There’s something wrong in paradise

Usually libertarians manage to make a degree of sense on their own terms. This guy (from a major Washington lobbying group, so no amateur) sounds like the Eliza program regurgitating canned text fragments based on some crude stimulus-response rules, without the slightest effort at making them hang together into something coherent. Really pretty impressive in its own way.


(Not) everybody must get stoned

I am not in the least surprised to find out that Ron Paul’s home-schooling effort is being run by Christian theocrats who are well to the right of the usual fundies like the American Family Association; so far to the right in fact that they believe in the good old Biblical punishment for homosexuality — stoning.

But I would love to know what Peter Thiel thinks about it. Maybe there is an exemption in the law for right-wing billionaires — there usually is.

Someone is wrong on and about the internet

Another wingnut, this one with pretentions of being a “maverick” and “philosopher”, gets the history of the internet completely wrong. I started to catalog the errors but got bored with it. Most hilarious is the assertion:

Who invented that and with it the World Wide Web (WWW)? Tim Berners-Lee in the private sector.

Apparently CERN is in the private sector. There must be more money to be made from the Higgs boson than I thought.

Slightly less obviously wrong, but still wrong:

Did the government give us Google?

Not exactly, but the early work on Google was done at Stanford, paid for by government grants. Most of the other things cited by Mr. Maverick as glories of the private sector also have government money funding them in their early days. The mouse and GUI interface he credits to Xerox and Apple, but its actual origins were with Doug Engelbart’s Augmentation Lab at SRI, which was run off of government grants. Xerox PARC was headed and staffed by people who had previously worked on ARPA-funded projects and were continuing their research in a new setting.

The history of computing is largely a story of close cooperation between government, academia, and industry, with the latter taking a larger role as the technology matures. This is, amazingly, exactly how things should work and in this case they worked pretty well, all told.

These are inconvenient facts for anti-government loudmouths, but that kind of person rarely lets facts interfere with ideology.