RIP Beverly James Barnett

Yesterday, my Grandpa Barnett passed away. His health had been steadily declining over the past couple of years due to a stroke, so this was not unexpected. But as with all passings, it is difficult.

Grandpa Barnett was the most loving and godly man I ever knew. He was patient and kind; he did not envy or boast; he was not arrogant or rude. He did not insist on his own way; he was not irritable or resentful; he did not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoiced with the truth. My grandfather bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things.

I look forward to seeing him in Glory.

RIP Beverly James Barnett
November 18, 1927 – August 3, 2017

Universal Basic Income and Robots

Megan McArdle discusses the recent defeat of a Swiss referendum to give every citizen a guaranteed basic income here. As usual, she’s an interesting read, but this is the part that I found most thought-provoking:

Handing out a universal benefit of any size at all will be fantastically expensive. You can make it smaller, of course, but then you don’t get any of the vaunted benefits: It doesn’t prevent the benefit cliffs, doesn’t encourage entrepreneurship, doesn’t lessen the distortions of all the in-kind benefits you’ve left in place.

I suspect this is why the advocates of a UBI have recently become so interested in the problem of robots taking our jobs. The idea is that automation will make human labor so worthless, and make humanity so fantastically wealthy, that we practically won’t notice if we siphon a considerable amount of that money into a benefit that will, effectively, allow people to be permanently unemployed without starving to death. I’m skeptical of this story for a number of reasons — starting with the fact that “the machines are about to put us all out of work” has been a staple of science fiction for a century without coming noticeably closer to science reality. This time may be different, of course; even the boy who cried wolf eventually did come across a predator.

I’m not skeptical of robots taking jobs. This will become a problem, and as much as I’m reflexively against the idea of a UBI it might be a solution, at least for a short term, as robots massively disrupt society both economically and culturally.

A Hunting Ban Saps a Village’s Livelihood

Alternate title: “Western Neo-colonialism Imposes Economic Regime that Wrecks Native Lives”

Unintended but foreseeable consequences:

Since Botswana banned trophy hunting two years ago, remote communities like Sankuyo have been at the mercy of growing numbers of wild animals that are hurting livelihoods and driving terrified villagers into their homes at dusk.

The hunting ban has also meant a precipitous drop in income. Over the years, villagers had used money from trophy hunters, mostly Americans, to install toilets and water pipes, build houses for the poorest, and give scholarships to the young and pensions to the old.

I loved this quote:

Ms. Kapata said. “In Africa, a human being is more important than an animal. I don’t know about the Western world,”

I find hunting just for a trophy distasteful, but it seems to me there’s probably a middle road between an outright ban and unfettered hunting.

To my wife on our 5 year anniversary

Dearest Wife,

Thank you for being my wife these past 5 years.

Thank you for being patient when I am impatient.
Thank you for being kind when I am unkind.
Thank you for being loving when I am unloving.
Thank you for being a voice of correction when I need it most.
Thank you for being a blessing to me and those around us.
Thank you for caring for me even when I don’t want to be cared for.
Thank you for your quick laughter and your beautiful smile.
Thank you for sharing a common faith.

Thank you for saying “I do” 5 years ago.

Let’s get a zero after that five!

Love,
Steve

Ken of kamikazes

A moving article about the motivations of Japanese kamikaze pilots.

I thought this part was especially chilling:

In training, the pilots repeatedly zoomed perilously, heading practically straight down, to practice crashing. They had to reverse course right before hitting the ground and rise back into the sky, a tremendous G-force dragging on their bodies.

When they did it for real, they were instructed to send a final wireless message in Morse code, and keep holding that signal. In the transmission room, they knew the pilot had died when a long beep ended in silence.

The benefit of decades past and being several generations removed from the horror and hatred generated by war makes it much easier for me to appreciate the sacrifice these men made for their country.