Two tales of Elon Musk

There's this one that I'm seeing draw a lot of attention, wherein Elon Musk stops subsidizing internet access in Ukraine:

It seems like me like a lot of Musk's behaviour here is trolling as per CNN:

Documents obtained by CNN show that last month Musk’s SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon saying it can no longer continue to fund the Starlink service as it has. The letter also requested that the Pentagon take over funding for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink

i.e. the move to cut off the funds seems to have been initiated last month before Musk's unsolicited advice to Ukraine.

Musk's been kind of an idiot re: Ukraine, but if you were to want to criticize him for recent activities regarding entities that the US seems to broadly treat as allies this seems a much better target: Tesla wins tax breaks from China after Elon Musk’s Taiwan comments: report.

Ceasing to fund a country whose ambassador explicitly told you to "fuck off" seems far less problematic to me than seemingly gaining financial perks for similarly dubious statements elsewhere.

Random links

Do Some Countries Discriminate More than Others? Evidence from 97 Field Experiments of Racial Discrimination in Hiring
"France has the highest discrimination rates, followed by Sweden. We find smaller differences among Great Britain, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, and Germany."
Medical advances mask epidemic of violence by cutting murder rate
"Murder rates would be up to five times higher than they are but for medical developments over the past 40 years. According to new research, doctors are saving the lives of thousands of victims of attack who four decades ago would have died and become murder statistics. Although the study is based on US data, the researchers say the principle applies to other countries too"
Electric-Powered Commercial Airplane Makes History
Not yet viable for long-haul and there are certain other costs (e.g. battery replacement) but these were better figures than I was expecting to see. "A 100-mile flight in the nine-passenger Cessna Caravan, one of the most popular short-haul aircraft, costs more than $300 in fuel. “In an electric Caravan, you will spend $6 to $12 on electricity” to charge its batteries, he said. ... Maintenance costs will be lower as well for electric motors compared to internal combustion engines". Meanwhile Air Canada's has ordered hybrid electric planes.
Who Benefits When Western Museums Return Looted Art?
On the complexities associated with returning art to from Western museums to places in Africa. In addition to the question of whether or not they're likely to be safe from theft and well-maintained, to whom specifically should you return the art?

What's the state of the lab leak hypothesis?

Been debating a return to posting here, and this is really an issue worth given much more in depth treatment than I'll supply for the moment. Just wanted to paste this tweet in - the first of a longer thread and add a short amount of commentary:

(I will note that Ebright definitely seems to fit this profile I'd mentioned before when it comes to the sort of people likely to act as whistleblowers - an off-putting personality though a person I think has been worthwhile reading).

Currently the Lancet's COVID-19 commission report is due very soon (tomorrow I think!) but, after it dealt with its conflict-of-interest issues we already seem to have some idea as to what this report is likely to conclude. It's kind of interesting to read an interview with the commission's chair. See for example this quote:

I chaired the commission for the Lancet for two years on COVID. I’m pretty convinced it came out of U.S. lab biotechnology, not out of nature, just to mention. After two years of intensive work on this. So it’s a blunder in my view of biotech, not an accident of a natural spillover. We don’t know for sure, I should be absolutely clear. But there’s enough evidence that it should be looked into. And it’s not being investigated, not in the United States, not anywhere. And I think for real reasons that they don’t want to look underneath the rug, the statement.

Personally, the point as which I switched to suspecting that COVID-19 most likely originated as a product of engineering in the lab was with this leak - i.e. their proposal, which was rejected from a US funding agency due to safety concerns, to engineer coronaviruses to make them more infectious through introducing of a feature that's one found in COVID-19. I think that there is evidence to believe that research like that continued and that NIH was negligent in oversight with research there conducted under lower safety measures than should have been employed.

Will be interesting to see if anything comes of this. It's interesting how stuff like this has largely flown under the radar.

Random links

The future of war is bizarre and terrifying
"In the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijan used drones — purchased cheaply and easily from Turkey and Israel — to crush the vaunted Armenian army in a short space of time. Armenian troops were renowned as masters of infantry warfare and heavy weaponry, but their tanks, missile launchers, artillery, and transport vehicles were sitting ducks for their foes’ cheap disposable drones." There are things you know that are coming - even previews of the future as you can see above. Still I expect there'll be a lot of surprise when this happens in a more-broadly-focused context.
Claire Berlinski. on Twitter
"The aftermath of a pandemic that systematically killed the overweight seems a particularly bad time to make the argument that the relationship between weight and health is "a myth.""
Shift Lant on Twitter
On Transgender exclusion from the world of dating: Patterns of acceptance and rejection of hypothetical trans dating partners as a function of sexual and gender identity: "This study suggests that 98% of heterosexual women and 97% of heterosexual men do not include trans people in their dating prospects. The authors view this as a great calamity." Are people attracted to a sex or to gender?
Inequality and social unrest in Latin America: The Tocqueville Paradox revisited
"The first hypothesis is that the popular uprisings in these countries represented a social response to rising income inequality. This view was particularly popular among a social media contingent who seem to believe, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that inequality is always rising everywhere. The trouble with this hypothesis is that income inequality, as captured by household surveys, has actually been declining in Latin America for the last twenty years. ... In countries that did experience mass protests (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia) on the other hand, inequality was either constant or continued to decline in the last few years for which data is available."


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