Quick Roundup 227

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Up, Up, and Away!

As I've mentioned a couple of times already, my schedule for the month is whacked out, with travel basically every other weekend. I'm on the road again, this time until late Sunday and probably will not have Internet access at all.

So, until then, visit some of the other fine blogs in my sidebar, or in the below list of O-List bloggers I haven't gotten around to adding yet.

Chalk the slowness up to the aforementioned goofy schedule, my being insanely busy, and indecision. (I feel the need to rearrange the blogroll on top of the pending additions....)

If you're an O-List member and aren't on the above list or in my sidebar already, feel free to drop me a line.

HT: Flibbertigibbet and Darren Cauthon

Philosophical Infrastructure

That's such a good turn of phrase that I find myself jealous of Noumenal Self, who raises an interesting point about privatization.
The same pragmatism that causes today's politicians to prioritize welfare spending over infrastructure also causes today's businessmen to prioritize short-term financial gains over long-term ones. Both act on the range of the moment, seeking to satisfy whichever constituency (voters or stockholders) is making the loudest demands. I think if we privatized infrastructure today, some of it would be run quite well. But some of it would also be run like Enron, which, if you'll recall, actually owned energy-distribution infrastructure.
Also, be sure to read Galileo Blog's thoughtful comment just after the post.

Obesity and Spina Bifida

Mike N unearths a very upsetting bit of irresponsible reporting about a correlation between an increased incidence of certain types of birth defects and obesity.

As discussed at Junkfood Science:
Neural tube defects is the only correlation with obesity that even these researchers were able to find reported in the medical literature. It's been known since the 1960s that neural tube defects (including spina bifida ...) appear to have a significant genetic component but that folic acid deficiency may account for about half of the cases. These birth defects develop ... usually before a woman even knows she's pregnant, which is why folic acid supplementation and folic acid fortification of foods have been promoted since the 1990s. According to the CDC in a 2004 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the first year after fortification of white flours and cereal grains went into effect in 1998, the prevalence of spina bifida dropped 31%.

Which women are most likely to be avoiding white breads, baked goods and pastas? Women who are concerned about their weight and dieting, of course. So, they're also more likely to be heavier women. But the correlation between this birth defect and babies born to fat women isn't due to the women eating too much folic acid-fortified or folic acid-rich foods, but because they're trying to avoid them .... Misguided health information blaming women's fat will naturally lead more women to diet, which will put their babies at greater risk. It's not fat or eating too much, but dieting behaviors that increase the risk for neural tube defects. In fact, that is exactly what researchers in California found among 538 cases of neural tube defects.
It is sad that this kind of irresponsible reporting might actually result in an increased incidence of some serious birth defects!

Dan Edge on Fox News

After a recent visit to the Fox News website, Dan Edge wonders:
What the hell are Fox News's priorities these days? 375 reported casualties in an orchestrated terrorist attack, and it's not even front-page news? This is disgusting.
And just wait till you see some of the stuff that did make the front page....

Conference Report

Andrew Medworth has written a really good and thorough review of his experiences at the OCON 2007 in Telluride.
The second highlight was the place itself. Telluride is a short drive from the town of Ouray, which apparently served as the inspiration for Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged, but I found Telluride itself closer to how I imagined the producers' valley. The soaring, colourful mountains, the precious metal mines, the trees, the clear blue sky: the only thing missing was a big gold dollar sign at its head! (Amusingly, Telluride itself is a rather bohemian place: we passed one big building covered in pictures of flowers and suchlike, with something like "Your civil rights are safe in Telluride" painted in loopy letters on the side. Under which someone had scribbled, "But not your property rights", an apt observation which we all found highly amusing.)
I agree that Telluride, minus the hippies, looked more the part for Galt's Gulch.

And I passed that very sign each day on my way up the mountain! (If I recall correctly, it wasn't far from the anarchist compound pictured, in this post. Since I didn't think to mention it, I'm glad Andrew did.

But read the whole thing for yourself. He discusses the courses he attended as well some of the good news that came from a couple of panel discussions.

That's all, folks. See you again by Monday!

-- CAV

3 comments:

Burgess Laughlin said...

Yes, knowing the proper meaning of "capitalism" is important -- if we expect to ever get there. It is our goal. Ayn Rand has fully defined it.

Also important is knowing the meaning of "privatize" -- which is a way of getting there. Here is my definition. To privatize is to make ("-ize") an organization that is now governmental into a private one.

A private organization is one that has at least two distinguishing, essential (causal) characteristics:

1. GOALS: A private organization sets its own goals, as determined by the owners.

2. INCOME: A private organization gains all its income through voluntary trade, either product for product (including money), as in a grocery business, or donations for values achieved, as in an organization that maintains a scholarship fund.

"Privatizing" does not mean hiring a "private" managment company to run a socialist enterprise. The management company can neither set its own goals (e.g., let's sell the toll booths and buy McDonald's franchises instead) nor receive all its income voluntarily through trade at whatever prices it negotiates with its customers.

Today, most "privatizing" efforts are merely attempts to hire "free enterprise" management to run an organization whose goals and income are still controlled by the government. Such efforts are prescriptions for failure in any attempt to establish capitalism.

Vigilis said...

O-list? Officers? Obectivists? Which is it?! I obect. Moreover, you may be entirely too young to even understand pragmatism. LOL.

Gus Van Horn said...

Burgess,

Thanks for your comment, which I suspect you intended for the previous post, and which I'll append there shortly.

Vigilis,

The O-List is for bloggers with an interest in Objectivism, as per the link.

Gus