Quotable (#174)

Why gun control (in the USA) is an insoluble problem:

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime. […] On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense. … So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.” … If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine. […] So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests. […] Our situation in the United States is that people with different risk profiles are voting for their self-interests as they see it. There is no compromise to be had in this situation unless you brainwash one side or the other to see their self-interest differently. And I don’t see anyone with persuasion skills trying to do that on either side. …

Quotable (#116)

Some hard-core anti-utopianism from a Brazilian jail cell:

Solution?….There´s no solution at all, buddy. The idea itself of solution is already a mistake. Have you ever looked at the size of the 560 slums in Rio de Janeiro? Have you ever flown in helicopter over the periphery of São Paulo? What solution? The solution would only come up with many billion dollars spent with a high-level ruler, an immense political will, economic growth, revolution in the education, general urbanization… and should everything be almost under the baton of an enlighten tyranny, that should jump over the secular bureaucratic paralysis, which was passing over the accomplice legislative (or you think that 287 leeches are going to act? If they let it be, they are going to steal up even the PCC….) and even the court, which obstructs punishments. There would have to be a radical reform of the penal process of the country, there would have to be communication and intelligence between municipal, state, and federal police officers (we do conference calls among prisons …). And all that would cost some billion dollars and would implicate on a deep psychosocial change on the political structure of the country. In other words: it is impossible. There is no solution.

Are you afraid of dying?

It is you who are afraid of dying, not me. As a matter of fact, here in jail you cannot come in and kill me … but I can order to kill you out there…. We are human bombs. In the slum there are a hundred thousand human bombs… We are in the centre of the insoluble itself, really… You are the good and I am the evil and, in between, the frontier of death, the only frontier. We are already another species; we are already other animals different from you. Death for you is a Christian drama on a bed, a heart attack… Death for us is the daily meat laid down in a ditch… Didn’t you intellectuals used to talk about class struggle, about “be marginal (from law), be hero”? So it is; we arrived, here we are! He, he… You’ve never expected for these new warriors of cocaine, have you? […] I am intelligent. I read. I read 3.000 books and I read Dante … but my soldiers are all strange anomalies of the twisted development of this country. There is no more proletariat or unhappy ones, neither exploited ones. There is a third kind growing up outside, cultivated in the mud, educating on the absolute illiteracy, graduating in the jails, like a monster Alien hidden in the cracks of the city. A new language has already grown up. – Don’t you hear the wiretaps made “with the permission of the Justice”? Maybe so. It is another language. We are facing a kind of post-misery. That’s it. The post-misery generates a new culture of killing, aided by modern technology, satellites, cellular phones, internet, modern weapons. It is the shit with chips, with megabytes. My commanded ones are a mutation of the social being; they are funguses of a great dirty mistake.

Notes: Marcola is the first nationwide criminal leader of note in Brazil. Perhaps, the most important in Latin America. PCC stands for Primeiro Comando da Capital – First Command of Capital. Here, capital means the city of Sâo Paulo.


Quotable (#75)

Henry Farrell on the paradoxical political economy of the online Silk Road:

No entrepreneur of trust was more successful than the Texan Ross Ulbricht, who, under his ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ pseudonym, founded and ran the notorious Silk Road marketplace for drugs and other contraband. And no-one better exemplifies how the libertarian dream of freedom from the state turned sour. […] Ulbricht built the Silk Road marketplace from nothing, pursuing both a political dream and his own self-interest. However, in making a market he found himself building a micro-state, with increasing levels of bureaucracy and rule‑enforcement and, eventually, the threat of violence against the most dangerous rule‑breakers. Trying to build Galt’s Gulch, he ended up reconstructing Hobbes’s Leviathan; he became the very thing he was trying to escape.

Quotable (#62)

This phenomenon deserves more attention:

There are already too many proposed causes for the secular decline in crime, but I can’t resist suggesting one more. A couple of months ago Nydwracu asked me whether it could be related to the secular decline in testosterone. The answer turns out to be “Maybe”. […] This secular decline in testosterone is pretty dramatic. Our best source is A Population-Level Decline In Serum Testosterone Levels In American Men, which finds that from 1987 to 2004, average testosterone declined from 501 ng/dl to 391 ng/dl, with an even more dramatic decline in bioavailable levels of the hormone. That’s about minus 1% per year. […] No one knows exactly why this is happening. …