Friday, May 30, 2008


Camped and hiked a bit in the Adirondacks last weekend... here are some photos taken by me or Mike. The last two are from Fort Stanwix in Rome, NY, which we visited on Memorial Day.

Do you dream of Obama? Does Hillary wake you up at night?

Apparently, you're not alone. There's a website - actually four blogs - that collects stories, allegedly true, of regular citizen's dreams about the candidates. They're all linked from dream central... but you have to click on a link that says "I Dream of..." and the candidate's photo.

That might make you queasy, and with good reason, so Global Review has done the dirty work and clicked all those ugly links. Here's a safer way to navigate: And a bonus! If I dream about politicians tonight, I'm really going to regret posting this.

Hat tip to Stumped

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Need The Eggs

Know the old joke about the man who goes to a shrink and says, "Doc, you gotta help my brother, he thinks he's a chicken!". Shrink replies, "Well, have you told him he's not a chicken?".

Guy stops for a beat, then admits, "Well, I would have, but we needed the eggs."

I feel like that guy lately.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Just to update, Memorial Day weekend was an excellent summer kickoff, from Friday night working to put up garage doors (they're up! Thank you Sniper!) to Saturday sprinting through the woods with my brother, to Sunday hiking 19 miles, to Monday visiting Fort Stanwix, to an enormous "invitation only" potluck last night.

Lots of highlights, but one has to be learning to use powdered sugar as a flamethrower. We're talking about 27 cubic feet of flame coming out of your mouth! How awesome is that?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Thanks to reader Dubya for the tipoff on an excellent opinion piece in the Boston Globe (I know!) on the California Supreme Court's decision in favor of gay marriage and against Californians. Jeff Jacoby argues concisely:
In American law, certain conditions of marriage have always been nonnegotiable. A marriage joins (a) two people (b) of the opposite sex (c) who are not close relatives. Under that venerable definition, there can be no valid same-sex marriage, no polygamous or other plural marriage, and no incestuous marriage. But if the opposite-sex requirement is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to marry - which the California court explains as "the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one's choice" - then so are the restriction of marriage to two people and the ban on incestuous marriage. If two women who wish to marry each other must be permitted to do so, why not two sisters? Why not three?

...Men and women are not interchangeable, and same-sex unions - no matter how devoted and enduring - cannot take the place of a married husband and wife. The essential function of marriage is to unite male and female. That is the only kind of union that can produce new life, and therefore the only kind of union in which society has a survival stake.
To which I would add, the modern conception of marriage is a direct outgrowth of Christian theology. It owes little debt to Celtic pagan, Greco-Roman, or Near Eastern marriage rites and traditions. Those were all contractual; the covenantal and equally binding nature of western marriage is a direct product of Christianity. Moreover, marriage was originally the province of the church - the state decided to join the church in its marital mission and created civil marriage on the church model. Current judicial changes essentially amount to a hostile takeover.

The government may rightly abandon marriage, admitting its lack of competence to oversee an essentially cultural and religious matter. It may agree to be the arbiter of contracts between persons of any nature - with no restrictions whatsoever, but also no pretense to marriage. Or it may judge that marriage is socially valuable, and continue to aid the church in enforcing and promulgating the institution. But the government did not define marriage and has no authority to redefine it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Farm Bill

With food prices at their highest level in memory, do you think the government should be taxing all Americans to give welfare payments to flush farmers? David Brooks breaks it down in today's NY Times.
The growers of nearly every crop will get more money. Farmers in the top 1 percent of earners qualify for federal payments. Under the legislation, the government will buy sugar for roughly twice the world price and then resell it at an 80 percent loss. Parts of the bill that would have protected wetlands and wildlife habitat were deleted or shrunk.
81 senators and 318 reps voted for this $307,000,000,000 giveaway. They ignored the administration's request to free USAID's hands in providing food aid to countries at risk of famine, and the votes are sufficient to override President Bush's promised veto.

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain talk about accountability in government, combating special interests, and freeing legislation from the entanglements of lobbyists.
But Obama supported the bill, just as he supported the 2005 energy bill that was a Christmas tree for the oil and gas industries. Obama’s vote may help him win Iowa, but it will lead to higher global food prices and more hunger in Africa...

John McCain opposed the farm bill. In an impassioned speech on Monday, he declared: "It would be hard to find any single bill that better sums up why so many Americans in both parties are so disappointed in the conduct of their government, and at times so disgusted by it."
McCain for President: let's stop giving tax money to the rich.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Parliament to Decide the Fate of Humanity

Whether and how we descended from animals is debated by scientists. Whether we will descend back into animals is being debated by Parliament. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is pushing a series of bills that would, inter alia, allow the mixture of human with animal cells for scientific research.

There is much to be said on both sides of the debate over embryonic research (verily: both sides talk a lot). But cutting through it all, I believe, is the question of whether one accepts the primacy of currently living adults over all humanity, past and present. Do we accept that we, the living, should alone determine whether and how nascent generations shall live? That is, are we alone human?

C.S. Lewis addresses this question brilliantly in The Abolition of Man. Francis Fukuyama revisits the topic in The End of History and the Last Man, which offers a rationale for Nietzche's "last man" (from Thus Spake Zarathustra). All three see humanity collapsing inward on itself and losing all control over itself precisely when it fully masters its environment.

To these add: when humanity can freely use its own offspring purely for the enrichment of its own material well-being, it has ceased to be humanity in any full sense of the word. Instead of the strong laying down their lives to protect the weak, we will be the strong laying down the weak to protect ourselves. Rather than giving life to future generations, we will be taking it from them. And not only taking their lives, but taking their humanity by admixing them with animals for our own benefit - and perhaps soon for our own amusement.

Thus passes the manhood of Albion.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rwandan Women

An interesting article in today's WaPo dishes on the women of Rwanda's genocide survivor generation.
The march of female entrepreneurialism, playing out here and across Rwanda in industries from agribusiness to tourism, has proved to be a windfall for efforts to rebuild the nation and fight poverty. Women more than men invest profits in the family, renovate homes, improve nutrition, increase savings rates and spend on children's education, officials here said...

"They say that women care more about the family, but I do not know if that is true," Mukandayisenga said. "I think it has more to do with the self-control woman show in hard times. We know how to survive when men despair"... In the effort to finance the reduction of poverty in the developing world, many leading experts said that women simply make better investments.

Today women hold about 48 percent of the seats in Rwanda's parliament, the highest percentage in the world...Today, 41 percent of Rwandan businesses are owned by women -- compared for instance with 18 percent in Congo.
It doesn't waste any effort trying to be even-handed: men are pretty much trashed by the article, and the data backs up the trashing. This raises a few questions, including whether women's aptitude for development is universal, and what can be done to change men's attitudes towards money.

Africa Mission Alliance, a Christian education and development organization that Global Review supports, has contributed towards women's empowerment. On my recent visit to Rwanda, I was introduced to a woman who was given sewing classes and a sewing machine worth $200, and has used the capital to become a seamstress and shopkeeper.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lebanon Map

Global Review created a clickable map of the flashpoints in the Lebanon conflict of the past week. Each location has a briefly researched history, and death tolls where they seemed accurate. Multiple sources are now saying 81 total deaths have occurred in the conflict.

Hopefully, Global Review will not have to update this map.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Big Rock Candy Mountains

My friends and I found ourselves struggling to remember this old ballad recently. Here you are, mates.
One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around it
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Just How Bad?

We knew ethanol was bad. But just how bad? Opinion Journal runs some numbers:
To create just one gallon of fuel, ethanol slurps up 1,700 gallons of water, according to Cornell's David Pimentel, and 51 cents of tax credits... The record 30 million acres the U.S. will devote to ethanol production this year will consume almost a third of America's corn crop while yielding fuel amounting to less than 3% of petroleum consumption.
Ah, but what about global warming?
Now scientists are showing that ethanol will exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions. A February report in the journal Science found that "corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Voting Day

With voters lining up at the polls in Indiana and North Carolina, here's a really nifty delegate tracking toy from NYTimes. Given your guess on how well the candidates do over the last few races, it tells you how many superdelegates each needs to sway in order to win. For Clinton, the math is pretty ugly: she needs a rout. Obama can win a war of attrition at this point, though he'd really like to end the primary campaign with a mandate instead of a margin.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Yankees Fans: A Menace to Society

Notice to New England bahtendahs: stop serving beeah an' spirits to Yankees fans aftah the 6th inning.
Authorities won't describe the argument beforehand in Slade's Food & Spirits [in Nashua, NH], but witnesses said it heated up when Hernandez identified herself as a New York Yankees fan.
She may not have begun the ahgument, but like her favorite team, she figgahed the only way to end it was with uncalibrated wahfahe. Some people can't handle losin' gracefully.
"She never braked, and she accelerated at a high speed for about 200 feet. She went directly at this group of people"
Aftah killing Matthew Beaudoin, age 29, she told police she thought the people would "get out of the way."
Chris Lovett, a disc jockey at Slade's, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that Beaudoin kept to himself and "wasn't an instigator."

Faith Beaudoin said her brother, who lived in Nashua, was a 1997 graduate of Nashua High School... She said his organs, including his heart, live and kidneys, were donated in hopes of saving other people's lives. "He was always helping people when he was alive, and he's still saving lives," she said, choking back tears during the weekend.
Win one for the faithful depahted, Sawx.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Food: The Bush Legacy

If President Bush is remembered for doing something well as president, it should be his policy towards the developing world. His administration has massively increased aid for HIV/AIDS victims, has expanded free trade with poor countries, and has shown an unprecedented degree of respect for LDC's.

The latest policy battle on this front is the administration's effort to relax USAID's food-purchasing rules. Norman Borlaug and Andrew Natsios outline the sensibility of this move in Opinion Journal.
Purchasing food locally simplifies the process, cuts down the time delay in delivery, reduces the logistical risks, and saves transport costs... Direct food purchases in local countries could also help improve their agriculture...

In Ethiopia in 2003, for example, widespread drought occurred in the low-lying areas of the country and the very dry northern highlands. Some 12 million to 15 million people were at risk of hunger and starvation. But in the central and southern highlands of Ethiopia, farmers were producing a bumper crop of corn and other cereals. Yet with no market for the locally produced grains, prices collapsed.
Meanwhile, American farmers are seeing high prices for their products - they don't need ((yet) another) handout from Uncle Sam.

Write your Congressman!
Congress should amend the Farm Bill to allow up to 25% of the appropriation for USAID's food-aid program to be used to purchase food locally, when the program's administrator deems it appropriate to do so. A great many people's lives depend on this reform.
This is one thing we - regular American citizens - can do in response to the global food crisis.

Wright and God

Michael Gerson shocked me with his WaPo column today: he actually has something new to say about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright kerfuffle. Gerson sharply criticizes Obama for condescension (that's not so new), but he also brings a (white) Christian perspective to the issue of Rev. Wright's theology.
It is a tribute to the power of the Christian message that there is such a thing as African American Christian theology at all. Christianity was the religion held by slave masters -- often distorted into an ideology of oppression. But African Americans found a model of liberation in the Exodus. They discovered that Jesus more closely resembled the beaten and lynched slave than their pious oppressors. And African Americans -- by their courageous assertion of God's universal love and man's universal dignity -- redeemed a nation they had entered in chains.
This is a view that Wright and others should be able to embrace. Of course, Gerson and Wright depart from this commonality in sharply different directions. Perhaps Wright does not believe that African Americans have "redeemed [the] nation"; but at least he and other blacks should believe that they can do so, and that binding up the nation's wounds is a nobler goal than rending asunder what was bought with the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil.