■ Proverbs 15:15 inverts the usual Good News/Bad News format. Let's put the bad news first:
15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
It was very un-PC of the Proverbialist to observe the misery of the opressed and then immediately follow up with "Hey, but these people over here seem happy." So it goes.
Humanity isn't destroying the natural world. We're changing it. And
in many ways, our changes are creating richer and more vibrant
That's the persuasive and liberating argument advanced by the York University conservation biologist Chris D. Thomas in his riveting new book, Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction. "It is time for the ecological, conservation and environmental movement—of which I am a life-long member—to throw off the shackles of a pessimism-laden, loss-only view of the world," he writes. Instead, he thinks a thriving world of exotic ecosystems and biological renewal is at hand. By the time readers have finished this carefully researched treatise, they should agree.
… and I did agree, so thumbs up to Mr. Bailey for predicting that.
■ The no-longer-on-Twitter Kevin D. Williamson observes sagely: An Enemies List Is Not a Philosophy. Also: a wombat is not a toaster. But that's not important right now. Mr. Williamson begins:
Conservatives used to boast that the Right has ideas, while the Left
has only an enemies list. There was a time when that was true, but
it isn’t true anymore.
My colleague Jonah Goldberg has done great work illuminating the progressive mode of politics captured by the phrase “the moral equivalent of war.” War is not necessarily ennobling or even unifying (see Iraq), but the two great wars of the 20th century illustrated that the industrial and economic might of the United States can, at least for a time, be turned by the state toward a single national purpose. (We romanticize those wars, especially the second, but our war provisioning was in reality marked by the incompetence, corruption, and profiteering one would expect with any big federal spending project.) As Goldberg writes in Liberal Fascism, “War socialism under Wilson was an entirely progressive project, and long after the war it remained the liberal ideal.” After both wars, there were those in government who argued that Washington should maintain its extraordinary wartime powers in order to turn them to such peaceful ends as a “war on poverty.” Warren G. Harding ran on the opposite idea — his “return to normalcy” — as Dwight Eisenhower did in a less insistent way. (Indeed, Eisenhower’s dismissal of the conservative project seeking a return to the prewar, pre–New Deal settlement was the proximate cause for the founding of this magazine and the modern conservative movement; American conservatives have always been running against the Republican party.)
A few years back, some folks on "our side" got the bright idea to be just as stupid and mean as the "other side". That's not turning out well.
With all the news stories these days about computer hacking, it
probably comes as no surprise that someone is worried about hackers
from outer space. Yes, there are now scientists who fret that space
aliens might send messages that worm their way into human society —
not to steal our passwords but to bring down our culture.
How exactly would they do that? Astrophysicists Michael Hippke and John Learned argue in a recent paper that our telescopes might pick up hazardous messages sent our way — a virus that shuts down our computers, for example, or something a bit like cosmic blackmail: “Do this for us, or we’ll make your sun go supernova and destroy Earth.” Or perhaps the cosmic hackers could trick us into building self-replicating nanobots, and then arrange for them to be let loose to chew up our planet or its inhabitants.
I'm currently reading Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now, and he observes (p. 166) that many can't resist projecting "the megalomania of Homo Sapiens males onto every form of intelligence". Including extraterrestrial forms, obviously.
My guess: hostile ETs with advanced tech would destroy themselves long before they got around to scouring the galaxy.
But there's also this:
Extraterrestrials could simply give us some advanced knowledge — not as a trade, but as a gift. How could that possibly be a downer? Imagine: You’re a physicist who has dedicated your career to understanding the fundamental structure of matter. You have a stack of reprints, a decent position, and a modicum of admiration from the three other specialists who have read your papers. Suddenly, aliens weigh in with knowledge that’s a thousand years ahead of yours. So much for your job and your sense of purpose.
What rings the alarm bells here is "a thousand years ahead". Given the timescales of stellar evolution, the likelihood of an ET civilization being a mere thousand years ahead of us is vanishingly small.
Another thought-provoking article that goes deeper into the likelihood of ETs and their likely motivations is here: The Fermi Paradox. (AKA, "Where is everybody?")