If you listen to liberal activists or even most of the mainstream media these days, conservatives are dangerously “anti-science.” They cling to religion and ideology that traps them in a warped reality, denying the Smart People Consensus about climate change, evolution, and Keynesian economics. They don’t even understand how women’s bodies work! Any evidence that contradicts their already-established beliefs is immediately dismissed as the propaganda of a left-wing conspiracy. Meanwhile, enlightened progressives are able to eagerly accept whatever science reveals to be Ultimate Truth.
It’s a tidy little narrative, and many conservatives only seem to encourage it. (The latest controversy is over “polling denial,” which New York Magazine says is similar to all the other “fields of conservative reality denial.”) Unfortunately, this narrative isn’t true: liberals are guilty of hating science, too.
Continue reading Why Do Liberals Hate Science?
Every now and then I’ll hear about space junk as a Thing To Worry About. Yesterday, the IEEE said “we’ve already passed the tipping point for orbital debris,” complete with a disproportional depiction of Earth surrounded by thousands of pieces of junk that would each have to be the size of New York City to be visible from that range.
Active spacecraft and satellites are increasingly endangered by “the by-product of thousands of launches and routine spacecraft deployments, nearly 200 explosions, and several collisions.” If things get too crowded, collisions will lead to more collisions in a catastrophic feedback loop that will basically be Very, Very Bad For Everyone and Everything.
Continue reading The Externalities of Space Junk
39. There are a lot of bad software patents out there that are probably restricting innovation. Stack Exchange has a new sub-site for crowd-sourcing patent applications to help find “prior art” for silly patents that aren’t really anything new. It’s hard to say how useful this will end up being, but I find two things very encouraging from a political perspective: 1) It was enabled by a small change to government patent law. 2) It was essentially the Patent Office director‘s idea.
Continue reading Reasons For Optimism 39-41
There’s a new essay from a conservative magazine speculating about “the coming global disorder.” It starts by suggesting that Japan’s and China’s recent squabbling over a small island might lead to World War III and proceeds to walk through five scenarios in which different parts of the globe could descend into disarray in the next five or so years. It’s not nearly as apocalyptic as your run-of-the-mill cherry-picked doom-porn Zero Hedge post, and contains a lot of interesting history and present, but I still think it’s too pessimistic about our possible futures.
Continue reading When Is Civilization Going To Collapse Already?
I’ve been advocating a vote for Gary Johnson as a form of signaling, hoping that if his support reaches a level such as 5% that the Libertarian Party will begin to steal some attention away from the media gravity well that props up the Republican and Democratic parties. However, I’ve been astonished to learn that there is a real, large, tangible benefit to crossing the five percent threshold.
Continue reading The Five Percent Threshold
I first heard the 47% number way back when conservatives were trying to come up with pithy counterparts to the 99% Occupy meme. They even made their own Tumblr called “We Are the 53%” to contrast themselves with the alleged 47% of Americans who pay no federal income taxes. The campaign generated a little discussion, and usually I saw liberals responding that, yeah, the number is true, but most of those people pay lots of other taxes, too.
But that was 2011. Now it’s 2012, and Mother Jones has unveiled clips of a Romney speech involving that number. Our friends in the media have decided the remarks are a gaffe and have proceeded to report on it so much that they made it a distraction so they could report on how it was becoming a distraction.
Continue reading Conservatives, Seniors, and Statistics
30. A federal judge has struck down the “indefinite detention” in the NDAA as unconstitutional. It’s always encouraging to see the judicial branch actually checking the legislative branch’s attempt to give the executive branch unrestrained power. The battle is far from over, though, as it sounds like the Obama administration is challenging the decision. Still, it’s a hopeful sign for now.
31. The Senate might pass a bill requiring cops to get a warrant to read your e-mail. Of course, this little bit of overdue restraint might be offset by other news like the House’s extension of other warrantless surveillance powers or the latest former NSA official to come out and claim the “US is illegally collecting huge amounts of data on his fellow citizens,” but, hey, we’ll take what we can get.
32. There have been some encouraging polls concerning upcoming ballot measures in Washington and Colorado that would legalize marijuana and regulate it similarly to alcohol, with support at 57-34 and 51-40, respectively. The second link notes that California’s 2010 measure polled at 52% and still failed, but Washington’s support looks even stronger. I continue to view this as an inevitable trend.
Continue reading Reasons For Optimism 30-38
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve announced a big party called Quantitative Easing III. Officially, they are “purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month.” Despite reading dozens of tweets, news articles, and blog posts, I still have no idea what that actually means.
Continue reading Quantitative Something