3! 3 things!

Friday, 04 July, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

~ First Thing ~

Me: Hey, let me ask you a question.
Her: Okay.

Me: What would you say is the number of women who are raped and then murdered in the US before they turn 18?
Her: Erm. What's the population again? Hundred million?

Me: Say three hundred million.
Her: And this is what, per year?

Me: Sure.
Her: K. ...ten thousand.

Me: That high, seriously?
Her: Yeah.

Me: Sucks. Okay. So say you could do something that'd increase the number of rapes but eradicate the murders. Say, there'd be a hundred thousand rapes, but none of the hundred thousand would be killed. And they wouldn't be really violent rapes either, the extra. I mean, the ten thousand would still be pretty rough affairs, but the additional ninety are more like slapped around a little rather than beaten with a tire iron until unconscious sort of thing.
Her: No. What would you do?

Me: I'm not touching it. Is there a number? What if it was ten thousand and one?
Her: Well what's my role in this?

Me: You're god.
Her: I'm god and these are my options?!

Me: You're a girl with a button.
Her: Are any of the... do members of my family live there?

Me: They could. You don't know anything, you just have the button.
Her: No.

Me: Really? This is why rape leads to murder, you know ? People just like you -- you're basically saying rape is just as bad as being killed.
Her: Nah, I'm just saying I wouldn't do it. If I'm a politician or something, it's not my job to make trades like this, it's my job to fix the problem in the first place.

Me: You're not a politician, you just have the button. So your thinking here is that if they're raped they might as well be killed.
Her: No, I'm not thinking that at all.

Me: But think from the utilitarian perspective. 10k rapes, 10k killings, that's 20k. You wouldn't trade 20k for 10k+1?
Her: This isn't something to be traded. If I'm a politician this isn't my job, and with the button...I'm not pressing it until I get some better options, what the hell is this. I don't think you can create a hypothetical situation in which pressing it makes sense.

Me: Oh, so basically you're not touching it.
Her: Right.

There you have it, ladies and gents : utilitarian morality doesn't actually work in practice. Now what ?

* Second Thing *


You invested in the Series A btw ? Undreesseen did!

Don't laugh, Facebook apps are big business! You'll see!

* Third Thing *

Suppose someone made an artesian fountain that didn't shoot out water, but soap bubbles.

How difficult is that ? You don't need a water pump, but use an air pump instead, which probably uses a lot less electricity. You don't need all the chemicals to keep the water from turning green, you just need some soap - like the monthly budget of a car wash probably has you set for a year.

You could make it reactive to light, perhaps shaped like metallic flowers that gradually open and close by the measured luminosity, and fix it so it only bubbles on average 500 minutes a year or whatever.

Pretty cool idea huh ? I guess people are too busy trying to make buttons and apps to literally think about making bubbles. Dommage.

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2 Responses

  1. Robert Sheckley has a hilarious short story - 'Watchbird' - where in the 'dark future' (tm) a roboticist builds an army of mechanical birds, who snoop around the city and swoop in to prevent any murder, wherever. And how this led to no good, and what they have to do to bring murder back.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 4 July 2014


    "If you had a button which took your soul away, but in exchange you could no longer sin, do you think you'd go to Heaven ?"

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