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February 2015

"When Environmental Policy Backfires"

Terry Anderson, writing for Hoover:

With over 2,000 listed endangered species, only 1 percent have been saved.

Environmentalists contend that the success rate is low because of economic development. According to WWF Global, “Habitat loss poses the greatest threat to species. The world’s forests, swamps, plains, lakes, and other habitats continue to disappear as they are harvested for human consumption and cleared to make way for agriculture, housing, roads, pipelines and the other hallmarks of industrial development.”

But the low success rate can be better explained by the fact that the ESA has been used more to stop development than to encourage species preservation. . . . 

"Is Detroit Open for Business?"

As if Detroit didn't have enough problems.

Detroiters’ suspicion about outside money isn’t unique. New Yorkers have been known to look askance at foreign billionaires buying up high-end real estate in the Big Apple. But Detroit’s insularity has been particularly destructive; the city’s lack of economic diversity, after all, contributed mightily to its decline. Unless the Motor City makes peace with outside investors, don’t expect a real recovery anytime soon.

"Same Performance, Better Grades"

"Academic achievement hasn't improved much, so why are college-goers getting higher GPAs than ever before?"

Clearly, the author needs to visit Lake Wobegon: all the students today are above average.

(More seriously, I'd speculate that a substantial part of the problem comes from poorly designed student evaluations of professors, which weren't around when I was a student.)

"Why We Need to See the Stars"

Good argument.

Throughout all of history, the stars have served as humanity's quintessential source of curiosity.

What happens when we are shielded from celestial inspiration, and from truly seeing our place in the Cosmos? Do we look down and wonder less? Do we lose our sense of scale? Does our ingrained drive to explore dwindle?

Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

"Forget Climategate: This 'Global Warming' Scandal is Much Bigger"

James Delingpole, doing his thing.

But if this data cannot be trusted, all bets are off. I’m not saying there has been no 2oth century global warming, I think there probably has been, but I don’t honestly know. The worrying part, though, is that neither – it would appear – do the scientists.

(Link via Michael Greenspan.)

"San Francisco Bay Bridge’s troubles: How a landmark became a debacle"

Yet one more reason why the other 49 shouldn't imitate Cali.

Many of the problems are linked to the bridge’s unusual complexity, according to a panel of engineers that looked at the project last summer for the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Their report concluded that California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) engineers had warned at the time that the bridge would be a technical nightmare. The design panel chose the configuration, the report said, because of “aesthetics” and “without a full appreciation” of its challenges.

All but one of the bridge experts on the selection panel opposed the final design, but they were outvoted by those with no bridge knowledge or experience.

Two more reasons:

"You Didn’t Even Know Just How Stupid The LA School District’s Plan For iPads Was".

"Northridge Quake 20 Years Later: 5 Lessons Not Learned".