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The Superior Temperature Scale

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The Fahrenheit scale often gets a lot of grief for being an arbitrary and weird looking temperature scale, while Celsius is often touted by the rest of the world as the superior scale. Of course, there is little difference between the two, really, other than people not grasping why the melting point of water should be 32 degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the 0 degree Celsius.

The snobbery and self-glorifying in the rest of the world for using the Celsius scale is quite unfounded, however. The Fahrenheit scale gives much more accurate measurement in whole numbers, when we talk about the temperatures that we normally operate within, and could easily be regarded as the superior temperature scale of the two.


As one can see, the Celsius scale is merely a temperature scale calibrated to the Kelvin scale, where 1 degree up or down on the Celsius scale is the same difference as 1 Kelvin on the Kelvin scale. This means that absolute zero, which is 0 Kelvin, is put to -273.15 degrees Celsius, and the melting point of water is 0 degrees Celsius, which would be 273.15 Kelvin.

The same kind of logic is found in the Fahrenheit scale, which is calibrated to the Rankine scale (or rather, it could be seen as the other way around in this instance, but let’s press on for argument’s sake…), where 1 degree up or down on the Fahrenheit scale is the same difference as 1 degree Rankine. This means that absolute zero, which is 0 degree Rankine, is put to -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature of a frozen brine solution is 0 degree Fahrenheit , which would be 459.67 degrees Rankine. The melting point of water, on the other hand, is put to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be 32 degrees Rankine hotter than the frozen brine solution, and the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which gives exactly 180 degrees of difference to work on here.

The Fahrenheit scale, like the Celsius scale, operates within a similar set of exact and meaningful measurements, and actually does so with a higher degree of accuracy in day to day temperature measurements. But it’s also true that it holds less symbolic meaning for us. Fahrenheit lacks the link between the meaning of cold as minus or negative, given the color blue, and hot as plus or something positive, given the color red. For all the strengths of the Fahrenheit scale, it lacks this inherent meaning of language and symbols, that Celsius seems to include. On the other hand, it holds a superiority over Celsius, in terms of daily usage accuracy.

I think there should be room for a temperature scale that combines the strengths of both and corrects the supposed arbitrary nature of the Fahrenheit scale. Since Wikipedia doesn’t inform me of a scale that does this, and because I’m too lazy to research the landscape of temperature scales any further, let me introduce my own scale, the Rolland scale.

The Rolland scale is calibrated to the Fahrenheit/Rankine scales, with Rolland as the unit of measurement, meaning 1 Rolland up or down on the Rolland scale is the same temperature difference as 1 degree Fahrenheit or 1 degree Rankine. In addition, the Rolland scale applies a Celsius-like way of defining temperatures, which links minus/negative temperatures with frost, and plus/positive temperatures with heat. For that reason, absolute zero, which is defined as 0 degree Rankine, becomes -491.67 Rolland, and the melting point of water (at standard pressure), which is 491.67 degrees Rankine, becomes 0 Rolland. This also gives us a boiling point of water at ~180 Rolland, an average body core temperature for humans at ~66 Rolland, and an average surface temperature on Earth at ~27 Rolland. These numbers are perfectly viable and easy to remember, working within a good and fairly wide spectrum of numbers that people will be able to make sense of.

In other words, the Rolland scale is like the Fahrenheit scale, but re-calibrates itself for the melting point of water, rather than the temperature of an ice brine solution. With Rankine as R and Rolland as Ro, the math would be the following:

[°C] = [K] − 273.15
[°F] = [°R] − 459.67
[K] = [°R] × 1.8
[°C] = ([°F] − 32) × 1.8
[Ro] = [°F] – 32
[Ro] = [°R] – 491.67
[Ro] = [°C] × 1.8

As an end note, I should consider the fact, that there are a number of temperature scales that begins with R, which means the Rolland scale must adopt an Ro symbol to be able to differentiate between them. I may need to rename it for that reason, but I’ll make that decision when the day comes that the world hungers for a new temperature scale to work by. For now, the Rolland scale, with Rolland (R or Ro) as the unit of measurement, is defined and ready, making your day much easier. If you have a Fahrenheit thermometer, you can simply change the numbers around, so that 0 is where 32 used to be, and so on. It’s that easy. Now you too can use the truly superior temperature scale.

Written by Morten Rolland

October 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Geology and Climate Change – Should We Have Entered a New Ice Age?

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I was reading someone saying that they believe we are supposed to be moving into a new ice age, but that the Industrial Revolution and man made global warming has halted this progress. Now, this is by no means a new idea, but it’s still a very interesting concept. The answer to this is basically “up in the air” and demands a considerable amount of careful thought, in order to even try to conceive of an answer. Since climatology is a heated topic in today’s media climate, it’s a topic very much worth discussing. However, there’s a crap-ton of geological data and knowledge to get through on this topic of whether we’re moving into a new ice age or not, which is more than what most people can fathom. Still, I think it would serve people well to try and understand climate from a geological perspective. Here’s a not-so-quick run-through of what I think I’ve understood from it all, as the humble Sociologist that I am, using some helpful non-geological terminology, in order to make sense of the material:

Let’s just skip the concept of global eras in Earth’s history, that span upwards to billion year length time scales. It makes more sense to jump straight into the Quaternary period, which is the current period on Earth that we live in (which has been going on for the past 2.588 million years), within which the great diversification of mammals has been going on.

Let’s call the Quaternary period a “super-macro level timespan” of climate. These “super-macro” periods switch between either warm and cool trends. Our current period is a cool one, as it’s been characterized by the constant growth and decay of continental ice sheets. This is actually called an ice age, and goes by the name “the current ice age”, and we’re in the middle of it. This is not what most people would call an ice age, which I believe are actually called glacial ages in geology. So let’s call this current ice age a cool period instead, to keep things consistent.

Within this cool period on a gigantic scale, we have a “macro level timespan” of climate that are called epochs. These epochs are also either trends of warming and cooling. Cool epochs are defined by the Earth being covered by big glaciers and constant ice, and these are called glacial epochs. Warm epochs are defined by receding glaciers and ice on Earth, and these are called interglacial epochs.

On a “meso level timespan”, these epochs are then divided further into warm and cool ages. A cool age is called a glacial age, where you have vast and/or expanding ice sheets covering parts of the Earth’s surface, while warm ages are called interglacial ages, where you have receding ice sheets, but still with some ice sheets covering some land. On a “micro level timespan”, you can also find strictly regional variations of cooling and warming, and this is where things become extra interesting, not to mention confusing to “climate change” models. Heck, there are even “nano level timespans”, where you have warming or cooling trends lasting a few decades. This would, for instance, be the global cooling trend in the 60s and 70s, and the global warming trend of the 80s and early 90s. I’m not gonna bother talking about them here, so let’s ignore the nano level.

To sum it up, we are talking in terms of four different timespans of climate, from longest to shortest:

  • Super-macro level: Periods. Cool or warm.
  • Macro level: Epochs. Glacial or interglacial.
  • Meso level: Ages. Glacial or interglacial.
  • Micro level: Err… something. Let’s call them trends! Cool or warm.

At the moment, we’re in an interglacial age on the “meso level”, which started about 11 000 years ago. This age is actually also the first age of a new epoch, called the Holocene epoch. Yes, we may indeed have “just” entered an interglacial epoch, because the last epoch, the Pleistocene epoch, which ended about 11 000 years ago, was a glacial epoch. In other words, the last epoch was characterized by what we would call ice ages, or glacial ages, to be consistent. I think it’s still unknown where our epoch fits into the whole mess. We’re still in the greater “super-macro level” cool period in general, because there are big areas which are still constantly covered by glaciers, yet, we’re not in a glacial age, since glaciers have receded and aren’t covering vast lands on the northern and southern hemisphere. We won’t know what our epoch contains for thousands of years still, but it’s natural to think it could be an interglacial epoch, since the generally warm data during the current epoch suggests as much.

It is however worth asking: Maybe our interglacial epoch is just an interglacial age within the continued glacial epoch that we supposedly left of? Or put differently: Our new epoch is a glacial epoch, but we’ve started it off with an interglacial age? Maybe. I don’t know why we can call our age a part of a new epoch yet. Our epoch, the Holocene epoch, translates to the “the wholly new/entirely recent”. I’m guessing it might be linked with the recent spread and great explosion of human life and civilization on Earth during this current warm age, beginning after the last ice age. In other words, what the future holds is left to be seen.

In any case, there are temperature swings within both glacial and interglacial epochs, and also within cool periods. Since we’ve been in a “meso level” interglacial age for the past 11 000 years, this means that glaciers are expected to be receding, yet still existent. This is exactly what we see today. Just as expected.

Within this current interglacial age on the “meso level”, however, you also have smaller intervals of warming and cooling trends on the “micro level”. These are often quite regional and not global. The last warm trend, at least in the West, was during the Ancient times and through the Middle Ages, up until a cooling trend happened during the “Little Ice Age”, from the 1200s up to the mid 1800s. The “Little Ice Age” was quite cold by interglacial standards, but not compared to glacial standards, where half of Europe etc would probably be covered in tundra and ice. Since we’re in an interglacial age and an interglacial epoch, we should not expect to see ice covering most of the northern or southern hemisphere, and we shouldn’t see substantially increasing ice sheets. We should see receding ice sheets, yet some areas still covered in ice. Again, this is what we see.

Question is, have we naturally moved out of the quite cool “Little Ice Age” and just begun a “micro level” trend of warming, within the “meso level” warm interglacial age, within the “macro level” warm interglacial epoch, within the “super-macro level” cool period on Earth? Or did we prematurely halt the “Little Ice Age” by the dawn of industrialization and pollution, and kicked off a warming trend by man made means, before a natural warming trend were going to begin?

These are the actual questions to the assumption made in the introduction, and while some might believe we should be heading into a new ice age, we just don’t know the answer to this. It’s the big seven-hundred-and-eighty-ounces-of-gold question!

We do know, however, that we’ve earlier gone through much warmer trends than what we’re currently experiencing, without man made causes possibly affecting the climate, so it’s natural to think that what we’re experiencing are completely natural variations of the Earth’s climate, within this interglacial age and epoch that we’re in. Heck, we also know that the former glacial epoch, namely the Pleistocene epoch, lasting for over 2 million years and ending 11 000 years ago, and covering big parts of the northern hemisphere with constant ice for most of the time, had several quite warm interglacial ages within it. In fact, the last interglacial age, which was within the Pleistocene glacial epoch, reached temperatures that are much warmer than our current temperatures.

Indeed, many interglacial ages have existed before ours. We have only been in the current interglacial epoch, namely the Holocene epoch, for 11 000 years, where we’ve started off with an interglacial age. In other words, there’s no reason to believe that we should be moving back into a glacial trend as of now. If anything, we should probably see further warming! At this very moment in time, we’re also below the Holocene mean temperature. What we’re experiencing today is actually quite cold temperatures, relative to what we should expect from the geological age we’re in. If the last interglacial age, during the Pleistocene glacial epoch, is any benchmark for what we should expect, we’ve yet to reach out peak temperatures.

And the peak temperature is key. This defines the high point of temperatures during an age. Some suspect the peak temperature during our current age was a couple of thousand years BC. This is at least assumed to be the case, and it’s sits in the middle of the current timeline of our current age too. That could be true. But it’s equally conceivable that we’ve yet to see the peak temperatures, and that the “Little Ice Age” was more of a low point before a greater warming period. Not to mention, our interglacial age could go on for thousands of years still. Again, during this current global warming trend, since the last 1800s, we’ve yet to reach the mean temperatures of the Holocene epoch as a whole. We’re not experiencing hot temperatures by any means.

So where does this leave us? Well, global warming calculations depend on data that begin right AFTER the Little Ace Age, which was a very cold trend within our current warm age and epoch. The global warming calculations also cannot control for variations spanning a few decades, which has lead them on to pre-mature conclusions, like “global cooling” and “global warming”, having now settled on the impenetrable “climate change” brand. The important question today is, is it “man made” or not?

Considering we should easily be experiencing a warmer climate than what we’re currently doing, seeing as we’re under mean temperature that we should expect, and seeing as climate change models depend on a false low as their starting point, which means they are measuring a completely expected and fairly rapid warming trend, with or without man made CO2 release, one can begin to wonder what the HELL “man made climate change” is all about.

So, finally! Should we have entered a new ice age by now? I think the answer is no, we’re not supposed to be heading into a new ice age. There’s no reason to believe so, at least. We are currently seeing stuff that we should expect to see, since we’re in an interglacial age, where we could expect warmer temperatures still. No surprises here. We might move into a new glacial age soon, but it will take a long time to see temperature move decidedly in that direction. We’re talking time spans of thousands of years here. As of now, we’re simply moving through a warmer trend after a cold trend. These are natural fluctuations. No worries.

But let’s not stop there. I’ll take you one further: The Industrial Revolution didn’t stall anything. It hasn’t affected the temperatures once single bit. How so? Well, let’s address more issues linked with this, like the theories of “man made climate change” and CO2 models. Cause last, but not least, all of the temperature data, both current measurements and historical ice core data, show that spikes in CO2 only follow rises in temperatures. While historical ice core data could show a lag in CO2 storage, meaning CO2 could have spiked long before it got stored in the ice core samples, current direct measurements cannot be analyzed in the same way, and current data show the same as historical ice core data, namely that temperature rose first. This means that CO2 does not drive temperature levels, but rather it’s entirely plausible to say that temperature drives CO2 levels! Yes, there’s a correlation here, but an opposite correlation of what the “man made climate change” models predict. THIS explains why they were lead down a mistaken road. THIS is why they predicted a rise in temperatures for the past 15-18 years, which didn’t happen, simply because they had their models backwards. THIS is why CO2 levels continue to rise now, after temperatures have leveled out, because they could be rising as a product of the last period of warming, which happened during the 80s and early 90s. This is a plausible, competing theory to the absurdity of man made climate change. Whatever we as humans contribute to it seem not to matter at all.

Gosh. Does this mean that geology contradicts the claims of current climatology? It most certainly could look that way. Does this mean that climatology is not consistent with geological data? Well, not quite. “Man made climate change” theories could indeed coexist with the geological theories that depict the info I’ve gone through here. I have not debunked “man made climate change” as such, but my point is, the current “man made climate change” theories are simply not convincing at all, and there’s no reason to think that geological data support what the “man made climate change” theories claim. You can equally say that geological data support theories that say the current warming trends are natural fluctuations to be expected. The “man made climate change” theories are simply riddled with mistakes and a lack of prediction power, even when we talk about decades! Yes, not years, but decades! How the hell can we then trust them to say ANYTHING worthwhile about what will happen in 2050, let alone about year 2500, if they can’t even explain the past 50 or 100 years? The real world applications of these models are extremely poor. They haven’t helped us one single bit.

Now, should we stop modelling the climate? No! Absolutely not. We should continue to try and improve on our ability to model the climate! But should we stick to the whole CO2 story? No, it’s time we threw it out and started to look for other variables and causalities, and maybe we should begin to consider that humanity does not drive climate change at all.

To be able to do so, we need to get governments and politics out of climate science, because it corrupts the scientific debate and destroys real science, turning it into bad science and garbage pseudo-science. Climate change has become a religion; a cause for socialist activism! These activists are suffering from so much cognitive dissonance, that it has become sickening, and at this current rate, they’ll destroy all of us and every ounce of prosperity that we have. Climate change fundamentalists are evil and need to be fought, tooth and nail.

Written by Morten Rolland

January 31, 2015 at 6:05 am

A Lonesome Man’s Life on Display: The Manhunt for Satoshi Nakamoto

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Newsweek recently released an article describing the life and background of the one they claim invented Bitcoin. It’s important to note that the proofs provided are mostly indirect and the story relies heavily on the man’s very eccentric personality and years of classified work for the government. I’m not gonna lie: This is still some impressive digging and a fascinating read. The person fits the bill. He’s portrayed as mysterious and brilliant as you could possibly imagine. The author said she aimed at writing an inspiring piece. She certainly did just that.

But in hindsight, I must agree with the strong sentiment of the large amount of feedback in the comment section: This is a pretty destructive piece on a person who clearly has his problems with publicity and has shown great intent at not wanting to have his private life and professional endeavors spread on the Internet. Knowing how public attention and the scare of being “man hunted” can drive some people to hopelessness and suicide, the author here runs the risk of being left with an EXTREME amount of guilt if that happens in this case, and she should arguably feel horrible about what she’s done, along with the forensic analysts who contributed to the public shaming of a living man who simply values his peace and solitude, while having recently suffered from both cancer and a stroke.

I would have liked to discuss the article with the author herself. Leah. Let me ask you, before I pass judgment on your deeds, is this a tale to engulf the person in a greater mystery, or an attempt to find the Bitcoin inventor named Satoshi Nakamoto? If not intended as fiction, are the names of the people at least changed and their identities kept anonymous? Or is this a real tale with real names of wives, siblings and children? It certainly doesn’t say anywhere that the names are alter egos to preserve their and his anonymity, and the article goes a long way to proclaim itself as truth. The revelations and aftermath certainly points to the details of his life being true and unedited, as confirmed by Satoshi himself in an interview with Associated Press. I am therefore to assume that Satoshi Nakamoto’s whole life is on full display in this article for the public to see. Please tell me, when doing this journalistic piece, how could you not “anonymize” names?; How could you not leave out certain crucial aspects of his job career in order to protect his privacy?; How could you post a picture of his face, let alone his home?; How could you reveal his name change?; How could you reveal his personal loves and passions against his will? Anyone involved in investigating the mind or researching the social aspects of life learns the importance of this from day 1: Respect individual rights, autonomy and privacy.

Leah. You gained his trust and then you viciously broke it, just as you told the tale for the whole world to read and devour, like a twisted mistress playing games with someone’s heart and soul, before cynically gloating about it. That’s pretty evil.

But in the end, all of that doesn’t matter as much as this simple fact: Regardless of whether he actually invented Bitcoin or not, you probably just destroyed his life. I hope, for his sake, that you didn’t also contribute to its end. I sincerely hope not. He never hurt or violated anyone. All he asked of you was to leave him be. I guess your fetishistic dreams of journalistic fame and glory was more important to you than his life and intellectual autonomy. Less important, although noteworthy and deserving of some sympathy, is that you may now unwittingly become a victim of the same. The comments here foreshadow it, and knowing the Internet, by violating his intellectual autonomy and privacy, you essentially gave up yours. For your sake, I hope you’re ready to risk having your whole life and all your darkest secrets blown up before the vengeful world of the Internet. The damage is already done.

While the story may have intended to be inspiring and fascinating, which it in some sense absolutely was, I hate to think that the results will only be sad and potentially tragic, no matter who actually invented Bitcoin. Absolutely nothing has been gained from this article. There has only been loss, and especially for poor Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto who is now plagued with reporters against his will.

I only have one ending remark: I’d love to eat sushi with Satoshi and learn about model trains, and then tell absolutely no one about our meeting.

Other articles on the topic:

Bitcoin Community Responds… – An article about the public response to the Newsweek article.

Man Denies He Created Bitcoin… – An article showing the aftermath of the Newsweek piece, which only goes to show that my worries are substantiated and worth taking into consideration. Even though he denies creating Bitcoin, which is just as likely to be the case, this article may still have destroyed his life as he preferred it, as he now is a victim of a manhunt.

…Doubts Satoshi Nakamoto’s Identity – A funny and counter-investigative piece, undermining the Newsweek article’s credibility. I echo its conclusion: “While it is seductive to imagine that the secretive genius is a humble old man playing with trains, the consequences of Goodman being wrong outweigh any potential insight gained by the revelation if it is true. While it wouldn’t be the first life the media has ruined with accusations, the standard response of “they deserve it for seeking such fame” will not apply to this case.”

AP Exclusive Interview… – Article of the AP interview with Satoshi, where he denies creating Bitcoin and points out the inaccuracies of Newsweek article.

Written by Morten Rolland

March 7, 2014 at 6:01 am

A Little Historical Afterthought – Political satire in the shape of Psalm 23

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Mr. Roosevelt is my shepherd,
And I am in want.
He maketh me to lie down on park benches,
He leadeth me beside still factories,
He disturbeth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of destitution for his party’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the Depression,
I anticipate no recovery, for he is with me;
His policies, his diplomacies, they frighten me.
He prepareth a reduction in my income,
And in the presence of mine enemies,
He anointeth my small income with taxes;
My expenses runneth over.
Surely, unemployment, want, and poverty shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in a mortgaged home forever. Amen.


I cannot seem find the author or a proper original source for this, although my lazy 5 minutes of looking for one certainly doesn’t mean an author or proper original source cannot be found. If someone knows, please add it in the comments, and proper citation and respect shall be given. This piece has been around since the 1930s, obviously, yet every word still seems to ring true as we live and breath at this very point on this very day. That is exactly the type of political satire and poetry that I personally find both beautiful and historically important, and that is why I wish to share this. Please do the same. Cheers!

Written by Morten Rolland

May 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Getting Over Smoker’s Guilt: Overcoming the Stigmatizing Propaganda Against Tobacco Users

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It’s now more than a year ago since I actively took up the hobby of pipe smoking, after having had much fun and pleasure from smoking cigars for quite some time. It might seem like a counter-cultural act to bring back what some regard as outdated, or just socially contrarian. Today, the majority opinion is that tobacco is a bane of society that has to be purged, by force if need be. Political forces work like ants behind the dark facade of government and bureaucracy to enact regulations, programs and laws that will throw tobacco smokers out on the streets and squeeze tobacco companies and tobacconists out of business.

Daily, we hear campaigns against tobacco smoking, where politicians and activists are actively putting a stigma on the back of everyone who abuses “cancer sticks”. The commercials are many – either you see lungs filled with tar, skin that is gray and weathered, fingers that are yellow and stubby, or rampant warnings lights while the word “cancer” is screaming in your face. The result from all of this is a social engineering of stigma against tobacco users; a government creation of discrimination and hatred. In the view of anti-smoking activists, smoking is an evil that people have every right to call you out on. Public schools will teach kids about the “dangers of tobacco” and urge kids to spread the word to their friends and family members. The victims of this stigma develop smoker’s guilt. They will try to keep their habit hidden, shying away from social settings in order to fulfill their need for some nicotine. They start to hate themselves for doing something thought of as disgusting, yet it’s hard for them to stop it, because they secretly enjoy it.

It’s very disturbing to see just how many who will admit to being a smoker, while doing so with a hint of shame and guilt in their voice. Not all have ambivalent feelings towards their habit, but many do. It seems like mentioning the topic of smoking will depress them, as it reminds them of every time someone has stigmatized them for their habit. One can only imagine how the words chanting in their head from all the anti-smoking activists, politicians, journalists, doctors and scientists makes them hate themselves for being voluntary “slaves” to something they grow to regard as inherently bad – as if being a smoker is a sign of poor character and immorality.

…And the worst thing is, most people think this is okay.

This angers me intensely. Not only is it immoral to impose your own preferences through the power of government, but stigmatization is also a very destructive tool to use in order to force through a political cause. While you may end up with some smokers who quit smoking (although these numbers are anything but impressive after decades of expensive tax-funded anti-smoking campaigns), many of the remaining smokers will develop guilt and depression because of their habit. This will arguably have a much more devastating and immediate effect on the individual than any of the possible health risks from smoking will have, leading to a range of other social problems that aren’t as easy to observe. If anything, it only stands to reason that if “good public health” was the main goal of anti-smoking activists, then active stigmatization is an extremely poor choice of strategy. The reality is that anti-smoking activists are only putting you and your habit down, because they themselves have made the choice of not smoking, and through a collectivist world view find it in their right to force others to make the same choice as well.

There exists, however, an individualistic remedy to overcome this stigmatization and remain proud and happy about what in essence should be a very positive and enjoyable hobby.

I mentioned to begin with that I myself have just over the last few years taken up smoking more and more, despite the ever increasing stigma against tobacco users. Am I simply a counter-cultural social contrarian? No, not at all. Being so would be irrational. None of my motivations for smoking tobacco came from this wish to simply do the opposite of what the wise overlords are telling me to do. My choice came from a complete disregard of any propaganda of the pros and cons of tobacco smoking. It was a completely individual, rational and personal choice, fueled by a lust to enrich my daily life with a joy and hobby that I could experience and enjoy both physically and mentally. For instance, the collection of pipes is a long lasting project, where purchases are made not only for short-term enjoyment, but also long-term fun and interest. As such it has a deeper meaning to it, rather than it just being a meaningless anti-trend statement. There is a great excitement in trying new tobaccos with new flavors, going through the meditating routine of packing your pipe, checking the draw, doing a false light, then a proper light, puff it a few times to get the flavors going, and feel the gentle taste of the smoke roll across the tip of your tongue and through your entire mouth, before attempting to blow smoke rings.

It’s much more than just feeling the buzz from the nicotine. It’s a source for great joy and relaxation. You are able to collect yourself from all the pressure that life put on your shoulders, and just take a little bit of time to experience something different and develop a skill and taste that is completely your own. There is a sense of beauty to all of this, and that beauty is something that can never be brought down by any means of stigma or hatred.

(Image by Pipesmagazine.com)

As such, the stigma that is actively being put on smokers does not affect me.

The overarching goal in anyone’s life should always be to achieve happiness. You only have this one life to experience happiness, so you’d do well in making use of all the tools at your disposal. If you are a smoker suffering from smoker’s guilt, then you are left with two choices: Quit smoking immediately, or changing your mindset and cultivating tobacco smoking as a source for something good in your life, embracing it with pride and conviction. Most tobacco users suffering from smoker’s guilt are likely cigarette smoker. I would like to suggest the following to you:

Rather than trying to quit smoking, how about delving deeper into the world of tobacco and try to make it a fun hobby? Tobacco is very much like beer, wine and spirits – yes, you can abuse it, but you also have a vast source of enjoyment to find inspiration from. It’s all about having the right mindset. You could for instance try a new brand of cigarettes/tobacco each time you buy some more, in order to explore the flavors the tobacco gives. There is no point in being brand loyal in what should be regarded as fun experimentation. Also, the price difference between cheaper brands and more exquisite brands are limited. And even if you’re on a strict budget, there are more than enough possibilities to get you started with, without having to blow away all your money.

I would also suggest you explore the world of tobaccos beyond cigarettes, like cigars and pipe tobacco. These ways of enjoying tobacco have had the pleasure of being cultivated as a part of finer culture for hundreds of years, where purity and taste have been in the main seat all along. Here you will find a whole new range of tastes and experiences, and there are also lots of fascinating things to learn. Pipe smoking, for instance, also adds the fun activity of pipe collecting and caring for your pipes. If you would like to combine tobacco smoking with a relative health benefit, then proper cigar- and pipe smoking is also a fairly good compromise. Regardless what your preferences are, you will certainly find inspirations at your local tobacconist, or at a tobacco store online.

By trying some of these things for yourself, smoking will always be something fresh and interesting. You will learn how different types of tobaccos give you different experiences, and you will find tobaccos and brands that better suit your taste, reshaping your habit into making it about cultivating something good. Most importantly, you will find many like minded individuals on your way. You will feel better about yourself and stand proud and steadfast in the face of those who wish only to bring you down.

As a result, tobacco smoking in itself has many more potential positive effects than negative ones, and perhaps even some unexpected ones, as noted by Bertrand Russel, himself an avid pipe smoker his whole life. The stigmatizing propaganda by the nanny statists is something you should rise above, as overcoming such stigmatization is imperative to a healthy individualistic life. Remember, you only have one life to achieve happiness. There is no time to lose.

As an ending remark, I would like to quote Jeffrey Tucker, who echoes this sentiment in his essay “Bring Back the Breakfast Drink”:

Everyone knows the rule: drink no liquor before noon. How insufferable such advice is! It has caused morning drinkers to hide their habits, deny them when confronted, and otherwise feel like they are doing something wrong or immoral or socially intolerable, a combination which leads to other forms of pathology.

It is time for them to stand up and proclaim themselves and their habit as the noble act it is. All over the world, there exists a grand tradition of including a bit of spirits with one’s breakfast, or at least a bit of beer or wine. How tragic that those who struggle mightily to uphold this practice are reduced to doing so alone, enjoying their pleasure only in the privacy of their own kitchen for fear of inviting public humiliation.

The Peculiar Practice of Taxing Public Worker Income

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Income tax. Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

With the demonstrations by public sector trade union workers going on across America, there are several thoughts on the topic that have popped into my mind as of late. While the topic of Wisconsin’s public trade union workers is tempting, it’s not my concern right now.  What caught my attention today is the connection between public sector jobs and income taxation. There are many things you can say about income taxes, and there are many things you can say about public sector jobs. The first is immoral, unjust and disruptive to the productive sector of the economy. The latter is where the taxes are inevitably spent. While a discussion on whether or not taxes should exist or whether or not we need public sector jobs is a fair discussion, we’ll leave that for later.

For now, please think about the following question: Why do people in the public sector pay income taxes?

A silly question, you might think. You may also say it’s obviously easier and also fair not to distinguish between private and public sector jobs when taxing people. That is, however, besides the point. What is the economic benefit of having all people employed in the public sector paying taxes? The endless amounts of administration that goes into keeping the system up is already profound, but the waste of collecting taxes from people payed 100% from previously collected taxes is at best a big drain of resources. If those employed in the public sector payed no taxes, there would be less administration going into collecting taxes from these people. Much less paper work and less public sector jobs needed to be filled.

I think all taxation on income should be abolished for everyone, especially for those working in the private sector, but as it stands, the paradox of taxing public sector income baffles me. Why not just pay people in the public sector what they get after tax and not tax them at all? And should these people have tax deductible expenses they today could get back, why not just give these expenses as a bonuses on their salaries if necessary? I don’t like the concept of tax credits – it only creates extra layers of bureaucracy that dabbles in social engineering, but since it already exists, giving bonuses would virtually have the same effect as today’s system. There is to me two very good reasons to why this would make sense to do. First, the administrative costs you’d save by not having to pay attention to taxing public sector employees. Second, if people were given a tax relief, this would only apply to private sector jobs, giving only private sector employees more money in their own pockets. Public sector jobs would never be affected by tax reliefs and this would result in them having received a permanent pay cut. It would also lessen the apparent numbers that make up the excuse by government for receiving smaller tax revenues to use in their spending. Perhaps this would also add another inhibition to increase spending (obviously not the case, since deficit spending rules supreme, but still…). The actual revenues of government would also not be affected, since the only resources they have at hand are what they take from the productive sector of the economy. As mentioned, whatever public sector employees earn is what has already been taxed. There are no real “losses to revenue”, only savings in administrative costs, which should result in more tax cuts for the private sector.

Downsides? Harder to rally public sector employees to the cause of electing politicians that wishes to cut taxes. You would likely also create an even more polarized population dividing the private vs the public sector into more distinct political factions than they are today. Those working in the public sector wouldn’t think twice about raising taxes for their political goals, as higher taxes wouldn’t concern them. The possible good things about these downsides? The enemy is easier to spot and the private sector would be willing to stand more united against government oppression. If supporters of the public sector wished to increase taxes, they would not be able to hide behind the mask of “altruistically suffering from the same taxation”. They would more directly become enemies of the private sector, and unable to portray themselves as servicemen for it. There would be a deadlock between political factions, and raising taxes could become far more unpopular than it is today…

… Or it wouldn’t worry people too much after all. Who knows? It will never become a reality, but I find it a peculiar phenomenon, and the “what if” fascinates me.

Written by Morten Rolland

February 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm

The Most Economicly Sensible Place to Live in America

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In a troubled economy, the worry of many people has increasingly bottled down to the cost of living. It’s easy to understand why more families worry about their personal economy and the cost of living in USA today. As the federal government and states likewise spend more money than they have, there is an increasing demand from government for higher taxes … on everything. Where, then, is the cheapest – or should I say the most economicly sensible place to live in America today? Of course, it’s quite difficult to point out a specific town, as you’d be in a deep ditch of falsification, while working out every little detail in every little part of this vast country. But we need to start somewhere!

For now we’ll limit our search to the different states. This takes down the number of choices to a mere 50. Along which criterias will these 50 states be messured? Taxes, of course, and here we will look at the state income taxes, but there are also some hidden taxes in addition, like sales and property taxes, so we’ll also compare some specific price differences. For this I will make use of numbers from a “cost of living index” put together by MERIC (Missouri Economic Research and Information Center), which are based on values that are reported from different urban areas that participate in the collection of data. This does not give us a proper indication of the rural differences that may exist, but it’s reasonable to think that rural areas in a state with low average urban living costs will have lower living costs than in a state with high average urban living costs, since overall sales and property taxes levels in the states play a part here. It does seem, however, that MERIC do not include income taxes levels into the calculations, although it could be put into consideration for all the different values making up the index, but either way we will take a look at the index numbers and tax levels seperately.

To start off our research we’ll see where in America a married couple sharing an income of $40,000 (as basis for our income  tax levels) will have the greatest opportunity to put off some extra hard earned money for buying affordable precious metals to preserve their precious savings *wink wink*. We are therefore trying to aim this at the regular working class American that wish to focus on affordable quality of life. People more well off would likely live according to similar dimensions, only with a lot more to spend, and truly, that is what we’re all after.

The top states in the MERIC index are situated mostly in the midwestern/southern area of America. We will look at the states that have an average index score under 95, where 100 is the overall USA average. These states are the following (in the order from lowest to highest index score):

Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

These have the cheapest living costs, but what are the income tax level in these states? This is important, since taxes can take up such a substantial portion of your pay check. This can weed out some states that are more likely candidates than others. Not bothering with federal taxes, as these are the same everywhere, we instantly take notice of the states without a state income tax:

Map of USA showing states with no state income...

States without personal income tax (Wikipedia)

Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

We see that Tennessee and Texas instantly stick out as states with both low costs and no taxes. Indeed, Texas has always been known to be a cheap “tax haven”, but Tennessee is a surprise. After all, it has the highest minimum sales tax of most states, and likely on an average to have the highest of them all. When adding the level of taxes we’d have to pay in the other 14 states, this is the list we end up with:

Alabama 5%, Arkansas 7%, Georgia 6%, Idaho 7.4%, Indiana 3.4%, Iowa 6.8%, Kansas 6.25%, Kentucky 5.8%, Michigan 4.35%, Mississippi 5%, Missouri 6%, Nebraska 5.12%, Ohio 4.109%, Oklahoma 5.5%, Tennessee 0% and Texas 0%.

Certainly, these levels are all quite affordable. Simply depending on the housing prices or food prices you could save much more during a year than what you’d pay in taxes. Idaho, with the highest tax of the mentioned states, will cost you $2,960 a year, but with the third lowest rating for housing costs it could potentially make up for it manyfolds. What we see about Idaho is that transportation costs are above average, likely because of a low population spread out on a large area. Kansas, placed in the very center of the country, and with a close proximity to Kansas City in the east, can boast of fairly low scores all over, with groceries, housing and utilities well under 90 and health care at only 91.65, which should make up for its income tax. It is no wonder why MERIC lists it as the 4th cheapest state in the country. Important to note is that Kansas is also one of the leading agricultural states in the nation, which will arguably be a huge strength in the future of the overall American economy. In addition, Kansas – even now after the recession began – has an unemployment rate of 6.6%. This is of course the Department of Labor’s own numbers, which frankly can be somewhat understated, but it still gives us a number we can compare with. It’s substantially better than Idaho’s 9%, for instance, and adds a level of social safety and stability to your cheap living. Also better than Idaho are Oklahoma and Arkansas, with 6.9% and 7.7% respectively. Worse off is Missouri with 9.3%.

The zero tax states are also under 10%, but still substantially higher than Kansas. Tennessee has 9.4% and Texas 8.1%. Tennessee is overall pretty much the same kind of state as Kansas, but with higher unemployment rate and a slightly lower cost index. It’s important to note that the cost index difference is only by a margin of 1.44 points, which is caused by the difference in housing costs, however both are far lower than the national average.

Texas, however, is unique in the grand scheme of things. It’s known to be among the most business friendly states in America and it’s also the second biggest economy in America, being among the biggest producers of agricultural and mining goods, while also having a very strong industry in energy and technology. With the 6th lowest overall living costs, no income tax and a fairly low unemployment rate Texas comes out as a remarkably good choice. It is, however, the second most populous state, and with a lot of open desertlands in the west the population density is quite high around the urban areas to the east. This doesn’t have to matter at all, but when one would make the choice of where to live it could be a deciding factor. Needless to say, Texas would leave you with the choice of both extremes and little inbetween, but that might be perfect for you.

Cost of Living Index (MERIC)

So what should you choose? Indeed, any of the low value states is a good choice, but it is important to take into consideration future economic and social stability. You’d do well in staying away from the rust belt, which would steer you away from the north eastern “green states”, as shown on the Cost of Living Index map. The unemployment rate there is currently quite high, as it is among all the states east of Arkansas. Iowa, like Texas, comes out of it in a different way than most other states. As a mostly manufacturing state, with a notable addition of agruculture, it has so far weathered the economic downturns a lot better than most other states. It can with an unemployment rate of 6.8% also offer something in terms of social stability. Nebraska with its agrictultural economy has matched Iowa’s ability to weather the economic turmoil, but with likely the lowest unemployment rate in America with 4.6%.

In terms of these findings we are left with the states that are at the very centre of the country: Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Missouri stand as the state in the weakest economic condition in terms of unemployment rate out of these. It is funny to note how the strongest economic base is in the agricultural states farthest away from the most expensive parts of the country, and arguably farthest away from the parts that are currently in the worst shape, where DC and California lead off as the sunken ships with the highest living costs in the country.

What do I think? There are two things that will affect my choice of where to live among these states. Anti-union legislations and “livability”, where social variables create the safest and most stable living conditions. Why? If I wanna look for jobs for myself and my loved ones, I want a fair game, and if I wish to bring up a family I also want the best surroundings and opportunities for myself and my loved ones. To evalute this I take a look at data in the “livability index“, published by Morgan Quitno Press. Not having the numbers from 2010 I’ll have to assume that the 2005 levels are somewhat the same. What we can see is that several of the mentioned states actually come off quite poorly here, ending up at the bottom of the scale, leaving us with only Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa above the national livability index average, but Missouri can instantly be counted out lacking a right-to-work law and also having the highest unemployment rate of the four.

What we’re left with is Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, which are all above average states with among the cheapest living costs in the nation. The states are also neatly placed in the middle of the country with possibilities of both highly populated urban areas and vast rural areas. I also like the central location of the states in terms of vacations and road trips. I’m an avid traveler and enjoy driving on trips if I have the money and opportunity to do so. The weakness of these states basically lies in the income taxes, but the income taxes are along the middle of the spectrum in America, yet the economies are among the strongest as far as these numbers go. They rely on mild and diverse tax revenues, which doesn’t milk the population too much. The less the better, yes, but all things considered it’s not your worst bet. Further research would include proportion of population in public sector jobs and size of government in terms of expenditure compared to the private sector. Lower numbers for the public sector would be better, of course. Another important variable would be how friendly they are to private businesses and entrepreneurship. The friendlier the better. I would of course also want to see where in the individual states I would like to live the most, wanting to live in fairly close proximity to an urban centre, without having to endure the higher costs and lower quality of living in the middle of a city. There would be housing rents (or prices) and local taxes to take into consideration for this. Since I’m personally not yet looking for a long term place to live (lacking a visa and all) I’ll hold it for now, but I hope my current findings will help others in the right direction. Happy huntin’!

This Is What I Think Tank

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What I Think Tank is a blog that will revolve entirely around whatever interesting thought yours truly may have at any time, but aims to concentrate its content on politics, economics and history, with a keen interest in American politics and the American tradition of Libertarianism and Austrian Economics.

If this interests you or provokes you, please read along. If not, then you have probably not even bothered reading this.

Thanks for visiting and have a good day.

Written by Morten Rolland

October 24, 2010 at 3:27 am