Omniscience Is Bliss...

Welcome to my little home on the Internet that affirms that knowledge is better than the lack there of. Well, okay, I can grant a couple exceptions, but generally more knowledge allows us to solve problems more easily and to make better decisions to be able to enjoy our lives more. And so I present to you my humble page.

This site has developed into being a small collection of pieces I have written that I thought others would find useful and/or interesting. You can look through what is here in the list to the right. Hopefully your visit will help you find yourself a little bit closer to bliss...

If you are interested in perhaps knowing a little bit about me, I'll share here a few of my thoughts on political matters.


Using the most basic political spectrum, I would probably be described as a moderate. I go into the Yahoo! politics chat rooms on occasion, and I feel pretty well in the middle. On one hand there are those on the far left who don't understand the value of having incentives for production and who claim that Bush was really the person behind the Sept 2001 terrorist attacks. On the other hand there are those on the far right who want to force everyone in the world to be christian and who fail to recognize the irresponsibility of spending lots of money on war at the same time as having there be fewer taxes to pay for it. Sometimes I find myself in a room arguing with a bunch of wacko rightists, and sometimes I find myself in a room arguing with a bunch of wacko leftists.

To be a little more specific about my ideology, though, I am on the left for social matters, I am moderate, perhaps leaning a little right, on economic matters, and I am moderate on national security matters. One good way to describe me might be as a left-leaning libertarian.

Note, however, that I am not one of the Ayn Rand-worshipping libertarians. There are undoubtedly situations where markets without government intervention result in bad outcomes. With some of those outcomes, having the government involved can make it worse, and I credit the libertarians for being very good at pointing that out. But with some other outcomes, I do think that having the government involved can make it better.

Specific Issues

I am in general a fan of capitalism.

While I think unions have done some things to help individuals who are truly disadvantaged, I think overall these days they are harmful to society and primarily just benefit people who are already well-off (i.e. baseball players, airline pilots, hollywood writers, etc.).

I am fond of Wal-Mart and think that it does an very good job of saving people money and providing them with the selection of goods that they want, even though I can agree with some of the smaller criticisms of it.

I agree with income redistribution and progressive taxation within a capitalist system, for dealing with issues of positional externalities and winner-take-all markets, and for ensuring that capitalism does in fact leave everyone better off.

I also agree with taxing income specifically (including capital income), but I think especially high tax rates on the wealthy do more harm than good. I definitely do not think that tax rates on the wealthy should exceed 50% and probably not much more than 40%. I do not think that wealth itself should be taxed but do agree with relatively high taxes on large estates and inheritances.

I think there would be fewer problems related to alcohol if 18-year-olds could legally drink. More specifically, I think states should be able to decide on their own drinking ages, rather than the federal government bullying all of them into using 21.

I think the war on drugs is overall harmful to society, and I particularly think that relatively safe and non-addictive drugs like marijuana and perhaps psilocybin should be decriminalized.

I think that gay couples should have the same rights as straight couples. I do, however, think it is not so bad if governments label gay relationships as "civil unions" rather than "marriages" for the near term, as long as actual rights are the same.

I am fine with people having consensual polygamous relationships, but I think that if polygamy were widespread it could be harmful to both men and women. As such, I am okay the the government not treating polygamous relationships the same as it treats monogamous relationships.

If one person is happy with receiving a payment for sex and another person is happy to pay that person for sex (particularly if they are an unattractive person who does not have many other options for sexual gratification) I think they should legally be able to make that transaction.

If there is a sperm pecking away at the outside of an egg, I do not think that anything particularly dramatic happens when it then becomes inside the egg instead. On the other hand, when a fetus can feel pain and has undergone significant development, I think that it should have some protections. I am not sure when exactly I think abortion stops being okay, but allowing it in the first trimester and restricting it to cases of rape and of protecting the health of the mother in the second and third trimesters seems pretty reasonable to me.

I think that it is very much worthwhile to have some governmental environmental protection against activities that have harmful health outcomes (eg. air pollution causing asthma, heavy metals in the ground water resulting in people developing cancer, radioactive processes used in mineral mining giving people autoimmune diseases, etc.).

When possible, I am a fan of using market-based schemes such tradable pollution permits (i.e. cap and trade) to reduce pollution.

I am, however, skeptical of climate change research. I think there is reason to have concerns about global warming, but I think current climate change researchers are locked in a group-think mentality that is resulting in misleading and questionable research. For a very good illustration see the following.

I disagee with banning incandescent light bulbs, as I think they are in many circumstances the best option available.

I agree with some governmental conservation of the environment, for people both now and in future generations who enjoy recreational activities in natural scenery, although I think it is fair to take the financial burden of maintaining preserved locations off of those who do not use or enjoy them.

I agree with the use of high-deductible health insurance plans for most people and think that they do a good job of encouraging both patients and providers to keep costs down.

I think that everyone should be provided with health insurance against serious, high-cost outcomes, but I worry that universal health care could be poorly structured and consequentially result in worse health care than what we have now.

I very much agree with heavy use of diplomacy as part of national security and think that it has been undervalued in recent years.

I do, however, think that military action is an option that should definitely be kept available and that there are some people who are violent and power hungry for whom diplomacy by itself is going to fail.

Accordingly, I disagree with those who say "war is not the answer" and would instead say "war is sometimes the answer."

I agree with strong protections for individual privacy and due process, and I think that even for terrorism investigations, government officials should have to follow due process procedures, to keep them from exploiting the powers they have.

If a society wants to do more to protect the security of its residents, I think that what should be done is more funding should be given for security, rather than sacrificing individual rights and liberties.

I think that there should be strong protections for free expression, even of highly offensive speech, to keep the government (and other powerful entities) from stopping speech that they do not like.

Pages on this site:

If you live in the vicinity of Ithaca, New York, and enjoy trail running, here is the map you have been looking for:

5.29.06 A running map for Six Mile Creek in Ithaca, New York

Do you buy DVD sets of TV shows? Would you like to be able to place copies of the episodes on your laptop so that you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want without having to carry a bunch of discs around with you? See my guide for doing so:

9.6.05 A guide for ripping TV shows on DVD

If you are trying to find ways to block the transmission of radio frequency identification, you might want to read the following:

4.4.05 Aluminum foil does not stop RFID

Not sure what strategy to use when bidding on eBay? Check this out:

4.27.04 Why sniping with one's maximum value is the optimal bidding strategy for eBay

Aside from the whole piracy issue, mp3's are a great way to listen to music because of how they allow computers to be turned into supercharged jukeboxes with features that cannot be offered by CD's. For my advice on things like visualization plugins, crossfaders, remote control of your computer, etc., see the following:

5.19.03 Hardware and software recommendations for using mp3 files

The following essay gave me three thousand unique visitors for the month of February 2003 after it was listed on The record companies seem to have wisened up a bit now with their deals with Apple and others. Maybe they read my essay and that is why... But still all of us are (arguably) worse off than if they had made such a deal with Napster years ago. Find out why:

2.9.03 How the record companies made the world a worse place for everyone, including themselves

I have friends. Really, I do. Some of them have web pages. You can visit their web pages. Sinan. Amanda. Allen. Dan.

Comments? Questions? Snide remarks? comments (at) [this domain]