29 March 2007

We Interupt Our Blogging Interruption

To point out the comments to this article as one more indicator of what a farce the whole "defying the UN" argument against the Iraq war was.

21 March 2007


This post immediately makes me think of this clip:

20 March 2007

We Love A Logical Conclusion

Ann Althouse points us to this article in the Daily Mail about an abandoned polar bear cub in the Berlin Zoo. It seems that when its mother ignored it, the zookeepers stepped in to keep it alive through bottle feeding and cuddling. As it is just about the cutest thing you ever did see, they also started marketing it. Animal rights activists protest that this is not the proper way to raise polar bear cubs, is in fact inhumane and the animal should be euthanized. (There is no explanation in the article as to why the activists aren't insisting that the cub be airlifted to a melting ice flow and left to starve or drown.)

This is the logical conclusion of vegetarianism/animal rights activism. After all, if we all stop eating beef and wearing leather, the fate of millions of docile, tasty herbivores is easy to predict.


From CNN, a story about a computer technician working for the State of Alaska. It seems that one day he reformatted a disk drive. He then reformatted the back-up drive. The back-up tape turned out to be unreadable. The State spent $220,700 to do one year's work in six weeks. What happened to the technician?
Former Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus said no one got into trouble for the incident.

"Everybody felt very bad about it and we all learned a lesson. There was no witch hunt," Corbus said.
Now, I'm all about compassion. Someone makes a mistake, well, it could happen to anyone. But I'm pretty sure that someone who did something similar in the private sector would have been fired. It wouldn't have been the end of his life. This is the sort of thing that makes it somewhat more likely than not that you'll get hired again, since everyone who interviews you will be thinking, "There but for the grace of G-d." The person who set up the tape backup system without making sure that it was and remained reliable should have been fired, and then rehired just so he could be fired again. Now we can see why state jobs are so sought-after. Not only can you not be fired, but your whole department only has to do six weeks worth of work over the course of a year.

18 March 2007

Sunday Brunch

This, too, shall pass.

17 March 2007

And I Love The Guy

During a meeting of the Joint Chiefs, Dubya is informed that three Brazilian soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Dubya bursts into tears, his head in his hands. The Joint Chiefs are stunned that he is so emotional over the loss of soldiers from another nation. Then Dubya raises his head, wipes away his tears, and asks "Exactly how many is a brazillion?"

From The BrothersJudd Archives: Total Compensation Increases, 2000-2004

Just wanted to stash this comment somewhere I can find it easily:

For years ended March 2001-2006, total compensation for Union workers increased 3.5%, 4.5%, 4.4%, 5.6%, 3.6% and 2.7% due to increases in the costs of benefits of 3.2%, 5.1%, 6.7%, 10.6%[!], 5.6% and 2.9%.

Over the last 8 quarters, blue collar workers, as a group, have had total compensation increases of 1.7%, 1.0%, 1.3%, .8%, .6%, .8%, .6% and .1, for year on year gains of approximately 5% and 2%.

Since 2000, the number of employees with access to various benefits has increased for almost all types of benefits. For non-public employees, those with access to either defined benefit or defined contribution plans have increased from 55% to 63%. Health insurance coverage has stayed flat, 52% to 52%, although the percentage of employees required to contribute to their health insurance has increased. Short term disability coverage has increased from 34% to 39% and employer sponsored childcare has increased from 6% of the workforce to 14%.

Finally, if you look at total compensation for blue collar workers with Level 1 skills -- the lowest level -- you see that average total compensation has gone from $8.02 an hour in July 2000 to $8.97 in July 2004, a 12% increase in 4 years. Total compensation for Level 2 workers increased by 17% over the same period. Total compensation for all workers increased by 14% during the same period. Total compensation for white collar workers with Level 15 skills (i.e., the highest skilled workers with the greatest responsibilities) went from $60.58 in July 2000 to $67.25 in July 2004, an increase of 11%.

In other words, from July 2000 through July 2004, the total compensation for the least skilled workers increased at a rate about as high, or a little higher, than the average employee, and more than the most skilled employees.

(For those who care, go to bls.gov and run series NCU0099572300001, NCU0099572300002, NCU0099570000000 and NCU0099570200015 in the National Compensantion Survey.)

Does Anyone Else Think ...

That Stranger Than Fiction was ruined by its ending?

16 March 2007

And You People Say There's No G-d.

Marchers brave nor'easter to highlight need for climate change (Kristina Tedeschi, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/16/07)
As a nor'easter arrived in the area, participants in the Interfaith Walk for Climate Rescue began their trek from Northampton to Boston to stop global warming, an eight-day journey predicted to be the largest of its kind for the environment in the U.S.
Picture credit Paul Grgurovic for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

15 March 2007

Christian Abolitionism

The Selling of Joseph: A Memorial, by Samuel Sewall, M.A. (Boston: Green and Allen, 1700)
Forasmuch as Liberty is in real
value next unto Life: None ought
to part with it themselves, or
deprive others of it, but
upon most mature

The numerousness of slaves at this day in the province, and the uneasiness of them under their slavery, hath put many upon thinking whether the foundation of it be firmly and well laid; so as to sustain the vast weight that is built upon it. It is most certain that all men, as they are the Sons of Adam, are Coheirs; and have equal right unto liberty, and all other outward comforts of life.

GOD hath given the Earth [with all its Commodities] unto the Sons of Adam, Psal 115.16. And hath made of One Blood, all Nations of Men, for to dwell on all the face of the Earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord. Forasmuch then as we are the Offspring of GOD &c. Act 17.26, 27, 29.

Now although the Title given by the last ADAM, doth infinitely better men's estates, respecting Ames' (1576-1633) book, De Conscientia, et Eius Iure, Vel Casibus (London, 1623)]. GOD and themselves; and grants them a most beneficial and inviolable lease under the broad seal of Heaven, who were before only tenants at will: Yet through the indulgence of GOD to our First Parents after the Fall, the outward estate of all and every of their children, remains the same, as to one another. So that originally, and naturally, there is no such thing as slavery.

Joseph was rightfully no more a slave to his brethren, than they were to him: and they had no more authority to sell him, than they had to slay him. And if they had nothing to do to sell him; the Ishmaelites bargaining with them, and paying down twenty pieces of silver, could not make a title. Neither could Potiphar have any better interest in him than the Ishmaelites had. Gen. 37.20, 27, 28. For he that shall in this case plead Alteration of Property, seems to have forfeited a great part of his own claim to humanity. There is no proportion between twenty pieces of silver, and LIBERTY. The commodity it self is the claimer. If Arabian gold be imported in any quantities, most are afraid to meddle with it, though they might have it at easy rates; lest if it should have been wrongfully taken from the owners, it should kindle a fire to the consumption of their whole estate.

'Tis pity there should be more caution used in buying a horse, or a little lifeless dust; than there is in purchasing men and women: Whenas they are the offspring of GOD, and their Liberty is,

. . . Auro pretiosior Omni [Isaiah 13:12]. And seeing GOD hath said, He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. Exod. 21.16. This law being of everlasting equity, wherein man stealing is ranked amongst the most atrocious of capital crimes: What louder cry can there be made of that celebrated warning,

Caveat Emptor!

And all things considered, it would conduce more to the welfare of the province, to have white servants for a term of years, than to have slaves for life. Few can endure to hear of a Negro's being made free; and indeed they can seldom use their freedom well; yet their continual aspiring after their forbidden liberty, renders them unwilling servants.

And there is such a disparity in their conditions, colour & hair, that they can never embody with us, and grow up into orderly families, to the peopling of the land: but still remain in our body politick as a kind of extravasat blood [involuntary resident].

As many Negro men as there are among us, so many empty places there are in our Train Bands, and the places taken up of men that might make husbands for our daughters. And the sons and daughters of New England would become more like Jacob, and Rachel, if this slavery were thrust quite out of doors.

Moreover it is too well known what temptations masters are under, to connive at the fornication of their slaves; lest they should be obliged to find them wives, or pay their fines. It seems to be practically pleaded that they might be lawless; 'tis thought much of, that the law should have satisfaction for their thefts, and other immoralities; by which means, Holiness to the Lord, is more rarely engraven upon this sort of servitude.

It is likewise most lamentable to think, how in taking Negros out of Africa, and selling of them here, That which GOD has joined together men do boldly rend asunder [Matt. 19:6]; Men from their Country, Husbands from their Wives, Parents from their Children.

How horrible is the uncleanness, mortality, if not murder, that the ships are guilty of that bring great crowds of these miserable men, and women. Methinks, when we are bemoaning the barbarous usage of our friends and kinsfolk in Africa: it might not be unseasonable to enquire whether we are not culpable in forcing the Africans to become slaves amongst our selves. And it may be a question whether all the benefit received by Negro slaves, will balance the accompt of cash laid out upon them; and for the redemption of our own enslaved friends out of Africa. Besides all the persons and estates that have perished there.

Obj. 1. These Blackamores are of the Posterity of Cham, and therefore are under the curse of slavery. Gen.9. 25, 26, 27.

Answ. Of all offices, one would not beg this; viz. Uncalled for, to be an executioner of the vindictive wrath of God; the extent and duration of which is to us uncertain. If this ever was a commission; how do we know but that it is long since out of date? Many have found it to their cost, that a prophetical denunciation of judgment against a person or people, would not warrant them to inflict that evil. If it would, Hazael might justify himself in all he did against his Master, and the Israelites, from 2 Kings 8. 10, 12 [killing the king, and women].

But it is possible that by cursory reading, this text may have been mistaken. For Canaan is the person cursed three times over, without the mentioning of Cham. Good Expositors suppose the curse entailed on him, and that this prophey was accomplished in the extirpation of the Canaanites, and in the servitude of the Gibeonites. Vide Pareum [Ed. Note: referencing the analysis of German theologian David Pareus (1548-1635)].

Whereas the Blackmores are not descended of Canaan, but of Cush. Psal. 68. 31. Princes shall come out of Egypt [Mizmim] Ethiopia [Cush] shall soon stretch out her hands unto God. Under which names, all Africa may be comprehended; and their Promised Conversion ought to be prayed for. Jer. 13. 23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? This shows that black men are the posterity of Cush: Who time out of mind have been distinguished by their colour. And for want of the true, Ovid assigns a fabulous cause of it.

Sanguine tum credunt in
corpora summa vocato
Æthiopum populos nigrum
traxisse colorem.

Metamorph. lib. 2.

Obj. 2. The Nigers are brought out of a pagan country, into places where the Gospel is preached.

Answ. Evil must not be done, that good may come of it. The extraordinary and comprehensive benefit accruing to the Church of God, and to Joseph personally, did not rectify his brethrens' sale of him.

Obj. 3. The Africans have Wars one with another: Our Ships bring lawful Captives taken in those Wars.

Answ. For ought is known, their wars are much such as were between Jacob's sons and their brother Joseph. If they be between town and town; provincial, or national: Every war is upon one side unjust. An unlawful war can't make lawful captives. And by receiving, we are in danger to promote, and partake in their barbarous cruelties. I am sure, if some Gentlemen should go down to the Brewsters to take the air, and fish: And a stronger party from Hull should surprise them, and sell them for slaves to a ship outward bound: they would think themselves unjustly dealt with; both by sellers and buyers.

And yet 'tis to be feared, we have no other kind of title to our Nigers. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matt. 7.12.

Obj. 4. Abraham had servants bought with his money, and born in his house.

Answ. Until the circumstances of Abraham's purchase be recorded, no argument can be drawn from it. In the mean time, Charity obliges us to conclude, that he knew it was lawful and good.

It is observable that the Israelites were strictly forbidden the buying, or selling one another for slaves. Levit. 25. 39, 46. Jer. 34. 8 . . . 22. And GOD gaged His Blessing in lieu of any loss they might conceipt they suffered thereby. Deut. 15. 18.

And since the partition wall is broken down, inordinate self love should likewise be demolished. GOD expects that Christians should be of a more ingenuous and benign frame of spirit. Christians should carry it to all the world, as the Israelites were to carry it one towards another. And for men obstinately to persist in holding their neighbours and brethren under the rigor of perpetual bondage, seems to be no proper way of gaining assurance that God has given them spiritual freedom. Our blessed Saviour has altered the measures of the ancient love-song, and set it to a most excellent new tune, which all ought to be ambitious of Learning. Matt. 5. 43, 44. John 13.34. These Ethiopians, as black as they are; seeing they are the sons and daughters of the First Adam, the brethren and sisters of the Last ADAM, and the Offspring of GOD; they ought to be treated with a respect agreeable.

Servitus perfecta voluntaria, inter Christianum & Christianum, ex parte servi patientis sæpe est licita quia est necessaria: sed ex parte domini agentis, & procurando & exercendo, vix potest esse licita: quia non convenit regulæ illi generali: Quæcunque volueritis ut faciant vobis homines, ita & vos facite eis. Matt. 7.12.

Perfecta servitus pænæ, non potest jure locum habere, nisi ex delicto gravi quod ultimum supplicium aliquo modo meretur: quia libertas ex naturali æstimatione proximo accedit ad vitam ipsam, & eidem a multis præferri solet.*

Ames. Cas. Consc. Lib. 5.
Cap. 23.Thes. 2, 3.
BOSTON of the Massachusets;
Printed by Bartholomew
Green, and John Allen,
June, 24th, 1700.

14 March 2007

In Which I Pick Up The Gauntlet

thrown down by Duck in this post. I've decided to blog my response here rather than in his comments, because I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. I've already written about the theory of Inevitable Progress and how invidious it is. Nevertheless, we can see a clear trend of technology and material wealth increasing over time. So much of the human experience has changed and improved that we are tempted to assume that humanity itself has changed fundamentally. As in all things, some of us always succumb to temptation.

And yet it is perfectly clear that we are no smarter now than humans have been throughout recorded history. Certainly we know more. We've had more time to make discoveries. We have more human experience to draw on. But given the same information, the same technology and the same upbringing, there's no basis to say that contemporary humans would do any better than humans from a hundred years ago or a thousand years ago.

This is a point that Ms Grabar hints at and which I think it is fair to say that atheists are more likely to ignore than the religious, who live more closely with the past. It is also a point that is fundamental to conservatism: that human nature has no history. When it comes to a subject that is entirely cerebral, theology for example, the present has nothing new to say to the past. All these arguments trotted out to put faith in its place may be tricked out with computerized bells and telescopic whistles, but when reduced to their essence, these questions have been around for millenia.

Hot rods and cute blonds, for example, may be new (or maybe not so new) but the ancients had a lot to say about middle-aged ennui

So Easy And Fun It's Probably A Sin

Reading Ross Douthat's comment on Andrew Sullivan and Dinesh D'Souza, I was struck by this quote from Sullivan: It deeply enrages the liberals whom conservatives now exist to enrage.

It's not that we live to enrage the left, it's just that it is so darn easy and so darn fun. Here are a couple of comments that enrage the left:
  • George Bush is a good president.

  • The world is not in imminent danger of ending.

  • The Iraq war has been too cheap and easy to really impress our enemies.

  • Eventually, we're going to have to invade Iran and Syria if their governments don't collapse of their own weight.

  • There's nothing we can do about the fact that the Islamists hate us

  • Overall, Christianity has been a force for good in the world.

It's really asking a lot to ask us to refrain from such good clean fun.

Free Legal Advice

Always sign legal documents in blue ink.

Well, That's Going To Leave A Bruise

Traditional values or, depending on which side you're on, homophobia win one in France of all places: French High Court Rejects Gay Marriage
France's highest court Tuesday rejected as unlawful the first marriage by a gay couple in France, annulling the union of the two men.

Stephane Charpin and Bertrand Charpentier were married in a civil ceremony on June 5, 2004, in Begles, a town in the southwest Bordeaux region. The government immediately said the union was outside the law, and a series of court decisions unfavorable to the couple followed.

In the latest decision, the court ruled that "under French law, marriage is a union between a man and a woman," backing a 2005 decision by an appeals court in Bordeaux.
My only hope of setting the world back up on its feet is if the European Union forces France to recognize homosexual marriages.

On the other hand, this will make a nice example the next time someone argues that we should bring ourselves into compliance with foreign law.

12 March 2007


Curt Schilling's blog.

Funny Nixon

I assume that everyone reads James Likek's Daily Bleat, but I particularly wanted to make sure that no one skipped today's Bleat and missed the audio of Richard Nixon on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar. Listening to Richard Nixon get applause on the Tonight Show for criticism of President Kennedy is likely the most surreal thing I'll do today.

11 March 2007

Have These People Ever Visited A Democracy?

John Derbyshire approvingly quotes some other Brit as saying, about Iraqi democracy, that:
The euphoria of polling day, [Saleh al-Mutlaq, a secular Sunni politician] points out, eclipsed the fact that the elections were scarcely the informed, rational contest of policies that is supposed to characterise a democracy. Inexperienced in the ways of multiparty politics after decades of totalitarianism, millions of Iraqis voted for the Sunni and Shia religious parties simply because they thought they would go to hell if they didn't. "My own brother told me that the imam in his local mosque told him to vote for the Twaffaq [a Sunni religious party] if he wanted to join Mohammed in the afterlife," said Mr Mutlaq. "And it was the same with the Shias. Their hands would shake with fear if they didn't mark the box for their religious parties."

Political choices were also made in the expectation of jobs for the boys
, a legacy of the nepotism that was a hallmark of Saddam's Ba'ath party era. Mithal al-Alusi, another secular Sunni, was convinced he was a hot ticket for prime minister when nearly 100,000 people joined his tiny, underfunded party. When they then scraped just one parliamentary seat, he realised people had only joined up in the belief that a party membership card might come in handy one day. "We had delegations of sheikhs coming up to lend us their support, but they probably went to every other party as well," he said, stirring coffee in his villa in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. "They thought they would get some sort of benefits if we got into power. That's the old way, the Ba'ath Party way, and now the Islamists are doing the same."
The glory of democracy is not that it promotes (or creates out of wholecloth) a disinterested, rational, informed electorate. The next disinterested, rational, informed electorate will be the first. Rather, democracy over time gains legitimacy as a means for sublimating ethnic or religious or class warfare. Jockeying for votes and position replaces open warfare, slavery and dictatorship. Anyone who's even heard of the NEA, Al Sharpton, James Michael Curly or AFSCME and still thinks that Iraqi democracy is differentiated from American democracy by sectarianism or jobs for the boys is simply delusional.

Sunday Brunch

Slate has posted an article by Jacob Weisberg about The Four Unspeakable Truths that presidential candidates won't say about Iraq. Those truths are:
  • The war was a mistake;

  • Our soldiers are victims;

  • Lives lost in Iraq have been wasted; and

  • We are losing or have already lost.

Now, some of you are undoubtedly confused. I hear you saying, "David, Jacob Weisberg is a fearless truthteller, but I'm confused. Isn't everyone and his brother shouting these 'truths' as loudly as they can? And, for truths, aren't they surprisingly false?" Indeed, you are right. I don't write for an online magazine, but it seems to me that the real unspeakable truths are:
  • The war was the right thing to do both ex ante and ex post
  • In fact, going to war turns out to have been a better idea after the fact than we could have known before hand. After all, we thought we were attacking a nation with stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, when we were really attacking a run-of-the-mill Arab army with weapons systems degraded by sanctions. Apparently, Slate would think the war a much better idea if we had lost 10,000 troops to poison gas during the invasion.
  • Our soldiers are doing what they signed up to do;
  • I wouldn't try telling the troops that they're victims. Even at this late date, with the entire mainstream media constantly repeating Weisberg's unspeakable truths, soldiers are volunteering for their 3rd or 4th tours in Iraq. A truly unspeakable truth is that American soldiers, by and large, like doing what they volunteered and trained to do. During the 1970s, when the Army in Germany was at its lowest point, with rampant drug use, malingering, insubordination and desertion, everyone perked right up for the annual week or two of maneuvers the Army could afford.
  • Lives lost in Iraq have bought us important gains;
  • This truth mostly overlaps with the next, although I'm not conceding that any life spent in a losing cost is wasted. Some fights are worth fighting even if we lose. But here, the fact of our taking casualties alone accomplishes an important national purpose: it proves that we are willing to take casualties. Obviously, the Democrats and the left are doing their best to disprove this fact, but nevertheless we have stayed in Iraq for almost four years while regularly losing troops to bombs. A rational foe will have to decide whether defying us is worth a long war and is bound to note, regardless of what else is true, that Saddam was dethroned, humiliated and then executed.
  • We've already won the war.
  • Saddam is gone, a new government is in place, the sanctions are gone, Al Qaeda is distracted and concentrating on the middle east and we've given our enemies food for thought by carrying through, not giving up (yet) and doing all this at an insignificant monetary cost.

What other truths do we not dare speak about the war?

10 March 2007

The Warrior Princesses

Via Dean Barnett, a photo-essay featuring 18-20 year old women in the Israeli Defense Force.

08 March 2007

Read In Unison

I'm tempted by Brit's suggestion of Bryan Appleyard's How To Live Forever. It seems to touch on our favorite issues, but with a different spin -- both of which are important. Also, the chance to drag the author along for the ride doesn't come along every day.

What do you all think?

05 March 2007

Making The Tough Choices (Via The Corner)

Hillary Clinton in Selma:
How can we say everything is fine when we have an energy policy whose [sic] prices are too high, who [sic] make us dependent on foreign governments that do not wish us well, and when we face the real threat of climate change, which is tinkering [sic] with God's creation?

If We Weren't Distracted By Iraq...

Alaska Moose Brings Down Helicopter (AP, 3/5/07)
A helicopter is not necessarily a match for an angry moose. Instead of lying down after being shot with a tranquilizer dart, a moose charged a hovering helicopter used by a wildlife biologist, damaging the aircraft's tail rotor and forcing it to the ground.
...We would have long since ended the moose threat.

On Average

Let's say you had a time machine that would take you to some random point during the last 40 million years? How should you dress? On average, this photo represents a warm and balmy day on during the current ice age, which, over the last 40 million years, has seen long periods of glaciation sporadically broken by short warming periods. Now, are people better off with the temperatures we know of from recorded history, or would it be better if world climate was simply stuck at its average point? The question answers itself: there is a reason that recorded history coincides with warm weather. But if we are the beneficiaries of past warming, why do we assume that the next warming period will be catastrophically bad?

[Note: This post has been changed slightly to conform to the facts.]

The Sears Roebuck Is Here

Introducing the Craftsman CompuCarve Compact Woodworking Machine, Computer-Controlled. As the catalog explains, this is a "Compact, computer-controlled, 3-dimensional woodworking machine with an easy-to-use interface. It allows a novice to make a complete project without a shop full of tools.The unique configuration allows it to perform many other woodworking functions, including ripping, cross cutting, mitering, contouring, jointing and routing."

Lives there a man so dead to beauty as to be surprised that the CompuCarve is out of stock.

Oh, That's All Right Then

Drudge has posted links to two articles indicating that perhaps the science of anthropogenic global warming is not settled. First, a French scientist has recanted:
Claude Allegre, one of France's leading socialists and among her most celebrated scientists, was among the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of global warming....

In the 1980s and early 1990s, when concern about global warming was in its infancy, little was known about the mechanics of how it could occur, or the consequences that could befall us. Since then, governments throughout the western world and bodies such as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have commissioned billions of dollars worth of research by thousands of scientists. With a wealth of data now in, Dr. Allegre has recanted his views. To his surprise, the many climate models and studies failed dismally in establishing a man-made cause of catastrophic global warming. Meanwhile, increasing evidence indicates that most of the warming comes of natural phenomena. Dr. Allegre now sees global warming as over-hyped and an environmental concern of second rank.

His break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in l'Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro's retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. "The cause of this climate change is unknown," he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the "science is settled."
Second, English tv is going to show a documentary entitled The Great Global Warming Swindle, which argues that "global warming could be caused by increased solar activity such as a massive eruption" and that there is little historical correlation between average global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels.

None of these skeptics ("deniers" in the politically correct parlance of the environmental left) take issue with the idea that the Earth has gotten warmer recently and might continue to warm. Nothing betrays the essentially political nature of the global warming hysterics that this; once it is shown that global warming is not our "fault" no one cares. What possible difference could that make if global warming was really a civilization-ending threat? That earthquakes and hurricanes aren't our fault doesn't stop us from preparing for them.

The best preparation for global warming is the best answer for almost all the problems that beset mankind: expand the global middle class as fast as we can. As environmentalism and its ugly stepchild, the global warming hysteria, are fundamentally anti-wealth, anti-bourgeios and anti-human, they are committed to preventing us from taking the steps we need to ensure a growing global middle class.

The High Cost Of Global Warming Hysteria

Earlier date for springing forward may lead to ‘mini Y2K’ (Rowena Vergara, Rockford Register Star, 3/3/07)
It’s been compared to a “mini Y2K” — some electronic devices will be confused by the new date for daylight-saving time.

Although it’s more of a nuisance than a catastrophe in the making, older computers, PDAs and DVRs may not automatically update their times when daylight-saving comes three weeks early this year — on March 11.

The date change was established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was passed to get Americans to cut energy consumption. The thinking is that less energy will be used toward the end of the day if the sun’s out later.
My wife just got a new Palm TX to replace her old T3. Friday, she noticed something odd: her appointments from March 13 through April 6 were all showing up on her desktop calendar one hour early. Her PDA knows about the change, her desktop software doesn't, and it thinks it's adjusting the appointment time across time zones. The only fix seems to be manual.

04 March 2007

The Net: Inclusive Or Atomizing?

Gaywheels.com -- The Gay-Friendly Automotive Resource

Sunday Brunch


For a while now I've been scoffing at our communications revolution by repeating the observation that nothing that's happened recently matches the opening of the Atlantic cable, when getting an answer from London to a question sent from New York went from two weeks to one hour. Now, I'm starting to wonder whether computers and communications (two categories quickly becoming one) are working a qualitative change on human society. One possible effect is that technology is making lawyers of us all. Law schools famously teach students to "think like lawyers," which means the ability to recognize issues in a set of facts and to know where to look for the answers. In an ever more complex world, where the scope of expertise is becoming constantly deeper but constantly narrower, power belongs to those who can tease relevant data out of chaos.

Who does this empower? Young, affluent English speaking white men, mostly. Wikipedia already worries about this bias (they think it's a bad thing). Google, on the other hand, is a tool explicitly meant to reinforce the dominant hierarchy. So, is this a revolution or a counter-revolution? Will technology change the human condition? Is cheap access to the filtered sum of human knowledge a good thing? What talents does such a society reward?

03 March 2007

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Britain

Part of the mental machinations that led to the post below were set in motion by my surprise, in reading Think of England and viewing this clip, that the English think that there is such a place as "Britain." Americans, in my experience, don't. We don't think of Wales at all and when we think of Scotland, we either think of men in skirts with blue faces eating shortbread and drinking whiskey or, if we are a particular kind of descendant of the Scots, we think of brave Celts held in bondage by the Sassenachs.

For Those Keeping Score At Home

There is no...

United Kingdom

My point here is not to yank OJ's chain -- or, at least, not only to yank OJ's chain -- but to point out the hole at the center of his theory that any people who think of themselves as a people is a people. There is no political centrifugal force tearing nations apart into their constituent elements. Nor should we simply concede power to the tribalism that does threaten the nation state. Nations have capabilities that tribes don't have. Certainly, some of those capabilities can be used for evil rather than for good. But they can also be used for good and, when used in conjunction with freedom, can lift men out of their natural lives (nasty, brutal and short) in ways that tribalism simply cannot.

Now We Go Ahunting

As a secret blog, Instapundit is our natural enemy and we wouldn't ordinarily give it even more traffic, but today Instapundit points to a fascinating story in the Economist about why so much medical research is rot. The lead in particularly well-done:
PEOPLE born under the astrological sign of Leo are 15% more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastric bleeding than those born under the other 11 signs. Sagittarians are 38% more likely than others to land up there because of a broken arm. Those are the conclusions that many medical researchers would be forced to make from a set of data presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Peter Austin of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto. At least, they would be forced to draw them if they applied the lax statistical methods of their own work to the records of hospital admissions in Ontario, Canada, used by Dr Austin.
It turns out that, when seeking more than one effect from a database of medical records, scientists forget to adjust their calculations and find causal connections where there aren't any.

The Economist points out that this means we should be suspicious of studies based on databases. But it doesn't point out that we need to be even more skeptical of so-called meta-studies that gather together many studies and tries to tease new relationships out of the agglomerated data. Meta-studies are almost entirely a means of finding a politically correct result. It wouldn't be at all surprising if the designers were also just doing their math wrong.

01 March 2007

The Lake Woebegon Track & Field Team

It's hard to believe that Orrin let this pass without comment:
"This is the essence of equal opportunity. Every child, every person ought to get a head start," said Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who introduced the bill with Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga.


Economist.com has published an entirely incoherent article under the title, "We were there for America: But how long will America be there for Europe?" A better title might be "We Hate America Because They're Bloody, Incompetent, Torturing Warmongers, And They Might Not Even Be There When We Need Them."

Walking quietly pass casual mentions of the "disasters" in Iraq and Afghanistan, the coming humiliating losses in those wars and how our torture regime besmirches eastern Europe, the argument seems to be that eastern Europe likes America more than western Europe. As a result of western Europe's dislike, however, America (we're apparently also geographically ignorant) will not come to the aid of eastern Europe when its abandoned by western Europe.

The heart of the argument comes at the end:
Yet, if the Atlantic bonds do weaken, the ex-captive nations will suffer the most. It was America that got them into NATO, and it is America that looks out for them now, much more so than nearer but less friendly countries such as Germany. Any suggestion that the east Europeans can rely on the European Union to stick up for them against Russian bullying is, on current form, laughable.

New radar gear and rocket interceptors planned for the Czech Republic and (probably) Poland will probably not do much to change this, You do not strengthen an alliance by pressing on your allies weapons that their public does not want. Helmut Schmidt, Germany's chancellor 20 years ago, thought that having Cruise and Pershing missiles in western Europe would make America’s nuclear guarantee more credible. Instead, it cast America as the warmonger in the minds of the muddle-headed, and stoked peacenikery throughout Europe.

Barring an unlikely success in Afghanistan or Iraq, the strains on the Atlantic alliance will grow in the years ahead. The rivets have long been popping. Now great girders, such as Italy, are twisting and buckling. It was public anti-Americanism that brought down Romano Prodi’s government last week. Old Kremlin hands who remember how hard they once tried to destroy NATO must have trouble believing that the job is being done so well for them now by the alliance’s own leaders.
Of course, deploying the Cruise and Pershing missiles in the face of demonstrations by the idiot European masses was instrumental in bringing down the USSR. And now that there is no USSR, it's not entirely clear what NATO is guarding against. What crisis would follow today from the US and the EU disbanding NATO that is in any comparable to continental communist hegemony? Exactly why should we care if the EU is subject to Russian (non-military) bullying?

If any commentors can come up with an explanation of this essay that renders it coherent, I would be appreciative. But it seems to me that its incoherence follows from the incoherence at the heart of the European Union experiment. Is Europe one, or is it not? The author here switches paragraph by paragraph -- sometimes line by line -- between the two alternatives. Part of Europe likes America. Part of Europe hates America. America likes part pro-America Europe more than it likes the other part and more than the anti-America Europe likes the pro-America Europe. Because of the anti-American part, America will turn its back on Europe as a whole or Europe, following anti-America Europe, will reject America. As a result, pro-America Europe will suffer more than anti-America Europe.

See what I mean: incoherent.