Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rewriting history

When it comes to their own history, the British are proving they have no spine. As with most diversity mongers, the end game is collective and ethnic self-esteem. As one reviewer said "Retrofitting square history to fit the round peg of multiculturalism."
In George Orwell's classic novel, 1984, Inner Party member O'Brien tried to teach Winston Smith that the struggle to control history is over. It is what the Party says it is. Today the Daily Telegraph reminds us that this dictum is truer than ever.
Parts of British history need to be rewritten to emphasise the roles played by other races and religions like Muslims, a prominent race relations campaigner has said. Trevor Philips, the chairman of the new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, said the history of Britain did not properly reflect the contribution of other cultures. ...

Mr Phillips said: "When we talk about the Armada, it was the Turks who saved us because they held up the Armada after a request from Elizabeth I. Let’s rewrite that, so we have an ideal that brings us together so that it can bind us together in stormy times ahead in the next century."
The past, present and future are all one place. In the inimitable words of George Orwell, "he who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." And wouldn't you know, the screenwriters of Star Trek agree.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We must stop George Soros, hypocrite

George Soros doesn't practice what he preaches. Doesn't surprise us in the very least. Yet he calls his group the Institute for an Open Society.
On the political front, Soros has a great influence in a secretive organization called "Democracy Alliance" whose idea of democracy seems to be government controlled solely of Democrats.

"As with everything about the Democracy Alliance, the strangest aspect of this entire process was the incessant secrecy. Among the alliance's stated values was a commitment to political transparency — as long as it didn't apply to the alliance," wrote Matt Bai, describing how the alliance was formed in 2005, in his book "The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics."

Soros' "shaping public policies," as OSI calls it, is not illegal. But it's a problem for democracy because it drives issues with cash and then only lets the public know about it after it's old news.

That means the public makes decisions about issues without understanding the special agendas of groups behind them.

Without more transparency, it amounts to political manipulation. This leads to cynicism. As word of these short-term covert ops gets out, the public grows to distrust what it hears and tunes out.

The irony here is that Soros claims to be an advocate of an "open society." His OSI does just the legal minimum to disclose its activities. The public shouldn't have to wait until an annual report is out before the light is flipped on about the Open Society's political action.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thank God for tabloids

Sums up the occasion. Question for the day: Why is Columbia University's commitment to free speech so selectively applied?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just finished reading

Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres. I found the book excessively mediocre given the subject matter. In addition, I was put off by the author's attitude that equations trump experts and that intuition is a quaint sensibility. I wonder what the skeptical empiricist Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say about this book.

A brief for the robber barons

C.S. Lewis provides a veritable quote of the day from a discussion at Volokh Conspiracy arguing the role of clerics in economic debates.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
How true!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sting Stung?

Punk versus Pretty Boy. Who's more authentic? Johnny Rotten or Sting? Mr. Lydon or Mr. Sommers?
Punk legend John Lydon has lashed out at Sting - calling The Police frontman a "soggy old dead carcass".

The Sex Pistol, also known as Johnny Rotten, poured scorn on the Eighties band's recent comeback.

Lydon, 51, was speaking as the Sex Pistols prepare for a one-off gig to mark the 30th anniversary of their album Never Mind The B*****ks.

The former punk rebel dismissed Sting as "Stink", saying: "That really is a reformation isn't it? But honestly that's like soggy old dead carcasses.

"You know listening to Stink try to squeak through Roxanne one more time, that's not fun.

"It's like letting air out of a balloon."

The once legendary hellraiser told Virgin Radio that drug-taking was "a bit old fart".

Of Amy Winehouse's and Pete Doherty's problems, he said: "You know you can use drugs for entertainment but you should be quiet about it. That shouldn't be your centre showpiece.

"There's not much going on in their head with them. They're not thinking. They're not doing this for the right reasons.

"They obviously don't enjoy what they're doing. And that's why you turn to drugs. And that's what happened with Sid Vicious, he wasn't happy about what he couldn't do."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'd still like to learn Latin

Latin may be impractical compared to learning Chinese. And its supporters may constitute a special interest group that knows how best to pluck resources from the busy majority. But I'd still love to learn Latin. You have to hand it to Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist for explaining the predicament...well very much like an economist.
You correctly observe that Chinese would serve just as well as mental exercise, and conveys the additional advantage of being able to talk to people other than the Pope. The technical term for this is that learning Latin is a “weakly dominated” strategy: it is never superior to learning Chinese, and sometimes inferior.

Unfortunately, you are up against politics here. Public-choice theory suggests that a small group with much to gain from a policy will tend to prevail against a large group who stand to each lose a small amount. The small group knows the stakes and is better organised - which is why we have trade tariffs, which help a small number of people while imposing poorly understood costs on a diffuse majority.

Notes on the 'libertarian west'

Libertarians, small and big, are stuck with mixed bags. No politician electable in all of the 50 states, can measure up. The best an analyst can do is size up proclivities. Maybe the leave-us -lone contingent can move the culture. But politics might not be the avenue; federalism just might be.
Back in the real world, the West's libertarian leanings should remind us of the virtues of federalism. If Idaho and New Mexico could set their own rules about land use and marijuana without Washington interfering, they wouldn't become Hayekian utopias, but they would become much freer than they are today. That's valuable whether or not they also serve as swing votes.

But federalism only takes us so far. Foreign policy is set in Washington, not the states, and the same goes for the powers of the national executive branch. When Larry Craig criticizes the PATRIOT Act and Bill Richardson denounces the Iraq War, they may speak for much or most of their region, but that region can't set policy on its own. What it can do is produce politicians who, for all their flaws and inconsistencies, still speak the language of liberty more adeptly then the mad power-grabbers and mealy-mouthed accommodationists who dominate their parties.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Are the Pats cheats?

This would be awful if proven true.
NFL security confiscated a video camera and its tape from a New England Patriots employee on the team's sideline during Sunday's game against the Jets in a suspected spying incident, sources said.

The camera and its tape were placed in a sealed box and forwarded to the league office for investigation, the sources said.

"The rule is that no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game," the league said in a statement from spokesman Greg Aiello. "Clubs have specifically been reminded in the past that the videotaping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals on the sidelines is prohibited.

"We are looking into whether the Patriots violated this rule."

The Patriots' cameraman was suspected of aiming his camera at the Jets' defensive coaches who were sending signals to their unit on the field, the sources said. The league also is investigating some radio frequency issues that occurred during the game.

The league's competition committee could conduct a conference call about the incident, which violates NFL policy, and ultimately recommend a penalty that could cost the Patriots a future draft pick or picks if it verifies that the team was spying on the Jets

Update: The news isn't good. NFL takes the Pats to the woodshed.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is the personal savings rate that important

Some economists worry about the nation's personal savings rate. However, others suggest there may be more to savings, properly understood, than we've been told.
Many of the obvious concerns about the negative personal saving rate may be unfounded. The negative value could be attributable to preliminary data, which the BEA could very well revise upward; a temporary depressing effect brought on by higher energy costs; and a dampening effect owing to the surge in corporate share repurchases. Looking at the private sector on a consolidated basis, we find that saving, while quite low, is certainly neither negative nor remarkably lower than it was in the late 1990s. National saving as a whole has also been low, but it has not fallen recently—indeed, the broadest measure has edged up.

Despite the low personal saving rate, aggregate household wealth has risen sharply in the past few years. U.S. households would not be a lot wealthier today—and thus better able to cope with a decline in asset values—if they had been saving at a substantially higher pace over the past few years. Furthermore, we uncover no strong evidence to suggest that low personal saving today would be associated with lower spending growth tomorrow.

Nevertheless, there are reasons to be concerned about the modest levels of household, private, and especially national saving. National saving flows provide the basic wherewithal to finance U.S. ownership of productive assets. Unless the nation’s investments are unusually productive, low saving levels will ultimately imply a slowdown in the growth of income from capital, and thus work to reduce the quality of U.S. living standards over the long run. Households might then be faced with a painful choice: Respond to slower income growth by accepting slower consumption growth than has been the historical norm—or continue normal consumption growth, which could put additional downward pressure on saving and thus jeopardize income and spending even further into the future.

"The world without us"

Thinking the unthinkable leaves us thinking that we humans are more than parasitic bacteria destroying resources. We are stewards of our environment. I wonder, however, if this is the message that Alan Weisman is proffering. Either way the thesis is fascinating. Check out the animation.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The voice is still

Pavarotti is dead. Long sing Luciano!
ROME (AP) - Luciano Pavarotti, opera's biggest superstar of the late 20th century, died Thursday. He was 71. He was the son of a singing baker and became the king of the high C's.

Pavarotti, who had been diagnosed last year with pancreatic cancer and underwent treatment last month, died at his home in his native Modena at 5 a.m., his manager told The Associated Press in an e-mailed statement.

His wife, Nicoletta, four daughters and sister were among family and friends at his side, manager Terri Robson said.

"The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer," Robson said. "In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness."

Pavarotti's charismatic personna and ebullient showmanship - but most of all his creamy and powerful voice - made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since the great Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar.

"He has been, of course, one of the greatest tenors ever, one of the most important singers in the history of opera," colleague Jose Carreras told reporters in Germany. "We all hoped for a miracle ... but unfortunately that was not possible, and now we have to regret that we lost a wonderful singer and a great man."
As I prepared dinner this evening, I decided to play Verdi's Requiem in memory of the great singer. I let the Germans led by Herbert Von Karajan handle it. Pavarotti's good friend, Mirella Fireni is the soprano. Beautiful!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Holy Cow!

"I hereby call for a windfall profits tax on dairy producers, or at least those who received federal subsidies. It's time for them to pay that money back to the taxpayers."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Jon Keller has a book out

I can't wait to read it. Blue Mass Group, the liberal blog, isn't happy with the book. But former Herald editorial writer Guy Darst praises the book in the WSJ.

This will drive the netroots nuts

Even nuttier than they are.

Karl Rove, walking away very much unlike a frog, waiting for history's verdict.
The Washington Post scorned President Truman as a “spoilsman” who “underestimated the people’s intelligence.” New York Times columnist James Reston wrote off President Eisenhower as “a tired man in a period of turbulence.” At the end of President Reagan’s second term, the New York Times dismissed him as “simplistic” and a “lazy and inattentive man.”

These harsh judgments, made in the moment, have not weathered well over time. Fortunately, while contemporary observers have a habit of getting presidents wrong, history tends to be more accurate.

So how might history view the 43rd president? I can hardly be considered an objective observer, but in this highly polarized period, who is?

However, I believe history will provide a more clear-eyed verdict on this president’s leadership than the anger of current critics would suggest.

President Bush will be viewed as a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century.
Will Rove be correct? It depends on how much the metrics change for the first wartime President in the internet age.

Thumbs down

The Boston Herald's new web site debuts today and I don't like it. Might I say that it's a bit too tabloid for the Herald?