Wednesday, April 29, 2015

HWX: Hillary, the Musical

It’s a special midweek edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvening to discuss the critical issues of our times. Topics addressed include:

  • Spring has finally sprung in Minnesota, info on pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide, a poetry reading, and questions about where the new leaves on the trees come from.
  • Positive evidence of global warming (and we feel fine about it).
  • Hillary Clinton officially announces her presidential run, and we offer our advice and demos for campaign theme song (with strategic appearances by Tammy Wynette, the Smiths, and Nine Inch Nails).
  • This Week in Gate Keeping – featuring PBS and the cover up of Ben Affleck’s notorious relatives — plus the New York Times blows an obituary.
  • A celebrity salute to Earth Day, with Mike Nelson.

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, April 24, 2015

Kudos to Keith

Over the years it’s been a rare occasion where I find an opportunity to agree with sentiments voiced by the man who represents me in the United States House of Representatives. So I almost feel obligated to recognize such an occurrence when I can find some common cause with Representative Keith Ellison.

The topic that Representative Ellison was addressing was the recent arrest of six local youths who were attempting to find their way to Syria and/or to join in jihad.

Rep. Ellison: Terror recruits are in the dark, hard to reach:

“I don’t know how we talk to them. I don’t know how we get through to them,” he said. “People like me need to be communicating a message that there is a good life to be lived. There is nothing about U.S. foreign policy that you don’t like that you could not more effectively change by active citizenship. Nobody is going to be complaining if you don’t like Guantanamo. I don’t like it either.”

Firstly, I like the fact that Ellison is admitting that he doesn’t have all the answers. Too often politicians and government officials pretend that they have the solution to any and every problem if only we’re willing to give them the right amount of money or power to implement it. Ellison doesn't offer more government as the answer here which is refreshing.

Secondly, he doesn’t make excuses for the actions taken by these young men. Instead he expresses the obvious, which is that they have an opportunity for a life here which is almost certainly far better than they would have in the place they came from or the places they may want to go to.

Thirdly, he states another obvious fact that they are far more likely to have a positive impact on changing policies they don’t like through peaceful politics instead of violent actions.

Ellison also commented on the person who helped alert authorities to the plot:

”That’s a snitch,” Ellison said. “That’s not what this guy did. He gave information that he thought would probably save their lives. Being in jail is better than being dead in Syria. … Once they got over to Syria and found out that ISIS is nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty murderers, they’re not fighting for Islam, they’re not standing up for the Muslim community, they’re just a bunch of murderers, then they might try to leave, but it may be too late. They kill people like that.”

Ever since 9/11 there has been a call for Muslim leaders to speak out against terrorism, not offer excuses for it, and to call it what it is. As the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, it’s encouraging to see Keith Ellison doing exactly that. More please.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fueling the Fire

The latest offering from Prager University is a reflection on the reality that fossil fuels have been a boon to mankind and will continue to provide for most of our energy needs for the foreseeable future:

In honor of Earth Day, this week's video course features Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Rather than condemn our impact on the planet and the environment, Epstein celebrates the fact that human progress has helped the earth. He demonstrates how technology -- and fossil fuels in particular -- have made the planet safer, cleaner, and more habitable.

Friday, April 10, 2015

HWX: Spring Fever

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

* the looming tax deadline and the odds that  we got our returns correct

*  the looming announcement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy and our attempt to play by the Hillary rules of appropriate discourse

*  the Indiana religious freedom imbroglio and the rapidly changing, and quickening pace of societal change

*  the return of This Week in Gate Keeping with the Rolling Stone correction and lack of contrition

We also talked some baseball with Minnesota’s grand man of the game, former Twins co-owner Clark Griffith. He opines on the current state of the game and reminisces about the old days with the Washington Senators and stealing items from Harry Truman’s desk.

HWX is sponsored by Swon Tax Preparation.   Need help with your taxes before April 15?  Fear not, its' not too late, and you are not alone.  The fine folks at Swon Tax Prep will make time for you.  Be it an individual return, a business return, whatever it may be, our friend Jon Swon can help.   He offers a full suite of tax services, customized to meet your goals.  He's based here in MN, but has clients around the country.  If you need help, check him out at

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.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Going Your Way

I’m not one to typically wax enviously on the glories of the way that things are done in the People’s Republic of China. No Thomas Freidman I. However, there are some areas where one has to admit that they've got ideas that we would be wise to emulate.

One is the traffic signals that indicate the time the light will maintain its current status.

This lets drivers know how much longer they have before the green is gone and how longer they have to wait for the red to turn. At busier intersection, the pedestrian crossings also have status timers letting you know how much longer you have to wait and how much time you have to get to the other side once it's deemed "safe" to cross. 

Traffic in Chinese cities can be a nightmare and just walking about can make for a stressful stroll. Providing the status on traffic signals helps make the experiences at least a bit more manageable. 

Another advance that I've come to appreciate, especially as a foreign visitor, is the usually easy to locate street signs that are not only in Mandarin and English, but also indicate where you're at from a compass point perspective. 

While I have a fairly decent sense of direction for the most part, it does help on occasion to be reassured that you're actually headed in the direction you think you are. Especially when you're in a city where the usual landmarks and signs that help determine direction aren't always available. 

It would seem that both transportation advances are ones that would be rather easy to implement (at least for new signals and signs) and would bring clear benefits. Why can't we be more like China? 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Only Words

Things you see in the People's Republic of China often come as a surprise. This sign near a building site for example:

Democracy? Freedom? Rule of Law? Those particular words seem a bit out of place. But then you remember that it's not the words themselves that matter it's what they mean or don't mean in a particular place at a particular time.