Smart Links 21 December 2012

Editor's note -- if the world does end according to the Mayan calendar you may be able to re-register to from the new Earth-like plant recently discovered just 12 light years away.

Commentary on the discovery of an earth-like planet in our galactic neighbourhood, elected for opinion not colour, did the US economy fall into recession in November, Japan’s latest pop craze, and the niqab on the witness stand.


Only 12 light years away and cheap real estate to boot.

Science Now -- Another Earth Just 12 Light-Years Away?
Astronomers have discovered what may be five planets orbiting Tau Ceti, the closest single star beyond our solar system whose temperature and luminosity nearly match the sun's.


Carl Sagan -- Mathematical Proof of Advanced Civilizations? (Drake equation)
How many advanced civilizations capable of radio astronomy where there, are there, could there someday be in the Milky way galaxy? Dr. Carl Sagan ventures a guess using the Drake equation.

Bertrand Russell -- Bertrand Russell - Why I'm Not a Christian

Christopher Hitchens – God Is Not Great

The colour black in America.

Commentary Magazine – Racism at the Times
There is a New York Times op-ed this morning that is somewhere beyond appalling.


New York Times -- The Puzzle of Black Republicans
WHEN Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina announced on Monday that she would name Representative Tim Scott to the Senate, it seemed like another milestone for African-Americans.

Already in recession? -- Albert Edwards: “Something Bad Happened In November"
Certainly if the US has already slipped into recession, this would help explain why our preferred measure of whole economy profits declined, albeit marginally, in Q3.

Japanese Spice Girls.

JapanTimes -- Tokyo Girls' Style tries to balance fame, homework
The members of Tokyo Girls' Style have a lot to juggle in the next couple of months.

Ruling on the niqab in court.

National Post -- Court to decide if Muslim woman can wear niqab on the stand in assault case
The Supreme Court of Canada rules this morning in a landmark case that pits religious freedom against an accused person’s right to a fair trial.


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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.