Filed under: Freedom, History, Israel, Middle East, United Nations | Tags: History, The State of Israel, There Is No State of Palestine
Filed under: Environment, Junk Science | Tags: Climate Change, History, The Little Ice Age
Have you ever heard of The Great Frost? In France they called it Le Grande Hiver. On the 6th of January in 1709 people across Europe awoke to find that the temperature had plummeted. The temperature stayed down for three long weeks, there was a brief thaw, and then the temperature went down again, and stayed there.
From Scandinavia to Italy, everything turned to ice. Lakes and rivers froze, the sea froze. The soil froze to a depth of a meter or more. Livestock died in their barns from the cold. Chickens’ combs froze and fell off. Trees exploded. Travelers froze to death on the roads.
The painting above, by Gabriele Bella (1733-99) is of a portion of a lagoon in Venice, frozen over, with Venetians unsure of how to cope with this remarkable event.
Three months of deadly cold meant a year of famine and food riots. In Switzerland hungry wolves came right into the villages. The Baltic froze so completely that people could walk across the ice as late as April. In the Mediterranean, sailors died from the cold aboard English men-of-war.
In France, bread froze so hard it took an axe to cut it. According to a canon from Beaune in Burgundy, “travelers died in the countryside, livestock in the stables, wild animals in the woods. Nearly all the birds died, wine froze in barrels and public fires were lit to warm the poor.”
In the spring the cold was replaced by worsening food shortages. Authorities forced the rich to provide soup kitchens. By the summer, there were reports of starving people in the fields “eating grass like sheep.” More than a million died from cold or starvation.
Then there was “eighteen-hundred and froze-to-death.” That was the “year without summer” in America, or 1816. Severe summer climate abnormalities destroyed crops in Northern Europe, Eastern Canada and the Northeast United States. It is attributed to low solar activity combined with the a series of volcanic eruptions from 1812 to 1814, capped by a huge eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. There was widespread famine in China.
In America farmers, wiped out in New England, struck out for the richer soils of the Midwest. The “Year Without a Summer” accounted for much of the settlement of the Upper Midwest — which was then the Northwest Territory — but the effects of the cold were far more widespread than that.
If you remember Dr. Michael Mann’s “hockey-stick” graph that has caused so much trouble, you will remember that it was given that name because the record of temperatures moved along in a pretty steady state like the handle of a hockey stick before suddenly shooting up in drastic warming in the 20th century. I say “trouble” because the UN’s IPCC based much of its assessment of the climate on that particular graph. And that is part of what proved to be so fraudulent in the climate scandal called “ClimateGate.”
The hockey-stick graph had already been completely discredited when mathematician Stephen McIntyre demonstrated that the math didn’t work; but until the exposure of the ClimateGate emails and code fraud no one was admitting that it was hooey. The culprits at Hadley CRU were trying to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age from history, and profiting professionally and monetarily at the expense of science, their peers, the world’s governments and the world’s taxpayers. Governments have a lot invested in the income that might be incoming from cap-and-trade schemes and fees and taxes. They will not give up easily.
Science students who spend all their time in the lab, may be unaware of Viking settlements in Greenland — beginning around 972 AD — or be unfamiliar with the Norse Eddas or Chaucer or the writings of someone like William Derham, the Rector of Upminster— a short ride north-east of London — who had been checking his thermometer and barometer three times a day since 1687. Others in Europe recorded their observations. Ships captains documented the weather in their logs on a daily basis, and those logs are proving to be an amazing resource for scientists who are looking for more detail of the history of climate.
Al Gore might take note that cold is far, far worse than hot weather.
Filed under: Health Care, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: Economics, History, Preserving Life
Economist Greg Mankiw — whose blog I recommend unreservedly — posted this comment by the Nobel laureate Ken Arrow:
Oh, why health costs increase? The basic reason why health costs increased is that health care is a good thing! Because today there is a lot more you can do! Consider all these expenses that are diagnostic. Cat scans, X-rays, MRIs and now the proton-powered whatever-it-is. Something that is the size of a football field, cost $50 million, and has all sorts of diagnostic powers. A lot of these technologies clearly reveal things that would not be revealed otherwise. There’s no question about it. Diagnostics have improved. Technology has improved. You know, sending things through your blood stream to help in operations, instead of cutting you open. It’s incredible. But these things are costly. But for older people longevity is increasing by a month each year. Now, whether that creates other problems with retirement and social security is another question. But, nevertheless, preserving life is a good thing.
The Obama administration seems to have forgotten what health care is all about. They think it is about power, and getting control of something that voters cannot do without. It certainly is not about preserving life. Free abortions are on the list, rationing care for the old folks is on the list, and (Page 354, Section 1177) Government will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people. I’d sure like to hear them explain that one.
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, History, Humor, Literature | Tags: Books, History, Love of Reading
How could I resist a picture that combines a yellow lab with a book? I want to talk about books and reading. In particular, about the kind of book that you get lost in; and the kind of book that you want to read and re-read, over and over. Those are fairly rare.
There are, of course, thrillers that you cannot put down, speeding through the pages to learn how it turns out. They can be absorbing and fun, but once you have found out what happens, it is spoiled for a second reading, for the suspense is all that was there. Thrillers often are inflicted with wooden characters, improbable situations and are acceptable only because the author manages his plot and suspense well.
What have you ever read that has it all? Fully developed characters, fascinating detail, believable situations, and you want to read them over and over.
There are the books that are “should” books, those that conventional wisdom says you should have read. Many of them you probably read in high school: The Scarlet Letter, Hamlet, Macbeth, Red Badge of Courage and 1984, for example. And there are lots that you should read to appreciate milestones in literature and the influence that literature has had on people through the ages. But, assuming you went on to become an adult reader, are those books the ones that gave you the most pleasure?
My favorites are Patrick O’Brien’s series of the Royal Navy adventures of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. There are 20 books in the series, and I have read them all over and over. The characters are clearly defined in the first chapter of the first book, and you are hooked. The books are dense with science and action right out of the pages of the real captain’s logs of the Royal Navy in the early 19th century. I have read them all at least 7 or 8 times. I loved the movie of Master adn Commander as well, though the movie combines episodes from several books.
Then there is Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, a story of a classical hero in the age of the Renissance, a series of 5 books, beginning with The Game of Kings. I also like Anton Myrer’s Once an Eagle, and The Last Convertible, which each stand alone. And currently, I am enjoying Alan Furst’s atmospheric stories of Europe as the shadow of World War II descends.
There are many books that I admire, that I would recommend to anyone; but not so many that I read over and over. Do you have any that you return to again and again?
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Election 2008, Foreign Policy, History, Liberalism, Politics | Tags: Democrat Demagogues, Foreign Policy, History, Liberal lies, Obama, Russia, War in Georgia
Has there ever before been a candidate for the Presidency of the United States who ran on a platform of not liking his country much? At least when he’s speaking without a teleprompter. He can’t seem to stop putting his foot into it. On Wednesday in Lynchburg, VA, Democrat Barack Obama scolded Russia again for invading another country’s sovereign territory while stating that “the United States should set a better example on that front”.
The Illinois senator’s initial opposition to the Iraq war is his only claim to fame, and to which he refers whenever possible. (I think he was pathetically and disastrously wrong, but he is entitled to his opinion). He went on to say “We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies. They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point”.
Victor Davis Hanson found that a little much too:
Let me get this straight; getting a Senate and House majority to authorize a bipartisan joint war-resolution, going to the U.N., assembling a coalition, having a national and world debate on the wisdom of such an operation from December 2001 to March 2003, and then attacking a genocidal dictator, and staying on to foster a constitutional democracy are apparently the same “charge” “example” as an autocrcy suddenly invading its democratic neighbor during the Olympics, and staying on to annex some of its territory?
Aside from the silliness of these statements, the problem for Obama, again, is that incrementally they really do start to add up — America’s “tragic history,” the mini-sermon on decline to the 7-year-old, waffling exegesis to Rick Warren about our own evil, the confessions to the cheering Berliners about our transgressions — and these doubts are enhanced rather than ameliorated by Michelle Obama’s various rantings, and the creepy things former associates like Ayers, Wright, and Pfleger have said about America and its culture.
Obama has made it pretty clear that history is not his strong point, nor foreign policy. I still can’t get over his claim that he is especially knowledgeable about foreign policy because he lived abroad from age 6 to age 10.
I am offended by his constant put-downs of the country, and by his insistence that the country is in terrible shape. I suppose that if you are a messiah, and you can convince everyone that things are almost beyond redemption, and that you and you alone can redeem the world; well then, I guess you get a bunch of people sitting around chanting Oh-bah-mah. Seems a little sick-making to me.
Filed under: Conservatism, Domestic Policy, History, Liberalism, Literature, Military, News | Tags: Conservatism, History, Media Lies, Politics
I want to talk a little about history. Daniel Boorstin in his book Hidden History, clarifies things for us. Historians learn about the past through what he calls “the bias of survival”. His first example is his search, in an effort to better understand religion in colonial New England, for a copy of The New England Primer. It first appeared in 1690, and was the basic vehicle of religious instruction as well as the main text of compulsory education in Massachusetts. It was the best selling New England schoolbook, and sold some 3 million copies. Mr. Boorstin went in search of an original copy, but couldn’t find one. He found many volumes of Puritan theology and sermons in pristine condition in rare-book rooms of university libraries, often with uncut pages.
He also calls this “the law of the survival of the unread.” That which is heavily used in daily life is not apt to survive, and we are left with things that were valued, but unused. This applies to things as well as to reading material. That which is “collected and protected” survives, that which is used daily does not. Historians at Colonial Williamsburg feel that they originally had too much of a bias towards the protected, and may have lost much of the reality of everyday life.
What goes in government files survives, but the records of informal groups do not. Objects that have a high intrinsic value survive. The “academically classifiable and the dignified” survive. The history of “materials surrounding controversies” survives. The temperance movement has left a vast literature, but we know little about what and how much earlier Americans drank.
Boorstin also mentions the “survival of the self-serving: the psychopathology of diarists and letter writers”. The troubled may write volumes about their angst, while happy people are too busy to write at all. There is a bias towards success, a “survival of the victorious point of view”.
History may change suddenly, with new access, new discoveries, as for example, the opening of the Soviet archives. A new ability to interview participants on both sides has changed the history of the Vietnam War. Is the history of today changing as people communicate by telephone and e-mail instead of letters? Is our history to be told by today’s movies and newspapers? Most of us don’t think that is reality.
We look at the happenings of the past with today’s eyes. How absurd to think that the people of today should apologize for things that happened in the distant past. The past is. It happened. Nothing that we think, say or do will change the past. We may learn more about what happened, but what did happen is fixed and unchangeable.
We need, however, to learn as much about the past as we can. Knowing about the past helps us to do the right thing in the present, and a lack of knowledge may lead us to foolish mistakes.
What we learn about the past may change our ideas of what is right or wrong in the present, but our ideas about what is right or wrong about what was done in the past are irrelevant. Any effect that we have on the future is out of our control. We are responsible only for ourselves in this brief moment of time that is ours.
We cannot predict the future. Time is not a smooth highway stretching out into tomorrow. It’s more like a river with boulders and rapids, eddies, and side streams adding to the flow as it rushes on.
Filed under: Conservatism, Domestic Policy, Economy, History, Military, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: America, Declaration of Independence, Freedom, History, Liberty, The Constitution
WE hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness —
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,
that whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People
to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
laying its Foundation on such Principles,
and organizing its Powers in such Form,
as to them shall seem most likely to effect
their Safety and Happiness.
~ Action of the Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776
“He ran two start-ups, the army and the presidency, and chaired the most important committee meeting in history, the Constitutional Convention. His agribusiness and real estate portfolio made him into America’s richest man….Men followed him into battle; women longed to dance with him; famous men, almost as great as he was, some of them smarter, did what he told them to do. He was the Founding CEO.”
~Richard Brookhiser on George Washington
“I have a deep-seated belief that America is unique, strong, great because of a commitment to personal freedom — in our economic system and our politics. We are a free people who consented to be governed. Not vice-versa.”
~Senator John Sununu
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
“The clear lesson of history is that individual liberty, the basic underpinning of American society, requires constant defense against the encroachment of the state”
“A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”
“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
~Calvin Coolidge, July 4, 1926
“For it has been said so truthfully that it is
the soldier, not the reporter, who
has given us the freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the agitator,
who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag,
whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who gives that protester
the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.”