June 2, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 12:34 PM


Imagine a US political party built around faster economic growth and technological progress (James Pethokoukis, 6/02/22, Faster, Please!)

As loyal readers and subscribers of Faster, Please know, I contend that neither major party in 2022 -- and neither America's current Left Wing nor Right Wing -- satisfactorily promotes and reflects what I call "Up Wing" policies and values. Up Wingers are all about economic and technological acceleration for solving big problems, effectively tackling new ones, and creating maximum opportunity for all. They accept the necessity of change, although sometimes that disruption is really uncomfortable. They demand public policy be judged by its potential impact on America's ability to discover, invent, and innovate.

Broadly, my flavor of Up Wing wonkery would dramatically boost science and infrastructure investment, expand international trade, increase immigration, reform or eliminate anti-progress, anti-entrepreneur regulations (often dating back to the country's 1970s eco-pessimist shift), promote housing density, link top federal pay to economic performance, and create a more pro-investment tax code -- among many, many other policy ideas. (There's a Moon and Mars colony in there somewhere, too.)

My kind of Up Wing America would be digging superdeep holes for unlimited geothermal energy, pushing hard on nuclear fusion, vacuuming carbon from the sky, extending the maximum human healthspan, and fully embracing the potential of a thriving orbital economy. At century's end, I want our kids and grandkids to look back at this current period as when we began the most creative and expansive period of human civilization, well on our way to mastering the Solar System.

Posted by orrinj at 12:29 PM


World map reveals wind and solar power winners (and losers) (Frank Jacobs, 6/02/22, Big Think)

In the past decade, America has experienced a remarkable surge in renewable energy generation. In 2015, the year the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, the country generated just 5.7% of its electricity from wind and solar. Last year, it was 13%. In March 2022, 18%. And last month, 20%. Driving that surge is a "wind boom" in the Great Plains and Midwestern states, with windmills going up in great numbers from Texas to the Dakotas.

Globally, wind and solar have been the fastest-growing forms of electricity generation every year since 2005. The share of global power produced by these renewables has more than doubled between 2015 and 2021, which was the first year they delivered 10% of electricity worldwide -- 10.3%, to be exact, up from 9.3% the previous year. Taken together, they are now the fourth largest global source of electricity, after coal, gas, and hydro.

Posted by orrinj at 12:23 PM


What is quantum mechanics trying to tell us? (Adam Frank, 6/02/22, Big Think)

So, what is going on here? How can a particle be in two places at the same time? This is also akin to asking whether particles have properties in and of themselves. Why should making a measurement change anything? And what exactly is a measurement? Do you need a person to make a measurement, or can you say that any interaction at all with the rest of the world is a measurement?

These kinds of questions have spawned a library's worth of so-called quantum interpretations. Some of them try to preserve the classical worldview by finding some way to minimize the role of measurement and preserve the reality of the quantum state. Here, "reality" means that the state describes the world by itself, without any reference to us. At the extreme end of these is the "Many Worlds Interpretation," which makes each possibility in the quantum state a parallel Universe that will be realized when a quantum event -- a measurement -- happens.

This kind of interpretation is, to me, a mistake. My reasons for saying this are simple.

When the inventors of quantum mechanics broke with classical physics in the first few decades of the 1900s, they were doing what creative physicists do best. They were finding new ways to predict the results of experiments by creatively building off the old physics while extending it in ways that embraced new behaviors seen in the laboratory. That took them in a direction where measurement began to play a central role in the description of physics as a whole. Again and again, quantum mechanics has shown that at the heart of its many weirdnesses is the role played by someone acting on the world to gain information. That to me is the central lesson quantum mechanics has been trying to teach us: That we are involved, in some way, in the description of the science we do.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Granite Staters Say They Want More Housing in Their Communities (Andrew Cline, 6/01/22, NH Journal)

By a 69%-29% margin, New Hampshire voters said "my community needs more affordable housing to be built." This represents a 9% increase from last year's survey.  [...]

By a 52-40% margin, New Hampshire voters support changing town and city zoning regulations to allow more housing to be built.

By a 70-21% margin, respondents endorse setting a "hard limit" on how long local planning and zoning boards can take to review permits to build housing.

By a 38-35% margin, Granite State voters endorse the concept of a bill that failed this session, which would have allowed property owners to build up to four housing units on any residentially zoned lot served by municipal water and sewer.

By a 61-37% margin, N.H. voters oppose the idea that multifamily housing should only be built in cities, not in suburbs and rural areas.

By a 53-42% margin, voters oppose the state "doing more to prevent housing development and keep the state the way it is." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Wind power meets and beats Denmark's total electricity demand - two days in a row (Joshua S Hill, 2 June 2022, Renew Economy)

Windy conditions in northern Europe have highlighted once again the growing value of wind energy, which provided more than 100% of Denmark's electricity consumption for two days in a row in May.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Shakespeare's Latin and Greek (Tom Moran, 5/26/22, Antigone)

There is a lot that we don't know about William Shakespeare, but there is one fact concerning him about which nearly everyone appears to be in full agreement. They agree with Shakespeare's great contemporary Ben Jonson in his poem about his fellow playwright included at the beginning of the 1623 First Folio that Shakespeare had "small Latin and less Greek":

For if I thought my judgment were of years
I should commit thee surely with thy peers,
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line.
And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek,
From thence to honor thee I would not seek
For names, but call forth thund'ring Aeschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to us...

It is one of the few statements about Shakespeare that is almost universally considered to be uncontroversial and accepted as fact. The editors of The Norton Shakespeare footnote the line, claiming that "The underrating of Shakespeare's Latin was likely influenced by Jonson's pride in his own impressive classical learning." Even Jonson's most recent biographer, Ian Donaldson, accepts the line at face value, claiming that Jonson was utilizing a rhetorical strategy that he had gleaned from the Roman rhetorician Quintilian: namely, that you should point out a person's shortcomings (such as Shakespeare's having "small Latin and less Greek") before building up his virtues.

There's only one problem with this assumption: not only is it not true, the exact opposite is true. Jonson's statement concerning Shakespeare's alleged ignorance of Greek and Latin might be the single most misunderstood and misinterpreted line of English poetry ever written: it means the opposite of what most people think it means. When we examine what Ben Jonson actually said, as opposed to what we think he said, we will realize that not only did Shakespeare know both Latin and Greek, and that Ben Jonson never said he didn't, but that Shakespeare's knowledge of Greek is evident in one of the most famous passages he ever wrote.