Next Month, Ireland Faces a Battle for Its Soul

 

Many on Ricochet have asked me, as Ireland’s de-facto representative on this, what happened to the Catholic church in Ireland? That would be a long, long post which would put you off reading anything of note or interest. Rather instead, I will summarise it like I do with my high school students when they finish a historical topic. Brace for impact:

1. The sex abuse crisis. Sadly, abuse of teenagers and children has always been rife in Ireland and abroad. In Ireland, the numbers are much higher than most countries. Which, of course, alcohol and the vindictive character of some Irish have had a role in creating. It’s now known here that are 1 in 12 people have been abused or assaulted sexually, the vast majority by members of their family. Unfortunately, many disgusting priests and brothers contributed to this evil. Many raped or sexually abused the most vulnerable children in their care, be it in church schools, church hospitals, orphanages, or church-related activities. Oddly, very little sexual abuse was done by religious nuns. These were primarily, as in America, committed by men on teenage boys and the number of victims runs into the tens of thousands. Worse, and this is probably the worst part, many clergy members knew about it and many in the hierarchy moved priests or brothers around, covering it up, and then forcing silence on the victims and their families. Many times the abuser would go on defiling kids across the island after he had been moved.

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Dems Go Full Monty on Socialism: Government Jobs For All

 

Cory Booker (aka, Snowplow Cory), Kristen Gillibrand, and now Bernie Sanders have gone full Socialist. Each has unveiled plans to guarantee a job (paying at least $15 per hour plus benefits) to any and all Americans who want one. Naturally, no word on where the money for this comes from.

I recall seeing a political cartoon from the glory days of the FDR makework programs of the 1930s.

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It’s Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out to Get You

 

True story: I’ve closely known just one true racist in my life. He was my mother’s half-brother, a dozen or so years older than she was. We’ll call him Elwood. Elwood and his two brothers joined the Navy together in 1942. They served together until separated after the Sullivan boys’ incident. Folks said Elwood was never the same after the war. There were rumors that he had something to do with the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. It was not a topic to be discussed in his presence, ever.

He followed his three older sisters and the paper industry to Houston after the war. The son of a New Hampshire farmer, it is doubtful he had much exposure to minorities early in his life. I’m guessing he developed most of his keen racism in segregated Houston. He was a stout, physical man, just over six feet and well over 200 pounds. He had a reputation at the mill for his natural strength, grabbing and tossing 40-lb. bags of materials with a single hand like loaves of bread. They called him “Yank.” He had a short temper, but it was rarely tested. He remained on the top of an uncontested pecking order until his retirement from United Paper after more than 40 years.

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Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

 

For years we’ve been talking about the poor state of education. For conservatives, it’s even worse: our children are learning propaganda with a Progressive agenda; the government and teachers control the curriculum and textbooks to the detriment of the students; and there is no indication that anything will change soon.

It’s time that we took back education, and we can already see strategies that are beginning to support a balanced agenda for authentic learning.

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Pro-Network Economics Is Pro-Growth Economics: A Review of Why Information Grows

 
Cesar Hidalgo’s “Why Information Grows” offers a model of economic growth that eschews the usual suspects of capital, labor, and innovation in favor of a model of the economy as a “collective computer.”

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies (Basic Books, 2015) by MIT’s Cesar Hidalgo offers a model of economic growth that eschews the usual suspects of capital, labor, and innovation. Hidalgo, a statistical physicist by training, sees an economy as a “collective computer” formed of myriad human networks. At the heart of Hidalgo’s model are matter, energy, and information. By “information,” Hidalgo means the physical order of atoms, how they are arranged. When that order is changed — say when a fancy car hits a wall — there has been a change in information, although not a change in the amount of matter.

Or think about when a child is born. Hidalgo sees the journey from womb to the delivery room as a “hundred-thousand-year journey from a distant past to an alien future.” The difference between those two worlds — the modern one filled with objects constructed from our imagination — resides in how the atoms constituting matter are arranged. And processing information, using energy to change physical order in a way that gives meaning or value, is what economies do. The greater such computational capacity, the greater capability an economy has to make information grow and the greater the possible complexity of economic activities such as making an iPhone or a Tesla.

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Quote of the Day: Specialists and Generalists

 

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert Heinlein

I like this quote. A lot of people criticize it because there are a lot of advantages to specialization. As Adam Smith observes, specialization creates wealth. And there are some things you want to leave to specialists. Take brain surgery. If you need it, you would not prefer that someone who is simply a doctor does it, but want someone who is a surgeon, preferably one who specializes in brain surgery, and preferably the best brain surgeon around.

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How to Avoid a Civil War

 

John Hawkins has written a cautionary piece for Townhall.com titled “7 Forces Driving America Toward Civil War.” Those forces — upon which he elaborates — are:

  1. A Post-Constitutional Era
  2. Tribalism
  3. Federal Government Too Powerful
  4. Moral Decline
  5. The Debt
  6. Lack Of A Shared Culture
  7. Gun Grabbing

Looking at that list, it seems that there is sufficient overlap that it could be condensed to two: Disrespect for our Constitutional System and Lack of a Shared Culture. The reason I am reducing this list is that it results in a short-hand test for our national policies and laws:

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Global Shield, 1985

 

This video below shows a MITO (minimal interval takeoff) of B-52G and KC-135 aircraft at the launch of “Global Shield” in 1985. (I was the navigator in, as I recall, the second B-52 to depart in this video.) Although not coincident with Earth Day, this annual exercise truly was global as bombers and supporting tankers launched synchronously from every Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. Our intended audience was the Soviets and the exercise was intended to demonstrate the credibility of the bomber component of the strategic triad.

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The False Allure of Libertarian Paternalism

 
Prof. Richard Thayler.

One of the great academic debates of our time revolves around how people make choices. On the one side, neoclassical theory assumes that individuals generally act in sensible ways in order to advance their individual self-interest. They are motivated to control aggression and monopoly, and to let private parties in competitive markets strike what bargains they like. In recent years, this neoclassical approach has come under attack from the field of behavioral economics. Its proponents argue that the neoclassical model of behavior, premised on the fact that human beings are rational decision-makers, does not sufficiently account for the many false heuristics and biases that lead people astray as they make decisions.

The two most prominent leaders in this movement are Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in economics, and the Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, who have advanced—most notably in their book Nudge–what they problematically call Libertarian Paternalism. This involves using both public and private institutions to “nudge” people to improve their lives without forcing them to do so, supposedly preserving their personal liberty. Resting on the foundational scholarship of Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky, Thaler and Sunstein deny that individuals are as rational as neoclassical theory holds: People often operate under the influence of systematic cognitive biases that prevent them from making sound decisions. In order to nudge people in the right direction, Thaler and Sunstein propose that the legal system set its “default” rules to induce them, without coercion, to act in ways that better advance their own welfare. In some cases, the switch is as simple as a move from “opting in” to “opting out.” People are permitted to reverse the default position if they prefer, so that their freedom of choice is thereby preserved.

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YAF at Brandeis: Christina Hoff Sommers

 

Thanks to Young America’s Foundation (formerly Young Americans for Freedom) our conservative club was able to host Christina Hoff Sommers last Tuesday. We had advertised her around campus thus: “Politically involved? Feminist? Engage in the campus dialogue.” Ironically, other than a graduate student, I was the only female club member to show up. But I enjoyed getting the VIP treatment — sitting in the front seats and being able to hang out with Sommers before and after the event.

The assistant dean (she’s great) started off by talking about how fortunate we were to have these forums for free speech and making it very clear that no disruptive behavior would be tolerated within the room. Then we got to hear from Sommers.

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From Commodity to Transformation: How Selling Coffee Points the Way to the Future of Healthcare Delivery and Why it is So Hard to Get Right

 

In his 2006 book The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, Joseph A. Michelli outlines how Starbucks takes a service (preparing coffee) and turns into an experience, a transformation that has not been without struggles and has proven difficult to maintain over time.

In the book, Michelli outlines the hierarchy of sales, showing that the highest margins are from those sales based on experience, using coffee as an example:

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Jessica Valenti Made the Case for School Choice

 

Second grade. This is happening a second-grade classroom somewhere:

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Can Government Cook Up Another Silicon Valley?

 
Apple campus, Cupertino, CA. | Shutterstock.com

Silicon Valley doesn’t seem too popular these days in Washington. Yet government planners in just about every place that has a government would love to replicate Silicon Valley. Since 2011, California has grown twice as fast as the rest of the nation, helped by white-hot 6% annual growth in the San Jose area — home to the actual Silicon Valley, according to JPMorgan. But what’s the secret sauce? What’s the right recipe? No one seems to know, exactly. But policymakers seem to have settled on what economist Ian Hathaway calls the More of Everything theory (which I would like to believe is a Seinfeld reference). It works like this, Hathaway explains in a blog post:

More of Everything thinking goes something like this: if we just get more of everything, we can create a vibrant startup community . . . more capital, more innovation centers, more accelerators, more incubators, more university programs, more startup events . . . more, more, more. It follows linear systems thinking whereby an increase in critical inputs (resources like capital and talent) results in an increase in desired outputs (startups, value creation), and by how much.

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“Keep My Hand From Striking” and Other Exercises of Self-Control

 

“…and he that ruleth his spirit, better than he that taketh a city.” — Proverbs 16:32

Self-control is an overlooked virtue it seems, especially in an indulgent culture. It seems it also comes in the positive and negative forms. First, the negative. Self-control as resistance to one’s own worst impulses. (Note: names changed to protect the guilty and less-than-innocent)

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Massive Protests Force Armenia’s Prime Minister to Resign

 

Armenia, like many countries of the former Soviet Union, has had a history of soft authoritarianism. For 10 years up to April 9, the country’s president, Serzh Sargsyan, had ruled pretty much without opposition. His election in 2008 had caused protests that were suppressed, leaving 10 dead. A few protests in the intervening years changed little.

Facing term limits for the presidency, Sargsyan in 2015 pushed through a constitutional change that would place much more power in the Parliament and remove it from the presidency. On April 9, 2018, a new president, Armen Sargsyan (no relation) became president. Three days later, Serzh Sargsyan was elected prime minister by his own party, which had won the Parliament.

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Van Driver Kills 9 in Toronto

 

Once again, a rental van plowed through pedestrians on a sidewalk, this time in Toronto. Nine people have been reported killed and 16 reported injured in the Monday attack. Police have the suspect in custody and have identified him as 25-year-old Alek Minassian. The latest from CBS News:

U.S. law enforcement sources told CBS News that the incident appears to be a deliberate act. Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said it was too soon to say whether the crash was a case of international terrorism. He said Canada has not changed its terrorism alert level and he has no information that would suggest a need to do so.

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There Is Such a Thing as White (and Asian) Privilege and the Left Advances It

 

First of all, I want to let everyone know that I am not using white privilege as a cudgel to slur white people or people of any color who disagree with me. I like many classical liberals think that white privilege is incredibly overblown and I see it being used as a way to avoid arguments instead of addressing them with reason and goodwill.

For example, I mentioned that some facts written by Thomas Sowell in one of his books suggested that there was very little discrimination in terms of wages between black Americans and white Americans to a lefty journalist. She responded that the book was, and I quote, “white history.” Rather than look up the facts she called stuff that she disagreed with as white in order to dismiss it.

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“Though Hell Should Bar the Way” a Vastly Entertaining Book

 

David Drake has been writing the Royal Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series of space opera novels for 20 years. “Though Hell Should Bar the Way,” by David Drake, is the series’ 12th novel. In it, Drake resets the series without replacing the main characters, injecting fresh life into an enjoyable space opera series.

In ways the novel is the standard RNC tale. Capt. Daniel Leary, hero of the RCN, and his partner, librarian (and spy) Adele Mundy, are sent to the back of the beyond to serve Cinnabar’s interests in an undercover activity. The pair face intrigues from political rivals within Cinnabar and Cinnabar’s chief interstellar rival, the totalitarian Alliance of Free Stars. Space and land battles result. Cinnabar’s enemies are defeated.

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The Dangers of Playing It Safe

 

I had a rough week last week. No no, scratch that. I had a perfectly awful week last week. To be even more descriptive, last week was the perfect storm of Murphy’s Law and Keystone Cop management. Murphy’s Law, you remember, says that, “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” The Keystone Cop approach to management means that Murphy was an optimist.

Briefly summarizing the incident; several hours into my work day, my truck developed a substantial antifreeze leak. I alerted the dispatcher, who promptly ignored the problem and kept sending me on loads (perfectly in keeping with an established attitude that is undaunted by reality and unmoved by contradictory facts). The truck overheated on the highway resulting in very costly repairs, lost freight revenue, and a glorious night spent parked on a pile of dirt with no facilities available. The crowning glory was that after the truck was dead, I kept getting these incessant phone calls from the same dispatcher who refused my request for maintenance wanting to know when I was going to deliver various loads. I believe this is what they call doubling down on stupid.

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Wisdom and the Book of Job

 

What follows are some thoughts from a recently completed re-reading of the Book of Job.

To set the stage: Job tells the story of a righteous man who endures incredible suffering, all under the sovereign oversight of Almighty God. The narrative follows a series of long poetic dialogs between Job and the friends who have come to mourn with him and comfort him, all concerning the nature of man and his relationship to God. Job’s friends argue that Job must have sinned greatly to have merited such punishment from God. Job counters that he has lived a just life, and that the miseries visited upon him are unjust. Ultimately, Job is vindicated and restored by God, but in the telling, it is made clear to Job that he is not owed an answer or justification by God. Rather Job comes to recognize that the Lord’s power and authority are beyond human accountability.

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Quote of the Day: Line Up, Everyone!

 

“All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height.” — Casey Stengel

Truth be told, my dad watched a lot of sports when we were growing up, but I don’t recall him electing to watch nearly as many baseball games as football games. That may just be the fuzzy memory of youth, of course – a detail that at the time wasn’t important to note. He did watch baseball mostly so that he could have sports happening somewhere in the vicinity while he read. Baseball was, in his opinion, perfect for reading.

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Government Workers Threaten Strikes, Demand More Pay

 

Public teachers striking? Someone has to say it: Who do these public servants, these government employees, think they are to make demands of the public and our elected representatives? The way politicians fawn over this set of government employees is topped only by British MPs prostrating themselves before the temple of the National Health Service.

Let’s be clear. Teachers are not nobler than nurses or nurses’ aides. Teachers do not matter more than plumbers or mechanics. Teachers matter less to our civilization then sewer workers and police. And educrats, hiding behind classroom teachers, are leaders in social decay and loss of real learning. While police have job protection similar to teachers, none of the other professions or trades cited do, and none of the others are able to demand wage increases without fear of job loss.

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Putting a Face on Law Enforcement

 

As we drove home on Friday from Gainesville, we heard the news that two cops had been killed in Trenton, FL. It turns out that Trenton is in Gilchrist County and wasn’t far from where we were driving.

The two cops were dining in a Chinese restaurant in Trenton on a lunch break. Their names were Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, married and father of two, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, who had a girlfriend. The shooter walked into the restaurant and killed them both, then killed himself inside his car.

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