Category Archives: rant

Bison free at last!

Free at last, Free at lasst, OMG I’m free at last.

The argument is about brucellosis, the “contagious abortion” disease of ungulates. It is is transmitted by contact with the afterbirth. Yellowstone bison do test positive for brucellosis but they only roam outside of Yellowstone during the winter and calves are born in the spring, by which time, the bison have returned to their lush stomping grounds in Yellowstone.

Cattle catch brucellosis from elk. But cattle ranchers are generally hunters and often make money by letting people hunt elk on their land. So cattle ranchers don’t object to elk they hunt them and blame the brucellosis on bison. Sheesh!

Montana Governor sets bison free
Bison grazing in Yellowstone

War is obsolete

Brad DeLong, in his blog Grasping Reality with Both Hands was celebrating the fact that

    it is …65 years and 9 months since an army crossed the Rhine River bearing fire and sword.

I commented that Europeans (and I include N. Americans generally) share the same epistemology of war – we agree on how war should be used and what constitutes winning.

Unfortunately, we are in wars with people who do not share that epistemology. And I suspect that we don't have any idea of what their epistemology of war is.

But, the long European peace suggests that there is a way in which war can become obsolete if only we can find it.

I've made some suggestions in the past:

    War is a response to scarcity. The forms reflect the kind of scarcity each group experienced.

    Nomads (Abel) experienced periodic scarcity became raiders. They used their knowledge of how to kill and how to herd and break up groups to kill and scatter their opponents. Since the scarcity the experienced was irregular and since they did not plant they did not have an attachment to owning geography. Their form of war was brutal and brief.

    Agriculturists (Cain) settled and planted. As the populations grew they experienced a scarcity of land and expanded outward to take over more and more land. They developed war based on standing and defending a piece of geography first they built walled settlements, perhaps against the raiders and then with the rise of a new information technology – writing – cities and empires. Their attachment was to geography since wealth came from land. They developed defensive wars and then wars of imperialism.

Western wars have been Cain's wars and obey Cain's rules but we are now fighting against people from Abel's tradition.

We need to figure out what the epistemology is whether we want to end war or even if we still believe in winning.

America catching the "British Disease"

I've been waiting for an account to make a comment on “Is America Catching the “British Disease?”” by Barry Eichengreen but it is not coming through so here's my comment.

Part of the British sickness started earlier with the electric information revolution – the information revolution that followed the introduction of trains, the telegraph, and the telephone.

The British attitude toward the telephone was captured by Sir William Preece who was the chief engineer of the British Postal Service who said:

    I fancy the descriptions we get of its use in America are a little exaggerated, though there are conditions in America which necessitate the use of such instruments more than her

    e. Here we have a superabundance of messengers, errand boys and things of that kind… The absence of servants has compelled Americans to adopt communication systems for domestic purposes. Few have worked at the telephone much more than I have. I have one in my office, but more for show. If I want to send a message – I use a sounder or employ a boy to take it.

But modern communications were necessary for the running of large scale industry and the switching network used for the telegraph and telephone inspired the first organizational chart introduced by Daniel McCallum of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It made the growth of large scale industry possible.

For more see my book in progress, “Winning Information Revolutions: Hunter/Gatherers to Internet 2.0” being posted at:


Participative justice

Crime is what is done by the criminal classes

From the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan

    … Murder is not antisocial. If you want a demonstration that we are governed by society even when breaking its rules, homicide is one of the best and grimmest examples…

    In a remarkable 2010 study published in the American Journal of Sociology, academic Andrew Papachristos took these findings to their logical conclusion and conceptualized each murder over a three-year period in Chicago as a social interaction between groups. Surprisingly, the pattern of homicides resembled an exchange of gifts. One gang ‘presents’ a murder to another, and that group must reciprocate the ‘gift’ or risk losing their social status in the criminal underworld. From this perspective, murder is perhaps the purest of social exchanges as the individual is left in no position to reciprocate on his o


In our society it seems that crimes committed by white collar criminals are notoriously hard to prosecute and sentences are easy and served in “country club” prisons. OTOH for the “criminal classes” the book is regularly thrown hard and fast.

In addition, sentences for “low class” crime, for example, possession of crack cocaine (favored by people of color) are disproportionately high compared with sentences for powdered cocaine (favored by the upper class) (even after the Fair Sentencing Act the disparity, which used to be 100:1 is still 18:1 – meaning that the 5-year minimum sentence for trafficking 90g of powdered cocaine, is the same sentence for mere possession of 5 grams of crack).

This suggests that the “criminal classes” are not served well by mainstream law enforcement. It is unlikely that justice will be served if the members of first gang reports the first murder to the police or the courts. Thus, self policing makes more sense.

Participative justice