Atlas Shrugged: The Fires of Kuwait

KuwaitOilWellFires

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter XWhile Dagny has been criscrossing the country seeking the inventor of the motor, she learns from Eddie Willers that the looters are once again making absurd demands, this time clamoring for new laws that would kill the John Galt Line and strangle the industry of Colorado:The Union of Locomotive Engineers was demanding that the maximum speed of all trains on the John Galt Line be reduced to sixty miles an hour. The Union of Railway Conductors and … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: De-Extinction

Dolly

I was fascinated by a lengthy article last week on "de-extinction", the emerging science of cloning extinct species back to life. While we almost certainly won't be recreating dinosaurs Jurassic Park style, there are many vanished animals for which we have well-preserved specimens from which we could extract genetic material, from passenger pigeons to woolly mammoths, dodos to thylacines (or even the Australian gastric brooding frog, a bizarre species that gestates its young in its stomach). … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Price of Progress

SmogInChina

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter IXAs I've mentioned before, even though Atlas Shrugged is intended to be a complete guide to Ayn Rand's economic and political philosophy, there are some fundamental aspects of an economy that she never addresses or makes only the vaguest of passing allusions to. I'm going to linger on the scene we discussed last time, because it has one of those fleeting mentions that's of enormous importance.Mr. Mowen looked at the skyline, at the belts, the wheels, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Gasland

OilDerricks

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIIIAfter Dagny and Hank's train rolls in triumph into Wyatt Junction, Ellis Wyatt invites the two of them to his house for a celebratory dinner. While they eat, he encourages Hank Rearden to move to Colorado ("This is the capital of the Renaissance") and lets them in on his own future plans:He pointed west. "The Buena Esperanza Pass. Five miles from here. Everybody's wondering what I'm doing with it. Oil shale. How many years ago was it that they gave … [Read more...]

Repost: Fossilized Opinions

Ammonite

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from March 2010.]Sam Harris is famous for the argument that religion, even moderate religion, does harm by teaching that faith is a virtue that should not be questioned, which encourages militant and violent strains of fundamentalism. Today, I want to talk about another way, subtle but unmistakable, that religion causes harm to human beings.Because of its tendency to treat … [Read more...]

Scattered Thoughts from the #ForwardOnClimate Rally

I just got back from Washington, D.C., where I was taking part in the Sierra Club's Forward On Climate rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, which is intended to carry crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries. I'm still a bit washed out and don't have anything profound to say, but here are some scattered impressions:• It was cold in Washington, D.C. all weekend, with bitter, frigid winds lashing the National Mall, which made the immense turnout all the more surprising. … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Weather Stories

Well, once again, a major storm is heading toward the East Coast and New York is in the bullseye. (Climate change? What climate change?) Last year, it was all about Hurricane Irene, which ended up passing over where I live without causing too much havoc. Hopefully, I'll be lucky twice. But just in case my power does go out, don't be too alarmed if I disappear from the internet for a few days. While we all stockpile bottled water and sandbags, let's have an open thread: What are your best/worst … [Read more...]

Dinosaur Weather

I usually write optimistic posts. This is going to be a scary one. I apologize in advance. While I was in Columbus last month, I mentioned the furnace-like heat. Well, it wasn't just me. In what's becoming an annual tradition, heat records are being broken all across the country. And it's not just hot, it's dry: more than 80% of the continental U.S. is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions, with no relief in sight. Corn and other crops are being decimated by the drought, the worst … [Read more...]

Book Review: God, No!

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Just what you'd expect from its author: outspoken, boisterous, crude, frequently vulgar, often hilarious. Unapologetically atheist, but more about Penn Jillette the person than about atheism per se.God, No! is written by Penn Jillette, the louder half of Penn & Teller who's well-known for his skeptical and libertarian views. He's also known for being … [Read more...]

Rick Perry’s Prayer Follies

Whether you're an atheist or not, you should be alarmed by the sight of elected officials making a big public show of praying during a crisis. It's not that prayer itself does anything one way or the other - it's that their beseeching the gods for help is a good hint, not just that they have no ideas, but that they've given up even trying and are staking their hopes on a miracle. Which is why this story, about the man who happens to be the most recent entrant in the Republican presidential … [Read more...]


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