Links – 01/25/2017

  • As Trump seems determined to move the Dakota Access Pipeline forward, the controversy about this project is bound to reignite. I used to be agnostic on the merits of the claims made by the opponents of the project until after it was halted, but then I started doing some research about it and found that almost everything they said was demonstrably false. This article on Facebook is the best thing I have found on that issue.
  • Robert Parry just published a great article in which he takes stock of Obama’s record on foreign policy. It seems to me that, unlike so many people on both sides of the aisle, he gets things exactly right. I think Obama was a pretty bad President, but it’s really striking to me that, of all the things he got wrong, he is almost systematically criticized for the few things he got right, especially on foreign policy. The fact is that, although he was never willing to strongly oppose Washington’s foreign policy establishment, he at least dragged his feet on many occasions when they wanted him to do something crazy.
  • You may have heard people say things like “studies have shown that, by increasing racial/gender diversity in a group of people who work together, we also increase the efficiency of that group”. Well, like 90% of sentences that start with “studies have shown that”, it’s false. Alice Eagly explains why in this quick review of the literature.
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a good article on whether the rural voters in Wisconsin who voted for Trump en masse in 2016 will swing back in 2018 and, beyond that, in 2020. My personal view, which I will probably defend in details at some point, is that the uneducated whites who voted for Trump are unlikely to swing back and vote Democrats.
  • Meanwhile, the New York Magazine published this piece about the Women’s March, which is exactly the kind of things which makes me think that American liberals still haven’t understood why Clinton lost and that the uneducated whites who voted for Trump in droves aren’t coming back any time soon.

2 thoughts

  1. On the question regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline to transport Bakken Formation Oil to market, the question isn’t whether it’s good or bad, safe or hazardous but rather whether it’s better than the alternatives.

    The train transporting Bakken formation crude oil that derailed disastrously at Lac Megantic makes me ask “Maybe the pipelines are safer than trains?”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-M%C3%A9gantic_rail_disaster

    I’m no expert in weighing these risks, but I’d hazard to guess most of the loudest voices in protest against the pipeline aren’t either.

    1. I agree that it’s exactly the kind of question people should be asking, and that most opponents of the project probably haven’t really thought about this, but if I remember correctly what I have read on that issue, the railroad system in the area just doesn’t have enough capacity to carry the volume of oil that could be transported by the pipeline. So I can imagine the opponents of the project saying that, if the pipeline isn’t built, it will make it unprofitable to increase the extraction of oil from that area. However, if transportation by rail is sufficiently more dangerous than a pipeline, it could be that preventing the construction of the pipeline would still result in more environmental risk, even though the production of oil would be reduced. In theory, it shouldn’t be very difficult to do the math, but I don’t have time to look for the relevant data.

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