Linky Friday: The Planet We Have


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Image by bagalute Linky Friday: The Planet We Have

[En1] A big factor in renewables remains storage. Production is picking up!

[En2] Good, good. No regulation or subsidies necessary? The problem will take care of itself, then?

[En3] Win-win? Cooling the home and workplace with less energy. Maybe they should talk to the United Kingdom.

[En4] Transatomic Power is working on a nuclear reactor that even skeptical environmentalists could get behind.

[En5] Beware the radiation… of coal plants.

[En6] The oil sands are going dry. Ahem, for the time being.


Blackberry photo

Image by steve_lodefink Linky Friday: The Planet We Have

[T1] Ryan Bethencourt looks at the biotech trends of 2017.

[T2] This is cool and all, I guess, but also cool is being able to swap out a battery so you don’t have to worry so much about finding public chargers.

[T3] Beware your third-party Android keyboard! Or maybe just your Android phone period.

[T4] Alas, Munich appears to be abandoning its Linux experiment. I’ve been jumping back into Linux myself. With WiFi seeming to work now (for some reason, it’s spotty with Mint but works with Ubuntu), the biggest obstacle remains the lack of Photoshop.

[T5] An inside look at how Google changed the Internet (again!) with Chrome. It actually has me wondering why Amazon hasn’t created a browser yet…

[T6] The long, tortured, spectacular death of the Blackberry. I still miss physical keyboards.


extra crispy photo

Image by stevendepolo Linky Friday: The Planet We Have

[Sc1] Well, when you put it this way, it does make sense that most published research findings would be false.

[Sc2] How science went Hollywood.

[Sc3] Putting science and technology together to teach us how to die

[Sc4] Matthew Herper says we should (mostly!) stop freaking out about gene modification attempts.

[Sc5] Why do reasonable people “doubt science“? Do people doubt science, or doubt scientists (and/or their messengers)?


[Ea1] How climate change will affect southern Europe.

[Ea2] For different reasons than the environmentalists, Katie Tubb and Heritage are not on board with the GOP’s carbon tax proposal. They make a fair point about opacity, but as long as it’s (mostly) a pass-through, it seems to me to be mostly a moot point. That said, I am skeptical it would, if passed, save the world.

[Ea3] The leader of Britain’s Green Party worries that Brexit will be bad for the environment.

[Ea4] India now has the world’s worse pollution.

[Ea5] According to the new study, there’s darkness within the ice, waiting to be unleashed. (Meanwhile, at the other end…)

[Ea6] A look at Dell’s recycling efforts.


mars photo

Image by Kevin M. Gill Linky Friday: The Planet We Have

[B1] India wants to go send an orbiter back to Mars. Lest we forget, India and Mars have a history.

[B2] The.. three moons of Mars? Once upon a time, maybe.

[B3] Juno is sticking with Jupiter.

[B4] Black holes be hungrier than we thought, apparently.

[B5] Could Tatooine be out there?

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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185 thoughts on “Linky Friday: The Planet We Have

  1. En2: Given the advances in technology & manufacturing, this should come as a surprise to no one. And in 10 years, between molten salts & flow batteries, we’ll have the storage problem beat as well. Still, I suspect we’ll still need some manner of atomic power, like En4, if people ever relax enough to let them develop. I am betting our growing power requirements globally will simply outstrip our ability to install industrial solar.


    • Well, we could certainly put a pile (as it were) of reactors out in the Russian tundra, or the middle of northern Canada. Or even the ocean, really.

      Actually that latter might be an interesting SF world; mid-Pacific reactor sites that do nothing but heat up salt, and hybrid-airship “energy blimps” that tank up on molten salt and then drift around the world, using wireless Tesla-coil devices to charge local batteries as they go.


      • Given that the temperture of the heat sink (condenser water) does affect the efficiency of the conversion of reactor heat to electricity (See Carnots Law). Putting the plants on Hudson Bay, or on the Artic Ocean would provide the lower outlet temp. One could build HVDC lines to bring the power south. The big concern might be warming up Hudson Bay for example.


        • Thermodynamics do make the plants get more efficient as the heat sink gets to a lower temp, but remember that the cycle has to be compared with a reference temperature of absolute zero. So going down 30-40 degrees centrigrade or so does give you something, but in the math, you’re really only comparing what 260 (kelvin) vs 290-300 gets you.

          Then there’s then practical effects of heat transfer – a liquid is better than a gas which in turn is better than a (non metalic) solid. So all that polar cold air is useful, and there’s a lot of it, but it’s not as efficent as sucking the heat out of your exhaust cycle as 4 degree centrigrade water might be. (Or, you can put some antifreeze in the water, but then you get to the question of how many volitIle and potentially icky chemicals you want in the Arctic (on top of what you already have to use)


    • Molten salts solves almost all the nuclear scaaaary stuff that people whine about. Molten salt doesn’t vaporize or explode, it just oozes and turns solid.
      Isn’t the salt problem that salt corrodes the fish out of just about every material it’s in?


      • Depends on the salt. Not all salts are corrosive to all things. IIRC, glass reinforced concrete can stand up to salts rather well, or at least long enough for the salt to cool down.


      • So, here’s my take on the problems with proposing a new type of nuclear reactor for use in the US.

        1) The NRC lacks the budget, staff, and facilities to develop the methodology that would be used to evaluate the safety of designs for a new class of reactor. Guesstimates on the cost of that run from $200M up to a couple billion, and the company that first submits the new class of design for licensing is expected to foot the bill. Guesstimates on the length of the process run from three years up. Note that at that point the company doesn’t have a license — the NRC has a methodology that will be used in the licensing process. Licensing a specific design takes another few years (and the design will have to be at the detailed every-piece-of-rebar-goes-precisely-here level of detail).

        2) The DOE is the obvious alternative to private funding. However, It is unclear whether the DOE could even provide a location for a private company to build a prototype, let alone the money. They’ve been out of the experimental reactor business for a long time. DOE’s historical record is so bad that they are in legal agreements with the states where they have sites that were previously used that ban them from bringing in or creating new wastes until the old messes are cleaned up. Current estimates on the cleanups run from 25 years to “it can’t be done” depending on the site and the particular problem*.

        3) For assorted reasons, Congress has zero interest in new nuclear designs, and especially spending any federal money on them.

        * I admit to being biased on this submit. When I go out for lunch and errands in a bit, I will be able to see, at a distance of several miles, a decommissioned DOE-contaminated site. It’s one where the DOE said “We don’t know how to get the rest of the plutonium out of the soil,” declared it a wilderness area, and banned people from going there.


        • Guesstimates on the cost of that run from $200M up to a couple billion, and the company that first submits the new class of design for licensing is expected to foot the bill.

          This is the first big hurdle, and it is something congress should handle by giving the NRC the budget to develop the regulatory process in partnership with industry. This isn’t some new gizmo or toy a person wants to bring to market, but something that is in the public interest. Government can foot part of the bill.

          The government already has two sites for developing reactor tech, ORNL & INL. ORNL has (or had) a MSR, and if INL doesn’t, they have the room for one.


          • ORNL has been out of the actual reactor business since 1965, I believe. All of it moved to INL or Hanford. The last new reactor of any significance was the fast flux reactor, built at Hanford and operated until 1992. Both Idaho and Washington have sued DOE repeatedly about the clean-up failures at those locations, and would almost certainly tie up any new reactor effort at those sites for years.

            It is a hard political problem. A large portion of the (D)s are opposed to nuclear in general; the (R)s have been trying to shut down DOE, or at least reduce it to weapon work, since Reagan. I don’t see how you build a coalition that can push nuclear.


              • Oscar,
                That’s pretty much our current state of existence, yes.
                My friend who runs climate models in his spare time (yes, he’s getting paid, but it’s a sideline) is pretty much under the impression that Global Warming is a 20 years from now catastrophe that we aren’t going to be prepared for, let alone stop.

                There will be significant parts of the world where people will no longer be able to live (at least one billion people live there currently, and mostly poor).


                • My son’s girl friend does climate models and is not so pessimistic. (If you read the literature for North America specific results you’ll come across “Bukovsky regions” regularly. That’s her.)

                  OTOH, I’m a serious pessimist on US electricity supplies, thinking the next 25 years is the critical period. The existing nuke fleet will be reaching the end of the license extensions, and I doubt that many of them will be re-extended. The depletion models for natural gas look to me like the fracking boom will be winding down with nothing to replace it. Increased demand, not just from population increase, but from more and more things being electrified.


                  • Increased demand, not just from population increase, but from more and more things being electrified.

                    As I said, I doubt we can install solar and wind fast enough to keep up with demand. We need some manner of base power.


                    • Repeating myself, there are three problems that require solutions: Eastern Interconnect, Texas Interconnect, Western Interconnect. There are numerous studies at the nuts-and-bolts sort of level, that show how the western gets to low-carbon (including nukes) or all renewables, in fairly short order. The Texas problem is harder — lack of geographical diversity mostly. The eastern problem is much harder. OTOH, the states of the Eastern Interconnect have enough Congressional votes to do what they want by statute, and are within a small number of states of doing what they want by Constitutional amendment.

                      I’ve said it before: I expect the partition of the US to result from the Eastern Interconnect states attempting to convert Texas and the West to energy colony status :^)


                  • Michael,
                    Yeah, I know the people in charge of planning for crisises (got called in during the BP “we could kill the entire world” thingummy). But I’m hearing 10 days off our current American growing season, with plants essentially going dormant from the weather in the hot parts of the year.

                    The issue with refugees has to do with the level of humidity that will kill people. Dead zones in tropical regions (and, importantly, India).

                    He may be wrong, it may not be 20 years, it may be 40. But it’s coming.


        • That sounds right to me. Between the pro-fossil fuel-small government fetishist right and the hippy granola “nooclear scary” left I suspect that nuclear development is a dead letter in the US and badly hobbled in the rest of the developed world. Maybe solar and batteries will just bail us out on the subject of energy. If not then probably the Chinese or other less liberal “we need a clean effective safe power supply NOW” entity will figure out some kind of proof of concept that the west will then copy.


          • It’s not just the pilot plant — it’s funding the NRC to take all of the data that a pilot plant would produce and develop the methodology for evaluating license applications. For example, the DOE built the fast flux test facility and operated that fast-neutron sodium-cooled reactor from 1982 to 1992. China is currently operating a fast-neutron sodium-cooled reactor. Russia brought a fast-neutron sodium-cooled commercial reactor to full power — 880 MWe — last year. Does any of that mean the NRC is now prepared to evaluate designs and issue licenses for fast-neutron sodium-cooled reactors? Nope. Not a bit.


  2. Sc1: Some good suggestions there. I’d add that all published results should include anonymized data, and should become public domain after no more than a year.


      • State of the art particle physics experiments. CERN generates and stores about 15 petabytes (15,000,000 gigabytes) in an average year. The Higgs boson search involved 200 petabytes of stored data.

        Geez, I feel old. When I did my first masters degree I was working on (what were then) large-scale network optimization problems — on the order of 100,000 variables and 10,000 constraints. Moving the data for specific problems of that size from one research organization to another was impractical. Instead, there was a thousand-line Fortran program that took a seed and generated a specific problem. Competition — my algorithm/implementation is faster than yours — would be based on the problems generated by specific seeds, say, 45, 119, and 34789.


        • Nobody stores that kind of data anymore, it’s too expensive. You store the raw data, the problem setup, the post processed results, and the method of solution. If someone wants to get the pre-processed results, they rerun your solution. High speed parallel clusters have made it cheap to operate this way.

          Now, as solid state storage gets cheaper, this dynamic may shift. Also, I’ve seen some fascinating work on using lasers to inscribe data into acrylic cubes (3D data storage), so a 3 cm cube can store terabytes of data.


          • Oscar,
            That’s for the research that gets published, of course. When you’re feeding the internet (or all of twitter, or youtube) through your algorithm, well, keeping the raw data is problematic.


            • But you don’t need to keep the raw data, just the algorithm and the results. Publish the algorithm and the methodology and someone else can replicate your effort.


                • You do realize that the number of researchers dealing with self-modifying code is a small percentage of the CS population, much less the larger body of researchers as a whole. And still, what matters in such a case is the code itself, not necessarily the data it processes.


                  • I do indeed.

                    Path dependence means that you’d need the original data in order to create the final code. (Why would you not just USE the final code? It’s self-modifying. It does break, and you might not know how to fix it.)

                    Self-modifying code isn’t the only area of research where the end result is path-dependent (although, with physics, you’re generally studying hysteresis or something simple and easy… incomparison).


                    • If your results are highly path dependant, and that path is subject to random variation, then the results are close to meaningless in the sense that they can not be reproduced consistently, so those results can not be the answer that is being sought.


                      • Except if the answer being sought is humanity.
                        We can’t even reliably replicate that in meatspace, for god’s sake.
                        (some of the more severe cases of autism can be described as someone’s brain failing to initialize to a properly functional state.)


        • Somewhereduring my MS program (about a decade after I got my BS) I came to the realization I was coding problems as if “memory” was still pretty limited.

          That realization cut processing time on a set of problems I was running (and I was running a LOT of that, as I was doing analysis of how various permutations changed the results) by about 90%.

          “Screw DB optimization, just load the 750MB of problem data into RAM” was a nice, easy win. :)


  3. En4 – reading the article I was skeptical. looking at the website for Transatomic, I was more skeptical. Reading the white paper on the website I’m less skeptical.

    But still, there’s a vaporware caution light on my status board.


    • I love that there’s a company named Transatomic Power. But shouldn’t they be creating a giant caterpillar to terrorize Tokyo, or trying to kidnap The Monkees? And it’s a startup, no less!

      I think the kind of reactor they’re talking about is similar to what France uses.


      • There are no production molten salt reactors in operation that I am aware of, but there is a growing amount of effort around the world to mature the technology.


    • Notme linked to a Nova some weeks back, and they talk about molten salt reactors and (I think) Transatomic.

      It’s a good idea. Actually, any reactor where the core reaction is highly geometry dependant is a good idea, since any overheating will naturally disturb the required geometry and shut down the reaction. Molten salts just add another layer of safety on top of that.


  4. Ea2 I really liked that carbon tax proposal. It would reduce emissions and begin a UBI, which are both things I like. So, given my personal policy track record, it of course follows that we have pieces from both the right and left that hate it.

    Both of those pieces are blinkered. Keith Harrington refers to present value calculations using the discount rate as “shabby moral assumptions”. Wow. We are a shabby people, I think. We all operate, more or less, on the basis of stuff in the future having less value than stuff right now. Except when we write opinion pieces in Scientific American.

    Whereas, that Heritage Foundation piece spends most of its time one, “ITS A TAX!!!1!11!”



    • I’ve become skeptical of pigouvian taxes in general, but there is nothing in those pieces that really undercuts a carbon tax argument. Harrington presents a strawman that the proper amount for such a tax is too hard to discover. Economists will argue that pigouvian taxes are efficient when they capture the cost of externalities, but no economist is going to argue that the federal government has an efficient tax system. Plus, setting a cap requires much of the same analysis anyway. The main legitimate benefit of a carbon tax is to stimulate investment in technologies that would reduce carbon; it doesn’t have to be set at some ideal level to achieve that, but almost certainly needs to be bipartisan to enhance the perception of stability.

      OTOH, the Republicans (and likely the most conservative Democrats) won’t agree to a tax increase without some sort of offset. I would propose eliminating the employer’s portion of the payroll tax. A tax on employment is not efficient either.


      • Perhaps I misunderstand. It seems to me the proposal has a built-in offset. It proposes to return the money to taxpayers, per capita. You know, like a UBI. And returning money to people who don’t have much will mean that they spend it.


        • I admit I started skimming that article as the complaints against a carbon tax became more ridiculous. It posits that the true cost of carbon is so high that a dividend is necessary to make it palatable, though then the tax has to be higher. I don’t think a system that is so expensive that it precludes a family driving to vacation on the beach is going to persist by handing-out a gift card for dinner at Appelbee’s.

          To me this is the fallacy of the excluded middle. A significant tax would be benficial.; it does not have to be perfect. The country needs revenue, and might as well switch to carbon taxes.


        • But, IMHO, particularly evil because it threatened/frightened people who had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged beef between the two people.

          I dunno. I try to be all “peace and love and Jesus” but there are also times that I go “We really need to re-open Devil’s Island for some people.”


        • It’s being pointed out that his twitter timeline contained a handful of tweets in which he gave some rather pointed criticisms of Israel.

          So the anti-Semitism might not be taken entirely off the table.


          • And there’s another new piece of information.

            Police and the general manager of a Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn said that 42 fallen headstones were not caused by vandals, saying Sunday that the memorials had naturally tipped over due to age — though some elected officials were calling for an investigation, anyway.

            “It definitely was not vandalism,” Marisa Tarantino, general manager of the Washington Cemetery on Bay Parkway in Midwood, told reporters.

            “The older sections, as the stones wear, they do fall over or are unstable,” she continued. “What we do is we lay them across the grave to keep them memorialized rather than taking (them) away.”

            A police spokesman agreed.

            The article continues, of course, and there are people who disagree…

            But this is coming from the General Manager of the cemetery and a police spokesperson.

            For what that’s worth.


      • From what I heard, it is fairly easy to make a call seem like it is coming from overseas. So that indicates nothing.

        As to your zing, it shows some Republican undies and concern trolling a bit much and reminds me of the good old days when Republicans would scream up and down about just how unfair it was that they couldn’t get Jews to the R-column as much as they would like.

        Slate (I think) runs a running column of various hate crimes since Trump was elected and they included a Muslim-woman pre-school teacher who made a lot of anti-Semitic tweets. She lost her job. Her name was Nancy Salem.

        This isn’t a game. Very few people on the left would deny that we are free of bigotry. Meanwhile ICE did an overly powered arrest of an undocumented immigrant who was dropping his kids off from school and another woman was deported without a hearing/due process.

        But there were some assumptions about who made the calls to the JCCs and they turned out to be wrong so I guess we all have to be Republican now. Has a Republican ever made an assumption about who committed a criminal act and turned out to be wrong? Do you concern troll them when this happens?

        The point is that Trump’s rhetoric emboldened these actions. There will always be hate crimes but I don’t think anyone can easily deny an uptick since the campaign and I don’t think anyone can deny that Trump’s rhetoric was more hate-filled and dark.


        • It’s not concern trolling so much as pointing to this as another example of the conversation shifting from “How dare you suggest the most obvious explanation isn’t true” to “Well, look, just because…”

          Are the rest also by lefties? People” raising awareness”? Foreigners trying to cause trouble? I doubt 100% (for starters some of this was going on before Trump and not really noticed and therefore wasn’t a political hammer yet). Maybe not most. Don’t know.

          Which is the point. We don’t yet know.


          • Which is the point. We don’t yet know.

            But that gives up the game, Will, seems to me. You’re admitting that conservatives are reluctant to condemn JJC bomb threats and cemetery desecrations until it’s determined who perpetrated those acts. Which actually reinforces the view that what conservatives are prioritizing is not that Jewish communities should be free from threats of violence (false flag ops or not) but the political impact those acts have in determining conservative political goals.

            Seems to me conservatives could reflexively say “those actions are horrible and play no part in a free society, regardless of whether a liberal or pro-Trump, neoreactionary anti-semite is perpetrating them”. But they don’t. Instead, they refrain from judgment until the perps political orientation is determined.

            That’s fucked up dude.


            • Donald Trump has said that (or something like it). Conservatives who refuse to say that are doing it wrong. What I’m pushing back against is the notion that we should assume it is what it appears to be.

              The primary culprit could be exactly what most have assumed. But I’m not going to say that’s what it is until I know that’s what it is. Nor do I blame anyone else for doing the same.


              • Donald Trump has said that (or something like it).

                That’s not possible. I mean, I strung several sentences together into a coherent argument. Trump can’t do that. But I’ll concede he mighta grunted his way to a possible interpretation of something similar, tho. :)


        • “Very few people on the left would deny that we are free of bigotry.”

          I think most people on the right are concerned that a lot of these incidents are caused by people on the left, motivated not by bigotry toward the target but by hatred against the right.


          • Pinky,
            if so, the right is a bunch of projecting idiots.
            the left doesn’t lie because they hate the right, they lie because they’re narcissistic attention whores who think that they can go on national television and tell blatant lies without getting caught.
            (I have a friend who does fact checking…)


          • That’s the problem, tho. Folks on the right have internalized the idea that lefties are cynical in pursuit of their goals to the point where no evidence constitutes a refutation of the primary thesis. Evidence and commonsense have been completely tossed out the window because nothing anyone could say in our brave new world is non-political.


              • Supposing that acts of violence are often false flag ops perpetrated by liberals: If your goal is to turn the country towards a more conservative direction wouldn’t the best strategy in those cases be to say, in this order, a) “political acts of violence cannot be tolerated in a free society” followed by b) “Oh!, isn’t it interesting that you’re lefty friends perpetrated this senseless act of violence, even while I was condemning it all along as illiberal?”

                But that don’t happen, seems to me. The reverse, in fact.


                    • This strikes me as a “duh” question, so let’s be specific just in case I’m missing something. I condemn all threats and acts of violence against Jews on the basis of their religious / racial identity.


                          • You’re literally the first conservative I’ve heard condemn those acts without the qualifaction that they might be perpetrated by anti-Trump liberals as part of a false flag op.


                              • I thought I was giving Pinky the benefit of the doubt there. Are you saying I’m wrong? That he doesn’t condemn those acts uncategorically?

                                OK, fine. He only condemns those acts if they haven’t been perpetrated by an anti-Trump false-flagger. Otherwise he’s fine with ’em.


                                • No. I’m saying if someone says “Those attacks are terrible, though I think they were a false flag” the second part isn’t a qualification of the first. Unless we infer that false flags are not worthy of condemnation, and I see no reason to make that inference on its face. Rather, I see the latter as an attempt to shift presumed culpability (from his team to the other), rather than suggest acceptability.


                                  • and I see no reason to make that inference.

                                    The absence of conservative condemnation about these acts is one reason to make the inference. The affirmative conservative conclusion that they might be (for all we know!) the result of a false flag op is another.


                                      • OK. Fair enough. I just wonder why Jewish folks and other liberals were waiting with baited breath for any conservative to come out against these threats and attacks. Well, other than Trump saying that it might be liberals trying to trick everyone, anyway. Which didn’t seem to appease the Jewish community as far as I can tell.


                                          • Why would it’s being a false flag diminish the worry or the judgments any of us make about it?

                                            Eg., supposing it’s entirely a false flag op, shouldn’t we ALL still be committed to the view that Jewish communities should enjoy the same security and freedom from persecution that we presuppose for our ownselves? Shouldn’t the primary judgment be that Jewish CCs and cemeteries should be free from these types of threats and violence, regardless of who orchestrated it?

                                            Add: Dang, that sounded shrill. Apologies. I guess I’m just getting frustrated trying to say the same thing in different ways that actually makes sense to the reader. Seems to me there’s a big difference, politically speaking, between saying “well, lets wait and see who’s terrorizing the Jewish community before we pass judgment” and saying “terrorizing the jewish community is bull***t regardless of who’s doing it”.


                                            • It’s really bad either way, and in some cases equally bad. In other cases, where there is an underlying threat, I’d rather find out a threat against me is a hoax than that somebody actually wanted to do me harm. The motivated person is a bigger threat.

                                              None of that removes spray paint from a cemetery, though, and in both cases induce the same amount of fear until revealed.


                                              • And you’re right that liberals have been playing up a political angle on all this. BSDI!

                                                Which is, as they say, why we can’t have nice things. But it’s also why we have Trump.


                                            • “Why would it’s being a false flag diminish the worry or the judgments any of us make about it?”

                                              Because the response to “some dude got angry at his girlfriend and tried to wind everyone up” is different from the response to “American Minorities Are In Immediate Physical Danger Due To Extremist Bigots Enabled By Trump”.

                                              Like, in one of those situations we suspend civil liberties and send in the drones, sort of thing.


                                              • This comment isn’t based in any facts, DD, since the guy is responsible for only 8 of 100 bomb threats and no cemetery desecrations. But I give you an A for effort in the attempted reduction.

                                                And who’s the dick again? Me for challenging your view or you for … well …. I get confused ….


                                                  • Then go ahead and say “this is a bad thing that we should feel bad about.” Cuz no one on your side has actually said that yet. Ya’ll’ve been too interested in playing meta-politics to get down to the individual level.


                                                    • This is such nonsense.

                                                      If you’re interested, my great-grandmother was a Jacobs. I’m two coin-tosses removed from automatic Israeli citizenship. I’d also wager I’ve lost more of my family tree to religious persecution than 90% of the commenters here.

                                                      And I’ve never noticed that the fate of American Jewry is one of your issues of passion, until right now, when you think it can be used as a mallet against conservatives. And if Donald Trump made fun of Mickey Mouse tomorrow, I think you’d forget all about the Jews and be writing impassioned comments about Disney. You’re complaining about meta-politics? Look in the mirror.


                                                      • And I’ve never noticed that the fate of American Jewry is one of your issues of passion,

                                                        It isn’t. I’m more interested in discussing the view that one can’t express a judgement about offensive actions until the perpetrators political orientation is determined.

                                                        when you think it can be used as a mallet against conservatives.

                                                        There it is!


                                                        • Yes, there it is. Did you not notice it before? Like in all your earlier comments about this same thing? Like when you complained about conservatives on this issue, or Trump on this issue, or talked about people “on your side”? Did you not notice that you’re baiting your political opponents while faking concern about American Jews? Well, I’m glad I helped you realize it.


                                                          • Dude, that’s just it. I’m not faking concern for American Jews. Haven’t you read anything I’ve written over the last few months? (Even longer than that…) I ain’t an ideological partisan. I think the Dems are fucked. So what ideology am I advocating here other than being decent to each other?


                                                              • Pinky, I’m crowing about an issue that other people want to score political points about, by dismissing the real concerns of real folks in our communities who are experiencing these threats.

                                                                If you can’t get that distinction, then you’ve made my point that you can’t help but view that as an attack on conservatives.

                                                                In other words, there is no view anyone can express anywhere about anything that won’t be viewed by a partisan as a political statement. And THAT view is what I’m struggling against. If we’re gonna live together – all us conservatives, liberals, libertarians, independents – then there has to be a common language we can speak without every.single.statement. being viewed as ideologically motivated and partisanly inclined.

                                                                The whole thing is just bullshit, seems to me. The fact that conservative’s first reaction to the JCC threats is that it’s a liberal false flag op to foment anti-Trump sentiment rather than concern about the actual people and the effects those threats have on ’em is mind boggling to me.


                                                                • The last time this story came up was a couple days ago. In what context did it come up? Bashing Donald Trump. Does that mean that Chip doesn’t genuinely lament what happened? No.

                                                                  It’s the nature of this place, and places like it. It is something I have myself found aggravating at times, where everything gets distilled in this particular fashion with such frequency. It’s informed how I’ve done my link stuff (fewer “Politics” sections, more foreign stuff when I do it).

                                                                  But given that this is a venue for discussing such things, I’m not sure what to do about it. Especially when I *want* to discuss these things sometimes.

                                                                  Jaybird’s comment was fair game. We responded to that, and responded to responses to that, and so on. The topic of the day was the political side if things and that at least done of the threats were not what thru appeared, just as a few days ago the topic was Trump’s alleged silence and inaction.

                                                                  But as I say below, the underlying thing – that this is unfortunate and that we wish it wasn’t happening – does not seem to be in dispute. At least, nobody has defended it as far as I am aware. So we go to the areas of disagreement.


                                                                  • Thanks for that. And fair enough, as far as it goes. And it goes a pretty far ways. Maybe not all the way thru the rabbit hole, tho. Just deep enough to get really fucking disoriented. :)


                                                        • Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
                                                          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
                                                          The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
                                                          The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
                                                          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
                                                          Are full of passionate intensity.


                                  • I don’t understand this as a qualification. I can’t imagine that anyone on the right has said “I condemn these actions if they came from racists but not if they came from liberals”. That doesn’t pass the smell test. I’m sure what they’re saying is “I condemn these actions, and by doing so I’ll take the hit against my side if they came from them, but I’m allowing the possibility that they came from the other side”.

                                    BTW, I hated putting those statements in quotes. I’m not claiming that anyone ever said those precise things. But the sentences would be incomprehensible without quotation marks.

                                    ETA – Isn’t that “taking the hit” implied in the original question “do you condemn these attacks”? I’m assuming it is. After all, you wouldn’t typically ask someone to condemn actions they have no connection to. I condemn all attacks on waitresses in Brazil, if anyone asks me to, but no one’s asking.


                                    • Stillwater, as far as I know, you haven’t condemned the attacks on Jews on this thread. But I don’t think that’s suspicious, because I’m assuming you’re not a piece of ****. I do think it’s suspicious that you don’t make the same assumption about me.


                                      • But I’m also not a person who suggested that the threats and desecrations could be, for all we know!, the result of a false flag op.

                                        My point is why would any of that matter if the topic is whether or not Jewish people should feel safe?


                                        • You’re being coy, or you’re carrying assumptions that you’ve never considered. Either way you’ve accepted and promoted this story within a left versus right framework.


                                        • It might matter if it’s a threat to do violence rather than actual violence (a false flagger being less likely to do violence). But whether that’s the case or not, whether Jewish people should feel safe isn’t the sole topic. (It might be “Is Trump’s and/or conservative rhetoric responsible?”)


                • how do you see b) as an effective strategy?

                  Also when should one stop parsing:
                  “is this claim for real?”
                  “hell with it, trust no one.”

                  When the policy makers and the propaganda media and the academic folks are on the same team as the bad actors, it’s a thing to say ‘why can’t you just trust this claim?’


                  • how do you see b) as an effective strategy?

                    Because it allows liberals to be hoisted with their own petard.

                    That strategy might require conservatives to exhibit a minimal level of non-reflexive strategic thinking, of course… hence my sympathy for your worries re: how that might be an effective strategy.


                    • I used to think if I could hold up a mirror and point out these little ‘issues’ that the folks on that side would see them and say ‘oh, yeah that looks bad’.

                      Several years of showing it led to…..ignoring it. Which brought me to two conclusions:
                      1. it is a tactic or strategy they use
                      2. It’s not a strategy, but just a facet of the faction, like someone who might have a nervous twitch.

                      Therefore the mirror thing didn’t do any good.

                      I don’t hold b) as viable.


            • It’s a lot easier to mock the conspiracy-theory notion that a particular hate crime is either false-flag incitement or attention-seeking fakery when there aren’t, y’know, actual examples of those things happening.


        • I think it’s because there is a strange dynamic among a portion of the progressive mindset that sees “being the underdog” as bestowing some sort of moral authority.

          Israel provides the most obvious example when it comes to “Before The Six Day War” and “After The Six Day War”. We see the “underdog” shift and morph and, golly, if you ask whether Israel is an underdog today, you get a completely different answer than in, say, the 50’s.

          Stuff like faked hate crimes (or whatever term we’d use for this particular set of acts) is outrageous not only because they present identically to hate crimes, but because they’re attempting to game hate crimes.


          • Jay,
            Dude, it’s fucking propaganda. All is fair in love and war, but for the love of god, don’t get caught doing night work!

            Of course Israel is a fucking underdog these days. Anyone who thinks differently hasn’t a scrap of imagination or insight into the future. So’s the rest of the middle east, bar Turkey, Iran and Eritrea.

            The difference between Israel and the rest of the Middle East is that Israel’s gonna fight. There will be blood, and there will be tears.


          • I think it’s because there is a strange dynamic among a portion of the progressive mindset that sees “being the underdog” as bestowing some sort of moral authority.

            I think that’s equally true of a significant portion of the conservative mindset as well. The difference is that progressives are advocating for change while the conservatives are arguing for stasis, and the burden in those types of dynamics rests on those who want to move the dial.

            In a more practical political sense, tho, a significant portion of conservatives have fully internalized the idea they’re the underdog in this fight and play not only the moral authority card but the victim card as well, and do so much more effectively (at this point) than progressives.


            • It could be relative. If Obama was a form of ‘peak national/world social policy’ and the conservatives look to decentralize that, then the conservatives are the ones moving the policy and the progressives will be the ones trying to stop the change.


              • I hear ya, but I don’t think “relative” is the right word. The term “conservatism” means many, many things in our political discourse. (So does “liberal” and “libertarian” and so on.) So to me it seems more important to determine what a person means when they say it rather than reducing the term to a univocal meaning and analysing arguments from there. Eg, conservatism may simply mean standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’ or it may mean opposing whatever Democrats want, updated daily. Or anything in between.


                • Well if you just look at policy at a particular time there will be people who want to keep it as is, verses those that want to move it.

                  That’s removed from the defining characteristics of factions. If conservatives were as concerned about stopping history, they should be more concerned with the advancements of social programs, the ballooning of military provisioning, and the ever increasing powers of the state. Those defining characteristics move with time. Different factions pick up or drop characteristics as time passes. This makes even the defining characteristics of a faction only relative to a particular time period.

                  So in both instances, it is relative of where*, who and when.

                  (* where in a sense of where a policy is at a specific time)


                  • OK, got it. Yes I agree. Eg, Democrats rallying to preserve SS and Medicare are actually advocating conservative issues in one sense of that word.

                    That’s why I (personally) don’t put much stock in the connotation of the word, but the actual denotation. Ie., a conservative, by this person’s usage, denotes principles and policies A, B, C…. Z. Same with a particular person’s use of the word “liberal”.

                    Dialectically, what happens is that a person who opposes Cs or Ls will say “C/Ls do X, and that’s why we can’t have nice things” and frame the debate on their definitions of those meanings thereby lumping all those who that person views as Cs or Ls into the mix. It obliterates not only nuance but also truth and accuracy.

                    Ahh, such is the political world we live in. Politics is the mind killer, not because we hold certain beliefs and principles, but because we think our beliefs and principles allow us to analyze precisely what’s defective in our opponent’s reasoning. And that’s especially true for those folks who think they’re “above the fray”. They’re more poisoned than those killed on the front lines since their deaths, dependent on the deaths of others, are meta (ie., over) determined.


                    • I don’t know if it is that anyone is above the fray, as much as each person is living the reality of one person.

                      If we were all living the same reality there would be no disparity in reasoning.


                      • If we were all living the same reality there would be no disparity in reasoning.

                        See, that’s what I think is just a massive confusion. We’re all living IN the exact same same reality – the external world – and despite that we have disagreements about what’s best for US (or, you know, ME).

                        Subjective value (or word as text, etc) doesn’t mean the world is subjectively determined. It merely means each of us desires that our subjective preferences were real.

                        What’s interesting about that?


                        • Let’s just for a moment say there is one hundred ‘things’ about our reality. If we had to say that something is unequivocally good or bad*, and we in good faith ranked those hundred things realistically as good or bad (as is possible), how close would our answers match, and why or why not?

                          (*leaving out all the shades of gray, because we REALLY need to get to one reality)


                          • Do you mean REAL reality as opposed to ideoligically derived conceptions of reality? Cuz if so, then I’d bet most folks agree on most things. Problem is that our current paradigm is that there are no non-political, hence non-ideological, facts in the world. Reality is buried, dude. You gotta dig to get there.

                            What’s that line from Yeats? “The center cannot hold”?

                            That’s where we’re at right now.


                                  • That’s a question for philosophers. My own view is that humans live in a material world, governed by causality and lots of natural laws, with a bit of free will too, and within that reality have competing self-interests which conflict and sometimes coalesce manifesting as politics as it’s currently understood, and hence, here we are.

                                    The question of whether humankind is good or bad presumes a God-like perspective, which any mortal human would reject outa humility from being unable to attain.


                                    • Figuring out whether man is inherently good or bad sounds like first order analysis for someone who thinks they should be writing social policy.

                                      It sets right there next to the two freedoms problem.
                                      There is no one true social objectivity that one can claim. So I don’t make the claim, and I would resist that it be made.

                                      Even in the best of pragmatics, reality is in the arena of context. Who has to answer if man is good or bad?

                                      This is without even bringing in the subject of self interest, and just trying to define reality, or at least reality for who?


                                      • Figuring out whether man is inherently good or bad sounds like first order analysis for someone who thinks they should be writing social policy.

                                        Why? I don’t see that at all. Being “good” requires a judgment and those ain’t worth a hilla beans in this crazy woild.

                                        What matters wrt policy is furthering people’s interests. Most people want a safe place to live and job/income that allows them to live as they like – to have kids, be free from violence, pursue their individual happyplace, get on with their business. That’s not a judgment, just a description.


                                        • The act of creating policy starts a conflict of the two freedoms, and gets forever escalated. Yet basic rule of law is insufficent to make the wants of these things feel socially secure. Naked of the written policy and devoid of the official protectors. Man must be bad, for without the policy the world falls to chaos.

                                          But if man is bad will the policy deliver those things which would require men to be good. Does the policy make good men of bad men?


                                          • Policy doesn’t make good men of bad, it delineates the parameters which bad men can’t exceed without retribution. They get excommunicated. Or convicted, as the case may be.

                                            That may not be just from an individualistic perspective, but when has human flourishing ever reduced to the justice of the individual? (Oh, I know, there’s a long history and hoped for future of immanentizing radical individualism. Unfortunately, the math just doesn’t support the equaion.)


                                            • Policy doesn’t make good men of (conservatives/liberals), it delineates the parameters which (conservatives/liberals) can’t exceed without retribution. They get excommunicated. Or convicted, as the case may be.

                                              Maybe a shining of the mirror of context or a parsed reality?

                                              There will always be more reality than social objectivity, the math shows I have nothing to worry about.;)


          • As Jaybird, as I mentioned above, law enforcement thinks that Thompson was a copy cat out to get his ex-girlfriend so he learned this from seeing it in the media. Meaning, the original and other bomb threats can still becoming from right-wing sources.

            But I think is right. Conservatives have internalized the idea that liberals are so cynical that they will do anything to advance their goals. Maybe if they are being generous they would call Thompson a lone wolf.


          • “I think it’s because there is a strange dynamic among a portion of the progressive mindset that sees “being the underdog” as bestowing some sort of moral authority.”

            It amazes me that people looked at Rachel Dolezal and did not recognize this.


    • I’ve long held that it isn’t what’s in your heart that matters, but what you do.

      Which makes that guy every bit as despicable as anybody who’s actually a neo-Nazi or an anti-Semite. Maybe more.

      Sure, you don’t really believe it. How could I verify otherwise? But you did it, and you used the meaning of it to your own advantage. What a jerk. Just reading his words makes me think of a certain person in the White House.


  5. B1 – first link goes to article about an eighth continent.

    climate change, power generation and politics — back in my land use days, we had all sorts of fun acronyms for project opponents. Everyone knows about NIMBYs. But have you heard of BANANAs – build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything? Or people who just say NOPE – nowhere on planet earth?

    My personal objection to nuclear power is that I have every reason to believe that ratepayers are not paying the true cost of power. Of course, no one using CO2-emitting power is either. This is one critical area of public policy that is being held hostage by each party’s extremists. There really is a deal to be made where conservatives agree to tax carbon, liberals agree to support a much wider range of alternative power, and both parties support major funding into better ways to managing our nuclear waste.


    • Molten salt reactors can eat nuclear waste, and the very physics that lets them work also prevents them from ever overheating, eliminating the danger of a meltdown.

      Ergo, the true cost would be significantly lower that PBWR reactors.


      • This is one area where I hope Republican control of the government combined with their borderline contempt for environmental interests could be really useful. Sometimes you need somebody to flip over the table to get past certain impasses, and a strong nuclear advocate could potentially get us pushing forward with some of the newer technology again.

        If I didn’t think he’d manage them the way he managed casinos, I’d almost wish Trump had personal interests in nuclear power generation so he’d push to fast track it. “I know more about nuclear power than the engineers do. I have the best brain.”


  6. ” both parties support major funding into better ways to managing our nuclear waste.”

    We already know how to manage nuclear waste: Put it somewhere nobody goes and then don’t go there.


  7. For the record, I assume everybody here believes that threats of violence against Jewish Community Centers and desecration on Jewish Graves is wrong if committed by:

    1) Anti-semites
    2) Lefties trying to “raise awareness”
    3) Men upset with their exes
    4) Anyone else.

    If this doesn’t describe your view, please explain.


  8. A Mike Schilling tweet reminded me of this important essay, apparently written with Trump specifically in mind:

    It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth – this indifference to how things really are – that I regard as of the essence of bullshit.


  9. Given recent history – eg., his claim only three weeks from election day that an investigation into Hillary’s emails is being “reopened” to Trump’s calling him “his guy” even tho he was appointed by the previous admin – I can’t help but interpret this as Comey trying to save himself and the Trump admin from its own worst enemy – Trump himself:

    FBI Director Comey asked Justice officials to refute Trump unproved wiretapping claim

    I’m not sure that’s possible anymore. They’ve already released the Kraken.


    • Well it’s not like Trump will realize he was implicating Comey/FBI with his tweetrage storm.

      “unproved wiretapping claim…” . Now that is epic weasel wording. Unproved? well yeah, but there hasn’t even been any evidence presented. It’s just a flop sweat induced freak out.


      • I agree Trump’s tweets were flop sweat. But Comey, unlike Trump, knows that an actual investigation isn’t going to work out well for the Trump admin, that there’s no upside and quite likely significant downside. He’s trying to save his ass here, by trying to save Trump’s. Comey ain’t clean on this stuff. (Remember that unscheduled two hour meeting with Intel Com. Senators a couple weeks ago? He’s in it up to his neck – or thinks he is anyway.)


          • He’s asking the DOJ to reject the seriousness of Trump’s claim to protect Trump and the admin from the inevitable investigation which taking those claims seriously would require.

            He’s trying to get out front of it. And by doing so further implicates himself as being right in it.

            “I was up above it.
            Now I’m down in it.”


            • His claim just keeps the issue in the news. It draws more attention to the matter instead of letting it get lost in the general cacophony of crazy. It’s not going to be investigated unless more shoes drop. If they just let it go it will be forgotten.


              • His claim just keeps the issue in the news. It draws more attention to the matter instead of letting it get lost in the general cacophony of crazy.

                That would suggest he made the claim to keep attention fixed on the matter so’s it won’t get lost in the chatter and that there WILL in fact be investigations.

                That’s certainly possible, except he didn’t make any such claim but rather is reported to have invoked DOJ to quash an investigation. I’m not sure how that adds up, now matter how many dimensions of chess a person is playing.


                  • What do Rs in congress not being bullish on investigations have to do with anything Comey did at DOJ?

                    I’m confused about that. Like, seriously.

                    This is a no win situation for Comey. There’s just no way he looks good lobbying DOJ to refrain from investigating the current President’s accusation that the previous president engaged in high crimes.


          • I think Comey is more trying to protect himself.

            From what tho? If he’s innocent, then let the investigations begin, yeah?

            So that’s the million dollar question. It could be that by rejecting the seriousness of Trump’s claims he’s trying to retain a shred of respectability in the public, but that wouldn’t require him going to the DOJ and lobbying for them to reject those claims outa hand would it? He coulda just made those statements publicly, yes?

            So something else is going on here, seems to me anyway. He’s in full-blown CYA mode.


          • Not Trump, that’s for sure. I mean, Trump called him “his guy” only a couple weeks ago.

            From what I understand firing the Director of the Fedrul BI is a tough row to hoe. Gotta have congressional support and all that.


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