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Comments on recent news

July 6, 2012
  • We have fairly definitively confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson.  I have very little idea of what this implies.  Sounds like most physicists were expecting it anyways.  But it’s good to see progress, whether it was worth the effort or has any medium-turn practical implications for the world.  And it’s a victory for the scientific method and Occam’s razor – a simple explanation predicted this particle, and we indeed found it.  And I feel more compelled to learn some particle physics now…
  • The legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act was overruled.  I’m terrifically under-informed on matters like this.  But based on reactions from others, I’ve very much updated in the direction that this was a good thing.  I also tend to believe, at the moment, that ACA was a very good thing overall, based primarily on some reading/thinking and some discussions with friends (notably Tim Kaler).  Still, I haven’t thought much about health care in the U.S., and every time I do, my opinions change slightly.  So I don’t feel that comfortable writing about the topic.
  • We might be close to having much better fake meat.  One scientist suggests that in 25 years, real meat will have “animal suffered” warnings and will be taxed appropriately (as opposed to tremendously subsidized, as it is now).   In 50 years, we would have moved from livestock meat altogether.  This seems huge, if legitimate.  Not necessarily just because it reduces animal suffering.  But also because it would make meat much more cheap/scalable/sustainable, as well as more versatile (read the article).  This feels like a big step towards the future.  As much so, perhaps, as driverless cars, which may also be near (and I may write about these soon).
  • Steve Nash is a Laker.  I grew up in San Diego, and as a Lakers fan.  Even though I think emotional attachment to sports teams is quite silly, I still can’t help rooting for them.  Maybe I will get over this someday, but as it is, I remain a Lakers fan and this is good news.  (By the way, in case you were wondering, I do think Kobe is highly overrated (not a top 10 player), these days, and Lebron is clearly a cut above the rest.)  Obviously, this news is not actually as good as the previous items…
  • Okay, let’s switch it up with what I consider bad news.  California might pass a mandate for “cigarette-like labeling of food derived from [genetically engineered] plants”.  There is no public consensus on whether genetically engineered foods are good or bad for you, despite there seemingly being a scientific consensus.  I may be wrong, but I suspect people against GMOs are just paranoid, and following the intuition that “messing around with things we don’t understand well is likely to cause bad outcomes”, rather than looking for systematic evidence.  So I would tend to agree with the guy in the article linked – seems like this would be a hugely costly move.  Personally, over-regulation feels worse than under-regulation.  But you should perhaps check out some second opinions on this matter too.

From → Random, World

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