Monday, February 27, 2006

I need to invest some additional time in the topic of "free" municipal WiFi. A few of the possible principles involved:

1. Will such networks turn into government-granted monopolies along the lines of cable TV and telecom? It's possible, perhaps even likely, particularly as terms such as "public utility" continue to be attached to the concept

2. It definitely provides a "free" (in some cases, tax-supported) service that will be good enough, I predict, for a significant slice of the market, thus reducing the incentive for creating the next generation of ubiquitous broadband Internet access.

Again, though, this topic requires more thought. It bugs me on a fundamental level; I'll need to do some digging before I can identify precisely why...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

What the Hell is "quantum information"? Is the universe really organized into something akin to the bits I'm using now to write this post? If so, are there bytes to go along with it?

The more I read about quantum physics (as a layman), the more I find it to be the result of mysticism making its nasty way into science. It's all manipulation of mathematics that have nothing to do with reality, and indeed in many cases seems a direct attempt to do away with reality itself as something involving identity and causality.

The sad thing is, it's so difficult to delve into and make sense of, because it's so twisted. I'd say, "Who cares?", except we all should. Today's physics is tomorrows most basic technological advances, and if it's built on vapor...
Well, here I am again, having let days go by without posting to the Daily Topic. I should change the blog's title to "A Topic Every Now and Then." That would be more honest and, perhaps, more sustainable given my schedule. It would also relieve me of the pressure of writing something every day.

Of course, that's the point, and so I'm going to maintain the title and recommit myself to posting something on a daily basis. And, currently, this blog hasn't been read by a single soul other than myself, as far as I know, and so fretting over my consistency borders on the pathological.

So, one more try. Let's see if we can do something this time...

Update: Just read the post. Actually, it's been almost two months since I last posted, not merely days. Meaning, I suck. The positive is: I have nowhere to go but up.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

This article on Slate posits the question, "Do the Poor Deserve Life Support?" Consider what this question presumes.

First, there must be some universal equation by which a person is measured against a material good (in this case life support) to which a person might have access. This equation necessarily has some moral component, given the use of the word "deserve," that measures a person based on some criteria tied to a person's economic status--it's implicit in the question that a poor person might not have a moral right to something by virtue of his economic status.

Second, there's someone with the authority (perhaps the responsibility) to make such a determination, which is, whether or not a given person should be given access, in this case, to life support. This someone must be other than the person himself, because otherwise the question is simply nonsensical.

The article itself discusses the poor with the assumption that something will be done for them. That is, the question isn't really whether or not money will be spent on the poor, but rather how such necessarily economic decisions should be made. There's some consideration of how the poor would spend such money, or perhaps what the preferences of the poor might be--perhaps spending money on insurance for life support wouldn't meet any particular poor person's daily considerations, e.g., no poor person would spend the money on such insurance if he needed shoes.

Of course, in practice, whether or not a person has access to any material good is certainly determined by their economic status. A wealthier person has access to more material goods than a poorer person. In a truly free society, whether or not a poor person had access to and would purchase any particular good would be determined by his own productive efforts and by his own decisions.

What's truly disturbing about this article, then, is not that it lacks compassion in considering something so important as life support on economic grounds, which would be the common complaint. Rather, it's disturbing that poor people, or any people, should be considered by others according to such criteria.

My answer to the question would be, "The poor deserve whatever they can buy," which is to say, whatever their productive efforts allow them to trade for with others.

Friday, January 06, 2006

It's entirely implausible, of course, but check this out. If current theories in longevity bear fruit, we'll not only live a long, long time, but we'll be able to go just about anywhere. I figure, if someone is alive and in decent health in 25 years, he'll be enjoying life for centuries.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'm not in favor of the Iraq war, likely for different reasons than many. But, how can anyone oppose the war in consideration of the "insurgency," when it's capable of acts like this? Were I a Leftist, I would be forced by virtue of common decency to just keep my trap shut about the whole thing.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome to 2006. Due to a number of personal and professional events, most of which would bore the socks off of any rational person, the "Daily" Topic was anything but in 2005. I'm going to make an effort to make it so in 2006, though. We'll see.

Happy New Year!