Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
That was the emphasis of the Register's editorial on the subject. George Will made note of the phenomenon also, suggesting that Congress is becoming more or less obsolete in the era of the Imperial Presidency.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Anyway, here's the Register's editorial on the move, worrying that the government is setting us up for serious inflation is 2010 and 2011, and setting the stage for another boom-bust cycle. If it were up to me I would get rid of the Fed. A central bank is (and has been from the beginning) an instrument for creating inflation to facilitate government growth rather than for promoting genuine monetary and/or economic stability.
Incidentally, Chapman, which called the recession last December (just validated by the NBER) thinks we'll start coming out of it by the end of 2009, but doesn't expect a very robust recovery.
Mainly, though the Bruins seem to be counting on four Freshmen, and so far they have validated the observation that Kevin Love was a pretty unique talent as a Freshman. He was obviously the best player on the floor last year from the get-go. Jrue Holliday this year has shown flashes and will no doubt be terrific eventually -- he seems to improve with every game -- but it will take him some time. I'm afraid the Bruins might lose some Pac-10 games, but I expect them to keep improving and to go pretty deep into the tournament, but not to be as dominant as last year.
As for football, I just didn't feel like discussing it after the USC game, although the Bruin defense was reasonably solid. I do think Neuheisel will put together a solid team by next year. The question remains the offensive line, which never came together -- injuries, inexperience, Freshmen thrown in before they were really ready, though it might pay off next year -- this year. I doubt if we'll be ready to challenge USC next year, especially if Mark Sanchez comes back, but we'll beat a lot of people.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
And now we have a report from the Senate Armed Services Committee -- with no Republican dissent -- saying that the impulse to torture came from the top, largely from Rumsfeld (though Bush had to be in the loop). It wasn't a few non-com "rogues, and it wasn't interrogators in the field begging to be allowed to use more aggressive methods. It was a bunch of sofa samurai with no practical experience in such matters but with a faux-tough attitude who pushed torture, and it came from the top. Here's my Antiwar.com column on the subject.
What's remarkable is that in almost all of the accounts finally coming forth, it is apparent that those who were most skeptical and cynical about the Bush administration turned out to be right, and they (we) may even have understated the venality and dishonesty af this administration.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A week or so ago most media outlets heavily covered a report that seemed to debunk claims that Vitamin C or Vitamin E offered any significant protection from heart attack or stroke. As this Life Extension Foundation report demonstrates fairly clearly, however, those studies were severely flawed.
A little background. Several large-scale studies in the early 1990s showed significant reduction in such diseases from rather large doses of these vitamins. The most widely reported was done at UCLA and showed that of 11,348 participants, those that took 800 mg of Vitamin C a day (the Orwellian “recommended daily allowance” is 60 mg) lived six years longer than those who took only 60 mg, and this higher intake reduced cardiovascular disease by 42%. A more recent study done at UC Berkeley(hardly reported outside scientific jourrnals) showed much more hopeful results. Other studies show protection against the onset of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
The study widely reported last week had four groups of male doctors take 500 mg a day of C, less than the amount deemed to be efficacious. They also took only 400 I.U. of Vitamin E every other day, whereas most vitamin enthusiasts recommend at least 800 IU (natural rather than the synthetic used in the test) every day. In addition, the subjects’ intake was not monitored; they were told to rely on their memories over eight years as to how religiously they had taken their vitamins.
Small wonder that the result was little or no difference between those who had taken the vitamins and those who had received a placebo. It raises a real question as to whether this test was designed to fail. The question was why the media so aggressively reported this study.
I still resist the dark conspiracy theory that the big pharmacuetical companies constantly try to debunk regular vitamin usage so people will develop diseases that require enormously more expensive prescription drugs. Much can be attributed, of course, to the enormous scientific ignorance of most journalists. But there’s something going on, and it isn’t constructive.
(Full disclosure: While in college I met and became friends with Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, who went on to write “Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach,” which had a flurry of popularity in the 1970s. Knowing that they were both trained as scientists, having talked extensively with them when they were doing their preliminary research, and having stayed in touch with them over the years, I’m convinced they’re onto something. Consequently I take what most people consider a ridiculous amount of vitamins, including 5,000 mg daily of Vitamin C. Having reached an age when such things are not a bad idea — 65 next month, but you’ll have to put up with me for a few more years before I retire — I recently had a complete physical and came out with virtually perfect health. I’m healthier than most people I know 15 years younger than I am. I’m well aware that genetics and the fact that I generally refrain from doing physically really dangerous things play an important role, and I obviously haven’t been able to do a double-blind test on myself. But I strongly recommend that anybody who wants to live long and avoid debilitating disease get a copy of Durk and Sandy’s book (it’s practically free at Amazon.com now) and take their findings into consideration.
Got another e-mail from the inimitable and invaluable David Theroux of the Independent Institute noting remarkable progress on their goal of making a thoughtful and scholarly book on individual rights, constitutionalism and the Second Amendment an unlikely best-seller during the Christmas season, the heaviest book-buying time of the year. I read Stephen Halbrook’s earlier book, “That Every Man Be Armed” on the historical relationship between true citizenship and the right to bear arms, which is enough for me to recommend “The Founders’ Second Amendment.”
The idea is to highlight, as an administration not inclined to be friendly to an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment comes into power, the fact that a lot of Americans think that what until the Supreme Court’s Heller decision had been the neglected ugly stepsister of the Bill Of Rights is pretty important. Not that gun rights (excuse me, human rights to keep and bear arms) are the whole of the Bill of Rights, just that they’re important. So you can go to the Website here and pledge to buy one for yourself and perhaps as gifts for your parents, children and Aunt Mildred.
It’s working. When the campaign started the book was at around 200,000 on Amazon’s list, and it’s now at 140. In different categories the result is even more impressive, as David notes:
#1: Law #1: Civil Rights and Liberties #1: Constitutions #1: Constitutional Law #1: Revolutionary and Founding History #12: History #11: Professional and Technical #26: Nonfiction (all)
Monday, December 15, 2008
I suspect the incident shows more about how most Iraqis view Bush than the polite words of support and courtesy coming from peoiple in the near-puppet Baghdad government.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The duty of state and local authorities when there is a question about whether state law conflicts with federal law is to enforce California law unless and until a federal court issues a ruling that federal law supersedes state law. That hasn't happened and it isn't going to happen. It's long past time for those sworn to uphold the law to start doing it instead of trying to undermine it. Here's the Register's editorial on the subject.
Here's the piece I did on the attacks for Antiwar.com. And here's the Register's editorial on the attacks, which ran yesterday.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Karolju is done by David Zinman with the BBC Symphony and the Philharmonia Chorus. There's nothing you're likely to recognize here, though you may think it sounds familiar. The main attraction here is a suite of original carols by American composer Christopher Rouse. They were originally written for the Baltimore Symphony, in a variety of styles, from contemplative to jolly, and a range of languages (Latin, Swedish, French, Spanish, Russian -- very characteristic -- Czech, German and Italian -- especially lovely. It all sounds Christmas-y and much of it as if you think you ought to know it. Imaginative and well-done.
The CD also contains a suite of Polish Christmas songs by Witold Lutoslawski, and three very Spanish-sounding pieces by Joaquin Rodrigo, which are definitely worth your attention. But the Christopher Rouse suite is the highlight.
Then on Monday, at our wrap-up meeting, after telling us that even the brass players were impressed (instrumentalists generally don't have a high opinion of choirs, although having done both, I contend, as does Marilyn Horne in this interview piece, that singing is more difficult than playing an instrument) and saying this was the best-sounding group he has assembled in 3-1/2 years of the organization, Don informed us that several key singers are having to leave, which will require recruiting replacements and puts a question mark on the future of the group. In a group of 22, just a few holes can throw the whole balance off.
I think the group will stay together and thrive, but we won't know for sure for a while.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
On Thanksgiving Day we went out for dinner, and most of us didn't even order turkey. It was wonderful not to have to spend two hours-plus cleaning up the mess. I think maybe we've had enough Thanksgiving dinners in our house to suit us (last year we lost power and had to take the turkey to Angie's house to finish cooking it and it was overdone; a memorable disaster we can laugh about now).
Just to give this a mildly political/philosophic spin, here's Gary Galles with this year's retelling of the New England pilgrims' story, from LewRockwell.com.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I don't think I'm just blowing smoke here. I've sung in choruses all my life, including at UCLA under Roger Wagner, and done a good bit of the choral repertoire (though one unfulfilled wish is to sing the Mozart Requiem before it becomes appropriate for me). This is clearly one of the best I've been associated with.