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Archive for the ‘mundane’ Category

An economic policy on vampires

In academia, mundane, popular economics on June 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm

What should be our economic policy on blood-sucking ghosts of dead homo sapiens, or vampires? In Macroeconomic Policy and the Optimal Destruction of Vampires (1982), Dennis J. Snower claims that vampires’ “most conspicuous macroeconomic impact arises from their detrimental effect on the labor force”.

One section of the paper presents a Model of Human-Vampire Dynamics, stating, “myopic humans, who maximize their welfare at every instant of time, may be expected to destroy a socially suboptimal number of vampires” (pg. 649).

Snower shows a number of analytic equations which include the variable p to represent a vampire’s blood coefficient requirement, S for the quantity of stakes produced, n for the constant human procreation rate, and the constant sigma for the rate of vampire attritition through sunlight.

He presents the theorem, “If the number of stakes per vampire remains below the critical level s^c=(p – sigma) – n, it is impossible for the human race to survive” (pg. 650).

Another section deals with optimal vampire destruction. He claims that, even though the annihilation of all vampires seems favorable, it is not socially optimal to do so. The author presents a set of graphs and equations I fail to understand, but I think the intuition behind the technicality is that the supply of stakes would become infinitely large if all vampires are destroyed (pg. 653).

He says that an optimal condition would be to have a production rate of stakes that reduces the vampire population, but is sufficiently low to allow their regeneration (pg. 653).

In his suggestion for future research, he claims that his work sets the stage for “an investigation whether humans and vampires grope their way toward a Cournot-Nash equilibrium”.

I think his assumption that only stakes are able to slay vampires is too simple to be of practical value. We should also consider the production rates of rosary necklaces, crucifixes, garlics, and scapulars.

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The correct sexes of kitchen utensils

In mundane on June 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm

If there is any conflict between my belief that the spoon is male and the national doctrine on the correct sexes of kitchen utensils, then I think we should apply Nietzschean perspectivism rather than Plato’s dialectic as a methodology. What I mean to say is that we cannot arrive at the truth by a series of propositions and counter-propositions. We need to unravel the structure of signification inherent in each dichotomy.

On one hand, we have the view that the spoon is female, and the fork male. There is no doubt that this is the privileged dichotomy inscribed in the dominant ideology of our culture. An underlying binary relation is the opposition between the male and female bodies, the male being equated with sharpness and the capacity to stab, and the female being equated with roundness and the capacity to contain. There is no doubt that the epistemological model which ascribes maleness to the fork and femaleness to the spoon is derived from the physiology of human sexuality and the logic of anatomy.

My view is the reverse. I have always believed that the spoon is male, and this is because I base the binary relation of the spoon and the fork on the utility of digestion. In the first place, I think the spoon and fork are not equal. The spoon is the principal equipment, and the fork only a supplement. Consequently, the spoon is male, and the fork, being an accessory, is female. My knowledge of the sexes of kitchen utensils is informed by the capitalist-patriarchal ideology that male equals work, and female equals less work. I hope you will not take this sexist notion against me, for I am merely calling your attention to the fact of discursive formation.

Our primary concern about kitchen utensils should be their function in metabolism, which is why my dichotomy is not surprising. What I find more odd in the dominant dichotomy is the prevalence of human sexuality in the symbolic function of the equipment of digestion. Obviously, the spoon and fork are metaphors for the instruments of reproduction. The idea is similar to Marx’s commodity fetishism, where we invest some mystical value on the object, with the net effect of isolating the organs from the unity of the body.