Quotulatiousness

September 1, 2017

The Moscow State Conference – Black Sea Revolutionaries I THE GREAT WAR Week 162

Filed under: Europe, France, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 31 Aug 2017

The political factions that oppose the rise of Bolshevism in post-revolutionary Russia come together for a conference this week 100 years ago. But apart from the Moscow State Conference, some people in the military actually aim for a military dictatorship to restore order in Russia and continue the war. At the same time the 2nd Battle of Verdun comes to an end with a French victory and revolutionary fever also spreads across the Black Sea Fleet.

The complex dance of supply, demand, scarcity, and price

Filed under: Economics, Environment, Government, Law — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Tim Worstall explains why laws against “price gouging” are denials of economic fact and actually work against getting urgently needed items to the people who require them:

Those little diagrams at the start of the Econ 101 class (supply, demand, price) are not optional extras to our universe, they are instead accurate descriptions of how we humans interact with it. If and when demand rises then price rises, this in turn encouraging an expansion of supply. Thus why we desire to have price flexibility in the face of either changes in supply or demand.

Consider Houston right now in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It seems a good bet that the tapwater supply is disrupted — flooding has a tendency to do that. We would therefore assume the demand for bottled water has risen – the sensible who normally hydrate from that wondrous invention, the municipal water supply, will not be able to do so, thus increasing the demand for the bottled stuff. Equally, on the other side, there’s going to be a certain difficulty with supply at present — roads 5 feet underwater don’t exactly help trucking.

We thus desire to do two things simultaneously. We want to restrain demand to only the really important things and we want to incentivize greater supply.

Which is exactly what a price rise does for us.

With water at (just to make up a price) $99 a case, people are only going to buy it for drinking water, perhaps only in sippy cups. Which is excellent — we want whatever limited supply of potable water (we’ve really plenty of non-potable around, that’s the basic problem) there is in place to be used for that most valuable use, being potable. We’ve achieved one of our goals therefore, by allocating that scarce resource to its most valuable use: keeping people alive.

We also want to increase supply, though, and being able to sell in Houston for $99 something bought for $9.99 in Beaumont (again, just to invent an example) might well get a few boats carrying loads in – although quite possibly not from Beaumont. Thus, by allowing prices to rise, we’ve at least potentially increased supply.

Our price system, operating without constraint, is thus achieving the two things we desire, a curtailing of demand through rationing to only truly important uses, and a rise in supply.

“But,” goes the cry, “this isn’t fair!”

Indeed it isn’t, and ain’t that a shame, fairness not being a notable feature of this universe we’re struggling to inhabit. All we can do is the best we can. Which is, again, why I insist that there should be variable prices, why there should be no laws against price-gouging. Because this really is a disaster, there really are significant shortages in Houston right now, we really do want to solve them. Which means that we should be using all of the tools at our disposal.

“Antifa looks increasingly like the militant wing of Safe Space fanaticism”

Brendan O’Neill posting to Facebook a few days back:

People are shocked by images of antifa activists beating up normal, peaceful right-wing protesters in Berkeley or physically shoving right-wing people off Boston Common. Why? This is what happens when you tell an entire generation that other people’s ideas are dangerous, that their speech is toxic, that their words can wound you and traumatise you: you invite that generation to shut people down, to use any means necessary to ensure “dangerous” ideas are not expressed and do not cause injury to people’s self-esteem or sense of safety. We are starting to see what happens when speech is talked about as a form of violence: it green-lights actual violence against certain forms of speech. If speech is violence, shouldn’t it be met with violence? Antifa looks increasingly like the militant wing of Safe Space fanaticism, the bastard offspring of a culture that elevates mental safety over intellectual liberty, and people’s feelings over public freedom.

Mis-placing Your Plane? | Paul Sellers

Filed under: Technology, Woodworking — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 21 Aug 2017

Paul shows how he handles and places his bench plane in the day to day of woodworking for practical use.

For more information on these topics, see https://paulsellers.com or https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com

QotD: Writing as a profession

Filed under: Books, Business, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

“Changing the world” or even “changing the world of science fiction” was never my goal, fortunately. “Not getting my utilities cut off for nonpayment of bills” was. That, happily, turned out to be a more feasible aim.

It is the nature of the book market that one cannot be financially successful without also being well-known, one’s name being one’s brand-name, more or less. Which is felt to be the means and which the end will vary from writer to writer, natch. And whether one really needs “rich and famous” or if “self-supporting and well-known in my field” will do. Beware those moving goalposts, which can always make one feel artificially bad.

“How high is up?” is one of those dangerous questions that each writer must answer for themselves. Setting goals unrealistically high guarantees frustration, too low risks not challenging oneself to do as well as one otherwise might. (As a rule of thumb, it is also better to focus on what you can do, and not on other people’s non-controllable responses. “Finish a book” is controllable, “sell a book” less so, “become a bestseller or win an award” still less so. Unhappy is the writer who boards this train wrong way round.)

As for time, it passes at exactly the same rate for everyone, regardless of how one chooses to apportion it. It’s all choices and tradeoffs. Some prices might really be too high, some rewards too meager; only the person who is leading that life can decide.

That said, when I contemplate the ever-upthrusting mountain range of reading matter in the world, effectively infinitely more than I could ever read in my remaining lifetime, I do sometimes wonder why on earth I’m trying to make more, yeah — if that were my only motivation. Except that writing is in itself an intrinsic pleasure for me, if a weird one — I sometimes wonder if writing fiction ought to be classified as a dissociative disorder. So I would likely still be making up stories even if no one else wanted them, only with less social approval.

Lois McMaster Bujold, “Ask the Author: Lois McMaster Bujold”, Goodreads, 2015-04-21.

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