American Elephants


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by The Elephant's Child

Under their “Notable &Quotable” headline, the Wall Street Journal published “an excerpt from a September 7, 1999 op-ed by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, on the most significant development in the law over the past millennium”:

My selection of democratic self-government as development of the millennium assumes—perhaps optimistically—a continuing appreciation of the need for these structural checks. It also assumes, as the precondition for that appreciation, what our Framers would have called a liberal disposition on the part of the people: a reluctance to impose their views by law in the face of significant opposition, a reticence to require others to love all that they love and to hate all that they hate. A society that feels passionately about everything, or that lightly—without a sure and certain need—adopts laws obnoxious to many of its members, cannot sustain democratic self-government, and is fit only to be ruled by others.

The point was put well by the great Learned Hand, in his comments to a group of newly naturalized Americans: “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias.”



How About Some Really Good News That Is NOT Political? by The Elephant's Child

A California robotics company called suitX has presented it’s Phoenix exoskeleton to the public. It makes it possible for paraplegics and those with mobility disorders to regain their ability to walk, which is a priceless blessing. It is not the first exoskeleton, which was developed in Israel, but it is the most affordable so far, at about the price of a new Cadillac.

SuitX is led by Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni, who is director of the Berkley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory and co-founder and chief scientist of Ekso Bionics. Dr. Kazerooni and his team are driven by a dream of developing low-cost consumer bionic products to improve the quality of life for the disabled. To achieve their goal of keeping the robotics as affordable as possible the team worked with biomechanics instead of the bulky robotics used in the other exoskeletons available so far. One of their prime goals is to help children affected by neurological conditions like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, during the brief time in development when they perfect their walking skills.

The current Phoenix totals around 28 pounds. It consists of modules made for a person’s hips, knees and feet — each can be independently removed and adjusted to the individual’s exact size. A back-mounted battery pack provides power for eight hours of intermittent use or  four hours of continuous use.The Phoenix can move a paralyzed person at a speed of 1.1 miles an hour, the company said.

Steven Sanchez was a former BMX dirt bike rider who became mostly paralyzed by a sports injury. He’s now one of the biggest proponents of the Phoenix. “It feels like you’re actually walking,”

The exoskeleton has silent carbon-fiber orthotics capable of being customized to its wearer. Attached to the orthotics are small motors that provide mobility to the hips and legs. Crutches provide upper body support and are integrated into the orthotics, allowing the wearer to control the movement of each leg with the touch of a button. A built-in back-mounted battery pack provides the wearer with 8 hours of intermittent or 4 hours of continual use.

Weighing around 27 pounds, the Phoenix is not the lightest exoskeleton on the market, but it is comparatively lighter than competing suits such as the more cumbersome 50 pound ReWalk.

While still costlier than a motorized wheelchair, the minimal design translates into a lower-cost exoskeleton; the Phoenix costs just $40,000 in a market where prices range from $70,000 to $100,000.

Dr. Kazerooni is more interested in cleverness. He says you can buy a motorcycle with all sorts of technology for $10,000, so he’s hoping to reduce the cost even more within two or three years— something robust and simple that walks, stops. sits and stands — hugely enabling.

Steven Sanchez tests the product monthly and demonstrates the product all over the world. He wore the Phoenix on a trip to the Vatican, and stood in line like anyone else — “wearing an “awesome robotic suit” and “no one cared.” For those who can only dream of walking, that is a very big deal indeed.



An Admirable Experiment in Free Market Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

In this February 26, 2007 file photograph, Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, talks passionately about his new book on Market Based Management. (Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images)

The reliably far left Puffington Post had a long article on the evil doings of the notorious Koch Brothers.  It seems that Charles Koch is attempting to give some poor kids a path out of poverty and into prosperity.The Koch brothers are the source constant attacks from the left because they have the temerity to support free market capitalism, and though they are Libertarians, they occasionally donate to Republican causes. They are also generous and prominent philanthropists, donating wings to hospitals, hundreds of millions to cancer research, for example. They help fund some some organizations and foundations, some purely educational, some partisan, none Progressive — and that’s the problem.

In this particular case, they were encouraging the predominately poor students at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas to enroll in a new, yearlong course “that would provide lessons in basic economic principles and practical instruction on starting a business. Students would receive generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation.” How scary is that?

In some ways, the class looked like a typical high school business course, taught in a Highland Park classroom by a Highland Park teacher. But it was actually run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit group created and funded primarily by Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries.

The official mission of Youth Entrepreneurs is to provide kids with “business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society.” The underlying goal of the program, however, is to impart Koch’s radical free-market ideology to teenagers. In the last school year, the class reached more than 1,000 students across Kansas and Missouri.

Intrepid reporters acquired lesson plans and class materials. They are teaching the kids such subversive things as low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper, raising the minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth. Public assistance harms the poor. Government, in short, is the enemy of liberty. Good Lord! Did you ever hear anything so subversive? Even the headline says “How the Koch Brothers are Buying Their Way Into The Mind of Public School Students.” The Left really hates the Koch Brothers.

Apparently Charles Koch had a hands-on role in the design of the high school curriculum directly reviewing the work of those responsible for setting up the course. (Since he was paying for it, hardly surprising) The goal, the group admitted, was to turn young people into “liberty-advancing agents” before they went to college, where they might learn “harmful” liberal ideas.

The reporters astonishment at the deeply partisan ideas of liberty and free markets is interesting. Clearly they have not had much familiarity with such ideas. Here’s a good example complete with plentiful scare quotes.

They aimed to “inoculate” students against liberal ideas by assigning them to read passages from socialist and Marxist writers, whom they called “bad guys.” These readings would then be compared to works by the “good guys” — free-market economists like Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

The Koch Foundation is doing some good work. It’s hard to rise if you cannot see a path ahead. The free market is what has made America not only free, but prosperous. The astonishment and negative attitude of the reporters tells a sad story of the many schools run by the social justice warriors. Corporations are evil, and all good things must be done by the power of government.
Here’s a list from the article of the wrongheaded ideas of these subversive billionaires.

In late 2009, the Koch group made a list of “common economic fallacies” that they believed should be repudiated. These included:

  • Corporatism v. Free-market Capitalism
  • Deregulation is what caused recession in 80s, Economic problems of today
  • Rich get richer at the expense of the poor
  • FDR/New Deal brought us out of the depression
  • Government wealth transfer programs help the poor
  • Private industry incapable of doing functions that public sector has always done
  • Unions protect the employees
  • People with the same job title should be paid the same amount
  • Minimum wage, “living wage,” laws are good for people/society
  • Capitalist societies provide an environment for greed and materialism to flourish
  • Socialist countries do just fine, people have great lives there (using this as proof that socialism works).

Shocking! Giving kids a boost up with lessons in free market capitalism. Do read the whole thing. It is a vision of the leftist mind at work.

NOTE: This post has been revised since first posted. Somehow when I posted it, it lost the first two paragraphs — I was still sleepy I guess.



Marco Rubio Responds to a Question. Some Question! Some Response! by The Elephant's Child

A campaign stop in New Hampshire, and Marco Rubio has a very nice response to a question from an 11 year old girl. Would be nice to see a lot more of this on the campaign trail.



RIP: Australian Marine Geologist Dr. Robert Carter by The Elephant's Child

Climate-change-denier-Pro-005
Dr. Bob Carter died of a massive heart attack at age 74. He was an environmental scientist and emeritus professor from James Cook University. He was the author of more than 100 scientific papers, and served as the Chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council.

When the Greens were panicking over the oceans turning acid, he laughed and remarked that as long as there are rocks in the ocean, that won’t happen.

From Anthony Watts:

I traveled with Bob in Australia during my tour in 2010. To say that he was a man of good cheer and resilience would be an understatement. He not only bore the slings and arrows thrown his way by some of the ugliest people in the climate debate, he reciprocated with professionalism and honor, refusing to let them drag him into the quagmire of climate ugliness we have seen from so many climate activists.
His duty, first and foremost was to truth. I’m reminded of this quote:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov
Bob worked hard to dispel scientific ignorance, and to do it with respect and good cheer. We’ve all lost a great friend and a champion of truth.


A Little Clarity About the Virtues of Socialism – There Aren’t Any. by The Elephant's Child

Daniel Hannan is the Member of the European Parliament for South East England, for the Conservative Party. This speech is from 2014, but still more than appropriate. Bernie Sanders, committed Socialist, suggests we should have a government more like Sweden — currently the rape capital of the world. Hannan is a Euroskeptic, and argues for Democratic reform. If you prefer, he can speak in either French or Spanish as well.

When we graduate aspiring politicians, I wish we could send them to Britain to learn how to speak without uhs and ands and garbled language and fuzzy thought.



Coming to America: What Was The Most Pleasant Surprise? by The Elephant's Child


statue-of-libertyFrom the American Enterprise Institute, because this is special:

“A little over a week ago, a Reddit user started a thread asking ‘Immigrants to America: What was the most pleasant surprise?'”

A few days ago, Jim Pethokoukis wrote here on AEIdeas about Gallup data showing Americans seem both miserable, and yet increasingly satisfied with their standard of living. The website Knowable.com highlighted 25 of the many replies to the Reddit thread, but in the spirit of appreciating the USA and putting our possible misery in proper context, we’ve picked some of our own highlights:

  •  Free public restrooms and how every establishment has air conditioning.
  • Clean streets, good luck finding a trash can in Pakistan.
  • Fireflies… I honestly thought they were mythical, like fairies, until I saw one for the first time in Virginia.
  • Showers and running hot water. I was born in the Philippines. Not having to fill buckets with water and boiling some over a stove top was such a big surprise for me.
  • Buildings and bridges are so .. .amazing, the infrastructure is good, it makes you thing “wow, mankind DID THIS!”
  • Small talks. I really didn’t expect people to just strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never met before.
  • People telling me I must be American based solely on my English skills and disregarding my ethnicity feels weird. I like it.
  • My dad was born in Trinidad. He says the first thing he ate when he came to the US was pizza. He said that it was magical, and that nothing has ever been as good as that first piece of pizza.
  • The fireworks. I had moved on the 4th of July and I was quite young. But I still remember the fireworks.
  • What surprised me was the social circles that existed in schools and in life. Back in Italy, schools didn’t have the nerds, the jocks, the skater kids, emos, or what else have you. People were all basically the same, with minor differences in interests. Most everyone played soccer, was a casual gamer, and hung out in the town square at night. That’s it. It may sound like an exaggeration, but 95% of my friends there were exactly like this. So when I came to school here, I was amazed by how the jocks would hang out at gyms and play 4 different sports after school, while the skaters headed off to find a park. It was so different. And I loved it. Because while I could fit in back in Italy, I was always much more introverted and interested in nerd stuff, and in the US I finally found people who were really like me. It was really unexpected, and you only notice it after spending a lot of time in America.
  • Moving to the Deep South, I was expecting to be met with the stereotypical racist KKK type of folks. Luckily, everyone at my school was super friendly and helpful.
  • Growing up, I was taught the Vietnamese version of the Vietnam War in school. In my mind, I thought in America people would not talk about it since it’s a shameful thing and the government would suppress all discussions of it like in Vietnam. When I came here, I saw that people can openly speak about these things even when there are many disagreements.
  • Arrived at 15 from Mexico legally. I lived in poverty  but never went hungry, thanks to the social safety nets. My parents worked hard and had a business going within a couple of years. I graduated college and became an engineer. Fast forward 24 years and I’m making a 6 figure salary and living a very good life. The American Dream is alive and well.
  • I remember that when I was getting my driver’s license in Trinidad, everyone told me to go with a few hundred dollars in my pocket. It’s very common you’ll be asked to pay a bribe.
  • The fact that no one was threatening to kill my family based off of our religious beliefs.
  • I’m the son of Korean immigrants. My dad said that Americans are probably the hardest workers in the world. He’s worked in various international companies, and he admits that Americans are the easiest to get along with because of their versatility and open-mindedness. He flat out said he prefers Americans leading projects over anyone else.
  • Space. Having separate houses with a huge backyard is a luxury that’s only for the rich in the Netherlands.
  • It was my 2nd week in America and I was nervous when I was checking out 4 books at the local public library. I love libraries and where I come from you can normally checkout 3 books. I thought this being America I could try my luck and add another book. The nice checkout girl proceeded my order, out of curiosity I asked her how many books could I checkout in one go. Her answer: 75. This to me symbolized what America stood for.
  • People with power are careful when dealing with ordinary people. “Public servants” in most third world countries are the masters and the ordinary public are the “Servants.” This is not the case in the US.
  • The most important thing I liked about US is the awareness of people to fight for their rights, respecting others views and respect for humanity. … This might be one of the reason that it is very common for people to sue each other. While [in] other countries, people will silently compromise and accept their situation as a fate…. it seems, the US expects everyone to be aware of what he/she deserves. This is probably the best form of freedom.

These are just some of the many responses that AEI featured. which they edited for grammar, and bolded the essential words.  A really nice remedy for world news events.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,514 other followers

%d bloggers like this: