Something for the weekend, #5

Optimism and reasons for optimism, recently spotted in the media:

* Bug off: “Planting GMOs kills so many bugs that it helps non-GMO crops”

     → “… new work shows that Bt corn also controls pests in other types of crops planted nearby, specifically vegetables. In doing so, it cuts down on the use of pesticides on these crops, as well.”

* Bug in: “The bug in our diet”.

     → Canada’s National Post takes an in-depth look at all the latest research on human-edible insects, and how to package and market them.

* Face bork: Nielsen stats show users spending 24 percent less time on Facebook

     → In November – December 2017. Looks like positive news, but the question is: is this a normal pre-Christmas dip, due to people tending to be busy at that time of year? Did much the same dip happen in late 2016?

* Golden showers: “Welcome to the Golden Age”.

     → The City Journal reviews the new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker. With a strong focus on just how much the habitual future-phobics of the political left will hate the book.

* Bunnies begone: “Gardeners must be optimists” muses a small-town gardener.

     → Though, as he says, it does help if you… “Erect a fence of appropriate materials that’s high enough and strong enough to keep the unwanted interlopers out.” So true.


Something for the weekend, #4

Optimism and reasons for optimism, recently spotted in the media:

* The Federalist podcast: Steven Pinker On Science, Progress, And Why Humanity Is Better Than Ever (47 mins).

     → The left-leaning Steven Pinker promotes his new book on optimism, to one of the USA’s most savvy bunch of mainstream intellectual conservatives.

* A new national Centre for Sikh and Punjabi Studies in the UK.

     → A major research centre and “the first of its kind in the UK”.

* France will pump up to $31 million into a fleet of rigid airships for transporting heavy cargo.

     → But possibly not all good news, if sold to deforesters in Indonesia, Brazil, Paraguay. Because the airships were… “designed to collect wood from hard-to-reach areas of forests.”

* Easter Island votes for world’s newest marine reserve covering “286,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean surrounding Easter Island”.

     → But also read the same publication’s recent in-depth “The ups and downs of marine protected areas: Examining the evidence”, which concludes that while overfished animals of course tend to recover in the reserve, the impact on the well-being of local people inevitably varies and has barely been studied. The case for a wider regional recovery of fisheries yield is also not yet supported by research.

* We don’t need climate planners to be our population planners (Marianas Variety, Micronesia newspaper)

     → A positive and optimistic message, getting through to the Micronesia media and people.

* Calm the alarm on Antarctic krill fishery says the respected Lowy Institute.

     → No, China is not sucking up all the krill in the Southern Ocean, leading to starving whales etc.

* 1.5m Penguin ‘Supercolony’ Discovered in Antarctica.

     → This is the poster-child species that was supposed to be ‘doomed’ by greenhouse warming. Looks like they may just have decamped north a bit, to get away from being constantly prodded and filmed by eco-worriers…

* A simple genetic tweak can triple the grain yield of sorghum, a vital everyday food in Africa.

     → This is from proper heavyweight scientists, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, reporting in Nature Communications. They “hope to apply the same strategy to increase grain production in related plants that are vital in the global food supply, such as rice, corn, and wheat.”

* Individual atoms may turn carbon dioxide into an energy.

     → It’s obviously ‘early days’, but it sounds good. It happens via a relatively simple and cheap nickel-graphene nano-mesh, and the new invention is “from the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York”, meaning that they’re proper heavyweight scientists and not some headline-grabbers from Whereizit Uni. “The team is now looking to find ways to scale up, with a view to large-scale production.”

* And lastly, the UK’s venerable Spectator has just launched a new Spectator USA edition and slick website.

     → It’s very positive to see a new heavyweight conservative site for news and commentary.

Something for the weekend, #3

Some recent optimism in the press:

* “Reasons to believe” outlines the main contents of the recent TIME magazine issue that contained Bill Gates’s special section on Optimism — The Manila Times, the Philippines.

  … regrettably, the rest of that TIME magazine issue read like a copy of Socialist Worker circa 1985.

* Why the Chinese are cheerful about the futureThe Age, Australia.

  … if you still believe in opinion polls.

* “Israeli breakthrough in noninvasive prostate cancer test”The Times of Israel.

  … looks very promising, though the news hasn’t yet been picked up by the press outside Israel.

* 10 science-proven facts that will help you be optimistic about the future.

   … [the book] “Progress: 10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, by Johan Norberg [was] published in English in 2017 and is now being published in other languages.”

* The launch of It’s Better than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.

  … another major new book on the topic.

New book: It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear

Just launched and published in hardcover a week ago, the major book It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear. The Carnegie Council has a launch event transcript, in which the author introduces and outlines the book, followed by a Q&A.

A search of Google News for the title suggests a near-total media blackout among the establishment media. A week after launch and release, one passing mention in the Boston Globe — in order to score a silly anti-Trump point. One bit of coverage on an obscure local radio station. The author did a pre-launch podcast interview at the leftist Slate, but the podcast’s text blurb highlighted the point that “gun control advocates shouldn’t compromise.” Kirkus manages one of its typically tiny and snide reviews, but the reviewer grudgingly calls it a “contrarian pep talk” that “will ring hollow for many, but it’s an argument worth considering.”

Something for the weekend, #2

Some recent optimism in the press:

Eco-recovery: NASA finds the first direct proof of ozone hole recovery.

Practical engineering: Church steeples all over the UK are becoming Wi-Fi hotspots, connecting remote rural villages.

Alt media: How Generation Z Gets their News

“the newest generation of teens graduating into adulthood [18-32 year olds], isn’t just snubbing print, but have abandoned old media altogether [and this is] driven … by a nearly universal distrust of the media.”

A note of caution: while the abandonment of the mainstream media and gatekeepers is being confirmed all around us, the report is based on a traditional cheapo ‘1,000 sample’ fly-by survey/poll of the sort that have become so discredited in recent years. It also lacks any breakdown by demographic groupings other than age, and lumps Gen Z in with younger Millennials.

Voices from Africa: Africa’s Generational War

A key “trend is the continuing resilience of political optimism among African voters, especially the youth, who overwhelmingly support democracy. […] Their optimism has been buoyed in part by the rise of an aggressively independent media … In the long term, demographic shifts make democratic change seem inevitable.”

Good to know: A massive new Review of Meta-analyses on Coffee Consumption gives coffee a clean bill of health…

“Given the spectrum of conditions studied and the robustness of many of the results, these findings indicate that coffee can be part of a healthful diet.”

Something for the weekend, #1

Some recent optimism in the press:

Energy: Shale gas is the real energy revolution | Matt Ridley.

Brexit: Boris’s optimism and conviction are what we need, says Leo McKinstry.

Creative: Number of EU applicants for UK creative courses rises as Brexit approaches

“Universities in the UK have received more applications from EU citizens for art and design courses this year, belying fears that Brexit would lead to falling demand.”

Technology: Time to face the facts: Technological unemployment is a complete myth.

African voices: Africa is Growing, but is it Rising?.


Wired magazine, such a pity… Every day brings new evidence that the once great magazine of future-optimism is now being heavily glommed onto by the loony left…

Headline 1: Despite all the excellent news on the UK economy and in the creative industriesWired‘s headline suggest that fearful techies emigrate to Ireland to escape the horrid Brexit.

Headline 2: Instead of looking at the hard science on the unfounded claim that African drought = greenhouse warming, and the abundant evidence of the internal incompetence and corruption in South Africa… Wired‘s headline claims the problems there are down to “climate change”.