Links: Energy (fusion, cars), AI research, flu shots, Texas, “trigger warnings,” and more!

* Stellar work: Research into fusion has gone down a blind alley, but a means of escape may now be at hand. File this under “Good news that should be more widely reported.” Most of the world’s “political” problems are really energy problems in another form, which is why I often link to discussions of energy, energy production, and energy politics.

* “Why Texas Is Our Future,” and why so many people are moving there, from “Texas Forever: How I Found the American Dream in the Lone Star State.” The latter piece inspired me to check just how much I lose to New York City and State taxes. The answer is distressing. Many superficially liberal cities are actually inhumane to normal residents, and many superficially conservative cities are actually far more humane.

* Charles observes, probably correctly: “I think if people knew what passes for “AI research”, they’d be a lot less worried about a dystopian outcome. Or, to quote Andrew Ng, “I don’t work on preventing AI from turning evil for the same reason that I don’t work on combating overpopulation on the planet Mars.”

* “For God’s Sake, Go Get a Flu Shot.” This may be the most immediately actionable piece you read today.

* “Why San Francisco’s way of doing business beat Los Angeles’.”

* “Bernie Sanders’ campaign is such a counterexample. It fits poorly with the ‘low nonwhite representation is caused by insufficiently strong social justice orientation’ theory, but very well with the counter-theory I propose in that post: nonwhites are just generally less eager to join weird intellectual signaling-laden countercultural movements.”

* The invisible device that powers everything you do, on lithium-ion batteries and John Goodenough, who is responsible for more of the modern world than is commonly realized.

* Car dealers are awful. It’s time to kill the dumb laws that keep them in business.

* A professor sympathetic to “trigger warnings” tires of them. And, in addition: “My trigger-warning disaster: ‘9 1/2 Weeks,’ ‘The Wire’ and how coddled young radicals got discomfort all wrong.”

* Is wheat only so bad for you because of industrial farming and breeding? See also Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, which changed my eating habits, though I think Taubes overstates the case against fruit. It may be that “flour” is not as bad for you as is commonly assumed, but rather that the peculiar way flour is produced and disseminated is horrible for you.

* Why high-speed rail doesn’t work in the U.S., from someone who actually works on rail projects.

* First test drives of the 2016 Volt are emerging and make the car sound promising.

One response

  1. Woah, you quoted me! I’m so honored!

    From the “bird flu” piece: “Even if you think you are invincible, your elderly neighbors and infant children are not. People with weakened immune systems—those undergoing cancer treatments, for example—are not. Your parents and grandparents are not. The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it’s what we have.”

    What I hear is: “Other people suck, even though individually maybe you suck less. We’ve got a solution that may or may not help the others, and may well make you ill if you take it, even if you were fine before. But it’s all we’ve got so use it no matter what, because SCIENCE.”

    And also this part: “Each year public-health officials select three strains of the influenza virus that, based on surveillance data, are most likely to cause the most illness that season. It’s educated guess-work but it explains why you need a new one each year. Scientists are working on a more universal solution.”

    I would be very distrustful of this solution. You get rid of three strains, and the next three promptly take over! The whole thing sounds like a racket. Then again I’ll probably get the flu this winter for having pointed this out. :P


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