Saturday, July 1, 2017


Science is unbiased and without motive, scientists are not.--Alaric Phlogiston 

The list of influential intellectuals who have given their blessing to the most obviously terrible regimes is impressive: H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Romain Rolland, Jean-Paul Sartre (a serial offender), Norman Mailer, C. Wright Mills, Michel Foucault, and scores of others. The question Hollander asks is why intellectuals whose own experience of danger was that of a negative book review or a hostile tenure committee, and who were so sensitive to the slightest threat, real or imagined, to their freedom at home, were so often attracted to the oppressors, and even slaughterers, of foreign multitudes.--Dalrymple on Hollander's new book From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez: Intellectuals and a Century of Political Hero Worship.

News from the Energy Institute at the University of California's business school: America's households are using less electricity than they did five years ago. So what is different? Energy-efficient lighting.

Allan Sloan has an article in the WashPo on spending more money than we make. He links this to problems in health care, the federal budget and retirement. This is his opening two paragraphs:
"One of the biggest problems our country has is the growing idea that there really is such a thing as a free lunch: that we can get magic money to pay for things we don’t want to pay for out of our own pockets. I think the free-lunch fallacy helps explain why three of our nation’s biggest problems seem so intractable: having a rational health-care system; producing a reasonable federal budget; and dealing with the “retirement crisis.”
He--and the WashPo--seem to think this is a revolutionary insight.

According to the Fed's latest annual "household well-being" report, 23% of US adults are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill.

No matter the health-care model you choose — British-style public monopoly, Swiss-style subsidized insurance, pure market capitalism — you end up with rationing: Markets ration through prices, bureaucracies ration through politics. 

On the disinformation front: Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp. ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology." A review article cites current and former FBI and CIA officials who now believe Russia's phishing emails against politicians were "just the most visible battle in an ongoing information war against global democracy." They cite, for example, a March report by U.S. counterintelligence which found "Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department." Each message contained links tailored to the interests of the recipient, but "When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow's hackers to take control of the victim's phone or computer -- and Twitter account...
"In 2016, Russia had used thousands of covert human agents and robot computer programs to spread disinformation referencing the stolen campaign emails of Hillary Clinton, amplifying their effect. Now counterintelligence officials wondered: What chaos could Moscow unleash with thousands of Twitter handles that spoke in real time with the authority of the armed forces of the United States?" The article also notes how algorithms now can identify hot-button issues and people susceptible to suggestion, so "Propagandists can then manually craft messages to influence them, deploying covert provocateurs, either humans or automated computer programs known as bots, in hopes of altering their behavior. That is what Moscow is doing, more than a dozen senior intelligence officials and others investigating Russia's influence operations tell Time."

More than one in 25 U.S. workers fail their employer’s drug tests.

A international research team led by the University of Durham thinks a mysterious cold spot in the universe could offer evidence of a parallel universe.  The cold spot could have resulted after our universe collided with another. Physicist Tom Shanks said, [...] "the cold spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse -- and billions of other universes may exist like our own."

Stanford University economist Tony Seba forecasts in his new report that petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will no longer be sold anywhere in the world within the next eight years. As a result, the transportation market will transition and switch entirely to electrification, "leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century," reports Financial Post.
Peak oil?

Who is....Macaulay?

Most people are still unwilling to face the most alarming lesson of modern history: that the greatest crimes of our time have been committed by governments that had the enthusiastic support of millions of people who were guided by moral impulses.  It is simply not true that Hitler or Mussolini, Lenin or Stalin, appealed only to the worst instincts of their people; they also appealed to some of the feelings which also dominate contemporary democracies.  Whatever disillusionment the more mature supporters of those movements may have experienced as they came to see the effects of the policies they had supported, there can be no doubt that the rank and file of the communist, national-socialist or fascist movements contained many men and women inspired by ideals not very different from those of some of the most influential social philosophers in the Western countries.  Some of them certainly believe that they were engaged in the creation of a just society in which the needs of the most deserving or ‘socially most valuable’ would be better cared for.  They were led by a desire for a visible common purpose which is our inheritance from the tribal society and which we still find breaking through everywhere.--Hayek

Is the British court's handling of Lavinia Woodward another example of White Matter Privilege? Or is it White Matter Matters?

If the central problem is rent-seeking – abuse of the power of the state – to deliver economic goods to the wealthy and politically powerful, how in the world is more government the answer? --Cochrane

Golden oldie:
The culture is struggling. Out with the old, in with the whatever. The postmodern respect for anything of any quality--as close as the cove...

All of you in favor of the value of custom should be heartened: Flynn, following in the footsteps of so many previous public servants, has declined a congressional subpoena and taken the Fifth. Tradition!

"So, when fewer and fewer reporters shared the same values and habits as many of their consumers, inferences in their stories about people of faith and their struggles squaring gay marriage or abortion with their belief systems were picked up by readers.
Same goes for job losses, particularly in coal mines or manufacturing. News reports filled with how those job losses help the environment are not going to sit well with the person losing their job. Also, just because they have a job that faces an environmental challenge does not mean they hate the environment.
For 20 years, these news organizations, along with CBS, NBC and ABC, were the only game in town. They served as gatekeepers of information, and as their newsrooms became more and more detached from the center of the country, consumers began to become detached from them." This is from an article by CNN's Salena Zito, a woman with a pretty objective eye.

"What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future. Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society." This is particularly interesting in light of the idea that accuracy in the present is an important observational quality in us--and that accuracy in theory is important only as it is consistent.

Since the economic boom ended 17 years ago, AJO says, stocks have returned only 4.77 percent a year, and bonds 5.15. That means stock values have been doubling every 15 years rather than every 3½, and bonds have doubled every 14 years rather than every seven.

The World Health Organization routinely spends about $200 million a year on travel — far more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health including AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.
What a great job.

We daily see men do for their party, for their sect, for their country, for their favourite schemes of political and social reform, what they would not do to enrich or to avenge themselves. --Macaulay

The communist government lifted its ban on the writings of William Shakespeare in1977.

AAAaaaaannnnnndddddd.....a great and wonderful picture:

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