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Friday, June 5th, 2009

Time Event
Busting out the USA
A friend of mine sends me this letter. I submit it to your candid judgment, dear reader, to see if you can deduce a more reasonable explanation of the current and ongoing destruction of the once-great republic of the United States. He writes:

I'm not an economic expert by any means.

I’m just a guy who watches movies. But I noticed something from a couple of Mafia films that seems to explain our current predicament. It’s called ‘busting out.’

In GOODFELLAS, mobster Henry Hill and his pals get control of a restaurant. The owner owes them gambling debts he can’t pay. So instead, they become his silent partners. They then begin taking home cases of imported liquor, pans of steaks, mountains of fresh lobster, and so on. When t hey have all they can possibly want, they take more liquor and food and sell it, sometimes to competing restaurants, at absurd rock-bottom prices. They pay for it all with credit ‘6 the restaurant’s credit. And when, finally, no one will lend the restaurant one more dime, they torch the place for the insurance. They have squeezed the restaurant (really the owner’s good name, not so much the actual building) for every cent they could possibly get. They have ‘busted it out.’

On the SOPRANOS, Tony Soprano gets control of a sporting-goods store owner who owes him money. He and his buds order mass quantities of beer coolers and swimwear, which they give to kids to hawk at the beach for ten cents on the dollar. But it’s pure profit, as it’s all paid for on credit which they never intend to pay off. They come up with all the usual swindles to keep borrowing; using one credit line to pay another, ‘lost in the mail’, ‘gimme one more chance, I’ll have the money Tuesday,’ and so on. But finally, no one will lend the owner another cent, and bam! They torch the place.

Barack Obama and his complicit Congress have borrowed an utterly unsupportable amount of money already, to say nothing of the additional trillions they want to spend nationalizing our medical system. This can only end in hyperinflation, a default on our debts, or possibly both at the same time. The country afterward will be crippled by the near-dearth of credit in any form, because the government will have tapped out bonds, stocks, gold, credit cards, banks, every source of liquid wealth you can think of, they can think of, and will seize.

Why don’t they care? Well, Obama doesn’t care because like the Mafia, America is not his business. It’s something to leech off of. And as he obviously thinks that when he dies, the universe ends, he has a limited time to bleed America. Why not go for all he can, while he can? Why not bust u s out?

Not sure how the Congress feels. Do they really think if America is permanently crippled, they can walk away? Maybe some of the millionaires do. Of course, there won’t be anyplace safe in the entire world if America’s too weak to defend its citizens, but they don’t really think the world’s a dangerous place, most of ‘em. And some, though it’s hard for me to believe, may be so stupid they actually think we CAN borrow 2 trillion bucks a year and somehow skate when the bill comes due.

How I met the Superman
During an ongoing conversation concerning C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke, jordan179 asked

"I'd gather then that Lewis would have been opposed to transhumanism if the idea had been widely known at the time?"

My answer was this:

I cannot speak for Lewis. My own brief brush with transhumanists was an eye-opening affair. It was my first encounter with people who try to deck out scientists and engineers with the hairy coats of prophets or the canonical vestments of archbishops, and end up merely embarrassing the engineers as much as the archbishops. I do not see why an engineer would be any better at the an archbishop's job than visa versa. Listening to the metaphysical musings of physicists (who have never read of word of Aristotle or Kant) is embarrassing enough: you should listen to computer programming speculating about the moral evolution of the human soul. It is knee-slappingly funny, if it were not so sad.

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Before there was Time, there was no Time
. jordan179 opines:

I don't think that the Big Bang was a "miracle" in the supernatural sense -- I think the laws of physics embrace more than one Universe, that's all. And I don't have the foggiest idea how big is the Multiverse; my suspicion is "bigger than I can possibly imagine."

But I do suspect that something very like our concept of thermodynamics applies to the whole shebang.

The problem with this posture it that is asks us to accept something that is hard to support, namely, the idea that there are multiple continua which somehow all obey the same laws of nature, in order to escape a conclusion that is easy to support, namely, that the Big Bang, or creation ex nihilo, was a miracle in the supernatural sense of the word.

To support this statement, let me make a careful distinction.

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The Designer Universe, Uncanny Luck, and the Anthropic Principle
I have three comments on the last topic, which I here draw out.

The Designer Universe Argument.

I have heard my fellow Christians argue that since life could have arisen from and only from this universe with its unique combination of physical constants, ergo the universe must have been intelligently designed. If every other possible combination of physical constants is equally probably, so goes the argument, that the chance of this universe having this particular set of constants is one in zillion. Ergo is must have been designed.

My fellow theists in this make a weak argument: it is, in fact, an argument from ignorance. We have no warrant for the assumption that other possible configurations of physical constants are possible at all, much less that they are all equally possible. I agree that rolling a zillion-sided die and getting the exact number and the only number needed to produce life in the universe is an astonishing coincidence, perhaps too astonishing to be called coincidence. But I see no warrant for the assumption that "other universes" (a phrase that has no meaning) each have an equal claim to some other number. If the "die" is only a cube, our changes are one in six. If the "die" is a coin, our chances are one in two. If the universe is what it is and cannot possibly be anything other than what it is, then there is no die at all, no other cases to consider, and hence no calculation probability where we count the possible outcomes and compare them to desired results.

So, you can imagine a universe where the speed of light is equal to 2C rather than 1C? I can imagine a universe where Ozma of Oz defeated the Nome King by tricking him into drinking from the Well of Oblivion. What warrant can you give me to show that the 2C universe is one of the universes actually possible to have had been created at the Big Bang, but the Oz universe is not?

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