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Saturday, April 13, 2002

This is from an interesting piece in OpinionJournal by FOUAD AJAMI:

...Yet we should know that there is quiet approval in Arab lands--among decent men and women who harbor no illusions about warlords and preachers of zealotry--of America's campaign against terror. Our pundits here or in Europe may have been troubled by the "axis of evil" remarks of President Bush, but there were many Arabs who savored the clarity...

... In the aftermath of victory in Afghanistan, these people saw prospects of deliverance. We owe them and ourselves fidelity to this new campaign. We need to reiterate to them that the truth of this campaign against terror holds in Netanya and Kabul, and that the way out of political ruin is an Arab break, once and for all, with the false consolations of terror.

Dictators ride to and fro upon
tigers which they dare not dismount.
And the tigers are getting hungry.

--Winston Churchill

Friday, April 12, 2002

Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus are always good. This is a snippet taken almost at random:

The New York Times had an editorial headed “Latin America’s Muzzled Press.” Guess what country it didn’t mention? Of course. It mentioned Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Haiti. Can you think of another Caribbean nation — Spanish-speaking — sort of near Haiti? What’s the name of that country again? The one whose absolute dictator has been in power for over 40 years? The one where independent journalism is forbidden, and where those who attempt it are harassed, jailed, or worse? The one in which two Reuters journalists were recently attacked by state security, because they tried to film the crashing of the Mexican Embassy by ordinary people desperate to leave the country?...

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Tribute of Light

I found this picture on a forum I frequent, for users of Deneba's Canvas. The picture was taken by Chod Lang -- it's actually 5 pictures stitched together. Chod is a furniture restorer in New Jersey. I occasionally get asked to (try to) restore something, and I can tell you that that's a respect-worthy job. His web site is here.

Canvas, by the way, is consummately cool software. It's an all-in-one graphics program that will do pretty much anything you can do with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark, plus some things they can't. And it costs less than any one of them. Naturally it's not one of the big sellers. But if you need graphics software, you should take a look at it. Mac/Win.
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Glenn posted my suggestion that the various letter writing campaigns going on be done politely. But he didn't post the reason -- which is that slythery creatures such as Bellisles have cited "Right-Wing hate mail" as an excuse to act like victims and avoid their critics.

Of course being polite won't change this; they probably consider hate mail to be anything that begins with: I disagree with your position. But at least we won't give them any extra ammunition.

If you are in the mood to do some foaming-at-the-mouth vituperation, well, there's always Blogger...

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The Constitution is not neutral.
It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.

--William O. Douglas

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Awhile back someone asked for examples of inventions or advances made by Western Europe in the last 50 years. The results were not very impressive. However, If my wits had been awake there was one significant group of inventions that I could have added to the list . (I always think of the clever remarks the day after the party).

After WWII Europeans totally rethought the process of cabinetmaking. They created a new system geared to rapid production of parts by specialized machines. New hardware, especially a new type of hinge, was part of the package. One of the standardizations is that every Euro-Style cabinet has rows of holes on the sides, always spaced at 32mm. All sorts of shelf supports and drawer slides are made to fit these holes. To this day European companies dominate in large cabinetmaking machinery.

So why did this happen? There is a concept in economics called Creative Destruction, from the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter. It's the other side of Capitalism -- as new things are created, old ones are destroyed. Must be destroyed, to make room for the new. It's the part of free enterprise that's hardest to accept. We want new jobs-businesses-inventions-wealth; but they soon stop appearing unless we also let the old things die. America's current strong economic position wouldn't have happened if we had not been willing to let a great many businesses perish back in the 70's and 80's. (Remember the Rust Belt?)

But World War Two gave us another form of creative destruction. It was dropped out of Lancasters and B-17's. The results were appalling of course (and I would argue that we should not have done it), but they had one good aspect. There were a great many chaps in Germany and Italy and Japan sitting in the smoldering rubble and thinking: If I'm gonna have to start from scratch, at least I can think things through and avoid a lot of the mistakes we used to make. The result was various economic miracles. (And that revolution in cabinetmaking, where there was an extra reason for innovation; so much housing had been destroyed that the old methods would have been totally inadequate to fill the need.)

Germany's economy is now stagnant, and Japan's is in grievous decline. And the reason is probably that they haven't been willing to accept the corrosive side of capitalism. They've tried to shield businesses and banks from failing, investors from losses, workers from layoffs. But if you keep people safe and happy, there aren't many of them thinking I might as well try this, I've got nothing to lose...Come back General LeMay, you're needed more than ever.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Steve has the straight poop on this frightening new "weblogging" phenom -- don't miss it...

They congregate at the most exclusive country clubs across the nation.

They live in new houses, drive new cars, and send their children to the best schools

They are for capitalism, rationalism, objectivism, and a host of other "isms" you've never heard of.

You never heard of them before September 11.

You may not want to hear their opinion, but you have no choice in the matter.

They sit in front of their computers all day.

Now, they want to send your sons to die in far away lands.

They are the warbloggers, and they form America's new power elite.

Meet Garland Renault. Six months ago, he was a law school professor who dabbled in Internet publishing as a hobby. Today, his estimated net worth exceeds that of Bill Gates, and he's firmly in control of an information empire that unabashedly tells you what to think...

Monday, April 08, 2002

Glenn Reynolds has a list of people who were inspired by him to become webloggers. He wasn't my inspiration, but he linked to the people who were. You could call him a root cause.

Inspiration was Natalie Solent (Harry Potter and the Libertarian Subtext) and Moira Breen ... (In your dreams Guardian boy ...)

But Glenn's one of our heroes. After 9/11 we went to our favorite web sites twelve times a day. We were hungry for voices of bitter sanity -- the soupy multiculturalism we swim in every day here was suddenly unendurable. OpinionJournal led to Best of the Web which led to Instapundit. And InstaPundit led to .. well, to, dare I say it, to kindred souls. There, I said it. So, now we drink the morning cuppa joe with friends ... Thank you, Glenn!

Bonus: Here's the answer to one of the those WWI trivia questions. George Washington was the brand name of the first successful instant coffee. It was a godsend to the Doughboys -- it's hard to make coffee on the front lines. Hence the phrase "a cup of George".
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I liked this morsel from one of Megan McArdle's homilies:

... This sort of misunderstanding is also why so many on the left seem to believe that capitalism celebrates, or even causes, greed. Rather, it harnesses it to produce optimal outcomes for the greatest number of people. There are certainly failures in the system: free riders, moral hazard and agency problems, and negative externalities, to name a few. Only silly people claim that there are not failures; but looking at those failures without reference to the costs of fixing them, or switching to another system, is the downfall of the left. As insistence that every single thing the market ever comes up with is good (except, apparently, porn) is the downfall of the right ...

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While America enjoys a voyage of choice and freedom, our education
system missed the boat. It's surprising that a country that says it
values education hasn't powered it up with the energy of choice.
But it's not just a surprise. It's a disgrace."

--Secretary of Education Rod Paige

Sunday, April 07, 2002

The fight against evil is not a sprint
or even a middle-distance event. It is truly a marathon.
If we wish to be marathoners, we will need all the courage,
endurance and stamina we can muster.

--David C.Stolinsky

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Richard Bennett has a thought provoking post:

... it's easy to lose focus on Israel's long-term prospects, which aren't good. Israel is, after all, a small country, with only six million people living shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of millions of hostile neighbors. While Israel is technically advanced, the suicide bomb is a weapon of mass destruction against which it's completely powerless. If present trends continue, suicide bombing alone will lead to the end of the state of Israel in a few short years.

It's the recognition of this that lead Sharon to make such a disproportionate response, trashing houses, killing innocent civilians, cutting Palestinians off from hospital visits, surrounding Arafat, and the rest of it. He's desperate because he knows it's only a matter of time until the suicide bombing makes life in Israel so unbearable that Israelis emigrate en masse to more peaceful climes. And it's all happened before, in the first diaspora that left Palestine without a Jewish population in 1948 when the modern state of Israel was created ...
I think the word disproportionate can be misleading, because some people use it to imply unreasonable or abnormal. If a thousand people are looking for one crazy killer, or one lost hiker, the response is disproportionate, but also normal and reasonable. Likewise if Sharon deploys, say, one battalion per bombing. A thousand-to-one is just the way these things work.

Likewise the phrase innocent civilians. It's is true but misleading; it implies that Israel is lashing out blindly, when in fact they are probably trying their best to only hurt actual terrorists. The terrorists are deliberately hiding among civilians, knowing that Israel will receive a disproportionate share of the blame when civilians are killed.

(Now Richard will probably say I'm cross again. Ha! I'm feeling the utmost benevolence towards him. It's that cookbook, y'see. The one he displays so prominently on his site. Last night Charlene made Fish with Cilantro and Coconut, and I'm eating tasty left-overs this very moment, risking spilling green goop on my Powerbook.)

Update: I just noticed that Richard removed the book from his main page. It's called Savoring the Spice Coast of India. So far, so good.
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Another quote from: Among the Bourgeoisophobes:

"Furthermore, [say Europeans] the American doesn't see the deeper causes of terrorism, the poverty, the hopelessness. America should really be spending more money on foreign aid (it's interesting that Europeans, who are supposed to be less materialistic than we are, inevitably think more money can solve the world's problems, while Americans tend to point to religion or ideas)."
It's good to keep in mind (I'm changing the subject a little) that the experiment has been tried. The redistribute the wealth to the Third World experiment. A select group of undeveloped countries has been showered with so much of our wealth that they have often been at a loss what to do with it. The money was given in exchange for petroleum, but since that was a commodity they were not using themselves, these countries were essentially just given trillions of dollars. Money enough to provide them with a standard of living comparable to the West.

SO, did the experiment work? Are these countries happy? Are they flourishing? Since they have riches, are they wealthy?

No way. Not at all. The truth is, though they have lots of money, they are as poor as ever. If the petro-dollars vanished, they would revert instantly to pauperhood. And they sure aren't happy.

Real wealth is in people and character, and no one can give to you.