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  • Archive for May, 2005

    Anyone Study Under This Guy?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 31st May 2005 (All posts by )

    Paul Ricoeur died last week.

    Not familiar with the name? He�s a French philosopher who immigrated to the United States after being subjected to criticism and abuse in his native country. He taught at the University of Chicago for more than 20 years, and it appears that the change of venue was a positive decision.

    �But Paul Ric�ur did not only find in the United States a refuge to work in peace and enjoy the respect he deserved. His American semesters also proved fertile. In this philosophical new world where not only the interlocutors but also the style of thought itself were different, and where openness to discussion and the development of sound arguments were more important than the tone of oratory or ideological denunciation, Ric�ur discovered a climate that matched his own particular way of thinking.�

    Did anyone ever get the chance to meet him?

    Posted in Morality and Philosphy | 2 Comments »

    Inflated Importance

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 31st May 2005 (All posts by )

    Amnesty Internationals annual report for 2005 wasnt very flattering to the United States. The author was particularly critical of the way we detain suspected terrorists and enemy combatants at Guantnamo Bay, calling it “the gulag of our times.”

    The White House was quick to reply. Spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed the charges out of hand, stating that the US leads the world in promoting human rights.

    The AI report is pretty much same-old, same-old to the few of us who actually pay attention to such things. Theyve been increasingly critical of the US in recent years, becoming more shrill every year since the fall of the Soviet Union. Near as I can tell this is the first time that theyve actually equated the US with the USSR, the most murderous regime in world history so far as sheer numbers of innocent victims are concerned.

    (In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not the R.J. Rummel featured in the last link. We’re not related, and I’ve never even met the guy. He knows his stuff, though.)

    There seems to be three reasons why Amnesty International is doing this.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 13 Comments »

    Too Late

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 31st May 2005 (All posts by )

    Arthur Andersen received a bit of posthumous vindication yesterday when the US Supreme Court overturned their conviction on a charge of obstruction of justice. The jury, in later interviews, cited the destruction of documents as evidence of wrongdoing. Andersen was far from innocent, but I believed at the time that they had been convicted of the wrong crime. At the end of an audit, every bit of paper must be either (a) put in a workpaper binder, signed, reviewed, and put into storage; or (b) destroyed. Preliminary drafts and CYA files are not permitted in any accounting firm. The firm must stand behind its work product and have the “sufficient competent evidential matter” to document its audit opinion, and be able to support its reasoning. Alternative arguments and preliminary drafts are subject to discovery in legal proceedings, and keeping them undercuts the final decision. Every accounting firm (and law firm) uses a shredder.

    The key question, which was not settled at the trial, was whether Andersen continued to destroy documents after it believed they would be used in an investigation. At some point, Enron was known to be a “busted audit” and an investigation was inevitable. The shredding should have stopped then.

    Posted in Business | 8 Comments »

    Memorial Day: Honor the Dead, Help and Support the Living

    Posted by Lexington Green on 30th May 2005 (All posts by )

    On Memorial Day we should respect our warrior dead, and remember their devotion to duty and their sacrifice, and be grateful.

    But on Memorial Day, we should also give assistance and support to our living veterans. There was a good column in today’s WaPo entitled Remember the Wounded. And we can do more than remember. We can open our wallets.

    There is a list of groups offering support to those serving, including wounded soldiers, here, and Winds of Change has a very comprehensive list here. Take a look at these lists, find a cause you like. Then give them some money.

    I used to be a fundraiser, and I found that it is best not to dilly-dally too long, but to go ahead and get to “the ask”. I also found that getting someone to give a decent-sized “leading gift” is helpful. So …

    To put my own money where my mouth is, today I have sent $1,000 to the Wounded Warriors Project:

    The “Wounded Warrior” project seeks to assist those men and women of our armed forces who have been severely injured during the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. Many of the injuries are traumatic amputations, gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries that will retire these brave warriors from military service. These wounded soldiers will return to civilian life minus one or more limbs, or with serious wounds or disfiguring scars, and will face greater challenges today obtaining assistance and finding opportunities that would enable them to provide for themselves and their families.

    Many of us who read and write blogs supported the President and supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. The necessary consequence of those decisions, which we supported, was that many Americans would die or suffer serious wounds. The absolute least we can do is make some contribution to help those who have carried out those missions, including those who will carry serious wounds for the rest of their lives.

    I hope that the community of ChicagoBoyz readers will open their wallets and give generous financial support to one of the many worthy groups who are working to help our veterans, to help those still serving and their families, or those who have been wounded.

    If you match or surpass my contribution to some good cause, terrific. If you give some smaller amount, that is great, too. But remember, there are people in rehab right now who gave arms and legs. So, give something.

    Happy Memorial Day. Thank you to all our veterans, living and dead.

    God bless America.

    UPDATE:

    I got a good response from my old friend Chicago Litigator Pundit (“CLP”). He wrote:

    Thanks for bringing the Wounded Warrior Project website to my attention. I have come to the (probably obvious) view that those who put their lives on the line for our country are the ultimate heroes, more so than presidents, judges, great scientists, philosophers, or other important contributors to our society. The contributions and accomplishments of the latter group, even those that are historically pivotal, may be greater, but the heroism of those who have gone to war for this country, fought for freedom, or otherwise put their lives on the line for us (including, for example, firemen, policemen, and the passengers of Flight 93) is far greater.

    Having failed to do anything remotely heroic in support of the great cause for which our men and women are fighting for in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, making a contribution to the Wounded Warrior Project seems like a good way to help these heroes. Perhaps it is a selfish way of making myself feel better, but it does make me feel better. (I matched your contribution.)

    I responded essentially as follows:

    I agree with every word. I have never done anything dangerous in my life. I call myself “Lexington Green” but the people who were wounded or died on the real Lexington Green gave me more than I can ever dream of repaying. And the “minutemen” of today make contributions which are every bit as valuable, and also beyond my ability to repay. But, at least I can do something rather than nothing. So I did. I am glad you matched my contribution. I hope a few more people do.

    So come on, ChicagoBoyz readers, get out those credit cards.

    UPDATE II:Here is a link where you can find the VA facility nearest you.

    Posted in Military Affairs | 10 Comments »

    The Bicycle Tips Over

    Posted by Lexington Green on 29th May 2005 (All posts by )

    As predicted, the French rejected the EU Constitution. Early reports say it was a whopping 57.26 percent voting “non”.

    Bravo to every Jacques and Jeannette who jammed a finger in the eye of the enarques and the whole rest of the out-of-touch elite in France. This is almost as good as the purple fingers in Iraq. It is a step in the right direction.

    Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who wrote the thing, said countries that reject the treaty will be “asked to vote again”. Maybe he should be asked to take advantage of this opportunity to remain silent. How about, no means no, Valery? How about a Plan B? How about something different for Europe than a gray, lifeless, undemocratic, unaccountable bureaucracy lodged in Brussels sucking what life remains out of the old continent? How about a “Europe of fatherlands”, as De Gaulle wanted? How about not pretending that Denmark and Portugal and Malta and Italy are all really part of one country when they aren’t? How about a plan that will accommodate reality? Back to the drawing board, I hope.

    The fact that anti-Americanism drove much of the vote doesnt bother me at all. I don’t want people to like us nearly as much as I want them to be able to govern themselves the way they see fit, have real elections with real consequences, and get the benefits and bear the consequences of those decisions. If the French don’t want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with. It’s their country. And with this vote it will stay their country for a while longer. Good.

    On to Holland.

    UPDATE: I think this is the first time I have been quoted in Le Monde, or translated into French by anybody. Thanks to Jonathan Curiel for the heads-up.

    UPDATE II: I have been reading Lord Acton’s essay “Political Causes of the American Revolution”. He wrote it in 1861 and the “Revolution” he is talking about is what we have come to call the Civil War. Anyway, he is discussing the drafting and ratification of the US Constitution. The difference between that episode and this business in Europe could not be more stark. The Americans were intensely concerned with the precise language of the Constitution and what powers would be granted to each element of the Government and what powers would remain with the states, etc. They really believed that the Constitution would be a body of law that they would all have to live under. The Europeans hardly ever seem to talk about the actual text of the document. It is all symbolism, and scare tactics and vaporizing about the “idea of Europe”. But, I think at some level the fact that this was a badly drafted, vague and overbroad document had something to do with its rejection. The French are attached to their way of life. They want to know what will happen to it. They want clear answers. This document did not give clear answers. Whether I happen to like or agree with their “social model” or not, as free people living in a democratic society, they are entitled to those clear answers. And they were not getting them.

    UPDATE III: My friend Stockholm Expat Pundit (“SEP”) wrote with some thoughts: “It is very clear that the EU is a project marketed under false pretenses. At every point the public is told this is not going to be the United States of Europe with a capital in Brussels. But the facts suggest the opposite. Naturally people are suspicious of a secret agenda.” But he mentions that the EU will cause the Swedes, probably, “to get rid of onerous state monopolies controlling the retail sales of alcohol and pharmaceutical products. Europe will be better off economically as goods, labor and capital flow more freely.” Of course the voters in France were opposed to exactly this. SEP however is concerned that if the EU “were to lose momentum and fall on its head, the resulting mess would not be good for world stability.” He closes with the question “[A]re there countries that are too big or too diverse to function democratically? The moment the USSR liberalized its political system, all the scars of history were torn apart.”

    I responded:

    I too am in favor of political and economic coordination in Europe. But not something done, as you say, under false pretenses. And it should be accountable and it should have transparency and it should be democratic and it is none of those. Moreover, THIS Constitution is an atrocity and should be rejected. Europe is not a bicycle, it will exist whatever happens, but they need to go back to the drawing board. The American Constitutional ratification experience was one of open and strong public debate about the document, what it would mean, etc. This conversation in Europe is too abstract. The leaders there do not trust the public. They despise the public. That is obvious. And it is becoming mutual.

    I don’t think that Europe is too big or too diverse to be democratic. It needs true federalism. Local democracy, with delegated and delimited powers, clearly defined, at the Union level is what they need. They need a better document which accomplishes that. Whether it is called a Constitution or a treaty is another question. The latter would probably be better.

    Update IV. My friend Alberta Anglosphere Pundit (“AAP”) sends a link to the blog of Corine Lesnes, the author of the Le Monde article. I can’t read the French, but as AAP correctly notes: “Clearly she’s keeping an eye on the evil doings of folks like powerline and chicagoboyz. I think she found your enarque slur too good to pass up. Probably shocked that you knew the term!” Oh, some of us Americans do know a little bit about France.

    UPDATE V: Wretchard agrees that Europe needs a better proposal, that merely saying NON won’t stop this thing: “The real challenge for Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans and the British, is to articulate an alternative vision for the Continent. The European vision needs a second party in order to make up a debate.” The “antis” should get together and agree what they’d like to see and start preparing an alternative draft. You can not, for long, defeat something with nothing. An “alternative vision for Europe” needs to be proposed, so that “Europe” as an idea is not the sole possession of the Brussels and Paris elites. I just don’t know off hand who should be doing the drafting of Proposal B.

    UPDATE VI: On further reflection, a new EU treaty (not a Constitution) should at minimum (1) dissolve the Brussels bureaucracy, (2) create a free trade zone, (3) expressly state that it is NOT dedicated to an “ever closer union” but that Union level institutions are limited strictly to their enumerated powers, etc. Since the EU in some form is not going to go away. It is time for the sensible people to take the offensive, define what the EU ought to be, and start pushing to make it into what it ought to be. Maybe the UKIP should take the lead on proposing an alternative treaty? Keep it short. Five or ten pages. That should be plenty. Call it the New European Union Treaty NEUT. Short for neutered or neutralized. New Europe, which I think is better thought of as the Old Warsaw Pact, plus the UK, plus the Netherlands could be the main proponents. UK + NE + OWP = a coalition to counterbalance France, Spain, Benelux, etc.

    If the people who do not like what the EU is becoming just keep waiting for these elections and hoping they win — eventually they will lose. These guys will just hold elections over and over until they win. An alternative has to be proposed and ratified instead. Time to take the war to the enemy. It is the only way to win this thing once and for all.

    UPDATE VII: Good post on Samizdata on this issue. Bonus feature: I am castigated for making “naive” and “impromptu” suggestions in the comments. I must have a stiff drink now, and recover from this drubbing.

    Posted in Europe | 72 Comments »

    Look to the Center of Gravity

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 28th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Bear with me on this one for a moment. I have to go over some backstory.

    Although they had been talking about it for a decade, the Europeans formally proposed the formation of a Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) back in 1999. It was supposed to be 60,000 soldiers with the gear and the means to move to any spot on the planet and make it their own for a year. Airlift and sealift, artillery and air support. Everything that a modern army needed to project force was to be included in the inventory. The idea was to put the lid on potential flash points and save lives.

    Didnt happen. So Rumsfeld went to the annual NATO summit in 2002 and suggested that maybe the 60K figure was too ambitious. 20K was probably more like it. Everyone involved agreed on this, and the plan to make this a reality was known as The Prague Capabilities Commitment of 2002, named after the city where the summit was held. The name of this command was going to be the NATO Response Force (NRF).

    The Congressional Research Service recently submitted a report that examines the progress of this plan. As you might expect when dealing with European military capabilities, things arent nearly as advanced as one might reasonably expect.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Europe | 6 Comments »

    Passing

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 28th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Eddie Albert has died.

    He was best known for his role in the TV comedy Green Acres, but he was also a war hero. He piloted a Higgins Boat landing craft at Tarawa, and he was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism when he braved heavy enemy fire in order to take wounded Marines off of the beach. Albert had to advance through shelling so intense that he was rendered partially deaf for the rest of his life.

    Most people will remember him for his acting talent. His valor should not be forgotten.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Want to Know if Your Kitchen Utensils are Illegal?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 28th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Shannon Love has posted about a proposal in the British Journal of Medicine to ban the sale of long, pointed cooking knives as a crime preventative.

    David Kopel, posting at The Volokh Conspiracy, has given us a heads up to a website that discusses US knife laws. Highly recommended.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | Comments Off

    Time Becomes Horizontal

    Posted by Ginny on 28th May 2005 (All posts by )

    I think the people who support the UN can be divided into three broad groups: anti-Americans; people who were taught at a young age that the UN is good and who don’t pay close attention to current affairs; and people for whom support for the UN is a matter of religious faith, not unlike faith in the benefits of recycling or the threat of global warming. Obviously there is overlap between these groups. – Jonathan G ewirtz responding to a Rummel post.

    Jonathan is right, of course, that the UN isn’t what we thought it would be when I was growing up. I suspect he doesn’t know how strange it seems to be critical of it now, how strange to worry about its usefulness. I’m one of those who was taught at a young age the UN is good, but that is because it represented much that we still like: a forum for international debate, a chance to listen to other perspectives. The critics either seemed to see it as wielding power it didn’t have (the black helicopter types) or were isolationists. I can understand drawing back from the world in the fifties; Europe seen from a tank and Asia from a Navy deck didn’t make the world outside our borders all that attractive. But, frankly, distaste for the UN was associated with the kind of cranks who, a few years later, would obsess about the Kennedy assassination.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in United Nations | 12 Comments »

    The State of Stem Cell Research

    Posted by demimasque on 27th May 2005 (All posts by )

    When President Bush announced his very federalist compromise to the stem cell research debate in 2001, I thought it was a pretty good move. Although I support stem cell research, I can accept that some people see it (or at least the branch dealing with embryonic stem cells) as a grave sin. I can even understand their position, although I don’t share it. The compromise simply made clear that the federal government would not fund research into embryonic stem cell research. It did not, however, limit adult stem cell research, nor state or private investment in embryonic stem cell research. Here is the meat of the policy recommendation in Bush’s remarks to the nation:

    As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist. They were created from embryos that have already been destroyed, and they have the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research. I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has already been made.

    Leading scientists tell me research on these 60 lines has great promise that could lead to breakthrough therapies and cures. This allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line, by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.

    I also believe that great scientific progress can be made through aggressive federal funding of research on umbilical cord placenta, adult and animal stem cells which do not involve the same moral dilemma. This year, your government will spend $250 million on this important research.

    Now, with the new moves on Capitol Hill over the “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005” (HR 810), the subject has again been brought to the fore. For my part, I supported California’s Proposition 71, which set aside $3 billion for 10 years to establish the California Stem Cell Research Institute. Since the subject matter was close to what I studied in college, and since the finances looked alright, I voted for it, despite my usual skepticism of government research, with the hope that government can serve as a leader, although by no means the sole player. Given that there is an “exit strategy” of sorts, perhaps those tapped to run the institute would feel more pressure to deliver the goods.

    My only real beef with this is that the University of California is going to be involved. Their less-than-stellar record in recent years in managing the Los Alamos Nuclear Labs has gotten to the point where the University must now compete with private industry doesn’t reassure me. Still, private industry may yet take some cues, and then develop that beyond what the institute can do on its own.

    In this spirit, a recent Wall Street Journal editorial painted a status commentary:

    So what’s happened, research-wise, since 2001? Given the rhetoric of some of the President’s critics, you might think the answer is nothing. In fact, federal funding for all forms of stem-cell research (including adult and umbilical stem cells) has nearly doubled, to $566 million from $306 million. The federal government has also made 22 fully developed embryonic stem-cell lines available to researchers, although researchers complain of bureaucratic bottlenecks at the National Institutes of Health.

    At the state level, Californians passed Proposition 71, which commits $3 billion over 10 years for stem-cell research. New Jersey is building a $380 million Stem Cell Institute. The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill authorizing stem-cell research by a veto-proof margin, and similar legislation is in the works in Connecticut and Wisconsin.

    Then there’s the private sector. According to Navigant Consulting, the U.S. stem-cell therapeutics market will generate revenues of $3.6 billion by 2015. Some 70 companies are now doing stem-cell research, with Geron, ES Cell International and Advanced Cell Technologies being leaders in embryonic research. Clinical trials using embryonic stem-cell technologies for spinal cord injuries are due to begin sometime next year.

    Hardly the sort of return to the Dark Ages that anti-Bush activists would have you believe.

    Thus, the recent passage of the bill in Congress suggests that, having been given a chance to think about it, the public is indicating that it might just be worth it to allow embryonic stem cell research to be funded along with other sorts of stem cell research. The balance is still delicate, but there would appear to be an emerging lead in favor of de-restricting federal funding. The question then, of course, will become one of the wisdom of the funding. That is, how much of it will go toward work already done by private industry, thus culminating in an indirect subsidy?

    First, though, the bill must get past the veto threat. I sincerely hope President Bush doesn’t exercise his veto here, but I wouldn’t get too worked up about it if he did.

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Science | 4 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 27th May 2005 (All posts by )

    C-Span 1. Book TV. Book TV Schedule. After Words and Q&A.

    Lamb Q[uestions] & Bob Herbert A[nswers]; Herbert is New York Times columnist. On C-Span 1, this interview airs 8:00 and 11:00 Sunday.

    C-Span 2′s takes an extended week-end over Memorial Day and emphasizes Memorial Day themes. C-Span 2′s highlights and full schedule.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 27th May 2005 (All posts by )

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

    – Richard Feynman
    (From this. Via Metafilter.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Two Awesome Old Live ROCK Videos.

    Posted by Lexington Green on 27th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Be patient. They load slowly.

    The Buzzcocks need no introduction. Here they are doing “What Do I Get?” at the Bradford Hotel Ballroom, Boston, 1980. Here. I was a senior in high school and I saw this show. I think I can see my younger self in the crowd, actually, which is pretty funny.

    The legendary Neighborhoods featuring the incredible David Minehan doing “Monday Morning”, 1979. Here. The way the people are dancing is very much the Boston pre-hardcore punk rock style. It takes me back.

    I cannot begin to tell you how unbelievably great these guys were in their prime. Minehan is one of the unsung heroes of rock. David Bowie is reported to have said that Minehan was the best live performer he ever saw. It is plausible. I saw them at a bunch of all ages shows back circa 1979-83 and they were as good as anybody I have ever seen. They opened for the Ramones at Taunton High School and it was tough to say who was better. There is not much on the Net about them, though this is pretty good: Here’s a quote: “The club was tiny, about the size of the loft upstairs at the RAT, and despite the absence of a crowd the Neighborhoods played a torrid set, impassioned vocals and fiery solos and the works.” Yes. I saw the ‘Hoods play like they were at Wembley Stadium opening for the Who, like their lives were at stake, for maybe 12 teenage kids, including me, at a crappy bar at the Westgate Mall in Brockton — the Massachusetts equivalent of the butt-end of nowhere. My heroes. It was about the rock, and about the fans, and all in attendance were soaked with sweat by the time the bar made them stop playing .

    Life has had its good moments.

    Posted in Quotations | 1 Comment »

    Bad Day for Gun Control Advocates

    Posted by Shannon Love on 27th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Sometimes I feel sorry for leftists in America. They work so hard to create at least the appearance of a reasoned position on something like gun-control, and then their elder siblings across the pond do something so silly it completely cuts them off at the ankles.

    From the New York Times comes a story about this editorial in the British Journal of Medicine urging that long, pointed cooking knives be banned in order to prevent murders.

    It’s funny because the most passionate 2nd-Amendment advocate in the grip of the most fevered slippery-slope argument would probably never think to imply that the mindset of gun-control would eventually lead to the banning of cooking knives, and yet here it is.

    I suppose that sometimes that slippery slope really is there.

    (Update: Does Britain really want to be known as the country whose people can’t be trusted with sharp objects?)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

    Conservatives need to agree on a philosophy

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 26th May 2005 (All posts by )

    So says the Telegraph, speaking about the Conservative Party. Any three American conservatives can give you four firmly held opinions on any topic; why do they think unanimity is possible, let alone desirable?

    Posted in Anglosphere | 1 Comment »

    How Things Fit – Microeconomics and the OODA Loop

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 26th May 2005 (All posts by )

    It occurred to me that we tend to see the same economic thinkers

    associated with each other. Sometimes it is because of membership in a

    particular school of thought (Chicago, Austrian, Neo-Classical), sometimes

    due to the political implications of their economics, other times as a

    result of direct citation and elaboration of each other’s work. Often the

    connection is unclear but the association is strong. In these cases, it

    might be that the writers were describing different aspects or phases of

    related economic processes. As a practical man of business, I was

    interested in seeing what long-dead economist actually owned me, and I was

    pretty sure it wasn’t Keynes. It turned out that I am in thrall to more

    congenial proprietors, and some of what they say is of immediate interest in

    understanding what is going on around me and what I’m doing about it. These

    thinkers can be arranged in a sequential format to help describe economic

    decision-making.

    Col. John R. Boyd (USAF) developed a model of the decision cycle in war.

    It is called the Boyd Cycle or the OODA Loop, for Observation,

    Orientation, Decision, and Action.

    Boyd cycle illustration

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 2 Comments »

    This is News?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 26th May 2005 (All posts by )

    So whats the most successful plant on the planet? Which species has the greatest biomass?

    Trick question. The answer is a few types of sea-growing algae.

    Okay, so whats the most successful land-based plant on Earth? The answer is rice. Its not only the single species with the greatest biomass, but it also has the greatest growing range. With the rather notable exception of Antarctica, its being cultivated right this minute on every continent.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Followup: French Referendum on the EU Constitution

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th May 2005 (All posts by )

    In case anyone missed it, today’s Times article appears to have knocked about ten points off the market odds for approval (via Intrade).

    It just goes to show that in a bear market, all news is bad news.

    (Earlier posts on this topic are here and here.)

    UPDATE: See Lex’s insightful comment.

    Posted in Europe | 13 Comments »

    Mineralogy and Economics

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 26th May 2005 (All posts by )

    According to this story, a woman’s weight has an adverse effect on family income. The effect is attributed largely (so to speak) to the marriage market and the ability to attract high-status, high-income mates. There is no corresponding difference in family income based on men’s weight (as originally formulated by Prof. Joe Jackson, “looks don’t count for much”). The study failed to credit Townsend’s Law of Mineralogy, which states that the carat weight of an engagement diamond varies indirectly with body mass index.

    Update

    The study’s authors get a sypathetic hearing in today’s Boston Globe, where they describe men’s preference for lighter-weight wives as “discrimination” and “objectification.” Leaving aside the voluntary nature of marriage (see Nozick), the authors do not see a corresponding problem with the converse: “discrimination” against men of slender means. It is not clear whether whatever redistribution scheme they would use to overcome this injustice would involve the transfer of money or avoirdupois.

    Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

    Danish Wartime Photos

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Erik Petersen, a Danish press photographer whose career began around 1939 and who died in 1997, left an archive of hundreds of films he had taken during the war but had never shown to anyone. Now some of these photos are available online and they are well worth a look. Not only do they provide new information and perspective on an important period, many of them are also quite beautiful as images. They are obviously products of someone who had an unusually good eye.

    (This online discussion provides some background info. A book of Petersen’s work is also available.)

    Posted in History | 4 Comments »

    2006 will not be like 1994 in reverse. Probably.

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    I started to put a comment on this post, which asserts that 2006 will be the GOP’s 1994. My response to that suggestion follows.

    The Republicans have the weaknesses inherent in being a majority party — the ideologically committed people in it all feel short-changed. That is nothing new. The libertarian type GOPers don’t like the religious people and think Bush gives them too much. But, I know from my own email inbox, the religious right is hopping mad at Bush for not doing enough for them. The small government GOPers are mad at all the spending. Everybody is getting at most a tiny bit of what they want, and they want a lot more. But they all know the Donks would be worse, or they should know that. Look back at your political history, at how liberals felt about Franklin Roosevelt — they constantly thought he was selling out to the other factions in the party. Maintaining a majority political coalition is hard to do. Usually, you cannot give everybody something at the same time. So you do things one at a time and you even sometimes do inconsistent things one at a time.

    So Bush is not disintegrating, he is holding a coalition together. Does this mean the Democrats are in a position to pull off a big upset? How? To do that they’d need to break up the majority coalition. Specifically, the Democrats would have to offer some element of the GOP coalition something it really wanted, that Bush can’t or won’t give them, and be more credible than the GOP is on that issue. The Democrats are no longer a coalition, but an ideology with a few interest groups attached. It is difficult for them to run to the center these days, let alone run to the right of the GOP on some issue or issues. It will be hard for them to come up with an appealing issue that would allow them to nationalized the election the way Gingrich did in 1994 and break off a chunk of the GOP coalition.

    Conclusion: Unless we see (1) surprisingly strong and clever leadership on the D side, and (2) some new and powerful ideas or proposals, barring some outright disaster for Bush, then 2006 will be a typical midterm election, and the GOP may lose seats. But the total change will be small. So I fearlessly predict. We’ll check back in November ’06.

    Posted in RKBA | 30 Comments »

    Survey Question

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    I raised this question tangentially in the comments to one of my recent posts. Here it is more plainly:

    Which behavior is worse: 1) expressing racist views, i.e., that some people should be treated better or worse than others on the basis of race, or 2) abusing individuals, but not on the basis of race? (Stipulation: (1) and (2) are not necessarily correlated.)

    Discuss.

    Posted in Society | 13 Comments »

    The Gray Lady Discovers Sexual Differences

    Posted by demimasque on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    When Larry Summers noted the real-world discrepancies between men women in math and the sciences, he was pilloried by the Leftists in the MSM, who took offense at his assertion that the differences do exist. The most easily excitable ones immediately interpreted his comments to mean that he thought women were dumb.

    Well, now some research has indicated that perhaps women simply don’t like the subject as much, which Larry never disputed:

    The women in the study opted out of a math tournament more often than the men did, despite the fact that many of the women performed the problems better or equally well. By declining the chance to compete, the women also turned down a shot at higher pay.

    Most men, even those who performed poorly, chose to compete.

    Wow, what a shocker! Men like to compete, and competition helps hone skills. Who’da thunk?

    The real surprise, though, was that the New York Times saw fit to publish a commentary on the study. But, of course, the Gray Lady, like most Leftist outfits, abhors competition, and the inherent risks in it. So it opted for this sop to its Leftist fanbase:

    The women in the experiment who didn’t want to bother with a five-minute tournament are not likely to relish spending 16 hours a day on a Wall Street trading floor. It’s not fair to deny women a chance at those jobs, but it’s not realistic to expect that they’ll seek them in the same numbers that men will.

    For two decades, academics crusading for equality in the workplace have been puzzled by surveys showing that women are at least as satisfied with their jobs and their pay as men are. This is known as “the paradox of the contented female worker.”

    But maybe it’s not such a paradox after all. Maybe women, like the ones who shunned the experimental tournament, know they could make more money in some jobs but also know they wouldn’t enjoy competing for it as much as their male rivals. They realize, better than men, that in life there’s a lot more at stake than money.

    I wonder if John Tierney has ever tried living a full social life without money. The fact of the matter is that men, in their social role as providers, are going to be more about the money than women. What this means is that money isn’t as big a priority for women (although the things that money can buy are) as it is for men.

    But, if not money, what will men compete with each other for? Men are biologically programmed to compete, so compete they will. And in the end, on a primal level, it’s about competing for women; or, more specifically, about competing for the chance to mate and thereby pass genes on to the next generation. As men make millions of sperm all the time, they are more wont to cast their seed far and wide. Similarly, as women make very few eggs, they are in the biological role of being the chooser, and ultimately nurturer, which doesn’t assign as high a priority to competition.

    Of course, most of us learned about this difference between boys and girls even before we entered puberty. Some of us have fought against the roles; some of us have sought to straddle both roles. But few of us deny that these roles exist, or that they are rooted in both our biological and social evolutions.

    For such a Leftist rag, you’d think that the Gray Lady would be more appreciative of the biological fact of sex.

    By the way, the Calico Cat figured all along that there was more to Larry’s remarks than the MSM were giving him credit for:

    You will also notice that he is trying to spin his remarks as meaning I dont really know if innate differences cause men to be better at math, but Im just saying that it should be investigated. However, he knows that its a politically incorrect statement, he would never have said unless he really was already convinced.

    My conclusion is that Lawrence Summers is personally familiar with research studies in this area, and he has drawn his own conclusion that they prove that there are innate differences between men and women related to mathematical ability.

    Meow!

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    Parental Guidance

    Posted by ken on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    Why should the government stop people from hurting themselves?

    The usual answers fall into three categories. There is the “no man is an island” rationale, the “we don’t want to have to look at you” rationale, and the “they’ll go on a rampage and destroy civilization” rationale.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Poppy Day

    Posted by Andy B on 25th May 2005 (All posts by )

    The local VFW held a Poppy Day today, and while I buy a poppy along with hundreds of other morning commuters, I also always stop to talk to the veterans who are selling them. Around our area, they are always World War II vets, and they are going away too fast, lost to illness, injury, and time. My dad is still among those living, and I think of him and the fact that I may live long enough to hear that the last WWII veteran has passed away someday. Most of the time, my conversation with these men is limited to my saying thank-you for what they have done, and I genuinely think that they appreciate hearing it. This morning, the man I bought my poppy from took a moment to tell me that the day he left home to report for basic, he stepped off the same train platform I was standing on. I choked up a bit. I am not sufficiently eloquent to do justice to them, but this poem is pretty good:

    In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky,
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the dead.
    Short days ago,
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved and now we lie,
    In Flanders Fields.
    Take up our quarrel with the foe
    To you, from failing hands, we throw,
    The torch, be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us, who die,
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
    In Flanders Fields.

    -John McCrae

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off