lilo, things in Latin normally requiescunt in pace (in peace) rather than in pacem (into peace). You can also wish that your old car requiescat in partes -- rest in pieces. :-)
"Pacem" is used in prayers for peace ("dona nobis pacem", not necessarily far from the Kaddish Shalem) and the intensely controversial quotation "Si vis pacem, para bellum" (if you want peace, prepare for war). Some peace activists during my lifetime have suggested "Si vis pacem, para pacem" (if you want peace, prepare for peace) instead.
"Throwing up our hands"
stefan, here is the beginning of what I wrote about "throwing up our hands", with some changes. It's too long, but I know I glossed over some important things anyway.
Phil Agre wrote one of his essays about his limitless frustration with libertarians, pointing out that lots of libertarians obsessively avoid the idea of "designing" or "consciously choosing" anything. I should try to find that essay; it was very good, although I didn't think it quite reached my own objections.
If we talk about social problems as engineering problems (a powerful metaphor, an influential metaphor, obviously far from the only metaphor through which the left understands social problems), then clearly it's appealing to bring to bear some engineering-like methods (conscious choice!) to try to resolve or mitigate these problems.
Libertarian writers like Hayek and von Mises who were aggressively attacking totalitarian arrangements like Stalinist central planning pointed out (among other things) that social engineering has unintended consequences. So it doesn't always work, or often may not work as intended.
Then such writers sometimes added theoretical reasons to suggest that social engineering almost never works and typically achieves the exact opposite of what it sets out to do. I don't understand those theoretical reasons, and I think that part of the case was enormously overstated (although of course I have more political agreement with these writers than economic agreement).
I mean, some very naive central planning enthusiasts might have suggested in Stalin's day that all social programs can be solved directly and completely by engineering methods. Obviously those people were not engineers. :-) But it seems that a Hayek-style attack is most effective against somebody who believes that public policy is perfectly effective and never has harmful unintended consequences. Real engineers don't normally think of real engineering that way, or else they should be reading comp.risks.
Against "engineering problem" metaphor, there are a number of different attacks. In normal engineering problems, there is some actor (an engineer or engineering staff) knowledgeable, capable, and authorized to act to remedy the problem. If social problems are thought of in these terms, Hayek, say, hammers away at the "knowledgeable and capable" part, whereas I would be much more stressed out about the "authorized" part. Normal engineers almost always get to choose the means they think best to solve a problem, because the subject matter of their engineering doesn't implicate other moral concerns.
(As a side note, I should point out that this is wrong, a lot of the time, but engineers have yet to realize that, so we can pretend it's right.)
Social engineers (in the metaphor) are engineering with (not merely for) groups of people -- so that even given that they are "knowledgeable and capable", there are huge concerns about the morality of the means they choose.
(But progressives and libertarians already disagree about whether certain means are allowed -- so maybe phrasing the problem this way doesn't help, or maybe what I've said is already obvious.)
For example, libertarians, as individualists, normally consider individual choice sacrosanct, so that overruling it is wrong, even if overruling it is an appropriate engineering solution to a genuine social problem. (I don't have much patience for the claim that there is no such thing as a genuine social problem: just because society is an abstraction doesn't mean that it isn't a useful abstraction for understanding problems. That doesn't mean I'm willing to use that abstraction for other purposes.)
In other words, would-be social engineers are enormously constrained, because they probably lack legitimate authority to employ most of the means which would seem appropriate to them (and which, ineed, might be broadly effective).
If you think of the Prisoner's Dilemma, libertarians will insist that people who end up at the lower right should be allowed to stay there instead of forcing them to the upper left (although that's not the whole story) -- so how do you get everybody to the upper left corner without forcing them? I grant that things could be much better (in the utilitarian sense) and it's possible to get closer to that through conscious choice.
And libertarianism permits (please, not "produces") mutual defection in many situations where progressivism might forbid it.
Somebody wrote a recent book about two strands of thought in the liberal tradition dating back to the Enlightenment (and portions of which are older). One of these is rational ordering of things, and the other is individual sovereignty or autonomy. People have started to notice (obviously this author is far from the first to do so) that both of these are a part of the liberal tradition and yet that they're often in dramatic contrast.
Sometimes (frequently, it seems) the rational order fails to just appear (and what to blame for that is itself a subject of endless political debate -- greed, culture, human nature, advertising, a lack of education, the essential bankruptcy of the liberal tradition, states' policies or propaganda, foreign or domestic subversion, or "time and chance" per Ecclesiastes).
The liberal tradition's answer to this is probably that you need to produce the rational order through education and not indoctrination or coercion. I think lilo might feel less attacked by graydon if the former reflected on the latter's reluctance to suggest that cell phones should be banned: just, I think, that maybe we don't all absolutely need them. [After a few days, graydon emphasized that he didn't have a political agenda in mind, but rather a suggestion.]
As someone who's just recently given up on cell phones for a while, I could endorse that. :-)
But obviously people have different lifestyles and some people might have more use for certain items or (thinking of Phil Agre again) institutions than others. I'm sure that in most of these areas (from what graydon wrote) graydon would be happy to see people simply being more reasonable and reflective, less gratuitous and frenzied.
[Speaking of sub-issues, how about the difference between "there is such a thing as technological progress, and it is important and frequently beneficial to humanity" and "people all need to consume a lot and have a fast-paced lifestyle"? I think it would be nice to separate these two, and maybe others.]
So the outstanding issue about the "education alone" idea is in part that some people say it doesn't work (it's not enough) and some people say it will take a long time and some people say it's simply not being practiced at all.
Where education doesn't work, libertarian liberals would suggest that you simply give up (and perhaps try to mitigate the problems indirectly, or to escape from them), because you are not allowed to use other means to effect social change, lest you should compromise individual autonomy.
Progressive liberals would suggest that you consider some other means as well, provided that you have appropriate motives and/or appropriate safeguards.
I'm enthusiastic about education for lots of reasons -- in this context because it's the largest common ground between libertarians and progressives. [...]
In other news
I got a green FSF shirt in the mail, completing my collection (beige, maroon, black, green) -- and then I lost it.
Oops, davidm goes by davidm here and not dmandala.
The MIT Museum Shop seems to have stopped carrying slide rules. Shame!
The transition back to PST is very convenient. I trust all the other U.S. time zones made it OK, too. :-)
I read The Forge of God by Greg Bear. That's the first science fiction novel I've read in several months; I was disappointed in the ending (things rapidly get more and more "far out" and extreme, and it's not a happy ending by any stretch).
It's funny how science fiction writers manage to get together what would be called an adventuring party in role-playing games, and how normally most of them are brilliant scientists and their spouses; then there are some politicians or military leaders, some soldiers, and at least one smart kid. So The Forge of God did that.
The book also had some scenes taking place at an "American Geophysical Society meeting in San Francisco", which brought back some memories for me (although it's actually the American Geophysical Union).
plundis, take care and good luck.
Bay Area book collecting
Some really good news is that Black Oak Books of Berkeley has bought out Columbus Books at 540 Broadway in the City, and is opening up a third store (the second one is at 630 Irving, near Golden Gate Park).
Now, Black Oak is an excellent used book store (though some people think their prices are high, they have really nice inventory). Columbus Books is a just-OK used book store with a very large space and an impressive number of subject areas, but very uneven quality. So under Black Oak management, I think they will become consistently great.
But the really cool thing is that Columbus Books is just one block from the famous and also excellent new book store City Lights Books, so North Beach is going to become a fantastic area for book shopping, with an excellent independent new book store only a block away from an excellent independent used book store.
There's also Carroll's Books, about two blocks from City Lights; they're small, but I like them. (Used only.)
Something I'd like to do is go book-hunting with some friends again, by announcing in advance an all-day book hunt on a Saturday. I had a really pleasant itinerary like that with Sumana (hi, Sumana) one day earlier this year, and it would be a nice thing to repeat.
The backbone of that trip would probably be Stacy's (new), Alexander (new) City Lights (new), Black Oak III (used), Carroll's (used), Books Inc. (new), Green Apple (used), Green Apple (new), some bookstores down along near Van Ness (used), A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books (new). There are other possibilities. Lots of other possibilities.
For Berkeley: ASUC or CTE (textbooks), Cody's (new), Moe's (used), Shakespeare (used), Cartesian Books (used), then on Solano the surviving Half-Price Books (used) and Pegasus (used). The challenge is to fit in conveniently The Other Change of Hobbit (sci-fi), Pegasus on Shattuck, and Pendragon (among others) on College. College in particular is in the opposite direction from Solano.