Love this guy

Thomas Sowell via AceHQ:
Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.

You may be onto something

A NatureIndex article explores the problem that "scientific" writing is increasingly impenetrable.
“It is also worth considering the importance of comprehensibility of scientific texts in light of the recent controversy regarding the reproducibility of science,” they add. “Reproducibility requires that findings can be verified independently. To achieve this, reporting of methods and results must be sufficiently understandable.”
To which the authors of several recent articles replied, "Your tiny minds cannot hope to refute our elite brilliance.  You must bow to the science, and send us more grant money."

We may never understand the motivations of these orcas

These justice-involved young orcas need to turn their lives around. It's not impossible to imagine, scientists tell us, that their coordinated group behavior is purposeful. We might say "orca-strated." It's important to look at the root causes:
But orcas are still captured by whalers in some regions and sold for consumption or captivity, while others get caught in fishing nets and gear. In areas with high boat traffic, toxic waste, increased underwater noise pollution and a higher risk of collisions are all threats to these sea mammals.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit, nationwide lockdowns and restricted economic activity provided a temporary reprieve — and some are hypothesizing that orcas are just “pissed off” that humans are back in their waters.
“If we are talking about whether killer whales have the wherewithal and the cognitive capacity to intentionally strike out at someone, or to be angry, or to really know what they are doing, I would have to say the answer is yes...."

A Man I Understand

 "On the Meaning of an Oath," or, why a man who decided he could never become an American is a closer brother than many who do bear the title. 

William Barr makes heads explode

Daniel J. Flynn:
Aside from the truth, the consistent chord Barr struck involves process, a concept foreign to ends-justify-the-means fanatics. The people deputize their representatives and not strangers in lab coats to make rules, cops and not protesters to enforce rules, and the attorney general appointed by the president and not faceless bureaucrats to run the Department of Justice.

The Abraham Accord

Matthew Continetti sees signs of foreign policy sanity breaking out in the Democratic party:
The irony is that Trump's opponents are ready to accept this "very positive thing" despite warning against and objecting to the policies that contributed to it. Through his personal relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump reaffirmed that there is "no daylight" between the United States and Israel after an eight-year caesura. He defied conventional wisdom when he moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, when he withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, when he cut off aid to the Palestinians, when he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and when he ordered the lethal strike against Qassem Soleimani. But the catastrophes that the foreign policy establishment predicted would follow each of these measures never materialized. What emerged instead were the Abraham Accords and a growing alliance against Iran.
It is in the realm of foreign policy that Trump's deviations from political norms have had the most positive and irreversible consequences. If he becomes president, Joe Biden may mistakenly try to revive the chances for Palestinian statehood by getting tough on the Israelis. He may attempt to resuscitate the moribund Iran deal. But it is highly doubtful that he will rescind the Abraham Accords, or withdraw recognition of Israel's Golan sovereignty, or return the U.S. embassy to Tel Aviv. He won't have the support for such decisions. And he won't have any good reason to make them. Anyone who has read the news lately understands that a strong and engaged Israel is good for security. Her enemies are our enemies.
I doubt his conclusion about a Biden administration. My prediction is that Pelosi would wait for Biden to go down for his nap, send a boatload of aid to Iran's nuclear program, then find an open bomb salon that could outfit her with a Palestinian suicide vest.


Recall that Oracle and ByteDance have a proposal on the table for Oracle to take a minority partnership position in ByteDance's TikTok.  In response to objections to that, some

Trump administration officials are looking to give American investors a majority share of the company that will take over the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok[.]

Senators Marco Rubio (R, FL), Rick Scott (R, FL), Thom Tillis (R, NC), Roger Wicker (R, MI), Dan Sullivan (R, AK), and John Cornyn (R, TX), object to that, too.

Any deal between an American company and ByteDance must ensure that TikTok's US operations, data, and algorithms are entirely outside the control of ByteDance or any Chinese-state directed actors, including any entity that can be compelled by Chinese law to turn over or access US consumer data.

The Senators are absolutely correct. Any fraction of ownership by a People's Republic of China company that's greater than zero is too much; giving, as it would, the PRC's intelligence community access to all the data TikTok scoops up from the individuals and businesses that use it.

That intelligence access, too, was explicitly made an on-demand access by a PRC law enacted in 2017.

Eric Hines

When people take your mea culpa seriously

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber announced recently that Princeton was a hotbed of racism, perhaps forgetting that that would actually be illegal. In response, the U.S. Department of Education has opened a formal Title VI inquiry.
Eisgruber has put Princeton in a box. It either must formally admit to engaging in unlawful discrimination, which might well result in serious financial penalties, or it must admit, in effect, that Eisgruber was blowing smoke when he copped to systemic racism at Princeton — an admission that surely would enrage the militant students and alumni Eisgruber has been working so hard to appease.


I cannot recommend this book about the Great Flood stories highly enough.  I'm only a little over halfway through, perhaps because I have it in Audiobook form, and the mosquitos that were mysteriously absent for a year or more are back in vicious multitudes.  But try these paragraphs from early in the book and see if the author is not irresistible:

In 1985 a cuneiform tablet was brought in to the British Museum by a member of the public for identification and explanation. This is in itself was nothing out of the ordinary, as answering public enquiries has always been a standard curatorial responsibility, and an exciting one to boot, for a curator never knows what might come through the door (especially where cuneiform tablets are involved).
On this occasion the member of the public was already known to me, for he had been in with Babylonian objects several times before. His name was Douglas Simmonds, and he owned a collection of miscellaneous objects and antiquities that he had inherited form his father, Leonard, Simmonds. Leonard had a lifelong eye open for curiosities, and, as a member of the RAF, was stationed in the Near East around the end of the Second World War, acquiring interesting bits and pieces of teablets at the same time. His collection included items from Egypt and China as well as from ancient Mesopotamia, among which were included cylinder seals--Douglas's personal favourite--and a handful of clay tablets. It was just such a selection of artefacts that he brought to show me on that particular afternoon.
I was more taken aback than I can say to discover that one of his cuneiform tablets was a copy of the Babylonian Flood Story.
Making this identification was not such a great achievement, because the opening lines ('Wall, wall! Reed wall, Reed wall! Atrahasis...") were about as famous as they could possibly be: other copies of the Flood Story in cuneiform had been found since Smith's time, and even a first-year student of Assyriology would have identified it on the spot. The trouble was that as one read down the inscribed surface of the unbaked tabley things got harder, and turning it over to confront the reverse for the first time was a cause for despair. I explained that it would take many hours to wrestle meaning from the broken signs, but Douglas would not by any means leave his tablet with me. As a matter of fact, he did not even seem to be especially excited at the announcement that his tablet was a Highly Important Document of the Highest Possible Interest and he quite failed to observe that I was wobbly with desire to get on with deciphering it. He blithely repacked his flood tablet and the two or three round school tablets that accompanied them and more or less bade me good day.
This Douglas Simmonds was an unusual person. Gruff, non-communicative and to me largely unfathomable, he had a conspicuously large head housing a large measure of intelligence. It was only afterwards that I learned he had been a famous child actor in a British television series entitled Here Come the Double Deckers, and that he was a more than able mathematician and a man of many other parts. The above programme was entirely new to me, as I grew to manhood in a house without television, but it must be recorded that when I gave my first lecture on the findings from this tablet and mentioned the Double Decker series a lady jumped out of her chair with excitement and wanted to know all about Douglas rather than the tablet.

It's a puzzlement

 Minneapolis city council ponders the deep question "where did all the police go?"

Jim Treacher's take on it:  remember when it was wrong to complain that you couldn't get enough police protection?

Couple Misapprehensions

…in an otherwisewell-intended and worthy effort. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) wants to make it possible for prison inmates who have been trained in firefighting and have place[d] themselves in danger assisting firefighters to defend the life and property of Californians to join fire departments after they've been released from prison.

Some of you know that I am a firm believer in rehabilitation and redemption, and this move would open one path to each of those.

There are a couple of tweaks, though, that are necessary for making this a truly effective move. One is this: Newsom has signed into law

legislation allowing inmate firefighters to get their criminal records dismissed so they can qualify for civilian firefighting jobs after they are released.

The dismissal opens the door for model inmate firefighters to qualify for paramedic certification, a requirement for civilian fire departments. Currently, those with convictions are barred by state law from becoming an EMT.

I don't agree, generally, with expunging criminal records when the crimes were committed by adults. In this sort of case, though, it would be appropriate to seal an (ex-)felon's record so he can apply to a fire department.

A better option, however, would be to alter the State's law regarding EMT eligibility to permit ex-felons otherwise trained as firefighters (even if trained while in prison) to become EMTs for the purpose of joining a fire department as a firefighter. (And, if that works out after some number of years of empirical observation, expanding the eligibility of ex-felons to become EMTs more generally.)

The other is one of mindset.

Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter[.]

Rather, inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the opportunity to later become a professional firefighter. No one has a right to any particular job, or career, or avocation. All of us do have a right to opportunity. 

Eric Hines