Friday: Hili dialogue

October 28, 2022 • 6:30 am

G’day on Friday, October 28, 2022. As you read this, I’ll be winging my way to California, and posting will be light for eight days or so. It’s National Chocolate Day, and also National Breadstick Day, Wild Foods Day, World Lemur DayInternational Animation Day,  Ohi Day in Greece, Cyprus and Greek communities), als a national holiday in Greece, and Anniversary of the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazis, celebrating the liberation from Nazi German troops of the territory of current Ukraine. “Ohi” is, in Greek “Όχι,” meaning “no”, and marks the day in 1940 when the Italian ambassador to Greece refused Mussolini’s demand that Axis forces be allowed to transit Greece and occupy parts of it. I remember, as a child in Greece, of airplanes flying out spelling “Όχι” in skywriting.

Here’s a photo from Wikipedia labeled “Emblem of the 8th Infantry Division, the first unit to face the Italian invasion: its motto is Ohi.”

Feel free to comment on notable events, births or deaths on this day by consulting the October 28 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*All the MSM venues are reporting on a revival of economic growth this quarter. The Wall Street Journal‘s report is called “U.S. economy grew 2.68% in third quarter, GDP [gross domestic product] report shows,” but is subtitled “Consumer spending, economy’s main engine, cooled compared with previous quarter.” I’m sure Biden and the Democrats will use this as evidence that the economy is improving, but things aren’t as rosy as the big headline implies:

The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter but showed signs of a broad slowdown as consumer and business spending faltered under high inflation and rising interest rates.

Gross domestic product—a measure of goods and services produced across the nation—grew at a 2.6% annual rate in the third quarter after declining in the first half of the year, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Real GDP, change from previous quarter*Source: Commerce DepartmentSeasonally adjusted at annual rates*
3Q: +2.6%2019’20’21’22-30-20-10010203040%

Trade contributed the most to the third quarter’s turnaround as the U.S. exported more oil and natural gas with the Ukraine war disrupting supplies in Europe. Consumer spending, the economy’s main engine, grew but at a slower pace than in the prior quarter.

Businesses slashed spending on buildings, however, and residential investment fell at a 26.4% annual rate, the department said.

Stocks were mixed after the GDP release and earnings announcements. Treasury yields fell.

Economic uncertainty is growing and many economists are worried about the possibility of a recession in the coming 12 months. They expect the Federal Reserve’s efforts to combat high inflation by raising interest rates will further weigh on the economy.

“The overall state of the economy is deteriorating and a lot of it is just the weight of elevated inflation and higher interest rates,” said Richard F. Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. “I don’t think that we’ve seen the full effects of higher rates work their way through the economy, so that’s why we have pretty low expectations for the next several quarters.”

There have been a lot of t.v. ads in Chicago during the run-up to the elections, and the Democratic message for nearly all candidates is that their opponents are opposed to a woman’s right to choose. The Republicans, on the other hand, are emphasizing a tanking economy and rising crime. There’s very little variation among candidates within a party.

*Crikey, the protesters are still defacing works of art. Here’s a tweet of a guy gluing his head to, yes, Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

A climate protester glued his head to “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer that was on exhibit at a museum in The Hague on Thursday, the latest in a series of actions by activists that have targeted world-renowned paintings in recent months as the protesters have sought to draw attention to climate change.

The stunts have recently included hurling mashed potatoes at a painting by Claude Monet and splattering soup on a painting by Vincent van Gogh.

Vermeer’s much-celebrated painting from 1665 is part of the collection at the Mauritshuis, a small museum exhibiting Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century.

The one-minute video clip of the action shows a man coming close to the painting and gluing his head to it. At the same time, another man adheres his hand to the wall next to the artwork and pours a red substance on the first man’s head and body.

The protester who glued his hand to the wall addresses onlookers who have gathered around. People can be heard gasping, expressing their outrage and calling the pair “obscene.”

“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes?” the protester said. “Do you feel outraged? Good. Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before your very eyes?”

He then assures other patrons that the painting is protected by glass, a statement which seemingly does little to blunt their anger. Several people can be heard telling him to “shut up.”

The connection between this painting and anthropogenic climate change is very tenuous, and overall I think these protestors aren’t doing anything to help their cause. While they won’t change the position of other climate activists or those who, like me, accept global warming as a real danger, they may drive centrists into the denialist camp.

*Here’s a NYT op-ed by an emeritus law professor from NYU who argues for the death penalty: “If not the Parkland shooter, who is the death penalty for?” My short answer would be “nobody.” I know of no argument for government killing of criminals that isn’t based on retribution, and retributional punishment is not a good way to go. Robert Blecker disagrees:

Most especially, the sentence fails the victims themselves. Our urge to punish is prompted, Adam Smith wrote in 1759, when “we feel that resentment which we imagine” the victims would feel. How would the 17 slain feel if they could somehow witness their killer enjoying his new normal of daily life in prison?

Society embraces four major justifications for punishment: deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation and retribution. Retribution has often been scorned by academics and judges, but ultimately, it provides capital punishment with its only truly moral foundation. Critics of the theory, including Mr. Cruz’s lawyers, commonly equate retribution with revenge — disparaging “an eye for an eye” as barbaric.

Given that the killer had no choice at the moment he killed, how does that serve as a “moral” grounding?

Further Becker sees morality as something completely separate from utilitarian considerations (I disagree):

Notice what retributivists don’t count: punishment’s future costs or benefits. Although Mr. Cruz’s execution might deter future mass murderers, especially school shooters, we don’t subtract its costs and add its benefits. We refuse to make an example of convicted killers, to treat them as means to other ends.

Can Mr. Cruz be rehabilitated? Will he ever acquire the skills and values to function as a productive member of society? It’s morally irrelevant.

Yes, if one were to have the death penalty, then surely Cruz would be closer to deserving it than other people. But I oppose the death penalty.

Finally, Becker admits that his view is based on libertarian free will, and gives the game away. Absent the ability to have made a choice about the crime, his argument vanishes:

So we retributivists reject deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation. Instead we insist that Mr. Cruz’s human dignity requires his just punishment as an end in itself. By rejecting as morally insufficient the defense’s plea that Mr. Cruz’s life should be spared because he suffered fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, by holding him fully responsible and executing him, we acknowledge him as fully human, condemning the free will that produced his monstrous crimes.

*From the Guardian we get the grisly news that a woman in Indonesia was killed and eaten (yes, swallowed) by a giant python. You’re suffocated by the snake’s coils before it swallows you, and pythons can swallow large prey items. Killing of humans is rare but this is not unique:

A woman was found dead in the stomach of a 7-metre python at a rubber plantation where she worked in Indonesia, according to local reports.

The woman, identified as Jahrah, 54, went to work on the plantation in Jambi province, on the island of Sumatra, on Sunday morning and her husband reported her missing when she did not return home that evening.

Searching for her on Sunday night, her husband discovered her sandals, headscarf, jacket and the tools she used at work, and called for others to help, police told local media. The following morning, a python was spotted nearby.

“When the security team and residents conducted a search around the rubber plantation, then we found a python 7 metres long. It is this snake that is suspected of preying on the victim. After we caught him, we found the victim’s body in the snake’s stomach,” the local police chief, AKP S Harefa, told the Detik news site.

Pythons, which kill through constriction, typically eat smaller animals, swallowing their food whole. Cases of humans being swallowed are rare.

In 2018, a woman was found to have been swallowed by a giant python on the island of Muna, off Sulawesi. She had gone missing in her garden, which was at the base of a rocky cliff where snakes were known to live in caves.

A year earlier, a farmer was killed and swallowed by a giant python in the village of Salubiro, on Sulawesi island.

*Speaking of the death penalty and people eager to see the government execute people, here’s a case where the federal government, which Biden has vowed will prohibit executions, is refusing to surrender a prisoner to the state of Oklahoma, which will likely sentenced him to execution by legal injection. The conflict is because the prisoner has been convicted of a life sentence for federal crimes but also for Oklahoma state crimes (murder) that could lead to execution.

The AP reports:

Oklahoma is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for custody of a state death row inmate who the bureau is refusing to transfer, with the state saying the man’s scheduled execution cannot be carried out in December if he’s not returned soon.

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday by state Attorney General John O’Connor urging that the bureau be ordered to transfer John Hanson back to Oklahoma by Nov. 9 from the federal prison in Pollock, Louisiana. That lawsuit, which also names three federal prison officials, has the support of Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.

Hanson, 58, has a clemency hearing set for Nov. 9. Unless clemency is recommended and granted by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the inmate is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Dec. 15 for his conviction in the 1999 killing of an elderly woman.

Mary Agnes Bowles, 77, was killed in a carjacking and kidnapping outside a Tulsa mall in 1999.

The U.S. Justice Department under Democratic President Joe Biden announced last year that it was halting federal executions. That step came after a historic use of capital punishment under Donald Trump’s presidency, with 13 executions carried out in six months.

Hanson is serving a life sentence for numerous federal convictions, including being a career criminal, that predate his state death sentence.

Oklahoma is very eager to execute this man. He’ll spend life in federal prison if Oklahoma loses its case, but even if they do and Hanson is eventually paroled, Oklahoma can re-arrest him and kill him. It seems that they want to kill him as soon as possible.

*Meanwhile, watch this video of protests in Iran:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is playing Greta Garbo:

A: Close your eyes and count to ten.
Hili: And then what?
A: Next, do not disturb me.
In Polish:
Ja: Zamknij oczy i policz do dziesięciu.
Hili: A co potem?
Ja: A potem nie przeszkadzaj.

And a picture of baby Kulka from Paulina:



From Now That’s Wild:

From Malcolm:

From Merilee:

Two from Masih about more protests in Iran:

From Gregory: our new ZeFrank!

From Simon, a bipedal octopus (or is it a “duopus”)?

From Barry. Do you hate Jesus? Jews apparently do (though they don’t):

From Titania. You can find the article here:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a lad gassed at age six:

Tweets from Matthew:  The first one is spectacular: a meteor exploding over Japan:

Dr. Cobb assures me that each unit of this thing is indeed a single cell; see here. Could this be the world’s biggest cell?

75 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. Notice that the octopus is walking on 3 legs, not 2. It might be the first recorded instance of tripedalism? 🙂

    1. Yes, it definitely uses 3 arms to walk. Hadn’t noticed that, because the post said 2 legs. What, if anything, does that say about our minds?

  2. Oklahoma is very eager to execute this man [John Hanson]. He’ll spend life in federal prison if Oklahoma loses its case, but even if they do and Hanson is eventually paroled, Oklahoma can re-arrest him and kill him.

    Federal parole was abolished in 1987, so Hanson will not be released from the federal prison on parole. In the unlikely event Hanson were ever to be released from federal custody through some other process, and assuming Oklahoma has filed the necessary paperwork to lodge a “detainer” against him, the Federal Bureau of Prisons would be required under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (to which the federal government is a signatory) to notify Oklahoma before Hanson’s release, so that Oklahoma authorities could come take custody of him.

    1. But I’m in favour of executing that Cruz guy though. Although I’m opposed to capital punishment in principle, I’d make an exception for Ted ‘Cancun’ Cruz, he’s positively nauseating.

      Edit: for all clarity, one never knows with these posts, maybe even on WEIT, this is meant as a -possibly lame- joke.

  3. The Fuentes geezer is funny. So what if you hate Jesus? So what if Jews hate Jesus? Jesus! I hate Jesus. I hate Jesus. Yahweh! Yahweh! I hate Yahweh! I hate Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus, Kermit, and Miss Piggy.

    1. I don’t really dislike, let alone ‘hate’, Jesus (whose very existence is still kinda problematic), but I profoundly dislike his intolerant, poisonous ‘Earthly little helpers’, like Fuentes.
      And I love Kermit (who, at least actually exists, I’ve seen many videos attesting to that), you are a blasphemer! (And you now what blasphemers deserve….).

      1. 🙂 Speaking more seriously, I’d probably like Jesus, especially if he’s full of kindness like he is talked up to be. I have made small contributions to church charities near here and, on one occasion, was asked to which church I go. I admitted that I did not go to church at all and, under enhanced interrogation, made a full confession. They seemed amused.

        And yes. the existence of the man is questioned by some people. I’ve heard that Richard Carrier is a prominent mythicist, but I have not read his work.

        And you now what blasphemers deserve….

        Only too well. I am off to roast in hell. Ta-ta. 🙂

  4. These meteor explosions are certainly awesome. I cannot locate my observing notes for the details, but either in 1985 or 1986, i was out in a field across the street from my suburban Virginia house, searching the night skies for a glimpse of Halley’s Comet as it returned to the Earth’s proximity in its 76-year orbit. Since seeing pictures of its spectacular 1910 display, when I was in elementary school in the 1950’s, I had anticipated this event. I finally located the “smudge” that was the still very distant Halley in my 4-inch Astroscan rich field telescope, after which, excited and satisfied, started to gather equipment and head back to the house, when suddenly i was startled by an incredibly bright flash, so bright that I cast a shadow on the ground in front of me. I turned and saw sparks of all colors (red, green, yellow, blue) in the sky for several seconds, followed by a smoke trail that lasted minutes. I actually had chills at this sight and imagined what the ancients, who lived outdoors and surely saw a number of these events as families and communities, thought in their time. It was truly frightening and spectacular and demoted the event I had looked forward to for thirty years, to the second most memorable thing that happened to me that night.

    1. I’ll never forget one night on the Methow river in eastern Washington, my young son and I were stunned to see a ball of light tearing across the sky suddenly change direction and then BLAMMO! A huge light. Like someone took a photo of the entire planet with a flashbulb. The mountain range in the distance, lit up for an instant, looked like the inside of a snow globe. The sound wasn’t louder than the river (it was difficult to hear…we waited for it) so it must have been very high up and much farther away than it appeared. But it was astonishing.

  5. Nick Fuentes seems nice.

    Jesus H. Christ. Someone didn’t watch Ken Burns’s recent documentary The US and the Holocaust on PBS — or, if he did, he mistook it for a primer, rather than for the horrific cautionary tale it is.

  6. Today … …

    i) y1886, this woman’s birthing =
    = Ms Statue of Liberty E N L I G H T E N I N G the World
    NYC’s Liberty Island

    ii) y1917, Ms Norma Steines ( Cunningham )
    ” Women to him were brood mares, who were created with large hips just to stay at home and sit on them. His opinions, frankly stated, were frequently shockingly outrageous, even for his time. For instance, he suggested that witches be burned and that objectors not believing in infant baptism should be put to death ! ”

    —” What They Never Told Us About … … Martin Luther ”
    Freethought Today ( January / February y1998 ) with, as well,

    ” When man made himself God, he made woman less than human. ‘ A woman is never truly her own master, ’ argued Luther. ‘ God formed her body to belong to a man, to have and to rear children. ’ In the grand design of the monotheistic male, woman was no more than a machine to make babies for him, with neither the need nor the right to be anything else:

    ‘ Let them bear children till they die of it. ’ Luther advised. ‘ That is what they are for. ’

    p 102, Dr Rosalind Miles’ y2001 WOMEN’s History of the World


  7. > “If not the Parkland shooter, who is the death penalty for?” My short answer would be “nobody.”

    Exactly. I’m not sure which existential/teleological fallacy it is to assume that because something exists, it should exist and we must use it. I’ve gotten into lengthy discussions about both government and religion that boil down to the same problem. (“We have a POTUS so he should take unconstitutional powers…” “There is a church, so they should…”).

    1. It’s further emphasised by this glorious sentence:

      Retribution has often been scorned by academics and judges, but ultimately, it provides capital punishment with its only truly moral foundation.

      A: “We need capital punishment so we can have retribution!”

      B: “Yes but we don’t want retribution to be part of the justice system”

      A: “But we need retribution, otherwise we can’t justify capital punishment”

  8. Notable science birthdays:

    1806, Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle, botanist

    1845, Zygmunt Florenty Wróblewski, physicist, chemist

    1855, Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, botanist

    1864, Dmitry Ivanovsky, botany, co-discoverer of viruses

    1893, Christopher Kelk Ingold, chemist, Cahn-Ingold-Prelog priority rules

    1912, Richard Doll, epidemiologist who linked smoking to health problems

    1914, Jonas Salk, medical science researcher, polio vaccine

    1914, Richard Lawrence Millington Synge, biochemist, Nobel prize (1952) for partition chromatography

    1. > so it should be “Oki”.

      Chi has a few pronunciations in Ancient and Modern Greek. In ‘όχι’, ‘ohi’ is close enough for a non-IPA respelling. In Modern Greek, the chi in that word is pronounced like IPA /ç/, or what English respellers might transcribe as ‘hy’. (Think German ‘ich‘, not German ‘Buch‘. The Classical Greek ‘όχι’ could be transcribed/respelled as ‘oukhí’.

      1. The complicating factor is that ‘όχι’ or ‘ochi’ whatever you want to spell it means no, while in Greek ‘ne’ means ‘yes’. Very confusing, since in most Indo-European languages ‘ne’ would indicate ‘no’ (non, nee, nein, no, nej, net, njet, næh, nahin, ne, ni, nā, nie, etc.). The ultimate ‘n word’. Even in Hungarian, not an Indo-European language, it is ‘nem’.

  9. The quality of the Climate Change discourse is underlined by people combating oil painting.

    I don’t think you can or should dismiss retributive justice. If people don’t see that criminals are punished sufficiently, private vengeance will reappear. (I fully expect that to start with some of these criminals let off by Progressive prosecutors.) At the same time I think that there are crimes so heinous that the perpetrators shouldn’t live to enjoy even a day’s happiness.

    1. Can you cite any data demonstrating a relative rise in private vengeance in the 23 US states that have abolished the death penalty outright (or in the 13 other US states that have not executed anyone in the past 10 years), or in the vast majority of modern western nations that have abolished capital punishment?

      Private vengeance appears to be rampant in third-world countries in which the state avidly employs the retributive “justice” of capital punishment. Here, check out this list of those countries. Do they strike you as places where the death penalty has served to slake citizens’ thirst for private vengeance?

      1. That list is pretty convincing to show that abolishment of the death penalty does not lead to retributive ‘justice’. On the contrary, it appears indeed.

  10. “…some of these criminals let off by Progressive prosecutors…”

    I am curious about who you have in mind.

  11. Today … …

    i) y1886, this woman’s birthing =
    = Ms Statue of Liberty E N L I G H T E N I N G the World
    NYC’s Liberty Island

    ii) y1917, birthing of Ms Norma Steines ( Cunningham )
    ” Women to him were brood mares, who were created with large hips just to stay at home and sit on them. His opinions, frankly stated, were frequently shockingly outrageous, even for his time. For instance, he suggested that witches be burned and that objectors not believing in infant baptism should be put to death ! ”

    —” What They Never Told Us About … … Martin Luther ”
    Freethought Today ( January / February y1998 ) with, as well,

    ” When man made himself God, he made woman less than human. ‘ A woman is never truly her own master, ’ argued Luther. ‘ God formed her body to belong to a man, to have and to rear children. ’ In the grand design of the monotheistic male, woman was no more than a machine to make babies for him, with neither the need nor the right to be anything else:

    ‘ Let them bear children till they die of it. ’ Luther advised. ‘ That is what they are for. ’

    p 102, Dr Rosalind Miles’ y2001 WOMEN’s History of the World


  12. While they won’t change the position of other climate activists or those who, like me, accept global warming as a real danger, they may drive centrists into the denialist camp.

    Just remember that $1 trillion = 500 clean and safe nuclear power plants. The fact that we are not building these plants shows that even the people who claim that they care about climate change do not really care.

    1. I believe your math is way off. New nuclear is currently (over)running to the tune of $25 billion per plant in the US. Hinckley in Britain is currently overrunning to $30 billion. Plant Vogle in Georgia is now costing $30 billion:

      One trillion dollars will buy you 40 nuclear plants, not 500, and that is IF you could find someone to take on the project. 500 new plants would cost $1500 trillion which is at least nine times more expensive than renewables like solar and wind.

      1. Nuclear plants cost under $200 million when they were built in the 1970s. Inflation would bring to cost to $1.4 billion in today’s dollars.

        Part of the problem is that we have forgotten how to build nuclear reactors. They need specialized welders and so forth. There is also a lot more red tape today.

        If you are arguing that political nonsense will raise the cost of reactors I won’t disagree. But if you are arguing that the cost of steel and concrete to build a reactor is $30 billion I think that is way off.

        1. Also, everyone seems to build nuclear reactors as one-offs these days. If instead people settled for one design and built a 100 of them (say, 10 in each of 10 countries), the unit cost would be vastly lower.

        2. “Inflation would bring to cost to $1.4 billion in today’s dollars.”

          I suggest you do some research on the actual current cost of a new nuclear plant. It is nowhere close to $1.4 billion.

          AFAICT, the only new nuclear plant under construction on the US is Vogle 3 and 4 in Georgia, which is running at $30 billion already, which is long-delayed and way over budget, and not even estimated to be completed for another five years. It is two units, likely to run about $20 billion each by the time of completion.

          In fact, long delays and large over-budget construction is the norm everywhere around the world. So much so that is impossible to know the true cost of a new nuclear power plant based on estimates – one must wait for final calculations.

          Here is a already-obsolete (2019) graphic (scroll down) of the ten most expensive nuclear projects around the world, all of which are $20 billion or more. Hinckley, for example, is now estimated to be about 25% more expensive than its 2019 estimate:

      2. Be careful with the “cost” of solar and wind. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is of interest to investors, not consumers. A $40 investment in a wind or solar farm will yield a megawatt-hour over the 20-yr life of the turbines but you the investor don’t pay for the cost (or the carbon footprint) of the backup system—gas turbines or yet-to-be-invented storage schemes—for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine for days at a time. The customer pays for that and it becomes startlingly expensive the more windmills get put on the grid, because more of the total capacity has to be duplicated with something reliable. This is the reason why retail electricity rates go up, not down, as more wind and solar are brought in to displace coal, gas, and nuclear. If weather-dependent generation really was cheaper and better than gas and coal, the market would have gone to them for the same reason diesel-electric locomotives replaced coal-fired steam on the railways almost overnight. The fact that wind and solar are adopted only in response to subsidies and regulation tells you they don’t provide reliable value for money, no matter how attractive they might be as a subsidized investment..

        Nuclear probably is too expensive. Its LCOE is currently estimated at 4x (not 9x) that of wind and solar*. More to the point, we don’t really really need it, given the abundance of gas. When our nukes in Ontario are some day retired, we will probably just build more natural gas co-generation plants and leave it at that. Thermodynamic efficiency that approaches the ideal, good spinning momentum to stay in synch with New York, adaptable to baseload and demand peaks, and the fuel is domestic, abundant, and cheap. What’s not to like?

        On the other hand, if you are content to keep the lights on and your refrigerator running and the Internet working only when the sun shines and the wind blows, then $40 a MW-hr could be a good deal for you.
        *LCOE taken from Sabine Hossenfelder’s video, “Is Nuclear Power Green? She cites her source. Estimates of both carbon footprint and LCOE vary widely.

        1. Sabine’s video was excellent as usual. Thanks for the pointer.

          I have worked around nuclear reactors at various national labs, and based on what I have seen I have assumed that the high cost of nuclear energy is mainly due to regulatory compliance (it is insane). I don’t see why nuclear power should be *intrinsically* more expensive than other forms of energy, but perhaps I am missing something.

          I would point out that energy prices in nuclear powered France are considerably cheaper that in renewable-powered Germany:

          As far as the amount of uranium left on earth is concerned, that is possibly a deal breaker if the one study she cited is correct. But I am a bit sceptical as I still remember the predictions that we were running out of oil.

          I think natural gas is a big improvement over coal and oil in terms of carbon reduction, but gas (methane) is itself a potent greenhouse gas.

          1. Don’t take her concern about uranium reserves literally. A commenter under her video took her to task about reserves. Mining prospectors explore for exploitable deposits of anything only when the effort seems likely to generate a return. Currently, there is little expectation of profit from looking for new uranium mines, so proved reserves are dwindling. But if the prospects for nuclear pick up, mining companies will bet on being able to mine and sell what they find. They estimate there is lots of uranium in the world, just as it turned out there was and is lots of oil in the world. For a price. But price is just another trade-off, as you say.

            Me, I’m betting on fusion. Not with my own money, mind you. My grandchildren’s.

        2. “Nuclear probably is too expensive. Its LCOE is currently estimated at 4x (not 9x) that of wind and solar*. ”

          Mark Jacobson on Twitter []:

          “Another reminder how useless to climate new nuclear is

          Vogtle cost now $34 bil ($15.2/W), 12-19x capital cost of new wind/solar ($0.8-1.3/W)

          and at least 17-18 yr between planning+operation.

          Enough cement+CO2 for a sidewalk from Miami to Seattle”

          1. OK, you don’t like nuclear and neither does Mark Jacobson. If you don’t like something, you will find ways to obstruct anything so it becomes prohibitively expensive. Both pipelines (one gas, one crude oil) that are now under construction in Canada are behind schedule and over budget, largely due to repeated illegal intimidation and violence at worksites (as recently as this week*) by organized opponents who have the quiet blessing of the federal government. This even though the pipes have received exacting regulatory scrutiny and the support (purchased with generous consultation agreements) of all the Indigenous band councils whose territory the work crosses.

            So what do we do to keep the lights on? I vote gas. What’s your vote? Or are you against everything?
            The CBC is the only news outlet that was too squeamish to say “suspected arson” but to avoid accusations of right-wing bias I am citing their story.

          2. I don’t mean to ambush you about this but I had to check Jacobson’s figures.

            He is comparing Vogtle nuclear with new wind and solar not on the basis of LCOE but on the misleading capital cost per watt of installed capacity. This makes wind and solar look cheaper than they really are because it hides the fact that you have to buy a lot more watts of weather-dependent generators to compensate (incompletely) for intermittency. LCOE fairly accounts for this because it captures the amount of electricity actually generated over the life of the installation, not merely the maximum power it can generate under ideal conditions (i.e., when the sun shines and the wind blows but not too hard.)

            If you multiply his capital costs for wind and solar by 8, to account for the capacity factors of 12% for a typical wind or solar farm, then Vogtle is only twice as expensive in terms of expected electricity generated per year. But CFs are only average: there will be days and nights when the windmills and PV panels generate nothing at all. So you need to overbuild to cover that, too, or figure out some grid-level storage good for several days, which doesn’t exist yet, and hope it is much cheaper than lithium-ion batteries currently are. These add-on costs of intermittency are large and are not captured by LCOE (because dependent on external decisions: gas? batteries? just live with blackouts?) but someone will have to pay them somewhere.

            Vogtle will likely last twice as long as a wind farm before it wears out, reducing the comparative cost even further over the service life. And for that $15/W, you get nearly 100% reliable power with no need for expensive backups to cover overcast days (and nights) with no wind.

            This was worked out in a back-of-the envelope post today about a real-life grid. For what you have to pay to protect customers from intermittency blackouts, you really can buy nuclear power plants.

    2. I think anti-nuclear people do care. Perhaps they argue it’s too expensive, as Lysander does here. I think economies of scale would lower the costs, along with better designs that always come when human ingenuity is put to work.

      However, its seems mostly ignorance and superstition concerning nuclear power that keeps us from the most effective, practical means we currently know.

      1. “I think anti-nuclear people do care.”

        I will grant you that they get emotional. But “care” goes beyond emotion into the realm of due diligence, and here they fail.

        My feeling is that most people have no idea of the scale of the problem we face with climate change. They don’t understand that even things like the ammonia we need to make fertilizer require fossil fuels.

        If we are going to electrify everything, we need to make clean, carbon-free energy on a vast scale. The only non-intermittent scalable zero-carbon technology we have at present is nuclear power.

        Battery technology is improving steadily, but there is no Moore’s law for batteries. Batteries will always require intensive mining and minerals. And it is questionable if the best use for our limited supply of metal is to use it to store energy.

        “There are no solutions. There are only trade offs.”

        1. Sympathetic as I am to nuclear power (albeit disappointed in its cost and to the dead end that CANDU seems to have been), I have to point out that it is not zero-carbon. There is a lot of carbon-dioxide-intensive concrete in a nuclear plant (and in a hydroelectric dam). The carbon footprint is sensitive to how long the plant (or dam) is expected to last. A gas plant may end up being carbon-competitive with nuclear, and much cheaper. (See Hossenfelder video linked above.). And if we are going to go nuclear, we’d better start now tracking down uranium reserves.

  13. “Given that the killer had no choice at the moment he killed, how does that serve as a “moral” grounding?”

    Even if we grant we don’t have Free Will, I still think speaking this way about “choice” will remain deeply confusing to the public, especially since many will be ready to notice any inconsistency when you use, or imply, the notion of “choice.”

    Insofar as saying the killer had “no choice” is based on the wider proposal that we are all in the same situation, you have armed people with a rebuttal whenever you go on to make any recommendations. E.g. a recommendation like: “Therefore we ought to change the way we are currently treating criminals.”

    Response: Well that’s confusing. In any normal way of speaking, to recommend that we change the justice system implies we actually have the choice to continue as we are doing, or choose to change how we treat criminals. So now we have a “choice?” So what was that argument about criminals not having a choice again…?

    It will be a continual uphill battle. It seems to me:

    1. We either find a way to use “choice” that is consistent with the way most people understand the word – and hence to be consistent drop claims like “he had no choice.”


    2. We advocate to get rid of words like “choice” because such a thing doesn’t really exist.


    3. We have to completely re-define “choice” so as to not mean what most people mean by the term.

    I don’t see much future in the latter two options.

    1. Or we educate people about the issues, which is what Sam Harris did in his book “Free Will”. Do you really want people to go on believing that they could have done something other than what they did? Really? It seems to me we should tell them the truth, because it’s always better to know the truth.

      1. Thanks for the reply Jerry.

        I’m unclear whether you believe educating people entails position 1, 2 or 3 outlined in my first post? You seem to be implying #3.

        “Redefining is the job of compatibilists. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that “choice” can be shorthand for something else.”

        Ok so you have used the word “choice” to refer to “something else.” What would that “something else” be?

        If you believe this alternative reference for “choice” is really the only sensible use of the term, and if your definition of ‘choice’ does not track with how most people understand “choice,” how does that not amount “re-defining” how we use the term “choice”?

        1. I don’t want to get into a squabble about this. People can be made to understand that “choice” means “apparent choice” and not “you could have chosen otherwise. You can use the shorthand when it won’t cause confusion, as when a waiter asks, “What is your choice?”

          That is my position, and the argument concludes here.

          I am more concerned with getting people to understand and accept naturalism than worry about semantics, which you seem hung up on. Once they understand naturalism, they will know that “choice” is not a libertarian free-will choice but the illusion of choice.

          And thus ends this exchange.

          1. Ok thanks Jerry. I appreciate the exchange. I won’t keep trying to hammer away on this subject (and I burned out on it long ago anyway). Cheers!

    2. I’ve seen determinists using libertarian/free will language. I don’t like it. Sure, it’s convenient and useful, but people keep forgetting that it is a verbal shorthand for something else. Similarly, I occasionally hear atheists talking about ‘souls’, meaning a unique mind. The terms have so much baggage that it makes sense to avoid them.

      Make whatever inferences you want about how that applies to the use of gendered language.

      No matter what the outcome is, it will be Orwellian. Either we erase words from our language, or we redefine them into something unrecognizable.

      1. Redefining is the job of compatibilists. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that “choice” can be shorthand for something else. It’s not rocket science, you know. The important principle is to understand what determinism (I prefer “naturalism” because it incorporates quantum indeterminacy that may affect human behavior) is. For one thing, if people grasped it, we wouldn’t have so many people urging the government to execute prisoners.

  14. Schadenfreude is a real thing. It’s an ugly part of human psychology, but pleasure at the failure, pain, or humiliation of another is universal. This is what often motivates desire for the death penalty among non-lawyers/philosophers. It’s also what motivates sadists.

    Whether someone understands that we live in a deterministic world is not relevant. People are motivated by the pleasure they will experience from the malefactor’s punishment. This is obvious from the widely attended, gruesome public executions that were common not that long ago in Western countries, and still are in many parts of the world.

    1. If you think you haven’t a trace of Schadenfreude, watch the Nick Fuentes clip imbedded above and tell me you wouldn’t enjoy punching him in the face, even though you understand he could do no other.

      1. I watched the video earlier this morning, but punching him in the face did not occur to me. It is true. I would not enjoy punching him in the face. I enjoy ridiculing people like that and seeing them be ridiculed, but hitting them, no.

        Of course, that does not mean there is no trace of schadenfreude within me, just not for this clown 🙂

        Seeing him be ridiculed is probably the extent of my schadenfreude in this case.

      2. I’d probably derive some pleasure in punching Fuentes in the face, but only in a fair fight conducted per the Marquess of Queensberry rules.

      3. He just looks like another mentally ill person on social media to me. On the other hand, the people defacing art make me really want to administer a real beating. That would perhaps discourage the next such action. Eventually, they are going to completely destroy something priceless.
        I know the folks in UK have spent the last few decades conditioning people to not defend themselves or stand up for others, much less inanimate objects, but these people do not seem to be otherwise deterred.
        If, whenever the activists started damaging something, a few big fellows immediately started whaling on them until their eyes were swollen shut, that particular mode of protest would end almost immediately.
        Perhaps football hooligans could be employed to wander the galleries.

        1. Perhaps football hooligans could be employed to wander the galleries.

          You mean like the Hell’s Angels at Altamont or the Brown Shirts in the waning days of the Weimar Republic?

          That worked out well.

          1. The thugs you reference were successful by their own lights. If the goal is to discourage art mutilation, Max’s proposal would probably work. We just need some capable citizens who will risk a battery conviction in order to save something near-priceless.

            If I saw that bald goon gluing his head to Girl with a Pearl Earring, I wouldn’t call 911 – at least until after he needed an ambulance.

          2. It is not a perfect solution, I admit.
            People should not just stand by and let these maniacs proceed with their fiendish plans.
            If it were up to me, the idiot with his head on “Pearl Earring” would be attending his next protest in a wheelchair.

            1. I certainly empathize with your reaction on an emotional level, Max. But a mature democracy ought never to outsource its police power and security authority, or its monopoly on state-sanctioned violence, to thugs, I think.

            2. If it were up to me, the idiot with his head on “Pearl Earring” would be attending his next protest in a wheelchair.

              If a similar incident were to happen in your presence, would you really do what you threaten? I merely want to make sure you are serious.

        1. Very good quote sourcing. “I can do no other” is my preferred translation. I also prefer the language of the King James Bible to modern, more accurate versions.

          1. Luther actually didn’t believe free will possible because it contradicted God’s power. Calvin likewise. Luther meant he must stand against the Church hierarchy,

  15. Regarding the meteor video, what is causing the light moving up on the right? Is that a reflection aberration within the camera? Or did the volcano fire something up?

  16. Jerry Lee Lewis, last of the original rock n rollers, and last of the Million Dollar Quarter, has kicked over his final piano stool. Goodness, Gracious, he’s dead at 87.

  17. In gawd-awful art news, bbc reports a German art museum had been displaying Piet Mondrian’s New York City 1 upside down since 1980. Quote by a curator: “Once I pointed it out to the other curators, we realized it was very obvious.” Uh, ok. If it was obvious, why did it take 42 years to see it? Groupthink, perhaps? Desperate attempt to be seen as in the know and one of the clever people? It’s literally lines of red, yellow, and blue masking tape on a damn canvas! The only obvious thing is that it’s crap.*

    *(Yes, I’m sure someone here will defend it as great art.)

    1. In fact, Piet Mondriaan (he dropped an ‘a’ from his name later, in paris) used to be an accomplished painter, judging from some early works, but I’m not -and have never been- exactly charmed by the cubistic (?), linear(?) ‘art’ that made him famous.
      His later ‘works’ are so abstract and devoid of substance that there cannot possibly be an ‘upside’ or ‘downside’.
      An early work, “the red tree”,_1908-10,_Evening;_Red_Tree_(Avond;_De_rode_boom),_oil_on_canvas,_70_x_99_cm,_Gemeentemuseum_Den_Haag.jpg
      and one of his later ‘works’ that made him famous:,_1930_-_Mondrian_Composition_II_in_Red,_Blue,_and_Yellow.jpg
      Can there possibly be an upside down in that ‘painting’? I think he was victim of a trend going to theoretical extremes that hollowed out his art (not unlike today’s woke0).

    2. It is easy to tell if a Piet Mondrian painting is upside down. He signed his paintings with his initials P M. His paintings were used extensively in British fashions during the 60s. I do like some of them. At one point he started painting trees almost exclusively. Eventually he fixated on the negative spaces, the spaces between the branches and twigs. He abstracted from those spaces until he worked in simple rectilinear forms. Eventually painting blocks of color defined by dark lines and white spaces.

  18. “Society embraces four major justifications for punishment: deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation and retribution… ”

    I believe that the legitimacy of retribution as a justification for punishment derives from its association with the idea of justice itself, the idea that the punishment should fit the crime. Even with deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation, there is still nothing to prevent a shoplifter being kept in prison indefinitely because some team of “experts” judges that person to be incorrigible, or because zealous legislators want to rid the world of shoplifting once and for all. “Three strike” laws are wrong, in part, because they are unjust.

    I wouldn’t be unhappy replacing “retribution” with “just and equitable retribution” in the list of justifications for state-imposed punishment. Just get rid of Paul’s idea of the State being “a sword in God’s hand to punish evildoers”. That’s gotta go.

  19. Can’t wait to celebrate both national chocolate day and world lemur day by cooking up some of my famous lemur mole.

Leave a Reply