The Long View 2004-12-02: Tepid Fusion; Lies; Toads; Republicans; The UN Again

Cold fusion is a pipe dream of course. I would love to have cheap energy too, but there is nothing there.


Tepid Fusion; Lies; Toads; Republicans; The UN Again

 

The other shoe has dropped on the cold fusion issue, it seems:

Evidence on Cold Fusion Remains Inconclusive, New Review Finds

This is the long-awaited Department of Energy review, and in a way it's a vindication. "There are legitimate questions still to be answered" is better than "This is a delusion on which not a further cent of public money should be spent." Unfortunately, we seem no closer to usable energy.

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This seems to have been everybody's favorite science story in the past few days:

WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Brain scans show that the brains of people who are lying look very different from those of people who are telling the truth, U.S. researchers said on Monday...."We found a total of seven areas of activation in the deception (group)," [said Dr. Scott Faro, director of the Functional Brain Imaging Center at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia]. "We found four areas of activity in the truth-telling arm."...Overall, it seemed to take more brain effort to tell the lie than to tell the truth, Faro found.

This implies, at least to me, that there is a link between mendacity and creativity. I am reminded of Ursula LeGuin's insufficiently appreciated novel, City of Illusion, in which one of the Shing invaders of Earth justifies the basis of his culture:

In the Yahweh Canon, it says that, in the beginning, the universe was dark. But then God lied, and there was light.

I quote from memory.

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Negative reviews of a book or a movie are much more fun to read, and to write, than a favorable review; so much so that both readers and reviewers should limit their indulgence in this matter. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times is usually circumspect in this regard, but he did let himself go for Vishnu Naipaul's new novel, Magic Seeds:

The people Willie meets in London are every bit as loathsome as the revolutionaries he met in India. They are all narcissistic snobs, obsessed with status and class, and their own agendas of revenge and oneupsmanship.

In fact ugly, contemptuous remarks pop out of the mouths - like small, poisonous toads - of all of the characters in this book.

I liked that image so much, I searched for an picture of a small, poisonous toad. Look.

* * *

And now that the Red half of the nation has finished gloating over the results of the last election, Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online reminds us that the Republican Party won, not because it is the party of conservatism, but because, just for now, it is The Party of Order:

Imagine you're an umbrella salesman during the early rainfall that led to Noah's flood. You might think these are the best of times because business is so good...Forget conservative and liberal for a moment. Think order and disorder. Disorderly times are good for orderly parties. Orderly times are good for disorderly parties, largely because mankind can always be counted on to cure its boredom by mucking things up...Conservatives are the chief defenders of a capitalist, free-market system, and the capitalist, free-market system is perhaps the most profoundly unconservative social force in human history.

Again, I don't see much of a future for either major party in anything like their current forms.

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Speaking of things with little future in their current forms, a set of proposals for reform of the United Nations has just been issued. Among other things, the draft makes some circumspect provision for preemptive military action:

It said that if the arguments for "anticipatory self-defense" in such cases were good ones, they should be put to the Security Council, which would have the power to authorize military action under guidelines including the seriousness of the threat, the proportionality of the response, the exhaustion of all alternatives and the balance of consequences.

Apparently in anticipation of objections from Washington over that requirement, the report said, "For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of nonintervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all."

No reform is going to work unless it links control over the use force with the willingness to provide it. I have no institutional structure to recommend for this purpose, but nothing less will do.

Copyright © 2004 by John J. Reilly

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