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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Blog Roundup

1. From the Roots of Progress comes a ready-made how-to for writing a great history of technology or industry for the layman, in the form of a list of requirements:
  • Tell a coherent story and not be arbitrarily limited in scope (either in place or time, e.g., "Agriculture in North Carolina 1860 -- 1910").
  • Describe what came before the technology existed, setting the context for why it was needed and what it evolved out of.
  • Explain the problem that the technology solved, how people dealt with the problem, and why those approaches were inadequate.
  • Explain the solution itself, in terms the layman can understand, but in as much technical detail as possible for that audience.
  • Describe the impact of the technology, including its applications (for instance, a book on steel should explain what things were made out of steel, and why this was an improvement over previous materials).
  • Quantify whenever possible. Better, visualize: show graphs of performance increasing or costs decreasing over time.
  • Eliminate almost all other detail that does not contribute to these goals, save perhaps for a few entertaining side stories or intriguing historical connections. [format edits]
It is interesting to read why he felt the need to make such a list and, since I sympathize, I am passing it along.

2. According to Dollars and Crosses, Leonard Peikoff has come out with a new book based in large part on his question-and-answer podcast:
Keeping It Real: Bringing Ideas Down to Earth offers invaluable advice on how to apply broad philosophical principles to the real-world decisions we have to make every day. In this book, Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's longtime friend and heir, provides a wealth of practical counsel on personal relationships, child-rearing, career problems, politics, sex, and many other topics. His answers to hundreds of questions -- taken from the first five years of his former podcast -- highlight the importance of ensuring that the principles we claim to live by do not float in our minds as useless wordplay, but rather guide us in action toward our personal, selfish happiness here on earth. [format edits]
I liked the podcast and always get great value out of Leonard Peikoff's books, so I am especially looking forward to Keeping It Real, pun intended.

3. Over at ARI's New Ideal, Keith Lockitch reviews Population Bombed!: Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change, by Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak:
Even if one accepts the need to plan for an increased risk of climate-related disasters, the proponents of end-of-the-world scenarios show no recognition of the life-or-death importance of abundant energy, the physical and economic realities of energy production, or the devastating consequences of the sweeping carbon-cutting policies they propose.

As a corrective to the near-panic that pervades our cultural atmosphere, what's desperately needed is a broader perspective on the climate issue.

Fortunately, such a perspective can be found in a recent book exploring the connections between the current fears over climate change and previous environmental concerns -- in particular, fears related to population growth.
The authors, Lockitch goes on to argue in his mostly positive review, show that "Climate change is essentially similar to previous anticipated environmental crises that failed to materialize."

Something oddly missing from most "alternative energy" lists. (Image by Val Vesa, via Unsplash, license.)
4. At the blog of the Center for Industrial Progress, we learn how Alex Epstein spent his Earth Day: by making a new video for PragerU. We also learn that the following four five-minute videos have enjoyed over 10 million views combined:It's good to know that these exist, particularly since the shortness doesn't ask too much of someone who may or may not be that interested in the crucial points they make -- and the clarity ensures that someone new learns of an alternative point of view. I am glad these have been so successful so far.

-- CAV

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