This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with virologist, Dr. Peter Kolchinsky, about the explosion of vaccine technologies and innovations brought into the spotlight by the massive investment to fight the pandemic, and dives deeply into the exciting promise of vaccines to combat an ever-widening range of disease.

Guest:

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Over at stream.org one can find an important series of investigative articles on the link between COVID and abortion. The articles are written by Julie Collarafi, known on Twitter as Julianne (@KindeandTrue). Part 1 details the complicity of Church leaders in this ongoing abomination. Preview Open

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Prof. Paul Israel, Director & General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University, and author of Edison: A Life of Invention, the definitive biography of America’s greatest inventor. Professor Israel describes Edison’s public and private life, as well as the impact of his world-changing inventions, such as the hot-filament light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion-picture camera. Called the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” Edison is still the American with the most individual patents — 1,093 in the U.S. and 1,200 in 34 foreign countries. They discuss what educators and students in the 21st century can learn from how Edison ran the country’s first industrial research laboratory in New Jersey, and the importance of the U.S. Patent Office in protecting inventors’ exclusive right to profit from their inventions. They also discuss what students should learn about the role inventions have played in the historic success of the United States and in the highly dynamic and competitive global economy. Professor Israel concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the Week:  The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is celebrating its 75th anniversary of providing education for the children of American service members. Today, DoDEA operates 160 schools in eight districts across 11 countries, seven U.S. states and two U.S. territories for more than 67,000 students. (Read Pioneer’s related 2015 report.) In West Virginia, the Professional Charter School Board approved three applications for the state’s first ever charter public schools, which will provide another option for families who want and need a different learning environment.

Zoology as Seen Through Fable

 

We read Aesop’s Fables as children or re-read them aloud to our children. Their lessons resonate today. But how accurate are the depictions of the animals in the fables? Can crows add pebbles to a pitcher to raise the water level? Are wolves cruel and rapacious, foxes wily, or donkeys stubborn and stupid? Could a tortoise beat a hare in a race?

“Aesop’s Animals: The Science behind the Fables,” by Jo Wimpenny, looks at the answers to those questions. Wimpenny, a zoologist turned writer approaches the answers through the lens of modern zoology.

In individual chapters she uses nine different Aesop Fables featuring animals as a springboard, examining the behavior of these animals and related species. In addition to the creatures previously mentioned, she also looks at dogs, lions, monkeys, and insects (The Ants and the Grasshopper). Each chapter is an excursion studying the behavior and history of the featured species.

White Coat Waste Project: Beyond the Beagles

 

People have been discussing the story of Fauci funding experiments on dogs, which can be rather disturbing. Dogs are wonderful animals, and people do not like to see them suffer. Cruelty toward animals always is undeserved, since animals are not moral agents like we are.

However, this is not sheer cruelty; this is animal experimentation. A massive amount of medical research relies on animal experiments because studies on cells do not capture the whole picture. I honestly do not know if we could safely test new drugs on people without animal studies — it would be much riskier. Animal models behind nearly every medical advance you hear announced in the media.

One Person’s Crisis Is Another’s Opportunity – and I’m Cashing In!

 

I first heard of this lesson from, from of all places, reading Gone With the Wind as a young teen, where the novel describes Rhett Butler taking advantage of the Union’s blockades of southern ports and running them with the goods that the southerners want.  Of course, Captain Butler, having taken on the risk, sells his goods at a high price and seems to be the only man in Atlanta with money.  Obviously, this axiom applies in the real world as well.  Most recently, many have speculated that “Friends of W”, George W. Bush, made out like bandits in their associations with the military-industrial complex because of the 20-year GWOT.  (What is it with wars and crisis opportunities?)

Anywho, word has come down that, for once, my own situation is about to be bettered by, what appears to be most certainly a crisis in the U.S.  You all have heard that China is beating the U.S. like a rented mule in the new space race, and more particularly, advances in hypersonic flight.  As it turns out, my kid, who is a Materials Science and Engineering major, just got offered a full ride and a support stipend toward a 2-year research master’s degree in the field of hypersonic materials.  In this case, it seems that a number of defense industry companies need some immediate research and development in the particular area of hypersonic materials and are throwing some serious money around.  And apparently, only real U.S. citizens are allowed to work on these projects so, since I raised a genuine Texan and an Eagle Scout, he got the nod.   (I’m sure his selection might have a little to do with him already being a published researcher and invited presenter in materials science as an undergrad)  I am grateful for his tremendous opportunity, especially one that I personally won’t be paying for out of my own pocket.  <happy dance>

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I am not opposed to EVs per se. I would love to own an Aptera. But there needs to be a realistic analysis of the cost of ownership.  And don’t force it down my throat by making the alternatives illegal. Here is the best thing I’ve read so far on the subject. Preview Open

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Trust the Seance

 

Despite the casual tossing about of the epithet “science denier” in these oh-so-technocratic times, most scientific knowledge goes unchallenged by the unwashed masses. I’ve never heard anyone express skepticism of Coulomb’s Law and its scandalous claims about the forces exerted between charged bodies. Rarely is Bernoulli burned in effigy for the effrontery of his work in fluid dynamics. Even Richard Feynman, bad boy Nobel laureate and long-haired drummer, barely elicits a gasp of disapproval when quantum electrodynamics is brought up in polite company.

No, we get upset with science when people try to use it as a cudgel to drive us where we don’t want to go. Then, understandably, we get our backs up. This is true even when the science is pretty solid, which it often — though not always — is. It’s true even on those occasions when we might be better off, in the long run, going where science is suggesting we go: some of us resist good advice, no matter how many decimal places of precision it claims.

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October 4th was the 64th anniversary of the “shock of the century”. People in the West quickly realized that the launch of Sputnik 1 also meant that the Soviets had a rocket that could be used as an ICBM. Two obscure events three days later tracking the satellite helped lead to GPS which has been […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they cheer on the resolve of Taiwan’s president and people in the face of growing Chinese threats. They also have questions as Attorney General Merrick Garland announces the FBI will start investigating alleged threats made against school officials in highly charged debates around the country. And they sigh as Dr. Fauci gives contradictory answers on whether he recommends people visit with family over the holidays and the CDC comes out with absurd guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving.

 

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Schadenfreude, anyone?  It seems that the Facebook Empire was taken down today, probably by a hacker.  From this story on the Fox News web site, all parts of the company, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, were completely unavailable today, all over the world.  Rumors also have it that Facebook employees were prevented from entering their […]

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A Critique of Stephen Meyer’s ‘Return of the God Hypothesis’

 

I have struggled with writing a review of Stephen Meyer’s book, Return of the God Hypothesis, since I finished it a few weeks ago. Every time I pick it up to reread portions of it I find myself wanting to approach the work from a different perspective. The book is neither a straight popularization of science nor an attempt to frame a clear scientific argument. Rather, it’s a well-crafted work of reporting and speculation at the frothy margins of scientific theory that, combined with a few leaps of logic, is harnessed in support of a foreordained conclusion.

I suspect that the science in this book – and there’s quite a lot of it – will, despite being well-presented by an eloquent and talented author, largely elude most readers. Perhaps more importantly, the context from which the science is drawn will likely be unfamiliar to most readers, who will have little familiarity with physics and cosmology beyond what is presented in this book. If this book were merely a popularization of the science of cosmology, that would be fine: people would gain a feel for the state of the field, for its complexity and nuance, and for the remarkable accomplishments that have been made in recent years. But that’s not what this book is. Rather, it’s an attempt to support a metaphysical argument by portraying science as inadequate both in practice and in principle, and so leave no plausible alternative but the eponymous God Hypothesis. To frame that argument responsibly would require considerably more scope and rigor than this already science-heavy book offers. To do it convincingly, on the other hand, requires much less effort, particularly if the reader is inclined to be generous and knows little of physics.

It has been said of Stephen Hawking’s bestselling book A Brief History of Time that it was purchased by many and read by few. I suspect the same is likely true of Return of the God Hypothesis: for many, it will be a tough read. Yet it is an impressive book, and it has lent a great deal of talk-circuit credibility to its author and his premise. The fact that Mr. Meyer is an eloquent speaker and a clever and charming guest undoubtedly adds to that credibility, and it’s understandable why he and his book have received as much praise as they have. Nonetheless, as I will attempt to explain in this review, I think his arguments are weak and his conclusions unsupported.

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Or so said Theodore Dalrymple/Anthony Daniels once. It certainly puts OJ and Dr. Kevorkian in perspective when you see what amateurs they were compared to this guy, warming up in the batting cage bat cave for the past 40 years. He may not know how to throw a baseball but if there’s one thing he […]

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Answering Cosmic Questions

 

Where did the universe come from? How does it work? When did it begin and when and how will it end? People have asked variations on these questions since people started asking questions.

“Where Did the Universe Come From? And Other Cosmic Questions,” by Chris Ferrie and Geraint F. Lewis examines those questions. They also show how the answers have changed over the last 50 years.

The pair looks at the biggest thing in existence, the universe itself. They also examine the smallest things, including subatomic particles. They explain how the largest and smallest things in the universe are interrelated and affect each other. They do so in language a layperson can understand.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom. They next discuss his newest book, Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus, and general lessons about the Israelites that leaders, teachers, and students could use in addressing the challenges of modern life. They explore the influence of the Book of Exodus and the themes of liberation from captivity on the Civil Rights Movement, and several of its major leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and what teachers and students today should learn from Exodus about deliverance from life’s hardships. Dr. Kass shares why he became interested in the Great Books, and their crucial role in helping 21st-century students receive a complete liberal arts education and lead fulfilling lives. They discuss Western education’s increasing focus on vocationally oriented and often technocratic skills at the expense of humanistic education, and why we should be concerned about it, especially in our hyper-technological era. The interview concludes with a reading from Dr. Kass’s newest book on Exodus.

Stories of the Week: Co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson discuss New York Times story on the plight of America’s nine million students in rural school districts that are underfunded, disconnected, and face myriad challenges. Pioneer Institute and other organizations submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin, to expand access to private and religious schools for families in Maine.

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If you wear their new AR glasses. Facebook just announced they launched new AR glasses, that will allow users to record pictures and short videos.   They also reassured the public that FB “would not access the media used by its smart-glasses customers without users consent. “ Preview Open

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The Future of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

 

Seven days ago, a Silicon Valley energy startup CEO contacted me to help write a $1,000,000 grant proposal. I worked over the weekend researching the funding opportunities at the Department of Energy and writing a first draft of the proposal. (The world of startups requires 24/7 availability and everything is due now.) We reviewed that draft together yesterday, first to align on content and second to confirm he likes my work. (I don’t come cheap. He likes it.) Since I had yet to sign an NDA, I queried whether anything we had spoken about so far was under wraps, and he said no.

So I thought I would outline for you what he aims to demonstrate through a working prototype by the end of 2022.