URLs du Jour

2021-08-23

  • Eye Candy du Jour from Mr. Michael Ramirez.

    [Old vs. New]

    More on Afghanistan in a bit, but first…


  • UNH prof in the news again … and not in a good way. Janice Fiamengo reports on A Telescope for Social Justice: No White Men Need Apply.

    A cosmic storm is roiling the Astrophysics community. Focused on the name of a NASA space telescope, the controversy is one more in a decade-long whirlwind of accusation that has made clear to straight white men that their days of pursuing science free of guilt and obeisance are decisively over.

    As an academic field, Astrophysics became ‘woke’ years ago and is now one of the most rigidly doctrinaire of the hard sciences. It has seen numerous purity campaigns against non-believers, first against insufficiently feminist-compliant men. A blog called Women in Astronomy promotes indignant tales of female suffering, profiling young women shattered when men expressed sexual or romantic interest, or deeply hurt when researcher Matt Taylor, whose team put a space probe on a comet, appeared on television wearing an ‘inappropriate’ shirt.

    And here's the University Near Here connection:

    In one of the field’s most public spats about female victimhood, renowned Italian particle physicist Alessandro Strumia was ejected from CERN, the prestigious European center for high-energy physics research, after he presented a meticulously documented conference paper arguing that the targeted hiring of women into STEM positions was neither necessary nor wise. For this, he was denounced as a misogynist in a histrionic open letter by Particles for Justice, a posse of modern-day Puritans who hunt academic thought criminals, led by New Hampshire University physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a self-described “activist for equality in science” and AI researcher Brian Nord of the University of Chicago.

    At (current) issue is a March 2021 article in Scientific American from Prof CPW and three other authors: The James Webb Space Telescope Needs to Be Renamed. (Because he "acquiesced to homophobic government policies during the 1950s and 1960s.")

    The telescope was originally scheduled to launch in 2007 and had a "modest" budget of $500 million. The latest estimate is that it might launch in November of this year, and the cost has ballooned by nearly a factor of twenty, $9.7 billion.

    I'm not sure whether sticking Webb's name on this would be an honor or not.

    Another thing I'm not sure about: with all the activism, how much time and energy does Prof CPW have for research and teaching? Not that anyone at UNH seriously cares about that.


  • Doddering old fool continues to foolishly dodder. Paul Mirengoff notes a Q&A at a recent news conference: Biden blows off cable by 23 officials at U.S. embassy in Kabul.

    At his Friday press conference, Joe Biden was asked about the cable sent by 23 officials at the U.S. embassy in Kabul warning his administration of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the August 31 troop withdrawal deadline. Ignoring this warning, Team Biden assured America that if Kabul fell at all, it would happen at a much later date.

    Biden’s response to the question was that “we get cables all the time.” That was it.

    In interests of transparency, Biden should have added: "We don't pay attention to the ones we don't like."

    In interests of accuracy, Mirengoff doesn't have the quote right, at least according to the White House transcript:

    Q And, sir, just on that initial assessment: We’ve learned, over the last 24 hours, that there was a dissent cable from the State Department —

    THE PRESIDENT: Sure.

    Q — saying that the Taliban would come faster through Afghanistan. Can you say why, after that cable was issued, the U.S. didn’t do more to get Americans out?

    THE PRESIDENT: We’ve got all kind of cables, all kinds of advice. If you notice, it ranged from this group saying that — they didn’t say it’d fall when it would fall — when it did fall — but saying that it would fall; to others saying it wouldn’t happen for a long time and they’d be able to sustain themselves through the end of the year.

    I made the decision. The buck stops with me. I took the consensus opinion. The consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur, if it occurred, until later in the year. So, it was my decision.

    So he was a little more expansive, if not more coherent. Note that he did not add "But I am firing all the people who were so badly wrong in developing that 'consensus opinion'".


  • Once again, things that could have been brought to voters' attention last year. John Fund notes a Strange New Disrespect: Privately, the Beltway Establishment Has Never Respected Biden [NRPLUS, sorry].

    There are countless stories that will come out of the Afghan tragedy. But one of the more surprising is the extent to which liberal media outlets and the foreign-policy establishment have turned on President Joe Biden.

    It’s certainly true that both groups didn’t do enough to question the wisdom of expending thousands of lives and trillions in treasure pursuing “nation-building” in Afghanistan after the Taliban were initially defeated post-9/11. But their prior investment in that position doesn’t fully explain the visceral and swift way in which they’ve attacked Biden and his aides for the moral and logistical nightmare of the U.S. withdrawal.

    What I think we are seeing in part is pent-up frustration with a Joe Biden whom the Beltway establishment has never had much confidence or faith in.

    Robert Gates, former defense secretary under Obama, famously said in his 2014 memoir that Biden has been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and secretary of defense under President Clinton, says Biden’s decision to withdraw was rooted in the sad fact that Biden “didn’t really spend much time on the issue” and that the Biden administration was simply “crossing their fingers and hoping chaos would not result.”

    "Crossing their fingers and hoping": that was the "consensus opinion". [Movie quote reference in headline.]


  • Appropriately for bags of hot air… At the Dispatch, Chris Stirewalt notes the political upshot: Biden Deflated.

    After many months of deep anxiety, Republicans are starting to feel pretty good again. The economy is slowing, deficit spending is driving up inflation, anxiety about the Delta variant of COVID-19 is upending hopes for an autumn return to normalcy, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan is a shambolic mess. Nothing like being the party out of power to make one happy to hear bad news.

    And Republicans are all the way out of power. They are not in charge of even one house of one branch, and as they have illustrated with a refusal to vote for debt-ceiling lift for spending they themselves authorized, the congressional GOP is embracing the upside of powerlessness in our era of brain-dead partisanship: consequence-free complaining. Democrats must secretly envy their counterparts. Dems’ time out of power was unusually short, and they didn’t get the chance to really get in the groove of constantly carping without feeling obliged to offer plausible solutions. In America today, we have two minority parties, one of which is occasionally forced to try to govern against its members’ will.

    The GOP pols are salivating that the voters might at least toss them the legislative car keys in (as I type) 442 days. Hopefully they'll think of somewhere decent to go before that.