Lawyer prof / blogger Ann Althouse has a really interesting posting about the fact that Ginsburg has started reading her dissents from the bench. Althouse dissects the NY Times article today on the subject of Ginsburg.
Lawyer prof / blogger Ann Althouse has a really interesting posting about the fact that Ginsburg has started reading her dissents from the bench. Althouse dissects the NY Times article today on the subject of Ginsburg.
Tim is still non-weight bearing on his left foot/leg, for another 12 days, at least until he sees the orthopedist. Tough for an active ten year old, but he's making the best of it.
At the recommendation of his pediatrician we will make an appointment with a pediatric hematologist (I didn't know such a specialty existed) at Westchester Medical Center. It's simply to rule out the possibility that Tim may have some sort of blood disease that pre-disposes him to bone infarcts.
Sam Brownback, Senator from Kansas, is running for the Republican presidential nomination (his campaign doesn't seem to have gone very far). In the first Republican debate on MSNBC about a month ago, the group was asked if they "believed" in evolution. Brownback indicated he didn't.
Today he had an op ed in the NY Times explaining his views. I think it's a pretty good defense. It will only be available for free on the NYT website for the next week. After that, you can email me for a full copy. As Brownback says: "I think it would be helpful to discuss the issue in a bit more detail and with the seriousness it demands."
The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.
People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.
The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.
The most passionate advocates of evolutionary theory offer a vision of man as a kind of historical accident. That being the case, many believers — myself included — reject arguments for evolution that dismiss the possibility of divine causality.
Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.
For the first time in several years we went to the Memorial Day ceremony, held at "Five Corners" in Croton. There was a very good crowd; I am sure there were over 250 people. The main speaker was U.S. Army Major (Ret.) Robert Vasta, a West Point grad and Green Beret. He spoke for about 15 minutes, and then his son Robert, who is attending the Air Force Academy, spoke for five minutes.
Here's Bob Vasta
and here's his son Robert
A few crowd shots
The Croton-Harmon High School Band -
Here is a picture of part of the Vasta family. Sal Vasta is in the middle, with Pat to his right. They have a total of nine children - seven sons and two daughters, so they are very well-known in Croton. I taught one of their children - Joe - who despite spending two years in my classroom doing science and math, was able to successfully attend the Air Force Academy. Another son, Tom, followed Sal Sr. into the construction business and coaches Tim for baseball.
The young woman on the right is Bob Vasta's daughter Mary. She is also going to be following the family military tradition and will be attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs this fall.
I hope you will take the time to read the text of the personal talks Bob Vasta and his son gave on Memorial Day. Some interesting Croton history here.
Simply hit the post continuation below for the texts.
My CBC done last Friday was good - maybe too good, since my white count and most of the components were above the normal range, which sometimes indicates having an infection. WBC was 13.8 (normal range 4-11) and absolute neutrophil component 11.8 (normal range 1.5-8.8).
AND my cough has come back. SO I called my internist's office today, (Dr. Sheehy - great guy) to see if he was available. Since he was away on vacation, I saw one of his associates, Dr. Kancharla, who I had never met before.
She looked over the recent bloodwork reports I'd brought along, as well as my CAT scan from May 5th, which had shown some sort of chest infection. And I pointed out that I've been on and off various antibiotics on seven occasions since November. Then she gave the ol' chest a listen, and ordered a chest X-ray.
The chest X-ray was negative, despite her having heard some sort of sounds, so I am just on muccinex, claritin, and will use one of those asthma inhalers, to see if that will clear up my cough over the next week.
No antibiotics for now, we'll see what happens.
Also, it was nice to read on my CAT scan report, "no findings to suggest lymphoma recurrence."
In case you forgot, he used to run Russia (after Gorbachev).
Journalist: "So, President Yeltsin, how would you describe the state of the Russian economy in one word?"
Journalist: "Okay then Mr President, perhaps you would describe it in more than one word?"
Yeltsin: "Ah, in that case - not good."
UPDATE of this posting - I originally posted this morning, and then while in the gym at lunchtime, watched an interview of the Sudanese ambassador on CNN. He made the following points:
MORNING POSTING The administration to step up pressure (!?) As usual, the Washington Post has the best coverage on Darfur. Note below: "today's announcement seems certain to anger U.N. diplomats..." Yeah right. The UN has done such stellar work. Useless.
Administration officials said yesterday that the Treasury Department will step up efforts to squeeze the Sudanese economy by targeting government-run ventures involved with its booming oil business, which does many of its transactions in U.S. dollars. Bush will sanction two senior Sudanese officials and a rebel leader, who are suspected of being involved in the violence in Darfur.
The United States will also seek new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Khartoum, as well as a provision preventing the Sudanese government from conducting military flights in Darfur. The United Nations has accused Sudan's government of bombing Darfur villages.
Bush has been considering such steps for months and was set to announce the plan last month at the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum. But he held off at the behest of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who pleaded for more time to conduct diplomacy with Sudan's president, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, toward allowing international peacekeepers into the country.
Administration officials said Bashir and other senior Sudanese officials have continued to thwart efforts at cooperation even after Bush explicitly warned them of the consequences. The day after Bush's speech at the Holocaust Museum, they said, the government bombed a rebel camp, and officials have continued to give speeches rejecting the full complement of peacekeepers.
The timing of today's announcement appears certain to anger U.N. diplomats, who have been reporting progress in negotiations with Bashir and have been aggressively lobbying U.S. officials to delay sanctions. Sudan's official news agency reported Saturday that Ban has agreed to travel to Khartoum to negotiate a deal on a United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur.
The Bush administration helped broker a peace deal a year ago that was supposed to have led to the introduction of thousands of additional peacekeepers. But the deal is in shambles and few troops have been added beyond an overwhelmed 7,000-member force from the African Union.
Part of the problem facing the United States is that it has already imposed strict sanctions on Sudan -- dating to 1997, when Khartoum was targeted for its support of Osama bin Laden. So it is unclear how much more leverage the Bush administration will have without backing from other nations.
China, in particular, has extensive commercial interests in Sudan and has been skeptical of sanctions. Administration officials said they think that Beijing is starting to be more helpful, such as leaning on the Sudanese to allow the African Union force to be better-equipped.
Advocacy groups are trying to shame China by threatening a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The senior administration official said he could not forecast how China and other members of the Security Council will react to the new U.S. initiative.
The poster woman for the anti-war movement, who got national attention for camping out near Bush's home in Crawford, Texas - and whose son died in Iraq in 2004 - is giving up. Here's her own full posting about her decision. Takes under five minutes to read.
What's to say? Heartfelt, rambling, naive, and much of it nonsense, but here's a quote with a whiff of truth:
Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months...
Medal of Honor winners
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors.
Former football star Pat Tillman and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were killed on the same day: April 22, 2004. But as details of his death fitfully emerged from Afghanistan, Tillman has become a metaphor for the current conflict--a victim of fratricide, disillusionment, coverup and possibly conspiracy. By comparison, Dunham, who saved several of his comrades in Iraq by falling on an insurgent's grenade, is the unknown soldier. The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.
Desmond Doss, for instance, was a conscientious objector who entered the army in 1942 and became a medic. Because of his religious convictions and refusal to carry a weapon, the men in his unit intimidated and threatened him, trying to get him to transfer out. He refused and they grudgingly accepted him. Late in 1945 he was with them in Okinawa when they got cut to pieces assaulting a Japanese stronghold.
Everyone but Mr. Doss retreated from the rocky plateau where dozens of wounded remained. Under fire, he treated them and then began moving them one by one to a steep escarpment where he roped them down to safety. Each time he succeeded, he prayed, "Dear God, please let me get just one more man." By the end of the day, he had single-handedly saved 75 GIs.
Why did they do it? Some talked of entering a zone of slow-motion invulnerability, where they were spectators at their own heroism. But for most, the answer was simpler and more straightforward: They couldn't let their buddies down.
Big for his age at 14, Jack Lucas begged his mother to help him enlist after Pearl Harbor. She collaborated in lying about his age in return for his promise to someday finish school. After training at Parris Island, he was sent to Honolulu. When his unit boarded a troop ship for Iwo Jima, Mr. Lucas was ordered to remain behind for guard duty. He stowed away to be with his friends and, discovered two days out at sea, convinced his commanding officer to put him in a combat unit rather than the brig. He had just turned 17 when he hit the beach, and a day later he was fighting in a Japanese trench when he saw two grenades land near his comrades.
He threw himself onto the grenades and absorbed the explosion. Later a medic, assuming he was dead, was about to take his dog tag when he saw Mr. Lucas's finger twitch. After months of treatment and recovery, he returned to school as he'd promised his mother, a ninth-grader wearing a Medal of Honor around his neck.
I found this very fascinating -
Cecil, Bill, Tom, Russ, George: The five of them took off aboard a C-47 transport plane during World War II and never came back. The Army Air Force crew had completed their mission Sept. 1, 1944, delivering paratroopers to a drop zone over Holland before the aircraft crashed, with no survivors. The Germans then sabotaged the local waterways and flooded the area, leaving men and plane at the bottom of a watery, anonymous grave more than six decades ago.
But those men and their mission are not forgotten. On May 2, they all came home, thanks to the Department of Defense's POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), whose motto is "Promise Kept" and whose mission is to recover and repatriate the remains of military troops from five wars.
Families, Mr. Greer said, are often amazed at how far the military will go to return their loved ones, even decades after they were lost in battle. Month by month, the bittersweet reunions are steady. Sometimes there are four, even six new identifications made, and another lost man comes back home and is laid to rest at last.
"This office is relentless, and I believe this dedication to bring home our fallen is distinctly American. It is something we do as a nation," said Robin Piacine, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIA -- who still seeks news of her uncle, an Army medic lost in North Korea in 1950.
"The DPMO mission is worldwide, they're good people. They care, they have a calling. And their work is a sign to those who serve now and in the future that we will never, ever them leave behind," Mrs. Piacine said.
Their work is also daunting. More than 78,000 soldiers, airmen and sailors remain unaccounted for from World War II. There are about 8,100 missing in action from the Korean War and 1,784 from Vietnam. Another 125 are missing from the Cold War era, and three are missing or presumed captured from the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
LAST WEEK, at a swearing-in ceremony at Mount Vernon for new citizens, three of the immigrants taking the oath wore the uniform of this country, and two had done service in the nation's wars. One was a Navy petty officer from Haiti, one a Marine noncom from St. Vincent and one an Army sergeant from Canada. Their presence, and the presence of others like them at such ceremonies in recent years, is a reminder that many of those we honor today, the American war dead, were not really Americans in the full legal sense of the word. They got here by one means or another, sometimes documented, sometimes not, and they have fought in every one of America's conflicts. Without their service in the most crucial and wrenching of these struggles -- the Civil War -- it's unlikely that the Union we know today would exist.
Like many before and since who have chosen this country over their native land, these soldiers saw America as a place of great promise -- one worth defending to the death if necessary. Many still come here with that same kind of faith. Look at the pictures of the dead from the Iraq war, read the names and consider how many of them were people who were new to this country. And then give thought to how often that line of "legality" for newcomers can be a very thin one. These dead are the silent witnesses on the much-debated question of what makes one an American -- and the most eloquent ones by far.
You may have to register with the NY Times to access this op ed, but it's free and easy.
Well it's a strange title. The full title is The Multifidus Back Pain Solution: Simple Exercises that Target the Muscles that Count. If you are one of the 80% of Americans who suffer from back pain, this is a very worthwhile quick read. It's 120 pages and can be finished in 60 to 90 minutes. The Multifidus Back Pain Solution... is really more of a booklet then a book. It covers the basic physiology of the back, as well as common types of back problems and many of the treatments that are used. And then offers a simple program which has shown proven results.
The multifidus is a little-known set of muscles that connect the vertebrae. The thesis of author Jim Johnson, who is a physical therapist, is that strengthening these muscles will help many people who suffer from back pain to either (1) have less pain when they have episodes of back pain or (2) have fewer back pain episodes or (3) have a happy combination of (1) and (2). Johnson backs up his thesis based on research (that is ongoing) from quite a number of back pain studies.
As a person whose own back pain problems have been reduced dramatically in the last three plus years by using a nautilus back machine (that's designed to strengthen all the muscles running along the spinal vertabrae), I am sure Johnson is on to something.
The exercises Johnson suggests are simple to do, require no machines or weights (well, small ankle weights can be used), and take very little time. I am going to incorporate them into my own gym time, on days when I'm not using the nautilus back machine.
The author admits his program will not work for everyone, but it does help the majority of people in his own practice and in the scientific studies.
DEFINITELY worth the small investment of time and money to get and read this book if you have a back problem.
Pretty good address. The valedictorian, Michael Rossman, had a double major in theology and economics and is said to be headed for the Jesuits.
I hope he straightens them out.
Like many of my fellow Notre Dame graduates, I had the tremendous opportunity to study abroad. Near the completion of my program in Uganda, I was asked to give a talk to all the families who hosted students, so I sought suggestions from my Ugandan host family for what to say. Immediately, my host sister, Miriam, insisted that I must start my speech by saying, “I greet you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” I explained to Miriam that I wasn’t comfortable with this, as many students in my non-Notre Dame program didn’t practice any sort of religion. This led my host family to erupt in laughter and my host mother to ask, “But Michael, if they don’t have a religion, then what do they believe?”
Fellow graduates, as we leave this university, many of us have the enormous privilege of being able to live relatively comfortable lives when compared to the majority of the world’s population. At the same time, whether or not we live materially comfortable lives, we are ultimately called to live complicated lives. Respecting the principles of Catholic social teaching means that the lives of millions killed around the world by treatable diseases matter, just as the economic, social, and spiritual poverty that exists in our own neighborhoods deserves our attention. Such realities necessitate concern, sympathy, and action. Though the answers to these problems are not always obvious, turning the page of the newspaper and failing to ask “why” would betray what this place, with its Catholic foundation, stands for. We now share the opportunity and duty to live out what Notre Dame, grounded in both faith and reason, has planted in us. Even though our future coworkers may not wear The Shirt on every fall Saturday, nor be willing to climb atop the office building to pray the rosary, let us not leave behind all that has shaped and complicated our lives during our time at Notre Dame. Thank you.
Our good friends Sal and Kathy Americo have a daughter Katy (who used to baby-sit for us!) who is married to a West Point grad, currently in Iraq. Kathy sent around the following email from her daughter, which contains an email from her husband's commanding officer. Very interesting.
Eli's company commander wrote this update about Chaos Company for our virtual FRG (family readiness group). I know so many of you wonder what Eli's day to day is like and what kind of missions he has been going on. It is with utmost pride that I send this out. Chaos is doing a cut up job in Iraq and are making a difference for the people of Al Dujayl, who were brutalized under Saddam Hussein. ...
All your packages, emails, letters and prayers are being well received. It helps Eli get through his days and helps me to know how well he is being taken care of and watched over. Eli is enjoying the "real food" (dinner type stuff) people send as FOB O'Ryan is overcrowded and as you will read below, it will only continue to grow in size. Also, it reached over 100 early this month and was 110 this week, so no more chocolate or anything that might melt.
GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!
12 May 2007
Greetings to all the friends and family of Team Chaos,
First of all, may all of the mothers of Team Chaos have a wonderful Mother's Day. Moms, we love you and our thoughts and prayers go out to you on your special day. Happy Mother's Day!
The time is passing quickly as we move out of the winter and leap past spring and right into the summer. The weather is heating up and the work is sweaty and dirty. We are staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like gatorade and good old fashioned water, but it is getting hot. We just passed 100 degrees and this is May. Imaginge what July and August are going to be like...Hot, Hot, Hot!
The mission is going very well and all of the soldiers are doing things to make you proud every day. Our partnership with the little town of Ad Dujayl continues and fosters good will and friendship between us and the Iraqi people. We conducted a mission this past week where we delivered 12 pallets (2 x 5 ton trucks full) worth of medical supplies and humanitarian aid items like clothes, shoes and diapers and toys to the people of Al Dujayl. We also fixed up a large generator with our Iraqi Army counterparts that now brings electricity to a group of about 100 houses that previously had no electricity at all. Imagine what it was like for them to turn a light on in their house for the first time, or to turn on a fan to beat back some of the heat... Needless to say, your soldiers are real life heroes in the eyes of many of these Iraqi people, especially the kids.
Although you hear and read in the news that there are great challenges in some parts of Iraq, our little part continues to get better and better. Life goes on and the good thing is that the quality of life is improving in our area. Your soldiers have everything to do with that.
The Iraqi Police school that we run on O'Ryan has trained over 230 Iraqi Police that now actively protect our area. The Iraqi Army continues to grow in size and capabilities all the time. Soon on O'Ryan we will have more than 2000 Iraqi Army soldiers to provide security for the people of this entire area, where before there were less than 200 Iraqi soldiers doing the same job. Things are getting better every day. We are working hard, all the time. There are no days off, ever. I want you to know that we are doing everything within our power to make things better, to help the Iraqi people, and to defeat Al Queda in Iraq and win this War for us, for you back home, and for the good of the Iraqi people caught in the middle.
This is a long fight. This is a tough fight. We are determined to win it and I am determined to keep your soldiers safe as we do it. We have been given a great burden of responsibility, but we can handle it. It is worth it, you are worth it, and fighting for America and the American Dream will always be worth it!
CPT Patrick Blankenship
I thought I would post part of an email I got today. It's from Leslie Vasta, wife of Tom Vasta. They are friends of ours and Tom is Tim's baseball coach.
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at whether it's true that low-skilled immigrant households are quick to go on the dole and suck money out of U.S. taxpayers.
The answer - they don't. It's a fact-based column. Immigration and Welfare OpinionJournal - Featured Article
... most immigrants contribute payroll taxes for decades before they collect Social Security or Medicare benefits. The Social Security actuaries recently calculated that over the next 75 years immigrant workers will pay some $5 trillion more in payroll taxes than they will receive in Social Security benefits. These surplus payments more than offset the costs of use of other welfare benefits received by most immigrant groups.
There's no doubt that immigrants draw on public resources, like the roads and the schools. The latter is mandated by a Supreme Court decision, Plyer v. Doe, and in any event would our society rather have these children in school, or wandering the streets? Even immigrants who don't own homes, and thus don't pay property taxes, finance public schools indirectly through rents paid to landlords. As for health care and roads, immigrants who receive paychecks have their income taxes withheld, and they also pay sales tax and other levies like everyone else.
Perhaps most important, immigrant earnings and tax payments rise the longer they are here. According to Census data for 2005, immigrants who have just arrived have median household earnings of $31,930, or about 30% below the U.S. average of $44,389. But those in the U.S. for an average of 10 years have earnings of $38,395; for those here at least 25 years, the figure is more than $50,000. Those earnings wouldn't be increasing if most immigrants were going on the dole. They are instead assimilating into the work force, growing their incomes as their skills increase.
As Congress debates immigration policy, the Members should keep in mind that the melting pot is still working; that taxes by immigrants cover their use of public services; and that finding a way to let immigrants work in the U.S. legally is the humane and pro-growth solution to the illegal immigration problem.
It's a short op ed - link and excerpt below.
The authors are:
Ms. Jody Williams, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, recently headed a U.N. Mission on Darfur. Ms. Mia Farrow recently returned from her fourth trip to the Darfur region.
Sudan's Enablers OpinionJournal - Extra
Fidelity has not been the only, or even the largest, U.S. firm enabling the slaughter in Darfur. Earlier this month, Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, which has roughly $3 billion invested in PetroChina, voted not only against divesting, but against taking any shareholder action on the issue.
Mr. Buffett has been justly lauded for his generous contributions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But it is difficult to comprehend how a man can be a true humanitarian while offering billions of dollars to a company that is underwriting Khartoum's crimes. Only China invests more money in PetroChina/CNPC than Berkshire Hathaway.
How many more Sudanese villages will be destroyed? How many more hundreds of thousands will be displaced? How many more women will be raped? How many more families will be torn apart? How many more children will die of violence, disease and hunger? How much longer will the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway ignore their moral responsibility to discontinue their support of a company so intimately connected to crimes against humanity?
Here is is. Sponsored by the weekly newspaper the North Country News. It's format is pretty basic but will undoubtedly improve over time. It's been around for about three weeks.
There is another blog in Croton, aptly named the crotonblog. The blog's primary goal is to promote the Democratic Party in Croton, and attack anyone who may disagree with their views. If you're interested in visiting it, just google crotonblog and I'm sure it will come up.
After Fildes was taken aboard the rescue boat, his sailboat rocked back and forth, its mast hitting the side of the Crown Princess as surprised passengers looked on. Its mast snapped off as the boat drifted along the side of the cruise ship and was left behind. The crew believes the sailboat, said to be worth more than $100,000, took on water and soon sank.
Clark said the ship's doctors, who treated Fildes, believe he probably would not have survived another day stranded at sea. Fildes left the Crown Princess in San Juan.
As an unexpected ending to this dramatic rescue story, it turns out Clark and Fildes live about a mile away from each other in the coastal English village of Warsash but had never met.
Clark told passengers on the ship he plans to visit Fildes back in Warsash. "He probably owes me a drink or two," he said.
Unfortunately Tim's broken ankle (broken March 15th) is still giving him trouble. Despite being out of the cast for over three weeks, he was still limping around. Then Sunday in the late afternoon he landed funny on it off one of the front steps and hurt himself - badly enough to start complaining about it.
So Monday morning we took him to the ER - very difficult to reach the orthopedist - and thus began a ten and a half (!) hour odyssey for Tim and Brigid.
We arrived at 8:30 in the morning, but Tim and Brigid were there until 7PM! Tim had an X-Ray, and then an MRI, and then a CAT scan. With a lot of hurry up and wait between the scans.
Then this morning we saw the orthopod, Dr. Purcell. There is a good possibilty that Tim has something called Avascular Necrosis, in his ankle, which in simple terms means the blood flow to the damaged area is not what it should be. He will have a bone scan on Friday, which should be definitive. In the meantime he is back on crutches ,with no weight bearing on the left leg. And an aircast for the next week. The no weight bearing will probably be for at least three weeks.
This problem is very rare in children Tim's age (he's ten). I am getting a second opinion on the scans, courtesy of my radiologist friends at Mount Vernon hospital tomorrow. If it is Avascular Necrosis, it should clear up with rest (the affected area will "re-vascularize").
In the meantime, poor old Mister Action Man Tim is going to have to cool his jets and be very careful for the next several weeks. His baseball season looks to be completely shot.
Of course he doesn't have a complete understanding of his problem, and is a little fearful ("do I have a tumor?") but is really handling it well.
He agrees with Bush.
The Left's Iraq Muddle OpinionJournal - Featured Article
Let me restate the case for this Iraq war from the U.S. point of view. The U.S. led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein because Iraq was rightly seen as a threat following Sept. 11, 2001. For two decades we had suffered attacks by radical Islamic groups but were lulled into a false sense of complacency because all previous attacks were "over there." It was our nation and our people who had been identified by Osama bin Laden as the "head of the snake." But suddenly Middle Eastern radicals had demonstrated extraordinary capacity to reach our shores.
As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.
No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.
Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.
The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.
Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.
I love Kerrey's points (1) about those who said don't intervene because it's not worth it to establish a Democracy in Iraq. Isolationists like Pat Buchanan, who stupidly think we can prosper behind some sort of Maginot Line combining nuclear bombs and border fences. And (2) people who go to some of the "Save Darfur" rallies I've attended, and one minute are shouting "Mr. Bush, do something about the holocaust in Darfur" and the next minute passing out "Bush is a war monger for attacking Iraq" leaflets.
They are both wrong, the only long term strategy for protecting our interests and Country is promoting Democratic institutions worldwide.
Having gone up Sugarloaf mountain the Sunday before, Tom Faranda's Folly: Tom and Joe's Sunday climb up Sugarloaf I decided to try another nearby hill / "mountain" in the Lower Hudson Highlands, just north of Cold Spring and south of Sugarloaf. Joe decided he didn't want to go so I took off on my own.
The hike was much tougher then Sugarloaf. Bull Hill is higher and steeper, and twice I lost track of the marked trail. Rather then the 50 plus minutes it took to get to the top of Sugarloaf, it took 90 minutes to get up Bull. And the total round trip was much longer - 4.5 miles the brochure said. Round trip (it was a circular route) took about three hours and twenty minutes. But I enjoyed it, even though I had a two day backache afterwards.
Here are a couple of views of the old rock quarry you have to circle around on your way to the top of the hill.
And the view looking into the quarry from part way up
From near the summit, this is the view south, with a telephoto zoom. That's West Point in the middle
Across to the west is Storm King
And more or less north, between two other hills (one perhaps Sugarloaf Mountain? I'm not sure) you can just see the Newburgh-Beacon bridge
When I got to the summit there was a
kid young man sitting there by his lonesome and I asked him how high up we were - I said 8-900 feet and he looked at his typographic map and said "Oh no, more like 12-1300 feet." So I'm not sure. On the way up I did meet this family group having a picnic, about 75% of the way up. I was puffed, and was amazed to see the little kids! They all seemed cheery.
From the summit you can either re-trace your steps, or take an initially northern path which then swings west and south, to get you to the car park. Over two and a half miles. That's what I did. It goes down steeply and then you hit the Breakneck Ridge stream, and the trail follows the stream. You then come across some abandoned estate houses like this
In the next five minutes after taking the above picture I saw two 3 to 4 foot black King snakes - one on each side of the path - if you look REAL CLOSE at the middle of this picture, to the RIGHT of the trunk, you'll just see the back of the first one
As I moved further down the trail from Bull Hill, there are more and more intersecting marked trails and there were many more people
And within three quarter miles or so of the trailhead, it becomes positively crowded. However very few of these people were going up either Bull Hill or Breakneck Ridge. A walk in the woods was their goal
This past weekend I didn't get out, but I'm hoping to do something for one day this coming Memorial Weekend. Ideally, I'd like to take a quick ride up to Bash Bish Falls and Mount Everett in the southwest corner of Massachusetts (about a ninety minute ride; near the CT. and NY borders) with joe, but that may not come off.
As a former resident of Grand Cayman, I got a huge kick out of this editorial Saturday in the Wall Street Journal!
Pride of the Caymans
John Edwards's part-time job.
Let us say right up front that it's terrific that John Edwards lives in a country where he can lose an election and still land a $480,000 part-time job as a consultant to an investment firm that keeps its hedge funds in the Cayman Islands as a tax shelter for its clients. This truly is the land of opportunity.
We're also encouraged to hear that, according to the former Senator's spokesman, "John Edwards is running for President to give every American the opportunities that he's had." While there may not be enough half-a-million-dollar-a-year part-time consulting gigs to go around just yet, the hedge fund industry is growing. And there's always private equity if you find yourself, as Mr. Edwards described his 2005 circumstance, making $40,000 a year at an antipoverty think tank and wanting to learn something about "capital markets." Thus did he turn, in his time of need, to Fortress Investment Group LLC, pride of the Caymans.
It would also be churlish to repeat the by now tired line about which of his "Two Americas" Mr. Edwards lives in--notwithstanding his $30 million in assets, about $16 million of which is invested in Fortress. And in any case, no one should have to apologize for his wealth and success.
That said, we can understand why the former Senator's campaign wants to change the subject. Mr. Edwards has campaigned, both in 2004 and now, against the use of offshore tax shelters, the supposed rising tide of U.S. inequality and the plight of the American worker. Mr. Edwards' employment at an investment firm that headquarters most of its hedge and private equity funds in one of the world's most notorious tax shelters underscores all of those themes--albeit not quite in the way the Edwards campaign has chosen to emphasize.
Mr. Edwards did tell the Associated Press that he took the job not merely to make money, but also to learn about the relationship between the capital markets and poverty. How refreshing it would have been, then, for Mr. Edwards to have emerged from his toil in the crucible of high finance to explain that all is not moral darkness in the upper reaches of the investing class; that people who invest in businesses help alleviate poverty and make the economy strong; and that it is risk-taking that offers Americans their best--indeed, their only--chance to have "the opportunities he's had."
It was not to be, alas. Mr. Edwards said instead that if he's elected President he'll still try to abolish offshore tax shelters. At least he'll have already made his money.
Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the subject of persistent presidential speculation despite his denials of any interest, was to tape his interview Thursday, facing questions from a former political foe, Mark Green.
Mr. Green, who lost to Mr. Bloomberg when the former CEO made his first run for City Hall in 2001, is now running Air America with his older brother, Stephen Green. They took it over this year in an attempt to revive the network, which had been losing money.
In a statement, the younger Mr. Green said the headliners kicking off the relaunch will deliver "the kind of news and views we'll be offering for years to come and that no other radio or TV network now provides."
The Washington Post has an editorial this morning
ONE MONTH ago President Bush said that he was giving the Sudanese government a "last chance" to comply with United Nations orders to end what Mr. Bush again called "genocide" in Darfur. Strongman Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the president said, would have "a short period of time" to agree to the full deployment of an international peacekeeping force, end support for militias that have been slaughtering civilians, and allow aid into the region. "If President Bashir does not meet his obligations," Mr. Bush said in a speech delivered at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, "the United States will act."
The day after Mr. Bush spoke, Mr. Bashir's government launched a new campaign of bombing raids in northern Darfur. Helicopter gunships and Antonov aircraft attacked villages for the next 10 days, according to the United Nations. In the village of Um Rai, the United Nations said, rockets fired by a government helicopter blasted a school. The government painted some of its planes white so that they would be mistaken for U.N. aircraft operating in the region.
All this should make it obvious that "the short period of time" that Mr. Bush allowed has run out. The president reluctantly agreed to the delay because U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon pleaded for more time to negotiate with Mr. Bashir. But Mr. Ban's own spokesperson called the renewed bombing "indiscriminate" and a violation of international law. In his April 18 speech Mr. Bush mentioned one clear remedy for such attacks: steps "by the international community" to "deny Sudan's government the ability to fly its military aircraft over Darfur." There is support for that idea in the British government; now is the time for Mr. Bush to actively explore it while implementing the unilateral U.S. financial sanctions he outlined.
The Wall Street Journal had an interesting and informative op ed this morning. Worth reading the whole article (hit the link), not just the excerpts below the link:
Coal Man OpinionJournal - Featured Article
You won't hear many of Mr. Murray's energy-biz colleagues mention him; they tend to avoid his name, much as nephews avoid talk of their crazy uncles. GE's Jeffrey Immelt, Duke Energy's Jim Rogers, Exelon's John Rowe--these polished titans have been basking in an intense media glow, ever since they claimed to have seen the light on global warming and gotten behind a mandatory government program to cut C02 emissions. They'd rather not have any killjoys blowing the whistle on their real motives--which is to make a pile of cash off the taxpayers and consumers who'll fund it.
And yet here's Mr. Murray, killjoy-in-chief at the global warming love-fest. "Some elitists in our country can't, or won't, tell fact from fiction, can't understand what a draconian climate change program will do [to] the dreams of millions of working Americans and those on fixed incomes," says the chairman and CEO of Murray Energy, one of the largest private coal concerns in the country. He's incensed by his fellow energy CEOs' "shameless" goal of fattening their bottom lines at the "expense of the broader economy." So these past months he's emerged from his quiet Cleveland office and jumped on the national stage, calling out the rest of his industry's CO2 collaborationists. He's testified in front of Congress; become a regular on television and radio programs; sat for profiles by journalists; and written letters to other energy companies exhorting them to think of the broader consequences.
It seems unlikely his campaign will slow the runaway global-warming train now hurtling through Washington. But Mr. Murray is certainly making the ride less comfortable for some corporate players. "For me, global warming is a human issue, not just an environmental one," he says in his slow, gravelly way, nursing a cup of coffee at a local shop here after recent congressional testimony.
"The science of global warming is speculative. But there's nothing speculative about the damage a C02 capture program will do to this country. I know the names of many of the thousands of people--American workers, their families--whose lives will be destroyed by what has become a deceitful and hysterical campaign, perpetrated by fear-mongers in our society and by corporate executives intent on their own profits or competitive advantage. I can't stand by and watch."
"So what you are really doing with a global warming program is getting rid of low-cost energy," he says. The consequences? Americans have been fretting about losing jobs to places such as China or India, which already offer cheaper energy. "You hike the cost of energy here further, and you create a mass exodus of business out of this country." Especially so, given that neither of those countries is about to hamstring its own economy in order to join a Kyoto-like accord. He points out that since 1990, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 18%, while China's have increased by 77%. Mr. Murray also notes that many countries that have joined Kyoto have already failed to meet their targets.
Mr. Murray, like most honest participants in this debate, can reel off the names of the many respected scientists who still doubt that human activity is the cause of rising temperatures. But he tends to treat the scientific debate almost as a sideshow, an excuse for not talking about what comes next. "Even if the politicians believe 100% that man is causing global warming, they still have an obligation to discuss honestly just what damage they want to inflict on American jobs and workers and people on fixed incomes, in the here and now, with their programs."
This is where Mr. Murray really gets rolling, on his favorite subject of his fellow energy executives and the role they are playing in encouraging a mandatory C02 program. "There is this belief that since even some in the energy industry are now on board with a program, that it must be okay. No one is looking at these executives' real motives."
To understand those motives, you've first got to understand how a cap-and-trade plan works. The government would first place a cap on CO2 emissions. Each company would then be given an "allowance" for emissions. If the company produced less CO2 than allowed, it could sell the excess credits to others. If a company wanted to produce more CO2 than its allowance, it would have to buy credits. "The strategy for these folks now is to go to Washington, help design the program to suit their companies, and snap up all the carbon emission allowances," says Mr. Murray. "The more allowances they get, the more they'll have to sell, and the more money they'll make. . . . This has nothing to do with creating 'regulatory certainty,' which is how they like to sell their actions. This has to do with creating money, for their companies, off the back of an economy that will be paying more for its energy."
This is from the Daily Mail, an English newspaper. Must have been taken the day of the storm. Worth clicking through -
There was no damage to the 1,454ft Empire State Building.
The lightning rod at its very top absorbs such strikes around 100 times a year.
It may not, however, have been such a good day to visit the outdoor viewing gallery on the 86th floor.
This from my humor coordinater Ellen -
Apple announced today that it has developed a tiny computer chip that,
when surgically implanted, can store and play music in women's breasts.
The "iBreast" will cost between $499 and $599.
This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women are always
complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.
And the results are good - now three weeks in a row. White count at 6.1 and absolute neutrophils at 4.5. both in normal range and similar to last week.
Here are pictures of 46 Grand St., after the clean up and removal of the tree in the front yard that fell on the porch. You have to look closely at the ripped up yard to see the remains of the bottom of the trunk. This house damage was covered in the Journal News yesterday, and the family figured (based on the tree rings) that the tree was 80 to 100 yeasr old.
Look closely at the lawn atttached to the roots and you'll see railroad ties that lined the inside of the sidewalk edge.
My friends Phil and Anna Tully live on the northeast side of Croton - the back of their property can be seen from Rte 129. Phil is the retired village engineer. They arrived home Wednesday night to find this - the front of the house -
And here's the back -
A few details -
And their beautiful back yard looks like King Kong had a stroll through -
Here's my friend and business associate Judy Anderson (in the yellow slicker), with Anna in the back yard. It's a bad way to make the local channel 12 news, but the Tully's are handling the situation philosophically. They figure it could have been worse.
Yesterday I took a picture of the fire hydrant on Rte 129/Grand St., across from the cleaners and Wachovia bank, and then posted it. Tom Faranda's Folly: Croton crunched by the weather Here it is again:
I went back to have a look at it this morning, and it is an amazing fire plug! Check it out - built for survivability!
Tonite while standing in line at Shoprite, I staarted chatting to the fellow next to me. He says he was driving on Cleveland Ave., which parallels Radnor and saw the tornado which reeked havoc on the Radnor. Tom Faranda's Folly: Croton crunched by the weather It's very fortunate that no one was killed.
The local daily newspaper coverage has not been that extensive - I suppose they'll have more tomorrow.
CROTON-ON-HUDSON - Wilma Messenger's watched today as workers dismembered a large tree that had fallen on her home at 46 Grand St.
"We tried to count the rings, my son and I did," Messenger said. "We got up to 80 and lost count, so we're assuming it's somewhere between 80 and 100 years old."
And this article:
Bloodwork tomorrow. Will see if the two weeks of good white cell counts was flukey, or if it keeps up.
There are lots of trees in Croton, and they're all beautiful. Except when they fall down.
Yesterday as I returned to Croton from Queens, a storm rolled into my side of Westchester. In fifteen minutes Croton was pounded by rain, heavy winds, and very possibly a tornado.
There was extensive damage. The power went out at my house at around 4 o'clock and only came back on again today a little after one this afternoon. Despite this, we headed out to the Westchester Dinner Theater to see "Grease" as part of a St. Ann's School fundraiser. We left Joe behind at the house and took Tim with us (he got Damian Gagnon's seat, since he was stuck in Manhattan), and our party of eight had a good time in one of the "Sky Boxes." A little to our surprise, Tim enjoyed the whole experience.
Here are two pictures from last night, as the village cleaned up a fallen tree, less than a block from our house. The car had been under the tree!
And here are more pictures of Croton from today. These are from within about three short blocks from my house up the hill on Radnor Ave., where it is crossed by Emerson and Irving.
Here are two trees down between the cemetery and five corners -
And on Rte 129/Maple Street, across from the cleaners, Wachovia Bank and the Black Cow. The fall had closed the road last night, but the town crews cleared things. Note fire plug in second picture - they are tough!
When I came in this evening there was a small Amazon package at the door. Benedict XVI's book, which I pre-ordered. Perfect timing by Amazon, since the English version was released today. In past years, I've read about a half dozen of the former Cardinal Ratzinger's books.
I read the foreword and the introduction this evening. Wonderful so far, as he sets out to show that the "Historical Jesus" and the "Jesus of Faith" are one and the same.
There is already one review up on amazon - written by a former priest, Michael Dubruiel.
Was feeling really quite good about my recent health report, and then overdid things a bit on Sunday, with a 4 plus mile climb and walk up Bull Hill, north of Cold Spring. Back has been killing me last two days, and suddenly tonight I feel fine. That's what I get for doing it on Mother's Day.
Good thing lower back is better, since I will be spending most of tomorrow in Queens.
Meanwhile Tim's ankle is finally feeling better - he says it no longer hurts. We are seeing the orthopedist Friday, since he was a bit concerned about the slowness of Tim's recovery since the cast came off. Hopefully he'll be able to get into the baseball season in a week or ten days. He's already missed almost half the season.
Have to post some pictures from my Bull Hill climb. Not for a couple of days though. After getting back from Queens I will be off to the Weschester Dinner Theatre for St. Ann's school fundraiser. I am on the board of advisors at St. Ann's, even though the boys go to St. Augustine's. Don't ask why.
I posted part's one and two of this ongoing debate/exchange, which is being hosted on the evangelical website, Christianity Today. The exchange is between atheist writer Christpoher Hitchens and evangelical minister Douglas Wilson.
Here are links to the first two parts, here Tom Faranda's Folly: "Is Christianity Good for the World?" and here Tom Faranda's Folly: "Is Christianity Good for the World?" part 2
Wilson has been trying to pin Hitchens down as to how he forms moral judgements. I am not selling Hitchens short by printing more of Wilson's comments. Hitchens has kept his writing briefer. (Must be too busy on his book tour, promoting his new book, God is not Great). I could have, but didn't, include Wilson's point that Hitchens is wrong (see below) to suggest the Good Samaritan was Jewish.
On the much more pertinent question of the origin of ethical imperatives, which I believe to be derived from innate human solidarity and not from the supernatural, let me likewise offer an instance from each Testament. Let us assume that the tales can be taken at face value. Is it to be believed that the Jews got as far as Sinai under the impression that murder, theft, and perjury were more or less all right? And, in the story of the good man from Samaria, is it claimed that the man went out of his way to help a fellow creature because of a divine instruction? He was clearly, since he preceded Jesus, not motivated by Christian teaching. And if he was a pious Jew, as seems probable, he would have had religious warrant and authority NOT to do what he did, if the poor sufferer was a non-Jew. It is belief in the supernatural that can make otherwise decent people do things that they would otherwise shrink from—such as mutilating the genitals of children, frightening infants with talk of hellfire, forbidding normal sexual practices, blaming all Jews for "deicide," applauding suicide-murderers, and treating women as Paul or Muhammad thought they should be treated.
I have nowhere claimed nor even implied that unbelief is a guarantee of good conduct or even an indicator of it. (I have sometimes thought that atheists have a slight superiority in one respect, in that we come to our conclusions without any element of self-centered wish-thinking about death.) But an atheist can as easily be a nihilist, a sadist—even a casuist.
You say, incidentally, that this kind of law was bringing coals to Newcastle—Moses came down from the mount and told people that murder, theft, and perjury were wrong, and all the assembled rolled their collective eyes. "We already knew that!" But the problem is that ancient man didn't know that, and modern man still doesn't know it. To state some of the issues that are subsumed under just one of the three categories you mention is to point to controversies that continue down to this day. Consider some of the issues clustered under the easiest of these three to condemn—murder. We have abortion, infanticide, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, genocide, stem-cell research, capital punishment, and unjust war. Murder is the big E on the eye chart, and we still can't see it that clearly.
Take the vilest atheist you ever heard of. Imagine yourself sitting at his bedside shortly before he passes away. He says, following Sinatra, "I did it my way." And then he adds, chuckling, "Got away with it too." In our thought experiment, the one rule is that you must say something to him, and whatever you say, it must flow directly from your shared atheism—and it must challenge the morality of his choices. What can you possibly say? He did get away with it. There is a great deal of injustice behind him, which he perpetrated, and no justice in front of him. You have no basis for saying anything to him other than to point to your own set of personal prejudices and preferences. You mention this to him, and he shrugs. "Tomayto, tomahto."
I am certainly willing to take the same thought experiment. I can imagine some pretty vile Christians, and if I couldn't, I am sure you could help me. The difference between us is that I have a basis for condemning evil in its Christian guise. You have no basis for confronting evil in its atheist guise, or in its Christian guise, either. When you say that a certain practice is evil, you have to be prepared to tell us why it is evil. And this brings us to the last point—you make the first glimmer of an attempt to provide a basis for ethics.
You say in passing that ethical imperatives are "derived from innate human solidarity." A host of difficult questions immediately arise, which is perhaps why atheists are generally so coy about trying to answer this question. Derived by whom? Is this derivation authoritative? Do the rest of us ever get to vote on which derivations represent true, innate human solidarity? Do we ever get to vote on the authorized derivers? On what basis is innate human solidarity authoritative? If someone rejects innate human solidarity, are they being evil, or are they just a mutation in the inevitable changes that the evolutionary process requires? What is the precise nature of human solidarity? What is easier to read, the book of Romans or innate human solidarity? Are there different denominations that read the book of innate human solidarity differently? Which one is right? Who says?
And last, does innate human solidarity believe in God?
In an article I just posted about Tom Faranda's Folly: "Socially Responsible" investing there was mention of the efforts to get money managers to divest from certain companies who are investing in the Sudan and propping up the corrupt and murderous government there.
The Save Darfur coalition has been asking people to sign petitions to several investment companies, including Fidelity and Warren Buffett's conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway. I myself have signed them. Here's the relevant section from the Post article:
The killings in Darfur also have contributed to institutional investors' growing interest in socially responsible investing, Tulay said. Nine state governments have adopted legislation addressing Darfur. Some, for example, require that state employee pension funds avoid ownership of companies doing substantial business in Sudan.
In a typical case, activist shareholders this spring urged Berkshire Hathaway to sell its $3.3 billion stake in PetroChina, an oil firm whose parent company, controlled by the Chinese government, has extensive operations in Sudan.
But in an example of the uphill battle activists face, that resolution was defeated May 5 by an overwhelming margin. Berkshire Chairman Warren E. Buffett -- who is a Washington Post Co. director -- said there was no evidence that PetroChina itself operated in Sudan or that it had any influence over its parent company.
Buffett's response is total baloney, as the Chinese exert tremendous influence in the Sudan and with the ruling thugs - but the Chinese want the oil! And Buffett is a man obsessed with his reputation for making money. A bad combination if you are in a refugee camp in Darfur.
I put the above in quotes, because one person's "Socially Responsible" may be another person's anti- socially responsible!
I have several clients who have invested with me, using various socially responsible criteria. The Washington Post yesterday had a feature piece that was pretty good on the issue - although I disagree with the contention that socially responsible investors almost inevitably underperform the market. That has not been my experience.
"It only made sense for me to invest in some of these things," Wilson said. "It's the right thing to do, and it's at a point where I think these technologies are really going to pan out."
Wilson is one of a growing number of investors seeking balance between the profit motive and hopes of making the world a better place, weighing such issues as the environment and the conflict in Darfur when choosing stocks and mutual funds. The movement involves investors small and large, individuals, foundations, pension funds and other institutions.
Socially responsible investing options have been available for a long time, but their numbers have surged in recent years. Nearly $2.3 trillion was held in socially responsible accounts used by individuals and institutions at the end of 2005, up from $639 billion in 1995 and outpacing growth in total assets invested, according to the Social Investment Forum, a nonprofit organization.
Law professor and popular blogger Ann Althouse has a great post on global warming (and she's not only a lawyer, but a law professor - so she know's everything, right?). Read brief posting and the comments -
I keep reading about how hybrid cars and compact fluorescent lightbulbs can reduce the production of greenhouse gases, but I have yet to see an article about the savings that could be achieved if we were to stop delivery of newspapers and magazines and do all of our news reading on line.
(And speaking of environmentalism and shame and not worrying about the economic effects on a particular business, shouldn't it become socially unacceptable to drink bottled water?)
Here's a very interesting article from a couple of days ago. Iraq is about to become the second most expensive war in U.S. history. The article answers the question "How come it hasn't hurt Americans economically?"
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress has approved more than $609 billion for the wars, a figure likely to stand as lawmakers rework their latest spending bill in response to a Bush veto. Requests for $145 billion more await congressional action and would raise the cost in inflation-adjusted dollars beyond the cost of the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
But the United States is vastly richer than it was in those days, and the nation's wealth now dwarfs the price of war, economists said. Last year, spending in Iraq amounted to less than 1 percent of the total economy -- about as much as Americans spent shopping online and less than half what they spent at Wal-Mart. Total defense spending is 4 percent of gross domestic product, the figure that measures the nation's economic output. In contrast, defense spending ate up 14 percent of GDP at the height of the Korean War and 9 percent during the Vietnam War.
And this time, the war bill is going directly on the nation's credit card. Unlike his predecessors, Bush is financing a major conflict without raising taxes or making significant cuts in domestic programs. Instead, he has cut taxes and run up the national debt. The result, economists said, is a war that has barely dented the average American's pocketbook and caused few reverberations in the broader economy.
"This war is easier to manage because it's a very small portion of GDP compared to the past," said Robert D. Hormats, a managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former Reagan administration official who recently published a history of war financing. "Even the borrowing of money is relatively small compared to past wars, so the impact on the economy is relatively minor."
Lyndon B. Johnson, who tried to protect a 1964 tax cut and his Great Society programs while escalating U.S. involvement in Vietnam, eventually signed both a tax increase and spending cuts in 1968 -- too late to avoid touching off more than a decade of inflation.
Bush, in contrast, has allowed domestic spending to rise and cut taxes repeatedly since taking office, adding more than $3 trillion to the national debt. He signed a huge stimulus package two months after marching on Baghdad in March 2003. A few months later, he signed legislation to create a Medicare prescription drug benefit, the biggest expansion of the federal health program for the elderly since its creation in 1965.
That combination is unprecedented, Hormats and others said.
"This may be the first war in history -- in the history of the world -- in which there was a tax cut rather than a tax hike," said Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton University economist who was vice chairman of the Federal Reserve in the Clinton administration.
Administration officials say the 21st-century economy is different from that of the 1960s, when the U.S. government had no easy access to cheap capital. To the extent that fighting in Iraq has contributed to higher oil prices, it has added to inflationary pressures, economists said. But they added that military spending alone has not done so. And the low cost of borrowing today makes a rising debt worth the investment "in the safety and security of Americans," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.
Grover Norquist, a Bush adviser and anti-tax lobbyist, argued that the tax cuts have helped create millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in new wealth, which will ultimately make the debt easier to pay off.
"If you're going to finance a war, it's better to finance it through growth and higher revenue" than through raising taxes, Norquist said. "Would you be better off spending less money? Yes. But my argument is that economic growth that creates jobs is a fine policy whether we're at daggers drawn or at peace with the world."
Hormats called Bush's war financing "shortsighted," not only because of the potential fiscal consequences but also because it bypassed an opportunity to engage the support of the public, which has grown increasingly skeptical of the war.
"They tried to do this on the cheap and without a candid conversation with the American people about the cost," Hormats said. "But the irony is the great wartime leaders have seen it in the opposite way," theorizing that a call to sacrifice would "tie people to the war effort."
I agree with the last sentiment expressed above. Bush's big error wasn't declaring a "War on Terror" or liberating Iraq - it was in not demanding shared sacrifice from all Americans. Rather, a relatively small number of men and women - the military and their families - have carried the entire burden for the rest of us.
To be honest, I'm not sure HOW you share the burden - a draft or national service of one form or another for all? But it certainly hasn't been shared!
I loved Red Skelton, which really dates me. The following was sent to me by one of my humor editors, Ellen.
The world's most powerful man speaks;
Airforce 1 lands and rolls down Heathrow's main runway and parks. After a
brief delay George Bush emerges for a visit to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Some time later The Queen and George are traveling down the Mall heading
towards Buckingham Palace. They are riding in an open topped Carriage drawn
by 6 magnificent black stallions. One of the stallions lets go a thunderous
blast of gas - the smell is sickening and completely engulfs the carriage.
"My dear George I do apologize! I am frightfully sorry." says an embarrassed
Queen. "Gee your Royal Highness think nothing of it. To tell you the truth I
thought it was the horse!!!!"
The lad has style.
A few days ago I posted the beginnings of a debate between atheist writer Christopher Hitchens and evangelical minister Douglas Wilson.
The second part of the debate is now posted, with Hitchens giving a surprisingly short response to Wilson, who then asks Hitchens some telling questions.
Since Wilson does not even attempt to persuade me that Christ died for my sins (and can yet vicariously forgive them) or that I am the object of a divine design or that any of the events described in the two Testaments actually occurred or that extreme penalties will attend any disagreement with his view, I am happy to leave our disagreement exactly where it is: as one of the decreasingly interesting disputes between those who cling so tentatively to man-made "Holy Writ" and those who have no need to consult such texts in pursuit of truth or beauty or an ethical life. The existence or otherwise of an indifferent cosmos (the overwhelmingly probable state of the case) would no more reduce our mutual human obligations than would the quite weird theory of a celestial dictatorship,whether Aztec or Muslim or (as you seem to insist) Christian. The sole difference is that we would be acting out of obligation toward others out of mutual interest and sympathy but without the impulse of terrifying punishment or selfish reward. Some of us can handle this thought and some, evidently, cannot. I have a slight suspicion as to which is more moral.
I am afraid you misconstrued my acknowledgement that—with regard to public civic life—atheists can certainly behave in a moral manner. My acknowledgement was not that morality has nothing to do with the supernatural, as you represented, but rather that morality has nothing to do with the supernatural if you want to be an inconsistent atheist. Here is that point again, couched another way and tied into our topic of debate.
... Now my question for you is this: Is there such a thing as atheist hypocrisy? When another atheist makes different ethical choices than you do (as Stalin and Mao certainly did), is there an overarching common standard for all atheists that you are obeying and which they are not obeying? If so, what is that standard and what book did it come from? Why is it binding on them if they differ with you? And if there is not a common objective standard which binds all atheists, then would it not appear that the supernatural is necessary in order to have a standard of morality that can be reasonably articulated and defended?
So I am not saying you have to believe in the supernatural in order to live as a responsible citizen. I am saying you have to believe in the supernatural in order to be able to give a rational and coherent account of why you believe yourself obligated to live this way. In order to prove me wrong here, you must do more than employ words like "casuistry" or "evasions"—you simply need to provide that rational account. Given atheism, objective morality follows … how?
I came across a fellow named Ed Viesturs while reading a copy of Outside magazine in the waiting room of Tim's orthopedist.
In the magazine he was interviewed, along with several other super-experienced mountain climbers, regarding what's currently going on with expeditions to Mt. Everest. The magazine was from last fall, shortly after the tenth anniversary of the climbing disaster on Everest in 1996, where eight people died in one day. There's a well-regarded book about the series of incidents causing the deaths, entitled Into Thin Air. I've never read the book.
I was intrigued by Viesturs because he's only the sixth person, and first American, to summit all fourteen of the 8,000 meter (that's 26,247 feet) mountains in the world (all in the Himalayas) without bottled oxygen. An amazing feat. It took him 17 years, and his motto was "Getting to the top is optional, getting back to the bottom is mandatory."
So I decided to read his recent autobiography, No Shortcuts to the Top.
It was a very enjoyable read - a real life adventure about a personal quest. My own outdoors experiences are limited to day hikes in the Hudson valley and Catskills, car camping with my family, and one or two night jaunts on the Appalahian Trail. On the other hand, Viesturs never played rugby!
The book begins with Viesturs and companion Scott Fisher having a close call in 1992 on the face of K2 (the world's second highest mountain at 8,611 meters), with Viesturs doing a "self-arrest" to keep them from plunging 8,000 feet. They were actually in the midst of trying to reach and help two other very experienced climbers who'd gotten into trouble further up the mountain - everyone survived the situation.
Later in the expedition, Viesturs, Fisher and another American climber did reach the summit of K2, but Viesturs believes their decision to push for the summit was the worse decision he ever made on any of his Himalayan climbs. Even though they got to the top and back down again without serious incident, the weather conditions and timing were much too risky. Viesturs references that decision, and the fact that they were extremely fortunate to have made the summit and gotten back down again without a disaster, on a number of occasions later in the book.
The remaining seven chapters and epilogue blend in Viesturs early family life, his learning curve as a climber and guide on Mount Rainier, his struggle to become a professional climber (as in making a living through his climbing), Himalayan summit efforts, and his family life with a wife and three children.
He explains his reasoning for not using oxygen assistance when attempting a summit (however, he does use oxygen when working the Himalayas as a guide/expedition member - he feels he owes it to his clients who are depending on his expertise and aid). His rationale is that you are not meeting the mountain, on it's own terms. In a very real sense you are lowering the mountain, since you are breathing an oxygen mixure that is not found at the highest altitudes.
Viesturs views himself as a risk manager, not a risk taker. He makes the point (continuously!) that it's not good enough to get to the mountain summit, you have to get down again! Viesturs plans his climbs starting with the return from the summit, not getting to the summit. He feels one of the main reasons for fatalities on the mountains is the failure to plan for the descent, as people single-mindedly are interested in summitting and over-push themselves, leaving no physical and mental reserves for the climb down, or they arrive at the summit too late in the day and suffer the combined consequences of exhaustion, bad weather, and darkness. This was the cause of most of the deaths in 1996 on Everest, including his friend Scott Fisher, who was the head of one expedition (he probably died of pulmonary edema), as well as the head of the another expedition, the New Zealander Rob Hall. Viesturs was on the mountain that day (at a lower camp) and was involved in resuce efforts - there could easily have been many more deaths.
On several occasions, including Viesturs first effort on Everest, he cut short his climb even though near the summit, because in his judgement a summit push would have involved too much risk. He was actually only 100 vertical feet from the top of Everest on his first attempt, when he and hs partner made the decision to descend. His attitude was always that he could come back in another season and reach the top. It actually was only on his third attempt on Annapurna, in 2005, that he got to the top. That was the last of the fourteen 8,000 meter peaks Vieturs needed to climb to complete his quest. He'd failed on Annapurna in 2000, and again in 2003.
And that, of course, begs the question. Why get involved in such a risky, life-threatening sport? For every seven climbers who summit Everest, one dies. And Everest is by no means the riskiest Himalayan mountain! For every two who summit Annapurna, one climber dies.
You'll have to read the book for Ed Viesturs answer.
So, an enjoyable read, which has given me an appetite for reading some other books on mountaineering.
Here's a news release from the Catholic service, ZENIT
Archbishop: Current Energy Model Must Change
Calls for Education and Responsible Consumption
NEW YORK, MAY 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See told the United Nations that present models of consumption must be changed to address the double challenge of climate change and the ever greater energy demands.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, participated May 10 in the 15th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development entitled "Turning Political Commitments Into Action, Working Together in Partnership."
In his address, Archbishop Migliore asserted that "the question of energy is rapidly becoming one of the key questions of the entire international agenda."
He explained: "In order to address the double challenge of climate change and the need for ever greater energy resources, we will have to change our present model from one of the heedless pursuit of economic growth in the name of development, toward a model which heeds the consequences of its actions and is more respectful toward the creation we hold in common, coupled with an integral human development for present and future generations."
The archbishop continued: "The complexity of the promotion of sustainable development is evident to all; there are, however, certain underlying principles which can direct research toward adequate and lasting solutions.
"Recently, we have heard of economies that have managed to grow while actually reducing their consumption of energy. Surely this success holds out hope that our current economic model does not always oblige us to use more and more energy in order to grow."
"Economic growth does not have to mean greater consumption," Archbishop Migliore stated.
He said: "From the standpoint of a sustainable economy, it does, however, mean that we will need technology, ingenuity, determined political will and common sense.
"Importantly, it will also demand technology transfer to developing countries, to the benefit of the entire global community."
"But even technology, its transfer and political will to collaborate at the international level are not enough," the archbishop continued. "To all that we must add national education schemes that will lead all of us without exception to approach our daily patterns of consumption and production in a very different way and to demand a similar change throughout construction, transport, businesses and other institutions.
"Remedies are not beyond our ingenuity, but we should be careful not to choose a path that will make things worse, especially for the poor."
Archbishop Migliore added, "We cannot simply uninvent the modern world, but there is still time to use technology and education to promote universally sustainable development before it is too late."
Well, a very good report.
First, no sign of lymphoma on the CAT scan.
Second, white blood cell count up to 6.1, and the abs. neut's at 3.8. Both very good numbers, well in the normal range. Last week they'd started to come up, with WBC at 3.8 and neut's at 2.2.
The CAT scan showed some signs of infection in my lungs, which may be the cause of all this coughing, etc. But since I am on the sixth day of a 14 day Augmentin regime (an antibiotic) that is effective with chest infections, they feel that's all that needs doing.
Besides seeing Dr. Zelenetz I also saw for the second time Dr. Matt Matasur, who is doing a fellowship in oncology at Sloan Kettering.
This morning as I was headed out the door I had the thought of bringing my camera, and then thought "who I am going to take a picture of?" Well I wish I had, because in the waiting area Dick Gunderman, another patient of Dr. Zelenetz who had been two months behind me in the chemotherapy protocol (he had his stem cell transplant in March of 2006) came up and re-introduced himself.
I had met him through this weblog, as his brother had googled lymphoma and come to this site, and then contacted me. I'd spoken to Dick on the phone and then he came to see me when I was hospitalized for my transplant, on a day he'd come to Sloane for his RICE chemotherapy. Here he is in the second picture, wearing the hat.
He's a much better-looking guy without a hat or face mask (and with hair)! He met Brigid today, and we were all delighted to hear that each of us is doing well. It was great to see and have time to talk with him. Dick is moving to Florida shortly.
So an excellent day, really couldn't have asked for much more.
Tomorrow morning Brigid and I will be off to Sloan Kettering to see the lymphoma guru, Dr. Zelenetz. He'll have the results of t he CAT scan from last Friday, and hopefully they'll be no sign of lymphoma. I certainly can't detect any.
And I will also have another complete blood count, so we'll see if my good counts last week are the real deal, or just a fluke.