Thursday, July 6, 2023

Thursday Night Links

  • We have observed in our lifetime the spectacular failure of two observational science claims: global warming and Covid. The apocalyptic vision of global warming keeps getting pushed back and strangely, those who push it still own prime coastal real estate despite their claims that oceans would reclaim low-lying areas in this decade. Strangely, those with skin in the game, insurance companies, are still willing to write premiums. We saw similar failed predictions and inconsistent behavior during the pandemic, with elites stampeding the public with fear while violating strict protocols themselves. Strangely, we were told the virus had political opinions like a pagan god, dangerous enough to smite those who gathered to protest the restrictions but posing no danger to those who riot against the police. In both cases, the elite adherents of these observational sciences were biased because their theory gives them political power. [The Tom File]
  • Do you really think God couldn’t have figured out a way to bring forth intelligent life in a universe that lacked planets? Seems like a lack of imagination. Here’s an argument that actually moves me: without three spatial dimensions, there would be no music. For those of you too lazy to slog through that link, you start with Hadamard’s 1923 proof that distortionless wave propagation is only possible in a space with an odd number of dimensions. Then you do a little bit of math and show that if you add the requirement that the wave be radially symmetric, then it only works in dimensions one and three. But one-dimensional waves propagate without attenuation, so a one-dimensional universe would be “unbearably noisy.” Therefore music can only exist in three dimensions. QED. [Mr. and Mrs. Psmith’s Bookshelf]
  • Americans have historically low levels of tolerance for difficult and coercive times. We recall the end of the Great Recession when Americans had had enough and began buying iPhones and iPads en masse and ended the recession. Nonetheless, there is a hard-core “bitter ender” remnant that continues to mask even astride bicycles on country roads. I don’t presume to analyze them, but is does seem neurotic. [Curated Carlos]
  • David Hackett Fischer’s seminal work on the British settlement of North America, Albion’s Seed, is an excellent overview of the four groups of settlers who colonized today’s US. In particular, he cites the outsized influence of the Putitans, who evolved into the latter-day Yankees, although that word encompasses more than a few European nationalities in 2023. In a recent conversation with my sister, I noted how similar shadow-banning and canceling were to the early Puritan practice of shunning, most notably Hawthorne’s most famously shunned protagonist, Hester Prynne. [Curated Carlos]
  • Build a consistent writing habit. This is a common theme of nearly every piece of writing advice (e.g.). It also matches my own experience; my ability to write improved the most when I committed to writing every week and, briefly, every day. Separately from the quality of your writing, consistency is also important for getting readers. People are less likely to subscribe to your blog, or remember to check it, if it looks like it updates very infrequently. Finally, blog posts are one of the ultimate examples of searching for outliers—the best ones are massively better than the average. And one of the best ways to improve your chances of getting an outlier is just to take lots of shots on goal. [Ben Kuhn]
  • Recently I’ve been thinking about how all my favorite people are great at a skill I’ve labeled in my head as “staring into the abyss.” Staring into the abyss means thinking reasonably about things that are uncomfortable to contemplate, like arguments against your religious beliefs, or in favor of breaking up with your partner. It’s common to procrastinate on thinking hard about these things because it might require you to acknowledge that you were very wrong about something in the past, and perhaps wasted a bunch of time based on that (e.g. dating the wrong person or praying to the wrong god). However, in most cases you have to either admit this eventually or, if you never admit it, lock yourself into a sub-optimal future life trajectory, so it’s best to be impatient and stare directly into the uncomfortable topic until you’ve figured out what to do. The first time I learned what really exceptional abyss-staring looks like, it was by watching Drew, the CEO of Wave. Starting a company requires a lot of staring into the abyss, because it involves making lots of serious mistakes (building the wrong thing, hiring the wrong person, etc.); to move quickly, you need to be fast at acknowledging and fixing them. Drew was extremely willing to tackle uncomfortable decisions head-on—“should we not have hired this person?” “Should we pivot away from this business that is pretty good but not great?”—and every time, it was immediately obvious that the decision he made was a big improvement. [Ben Kuhn]
  • One analysis of FDR’s policies during the ‘Great Depression’ suggest that the policies delayed recovery by 7 years and what should have been a rapid recovery was, instead, prolonged by ‘cartelization’ that the administration favored. This is exactly what the AAA was doing: creating a cartel to begin the ‘collectivization’ of American agriculture. Think of the absurdity of the mainstream position here: dozens of Soviet Communist spies were busy trying to ‘fix capitalism’ by ‘keeping supply low and demand high’ and save the American economy by destroying hundreds of thousands of pounds of food at a time while their fellow citizens were starving. People like Ware, who personally went to the Soviet Union and saw the horrors of forced collectivization and participated in them, weren’t trying to economize and streamline inefficient systems. They weren’t trying to ‘reduce waste’ in the private sector. They were using government policy to bring the private sector into control. The same way that Stalin used collectivization to crush his political opponents, they were doing the same. The same way Stalin and friends used food policy to starve their political opponents in Ukraine to death, they were starving the American economy to destroy all of its independent farmers and producers. [Benjamin Wetmore]
  • We are challenged in aerospace to supply everything the industry needs. And it's for three reasons. One is in that first year of COVID, nobody knew what was going on, including our customers. And so everybody ran their inventories down, protected their cash and depleted inventories across the entire supply chain. And so as things recover, not only do you have to meet today's demand, you have to rebuild that safety stock inventory that allows the supply chain to operate smoothly. Second, we do struggle to get parts, whether it's a component that goes into a coating or a sealant or a part. We make transparencies or windshields for aircraft. Parts for those are still hard to get. And third, you're working on getting productivity levels back to where they were pre-COVID and just keeping up. Everybody in the industry is struggling with those same three challenges. [IndustryWeek]
  • Before SFFA, Thomas and Alito were the only two justices who I thought were always certain to rule the right way on civil rights cases. Gorsuch has shown that he belongs in the same category. That means we only need two of three from Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Barrett in future cases, and I’ve seen little reason to distrust any of the conservative justices in this area. Roberts in particular has been moderate in decisions on abortion and Obamacare, but he has always voted the right way in affirmative action cases, and in a plurality opinion having to do with school busing the Chief Justice famously wrote that “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” This appears to be a long-standing commitment of his. Soon, my book on wokeness as law (pre-order now) is going to explain to conservatives exactly what legal doctrines to attack. [Richard Hanania]

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