3-26-11 Hodgepodge

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Evening: Human Achievement Hour

From Voices for Reason:

The event coincides with "Earth Hour," which encourages people worldwide to turn off their lights as a protest against carbon emissions. During "Human Achievement Hour," we encourage you to leave your lights on and fully enjoy the benefits of industrial civilization made possible by burning fossil fuels. Beginning at 8 p.m. EST, CEI is hosting a celebration at its offices in Washington D.C. and via livestream.
I still prefer, "Edison Hour," and if I lived in New Jersey, I'd consider a pilgrimage to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

A PhD Bubble

I haven't read it all yet, but I have already seen several important issues raised in an Economist article about "disposable academics."
These armies of low-paid PhD researchers and postdocs boost universities', and therefore countries', research capacity. Yet that is not always a good thing. Brilliant, well-trained minds can go to waste when fashions change. The post-Sputnik era drove the rapid growth in PhD physicists that came to an abrupt halt as the Vietnam war drained the science budget. Brian Schwartz, a professor of physics at the City University of New York, says that in the 1970s as many as 5,000 physicists had to find jobs in other areas.
Supply and demand is hurting the academics themselves, and massive government mis-allocation of resources towards specific programs of research and education is wasting talent and effort on a colossal scale.

Weekend Reading

"This is not 'humanitarian' or moral in the least; it's an evil act, resting on an evil premise (that sacrifice is 'noble') and an obscene abuse of American lives and liberties, with not a single selfish gain to be had in return." -- Richard Salsman , in "Libya Exposes Obama As Our Latest Neocon President" at Forbes

"[I]t's the market that should serve as your guide, not our friends or what we see on the news." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "A Second Date With the Rupee" at Smart Money

"Think of the smoker who quits because he's fed up. It's the same with anything else in life." -- Michael Hurd, in "Change Because You Want To" at DrHurd.com

"Obamacare will waste our money, but that cost is insignificant compared to our wasted freedom, wasted medicine and wasted lives." -- Richard Ralston, in "Waste Abounds with ObamaCare" at The Orange County Register

My Two Cents

Michael Hurd's excellent column about how people change reminds me of a story I heard long ago about my maternal grandfather. He had been a smoker for a long time, but one day got sick of it and simply tossed his cigarettes out the window of his truck. That was that. Grandpa lived into his nineties.

I always remember that story when I hear about people having trouble making a major, positive change, but it was only after I read that column that I really understood why some people struggle with such things and others have no trouble at all. Hurd also has useful advice on how to properly communicate with a loved one who needs to make a change.

"Social" Networking and Isolation

This atheist obviously does not regard church as the answer, but I do think this article is on to something in terms of both recognizing a potential problem and combating it. (HT: Found on the Web)
Facebook is all about making life seem joyful -- we "like" one another's happy status updates, not the sad ones; we post photos of our parties, not our funerals; we use it to celebrate births and marriages and new relationships, not to mourn deaths or remember break-ups. Facebook is meant to be a happy place for happy people. But it doesn't seem to work out so well. We all think everyone else is happy, but we don't feel the joy.
Part of avoiding such a pitfall is to step back from time to time and realize that everyone else has problems, too. In addition -- and I will agree this far with the article -- part of avoiding such a pitfall is to make sure you unplug (a lot more than) once in a while.

-- CAV


Prasad said...

We should (each & everyone) all participate in earth our then only we can save a little bit of energy. If we can switch off our lights, fans, A/c's and other electrical equipments for at least one hour a week then we can so much of energy.

Bruno said...

Whenever I think about social networking, the following Ayn Rand quote comes to mind:

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."

Gus Van Horn said...


Yes. I can save energy and money if I do that.

But, if I decide I am better off with the lights, A/C, and other equipment, I will use them if I please, and I will fight any and all efforts to force me to follow how someone else imagines I should act.


So do I.


Kyle Haight said...

I can vouch for the truth of Dr. Hurd's observation from personal experience. Several years ago I literally looked in the mirror and had what I call a "bad body moment". I looked at myself and said "No, I don't think so." Over the next year and a half I got my diet under control, started a regular exercise program and dropped 80 pounds, which I've kept off.

Making the decision made all the difference.

Gus Van Horn said...

I seem to recall you mentioning this once (and congratualtions again), but the re-telling is indeed on point.

It has been a real treat reading Hurd's weekly columns. It seems like I learn something new each week.

kelleyn said...

I get the impression that Challies is blaming Facebook unfairly. I've known musicians who, after lackadaisical and undirected practice, blamed the supposedly poor quality of their instruments for their failure to improve. Challies is, while acknowledging the truth out of one side of his mouth, doing the same thing out of the other. The truth he inadvertently acknowledges (although he intends to mean something quite different) is that "When I mediate my life by Facebook, I am the one who controls it all." It's about taking responsibility for how we evaluate and conduct ourselves, including how we use the tools we have.

Disclosure: I don't have a Facebook account (yet).

Gus Van Horn said...

I saw his point as being that it is easy for some people to lose sight of the nature of what Facebook is, and to forget that they're looking at others putting their best foot forward.

That said, you're right: This isn't Facebook's fault. Users have to use that tool properly, as they do any other.