URLs du Jour

2021-04-25

  • But Know What? In his new article, No More Tests: We Should Measure Black Kids On Their "Desire To Know." (St. Ibram, 2019), John McWhorter recalls the poster promoted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture last year (It's long, keep scrolling, click for a big version if desired):

    [Aspects and Assumptions]

    (They took it down. But the museum still has a page that natters on about "Whiteness".)

    Professor McWhorter:

    Yes, this was real – from people who surely bemoan the stereotype of black people as dumb and lazy! Again, only a mental override could explain why the people responsible for this display would allow that emblazonment of precisely the stereotypes lobbed at black people for centuries. Tarring whites as imposers of alien values felt more important than considering that the poster depicted black people as gorillas – and was created by a white woman!

    And because this was enshrined at America’s flagship museum of black history, we can’t say that this sort of thing is just “woo-woo” sidebar nonsense. The museum yanked it down when the media got a sniff, but they had made a highly indicative statement in having hung it in the first place. Namely, they subordinated logic – that black people should not embrace being semiliterate, unanalytical and tardy – to the religious score of identifying racism regardless of logic (as in, here, the racism of whites expecting blacks to in any way be “like them”). Let us pray.

    He goes on to take apart "St. Ibram's" (Ibram Kendi's) queries in How to Be an Antiracist: “What if we measured intelligence by how knowledgeable individuals are about their own environments? What if we measured intellect by an individual’s desire to know?”

    Well, Ibram, that would kind of suck.

    McWhorter also points out what should be obvious: "Any white person who embraces the idea that precision is “white” is, quite simply, a bigot." Extend that observation to a lot of other items on that dreadful poster.

    Also, it's about the same amount of awfulness when Black people embrace that idea.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Nuclear Families Need Nuclear Power. Interesting Book Review from Robert Zubrin (Amazon link to book at right, Kindle version a mere $9.99, I get a cut.)

    ‘Climate changes everything,” says radical green writer Naomi Klein — everything except, of course, the vehement opposition of her tribe to the only proven, reliable, and scalable source of non-carbon energy on earth. This fanaticism has confirmed many observers in their judgment that the green movement’s hatred of nuclear energy is rooted less in concerns about radiation than in fear of the possibility that it could solve a problem they need to have. That said, in recent years there has emerged a center-left movement of climate-crisis true believers who appear willing to entertain nuclear power. This movement has produced a blossoming literature nominally supporting nuclear energy as part of their solution for global warming. Most of these works have been technically illiterate or dishonest, with authors claiming that they are all for nuclear power, but only once nonexistent futuristic types of nuclear systems that would supposedly be much safer and more economical than the pressurized-water reactors (PWRs) and related designs in use today are brought to the market.

    But the book under review is "a noteworthy exception" according to Zubrin.

    Being a whiz-bang kinda guy, I'm sort of disappointed to see Zubrin imply the cheaper/safer nuke plants we've been promised are just around the corner seem to be forever around the corner, and we're stuck with the PWR design of the 1950s for now.

    But I don't have a flying car to take me to the spaceport for my lunar vacation either.


  • You Can't Spell "Fukushmia" Without … At the American Council of Science and Health, Andrew Karam puts a news story in context: Tritiated Water From Fukushima To Be Discharged Into Pacific. Yes, people freaked. But wait a minute:

    We need to start with the amount of radioactivity that’s to be released.  Radioactivity is measured by the rate at which it decays. One Becquerel or Bq is that amount of any radioactive material that will undergo one radioactive decay every second. According to a report developed in 2016 looking specifically at tritiated water from Fukushima, there are about 820,000 cubic meters of water (328 Olympic-sized swimming pools ) containing about 760 trillion Becquerels (760 TBq) of tritium.

    The Pacific Ocean is fairly large – the North Pacific, the location of this discharge, holds 331 million cubic km of water. This is 400 billion times as voluminous as the water being held at Fukushima. If we mix the 760 TBq of tritium into 331 million billion cubic meters [1] of water, we end up with a tritium concentration of 0.0023 Bq of tritium per cubic meter of water. This is not enough to hurt anybody – or any creature living in the water. 

    […]

    However the mechanism, nature accounts for the formation of about 1000 times as much tritium as is in the tanks at Fukushima. Natural tritium in the waters of the Earth is present at concentrations of about 185-925 Bq per cubic meter of water. This is thousands of times more tritium per cubic meter than the 0.0023 Bq per cubic meter that we calculated above. To put it another way, discharging the water at Fukushima into the ocean is like adding a few grains of sugar to a pitcher of the sugary fruit punch I used to drink as a kid.

    Karam goes on to point out that tritium decays to (stable) 3He via emission of an unusually low-energy (5.7 Kev) electron (and, I looked it up, also an antineutrino).

    The hoopla is so scientifically ignorant, I can't help but think there are other motives beyond public health.


  • Also Among the Anti-Science Demagogues‥ David Harsanyi notes Wheezy Joe Biden's Climate Denialism.

    The Malthusian fanaticism that’s been normalized in our political rhetoric is also denialism. “Science,” as the media and political class now practice it, has become little more than a means of generating apprehension and fear about progress. It is the denial of the modern technology and competitive markets that continue to allow human beings to adapt to organic and anthropogenic changes in the environment.

    Even people who mimic doomsday rhetoric seem to understand this intuitively. The average American says they are willing to spend up to $177 a year to avoid climate change, not the approximately $177,000,000 per person it would cost to set arbitrary dates to get rid of a carbon energy economy.

    I wish folks who claim to bleepin' love science would also bleepin' love progress.


  • However, Some Folks Just Bleepin' Love Statism. Drew Cline isn't one of them: Vaccinations killed the mask mandate, and now show the way forward.

    Gov. Chris Sununu lifted the state’s mask mandate on April 16, and much hand-wringing ensued. And scolding. And partisan attacks.

    New Hampshire Public Radio noted, with apparent worry, that the hospitalization rate was higher than it was when the mandate was issued last November.

    State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley tweeted, “When Republicans get elected, people die.”

    A University of New Hampshire poll released April 21 found that 43% of Granite Staters supported lifting the mandate, while 48% opposed.

    But the data support the governor’s decision.

    Well, of course. If anything, it was way too late in coming.