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People fail to give fish any sympathy not because they're unintelligent, it's because they can't hear them scream. While cockfighting and dog fighting are maligned in western society, catch and release sport fishing is considered a good thing, in other words, it's a virtue to torture fish. Imagine that you're waddling down the sidewalk, minding your own business and you see a hundred dollar bill floating by. You reach up and grab it and all of a sudden your yanked into the sky, netted and thrown into the bottom of a space craft where incredibly ugly creatures measure you, take photos and then through you back to earth. Would you be OK with that?

No, and one day people will believe me that it happened.

Can I keep the hundo?

Animated Crypt Keeper version.

(Very old trope, lots of different versions, this is the one I found first)

Fish are them most racist, sexist, homophobic animals in Nature. The world will be a better place after we've caught them all and turned them into cat food.

Manta rays are very intelligent. They often behave like dogs, frequently returning to the same person that feeds them and demonstrating genuine affection. Rays will rub against your leg like a cat. They'll even do tricks or splash their wings to try to get people's attention. Outside of rays training any other members of the fish family is pretty difficult. With a lot of patience and persistence many fish can be trained to do basic tricks.

But given their low encephelization quotient, there's not really any strong evidence otherwise that they're particularly smart relative to other animals. Their ability to do certain tricks, probably is a stronger demonstration that not much brainpower is actually needed for basic learning or complex behavior. Even insects pretty clearly maintain a strong mental map of their spatial surroundings, which we would have never though years ago. If you capture an insect, leave it in a jar for days, and release it is likely it will quite flying in its original canonical direction of travel.

Now that there's high popular awareness of cephalopod intelligence, probably the least respected animal with regards to its intelligence are spiders. Spiders have very high EQs, some even pushing well into mammal range. Jumping spiders outperform most primates at solving a maze. I feel pretty bad most times I have to kill a spider, whereas I don't with most other bugs. They also get a pretty bad rap, in the US bees kill at least a hundred times as many people as spiders. Yet bees are cute and cuddly, frequently used as mascots, whereas spiders are considered nightmare fuel.

For this exact reason, I've never understood self-described "Vegetarians" who refused to eat meat, but did eat fish, describing fish as more "humane". Bizarre...

At least the poor fish have a sporting chance. Consider the poor lettuce, rooted to the ground, its toxins no match for clever humans. Barbaric!

My favorite Canadian novelty act's magnum opus addresses this

The Planzefreunds have a similar attitude:

You could always become a fruitarian. After all, it is truly in the nature of fruit to be eaten.

Fewer pain sensors, so they can't suffer as much (if you are vegetarian for ethical reasons).

Also, fish generally live free lives, whereas factory farmed cows, for example, don't.

Also, you don't have to cut down forests to raise fish.

Also, it takes less energy to produce 1kg of fish than 1kg of beef.

Also, the health arguments about meat (ambiguous, perhaps good or bad, probably depending on the specifics of your body, but BBQ'd meat is fairly unambiguosly linked to cancers, for example) are unambiguous for fish - it is healthy to eat fish unless you are allergic or you choke on the bones.

Also, if you stop eating meat, then at least if you are willing to eat fish (more relevant 10 years ago) then you can eat something other than salad when you go for dinner. If you eat fish once, people won't try to force you to eat pork chops next time you come over. For example, after I mentioned willingness to eat fish, for a long time at holiday dinners I was expected to eat fish instead of turkey or ham, even though my general preference is still not to eat that much fish (but salmon is so tastey :) But if once, ever, ever, ever, you ate some "meat", you would never hear the end of your hypocrisy and holiday dinners would revolve around greens and potatoes.

Perhaps ... since we are evolutionarily more similar to mammals than fish, we should a priori expect that ethical outlooks to not eat other mammals would not so easily apply to fish.

I never tell people that I'm vegetarian. I don't eat meat, a statement which for most people allows me to eat fish with inviting personal attacks on a lack of 100% consistency in personal choices.

I am a hypocrite. I don't eat meat but I eat fish, and these are the reasons why.

First off, you do realize that a large number of fish are factory-farmed these days, too, right? Also, it seems to me that the standard ways of euthanizing a cow (nail gun to the back of the head) is much quicker and pain free than causing an animal to be trapped in nets, hoarded slowly, and then allowed to suffocate over a period of several minutes. No, the ethical arguments make no sense, whatsoever.

The health benefits are becoming increasingly dubious, too, as the recent trend is to demonize fats less, and carbs more. Besides, have you looked at most vegetarians? They either look anorexic, or else convince themselves that french fries are healthier than red meat. I've met very few vegetarians who eat well balanced diets.

But, most amusing is the increasingly elaborate explanations that people come up to justify their choice. We truly live in a blessed and wealthy age where we can willingly forgo major sections of our diet, and still live peaceful lives.

I imagine the last 15-30s of the cow's life are not altogether terrible, but the hours or days leadup to that event could be compared to the situation of the fish you refer to. And anyways, yes, I can easily admit to attributing less ethical value to an experience of a fish compared to an equivalent one experienced by a mammal. It is a subjective evaluation, but I have no problems relying on "it just seems that way to me" rather than some elaborate ethical argument.

I don't want to eat animals. I like fish. If I eat fish sometimes, people don't think they have the right to tell me to eat meat other times.

Yes, it is nice that we can so easily meet all manner of different preferences to fulfill our dietary needs. I have been to many environments where meat is an essential part of the diet because it is dry much of the year and goats or cattle are a fairly secure store of food and money, while in other places they rely heavily on fish for protein and would have difficulty reliably growing plant protein in the environment. But most of us can make the choice to eat less meat or fish because we can just buy whatever we need at the grocery store.

A peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk basically give you everything useful that you would get out of a steak. Knowing a few basic complementary foods goes miles if you want to be vegetarian and healthy. If you eat eggs regularly, for nutritional purposes you're not even vegetarian.

But yeah, I wonder about factory farmed fish. I haven't figured out whether it's better. Some environmental downside in terms of pollutants, but presumably wild stocks are safer. I'm not sure whether I worry that much about the quality of life of a fish at a fish farm the same way I would be concerned about the living conditions of cows at a cattle ranch or during various stages of processing them prior to the most humane possible final seconds. Perhaps we can more easily empathize with a cow than with a fish? That would make sense.

So we should be killing those tiny sunnies we catch.

Thank you, enlightened one.

People fail to give fish any sympathy not because they’re unintelligent, it’s because they can’t hear them scream.

You've never heard a lobster scream. A dive buddy caught a lobster and brought it to shore. I was putting my dive gear away and I heard this horrible scream, like a rabbit being tortured. I yelled what the hell is that? My dive buddy had broken off the lobster tail without killing the lobster first. I was standing 20 feet away and it was loud... Hadn't eaten a lobster since.

I call BS. Pretty sure the "scream" when cooking is a result of steam, and it doesn't sound like there was steam involved.

Call it what you want Steve-O. Call it a violent expulsion of liquid and air over a vibrating membrane. It made my skin crawl when I heard it.

And he wasn't cooking it, if you'd actually read what I wrote. We were still on the beach.

all these worlds are ours except titan, i guess.

Or more likely, there the thing is just a big iceberg made wax.

#1- groan.... a survey paper speculating on fish intelligence. What is it Tyler says... average is lower

What is "Western Civilization"? The West has not undergone a full-scale "collapse" since the fall of Rome, and before that the Bronze Age collapse (about 1500 years prior to the fall of Rome). Since then Western Civilization has had no identical collapse, but that's throwing in everything from Charlegmane to the Hapsburgs to the Dutch Republic to the US to the Nazis to the Catalan independence movement as "Western Civilization." I would say that Western Civilization cannot "collapse," barring atomic conflict (and without the US, the Soviets would've annihilated "the West"), but it can certainly change substantially, and importing a huge number of people is a great, great, great, GREAT way to change your culture substantially. And there's really no convincing reason why we NEED to import large numbers of foreign laborers.

I guess you are right but I don't think East Asians and Indians are doing this
They aren't even 1/20th of the US population and they intermarry with westerners like crazy.

Oh do you mean Latinos?
Except that if you include Charlemagne and Rome you have to include all of Latin America in Western Civilization. Heck Mexico is a lot more like Rome than Minneapolis.

Yeah, but Rome collapsed. What's your point?

LOL at spergs who think "Latinos" = Miguel de Cervantes

Spanish hidalgo culture and indigenous Asiatics are not a good combination. Their countries tend to lurch between incompetent bolshevishm and crude, hammy fascism.

@Roy - Mexico is no more "Western" than Nigeria, Vietnam, or the Phillipines, or any other colonized society.. Most Mexicans are descended from the pre-Columbian indigenous populations. The Spanish element is a thin veneer.

Tyler, does that paper update your priors at all re: the ethics of eating fish? In your infamous discussion with Peter Singer you said you thought it was fine because fish die horrible deaths anyway. Does greater sentience affect that marginalist argument?

Ghandi is supposed to have mocked Western Civilization by saying it would be a good idea. I wonder what he would think about the young Indian children I see every day in Silicon Valley, trooping off to school to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and study Thoreau, Jane Austin and British and US history.

Well Gandhi admired Thoreau, I don't know about Jane Austen, but Nehru was a great lover of her novels. I can't imagine he would object to US History.

The Indian caste system was so stratified that its almost a good idea to think of them as different races. High caste Indians and low caste Indians are vastly different. People who are used to interacting with high caste types would be blown away by interacting with untouchables.

#3 Sold my blog content to a sugar daddy with an incredible amount of inherited wealth, and also agreed to direct his ideology-driven 501(c)3 think tank.

What, we have two PAs now?

Nah, it's Richard Fink that played a major role in Prof. Cowen's professional life -

'Grinder placed particular emphasis on Tyler Cowen, a brilliant student who had been interested in Austrian economics since his high school days. Cowen enrolled in an Austrian economics program at Rutgers, where he impressed both Joe Salerno and Richard Fink with his extraordinary erudition. When Fink moved to George Mason University, Cowen moved with him; and he completed his undergraduate degree there in 1983. Grinder considered him the next Hayek, the hope of Austrian economics.

In accord with the elite universities policy, Cowen went to Harvard for his graduate degree. There he came under the influence of Thomas Schelling and gave up his belief in Austrian economics.

After he finished his PhD in 1987, Cowen was for a time a professor at the University of California at Irvine, and he used to visit me sometimes in Los Angeles. I was impressed with his remarkable intelligence and enjoyed talking with him. But I remember how surprised I was one day when he told me that he did not regard Ludwig von Mises very highly. Here he fitted in all-too-well with another policy of Richard Fink and the Kochtopus leadership. They regarded Mises as a controversial figure: his "extremism" would interfere with the mission of arousing mainstream interest in the Austrian School. Accordingly, Hayek should be stressed and Mises downplayed. (After the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to new interest in Mises's socialist calculation argument, this policy changed. The mainstream, though of course continuing to reject Mises, now recognized him as a great economist.) The policy was strategic, but Cowen went further — he really didn't rate Mises highly.

Cowen eventually returned to George Mason University as a Professor of Economics. He is said to be the dominant figure in the department. Because of his close friendship with Richard Fink, who left academic work to become a major executive with Koch Industries and the principal disburser of Koch Foundation funding, Cowen exerts a major influence on grants to his department.'

And who is Richard Fink? -

'Education and academic career

Fink received a B.A. in economics from Rutgers University, an M.A. in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in economics from New York University.[1] Between 1980 and 1986, Fink was on the economics faculty at George Mason University,[3] where he was the founder and director of the Center for Market Processes, which later became the Mercatus Center. Under his leadership, during the 1980s, George Mason was a center of Austrian Economics.

Relationship with Charles Koch

In the late '70s, Richard Fink met Charles Koch to discuss founding a research center devoted to teaching Austrian economics thought at Rutgers. Fink met with Koch in Wichita and planned what became the Mercatus Center in 1999.

Koch Industries

Fink serves as an executive vice president of Koch Industries, Inc. He is also chairman and CEO of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, which provides legal and government and public affairs services to Koch Industries and its affiliate.[1] He is on the board of directors of Koch Industries Inc., Georgia-Pacific and Flint Hills Resources, LLC.

Koch Family Foundations

Fink is a member of the boards of directors and President of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. He is also on the board of the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation.
Board memberships[edit]

Fink served on the board of trustees of the Democratic Leadership Council.[6]

Fink co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy,[7] where he served as president,[8] and co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, which is now the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.[disputed – discuss] He also sits on the board of the Institute for Humane Studies, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He previously served on the Consumer Advisory Council[clarification needed] of the Federal Reserve Board and the Commission on Privatization.

He also sits on the boards of the Charles G. Koch, the Claude R. Lambe, the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch charitable foundations, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Market-Based Management Institute, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation.'

Wow. The money wheel and patronage program is more incestuous than I thought.

I assumed Tyler had a pretty solid background, but thanks for confirming.

Regarding the "rental housing shortage." Where is discussion of the shadow inventory? I live in SW FL and can assure you that we still have tons of foreclosed empties from the crash.

That story is fishy. If there is a shortage and rents go up, adding units will be financially attractive.

I'm in California and the problem here is pretty big,

I'd suggest (just guessing here BTW) several proximal causes, #1 shadow inventory #2 the decline in the economy locking buyers into the rental market and away from buying #3 wage arbitrage making more renters vs buyers #4 legal immigration #5 Illegal immigration #6 housing price stimulus #6 growth caps

Solutions are mostly politically impossible but I'd suggest three just for fun #1 stop propping up housing prices and let them decline to the level the market should really have #2 repatriate illegals #3 repatriate green card holders #4 control trade to reduce wage arbitrage #5 open some growth boundaries

Around here, no one's building any sort of rental housing unless it can be done with some form of government subsidy.

But in any case, it's not clear whether the demand for more costly rental housing will continue to be strong. One of the reasons for this strong demand may be the reluctance of many of those who could afford to buy to do so, due to fears that housing is still not a good investment.

6) Many of my fellow Indians living in the western nations refuse to acknowledge that western culture is the most superior one today and that is why they want citizenship in western nations, while hypocritically supporting fanatical Hindu groups back home who insanely oppose western culture. I think having too many immigrants from inferior cultures who want to hold on to their roots will eventually weaken western values

A novelist who could capably and accurately describe the intellectual accomplishments of the larger fish, the large octopi and squids, and the larger spiders, would probably rank one or two discernible levels above
every single atheist and agnostic 20th century novelist not named Joyce or Proust (or John Tunis, for those who are big into novels about skilled shortstops, the closest comparison humans have to the humble octopi of genius, each octopus at that level being of course unknown by name to you and me). As for any writer who could do the same for the hundreds of thousands of dolphins and whales and giant squids who have suffered so much at the hands of human artificers of violent watery victory, including at the hands of thoughtful self-styled gnostic Melville (some of whose potential cetacean victims eluded his ceticidal attentions and are still alive and swimming south of the Aleutians - I kid you not, Tyler C. posted about this a few weeks or months ago), such a writer might easily out-Faulkner Faulkner, out-Kafka Kafka, and might even be able to write a classic screenplay or two that would make Welles and Rohmer and Ford blush for their sad simplicity.

What's it like to be a ________?

Careful with the anthropomorphizing (speculative.) Non-humans basically live 'in the moment'. The human trick of 'suspending the live feed' in favor of tapes or hypotheticals, I think, makes our subjective experience vastly different from all other animals.

That is good advice; on the other hand, it is uncontestable that there is not a single line in the Bible which teaches us that humans are philosophically unique in their ability to reflect and communicate. (Run-on sentence - well-designed, but inarguably run-on, sentence follows, if you hate 3 to 4 hundred word run-on sentences please stop reading) ...From the first chapters of Genesis where the precursor of the snakes whom so many of us know and love (were I a millionaire I would institute a home for unwanted snakes, sort of like that island for unwanted toys in Rudolph's late fifties early sixties saga) made a deep and, to be plain, despicable moral mistake (soon after having been created good - lets not forget that part of the backstory) - a mistake which we and the they hopefully will one day learn to regret at the level such a mistake should be regretted... starting from those days, moving on to the equine friend of Balaam, moving on to the helpful Gadarene swine (the garbage collectors of their day, with no fear of being butchered but an honest inclination to do whatever their Lord told them to do) who happily left this world for a better world (if you think there are "definitely" no Gadarene swine in heaven then you are "not even wrong" with respect to theology) - and moving on to the random doves, to the first-three-nights-for-future-prophets-free whales, to the manger beasts of the donkey and cattle sort, to the sparrows in the parabolic comparison (sparrows actually fly in a curve that is more of a second or third derivative than a parabola, but that is neither here nor there), and moving on to the other non-human riff-raff (I mean that in the nicest way) who achieved the dignity for their kind of being eternally included in the true stories of the divine word - anyway, from the beginning of the long and often painful story that you and me and the fishes and beasts find ourselves in the middle of, all the way to the end, there seems to be little doubt that God and his angels keep track of us all, and to me at least, it seems that this level of communication between God and the beasts which this long sentence has tried to describe makes everything from poor Ray's never gonna happen AI singularity to smart Steve's information replication at black hole interfaces seem rather trivial, sort of like a newspaper column report of a chess match victory might seem trivial to the actual victor, who, as the actual victor, understood why he won and did not need to see it in print.

What paywall at FT? Anyone who pretends to be GoogleBot can read everything on without paywall.

I'll know that I am as brilliant as Tyler when it is natural for me to link the robustness of western civilization with the frequency of thinking about sex.

I too was baffled why Tyler linked a piece on western civilization with thinking about sex. If he has a rationale, it would be interesting to know what it is!

#5a: typical rant against the ruling party. Save it, make a Crtl+R with the new leader in a few years and re-publish. What Mexico lacks is stability and peace. So far, there's been 20 years of macroeconomic stability in Mexico. There's a lot of violence, but I don't see anywhere the raise in local consumption of drugs, faulty education system or young unemployment as something related to's always the ruling leader character fault. This is the problem with writers, they look for the problem in the "essence" or values of people, not in their choices.


Why "rental" The obstacles for construction seem to apply equally to multifamily developments for sale.

#2: As someone paying for a mortgage on a house in a different city, I can't wait for this to come true.

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