Open Thread

This is our monthly place to discuss relevant topics that have not appeared in recent posts.

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  • Angelica

    The commuter’s paradox — everyone seems to be acting utterly irrationally where how miserable commuting makes them is concerned. It seems like exactly the kind of thing that would be discussed here. Maybe it’s because commuting barely even existed at all in the ancestral environment?

    • Revealed preferences: status from having a large house is more desirable than happiness from a short commute?

    • Scott H.

      On this same subject, what about the utility of HOV lanes? I think they are a net negative — a total government failure. I wonder how many urban freeway deaths and accidents are HOV related. I bet the % is high. I also bet the amount of behavior changed by the HOV lanes is low. What a waste of usually 20-25% of our most valuable highway space.

  • Hedonic Treader

    What, in your opinion, would be the most intrumentally efficient ways to predictably reduce the amount of suffering per subjective life-year on this planet (not just humans, all sentient life)?

    • Bóg urojony

      stop competition, stop moving and connect everyone to matrix 😀

    • Mitchell Porter

      The most efficient way to fulfill your request is… whatever is the most efficient way to kill everyone and everything on this planet. Zero life = zero suffering.

      • Hedonic Treader

        That would reduce the total future suffering, and despite the radical aggression underlying it, I see the logic. Of course, that’s not realistically something private individuals can predictably influence much (unless I’m overlooking something).

        What renders your suggestion invalid here specifically is that I framed the question in terms of suffering per subjective life-year, and then global euthanasia doesn’t help because then there will be no more subjective life-years.

      • Mitchell Porter

        Then kill everyone except a few survivors who don’t mind being the last survivors, and make sure they are set up comfortably. They need to have somewhere to live which survives whatever it is that kills everything else on Earth. I think the simplest approach would be to build something like Biosphere II deep underground (this is far easier than doing it on the moon), and then produce very large quantities of halocarbons or other synthetic molecules with high global warming potential, enough of them to literally boil the oceans.

      • Hedonic Treader

        Do you really think something like this could be planned with a success probability high enough that the additional suffering caused by failure is outweighed?

      • Mitchell Porter

        That depends what sort of failure you’re talking about. There’s failure as in, the doomsday scheme never gets going and has no effect on future events; then there’s failure as in, your hidden halocarbon factories get discovered and destroyed, and some emergency geoengineering is conducted in order to produce compensatory cooling, and what happens is a long planetary winter inducing a new dark age, but not the Venusian sterilization of the planetary surface that was planned… I think you need to decide which direction you want this discussion to take. Do you really want to keep discussing the detailed logistics of schemes which involve the mercy killing of 99% of life on Earth, in order to put it out of its misery, while simultaneously preparing a comfortable existence for the lucky few who get to survive; or do you want to reflect on whether such schemes are an accurate expression of your value system? At the moment you seem to be a negative utilitarian with an insistence that there should nonetheless be *someone* left alive…

    • Hedonic Treader

      No, I actually intended a discussion about the instrumental dimension, not the value dimension, since the goal was defined relatively clearly. This wasn’t a call to adopt this goal, or the underlying values (in this case probably local average utilitarianism), generally.

      • Hedonic Treader

        Ah, scratch that, I wasn’t thinking clearly.

  • Ed

    Our track record is serial herd behavior
    This is the truth, it is hidden, it is how we got to the present crisis.
    The system severely fools the people. Our track record is serial herd behavior: “Real Homes, Real Dow” at
    And it is kept out of sight! Clearly, the main enabler of sizable asset price bubbles (very harmful!) is keeping the real price histories out of sight!

    the 7th Comment 7/30/2011

    Recent OpEd, elaborations:

  • Doug

    Life expectancy approximately follows a Weibull distribution with a shape parameter, k ~= 2 (i.e. Rayleigh distribution). Any survival Weibull distribution with k > 1, will involve aging, because

    P(X > x + y | X > x) -> 0
    as x -> Inf

    I.e. the probability of surviving an additional year decreases as age increases. The ultimate goal of aging research should be shifting life expectancy distribution to k =1 (an exponential distribution). In this scenario the probability of surviving an additional year remains constant irrespective of age. Hence aging does not occur.

    Anyway does anyone have any demographic research invistigating how much of the increase in life expectancy is due to the shape parameter of the distribution, k, and how much due to the scale parameter, lambda.

    If all life expectancy increases are coming from the scale parameter, then that means medical science hasn’t been making any progress towards “immortality”. Rather it’s just stretching out the aging process, not eliminating it.

    In contrast if the shape parameter has been changing then one should be able to extrapolate from the trend and estimate at what date immortality should be possible.

    • mjgeddes

      Wrong, life expectancy only follows the Weibull distribution to about 75 years of age, after that it starts to switch over to an exponential distribution…after age 100 it is an exponential distribution… there is no evidence for any maximum human life span, the data show the chances of surviving every additional year after age 100 is about 50% and remains constant, it does not decrease thereafter.

      • Albert

        Yeah that would more accurately explain the top portion of this table:

        122 years would seem statistically impossible given that there are no occurrences of 120 or 121 years. But makes more sense if the odds on the margin stop decreasing and are capped at 50%.

      • Doug

        Really? That’s very surprising and fascinating. That suggests that aging basically stops between 75 and 100…

        Do you know of any research that suggests a biochemical reason that this might occur? Also do you know historically has this always been true? Did the phase shift from Rayleigh to Weibull historically always occur from 75-100, or did it use to occur earlier?

        If the latter is true that suggests the phase shift is related to accumulated decay. I.e. in previous generations when aging occurred faster, an earlier phase shift indicates that something triggers when the body decays past a certain a point. This is pessimistic, because it suggests that the switch to exponential distribution will always occur around the time when one year survival rates are 50%.

        However if the age of phase shift hasn’t changed, then this is very hopeful. If the phase shift occurs based off absolute chronological age regardless of accumulated decay, then the key to living a very long time is to keep the body well preserved until 100. If medicine could keep maintain people to 100 such that they have the same effective age as 35 year olds today (1 year survival probability of 99.93%), then life expectancy would be over 2000 years.

        Even if 100 year olds could be preserved to the level of todays 65 year olds (assuming phase shift stayed constant at 100), you’d get life expectancies of around 300.

      • Doug

        Did the phase shift from Rayleigh to *exponential* historically always occur from 75-100, or did it use to occur earlier?

      • Jeffrey Soreff

        Do you know of any research that suggests a biochemical reason that this might occur?

        I’ve read a suggestion that it occurs because we are basically
        out of redundant capacity in our body at that point. We stop
        accumulating damage, not because the incidence of damage
        has slowed, but because any substantial damage is now
        immediately lethal.

      • mjgeddes

        I originally thought it was because aging had stopped at that point but there are other interpretations… it may simply be the case the weaklings all died first so the statistics give you a false picture. More research needed I suppose.

      • There is physiology to support this. One of the things that I am working on in my research. Cells have limited capacity to produce ATP. What that ATP is used for is controlled in a hierarchy, that hierarchy has been determined by evolution. Nitric oxide is one of the main regulators of the ATP hierarchy. High nitric oxide increases repair, low nitric oxide mobilizes ATP for immediate consumption (as in fight-or-flight).

        Neglecting reproduction, the highest priority is organism survival, then organism repair, then repair of the repair systems. Repair of the organism to maintain survival has to have higher priority than repair of the repair systems. If organisms repaired their repair systems at the expense of surviving, they would not have survived and so wouldn’t have descendants. All extant organisms are descended from organisms that prioritized survival over repair and organism repair over repair of repair systems.

        Being in the fight-or-flight state diverts ATP resources from repair and healing to immediate consumption, or held in reserve for immediate consumption. The first things to lose ATP are the repair of the repair systems.

        It is the loss of the repair systems by old age that cause the elderly to become frail and “brittle”. They don’t have the capacity to allocate ATP appropriately because systems have been damaged or have gone into “fail-safe” modes where they can’t do more harm than good (i.e. apoptosis of cells with DNA damage).

      • Progeria (a genetic disease which causes extremely rapid aging and generally kills by age 13) seems to imply that there’s an aging mechanism.

    • Dave

      I am surprised no one has mentioned telomere length. Roughly this is a portion of a chromosome that limits the number of times a cell can divide.
      Some people due to good luck have longer telomeres than others. I don’t have time to get into the biology and am no expert in the subject.

      Telomeres result in programmed death of cells,something cancer cells escape. Older lived animals have longer ones.That is why you live longer than you dog. If you could inhibit the enzyme that lyses these telomeres you could live longer but you might get eaten up with cancer, Lots of luck.

      Also changes in life span have been due to shifts in the cause of death,. After improving nutrition and sanitation,life span increased progressively. The cause of death shifted to degenerative changes from infectious. Now old people have loss of organ mass and function which invariably gets you in the end. Still old people usually have a specific cause of death,such as a stroke or fractured bone.They have less reserve then the young and so die.

      • Many biochemists consider age to be the ratio of ROS (reactive oxygen species) scavenger enzymes (e.g., superoxide dismutase, catalase, and others) to the volume of oxygen consumed. Up until about age 18, this ratio is approximately 1. From there, the enzyme levels gradually decline, allowing the emergence of oxidative stress. This is now thought to be the underlying cause of essentially all degenerative disease. Note that calorie restriction, the only proven mechanism for life extension, diminishes the metabolism of oxygen and thus produces fewer ROS molecules. Activation of the Nrf2 system holds promise for returning the ratio to 1 in all-aged individuals by provoking production of the same level of ROS scavenger enzymes as were produced at age 18.

      • Dave

        “In tissue culture, exposure to reactive oxygen species appears to accelerate telomere shortening.In addition, under specific conditions, telomere length is a “mitotic clock” for a cell’s proliferative history, and telomere loss is linked to DNA damage by reactive oxygen species, which accumulates over time.
        In one study, endothelial progenitor-cell telomeres were shorter in patients with coronary artery disease than in healthy persons, and intensive lipid-lowering therapy both reduced oxidative DNA damage and prevented further telomere attrition.” New England J.of Medicine 2009; Vol 361:2353-2365.
        So it is not entirely clear how the factors are mutually interrelated.Nothing is settled yet.

  • Why don’t we blind job applications? If we really cared about not discriminating on age, sex and race wouldn’t we hide these attributes on CVs?

    If adding tiny levels of lithium to tapwater would reduce murder by 50% should we do it?

    • We could at least experiment with it.

    • Dave

      I have some of those lithium batteries and they say on the label DO NOT DISCARD. OK, I know where the water supply is .Just pitch ’em in there.

  • I’m curious what odds people give that a human has already been scientifically cloned, out of the public eye. Mammalian cloning technology has been around an awfully long time now.

    • DK

      I would give it odds of about 10^(-6). Such a project should plan for *at least* 100 young females willing to take the implant – with the understanding that most of the “pregnancies” will fail and that they will likely never see the child if it all goes successfully. Given the many uncertainties of the embryo/womb interactions, such females would also need to come from a rather select group. Such a scale is difficult to achieve in secrecy even if money is not an issue. Plus, there are currently no more than 200-300 people on this planet competent enough to carry such a project (tons of little nitty-gritty bits influencing the odds of the success is involved) – not many of these few would be willing to risk it all by potentially breaking all kinds of laws and/or becoming pariah. I doubt there are 10^6 people on this planet who can personally afford the monetary expense. In other words, it’s not done yet. Technically, of course, there are no barriers to this – only a problem of very low success rate (little progress on that front in the past decade) and laws preventing it (no progress on this front at all, AFAIK).

      • Someone who’s running a fertility clinic and doesn’t care about consent could perform the experiment without getting consent from the women. This scenario doesn’t seem terribly likely, but also not impossible.

        If the clone is of the woman who’s getting implanted, a successful clone would just seem to be a child who looks a lot like her mother.

      • Douglas Knight

        Nancy, (gestational) surrogate mothers are cheap compared to rest of the project. This step would involve a cooperation of the fertility clinic and lying to the mothers (about being an experiment, about the odds of miscarriage), but nothing like foisting a different baby on the final mother.

      • DK,
        Good lord -you’re both bad faith in your distortions of other people’s claims and in the “facts” you bring to a discussion.

      • Surrogacy isn’t a huge cost. ~$12k per pregnancy.

        Embryos could be produced anywhere, frozen, shipped to the clinic and implanted.

        The problem is going to be getting the epigenetic programming right, and no one even knows what “getting it right” even means. Most don’t even appreciate that there is something really complicated that needs to be done “right”.

    • Mitchell Porter

      It may have been attempted as long ago as 2003 – the Raelian company Clonaid claimed to have implanted a cloned embryo in a South Korean woman. The first undisputed cloning of a primate occurred in 2007… I think the odds are a lot shorter than DK proposes, and they get shorter every year. There are a lot of rich and powerful people in the world, from diverse cultural backgrounds, and there are a lot of biologists, again from all over the world. Imagine a business tycoon, a billionaire in some mundane industry (e.g. shoe manufacture, just to be specific), in his 70s, wanting the perfect heir; he chooses a young woman, one among many members of his retinue (she could even be a family member – no worries about inbreeding with clones), one who wants a child; the medical team are assembled and sworn to secrecy, the woman and her future offspring are set up for life using the family fund, according to the tycoon’s wishes; the offspring is said to be the tycoon’s son, but only a few know it’s actually a clone… It is clearly possible, culturally and technically, for someone sufficiently powerful and motivated to pursue such an outcome; and every year the odds of success increase.

    • I’m surprised you guys went that that direction. I think the most likely organization behind a human cloning project would be a military or intelligence agency’s research program, in the vein of the Manhattan Project or MKULTRA. I think the US, Israel, China, and Russia would be among the more likely governments to achieve a scientifically cloned human out of the public eye -although I’m not sure how likely it is that it’s already been done. I’d put the likelihood in the neighborhood of 50%.

      • Mitchell Porter

        Let’s consider what their motivations could possibly be. I see three possibilities: 1) making discoveries about basic biology 2) performing experiments on adult humans 3) producing supersoldiers or superagents.

        The main problem for 2) or 3) is that it takes forever to grow a whole human being. It’s a ridiculously slow way to proceed when there’s a world of potential experimental subjects already walking around out there. As for 1), there doesn’t seem to be anything to be gained by growing a whole clone rather than, say, an organ. Growing a whole human clone, if you don’t have a long-term plan for it to live and work among other human beings, is just a pointless technical stunt. I think it’s far more likely to occur in those parts of human society which already take an interest in breeding and raising human beings, i.e. the civilian world, rather than in organizations which specialize in analysis, control, and death.

      • My more detailed reply got lost in the aether, but in short, I don’t think your little logical tale accurately models military and intelligence research.

      • DK

        Let’s just say that biomedical research by US Army is not, to say the least, at the cutting edge level. Even less so in Russia. Combined with near a total pointlessness of such a thing for the US Gov, this pretty much precludes USA. I’d bet that your idea would find more traction in Hollywood than in real life. China and Israel I have no idea. China and N Korea, I suppose, are the only countries that have resources and sufficient will to pull it off.

      • “Let’s just say that biomedical research by US Army is not, to say the least, at the cutting edge level.”

        Beyond the scope shift from “military and intelligence” to “US Army”, I don’t think you’re right about that narrow subset. I think by any reasonable definition the US Army is a significant funder and participant in “cutting edge level” biomedical research.

      • DK

        Beyond the scope shift from “military and intelligence” to “US Army”

        That’s because in the US “military and intelligence” only US Army runs substantial biomedical research. But if you’d rather believe in the top secret underground first class large CIA laboratories…

    • I suspect that it has been attempted and multiple times and that it has gone badly each time.

      I think the problem lies in the epigenetic programming of development and especially of neurodevelopment. Development is coupled to the environment at the level of noise via stochastic resonance.

      I also think that anyone with an ego so large as to try and clone themselves will also have an ego so large that they will be unable to allow the clone to grow into an independent and healthy individual. What the cloner will end up with is a clone that is badly psychologically damaged.

  • rapscallion

    Libertarians regularly argue that things which are legal separately ought also be legal together. For instance, since giving someone money and having sex are both legal separately, prostitution should be legal, too; blackmail is quite similar.

    Does this principle imply that there ought to be no zoning laws? After all, I can invite people to my home and make them food, and they can give me money, but if I sell people food out of my home in a residential neighborhood, I’ll be in violation of zoning laws. One might argue that zoning laws are really just meant to keep neighborhoods quiet and peaceful, but doesn’t the fact that few ever raise the libertarian objection that things which are legal separately ought also be legal together in response to zoning laws suggest that it’s really not a very compelling moral principle.

    • Ian

      Assuming that by “outside your home” you mean just outside the door, I honestly don’t see the problem. If you mean an arbitrary distance from one’s home, then the analogy’s a poor one.


    • To a Libertarian, what should matter are uncompensated changes in zoning laws that restrict uses because they represent a “taking”.

      If the land had the zoning restriction when the Libertarian bought it, why should there be any objection? That is what the Libertarian bought.

      • rapscallion

        If the neighborhood had the prostitution restriction when the libertarian moved in, why should there be any objection?

    • rehoot

      Libertarianism is about acquiring and exchanging property according to a principle of justice and not physically hurting others. Zoning laws do not violate those principles, however, somebody would be allowed to buy land and then sell or rent it with an agreement to refrain from building factories, retail businesses or other such things.

      • rapscallion

        Zoning and prostitution regulations are both usually the result of local government action, not covenants of individual contracts. My argument isn’t that either are good or bad; I’m pointing out that the if-you-allow-things-separately-then-you-should-allow-them-together principle is often used against the latter, but not the former, and wondering why this is the case. It may be that motivated reasoning often leads people to think that this principle is much more morally persuasive than it really is.

  • I think the largest nontransparent coordination may be to avoid discussing the degree to which we are probably all doomed.

  • Dave

    A study reported in the New York Times shows a non-statistically significant increase in cancer in firefighters that worked the World Trade Center disaster.Reading the second half of the article I note a tone of almost breathless anticipation of confirmatory studies by “researchers “who are quoted in the article. Why do they seem to want it to be true that firemen will get cancer? 1.) Don’t like firemen?” 2.) Will get more research dollars if true? 3.) Biased toward environmental explanations for cancer,especially if more federal funding anticipated? 4.) Newspaper bias in quoting people ? 5.) Any non-cynical possibilities?

    • DK

      Based on current knowledge, inhaling large amounts of tiny particles increases cancer odds (soot, saw dust, smoking – all well documented). So everyone expects the firemen at a site like this to be affected. The only question in their minds is how small the effect will be and whether it will be detectable.

      • Dave

        Respiratory tract cancers not increased. I know colon cancers are up in asbestos but not as conclusively as lung.

    • Vaniver

      Perhaps they want the firefighters in question to be more heroic (i.e. make a better story) by being martyrs?

  • Earlier today I listened to a web debate between Bob Murphy and Karl Smith on keynesian stimulus. At the end a number of people said they liked the debate and wondered if more would be put on. The moderator responded that Stephan Kinsella wanted to debate someone on intellectual property (he is decidedly against). Others recommended David Friedman and L. Neil Smith as possible debate partners, I mentioned Robin. One possible drawback is that the LvMI restricts access to those who register and pay $20.

  • ad

    If there was a fast-pace prediction market on the morning of 9/11, could the collapse of the towers be promptly predicted by engineering experts upon the innitial plane impacts, thus saving policemen/firefighters (and some civilians) lives ?

  • Does the US currently have nuclear primacy? It was predicted the US was on the verge of it back in 2006.

    • No one bites? If the US has nuclear primacy 5 years after it was a near term prediction in 2006, then I think we’re functionally living under a world government -not a Cold War, not a sole superpower, but a world government. What we see in the world is policing, not wars.

    • The idea that the US has or will acquire in the near term (next few decades) “nuclear supremacy” is silly. Nuclear supremacy means having sufficient first strike capability to remove your opponents retaliatory capacity to a point where that retaliation becomes not a factor in military and political planning.

      First, what level of retaliation is acceptable and over what time frame? Minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, generations?

      Do you appreciate how much fallout a few thousand counter-strike ground burst warheads would produce and where it would end up?

      How many fatalities in Europe are acceptable? Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions? How many Europeans freezing to death in the winter due to a lack of Russian natural gas are acceptable?

      What possible political goal would be worth such costs?

      The only scenario I can imagine such things happening is if a religious nut-job gets elected and decides to bring on the Rapture by launching a first strike against Russia. My guess that has about a 30% chance if Palin was President, maybe 20% for Bachmann and Perry.

      • Hopefully Anonymous

        ” My guess that has about a 30% chance if Palin was President, maybe 20% for Bachmann and Perry.”

        Those are silly percentages.

        I think you miss the point about nuclear primacy -which I think is more about organizations in competition than policy that maximizes human welfare (we’re the substrate here more so than the constituency). I think nuclear primacy is an important element of global supremacy of one cohesive organization, the US government, in the way that hasn’t existed before. It would be able to destroy any other organization and would be unable to be destroyed. I understand that practical realities are a bit more complex (organizations require legitimacy, adherents, and the US doesn’t have infinite resources) -but I think nuclear primacy would mean (for good and/or ill) greater power for the US government in the world. Does it already exist, and does it explain features of current geopolitics?

  • I think they are scary percentages even if they were 1/10 or 1/100 as much.

    No US government would be able to exercise nuclear primacy and win the next election. Killing tens of millions of Europeans would ensure the political demise of what ever president and/or congress did it or authorized it.

    Does a parent having dozens of assault weapons increase the parent’s authority over his/her children? Over his/her siblings? Over his/her neighbors? What if someone had their own personal nuclear weapons? Does that make them the “boss” of the neighborhood?

    There is no rational way to benefit by using nuclear weapons. Virtually everyone knows this except chicken-hawks who have delusional ideas about war, war fighting, and war winning.

    Economic primacy is much more important and the US is ceding that to China by following the crazy ideas of the tea partiers who are working against the interests of the majority of Americans because the wealthy have sold them a bill of goods. Taxes are at the lowest they have been in 60 years. How is the problem taxes being too high? The wealthy have channeled the hatred the tea partiers have for Obama (because he is black) into hating what ever policies Obama wants to pursue. Cut payroll taxes? If Obama is for it, then the GOP are against it. Cantor wants to make emergency disaster aid contingent on cutting the budget elsewhere? Hold the disaster victims hostage to his desire to shrink government? Just because a black man is president?

    The US is unable to even articulate and follow rational economic policy. It doesn’t have the political will, or the political ability to use nuclear primacy as an instrument of policy. The GOP went ballistic when Obama supported NATO in helping the rebels in Libya, even though no US troops were involved! What would they do if Obama did some nuclear posturing? They think he is an uppity n**** now. What would they think if he was threatening white people in Russia or Europe?

    • Daedelus, interesting points about national security and rational economic policy that I’ve thought a little about before. I suspect that the defense establishment will eventually weigh in on the side of DeLong and Krugman the way they did on affirmative action in that Michigan case -we’ll see a bunch of retired generals pen op-eds in support of sufficient keynsian stimulus and stuff like that. “This is important for national security” seems to me to be the last ditch effort to save the USA from self-destructive policy.

    • HA, unfortunately I don’t think so. Those who are running the congress and the country into the ground don’t care about the US as a whole, they only care about what they call “Real Americans”, that is only Americans who fit their racial, ethnic, religious, political, fiscal, sexual orientation, economic profile.

      The Iraq war was run to enrich war profiteers, such as Halliburton. The military was used and used up to enrich those war profiteers. If they really cared about the country, the military, and national security they wouldn’t have cut taxes the way they did. They wouldn’t be sacrificing the nation’s future well being by being AGW denialists.

      The people running things don’t understand military matters, they don’t understand macro economics, they don’t understand how to nurture and make things grow. All they understand is zero-sum power. What ever power they don’t have, someone else has, and is a threat to them. They feel that if all power not controlled by them is destroyed, that somehow they are made stronger.

      They are willing to severely damage the country to try and make sure Obama is a one term president. Why? Because they can and they have the delusional idea that they will be better off if they do so. They and the country won’t be better off, the only thing they can achieve is to amass more power, power which they will only use to amass more power.

      They will not use that power to make the world a better place because they don’t know how. Their only conceptualization of what makes the world a better place is from their zero-sum thinking. If they destroy other people’s power, then by conservation of power, they have more.

      • I think you’re simplifying things a bit to make it a story that’s salient to you. Without a doubt there’s a lot of dumb identity conservatives in the USA, and they’re distorting policy in a stupid direction. I think the dynamics of the Iraq War were a bit more complex than war profiteer / Haliburton enrichment though -albeit I’m not an expert in that area.

        As far as conservatives trying to make Obama a one term president by harming the economy -the weird thing to me is this locked in notion on the left and the establishment for years that the left / democrats / Obama himself should strive for Obama to be a 2 term president. Now they’ve probably come close to painting themselves into this position, but I would have liked to have seen an array of technocrats robustly competing for both the Democrat and Republican nominations -and for 3rd party nominations, too.

        I haven’t seen a good progressive case for an uncontested Obama renomination (or even for him to run for a second term). It has seemed like a bit of a zombie march to me.

      • If preventing waste and fraud was a priority, there would have been resources put to preventing it. There weren’t resources put to preventing waste and fraud. Clearly preventing waste and fraud was not a priority.

        The Afghan insurgency’s second largest funding source after the illegal drug trade is the diversion of money from U.S.-backed construction projects and transportation contracts, according to the commission.

        Why was it not a priority? With Cheney being a major stockholder of Halliburton, and with Halliburton being a major contractor with many no-bid contracts and one of the worst offenders in the fraud, waste and abuse category, it is pretty clear why it wasn’t a priority.

    • Michael Wengler

      I initially bought the racist thesis against Obama, but then I remembered how Kerry’s opponents spoke about him. I do suspect that racial stuff adds a little to the opposition, but I think the starting point is the vitirol against Kerry, Hillary, Carter, and other democrats who are all spoken of with hatred by tea baggers.

  • OhioStater

    The New York Times published a story about a sperm donor with 150 children. Genghis Khan would be proud!

    It’s apparent this donor has physical, mental, or personality traits that appeal to a great number of women. If these are anonymous donations, then the donor was social proofed somehow, either by the clinic operators, or by the apparent quality of his children. Think thoroughbred horse breeding.

    It’s clear a lot of people seeking designer babies want their children to resemble an ideal but what ideal is this? What does it look like? To what end? Is this ideal timeless, or is it shifting depending on the times?

    This is a big deal: you can’t trust a person with a different idea of perfect.

  • IsaacSapphire

    What field of information was available to the sperm buyers?

    From my understanding of that information and preferences within it, I’d guess that this guy was unusually healthy and from an unusually healthy family, tall, went to an Ivy League school, high IQ score, and was Caucasian. At least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten of favored sperm donor characteristics from the want-ads for them.