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January 28, 2007
Legacy of Milton Friedman
On the show this evening, we hosted Bob Chitester, who's produced an intellectual biography of Milton Friedman, "The Power of Choice," airing tomorrow night on PBS. Bob's site, The Idea Channel, is also streaming both the original Free to Choose series and its updated version for free. Several years earlier, the Dallas Fed hosted a conference dedicated to the legacy of that series and book.
When Milton Friedman died late last year, much was made of the legacy of his economic thought, and its spirited promotion of liberty. Sadly, the election to majority status of a party dedicated to the slow destruction of that liberty has also emboldened those Republicans who don't quite trust their fellow citizens. Reminders of the power of economic freedom are desperately needed.
January 21, 2007
Admit it. For about a week in 1997, you, too were wondering if even Prince William could save the House of Windsor. Turns out you were wrong, too.
The Queen reminds us of the difference between the partisan and the political. The Crown may never be partisan. We are reminded of that at the outset of the film, set on the day of the 1997 elections, as Queen Elizabeth muses with her royal portraitist about what it would be like to vote.
"I should like the chance, just once, to vote. Not the mechanics of the act so much as the chance to be partisan.
"Yes, ma'am, you may not be able to vote, but remember...it is your government."
But the Head of State, symbol of the country, is an intensely political position. It is that, as much as anything else, that the Royals have been shielded from over the last half-century. Cherie Blair has it wrong: it's not a coccoon of privilege so much as a coccoon from politics. The Queen might give some advice to Prime Ministers, but these meetings are about policy more than the temper of the nation.
And yet, even then, even after Blair rightly advises Her that the nation wants something less detached at this moment, there's a sense that the Queen hasn't got it entirely wrong. During the memorial after September 11, it was moving to tears to see her sing the words to our national anthem. Had the Queen had a history of such outbursts it would have meant little. Imagine Diana doing the same an then imagine your reaction. Eh. That's nice. Bit of a lightweight, that Diana, don't you think?
Most of the focus by the American press has been on their darling, Tony Blair, saving the Royal Family from themselves, as his character says in the film. But he himself, ah, grows in office, but learning to appreciate the Royals and the unique position they play in the life of the country. He goes from being somewhat in awe of a monarch he expects to have only perfunctory contact with, to a being a staunch defender of the Queen and the institution, to the dismay of his Republican wife Cherie, who accuses him of using the Queen as a substitute mother.
Blair is also limited by his engagement in politics. As the Queen is giving her address concerning Diana, Blair marvels the Queen's savvy; "That's how you survive!" The address, of course, was about more than survival, it was about the Queen learning how to fulfill her role as national unifier in a new way. Just as the Queen is not permitted to descend to partisanship, so Blair cannot transcend it.
The casting it pitch-perfect. These are public figures, all but Diana and the Queen Mum still alive, whom you believe you know. In the case of the Royals you've seen them most of your life, and Blair has managed to pack almost as much exposure into a decade and a half of national prominence. The actors manage to disappear into their roles almost seamlessly.
It's important to remember that this is a movie, not a history. It's inconceivable that Philip would need to inform Elizabeth and the Queen Mother about the proper use of the Royal standard, although contemporary American and (evidently) British audiences need the lecture. And the Charles character displays an understanding of the public relations difficulties of dealing with Diana that it's hard to credit the real Charles with.
But the movie is indisputably Queen Elizabeth's, and Stephen Frears has managed to create a sympathetic and complex portrait of her, at a time when it was easier to reduce her to a cardboard villainness.
Do You Know The Way...
Headed off to San Jose for the first bit of Photonics West, a major laser & photonics show. One of the companies we cover is a one of the two major US laser and photonics companies. Today is the Bio/Medical part of the trade show, one of the real growth areas for laser applications. Tomorrow, there's a seminar on the laser marketplace.
Tomorrow night, there's a long flight back home, but first, we need to make sure the wings are properly de-iced on this flight. The Sprint wireless card is working well here at DIA. It's the kind of thing that makes you impatient for in-flight, but then you realize that with the standing-room-only nature of today's seating, there won't be any place to put to the computer, anyway.
January 16, 2007
Eulogy For a Two-Year-Old
The first email came in at a little after 2:00. The funeral would be at 3:30, maybe 4:00 this afternoon.
The parents are a well-liked young couple here in the community. I don't know her very well, but I've taken some classes from him, and his relentless cheerfulness usually infected the whole group pretty quickly. How could I not go?
And so, as the sun set, about 200 men and women stood out in 0-degree weather trying, and failing, to make sense of it. We can't really know what the little girl's soul's mission was, only that it was accomplished. But life is a gift meant to be lived, and her life was decidedly unlived. And the human mind cannot comprehend that.
What on earth can you say about a two-year-old, who never had a chance to live a meaningful life? The father was dignified beyond belief, speaking of the joy she had brought, and of God's mercy in taking her painlessly.
A few prayers reminding us of God's justice - reminders being necessary, and the alternative being too awful to contemplate -, and then we shuffled back to our cars, and back to our own lives.
January 15, 2007
Let the Handicapping Begin
It's official: Colorado Republicans will have an open seat to defend in '08. With Tancredo apparently thinking that a White House run offers a better chance to bang the illegal immigration drum, the Republican side is wide open.
Those of us worried about a Bill Owens resurrection bid can take comfort in the fact that Colorado's former governors have a history of losing such efforts - in the primary.
Welcome to Arcti-City
I'm sure the burst pipes and 10-ft.-high snow mountains are all part of global warming, but right now, it sure doesn't seem that way. The fahrenheit temperatures look like centigrade, and the centigrade temperatures look like the trade deficit.
I took advantage of the rare day off to go up to Left Hand Canyon again, and take the dog hiking for a short way along a snowshoeing trail. After we got to the trees, and out of the gale-force winds, the dog forgot all about how cold his paws were and actually enjoyed the walk. The trail itself was packed well enough that I didn't even need snowshoes - until I got to the steep part, which is why you need crampons on snow and not on dirt.
In the meantime, there are bits of my lungs still wanting to know what was wrong with the non-liquid air...
January 14, 2007
Water, Water Everywhere
Since all this snow started (and we got a little more today), I've been asking when we'll see the newspaper articles reminding us that it doesn't really help us all that much.
If you had today in the pool, you won!
The Denver Post reminds us that just because we have lots of water, that doesn't mean that we really have lots of water:
"If there were no more storms for this area, we'd probably be better off than we were during some of the worst drought years, but it doesn't exactly keep us out of the woods," he said.
For big metropolitan water users, the snow that's fallen across the Front Range over the past month doesn't guarantee summertime water supplies. Spring snows are more of a boon because they replenish reservoirs drawn down during winter months, water managers say.
When we get those spring snows, I'm sure the Post will explain that it's great that all those new canal and riverboat services have started, but that we're facing an uncertain fall.
All of which means that rain comes where and when you least expect it, so they best thing to do is to have lots and lots of new reservoirs ready and waiting for it. So of course, that's why the Post and the Democrats opposed Referendum A a couple of years back, which would have built just those.
The argument at the time was that the governor's bill wasn't specific enough, and certainly the Governor Bill obliged by specifically failing to try again - ever. If anything signifies the lack of confidence Owens had under the surface, the water issue was it. The left tries referendum after referendum, rewording them until either the voters or the courts agree. Owens shrugged his shoulders and moved on to raising my taxes.
Now, we'll probably be informed that all the best spots for reservoirs just happen to be in the way of wind farm proposals.
January 12, 2007
Openings at the Carter Center
It's like something out of the Onion: "Carter Canvassing Local Home Depot for Replacement Board Members."
OK, not quite. But 14 members of the Carter Center board have resigned in protest over Carter's increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments:
Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy. Furthermore the comments you have made the past few weeks insinuating that there is a monolith of Jewish power in America are most disturbing and must be addressed by us. In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the "Jewish Lobby" In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support of Israel. Is any interest group to be penalized for participating in the free and open political process that is America? Your book and recent comments suggest you seem to think so.
In the past you would inject yourself into this world to moderate between the two sides in the pursuit of peace and as a result you earned our admiration and support. Now you repeatedly make false claims. You wrote that UN Security Council Resolution 242 says that "Israel must withdraw from territories" (p. 38), but you know the word "must" in fact is not in the resolution. You said that since Mahmoud Abbas has been in office there have been no peace discussions. That is wrong. You wrote that Yassir Arafat told you in 1990 that, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel" (p. 62). Given that their Charter, which explicitly calls for Israel's destruction, was not revised until the late 1990s, how could you even write such a claim as if it were credible?
As a result it seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately.
Read the whole thing. And then fill out an application. We've often been told that racism - or anti-Semitism - is a virus, and It turns out they have a position available for an epidemiologist. When they get around to posting the requirements for Board Member, they'll already have your resume on file.
Salazar on Ethics
So apparently, Senator Salazar, coming as he does from the hog farming part of the state, is a fan of pork. The Senator joined Senator Majority Leader Harry "Oooooh, that land deal" Reid and most of the rest of his caucus in voting against Sen. Jim DeMint's tougher definition of earmarks:
The measure, an amendment to an ethics and lobbying bill, would have adopted a wider definition of "earmarks," specific projects inserted in bills, to include Corps of Engineer water projects, Pentagon weapon systems and items from other federal entities.
The language favored by Reid would require disclosure of only targeted funds directed to nonfederal entities such as city parks, state universities and private contractors. Reid crafted the ethics bill with Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but McConnell supported Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the sponsor of the legislation, on the earmarks issue.
"If we're going to go through all this process, if we're going to change the laws and try to tell the American people that now you can see what we're doing, let's don't try to pull the wool over their eyes," DeMint said.
Makes sense to me, but apparently not to our junior senator.
Amusingly, the AP continues its run of innumeracy. The article states that 7 Republicans voted against DeMint, when in fact, only 5 did so. The 46 votes against came from 49 Democrats, minus the 9 defectors, plus 5 Republicans and 1 Indpendent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The AP writer probably did the arithmetic in his head, trying to back out the number of Republicans, rather than actually looking at the roll call tally as he did for the Democrats. I don't suppose there's bias in the difference between 5 and 7 Republican defectors, just laziness.
ISIME has just sent an email announcing that their planned January 23 showing of Obsession has been canceled, but not giving a reason. Details as they become available.
January 11, 2007
Well, They Had to Meet Somewhere
It's official. The 2008 Democratic Convention will be here in Denver. Apparently unfazed by a city in which the ubiquity of Wal Mart is matched only by the lack of union hotels, Hillary, Howard, and the whole motley crew are preparing to descend on us sometime next August.
For those interested, there will be a house available just for that week, at an attractive weekly rate. It's only 15 mins. from downtown driving, and on several major bus lines. Applications are being accepted now.
January 9, 2007
Then again, what do I know? I'm just here representing the New York Money People:
Clark is talking about the possibility of military action against Iran:
"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table - but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, 'what will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq?' It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."
When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."
Best of the Web was all over this on Friday.
So the three questions bear repeating:
1 - Why don't the Democrats seem to care?
2 - Why doesn't the MSM seem to care?
3 - Why doesn't the MSM seem to care at least that the Democrats don't care?
So tell me, when exactly did Denver turn into Narnia? This Friday's scheduled snowstorm has been scaled back to 6", courtesy of some arctic air that's apparently going to stick around for some weekend skiing. Normally, this stuff melts off, but with the bulldozers piling it up in the streets, some of the ice hills around Crestmoor Park will be there until March.
Of course, none of this would be happening if we had signed Kyoto.
Fortunately, my Dad was able to drive back to Geo'gia before the wind swept across Broomfield, turning Boulder into an island. We drove up to Boulder, and then into the foothills near Ward and Nederland on Sunday, and the wind was blurring the mountains even at a distance. Yesterday, it slid down the foothills onto the front range and closed down US-36. I've seen this effect from an office in Broomfield before, and it's pretty spectacular.
The other frightful event today was the swearing in of Bill Ritter as governor. I wish him well, really, and I think he's more of the Romanoff mold than the Fitzgerald. This isn't a day for sourness; it's a day to note that we can have a peaceful transfer of power from one party to the other, and not have half the counties in the state setting up roadblocks and designing uniforms. The color may be blue, but for a long while yet, the institutions are still strong.
January 4, 2007
Back to Blogging
Happy New Year! I suppose I could catch up on all the missed holidays, but at some point, you just write off lost time and get back to the cycle.
Back from an extended blogging vacation, relaxed, refreshed, and having missed tremendous amounts of major news, such as Iran's adoption of the Nazi salute and the goose-step. It's not as though you actually run out of things to say, but it's easy to see why blogging and talk radio are such a natural fit. Both of them consume tremendous amounts of material, and you'd better not repeat yourself too often, else you may as well just post links back to prior posts.
One of the interrupting events of mid-December was a long, quick drive back east to Long Island - driving a 26-foot truck. Now I like driving, especially long distances. Here to NY - ok. From the house to Wal-Mart - not so much. But I basically had two days to get the truck to Long Island, so I-80 it was. I'll say this for the Interstates, they have speed, which is just as well, since the things are routed away from anything you might want to stop and see, anyway.
In this case, it was also a chance to kluge together some interesting technology. DC-AC converters have come down dramatically in price, and I traded in my Comcast cable modem for a Sprint wireless card (although I still have my old wifi card for when I'm in a town lacking a digital signal but possessed of a wifi-enhanced coffee shop). Iowa may have wifi-enabled all of their rest stops, but that was just a redundant system as far as I was concerned. (That may be a red flag for all those governments putting money into muni-wifi. Or it may be an excuse to turn it into another stagnant public utility.)
So after having driven from Peru, IL to the exit for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, I am reminded that half the so-called highways on Long Island don't take truck because they were built when the largest thing on the road was a drafthorse. I know Robert Moses tried his best, but there's not enough air in any tire to get a 12' truck under a 10' 6" clearance. This was at 1:00 in the morning, having driven 800 miles already, needing to have the truck at the door by 9:00 the next morning, and low on gas, and having drunk enough diet Coke that my back teeth were floating. Having crossed The Broncks, heading for the gloriously named Throgs Neck Bridge, no neighborhood was safe to empty and refuel in, and the refreshing early-morning traffic jam made changing lanes an adventure in itself.
Ah, the magic of technology. With only the guidance of a warning sign somewhere in one of the 45 highway-to-higway interchanges in the Bronx, saying, "Trucks - Expressways Yes! Parkways No! It's The Law!," I pulled up Mapquest on the laptop in the seat next to me, and had a full-screen GPS helping me find the Yellow Brick Expressway. This would have been completely impossible even three years ago.
Soon, it'll be an option.
Power, Faith, and Fantasy
Six Days of War
An Army of Davids
Learning to Read Midrash
Deals From Hell
A War Like No Other
A Civil War
The (Mis)Behavior of Markets
The Wisdom of Crowds
When Genius Failed
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude
How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?
Good to Great
Built to Last
Financial Fine Print
The Day the Universe Changed
The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East
The Case for Democracy
A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory
Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures
Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud