Measured Against Reality

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Random Links and Thoughts

I’ve been a bad blogger lately, so here’s a few interesting articles from the past few weeks along with some of my thoughts.

First up is the interesting, insane, and gross spectacle of exploding German toads. Yes, exploding toads. For a while officials were baffled, but now the party line is that crows would eat the toads’ livers, then the toads would self-inflate, (their woefully inadequate self-defense mechanism), be unable to stop (apparently due to the missing liver/hole in their skin), then explode. That seems farfetched to me, it seems like it should be some kind of environmental thing. I guess the world will never know.

Next there’s the fascinating story a the orator parrot. Apparently this parrot has a large vocabulary and some grasp of grammar. It really does seem that the more we study animals, the smarter they turn out to be.

Finally, a story I really wanted to do a whole post on, restaurants that let the customer decide their tab. This is a really amazing story, these restaurants literally do let you choose what to pay for a meal. Homeless people can pay nothing for a four-course meal, people with enough money leave a bit extra, and the truly wealthy can leave $100 for a cup of coffee; it all works out in the end. Of course, it doesn’t always follow that pattern, one homeless man frequently leaves money without eating.

The amazing thing is that he’s not alone. The altruistic goals of the restaurants inspire the rest of the community:

The cafés' business models have won fans among the city's well-to-do residents, many of whom regularly dine there. At One World, patrons have given Cerreta a car, bought new dishes, arranged to professionally clean her carpets, supplied new tile for the restaurant bathrooms, and donated property for an organic garden and funded a new irrigation system for it. Last week, a gentleman left a $50 bill next to an empty bowl of soup at SAME. Since opening, one man has regularly come in and left money on the counter without eating, stating "I was blessed today so I though I'd pass it on." He's homeless.

Imagine what could be accomplished if homeless shelters and food kitchens followed this idea. The quality of their food (and thus their service) could skyrocket, while they actually produce a profit. It shows that liberal ideals can be accomplished in economically viable means in a free market. Libertarianism works!

It’s also a good example of charity sans religion, just though I’d throw that in there.


  • Oh no. Not N'kisi the parrot again. It's a smart bird, and it names things. It doesn't know grammar, and it certainly isn't telepathic. Check out the Language Log, or Ray Girvan's posts on N'kisi specifically and the BBC's science reporting in general...

    By Blogger The Ridger, FCD, at 9:39 PM, January 05, 2007  

  • That's not libertarianism. Libertarianism is a tradition predicated on personal liberty. You're thinking of liberalism or capitalism.

    By Anonymous Nick C, at 9:25 PM, January 08, 2007  

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