Today should be the day the impeachment fiasco ends. And, sadly, the Democratic Senators who are currently running for President (what, like half of them?) will be released on to the campaign trails again, to resume out-promising each other with more and more offerings of Free Shit. But we’ll comment more on that later.
OK, only yesterday, I know I expressed my distaste for calling someone stupid because they disagree with someone else. But let me point out that in this section, I am 1) describing a specific instance in which someone makes a stupid statement or does a stupid thing, rather than calling them stupid in general (even if it may be true) and B) the people in question really did do something that is objectively an act of utter nitwittery. So, with that said:
On the verbal ability test (WORDSUM), not surprisingly the median number of vocabulary questions correct was the same for both Clinton and Trump supporters: 6 out of 10 words correct. The mean verbal ability score for Trump supporters was 6.15 words correct, while the mean verbal ability score for Clinton supporters was 5.69 correct, a difference of nearly a half a question on a 10-question test. This moderate difference is statistically significant at p<.0005.
Further, Trump supporters score significantly higher on verbal ability (6.15 correct) than the rest of the public combined (5.70 correct), whereas Clinton supporters score significantly lower on verbal ability (5.69 correct) than the rest of the public combined (5.98 correct).
This should not be too surprising. On the 22 General Social Surveys using the verbal ability scale since 1974, for every single one, conservative Republicans score significantly higher than the rest of the public combined. As for Republicans overall, they score significantly higher in verbal ability than Democrats in all five decades, including for the 2010s combined.
Testing the hypothesis that Trump supporters have greater science knowledge than those who supported Clinton in 2016, on six questions Trump supporters offer the correct answer significantly more often than Clinton supporters: those about lasers, radioactivity, viruses, the father’s contribution to the biological sex of the child (BOYORGRL), whether “according to astronomers” the universe began with a huge explosion (BIGBANG1), and that the earth goes around the sun and that it takes a year to do so (combined EARTHSUN and SOLARREV).
On one science knowledge question—whether the center of the earth is hot (HOTCORE)—the superior performance of Trump supporters over Clinton supporters is borderline significant (1-sided Fisher’s Exact Test p=.05-.10).
On two questions, the structure of atoms (ELECTRON) and continental drift (CONDRIFT), Trump supporters score slightly, but insignificantly, better than Clinton supporters. On none of these nine science questions do Trump supporters score worse than Clinton supporters.
When one compares Clinton supporters to the rest of the public combined, Clinton supporters perform significantly worse than the rest of the public on the same six science questions on which Trump supporters perform better than Clinton supporters.
Indeed, less than half of 2016 Clinton supporters (49.6%) are able to answer correctly both of two related questions: whether the earth goes around the sun or the sun goes around the earth (EARTHSUN) and whether that takes a day, a month, or a year (SOLARREV). Remember these two questions are multiple choice! You would have a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly on the first part: whether the earth goes around the sun or vice versa.Sadly, the general public didn’t do hugely better than Clinton supporters, with only 57.1% (compared to 49.6%) knowing that the earth goes around the sun and that it takes a year to do so.
I’ve been chuckling about this ever since I read it.
It’s a common stance among, well, honestly, all kinds of people, to blithely assume someone is stupid because they disagree with you on any given issue. I’ve always hated that outlook. But go read this whole article; as someone whose livelihood depends on the dispassionate analysis of data and examination of objective evidence, it seems here that the methodology involved is pretty solid; 2016 Clinton supporters are significantly less well-informed than 2016 Trump supporters.
And the author admits upfront to having supported the 2016 Clinton candidacy.
While I have never done any methodological analysis of this issue, it seems to me that the big-city urban Left is particularly prone to this; they operate on the pro forma conclusion that the folks who choose to live in the rural/semi-rural regions of those deplorable fly-over states must do so because they’re a bunch of dumb rubes, crazy rednecks, and the like. But the Old Man, who lived five miles from the paved road on a big patch of timber for much of his life, was one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever known; entirely through an addiction to reading, he could intelligently discuss the causes of, and the tactics and strategy of, the American Revolution and the Civil War. He could also intelligently discuss cosmology, geology, paleoanthropology and a host of other topics. He could quote Greek philosophers at some length, and improved my farm-country schooling considerably by insisting I read Plato and Aristotle while still in my early teens. Add to that the fact that he was an artist of some renown in the upper Midwest, and had his own spot on a wall in the Iowa state Capitol where one of his paintings was on display from about 1968 to the mid Eighties.
No ignorant hillbilly there.
Now, the legacy media will ignore this article and it’s implications; it doesn’t fit The Narrative. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Remember in 2015 and 2016 how the campaign of Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, pulled shenanigans to squeeze out the daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont? Well, get ready for Phase 2! Excerpt:
If Sanders wins the Iowa caucuses on Monday and continues to gain momentum, it is possible he could arrive at the convention with the most delegates — but without enough to win the nomination on the first ballot. It is also possible that he and Elizabeth Warren, a fellow progressive, could arrive at the convention in second and third place, but with more delegates combined than the frontrunner.
If, on the second ballot, superdelegates were to throw their support to someone else, tipping the scales, many moderate Democrats fear the upheaval that would cause could weaken the eventual nominee.
Conversations about a potential rules change picked up as Sanders ascended in the primary, but they have not gained traction to this point within the DNC.
The DNC received a lot of flak for their nominating process in 2016, which many argued was designed to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Donna Brazile, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, wrote in her 2017 book Hacks that she promised Bernie Sanders that when she “took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention” that she would “get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process.”
“By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart,” she wrote.
My first thought on this is simple; the President and every member of the Trump campaign is no doubt hitting their knees every night, praying for loony old Bernie to be the Dam’s candidate. That would tip what should be a good-to-better chance at re-election to a walkover. The daffy old Bolshevik’s entire campaign is an endless litany of Free Shit, and while that may marginally sell better than Her Imperial Majesty’s two-fold campaign of “I have a vagina” and “It’s my turn, you peasants,” it’s going to lose big, big swaths of the blue-collar union workers who have long been a mainstay of the Democrat Party.
But the fact that the Democrats are even facing this turn of events speaks volumes about where that party has gone. Instead of a center-left party, which once included such members as Zell Miller, it is becoming a party of urban “progressives,” self-assigned victim groups, and every advocate for every form of Free Shit that arises.
Now, what that party did in 2016 to screw Bernie over was inexcusable, no matter how daffy his stated policy positions are. But the real question is this: Will they do it again this year? And, if Bernie is hosed by the Party apparatchiks again this year, will his not-insubstantial numbers of follower bolt for the Green Party or some other far-left stable of lunatics?
Here is some more information on small modular nuclear reactors; these could revolutionize energy provision in many ways, some of which we’ve discussed before. Excerpt:
Actually – small nuclear reactors are not new. We have been using them on nuclear submarines and other vessels for years. What is new is commercial SMRs for grid power. I could not find any in operation currently. The US company NuScale, has approval for a design and could be operational by 2026. They estimate the electricity costs at $65 per MW hour, which is not far from the current costs of solar at $60, and offshore wind at $50. Of course, wind and solar prices are dropping, but the hope is that economies of scale will also drop the cost of SMRs.
There are also potential advantages of SMRs over renewable and traditional nuclear power plants. Regarding renewables, while the prices are dropping now once we saturate the grid with renewable energy, something like 30% penetration, in order to increase the grid share of power from renewables you need some combination of two things, grid storage and overcapacity (sharing energy across the grid). The latter also requires a massive grid update. So the effective cost of renewables will start to skyrocket. The solution is to make up the rest of our energy infrastructure with on-demand energy sources. We can try to maximize hydroelectric and geothermal (which are geographically limited), but for now that means fossil fuel or nuclear.
So realistically, over the next several decades at least, the real choice we face is not between nuclear vs renewables, it’s nuclear vs fossil fuel – and I think the answer here is a no-brainer (I will return to this below).
What are the potential advantages of SMRs over traditional larger nuclear plants? According to a US government analysis:
Advanced SMRs offer many advantages, such as relatively small size, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, and provisions for incremental power additions. SMRs also offer distinct safeguards, security and nonproliferation advantages.
It’s important to note a couple of things here.
First: The United States has already gone cleaner, carbon-wise, than almost any other nation on the planet. How have we done this, given the opposition to nuclear power? Mostly with natural gas, of which the United States has become a major producer due to advanced drilling and fracking technology. The major offenders of carbon emissions – if you accept that it’s a problem – are India, China, Russia and some of the other developing nations.
And these kinds of reactors could help them as well.
Consider the advantages of a modular reactor that could be delivered over regular railroads or highways on a flatbed rail car or tractor-trailer. If difficult terrain they could even be flown in. These could bring power to remote villages, say in the Chinese hinterlands, Siberia, or even Alaska and norther Canada, and deliver cheap, clean electricity to areas that are now either going without, or are dependent on extensive power lines which run from coal-fired power plants.
The article further points out:
In this countries (sic) we have two main political parties, one largely ignored the science on global warming, and the other largely ignores the science on nuclear energy. The Democratic candidates range from Sanders, who would phase out nuclear quickly, to Yang, who is the only one who would expand nuclear. The others are all weak on nuclear, and would either “wean” off, or not expand or build any new plants, letting existing plants sunset. This is the politically safe thing to say on the left, but it’s not reality.
That last sentence is something of an understatement.
The political Left, not only in the United States but in the EU nations and the rest of Europe, have been rabidly anti-nuke for some time. As reactor technology continues to improve, this opposition will grow more and more nonsensical – which doesn’t mean they’ll stop.
Progress (real progress, not “progressive” progress) waits for no man – or political party.
But activists who engage in unnecessary, theatrical, civil disobedience are oblivious to their public perception as unhinged extremists. They’re driven by a delusional, self-indulgent conviction that only they are right and any who oppose their agenda are unworthy, irrelevant and evil. They believe they’re doing, if not God’s work, at least Gaia’s ─ the Goddess of Mother Earth. For them, protesting is gratifying and fun. They feel like it empowers them. Getting arrested is a badge of honor and pride, which earns them another civil disobedience battle-ribbon to pin on their chest.
Diana Bray could be their poster girl. A champion of civil disobedience and a dogmatic “climate activist” who brags about her participation in an anti-Keystone Pipeline protest in Washington, where people locked themselves to the White House fence. She’s also a lesser figure in the crowd of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to unseat Sen. Corey Gardner. Thirty-eight of the Capitol protestors were arrested and charged with trespassing, disrupting a lawful assembly and obstruction of police officers. True to form, the shamelessly liberal Denver Post showcased Bray, running her guest commentary under the headline: “Drop charges against Polis protestors who fought peacefully for change.” And they ran it twice, Jan. 16 and 19!
“Fighting peacefully” is an oxymoron. Resisting arrest isn’t a peaceful act. Yes, lawful demonstrations are a legitimate activity, protected by the Constitution. But civil disobedience isn’t protected when it’s uncivil and unlawful, like trespassing, infringing on the rights of others and resisting arrest. These protestors broke the law and ought to pay the consequences, like a steep fine or jail time, which they should eagerly do as martyrs for their cause, lending even more pride to their protest battle-ribbon. (Predictably, all they’ll get is a slap on the wrist.)
Here’s the thing; when your opponent is in the process of doing something stupid, let them. Read the entire article, by all means; Mike is a treasure, and all of his columns are worth the read.
The types of protestors the esteemed Mr. Rosen describes – and let’s be honest, there are stupid, strident protestors across the spectrum, although of late the Left seems to have the lion’s share – do their own professed causes inestimable harm just by doing their thing.
I once toyed with the idea of starting a business offering protestors for hire. I jokingly described to Mrs. Animal an imagined conversation with a media type doing a story on my service:
Interviewer: “So, you offer protestors for hire. For what causes?”
Me: “Any causes. I don’t care what the cause is. As long as no laws are being broken or no incitement to violence, we’re good to go.”
I: “Really? You’ll provide protestors for anything?”
M: “Sure. Remember that big protest at the Capitol last Sunday? People screaming at each other from across Civic Center Park? Those were my people.”
I: “Which people?”
M: “All of them. Both sides.”
I: “Do you have any principles at all?”
M: “In my business? I have one – ‘did their check clear?’ Other than that, hell no.”
I’d probably never do it; there are too many causes I just couldn’t stomach. But it would offer some great entertainment.
The circus in the Imperial City continues apace, China has produced a possible pandemic, some sportsball guy and his daughter was (sadly) killed in a helicopter crash.
On the other hand, the sun still came up this morning; children are still playing, business is still humming, pretty girls haven’t lost their appeal, and back home in Colorado, the mountains are still there, waiting on my next visit.
Sometimes a fella just has to calm down and remind himself to take an even strain, you know? And, with that said…
Consider the curious case of one Hunter Biden, whose main accomplishments in life have been 1) getting kicked out of the Navy for cocaine use, 2) conducting an affair with his dead brother’s widow, 3) knocking up a stripper, and 4) inexplicably parlaying those previous three assets into a million-dollar-a-year gig with a Ukrainian energy company. I’m sure his family connections have nothing to do with that last bit. Now, if his name was Cheney, that’d be a much different story.
A few years ago, NPR did a fabulous story on China’s rise from the ashes of Mao’s Marxism to allow a modicum of freedom. The story takes place in the small village of Xiaogang in 1978. Several farmers had come together in a dirt-floor shack to sign a secret compact. To these farmers, this contract was dangerous. They still feared the terror of Mao and believed that if this contract were discovered, they could be executed.
The farms had been owned by the collective since private property was abolished in the 1950s. To defy common ownership of any farmland was very risky.
Yen Jingchang, one of the farmers at this secret meeting, said that “back then, even one straw belonged to the group. No one owned anything.”
One of the men present remembers a farmer asking at a local communist meeting, “What about the teeth in my head? Do I own those?” The party official responded: “No. Your teeth belong to the collective.”
Jingchang said in those days, “In theory, the government would take what the collective grew, and would also distribute food to each family. There was no incentive to work hard – to go out to the fields early, to put in extra effort.”
So these Chinese farmers broke the rules:
According to NPR, “In the winter of 1978, after another terrible harvest, they came up with an idea: Rather than farm as a collective, each family would get to farm its own plot of land. If a family grew a lot of food, that family could keep some of the harvest.”
It had been nearly 30 years since anyone had “owned” his or her labor or the fruits of their harvest. This “new” old idea went against 30 years of communist dictates, which is why the farmers met in secret to discuss a new compact.
One by one, they filed furtively into the agreed-upon farmer’s home. As NPR described it, this home was “like all of the houses in the village – it had dirt floors, mud walls, and a straw roof.. no plumbing, no electricity.”
Despite the danger, the farmers agreed to try privatizing the land – they formalized the agreement and wrote it down as a contract. One of them, Yen Hongchang, wrote out the agreement.
In the contract, the farmers agreed to apportion the land between families. The families would not get to keep the entire harvest. There still would be taxes and a portion for the collective, but for the first time in a generation, the vast amount of the harvest would go to the family that grew the crop. The more you grew, the more you and your family would profit.
The contract was kept secret. NPR reported, “Yen Hongchang hid it inside a piece of bamboo in the roof of his house.”
What they couldn’t hide was the dramatically increased harvest. Farmer Hongchang estimated that the harvest was bigger than the last five years together. A miracle occurred, albeit a miracle known at least since the time of Adam Smith: Incentives do matter.
As NPR reported: “Before the contract, the farmers would drag themselves out into the field only when the village whistle blew, marking the start of the work day. After the contract, the families went out before dawn.”
What do you know. Incentives matter! Who knew?
Well, as Senator Paul points out, Adam Smith knew. So did Thomas Sowell, and Ludwig von Mises, and any number of other people.
When they unfettered themselves from the brutally repressive Communist “collective” system, the entire system changed. And why? Because serfs claimed back some of their personhood that the socialist government denied them, and decided that henceforth they would produce not for the “Collective” – whatever that is – but for themselves, for their own families, for their own gain.
And it worked. Wonder of wonders, it worked! That’s the great thing about freedom; it works. The freedom to produce, to profit from your production, to know that the fruits of your labor will be yours, that your property belongs to you and not some bureaucrat in Beijing – or Washington – that will always exceed any reward that socialist central planners could ever promise.
I find stuff like this interesting: Sometime in the next 100,000 years, the star Betelgeuse, which is 640 light-years away in the constellation Orion, will go supernova. Excerpt:
Right now, Betelgeuse is absolutely enormous, irregularly shaped, and with an uneven surface temperature. Located approximately 640 light-years away, it’s more than 2,000 °C cooler than our Sun, but also much larger, at approximately 900 times our Sun’s radius and occupying some 700,000,000 times our Sun’s volume. If you were to replace our Sun with Betelgeuse, it would engulf Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, and even Jupiter!
But there are also enormous, extended emissions around Betelgeuse from material that’s been blown off over the past few dozen millennia: matter and gas that extends out farther than Neptune’s orbit around our Sun. Over time, as the inevitable supernova approaches, Betelgeuse will shed more mass, continue to expand, dim-and-brighten chaotically, and will burn progressively heavier elements in its core.
All of a sudden, the luminosity of Betelgeuse would spike by about a factor of 7,000 from its previously steady value. It would go from one of the brightest stars in the night sky to the brightness of a thin crescent Moon: about 40 times brighter than the planet Venus. That peak brightness would only last for a few minutes before falling again back to being just about 5 times brighter than it previously was, but then the traditional supernova rise begins.
Over a time period of approximately 10 days, the brightness of Betelgeuse will gradually rise, eventually becoming about as bright as the full Moon. Its brightness will surpass all the stars and planets after about an hour, will reach that of a half Moon in three days, and will reach its maximum brightness after approximately 10 days. To skywatchers across the globe, Betelgeuse will appear to be even brighter than the full Moon, as instead of being spread out over half a degree (like the full Moon), all of its brightness will be concentrated into a single, solitary, saturated point.
What’s kind of cool about all this is that Betelgeuse may have gone supernova 600 years ago, and we still won’t see it until on or about my 100th birthday!
This of course serves to point out how vastly huge, how enormously immense, even our stellar neighborhood is. In the cosmic scheme of things Betelgeuse is a near neighbor; but it takes light, traveling at 186,282 miles per second, 640 years to reach us. That means that Betelgeuse is 3,762,320,000,000,000 miles away.
And that’s a hop, skip and a jump, cosmically speaking. The nearest galaxy from ours is Andromeda, and it takes light 2.5 million years to travel the 1.4696563 x 1019 miles from there to here. When we look at Andromeda, we are seeing fossil light. We are literally looking into the past.
Do these facts have any immediate impact in our lives? No. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that it’s cool.