Gongol.com Archives: November 2006
Brian Gongol

November 30, 2006

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The American Way Anthropologist thinks market pricing is a late addition to human cognition
That is, it requires a kind of thinking that not everyone is fully hard-wired to accept. It's a hypothesis that's worth consideration, though at the same time there are so many indications of market-like responses throughout nature (the population S-curve, for instance) that it's not necessarily the sort of thing that should be held up as canon law. Even in a hunter-gatherer tribe, a certain resource (food) composed of multiple inputs (wild animals, wild fruits, and so forth) has to be delivered to a market with fluctuating demand. Neanderthal man may not have pondered the market-like mechanisms at play (or bought car insurance), but the evidence was all around him (and her). Then again, Fidel Castro still hasn't gotten it, either, and he's a little beyond hunting and gathering.

News More talk of separatism in Canada
Now it's not just Quebec that wants out, it's a group of Canadian Indians ("First Nations") who want nation-state status

Threats and Hazards Russian economic reformer may have been poisoned
Yegor Gaidar, who was one of the leading economic reformers of the post-Soviet era in Russia and who today leads an economic think tank, fell extremely ill during a trip to Dublin last week. Doctors think it was a case of poisoning. Gaidar is recovering in a Moscow hospital now, but Anatoly Chubais, another economic reformer who was ambushed in Moscow last year, thinks it may have been another assassination attempt.

Water News Using chicken waste as fertilizer

Socialism Doesn't Work North Korean cheerleaders
Assuming what's shown isn't a forgery, the South China Morning Post used this caption: "North Korean cheerleaders were a big hit at the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan. But some were later sent to a labour camp." It's funny at first, but then it becomes really hard to swallow: By fault of chance, people are born into nations where capricious and mad-minded officials commit treason against human freedom. Cuba, China, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam are all nominally Communist states even in 2006. Yet still we have a Marxist leading Venezuela and Communist-related parties in the US and in the United Kingdom, where at least the people have the right to know better. Try forming a Freedom Party or a Capitalism Party in one of the Communist countries.

Business and Finance Major antitrust case against Microsoft starts today in Des Moines
Bill Gates and Joseph Stiglitz will be called to testify. The trial starts just as Vista is being launched for sale to businesses.

The American Way Harvard prof says Indonesia is privatizing too much
Says spinning off government-owned firms is much less important than resolving the nation's problems with corruption and over-regulation. Privatization ought to remain a goal, but he's probably right: If the environment for entrepreneurial growth and innovation is too harsh, then it's going to be difficult for the country to get ahead.

Business and Finance Tennessee considers using GPS to measure how far drivers travel
While a per-mile tax isn't a bad idea, it shouldn't require the use of intrusive technologies like GPS -- a per-mile tax could easily be introduced using a completely non-liberty-threatening odometer tax

News UN intends to interfere with Saddam Hussein's execution

Iowa Iowa's plans for long-term economic growth

Threats and Hazards Top US general in South Korea: "I'm not worried about their nukes militarily"
Suggests that North Korea's presumed nuclear weapons are more effective as a political bargaining point than as a weapon of war. Whether it's right to dismiss their military usefulness or not, it's clear that North Korea had much to gain just from threatening to conduct a nuclear test, much less actually doing so successfully. A little knowledge of game theory goes a long way towards explaining what happens in the world.