Monday’s Forum

The new work week is here, as is the first open forum.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Boy, I sure am glad the trump admin stopped all those impending US embassy attacks.

    Just pointing out the stupidity of one of their rationales for killing Suleimani.

    1
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump to meet Israeli leaders as doubts over ‘peace plan’ grow

    Donald Trump is set to disclose details of his much-delayed Middle East “peace plan” during meetings with Israeli leaders in Washington on Monday, amid a rising global chorus of doubt about its timing and substance.

    The choreography between the US and Israel has been interpreted as a convenient distraction for both Trump, who faces an impeachment trial, and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces three criminal corruption indictments and an uncertain election campaign.

    Netanyahu has sought to play up his cosy relationship with Trump domestically and to promote himself as uniquely able to extract concessions from the US.

    Now there’s a tell.

    Israeli media, citing unnamed Israeli officials, have reported that the measures would be extremely favourable to the country, allowing it to annex much of the Palestinian territories, including Jewish settlements, and all of contested Jerusalem. The Palestinians may be granted some form of self-rule but under tight restrictions.
    ………………………………
    The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said last week that the Palestinian leadership had a “clear and unwavering position” to reject any Trump-led initiatives. Palestinians fear the plan is an attempt to bully or bribe them to relinquish long-held demands for a state and a resolution for Palestinian refugees. They anticipate the plan could be implemented by the US and Israel whether they agree to it or not.

    Peace in our time!

  3. sam says:

    John Bolton won’t back down.

  4. Scott says:

    With everything else going on, let’s not forget our neverending wars.

    Spc. Antonio I. Moore, 22, from Wilmington, N.C., died January 24, 2020 in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria, during a rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations. The incident is under investigation.

    Moore was assigned to 363rd Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, Knightdale, N.C.

    https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2065817/dod-identifies-army-casualty/?source=GovDelivery

  5. gVOR08 says:

    @sam: Back down from what? So far all he’s done is give WH lawyers a heads up on what he’s got and fluffed his book.

    1
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Will Go First It’s a long piece, about the many threats to Miami’s supply of drinking water:

    Hypothetically, most of the challenges climate change poses to Miami’s drinking water could be solved with money. Homes with septic tanks could be connected to the sewer infrastructure, a process Yoder estimates would cost from $2 billion to $3 billion. The soil at Superfund and other industrial sites could be dug out or better encased. Real-time monitors could be installed to warn of unexpected seepage. Still more advanced technology could be installed at water-treatment plants. But those projects would need funding. And there’s already a long line.
    …………………………………………..
    Asked if the state would help Miami-Dade protect its drinking water from climate change, Governor Rick Scott’s office directed questions to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which said in a statement that it “continues to work to protect the resiliency of our coastal ecosystems and shoreline communities.” But José Javier Rodríguez, a Democrat who represents Miami in Florida’s Republican-held senate, says his city is unlikely to get bailed out by the state. It’s not a question of believing in science. “The massive political and institutional resistance to taking action, in my view, is not largely ideological,” he says. “It’s not largely even political. It’s a question of being intimidated by the price tag.” As the low-tax state struggles against a revolt among school districts protesting meager budget increases and a $28 million prison funding deficit, there’s no appetite for funding the solutions to future crises, even when the future is almost here.
    …………………………….
    That leaves the cruelest lesson of climate adaptation: The costs of saving Miami will mostly fall on the people who live here—testing how much they’re willing to pay for the privilege, a sort of free-market Darwinism for the life of whole cities. “There will always be drinking water here,” says Virginia Walsh, a hydrogeologist with Yoder’s department. “It’s just a question of how much you want to pay for it.”

    Stoddard, the South Miami mayor, says the people who already have homes here will accept almost any price to stay. But those who would otherwise come to South Florida will start looking at the growing cost of protecting it—measured in water rates, in property taxes, in insurance premiums, in uncertain future home sales—and go elsewhere.

    “People will hang on with their fingernails to keep what they’ve got,” Stoddard says. “But who’s going to move here? And that’s what’s going to kill us.”

    Anna Michalak said, “Invariably, we discover that we’re not quite as clever as we thought.” which is just another way of saying, “They’re fucked.”

    4
  7. Kurtz says:

    From the Democrat Party media operation that should be defunded because it is unfair to Trump and Pompeo: Yang qualifies for February debate.

  8. sam says:

    @gVOR08:

    He’s said he’s willing to testify. I don’t think he’ll back down from that no matter how much Trump blusters in his Twitter feed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump threatens prosecution if Bolton testifies.

  9. sam says:

    This doesn’t sound good: The Shaky Future of .org Domains.

    1
  10. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Floridian here. A large number of people here are retirees from other states, often with big pensions from blue states, they’re drunk on FoxNews, and they don’t want to spend a single dime on anybody else’s kids or anything else. It’s a crisis of greed and stupidity.

    9
  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    As someone who lives a 1/3 of a mile from the Atlantic Ocean (closer as the crow flies), albeit 56′ above sea level, I have one suggestion to deal with rising sea levels: Retreat!

  12. Bill says:

    I missed a show Friday night. The community I live in has a East and West Clubhouse. The East Clubhouse has a fitness room where I work out most afternoons for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. On Friday evening a couple of raccoons came crashing through one of the ceiling tiles while two residents were working out.

    Life in Florida….

    2
  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    Iowa Should Never Go First Again

    Leonhardt is right. There is a benefit in having 2-4 geographically smaller states go first as it allows a candidate on a limited budget to gain exposure. But it shouldn’t always be Iowa and NH, and never a caucus state.

    3
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve:

    they don’t want to spend a single dime on anybody else’s kids or anything else

    Why would they? They’re all gonna be dead soon anyway. IGMFY.

    ETA: @Sleeping Dog: I won’t be around for the reaction from the great unwashed midwest diners when they are hit with that refugee crisis, but something tells me it’s gonna be far worse than the dust bowl.

    3
  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The choreography between the US and Israel has been interpreted as a convenient distraction for both Trump, who faces an impeachment trial, and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces three criminal corruption indictments and an uncertain election campaign.

    Wait…Mr. Anti-Corruption is meeting with someone indicted for corruption? How can this be?!?!?

    8
  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Just pointing out the stupidity of one of their rationales for killing Suleimani.

    John Bolton has wanted war with Iran since before he could grow a mustache. Just 4 days after his manuscript was delivered to the White House, Trump assassinated Suleimani. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

    3
  17. Scott says:

    Conspiracy theory of the Day running around twitter:

    Dec 30: Trump finds out what’s in Bolton’s Book
    Bolton’s obsession is Iran
    Jan 3: Soleimani is struck by drone to satisfy Bolton

    6
  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

    I’m not. That would indicate a capacity for strategic thinking but I’m not at all sure they are capable of thinking. 😉

    4
  19. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’m puzzled. How does Trump expect to make any money for himself through a Middle East peace plan?

    1
  20. Kurtz says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Bolton was born with that mustache

    2
  21. Teve says:

    @NellSco

    Mitt Romney’s best play is to flip a few other Senators…call for witnesses…oust Trump…then run for President. He came close before. He’s a businessman. He can claim ethical superiority. He can pick Nikki Haley for VP. And they’d have a real shot.

    3
  22. KM says:

    @Teve:
    The whole snowbird thing kinda depends on snow to be a factor. With global warming now starting to have noticeable effects on the weather to even the dimmest of bulbs, fleeing to Florida to avoid the snow isn’t a given anymore. I live in a notoriously snowy area and we just got hit by the first real snow (as in, more then a dusting that actually sticks to the ground) in over a month. A month! I mean, for god’s sake it snowed lightly, rained and then snowed again all within the same hour last week. It’s been so rainy lately I’ve had to teach the dog to hold still so I can wipe the mud off her paws before she comes in. I’ve been rocking the open-toed sandals for the last week and a half in January because I could. Granted, it’s not in the 60-70’s every day (only a few – so weird) but it’s not freezing – literally.

    Snowbirds are going to have to reconsider the concept soon. Why move to a state that’s humid as hell, full of crazy people and now can’t even give you enough water to drink if all you are avoid is the snow? Snow you might not be getting up North but might now be getting down South (along with frozen iguanas falling out of trees)? Florida’s big selling point is about to get a huge asterisk next to it….

    4
  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    It’s just another distraction.

    1
  24. Teve says:

    @KM: eventually, yes, but not really soon. I know people who rent out condos in Fort Myers and they are full of New Englanders six months of the year.

  25. sam says:

    Snowbirds — now get ready for Waterbirds: As sea levels rise, little of the United States will be unaffected

    4
  26. Kathy says:

    As advertised, can we ever know everything there is to know about the universe?

    By “we” I mean humanity in the abstract, including whatever species we evolve into (and we will), or even whatever machine(s) replace us. But also any intelligent species which may have existed, may currently exist, or may exist in the future.

    By “everything” I mean all the fundamental laws of nature, as well as the nature and composition of all matter, energy, dark matter, dark energy, and whatever else we may discover in the future.

    Ok. Can we?

    The first problem is whether there is a finite amount of knowledge about the universe. This would seem to be the case, as we have reason to think the universe is not infinite. But it is very large. How large is something we cannot really grasp. This introduces a complication, as no single species within the expected lifetime of the universe can possibly explore all of it.

    So, suppose your species has learned everything there is to know about the universe. How would you know this was so? maybe there’s some for of exotic matter existing in minute quantities in a galaxy 17 billion light years away, which you can’t ever reach. Maybe there isn’t. How do you know?

    So at most a species could learn everything there is to know about the universe to explain all observations and all known data and recorded phenomena.

    Not bad.

    The second problem is whether a species can exist long enough to learn this much. Short of an extinction event, there’s no reason to suppose humanity won’t go on for a very long time, evolving as it goes. But we can extinguish human life with a big enough nuclear war, or a tailored infectious disease. Outside our hands, we could all die from a massive coronal ejection from the Sun, an asteroid impact, a gamma ray burst from a nearby supernova, and even less likely scenarios like disruption from a near miss with a black hole.

    Third, we know now evolution does not have a destination or road map of any sort. We may evolve into a less intelligent, less curious form of humanity, especially as machines take on ever more tasks which require it.

    Fourth, we may lack the intellectual ability to comprehend certain things. this is hard to prove or disprove, as you wouldn’t necessarily know this was the case. perhaps the explanation for, say, dark matter is obvious if you have the smarts for it, but impossible if you don’t.

    Fifth, evidence of past events may no longer exist. This is a bit esoteric and rather tedious to go over. But maybe what happened in the first few instants after the Big Bang did not leave evidence behind that we can see or sense now, therefore we’ll never know. We can speculate, but not know. even if a given speculation is 100% correct, there’d be no way to tell that it is.

    Sixth, there may be phenomena we simply cannot measure in any way, or only in a limited way. Suppose dark matter does not interact with normal matter or with itself at all, except through gravity. If this be so, I dare say we’d never know what it is, just how much there is and where it is and where it’s going. See the point above: we could speculate about its nature, but never be certain.

    This leaves out the possibility that other universe may exist, perhaps in infinite numbers, which we may never be able to reach. But that’s way out there. For now.

    2
  27. KM says:

    @sam:
    That map’s interesting – at first I looked at it and went “that can’t be right, my county’s *really* low and we’re in a fantastic spot to survive climate change” but then realized it was increase in movement to places not already on the move-to list. A lot of bright red areas are solely because 2o+ people moving in can triple the population of the county.

    What’s fascinating though is the Great Lakes vs the heartland. Why do they surmise people will choose to go to cold, flat, empty, economically run-down and having water issues already vs cold, not always flat, economically run-down but getting better populated areas that have fresh water out the wazoo? Do they think that just because it’s “farm country” that means people nearby will magically have cheap food? Hint: it doesn’t work that way now and won’t in the future. The Great Lakes have fresh water, a surprising amount of farmland, no real natural disasters outside blizzards and Niagara Falls for power for when we start seeing natural gas go south. The Heartland has a draining Ogallala aquifer, increasingly bad weather and tornadoes, is screwed if a pipeline goes, no real infrastructure for massive growth and more people means all that useful farmland because someone’s useless lawn or pool. It’s only real benefit is it’s wide open and empty and that’s goes away once folks start streaming in.

    I get distance plays a huge role in this but it seems really odd that the map assumes the South and Midwest will absorb almost all of the coastal refugees but the Great Lakes will get almost zilch. If you’re going to have to move, why one county over in another state and not somewhere else? It seems like faulty logic. “Hey my house is underwater, let’s go 5 miles thataway where we can still be affected instead of somewhere this won’t be a problem anymore!”

    1
  28. Teve says:

    Here in Fl the sea level is rising about .3 inches per year. Which will be a lot for some places, like coastal Miami, but where I’m sitting right now it’s about 140 feet above sea level.

    But if everything goes according to plan, 18 months from now I will leave this shitty state behind forever.

    3
  29. Teve says:

    @KM:

    a draining Ogallala aquifer,

    I wonder how many people understand what an inevitable catastrophe that is.

    1
  30. Kit says:

    @Teve:

    But if everything goes according to plan, 18 months from now I will leave this shitty state behind forever.

    Here’s hoping that you make good on the old dream of teaching English in Italy.

    3
  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    Fourth, we may lack the intellectual ability to comprehend certain things.

    I often point out that no matter how hard it tries, no matter for how long, my cat will never understand calculus. In that vein it seems extraordinarily unlikely that people have all the apparatus necessary to understand everything about the universe.

    1
  32. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    In that vein it seems extraordinarily unlikely that people have all the apparatus necessary to understand everything about the universe.

    If our minds were so simple that we could understand them,
    We would be so simple that we couldn’t.
    — Emerson Martindale Pugh

    4
  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Coronavirus…which I am led to believe has nothing to do with a watery beer from Mexico.
    I never take these epidemic scares too seriously…Bird Flu, Mad Cow, Sars, Ebola, what-not.
    But with Trump in the White House I don’t trust that anyone is on top of this.
    And even if they have someone on top of this…are they qualified and competent?
    Are they going to throw anyone affected into cages? Trump’s CDC Director was an Army major and designed policies for controlling HIV/Aids within the US military. They involved putting infected personnel in quarantine and investigating their pasts to identify and track possible sexual partners. Soldiers were often discharged.
    CDC budgets have been cut by 20%.
    I mean…there is really no reason to be confident about this.

    2
  34. Teve says:

    Robert Samuelson is worried about the deficit. That’s no surprise since he’s always worried about the deficit. But this is a head scratcher:

    Let’s concede that higher deficits are one problem that can’t be blamed on President Trump. Since the 1970s and 1980s, Democrats and Republicans alike have evaded the hard questions required to balance the budget.

    Why can’t we blame President Trump? Let’s run the tape:

    *Under Jimmy Carter the deficit shrank.
    *Then Ronald Reagan cut taxes on the rich and blew up the deficit.
    *Under Bill Clinton the deficit shrank. In fact, it went away!
    *Then George Bush cut taxes on the rich and blew up the deficit.
    *Under Barack Obama the deficit expanded to tackle the Great Recession and then shrank and stabilized.
    *Then Donald Trump—a totally orthodox Republican in this respect—cut taxes on the rich and blew up the deficit.

    Just how long does this cycle have to repeat before Washington centrists finally admit the obvious? I don’t care a lot about the deficit myself, but if I did I’d take a blood oath to never vote for a Republican again.

    Republicans are very, very bad for the deficit.

    10
  35. Teve says:

    @Kit: I’ll move to Italy when recreational weed is legal there.

    It might be a while.

    2
  36. KM says:

    @Teve:
    Considering the few people who don’t stare blankly at me when I mention it seem to think we can just pump Lake Superior into it as needed because “water’s water and there’s a ton of it there!!”….. no. No, they do not. They have no idea the breadbasket of the country is doomed if something isn’t done and that doom’s coming up awful fast. Even if they fix climate change, it ain’t gonna do a damn thing to stop this particular train wreck.

    Great Lakes, folks. Just sayin’.

    5
  37. gVOR08 says:

    @sam: The House committees formally requested Bolton’s testimony a few months ago. He declined, citing the WH order for officials to not testify. The House declined to subpoena as the WH would take it to court and drag it out for months. Bolton has said he’ll testify if subpoenaed by the Senate. Knowing full well the Senate will not. I think Adam Silverman has Bolton’s number in a post entitled, Ambassador John Bolton is a Coward, Has No Professional Ethics, Could Care Less About the Security of the United States, and Cares Only for His Personal Profit

    Ambassador Bolton, the Frank Burns of American national security, has allowed his unpublished manuscript to be selectively leaked to Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt at The New York Times. Bolton’s book deal reportedly came with a $2 million advance! Haberman and Schmidt have excerpted the material that is pertinent to the President’s impeachment and which Bolton would not share with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence or the House Judiciary Committee because there isn’t any profit in doing so.

    The leaks make it clear that if he testifies honestly (admittedly not a given) it will become even more difficult to vote for acquittal. GOPs ain’t gonna let it happen.

    4
  38. Teve says:
  39. Teve says:

    @KM: ogallala is a non-replenishing aquifer supporting major agriculture in 8 states and it’s emptying and I never hear about it.

    2
  40. Kit says:

    @Teve:

    I’ll move to Italy when recreational weed is legal there

    Portugal, perhaps…

  41. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I often point out that no matter how hard it tries, no matter for how long, my cat will never understand calculus.

    Your cat sounds like 99% of all high school students I’ve ever known, including me 🙂

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Teve: The siren song from the PNW has always been “I supported schools all the time my kids were in them. It’s time for someone else to support them now; my kids are out.”

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: By having a poor, Palestinian underclass available to clean toilets, change sheets, and bus dishes at the Trump Tel Aviv?

    2
  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: No kidding. I can think of about 8 or 10 people who post here who would be “rescued” from having to vote Democrat or throw their vote away on a third party candidate who would jump at that chance.

  45. Michael Cain says:

    @Teve:

    ogallala is a non-replenishing aquifer

    The Ogallala is a slowly replenishing aquifer. In parts of the Nebraska Sandhills the saturated thickness is actually increasing. Takes a few thousand years to migrate all the way to Texas, though.

    Great Plains population has been slowly crashing since 1930. Large areas have reached the beginning of positive feedback: too few people to support professional services (medical, legal, etc), so the professionals leave (or die), so more of their clients leave, and around we go. I predict a very largely unpopulated strip 300-500 miles wide down the center of the country within 50 years. A surprising number of counties have already dropped below the 1890s definition of frontier, 7 people per square mile.

    Here’s a set of maps I built. The first one is a normal map with the GP counties identified in white. The second is a cartogram with the counties resized based on population. The third is the same population data represented as a prism map.

    6
  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: To the downvoter: A question was asked by one of the visitors here. I just tried to provide a plausible answer. Don’t like my answer, feel free to provide one of your own. But being a snowflake will not help anyone understand the issues of the day. “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

    ETA: @ Michael Cain: Great maps! Thanks!

    1
  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    can we ever know everything there is to know about the universe?

    It seems like every scientific discovery gives birth to 3 new mysteries. As long as that holds true, the answer will be no.

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Same song, different region. I wonder what they’d say if they got billed for the difference in costs for their kids vs what they actually paid.

    1
  49. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Great Plains population has been slowly crashing since 1930.

    Unfortunately, agricultural intensity has been decoupling from population density over that same period. The aquifer doesn’t care whether it’s being depleted by a million small farms with 8 kids each, or by 100 industrial megafarms tilled and harvested by robots. According to this article (with links to references), agriculture accounts for 94% of water use in the region.

    3
  50. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain: Hmm. I wonder if the entire state drops below that level, can we take their statehood away? One less Republican Rep and two less Senators….

    1
  51. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve:

    Mitt Romney’s best play is to flip a few other Senators…call for witnesses…oust Trump…then run for President. He came close before. He’s a businessman. He can claim ethical superiority. He can pick Nikki Haley for VP. And they’d have a real shot.

    An excellent plan, except that he’d be seen as a traitor by the GOP base.

    2
  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: A few months ago I was read an article about the Oglalla and the ongoing depletion of it. I remember one farmer making the switch to dry land crops and he noted that none of his neighbors were and had no plans to do so because they didn’t need too, yet. Kind of like making the switch to renewable energy. Too many people see no need to as long as we still have plenty of oil, gas, and coal to burn.

    Change is something to be avoided as long as possible.

    5
  53. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Sometimes this does happen. And sometimes they solve other mysteries seemingly unrelated.

    Going into ever smaller scales, there is no indication of an infinite regression, and strong indications of a definitive end to how small things can be. Therefore there may be limits. If there are limits, then there is a definite, albeit incredibly large, amount of things to know.

  54. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    If there are [size] limits, then there is a definite, albeit incredibly large, amount of things to know.

    I’m not sure I see how a limit on how small (or fast) things can get imposes any kind of finitude on how complex things can be. Even if no particle can be smaller than a planck length, that doesn’t impose any limit on how many kinds of matter there can be, or how many distinct forces, or how many interactions among them.

    A more fundamental epistemological problem is that we will never be able to tell the difference between “the way the universe really is” and a model that predicts perfectly given the limitations of our measurement apparatus. Every model we’ve developed over the centuries has turned out to be fundamentally wrong or grossly incomplete, or both. I assume that trend will continue.

  55. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Cain:
    @DrDaveT:
    And we circle back to Buffalo Commons. Though as @DrDave points out, population isn’t driving the diminishment of the aquifer.

  56. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I’m not sure I see how a limit on how small (or fast) things can get imposes any kind of finitude on how complex things can be. Even if no particle can be smaller than a planck length, that doesn’t impose any limit on how many kinds of matter there can be, or how many distinct forces, or how many interactions among them.

    But it lets you find an end when you reach particles that small. if there were no smallest length, then anything could still be divided in half. With numbers, there is no such thing as a “smallest number,” nor a largest number.

  57. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Every model we’ve developed over the centuries has turned out to be fundamentally wrong or grossly incomplete, or both. I assume that trend will continue.

    This theory was wrong, and then this other theory was wrong, leaves out the important bit: shit gets more accurate over time.

    the relativity of wrong

    1
  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “I remember one farmer making the switch to dry land crops and he noted that none of his neighbors were and had no plans to do so because they didn’t need too, yet.” [emphasis added]

    Which is how the Tragedy of the Commons becomes tragic. Funny how that works.

    1
  59. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: One reason for me to hang around here in Chicago. Right next to the biggest damn supply of fresh water in the world.

    Maybe we’ll see a revival of the Midwest? The only real weather problems we have here are a) tornadoes and b) the fact that in the winter after you get a blizzard plowing does no good because after 5 minutes the wind has blown it back all over the road. Oh, and the deer–but we get those all over New England as well.

  60. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    Your cat sounds like 99% of all high school students I’ve ever known, including me

    Calculus at the intuitive level* isn’t that hard. Calculus is the study of change; its fundamental concept is rate of change — the rate at which one thing Y (= position, or weight, or IQ, or pressure) is changing, per unit change in some other thing X (= time, or temperature, or hours of television watched).

    The rest is annoying details :-).

    *The dirty little secret of mathematics education is that introductory calculus courses, even at the college level, never really get beyond the intuitive level. Actual formal proof of the correctness of the things taught in those courses comes much later, in courses with the word “analysis” in their names…

  61. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    This theory was wrong, and then this other theory was wrong, leaves out the important bit: shit gets more accurate over time.

    There are (at least) two different kinds of wrong. There is “that model makes wrong predictions”, and there is “the mechanisms of that model aren’t anything like how things really work”.

    Newtonian mechanics makes excellent predictions for most things that don’t involve extremely tiny particles or extremely massive objects. It was an enormous leap forward in predictive power from its predecessor theories; orders of magnitude. It is also (we now know) entirely wrong about what kinds of entities exist and how they interact.

    The Standard Theory of Quantum Mechanics makes much better predictions about small things than any previous theory. Things at that scale behave in totally unintuitive ways, yet the theory successfully accounts for those ways, and predicts new ones that so far turn out to happen when we do the experiments. Ditto for Special Relativity and General Relativity, at large scales. All of this is a fantastic and valuable improvement in the utility of our theories. Unfortunately, quantum mechanics and relativity are mutually contradictory — they can’t both be right. Darn.

    Asimov is correct that believing the earth is flat is accurate enough for many predictive purposes, and that local deviation from flat is small. He’s wrong in thinking that this means a theory that features a spherical earth is a minor refinement of a flat earth theory. It isn’t; to get from the latter to the former you need to throw out everything you thought you knew about how the universe is organized, and replace it with a totally different model of the universe that happens to behave much the same locally.

    3
  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    And sometimes they solve other mysteries seemingly unrelated.

    Or even better, when they find new mysteries totally unrelated to the question they were asking that they had no idea even existed. I love science. Where ever the end is, I will never see it. I will die with the wonder of the unknown in my heart.

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You caught that, eh?

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah. Every so often I stumble over something important to note.

  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Wow, Ah said something impotent, Ah’s so proud. 😉

  66. An Interested Party says:

    Apparently, failing the laugh test has spread to almost the entire Republican caucus in the Senate…these people are pathetic and any of their constituents that believe them are fools…

  67. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Unfortunately, quantum mechanics and relativity are mutually contradictory — they can’t both be right. Darn.

    Sam Harris had a cognitive scientist named Donald Hoffman on his podcast recently. The whole thing is worth a listen. But Hoffman raised the possibility that spacetime isn’t fundamental–essentially that QM and relativity only appear to be at odds, because they are emergent from something fundamental that has not been figured out yet.

    Of course, one must accept the possibility that one turtle inevitably leads to another.

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  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Kurtz:

    But Hoffman raised the possibility that spacetime isn’t fundamental–essentially that QM and relativity only appear to be at odds, because they are emergent from something fundamental that has not been figured out yet.

    Just to take the pedantic to 11…

    This is the way some physicists talk, and it drives me crazy, even though I agree with what he probably meant to say. What he actually said is like saying (before Einstein) that maybe Newtonian absolute space is emergent from something deeper. That would be a very sloppy (and wrong) way of saying that maybe Newtonian absolute space isn’t really Newtonian or absolute, but it looks that way to us (most of the time) as an emergent property of some deeper, utterly different and incompatible theory.

    Briefer pedantic Dave: it’s certain that both the phenomena we try to describe with QM and the phenomena we try to describe with GR and SR arise from whatever is really true underneath. No matter what that something is, it wouldn’t resolve the incompatibility of the theories; it would be a claim that they are both wrong ontologically.

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  70. gVOR08 says:

    I’m reminded of an anecdote I read years ago and only remember in broad outline. Writer was visiting a university astrophysics department a few days after an experimental result came out that contradicted a theory the department had championed. He expected to find them a bit depressed. Instead they were just short of skipping down the hallways going, “New data. Ohboyohboy. We got new data.”

    The superiority of science over religion is not that science is right, but that it can be wrong. Deniability is a key concept.

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  71. Bill says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “what a bunch of bassoons!”

    I’ve lived 59 years and I am still waiting for the appropriate moment to call someone a baritone horn. That was my instrument in school. I started on the trumpet.

  72. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Actually, reading your post makes me wonder if I misheard (or remembered incorrectly.) I’m almost positive I did–either way, what I took away from it was wrong. Thanks!

  73. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: I find various numbers, but I think it’s closer to 3 inches per decade. The good news is this is a slow motion disaster. The bad news is we don’t deal well with slow motion disasters. The boiling frog thing. And that the incumbents term will be over before it really hits the fan.

  74. franco ollivander says:

    Interesting article at the New York Times.

    The authors – both law professors and one of them the author of “Impeach: The case against Donald Trump”, claim that there are rules/laws that give Justice Roberts the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents, either on his own or at the request of the House managers. Blocking such subpoenas requires a 2/3 vote. These rules are separate from the rules set by the Senate and can’t be altered by a Senate vote.

  75. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: The astute reader will note that 3 in. per decade is .3 inches per year.

  76. franco ollivander says:

    Please ignore my post on the NYT article – I just put it on Tuesday’s forum instead.

  77. Tyrell says:

    Senator Warren once again has been called out on her plan to pay off college tuition loans. This time a parent told of the sacrifices they made so that their daughter could go to college. When asked if their college expenses would be paid back, Senator Warren said no without saying why, but I think she was taken aback and did not know really what to say. Many people, including myself, will send copies of our college payment to Senator Warren. That is if she does happen to somehow get elected and somehow get her plan going.

  78. @Tyrell: So, is your position that no new benefit can ever be created because people who exists before the new benefit was created didn’t get that benefit?

    That kind of takes tax cuts off the table.

    Can we not build a new freeway because people used have to drive out of their way to get from point A to point B?

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