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Is there room for a leftist populism?

March 14, 2017

One of the notions often heard from the left is that Trump won because the Democrats did not do enough to appeal to the working class. Zack Beauchamp makes the case that tacking left on economics hasn’t and won’t work in today’s political environment. Not in Europe’s social democracies. Not here in the US.

Knowledge and its dissidents

March 13, 2017

Leave voters are less trusting of experts than Remain voters. That doesn’t make them more skeptical overall. After all, they trusted the pundits who sold them Brexit. It’s a matter of where they place their trust.

The death of expertise makes people more vulnerable to modern propaganda. Here in the US, Religious fundamentalism was the large, cultural move away from expertise.

There are quite a few articles claiming that Robert Mercer escalated the propaganda process this election, based on social media data. Maybe so. Maybe not.

The ancient practice of medicine

March 10, 2017

No, the presence of medicinal plant DNA in the tooth enamel of a young Neanderthal with a dental abcess is not evidence that he was “self-medicating,” which term implies someone who is taking drugs apart from medical advice. That young man almost certainly did not discover those plants by personal trial and error, but was getting advice from whichever elders of his group had some knowledge of them. That tooth enamel is physical evidence that Neanderthals had the intelligence and social behavior to pass such knowledge from generation to generation.

Moving, perhaps to Canada

March 9, 2017

What struck me about this refugee’s flight to Canada were the words he spoke to the Mountie waiting for him to make his illegal crossing. So polite, so apologetic for the trouble he is causing, they should mark him as already part Canadian:

I apologize about this, but I have to break your rules. I’m sorry.

Tyler Cowen looks at various explanations of why Americans move less often than they once did. I’m suspicious there are other reasons lurking. Moving rarely was optimally decided, serving instead as a kind of search. The internet and modern communications make search cheaper and faster, forestalling the need to move as part of that.

Keeping the coast wild and wooly

March 8, 2017

From fishing shacks on built on the spoils in the Laguna Madre, to funky marinas that have a box on the door asking you to slip in a $10 if you spend the night, the Texas coast long has been a bit wild and wooly. Seemingly, the Island Mooring marina in Port Aransas has been bought by new management and is looking to become a bit tonier. Which means, the liveaboards must go.

On the other hand, it sounds as if complaints about duck hunting in the upper Laguna this season were caused more by rude hunters firing toward homes. Everyone who spends time on the water knows the boom of an explosion travels over the water.

Cheers to the young couple here who turned an old prison bus into their caravan.

Two cheers for ex-Muslim atheists

March 7, 2017

Ali Rivzi is exactly right when he says:

Challenging Islam as a doctrine is very different from demonizing Muslim people.

Let me push that further. The vast majority of Muslims keep their faith for the same reason as the vast majority of Christians: they were raised in it, and it is a strong part of their family life. Those so raised who leave their religion behind have followed a path similar to those of us who left other religions, but will be shaped by that upbringing and have an understanding of their former co-religionists that, say, ex-Christian atheists do not. So I am glad to see authors like Rivzi writing on that journey.

Muslim schism and the few Filipino atheists

March 6, 2017

Many Pakistanis and many other Sunnis do not view Mahershala Ali as a Muslim, because he is Ahmadi.

There are few atheists in the Philippines. But they try.