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  1. I'm taking next week off for the holiday and for travel. I'll be back on July 13. In the meantime, there's lots here to keep you busy. Happy Independence Day! *** Notable Commentary "A fetus is not an independently existing, physically self-sufficient being that can have rights." -- Agustina Vergara Cid, in "Government Should Not Interfere With the Right to an Abortion" (The Orange County Register) "We can accomplish much more freeing America's energy sector from overregulation than turning to authoritarians like Maduro or Putin." -- Agustina Vergara Cid, in "The U.S. Should Never Turn to Tyrants Like Maduro for Our Energy Needs" (The Orange County Register) "Ideas have consequences, and there are some pretty bad ideas about raising children that have caught on in our culture thanks to John Dewey." -- Charlotte Cushman, in "Yes, Transgender Transformation Is Child Abuse" (The American Thinker) "[W]hen they arrived in the city, many found that the health codes on their phone apps had mysteriously turned from green to red -- indicating they would be forbidden to travel around the city." -- Paul Hsieh, in "How Public Health Technology Can Be Misused to Stifle Dissent" (Forbes) "Ideally, Congress should repeal the PTAB and return to the system of private property rights that successfully spurred the U.S. innovation economy for over 200 years." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Innovation and Leviathan: The Patent System Is Assimilated Into the Growing Administrative State" (PDF, The Heritage Foundation) "If the city keeps reducing real rents by capping increases below the inflation rate (as it is doing now), and if inflation continues for more than a few years, we will see building abandonments once again." -- Raymond Niles, in "The Perpetual Tragedy of New York's Rent Control" (The American Institute for Economic Research) "I have written extensively about nonmonetary forces driving up prices: mandatory useless ingredients, lockdown whiplash, green energy restrictions, trade war and tariffs, and actual war in Ukraine." -- Keith Weiner, in "Will Interest Rate Hikes Fix Inflation?" (SNB & CHF) Johnny Carson Interviews Ayn Rand Via EconLib:The Ayn Rand Institute recently posted Johnny Carson's 26-minute interview of Ayn Rand, aired in August 1967. This was his first of 3 interviews with her.There, David Henderson further notes, "there’s a substantial probability that I would be neither an economist nor an American if I hadn’t read her when I was 16 and almost 17." The interview starts a bit awkwardly, but develops a good flow soon after, and I agree with Henderson that the questions were good. The following quote by Rand brought back memories:.. I find that young people particularly in colleges are enormously anxious to find rational answers... [T]hey need the quest for understanding, for an integrated consistent view of life... If you begin to speak to them about faith or religion or any form of mysticism, most of them will not listen with great interest.This reminds me of what I thought heading into college:Faith is the Church's shortcut for dealing with people who can't understand the arguments for religion I told myself -- until I got there and saw that it was all they really had.Thank God, so to speak, that I encountered Ayn Rand back then! -- CAVLink to Original
  2. In a very interesting column, Jonah Goldberg considers the meaning of the recent Dobbs decision in terms of the political coalition that he calls the "conservative movement." Recall that this "movement" was always at best a temporary alliance among portions of society being marginalized by the left:Cropped from image by Joseph Gonzalez, via Unsplash, license.It was Ronald Reagan who popularized the notion that the conservative movement rested on a fusionist "three-legged stool." In theory, the three legs were free market economics, national defense and social conservatism. In practice, free market economics meant low taxes and pro-business policies. National defense meant anti-Communism and, briefly, the war on terror. Social conservatism covered a lot of territory, but the enduring core was opposition to Roe and abortion.Note that each of these legs represents through an imperfect or corrupt proxy something truly valuable that Americans generally support, but are intellectually confused about: economic freedom, the nation's rational self-interest, and personal responsibility. The fact that each of these subsumes a "big tent" testifies to the confusion politicians have cynically exploited for so long. Goldberg notes the weakening of the national defense "leg" that has occurred since the fall of Communism and argues that Dobbs will have a similar effect on this coalition by weakening the anti-abortion "leg" that hijacks the desire to be good. (Neither "leg" comes from a full understanding of its issue and those who do understand such issues would know that there is no such thing as "mission accomplished." Defending our country from Communism is not all there is to national self-interest, and taking orders allegedly from an imaginary being is no way to discover how to lead one's life, much less organize a free society. Conversely, as you will see, the anti-abortionists have no plans to stop with banning abortion.) In his next paragraph, Goldberg claims that opposition to abortion was "a big tent all its own." I don't completely agree with this because the differences he lists within that camp (a) amount to disagreements on tactics and (b) are between fundamentally anti-individualist camps. (States don't have rights of their own any more than do parts of women's bodies.) That said, I do think Goldberg has identified a couple of medium-term consequences of the decision. First, under the cover of Roe and federalism, politicians who wanted anti-abortionist votes could stake out that position without having to worry about actually delivering results. This enabled them to keep getting religionist votes despite no progress, and yet also skate by with non-religionists because of that same lack of progress. Now, these same politicians will have to pick between being for or against further restricting abortion. So now, abortion no longer unifies this coalition in the way it used to. Second, we will start seeing politicians from this coalition showing their true colors when it comes to the issues they are less concerned with. Consider Marco Rubio, who I used to take to be in favor of economic freedom, however imperfectly:As for economics, most on the right still reject tax hikes, but the war on "woke capitalism" is the hot new thing and protectionism has lost its bad odor. Indeed, while traditional conservative opposition to a more generous welfare state has been eroding for some time, the Dobbs decision may hasten the process. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) hailed the court's decision. "But," he added, "we must not only continue to take steps to protect the unborn, we must also do more to support mothers and their babies." He promised to "soon introduce a bill to ensure we do everything we can to give every child the opportunity to fully access the promise of America." [bold added]This represents a danger to capitalism in at least the medium-term and an opportunity in the long-term. Conservatives, who Ayn Rand warned decades ago were never actually pro-capitalist, are becoming more obviously anti-capitalist at the same time that many of them are feeling quite free to be openly theocratic, like Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who recently stated, "The church is supposed to direct the government." Decades ago, in his lecture, "Religion vs. America," Leonard Peikoff asked:Politicians in America have characteristically given lip service to the platitudes of piety. But the New Right is different. These men seem to mean their religiosity, and they are dedicated to implementing their religious creeds politically; they seek to make these creeds the governing factor in the realm of our personal relations, our art and literature, our clinics and hospitals, and the education of our youth. Whatever else you say about him, Mr. Reagan has delivered handsomely on one of his campaign promises: he has given the adherents of religion a prominence in setting the national agenda that they have not had in this country for generations. This defines our subject for tonight. It is the new Republican inspiration and the deeper questions it raises. Is the New Right the answer to the New Left? What is the relation between the Judeo-Christian tradition and the principles of Americanism? Are Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, as their admirers declare, leading us to a new era of freedom and capitalism -- or to something else? [bold added]I am afraid we're getting our answer and that if advocates of capitalism want a chance, we will need to change minds among voters while also looking elsewhere for ad hoc political alliances. Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff were always against this alliance. It is quickly becoming impossible not to see why, in terms of its increasingly open antagonism towards liberty. -- CAVLink to Original
  3. "The best part of being a statistician is that you get to play in everybody else's backyard." -- John Tukey, as quoted by John D. Cook *** At SIAM News is a valuable and entertaining interview of statistican and mathematical consultant John D. Cook by Krešimir Josić. I have followed Cook's blog, originally titled The Endeavour, for years. A short excerpt from the interview will do double duty for showing why I follow Cook and why you might consider reading the whole interview:KJ: How do you determine which projects to accept? JC: I'd recommend taking almost any project that pays when you first start, then gradually becoming more selective. I'd also recommend increasing your minimum project size over time. All projects take up some amount of transaction cost and mental overhead, regardless of their size; as a result, smaller projects are less profitable. By initially casting a wide net, consultants can explore the types of available work. After a while, they may start to receive referrals in a certain area and begin to concentrate more in that particular subject. It pays to not be too set on one kind of work until you learn about existing demands in the field. Image by Eduardo Cano Photo Co., via Unsplash, license.Risk analyst Nassim Taleb advocates for a barbell portfolio investment strategy. One end of the barbell consists of reliable income without much downside potential, which probably also means not much upside potential. The other end can be speculative or stimulating. I try to follow this strategy by maintaining a mix of reliable projects and more interesting projects. "Interesting" often means "unpredictable," and consultants risk overloading themselves if they take on too many interesting projects at once. [link omitted, italics added]The above quote is good advice presented in easily-digestible form, using an analogy any reasonably intelligent adult will understand. And it comes across as someone who knows what he's doing and having fun doing it. I first came to Cook's blog because of the subject matter, but I have seen many examples of outstanding clarity in communication -- a subject of great interest to me -- over the years. And yes, Cook touches on that here and there in the interview. There is much more to learn about consulting -- or working generally -- from the interview. "Salaried workers effectively have one client; if they lose that client, they lose 100 percent of their income all at once," Cook notes. If you are the kind of person who enjoys learning about a wide variety of things, applying lessons from one area to others, or realizing a better mix of autonomy and income, this interview is a must-read. -- CAVLink to Original
  4. Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit speculates that the big winner in the January 6 hearings is Ron DeSantis, who already looks like the Republican's best bet to win in 2024:America, navigating its two (anti-freedom) party system. (Image by Alessandro Allori, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)Logically the only winners from the hearings are Republican 2024 hopefuls who need the base to move off of Trump cultism so that challengers are viable in the next primary. Brit Hume intuited that a few weeks ago when he marveled that the committee was actually helping the GOP by incentivizing them to nominate someone with less baggage in 2024. Neither the committee nor anyone else will convince MAGA voters to feel moral disgust at Trump's coup plot; if the video of goons in red caps beating cops at the Capitol wasn't enough to shake their loyalty, nothing will. Yet the ongoing testimony could become an excuse for many who are quietly tired of Trump to move on without feeling "disloyal." Of course he did nothing wrong by trying to overturn the election, they might say, but ... the hearings have unfairly hurt him with swing voters, which means he can't win in 2024, which means we must regrettably nominate someone else. [link omitted, emphasis in original]I think this analysis is spot-on, but I think that Trump will run again unless he dies or is legally barred from running again, which I am inclined to think he should be. If Trump is the Republican nominee, he will probably lose simply because he antagonizes enough people -- as we saw in 2020 when he lost with the second-highest popular vote total in history. (If you think Biden's total reflected enthusiasm for that Obama retread, I have an expensive real-estate deal/life lesson special for you.) A potted plant could beat Donald Trump head-to-head at this point. And if he isn't the nominee? I think Trump is nuts/vindictive enough that he will run as an independent, splitting the votes that would otherwise go to the Republican nominee. I would not put it past the Democrats to have exactly this possibility in mind. Watch for them to not bar Trump from running for office, and for Trump -- if he is not the nominee -- to sabotage the GOP's 2024 presidential campaign just like he did the Senate races in Georgia with his sore loser act after he lost. That said, I can't see the Democrats doing well in congressional races, so my extremely early forecast for 2024 is that we get a Democrat president and one or both houses controlled by the GOP. Considering that the Democrats want to outlaw reliable, affordable energy -- and the Republicans want to enact Christianity into law -- that might be the best-case outcome. -- CAVLink to Original
  5. Between leftists sowing panic about Covid (and overselling the Covid vaccines) and Trumpsters all but pretending Covid doesn't exist (and yet that the vaccines didn't work at all or were even dangerous), I can understand why many people had trouble reaching a solid conclusion about whether taking one is a good idea. And that would be true without the even more unhelpful fact that the left wants to violate our freedom by forcing us to be vaccinated -- while the right, led by Florida's Governor DeSantis, wants to violate our freedom by forcing us to associate with possible carriers of the disease. (It is a shame that DeSantis pairs this "anti-discrimination" policy with his correctly not using "lockdowns.") With that out of the way, here is some good news as a respite from the bad coming from every corner today: Researchers have estimated that, despite their delayed and far from optimal rollout, the Covid vaccines have directly or indirectly saved about 20 million lives worldwide, reducing the death toll of the pandemic by close to two thirds:Image by Daniel Schludi, via Unsplash, license.The team found that, based on officially recorded COVID-19 deaths, an estimated 18.1 million deaths would have occurred during the study period if vaccinations had not been implemented. Of these, the model estimates that vaccination has prevented 14.4 million deaths, representing a global reduction of 79%. These findings do not account for the under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths, which is common in lower-income countries. The team did a further analysis based on total excess deaths during the same time period to account for this. They found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented an estimated 19.8 million deaths out of a total of 31.4 million potential deaths that would have occurred without vaccination, a reduction of 63%. More than three quarters (79%, 15.5 million/19.8 million) of deaths averted were due to the direct protection against severe symptoms provided by vaccination, leading to lower mortality rates. The remaining 4.3 million averted deaths were estimated to have been prevented by indirect protection from reduced transmission of the virus in the population and reduced burden on healthcare systems, thereby improving access to medical care for those most in need. [bold added]This is great news, but the report doesn't go far enough, because it frames this success in terms of the hospital crunch at the time, and then gets lost in the weeds of the ongoing difficulties of making the vaccine available worldwide. Those aren't invalid concerns, but they ignore what being spared at any point in the pandemic can mean to an individual, particularly one who is (or cares about) someone at high risk from the disease. First, the virus is changing in the way some experts predicted it would at the start of the pandemic: Selection pressure is favoring less-deadly mutants that are easier to transmit. Over time this virus will more closely resemble four other endemic coronaviruses that cause colds. Second, the longer medical science deals with this illness, the better treatments become. In other words, the longer the vulnerable evade the virus, the less vulnerable they become relative to the original virus. For example, I am glad to know that Paxlovid is available now, if my wife or I catch this. That's both good news and a lesson for when the next pandemic happens, if one should occur in our lifetimes. Part of me wants to catch this and get it over with will not even cross my mind, if that happens! And that would be true, even if the next one doesn't turn out to be able to reinfect. -- CAVLink to Original
  6. Four Things Recent wins from the Positive Focus Log... 1. This may sound negative, but a library I planned to use for work sessions has poor internet. I tried it. I know to avoid it if I need internet. At the same time, it is spacious, uncrowded, and very nicely designed: It would be a very pleasant place to do non-internet intensive work, and it has a nature trail outside for breaks. Or: I have a great place to do undistracted blocks of reading, thinking, or writing. 2. Speaking of wifi, a good site for road warriors is the aptly-named "Coffee Shop Wifi". It takes the guesswork out of connecting when the wifi at the remote establishment requires signing in via a browser. All you have to do is visit the site (or reload, if you're hopping around, like I am today) and you will get that page:How does Coffee Shop Wifi Work? Coffee Shop Wifi always connects with HTTP instead of secure HTTPS. This allows guest wifi networks to show you their internet login page. Make sure you're always connected with HTTPS to sites with sensitive information like email and banking. [format edits]I have this bookmarked, and it sure beats having to remember which sites still use HTTP or consult a list I used to have for that purpose. Images by me. Copying permitted.3. I now have a way to easily incorporate walking on the beach into my day. The sticking point was How can I do this without getting my feet and legs covered in sand? The solution turned out to be Crocs, a kind of plastic clog. I can spray those and my feet off afterwards and put normal footwear back on when I'm done. A nice bonus for the shell-covered beaches near our home is that the clogs protect my feet from cuts, allowing me to think or enjoy the scenery rather than dodge debris. 4. My wife, for the first time since very early in the pandemic, had a work-related social function a couple of weeks ago. That day was adjacent to the day I normally use for errands and other shallow work. I enjoyed the function, but knowing I'd have to be "on" that evening very noticeably hung over my head all day, distracting me. (I think I've sensed things like this before, but after such a long time with this sort of thing missing from my schedule, it really stood out.) Next time, I'll know to consider doing non-deep work on days like that. -- CAVLink to Original
  7. Shortly after John Madden's death last year, Christopher Jacobs of The Federalist penned a tribute to the former football coach and commentator. Madden was excellent at both, but Jacobs is most impressed with his commentary:Image by Unknown (for the U.S. Congress), via Wikimedia Commons, public domain (as a work of the federal government).... Madden would spend nearly three decades as a broadcaster, working for all of the major networks: Fourteen years at CBS, followed by eight seasons at Fox, four seasons for ABC, and his last three seasons at NBC. Over those years, he offered a master class in how to understand football, so that fans could understand the game's strategy, tactics, and successful techniques for all positions and players, not just the ones with the ball. Madden pioneered innovations that now seem commonplace today. He took the telestrator, an electronic pen that writes on-screen, to illustrate plays the way coaches would use a chalkboard -- and occasionally for more light-hearted "analysis" as well. And when Fox took over broadcasting NFL games from CBS in 1994, Madden helped suggest creation of the "Fox box," which featured the score of the game in the corner of the screen. Fans of all sports who upon turning on the television don't have to wait five minutes to know the score have John Madden to thank for this pathbreaking change. [links omitted, bold added]I always appreciated Madden's explanations, but had no idea that the many enhancements to sports broadcasting in the second paragraph were his ideas. I am old enough to remember having to wait to learn the score of a game in progress, but that invention has been in use for so long that lots of people take it for granted and probably regard it as common sense to have something like that on the screen of a televised game. Madden reminds me of a poet -- William Blake, I think -- I was reading in college as a callow youth. His poems are full of cliches, I remember thinking during a reading assignment. It did gradually dawn on my that he probably came up with the what had become cliches because he had put things so well. Very good ideas are like that: They end up all over the place, often to the point we risk not truly appreciating them. Thank you, Mr. Madden, for making sports much easier to enjoy, and thank you, Mr. Jacobs, for giving credit where it was due. -- CAVLink to Original
  8. At the New York Post, Bjorn Lomborg correctly blames green policies for the recent sharp increase in energy prices. Specifically, he reminds voters of (1) policies that discourage investment in fossil fuels that have combined with (2) those assuming that "green" energy can take a load it simply isn't ready for:To fight for windmills is to tilt at them. (Image by Rocky Masum, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)While Western governments are blaming Russia’s war on Ukraine, prices were already rising because of climate policies designed to choke fossil-fuel investment. Since the 2015 Paris agreement was inked, the world’s 1,200 biggest energy corporations have slashed capital investment in oil and gas by more than two-thirds. Huge price rises are the inevitable result of forcing more energy out of an increasingly starved system. The climate-policy approach of trying to push consumers and businesses away from fossil fuels with price spikes is causing pain with little climate payoff... olar and wind are still only capable of meeting a fraction of global electricity needs. Even with huge subsidies and political support, solar and wind delivered just 9% of global electricity in 2020. Heating, transport and vital industrial processes account for much more energy use than electricity. This means solar and wind deliver just 1.8% of global energy supply. And electricity is the easiest of these components to decarbonize: We haven’t yet made meaningful progress greening the remaining four-fifths of global energy. [links omitted and bold added]These are very important facts, and I think it is even more important to note that Biden is on board with high energy prices -- except for the inconvenience they pose him at the polls. There is much with which I disagree in the rest of the piece, but Lomborg's main point -- that government policies pushing "green" energy have been a disaster -- is much needed in today's political debate. -- CAVLink to Original
  9. Over at Power Line is a brief post concerning recent efforts by the far left to become more "inclusive" -- by "helping" the blind hear the term womxn. The post includes a screenshot from the web site of UC Irvine's Womxn Center for Success. It is heartwarming to know that social justice warriors are tolerant of several possible pronunciations ... of one of the many neologisms intended to exterminate all vestiges of the word man from our vocabulary. My "favorite" is the one that rhymes with lummox. *** Cultural phenomena like this provide great fodder for the religious right, who happily pounce on it as an example of what "the" alternative to their worldview looks like. This is the sort of thing they have been doing for decades, as they happily push the narrative that, without religion, there is no morality or even sanity -- as witness a blog post of mine on Dennis Prager from over a decade ago, when I had just started this blog:... Judaeo-Christianity and Islam are competing for mass acceptance. Is leftism? Not really. The nihilistic left offers nothing positive to anyone seeking guidance for how to live their lives. This is why so many youths end up adopting religion, including militant Islam, instead. This is not because, as Prager implies, these religions are the "only" alternatives. It is because they are the only widely-known alternatives... [bold in original]In that post, I was fisking Prager, who blatantly ignored the Greco-Roman strain of Western Civilization to promote the Judaeo-Christian strain. Indeed, you'd think Greece and Rome were cesspits of social justice if you took his word for it, rather than learning history, including that of early America, whose founders admired the ancients and often were deists or otherwise very dubious about religion. *** *** I -- a non-leftist, pro-capitalist atheist -- recalled the above, and the more general conservative smear, "secular-left," because I have been listening to Leonard Peikoff's excellent courses on his DIM Hypothesis (which he later improved and published in book form). Having to drive two hours a day every day for the past couple of weeks, I have nearly finished, and am in his final lecture of the second course, where he makes his prediction concerning America's future. It was disturbing then, I am sure to his audience, but it is more so now, over a decade later because it remains on the mark. A memorable quote? "The god-haters are a godsend to the god lovers." I would guess that Peikoff would regard the fashionable (on the left) war against men and biological sex, which continually serves up such self-parody even as it works overtime to ruin the lives of its opponents as a prime example. I have also read and highly recommend the book, whose subtitle is Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out. The book is not a mere prediction of doom, although it is. Nor is it merely fascinating and insightful. I think it does very well to flesh out the alternative to the false nihilism-religion dichotomy that both "sides" of the culture wars are foisting on America today. America needs this real alternative, which the Greeks originated millennia ago: A prediction of doom is not the same thing as saying it is unavoidable. -- CAV Link to Original
  10. A New York Post article by a former New Yorker notes all the negative attention his adopted state of Florida has been getting from media outlets in New York. So he spends some time making the comparisons all that noise invites:A related meme hailed New York's former governor as Florida's Realtor of the Year. (Image by Patrick Cashin, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)Earlier this year, while visiting from the UK, my parents asked me and my wife if we have ever missed living in New York, and we realized to our surprise that at no point since we'd moved in 2017 had the question so much as occurred to us. Sure, we've occasionally lamented the loss of a given bar or restaurant -- although, frankly, that's true of everywhere we've ever lived. But the city, and the state, and all that living in them entails? Not on your life. In Florida, we have sunshine, low taxes, a nice house, friendly public services, year-round-sports, and -- shock horror! -- good food to boot. Last year, US News and World Report ranked the 50 states "in 71 metrics across eight categories," and Florida ended up at number 10 -- 11 points above New York. That sounds about right. As for freedom? In its most recent report, the Cato Institute ranked Florida second (after Texas) out of all 50 states in "personal and economic freedoms." Since 2014, Florida has never moved out of the top two. Since 2000, New York has placed 50th every single year. [links omitted]I'll never be a fan of hurricane season, but I have generally been happy with Florida since we moved here in '18, although not from New York. Charles Cook correctly notes that The intensity is all in one direction, which is true enough, but that risks making Floridians appear to be oblivious to New York. We aren't: The not-infrequent appearance of "Don't New York My Florida" merchandise certainly attests to that. -- CAVLink to Original
  11. Blog Roundup 1. In a short post at New Ideal, Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute describes the ambit of Ben Bayer's recently-released Why the Right to Abortion Is Sacrosanct:Where did defenders of Roe v. Wade go wrong? Why did they lose the moral high ground? What does it take to defend abortion rights in the United States? To defend abortion as an inviolable right, it has to be understood as a claim of uncompromising justice. That's the case my colleague Ben Bayer lays out in a series of hard-hitting New Ideal articles, newly collected in a short book... [format edits, bold added]I admire Bayer's commentary on abortion and was glad to see ARI take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the recently-leaked draft Supreme Court decision to release this. And seize this opportunity they did, as I learned from a recent appearance of Bayer on Yaron Brook's podcast about the book. I haven't yet heard the entire episode (embedded below), but I learned that one of the rationales for the release of this collection in book form was to leverage the Amazon search algorithm to get the attention of as many potentially receptive readers as possible. 2. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn explains why the current fashion of ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance -- ed] investing owns a large part of the blame for today's energy crisis -- and offers the following good news:This evidence demonstrates that the campaign for carbon neutrality is destructive -- which is the reason we should reject ESG investing. Not only do we have Alex Epstein's pro-human, fact-based moral argument for rejecting the campaign to abandon fossil fuels and the ESG investing that facilitates it -- we soon will also have an alternative to ESG investing. Vivek Ramaswany, the billionaire entrepreneur, has launched a new asset management firm, Strive Asset Management, in response to the major asset managers' push for ESG policies. Instead of the ESG criteria, Strive uses excellence as the basis of investment. With backing from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, Strive's first investment product will be available later this year. It will offer us an opportunity to start reversing the ESG investment trend -- for the benefit of human flourishing in an improved environment.The sooner the tide turns against ESG and global warming catastrophism, the better. 3. At Thinking Directions, Jean Moroney considers the example of a delayed car repair to show why and how one should take negative emotions as a cue to figure out what is at stake (and how to get it) in a situation, rather than dwell on its threatening aspects:[T]his is what it means to fight reality. The car is the car, and the mechanic is the mechanic, and the car is not ready as originally foretold. Ruminating about how you wish these facts were different doesn't make it so and is not a good use of your time. The way forward is always to figure out the value that is most important to you in the circumstances. Let's stipulate that you want reliability and predictability and the freedom to think about other things rather than car repair. Now you can do some constructive thinking about the situation.The closing analysis of the nature and purpose of emotions may sound familiar to many regulars here, but it is not always obvious how to apply such knowledge. This post is helpful in that regard. 4. At Value for Value, Harry Binswanger revisits the perennial topic of gun control, which happens to be related to many other public policy debates:The principle I've come to accept is that you don't illegalize objects, you illegalize acts. If I walk a rabid pit-bull on a thin leash on the city sidewalk, I'm properly going to be stopped by the police (if it comes to their attention). But to get this result, you don't need laws against walking rabid pit bulls or regulations relating the weight of the dog walked to the strength of the leash used, you just have law about being responsible for harm caused by an animal you own.How Binswanger applies this principle to such crimes as the Uvalde Massacre, why he disagrees with the idea of banning certain types of weapons, and why he regards his solution as superior are all within, and make for a thought-provoking read. -- CAVLink to Original
  12. A synagogue in Florida has legally challenged that state's ban on abortions after 15 weeks on the bases of that state's constitutional right to privacy, and religious freedom. The attorney filing the suit sounds like he's on the right track in this quote:In an interview Tuesday, [Barry] Silver said when separation of religion and government crumbles, religious minorities such as Jews often suffer. "Every time that wall starts to crack, bad things start to happen," he said, noting that DeSantis signed the law at an evangelical Christian church.But the piece continues, noting that the suit claims "the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion" and goes on to cite a religious scholar on the matter:"This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases when our religion would permit us," said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, "and it is basing its concepts of when life begins on someone else's philosophy or theology." [bold added]This may be true, but the United States is a secular republic with a constitutional ban on the establishment of religion. If an embryo were an individual human life (it isn't), an abortion would be a murder, and sanctioning a religious exemption for it might as well excuse any act, so long as religion were cited as a motive. The Supreme Court has ruled that religious beliefs are not a defense against a criminal indictment. The charge was bigamy, and a proper defense would have invoked the right to contract. (Image by Unknown (modified by Ubcule), via Wikimedia Commons, public domain -- copyright expired.)Any cursory review of history or even of current events should give one pause about this rationale, considering the kinds of barbarity religions have routinely excused or even urged their followers to commit across history up to and including the present day. It is bad enough to have a theocratic abortion ban on the books; replacing said ban with a legal precedent that subordinates rule of law to the whims of religious leaders is even worse. I can understand suing on the basis of privacy as a stop-gap legal tactic: It is far from ideal, but it can preserve some protection for reproductive rights until efforts to fully legalize abortion can succeed. But opening the door for the even further subordination of individual rights to religion is to play around with gasoline in a room already on fire. In a secular state, one may practice one's religion in any respect -- so long as doing so does not violate the individual rights of others. This principle protects us from, say, being imprisoned, tortured, or murdered for "heresy," by subordinating adherents to every religion to rule of law. For the same reason, "religious freedom" cannot provide the justification for performing any act -- even if it is or should be perfectly legal on the grounds of individual rights. Abortion should be legal because (a) an embryo is not an individual human life and (b) the woman carrying that embryo has the right to decide what to do with that part of her own body. Full stop. If abortion is against a woman's religion, nobody will stop her from remaining pregnant. And that is the full extent -- for an individual -- to which religion should have a role on the question of abortion. -- CAVLink to Original
  13. Writing at Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton considers in some detail hydrogen as a fuel -- an old, impractical idea repeatedly touted as a new breakthrough by climate catastrophists and the cowards who enable them. As an example of that last, he quotes from the archives of President George W. Bush:What a limited view! (Image by the American Public Power Association, via Unsplash, license.)In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush launched his Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to work in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the research and development required for a hydrogen economy. The President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and the FreedomCAR Partnership are providing nearly $1.72 billion to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure technologies, and advanced automobile technologies. The President's Initiative will enable the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles in the 2020 timeframe. [bold added]Anyone unfazed by the lack of such cars on the road -- and still thinks that they and boiling oceans are just around the corner -- can leave now. The above comes after a somewhat detailed consideration of the enormous cost of battery backup for a solar/wind-powered grid. Fenton's subsequent analysis of the feasibility of hydrogen raises the following issues (in bold), followed by my highlight or summary (in italics):Cost of "green" hydrogen versus natural gas. -- Even after recent dramatic price increases, hydrogen is 3-5 times more expensive.How much overbuild of sun/wind generation capacity would be required to produce the "green" hydrogen? -- "... Given a typical 20% solar capacity factor, that would require about 2.6 GW of solar nameplate capacity dedicated to generating the hydrogen to fuel [a] 288 MW generator overnight."Making enough "green" hydrogen to power the country means electrolyzing the ocean. -- This generates toxic chlorine gas, and the cost of doing this is a "wild card."Hydrogen is much less energy dense than gasoline by volume. -- It's one quarter as dense as a liquid and must be kept at -253°C, for starters.Hydrogen makes steel pipelines more brittle. -- This can cause leaks and explosions.The whole post, like others from the same blog, contains valuable information and analysis that can complement the bigger picture, pro-fossil fuel arguments of energy advocate Alex Epstein. -- CAVLink to Original
  14. Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit makes note of the fact that the two New York papers owned by Rupert Murdoch both recently ran editorials very critical of Donald Trump. He includes the following excerpt from one:Image by Wellcome Images, via Wikimedia Commons, license.Trump has become a prisoner of his own ego. He can't admit his tweeting and narcissism turned off millions. He won't stop insisting that 2020 was "stolen" even though he's offered no proof that it's true ... Meanwhile, reports that Trump was pleased that the Jan. 6 crowd chanted for Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged -- a truly reprehensible sentiment -- makes him unworthy for the office. Trump can't look past 2020. Let him remain there. Look forward! The 2024 field is rich. You have Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley ... the list goes on. All candidates who embrace conservative policies without the preoccupations of the Don ... Tune out the Jan. 6 hearings and binge-watch the new season of Stranger Things. Unsubscribe from Trump's daily emails begging for money. Then pick your favorite from a new crop of conservatives. Look to 2022, and 2024, and a new era. Let's make America sane again.This by itself is unremarkable: Plenty of conservatives and non-leftists (like me) have big problems with Trump. And, as Allahpundit points out, Fox News giving negative coverage to Trump (or openly endorsing an opponent) would be a non-starter. But other things, like a book deal for Ron DeSantis, are going on, and there is precedent from 2016 for a way for NewsCorp to "play an active, forceful role in that debate," as Murdoch put it late last year:If there's any effort to take Trump down, I expect it'll follow the same 2016 playbook that bedeviled Cruz and his fans. Fox and the rest won't begin sniping at Trump, they'll simply lavish flattering coverage on one of his challengers to promote them. And since there's only one challenger who stands a chance of defeating him, that means lots of fawning press for Ron DeSantis.This is rather speculative, but it doesn't sound unreasonable. And, while Trump somehow completely owns a segment of the electorate and calls himself a Republican, it doesn't mean that there aren't members of that party who are uncomfortable with the caudillo-like Trump or who, being politicians, simply want him out of the way for their own shot at the Presidency. -- CAVLink to Original
  15. At Politico, Jeff Greenfield considers the dilemma the next presidential election poses for the Democrats. That has been obvious ever since Biden and Harris formed a ticket, you might protest, correctly. But it's worse for them than you might think, in part due to longstanding tradition and in part thanks to that party's pandering on identity politics:The Royal we? (Image by Jon Tyson, via Unsplash, license.)Which brings us to the significance of the second fact with which this piece began. The invocation of a baker's dozen of possible Democratic contenders is fueled by the notion that Kamala Harris cannot be an effective presidential candidate. It may not be fair, but her lower-than-Biden approval numbers and implosion as a 2020 candidate, her detractors say, demand an alternative. Now let's return to Planet Earth for a moment. What happens if the Democratic Party -- through whatever "leaders" it has or even through a competitive primary -- effectively states: "After 60 years of elevating a sitting vice president, we have decided to break precedent now that the vice president is a Black woman." [bold added]I think that's a good question, and based on it, one could say that the Democrats have not only painted themselves into a corner, but they have fairly glued themselves there. Greenfield ends his piece with the following bulleted summary:Age will be a serious, legitimate issue if Biden runs again; but he's the only candidate who would preserve party unity.If Biden did not run, Harris would enter a presidential race carrying a 747 full of baggage.Any attempt to find an alternative to Harris risks fatally alienating the party's most essential voters.My reply? Should the Republican nominee be Donald Trump:Age will be canceled out -- or be a liability only for the GOP;Trump has his own planeload of baggage; andTrump's incoherent ramblings and pugnaciousness alienated some Republicans and many independents, and rallied voters to the Democrats to the point that he lost the election despite having the second-highest vote tally in American history. Trump was disgraceful in defeat, to put it mildly, and arguably cost the GOP both Senate seats in Georgia, afterwards. Whatever problems the horrible Biden-Harris dilemma poses for the Democrats, at least the Democrats seem aware that both candidates are weak sauce. Not so for the Republicans, who seem either too oblivious to Trump's weakness as a candidate or too frightened to stand up to him -- just as they failed to stand up to (other) Democrats for decades before he decided to run for President. I am disgusted with either "choice" -- the rematch of 2020 or Trump vs. Harris. I am no Democrat, but I would say that Greenfield could have titled his column, "At Least We'll Face Donald Trump." This election would be a cinch for any opponent who clearly and articulately presented a coherent, pro-freedom plan to get our country out of its current mess, but we face the spectacle of getting more of the same, thanks to Donald Trump. -- CAVLink to Original
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