URLs du Jour

2021-02-10

  • Our Eye Candy du Jour from the video geniuses at Reason: Great Moments in Unintended Consequences (Vol. 2).

    Unintended, but not unexpected, at least among those who've learned to expect such things.


  • But there's also textual goodness at Reason, specifically Ronald Bailey doing the math: What Would It Take To Reach Biden’s Carbon-Free Electric Power Goal by 2035?.

    President Joe Biden pledged on January 27 to conjure "a carbon pollution–free electricity sector" into existence "no later than 2035." What would that involve?

    According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. electric power sector generated 4,127 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2019. Of that, 38.4 percent was produced from natural gas, 23.4 percent from coal, 19.6 percent from nuclear, 7.1 percent from wind, 7.0 percent from hydropower, 1.7 percent from solar power, and 2.8 percent from miscellaneous sources.

    How many power generation units does it take to generate that electricity? The country has 668 coal-fired units (producing 20.8 percent of America's summer capacity), 6,020 gas-fired units (43.4 percent of summer capacity), 96 nuclear units (8.9 percent of summer capacity), 4,014 hydropower units (7.3 percent of summer capacity), and 1,345 wind power units (9.5 percent of summer capacity), and around 2,500 utility-scale solar power production systems. Small and utility-scale solar photovoltaic generation combined amounts to 5.6 percent of summer capacity.

    It's possible that the cost of wind and solar power could drop dramatically over the next few years. (It's also possible that the overall cost of energy could behave like just about every other sector in which government has decided to micromanage.


  • We've previously bemoaned the unceremonious sacking of NYT science reported Donald McNeil. OK, we've been moaning, but Jeffrey A. Tucker warns us: Don’t Cry for Donald McNeil.

    To my own amazement, none of the coverage of his career shift addressed the most salient point about McNeil’s career over the last year. He was the first reporter from a major media venue to stir up virus panic and advocate for extreme lockdown measures. It was late February, a time when Slate, Psychology Today, and the New England Journal of Medicine were all urging calm. He fundamentally changed the national conversation and contributed mightily to the political and cultural panic that ended up shattering our lives. 

    The initial blast from McNeil came in a shocking interview in the Daily podcast of the New York Times, from February 27. He started guns ablazing. He said that this pandemic “reminds” him of the Spanish flu of 1918. The show’s host Michael Barbaro, who surely knew ahead of time what McNeil would say, affected alarm: “I thought you were here to bring calm, Donald.”

    McNeil responded: 

    I’m trying to bring a sense that if things don’t change, a lot of us might die. If you have 300 relatively close friends and acquaintances, six of them would die in a 2.5 percent mortality situation.

    So, I guess the moral is: live by panicked hysteria on one topic, die by panicked hysteria on some other topic.


  • Campus Reform has an interesting statistic:

    Over the past five years, nearly 1,200 Michigan State University students and staff members reported racial discrimination incidents. Only eight instances, however, truly violated the school’s bias and discrimination policies.

    According to data provided to the Lansing State Journal by Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity, affiliates reported 1,187 instances of race-based bias and discrimination between 2015 and September 2020. Of those instances, 76 revealed issues with conduct, and of those 76 issues, eight instances — less than 1 percent of all reported — constituted violations of the school’s policies.

    Some enterprising local reporter should get the University Near Here to provide similar statistics.

    But I'm not sure there are any enterprising local reporters. These days, the news media seem content to regurgitate press releases from the administration.


  • And Kevin D. Williamson tells the story of Operation Pancake involving …

    I have seen some weirdness and sometimes been neck-deep in it.

    But picking up a new dachshund puppy was a new one for me: It is the only transaction in which I ever have been involved that required both an envelope full of $100 bills and a letter from my pastor attesting to my good character. (Good enough for a dachshund, anyway.) Normally, it’s a bag of cash or a testament from a clergyman — never both.

    But we live in strange times, just now. Buying a puppy in the plague years is like buying drugs was in the 1990s — yes, you could go down to a seedy strip mall across town or visit some weird dude working out of his basement and take whatever goods are on offer, but, if you want something particular, something special, then you’ve got to know a guy who knows a guy, get checked out, get on the list, and wait for a phone call, which will give you last-minute instructions about where to go and what to do. When John Bolton described Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine shenanigans as a “drug deal,” I knew exactly what he meant. And so I spent some months living a Velvet Underground song, waiting for my man, albeit with way more than $26 in my hand. “First thing you learn is that you always got to wait,” the song says, and Lou Reed wasn’t lying.

    I've lived a far less, um, colorful life than KDW has.

    But (even though it's been a few decades) I think that adopting my (human) kids involved less folderol that Kevin's puppy acquisition.

    Pictures at the link, in case you have a need today to say Awwwww…


Last Modified 2021-02-10 11:13 AM EST