"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Links - 4th December 2018 (2)

Does A Victory For Gay Marriage Lead To Polygamy? Depends On The Reasoning. - "In oral arguments two years ago over California’s ban on gay marriage, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked how the court could strike down Proposition 8 without also striking down state laws banning incest and polygamy... Marriage laws, like bans on pornography and mistreating animals, are partly based upon longstanding cultural traditions that courts are loathe to overturn. But it would be a curious view of tradition to believe the men who wrote the Bill of Rights intended to protect the right of two men to marry each other – they’d have been horrified at the idea. So were many of the Michigan voters who passed that state’s gay-marriage ban in 2004 by a 58% majority... “If the court says there is a basic right to marry, that certainly sounds like an argument for polygamy,” said Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA Law School and editor of the popular Volokh Conspiracy blog. “Even if they say it’s for only one other consenting adult, then people will say `what’s the rationale?’”... The court has to somehow decide that “marriage is not relevantly limited by sex, but it is relevantly limited by number”... In 2013, a federal judge struck down Utah's polygamy ban"
"Slippery slope"

Academics Shouldn't Sell Out Truth for Justice - "What is the telos––the purpose, end, or goal––of the university? In a thought-provoking 2016 lecture, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argued that the answer ought to be “truth,” but that lately, more of America’s top universities are embracing social justice as a second or alternative telos. While acknowledging that those goals are not always at odds, he argued that “the conflict between truth and social justice is likely to become unmanageable,” and he urged academia to affirm the primacy of truth-seeking. A recent essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education recognizes the same conflict, but implies that it sometimes ought to be resolved in the other direction... foundational scholars in modern philosophy were anti-Semites and even Nazis. What’s an academic to do?... 'Failure to cite because of a scholar’s misconduct — whether for being a Nazi or a sexual harasser — betrays the entire scholarly enterprise that justifies the existence of universities and the protection of academic freedom'...
Consequences might include:
the (further) politicization of scholarship as academics disagree about what constitutes morally objectionable behavior and how it ought to affect citations;
the new burden of researching the personal lives of scholars one cites;
disingenuous virtue-signaling and citation call-out culture;
bad actors who take advantage of the shift from substantive standards to subjective moral judgments to withhold credit from good scholars; and
increased opacity in the profession as academics remove citations to scholars who influenced their work, making it harder to follow their arguments.
More on social justice corrupting academia - if academia is ideologically tainted, can you still slam those who are skeptical of it as ignorant or biased?

‘A time bomb’: how social tensions are rising in a corner of northern England - "Ever since she was elected to represent the town in 2012, Sarah Champion MP has been receiving complaints about litter, fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour, blamed on Roma arrivals. For a long time, the complaints came from white British and British Pakistani people who had bought their homes before EU enlargement... postal workers said they were so frightened delivering in Eastwood after being mugged for their parcels that they no longer went out alone... as their English improves, the Roma want to defend themselves. Recently, Champion went to a meeting of about 40 Eastwood Roma residents, who said they felt intimidated and victimised in their own homes, let alone the streets. “They talked of bullying and degradation, and they were saying that it was the Pakistanis who were doing it,” said the MP. She said the “disreputable” landlords renting to Roma were almost exclusively Pakistanis, happy to take high rents for substandard properties, secure that the Roma would not complain... the Observer met a small group of young Roma women at the Clifton Learning Partnership, which helps Roma settle into UK life. Like their compatriots in Page Hall, they are fed up with being blamed for every piece of litter on Eastwood’s streets, every dumped mattress, every late-night party. “It’s all our fault, all Roma fault, like always, everywhere”"
Strangely the word racism doesn't appear here

Had They Bet On Nuclear, Not Renewables, Germany & California Would Already Have 100% Clean Power - "Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources"

Solar And Wind Lock-In Fossil Fuels, And That Makes Saving The Climate Harder And More Expensive - "Privately, many climate and energy experts admit that the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to decarbonize energy supplies is with nuclear power. How could they not? France and Sweden proved it... many of the same experts proclaim publicly, “We need a clean energy mix!” — one that includes solar and wind. Why? The reason has nothing to do with technology, engineering, or economics and everything to do with politics... Humankind has never transitioned to energy sources that are more costly, less reliable, and have a larger environmental footprint than the incumbent — and yet that’s precisely what adding large amounts of solar and wind to the grid requires. Moreover, past energy transitions delivered both decarbonization and “dematerialization” — less material throughput per unit of energy... a mixed system would require large amounts of solar and wind and thus far more power plants, transmission lines, and everything else required to provide reliable electricity. In other words, going from energy-dense fuels to solar and wind requires the rematerialization of energy in the form of more land, materials, mining, storage, and waste... Nuclear, they found, has decarbonized electricity at a rate 12 times faster than solar or wind... had France tried to decarbonize using a “clean energy mix” that included solar and wind, it would have had to increase oil or gas-burning in order to maintain electric reliability. That’s because the electric system requires fast-ramping energy sources like oil and natural gas when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing... Are a few hours of battery backup sufficient to integrate solar and wind onto the grid? Not in the slightest. Solar and wind are unreliable over months and years, not just hours. That means unfathomable quantities of electricity would need to be stored over months or years... oil and natural gas companies are perfectly aware that solar and wind lock-in their main product? That’s why they are only all too happy to invest in and promote solar and wind... Given the religious quality of so much renewable energy advocacy, mixology is a far more comfortable position to hold"

An ode to nuclear waste - "Solar panels, you say? Solar panels are nothing more than future electronic waste, spread over our rooftops and soon in our beautiful green fields. Within 30 years, these solar panels will have to be dismantled at garbage heaps in poor countries. There, the solar panels are burnt to get the copper wire out, and all the toxic fumes from all that molten plastic and all those heavy metals like lead, chromium and cadmium will cause problems to people’s airways, increased risk of cancer, birth defects… Solar waste: who ever makes a fuss about that? It is very different when it comes to nuclear waste. In the past 60 years, nuclear waste has never killed or injured anyone; it has not made a single person sick. And that is because nuclear waste is stored safely... Virtually every component of ‘nuclear waste’ has a useful application in industry, agriculture, science or medicine"

We Don't Need Solar And Wind To Save The Climate -- And It's A Good Thing, Too - "Reporters were as enthusiastic about renewables in 1930s as they are today... By 2016, renewables were receiving 94 times more in U.S. subsidies than nuclear and 46 times more than fossil fuels per unit of energy generated... Did the solar and wind energy revolution arrive? Judge for yourself: in 2016, solar and wind constituted 1.3 and 3.9 percent of the planet’s electricity, respectively... By 2017, wind and solar had grown to become 48 and 3 percent of Denmark’s electricity... Denmark has fewer people than Wisconsin, a land area smaller than West Virginia, and an economy smaller than the state of Washington. Moreover, the reason Denmark was able to deploy so much wind was because it could easily export excess wind electricity to neighboring countries — albeit at a high cost: Denmark today has the most expensive electricity in Europe... As for solar, those U.S. states that have deployed the most of it have seen sharp rises in their electricity costs and prices compared to the national average... While Germany has deployed some of the most solar and wind in the world, its emissions have been flat for a decade while its electricity has become the second most expensive in Europe. More recently, Germany has permitted the demolition of old forests, churches, and villages in order to mine and burn coal... both Brazil and hydro-heavy California stand as warnings against relying on hydro-electricity in a period of climate change. Both had to use fossil fuels to make up for hydro during recent drought years. That leaves us with nuclear power as the only truly scalable, reliable, low-carbon energy source proven capable of eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector... The dilute nature of water, sunlight, and wind means that up to 5,000 times more land and 10 - 15 times more concrete, cement, steel, and glass, are required than for nuclear plants. All of that material throughput results in renewables creating large quantities of waste, much of it toxic... the huge amounts of land required for solar and wind production has had a devastating impact on rare and threatened desert tortoises, bats, and eagles — even when solar and wind are at just a small percentage of electricity supplies... France is already seeing its electricity prices rise as a result of deploying more solar and wind... the problem of the unreliability of solar has been discussed for as long as there have existed solar panels. During all of that time, solar advocates have waved their hands about potential future solutions."

Stop Letting Your Ridiculous Fears Of Nuclear Waste Kill The Planet - "If all the nuclear waste from U.S. power plants were put on a football field, it would stack up just 50 feet high. In comparison to the waste produced by every other kind of electricity production, that quantity is close to zero... for 50 years there has been a well-financed, psychologically sophisticated, and coordinated effort to frighten the public... Any terrorist who wants to make a dirty bomb could just just break into the local hospital where radioactive waste (from x-rays and other medical devices) is available at far lower levels of security... Will the cans of old nuclear fuel stick around forever? Probably not. Sometime between 2050 and 2100, new nuclear plants — like the kind being developed by Bill Gates — will likely be able to use the so-called “waste” as fuel."

Nuclear the ‘only option’ to replace coal and gas: Michael Shellenberger - "One of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers has said the “renewable energy experiment” with wind and solar has failed. Michael Shellenberger, a former renewables advocate to Barack Obama when he was president, is now a global champion for nuclear energy, which he said was the only option to replace coal and gas on a global scale... He said opposition to nuclear was “like a superstitious religious belief”. Mr Shellenberger was named a Time magazine Hero of the Environment in 2008 and is co-­author of an “ecomodernist mani­festo” that aims to decouple human wellbeing from environmental destruction... “The reality is the death toll from Chernobyl in 1986, after 20 years, is less than 200 people.” “In what other issue does the science say one thing so clearly but such a vocal group refuses to accept the evidence,” Mr Shellenberger said. “Climate change is apparently the most important issue in the world but it is not important enough to get some pretty basic facts straight”... Mr Shellenberger has written extensively and gives lectures on how nuclear has been thwarted by environmental campaigns, often with the aid of the fossil fuel industry... “When you do nuclear, what additional benefit does wind and solar bring?” he said. “All they do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels"
Whoever doesn't agree with environmental activists is a fossil fuel industry shill, and there is no money in promoting renewables so there can't possibly be a conflict of interests there!

Wind farms are the 'new apex predators' as they kill off three QUARTERS of predatory birds
Over extrapolation aside (the study didn't actually say there were fewer birds because they'd been killed off by the wind farms - even if the study coauthor said something that partially supports that claim), green energy isn't as green as is claimed (nuclear energy, OTOH, is a lot more self-contained)

Fukushima – the reacton from nuclear engineering communities - "what transpired in Japan isn’t really seen as a failure of modern nuclear technology at all; rather, an unfortunate combination of obsolete designs and too-cosy state capitalist operation. The operating company, TEPCO, had a long history of poor safety enforcement and maintenance. On top of which it failed to follow its own advice in a 2004 report, which recommended a higher seawall that could have kept Fukushima’s generators dry. On the technology side, the Fukushima reactors which failed were General Electric BWR/3 models, designed in the late 1960s and installed in Japan in 1971 – that is, more than 15 years before the Chernobyl disaster. Failsafe procedures and general reactor configuration have moved on so much since BWR/3 that this kind of cooling failure is not possible in more modern reactors"

Renewables Can't Save the Planet. Only Nuclear Can - "Renewables were first promoted in the 1960s and 1970s as a way for people to get closer to nature and for countries to achieve energy independence. Only recently have people come to see adopting them as crucial to preventing global warming... The transition from a low-energy, biomass-dependent agricultural life to a high-energy, fossil-fuel-dependent industrial one came at a high human and environmental cost but also delivered significant progress. As terrible as industrial capitalism, particularly in its early forms, could be for factory workers, it was usually an improvement over what came before it, as Smil documents in a series of delightful boxes peppered throughout the book that feature obscure old texts reminding the reader of the brutality of daily life before and during the Industrial Revolution... In a study published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of energy and climate researchers found that the most prominent proposal for shifting the United States to completely renewable energy had inflated estimates of U.S. hydroelectric capacity tenfold... The real threat to the public comes from irrational fears of nuclear power. The Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011, for example, did not lead to any deaths from direct radiation exposure. Yet public fear led Japan’s prime minister to intervene unnecessarily, prompting a panicked and needlessly large evacuation, which led to the deaths of over 1,500 people... a comprehensive study of nuclear power plant construction costs published in Energy Policy last year found that water-cooled nuclear reactors (which are far less expensive than non-water-cooled designs) are already cheap enough to quickly replace fossil fuel power plants... In the 1960s and 1970s, some of nuclear power’s opponents regarded the technology as dangerous because it would provide humanity with too much energy"
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