This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, and the author of The New York Times best-selling book, The World According to Star Wars. He shares what drew him to this topic, and why, after 45 years, these movies have become a $70 billion multimedia franchise and continue to have such wide intergenerational appeal. They review some of the classic myths and legends that influenced George Lucas, the brilliant creator of the films. Prof. Sunstein explains some of the larger civic educational lessons found in the space epic, including the war between the democratic Republic and the autocratic Empire, in which the Jedi Knights rebel against imperial tyranny. They also discuss the story of Anakin Skywalker, and his turn to the Dark Side; and the supernatural “Force,” that imbues a series classified as science fiction with a transcendent quality.

Stories of the Week: In England, university and student groups are opposing government plans to set minimum eligibility requirements for student loans. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams is seeking an extension of mayoral control of the school district, which for the past 20 years has meant important oversight authority over the schools chancellor and most of the governing panel.

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These could be real. Well, that last one is impossible to picture until aliens not merely make contact but sit down with us, and who knows how that’ll turn out. The second one is unlikely but by no means impossible: earthworms do have 5 or is it 10 hearts. As for the first one, there […]

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Join Greg and Ricochet.com Editor-in-Chief Jon Gabriel as they welcome fundraising and polling news that significantly contradicts the idea that overturning Roe v. Wade will move midterm momentum to the Democrats. They also shudder at reports the CDC as tracking our movements through our cell phones to make sure we were complying with lockdown orders. And they take aim at the Lincoln Project and others who pretended to be conservatives for many years but are now supposedly appalled at the idea of Roe being struck down. Of course it’s all just part of their ongoing efforts to fleece liberal donors in the name of opposing the political right.

If Musk Takes Over Twitter, What Next?

 

The universe of social media is now seeking to understand Elon Musk’s audacious bid to acquire all the shares of Twitter at a price of $54.20—$44 billion in total—that was initially accepted by the Twitter board of directors on April 25. Many regulatory and business hurdles still lurk between this initial agreement and the completed purchase. And the low break-up fee of $1 billion is seen as a sign that the transaction may yet founder.

The uncertainty over the deal’s future has not stopped, however, the nonstop speculation of what it will mean for the future of social media. By and large, these assessments are divided along sharp political lines. Right-wing stalwarts like Ben Shapiro chortle that the new deal promises to usher in a new age of Internet freedom by reforming how Twitter conducts itself, which in turn will lead to greater transparency. Musk has called himself a free speech “absolutist” who believes that free speech “is the bedrock of a functional democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” That optimism has not—to put it mildly—been shared by the political left, which has already outdone itself by denouncing him in an NBC news report—ironically relying on overheated tweets—as “a white nationalist-sympathizingtax-dodginganti-unionanti-free speech, ‘dystopian neocolonialist’ plutocrat tainted by his family’s background in apartheid South Africa, where Musk was born in 1971.”

There is little doubt that part of this fear is based on the simple view that Musk not only contributes to a greener environment, but—gasp­—“is a libertarian edgelord billionaire” who does not toe the progressive line, a climate activist told NBC. This pending takeover has prompted prominent progressive thinkers to forsake their Twitter accounts to protest what looks, at least to them, more like a political coup than a corporate takeover.

Join Jim and Greg as they cautiously welcome reports that Democrats not only worry about losing control of the U.S. Senate this year but fear even bigger losses in 2024. They also hammer DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to secure our borders and his new idea of diverting medical personnel and money from the VA to deal with the human tide of illegal immigrants. And they’re even more unnerved by the idea of a Disinformation Governance Board and the the person chosen to run it.

Join Jim and Greg in breathing an unobstructed sigh of relief as U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle finds the federal mask mandate for public transportation unconstitutional. They also cover the fallout from Washington Post tech reporter Taylor Lorenz trying to expose the operator of the Libs of TikTok Twitter page, despite publicly condemning online harassment aimed towards herself just weeks ago. And Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke changes his mind again on the Remain in Mexico policy, now saying it needs to end.

Join Jim and Greg as they cover President Biden’s latest all-time low approval rating. Despite delivering a Supreme Court Justice and the waning of the COVID-19 virus, Biden’s approval percentage sank to just 42% in the latest CBS New/YouGov Poll.  They also analyze the host of factors contributing to increasing despair and hopelessness in the American teenager including social media, COVID-19, and the media. And in a desperate attempt to appease his increasingly dissatisfied base, President Biden is taking steps to counter “ghost guns” this week.

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I’m no fan of crypto-currencies, thinking them mostly speculative hype backed up by interesting by fundamentally nonsensical technology. But there’s certainly a bunch of money in it for some people (disclaimer: not me), and so I understand the interest in it. I’m similarly bearish about alternative energy — specifically, wind and solar — thinking it […]

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Work Thought (of Decidedly Limited Interest)

 

I write software. I do a lot of my work using Microsoft Visual Studio, what we programmers call an IDE — an Integrated Development Environment. Visual Studio is, in my professional opinion, a pretty fantastic product, the best IDE available for general-purpose programming.

The most recent version of this product contains a “code completion” feature. That is, the program kind of looks over your shoulder while you’re working, makes note of what you’re doing, and occasionally offers to finish whatever it is you’re in the process of typing, based on its assumptions about what you’re trying to do.

A Book You Will Stick With

 

What makes things stick together?  Why is that useful and when is it a problem? Where does friction occur and how do you reduce it? Why are some things slippery and others not? 

“Sticky: the Secret Science of Surfaces,” by Laurie Winkless answers those questions, and many more. It looks at tribology. She describes tribology as the science of rubbing and scrubbing. In the process, she takes readers on a fascinating – and humorous – trip as she examines every aspect of what makes things stick together or slide apart. 

She covers the landscape on stickiness and slipperiness. Along the way, Winkless touches on almost every aspect of her subject and on virtually every level. What makes paint stick? How do race cars stay on the track? What causes earthquakes? What makes a good lubricant? Why do some smooth surfaces stick together, while others slide apart? She examines each of these issues, and many more. 

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Recently, there was a story about a big piece of space junk, part of a Communist Chinese booster rocket, that was set to crash into the far side of the moon.   The story in the Wall Street Journal (not the one linked) mentioned that it would just add one more crater to the moon […]

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Archimedes, Inventing Calculus, and the Value of Pi

 

Let’s get one thing straight upfront; I blame @SaintAugustine. If you’ll recall he wrote a post about a month ago about Leibniz, who is smarter than I. I offered up a joking reply to his question naming someone else who’s smarter than I, the Greek mathematician Archimedes. He’s probably most famous for discovering the principle of displacement one day in the bath. He announced it by shouting “Eureka!” and (depending on the account) running through the streets to announce it without so much as a towel. Aside from the bathtub thing Archimedes is the mad scientist of antiquity, having devised weapons of war (including the first known death ray) to face off Roman invaders. That part of the legend has probably grown in the telling.

A Boy and His Circles

Matter of fact, Archimedes didn’t survive the Second Punic war. Rome sacked Syracuse after a long siege (having thus far been stymied by Mad Science). Archimedes was drawing diagrams in the dirt when a Roman soldier found him. “Stop disturbing my circles!” yells Archimedes. The Roman, not about to be lectured by some weird old guy, runs him through with his sword. Probably for the best; the mind shudders at what might have resulted had that Roman, equally interested in circles, stopped his looting in order to contemplate conic sections.

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There is a new spaceship design. It might be really good, at least for most of the month, might be a few periods where it reacts arbitrarily.  The designers claim that it is more aerodynamic and slippery while reaching peak… altitudes.  I did not notice what they will call the area where the astronauts will […]

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Probably not, but it is a remarkable topic. Information theory, I mean. In my career as a computer programmer, I picked up just fragments of it. Such coworkers of mine who had computer-science degrees must have taken courses in it, but they never said: it clearly had nothing immediately to do with our programming problems. […]

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Join Jim & Greg as they walk through reporter Drew Holden’s thorough look at how President Biden has tried to limit oil and gas exploration at every turn and only now pretends to support it. They also react to actor Jussie Smollett getting 150 days in jail for fabricating a hate crime in Chicago. And they roll their eyes as the dubious Bulletin of Atomic Scientists refuse to adjust their “Doomsday Clock” over Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling.

 

In this edition, Mark Mills’ monologue addresses the long-term energy implications of the horrific Ukrainian invasion, and the likelihood, and tech realities, of a Great Energy Reset.

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Thread: 🧵 1. Big tech companies and governments are promoting the advent of a new Chinese / Indian style digital identity for everyone. The corona crisis has fast-tracked this digital ID agenda and many experts have warned ‘This is the end of freedom.’ pic.twitter.com/gxMLCn8ffs — Sikh For Truth (@SikhForTruth) February 22, 2022   Preview Open

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