Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, February 23, 2018

Four Things

1. Would you believe that there is now an anti-straw movement? Unsurprisingly, it is making legislative headway in California:

The majority leader of California's state Assembly has introduced legislation that would impose a fine of up to $1,000 on any waiter or waitress who offers a plastic drinking straw to a customer without being asked. The Washington Post notes that this is part of a growing anti-straw movement, which is driven by alarm over the 500 million straws that are used every single day -- which is almost certainly a fake number, seeing as how it is based on an unconfirmed phone survey by a 9-year-old boy. (Yes, really.) [links omitted]
I happen to dislike straws and live in a blue state. On the outside chance someone sees me in a restaurant and speaks to me as a fellow traveler, I will enjoy the chance to speak up for the freedom of others to use as many straws as they wish.

2. On news of the demise of Billy Graham, I thought it interesting to see what, if anything, Ayn Rand might have had to say about him. I was not ... erm ... disappointed:
"We live," says Mr. Graham, "in a society that is too often dominated by selfish interests and expediency. The time is overdue for Americans to engage in some deep soul-searching about the underpinnings of our society and our goals as a nation .... No, it is not too late, but time is rapidly running out if American democracy based on Judeo-Christian tradition is to survive. First, we need a national and pervasive awakening that includes repentance for our individual and corporate sins .... Let's face it -- we need supernatural help! American leaders were driven to God for help at crisis periods such as the Revolutionary War, the Constitutional Convention, and the Civil War!...[The media] could render constructive service to the nation at this critical moment of history if they joined hands with the churches and synagogues and used their vast powers to fan the dying embers of the moral and spiritual life of the nation .... Watergate can teach us that we need to take the law of Moses and the Sermon on the Mount seriously .... The moral laws expressed in these two great documents could form the moral guidelines for every American."

In view of an intellectual spokesman or defender of this kind, do you wonder why the political Right loses every battle -- and why the Left can batter rightists with impunity? Mr. Graham is not the worst of his kind. Other representatives of the Right may have a more sophisticated literary style, but, philosophically, they have nothing more to offer than the passage quoted above. (from The Ayn Rand Letter, vol. II, no. 14, pp. 189-190) [italics added]
Good riddance.

3. An article about industrial nitrogen fixation quotes the following interesting fact:
Due to its dramatic impact on the human ability to grow food, the Haber process served as the "detonator of the population explosion", enabling the global population to increase from 1.6 billion in 1900 to today's 7 billion. Nearly 50% of the nitrogen found in human tissues originated from the Haber-Bosch process.
Fritz's Haber's legacy is mixed: He is also known as "the father of chemical warfare." Carl Bosch, on the other hand, opposed many Nazi policies and was gradually removed from his high positions after the rise of Adolf Hitler.

A young woman enjoys a "planet killer combo." (Photo by Alexa Suter on Unsplash)
I started with some absurd news and I'll end with some more. But I'll re-frame this one: Which sandwich requires the most ingenuity -- with fossil fuel consumption as a proxy -- for humanity to enjoy? Believe it or not, some British researchers have spent valuable time and money answering this question and found that "premade, prepackaged, all-day-breakfast sandwiches" had the biggest "carbon [sic] footprint." There was no word on my favorite, the mighty mufuletta. (I'm sure they didn't need to hear that to say, "more study is needed" at some point.)

That said, I am sure I could at least make things respectable by ordering the olive salad online. That, and using a straw with my drink.

-- CAV

No comments: