Enhanced Geothermal

Much as I hate to admit it(*), and despite ongoing concerns about the possible risks even when gas extraction is not the objective, I have to agree that there is significant promise in the idea of using fracking technology to increase the feasibility of true geothermal energy.

And perhaps not the least of its virtues is that this would provide an almost immediate re-employment of people and tools that are currently employed in the fossil fuel industry –  with far less worries about eventual supply exhaustion and possibly far greater potential geographic range of applicability.

(*) – my (irrational?) resistance being similar to that I feel at the use of medical techniques discovered through the use of (often quite horrifying) unethical experiments

Source: The Best Path Past Paralysis on Climate and Clean Energy is Starting Where There’s Agreement – as with Enhanced Geothermal

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Does science need to be published?

I side with those who feel they must agree with Elon Musk that Yann LeCun is full of shit when he claims that nothing that is not published counts as “science”.

Among the respondents to a Quora answer that I agree with, one defender of LeCun says “In the broad sense, science is a body of knowledge that relies on repeatability and acceptance, which is hard to accomplish if the work is not known. A better statement might be if it’s not published, it’s not adding to science.”

The problem here is with the word “acceptance” and the question of the required scale (and nature) of the accepting community. Few would deny that an alien civilization might have a practice that we would call science despite the lack of publications in Earthly journals, and by the same logic it is hard to deny the label of “science” to a similar practice restricted to an audience that is small enough for word of mouth to be the only necessary means of communication.

Another commenter suggests broadening the interpretation of “publish”, saying that scientific work may be “internally” published within a small group, but adding that “Nonetheless, your work would still be open for critical examination, which is the key”. But I’m afraid I don’t even agree with this, as I can imagine a person doing perfectly valid scientific work in complete secrecy. It’s not that the work has to be open for critical examination, but that if it were, then it would turn out to be accepted and would lead to teachable methods for making accurate predictions.

Of course anyone who wants to is free to use the word only for the body of work that is globally accessible in some list of specific refereed journals, but (as with most words) there is no universal consensus as to what is the “correct” usage.

 

Source: (1001) Christopher VanLang’s answer to Does science need to be published? – Quora

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Should Biden stay in the 2024 race? 

Biden doesn’t need to drop out if Harris and her supporting team can be integrated into Biden’s core group in such a way that she can genuinely be seen as a co-leader ready to step in whenever Biden falters. (With appropriate forethought it should have been possible to withdraw him from the debate as soon as it became apparent that he was “under the weather” with the offer of Harris as a substitute player to be accepted or rejected at Trump’s peril.) She can then credibly continue to tout his intermittent wisdom as something she wants to continue learning from for as long as he lives – with everyone understanding that that might end within the next four years.

Source: Should Biden stay in the 2024 race? His arguments, parsed. – The Washington Post

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On the Meaning of “Meaning”

This article seems to suggest that the author’s experience with academic philosophy has contributed nothing of value to his practice of doing philosophy in the real world. If so, I think it agrees with what the Harvard professor he quotes really meant. To me the linguistic turn is far from “played out”. It provides the only real insight that I ever gained from reading philosophers – namely that we can’t resolve conflicts about how to answer questions before agreeing on what those questions mean. And the meaning of “meaning” is a case in point.

Source: On breaking philosophy out of the seminar and back into the world | Aeon Essays

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Mediaeval Climate Logic

Robert Bryce likens his exposure of failure to make progress on the energy transition to the crowing of “Ball don’t lie!” by basketball player Rasheed Wallace when he sees failure of a free throw as justification of his claim to have ben unfairly penalized.

But the allusion to Wallace’s mediaeval idea of justice perhaps more apt than Bryce lets on. We should of course remember that just as the success of a free throw (or survival of a mediaeval dunking) does not actually undermine the justice of an accusation, so the failure of efforts to constrain our CO2 output in no way reflects on the validity of the claims by “climate activists” that we urgently need to do it.

Source: These 9 Charts Expose The Myth Of The Energy Transition

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H is for Hype

If I were looking for a way to convert excess nuclear power to a transportable fuel I think I’d look first at directly manufactured methane (via Sabatier process without going through the H2 intermediate step) since it is less prone to leak and we already have the built infrastructure for moving it around.

Source: Comments – The H Stands For Hype – Robert Bryce

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Just testing

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Let’s Make a Distinction

Objecting to the Israeli response is not the same as endorsing the horrors of Oct 7.  Mandana Rivka Dayani presents a fair response to supporters of Hamas, and especially of its action on Oct 7 2023. But most of the current demonstrators are not supporting the perpetrators of Oct 7 but rather objecting to the indiscriminate response which, rather than emulating the admirable Israeli precise targeting the perpetrators after the Munich Olympics, has been so incompetently indiscriminate as to murder three of their own escaped hostages and dozens of clearly identified international humanitarian support personnel. The actual scumbag terrorists would have far less ability to intimidate and dominate their community were it not for the support of the (unfortunately rather smart and by no means ignorant) scumbag Netanyahu who has consistently humiliated the terrorists’ less dangerous opposition in order to foment a situation that postpones or eliminates his prosecution and conviction for corruption.

Source: (1000) Mandana Rivka Dayani, a Iranian-American Human rights activist said that, ‘Never in my years as an activist have I seen other activists, upon seeing footage of little girls being killed and dragged through streets, immediately find the burning need

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Did Writing This Make Sense?

A Quora question asks: Why does it not make sense to say that 5 is a prime number and 8 is composite in this scenario: ‘There are 5 gallons of water in container A and 8 gallons of milk in container B”?

To which I reply:

It depends on what you mean by “make sense” – and also to some extent on the context.

We often say that an action doesn’t make sense if we can see no good reason for taking it, and so a statement can make sense in the sense of having a well-defined meaning – but it may not make sense to say it if it is not in any way useful.

In general the number of gallons in a container is a real number with zero probability of ever being an exact integer of any kind, so the question of primality of the exact value almost never has any well-defined mathematical meaning.

But if we are only looking at the volumes rounded to the nearest integer, then statements about the factorization properties of those integers make mathematical sense (in the sense of having a well defined meaning) even though we might usually say that it doesn’t make sense to be talking about those properties because we can’t see why one would care.

Most of the time that would probably be right, but there may be particular contexts in which the factorizability does matter.

For example, if we wanted to transfer the water in our containers into a number of full one gallon jugs, and then to cut planks to make a rectangular box holding those jugs in more than one row with no empty spaces, then that would be possible (with acceptable wastage) if the number of gallons in the container is (close enough to) an integer that is composite but not if it is prime. And so in that unlikely context it would make sense (in both senses of making sense) to say that 8 is composite but 5 is prime.

Of course it may not make sense to want that, or even to have written this answer; but I hope that, once written, it does make at least some kind of sense.

Source: (1000) Alan Cooper’s answer to Why does it not make sense to say that 5 is a prime number and 8 is composite in this scenario: ‘There are 5 gallons of water in container A and 8 gallons of milk in container B”? – Quora

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Peter Rosenthal 

Peter Rosenthal had a huge impact on my life. He taught mathematics not by showing us proofs, but by leading us through the process of discovering them for ourselves – and by doing that he led me to a rediscovered confidence in my own ability. His principled political stands were always focused on defending the abused, and often involved painful issues; but despite the seriousness of his work, the twinkle in his eye and wicked smile remind us always that life, even in struggle, can be fun.

Source: Peter Rosenthal – Steeles Memorial Chapel

See also:This G&M Obituary and  This earlier profile in Toronto Life

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Want $#\neq#$ Like

I think the Rolling Stones had a thing or two to say about this!

Source: You can want things you don’t like and like things you don’t want | Psyche Ideas

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One Not So True Thing

Mo Husseini’s list of ‘50 Completely True Things‘ is an admirable attempt to bring some perspective (and humour?) to discussions of the current conflict in the Middle East.

But leaving aside the question of whether 13th century Syria counts as part of Palestine for the purpose of claiming to have invented Hummus, there is one of the more seriously intended “True Things” that I have to take issue with.

FACT No. 40.

Any people have a right to group together and self-identify as whatever-the-fuck-they-want-to-self-identify as. When they get large enough as a group, those people have the right to self-determination and self-respect and a state where they can control their own destinies.

The first sentence is of course fine. But even with the “large enough” qualifier the right of any group to define itself (and take control of territory) as a state is just not something that can reasonably be supported.

One might think that it would be morally appropriate for Turkey, Iraq, and Iran to voluntarily give up portions of their territory for the construction of a Kurdish state. At least the members of that group already live on the territory they would like to claim. But if the proposal were to have them all move to some area in rural Canada and hive off a state there, then we might reasonably object – even if they were to start by purchasing large tracts of land in complete accordance with our current legal system.  Indeed we already have regions where identifiable groups form a majority of the local population and own a majority of the land (such as Dukhobors in SouthEastern BC or Menonites in areas of Ontario and Manitoba) but would give no credence to the claim that they have the “right” to declare independence. And for that matter what about the Rajnishi’s “right”, by virtue of land purchase and population import, to take over the Oregon counties of Wasco and Jefferson?

This is not to deny Fact#39’s assertion that what’s done is done. And indeed in a way the claim made in Fact#40 runs counter to the advice in #39 to “Stop with the fucking history lessons” and their associated arguments about whether people had the “right” to do things in the past that by now cannot in way be humanely reversed.

 

Source: 50 Completely True Things. This is a repost of a list of posts I… | by mo husseini | May, 2024 | Medium

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Priuses are Blue and Pick-ups are Red

. . . according to the current US left-right colour-coding of politics that is.

But, according to Suzuki Elder (and my good friend) Bob Worcester, the vehicle of choice should be green. And in order to provide the necessary all-encompassing view without too much environmental impact, perhaps it should be a balloon.

But although I see the value of looking at the political (or any other) landscape from above,  I am left with the thought that such a perspective does not come naturally to us; and indeed that we have a strong natural tendency to take any opportunity to polarize and divide into competing teams, parties, tribes, and nations – with the tendency towards a binary split being particularly powerful. So, taking the value of Bob’s “green” perspective as given, the real question that remains is how to effectively promote it – not just as something to be agreed with in principle, but as something to actually live by (both as individuals and as a society at large).

Source: Of Priuses and pick-up trucks – Suzuki Elders

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Carbon Capture plan “not economically feasible.”

Well duh! If it costs $2.4 billion to extract “up to” 3 million tonnes per year, then at Canada’s carbon “tax” rate of $80 per ton it would take about 100 years to pay for just the capital cost of the plant.

Source: Carbon capture plan faces doubts after Capital Power cancels $2.4-billion project – The Globe and Mail

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The Kids are (Mostly) Allright 

Writing in the ‘Persuasion’ Substack community, Shalom Auslander pleads  Dear Media, Stop Taking Students Too Seriously.

I like the sanity of this piece – reflected in full measure by that of the author’s son. And I agree with the criticism of journalists lusting after inflammatory content (and of advocates on both sides imagining it for them where it may not actually exist). But despite enjoying the clever humour with which it is expressed, I don’t share the author’s dismissal of college students as a class. Indeed I have seen far worse examples of mindless groupthink and hateful stupidity coming from people of all ages, and have never seen any evidence that a mind still growing is less effective than one that has stopped.

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Shame On Them All

The recent scandal at Guernica magazine was deeply embarrassing to me despite not having any involvement in or even awareness of the magazine.  This is because I know that if I had been aware of the magazine I would have been inclined to support and endorse it on the basis of its description alone and so the dishonourable behaviour of its entire editorial team reflects on my judgement even though I never had the “opportunity” to make that error. And when I say “entire” I do mean to include both those who quit rather than make a coherent objection to the article as well as those who remained and caved to the pressure to unpost it.

Source: Bring Back The Culture of Debate! – by Ross Barkan

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More about JKRowling

One answer to a Quora question about JKRowling goes as follows:

It isn’t what she herself has said, although she’s been generally insulting and has displayed great ignorance by denying the fact that the Nazis destroyed scientific literature about trans people. The problem is that she has publicly supported TERFS who *have* said bad things – people who approve of the murder of trans people (I’ve seen one here on Quora blaming Brianna Ghey for her own murder), and who want to have armed male guards in women’s loos to shoot any trans woman who tries to be in the same space as cis women.

Part of Rowling’s problem boils down to her inability to count. Yes, a very small minority of trans women are bogus and/or predators (I used to know one: they do exist). A small minority of lesbians are also sexual predators, and some teenage girls will sexually attack other females as a form of bullying, and even rape them with implements. The risk of an individual trans woman being a predator probably is higher than the risk of an individual cis lesbian or straight teenage girl being one, but since the number of cis lesbians and straight teenage girls is *enormously* higher than the number of trans women, they’re where the threat lies, if you want to get worked up about already very small dangers.

By getting hysterically fixated about a statistically tiny risk, TERFS have set the cause of women’s liberation back 50 years, making it seriously dangerous for any cis girl to appear anything other than fluffy and girly, or for any old woman to grow a moustache.

With regard to the first paragraph (and ignoring the fact that although the Nazis destroyed lots of scientific literature, some of which may have related to trans people, it is not clear that they did so for that reason per se rather than out of fear of sexual ambiguity in general) I wanted to comment on the “guilt by association” argument that some of those she supports may have said bad things. One can support the ideas of the Model T and Volkswagen without endorsing the other ideas of their promoters. The sins of the latter are of course so well known that any sign of approval of anything he did is suspect, but it is still quite possible for someone to endorse Henry Ford as belonging to the pantheon of great industrialists without being assumed to share (or consciously overlook) his racial views. So I still wonder if it is clear that JKR has ever supported the approval of murder of trans people, or the idea of having “armed male guards in women’s loos to shoot any trans woman who tries to be in the same space as cis women”.

Actually, I suspect that public washrooms are a non-issue for most of those who are often identifed as TERFs, but that their concern is more with places where they might have to disrobe in the open, and in the case of people who have been sexually assaulted with penises with wanting to have some guarantee that the person counselling them does not have one.

And with regard to the last paragraph in that answer, I have been told that what many feminists object to is not the existence of trans women but the suggestion that any girl who appears anything other than fluffy and girly, or who does not feel the need to eliminate any sign of facial hair, must accept the “reality” that she is actually a trans man.

Source: (1000) Claire Jordan’s answer to Can you specify the exact words Rowling says that’s transphobic and explain exactly why it is without saying it’s a “dog whistle”? Please don’t assume it’s “just so clear” because it isn’t to a large amount of people. – Quora

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“Very Fine People”

I expected to like this (more than 2 years) old piece by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff on the way opposing viewpoints seem to dig themselves deeper and deeper into extremes of overreach. But I was surprised to find in it yet another example of such overreach – one which may provide some insight into how these things often arise.

The section that bothers me is what strikes me as an overly defensive reaction to some readers of ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’  who sent them “hate mail” for allegedly perpetuating the “Charlottesville Hoax” which is how some supporters of DJT characterize the response to his reference to some “very fine people” on both sides at that awful event.

Haidt and Lukianoff acknowledge that it would be wrong to say that “Trump called neo-Nazis and white nationalists very fine people.” But then they go on to say

But that’s not what we wrote. We wrote: “With those three words—‘very fine people’—the president showed that he was sympathetic to the men who staged the most highly publicized march for racism and antisemitism in the United States in many decades.”

Now it may be true that Trump was sympathetic to those organizers, or just that he wanted them to think he was; but neither is unequivocally shown by what he said – unless he used those words in reference specifically to the organizers rather than just to some of the attendees (who may have been potentially decent people motivated by a misguided sentimental attachment to a historical figure about whom they had been misinformed and/or whose evil aspects they were turning a blind eye to).

They go on to say more about Trump’s references to a permit without confirming that he knew that it had been obtained by a “prominent white nationalist”, and to the lack of disorder at the previous night’s rally (whose truly racist nature he may be able to claim he was not yet aware of).  These comments could well be part of a more complete argument for the case that Trump was indeed tacitly supporting the racist elements but they don’t support the claim quoted above that the words ‘very fine people’ (applied to “some” of the participants) are themselves sufficient.

Source: The Polarization Spiral (from the ‘Persuasion’ community on Medium)

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“Mistakes and Violation of Protocol”

It may seem to Palestinians that Western outrage over the murder of foreign food delivery workers is placing higher value on our own ethnicity than on the other victims. But it is more that by seeing the targeting of an aid convoy whose content is readily verified we are now better able to assess  the frequency of “misidentified” civilian targets in general and to understand that with or without an explicit mandate the IDF practice is indeed much closer than we might have realized to killing anything that moves without regard to any proper assessment of threat. (The killing of their own escaping hostages and of the medical team assisting a trapped child could have been just a small fraction of a vast number of interactions, but the number of aid workers killed in this and other incidents is much more clearly seen to be a shockingly high proportion of those on the ground.)

But it is probably still overreach to apply the label of genocide to the Israeli government as a whole. The problem is with establishing “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religions group, as such“. Accidental indiscriminate destruction as a side effect of the intended elimination of a political subgroup may almost certainly be a war crime but it does not necessarily qualify as genocide.

Source: IDF investigation shows mistakes and violation of protocol, officers disciplined – The Washington Post

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Why MAGA Loves Putin

What’s more, the grievance and resentment at the heart of Trumpist nationalism in America is in some ways quite similar to the mentality of Putinist nationalism in Russia: One obsesses over losing the culture war and being disrespected by the “elites”; the other, over losing the Cold War and being disrespected by the West. Perhaps this explains other similarities in the two mindsets, from the penchant for provocation and in-your-face defiance of norms to the affinity for conspiracy theories.

Source: When Hatred of the Left Becomes Love for Putin

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