Programmable gut bacteria, Hayek for everybody, Iran going nuclear, heroes of the Left, Kierkegaard and board games

MIT researchers have developed sensors, memory switches, and circuits that can be encoded in common human gut bacteria. These basic computing elements will allow the bacteria to sense, memorize, and respond to signals in the gut. Future medical applications of programmable gut bacteria might include early detection and treatment of diseases.

Elon Musk’s reading recommendations are quite different. Where Gates’s tastes tend towards the whimsical and Jobs’s towards the metaphysical, Musk’s list is all about science.

F.A. Hayek was a brilliant thinker in economics, politics and philosophy. But he was not as good a rhetorician as his great intellectual competitor, John Maynard Keynes, who was a witty, appealing popularizer and journalistic writer, as well as a famous theorist, intent on producing government interventions by whatever arguments worked. In the 1930s, this led, Boudreaux relates, to “Keynes’ victory over Hayek [and] that victory was total.”  However, in the hands of Keynes’ devoted macro-economic followers (and shortly after then-President Nixon purportedly announced that “We are all Keynesians now”), his victory led to the utterly disastrous great inflation of the 1970s and consequent financial collapse of the 1980s—the victory in time produced a memorable defeat. Hayek, his professional reputation redeemed, got the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.  He used the occasion of his acceptance speech to skewer “the pretense of knowledge” displayed by macro-economists, and to suggest they needed a “lesson in humility.”

The Obama administration has trapped America. It is now ever clearer that current negotiations will not achieve a reliable, verifiable halt to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Absent such terms, a non-nuclear Middle East rests on Iran’s “good faith” and on Iran’s neighbors’ faith in her — both thin reeds. No magic rescue looms. Very hard choices and dark fates may await.

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Nat Simons controls a hodgepodge of dodgy investment concerns that focus on renewable energy. He wants government not only to finance his business experiments but to harass and limit the effectiveness of other competitors in the energy market.

He wants Americans to pay substantially more for gasoline, household energy needs and every other product that requires energy. He wants a carbon tax that would hurt the poor far more than the rich. He is willing to get in bed with the oligarchs who run Russia and certainly do not have the interests of American taxpayers at heart to get the money to pressure the system to produce the outcomes he wants.

That he is a hero of the left and the Kochs are arch-villains tells you all you need to know about the moral vacuity of America’s liberals. How long can even they look the other way?

Kierkegaard was a scathing critic of the Denmark of his time, and he paid the price when in 1846 The Corsair, a satirical paper, launched a series of character attacks on him, ridiculing his gait (he had a badly curved spine) and his rasping voice. Kierkegaard achieved the necessary condition of any great romantic intellectual figure, which is rejection by his own time and society. His biographer, Walter Lowrie, goes so far as to suggest that he was single-handedly responsible for the decline of Søren as a popular first name. Such was the ridicule cast upon him that Danish parents would tell their children ‘don’t be a Søren’. Today, Sorensen — son of Søren — is still the eighth most common surname in Denmark, while as a first name Søren itself doesn’t even make the top 50. It is as though Britain were full of Johnsons but no Johns.

The game ends in nuclear war only about 5 percent of the time. That’s a good thing. It gives Ananda Gupta faith in humanity.

The game is called Twilight Struggle, and it’s the top-ranked board game in the world. It occupies the No. 1 spot on the authoritative gaming-world website BoardGameGeek.


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