Friday, August 31, 2007


I was surprised to CNN covering the problems left by Soviet nuclear testing in Kazakhstan (they could also cover some other areas as well). Soviet era failures do not seem to get much analysis or coverage. The birth defect problem is tragic.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


CNN asks, "Are Americans too Lazy?" The surprising report of our relative sloth arrives in new research from the UN's International Labor Organization, which looks at working hours around the world. When it comes to what we might call hard work, meaning the proportion of workers who put in more than 48 hours a week, America is near the bottom of the heap. About 18% of our employed people work that much.

I thought I read that Americans take fewer vacation hours than any other nation. But maybe we don't work as hard when we are at work giving up our vacations????

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


1. Everyone needs to read at least one Boris Akunin murder mystery. I finished "The Death of Achilles" and am almost done with the "Turkish Gambit." Akunin brings a Georgian-Russian brilliance, complexity, and descriptiveness of late 19th century Russian culture to all that he writes. I don't know why anyone would want to read Agatha Christie after reading an Akunin mystery.

2. Andrew Sullivan, "The Conservative Soul." A freebie sent by the publisher to get me to assign for a class. If you don't know, Sullivan is a noted (notorious?) homosexual, conservative, blogger, and initial supporter of the Iraq war. I think he sounds more like a 19th century liberal than a conservative, but what interested me most was his description of Christian fundamentalists. Obviously he does not treat them gently, but I thought there was some truth in how he caricatured Christian fundamentalists. Christian fundamentalists may need to objectively evaluate the kind of image they are presenting, not just to those who are opposed to their moral teaching, but to the wider world they are trying to "save."

3. "Advice and Consent" (another freebie) by Lee Epstein and Jeffrey A. Segal, both noted law professors. The value of this book is that it puts in historical context the current confrontations regarding Supreme Court and other federal judicial appointments. Beginning with Washington, Adams, and Jefferson judicial appointments have always been used to promote political agendas, serve as ideological reinforcers, or as a reward for political allies. I think conservative Republicans saw this back in the Reagan years after finally breaking the Democrat dominance which allowed that party to alter the judicial landscape following FDR.

4. "Why the West Has Won" by Victor Davis Hanson. He examines nine major battles from ancient Greek times to the Tet offensive in 1968 in Vietnam. While I found the book needlessly repetitive and less well-written than I expected, it raises some provocative arguments for why the West has been so successful on the battlefield. The armies of "free" or "freer" peoples have advantages on the battlefield that top down managment models do not have.

5. Most sobering was "Becoming Evil" by James Waller. He looks at modern examples of genocide beginning with the Holocaust and as a social psychologist tries to analyze what makes people do terribly evil things. What does it take for a person or leader(s) to annihilate a group of people? While he does not have a particularly biblical or even religious answer, I think it is significant that he really tries to struggle with the issue of evil. I just haven't seen a lot of honest confrontation of this issue in the secular world.

6. Probably the above book meant more to me because I finished reading two books on the Holocaust which raised troubling questions. "Ordinary Men" written by Christopher R. Browning studies the men in Reserve Police Battalion 101 from Hamburg who were sent in to Poland to kill and arrest Jews for shipment to extermination camps. It examines ordinary men and why only a few men out of several hundred refused to kill Jews or sought other assignments. Also Sybille Steinbacher has a short book on the history of Auschwitz and how Germans operated the camp.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I think this is an interesting and thought-provoking statement by author Anne Rice who calls herself a Christian and is prolife. She explains why she is supporting Hillary for president.

Though I deeply respect those who disagree with me, I believe, for a variety of reasons, that the Democratic Party best reflects the values I hold based on the Gospels. Those values are most intensely expressed for me in the Gospel of Matthew, but they are expressed in all the gospels. Those values involve feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and above all, loving one’s neighbors and loving one’s enemies. A great deal more could be said on this subject, but I feel that this is enough.

I want to add here that I am Pro-Life. I believe in the sanctity of the life of the unborn. Deeply respecting those who disagree with me, I feel that if we are to find a solution to the horror of abortion, it will be through the Democratic Party.

I have heard many anti-abortion statements made by people who are not Democrats, but many of these statements do not strike me as constructive or convincing. I feel we can stop the horror of abortion. But I do not feel it can be done by rolling back Roe vs. Wade, or packing the Supreme Court with judges committed to doing this. As a student of history, I do not think that Americans will give up the legal right to abortion. Should Roe vs Wade be rolled back, Americans will pass other laws to support abortion, or they will find ways to have abortions using new legal and medical terms.

And much as I am horrified by abortion, I am not sure -- as a student of history – that Americans should give up the right to abortion.

She also goes on to criticize the prolife political movement's sincerity and tactics.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


From the Asia Times. Ten thousand Chinese become Christians each day, according to a stunning report by the National Catholic Reporter's veteran correspondent John Allen, and 200 million Chinese may comprise the world's largest concentration of Christians by mid-century, and the largest missionary force in history.


I understand the concept of a volunteer army, but with $45,000 bonuses to attract soldiers are we just getting men and women who fight for money and not for liberty, freedom, etc.

Despite spending nearly $1 billion last year on recruiting bonuses and ads, Army leaders say an even bolder approach is needed to fill wartime ranks.

Under a new proposal, men and women who enlist could pick from a “buffet” of incentives, including up to $45,000 tax-free that they accrue during their career to help buy a home or build a business. Other options would include money for college and to pay off student loans.

$45,000 for an individual! $1,000,000,000 for recruiting bonus costs!


Hamas is forcing Christians to accept Islam. The Fatah representatives said single Christian women have come under the greatest pressure to convert to Islam. They said a Christian professor, Sana Al Sayegh, was abducted by Hamas and forced to convert to Islam.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


A Dutch politician wants to ban the Koran. Geert Wilders wants to ban the Koran. The leader of the Party for Liberty wrote this today in De Volkskrant. The politician compared the Islamic holy scripture with Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. That book has been censored in The Netherlands since the end of World War Two; it cannot be sold in the country. Wilders, about the Koran: “Ban that cursed book, just as Mein Kampf is banned!”

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Newt has been a politician I have disliked for a number of reasons. Tonight I heard much of his address to the National Press Club. His remarks are some of the most incisive I have heard. It wasn't the drivel you hear so often in the debates. He not only critiqued a number of issues facing America, but he gave suggestions about how to deal with them. Some of his solutions I am not so sure about, but at least he was trying to deal with difficult issues. It was also surprising how much applause he received from "liberal" news people.

Points to think about:
  • America is threatening to become a plutocracy where only the very wealthy can win (Note: Corzine of New Jersey, but I would also throw in a number of other fat cats).
  • He recognizes that Hillary has extensive experience even if she is not liked by many conservatives.
  • Politicians need to realize that the country comes first, not their careers.
  • The debates are a joke. We need to go to the French model (which I have argued) where you get candidates to sit down and have a "dialogue."
  • America has not really grasped the significance of radical Islam. One reason is that secularists don't understand religious motivations.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Russian textbooks are now saying Stalin was “the most successful Soviet leader ever” and dismisses the prison labour camps and mass purges as a necessary part of his drive to make the country great. Russia is becoming a more frightening place.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post.


After a recent discussion with an anti-war leftist who despises Bush concerning the Democrat field, I made a prediction. If Hillary wins the nomination, I believe she will choose Bill Richardson as her running mate and not Obama. Obama's public persona would dwarf hers and he could remain an "uncontrollable" force, which a controlling Hillary could not tolerate. Richardson and the Clintons go back in time and I think she would have a comfortable relationship with him. Also why does she need an African-American on the ticket? African-Americans will vote Democrat no matter what. However, if she chooses Richardson she has the chance to gain a larger percentage of the Hispanic vote, a bloc that is not as monolithically Democrat.


Evidently they are not impressed with the Republican options for President.


The latest farm aid bill from the Democrat congress gives the biggest subsidies to the wealthy farmers and not to the small farmers who might need it. Business as ususal.


See comments at Volokh blog.