Friday, September 16, 2005

Clean Energy, Virtually Unlimited: Anybody Want Some?

In his latest Scripps-Howard column, the acclaimed and vilified science writer Michael Fumento asks and answers the following question:

Why would an energy-craving nation (the U.S.) that also demands a pristine environment put the kibosh on a limitless form of power (nuclear energy) that produces no air pollution and no emissions environmentalists claim cause global warming?

Fumento's answer, and the correct one, is that the people of the United States have a superstitious fear of nuclear energy that is based on two incidents, neither of which was even a tiny fraction as damaging as the American media have potrayed them as being: Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. These two incidents, both so widely publicized that they are known worldwide simply by their place names, have put a great fear of nuclear energy into the American mind, and Fumento's article explains exactly how little damage these two accidents did to the environment and how much damage they did to the use of nuclear power in the United States, the world's largest energy user.

Ironically, these two accidents did far more damage to the environment by turning the United States away from nuclear power and toward an increased use of fossil fuels in the supply of electrical energy.

The Political Compass

I'm not at home (again, sadly), so I don't have access to my numerical score, but memory sez I came in a few ticks to the east and very close to the horizontal line.

It's called "The Political Compass," and seeks to blow past left and right partisanship, to seek light instead of heat. Seems relevant to the proceedings lately hereabouts.

Take the test first, then read what it's all about. Report your score if the spirit moves you. Labels suck, and there's more to Stalin and Gandhi than Fox News vs. CNN.

A Puckish Review Of Ice Escapades

A Messier retirement has reminded us of that sport again. You know, the one populated by all those whale-a-fellow-in-a-helmet guys. After extensive research, I have an update.

Hockey last year played hookey. The players had grievances and they were not going to let the owners skate. The owners held the keys and they would not let the players skate. At first, they tried to keep the season on ice until they could ice a deal but the icy atmosphere between the two sides prevailed. So with eyes open, they closed their ice.

Now they say all is well. But I think that they crossed my red line, so I just might take a pass.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Worst Anarchist in the World

Tlaloc (whoever he may be in real life) is the most prolific commenter at this website. In the Bizarro world, Reform Club is run by him and James Elliott.

What has to be up for discussion is the question of what is an anarchist? Tlaloc has proclaimed himself to be one, but has consistently favored government solutions over free and independent human action in case after case after case.

I guess the question I have to ask is one immortalized by the great Robert P. George:

"What's wrong with acts of capitalism between consenting adults?"

Especially as far as it concerns an anarchist. Even if the state withers away or is blown away by revolution and not replaced, one imagines people will still buy and sell and will do so very freely with no regulating leviathan around.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Acton Institute v. Christianity Today on Climate Change

Actually, it's Jordan Ballor v. Andy Crouch, but they serve as proxies for their respective employers. I think this post is very interesting and shows a healthy debate among what we might term center-right Christians on global warming.

P.S. Saw part of a really wretched Robert Altman film predicting a frozen future. Yes, remember we used to worry about global cooling back in the day. Paul Newman starred in this turkey titled Quintet.

Who Shot (Down) J. R. (John Roberts)?

Nobody yet. Let us pray.

Stand-Up Oliver Stone

Wife and kids are winging their way to Chicago. I've got tons of stuff to do, but end up blissing out before the tube.

It's a commercial break, so I can stop and tell you I'm watching Wall Street. Lemme tell you something. That movie stands up quite nicely today. Highly enjoyable. Superb performances by the Sheens and Michael Douglas.

The film has a line that is still one of my all time favorites. Papa and Son Sheen are arguing. Papa let's loose with, "At least I never judged a man, BY THE SIZE OF HIS WALLET!" Great line. Well spoken by the sincere populist, even though he's TADA -- ACTING!

Any Given Sunday wasn't half bad either.

What's the point? Oliver Stone doesn't always suck. That's what.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Mildly amusing post on the John Roberts confirmation hearing over at some low-volume, no-name blog. What was it called again? Oh, yeah: Gathering Goat Eggs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Great News from Germany

Germany has not been known for great technological advances in recent decades, so the following Reuters report is a very hopeful sign that the nation has overcome its doldrums:

A German brewer has concocted what he says is the world's strongest beer, a potent drink with an alcohol content of 25.4 percent that is served in a shot glass.

"Everyone who has tried it is enthusiastic. It tastes like a quirky mixture of beer and sherry," said Bavarian brewer Harald Schneider.

Schneider, who lives in southern Germany where beer is a tradition, said his beer fermented for 12 weeks for an alcohol content twice that of Germany's other strongest beers.

"People will only be able to drink two or three glasses, otherwise they'll drop like flies," he said.

Schneider expects the holders of the world's strongest beer, the Boston Beer Company, to put up a fight.

"I'm pretty sure the Americans have something up their sleeve."

I'm certain he's right. Sad to say, Reuters droppped the ball in failing to answer the most important question—"Where can Mr. S. T. Karnick purchase some of this miraculous elixir?"—but we cannot fault them for concentrating on the big picture. This is the kind of international economic competition that makes the world a much better place. To Herr Schneider and his crack team, we say, Sehr gut!

Are FT Reporters Well-Oiled?

I declare, I don't know what the Financial Times will come up with next.

Search for Oil Stepped Up as Prices Rise

I am all astonishment. Whoever would have thought that if petroleum prices rose, oil producers would locate, pump, and refine more oil? I suppose next they'll be spinning some fairy-story about consumers buying less gasoline when prices rise, or gas prices falling when consumers reduce their demand. How gullible do they think we are?

Whose History?

The current prevailing meme among black Americans is that slavery in America was far worse than its African equivalent---the black slaves of sub-Saharan Africa were often captives from other tribes but were often presented with the opportunity of freedom and full integration with the host society.

This in contradistinction to American "chattel" slavery, where the slave and his (more importantly her) descendants were property from cradle to grave, from generation to generation in perpetuity.

There's not much on the internet to dispute this view, but this month's Smithsonian Magazine reports, chapter and verse, on chattel slavery in Africa, today, in 2005. Perhaps Africa has been watching reruns of Roots, but it stands more to reason that chattel slavery was not exactly a New World invention.

I don't think there are many in this country who are interested in the truth about America's and humanity's history of slavery---it is repugnant, and to universalize it rings of excuse-making.

Still, if you google "chattel" and "America," you'll get a sense of how deep this perception runs, that the Black Experience in America was heinously unique.

Will go just a bit further with me? Google "Willie Lynch."

It's no small secret among black Americans that in 1712, a white slaveowner gave a speech to other slaveowners on how to control their slaves, the Black Man, and Lynch's principles are used even today to (and this is a key idiomatic term here) "divide and conquer."

The tragedy is that "Willie Lynch" is a hoax, and so is his "speech." But a majority, I think, of Black America really has no way of knowing that. His "words" ring true enough today that it really makes no difference.

I write this as an FYI for white Americans who are puzzled by the recent breakdown of American society in New Orleans. In that heart of the deepest South, unknown to most of us Weekly Standard, Fox News and NR readers, and even NYT and Daily Kos contributors, American society as we understand it has never existed.

I will add briefly that although I think all's fair in love, war and politics, the Democratic Party's demagoguery of the race issue has done far more damage to our republic than a bit of partisan fun and games. It is not good that our black citizens believe that half their nation, the Republican half and in today's case their president, wants them dead or at least wouldn't mind seeing their corpses floating out into the Gulf of Mexico.

And to my Republican friends, keep foremost in your minds that when the GOP accepted the Dixiecrats, Nixon's Southern Strategy, and all the white votes that came with them, we also took on Willie Lynch's karma, even if that sonofabitch never even existed.

As Mr. Homnick notes in verse below, a society needs its history. Black History is American History, but many of us who aren't black are unaware of how egregiously it's been hijacked. This is just a sampler.

Monday, September 12, 2005

She Has Gone Among the Angels

The story of Susan Torres blanketed the local DC media for most of the summer. On May 7 of this year Mrs. Torres, aged 26, suffered a stroke caused by malignant melanoma and was pronounced brain dead. At that time, she was 17 weeks pregnant. There was absolutely no hope that Mrs. Torres would recover, but her family decided to continue life support in the hope that she could be kept alive long enough to safely deliver her unborn daughter. That daughter, named Susan Anne Catherine, was delivered on August 2nd, and Mrs. Torres died a day later after being removed from life support. Susan Anne Catherine was still more than two months premature, weighed less than two pounds, and although as healthy as could be expected under the circumstances, was still in a precarious state.

Insurance for the Torres family didn't begin to cover Mrs. Torres's hospital bill, never mind the costs of neo-natal intensive care once Susan Anne Catherine was delivered. In the face of initial estimates that $400,000 in unreimbursed costs would be incurred, a blogosphere-driven fund drive raised $600,000.

Susan Anne Catherine Torres died yesterday, when her heart failed after emergency surgery to repair a perforated intestine. She was five weeks old. May she rest in peace, in company with her mother and all the saints and angels, in the eternal light of God.

The Torres case is an extreme example of a facet of American medicine that is widely misunderstood. We are constantly criticized for spending more than other countries on health care, yet our infant mortality rate is higher. Nick Kristof's been beating this drum for months; first we were lagging behind Cuba and China, then he couldn't even write about Hurricane Katrina without dragging the dead babies back into it. But consider this: when this year's health expenditures are totalled up, they will be a couple of million dollars higher, and when this year's infant mortality statistics are calculated, there will be one more infant in the numerator, all because the Torres family, and their friends and supporters, cared so much about one unborn child that they expended every resource they could muster to give her one unlikely chance at life, a chance that ultimately failed.

Susan Anne Catherine Torres is just one case, but according to the CDC, not an isolated one: when asked to investigate the reason that infant mortality increased in 2002, for the first time in several decades, they discovered that the number of extremely-low-birth-weight infants born alive has increased dramatically. In most countries, these children would be stillborn. Here, they usually die soon after birth, despite our best efforts. It makes no sense to unfavorably compare a country that tries to save lives with those who give up without trying.

Federal Budget Bloat

In a forthcoming article in the October issue of Budget and Tax News (of which this author is senior editor), published by The Heartland Institute, Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute provides an excellent analysis of the causes behind the rapidly increasing federal expenditures of the Bush years, beyond the response to 9/11 and the War in Iraq. After documenting the extent of the increases, Edwards correctly places the responsibility directly on the Republicans in control of both Houses of Congress:

The number of federal pork projects increased from fewer than 2,000 annually in the mid-1990s to almost 14,000 in 2005, as measured by Citizens Against Government Waste. Other data indicate the number of federal “earmarks” increased from 4,155 in 1994 to 15,584 in 2005. . . .

In the past, the Kings of Pork were mainly Democrats such as Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia and former Representatives Tom Bevill of Alabama and Jamie Whitten of Mississippi.

Today, the leading pork spenders are Republicans such as Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young of Alaska, and Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Republicans promised to cut wasteful spending when they were elected to the majority in 1994. But today few seem embarrassed by the record levels of pork.

This year Congress will dish out $426 billion on grants to lower levels of government for a myriad of local activities in 2005, according to the Fiscal 2006 budget.

Most earmarks fund activities that are properly the responsibility of state and local governments or the private sector. . . .

The problem starts at the top: Republican leaders have shown no personal restraint on the budget. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is a champion at bringing pork home to Illinois. The Washington Post noted in a July 17, 2004, article that Hastert “makes a habit of helping Illinois-based corporations,” such as Boeing, Caterpillar, and United Airlines.

Hastert’s giveaways have included trying to get United Air Lines a $1.6 billion loan guarantee and adding $250,000 to a defense bill for a candy company in his hometown to study chewing gum. The lack of principled GOP leadership has a corrosive effect on members who may be willing to support restraint but who will not put their necks on the line without sacrifice at the top. Why should rank-and-file Republicans restrain themselves when their leader is the porker-in-chief? . . .

. . . [T]he pork explosion highlights the need for Congress to overhaul its budgeting structures to get a grip on the overspending that has created huge deficits.

Republican members should insist that party leaders stop undermining restraint by using their positions for parochial gain. They ought to stop supporting leaders who call themselves conservatives just because they favor tax cuts. The real litmus test for fiscal conservatism is leadership on spending cuts and a willingness to forgo pork to set a good example for the rest of Congress.

The Benefits of Blogging

Thanks to the Reform Club, I met a couple of professors online who also blog: Michael DeBow of Samford University (Law and Economics) and Joseph Knippenberg of Oglethorpe University (Political Theory). DeBow blogs at Southern Appeal and Knippenberg blogs for the Ashbrook Center's No Left Turns. These are happy alliances for an aspiring academic.

Professor DeBow will be lecturing at Oglethorpe in Atlanta today as part of the Constitution Day festivities. I'll be there to meet the profs in the flesh for the first time. If there are any Reform Club or Southern Appeal readers who will be attending, be sure to say "Hi."

Sunday, September 11, 2005


There are those who say quite rightly
That we ought to tell tales nightly
To all who are young and spritely
With a tone that may feather lightly
Through the ears and into the heart,
So they find even in life's fresh start
Their moment plays in history a part
Whether through craft or inspired art.
That God with Nature does distribute
To each alone their unique attribute
So they may to the world contribute
All for His ultimate glory and tribute.
Oh, kings of yore mightily clashed
Great civilizations duly smashed
Pretenders like lightning flashed
Dreamers found ambition slashed.
The line of progress did relentless move
Today's rut had been yesterday's groove
Only what helped all the world improve
Did its virtue by hardy endurance prove.