Argentina Agonistes: The Separation of Money and State (Michael Munger, November 29, 2023, AIER)

Argentina is in many ways an advanced nation with a moronic government, saddled with the ditzy wishful thinking of Peronism. Argentina has a tax collection/compliance rate of less than 40 percent, more characteristic of a third world nation. As Leonidas Zalmanovitz pointed out last week, the real problem is a consensus on reducing inflation, not fiddling with rules.

Still, rules and institutions matter. Combining the “generosity” of Peronism, albeit generosity with the money of others, and the inability to collect taxes, has meant that the government has systematically gutted the value of the already threadbare peso. That issue, more than any other, is the reason that an outsider such as Milei was able to win by nearly 20 percent of the vote, a landslide rejection of orthodoxy. It is worth taking a step back and considering the sources of these “Argentina Agonistes,” and thinking about Milei’s core promise: the separation of money and state. I wonder if future generations will look back and wonder, “what took them so long?”


MAGA senator’s attempt to discredit expert backfires at gun crime hearing (video) (DAVID PESCOVITZ, NOV 28, 2023, Boing Boing)

Kennedy started by asking Ramey what he thought was a clever trap question: “Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range? You think it’s because of Chicago citizens who have no criminal record, but who have lawfully a gun in their home for protection? Or perhaps for hunting? Or do you think it’s because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?”

Ranney didn’t take the bait. Instead, she told Kennedy that the state he represents is deadlier than Chicago.

“So Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates,” she said.


Trump lawyers ID election denial’s Patient Zero: Russian interference (Philip Bump, November 28, 2023, Washington Post)

[I]n a court filing this week, his attorneys tried a novel argument. It wasn’t really Trump’s fault that people thought the election might have been subverted, they asserted. It was instead at least in part a function of the Russian interference effort in 2016.

You know, that thing that Trump often likes to describe under the umbrella term “the Russia hoax.”


Mother plucker: Steel fingers guided by AI pluck weeds rapidly and autonomously (BENJ EDWARDS, 11/28/2023, Ars Technica)

[A] Swedish company named Ekobot AB has introduced a wheeled robot that can autonomously recognize and pluck weeds from the ground rapidly using metal fingers.

The four-wheeled Ekobot WEAI robot is battery-powered and can operate 10–12 hours a day on one charge. It weighs 600 kg (about 1322 pounds) and has a top speed of 5 km/h (2.5 mph). It’s tuned for weeding fields full of onions, beetroots, carrots, or similar vegetables, and it can cover about 10 hectares (about 24.7 acres) in a day. It navigates using GPS RTK and contains safety sensors and vision systems to prevent it from unintentionally bumping into objects or people.

To pinpoint plants it needs to pluck, the Ekobot uses an AI-powered machine vision system trained to identify weeds as it rolls above the farm field. Once the weeds are within its sights, the robot uses a series of metal fingers to quickly dig up and push weeds out of the dirt. Ekobot claims that in trials, its weed-plucking robot allowed farmers to grow onions with 70 percent fewer pesticides. The weed recognition system is key because it keeps the robot from accidentally digging up crops by mistake.


Google switches on first-of-its-kind advanced geothermal project (Loz Blain, November 28, 2023, New Atlas)

[T]he idea is to do for geothermal what fracking did for oil and gas, opening up resources that would otherwise be inaccessible. The company does this by drilling horizontally into deep rock, then injecting pressurized fluid to fracture the rock, creating the kind of fractured, permeable rock you need to harvest geothermal heat energy.

It’s a technique Fervo says can also help get a lot more out of an existing resource, and it radically reduces one of the biggest risks in geothermal energy: the risk of drilling way down into subterranean resources and finding they’re not usable.

The Nevada plant makes a constant 3.4 megawatts of energy, bringing water up from 3,250-ft-long (990-m) horizontal bores some 8,000 ft (2,440 m) below the surface, at temperatures up to 191 °C (376 °F).


People, stop being crybabies: Life is better now than ever (Quin Hillyer, November 27, 2023, Washington Examiner)

Far too many people have become spoiled, ungrateful, whiny wretches.

That’s the proper conclusion from a Wall Street Journal poll showing that barely more than a third of people believe “the American dream — that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead — still holds true.” Compared to the 36% who say it still holds true, 45% said it once was true but not anymore, and 18% said it never held true.

Only the 36% have it right. The rest are, to put it bluntly, pathetic defeatists. Likewise for the 50% who say life for ordinary Americans is worse than it was 50 years ago, against only 30% who say it is better.

We have a powerful urge to be the hero of our own stories, which we can’t be if we acknowledge how affluent we are and how easy modern life is