The worst possible end, sooner than I thought

I remember telling my students that probably about the time I die, the shit would really start hitting the fan with climate change. I specifically mentioned a feedback loop—I didn’t know to call it a feedback loop at the time—in which declining Arctic sea ice decreases the amount of sunlight reflected back in to space and thus warms the Arctic Ocean. I had heard about the methane that was trapped on the sea floor and warned that warming would lead to its release. Methane is about twenty-five times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. So it didn’t take a genius, in my view, to see how this would lead to catastrophe. Read more

Legitimacy strikes back

“A democratic constitutional state that uses Stasi methods sacrifices all credibility as a moral authority,” [European Member of Parliament Markus] Ferber told the German daily Die Welt on Sunday [June 30, 2013]. “It has destroyed trust.”[1]

“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” [Even Schmidt, a former Stasi department head] said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.” . . .

“Everyone knows that gathering so much information is bullshit,” said Reinhard Weisshuhn, a political activist and foreign policy adviser. “It’s a total breach of trust by the government. This is how a society destroys itself.” . . .

“The lesson,” [Stefan Wolle, curator at the East German Museum] added, “is that when a wide net is cast, almost all of what is caught is worthless. This was the case with the Stasi. This will certainly be the case with the NSA.”[2]

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  1. [1]Claus Hecking and Stefan Schultz, “Spying ‘Out of Control’: EU Official Questions Trade Negotiations,” Spiegel, June 30, 2013,
  2. [2]Matthew Schofield, “Memories of Stasi color Germans’ view of U.S. surveillance programs,” McClatchy, July 10, 2013,

Killing people

Update, December 15, 2013: The accused has now been publicly identified as Faye Cohen, who had worked as the office manager at Lupin. It is also alleged that she had been sighted on numerous occasions driving recklessly on Lupin grounds where, if I recall correctly, the speed limit was posted at five miles per hour. She may have had an ongoing substance abuse problem. Lupin is apparently allowing her to stay on the grounds while authorities investigate, and authorities have apparently been notified that she is there.[1] In my view, this alters nothing of what I have posted below, but underscores Lupin’s negligent personnel practices.

It is a situation I can visualize all too well:

The crash occurred around 1:25 p.m. [December 10] as [Michael] Schaupp, of Santa Cruz, traveled north on the highway at normal speed, approaching Idylwild Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A black Ford Explorer pulled off Idylwild and directly into Schaupp’s path. When his 1996 Honda motorcycle struck the SUV, Schaupp was thrown about 20 feet across the roadway, to the edge of the opposite lanes, according to the CHP.

The woman driving the Explorer at first stopped, then fled north on the highway. The vehicle was found minutes later, abandoned on the Bear Creek Road offramp.[2]

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  1. [1]author’s identity withheld, e-mail message to his list of “Lupin Friends,” December 15, 2013.
  2. [2]Eric Kurhi, “Motorcyclist declared brain-dead after Hwy. 17 hit-and-run crash; driver known but missing,” San Jose Mercury News, December 13, 2013,

World War II is over

December 8, 2013: This post has been updated in line, with a link to my thoughts on F. A. Hayek. The essay in question—I’m stopping short of calling it a book review, because I have only read most of the book, not all of it—had not been written at the time this post was originally published.

I was born in 1959, about 14 years after the end of World War II. I grew up during the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, in San Francisco’s Richmond District, I wasn’t very far from the Summer of Love as it played out in the Haight-Ashbury and in Golden Gate Park. World War II was an event of my grandparents’ generation; my father would have been ten years old when it ended, my mother five. So that particular war doesn’t carry much immediacy for me. It’s a bit like the Great Depression of the 1930s. I am much more concerned with the current wars and the current economic upheaval. Read more