Home Sweet Moon?

Oct 21 2014 @ 7:34am

Saskia Vermeylen considers what it might take to own a lunar homestead:

If you just simply occupy a place and no one else can access or use it, aren’t you the de facto owner? Lawyers call this corporate possession (corpus possidendi) and it represents another reason why title deeds cannot be a legal proof of lunar ownership – no one is physically there. In order to possess something, both mind and body need to be involved. Intention alone is not sufficient; possession also requires a physical act.

The difficulty of physically establishing an act of possession on the moon should protect it from private development, but it seems technology is once again outsmarting the law. Back in the late 1990s commercial firm SpaceDev intended to land robotic prospectors on an asteroid to conduct experiments and claim it as private property. The project eventually ran out of funds and was shelved, but advocates of such “telepossession” point to cases of salvage companies claiming undersea wrecks as property after exploring them with robots. …

I get the uncomfortable feeling of a déjà vu. Was it not Locke’s property theory that justified possession over nature and vacant land and eventually led to the colonization of the Americas?

The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 20 2014 @ 9:15pm

A new twist on the metaphor of what it sometimes feels like to blog every day:

Meanwhile, a reality check on whether Muslim apostates can really live free lives across the world. It’s in the form of the hashtag #AnApostatesExperience. I found it a sobering reminder of the trouble with Islam today. You may too. A sampler:

For some unaccountable reason, these victims of brutal intolerance want to get Reza Aslan’s attention. Maybe Ben Affleck could chime in about the racism of these people as well.

Today, we reported tentative good news from the ongoing victims of Islamist terror and unspeakable brutality in Kobani against ISIS and in Nigeria against Boko Haram. And some other tentatively good news about Ebola in the US. Plus: gains in the fight for legal cannabis in DC and now in Mexico. And more good news: inflation is clearly whipped – not that any of those predicting a second Weimar a few years ago will ever apologize or recant.

Now for the bad news: I found my stomach lurching when hearing of a debate within the Obama administration on whether to ban torture and abuse anywhere under US control in the world. Yes: a debate. Presidents come and go. The CIA endures – and does whatever the fuck it wants. Always in secret and with total impunity.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 22 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here. A final email for the day:

Every day your readers email you about the content of your posts, but today I just want to thank you and the Dish team for your consistency. I started reading the blog back in 2006, recommended to me by a political science teacher at a haughty East Coast university. Since then I’ve studied and taught at six universities in five countries. No matter where I went or what I was going through, your posts and words comforted and challenged me. Whether I am in the arcane confines of a British university master’s program or freelancing articles in a dusty desert suburb of Los Angeles, your blog acts as a tether to a constantly changing conversation. I just sent away my passport in preparation for another move and felt the urge to write these words. Thanks again.

See you in the morning.

The Limits Of Meritocracy

Oct 20 2014 @ 8:41pm

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Matt O’Brien discusses a new paper showing how even “poor kids who do everything right don’t do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong”:

You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s annual conference, which is underway. Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

What’s going on?

Read On

Email Of The Day

Oct 20 2014 @ 8:21pm

A reader writes:

I choose to believe that Obama will not adopt Bush administration interpretation of torture treaty obligations, will not adopt a West African travel ban, and will not go deep into Syrian quagmire.

Maybe “hope” is a better word.

I’m hoping too. And doing what little I can to help make it so.

Ronald Bailey digs through recent research:

In a September study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, [Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld] uses time series data from the How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey (HCMST) to probe the longevity and breakup rates of America’s marriages. The HCMST, which began in 2009, is a nationally representative survey of 3,009 couples, of which 471 are same-sex. Rosenfeld’s paper reports the breakup rate of the couples surveyed annually through 2012.

What he discovered:

Read On

The State Of The Race In Texas

Oct 20 2014 @ 7:13pm

One of our midterm correspondents from the in-tray directs our attention to a “very important underreported story” in the Lone Star State:

It’s not getting the attention it deserves here because of the sad state of both the news media and the Texas Democratic Party. You are probably aware that Texas is voting on all of its statewide offices in next month’s general election because of the Greg Abbott-Wendy Davis match-up for governor. That is the only statewide election that has received any significant press coverage. This is likely due to Rick Perry’s retirement and Abbott and Davis becoming national celebrities in the last couple of years because of Abbott’s lawsuits against the Obama administration and Davis’s filibuster of HB-2 (the abortion law). Sadly, the other campaigns are receiving almost no press coverage, which will probably result in another Republican sweep of all statewide offices. This disinterest is probably what helped the Republican Party nominate three people for statewide offices who have no business being on the ballot.

The most egregious of these candidates is Ken Paxton, the Republican nominee for attorney general.

Read On

Black Holes Under A Microscope

Oct 20 2014 @ 6:39pm

Ron Cowen relays the news that scientists “have come closer than ever before to creating a laboratory-scale imitation of a black hole.” Why it’s important:

The black hole analogue, reported in Nature Physics, was created by trapping sound waves using an ultra-cold fluid. Such objects could one day help resolve the so-called black hole ‘information paradox’ – the question of whether information that falls into a black hole disappears forever.

Read On

Vengeance Of The Nerds, Ctd

Oct 20 2014 @ 6:14pm

A few readers provide key counterpoints to the controversy:

Your latest post presents only one side of a very complex, many-sided argument and unfortunately perpetuates the narrative that #GamerGate is mostly a reactionary, misogynistic movement. Please understand that the vast majority of GamerGate is not misogynist. The vast majority of GamerGate does not think death threats are trivial. GamerGate is a movement that has embraced women, gays, trans-gender people of all political stripes and nationalities, worldwide.

GamerGate is many things, but it is largely a reaction against the huge amount of abuse that gamers have suffered over the years, culminating in a coordinated campaign by a dozen or so articles that appeared on numerous gaming news sites nearly simultaneously on August 28-29, proclaiming that gamers were dead, spear-headed by a piece on Gamasutra by Leigh Alexander, who called gamers:

Read On

Reacting to news that “the Obama administration is about to announce $100 million worth of apprenticeship grants – and wants to spend another $6 billion over the next four years,” Tamar Jacoby considers whether German-style apprenticeships would work in the US:

The first thing you notice about German apprenticeships: The employer and the employee still respect practical work. German firms don’t view dual training as something for struggling students or at-risk youth. “This has nothing to do with corporate social responsibility,” an HR manager at Deutsche Bank told the group I was with, organized by an offshoot of the Goethe Institute. “I do this because I need talent.” So too at Bosch. …

The second thing you notice:

Read On

Airbnb

Airbnb is having some troubles in New York:

While it’s technically illegal for New York City residents to rent their entire place for fewer than 30 days at a time — room-shares and extended sublets are allowed — the city and attorney general’s office have insisted they’re not interested in small-time Airbnb-ers, but those using the share economy to become mini hospitality moguls. Their first targets: brothers Hamid Kermanshah and Abdolmajid Kermanshah, who own and operate a four-story building on Fifth Avenue and a ten-story building on West 31st Street.

Alison Griswold has more:

Airbnb, according to the AG’s [Attorney General's] analysis of 497,322 transactions for stays between January 2010 and June 2014, is largely illegal, hugely profitable, and quickly consuming lower Manhattan. Rather than helping the average New Yorker make ends meet, much of Airbnb in New York City is making money for a small number of commercial hosts running large, multimillion-dollar operations.

J.J.C. weighs the pros and cons of the service:

Read On