Monday, December 31, 2012


With the DFL in charge of the Minnesota Legislature, we can soon expect to hear calls for the need to “invest” in education. Part of this will include more money for higher education including institutions like the University of Minnesota. While no one would argue the benefits that a school such as the U of M can bring to a state and its people, before we spend another dime on higher education the taxpayers of Minnesota should feel secure in knowing that their money is being invested wisely.

A front page story in Saturday’s WSJ raised serious questions about whether that is currently the case. Cost of College: Colleges' Bureaucracy Expands Costs:

MINNEAPOLIS—When Eric Kaler became president of the University of Minnesota last year, he pledged to curb soaring tuition by cutting administrative overhead. But he hit a snag: No one could tell him exactly what it cost to manage the school.

Like many public colleges, the University of Minnesota went on a spending spree over the past decade, paid for by a steady stream of state money and rising tuition. Officials didn't keep close tabs on their payroll as it swelled beyond 19,000 employees, nearly one for every 3½ students. "The more questions I asked, the less happy I was," Dr. Kaler said.

Many of the newly hired, it turns out, were doing little teaching. A Wall Street Journal analysis of University of Minnesota salary and employment records from 2001 through last spring shows that the system added more than 1,000 administrators over that period. Their ranks grew 37%, more than twice as fast as the teaching corps and nearly twice as fast as the student body.

Those of us who work in the private sector shake our heads when we read such things. No one knows what it costs to manage the school? Officials didn’t keep close tabs on their payroll? Both of those should be fairly basic financial controls that one would think would be in place at any organization, especially one the size of the University of Minnesota.

Some other notable nuggets from the article:

Administrative employees make up an increasing share of the university's higher-paid people. The school employs 353 people earning more than $200,000 a year. That is up 57% from the inflation-adjusted pay equivalent in 2001. Among this $200,000-plus group, 81 today have administrative titles, versus 39 in 2001.

Administrators making over $300,000 in inflation-adjusted terms rose to 17 from seven.

It’s hard to determine whether those raw numbers are appropriate or not. What is critical is the increase in the ten-year span.

In its Office of Equity and Diversity, the number of people with "director" in their title grew to 10 in the 2011-2012 school year from just four directors five years earlier, by a university official's count.

Ten people who work in the Office of Equity and Diversity are directors? Again, it’s hard to know if that’s appropriate since we don’t know how many people work in that particular office overall (and frankly I’m almost afraid to ask). But at a time when students are being asked to take on greater tuition burdens because the school needs more money, it’s hard to imagine that the U of M has really been focused on getting the most bang for their buck when they double the number of diversity directors in five years.

Dr. Kaler, in his inaugural address in September 2011, criticized the costs of "long meetings, excessive committee deliberations and endless email chains" that contribute to a "tangled web of bureaucracy that dogs us." He pledged to reduce administrative expenses.

One hurdle: The system's chief financial officer, Richard Pfutzenreuter III, says that while he can track the cost of heating a particular floor of a building or of serving a cafeteria meal, he can't specify elements of the hierarchy such as how many people report to each manager. The human-resources system doesn't track such chain-of-command information, he said, because "it wasn't a priority in the past."

This is the most stunning revelation in the WSJ piece for me. The CFO of the University of Minnesota doesn’t have a system that provides visibility to the organizational structure. How can you properly run an organization, manage costs, maintain accountability, and become more efficient without such basic information? That fact that it “wasn’t a priority” says a lot about what the real problem is here.

The summary of the article nicely captured it as well:

To Dr. Luepker, in the public-health department, such goals are up against an institutional inertia that inhibits the periodic streamlining common in business. "We establish things and programs and they never quite go away," Dr. Luepker says. "They're nice people and they're colleagues and they're good people…but in this environment, you have to ask can we continue to do this?"

The obvious answer should be a resounding “No!” especially from the taxpayers of Minnesota who are the ones footing the bill for the “things and programs” that the “nice people” at the U of M don’t seem to have much of an ability to manage in a cost effective manner. This prominent article should help bring attention to the matter and get people in Minnesota talking about what we need to do to correct. It’s unfortunate that it came out during a weekend smack dab in the middle of the holidays or it surely would have attracted greater notice locally.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Beer of the Week (CLXVI)

Another holiday season edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the festive folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer you need to warm up any holiday gathering.

We continue our focus on Christmas beers with a seasonal selection from a well known craft brewer from Ohio. Our beer of the week is Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

Six-pack of 12oz bottles sells for $11.99. Black label with train car bearing a load of Christmas ornaments.

STYLE: Winter Warmer


COLOR (0-2): Copper brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Smell is a little light, but you can pick up the cinnamon and ginger. 2

HEAD (0-2): White color, not much volume or lacing. 1

TASTE (0-5): The cinnamon and ginger are very pronounced along with sweet caramel malts and bread. Hops are pretty light and you can pick up some honey in the finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and a bit oily. It has a medium body and with the heat mostly diffused, it’s more drinkable than you would expect. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Spicy and sweet flavors carry through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Great Lakes Christmas Ale lives up to the name with a delicious mix of flavors that invoke the spirit of the season. With the strong doses of cinnamon and ginger, it tastes like Christmas. With the alcohol not readily apparent and a medium body, it’s not going to fill you up or slow you down. However, as tasty as sweet and spicy combo is, it’s one that I prefer to enjoy in moderation. One or two at a crack is plenty to savor. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crony Somethingism

China is most certainly no longer the "socialist workers paradise" it once claimed to be. Yet it's also not a bastion of free market capitalism either. The current economic system is probably best described as statist, with high levels of cooperation and collusion between government officials and business leaders.

In fact, as an article in today's WSJ highlights, there is now a high degree of overlap between the two spheres. Defying Mao, Rich Chinese Crash the Communist Party:

For years the Communist Party in China filled key political and state bodies with loyal servants: proletarian workers, pliant scholars and military officers. Now the door is wide open to another group: millionaires and billionaires.

An analysis by The Wall Street Journal, using data from Shanghai research firm Hurun Report, identified 160 of China's 1,024 richest people, with a collective family net worth of $221 billion, who were seated in the Communist Party Congress, the legislature and a prominent advisory group called the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

China's legislature, called the National People's Congress, may boast more very rich members than any other such body on earth. Seventy-five people with seats on the 3,000 member congress appear on Hurun Report's 2012 list of the richest 1,024, which Hurun says it calculates using public disclosures and estimates of asset values. The average net worth of those 75 people is more than $1 billion.

By comparison, the collective wealth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress was between $1.8 billion and $6.5 billion in 2010, according to the most recent analysis of lawmakers' asset disclosures by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Compared to China, we're just pikers in the great game of government-business cronyism, although we have made some progress in recent years. It's one that we should all be content to let them win.

Monday, December 24, 2012

All I Want for ChristmasA: HWX

The Hinderaker Ward Experience (HWX) returns for a very special Christmas Eve podcast.  John Hinderaker of Powerline and Brian Ward of Fraters LIbertas conspire as they dream by the fire at the nexus of Christmas and politics.

They begin with a review of HGTV’s White House Christmas2012.  Yes, we may be $16 trillion in debt, but at least we get to enjoy scale model White House Gingerbread houses with digital photographs etched into the windows, life sized topiary models of the First Dog, and a small forest of 54 live Christmas trees and gold leaf bunting installed inside the President’s house.  The official White House chosen theme of this year’s Christmas is “Joy to All”.  The unspoken subtext is “Après moi, le deluge”.
Next they cover the latest depressing developments in in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  Seven days out and the President is in Hawaii, while Republicans are alternately whining and cutting their own throats.   Is there any hope?  We’re holding out for a Christmas miracle.

The current, resurgent gun control debate is also touched upon, including John’s newly acquired membership in the National Rifle Association.
We wrap up with a double shot of Loon of the Week (why Lincoln is no Obama, and the Kwanzaa related consequences of the fiscal cliff) and This Week in Gatekeeping (Essss-wonderful!)

Many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mothership at Ricochet.   You can be sure to never miss an episode, by subscribing via iTunes or Feedburner.  Or just use the player embedded below or in the upper right hand corner of this web site.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from the written transcript.  Enjoy!

This is Enough

Melanie Kirkpatrick asks us to take a moment as we celebrate the joy of Christmas to spare a thought and offer a prayer for North Korea's Christians:

Spare a thought on Christmas Eve for Christians who live in countries where practicing their faith is an act of courage. Nowhere is that more true than in North Korea, where religion is banned. The only permissible worship is that of the trinity of Kim family dictators—the late Eternal President Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il (who died last year), and current leader Kim Jong Eun.

How dangerous is it for Christians in North Korea? In a report this year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom describes "the arrest, torture and possible execution" of Christians, Buddhists and others conducting clandestine religious activity in the North. It cites several widely reported cases of persecution of Christians, including the public execution in 2009 of Ri Hyon Ok for the crime of distributing Bibles. In keeping with the regime's policy of punishing wrongdoers' families, Ri's husband and three children reportedly were dispatched to a political prison.

The commission report also describes how 23 Christians were arrested in 2010 for belonging to an underground Protestant church. Three were executed and the rest were jailed. The commission estimates there are thousands of Christians among the 150,000 to 200,000 North Koreans incarcerated in the regime's infamous political prison camps.

Yet despite this repression, something is happening that many characterize as nothing short of a miracle: Christianity appears to be growing in North Korea. Open Doors International, which tracks the persecution of Christians world-wide, puts the number of Christians in North Korea at between 200,000 and 400,000.

North Korean Christians necessarily worship in secret. Many of the congregations are small family units consisting of just a husband and wife and, when they are old enough to keep a secret, their children. Other times a handful of Christians form a kind of congregation in motion. A worker for Open Doors explains how it works: "A Christian goes and sits on a bench in the park. Another Christian comes and sits next to him. Sometimes it is dangerous even to speak to one another, but they know they are both Christians, and at such a time, this is enough."

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXV)

Another holiday themed edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the merry folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer you need to bring cheer to any holiday occasion.

Our next beer bearing the Christmas title is from Bell’s Brewery in Michigan. Bell's Christmas Ale:

The basic inspiration for Bell's Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes & subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan & the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas. At 5.5% ABV, it stands as a smooth, highly drinkable beer intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them.

Six pack of 12oz bottles sells for $9.99. Label features a scene of a single decked out Christmas tree in a Midwestern field with a crimson border and classic font.

STYLE: Scottish Ale


COLOR (0-2): Dark amber. 2

AROMA (0-2): Rather light. Sweet malt with a touch of pine. 1

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color. Good volume and retention. 2

TASTE (0-5): Caramel malts up front followed by fruity sweetness. Medium bodied and pretty drinkable. Mouthfeel is on the creamy and thicker side. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Sweetness lingers pleasantly. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Bell’s Christmas Ale is indeed a departure from the typical winter seasonal. It’s not only not spicy, it’s also lighter and sweeter than what you find with more hearty winter fare. And while I do enjoy the more traditional winter beer profile, I found that I also liked the approach Bell’s take here. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 15

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Engaged But Not Enraptured

In the November edition of First Things, R.R. Reno provided a timley reminder for Christians that while worldly politics should be important, we need to keep them in their proper perspective:

So we must be double-minded in our political engagements. On the one hand we’re to be committed to our natural duties of citizenship, and on the other hand we need to recognize that the final victory does not depend upon us. It’s a double-mindedness that protects us from both dangerous urgency and debilitating despair. To know that Christ is victorious delivers us from a political works righteousness that imagines the future to be entirely in our hands to shape and control, a mentality that tempts us to break laws and bend principles for the sake of political victory, because we’ve allowed that victory to become our only hope. It also protects us from political defeatism, a mentality that tempts us to give up on the proximate and imperfect good that we can do in public life. The future is not in our hands, and so we need not imagine that our present impotence makes our cause hopeless.

Therefore, instead of making politics pointless for Christians who believe in Christ’s victory, this double-mindedness rencourages a passion for the common good without tempting us to imagine that every election is the finally decisive one. In the concluding weeks of World War II, countless people died while the victory was not in doubt. Had we been directing the Allied armies, we certainly would have bent our wills to try to save lives, perhaps by intervening or shifting resources, or simply by working to hasten the victory. This exemplifies a salutary double-mindedness. The Allied triumph is secure, and so the moral focus changes. Free from responsibility for the larger strategic goal, preventing unnecessary suffering and death becomes more urgent, not less so. The victory won and the future no longer in our hands, we can focus on what can be done here and now.

In these and other ways, to know the ending, to have confidence in Christ’s victory, heightens the moral urgency without tempting us to a Manichean view of political life. That’s a spirit of engagement we very much need today. As I argued last month, we’re at the end of an era. A great deal is at stake. Christians have a natural duty to try to shape the future as best we can to accord with our vision of the common good. If we keep Christ’s lordship in mind, our political activism won’t be pointless, but it also won’t be supercharged with ultimate significance.

That’s one reason why Christians and other believers are especially well suited to play productive roles in the inevitable give-and-take of democratic politics. They have good reasons to be engaged—and good reasons to resist the temptations to make an idol of their political convictions, good reasons not to turn elections into cosmic struggles for final victory.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

If You Got 'Em

Robert from Michigan e-mails to share a tale:

The figure of Santa and Chesterfields on your site took me back 50 plus years when I would ask for a "deck of Chesties" at the local store.

But, it also made me recall a story told by my brother who is a priest in Mexico, but studied at a seminary in Toronto.

The Superior at their seminary was a real hardass Frenchie who caught one of the seminarians smoking in his room. He told the offender to report to his office at 8PM.

When he got there, the room was lit by a single candle sitting on a desk, barren except for a Bible and a pack of Chesterfields. The Superior said, "Before you Mr. Reilly is the choice you must make." His reply, "I'll take the cigarettes, Father, I already have a Bible."

Home For Christmas

Mr. Magoo Comes Home For Christmas:

First airing on Dec. 18, 1962 on NBC, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol was the very first made-for-TV animated special and predated time-honored favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the Peanuts classic fueled by Vince Guaraldi's piano trio.

However, the pioneering Magoo hasn't had a similar kind of staying power.

"I think they took it off the air because it's politically incorrect to poke fun at people who are [visually] impaired," Elliot said. "But that doesn't take away from the sophistication and the greatness of the music and animation."

Darrell Van Citters, author of Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special, cites a different reason for the special's disappearance.

"The other programs had more ancillary material to help push them," Van Citters explains. "Rudolph had the classic song that comes back every year, Peanuts was in front of everybody all year round, How the Grinch Stole Christmas had a book that started the whole thing. This one didn't have anything quite like that."

However, Magoo did have great songs by a pair of Broadway veterans, composer Jule Styne and lyricist Bob Merrill. They crafted songs like "Alone In The World," "We're Despicable" and "The Lord's Bright Blessing" for the show while juggling another, more well-known project, Funny Girl.

Just like the Charles Dickens classic from which it was adapted, the story of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol has a happy ending. To mark the 50th anniversary of its first broadcast, the special is getting a new DVD release and NBC will air the program this Sat., Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ET.

Mark your calendars, set your DVRs or whatever it is you kids do these days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guns For Some...

In the wake of the horrific shooting last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut we’re being told that we need to have a “national conversation” on guns. Apparently, this conversation is long overdue and can no longer be put off as it’s alleged to have been repeatedly postponed in the past. Hogwash.

Call it what you will, “conversation,” “discussion,” “debate,” “argument,” or whatever other word suits you, but the fact is that we have been talking about guns for the last thirty years. We talked about the Brady Bill, the “assault weapons” ban, the numerous court decisions and what we should or could do in the aftermath of every mass shooting that we’ve had to suffer through.

Through all this talk, we had seemed to have reached sort of a national consensus on guns which is why the issue had largely receded from politics. Most Americans wanted to allow law abiding citizens to have guns while also placing some restrictions on that ownership: limits on types of guns, background checks, waiting periods, etc. It was far from a perfect compromise and there were still problems such things as gun show loopholes, but generally it seemed like we had arrived at a position of stasis in the long running battle between the pro and anti gun zealots.

One side said that the answer was guns for everyone. The other said guns for no one (although they often weren’t quite this straightforward when presenting their arguments). It reminds me of the classic Simpson’s campaign bit on abortion with Kane and Kodos:

Guns for all.


Very well, no guns for anyone.


Guns for some, miniature American flags for others.


Now, that unstated consensus on guns might be in danger of collapsing or at least changing. For my money, from a purely political perspective the GOP would be smart to sign on to new gun control restrictions proposed by President Obama assuming that they will be largely symbolic and that most Americans would find them to be reasonable limitations. Given the current climate, it would be politically damaging for Republicans to take an all or nothing stand toward gun control and fight any attempt at further restrictions as if it’s a matter of taking guns from our cold, dead fingers.

On the other hand, it’s interesting to note that many analysts believe that one of President Obama’s key second term goals is to weaken the GOP and retake the House in 2014. Given the way the House is currently districted and politically divided, it’s hard to imagine that gun control is going to be an issue that Democrats are going to ride to restoring their majority in 2014.

Those two factors demonstrate why both parties have been willing to live with the recent status quo on guns. Neither may have been entirely happy with it, but at least they knew where things stood.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXIV)

Another better late than never edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the generous folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer that would make the perfect gift for the discriminating drinker on your list.

Usually, I’m not one to get all worked up about the “war on Christmas” conversation that seems to have become an annual tradition to indulge in this time of year. Sure, I’m all about appreciating the real reason for the season and I detest attempts to pretend that all the activities going on now are about anything other than a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. But I’ve found it difficult to work up much of a lather because a store clerk says “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.”

Now however, I am discovering a newfound appreciation for those who are unabashedly straightforward in celebrating Christmas. Maybe it because the holiday celebration at work this week is being called a “Winter Employee Appreciation Event” even though it’s being held a full two days before winter even officially begins. I’m tempted to ask the HR folks if we have December 24th and 25th off work to celebrate “winter” too.

So for the rest of the month instead of just featuring seasonal beers of winter, I’ll go with those with a Christmas connection in the name.

The first is from Anchor Brewing in San Francisco which has a long history of Christmas beers including this year’s 2012 Christmas Ale:

Each year since 1975, Anchor Brewing creates a distinctive Christmas Ale, available from early November to mid-January. A rich, dark spiced ale, our secret recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.

Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew. Our tree for 2012 is the Norfolk Island pine. Captain Cook discovered this South Seas isle and its native tree in 1774. These tropical-looking conifers, which thrive in sandy soil and coastal climes, were first planted in California in the 1850s. The Norfolk Island pine on this year’s label, hand drawn from life, resides in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Each year our Christmas Ale gets a unique label and a unique recipe. Although our recipes must remain a secret, many save a few bottles from year to year. Properly refrigerated, the beer remains intriguing and drinkable for years. Different nuances emerge as the flavor mellows slightly, much like the memories of great holiday seasons past. Celebrate the holidays with Anchor Christmas Ale, an Anchor tradition since 1975.

6 pack of 12oz bottles go for $9.99. Classic Anchor label style with distinctive rendering of Norfolk Island pine that provides a distinctly Christmas feel.

STYLE: Winter warmer


COLOR (0-2): Dark ruby brown, almost black. 2

AROMA (0-2): Nutmeg and chocolate. 2

HEAD (0-2): Tan color, decent volume, and good lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Toasted malts, nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and a bit of hoppy pine. Medium-bodied with an oily mouthfeel. Quite drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth and slightly warming. 2

OVERALL (0-6): This is a perfect beer for the season. There is a good combination of rich delicious flavors yet it is not overly heavy. The nutmeg and pine in particular make Anchor Christmas Ale an appropriate beer to bear the name. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Continuing Apart

Heather Mac Donald on the rise of ‘Independent Mothers’:

Was “single mother” really so stigmatizing? Of course not. It was scrupulously nonjudgmental, having been purged of the unpleasant echo of “marriage” that still hovers around the now-archaic term “unwed mother.” And while the phrase “single mother” may have been value-neutral, the culture around it operated overtime to celebrate the “strong women” who were raising their children solo and to obliterate from public consciousness the males who regrettably still played a role in reproduction. The iron-clad rule in the MSM has been: When writing about single mothers, one must never, ever ask: Where are the fathers of their children? Male parents of poor children have simply been disappeared from mainstream discourse, too irrelevant to even think about.

And yet, apparently, there was still too much suggestion of deficit in the phrase “single mother.” Someone, somewhere, has decided that another rebranding was in order. If single mothers are “independent,” then married mothers are “dependent.” Marriage is thus a detraction from the ideal feminist state and signifies participation in a compromising, patriarchal institution.

Of course, so-called “independent mothers” are far more likely to be dependent on welfare and other forms of public assistance than married “dependent” mothers, but substituting a government check for a father has never troubled feminists and their supporters in the Democratic party. Biological fathers are of slight importance to the raising of children, after all, and the larger the welfare state, the more employment for crucial members of the Democratic base.

I give this new phrase a good chance of spreading, since it embodies seemingly unstoppable — and profoundly worrisome — currents in our culture.

It's amazing to consider that in a matter of a few generations having children outside of marriage (with fathers entirely optional) has gone from being stigmatized to celebrated. It’s hard to imagine that current turning around anytime soon.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Freedom Is Not Free

One of the highlights of my short business trip to Seoul last month was visiting the War Memorial of Korea. The memorial grounds and building are located near the US Army’s Yongsan Garrison and the headquarters of the South Korean armed forces.

The first thing that you notice is the striking monuments at the front of the grounds. One juts into the sky...

...and is flanked on either side by depictions of heroic figures of South Korean soldiers, marines, and airmen.

Another demonstrates the tragedy of the divisions wrought by the war by showing a pair of brothers (one from the South and one from the North) embracing on the battlefield atop a fractured structure.

The monuments, like the entire War Memorial, are up front in honoring the South Koreans who fought for their country’s freedom and not shy about proclaiming that the cause was just.

The phrase “Freedom Is Not Free” is one that you find throughout the War Memorial.

Another impressive aspect of the War Memorial is the amount of military equipment they have on display outside. There are a score of aircraft including a B-52.

And various planes flown by the South Korean Air Force (most American made), MIGs and Russian transports used by the North, and helicopters. There are also a number of tanks, armored personal carriers, trucks, and artillery pieces. I’ve seen most of the American equipment before, but I appreciated being able to check out some historic Soviet vehicles up close.

I was a bit surprised to learn how far South Korea’s military design and production capabilities have come. There were quite a few home grown tanks, artillery, and anti-aircraft pieces on display as well.

The most unusual and interesting display outside was the replica of the South Korean PKM 357 patrol boat which was involved in the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong in 2002.

Not only can you walk through the boat and see what it would have looked like after the naval engagement, you can also relive the battle itself by viewing a 3D movie re-enactment inside. It was a little cheesy, but did help bring the fighting that killed six South Korean sailors to life. It was also a helpful reminder that the danger posed by North Korea is indeed clear and present and not distant history.

There was an entire section inside the memorial building that detailed the various North Korean acts of aggression since the cease fire armistice was signed in 1953. It’s easy to forget just how numerous and recent they have been.

1968: The Blue House raid--attempt to assassinate the President of South Korea

1976: Axe murder incident at DMZ

1983: Rangoon bombing

1987: Bombing of Korean Air Flight 858

1998: Battle of Yosu

1999: First Battle of Yeonpyeong

2010: Sinking of ROKS Cheonan

2010: Bombardment of Yeonpyeong

There was also a map showing what the impact would be if a nuclear device were detonated in Seoul.

Again, the threat of that scenario playing out is all too real for South Koreans.

The building also featured exhibits on Korean military history through the ages including the role that South Korean expeditionary forces played in Vietnam, Iraq, and with various UN peacekeeping operations. Of course, the largest areas-and the ones that interested me the most-were devoted to the Korean War. Those exhibits were engaging and informative. Being a bit of a history buff, I thought myself fairly well-informed on the Korean War, but I learned quite a bit more.

One particularly cool attraction was 3D computer simulator (full motion) that allowed participants to experience the Inchon landing. It started with a message from a computer generated General MacArthur, then put us in the seat of a Corsair providing air support, in a landing craft hitting the beach, and finally a tank leading the assault inland. It was easily the best simulator experience I’ve gone through and provides promise for simulation of similar events in the future.

This week, there was controversy about South Korean rapper Psy performing at ”Christmas in Washington” after it came to light that earlier in his career he had sung songs with lyrics about killing American soldiers. There is none of that sort of ignorant ingratitude toward America that is at times displayed by younger South Koreans at the War Memorial of Korea.

While there is ample emphasis on the assistance provided by UN forces in the war, there is also a clear recognition of the special US role and acknowledgment that America bore the lion’s share of the burden in preventing South Korea from falling to the Communist North. In addition to listing the names of all the South Korean military dead from the war, each of the names of the UN troops killed are also listed. That list includes 33, 686 Americans. An exhibit in another section of the memorial building details the on-going military relationship between the US and South Korea and describes that relationship as being forged in blood. It’s good to know that those sacrifices have not been forgotten. I’m sure that my father-in-law (a Korean War vet who passed away last year) would have been heartened by that remembrance and the reverence shown for those who paid the ultimate price.

It may sound trite at times, but the phrase is true: freedom is not free.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time Enough at Last

J.P. Freire on That Nonexistent Time When Everyone Read More Books:

Julia Ingalls, writing in Salon, laments that the way we consume literature is changing, forcing us to turn to more instantly gratifying, “repackaged” literature. While she eventually praises the works that come of this new cultural shift, she writes that “[t]he reality of the 21st century is that unaccounted-for blocks of time just don’t exist like they used to, at least for anybody who’s trying to make a living.”

Was this true of the twentieth century? Or even the nineteenth? Look, let’s make a rule: Stop yearning for a time when things were supposedly better if it was only “better” for the lucky (and small!) classes or geographic regions that weren’t living on the verge of starvation. We identify with the enlightened classes in history because things are better today for more people.

Every time I read a piece about how much more awesome things were when “everyone” memorized poetry, I wonder if the author knows that “everyone” was really just a handful of the few people who could afford the time to study it. After all, schedules get crunched when you’re trying not to die of cholera or malnutrition.

By any measure you care to use, things are better today for more people than ever in history. On this particular topic of “leisure time” you don’t even have to go back to the 18th or 19th centuries to realize how much has changed. During the 1930s and 40s (when my parents were growing up), around a fifth of all Americans lived and worked on farms. Many of those that didn’t worked in industries like construction, manufacturing, mining, or transportation that involved hard labor, long hours, and little time off. Most who worked for a living had very few “unaccounted-for blocks of time” and neither did the housewife who was raising children (more on average) and cooking, cleaning, and performing all the other chores of domestic life with few of the modern conveniences that we now take for granted.

Do the “unaccounted-for blocks of time” really not exist today because we have to work so much? Or because we choose to fill our lives with other activities that we’ve come to regard as necessary, but would have been viewed as luxuries by previous generations?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bravely Facing the Applause

Mark P. Shea has a withering review of "The Testament of Mary":

Into the midst of this devolution of the Country That Used to Be Ireland comes Colm Tóibín, the issues-filled author of (ahem) New Ways to Kill Your Mother, to deliver unto us what NPR breathlessly calls “A New ‘Testament’ Told From Mary’s Point of View”: his novella The Testament of Mary. It’s a book that fills a profound void—in the twice-annual need of God-haters in corporate publishing to find some sort of media phenomenon that will insult and blaspheme Christianity for Easter and Christmas.

Tóibín is the man of the hour, doing for Mary what Dan Brown did for Jesus: turning her into a blank screen upon which the author can project current cultural and personal obsessions for 30 pieces of silver. Tóibín, it will shock no one to know, is an ex-Catholic homosexual who “once contemplated the priesthood” (that clause is mandated in the standard corporate biosketch of every embittered ex-Catholic screed writer), but jettisoned his faith when he went to college and came out as gay.

In terms of content, the book is a by-the-numbers hatchet job written in sensitive, spare, and poetic diction for the delectation of UK and New York Chattering Classes and dipped in a bath of relentless, willful sadness and bitterness. The basic premise is that it has been 20 years since the crucifixion, and Mary is one nasty hag, sounding for all the world like a nun in iron grey, short-cropped hair and sensible shoes who has seized the microphone in a We Are Church group process breakout session and is now on the third hour of an extended free association monologue, grousing bitterly about the patriarchy.

That last line is simply delicious. The piece is chock full of such scathing gems and I would encourage to read the entire review. I won'y be giving away too much by telling you that Mr. Shea did not much like the book.

Drink Local

Draft Magazine has released their list of the Top 25 new beers of 2012:

As beer editor, my desk’s always covered in bottles. Beers from around the world cycle through for panel tastings, and just when I make room for my laptop, more bottles arrive. Of course, I’m not complaining: There aren’t many jobs where you can crack open five saisons at noon and call it “work.” But, elbow room aside, that’s not to say it isn’t challenging, especially as the year comes to a close and I’m faced with picking the top 25 beers of 2012. Just 25?

We feel for you pal. Must have been a stressful experience.

To narrow it down, this time around we tweaked the rules: We focused only on bottled or canned beers that were released or made available for the first time in the United States this year. With the criteria set, we dug into our notes. We remembered some of the stunning new Belgian releases that arrived from Chimay, St-Feuillien and Westvleteren. We reminisced about the way Hangar 24 and Stone elevated the IPA with ingredients from the farm. And, most of all, we couldn’t forget the variety of exceptional farmhouse ales, from Cigar City’s Cucumber Saison to Ranger Creek’s smoke-infused Small Batch Series No. 2. It didn’t take long before a clear set of front-runners emerged, all defining the new look of craft beer.

Looking at this group as a whole, it’s evident that innovation is on equal footing with classic styles. Some releases reminded us that beer doesn’t have to be fancy to be awesome, while others weren’t just outside the box; they were nowhere near it. Brewers formed new partnerships that furthered the relationship between beer and the worlds of food and farms. Fruits, vegetables and specialty grains like oatmeal and rye reimagined old styles. Brewers perfected novel techniques, and found new ways to harness the power of wood aging and smoke. This list is about groundbreakers, and these are the top 25 new beers of 2012.

Being a bit of a beer geek myself, I was interested to see how many of th top 25 I had tasted in the past year. At first pass, it looks like all of about ONE. Part of that is because many of the these beers are limited releases, but a bigger factor is that many of the breweries listed here are not available locally. While a list of the Top 25 new beers of 2012 from across the country is interesting, a regional breakdown would likely be far more relevant to beer drinkers in various parts of the country.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Make the Best of What's Still Around

It seems hard to recall now, but it’s helpful to remember that way back when the Bush tax cuts were originally passed, Democrats decried them as a giveaway for the rich that did little to help “working” Americans. Now, Democrats have embraced these tax cuts and claim that we can’t possibly get along without them. William McGurn reminds us just how much has changed since then in a WSJ piece called Obama's Middle-Class Tax Flip:

In any honest universe, this would be news. President Obama says the middle class benefits mightily from the Bush tax cuts and cannot afford to see them expire. Which provokes a question: Where has our press corps been these past 10 years?

For most of that time, Democrats have been hollering that the only people to benefit from the Bush tax cuts were Bill Gates, Wall Street bankers, and the guy with the top hat and monocle who appears on our Monopoly sets. Now the same press that accepted, approved and amplified the "Bush tax cuts for the wealthy" trope leaves unchallenged a president who today tells us, oh, by the way, those Bush tax cuts are vital for America's middle class—and claims that the opposition to middle-class tax cuts proposed and put into law mainly by Republicans comes from...Republicans.

It is indeed a world turned upside down when Republicans are now being portrayed as the ones who want to raise taxes on middle-class Americans. It would be nice that with all the opprobrium and blame that Democrats have heaped upon George W. Bush over the years they at least could throw him a bone and acknowledge that his middle-class tax cuts were the right thing to do. Not likely to see that happen in this world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

One Without the Other

The latest course from Prager University covers good, evil, morality, and God. Big topics indeed which are well explained in a short video by Peter Kreft (distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Boston College). Professor Kreft examines possible sources of morality other than God and finds them wanting.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

You Call Yourself an Elf, You Son of a ......

It doesn't get more Christmasy than this.   Even worth sitting through the commercial.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Tale of a Tiger

The story of the South Korean economy is a rather remarkable one. It terms of size, it ranks fifteenth in the world. The country of 56 million people is the seventh largest exporter and the tenth largest importer of goods. South Korea dominates the shipping building industry and has become a major player in consumer electronics and automobiles.

There’s a lot of angst expressed in the United States about how “everything is made in China,” but how many Americans could name a single Chinese consumer brand name? Meanwhile, Kia, Hyundai, LG, and Samsung are global brands known for their quality. We have a Kia minivan, an LG television in our living room, and a Samsung TV downstairs. If China-with twenty-five times the population-ever comes close to South Korea’s levels of design and innovation then we might actually have something to worry about.

The amazing thing about South Korea’s economic emergence is that they could have had plenty of excuses for not developing. From 1910 until 1945, Korea was essentially a colony of Japan. When the Korean War ended in 1953, the country was devastated, destitute, and divided. And ever since then, the South has had to deal with an almost constant threat from the North and endured a variety of outright attacks and acts of intimidation. Yet here South Korea is today, successful, affluent, and prosperous.

Other than a military conflict with the North, the biggest threat to the future prosperity of South Korea is demographics. They have one of the world’s lowest birth rates and are at risk of falling into the same type of no growth stagnation that Japan has.

During my recent visit to Seoul, a Korean colleague asked me how many children I had. She was surprised when I told her that I had three sons. She explained that in Korea, “only the rich can have three children” because of the high costs of raising and educating them. This emphasis on the importance of education is no doubt one of the reasons that South Korean has become the economic tiger that is today. But if the cost of that education is also one of the reasons that South Koreans are having fewer children, it could result in a muted roar.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Turn the Beat Around

U.S. Gas Exports Clear Hurdle:

Shipping some of the newly abundant U.S. natural gas overseas would benefit the nation's economy more than keeping it all at home, according to a long-awaited government study that has the potential to reshape the global energy market.

The endorsement could turn the tide in a politically sensitive issue. Gas producers are eager to export more, while big consumers including manufacturers and chemical companies are leery that exports could raise domestic prices. Environmental groups, meanwhile, fear that allowing exports would encourage more natural-gas production.

Gosh that would be terrible, wouldn’t it?

The administration had said the study would be central to its decision on approving exports. It analyzed more than a dozen scenarios for U.S. production and exports of natural gas. It found that "across all these scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits" from liquefying and then exporting natural gas.

The looming prospect of the U.S.'s becoming a major exporter of natural gas underscores how the energy revolution is transforming the nation's economic prospects. Just a few years ago, many energy companies were planning to build facilities to import liquefied natural gas into the U.S.

The US shale gas boom has changed the global energy game. And that's good news for America and our future energy stability and security.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Fools Paradise

Gary Buslik’s Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood is a bizarre, twisted, cynical, and ultimately amusing tale. It took me a while to really get into it and embrace the absurdity. Once I did, I came to enjoy the strange funhouse that Mr. Buslik has filled with exaggerated characters with few redeeming qualities.

This is a satirical work that’s deeply cynical, biting, and scathing especially when it comes to the portrayal of various Third World despots. To say that the Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro we meet in “Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls” don’t exactly fit the egomaniacal images they’ve sought to create for themselves would be an enormous understatement. They aren’t to be feared as much as mocked and Mr. Buslik takes to that task with relish and vigor. In addition to these targets, he also ladles out sarcastic scorn and disdain to leftist college professors, spoiled adult children, porky Midwesterners, and clueless humanitarians among others. There are really no heroes in the book (except maybe the termites) and only a couple of characters that the reader would evenly remotely feel sympathetic about. It’s definitely not a pretty world, but then again it isn’t supposed to be.

UPDATE: Some background on the author in his own words:

For the first three years of college I lied to my parents, telling them I was in pre-law. When I finally got outed as an English major, my mother couldn’t stop sobbing, and my father strode around the house shouting, “Big man! He knows the parts of speech!” So I wound up homeless, hanging around the airport reciting Rudyard Kipling for spare change. It was there I met a veteran travel writer, who took pity on me and showed me how, by making hotel and restaurant owners naively believe I would write good reviews about them, I could get free rooms, meals, and drinks. So I went on to forge a useless degree into a rewarding lifestyle.

I achieved only limited success as a travel writer because, not liking foreigners or new experiences, I despise traveling. I especially dislike going to countries that have children—which, unfortunately, are several. Once, on a flight I took from San Juan to St. Kitts, the plane, suffering from instrument trouble, had to make an emergency landing in Antigua, where mechanics found a Puerto Rican kid wedged behind the altimeter.

On the plus side, I did somewhat like assignments in Holland because the Dutch are funnier than other people when they’re drunk. They climb things for no apparent reason and fall on their heads. I suspects this is because they have to dig up tulip bulbs every fall and replant them in the spring.

Hard to argue with that last point. Drunk Dutchmen are funny.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A City That Works

A couple of two, three weeks back, I was in Seoul on a business trip. Here are a few random thoughts and observations from my visit.

- Seoul is busy but not crowded, especially compared with other large cities in Asia. The traffic can be pretty brutal at times, but it’s largely limited to cars, trucks, and buses. You don’t see many bikes, scooters, or the menagerie of wheeled vehicles that you do in say Shanghai or Manila. And the sidewalks and other walking areas aren’t teeming with masses of people. You actually can have some personal space (which is surprising considering the population density). And at least during my visit, there was no veil of smog obscuring the sky.

- Having never been to Korea before, I was surprised by how hilly the area around Seoul was. One of my Korean colleagues informed me that 70% of the country is mountains. The fall colors were just about at their peak during my visit, which made for rather scenic views. Some of the areas along the Han River reminded me of the Mississippi River Bluffs in southeastern Minnesota. Other places were more reminiscent of the hills and valleys of Appalachia.

- I did a fair amount of walking around while in Seoul, both in the area around the hotel (thanks to PSY the now world famous Gangham District) and across the Han River the area around the US Army’s Yongsan Garrison. For the most part it, it was quite easy to get about on foot. Koreans seemed to very observant of crosswalks and traffic rules (again not something you always see in large cities) and the larger streets usually were marked with signs in English as well as Korean.

- One noticeable attribute of Korean culture which is shared to various extents with other countries in the area like China and Japan is a desire for social conformity. As South Korea has developed economically and become politically democratic over the last thirty years, I expect that this has declined somewhat and will continue to do so in the future as younger generations embrace what have become global cultural attitudes of individualism and self-expression (for better or for worse). But for now you still see examples of what I would call “voluntary regimentation” that are surprising to American eyes.

One example of this that I noted was when I went to the hotel health club. In addition to hotel guests, the health club also served local residents who were members. Clad in a gray wife-beater tank top and black athletic shorts I went to the gym for a workout. I was one of the few non-Koreans there and quickly noticed that wasn’t the only reason I stood out from the crowd. Almost every one of the Koreans in the gym was sporting the exact same look: white t-shirts matched with blue shorts for men and pink shorts for women. It was like being back in high school gym class again. I realized that these “uniforms” were provided by the health club and once wearers finished their workout they would be returned to be laundried. A perfectly logical system that would never fly in the United States where everybody needs to have their “look” and be noticed for it in all activities.

- In America, you often hear the slogan “diversity is our strength.” That doesn’t help to explain the rise of South Korea. At least by outward appearances, Seoul is one of the least diverse major metropolitan cities I’ve ever visited. Sure, you can find pockets of foreigners-the area around the US military base is also home to a number of embassies-but for the most part it’s racially homogeneous. No judgment on whether that’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is. However, it may change in the future as South Korea-like many other advanced countries-will have to deal with a pending demographic decline brought on by low birth rates.

- It’s hard to make judgments during a short visit to a small part of the city, but from what I could see crime doesn’t appear to be a big problem. Bikes were left unattended and unlocked in the entrance to apartments something you wouldn’t see almost anywhere in the US anymore. Public parks had fitness equipment available for use that would likely have been stolen or vandalized here. Part of this is likely due to a respect for law and order among Koreans. Part of it might also be attributable to the large number of CCTVs throughout the city.

- Seoul is a thoroughly modern city with a vibrant pace. It’s hard to believe that it’s thirty miles away from the DMZ which separates South Korea from the thoroughly backward hermit kingdom of North Korea. It’s difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that it’s only a short distance from an autocratic regime lead by a nutty hereditary dictator with nukes. Which is probably why South Koreans seem to prefer to take a blissfully ignorant attitude toward the rogue elephant in the room. At least they did when I attempted to engage them on the subject. One evening at dinner, I asked a work colleague if she thought the South and North would ever be reunited. “I hope so,” was the extent of her terse reply.

- All in all, I found Korean food to be quite satisfying. I didn’t like everything of course, but there were usually enough options available to find something tasty. I had a couple of different versions of bibimbap, each with its own savory merits that was as fun to eat as say. However, I would say that a little kimchi goes a long way.

Fracking in the USA

Good article in today's WSJ on why the US shale energy boom may not be so easy to replicate in other parts of the globe. Global Gas Push Stalls:

The shale revolution began in the late 1990s when the first modern shale well was drilled a few miles north of Fort Worth, Texas. The technology was pioneered by small, independent companies willing to take enormous financial risks, and helped along by landowners who owned their mineral rights and were ready to sell for a share of the profits. Wall Street eagerly financed shale exploration efforts. The industry also benefited from a large existing pipeline network and ample number of drilling rigs.

This combination doesn't exist elsewhere in the world. "The mineral rights, the availability of small players to enter the market, the availability of geological data, these things are all part of an entrepreneurial model that is unique to the United States," says Julio Friedmann, the chief energy technologist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

A key, but often overlooked, ingredient to the success of shale development in the U.S. is private ownership of much of the underground gas. That means that environmental concerns about drilling are countered by a built-in constituency of landowners looking to profit.

It is a "marvelously elegant system that ensures that all natural resources are fully developed," says Rex Tillerson, chief executive of Exxon Mobil, which produces more gas in North American than any other company. Outside the U.S., mineral rights are typically owned by governments, leaving locals with little reward for putting up with large-scale industrial drilling.

A marvelously elegant system indeed. Let's hope that it remains so.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Must See TV: Presidential Profiles

Some recent finds watching that great American institution CSPAN, now also available through the miracle of their video library.

Washington Post editor David Maraniss was interviewed about his recent biography of Barack Obama, entitled, appropriately enough, Barack Obama, The Story.  Maraniss certainly comes off as an admirer of the President, but even this mainstream media fixture allows some journalistic integrity to bleed through the cracks.  Here's the full video.       

I especially like this part, isolated through the miracle of CSPAN editing tool (although they don’t allow you to embed these yet. Come on CSPAN, I expect more for my investment, of absolutely nothing, to use this).  You may not be happy about the prospect of a Barack Obama second term.  But at the very least, you get to still hear questions like this asked about the President of the United States for four more years.  (Hint, remember to hit the play button.)

Another great American institution, besides marijuana, is author Robert Caro.  If I had to trade lives with just one person, it might be Caro.  What a life.  On a daily basis, he emeshes himself in history, research, story telling, to say nothing of that Brazilian underwear model he’s married to. Any time you happen across Robert Caro on TV, do yourself a favor and watch it, he never fails to provide spellbinding accounts of any topic on which he chooses to put his focus.  This presentation was on his latest book on Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power.  Among his tales is the story which I’d never heard before, what Johnson was doing during the Kennedy was assassination, which he viewed from the car immediately trailing the President’s.
Also check out this clip.  An earnest questioner asks what would Lyndon do if he had to deal with a Congress as awful and intrasigent as the current iteration.   I get the sense the questioner was fishing for some absolution of Obama for his inability to get anything done since 2010.  But Caro gives a bracing answer.   Johnson provided genius level leadership, the ability to find a way when no way appears obvious.  Something to remember next time you hear the current President talk about how we are are being propelled helplessly toward the so-called fiscal cliff.

Faith With Confidence and Joy

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on the decline of the Catholic Church in America and the need for Holy Impatience:

Tens of thousands of young Catholic men and women do take their faith seriously. They do try to live it vigorously. More than seventeen million American Catholics worship at Sunday Mass every week. Double that number attend Mass at least once a month. Millions support the Church financially. And many are active in their parishes and in other ministries outside Sunday worship. These are good facts to build on. In the United States, the faith is not just a memory. It’s still alive. But there’s no way we can go back to the “glory days” of the past as a model for the future.

Catholic life needs to be reignited. American culture is a new kind of mission territory. It’s a cocoon of marketing, entertainment, and manufactured appetites; a narcotic of noise, distraction, and relentless propaganda for self-absorption and confused sexuality. Being in the United States in the weeks before Christmas is an education in what the culture really worships. It worships commerce.

Real Christian discipleship rejects and resists the kind of radical personal license and acquisitiveness that animates a consumerist society. So when the Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of the unborn child, the purpose of human sexuality, economic and immigration justice, the rights of religious communities and believers, and the nature of marriage and the family—she’s not just unpopular. She’s hated as the enemy of individual privacy and personal freedom. That shapes the way the Church is treated in the mass media.

For Catholics in my country to recover their vocation as a Church, they need to be awakened; they need a reason to be zealous again about their faith. They need to hear the witness of people who live the Catholic faith with confidence and joy. They need to see their Church growing and fruitful, and young again, instead of constantly retreating and in decline.

Past vs Present

Matthew Haughey has on good look at the differences between Facebook and Twitter. Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook:

Touching base with an old acquaintance is all about catching up. If I haven’t talked to someone in 20 years, the level of detail I’d like to see is what you typically see in letters from a family that accompany their holiday cards. Let me see a photo, how many kids do you have, what trips did you recently take, where are you working, how is everyone doing, and that’s about all I want to know for the next 20 years. But on Facebook I only have the option of adding an old acquaintance as a friend or denying them, and then I am met with daily updates on their daughter’s ballet classes, photos from their workplace, and who they think should win the big game tonight, forever. I kind of wish I could just see a person’s About page for five minutes and move on, as I don’t need the daily detail/updates of every old high school buddy’s life. Facebook doesn’t offer much granularity in this regard, without moving all your friends into complex groups with different levels of permissions.

If I look at everyone I’m following on Twitter, by and large they are peers I’ve known for the past few years in my current circle of friends, people that excite me with new ideas, music, and art, and lots of humor. On Twitter, I have no idea where most people grew up, what schools they attended, and they are similarly in the dark when it comes to me. You get to know more about the people you follow day by day as their comments and ideas fill my picture of what makes them tick.

At Facebook, half the people in my recent feed are defined by the university they attended, even if that was 50 years ago. Their location is mentioned in posts and prominently on their profile, as well as their entire school history. Heck, the whole notion of organization at Facebook is now defining a person as a “Timeline.” I find the new life history Timeline approach to be a way of constantly dredging up the past, to show others how it shaped this person, and it’s not necessarily the best way to define ourselves.

I like my current social circle of friends and their thoughts, jokes, and ideas they share each day on Twitter. I know I’ll be delighted with new information on Twitter, interesting articles to read, breaking news, and jokes about those. Twitter is a steady stream of mostly joy and makes my life better. Facebook is filled with people I barely know, chain-emails and disaster news about the sky falling that reminds me of my own past as well as my “friends” at every turn. The Internet is here today and all about tomorrow, and I prefer my social media to reflect that, and that’s why I love Twitter.

While I'm not quite as enthusiastic about Twitter as Haughey is, I completely concur with his views on the shortcomings of Facebook which I too barely tolerate.