeply partisan divide using fear is nothing new… hell, we could take a page from the 19th century if we want to feel better about how bad it really