Friday, February 7, 2014

Best Board Games for Kids and Adults

The following are board games that I think would be fun for various age groups.  In each group, I list the games so that the best game (in my view) is at the top for that age group.  I would like to point out that all of the games below listed for kids are also very good games for adults except for Shoots and Ladders and Candy Land.

Ages 3 to 4

Busytown - I have not actually played this game, but it is so highly regarded on both Amazon and, that I had to put it at the top of my list.

Sorry Sliders - a fun and cheap dexterity game.

Candy Land & Shoots and Ladders - I put both of these games together because they are essentially the same thing.  You randomly move some number of spaces and something good or bad happens that you can't control.  While these games are not interesting for adults, I think they are good for young kids to help them count, and teach them colors.  Also, since they are 100% luck, they give your kids a legitimate way to win a game on their own.

Pitch Car - This is another dexterity game, and probably more fun than Sorry Sliders.  You get to build your track.  However, it is much more expensive.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Low Carb/High Fat Diet

The low carb/high fat diet has had the biggest impact on my thoughts concerning nutrition, diet, and exercise.  This diet contradicts many established trends currently dominant among the general population.  These include: we get fat because we eat more calories than we use, saturated fat is bad, cholesterol is bad, salt is bad, whole grains are good for you, and long distance jogging is good for you.

The potential benefits to being on a high fat diet are:

-  The ability to lose weight quickly.
-  The ability to not eat for a long time and not feel hungry, and not lose physical or mental performance.
-  The end of sugar cravings and binge eating.
-  Having a greater amount of energy throughout the day for both physical and mental activities.
-  Better sleep.
-  The ability to perform in athletic events for a long time without hitting the "wall".  The reason for this is that a person can store about 40,000 calories of fat, so it is unlikely that the person will run out of calories during any given athletic event.
-  Reduced chance of getting cancer (cancer cells feed on glucose).
-  Reduced chance of getting diabetes.
-  Reduced chance of getting alzheimer and dementia.
-  Reduced chance of getting a heart attack or stroke.

The high fat diet has the following principles:
1. Avoid carbohydrates, especially empty carbs and sugar.  This means to avoid pasta, wheat, bread, corn, rice, soft drinks, fruit drinks and sugar.
2. Eat foods which contain large amounts of fat (including saturated fat), and protein.  This includes meat, fish, milk, cheese, butter, lard, eggs and nuts.

It is important to understand the biological process that causes us to get fat.  The following summary comes from Gary Taubes book: Why We Get Fat.   Most people believe we get fat because we eat more calories than we work off (by exercise and physical activity).  This is incorrect.  The reason we get fat is because of a hormone called insulin which is created when we eat carbs.  Insulin tells the cells in the body that they need to absorb glucose (sugar) that is entering the body because glucose is actually poisonous in the bloodstream.  Insulin also tells the body to stop burning fat for energy in order to use up the incoming glucose.  Insulin accomplishes these two tasks using two enzymes: Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) and Hormone-Sensitive Lipase (HSL).  LPL tells the cells to accept glucose.  So the more LPL on your cells, the fatter you will become.  HSL tells the cells to release fat.  So the more HSL on your cells, the thinner you will become.  High levels of insulin increases LPL and decreases HSL, which is necessary in order to remove glucose from the bloodstream where it is toxic.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Reply to “Libertarians are the New Communists”

 This is a reply to the following article which appeared on Bloomberg.

Radical libertarianism assumes that humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution.

Libertarianism does not assume people are wired only to be selfish.  Libertarianism is simply the belief that the initial use of force is not permitted in society, including government officials.  If you want to be selfless in a libertarian society, you are free to do so.  So long as you act in a voluntary manner, you are acting within a libertarianism framework.  You can have completely selfless societies acting within a libertarian society such as a communist enclave or a group of monks.

“It assumes that societies are efficient mechanisms requiring no rules or enforcers, when, in fact, they are fragile ecosystems prone to collapse and easily overwhelmed by free-riders.” 

There are rules in a libertarian society.  The rules are imposed by the owners of private property.  If you don’t like the rule set by the owner, you are free not to engage that owner in voluntary exchange.  For example, the owner of a theater may have a rule that says no cell phones allowed.  If you don’t like that rule, you can choose not to visit that theater.  It is wrong to say libertarian societies have no rules.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Libertarianism is More Important than Democracy

It is my view that the most important determinant of a country's success is how libertarian that society is.  When I say libertarian, I mean voluntary exchange.  Those countries that allow the most voluntary exchange flourish the most.  It is not democracy that is the main factor.  A democracy that restricts voluntary exchange will fail and a dictatorship that allows voluntary exchange will succeed.

Democracies have a tendency to become less libertarian over time.  First, politicians want to buy votes.  They do this by giving free money to as many people as possible: students, the homeless, single mothers, the poor, the elderly.  All of these special interest groups will only continue to vote for those politicians that promise to continue or increase the free money.  Much of this money is taken from the producers in society.  As the producers are taxed more, they produce less, leave to freer lands, or work in the black market and society as a whole becomes poorer.  As the poor are subsidized, they become more numerous.  Thus, the bankruptcy of the government is set in motion.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why I am a Libertarian

I wanted to take some time to talk about why I am a libertarian.  First, what is libertarianism?  Libertarianism is a political philosophy.  It does not tell you how to live you life.  It only defines how people should interact with each other in political or economic situations.  It does deal with the best way a person should lead his or her life.

The essential principle of libertarianism is that all interactions between people should be voluntary.  No coercive interactions between people are allowed.  The consequence of this principle is that all private invasions of persons and property are not allowed.  Thus, all theft and rape and murder are against libertarian principles.  Most people are in agreement with libertarians on this point.  However, this principle is also anti-government.  All government interaction involves some form of violence.  Taxes are the use of force to take private property.  Regulations restrict free exchange between private individuals.  Many individuals believe that government should have the ability to impose taxes and regulations.

What is interesting about libertarianism is that it is based on principles - it is not a utilitarian philosophy.  While there are many utilitarian reasons to support libertarianism, the core principle is one of nonviolence and voluntary action.  True libertarians would believe in libertarian principles even if they would result in a poorer society (although we argue that they make society richer).  For example, if A has a factory and is producing cars for B, but in the process causes air pollution on C, under libertarian law, A would be required to full compensate C or stop polluting.  With the government, the pollution is allowed, but the factory needs to pay the government a tax to do it.  Libertarianism treats all people equally: all of their property rights are equally protected.  With the government, the factory is permitted to invade other people's property with air pollution so long as it pays the government a tax, and thus it does not protect all people's property rights equally. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why Conservatives Should Not Vote for Romney

I wanted to list the reasons why I believe people who believe in a conservative ideology should not support Romney in the coming election.

- Romney supports the bailouts of wall street in 2008.  Romney believe that bailing out large financial corporations that took huge risks and made fortunes for themselves should be given taxpayer money when those risks blew up.  A conservative believes in the free market, and one of the most important aspects of a free market is that companies that fail must be liquidated.  The liquidation process transfers assets from the incompetent to the competent.  It punishes those that make poor use of resources.  Bailouts create moral hazard where corporations take on more risk than they would otherwise and leads to an overall more unstable equilibrium.

- Romney supports the Federal Reserve.  Conservatives should believe in the free market and the free market says that the market should determine prices, not the government.  When the government sets prices, the result is either a surplus or a shortage.  The most important price in the economy is the interest rate.  The FED directly sets the short term interest rate through the Federal Funds Rate, and it can strongly influence the long term interest rate through purchasing treasury bonds.  Lowering the interest rate and printing money to buy bonds has two negative consequences.  First, it causes higher prices which hurt the poor the most.  Second, it causes the business cycle.  All of the newly printed money flows into the economy and distorts the structure of production, which will eventually need to be corrected in a future recession.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Is Theoretical Economics Like a Religion

I have heard the complaint that theoretical Economics is similar to a religion.  Theoretical Economics is making arguments based on a priori knowledge, which is knowledge that is true without empirical evidence.  It is argued to be true based on logical reasoning alone.  In math the argument: if A > B and B > C, then A > C.  This doesn't require statistical samplings and running regressions for us to know it is true.  Much of math is built on a priori ideas.  In Economics, an a priori argument could be the marginal utility of an object declines the more you have of it.  The marginal utility is how much enjoyment you receive out a given unit of objects.  Thus, a person may get a great deal of utility from having one computer.  However, the amount of utility a person gets from a second computer will be necessarily smaller than the first.  It is possible for the utility to be the same, but it will never be greater.  Surfing the net, checking email and so forth can be done on the first computer.  The second one can be used to run a web server, or do some kind of processing, but it will not add as much utility to the person as the first computer.  It is not necessary to conduct a survey and determine if the utility actually falls with the second computer.  Just through logic, we can know that utility will be smaller, and from there construct the demand curve.