Weekend Coffee: Autonomous Vehicles Advance

Nailed it:This week was a huge achievement for Elon Musk's SpaceX, which delivered another payload to orbit - an inflatable habitat module for the International Space Station - and then successfully landed its Falcon 9 reusable rocket on an unmanned drone ship platform waiting for it out at sea.The company has already achieved a rocket landing on solid ground, but this is their first successful sea landing after several previous attempts crashed and exploded. The sea landing is more … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: To a Gas Chamber, Go

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter XEven as John Galt is outwitting his torturers at the State Science Institute, outside, the capitalists' non-altruistic rescue mission is underway:Dagny walked straight toward the guard who stood at the door of "Project F." Her steps sounded purposeful, even and open, ringing in the silence of the path among the trees. She raised her head to a ray of moonlight, to let him recognize her face."Let me in," she said."No admittance," he answered in … [Read more...]

Vote for Harm Reduction, Not Purity

North Carolina's appalling HB2, which I wrote about on Monday, is just one bill in a parade of awfulness from state legislatures. In the last few weeks alone, Indiana has outlawed abortion if the fetus has a defect or disability, and Utah requires women getting abortion to receive unnecessary anesthesia against their will. A South Carolina bill would make anyone who sponsors a refugee criminally liable if that refugee commits a crime. Mississippi wants to grant shoot-to-kill authority to … [Read more...]

Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power

Red-state legislatures around the country seem as if they're competing to pass the cruelest and most inhumane laws. But even by that standard, North Carolina's HB2 stands out. Rushed into passage with the haste and secrecy of a coup d'etat - it was introduced in the legislature, voted on, sent to the governor and signed into law all in a span of less than twenty-four hours - it can only be described as deliberately mean-spirited and spiteful. It bans transgender people from using public … [Read more...]

What Should I Review After Atlas Shrugged?

All good things must come to an end! My marathon review of Atlas Shrugged, the project that's occupied my time for the last three years (!), is coming to a close.Next week I'll begin writing about Part III, Chapter X, which is the last chapter of the book. I plan to spend about a month going through that, then probably another month to review the third and final Atlas movie, and finally I'll post some closing thoughts about the book as a whole.This project has taken up so much of my time … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Does Not Compute

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IXAs we've seen previously, the villains of Atlas Shrugged are strangely reluctant to actually do anything evil. But now that they've run out of options, they've finally decided to act like villains by torturing John Galt. (Insert "Muahahaha!" laughter here.) It's all part of their evil master plan to force him to give in to their nefarious demands that he, um, save the world.OK, look, they're pretty new at this villainy thing. Maybe they're still a … [Read more...]

Why I’m Supporting Hillary Clinton

The last time I wrote about the Democratic primary, I was undecided. I've made up my mind since then. I've decided to vote for Hillary Clinton, and in this post I'll explain why.To start with (because, yes, some of my best friends are Bernie supporters), I still believe there's no bad choice in this race. Both of them are solid candidates, and Sanders' presence has been beneficial. He's pulled Clinton to the left in ways that could have lasting relevance if she becomes president, and he's … [Read more...]

Theocratic Fraud in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Religious sects and cults that conceive of themselves as serving a higher, sacred purpose will, almost inevitably, end up believing that they're above the law. We've seen this recently with the FLDS Mormon splinter cult and the Catholic church protecting monstrous child abusers, and now there's another example on offer.I've written about the malign political influence of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism, both in New York City and in the upstate satellite community of Kiryas Joel. Because they … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: March 27

• With all the stealth and haste of a coup d'etat, North Carolina's Republican government rushes through a vicious and willfully mean-spirited pro-discrimination bill. Transgender people are targeted the worst, but the bill also nullifies all local ordinances that protect LGBT people, blocks private individuals from suing over racial or sexual discrimination, and prohibits municipalities from raising the minimum wage.• But North Carolina is getting a run for its money from Indiana, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Survival Instinct

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IXWhen John Galt curses out America on live television, the ballroom erupts in chaos. The broadcast is instantly cut off, and some guests scream or flee in panic, while others freeze in terror. The thugs guarding Galt hustle him away. Seeing Mr. Thompson and the other looters make a hasty departure through a side exit, Dagny follows unobtrusively and listens at the door:She found them huddled in a small, private study: Mr. Thompson was slumped in an … [Read more...]


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