Friday Four

Friday, September 11, 2015

1. While at the park with the kids a few weeks ago, I spotted the exoskeleton of a cicada on a tree. This prompted me to introduce my daughter to a childhood pass time of mine: collecting "bug skins." (According to my mother, I filled an entire drawer with them one summer.) The occasion also led me to consult that modern oracle, Wikipedia, from which I learned the following:

It has been found that bacteria landing on the wing surface are not repelled, but their membranes are torn apart by the nanoscale-sized spikes, making the wing surface the first-known biomaterials that can kill bacteria.
So, if you get cut and find an adult cicada on the ground nearby, should you avail yourself of its wing as an improvised antiseptic? I doubt it: The researchers reported that the surface killed some types of bacteria (not all), and I suspect that you'd probably rub more dirt (with bacteria) into the wound than trap bacteria on the wing's surface, anyway.

2. After recently shelling out more than double the price of a ZTE Maven just to repair my smart phone, I'll give ZTE's inexpensive smart phones a serious look when I'm ready to replace it:
In most AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile stores, it takes a while to find the ZTE phones, buried in the back, past the latest from Apple and Samsung. But they're there. In AT&T stores it's the ZTE Maven, which has a screen, speakers, and a processor with capabilities somewhere between the iPhone 5 and 6. As Tony Greco, ZTE's head of U.S. retail marketing, puts it, "These were state-of-the-art features two years ago." The Maven's draw, really, is price. Without any subsidies from a wireless carrier, the phone costs just $60. And it's not even one of the company's cheaper models.
Not being obsessed with having cutting-edge gadgets, I already tend to get phones a year or so after they debut, so even this economy measure could see me get something with upgraded capabilities.

3. This article on Medieval travel advice was worth a chuckle or two:
[A] traveler cannot live on patience alone. For sustenance, [Milanese pilgrim Santo] Brasca recommended Lombard cheese, cured tongue, biscuits, sugar -- and fruit syrup, "because that is what keeps a man alive in extreme heat; and also ginger syrup to settle his stomach if it is upset by too much vomiting." He does not explain how much vomiting is too much.
The article contends that the kind of advice has changed little since then.

4. The following comes from an enjoyable review of Peter Schwartz's book, In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive:
Thinking about individuals elevating themselves more broadly, before Henry Ford pursued the Hazlitt/Rand/Schwartz path of self-advancement, cars were the preserve of the rich. So were computers wildly expensive baubles of the seriously wealthy before innovators like Michael Dell made them cheap and ubiquitous. While the cellphone of today has computer power that IBM couldn't have possibly fathomed in the 1960s (when its first computer that filled a room retailed for over $1 million!), the initial handheld wireless that Motorola manufactured in 1983 set consumers back $3,995. It's the pursuit of one's individual inequality that, while happily increasing the wealth gap, rapidly shrinks the lifestyle gap between the rich and poor. All the lifestyles of the rich tell us is how we'll all live in the future if we succeed in getting politicians out of the way.
Oh, and while I'm on the subject of reviews, I see that Spiked reviewed Alex Epstein's The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels not too long ago.

-- CAV


: Corrected a formatting error.

1 comment:

Gus Van Horn said...

NOTE: I am reposting this for Steve D., who inadvertently left it under a different post:

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Tamny makes some good points such as:

Education is vastly overrated not just when it comes to creating collectivists, but also when it comes to making us stupid.

Meaning if they can’t teach us to read properly, how can they expect to teach us to be collectivists properly?

However, based on his title, some strange expressions and the article layout, I get the impression that Tamny’s understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is not deep and that he has not read her non fiction works. Take for instance this comment:

“What the philosophy doesn’t like is coerced charity.”

But coerced charity is a derivative issue not an essential. What the philosophy doesn’t ‘like’ is what lies behind coerced charity and all the other manifestations of the welfare state; altruism. And altruism is sacrifice plain and simple; not necessarily just sacrifice for the sake of others as Tamny implies. It could be for a divine being or the environment or whatever. They key concept is sacrifice.

And deeper, the philosophical root of altruism is the primacy of consciousness, and a non objective (intrinsic or subjective) epistemology, though the psychological root of altruism is more difficult to pin down.

I checked some of his other articles. Definitely, he is about as much an Objectivist, especially on foreign policy, as Ayn Rand was a professional economist. Hopefully, however, articles like this will tweak people’s curiosity about Ayn Rand. The more publicity the better.

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