The Coronavirus Panic:
Counting the Cost
3rd May 2020
Will anyone be outraged if I say how much I have enjoyed the lockdown? On the one hand, I have the spectacle, as often as I step outside, of fools shambling about in face masks and rubber gloves – all ready to start whining about piffling infractions of the distancing rules, and all doubtless trying to outdo each other in the weekly Two-Minute Love for the NHS. On the other hand, my own life has not been this pleasant in years. Deal is quiet. Deal is clean. Excepting the charity shops, all the establishments my women and I normally frequent remain open. The others were filled with overpriced tat. We never visited pubs and restaurants, and have barely noticed their closure – except in the sense that it has contributed to the present cleanliness and peace. Read more
The Coronavirus Panic:
Pure Waste or Midwife of Progress?
15th April 2020
(Published in The Libertarian Enterprise)
I remain sceptical about the dangers of the Coronavirus. Of course, it is an unpleasant illness, and no one should go out of his way to catch it. At the same time, we are into the fifth month of the panic, and the predicted mountain of corpses has still not appeared. Whether in countries that have imposed a lockdown, or those that have not, rates of infection and of death seem to be reaching the peak of their distribution curves. It may be that the final impact on the health of mankind will be no worse, or not much worse, than that of a severe seasonal flu. Even if, minus the lockdown, the potential impact might have been three or four or five times greater, it may still be worth asking if, on any reasonable calculus of cost and benefit, the resulting slump was worth the small saving of lives. Read more
By David Chávez Salazar
The term Big Data refers to the collection and analysis of huge and complex datasets through advanced digital technology. This concept promises to substantially change the way we live, by converting data into tools for efficiency, productivity and innovation.
According to former Minister for Universities and Science, David Willets, the UK is well placed for taking on the task. On the one hand, the country has 25 of the world´s 500 most powerful computers; on the other, it has a comparative advantage in Information Technology thanks to two distinctive strengths: good skills in maths and computer science, and some of the world´s best data-sets in fields as diverse as demographics, agriculture, healthcare and meteorology. Read more
“When government agents raid Uber’s offices,” Business Insider reports, “the company springs into action with an immediate response: it shuts everything down and encrypts all its computers.” That claim comes from documents filed by former Uber forensic investigator Samuel Ward Spangenberg, who’s suing the company for age discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and defamation. Read more
Here is Richard Blake, assisted by his daughter, in the act of dismantling and repairing a notebook computer. Good, I suggest, for a slow-burning laugh. You can almost see the sweat running down his face as all the screws fail to come out.
The Joy of Digital Technology:
A Personal History
(12th February 2016)
I bought my first computer in February 1984. I had used the mainframe system at my university as a word processor, but found it baffling, and there was a print queue of at least a day. For most of my time as an undergraduate, and for eighteen months after, I found it most convenient to write with a fountain pen on lined paper. For business letters and presentation drafts, I had a manual portable typewriter. In 1983, I “acquired” a manual desktop machine from an abandoned office building. Read more
Note: This posting began life as a comment on the similar article by Robert Henderson. SIG
The abolition of cash transactions is a very worrying near future scenario and one that should be of great concern to libertarians, or anyone who wants monetary privacy. The problem is that for most purchases, electronic really is very quick and easy and naturally advantageous. The days of pay packets bulging with twenty pound notes are sadly already long gone. I argued a long time ago among friends and those who could not get away from me that the obligation to accept one’s wages into a bank account is fundamentally unjust- since the money is being paid not to oneself, but to a third party- but it fell on largely deaf ears. But then I think monthly pay is a ludicrous injustice too, but most people don’t give a damn about that either. Read more