Outgassing Hydrogen

Could it be a Simpler Answer to All Our Problems?

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Well, probably not. But Ars Technica reveals that it's a simpler answer to ‘Oumuamua’s weird orbit.

In late 2017, our Solar System received its very first known interstellar visitor: a bizarre cigar-shaped object hurtling past at 44 kilometers per second, dubbed 'Oumuamua (Hawaiian for "messenger from afar arriving first"). Was it a comet? An asteroid? A piece of alien technology? Scientists have been puzzling over the origin and unusual characteristics of 'Oumuamua ever since, most notably its strange orbit, and suggesting various models to account for them.

But perhaps the answer is much simpler than previously thought. That's the conclusion of a new paper published in the journal Nature. The authors suggest that 'Oumuamua's odd behavior results from the outgassing of hydrogen as the icy body warmed in the vicinity of the Sun—a simple mechanism common among icy comets.

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Briefly noted:

  • Our "Live Free or Die" state is singing out of tune with our neighbors, as reported by the Josiah Bartlett Center: N.H. could become first New England state to license music therapists.

    As Gov. Chris Sununu moves to undo the state’s overly burdensome occupational licensing regime, legislators are trying to add more licenses.

    On Wednesday, March 22, the House voted 210-166 to require a state license for the practice of music therapy.

    Why? Health insurance.

    Supporters said New Hampshire needs to license music therapists to ensure that patients can be reimbursed by their health insurer when they purchase music therapy treatment.

    If you need a reminder of why occupational licensing is a bad idea, Cato has you covered. Here's hoping we get a Sununu veto.

    And if you click over to the JBC article, you'll see an AI-generated pic of "a woman listening to music in a therapist’s office." And (even better) "no artist’s license was required."

  • NewsBusters reports on a well-known commentator's reaction to a Commie New Hampshire Public Radio story: Tucker Slams NPR for Only Supporting Gun Ownership for Trans People.

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson opened his popular show Tucker Carlson Tonight by ridiculing National Public Radio (NPR) for their clownish new double standard on the Second Amendment rights of Americans. Apparently, only the LGBTQ alphabet mob is permitted to own firearms, according to U.S. state media outlet. Carlson called them out using sarcastic humor and ridicule in a way only he can pull off.

    Setting the stage, Carlson narrated: “[T]he other day, we’re driving through Cambridge in the old hybrid Subaru, adjusting our surgical masks to cover both nose and mouth and listening needless to say to National Public Radio, the voice of menopausal liberalism. And as we're listening we hear this.”

    Carlson then cut to an audio clip of a segment that aired on New Hampshire Public Radio:  

    EYDER PERALTA (NPR HOST): Mass shootings targeting LGBTQ spaces, and a rise in anti-trans rhetoric, have inspired some queer people to take up arms. New Hampshire Public Radio’s Todd Bookman joined a monthly gathering of a gun group that sees firearms as key to their own self-defense. And as you might imagine, this story does include the sound of gunfire. 

    TODD BOOKMAN: On a recent Sunday morning, the parking lot of Pawtuckaway State Park in southeastern New Hampshire is filling up with hikers. There’s also a different crew packing up warm clothes and weapons. 

    FIN SMITH: Thank you all for coming to Rainbow Reload. 

    When that laughably hypocritical segment ended, Carlson returned and laughed at the taxpayer-funded propagandists he just heard suddenly support gun rights after spending decades railing against them.

    “Your anti-trans rhetoric makes the trans community carry guns,” Carlson said sarcastically. “Rainbow Reload!! They’re packing heat, they’ll be appendix carrying in more ways than one, watch out.”

    Did Carlson really say "they'll be appendix carrying"? I watched the video, and that's what it sounds like. And "more ways than one"? I can't even think of one.

    I'm all for people arming themselves for self-defense. As long as they don't think lethal force is justified against someone using incorrect pronouns.

  • Charles C. W. Cooke notes the latest development on DEI vs. the First Amendment out at Stanford: Tirien Steinbach Doesn't Get to Decide If 'the Juice Is Worth the Squeeze'.

    In the Wall Street Journal, Tirien Steinbach — the woman who is paid by Stanford University Law School to undermine the free-speech policies at Stanford University Law School — has confirmed that she will continue to undermine the free-speech policies at Stanford University Law School until she is fired.

    I noted recently that “DEI” people talk like liberals but act like Pol Pot, and Steinbach is a nice example of this trend. “Free speech isn’t easy or comfortable,” she says, but “it’s necessary for democracy, and I was glad it was happening at our law school.” But, quite obviously, she wasn’t. And she still isn’t — as is made abundantly clear by her repeated attempt to convince those reading that the real problem at Stanford was that Judge Duncan wanted to talk in the first place:

    At one point during the event, I asked Judge Duncan, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” I was referring to the responsibility that comes with freedom of speech: to consider not only the benefit of our words but also the consequences. It isn’t a rhetorical question. I believe that we would be better served by leaders who ask themselves, “Is the juice (what we are doing) worth the squeeze (the intended and unintended consequences and costs)?” I will certainly continue to ask this question myself.

    That Steinbach will “continue to ask this question” is precisely the problem at hand. In context, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” means, “Is it worth your trying to hold your meeting when an angry mob might come in and ruin it?” “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” is, quite literally, a defense of the heckler’s veto. “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” is an invitation to shut up. I would like to write here that Steinbach is wrong to believe that her job is to decide whether each person who might be invited to speak at Stanford meets her definitions of “responsibility” or “benefit,” and to encourage the throngs accordingly. But, actually she’s not wrong to believe that, because that’s her job. That’s what DEI is. When Steinbach writes that her “role was to observe and, if needed, de-escalate,” she means that her role was to help rile up the mob, and, when it got out of hand, to tell them she understood their behavior and wasn’t sure why the speaker wanted to keep going anyway. She’s a blocker, a tackler, a guard — a hired arbiter of taste working to stamp out any dissent from the fringe ideology she represents.

    Obviously, I hope Steinbach won't prevail. But (on the other hand) she's providing an ongoing learning experience for onlookers.


Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:30 AM EST

In Truth

A History of Lies from Ancient Rome to Modern America

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Not sure why I put this book on my get-via-Interlibrary Loan list, but the good folks at the University Near Here procured it from UPenn. I found it to be a vaguely irritating treatment of an important subject. The subtitle claims its sweep is vast. I thought it was more like half-vast, if you catch my drift. For one thing, it only goes back as far as Ancient Rome? What about the first lie? (Genesis 4:9, Cain to God: "Nope, haven't seen Abel lately. When did it become my job to keep track of him, Mr. Omniscience?")

And you know a lot of historical figures famous for powerlust, murder, greed, sexual appetites and perversions, etc.? Well, it turns out they weren't always completely honest either. Shocker, I know.

The author, Matthew Fraser, tells a history of dishonesty starting with the Caesars (Julius, Augustus, Nero, …). He moves smartly along to early Christianity, Charlemagne, Alfred the Great, Savonarola, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon III, Bismarck. the Spanish-American War, Ida Tarbell, the World Wars, the Cold War, and (eventually and finally) Donald J. Trump. At a number of places the "Truth" theme gets pretty tangential; what Fraser presents is pretty much plain old historical story-telling, with perhaps a greater emphasis on sex and violence than dishonesty. The history of journalism is also mixed in; its relationship to facts, reality, and respectability is troubled and mixed.

You know when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door? Yeah, that probably didn't actually happen. As a very poor Lutheran, I'm ashamed to say I didn't know that.

Fraser's coverage of the modern era focuses on Trump; he really despises Trump. ('m no fan myself, but really…) The book was published in early 2020, which means it misses a lot of recent stuff involving Biden, the 2020 election, Covid, … His analysis of the 2016 election is spun as a victory for the "post-truth" era; he neatly avoids mentioning an important factor: Trump's opponent. Hillary doesn't even rate an index entry of her own, but anyone who was paying attention knows that she had her own honesty problems. Overall, the adjectives that kept coming to my mind when reading the last couple chapters were "simplistic", "repetitive", "unoriginal", "clichéd", etc.

The book is marred by sloppiness. I caught a few minor typos. On page 134, Oliver Cromwell's death is pegged as (both) 1558 and 1658 in the same paragraph. On page 194, the quote "A lie can get halfway round the world while the truth is still getting its shoes on" is attributed to Mark Twain; almost certainly untrue. (Ironic, that.) On page 290, a paragraph about James Bond identifies the evildoing SPECTRE as a "Russian spy agency"; even a glance at the relevant Wikipedia page could have told the author that it was a fictional criminal organization unaffilated with any country or ideology.

I'm a casual reader; when I notice such blunders, it's a safe bet there are more.

And there's just plain old bias. For example (page 311), describing Fox News as "right-wing" while MSNBC merely offers "a more left-leaning perspective". Fraser is scathing on Heidegger's Nazi affinities; Hannah Arendt is dinged for her apologies for that sordid record. But Fraser's heroine for "truth" is Ida Tarbell, crusader against Rockefeller and Standard Oil; her moon-eyed praise of Mussolini goes unmentioned.

Fraser's lionization of Ida Tarbell brings up another problem with "truth"; her broadsides against Standard Oil were (at best) misguided, especially her criticism of Standard's alleged "predatory pricing." A world of "facts", carefully selected and assembled under the guidance of narrative, is no substitute for (in this case) careful and skeptical economic analysis. I don't think this occurs to Fraser at all.


Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:30 AM EST