March 15, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 7:05 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:21 PM


A viral moment reinforces the hollowness of 'woke' as an attack (Philip Bump, March 15, 2023, Washington Post)

She was on the show to promote a book she wrote with another conservative writer, Karol Markowicz, a book that purports to demonstrate how "radicals" are "indoctrinating" young people in America. Mandel began the interview by asserting that there is "sort of a woke reimagining of our society" that is "happening in a lot of different ways" -- spurring Gray to eventually ask her what she meant by the term "woke."

Mandel paused.

"So -- I mean -- woke is sort of the idea that ..." She paused for an extended period. "I -- this is going to be one of those moments that goes viral."

In fairness to Mandel, most of the interviews she's done for her book are with interviewers who use "woke" in the same vague sense as she does. So she started over.

"I mean, woke is something that's very hard to define," Mandel said. "And we've spent an entire chapter defining it. It is sort of the understanding that we need to -- totally reimagine and re- -- redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression." Another pause. "Sorry. It's hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite."

"Take your time," Gray replied. But her co-host, Robby Soave, jumped in, assuring Gray that "it's definitely something that you know what it is when you see it."

We might rephrase that slightly: "Woke," as often deployed by the right, refers to something emanating from or related to culture war issues that you understand as or want to portray as bad. You know it when you see it in the sense that "woke" is applied to a broad array of rhetoric and actions that share no common thread beyond being anathema to the political right.

Posted by orrinj at 4:08 PM


PODCAST: Better Call Paul (Jonah Goldberg, Mar 15, 2023, The Remnant)

Paul Bloom--Jonah's favorite psychologist and author of the new book Psych: The Story of the Human Mind--returns to the Remnant for some intensely eggheady conversation on the workings of the human brain (a three-pound wrinkly mass, as Paul puts it). The two spend the episode leapfrogging between different controversies in the field of psychology, each more complex than the last, with enough speed to make your head spin. From the nature of consciousness, to René Girard's understanding of identity, to controversial conceptions of the mind, there's something to delight--and confuse--everyone, least of all our future AI overlords.

PODCAST: Paul Bloom on Psych, Psychology, and the Human Mind (Russ Roberts, Feb 27 2023, Econ Talk)

Do psychologists know anything? Psychologist Paul Bloom says yes--but not the things that you might think. Bloom discusses his book Psych with EconTalk's Russ Roberts and what the field of psychology can teach us about human intelligence, consciousness, and unhelpful instincts. They also discuss just how far psychology is from a true understanding of the human mind, and why, according to Bloom, that might not be such a bad thing.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


William Golding and the curse of the dreamWe must resist the lure of utopianism (Samuel Mace, 3/15/23, The Critic)

As Anna Neima writes in The Utopians:

Utopias are a kind of social dreaming. To invent a "perfect" world-in a novel, a manifesto or a living community, is to lay bare what is wrong with the real one.

The desire of utopianism to create something brand new is often paradoxically led by those stating their own humility. Does utopianism really provide humility in guiding mankind towards its destined and natural path? Whilst some such as Isiah Berlin have argued utopianism assumes that man has a fixed, unalterable, common goal that binds us together, that is perhaps not quite true. Utopianism is a story about the way mankind should be, and all stories need a good "villain". Movements seeking to create paradise on earth, especially those denouncing the world as it is, often find "enemies" within and outside the movement. Those "enemies" deny mankind the chance to fulfil its true nature by challenging the eternal truth that would free us all. 

When utopian ideas are put into practice, they are liable to descend into chaos through a desire for perfection. The drive of perfection threatens not just the progress already made, but also leads to its leaders forgetting themselves. As they breed radicalism, initially innocent and even beautiful ideas turn in on themselves and create something dangerous and ugly.

The Anglospheric rejection of Reason helped insulate us from Utopianism.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Gender dysphoria in young people is rising--and so is professional disagreement (Jennifer Block, investigations reporter,  23 February 2023,  BMJ 2023;380:p382)

The AAP conference is one of many flashpoints in the contentious debate in the United States over if, when, and how children and adolescents with gender dysphoria should be medically or surgically treated. US medical professional groups are aligned in support of "gender affirming care" for gender dysphoria, which may include gonadotrophin releasing hormone analogues (GnRHa) to suppress puberty; oestrogen or testosterone to promote secondary sex characteristics; and surgical removal or augmentation of breasts, genitals, or other physical features. At the same time, however, several European countries have issued guidance to limit medical intervention in minors, prioritising psychological care. [...]

More adolescents with no history of gender dysphoria--predominantly birth registered females2--are presenting at gender clinics. A recent analysis of insurance claims by Komodo Health found that nearly 18 000 US minors began taking puberty blockers or hormones from 2017 to 2021, the number rising each year.34 Surveys aiming to measure prevalence have found that about 2% of high school aged teens identify as "transgender."5 These young people are also more likely than their cisgender peers to have concurrent mental health and neurodiverse conditions including depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorders, and autism.6 In the US, although Medicaid coverage varies by state and by treatment, the Biden administration has warned states that not covering care is in violation of federal law prohibiting discrimination.7 Meanwhile, the number of private clinics that focus on providing hormones and surgeries has grown from just a few a decade ago to more than 100 today.4

As the number of young people receiving medical transition treatments rises, so have the voices of those who call themselves "detransitioners" or "retransitioners," some of whom claim that early treatment caused preventable harm.8 Large scale, long term research is lacking,9 and researchers disagree about how to measure the phenomenon, but two recent studies suggest that as many as 20-30% of patients may discontinue hormone treatment within a few years.1011 The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) asserts that detransition is "rare."12

Chloe Cole, now aged 18, had a double mastectomy at age 15 and spoke at the AAP rally. "Many of us were young teenagers when we decided, on the direction of medical experts, to pursue irreversible hormone treatments and surgeries," she read from her tablet at the rally, which had by this time moved indoors to avoid confrontation. "This is not informed consent but a decision forced under extreme duress."

Scott Hadland, chief of adolescent medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, dismissed the "handful of cruel protesters" outside the AAP meeting in a tweet that morning. He wrote, "Inside 10 000 pediatricians stand in solidarity for trans & gender diverse kids & their families to receive evidence-based, lifesaving, individualized care."13

They come to us needing mental health care and we indulge their whims.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Fossil grid smashed by year of weather extremes, as renewables look smarter than ever (Rachel Williamson 15 March 2023, Renew Economy)

"Nearly 500 reports of downed overhead wires, services to 163,000 electricity customers affected, and the failure of high voltage transmission infrastructure causing an isolation of South Australia from the National Energy Market." [...]

Rooftop solar is useful in this regard, because it removes demand from the broader grid, and has already proven itself during warm weather in 2021. For households and small businesses, solar can be combined with battery storage to provide power when the grid is down.

But what about larger-scale renewables?

Andrew Blakers, emeritus professor of engineering at the Australian National University, says extreme weather events are a further reason to speed up the shift away from the traditional hub-and-spoke electricity model to protect the whole grid.

"There might be a few solar farms or wind farms that get damaged by freak weather, a cyclone that goes further south than normal, but when you have thousands of wind and solar farms spread over a million square kilometres, connected with tens of thousands of transmission lines, you have a network that is inherently stable, much more stable than the hub and spoke model," he told RenewEconomy.

"It's really hard to knock out ten thousand generating and interconnecting nodes. not to mention five million rooftop solar homes with electric vehicles and home batteries. We will end up with a much more robust energy system."

Already the distributed energy system is proving itself: earlier this month wind and solar eased the pressure on ageing fossil fuel generators as heat waves surged across NSW.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


India's newfound lithium riches could fuel tech revolution (MONIKA CHAUDHARY, MARCH 15, 2023, Asia Times)

In February 2023, India's government announced that the Geological Survey of India found around 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves in the Salal-Haimana region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lithium is sometimes termed "white gold" for its strategic importance as an essential metal in electrification. But India faces several challenges in capitalizing on its lithium deposits.

The discovery of lithium in Jammu and Kashmir expands India's known lithium reserves. Lithium deposits have previously been found in Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan. Australia is the largest producer of lithium in the world with 50% of global supplies, while Chile, Argentina and China account for 23%, 14% and 12% of production respectively.

Better hurry; we'll have replaced it soon.