Skip to content

The right and wrong way to protest

May 26, 2017

Kudos to the Notre Dame students who protested Mike Pence by walking out of their commencement ceremony. They planned ahead, acted civilly, stuck to their principles in a way their future selves might proudly remember, and generated good media attention. Too many protests today — like the one Milo Yiannopoulos led against commencement speaker Linda Sarsour — turn into the violent clash of opposing crowds.

What, if anything, is a species?

May 25, 2017

While your neighborhood coyote is most likely to view your pet dog either as potential dinner or possible competition, there are some circumstances where the result is a hookup and subsequent pups. The world does not come with species markers, just individuals. Typing is an invention of the human mind. That biological world being varied and complex, it is hardly surprising that there is no neat definition of species, even now that DNA tools make it ever easier to judge that what formerly looked like one species are multiple species that diverged long, long past.

Good-bye, Murray, again

May 24, 2017

Charles Murray’s work on race and intelligence was wrongheaded out of the gate. Which highlights the question of why some pundits try to resurrect it every few years. This time round, Vox takes in hand explaining its core problem.

Why the EPA matters

May 23, 2017

This article on the neoprene plant in St. John the Baptist Parish should help explain why so many people are opposing the current attempt to gut the EPA. Two things are important. First, government regulation is the only thing that ever has curtailed industrial pollution. There is no economic secret to how externalities work. Where they are a useful resource that legally can be monetized, they will be. Second, in the US, state governments have catered to local industry. The EPA is far from perfect. The Republican desire isn’t to replace it with something better, but to give industry whatever it wants, and to hell with those who suffer as a result.

Ladybug wings

May 22, 2017

Kazuya Saito, who researches foldable structures at University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science, has figured out how ladybugs fold their wings. And hopes the knowledge will help lead to better folding umbrellas. But umbrellas are a one-off. With 3d printing and automated sewing, why not custom tents, awnings, dodgers, and biminis?

The Russia investigation: a prediction

May 19, 2017

Deputy Atty. Gen. Rosenstein did the smart thing, appointing a special counsel (not special prosecutor) to head the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and whatever involvement there might have been by Trump and his team. 117 days from inauguration to special counsel is a record that I hope no future president matches.

I’m skeptical — well, that’s a given for me — that Trump coordinated with the Russians in their interference into the election. If nothing else, I’m not sure the Kremlin would see advantage in that at the time. It’s more likely that some of his staff committed crimes related to that. Given Trump’s character and team, I will make this prediction: Some of the felonies that Robert Mueller investigates in his new role have not yet been committed.

The fascist reflex

May 18, 2017

Unsurprisingly, Newt Gingrich blames the media for Trump’s scandals and their fallout. Trump allegedly asked Comey about arresting journalists who publish leaked classified information.

Bret Stephens recalls a small part of how we got here:

To reread “The Flight 93 Election” today is to understand what has gone wrong not only with the Trump presidency, but also with so much of the conservative movement writ large. In a word, it’s become unhinged. To imply, as Anton did, that Barack Obama, for all his shortcomings, was Ziad Jarrah, Flight 93’s lead hijacker, is vile. To suppose that we’d all be dead if Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, had been elected is hallucinatory. To argue that the United States, for all its problems, was the equivalent of a doomed aircraft is absurd. To suggest that Donald Trump, a man who has sacrificed nothing in his life for anyone or anything, is the worthy moral heir to the Flight 93 passengers is a travesty.

They wanted Benito. Instead, they got Il Donald, a J. W. Pepper with a Queens accent. And these still are the salad days.