Saturday, June 11, 2005

Spanish cave bears, Neanderthals, and by extension, of course...


Archaeologist Dr. Ana Pinto has been excavating caves in Spain , looking for evidence on both cave bears and Neanderthals. Claudia Dreifus interviewed Pinto in the New York Times:
Q. Your doctorate research, what was it on?

A. Cave bears. Before my research, we thought these extinct animals had been herbivorous. I showed they'd been a least partly carnivorous. In fact, they may have eaten each other.

...I looked systematically at thousands of bones....Using scientific methods, I showed how the tooth marks could only have come from other cave bears - a sign of cannibalism or savaging.
This important research ties in directly with the widespread belief that porcupines too are herbivores, when in fact they are carnivorous blood-sucking vampire predators wont to scale tall trees in order to have higher vantage points from which to espy their quarry and fling themselves, flying squirrel-like, upon their victims, sink glistening fangs into their jugulars and feast upon the innocents' corpses.

Lack of public awareness of the predacious predilections of porcupines is of course a major contributor to the hazard posed by these Draculas of the Woods. I have recently received a written report tho from one perspicacious young scholar who has determined thru undoubtedly rigorous scientific methods that in fact porcupines eat zebras.

Surely further research will expand the proven range of the porcupines' culinary depravities, but for now we must simply beware the so-called innocent "herbivorous" porcupine. They have profited mightily over the millennia from their well-honed propaganda machine, first building unwarranted trust in ever-declining generations of Neanderthals, who believed them a hazard only to trees and near-sighted soccer players. If to be forewarned is to be fore-armed, then we Smorgasbords-on-the-Hoof have hitherto been utterly defenseless.

Remember the Neanderthal! Citizens, to Arms!

UPDATE: A Western correspondent writes that she is to attend some sort of sporting event and:
i'm gonna go...get things ready for the game ...will need to get something to shoot at porcupines!
I have helpfully advised:
Marshmallows. They are absolutely terrified of marshmallows. And Reese's Peanut butter cups. Also in general anything which smacks of vegetables or vegetablism. Also popcorn, of course, especially if well buttered. Just smear it...inside yer tummy.
Alas, said correspondent seems not to take the danger seriously:
If i find a porcupine in the rafters i will take a picture and i will send it to you!
Imagine finding Attila the Hun staring at you all squinty-eyed and speculative, and all you do is stand there snapping pics whilst he checks the edge on his scimitar. I ask you: Is this mal-adaptive behavior, or what? I naturally replied:
Better just Flee For Your Life! Remember the "herbivorous" bunny in was it?...Life of Brian?
Shortly a photo was emailed to me, disturbingly like those all too well known last pics of prides of lions (or their blurry tonsils) taken by photo safari neophytes. I could only reply:
Run! Run for your LIVES!

Or pelt it with marshmallows!

Or both!

Lemme know if you survive.

Or not.
So far there has been no response. Gloom lies heavy over all.

76 Roman statues would lead a big parade...

...of recent archaeological finds.
CYRENE. An Italian team of archaeologists has discovered 76 intact Roman statues at Cyrene in Libya....

With a nearby coastal port, Apollonia, serving it, Cyrene was once a conurbation equivalent to Alexandria, Carthage and Leptis Magna.... (F)ounded by Greek settlers from the island of Thera in 631 BC, it was later ruled by the Ptolemies and then the Romans....

The latest discovery is the work of Mario Luni, an archaeologist from the University of Urbino.... Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Professor Luni said: “One morning, a collapsed wall in the Roman temple...revealed a marble serpent wrapped around a stone. We could not have known that this was only the first in a series of statues...we would pull from the ground. We just kept discovering them every day, for a month and a half, and found 76 in total.”

...All the statues date from the Severan period in the second century BC.
What a haul. That's the sort of sexy find which you just don't find. Not anymore. Edek Osser has the story in The Art Newspaper.

As for that fine word, conurbation, Merriam-Webster Online has this to say: Etymology: com- + Latin urb-, urbs city: an aggregation or continuous network of urban communities. Sort of like Philadelphia to Boston or Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hirsi Ali, the Dutch, and Islamists

Deborah Scroggins reports :
In the United States, where few people have had the chance to read or see her critiques of Islam, the 35-year-old [Dutch politician] Hirsi Ali has been almost exclusively portrayed as a champion of free speech and women's rights. In the Netherlands, however, she remains the subject of intense controversy. Well before van Gogh's murder, she had become a major hate figure among Dutch Muslims, who accuse her of stirring up Islamophobia on behalf of a cabal of right-wing politicians and columnists. Since the murder, a surprising number of native-born Dutch intellectuals have come around to the Muslim point of view....
It sounds a trifle like the nuanced, blame-the-victim analysis. Criticizing thugs provokes them, so the real problem is the critics' unwillingness to shut up.
...In what appears to be a Europe-wide pattern, some feminists are aligning themselves with the anti-immigrant right against their former multiculturalist allies on the left. Joining them in this exodus to the right are gay activists, who blame Muslim immigrants for the rising number of attacks on gay couples.
That could do it. If "intellectuals" blame gay activists for refusing to accept that they cause Islamists to attack them by being publicly gay, gays may reasonably decide that "intellectuals" are on the other side in a murderously violent culture war.

Dutch Muslim to Dutch critics of Islamic fundamentalism in Holland:
"We are telling them, 'We have rights, too. You have to change your idea about freedom or face the consequences.'"
I can see why Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh were concerned before they were murdered on the street.

This is a fairly long column, but gives a good overview.

Thanks to Instapundit for the lead.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wachovia, slaves, race hustlers, & running with one's tail between one's legs

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe on Wachovia Corp. running for the hills:
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, and Wachovia wasn't founded until 1879. The slaves for which (Wachovia Chairman Ken) Thompson was so apologetic were owned decades before the Civil War, when slavery was still lawful throughout the South. They were owned not by Wachovia but by the Bank of Charleston and the Georgia Railroad and Banking Co. -- two of the approximately 400 financial institutions dating back to 1781 that over the centuries merged with or were acquired by other institutions that eventually became part of the conglomerate known today as Wachovia.

In other words, Thompson's apology was for something Wachovia didn't do, in an era when it didn't exist, under laws it didn't break. And as an act of contrition for this wrong it never committed, it can now expect to pay millions of dollars to activists for a wrong they never suffered.

What is going on here?

Underlying Wachovia's conduct is a Chicago ordinance passed in 2002, which requires every company doing business with the city to investigate and disclose any historical ties it may have had to slavery.
I think Jacoby got it right when he titled this column The slavery shakedown.

One of the better things about America has been our general lack of interest in history. That was a good thing: people came here to get over the past injustices of their native lands. Witness the relative peace between American Jews and American Arabs vs that of Jews and Arabs still in the Middle East. Fourth generation Turks and Armenians get along well enuf here, and third generation Americans of Cuban ancestry don't care all that much about the injustices Castro perpetrated against their families 40 years ago. Those are all good things.

However, there are professionals who make a living dredging up past injustices here in order to make a living, stoking feelings of personal injustice in ppl who didn't suffer that injustice. Wachovia is helping, and so are some big city mayors like Chicago's Richard Daley. Shame on them.

The Internet and regulation of Political Speech

Ryan Sager has a couple good lines in his Tech Central Station column about regulation of political speech on the Internet, but he is a little lite on persuasive specifics. I agree with him, but if you don't this won't change your mind:
In comments submitted to the Federal Election Commission last week, as the regulatory body seeks advice on how to apply the McCain-Feingold law to the Internet, the enemies of the First Amendment had to walk a fine line. On one side, the politicians in them wanted to genuflect to democracy, open debate and all the new citizen journalists who seem to wield so much influence these days. On the other side, however, the clean-government obsessive-compulsives in them knew that freedom's just another word for something new to regulate....

Why, when the free market has gone and created the exact state of affairs the reformers have long claimed to desire, are the McCains of the world looking to crack down?

Because the reform movement has never been about freedom. It has always been about control.
I agree, but we need better arguments.

Reconstructing the Ege Collection of medieval manuscripts

An early 20th-century book collector, Otto Ege, assembled the (40) boxes, each containing...pages...from 50 different texts dated between 1100 and 1550 AD.

"We were pretty silent and astonished," (professor Peter) Stoicheff recalled in an interview last week.

"When we opened the box and saw that first page, it was rather simple. But it was so fascinating. It was from the 1100s. I mean, it's not very often that you get to put your hands on something from so long ago. It was quite moving."

So moving, in fact, that Stoicheff has made it a personal goal to track down the 39 other boxes and bring all their owners together, essentially rebinding the books that were taken apart decades ago and reconstructing lost story lines.
eBay figures in, as well.

Unnati Gandhi has the story in the Globe and Mail.

Tip: Click here: ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News

Link Rot! Here's another shot at it. If this doesn't work, Google some of the text.

Well, rats. I can't get it to paste. Google the text: you'll find it. It is an interesting story.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why they hate us

The Washington Post has a long and interesting article on Syrian facilitators for jihadists on their way to Iraq to fight everybody who doesn't share their religious views.
In the Syrian countryside north of Aleppo where Abu Ibrahim grew up and married, his fundamentalist impulses took their present shape when he met "a group of young men through my wife's family who spoke to me the true words of Islam. They told me Sufism was forbidden and the Shiites are infidels."

A year later, he went to Saudi Arabia, a kingdom founded on Wahhabism, a puritanical form of Islam in the Salafi wing...

At a private Saudi production company that specialized in radical Islamic propaganda, he said, he learned video editing and digital photography. The work channeled the rage of young Arab men incensed by the situation in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, angered by U.S. foreign policy and chafing under the repression of secular Arab rulers.

Their goal, he said, is restoration of the Islamic caliphate, the system that governed Muslims before the rise of nation states. Abu Ibrahim said he regarded Afghanistan during the Taliban rule as one of the few true Islamic governments since the time of Muhammad.
"Chafing under the repression of secular Arab rulers" because they want to be repressive fundamentalist rulers themselves.

Just how is it we are supposed to get along with them?

In Syria:
Jihad was being allowed into the open. Abu Ibrahim said Syrian security officials and presidential advisers attended festivals, one of which was called "The People of Sham [Damascus] Will Now Defeat the Jews and Kill Them All." Money poured in from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries....

The young men around the cleric found themselves wielding a surprising amount of power. They were allowed to enforce their strict vision of sharia , or Islamic law, entering houses in the middle of the night to confront people accused of bad behavior.
Kill all the Jews. Yep. I guess we better open negotiations on that real fast.
"Once the Americans bombed a bus crossing to Syria. We made a big fuss and said it was full of merchants," Abu Ibrahim said. "But actually, they were fighters."...

"Six months ago, Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden were different," he said. "Osama did not consider the killing of Shiites as legitimate. Zarqawi did that. Anyone -- Christian, Jew, Sunni, Shiites -- whoever cooperates with the Americans can be killed. It's a holy war."
At least they are equal opportunity murderers. Won't get in trouble with the feds on that one.

Lead: Click here:

The Wall Street Journal on Gonzales v. Raich

This was not a good decision for anyone who believes there are Constitutional limits on the federal leviathan.
This was not a case about whether medical marijuana should be legal. It was about power: What power did the states delegate to the federal government in the Constitution, and what power did they reserve to themselves? A majority of the US Supreme Court has decided that the states kept near none.

Click here: OpinionJournal - Featured Article

UPDATE: It would be interesting if the legislatures or Supreme Courts of several of the states which legalized medical marijuana declared that they had not delegated such power to the feds, but I suppose backing that up by defending pot producers/distributors/users from federal agents would constitute an armed rebellion. So, yes, it would be quite interesting.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

If yer into Supernovas...

...this one isn't bad at all.

Cool Space Pic of the Day

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hanging out together...

...makes you warped and peculiar. At least it does if you are a galaxy.

Otherwise, possibly not.

Cool Space Pic of the Day

Raich, Medical Marijuana, the US Supreme Court, and a huge blow against Federalism

UPDATE: Lawrence Solum has a good quick intro and a long analysis hereClick here: Legal Theory Blog END UPDATE

UPDATE TWO: Clarence Thomas in his dissent (via Radley Balko:
If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers....

Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that "commerce" included the mere possession of a good or some purely personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.

It may well be that the Commerce Clause was the breach in the wall which shall destroy the concept of a federal government of limited and enumerated powers. This wasn't a surprising decision, but it was a very big one which goes far beyond the issue of medical marijuana.

The Supreme Court ruled that any effect whatsover upon interstate commerce, no matter how tenuous, meets the needs of the Commerce Clause. It's a shame this case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court: Now there is a solid precedent which largely eliminates the Commerce Clause as a limit on Federal power. It will likely be a very long time before the Raich decision is repudiated. David Bernstein has come comments at Volokh Conspiracy :
(1) The five-member majority of the Court simply does not take federalism seriously. Justice Stevens writes that Congressional factual findings are required when there is a "special concern such as the protection of free of speech." Apparently, however, the Constitution's limitations on federal power--critical by any measure to the American system of government--are not a "special concern," or even especially important.

(2) Justice Scalia's concurrence, unlike Justice Thomas's dissent, does not address the original meaning of the Commerce Clause. This reflects a pattern with Scalia, apparent also in his affirmative action, First Amendment, and other opinions: he is much more likely to resort to originalist arguments when they can be used to undermine Warren Court precedents...than when such arguments would either undermine his political views or challenge precedents that are not on the social conservative..."hit list."

(3) I predicted the outcome of this case...on the theory that wavering Justices...would be affected by political trends apparent in the United States...(T)he Republican Congress is vying with the Democratic Congresses of the 1930's and 1960's as the biggest supporter of increased federal power in American history....

(4) There are essentially two strategies for those who are concerned with civil liberties for limiting the government's ability to abuse the rights of the public. One is the standard ACLU strategy of being a liberal supporter of broad government power, and then insisting that the government respect individual rights, especially constitutional rights, when using that power. The other strategy, followed by libertarians, is to try to limit the government's general power to begin with because the government cannot abuse power it does not have. The drug war provides a least one example of the superiority of the libertarian strategy. The drug war has run roughshod over the civil libertarian accomplishments of the Warren Court, leading to a weakening to various degrees of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth amendments, not to mention a huge increase in the prison population, and the denial of the basic right to use relatively innocuous recreational drugs, even for medicinal or health purposes. Far better to have denied the federal government the power to regulate intrastate use of and sale of drugs to begin with...

(5) I was both amused and angered by Justice Stevens's paean to the democratic process as the appropriate avenue of relief for advocates of medical marijuana at the end of his opinion. Every Justice who joined Stevens's opinion voted to prohibit states from regulating homosexual sex in Lawrence and [if they were on the Court at the time] voted to limit the government's power to regulate abortion in Casey. Why was the democratic process not the appropriate avenue of relief for the victims of overzealous government regulation in those cases?
SCOTUSblog (SupremeCourt of the US blog) has a long round up of opinion on this as well. Marty Lederman notes there :
As Justice Breyer noted in dissent in Morrison, as long as Congress adds a "jurisdictional element," a previously unconstitutional statute can be readily salvaged. And that's exactly what Congress did after Lopez: it enacted a statute that made possession of handguns near schools unlawful if the gun had traveled in interstate commerce.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ward Churchill of "little Eichmanns" infamy

If you have the foggiest interest in the Ward Churchill brouhaha, the Rocky Mountain News has started a series apparently intent on showing him to be a fraud from start to finish.
University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fabricated historical facts, published the work of others as his own and repeatedly made false claims about two federal Indian laws, a Rocky Mountain News investigation has found.
That's pretty unequivocal. Not much wiggle room: they must be pretty sure of themselves.
The two-month News investigation... also unearthed fresh genealogical information that casts new doubts on the professor's long-held assertion that he is of American Indian ancestry.
• He accused the U.S. Army of deliberately spreading smallpox among the Mandan Indians of the Upper Missouri River Valley in 1837 — but there's no basis for the assertion in the sources he cited. In fact, in some instances the books he cited — and their authors — directly contradict his assertions.

• He published an essay in 1992 that largely copies the work of a Canadian professor. But the piece is credited to his own research organization, the Institute for Natural Progress. Churchill published that essay — with some minor changes and subtle altering of words — even though the writer, Fay G. Cohen, had withdrawn permission for him to use it....

• He mischaracterized an important federal Indian law in repeated writings in the past two decades, saying that the General Allotment Act of 1887 established a "blood quantum" standard that allowed tribes to admit members only if they had at least "half" native blood. Churchill has accused the government of imposing what he called "a formal eugenics code" as part of a thinly veiled effort to define Indians out of existence. The News found that the law — while a legislative low point in Indian history that resulted in many tribes losing their lands — does not contain any requirements for Indian bloodlines.

In addition, the News found, Churchill similarly mischaracterized a more recent piece of legislation, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.

• He has repeatedly claimed to have American Indian ancestry, but an extensive examination of genealogical records that traced branches of both sides of Churchill's family to pre-Revolutionary War times turned up no solid evidence of a single Indian ancestor.
In a related article about other scholars' work...excuse me, make that: In a related article about scholars' work which Churchill published without their permission, he apparently added endnotes of his own. Robert T. Coulter, one of the authors, commented upon that to Rocky Mountain News reporter Laura Frank:
He doesn't have the skill or expertise to add (endnotes) to a paper on my own subject.
Churchill has been "...characterizing his scholarly standards as typical..." I hope not.


The NYT got it right this time.

Old money and new money on Nantucket:
Though she applauds their self-confidence, Ms. Lundeen, the antiques dealer, says she is sometimes appalled by what she considers the cavalier ignorance of some women who are suddenly rich. "They don't want to learn," she said. "I had a monogrammed tray and when I proposed it to a customer, she said, 'Why would I want other people's monograms?' These women have never inherited anything."
Sighs all around.

Amnesty International & the American Gulag at Guantanamo

Very impressive performance, folks. Lori Santos of Reuters reports
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite highly publicized charges of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, the head of the Amnesty International USA said on Sunday the group doesn't "know for sure" that the military is running a "gulag."

Executive Director William Schulz said Amnesty...also had no information about whether...Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved severe torture methods such as beatings and starvation.

Schulz recently dubbed Rumsfeld an "apparent high-level architect of torture" in asserting he approved interrogation methods that violated international law.

"It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea," Schulz told "Fox News Sunday."
"I have no idea"? The executive director of the most widely known human rights organization in the world called Rumsfeld an architect of torture, handing the enemy a huge propaganda tool, and now he says he has "no idea" if it is true? Called the prison system a gulag, but doesn't "know for sure" that it is true?

What are these people doing? In my book, if this report is true, Schultz, and perhaps others, are guilty of knowingly giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of a declared war.
A weeks-long dispute has raged since Amnesty compared the prison for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the vast, brutal Soviet gulag system of forced labor camps in which millions of prisoners died....

The U.S. military on Friday released details about five cases in which the Koran was kicked, stepped on and soaked in water. Top officials say they were among 10 such cases reported among more than 28,000 prisoner interrogations.
Five in 28,000. Looks like a pattern to me: a pattern totally at odds with the critics' claims. In fact there were ten cases in which the prisoners themselves desecrated Korans, so desecration is 2 to 1 a Muslim thing. Why isn't that in the first two paragraphs of coverage? It was in paragraph 14 in one story I saw yesterday, not at all in others.
Schulz said, "We don't know for sure what all is happening at Guantanamo and our whole point is that the United States ought to allow independent human rights organizations to investigate."
So, it is now Amnesty's position that responsible critics make wild accusations first and then set about looking for evidence?
Schulz noted that it was Amnesty's headquarters in London that issued the annual report on global human rights, which said Guantanamo Bay "has become the gulag of our times."
"Not my department. Move along." How about voicing some criticism of your irresponsible colleagues, Mr. Schultz? You and your cohort have utterly discredited a formerly respectable organization known for good work. You have a long way to go now to rebuild trust, and your lack of self criticism just digs the hole deeper.
Asked about the comparison, Schulz said, "Clearly this is not an exact or a literal analogy."
RatherGate: Fake but Accurate. GulagGate: Fake but Not Exact.

This isn't just a blow to the US effort to beat the Islamists, and a blow against Amnesty International itself. By discrediting themselves they have seriously injured their credibility across the board, and political prisoners around the world now have a far less credible defender.

Jonathan Chait beats an easy target

Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic, exploits a list of harmful books of the 19th & 20th centuries made up by some people at Human Events magazine to sneer his way thru a column in today's Los Angeles Times.

Unfortunately, he threw away his opportunity to engage his opponents arguments- and his opponents made it easy for him do do so. Neither has advanced their cause, if by "advance" one means furthering the search for truth via reasoned debate.

The judges at Human Events set themselves up: Tough for them.

I saw the list a few days ago and thought it was pretty weird. The explanations are so brief that they just don't justify inclusions like John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, which has long been an icon for free-market conservatives: All by itself that tells me that these judges are not free-market conservatives, they are populists who are opposed to freedom either personal or economic.

They are the kind of ppl who think government should be used to shape society to their wants- in that sense they are ideologically identical to the Left who want to use government for exactly the same purposes, just with differing visions of the society they want government to mandate. I don't find them any more offensive than the lefties who advocate the same thing, but they aren't any less so, either. They are all offensive to me.

In any case, I think they demonstrate that the term "conservative" is used so inclusively as be be meaningless. It includes neo-Nazis, populists, free-marketers, fascists, and libertarians. This group has almost nothing in common yet they get lumped together.

Jonathan Chait:

>>(The list) offers a fair window into the dementia of contemporary conservative thinking.

Of a particular group. See above. Chait lumps wildly disparate groups under the rubric of conservative, then uses the whackos to smear ppl who are opposed to those whackos. He is a pro: he knows what he is doing.

>>One amusing thing about the list is its seeming inability to distinguish between seminal works of social science and totalitarian manifestos. Marx, Hitler and Chairman Mao sit alongside pragmatist philosopher John Dewey and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey

Quite true, altho he fails to mention that Dewey was a Socialist and that conservatives have reasonable arguments that on balance, the costs of socialism outweigh the benefits. As someone said: The problem with Capitalism is capitalists, the problem with Socialism is Socialism.

>>. You'll be comforted to know that Mao, with 38 points and a No. 3 ranking, edged out Kinsey, with 37 points. "The Feminine Mystique," meanwhile, checks in at No. 7, with 30 points, just behind "Das Kapital," which totaled 31 points.

Looney. Yep.

>>Harmful books that got honorable mentions but couldn't crack the top 10 include John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty," Sigmund Freud's "Introduction to Psychoanalysis" and Charles Darwin's "The Descent of Man." Oh yes, and Lenin's "What Is to Be Done." (If you don't see the link between arguing for individual rights, exploring scientific mysteries and constructing a brutally repressive Bolshevik terror state, then clearly you're not thinking like a conservative.)

Lumping again. He knows the term is meaningless. It's a useful way of avoiding having to deal thoughtfully with peoples' points: Lump them with loonies and then dismiss them all. The right does the same thing, of course: it is useful, if dishonest.

>>Interestingly, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a czarist forgery that incited countless massacres and inspires anti-Semites around the world to this day, failed to rate a mention.

All of the books on the list were non-fiction. I don't think it specified they be such, but they were. It is an intersting omission tho. Thing is, I think Chait is interested in suggesting the "conservatives" are anti-Semitic, without being honest enuf to just say so. Of course, if he had done that, he would have had to have addressed the inclusion of Mein Kampf at number 2.

>> On the other hand, "Unsafe at Any Speed" and "Silent Spring," which led to such horrors as seat belts and the Clean Water Act, did.

Again, I think Chait is removing himself from the realm of serious discussion. He is being snide instead of engaging the serious arguments made about the negative effects of books like Silent Spring: That book led to a world wide ban on DDT, and that has led to scores of millions of ppl contracting malaria. Even some environmentalists are now willing to argue that the flat ban- which was a result of the book- goes too far. DDT advocates argue that using DDT in small quantities in specified ways, like treating mosquito nets over beds and on window screens, will have extremely small effects on the environment, but provide gigantic health benefits for ppl living in malarial areas. The Total Ban advocates have refused to acknowledge that the benefits of the ban also incurred costs. That costs exist is beyond discussion: it is obvious. The argument therefore should be how to balance costs and benefits, and where that balance point is. The conservatives make no case here for their position, and Chait just mocks. They are both losers, and so are we because we have been deprived of an opportunity to see a real debate. Instead both sides let us down.

The "conservative" assertion that Silent Spring was net harmful is a reasonable one. They may be wrong, but to ridicule the argument so that he doesn't have to engage it is just plain dishonest in my book. Still, the list lets him do that easily: see next:

>>Possibly even more amusing are the explanations for each book's inclusion. They read like 10th-grade book reports from some right-wing, bizarro world high school.

That's true. They do. They should have had much better explanations. I really don't understand why they bothered to make the list: the only good reason I can see is to use it as a springboard for discussing exactly why the books were harmful. As it is, the list is very easy to ridicule. How difficult was it for me to argue Silent Spring was at least a reasonable candidte?

>>John Maynard Keynes' seminal "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" argued that during recessions governments should cut interest rates, reduce taxes and increase spending, and during expansions do the opposite.

I think it also argued for massive, anti-competitive regulation, so Chait is avoiding a real issue once again, and once again the "conservatives" set themselves up for that. They have done their own cause a disservice by making themselves so easy to ridicule.

>>The squib on "The Feminine Mystique" begins with a fairly anodyne summary of Betty Freidan's pioneering feminist tract. Rather than explain what's so dangerous about allowing women the choice of having a career, though, Human Events proceeds to quote a review that "Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist."

Yep: They set themselves up again.

>>Not just a Stalinist, but a Marxist to boot!

This is stupid sneering commentary because Marxists are not subsets of Stalinists, and Chait surely knows that: Stalinists are a particularly odious subset of Marxists. If Friedan really was a Stalinist (I have no idea), she has a lot to explain and apologise for, because she would have been an advocate for the Soviet Gulag and the mass executions of the bourgeoisie. That's what Stalinism was. Chait knows that.

>>Personally, I fail to see how Friedan's communist past (she was 42 when she published "The Feminine Mystique") would discredit her insights about the repressive nature of a world in which women were discriminated against or barred outright from most professions and much of public life.

Stalinists were advocates of mass murder. Chait doesn't think THAT would be relevant? Stalinists are advocates of repression. He doesn't think that would be relevant?

Human Events and Chait both have cheated us of an opportunity for serious discussion. Shame on them, and shame as well on the Los Angeles Times for publishing this drivel.