Saturday, June 30, 2007

Useless Departments

While in DC last week a took a walk through the area surrounding the White House. While on this walk I passed the offices of what had to be the most useless (but needed) department in Federal Service.

They clearly need to start supervising Congress.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


One of the traditional roles of the United States Navy was the suppression of piracy and the protection of the trade routes. Until World War One, this was the major job of the navy. Perhaps it is time for it to be reintroduced. The Admiralty will not be excited by this, because this will require fairly small vessels operating singly or in small groups and the huge carriers will have little more than a support role.

There is an interactive map of pirate attacks (successful and not) for this year at the International Maritime Bureau's website. There are a bunch of little red flags.

via Coming Anarchy

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fanboy moment

I have just returned from the annual meeting of the American Library Association (about which I will post more later) at which I had a major fanboy moment. The Cato Institute had a reception at which P.J. O'Rourke spoke and signed books. I got my picture taken with him as proof. If you have not read O'Rourke, drop everything and do so at once.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shuttle Launch

I watch the space shuttle Atlantis take off yesterday afternoon. A space launch is still on the most spectacular events there is. The massive nature of the event is coupled with the hope of discovery and adventure to symbolize what Fredrick Jackson Turner call the frontier theory of American history. He argued that the history of the country centered on identifying and overcoming frontiers. As Gene Rodenberry said, space is the final frontier. I can distinctly remember the first shuttle launch. I skipped school twice to watch it on television. Twice because the first launch was scrubbed and it was rescheduled for a couple of weeks later. Now we only notice the space program if there is a disaster like Challenger or Columbia. The space program is still great adventure and this country should have been investing in it significantly for the past two decades. Instead, our legislators sell their votes to donors and special interests like prostitutes and our future remains unfunded and unconsidered. The shuttle fleet is going to be retired in 2010 and there will not be a replacement until 2013 at the very earliest. Which means that US participation in the International Space Station and all the research that can only be conducted there will be dependent on Russian rockets. I do realize that the Cold War is over but this is pathetic. Tropical forests in Iowa and Bridges to Nowhere are obviously more important than making the scientific and engineering discoveries that will define technology in the next generation. The US Congress should be proud. I know I'm not.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Family and/or Religion

Something that is regularly taught in my church is that the family and religion are inextricably linked. Mary Eberstadt, writing in Policy Review agrees. In her article "How the West Really Lost God" she takes exception with the notion that increasing secularization has led to the breakdown of the nuclear family and suggests that the contrary is actually true. The breakdown of the family, most prominent in Western Europe, is responsible for the reduction in religious belief and activity found there. She also suggests that those who argue that increased modernity will result in decreased religious activity everywhere based on the European model are incorrect and that Europe is the exception rather than the rule with the rest of the world going in a different direction led by the United States.

An interesting article.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No More Aid

An interesting interview with James Shikwati, an expert in Kenyan economics, in Der Speigel. He argues that if the West (Europe and the US) really want to alleviate suffering and improve economic conditions in Africa they should stop sending aid. All the aid does is promote a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy created to administer it, and destroy the local economy by undermining local farmers and manufacturers.

Friday, June 01, 2007


I am not sure if this is one of the coolest things out there or just sad.