URLs du Jour

2019-04-01

[Amazon Link]

Welcome to April, everyone. In preperation for Earth Day, our Amazon Product du Jour, as noted by Philip Greenspun, shows that the Green New Deal need not cost as much as everyone feared; it's a cool $199.95!

  • Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt is always worth reading whole-thing-wise, but I just wanted to quote this observation:

    It’s April Fool’s Day, but the world has been so weird lately, the holiday almost seems superfluous

    Indeed. I assume there are some lies I've already taken seriously.


  • Over at Reason, Katherine Mangu-Ward continues to do a great job as editor-in-chief, and she somehow has time to write about rockets in the print magazine. She says You Can't Shut Down Space.

    On the 34th day of the recent government shutdown at 4 p.m., a huge cloud billowed out from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. It had been produced by a successful static test fire of the Falcon 9, which will ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station sometime in the next few months. It will be the first such flight since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, essentially marking an American return to manned spaceflight.

    On the day of the test fire, about 95 percent of NASA's workforce was on furlough, having been deemed non-essential to government functioning. How did NASA manage such a milestone with a skeleton crew?

    It didn't. The Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon capsule that sits atop it were built by SpaceX, a privately held company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk. The vehicle's tests and flights are being conducted on contract with NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Program, which represents a tiny fraction of the overall cost of the U.S. space effort. The program is a classic study in the power and pitfalls of privatization, and it may be our best chance to get off this godforsaken rock.

    We are itchin' for NASA to refactor itself and get out of the welfare-for-certain-zipcodes business. (There's plenty of that in Defense.)


  • Myles Weber, writing at Quillette writes on When a Question of Science Brooks No Dissent.

    As a university professor, I am best positioned to report on the widespread incompetence and malfeasance found specifically in academe. A work colleague once corrected me on a matter concerning the greenhouse effect. With no scientific training, he had recently moderated a panel discussion on climate change in an attempt to convince students to support our university president’s Green Initiative, which as far as I could tell reduced carbon dioxide emissions not at all but placed undue strain on the university’s finances, which in turn put upward pressure on tuition costs. I mentioned to my colleague in passing that, from an educational standpoint, the term greenhouse gas was an unfortunate misnomer since the architectural design of an actual greenhouse is not closely related to the physical properties of tropospheric greenhouse gases.

    His colleague was under the impression that greenhouses worked because (honest!) their glass was full of CO2.

    [Briefly: "greenhouse gases" are those that are transparent to (incoming) visible light but relatively opaque to infrared. An actual greenhouse works by physically blocking sun-heated air from escaping. Even more briefly: radiation vs. convection.]


  • Power Line notes Mark Zuckerberg's WaPo op-ed in which he advocates "four areas" which demand (government) regulation: "harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability." Note that first thing. In other words, John Hinderaker notes, Facebook Calls For Censorship.

    The First Amendment does not allow government to suppress speech on the ground that it is “harmful.” Harmfulness is not a constitutionally significant concept. I personally believe that every word that emanates from the Democratic National Committee is harmful, and the world would be better off without the DNC or its speech. But that does not give me the right to ban it, even if I happen to control Congress.

    Tempting, though, to do some self-petard hosting.


  • Mark J. Perry pre-deflates some propaganda you're likely to see tomorrow: For Equal Pay Day (Apr. 2): Evidence of employers paying women 20% less than men for the same work is as elusive as Bigfoot sightings.

    This week gender activists and feminist organizations like the American Association of  University Women will be promoting “Equal Pay Day” on Tuesday, April 2 and this is an update of my “Bigfoot” post from a year ago to help counteract some of questionable statistics and mythology that get recycled every year in early April about the “gender pay gap.” The annual event known as Equal Pay Day brings awareness to a completely bogus apples-to-oranges comparison of median incomes by gender. Specifically this year’s Equal Pay Day will publicize the 20% unadjusted difference in median annual earnings for women and men working full-time in 2018 (most recent data available) when absolutely nothing relevant is controlled for that would help explain that 20% raw differences in income like hours worked, marital status, number of children, education, occupation, number of years of continuous uninterrupted job experience, working conditions, work safety, workplace flexibility, family friendliness of the workplace, job security, and time spent commuting.

    He's also got one of his famous Venn diagrams; I'll see if I can't post that tomorrow.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson writes on American Nationalism and Public Policy in the Trump Era.

    Trump-era nationalism is about 3 percent policy and 97 percent aesthetics, rhetoric, and affectation, a kind of identity politics of the Right. That is one of the reasons why critics such as Tucker Carlson […] have so much trouble describing in meaningful terms what it is they want. They are well-versed in who is to blame, but a little vague on what to do. This fundamentally aesthetic orientation also is one of the reasons for the nationalist bias toward that which is easily visible and comprehensible: steel mills, not logistics, “Made in China” labels on consumer goods in Walmart, not integrated supply chains, software, or intellectual capital. It helps to explain the bumptiousness, narrowness, and pettiness so closely associated with nationalism as it is in fact currently practiced, in situ, as opposed to in essay form—a politics not of love and community (including community with future generations) but one of resentment and anxiety. Not manifest destiny but the melancholy long withdrawing roar. The associated variety of politically proprietary patriotism has its obvious counterpart in the adolescent and often unserious anti-patriotism of the Left, which is why we have expended so much spittle in a national confrontation over sporting-event etiquette.

    I'm eschewing the "nationalism" label as overbroad.


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for a Patheos article by Rebecca Bratten Weiss: Contrapasso in the Heartlands: When We Reject The Common Good.

    […] here in the US, we’ve long adhered to a form of radical individualism which may look heroic on the surface, but which, when you begin to analyze it, looks self-defeating. Even the slogan “live free or die,” which sounds so epic, is a little nonsensical, given how little freedom we actually have. It also carries with it the dangerous idea that without freedom we’re better off dead. Freedom from what, or freedom to do what, rarely gets defined. But in America, “at least we know we’re free” – don’t stop and analyze it! Don’t ask whether it’s true! Just repeat it, wave the flag, and distrust the government (when it suits you, and if you happen to be white.

    Yes, Ms. Weiss is tedious. She doesn't really understand freedom. Still, worth reading to find out how confused the Other Side can get.

    Or maybe I've been taken in by an April Fool joke.