Quick Roundup 279

Monday, December 03, 2007

Light Posting Possible

Ugh. Even after learning personal productivity from the best, one can still get swamped from time to time....

This week, I have a particularly evil near-convergence of two deadlines. The second (but more labor-intensive) of these had me in the lab all day yesterday, causing the first to keep me up until four in the morning last night (on a less arduous, but still-challenging task). So much for having made up for a big sleep deficit Sunday morning!

In any event, if posting is sporadic over the next few days, that would be why!

Jason Roberts has returned!

Jason Roberts, a very promising blogger whose classics-centered blog, Letters from an Enthusiast, was a favorite of mine, has returned after a two year absence!

And he's back with a bang, too. I found this article on the influence of Plato on Western philosophy very thought-provoking:

The significance of this passage is far greater than an understanding of justice and happiness (Socrates) or a link between metaphysics and ethics within a philosophical system (Plato). It is that, for the first time in Western history, a philosopher has posited the idea that man can understand his nature by inquiring within, and from this knowledge act in a manner which allows him to attain a state of happiness. Put more simply, Plato internalized ethics. A simple way to prove this is to examine the ethical philosophies of philosophers before and after Plato.


The evidence almost speaks for itself: the pre-Socratics viewed ethics externally, the post-Socratics (or Platonist) viewed ethics internally. Plato's revolution was ultimately a fundamental shift in thought and focus which allowed all subsequent philosophers to debate the details: Who gave man the form and function? God, the gods, or evolution? (Metaphysics) What is man's function? Reason, faith? (Epistemology) What are man’s virtues which allows him to act excellently in regards to his function? (Ethics). How ought man to apply these virtues in regards to other people? Tyranny, Oligarchy, Democracy? (Politics). Plato gave his own view under the name of Socrates.
It's long, but worth your while. He's posted another long article on Plato's concept of the tripartite soul, but I haven't gotten to that one yet.

Welcome back, Jason!

You can visit his blog from here any time by looking in the sidebar.

Good Luck, Martin!

Martin Lindeskog, American in spirit, has entered the green card lottery.

Meanwhile, those of us lucky enough to be here already should "keep rowing" as the saying goes, by speaking up for open immigration. It is ridiculous that someone like Martin is having to enter a lottery to reach America.

Technology in Prudhoe Bay

This Saturday's Houston Chronicle had a brief, but mostly good article on how technological innovation is keeping Alaska's oil flowing even beyond the predicted life span of the reserves:
Prudhoe Bay was originally expected to produce about 9 billion barrels of oil when it started sending crude south to the lower 48 in 1977. At that rate it should have been tapped out by 1997, but today it has topped the 11 billion barrel mark and looks to have billions of barrels to go thanks to the new technologies.


Coil tube drilling is used in Midland and in the Middle East to reduce well costs. ConocoPhillips has even moved its most experienced coil tubing staff to the Houston headquarters so the technology can be applied worldwide.

"Alaska's North Slope has become a sort of playing ground where new technologies can be tried out and then used elsewhere," said Michael Rae, an analyst with Aberdeen, Scotland-based consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
Now, would someone please explain to me by what right thugs from around the world claim the right to steal oil fields from their rightful owners -- the companies whose hard work and expertise make them valuable in the first place? This is one of the clearest examples of the point that man's mind is what creates value in the economy, even in the case of the natural resources that are supposedly there "for the taking".

And Speaking of Looters...

... I laughed out loud when I saw that the people of Venezuela shouted, "Por que no te callas?" so loudly that Hugo Chavez had to publicly admit defeat in his own socialist pesthole!
President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat when voters rejected sweeping constitutional changes that would have given him new powers to turn Venezuela into a socialist state, according to official results announced early today.

With more than 90 percent of the ballots counted, the "no" vote beat the "yes" vote by about 51 percent to 49 percent, according to the National Electoral Council. Tibisay Lucena, who heads the council, said the trend in the voting was irreversible.

"Today we begin a new path, a democratic path," opposition leader Manuel Rosales told a news conference.

Shortly after the announcement, jubilant supporters of the "no" vote set off fireworks and honked horns in the streets of Caracas.

"It was a microscopic difference but the 'no' won," a somber Chavez admitted in a pre-dawn speech. "We recognize the decision of the people." [bold added]
Translation: "We lost by such a wide margin that it would have been my ass in a sling if we tried to cook the books any more than we did."

-- CAV

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