American Elephants


Democrats Would Erase and Rewrite History In the Name of Their Ideology by The Elephant's Child

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More than a  month after the coldblooded murder of nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina by an overt racist, the event prompted an intense discussion of racism. Within hours the conversation, at least in the media, had switched to the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of racism that was flying over the South Carolina capitol, well, not the capitol, but over the confederate memorial on the capitol grounds.

Across the South the flag was furled, but a public hysteria quickly emerged demanding that monuments to Confederate leaders should be torn down, roads and bridges renamed, and at least the remains of one leading Confederate general should be dug up and…? The fight to make history conform to today’s moral standards was just in its beginnings, and it continues.

Ben Affleck discovered to his intense embarrassment that he had an ancestor who owned slaves, and attempted to eliminate any evidence of that from the broadcast of Roots. Actually it seemed to be four ancestors. Re-airings of The Dukes of Hazard were cancelled and the owner of the prop car, the General Lee, said the car’s famous rebel flag on the roof was to be painted over. Connecticut’s Democrat Party has dropped the names of Presidents Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, founders of the Democratic party, from the title of the annual dinner.

Democrats, like Ben Affleck, are embarrassed by the party’s connections to slavery. Well, yes, and segregation, and the KKK, and Reconstruction, the Trail of Tears, and Margaret Sanger, and Woodrow Wilson. After a brief campaign by the Left to banish Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew decided on removing Alexander Hamilton, the father of the modern banking system, instead — to be replaced by — a woman. What woman? He’s asking for suggestions, because no woman comes to mind as being that outstanding. He might try reading up on Alexander Hamilton to avoid embarrassing himself. I’d recommend  Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary life and Times of Our National Debt by John Steele Gordon.

Please! History is a record of what happened in the past. The more distant the past, the more historians have to rely on fewer records. When we go back before recordings, before film, before photographs, historians must try to fill in the blanks. Newly discovered letters, diaries, or  papers can change our knowledge of the period. But we don’t get to rewrite history to suit our modern prejudices and ideas of the correct morality. We need history, as it is, warts and all, to guide us in the present. But we also need truth, not some made-up history that advances the Left’s idealized future.

Part of the problem is that Democrats are a little short in the history department. They grew up in the sixties, reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which is pure Soviet propaganda, and Noam Chomsky’s assorted Marxist crap, and  consequently know nothing about history at all.

The drive to re-write history comes from the faculty lounges. The WWI Centennial Commission has been accepting design submissions, to memorialize The Great War, but they have already decided to move General John Pershing out of Pershing Park in Washington D.C. because they “have moved away from the ‘great man’ approach to war memorials.”

There has been a battle with the College Board over the Advanced Placement examination for U.S. history, to be released later this summer. Fifty-six professors and historians published a petition on the National Association of Scholars, urging opposition to the College Board’s framework. “Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial and ethnic identities.” Orwellian.



The Unintended Consequences of Demanding Higher Pay by The Elephant's Child

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The law of unintended consequences strikes again. Low wage workers in Seattle spent months agitating for a city-wide $15 an  hour were successful in their agitation. The City of Sea-Tac (the area surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport) had passed a $15 an hour bill. The state wide minimum wage locally was already $9.32.

Workers in local hotels and restaurants and in the airport soon found out that the raise was not as profitable as they had assumed. Hours were cut. Workers suddenly had to pay for their own parking and their own lunches. Politicians, those unfamiliar with basic economics, often assume that they are lifting poor people out of poverty.  Not so fast.

Some workers across the city are suddenly asking their bosses to give them fewer hours, because the higher wage is forcing them off the welfare programs they rely on, so they can earn less to avoid losing assistance. 

Who are low-wage workers, and why can ‘t they get higher pay? A very large percentage are young people in their first job, learning how to work. A hike in the minimum wage law that is unrelated to economic growth, means the hike will be an unemployment act for young people. Ideally, the low-wage worker will learn on the job, skills that are transferable to better jobs. Most employers prefer to hire skilled workers than beginners.

Looking through the images of “Fight for $15″ protests, it’s clear that the main driver and sponsor of the protests was SEIU, hoping to unionize fast food workers. The main target was McDonalds. Oddly enough, a very large percentage of McDonalds restaurants are franchises or small-businesses, who are no more capable than other small businesses of absorbing the cost of a government-ordered increase in wage costs. Restaurants in Seattle are closing at higher than normal rates.

No one has ever doubted that it’s quite possible to increase employment and the minimum wage at the same time. But it happens when the economy is growing and demand increases. And, contrary to Mr. Obama’s usual bragging, the economy is not growing healthily.

Most people have encountered low-wage workers who hate their jobs, are unpleasant, but say the required “Have a nice day.” A worker in a local store fits that description, and adds to it tattoos on arms and neck, and ear-lobes stretched out to take huge disks. A long-sleeved shirt would take care of the tattoos, but the earrings will limit his future job prospects.

On the other hand, my grocery had a box-boy, high-school and Jr. College age, who always appeared to enjoy his job, remembered my name, and that I had two cats, and was cheerful and efficient as well. He’s gone on to college now, but he will do well in life.

If you work hard and become the best worker in your current job, you may be ready to move up. Work is not meant to be just a payment to you, but fair pay for fair work. There are plenty of unskilled workers ready to take those jobs you sneer at, and there are other replacements who don’t protest and don’t demand time off, overtime nor sick pay.

I should probably add that this is a case history in the way government welfare is set up to keep the recipients from turning to real work to escape dependence. They are not into helping people on welfare to become self-supporting.



Here Is Another New Material: Metal Foam! by The Elephant's Child

Here’s another. North Carolina State University researchers have found that lightweight composite metal foams they have developed are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high-impact collisions. These findings are promising for use in nuclear power plants, space exploration, and CT-scanner shielding.

“This work means there’s an opportunity to use composite metal foam to develop safer systems for transporting nuclear waste, more efficient designs for spacecraft and nuclear structures, and new shielding for use in CT scanners,” says Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, where they first developed the strong, lightweight metal foam made of steel, tungsten, and and vanadium for use in transportation and military applications.

But she wanted to determine whether the foam could be used for nuclear or space exploration applications — could it provide structural support and protect against high impacts while providing shielding against various forms of radiation?

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Metal foams? Vanadium? And uses for blocking harmful rays, and for absorbing the energy of high-impact collisions. Amazing.



The Exciting and Tantalizing Possibilities of the New Materials. by The Elephant's Child

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The potential uses of the new materials sound like science fiction: here’s a new electrically conducting fiber for— artificial muscles, exoskeletons and morphing aircraft. The fiber is made from sheets of carbon nanotubes wrapped around a rubber core, and can be stretched to 14 times its original length and actually increases its electrical conductivity while being stretched, without losing any of its resistance.

An international research team based at the University of Texas at Dallas initially targeted the new super fiber for artificial muscles and for capacitors whose storage capacity increase tenfold when the fiber is stretched. The researchers now believe that the material could be used as interconnects in flexible electronics and a host of other related applications.

The team has published research in the Journal Science describing how they devised a method for wrapping electrically conductive sheets of carbon nanotubes around the rubber core in such a way that the fiber’s resistance does not change when stretched, but its conductivity increases.

I wish they had indicated the amount of magnification in the photo above, for those of us who are definitely not materials scientists.

The researchers have also been able to add a thin coat of rubber to the sheath-core fibers and then another carbon nanotube sheath to create strain sensors and artificial muscles. In this setup, the buckled nanotube sheets act as electrodes and the thin rubber coating serves as the dielectric. Voilà! You have a fiber capacitor.

“This technology could be well-suited for rapid commercialization,” said Raquel Ovalle-Robles, one of the paper’s authors, in the press release. “The rubber cores used for these sheath-core fibers are inexpensive and readily available. The only exotic component is the carbon nanotube aerogel sheet used for the fiber sheath.”

As new materials have been discovered or invented, there is a mad rush for patents on potential uses, I  gather based on informed guesses, by corporations hoping to develop what the scientists discover. Free enterprise at work.

For other posts on the new materials, enter “new materials” in the search function over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar.



I, Pencil. Extended Commentary: Creative Destruction by The Elephant's Child
July 26, 2015, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

One more short lesson to make you think about things differently.



I, Pencil, Extended Commentary: Spontaneous Order by The Elephant's Child
July 26, 2015, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

Another short economic lesson in the way things work.



I Pencil, The Movie by The Elephant's Child

The old favorite free enterprise story, in a brand new movie. An explanation of commerce, by the simple story of how a pencil is made.




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