CLIMATOLOGISTS IN SPACE
Space weather — it’s a thing. Melvyn and his guests discuss the solar wind and what it does to the planets that get in its way, especially if their inhabitants are dumb enough to rely on electronics and radio. What can it do to electrical equipment? And I’m sorry, but the “How’s the weather up there” headline has already been used. Sigh. (But don’t worry, there’s a fungus that thrives on radiation).
Read up on how the Cold War produced an oversupply of physicists and, indirectly, a new way of thinking about reality. Plus, more on why climate modelling scenarios have suddenly taken a turn for the dramatically worse — and whether they’re right or not. And is the business embrace of climate action a risk as much as a benefit?
DENIALISM GETS EVER UGLIER
Anti-vaxxers — already with the blood of dead children around the world on their hands — are getting more dangerous. In December, NBC reported that US anti-vaxxers are stalking, and assaulting, people deemed to be targets. One entered the Californian state senate to hurl blood at politicians. But surely lawmakers won’t be intimidated, right? A New Jersey attempt to end much-abused religious exemptions for vaccination was recently defeated.
Unlike climate denialists or Holocaust denialists, anti-vaxxers are bipartisan scumbags: anti-vax started out on the left but in both the US and Australia has been adopted by the far right as well. And as this piece from the Sacramento Bee points out, the movement relies heavily on wealthy white women.
CHAMPION, JUST CHAMPION
The current EU brawl over national champions fascinates, maybe because I still recall learning about the “national champion argument” in Year 10 commerce (teacher: Mr Leary). So now the EU powers are ramping up pressure on the EU bureaucracy to abandon competition policy objections to “national champions” — and now it looks like they might be successful.
But do “national champions” actually work? Not really. As for competing with China, erm, the tech industry shows “national champions” end up co-operating with and serving the interests of the Beijing tyranny.
Two trends to make you feel great about humanity: poor Americans giving blood is now a multibillion-dollar industry. And the massive monetisation of getting people to watch other people play video games.
Now, about the Gini co-efficient… not merely was its inventor, well, a fascist, but it’s not particularly useful as an inequality measure.
We’ve managed to ruin internet governance — but would governance by users be any better? Governments, the media and business talk about the Dark Web as though it’s the great boogeyman of the internet. In fact it’s nothing compared to the monstrous data brokering industry, led by some of the most respected companies on the planet.
What happens if genetic testing is only available to affluent people and certain conditions become markers of class?
And Nicholas Gruen has a splendid essay on competition, standards as public goods and a possible political method of defeating bullshit.
POWER AND ITS ABUSES
The New York Times tried to widen the story of America’s founding to include slavery. The response, including from prominent historians, was not pretty.
The Council for Foreign Relations has compiled a female power index. And guess what? Australia proudly ranks 36th, below Rwanda, Uganda, Bolivia and a range of other developing countries…
A detailed examination of how technology strengthens tyrants (not to mention the governments of alleged democracies like our own). In related news, the “manosphere” is quickly getting more radical and aggressive, and public safety authorities are identifying it as a domestic terrorism threat. And dozens of Polish towns are labelling themselves “LGBTI-free”.
“Seedy decline. Messianic visions …” Some Russian perspectives on the Putin regime and the dead-end it has steered Russia into. And Russian history doyenne Sheila Fitzpatrick on the Russians who wanted to overthrow the Soviet Union and the deluded Westerners who thought they could succeed.
Despite the efforts of Emmanuel Macron, relations between Russia and Ukraine are going nowhere fast. Meantime, Iran’s internet has come under sustained attack recently — but it’s not clear if it’s the Americans — or any state actor.