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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, December 17, 2010

WORD AROUND THE NET

"A year ago I was not involved in politics other than watching the collapse of our country and complaining. Today I am an active member of a Tea Party "

Yesterday was the 237th anniversary of the original tea party, when several of the Founding Fathers and others living in Boston dressed up like local Native Americans, invaded a British ship, and threw the cargo overboard into the Massachusetts harbor to protest a tax increase. Their spirit lives on in the modern Tea Party which was at least party responsible for stopping the pork-bloated Omnibus Spending bill pushed by Democrat leadership in congress and larded up by both Republican and Democrat congressmen alike. It will take time to get rid of the guys who keep doing this, if ever, but then the Revolutionary War wasn't won in one election either.

Writing for Fox News, Doug McKelway writes about the current recovery, referring to it as a "mancession" as many others have before:
Some statistics bear that out. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when the labor market deteriorated in 2009, men felt the brunt of it. Some 3.1 million jobs held by men were lost last year compared to only 1.6 million jobs for women.

Simply put, manufacturing, smokestack, and manual labor jobs are still largely the domain of males, while the "softer" service sector jobs -- like those in education, health or retail -- are more populated by females.
...
Of the 50,000 jobs added to private payrolls in November, a net 34,000 new jobs were gained by men, while the number of jobs gained by women was 16,000.
Its not that women aren't losing jobs and facing hardship, its that men are facing enormously more.

South Los Angeles city council has decided that they are going to ban all new fast food restaurants in their area. Their reason is that the restaurants sell unhealthy food (and they believe the residents in their area are too stupid and childish to make their own decisions about diet and how to spend their money), but you have to wonder: does South LA have so many jobs they don't need any entry level opportunities?

San Jose, not to be outdone, has banned plastic bags at grocery stores. It wasn't all that long ago that we were told that plastic bags would save the environment by stopping deforestation caused by using paper bags. Now plastic bags are destroying the earth, something people like me pointed out would be true at the time. In a decade or so, people will argue that textile shopping bags (which have plastic liners at the bottom, by the way) are destroying the earth because of the plastic in the nylon material.

Courtesy the Ace of Spades HQ sidebar, here's a link to the Encyclopedia Arda, a Tolkien world website with information on his Middle Earth. It has lots of searchable articles, images, maps, and so on with tons of data for big time fans.

Middle school teachers deal with what I believe are the most troublesome age range of kids on earth and they have all my sympathy for the hard job they have to do. However, some times people want too much as teachers. Take the case of Safoorah Khan who wants to take off three weeks of vacation time to go on the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca that is one of the seven requirements of being a devout Muslim. Doing these things reduces the amount of time you have to spend in hell paying for your sins according to Islam, and all Muslims are expected to do it once in their life. The school district refused to give her the time off (which is coincidentally between Thanksgiving and Christmas, two time periods which teachers get time off anyway - extending her 3 weeks to about 5 effectively). So President Obama's Justice Department is suing the school district for an alleged civil rights violation of her freedom of religion.

Islamic law demands that this be done at some point in the person's life, but not when (sort of like prayer, you have to pray 3 times a day, but not at any specific times). Thus, she could do this at any time in her life, such as when she retires, goes on sabbatical, leaves that job for another, or so on.

NASA has been a hotbed of global warming alarmism in a curious departure from its proper duties as space exploration. The US Space agency has been one of the loudest voices of warning for mythical climate doom caused by human beings, particularly from Dr Hanson who even has doctored data in the past to hide greater warming periods in the early 20th century. That's why their latest paper suggesting that human-caused global warming is preventing a new ice age is interesting to hear about. Maybe if they spent more time on space exploration and less on weather we might have a colony on the moon or something more significant going on in space.

Scientists have been experimenting with plants to see how they react to CO2. Carbon Dioxide is what plants take in (in addition to sunlight and nutrients from the ground) to grow and produce oxygen, and these scientists found that when wheat was bombarded with CO2 regularly it grows faster, better, and produces more crop. Meanwhile, other scientists tell us all that massive starvation and misery will result from increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

A Virginia judge ruled that parts of the gargantuan Government Health Care Takeover act are unconstitutional - specifically the one that requires people to buy health insurance nationally. There was a part of that judgment which caught the eye of William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection and I particularly liked it as well:
The Commonwealth's position flows in part from the Secretary's frequent contention that Section 1501 is the linchpin of the entire health care regimen underlying the ACA. However, the bill embraces far more than health care reform. It is laden with provisions and riders patently extraneous to health care-over 400 in all.... [at p. 38]
As he points out, the bill was so huge and contained so much, a lot of it utterly unrelated to health care, that much of it is outside his judgment in this case. The Democrats just rammed it through without reading it and packed it full of all kinds of pet projects and ideas.

Last year, President Obama absurdly won the Nobel Peace Prize for being black and being elected President and even he seemed embarrassed by the whole thing - not enough to turn it down mind you. This year the Nobel committee looked around for someone a bit more deserving and found Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident. Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong writing in The Guardian (no Chinese official government voice working with an English translator there, move along) complained that Xiaobo is a miserable fellow who shouldn't have been given the prize:
If Liu's politics were well-known, most people would not favour him for a prize, because he is a champion of war, not peace. He has endorsed the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he applauded the Vietnam and Korean wars retrospectively in a 2001 essay.
...
During the 2004 US presidential election, Liu warmly praised George Bush for his war effort against Iraq and condemned Democratic party candidate John Kerry for not sufficiently supporting the US's wars
...
Liu has also one-sidedly praised Israel's stance in the Middle East conflict. He places the blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict on Palestinians, who he regards as "often the provocateurs".

Liu has also advocated the total westernisation of China. In a 1988 interview he stated that "to choose westernisation is to choose to be human."
The translation here is a bit curious, he might have meant "democracy" more than "westernized." In any case, Xiabou has been in prison for a long time for daring to criticize the communist Chinese government. And horror of horrors, he supports fighting evil, tyranny, oppression, and terrorism around the world. That makes him a terrible person, according to these writers. Thanks to Tim Blair for this story.

The Washington Post commissioned a poll to find out how people view the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act, and the poll results suggest even fewer people support it than ever. The Washington Post has yet to mention those results, but it did write an article entitled "Public is not yet sold on GOP" all about how congress is unliked and popularity polling for congress is very low. How this reflects on the Republican Party is unclear, as the results of the November Election which swept scores of GOP candidates into office and Democrats out have not taken place yet: congress is unchanged until January. Certainly people are not very big on the Republican party, nor are they likely to be unless there's some big changes but the poll about congress the Post is referring to is an absurd attempt to demonize a congress that hasn't even started yet.

The fourth amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens of the United States from search and seizure without proper cause. A court recently ruled that this protection extends to e-mails, despite the US Government arguing that emails are so easily accessed and broadly stored that they are effectively public. I can see arguments for both sides on this, but its usually best to err on the side of liberty and against government power.

Communism is a horrific ideology that has resulted in far more death, misery, and terror than Fascism ever has, partly because it lasted a lot longer. Communist dictators killed millions more than anyone on earth ever has, making atheism a vastly greater source of war, death, and horror than all religions combined. However, when people talk about Communism, it almost never has the same sense of evil and revulsion that Nazis get. Instapundit has a great round up of different thinkers and posts discussing this fact (starting with an article in the New York Times by Frank Dikotter about Mao and starvation). The overall conclusion is that while Fascism is rightly reviled by academia and entertainment, communism isn't. Cathy Young writes:
Such an acknowledgment would amount to (1) validating a view of the West, Communism’s Cold War adversary, as good (albeit imperfect), and (2) admitting that the left spent much of the 20th century cozying up to mass murderers and therefore has precious little moral authority to criticize the West today.
And that's the basic gist of it. These guys would have to admit they were wrong all along (just like in the Iraq invasion) and that simply won't do.

Real estate values are plunging, again. For a decade or so, the value of homes exploded far beyond their reasonable and proper levels, and now they're dropping to a realistic level, but that means hardship for people selling homes and the economy in general. For some folks, moving to a new area and starting over is their best option, but they can't sell their house to do it.

Stem Cell Research has yet another victory, this time allowing people to grow their own insulin. A previous victory appears to have found a treatment which stops HIV and ends the disease. Both of these research projects share a similar trait: they use adult stem cells. So far embryonic stem cells have produced only one viable treatment involving hearing loss in the midst of dozens of often ghastly failures. Adult stem cell research marches on and on, producing treatment after treatment of successful research. The HIV cure seems really specific though, this man was unusually resistant to HIV.

Ten. That's the number of human feet that have washed ashore on Washington state beaches since 2008. Some are in shoes, some are bare, and nobody yet knows why or how this is happening. No footless bodies are being found, and the mystery has Washington authorities puzzled. Seven feet have washed ashore on British Columbia beaches just north of Washington as well, and the source is most likely the same.

Republican state senator for New Hampshire put out a video urging people to pray for America, and Democrats were outraged. Patrick Hynes at the New Hampshire Journal writes:
Democratic spokeswoman Harrell Kirstien accused Republican State Rep. David Bates of attempting to impose a “Bible belt social agenda” after video surfaced of Bates saying “the only hope for America” is to “turn from our wicked ways and ask god to heal our land” and “the problem we have here in this country and in all of our states is that we no longer fear god” at New England Solemn Assembly in Plymouth Massachusetts.
Funny how if a Democrat calls for prayer, there's no particular concern, almost as if the left thinks they don't really mean it.

According to the Daily Caller via a Wikileaks leak, President Obama tried to use the CIA to pressure countries to pass climate change efforts in Copenhagen. This is, I think, why a lot of people are sometimes ambivalent toward Wikileaks. Abuse of power and nasty secrets ought to be out there, but Wikileaks seems more interested in hurting the US (and the west) and aiding its enemies than merely fighting abuse of power.

Senators aplenty tried to use the Omnibus Spending Bill which went down in flames yesterday to pay back various constituents. Representative Cleaver (D-MO) tried to send $48 billion dollars to his friend in Missouri in an earmark - something he denies but his website as of this writing mentions positively. Senator Murkowski (R-AK) tried to throw a dumptruck of cash at various Native American tribes from Alaska in thanks for their support and votes (courtesy Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit).

Also from Gateway Pundit comes the story of a small bank in Oklahoma which had Christian Christmas decorations up. Along comes the Obama administration telling them to take it down, or the FDIC will not protect their money any longer. The theory here is that since federal money is used to insure the bank's investments and accounts then it would be a violation of the 1st amendment establishment of religion clause for banks to have anything religious up. Tenuous at best, but it is a lever to force Christianity out of banks for those so inclined. What were they thinking mentioning Jesus during Christmas, anyway? The Federal Reserve continues to print money emblazoned with the phrase "In God we trust."

Curious how well your charity does in terms of efficiency? Better hope its not one of these, the top ten worst charities for money spent vs cost, courtesy Dan Collins at Piece of Work In Progress:
  • American Tract Society - 68.0% overhead
  • Boys Choir of Harlem - 66% overhead
  • National Council of Negro Women - 63% overhead
  • Union Rescue Mission, Little Rock - 62% overhead
  • Cherokee National Historical Society - 58% overhead
  • National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame - 55.1% overhead
  • Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation - 48% overhead
  • Vision New England - 48.7% overhead
  • Changed Lives - 47.4% overhead
  • Victorious Christian Living International - 46.0% overhead
Notice there's no clear left/right divide here. Just sloppiness, corruption, greed, and incompetence by people who survive on the kindness of strangers.

And that's the Word Around the Net for December 17, 2010.

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