URLs du Jour

2017-04-22

■ I wonder if Proverbs 27:18 will have any relevance to Earth Day? Let's call it up and see:

The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.

Sort of. I suppose. Because of the figs.

The thing that sticks out for me is the "their", presumably to avoid the sexist construction seen in more accurate translations. (E.g., KJV: "he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.")

■ At Reason, Ronald Bailey writes on the Scientists’ March on Washington. Asking: Do researchers risk becoming just another leftwing interest group?

The mission statement proclaims that the marchers "unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest." Setting aside the fact that the march was conceived in the immediate wake of the decidedly partisan and specifically anti-Trump Women's March on Washington, how credible are these claims to non-partisanship?

My answer: not very. Bailey worries, understandably, that the general public's (currently relatively high) respect for "science" will degrade if it comes to be perceived as just another tedious progressive special interest group.

■ On the same topic, Wired answers a question you were probably not asking: Why Memphis Has Two Marches for Science. To a first approximation: one's for scientists, the other for activists. They couldn't resolve their squabbles about whose hand would be on the tiller:

The tension in Memphis parallels debates in the larger scientific community over the March for Science, and the relationship between science and politics. After many revisions of its mission statement, the national March for Science now explicitly describes itself as a political movement—and more than that, that it’s officially about diversity in science. But some scientists in Memphis, along with many others nationwide, want to keep the movement’s focus on improving public understanding of science and underlining the importance of funding for research. They wanted to avoid associations with a political movement—and even more emphatically, partisan politics.

So there's inner turmoil on primary goals: should it be about (a) using the veneer of "science" to push a lefty agenda, or (b) keeping the taxpayer money flowing. I'm kind of a science fanboy myself, but I can't help but find myself with a can't they both lose attitude.

■ Here in Seacoast NH, it's all about progressive activism, baby. The march in Portsmouth is being brought to you by …

Nope, nothing partisan to see here! Move along!

■ At NR, Robert Atkinson writes In Defense of Robots. It's a refreshing analysis of, and rebuttal to, increasingly popular neo-Luddism, the fear that technological progress will leave millions, if not billions, of people without jobs. Bottom line:

If the elites really want to help low-wage workers, they can start by once again becoming full-throated advocates of technology-led automation and productivity growth, coupled with stricter limits on low-skilled immigration and better labor-market-adjustment policies for workers displaced by productivity improvements. That, rather than robophobia, will help everyone get ahead.

■ An amusing prayer from a source you might not expect, T. A. Frank, writing in Vanity Fair: Please, God, Stop Chelsea Clinton from Whatever She Is Doing.

Amid investigations into Russian election interference, perhaps we ought to consider whether the Kremlin, to hurt Democrats, helped put Chelsea Clinton on the cover of Variety. Or maybe superstition explains it. Like tribesmen laying out a sacrifice to placate King Kong, news outlets continue to make offerings to the Clinton gods. In The New York Times alone, Chelsea has starred in multiple features over the past few months: for her tweeting (it’s become “feisty”), for her upcoming book (to be titled She Persisted), and her reading habits (she says she has an “embarrassingly large” collection of books on her Kindle). With Chelsea’s 2015 book, It’s Your World, now out in paperback, the puff pieces in other outlets—Elle, People, etc.—are too numerous to count.

Usually I only excerpt one paragraph per article, but this is too good to miss:

Chelsea, people were quietly starting to observe, had a tendency to talk a lot, and at length, not least about Chelsea. But you couldn’t interrupt, not even if you’re on TV at NBC, where she was earning $600,000 a year at the time. “When you are with Chelsea, you really need to allow her to finish,” Jay Kernis, one of Clinton’s segment producers at NBC, told Vogue. “She’s not used to being interrupted that way.”

The entitlement-force is strong with this one.

■ Econ prof and overall smart guy Tyler Cowen: 'Fight Inequality!' Is a Poor Rallying Cry. Among the counterintuitive gems:

A recent research paper, by Graham Wright of Brandeis University, found that polled attitudes about economic inequality don’t correlate very well with the desire for government to address it. There is even partial evidence, once controls are introduced into the statistics, that talk of inequality reduces the support for doing something about it. So, if you are a conservative, the next time you get upset about that Paul Krugman column, keep in mind he might just be, unintentionally, working for you.

One can only hope.

■ Space.com relates a geeky lecture at NYC's Museum of Mathematics: Star Trek: The Math of Khan given by James Grime. Among the thorny questions considered: was wearing a red shirt on the Enterprise really a death sentence?

That claim, in fact, is false — more "redshirts" died on-screen than any other crew type (10 gold-shirted, which are command personnel; eight blue-shirted, who are scientists; and 25 red-shirted, Grime said), but that calculation fails to take into account that there are far more redshirts on the ship to start with than any other crew type.

Also considered: how many times did Captain Kirk talk computers to death? The answer may surprise you!


Last Modified 2017-04-23 6:33 AM EST