Quotulatiousness

May 17, 2017

The amazing luck of Il Donalduce

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

For all the things that Donald Trump does wrong (and you can just reference the headlines of any newspaper or mainstream web site for a long list), he had one thing going for him: the fact that his opponents can be depended upon to over-react to every policy twitch or Twitter update. The cumulative effect of all this outrage is exactly the opposite of what Trump’s opponents actually want:

It wasn’t a good week for President Donald Trump, but it could have been a lot worse. For all his faults – and there are many – the president is blessed with one important thing: opponents so unhinged, so irrational, that even when compared to him, he comes off better.

The ham-handed and, frankly, classless way in which the president fired FBI Director James Comey could have and should have been handled better. The White House can find out where the head of the FBI is at any given moment, so wait until he’s in the office to fire him or pick up the phone and do it right. Instead, Comey saw it on TV.

That said, he had to go. But media reports suggest the White House was shocked at the reaction. If true, that itself is shocking. If Donald Trump saved a puppy, the media and Democrats would complain about it, so firing the head of a department currently investigating the Trump campaign and being shocked about blowback is amateurish.

Luckily for the president, “worse than amateurish” is the perfect way to describe his opponents.

Democrats who days or even hours earlier had been hyper-critical of Comey spun on a dime to proclaim his firing an affront to justice. They declared he had no credibility, then expressed outrage at his no longer “leading the investigation into President Trump.”

Of course the head of the FBI was not “leading the investigation” any more than the CEO of a car company leads the investigation into a faulty brake pad. But why let the facts stand in the way of a good freak-out?

Nearly every Democrat, journalist, and cable news personality clutching their pearls over Comey’s firing has a trail of pronouncements expressing disgust at one or more of his actions in the recent past.

Which leaves these leftists having to argue that a man they repeatedly declared unsuited for the job should not have been removed from it.

But that’s not all. Not even close.

NASA swings for the Moon … and misses

Filed under: Space, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Robert Zubrin is not a fan of NASA’s recent announcement of a planned lunar orbital station as its next major goal, calling it “NASA’s worst plan yet”:

At the recent Space Foundation conference held in Colorado Springs, NASA revealed its new plan for human space exploration, superseding the absurd Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) championed by the Obama administration. Amazingly, the space agency has managed to come up with an even dumber idea.

In the early months of the Trump administration, some lunar advocates spread the rumor that the new president would seek a return to the Moon within his first four years, thereby dramatically making America great again in space. That is not the plan.

Nor is the plan to send humans to Mars within eight years, something that I think we could achieve. Nor is it to send human missions to explore near-Earth asteroids, as then President Obama suggested in 2010, nor is it even to send humans to a piece of an asteroid brought back from deep space to lunar orbit for study, as called for in the ARM.

No, instead NASA is proposing to build a space station in lunar orbit. This proposal is notable for requiring a large budget to create an object with no utility whatsoever.

We do not need a lunar-orbiting station to go to the Moon. We do not need such a station to go to Mars. We do not need it to go to near-Earth asteroids. We do not need it to go anywhere. Nor can we accomplish anything in such a station that we cannot do in the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, except to expose human subjects to irradiation – a form of medical research for which a number of Nazi doctors were hanged at Nuremberg.

If the goal is to build a Moon base, it should be built on the surface of the Moon. That is where the science is, that is where the shielding material is, and that is where the resources to make propellant and other useful things are to be found. The best place to build it would be at one of the poles, because there are spots at both of the Moon’s poles where sunlight is accessible all the time, as well as permanently shadowed craters where water ice has accumulated. Such ice could be electrolyzed to make hydrogen-oxygen rocket propellant, to fuel both Earth-return vehicles as well as ballistic hoppers that would provide the base’s crew with exploratory access to most of the rest of the Moon. Other places on the Moon might also work as the base’s location, because while there is no water in nonpolar latitudes, there is iron oxide. This can be reduced to produce iron and oxygen, with the latter composing 75 percent or more of the most advantageous propellant combinations.

Sid Meier interview

Filed under: Business, Gaming, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Last week, Chris Suellentrop talked to the legendary Sid Meier about the Civilization series and other games:

The first Civilization was released more than a quarter-century ago in 1991, after being developed by a team of two – Meier and Bruce Shelley – that grew to 10 at its largest. Meier estimated recently that the budget for the game was around $170,000. He did the programming, the design, and the artwork. “It was kind of an audacious game for us to make,” Meier said during a talk about the game’s development at this year’s Game Development Conference in San Francisco. “6,000 years of history in 640k.”

The Civilization series has now sold almost 40 million copies, according to Take Two, which owns Firaxis. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, the most recent entry in the series, was released last year. (Even though Meier’s name is on it, the lead designer was Ed Beach.)

At GDC, Meier talked to Glixel for almost an hour with boyish enthusiasm about what makes Civilization work, why Firaxis turns to a new lead designer with almost every sequel, and that whole thing with having his name on the box.

How did it feel to deliver a postmortem on Civilization at the Game Developers Conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the game’s release?
In between the time Civ 1 came out and now, the Internet appeared, modding appeared, Reddit appeared, mobile appeared. So many things have happened in that time. But it’s all within a lifetime.

At Firaxis, Civ has been the pillar of what we do. We’re able to find a freshness in it by bringing in different designers. It’s one of the unique things about Civilization. Each iteration is led by a different person. There’s almost a Civ burnout. Once you’ve done a Civ, you’re kind of burned out and somebody else comes in with some fresh ideas.

[…]

What makes a good Civ game?
What happens in the player’s imagination. What we discovered afterwards, just by luck, kind of, was what fueled this “one more turn” phenomenon was the idea that, in your mind, you were always projecting what was going to happen next and what was going to happen three turns from now, what was going to happen eight turns from now. You had multiple irons in the fire. You were exploring this continent. You were dealing with troublesome neighbors. And you had this wonder that was always about to be built. So you were always anticipating what comes next.

A good Civ game has that quality, and it’s based in part on the turn-based nature of it. You have the time to imagine what’s going to happen next. You have the time to project your strategy, your ideas into the future. There’s also the anticipation not only of what you’re about to do but what the game’s about to do to you. Genghis Khan is going to show up. Or they’re going to finish the wonder before you. So there’s all those things that you are looking forward to and anticipating.

The Only 3 Sandpapers You Really Need | SANDING BASICS

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 20 May 2016

Sanding can be time-consuming, tedious and one of the dustiest, messiest, most boring tasks in woodworking. But it’s also something that you’ll have to do in just about every single project. I hope to minimize the monotony in this Sanding Basics video. Please read the full article: http://bit.ly/WWMMsanding

QotD: Britain’s post-Brexit access to the single market

Filed under: Britain, Business, Economics, Europe — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

You see, they think they are granting us a privilege by allowing us to sell them things. This is ludicrous of course, it is imports which make us richer, not exports. But let us humour their delusion for a little. The standard EU position is that if the companies and people of a country are to gain access to the Single Market then they must pay for that privilege. This cannot be about the imports that those people gain from the Single Market of course because that is always under their own domestic control. No, the EU’s insistence really is that if Switzerland gets to sell cuckoo clocks into the EU, Norway can ship fermented sharks heads and the like, then this is a privilege. And that access to the Single Market means that Switzerland and Norway must pay the EU for that privilege. And they do.

[…]

If you get to sell things in Europe then you’ve got to pay the tithe to the EU itself. Reminds me rather of Fat Tony and friends running a nice little protection racket but then much of the EU reminds me of that.

OK. But who should be paying that tithe?

Well, actually, the first question is whether that tithe is worth paying. As up above, it’s imports that make us all generally richer and that’s all under our control anyway. Exports do make some people richer – the people who profit from making exports of course. And that’s not us in general, that’s not Britain, nor the British, and it’s most certainly not the taxpayers who are made richer by exports. So, obviously, it should not be the taxpayers paying the tithe in order to gain access to that market for those exports which don’t profit them.

The people who should be paying the tithe are the people who profit from the tithe having been paid. Those very exporters. Which gives us the solution to who should be paying the tithe. And an interesting side effect of this will be that we will find out whether it’s worth paying at all.

The people who should be paying the tithe are the people who profit from the tithe having been paid. Those very exporters. Which gives us the solution to who should be paying the tithe. And an interesting side effect of this will be that we will find out whether it’s worth paying at all.

Actually, we could in fact argue that a payment into the EU budget in return for Single Market access is illegal state aid. And thus not allowed under the usual rules of trade with the EU. Because it is state aid. Exporters will face tariffs if the payment is not made. The payment thus benefits exporters. But the payment is made by taxpayers, this is thus aid from taxpayers to exporters. It’s a subsidy for exports – something that isn’t allowed.

[…]

The crucial point is that the benefits, as far as the UK is concerned, of Single Market access lie with those making the exports. Thus those making the exports should be those paying the cost of Single Market access. If those who benefit think it not worth the cost then no one should be paying such bribes illegal state aid access fees. And simply by applying the costs, correctly, to those who benefit we find out which is the truth.

It’s very difficult indeed, nay impossible, to see the down side of this suggestion. If exporters want Single Market access then exporters can pay for it, not taxpayers. If they won’t pay it then it’s not worth it, is it?

Tim Worstall, “Absurd But It Works – Ensure EU Single Market Access Post-Brexit With Export Taxes”, Forbes, 2016-06-27.

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