Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sir Richard Has Taken Off His Considering Cap

New Year’s Eve is associated with many things; the ball dropping in Time’s Square, a kiss as the countdown ends, singing Auld Lang Syne, making resolutions, and of course imbibing too much alcohol. The last item is the one that has most come to epitomize the day and mindless drunkenness will be prevalent throughout the land tonight.

There are many labels for the advanced state of inebriation that many will proudly achieve tonight. One of my favorites is “knee walking drunk” which is oft employed (and occasionally personified) by one Brian “Saint Paul” Ward. Another is “over served” which seems to place responsibility for one’s intoxication on another actor. If it wasn’t for that meddling bartender who kept pushing drinks my way. I’ve witnessed this sort of projection first hand when neighbors seek to explain their over indulgence by blaming it solely on the two cocktails they consumed at our basement bar. Yeah, that was it. It wasn’t the six drinks you had before that or the five afterward.

Anyway, it’s always fun to try to come up with new ways to indicate that someone has had one or thirteen too many. And sometimes the best source for new material is mining the past.

Today’s WSJ has a sampling of from “The Drinker’s Dictionary” in the Pennsylvania Gazette, published by Benjamin Franklin, Jan. 13, 1737:

A: He is Addled, He’s casting up his Accounts, He’s Afflicted

B: He’s Biggy, Been at Barbadoes, Drunk as a Wheel-Barrow

C: Cherry Merry, Half Way to Concord, Sir Richard has taken off his Considering Cap

D: Kill’d his Dog, Has Dipp’d his Bill, He’s seen the Devil

E: He’s Prince Eugene, Wet both Eyes, Got a brass Eye

F: He’s Fishey, Crump Footed, Been to France, His Flag is out

G: Groatable, Been before George, Globular, Got the Glanders

H: Half and Half, Top Heavy, Hammerish, Loose in the Hilts

I: He’s Intoxicated

J: Jambled, Going to Jerusalem, Been to Jerico, Juicy

K: The King is his Cousin, Got Kib’d Heels, Knapt, Het his Kettle

L: Lordly, Light, Lappy, Limber

M: He sees two Moons, Mountous, Muddy, Rais’d his Monuments

N: He’s eat the Cocoa Nut, Nimptopsical, Got the Night Mare

O: He’s Oil’d, Smelt of an Onion, Oxycrocium, Overset

P: Priddy, Has scalt his Head Pan, Been among the Philistines, In his Prosperity

Q: He’s Quarrelsome

R: Raddled, Lost his Rudder, Been too free with Sir Richard, Like a Rat in Trouble

S: In the Sudds, Swampt, as Stiff as a Ring-bolt, Staggerish, Stew’d, Has Sold his Senses

T: Tongue-ty’d, Topsey Turvey, Has Swallow’d a Tavern Token, He’s Thawed, He’s Trammel’d

V: He makes Virginia Fence, Valiant, Got the Indian Vapours

W: He’s wise, He’s been to the Salt Water, He’s very Weary

Feel free to use your favorites this evening and tomorrow morning to describe the state of your friends, family, strangers, or even yourself. But please, don’t blame the bartender.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HWX: A Merry Candidate Christmas

It’s a very special Tuesday night edition of HWX, with Brian Ward and Paul Happe reconvening to discuss the crucial issues of the day. Topics addressed include:
  • Santa Claus is coming to town! Should he be concerned about entering households in states with the Castle Doctrine?Castle-Doctrine-Map
  • Lindsey Graham withdraws from the GOP Presidential race. Will the kid’s table debates ever be the same? Including a special tribute to the highlights of his campaign, with an exciting new commercial sponsor.
  • Hillary Clinton and the state of the Democrat party Presidential race, including Hillary’s reaction to Donald Trump’s recent comments that she was “schlonged” in 2008.
  • A musical tribute to the magical mix that is Christmas and Presidential comments, featuring carols from Bobby Jindal, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
  • A preview of the release of a new holiday music classic, The Hillary and the Ivy, featuring the former first lady’s special touch on your favorite holiday music.
  • The release of the latest Star Wars movie, and it’s cultural significance. Also, an analysis of the recent Ipsos poll on how Star Wars characters would do if they were running for President.
HWX is brought to you by Harry’s Shave. For the finest in shaving products, with the ultimate in convenience, and at an amazingly low price, check out Harry’s. It the perfect gift for anyone who grows hair on their face in your family. Enter HWX at checkout for an additional $5 off.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

HWX: Nobody Does It Better

HWX returns, with Brian Ward and Paul Happe reconvening for a very special Wednesday night broadcast to address the critical issues of our time.  Topics addressed include:

*  The state of the GOP Presidential race and whatever happened to that deep bench, including a special tribute to the magic that was the Bobby Jindal campaign.

*  Jeb Bush’s machismo offensive, including his pledge to kill baby Hitler.  Also featured, a preview of this holiday season’s expected cinema blockbuster, Back to the Future IV: Get Baby Hitler.

*  This week’s Donald Trump media mini-explosions on Muslim watch lists and thousands celebrating the 9/11 attacks.  The familiar pattern of journalistic scandal baiting, and Trump’s refreshing ability to avoid any collateral damage.

*  Blogger John Hinderaker and lessons to be learned from his professional, well-reasoned approach during his interview with Washington Post columnist Dana Millbank.

*  The Paris Climate Change Conference as the ultimate rebuke to terrorism, and can Obama actually sign us up for anything without Congress?

The HWX Podcast is bright to you by Harry’s Shave! For the finest shave at the best price, go to and use the coupon code HWX at checkout for big savings on your order.

HWX is also sponsored by SaneBox. Is your email inbox out of control? Get it back in control with SaneBox.  Try it yourself with two free weeks of SaneBox. Visit to start your trial.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Bigger Fish to Fry

In the next few weeks, as the climate hype in Paris builds to the boiling point, there are several critical points to keep in mind. In Saturday’s WSJ, Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser helpfully presented Your Complete Guide to the Climate Debate:

It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global-warming scare began in earnest. Even with this year’s El Niño-boosted warmth threatening to break records, the world is barely half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was about 35 years ago. Also, it is increasingly clear that the planet was significantly warmer than today several times during the past 10,000 years.

Is the planet getting warmer? Yes, but not nearly as fast as climate models had predicted.

Is the warmer caused at least in some part by human activity? Probably, but just how much is anthropogenic and how much is natural is difficult if not impossible to pinpoint.

But the bigger question is whether the warming that has occurred and the future warming that is predicted to occur will be disastrous for mankind and the planet?

Nor can it be the consequences of this recent slight temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice, according to a new study by NASA scientists published in the Journal of Glaciology. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise—about a foot a century—with no sign of recent acceleration.

So while the Syrian civil war and the ensuing rise of ISIS may be at least partially due to drought in the region there is no evidence that said drought was the result of increased carbon emissions.

Okay, so the impact of global warming hasn’t hit us yet. But what about the future?

Perhaps it is the predictions that worry the world leaders. Here, we are often told by journalists that the science is “settled” and there is no debate. But scientists disagree: They say there is great uncertainty, and they reflected this uncertainty in their fifth and latest assessment for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It projects that temperatures are likely to be anything from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer by the latter part of the century—that is, anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful.

As for the impact of that future warming, a new study by a leading climate economist, Richard Tol of the University of Sussex, concludes that warming may well bring gains, because carbon dioxide causes crops and wild ecosystems to grow greener and more drought-resistant. In the long run, the negatives may outweigh these benefits, says Mr. Tol, but “the impact of climate change does not significantly deviate from zero until 3.5°C warming.”

Mr. Tol’s study summarizes the effect we are to expect during this century: “The welfare change caused by climate change is equivalent to the welfare change caused by an income change of a few percent. That is, a century of climate change is about as good/bad for welfare as a year of economic growth. Statements that climate change is the biggest problem of humankind are unfounded: We can readily think of bigger problems.” No justification for prioritizing climate change over terrorism there.

And that is the most important point of all. We should be talking about climate change, what the realistic impacts will likely be, and what can be done to mitigate its negative consequences without placing undue burdens on the global economy and limiting less developed countries from growing their way out of poverty. But we should not pretend that it is the greatest threat facing us today and that it should be the primary focus of world leaders as the gathering in Paris would have you presume. There are a lot of problems in the world that require our attention. Climate change is not at the top of that list.

UPDATE--For more of the pragmatic perspective on climate change, check out this Prager U video featuring Bjorn Lomborg:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Moral Grandiosity and Failing Performance

Walter Russell Mead (by no means a fire breathing neo-con) weighs in how Brussels is a microcosm on what is ailing the West. The City of the Whited Sepulchres:

The West as a whole these days is cursed by moral grandiosity and failing performance. Our self-esteem has seldom been more robust, or our performance more pitiable. We busy ourselves with what we think is the last unfinished work of implementing universal egalitarianism, by for example tending to high school students who identify with a gender other than that into which they were born, ensuring that they can use the restrooms toward which their aspirations lead them. We see ourselves as courageous warriors even as the foundations of our world are beginning to crack. We claim that tolerance and diversity are the touchstones of our civilization, and have raised a generation of weaklings who cannot bear to be exposed to unorthodox ideas or to the bustle and collisions that life in a diverse society inevitably brings. To cite another of Jesus’ condemnations of hypocrisy, we ‘tithe mint and dill and cumin, and neglect the weightier matters of the law.’ That is, we busy ourselves obsessively over small bore issues, and ignore the graver challenges that face us on every side.

We may choose to ignore those graver challenges, but they won't ignore us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Family Matters

William Galston is by far the most liberal/progressive writer whose work regularly appears in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. So it was with no small amount of surprise that I opened today’s paper to find him talking about the undeniable benefits of marriage and the importance of families.

The Poverty Cure: Get Married:

Of the many barriers to equal opportunity for African-Americans, differences of family background may well be the most consequential—and the least likely to yield to public policy. This is the gravamen of research made public in recent weeks, much of it collected in the fall 2015 issue of the academic journal the Future of Children.

Although there were signs of trouble to come in the 1960s, racial differences in marriage rates remained modest until 1970, when 95% of white women and 92% of black women had been married at least once. By 2012, however, a large gap had emerged: 88% of white women age 40-44 were or had been married, compared with only 63% of black women.

Education makes a difference: Among black women with a bachelor’s degree or more, the ever-married rate is 71%; for those with no more than a high-school diploma, it is only 56%. But race also matters. The ever-married rate for college-educated black women is 17 percentage points lower than for white women, while the black/white gap among the least-educated women is a stunning 31 points.

As a result, other differences are stark. Consider that 71% of African-American infants are born to unmarried women, compared with 29% for white women. The birth of a child doesn’t motivate many African-American couples to get married: 66% of black children are not living with married parents. Nor does it keep their unmarried biological parents together. About seven in 10 white children, from newborn to 18 years of age, are living with their biological parents, compared with one in three black children.

This matters because—as family-structure researchers Sara McLanahan and Isabel Sawhill note in the Future of Children, “most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide variety of outcomes.”

The statement in bold is basic common sense and should be something that everyone can agree on regardless of political leanings. However, for at least the last twenty years our society has been deluged with messages arguing exactly the opposite. It doesn’t matter if kids have one mother or one father or two mothers or two fathers or any other combination other than the traditional family. All families are the same. Except that they’re not.

It turns out that the effects of family instability are measurably worse for boys than for girls—and worst of all for African-American boys. In a landmark new study, a research team headed by MIT’s David Autor and Northwestern University’s David Figlio find that relative to their sisters, boys born to poorly educated unmarried mothers have higher levels of truancy and behavioral problems throughout elementary and middle school, are less likely to graduate from high school, and are more likely as juveniles to commit serious crimes. Many of the gaps between brothers and sisters are larger for blacks than for whites.

The researchers study—and reject—the hypotheses that these differences reflect higher prenatal sensitivity to factors such as stress and poor nutrition or that they are entirely attributable to dangerous neighborhoods and poor schools. There are independent effects of family background that contribute to the large gaps between boys and girls. In fact, the researchers conclude, neighborhoods and schools are less important than the “direct effect of family structure itself.”

Why is this? The research team finds that boys’ problems are far more behavioral than cognitive. For example, truancy and classroom disciplinary issues lead to suspensions, which play the largest role in explaining the boy-girl high-school graduation gap. But the presence of fathers in the household substantially reduces the gaps between boys and girls in absences and suspensions. It turns out that boys need fathers as well as mothers even more than girls do, and suffer even more when fathers are absent from their lives.

Again, the damage done to boys by not having fathers involved in their lives should be obvious for all to see and beyond dispute. But again, we’ve been told over and over again that this basic fact of life is wrong and that even mentioning it as one of the underlying causes of the problems facing African-Americans is racist.

One of my biggest (of many) disappointments with President Obama is that he not focused nearly enough attention on this matter. It’s not that he hasn’t mentioned it at all, it’s just that he had an opportunity to make it a priority for his administration along with the bully pulpit to ensure the message was heard. Now that would have been a legacy worth celebrating and remembering.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It Just Doesn't Matter

There is a lot of talk in the media today about how yesterday’s Benghazi hearings produced more heat than light and that there were no new revelations that emerged. The reality is that what emerged was beyond a doubt proof that the Obama Administration, including Secretary of State Clinton, played fast and loose with the truth in the immediate aftermath of the attack. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the reason for this dissembling was to protect President Obama’s campaign claim that Al Qaeda was irrelevant and the war on terror was essentially won. In other words, they twisted the truth about national security for political purposes.

Which makes today’s charges that the GOP has politicized the hearings more than a touch ironic. Yesterday’s hearing also confirmed that the argument Mitt Romney tried to make on the matter in 2012’s second presidential debate was accurate. We well remember how the impartial, objective moderator Candy Crowley shut down Romney’s efforts at the time and let President Obama slip off the hook.

So Romney was right about Benghazi, right about the danger of Chinese hacking, and right about Russia being a geopolitical threat. Truly a man before his time.

In case you missed yesterday’s hearing, Kimberly Strassel has captured the relevant moments in a piece in the WSJ called She Knew All Along:

What that House committee did Thursday was finally expose the initial deception. To understand the willful depth of that trickery, let’s briefly recall the history.

In early September 2012, at the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden summarized to thunderous applause the administration’s re-election pitch: “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.” Translation: The president had revived the economy, even as he had put “al Qaeda on the run,” as Mr. Obama put it. Five days later, four Americans in Benghazi were dead. It appeared the White House had slept through a terror attack on the anniversary of 9/11.

The administration instead immediately presented the attack as a spontaneous mob backlash to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. At 10:30 on the night of the attack, Mrs. Clinton issued a statement about the violence, blaming the video. She repeated the charge in a speech the next day. President Obama gave his own speech that day, referring to the video and refusing to use the word “terrorism.”

The next day, Mrs. Clinton mentioned the video twice more. The day after that, Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.” Mrs. Clinton promised the father of one of the victims that the administration would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” In his weekly address, Mr. Obama talked about the video. When the Libyan president said there was evidence the attack was planned months in advance, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice contradicted him. She instead told five Sunday talk shows—five days after the attack—that “based on the best information we have to date,” the attack “began spontaneously” in response to “this hateful video.” Mr. Obama for two full weeks continued to talk about YouTube.

Here’s what the Benghazi committee found in Thursday’s hearing. Two hours into Mrs. Clinton’s testimony, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan referred to an email Mrs. Clinton sent to her daughter, Chelsea, at 11:12 the night of the attack, or 45 minutes after the secretary of state had issued a statement blaming YouTube-inflamed mobs. Her email reads: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group.” Mrs. Clinton doesn’t hedge in the email; no “it seems” or “it appears.” She tells her daughter that on the anniversary of 9/11 an al Qaeda group assassinated four Americans.

That same evening, Mrs. Clinton spoke on the phone with Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, around 8 p.m. The notes from that conversation, in a State Department email, describe her as saying: “We have asked for the Libyan government to provide additional security to the compound immediately as there is a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar as Sharia [sic] is claiming responsibility for.” Ansar al Sharia is al Qaeda’s affiliate on the Arabian Peninsula. So several hours into the attack, Mrs. Clinton already believed that al Qaeda was attacking U.S. facilities.

The next afternoon, Mrs. Clinton had a call with the Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil. The notes from it are absolutely damning. The secretary of state tells him: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.” And yet Mrs. Clinton, and Ms. Rice and Mr. Obama for days and days continued to spin the video lie.

A simple compare and contrast would seem to demonstrate rather conclusively that what Mrs. Clinton was saying publicly about the attacks did not at all match what she was saying “privately” (scare quotes since God only knows how many folks had access to her e-mail server by that time). Just for fun replace the last name Clinton with Cheney and imagine the uproar that such prevaricating on the reasons for the attack would have created.

However, I don’t think there will be any lasting impact from these most recent revelations. We’ve reached the point on Hillary where most people’s position are pretty well firmed up. A good chunk of the country wouldn’t trust to be a school crossing guard to say nothing of commander in chief. And an equally if not perhaps larger portion (we’ll find out for sure next November) simply doesn’t seem to care what she does (or did or plans to do). They hear the latest news from the Benghazi hearings or the FBI investigation of her e-mail and only one thought goes through their minds.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Too Easy

First, let’s start with the obvious and state that Hillary “won” last night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas. I place scare quotes around won because otherwise the word implies that the debate was a contest where Hillary’s opponents had the capability or intent of besting her. That clearly was not the case last night.

Think about this, if Hillary had been able to stage the debate would it have looked any different than what we saw last night? I think not. It wasn’t a real debate in the manner that we’re accustomed to. It was a show designed to make Hillary look good.

It had Jim Webb staking out the right flank of the Democratic party (a lonely position these days) so Hillary could demonstrate her progressive bona fides.

It had Martin O’Malley with all the energy of a sloth on Quaaludes so Hillary could show her vim and vigor.

It had Lincoln Chafee who appeared incapable of running a carpool to say nothing of a country so Hillary could come off as competent and in command.

Finally, the debate featured everyone’s favorite crazy uncle Bernie Sanders so that with the most minimal tacking to the center Hillary would appear to be a moderate and reasonable choice.

From start to finish the debate was all about Hillary. The other candidates were merely props for her to play off to further her own purposes. The other candidates weren’t there to win, they were there to play their particular role which they all dutifully did. Sure she took some hits and didn’t always perform perfectly. But like a professional wrestling match where the no name scrub occasionally gets the best of the well know star only to always lose at the end, the outcome of last night’s debate was never in doubt.

So yes Hillary “won” the debate. And now Democrats and the media will crow about her stellar performance, talk about how she’s got her groove back, marvel at what a formidable candidate she will be in the general election, and compare her new position of strength with all the messing infighting on the Republican side.

However, I wonder if at some point in the future we’ll look back on this as a hollow victory. While it’s possible that the brutal battles among the GOP candidates could weaken the eventual nominee and hurt them in November 2016, it’s also quite possible that such struggles end with a nominee who’s tried, tested, and stronger as a result. When the general election campaign starts Hillary won’t be facing off against cupcakes, but against a real candidate with the conviction and capability to defeat her. And the debates will be real.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Games That People Play

Garry Kasparov-a man who knows a thing or two about strategy and Putin-takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to detail how the Russian leader is playing for keeps in the real world while President Obama is playing make believe in a fantasy land where everyone actually plays by the rules.

The continued slaughter of Sunnis in the region will draw in more support from the Saudis and more foreign fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia. The situation will metastasize like a cancer, which suits Mr. Putin fine. War and chaos create more enemies and more opportunities for him to look like a tough guy on Russian state TV. Iran’s regime needs conflict for similar reasons, which is why it can never give up “Death to America.” A growing war will also drive up the price of oil, a benefit that isn’t lost on Tehran or Moscow.

These consequences may be acceptable to Mr. Obama, but he cannot pretend to be ignorant of his role in creating them. I, too, would like to live in the world of diplomacy and law that Mr. Obama seems to believe we inhabit. But unfortunately we do not. Power and action still matter, and in places like Syria and Iraq you cannot have power without action.

Mr. Putin didn’t say anything new at the U.N., because he didn’t need to. He knows that he has concrete assets that are more effective than mere words. He has tanks in Ukraine, jet fighters in Syria, and Barack Obama in the White House.

The cliche that some invoke is that Putin is playing chess while Obama is playing checkers, but for that to be true the President would actually have to moving pieces on the board. We would be lucky if he were even that engaged. The reality is that while Putin is outmaneuvering the United States on almost every front our leader is not even in the game.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Gooning It Up

For the last few months, many conservatives have struggled to understand and explain the appeal and popularity of Donald Trump among Republicans. While many theories have been thrown out there, I think this analysis by Leon H. Wolf might be the best I’ve come across yet. Glenn Beck is Right:

Let me draw an analogy that will be familiar to people who are even casual fans of hockey. Every hockey team at pretty much every level of play has a guy who is commonly referred to as an “enforcer.” I can recall that for many years, my favorite team (the Nashville Predators) had a guy on the team named Jordin Tootoo. Year after year, Tootoo was voted the most hated player in hockey. He was dirty, he started fights, he drew penalties, he got under the other team’s skin on purpose, and he had few appreciable hockey skills.

All these things made Tootoo a natural target for every opposing team in the league and their fans. But in Nashville, Tootoo was far and away one of the most popular guys on the ice because he played for us. We loved the way he got to the other teams. But every other team had a guy that we loved to hate, and when you asked any of us why we hated that person, it would read like a list of things that we loved about Tootoo – e.g., he doesn’t do anything but start fights, he’s a goon, he’s just out there to try to draw penalties against more skilled players or goad them into a fight.

Wolf goes on to explain that Trump is serving the goon role for many on the right. It doesn’t matter what his positions are, it just matters that he’s wearing the right jersey (with a big R on the front) and he’s willing to take cheap shots at the other side. So when they say they like him because “he fights” what they really mean is he fights the way they want to with no punches pulled and no holds barred.

To be fair, I think there is some logic in this. After seven years of President Obama insulting his opponents at every turn and using every available lever of power to advance his agenda (some ultimately determined to be extra Constitutional) it’s understandable that conservatives would be clamoring for a candidate willing to win at any cost. But if that’s the case, they should make no pretense otherwise. They want a goon. They want Trump.

Friday, September 11, 2015

On Loss and Losers

Acknowledgement to MPR Classical for a full day of mourning and tribute songs in honor of 9/11.   Glorious.  None more so than this from the Henry V sound track, Non Nobis Domine.

Nothing mourns and consoles like Latin.  Although Donald Trump would probably call it "music for losers,"

And what a scene from Henry V in that video, from the 1989 version direct by the star, Kenneth Branagh.  In one continuous tracking shot (incorporating layers, with the foreground and background adding different details in different scale), depicting the entire story of the Battle of Agincourt, how it was fought, by whom (each primary character making an appearance), and the results of the battle.   Masterful.

Branagh did get Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Actor, but didn't win either.  Yep, he's a loser. Which may have facilitated his ability to appreciate this song.

Note, Oliver Stone beat him out for Best Director with Born on the Fourth of July (my tribute to which is here).

Daniel Day Lewis beat him out for Best Actor in My Left Foot.

MY SHOULDER TRUMP:  This guy Branagh?  He couldn't beat a guy who was acting with one foot.  You call him masterful?  Gimme a break.  I've seen better acting in foot powder commercials.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Breaking the Ball Barrier

At U.S. Open, the Ball Boys and Girls Are Grown-Ups:

Before Steven Slater, a 47-year-old stay-at-home dad, tried out for a part-time job this summer, he had to get ready. He added miles to his runs. He started doing yoga three times a week. Then he went to a park near his apartment in Manhattan and threw tennis balls against a wall.

At this year’s U.S. Open, Mr. Slater is a rookie ball person, a job that requires a rocket arm. The Open is the only one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments where the people who fetch balls between points also throw them to each other, rather than roll them.

From the Seinfeld episode The Lip Reader:

Kramer: You got it. Hey Jerry, do me a favor. The next time you see that lineswoman ask her how those ball boys get those jobs. I would love to be able to do that.

Jerry: Kramer, I think perhaps you've overlooked one of the key aspects of this activity. It's ball *boys*, not ball men. There are no ball men.

Elaine: Yeah I think he's right. I've never seen a ball man.

Kramer: Well there ought to be ball men.

Jerry: All right I'll talk to her. If you want to be a ball man go ahead, break the ball barrier.

Monday, August 31, 2015

If That's Wrong I Don't Want To Be Right

A Prager University course offering featuring Jonah Goldberg?

Yes, please.

Are you on the wrong side or the right side of history? Is there even a "wrong side" or a "right side"? What do those terms mean and why do politicians and pundits use them? Nationally syndicated columnist and best-selling author Jonah Goldberg explains.

Being accused of being on the wrong side of history these days is a badge of honor that should be worn with pride.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

HWX: Talking Your Language

It’s a weekend edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvening to discuss the critical issues of our times. Topics addressed include:
  • Viewer mail, responding to the Ricochet commenters and critics of our controversial last broadcast.
  • Donald Trump, the secret to his staying power and what the mainstream conservative commentariat has wrong about him. Also, special bonus dramatic representations of how he might respond to future world crises.
  • Jeb Bush, the essence of his lack of appeal on full display at his immigration press conference this week at the Mexican border. Also, special exclusive translations of his curious Spanish answers to Spanish questions.
  • This Week in Gatekeeping – back to the future with an ABC report from 7 years ago on the dystopian future that awaited us in 2015.
HWX is brought to you by the fine folks at For a great shave, at a low price, with the incredible convenience, order from Harry’s. Enter the code HWX at check out for $5 off your purchase price.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, August 28, 2015

One For The Road

We recently returned from a lengthy family road trip. During the course of it we covered 3203 miles through thirteen states with stops in:

Des Moines
Kansas City
St. Louis
New Orleans

We visited museums, parks, caves, battlefields, and breweries. Traveling provides excellent opportunities to find beers otherwise not available in your home market and I made the most of them on this journey.

It started at the Exile Brewing in Des Moines, Iowa. It was located in downtown Des Moines in an old industrial building (the basement had a dungeon like feel to it in a good way). The beer was good and the food was even better.

While in the great Des Moines metro area I also made a point to stop by a store to procure some Toppling Goliath. The Decorah, Iowa brewery has long been on my “must try” wish list and I was excited to get my grubby paws on their Golden Nugget IPA. It was quite tasty, but I’m not sure it really lived up to the hype (no Todd The Axe Man it be) .

Next up was Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. Boulevard is a well establish craft brewer and their facility was impressive. However, the tap room was small and with only two bar keeps on a sultry Saturday afternoon, there was a bit of a wait to get a beer. The beer itself was decent, but not especially exciting which has been my general impression of Boulevard overall.

During our time in Kansas City I also procured some Ale Mucho Hoppo from Charleville Brewing (Missouri) and Crop Duster Mid-American IPA from Thunderhead Brewing (Nebraska). The Ale Mucho Hoppo is a really nice double IPA. The Crop Duster had a fantastic can design and was pretty tasty as well.

While I have been able to enjoy beer from Schlafly in the past I was looking forward to visiting in person while we were in St. Louis. We ended up hitting the tap room downtown. It was a fairly large place in an older building. The food was great and the beer was fantastic especially the American IPA on cask and unfiltered hefeweizen. Nice to be able to pick up a sampler 12-pack to go too (and walk around downtown St. Louis with it on a steaming afternoon).

We spent three days in New Orleans which provided for ample opportunity to indulge in local favorites. It started at the Crescent City Brewhouse whose beer and food has a definite German influence. I thoroughly enjoyed their fine hefeweizen which went down especially well on a blistering hot afternoon.

While shopping at Target, I picked up a six-pack of Southern Hops'pitality IPA from Lazy Magnolia (Mississippi). It’s a decent IPA and I have to admit that it was rather convenient to explore the beer aisle while grabbing some groceries (although we had to have another clerk check out our beer purchase).

NOLA Brewing offered a number of interesting brews at their tap room near the river. The Mecha Double IPA is a delicious hop bomb. They also had a barbecue establishment that shared their property where you could order and pick up ‘cue from a window. It’s a set up that Minnesota tap rooms would do well to emulate. Unless we still have some sort of silly law against it (likely).

On the way out of the Big Easy, I snagged some Mississippi Fire Ant Imperial Red from Southern Prohibition Brewing (Hattiesburg, MS). The can features an awesome design of a giant version of said fire ant dragging a victim away. The beer itself was big and bold if a bit too boozy.

The most pleasant surprise of the trip was likely the all too short time we spent in Nashville. Our positive views of the city were no doubt influenced by our visits to two tap rooms within easy walking distance of each other. We kicked off at the Yazoo Brewery which was packed on a Saturday afternoon. It has a funky, arty sort of vibe to it and well-crafted beer to go with it. The Jackalope Brewery has an even more funky environment and was a fun place to hang and imbibe their fine beers. The Dire Wolf IPA was especially good and $7 for a 32oz growler of it was a hell of a deal (that was growler & beer for seven bones not just the refill).

Our next stop was in Louisville which include a stop at one of the Bluegrass Brewing locations. They had a cool covered area for outdoor seating and we again enjoyed some high quality beer and grub. The Alt and Atta Boy IPA were both quite tasty offerings.

Kentucky is bourbon country and I made a trip to a local liquor store in Louisville to procure the brown elixir of life. The selection was amazing and even a little intimidating. There were so many options it was hard to decide which one to go with. I finally selected Angels Envy and it turned out to be a heavenly choice. I also picked up an IPA from West Sixth Brewing (Lexington, KY) which was also ended up being a good call.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of the journey was not being able to make a stop at 3 Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana. It was on our original itinerary, but since the entire state of Indiana is currently undergoing road construction of some sort or another, we had to adjust our route to Chicago and Munster was no longer within range. I did quaff an Alpha King in Chicago, but it wasn’t the same as being there. Next time…

I did get to try another Indiana brewer when I picked up a four-pack of Fistful of Hops Orange from Sun King Brewing (Indianapolis). As promised it delivered a citrusy hop punch.

The last stop on our trip was in Chicago. There I paired Anti-Hero IPA and Fist City brews from Revolution Brewing with the city’s legendary deep dish pizza. A delightful combination.

A lot of miles, a lot of beers, and a lot of fun. As our six-year-old son asked moments after arriving home from the adventure, “Now what?” Good question son, good question.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

HWX: Making America Great Again

It’s a special weekend edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants who reconvene to discuss the important issues of the day. Topics addressed include:

*  The #1 movie in America, Straight Outta Compton, its cultural implications, and an advance sneak preview of the sequel, coming next fall, featuring the secret 6th NWA member.

*  The trumped up “anchor baby” controversy and the media going from gate keeper to gate builder.

*  The Donald Trump phenomenon – is he Ronald Reagan, Herman Cain, or Ross Perot?

*  On the eve of national Go Topless Day, a discussion of the burgeoning civil rights issue of shirtlessnessism.

*  American servicemen going John McClane on a French train

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Two Big Ones

FLETCH: I'm Harry S. Truman from Casewell Insurance Underwriters.

MARVIN: (smiles) Harry S. Truman?

FLETCH: My parents were great fans of the former President.

MARVIN: Isn't that nice. Good man. Showed the Japs a thing or two.

FLETCH: Sure did. Dropped the big one on them.

MARVIN: Dropped two big ones. Real fighter.

Every year on this date it seems that we have to refight the debate about whether Truman should have dropped the two big ones or not. For some much needed historical perspective, it's hard to beat this video from Prager University.

In recent years, many academics and others have condemned President Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as unnecessary and immoral. Yet this interpretation relies on a poor understanding of history that both lacks perspective and ignores context. Dropping the bomb shortened the war and saved countless lives -- both American and Japanese. In five minutes, Professor of History at Notre Dame, Father Wilson Miscamble, explains.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Clarion Call

Excerpt from Archbishop Charles Chaput's column called Peace on Earth:

Others have already done a good job of deconstructing the Supreme Court's June 26 Obergefell v. Hodges decision forcing "gay marriage" onto the nation. Legally incoherent and impressive in its abuse of judicial power, it will have huge implications for the way Americans live their lives. Anyone who wonders what "marriage equality" really means need only watch the fallout in our laws, courts and public policies over the next decade. Persons innocent enough to imagine that the Church might be allowed to continue her social mission without growing government interference will have an unhappy encounter with reality.

Christians have a privileged calling to respect the God-given dignity of all persons, including those with same-sex attraction. That's fundamental to Christian love and justice. We are accountable to God for the way we treat others.

But Christians also have a duty to think clearly, and to live, teach and work for the truth about the nature of human sexuality, the purpose of marriage and the integrity of the family. No court ruling can change that. And the last thing we need from religious - including Catholic -- leaders in the face of this profoundly flawed Supreme Court decision is weakness or ambiguity.

The recessional hymn at Mass yesterday was the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was selected to recognize Independence Day, but its words were especially relevant given recent events. One line in particular caught my attention:

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat

His truth is marching on whether or not our country chooses to march in step with it or not.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Outside Looking In

The latest and greatest from Prager University is a timely offering with Independence Day just around the corner:

This week's video is about something very dear to all of us...the United States of America. What makes it different? Is it really a great nation? If so, what distinguishes it from other societies? Outsiders tend to be the best judges of character, so we went to an outsider--best-selling Australian author Nick Adams--to get these answers.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

HWX: A Kinder, Gentler Machine Gun Hand

It’s a special Saturday edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants who reconvene to discuss the important issues of the day. Topics addressed include:

•The family favorite segment “What are you drinking?” and our potentially controversial libation choices.

•The recent Supreme Court decisions and what that august body can learn from the NBA draft.

•Review of “Jurassic World” and preview of the new movie “Jurassic Campaign: Hillasaurus Rex”.

•Donald Trump’s entrance into the Presidential sweepstakes and his unfortunate choice of a campaign theme song, with a dramatic reading from Paul Happe.

•Martin O’Malley appeals to broad ethnic stereotypes in his campaign theme songs.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keep it Smart Stupid

In the years since 9/11, I’ve traveled a fair amount. And while I haven’t been happy about some of their practices, I’ve been rather tolerant regarding the TSA. I haven’t been wont to howl in outrage that my civil liberties are being violated because I have to go through a body scan to board a plane. Something needed to be done to prevent further terrorist attacks in the air and while the effectiveness of some TSA measures to do so seemed rather dubious, I was for the part willing to go along for the greater good. My bigger problems with the TSA was the inefficiency of many their processes and the seemingly capricious nature of some of the rule changes which only created confusion and frustration for travelers.

However, a recent travel experience tested my patience and tolerance for the organization. My mother-in-law accompanied us on a trip to Colorado for a family gathering/vacation. Since I am part of TSA’s PreCheck program and they were traveling with me, my wife and three boys also received expedited screening privileges. And to their credit, the TSA decided that an eighty-two-year old grandmother (soon to be great) from a small town in Minnesota would also not have to go through the usual security rigmarole and so she too was PreCheck.

Okay, so far we have an eighty-two-year-old woman with PreCheck status who needs to go through security. Should be simple, right?

And it might have been if my mother-in-law hadn’t had both her knees replaced. She relayed that critical tidbit of information to the TSA screeners both when we left Minneapolis and on our return flight from Denver.

The experience in Minneapolis wasn’t bad. After she set up alarms going through the metal detector, they diverted her to the body scan machine. Once she passed that, she was good to go. It resulted in a few moments of confusion when we couldn’t figure out what happened to her and a slight delay for us in clearing security, but it was at most a minor inconvenience.

In Denver however things were a bit more complicated. After my mother-in-law rang the wrong sort of bells with the metal detector she was instructed to step aside and wait for a female agent who to perform enhanced security techniques. The agent who arrived was apparently not having a great day and it showed in her attitude. I’m not going to say bitchy because that would describe her perfectly (nod to Jim Gaffigan). Her lack of civility combined with her lack of common sense made for a perfect storm of the kind of mindless TSA behavior that drives people insane.

Which was exactly the impact it had on my wife. After we waited and watched the proceedings for a while, she finally got fed up and went over to see what was going on. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my travels it’s that the TSA doesn’t really appreciate such interventions even when done with the best of intentions. Knowing that and that my wife was frustrated that her mother was being treated rudely without reason I had visions of an incident brewing which would not only delay our return home, but also get the whole family placed on the permanent terrorist watch list.

Thankfully she resisted the urge to express her real emotions at that moment and managed to keep things under control. She soon rejoined us with her mother who apparently wasn’t such a threat after all.

I’m all for the assurances of security which the TSA is supposed to provide. As long as it’s done smartly.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Separated at Birth: Newsboy Cap Edition

Over the Hill rocker David Lee Roth of Van Halen, sporting a cap:
David Lee Roth Hits Up Nicki Minaj During Van Halen Performance
Over the Hill Rocker Brian Johnson of AC/DC, sporting a cap:
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a not-so-good sport, Andy Capp:

Separated at Birth: Presidential Contenders Edition

Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush:

and LPGA frontrunner Inbee Park:

Friday, June 19, 2015

HWX: Call Me Caitlyn and The New Normal

It’s a special edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants who reconvene to discuss the important issues of the day. Topics addressed include:
  • The meaning of Bruce and/or Caitlyn Jenner, including a preview of this summer’s blockbuster biopic starring Jack Nicholson

  • Hurricane Hillary Clinton hits Houston with her conspiracy theory of the moment: systematic disenfranchisement of the poor, people of color, and young people by Republicans from coast to coast. We pick through the rubble, with an assist from the X Files.

  • The meaning of black and/or white NAACP activist and Africana Studies professor Rachel Dolezal.

  • The latest vocal stylings of Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, including return appearances of Jackie Mason, the Anteater from Pink Panther, and special appearance by Bob Marley.

  • This Week in Gate Keeping, and the newspaper the East Oregonian heralding yet another societal barrier falling with the triumph of an Amphibian American.

HWX is brought to you by Harry’s, the finest shaving implement and accessories provider on the Internet. For the perfect Father’s day gift, check out Harry’s fine selection of products, and get additional, big savings by entering HWX as the coupon code at check out.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hit the Lights

One of the great clichés of growing older is that you find yourself acting more and more like your parents in words and deeds. One area where I’ve come to notice this of late is how one of my prime missions as a father has been to patrol the house turning off lights left on by one of the children. It’s a duty that invokes mixed feelings as the satisfaction felt by stopping the needless lighting of a room is matched by frustration at having to undertake such a task in the first place: is it really that hard to flip the switch as you leave the room? For about the 784th time since having kids, I find myself saying “Now, I know why Dad was always doing that.”

So with Father’s Day right around the corner (still time to jump on that unlimited beer for life boys) I thought I’d offer encouragement to all the dads out there who share my lights out zeal.

(with apologies to Dylan Thomas)

Do not relent in fighting the good fight,
Old dad should burn & rave at lights that on stay;
Rage, rage against the wasting of the light.

Monday, June 01, 2015

HWX: Bibles, Bakeries, Corruption, Sex, and the US Presidency,with Music

HWX returns for a special pre-Presidential election broadcast (now only 17 months away). Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvene to discuss he important issues of the day. Topics include:
  • The theological and political meaning of Hillary Clinton quoting bible verses in a bakery in South Carolina, with exclusive audio of the exchange.
  • Further discussion of Presidential campaign theme songs, with the exciting debut of a new HWX album, Campaign Gold.
  • Sepp Blatter and FIFA, how corrupt are they and should the United States care? Including the announcement of the release of a new HWX pharmaceutical product, FIFAmax.
  • Bernie Sanders, distinguished Senator, Presidential candidate, and sex essayist, including an interpretational reading of the controversial text.
  • This Week in Gate Keeping, with a disturbing story that may mean your recent weight gain is the fault of the mainstream media.

This broadcast is brought to you by the fine folks at Harry’s. Summer is here and now is the chance to start making smarter decisions. Overpaying for drugstore razor blades is a bad habit that you should leave behind. Make the smart switch to Harry’s. And use the coupon code HWX for big, big savings.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Not One or The Other

Stephen Barr and Dermott Mullan on Planets, Priests and a Persistent Myth:

Most news accounts don’t mention that Piazzi was a Catholic priest. In fact, the remarkable story of the Catholic clergy’s contributions to science is one of the best-kept secrets of scientific history. The exception is Gregor Mendel; it is widely known that the science of genetics began with the experiments of the Austrian monk.

But it is the rare person who knows that the big-bang theory, the central pillar of modern cosmology, was the brainchild of the Belgian Catholic priest and physicist Georges Lemaître. In the 1920s, Lemaître showed that Albert Einstein’s equations of gravity allow space itself to expand and, connecting this to observations that distant galaxies were flying apart, he formulated his famous theory of how the universe began.

The Jesuits have an especially rich scientific tradition. In the 16th century, the Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius developed our modern calendar. In the 17th century, Jesuit Giambattista Riccioli mapped the moon, and Christoph Scheiner helped discover sunspots. Francesco Grimaldi discovered the enormously important physics effect called “diffraction,” the effects of which you can see in the colorful bands of a glimmering CD. In the 19th century, the Jesuit Angelo Secchi, a founder of astrophysics, pioneered the study of the sun and stars using the spectra of their light and developed the first spectral classification of stars, the basis of the one now used.

But Jesuits don’t have all the glory. Blessed Niels Stensen (1638-86) made major contributions to anatomy, especially of the glandular-lymphatic system, and, even more impressively, helped found the science of geology by developing the correct theory of sedimentary rock, geological strata and the origin of fossils, which unlocked Earth’s history. Marin Mersenne (1588-1648), of the Minimite Order, made fundamental discoveries about sound. The work of the Abbé Lazzaro Spallanzani, one of the top biologists of the 18th century, is taught in high-school textbooks today.

Wait, you mean that science and religion aren't mutually incompatible? Imagine that.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Have To Admit It's Getting Better

A comprehensive essay by Jesse H. Ausubel called The Return of Nature: How Technology Liberates the Environment documents how technological advances have allowed the developed world to do more with less and how this reduced dependence on natural resources has led to significant environmental improvements. The bottom line is that not only are things not getting worse, in most environmental areas they’ve been getting better for some time and will likely continue to do so.

Here are a few of my favorite nuggets from the piece:

Agriculture has always been the greatest destroyer of nature, stripping and despoiling it, and reducing acreage left. Then, in about 1940, acreage and yield decoupled in the United States. Since then American farmers have quintupled corn while using the same or even less land (Figure 1).


The 800 million or so hungry humans worldwide are not hungry because of inadequate production.


If we keep lifting average yields toward the demonstrated levels of David Hula and Randy Dowdy, stop feeding corn to cars, restrain our diets lightly, and reduce waste, then an area the size of India or of the United States east of the Mississippi could be released globally from agriculture over the next 50 years or so (Figure 6).

The fact that we’re using corn to make fuel while America is producing record amounts of oil is insane.

Measured by growing stock, the United States enjoyed its forest transition around 1950, and, measured by area, about 1990. The forest transition began around 1900, when states such as Connecticut had almost no forest, and now encompasses dozens of states. The thick green cover of New England, Pennsylvania, and New York today would be unrecognizable to Teddy Roosevelt, who knew them as wheat fields, pastures mown by sheep, and hillsides denuded by logging.


Bottom-up land-sparing forces relating to farms and forests and top-down forces are collectively causing global greening, the most important ecological trend on Earth today. The biosphere on land is getting bigger, year by year, by 2 billion tons or even more. Researchers are finding the evidence weekly in places ranging from arid Australia and Africa to moist Germany and the northernmost woods.


Back in the 1970s, it was thought that America’s growing appetite might exhaust Earth’s crust of just about every metal and mineral. But a surprising thing happened: even as our population kept growing, the intensity of use of the resources began to fall. For each new dollar in the economy, we used less copper and steel than we had used before — not just the relative but also the absolute use of nine basic commodities, flat or falling for about 20 years (Figure 8). By about 1990, Americans even began to use less plastic. America has started to dematerialize.


While America added 80 million people –– the population of Turkey –– American water use stayed flat. In fact, US Geological Survey data through 2010 shows that water use has now declined below the level of 1970, while production of corn, for example, has tripled (Figure 11). More efficient water use in farming and power generation contribute the most to the reduction.


The arc of sulfur dioxide forms a classic curve in which pollution grew for a while as Americans grew richer but then fell as Americans grew richer still and preferred clean air. American emissions of carbon dioxide appear to have peaked around 2007 (Figure 13). Emissions in 2014 dropped to 1990 levels. It does not take a rocket scientist to project a falling trajectory.


Not everything is rosy and Ausubel notes that wild fishery stocks have been dangerously depleted. However, there is a solution for that:

High levels of harvest of wild fishes, and destruction of marine habitat to capture them, need not continue. The 40 percent of seafood already raised by aquaculture signals the potential for reversal. With smart aquaculture, life in the oceans can rebound while feeding humanity and restoring nature.


Until about 1970, per capita petroleum use in America rose alarmingly. Most experts worried about further rises, but Figure 14 shows what actually happened — a plateau and then a fall. Partly, vehicles have become more efficient. But partly, travel in personal vehicles seems to have saturated. America may be at peak car travel. If you buy an extra car, it is probably for fashion or flexibility. You won’t spend more minutes per day driving or drive more miles.


He also shows what all these improvements in resource efficiency mean for the environment, especially the return of nature:

So why do we want nature to rebound? And why do we care about the achievements of farmers like David Hula and Randy Dowdy and aquaculturist Aaron Watson and their counterparts in forestry and water resources? Because the incipient rewilding of Europe and the United States is thrilling. Salmon have returned to the Seine and Rhine, lynx to several countries, and wolves to Italy. Reindeer herds have rebounded in Scandinavia. In Eastern Europe, bison have multiplied in Poland. The French film producer Jacques Perrin, who made the films Winged Migration about birds and Microcosmos about insects, is working on a film about rewilding. The new film, The Seasons, scheduled for release later this year, will open millions of eyes to Europe’s rewilding.

Environmental fear-mongers like to portray a world that was once clean and pristine and has been steadily and progressively destroyed by the acts of man. The only way to stop this on-going destruction is to halt further advancements and return to a more “natural” state even if that means leaving millions (if not billions) of people behind in poverty. The latter is usually not stated so clearly of course.

The reality is that the environment hasn’t been on a constant path to inevitable destruction and in fact in many areas we’re in far better shape today than we were thirty or forty years ago. We don’t need to give up the trappings of modern civilization or prevent those in less developed countries from one day enjoying them. With advances in technology we can continue to produce more of what we need while using less resources. Things have gotten better and they will in the future if we don’t overreact to overhyped fears of impending catastrophe and give up on one of our greatest attributes: our ability to innovate and adapt.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

HWX: The End of Letterman and the Age of Rodham

It's a very special episode of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvening to discuss the crucial issues of the day. Topics addressed include:

david-letterman-hillary-clinton1* David Letterman’s last week of broadcasting and his lost legacy

* Preview of the next Avenger’s movie

* Hillary Clinton vs. the GOP field, early polling trends

* The UK elections, what it means for them and us

* This Week in Gate Keeping, with George Stephanopoulos

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hoping That It's Still The Best Hope

A thoroughly interesting NRO interview with Jim Geraghty contained this observation on his hopes as a father that I found particularly insightful:

Lopez: What is your hope for America as a father?

Geraghty: One of my most deep-rooted fears is that by trying to teach my boys right from wrong, I’m teaching them to be suckers. You try to teach your child the value of hard work, the value of honestly, the need to treat people with kindness and so on, and maybe the rest of the world isn’t teaching their kids the same things. A lot of parents aren’t even in the picture for their kids, and the lessons that are getting fed into their heads are more or less the opposite of what those kids need.

So my hope is that the boys grow up strong, smart, confident, and big-hearted, and that the country is in a good shape as they enter adulthood — secure, prosperous, full of opportunity, and considering how things are going lately, still having a Constitution and rule of law.

He is definitely not alone there and many of us share those wishes for our children and our country.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Looks Do Matter

One of the under-appreciated aspects of the rise of craft beer in recent years is the care and attention that most craft brewers put into the designs on their bottle labels and cans. It’s something that I’ve taken note of it my Beer of the Week reviews and to me is an integral part of the package. Sure you can still have great taste with a lousy look, but when the two come together you truly have the real deal.

An article in today’s WSJ described how critical the right design was one particular beer. A Craft Brew With a Chimp on the Label Retools to Stand Out on Crowded Shelves:

People weren’t reaching for the “Bitter American” beer.

The beer itself—actually, a lower-alcohol pale ale known as a session ale—wasn’t the problem; that style of brew is a favorite in the booming craft-beer market. Rather, the company behind Bitter American, 21st Amendment Brewery, decided a new package and a new name might help their IPA win over the finicky craft-beer crowd.

In early April, the Bay Area brewer launched Bitter American’s replacement, called Down to Earth, another lower-alcohol IPA with a more citrusy flavor and aroma. The bigger change was on the outside of the can: The chimpanzee floating in dark space on the outside of the Bitter American can was now, on the Down to Earth can, pictured in a colorful tropical locale.

Since the change, sales of Down to Earth to retailers, including grocery stores and bars, are triple what Bitter American sold in all of 2014.

Bitter American was a good beer, but it wasn’t clear from the name or can design exactly what kind of beer it was. I can see why the change made a difference.

Good design that fits the beer is no longer optional for craft brewers who aspire for greatness:

Designers and beer-makers say a successful package helps tell the story behind both a brewery and a particular beer. The can or bottle has the feel of an artistic one-off; but when it is stocked on a shelf with its sister beers, they call can “hang together and establish a billboard effect for the brand,” says designer Joe Duffy of Duffy & Partners, a Minneapolis design firm that has designed bottles for Summit Brewing Co., with skyline, bridge, and lake illustrations tying it to the St. Paul region.

In the past, craft brands tried to set themselves apart from big brewers by aiming for package design that looked intentionally amateurish, but that isn’t done much anymore, Mr. Evers says.

You can’t take yourself too seriously, but you need to show you put a lot of thought and care into the design and recipe, says 21st Amendment’s Mr. O’Sullivan. “The craft beer consumer can smell it if it’s not real.”

It’s pretty easy to tell which brewers put the thought and time into it and which ones don’t. And it does make a difference.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Beer of the Week (Vol. CXCVII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week, sponsored as always by the fun folks at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits who are more than happy to help you double your pleasure with the beer, wine, or whiskey you need to get you on your game.

I’ve long been a big fan of 8-Bit Pale Ale from Tallgrass Brewing. The colorful can contained a beer with hoppy, tangy flavors that tickled the taste buds while remaining eminently quaffable.

So when I heard that the renowned Kansas brewery was releasing a 16-Bit Double Pale Ale, it immediately was added to my “must have” list.

A four-pack of 16oz cans goes for $9.99. Like 8-Bit the 16-Bit can design and colors are an homage to video games with sharper graphics this time around.

STYLE: American Pale Ale


COLOR (0-2): Golden brown and mostly clear. 2

HEAD (0-2): Clear white color with good volume and lacing. 2

AROMA (0-2): Pine and grapefruit with a little sweet mango. 2

TASTE (0-5): Hop heavy at the front with pine and citrus flavors. More malty at the back with some astringency and subtle sweetness. Smooth mouthfeel with a crisp finish. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Follows through and lingers nicely. 2

OVERALL (0-6): 16-Bit is not just a hopped up version of 8-Bit (as delicious as that sounds). While definitely related, they are distinct beers with different flavor profiles. 16-Bit is a little hoppier and a littler heavier, but still strikes a good balance. If you like 8-Bit you almost certainly will also enjoy this beer. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16