URLs du Jour

2018-10-29

[Amazon Link]

  • One of the usual suspects, Matt Simon of Wired, has a half-decent article: Carbon Capture Is Messy and Fraught—But Might Be Essential.

    "Fraught", you ask?

    On paper, carbon capture is a simple proposition: Take carbon that we’ve pulled out of the Earth in the form of coal and oil and put into the atmosphere, and pull it out of the atmosphere and put it back in the Earth. It’s like hitting undo on the Industrial Revolution. And scientists can indeed yank CO2 out of thin air, except that the process is expensive, not very efficient, and morally complicated.

    "Morally complicated", you say?

    It's an odd way for the people who claim to "frickin' love science" to put the issue, but they're no longer much pretending to disguise the Bible-thumping damn-the-sinners nature of their secular crusade. (I was going to say "holy crusade" -- but it's more like a "holier-than-thou crusade.")

    Simon's article is actually pretty good, though, if you strip out the tedious moralizing. Unfortunately, he kind of glosses over what I've long seen to be the real problem: if and (almost certainly) when we get global climate engineering technology up to speed, who decides how much and when to deploy it?

    Put another way: if your family occasionally bickers about where to set the thermostat in your house, multiply that bickering by 10 billion or so, and give a lot of the participants dangerous weaponry.


  • At the Washington Beacon, Sonny Bunch writes on Jeff Bezos: King of the Tech Lords. Compared with the Chinese dictatorship-loving, American military-hating Google…

    "If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble," Bezos said at the Wired 25 conference. "I like this country … this country is a gem. And it's amazing. It's the best place in the world. It's the place where people want to come."

    Now, look: I'd have loved Bezos even if he didn't donate millions to military charities and feel the need to stick up for our armed forces in the face of tech-bro aggression. Amazon has made my life as a consumer better in every conceivable way: anything I want, I can have, and in a minimum of time at a reasonable cost. Amazon delivers happiness one brown box at a time and anyone who denies this is a filthy communist. But Bezos stands out because he manages to improve the world without being forced to by do-gooder lawmakers.

    I really don't link to Sonny Bunch enough. He's a fine American.


  • For another fraught debate, National Review's Madeline Kearns reviews the Baseless, Activist Scholarship on Gender Dysphoria.

    When discussing transgenderism, moral and scientific certitude are too often conflated. This is presumably why activist agendas, strong on assertions and flimsy on evidence, are being promoted by people who really ought to know better. Yes, of course, the rights and feelings of those who experience gender dysphoria, and those who are transgender, should not be trampled on. Yes, obviously, compassion is key. But this includes the right to receive accurate medical information — the right to informed consent.

    Take, for instance, the recent New York Times article by Perri Klass, M.D., in which she “misstated” that youth with gender dysphoria have “triple the rate of suicide.” The Times has since corrected that. And in journalism, which is Klass’s profession in addition to pediatrics, honest mistakes are sometimes made. Nevertheless, her article stands as a textbook example of the tendency in the mainstream media to report on gender dysphoria with pithy slogans, half-truths, and non sequiturs, all presumably justified by the broader cause of making life easier for trans people (and why would you oppose that?).

    Ms. Kearns takes Dr. Klass to class for writing that "Gender identity is a brain thing", and specifically, only a handful of words later, that it's "independent of your body parts".

    And … wait a minute … since when was the brain not a body part? (And I didn't even come close to going to med school.)


  • After many decades in the close-but-not-quite World Series doghouse for the Boston Red Sox, we've been (now) treated to four championships over the past 15 seasons (2004, 2007, 2013, and—yay!—2018).

    But it was arduous. And it's one thing to bail on a post-10pm regular-season game played in Seattle, but you can't really do that with the World Series. At Reason, Steve Chapman claims: World Series Games Don't Have to Take So Long. He's especially down on pitching changes:

    Watching managers take the ball from one pitcher and hand it to another is about as exciting as watching someone buy snacks from a vending machine. Baseball has always been a game in which most of the actual playing time features a lot of people standing around waiting for something to happen. Now each game features a lot of people standing around waiting for the game to resume so they can stand around waiting for something to happen.

    It's as though Major League Baseball, responding to the perception of many people that the game was slow and tedious, decided to address that complaint by making it even...slower...and...more...tedious.

    I know it's heresy, but I've fantasized about a pitch clock: throw the ball within 35 seconds of your previous pitch, or it's an automatic ball.

    And to even things up a bit: no batter-requested timeouts. If you're not ready to swing the bat when the pitch comes, it's just too darn bad. Plan your day better.


  • I've been working through Season 3 of Daredevil on Netflix. It's good! And Titus Techera, writing at the Federalist, agrees with me: ‘Daredevil’ Returns To Fabulous Form In Season 3 On Netflix.

    But he makes an interesting something-I-hadn't-thought-about point.

    As America’s leading chronicler of our orphanhood stories, I’m tempted to say, I told you so! Daredevil, too, has become a story full of orphans, like “Deadpool” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I assume this is because these stories, although written for millennials, are written by Gen X-ers, so many of whom actually had to deal with the crisis of divorce the baby boomers brought to America.

    So the story is written from the point of view of rejected or abandoned children, who lash out at themselves and the world, and end up thinking they’re all alone — orphans in a hostile universe. This is a bit melodramatic, but it seems true to what goes on in the heart of such a child.

    If you run through the tangled family histories of your favorite comic book heroes (and villains too)—it's hard to think of any nuclear families in their backstories (other than the actually radioactive kind).