20 April 2010

Ye Olde Link Sausage Shoppe

I spent the weekend dealing with incompetence and conflicts of interest on several fronts, both on behalf of others and for myself. And it wasn't even about government services! The recovery period (and necessarily-away-from-teh-intertubes period) extended into yesterday.

  • First, in response to a couple of e-mails I've received over last Friday's comments on why "content" isn't an economic good of any kind, I see that I wasn't clear enough on one foundational aspect. If one looks at the precepts (and math!) behind classical/neoclassical economics — especially, but not exclusively, reactions to mercantilism by Adam Smith and others — one can discern one critical aspect of the definition of "goods" that usually just gets assumed away: That the transferror and the transferree agree on the nature of the transaction. They may not value it identically (that's the whole point of auctions, reverse auctions, elasticity of demand, etc.); they may have different Condorcet preferences that nonetheless result in a transaction; but they have to agree on the nature of the transaction. That's why "content" is not a good: At each step in the commercial-content-distribution process, the transferror and transferree believe different, and often incompatible, things about the nature of the transaction. That doesn't necessarily mean that there's no sale, or in a broader sense no transaction; it means that it's not a transaction in goods of any kind, but a transaction in something that — economically, anyway — is not a good. (That doesn't necessarily mean "services", either, because that's an accounting distinction and not an economic one.)

    And, in the meantime, go ponder this explanation of the distinction at the IPKat.

  • On the free speech front, the Court just did the right thing and held that a federal law banning commercial filming of animal cruelty is unconstitutional, affirming the Third Circuit with an 8–1 vote. Frankly, this one shouldn't even have been that close; the law was ill-considered from the outset, and based upon reaction to something that's admittedly quite disgusting.

    Justice Alito is going to get some praise from the anti-animal-cruelty folks for his dissent, but it's a rather self-defeating bit of praise. The problem is this: If one is allowed to ban a certain kind of depiction — let's say physical abuse of children, not just to animals — regardless of context, as this law does, we will then be restricted to making policy concerning the subject matter based on anecdotal accounts. <SARCASM> And that always turns out so well... </SARCASM>

  • Speaking of policies made concerning anecdotal accounts, Doonesbury is really on a roll right now with a series that demonstrates — anecdotally, but trust me when I say that (but for confidentiality concerns) I could describe real-world parallel circumstances going back three decades that I observed on active duty — why the military has no business prohibiting per se consensual homosexual orientation or conduct: It has a far more serious problem with its inability — indeed, cultural refusal — to deal with nonconsensual, abusive heterosexual orientation and conduct. I'm already cringing at where Trudeau might be going with this... because I've seen it and been unable to stop it before (due to lack of seniority).

    PTSD trigger

    Opportunity to be a REMF... and sort of promoted

    It's not what you thought

    The real context

    Looking for support... outside the chain of command

    Information limit

    Chaplain intervention

    Doonesbury, 20 Apr 2010

    Too bad the officer in question hadn't read Mel's bloody personnel jacket. Our civilian and uniformed military leadership should cringe, too... because it shouldn't require, or even invite, the intervention of someone who has no business being in the military in the first place.

    Any relationship between this item and the preceding one is purely... disgusting, but demonstrates why § 48 cannot be saved.

  • Eighteen-century bloggers. Sort of. (HT: Making Light)