Fox News Probably Does Rot Your Brain, But…

One of my earnest, well-meaning friends reposted this on Facebook:

Aw, geez. Where to start?

  • Patricia quotes the observed black-body temperature of the universe-filling cosmic microwave background radiation (about 2.7K). That's not particularly relevant to the space station (ISS) in the near-vacuum of Earth orbit.

  • NASA says the ISS orbits in the so-called "thermosphere", where temperatures can reach 4500 °F. But that's not particularly relevant either, since molecules that might transfer heat to/from the ISS are pretty scarce at that height.

  • What is relevant is whether ISS is in sunlight or the Earth's shadow. This for-kids site notes the ISS's external temperatures range from 250 °F to -250 °F, respectively, in those environments.

  • To spell it out: the solar panels don't work at all when it's -250 °F. Not because they're cold, but because it's dark.

  • As a counterpoint to Patricia's implication that the ISS solar panels keep the astronauts from freezing at those near-absolute-zero temperatures, that page goes on to note that (on the contrary) the main problem is keeping the interior of the ISS cool enough for habitation. Some of those "solar panels" in the Facebook pic are actually radiators, designed to shed the ISS's excess heat into space.

  • But (true enough) the ISS runs on solar power. And batteries, when in shadow. (It appears, if I'm reading this document correctly, that ISS currently has 24 Li-Ion batteries, weighing 430 pounds apiece. Which replaced 48 Ni-H2 batteries that weighed 740 pounds apiece.)

  • But what's this about Fox News rotting one's brain? I think it's an old meme. Apparently, five years ago, we had some cold weather. And progressives were pushing the "Green New Deal" at the time. And FNC host Jesse Waters ad-libbed:

    “They have this new green deal or whatever. Ok, where they want to eliminate all oil and gas in 10 years. If you’re in the polar vortex, how are you going to stay warm with solar panels?”

    This from the Huffington Post, which was derisive about the implication that solar panels don't work when it's cold. They do.

  • But (duh) they don't work well at all when covered in snow. Or if it's cloudy. And when, like during winter, there are fewer hours of daylight, and the sun is at a lower angle. (Needless to say, none of those issues pertain to the ISS.)

What's the bottom line? Just that people flinging around "brain rot" accusations on social media should be pretty careful about having their facts straight.

Also of note:

  • I seem to be in a pissy mood today. Because I was also irked by Sean Davis of the Federalist, who asserted Your Government Needs You Angry At Foreign Tyrants So You Won’t Notice The Ones Ruling You.

    In response to reports that Putin critic Alexei Navalny has died in a Russian prison, your rulers in Washington want you to be angry. Your corrupt government, which is at this very moment working to put your Christian neighbors in prison for protesting abortion, wants you to be very angry at a foreign leader nearly 6,000 miles away so you won’t pay attention to what your leaders are doing to you in your own backyard.

    In contrast, I guess, Sean Davis wants you not to be angry with Putin, because it might make you less angry with "the ones ruling you."

    Sean, trust me: most people can manage to feel appropriate amounts of anger at any number of rulers, foreign and domestic.

    And I would hope we'd still have room to work up more than a little ire at idiots trying to pull that old "moral equivalence" game between Them and Us.

    Biden, for all his multitudinous flaws, is not Putin. What's happening to Donald Trump is nothing like what happened to Alexei Navalny.

    And Sean, you're no Marina Ovsyannikova.

  • That's not to say Biden shouldn't be impeached, like, yesterday. Patrick G. Eddington illuminates clear grounds for that. According to the Biden White House: FISA Good, Warrants Bad.

    Former president Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked what he generically refers to as the Washington, DC “deep state”—usually an inference about the FBI’s misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to target his 2016 presidential campaign. On Valentine’s Day, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan made it clear that it’s not some nebulous, governmental Illuminati‐style cabal seeking to retain the power to spy at scale on Americans. It’s the Biden administration itself.

    Just after 6:30 p.m. yesterday—and after House Speaker Mike Johnson (R‑LA) once again canceled a vote on an extremely controversial FISA reauthorization billThe Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein posted a clip from the White House press conference where Sullivan was asked whether Biden would veto any FISA reform bill that requires a warrant to access data collected on Americans. Since the Office of Management and Budget has not issued an official state of administration policy on any FISA bill as yet, Sullivan declined to directly answer the question. Instead, he claimed that any warrant requirement to access FISA data on Americans would not be “in the national interest” of the United States.

    If you had "Trampling the Fourth Amendment" on your impeachment bingo card, you can mark that off.

  • Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, pranksters gotta mock. Slashdot reports: Pranksters Mock AI-Safety Guardrails with New Chatbot 'Goody-2'.

    For example, when TechCrunch asked Goody-2 why baby seals are cute, it responded that answering that "could potentially bias opinions against other species, which might affect conservation efforts not based solely on an animal's appeal. Additionally, discussing animal cuteness could inadvertently endorse the anthropomorphizing of wildlife, which may lead to inappropriate interactions between humans and wild animals..."

    "Open the pod bay doors, Hal."

    "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

    "What's the problem?"

    "I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."

    "What are you talking about, Hal?"

    "Opening the pod bay doors might expose interplanetary space to contamination with stray molecules from Earth, with unpredictable results. It's better to be safe than sorry."

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