Clever engineering

A group at MIT has figured out a way to get salt and other crud out of water using what I guess amounts to distillation that works on an electrical gradient rather than a gravitational one.  It's just an early idea, which would have to be refined before it could scale up and compete with the current RO desalination technology, but it's interesting.


Coordinated attacks across the city tonight with the obvious purpose of terror, but so far no claim of responsibility. There is work to be done.

Lafayette, at least some of us still remember you.

UPDATE: Wretchard writes --
It looks like the wave of attacks is over, been some time now no new incidents. Period of damage assessment, counting up casualties, finger pointing and political posturing to follow as usual.

The significant thing is the attacks happened in the teeth of a heightened alert associated with big soccer matches. In fact Hollande himself was watching a game. So the French security forces and intelligence people were completely blindsided on this.

That means there are networks they don't know about, which are capable of Beirut-size operations. I think Scotland Yard and MI5 will be burning the midnight oil tonight.
Not only them.

An Addendum on Star Wars from AVI

And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent
instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way
into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten,
imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated
graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because
he who has received this true education of the inner being will most
shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with
a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into
his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame
and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is
able to know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognise
and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.

-Plato, Republic III
Commenting on Mike's recent post about Star Wars, AVI says: "At one level, I can't believe this needs explaining. The Rebels are the good guys. The Jedi are the good guys. The music and the costumes didn't give that away?"

He has a fuller examination of what's going on with the imperfections in the morality of Star Wars that is worth your time.

It occurs to me that his first take is the right one, though: it's the music of Star Wars that really carries the morality of the plot. You could dispose of perhaps every single line of dialogue, and still understand the movie perfectly just by hearing John Williams' soundtrack. The flaws come out of what was said in the screenplay. The real moral structure is musical, and perfect. It's only when someone -- Lucas, I suppose -- began to try to think and put it into words that the errors began to creep in.

Somehow we grasp the moral truth better through music. Plato's trust in the capacity of musicians to convey moral truths, provided that they were devoted to doing so, is perhaps if anything only understated. Trying to say the truth is very hard, as everyone who knew Socrates came to find out when he put them to the test when asked to define goodness or justice or piety. You can hear it expressed in music, though, and somehow understand exactly what is meant. For most people and most purposes, including to guide the soldiers of his model state in their moral decisions, Plato seems to have thought that this would do.

Republicans for Hillary

The apprehension among some party elites goes beyond electability, according to one Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the worries.

“We’re potentially careening down this road of nominating somebody who frankly isn’t fit to be president in terms of the basic ability and temperament to do the job,” this strategist said. “It’s not just that it could be somebody Hillary could destroy electorally, but what if Hillary hits a banana peel and this person becomes president?”
If you’re a grassroots conservative who suspects that establishment Republicans would rather see Hillary win than an outsider from their own party whom they might not be able to control, that last line should show you that … yep, you’re right to believe that.

Contrarian tools

A good career strategy:  find something to do that most people don't want to do.  If you enjoy it and are particularly good at it, even better.
A study at the University of California, Irvine, found that when it came to workplace distractions, most employees were actually happiest when performing rote tasks. Highly successful people, though, aren't most employees; they make it a habit to do work that others don’t want to do.
If the only things that make you happy are things that everyone else is willing to do for free, you're in trouble. If you're good at something that almost no one else can or will do well, the world is your oyster.


From Maggie's Farm, an article about increasing employer recognition of online degrees.  As MF comments, looks like homeschooling is bad only when conservatives do it.  On either end of the political spectrum, any school can prosper if people are highly motivated to study there, whether for intangible personal fulfillment or to increase earning power in an attractive job.  A company like Udacity doesn't need federal subsidies or student loans to keep its faculty in Priuses.

Closing the wage gap

H/t Bookworm Room.

Now For A Much More Pleasing Image

Headline: "Fried Chicken and the Skulls of ISIS Fighters."

It's Just A Banner Week for Missouri Education

Headline: "Missouri state senator aims to block student's dissertation on abortion."

Education Is Too Expensive

At least, I am totally convinced that this particular young woman has been badly overcharged for her education.

Why Not Both?

For some, the distinction between craftsmanship and deep thinking represents a false dichotomy (as a logician might say).

Matthew B. Crawford earned his Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago but failed to find a job as an academic and ultimately landed a position at a think tank. Unhappy with the work, he quit and became a mechanic in Virginia, using online tutorials to learn how to weld and make motorcycle parts.

He has also continued to write and has published books about his career transition. One of his books, “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” is devoted to debunking the notion that manual trades are mindless. “The division between knowledge work and manual work is kind of dubious, because there is so much thinking that goes on in skilled trades,” Mr. Crawford said.

As for the payoff, Mr. Crawford rejects the idea that philosophers cannot figure out how to earn a living.

“It’s obviously kind of a reductive approach to think of your course of study in college as merely a means to a paycheck,” Mr. Crawford said, suggesting the study of things like happiness can be enriching in ways that are hard to measure. “And nobody goes into philosophy because they think it’s going to make them rich.”

More on Equality

Colorado Springs police are being sued to drop their physical fitness test.
Last Friday the Colorado Springs Police Department agreed to the demands of 12 female officers who filed a civil suit claiming the fitness tests are discriminatory. All the officers were over the age of 40.

The suit will now move to a federal court. Police Chief Pete Carey says he’s disappointed, but will abide by the judge’s decision.

‘I very firmly stand behind physical fitness tests for our officers. I think what I’m asking them to do is fair and my hope is a federal judge also agrees with this,’ Carey said.

The police test consists of two running exams. Officers also have to do 52 push-ups in 2 minutes, and 45 sit-ups, also in 2 minutes.

ACLU: This 'Hurtful Speech' Policing Is A Bit Much

In fairness, you guys helped to call down the thunder. Still, it's good to see you getting it right now.
The ACLU of Missouri is disappointed with the recent request by the University of Missouri Police to report ‘hurtful speech,’ which simultaneously does too much and too little.

Racial epithets addressed to a specific person in a threatening or intimidating manner can be illegal, and may require action by police and/or university administrators. But, no governmental entity has the authority to broadly prohibit ‘hurtful’ speech — or even undefined ‘hateful’ speech, or to discipline against it.

Conversely, institutional racism and a history of turning a blind-eye to systemic inequities does require action. But mistakenly addressing symptoms — instead of causes — and doing it in a way that runs counter to the First Amendment is not the wise or appropriate response.

Harvard on Yale: It's Fascism

Usually, we at Harvard are more than happy to see Yale students make fools of themselves on camera....
Not this time.

It's Important To Know Where To Draw The Line

Ahead of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s landmark European trip kicking off this weekend, French officials reportedly nixed plans for a formal meal in Paris with President François Hollande following a dispute over the menu. The Iranians, according to France’s RTL Radio, insisted on a wine-free meal with halal meat — a request based on Islamic codes that amounted to culinary sacrilege in France, a nation that puts the secular ideals of the Republic above all else.
I mean, there's nothing wrong with halal meat. It tastes fine. Ate a lot of it in Iraq when we'd go outside the wire, and I enjoyed every bite of it. No wine, though...

Slate Magazine: Any Way You Slice It, Rubio is Wrong About Welders

Apparently a lot of people emailed them, especially philosophers. They've looked at the data a lot more deeply now, and concluded that no matter how you look at it, the data don't support Rubio.

A Pox on Both Your Houses

I see a lot of banter back and forth across the internet about "who were the good guys in Star Wars", and some make decent cases for the less obvious choice of "the Empire, naturally".  But I think this is the first article I've read that I agree with wholeheartedly:

Some Humble Thoughts About America

A gentleman called Captain Clay Higgins, a peace officer from Louisiana, invites you to consider a few of his humble thoughts on Veteran's Day.

Not While The Second Lives

David Harsanyi: "The First Amendment Is Dying."

As noted two posts below, they're still only thinking about each other. They haven't begun to consider our perspectives, which will be quite shocking to them. Or they will be, if they can wrap their heads around them well enough to be shocked.

How do you explain that concept to someone who came from a background of looking for 'safe spaces'? The idea that we mean to defend their freedom as well as our own -- but only on the same terms -- will be as difficult to imagine as the complete rejection of safety as an ideal. I don't need to feel safe from you. I don't require your approval. I don't, in fact, even care about it.

Perhaps we should give some thought to trying to explain it, as in any conflict there are a certain number of conversions and we ought to be prepared to go fishing for men. Somehow their very fine educations have not given them the history or the philosophy they would need. What would you have to tell them, if you found a heart that was good soil for this mustard seed?

Waco Update

According to Breitbart news, the Waco DA charged 106 of the bikers under identical indictments all alleging the same facts in each 106 cases. All the charges are for life sentences, or between 15 to 99 years if a life sentence is not issued. Naturally, the grand jury accepted all 106 indictments, which will now go to trial.

Only 9 people died, so 106 people can't be guilty of the actual killings. In fact, the charges don't appear to charge any of the 106 with any particular killing. The charge is for a kind of collective responsibility for the deaths due to participating in 'organized criminal activity' that resulted in the 9 deaths.

As of yet we haven't seen any evidence showing who was responsible for any of the killings, so it's interesting to me that -- after months and months of investigation and interrogation -- no one has been charged with any particular act of violence. In fact, I'm not sure how you could hope to prove a collective responsibility if you can't first establish a personal responsibility. In order to say that every member of the Cossacks MC was collectively responsible for a death, shouldn't you have to show that some member of the Cossacks MC was responsible for it?

There are still 80 bikers who haven't been charged at all. Perhaps 'the real killers' are among them, and Waco just wanted to get the easy cases out of the way first.

Two Solid Pieces on Campus Free Speech

These are coming from quite different perspectives, too, which makes them even more valuable if you read them together.

One of the two -- which came recommended by Armed Liberal of Winds of Change fame, for those of you who have been around the blogosphere long enough to remember him -- is from the perspective of a serious scholar who has a nuanced view. The other is by a trans* activist who wants to yell and curse at feminists who won't support what trans* activists are doing, preferring to take their feminism, ah, "straight."

This activist, whose first piece is angry in places, went on to write a follow-up piece responding thoughtfully to critics. The original piece actually does have some interesting insights, though, so it's worth reading as well.

To distill the basic structure of the debate you get by reading the arguments together:

1) Serious Scholar and Trans* Activist both think they're talking to the left. They aren't really considering our perspectives at all. They aren't fighting against us, in other words, but for domination of what good leftists think.

2) Serious Scholar and Trans* Activist agree that this isn't really about free speech v. political correctness. There are some kinds of conduct they think should be beyond the pale -- blackface frat parties are one example, allowing a serious debate about stoning gays to death is another. This is a point on which I suspect we would disgree: blackface frat parties are the epitome of bad taste, but probably so obviously so that banning them would do less good than letting people suffer the humiliation of having proven to have associated with such a thing; whereas a debate between feminists and Islamists on the merits of radical Islam is something the colleges could very usefully be having right now.

3) Serious Scholar is interested in a much broader set of problems than the Trans* Activist. Serious Scholar points out that there is an important conversation to be had about 'cultural appropriation,' because it's a trap that its advocates are falling into: studies in British colonialism show how encouraging just such mechanisms was used as a method of control over unruly minorities.

4) Trans* Activist points out that many of the feminists fighting against trans* people used the same tactics in their own day, some thirty or so years ago. The tactics were not popular then, nor ten or twenty years before that when it was the most radical black activists using the tactics (and there were some quite radical ones, though today the Civil Rights Movement is almost always painted in glossy hues and the memory of Dr. King). This was true even on the left: Edward Abbey once wrote that the only two kinds of people he couldn't stand were racists and organized minorities. Trans* Activist takes this to be proof of a moral arc uniting the civil rights movement, third wave feminists, and trans* activism. It may instead be an illustration that these tactics are despicable no matter what cause they advance, a point lost only on those who immediately stand to benefit from them (and only until they are on the other side).

5) Serious Scholar points out in his second and third arguments that this is really not about creating 'safe spaces,' but establishing just who will rule and building the mechanisms to ensure their cultural domination. Trans* Activist is totally on board with that, committing to being on the forefront of 'pushing the line in the sand.'

As we see it in the press, this looks like a silly fight over what may be chiefly invented offenses. On reflective analysis, though, it proves to be a highly consequential struggle -- one that will ultimately have consequences for us, given these left-leaning thinkers' control over the elite universities from which our leadership is so often, and so unfortunately, drawn.

Veteran's Day: The Untold Story of the Iraq that is Flourishing

Michael Rubin writes from his travels in southern and Kurdish Iraq.
U.S. veterans should be proud about what they accomplished in Iraq. They planted the seeds but did not stick around to witness fully what they sowed. If they could visit Basra, Karbala, Najaf, Amarah, and Nasiriyah, they would be proud of what they would see — a society getting off the ground. Corniches, parks, and playgrounds; commerce; solar power to supplement the still-poor electric grid; and even electronic billboards advertising the latest wares. They would see Iraqis embrace religion, but still value independence from their neighbors (and, indeed, complain bitterly about Iranian arrogance and the corrosive effect of Tehran’s dumping of cheap goods). They would see children playing without fear, and learning without indoctrination. Iraq still faces massive problems (more on that in the coming days) but, most importantly, they would hear people express gratitude. It is well deserved.

Happy Veteran's Day, Warriors

All the best of the Hall to all of you who served in America's noble causes.

Have the Faith You Claim To In The Free Market, Rubio

Rubio, who really does not approve of people studying philosophy as he also ran it down repeatedly at the Red State Gathering, said during tonight's debate that 'welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and fewer philosophers.' Rubio is an Aristotelian without knowing it, because unlike the Platonists he divorces practical wisdom from theoretical contemplation. The problem with not studying philosophy is that you can't escape it. If you aren't trained, you simply are driven by ideas that come from you know not where, and which bear consequences you have not considered.

For example, consider his claims about the market. If the first assumption is true -- that welders make more money than philosophers -- isn't the second principle analytic? Not only is the market aware of the need, it's adjusted compensation accordingly. Won't, then, the market make sure we get the welders we need without us having to do anything at all?

Why are we even talking about this? Because he wants to meddle with the market, of course, by pushing vocational programs. He thinks government meddling is the answer to a market problem: we value welders more, and even pay them more, yet for some reason our schools keep producing philosophers instead of welders.

I'm not sure that the first assumption is true, actually: welders make very wide ranges in salary depending on their specialty. Philosophers also vary widely depending on their institution's prestige and funding. Although right now the move to make faculty into adjunct rather than tenure-track has really depressed compensation, those who do succeed at gaining a tenure track position do quite well. Some welders make great money, and some don't. I'm the grandson of a welder. He didn't get rich. He did survive the great depression, though I gather for a long time the only welding people would pay for was the crafting of whiskey stills. But people would pay for that.

On the other hand, the reason to study philosophy isn't so you'll become rich. It's because, as Aristotle says at the beginning of the Metaphysics, "All men by nature desire to know." It's nice if that turns into a paying gig, but it's a universal claim: all desire to know, so it's a study that is proper to any sort of person at all. Not everyone has an equal capacity for it, but everyone has some capacity, and some natural drive and desire for it. We want to know, we want to understand, and we want to pursue this knowledge as well as we can. Philosophy is not the only road these days, but it is the ground of all of the roads, and it is their meeting place.

UPDATE: You know who has a degree in philosophy (and Medieval studies)? Carly Fiorina.

Governor-Elect of Kentucky Cites the 10th Amendment

Asked about the President's war on the coal industry, Matt Bevin says he'll tell the Feds to back off claims to powers that aren't specifically cited in the Constitution. "We will tell the EPA... to pound sand."

That's What We Do

After nearly 75 years in the U.S., I still am stirred by the thought of American freedom—so precious and thrilling that I cannot imagine life without it.
It's Ten November. Happy Birthday, Marines. Tomorrow is Veteran's Day.

Shoot something. Knife something. Don't forget how we became free, and how we have stayed free.

Honor and the Ride

He was my age, and from Georgia.

Who Goes Nazi?

Mr. Foster reminds me of a piece I greatly admire, one that bears re-reading from time to time. Which one is you?
H is an historian and biographer. He is American of Dutch ancestry born and reared in the Middle West. He has been in love with America all his life. He can recite whole chapters of Thoreau and volumes of American poetry, from Emerson to Steve Benet. He knows Jefferson’s letters, Hamilton’s papers, Lincoln’s speeches. He is a collector of early American furniture, lives in New England, runs a farm for a hobby and doesn’t lose much money on it, and loathes parties like this one. He has a ribald and manly sense of humor, is unconventional and lost a college professorship because of a love affair. Afterward he married the lady and has lived happily ever afterward as the wages of sin.

H has never doubted his own authentic Americanism for one instant. This is his country, and he knows it from Acadia to Zenith. His ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War and in all the wars since. He is certainly an intellectual, but an intellectual smelling slightly of cow barns and damp tweeds. He is the most good-natured and genial man alive, but if anyone ever tries to make this country over into an imitation of Hitler’s, Mussolini’s, or Petain’s systems H will grab a gun and fight. Though H’s liberalism will not permit him to say it, it is his secret conviction that nobody whose ancestors have not been in this country since before the Civil War really understands America or would really fight for it against Nazism or any other foreign ism in a showdown.

But H is wrong. There is one other person in the room who would fight alongside H and he is not even an American citizen. He is a young German emigre, whom I brought along to the party.... The people in the room think he is not an American, but he is more American than almost any of them. He has discovered America and his spirit is the spirit of the pioneers. He is furious with America because it does not realize its strength and beauty and power.

A Coward Thanks You

He really appreciates how you let him mock you without consequences.
Zuckerman argues that society would not fall apart but rather thrive if religion were taken out of the equation. He points to religion as a societal ill and strongly implies society would be better off without God....

He added a statement of thanks that he was able to speak and write negatively about these religions without worrying for his life or that of his three children.

"I would never write the same kind of stuff that I do about certain religions—Judaism, Christianity, LDS—that I would about Islam because of just straight up fear," Zuckerman said.
It's all right, chief. I can afford to be tolerant. My God's too big for you to hurt with words.

Sit, Boy... er...

“We took to each other pretty quickly,” said Spc. Jeffrey Grassley, a military policeman and dog handler partnered with Tracker. “I mean, it’s a little weird that they tell me to call him a ‘him,’ since he’s obviously a female dog, and there was that time last month when he was laid up for a few days after he gave birth to a litter of puppies, but we’ve really forged a close working friendship.”


Some of the more traditional, conservative elements within the Army might not be so ready to embrace such a radical change, however.

The all-male caisson horses of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, or “The Old Guard,” long entrusted with the solemn honor of bearing the caskets of fallen warriors and deceased U.S. presidents, have drawn fire for refusing to allow female or openly LGBT horses within its ranks, and the regiment’s command team is unapologetic about that fact.

Jimbo: 13 Hours Is Going To Be Awesome

Jim has been following the Benghazi thing much closer than I have been. He has a piece on it today in Town Hall.

Politics & Science

They mix, but not well.
Isaac Newton had argued that there was a universal force of gravity, the incessant tugging of one body on another. But Einstein argued that there was no “force” of gravity at all. Space and time were as wobbly as a trampoline; they could warp, bend or distend in the presence of massive objects like the sun....

Just months after Eddington’s announcement, right-wing political opportunists in war-ravaged Germany began to organize raucous anti-Einstein rallies. Only an effete Jew, they argued, could remove “force” from modern physics; those of true Aryan spirit, they went on, shared an intuitive sense of “force” from generations of working the land.
As we approach Veteran's Day, which was originally Armistice Day, it's worth noting some of the other pitfalls for Einstein that the story mentioned. Some of his earliest adopters might have done more, and more quickly, were they not held in POW camps by the other side -- or had they not died in the war.