Scrap or Reform the long gun Registry?

Wow I can’t believe I wrote that.  Sorry but I do believe it.  Pistols, automatics, semi-auto-assault rifles sure why not?  Those class of weapons are already so well regulated that asking those without permission to own them yet register them is like asking a coke dealer to declare how many kilos he or she has on hand.  Criminals don’t register guns, coke, stolen merchandise or any other sundry tool or profit of the trade.  Making it a criminal offence not to register a .22 rifle is just silly.  Heck even making people register a .22 is ridiculous.

But to be constructive here is the one way in which I would support a long gun registry.  First, the owner can register the long gun without possessing a PAL.  Second the long gun registry is not cross linked to the PAL system.  Third, once registered the certificate is good for life, i.e., never has to be renewed.  Fourth, if the long gun is sold the registry must be notified and the seller must confirm that the buyer has a valid PAL.

Have we Hit Bottom?

That is the question.  If we go back to the recession of the early 80’s there was a false positive recovery.  If we go the recession of the 90’s we had one bad quarter follow the next.  This time around we seem to have the dynamics of at least a couple of recessions at play, hanky panky in financial and real-estate markets, overproduction / under-consumption all related to a huge credit overhang.

As far as the markets are concerned there are a lot of people who got burned sitting on the sidelines waiting for a chance to be vindicated.  Yes sadly everyone over estimates their capacity to find the upside in a downside particularly losers–and man o man there are a lot of losers out there this time around.

My pessimism says that we are going to have an extended period of bottom feeding.  One to two week rallies fuelled by hope and then dashed by reality; meanwhile labour markets and real consumption are going to continue to trend south as we have yet to hit subsistence levels.  When we get down to a general level of toilet paper and left-overs then we will have hit bottom.  From there stable profits and some population driven increases in profits will take over and pessimism will slowly change as pent up real demand starts to be supplied.

What is making laugh on Friday Night: Robot fantasies

Man I wish I could get a Carnegie Melon sponsorship to talk about bullshit extrapolations. Jeesh you would have thought econometric modeling based on the past trend rate of growth to make a prediction about the future trend rate of growth was well dead. Here it is again in all its mechanistic glory.

Two Three flaws. First-off past rates of increases in the number of computational turns a processor can achieve do not translate into a sure, certain, or even likely predictor of the future rates of growth. This is not some natural law folks!

Second and perhaps more important is the question of what and how processors process when they process? What would a 1 billion tetra-flop processor process with asteroids as the software? That is, even if we accept the idea that in X years micro-processors will be 1 billion time more powerful (speakers claim) the question is will the software be 1 billion times more powerful? Video games are not a bad test of this reasoning. Surely FPS are vastly improved then when the little Doom 2.9 gigabyte shareware version was released in in 1995. But a billion times better?

But let us cut to the quick of it. For some war between human and robots we would need robots to have some sentient qualities which gave them the capacity to develop an identity as “robots” and yet as an equal but exploited underclass to humans. Think about that for an evening or two minutes and then laugh.

Let us descend even further into the absurdity and assume for argument sake that robots did develop consciousness, that they were capable of identifying as robots in some general sense. Surely there would be different robots occupying different levels in the social division of labour: there would be automotive robots, cleaning robots, pilot robots, bouncer robots, maybe prostitute robots, grad student robots, professor robots, lawyer robots…ok well you get the picture: to some extent all these locations in the social division of labour could be explained as “workers” subservient to capital. But what we also know is that this is not sufficient to provoke a war against capital. So why should robots be any smarter?

Third, and perhaps more importantly (here I had to think back to Donna Haraway in a senior undergraduate seminar and then fast forward to Philip Mirowski’s Machine Dreams ) there is the issue of the relation of robots to humans. Robots are in fact human prosthetics. They are not and will not be something that stands apart from and against human beings. They are, and will always be something enlisted, tied up with the human condition…with our creative capacity to transform nature and ourselves. To the extent that robots go to war with humans they will do so in the way machines always have: as an extension of our (in)humanity. These prosthetics will not go to war against humanity but in the service of some elements of humanity against other elements of humanity. And it is for that reason we ought to debate and evaluate the role of technological development in our society not in the sense of oh god “it is alive” but in the sense that they are we.

Here is the video enjoy:

Reading Capital with David Harvey

Like most of the classic tombs *tomes* in philosophy, and later political economy and sociology Capital is a challenging read.   One must have some background in philosophy and some background in classical economics to even begin to penetrate this text.  Fortunately, David Harvey has put together an open on line reading course complete with lectures for each chapter.

Start here

So no excuses. Go buy or download a copy of Capital, read a chapter or two a week and then download the relevant lecture.

Good luck!

Footnote No. 126: Don’t fault a chainsaw because it won’t plane your log

Marx’s theory—the  labour theory of value (LTOV)—is a theory of exploitation and its mechanism: the extraction of surplus value:  Asking the Marxist LTOV to produce a theory of relative prices is like asking the neoclassical marginal productivity theory (MP) to generate a theory of exploitation.  But what is more, while the Marxist LTOV can be bastardized to generate a theory of relative prices, however imperfectly, the NC MP theory cannot be modified to generate a theory of exploitation.  And further, the theory of relative prices that the NC theory generates is equally as flawed as the Marxist theory of relative prices—inappropriately derived as it (the marxist theory) is from the LTOV.  That is, the LTOV was not developed as a theory of relative prices but the MP theory of NC economics was developed as part of that broader task: i.e., it is purportedly tailored specifically for helping to provide an account of the formation of relative prices. Yet when fully worked through the NC theory must take on bastards to preserve its patrimony.  The Marxist theory of exploitation rooted as it is in the LTOV need import no bastards to finesse the infertility of its bride because its bride is in fact fecund for the purposes for which it was derived.

750 dead Palestinians 8 dead Israelis: someone explain it to me like I am 4

Not that I have anything in particular against Palestinians or anything;  in fact I have a Palestinian friend named Arab Arabafat or something.  What I would like some Palestinian to explain to me is why their life is worth   .010 of an Israelis’.  What did the Palestinians do to become soo sub-human?  And since when did Canada become a place where the glaringly obvious was considered controversial?

Open Rant: This Jack-Ass is done for the Year

Well CanWest global has finished the year as a penny stock but then that is what you get for trying to sell a newspaper that people will only take for free and only read it if it is the only thing West-Jet will offer you.  Yes sadly I find the National post just a little more entertaining, but never more enlightening, then the pass the toilet paper over your head parlour game adjudicated by the ever so cheery flight attendants.  You know the ones: they look and sound as though they just stepped out of a Human Resource Management drink the cool-aid seminar.  If any group of workers ever needed a union it is surely those poor bastards.

Luckily, this year, I will avoid both CanWest and West-Jet.  I have other plans.  So thanks to all the real haters out there and just remember around the Christmas table: no justice, no family peace.  Good luck.