URLs du Jour

2020-02-17

[Amazon Link]

  • UColorado philosophy prof Michael Huemer has the good news for people worrying about Trump getting re-elected: We Are Doomed. Make that "Doomed, Anyway".

    Obviously, humanity will at some future time be extinct. That goes without saying. That’s almost a metaphysical truth; nothing (of the relevant kinds) lasts forever.

    There is a fascinating Wikipedia article about the far future, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_far_future, which includes (among other things) many events that could extinguish life on Earth. The Sun will leave the main sequence (running out of hydrogen) within about 5 billion years. It will probably engulf the Earth within 8 billion years. Long before that, though, multiple other disastrous things are expected to happen. One item says that within only 600 million years, all plants that use C3 photosynthesis (99% of all plant species) will die. Another item says that the rest of the plants will probably die within 800 million years.

    I don’t think any people are going to live to see any of that happen, though. I think we’ll die of stupidity long before that. (Life will probably still continue without us, though. E.g., the bacteria will have hundreds of millions of years to flourish without us.)

    To adapt an old joke: "Oh, wait, did you say 5 billion years? Thank goodness I thought you said 5 million!"

    I hadn't heard that about C3 photosynthesis before. Sobering!


  • Mr. Kevin D. Williamson notes our changing times at National Review: Socialism Once Again the Left's Rallying Cry. And he makes an interesting point at the end:

    “All voting is a sort of gaming,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” If we are to have something more than mere majoritarianism — if there is to be a truth superseding that “power of the majority” — then we are going to need those ideas that our populists and nationalists and self-declared pragmatists hold in contempt along with the kinds of minds that can produce them.

    “Oh, be practical!” you say? Survey the scene in 2020 and tell me with a straight face that it represents the flowering of some practical good. As the philosopher might have asked, “If the pragmatism you followed brought you to this, of what use was the pragmatism?”

    That's a … deep thought. Unfortunately, if you're not an NRPLUS person, it's probably paywalled.


  • At Reason, Ronald Bailey asks: What Happens to the U.S. Population If Immigration Rises Substantially or Halts Entirely? And the Census Bureau gives us its best guess.

    U.S. population could increase from 323 million in 2016 to as high as 447 million by 2060—or fall as low as 320 million. It depends on how many immigrants are admitted over the next four decades, according to new report from the Census Bureau.

    The report sketches out four scenarios for 2060. If current levels of immigration are maintained, the U.S. population will grow to 404 million by 2060. If immigration is cut in half, the population will rise to 376 million. If immigration increases by 50 percent, the population expands to 447 million. And if all immigration were to be halted now, the U.S. population would peak at around 332 million in 2035 and drop to 320 million in 2060.

    I will be 109 in 2060, so I'll be interested in that number.


  • The Google LFOD News alert rang for (of all things) the Bangor [Maine] Daily News, which puts on its nanny hat: Cleaning off your car isn’t the law, but it’s the right thing to do.

    It shouldn’t take a law for driver’s [sic] in Maine to respect the safety of others, and take those few extra minutes to clean their car off — even the sometimes hard to reach roof. And we understand that adding such a law could feel like a move toward a nanny state.

    Looking at our New Hampshire neighbors, however, we have to wonder: if the “Live Free or Die” state is willing and able to make this a requirement in the name of public safety, why shouldn’t Maine do the same?

    This is one of the rare cases where the Maine nanny-statists have failed to keep up with New Hampshire's. Shame!


  • And my district's current Executive Councilor, Andru Volinsky, is running for Governor, which means that people are scrambling to take his current position. For example, one Jay Surdukowski, who writes in the Concord Monitor about "Listening first". Among his points:

    Defending women’s health care: The council should not play politics with women’s health care. Having advised Planned Parenthood’s political arm for five years when they first set up their local PAC, I am steeped in knowledge of their work and one of the highlights of the 2012 election was welcoming then-Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to my home to engage young people in the fight for reproductive health. I’m also proud to be publicly supported by three founders of New Hampshire’s first abortion clinic, which opened in 1974 – what is now the Equality Health Center.

    The council should not "play politics" with baby-killing. Just stand back and pay for it, I guess.