• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

“There will be no finding of life in space”….Astrophysicist Smith Notes

Dennis Prager spent some time today  reviewing this article from “Telegraph.co.uk” written by Heidi  Blake.  

“Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard, made the claim that we are alone in the universe after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique.

“We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it,” he said.

He pointed to stars such as HD10180, which sparked great excitement when it was found to be orbited by a planet of similar size and appearance to Earth.

But the similarities turned out to be superficial. The planet lies less than two million miles from its sun, meaning it is roasting hot, stripped of its atmosphere and blasted by radiation.

Many of the other planets have highly elliptical orbits which cause huge variations in temperature which prevent water remaining liquid, thus making it impossible for life to develop.

A separate team of scientists recently declared the chance of aliens existing on a newly discovered Earth-like planet “100 per cent”.

Professor Steven Vogt , of the Carnegie institution in Washington, said he had “no doubt” extraterrestrial life would be found on a small, rocky planet found orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581 last September.

Such hopes are likely to be raised further in the coming weeks, when Nasa’s Kepler satalite is expected to confirm the existence of hundreds of new planets.

But Dr Smith dismissed the claims, insisting that other extrasolar planets differ starkly from our own and that even if they did support life, it would be impossible for humans to make contact.

“Extrasolar systems are far more diverse than we expected, and that means very few are likely to support life.

“Any hope of contact has to be limited to a relatively tiny bubble of space around the Earth, stretching perhaps 1,250 light years out from our planet, where aliens might be able to pick up our signals or send us their own.

But communicating would still take decades or centuries.”


Comments from readers generally attacked the astrophysicist for his arrogance to declare such news.  Some accuse him of hiding a Christian complex bias.

Peaceful Muslims Behaving Peacefully in Moscow

At least 35 people have been killed by a terrorist explosion at Moscow’s busiest Airport, Domodedovo. Around one hundred and thirty others have been hurt by the blast in the luggage collection area of the international arrivals hall. Police say one, or several suicide bombers could be to blame.

(The following video is from RealClearPolitics Video.) 


Tom Sowell, from Marxism to Americana, Interviewed at the Daily Caller

Thomas Sowell is one of today’s  few American heroes outside of those in the fields of foreign lands fighting to keep a breath of humanities’ freedom alive.   He is a man of my generation and a professional thinker of  my amateur thoughts. 

He provides a light of understanding among  the very dark shadows overwhelming   contemporary American culture.

The following interview was found at the Daily Caller and conducted by Caroline May:

“While you may need a forklift to get it on your nightstand, Thomas Sowell’s most recent edition of his popular guide to economics,   “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to Economics,”    will aptly navigate all — from laymen to experts — through the treacherous subject that has seemingly stumped many as of late.

Dr. Sowell recently spoke about his book with The Daily Caller and offered his insight on some of today’s most vexing problems:

TheDC: Why did you decide to write the initialBasic Economics” and how does this, the Fourth Edition, differ from the earlier versions?

Thomas Sowell (TS): Well I guess the most obvious difference is the Fourth Edition is about twice the size and it would have been even bigger had I not taken 60 pages out of the Third Edition and put them on the Internet, which kept the Fourth Edition from looking like the Oxford English Dictionary.

Why did I write it? Because there was so much more that needed to be said. I added one new chapter, which was on the history of economics itself and all the kinds of issues that are raised when looking at economics as a field. I also have a large section on the economics of the corporation, particularly because of the news in recent years — which I put in the chapter “Big Business and Government.” But obviously there have been many other developments that needed to be taken care of and so the book just expanded on its own, as it were. In other words, I didn’t sit down to write a bigger book. I sat down to update some figures and see what else needed to be said, it just took off from there.

TheDC: In your book you write, “Profits may be the most misconceived subject in economics.” What are the primary misconceptions about profits and why are profits important? Why are they so demonized in our current culture?

TS: Wow. Gee. Do you have a couple of hours? It is true, and I think part of it is sheer repetition and I think sheer repetition carries a big weight, as Joseph Goebbels understood back in the Nazi era. Over and beyond that, there are certain misconceptions. One misconception is that profits are fundamentally different from other kinds of income. I’m always fascinated by people who say, you know, “this came from a non-profit organization,” as if it is an organization that is unbiased. No, just because one person’s income is called profits and other’s is called something else does not change anything fundamental.

The amount of profits that a business makes, that is the percent return on investment, is — when people are asked what they think it is they almost always grossly overestimate — usually it fluctuates around 10 percent, usually much lower than that. The profit that really affects the price is the profit on sales and that is really small — just pennies on the dollar. A supermarket for example can prosper by making one penny profit on each dollar sale because they have those cash registers going all the time. It adds up to a nice return on investments.

TheDC: Who do you think should be blamed for the financial meltdown? Fat-cat bankers, irresponsible borrowers, government?

TS: I would say all of the above. The question is, how much? If you are asking what drove it, it originated in the idea that the government could make housing “more affordable” by intervening in the market. All the evidence….shows that housing has been far more affordable where there has been the least government intervention. It has been most unaffordable in places where the government comes in very heavily, as in coastal California and preeminently San Francisco.

In the process of trying to make housing more affordable, they lean on lenders to lower the standards for lending to people and that really is the crucial factor. Without that, the rest of the crisis wouldn’t have happened. Other people made their mistakes that added to it, but the crucial mistake was the government forcing the lending institutions to lower their lending standards. And of course when you lower the lending standards people default.

TheDC: There is an argument on the left that says in order to overcome an economic crisis, the government must spend more. Is this the case? How should we rehabilitate the economy?

TS: We shouldn’t be rehabilitating the economy, we should be leaving the economy alone. History shows it rehabilitates itself much faster than when the politicians intervene. Most people are unaware that for more than a century after the founding of this country, the federal government did not consider it its job to intervene when there was a downturn in the economy. Those downturns ended much faster than the downturns where the government intervened.

TheDC: What are the practical implications of our high deficit? Is it too late to do anything about it?

TS: It is never too late. The question is how likely it is that what is done will make things better for us. The high deficit can be [a big deal]. It depends on whether it is high in absolute numbers or high relative to the gross domestic product. Out current deficit is high in both those respects and it shows every prospect of growing higher. We already have the highest deficit that has ever been created in peace time, not only absolutely, but relative to the Gross National Product (GNP), in other words our GNP is much higher, but even relative to that it is a run away.

The big problem of course is the deficit can not be considered in isolation. The question is, what are you going to do about it? And if what you are going to do about it is simply raise the tax rates, then you are off to a whole new set of problems that mean that recovery is unlikely to occur anytime soon.

TheDC: What do you see as the best way to responsibly reduce government spending?

TS: Politicians, whenever they want to weasel out of some big spending problem, they say, “we’ll eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.” Of course they never do it. But if they did eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, the government would shrink to a fraction of its size. There are whole departments that represent nothing but waste, fraud, and abuse. I would think for example the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, you could run through a whole list of them. So the question is not whether there are a lot of things that are expendable from the standpoint of the public interest, the question is whether anyone has the political will to take on the special interests — who are going to defend to the death their particular branch of the waste, fraud, and abuse.

TheDC: Should we be concerned about the trade deficit? And in that vein, China: friend or foe?

TS: I don’t think nations have friends. They do have foes. In some respects China is a foe and in some respects it is not. The whole idea of friendship between nations just grates to me. When I hear that phrase it is like hearing chalk scraping across a blackboard. I cringed when George W. Bush spoke of, “my friend Vladimir Putin.” Countries don’t have friends, they have alliances for the convenience of the moment, and when the moment passes they have different alliances.

The trade deficit is not something I would lose a lot of sleep over. If you look at history, for example during the Great Depression of the 1930s we had a trade surplus every single year. It didn’t help us get out of the Great Depression. By the same token, during the prosperity of the nineties we had a trade deficit every year, and that didn’t stop the prosperity. Those words [trade deficit] have a lot more emotional impact than they have economic impact.

TheDC: Politicians make a lot of noise about the large gap between the “rich” and the “poor” and how “unfairly” income is distributed — a CEO making more than a teacher, etc. How do we justify, do we need to justify, such discrepancies in income and is the gap between the “rich” and the “poor” a big deal?

TS: One of the things that is sad about this is people don’t even define what they mean by rich and what they mean by poor. They usually talk in terms of comparing two different income brackets. And the problem with that — when you are comparing income brackets, or any other statistical category, you are not necessarily comparing flesh and blood human beings and that is because people move from these brackets, from one to another, over the course of their lifetime. So most Americans are in the bracket defined as “poor” when they start out, in their entry level jobs, and somewhere in their peak, sometime in their fifties or sixties, they are in one of the brackets the media and others call “rich.” But they were not rich or poor in either case.

One of the true hallmarks of dishonest statistics are citations of household income. And that is because households contain radically different numbers of people from one income class to another, from one time period to another, from one race to another, etc. For example in the top 20 percent of households there are 64 million people, in the bottom 20 percent there are 39 million people. So we are comparing apples and oranges from the beginning. If you talk in terms of people who work, there are more heads of households that work in the top 5 percent than there are in the bottom 20 percent. So how big of an injustice is it that people who work have more money than people who don’t work?

Age is huge in these things. Most of the people who are at or near the minimum wage are from 16 to 24 years of age. We do not need a government program to stop them from staying 16 to 24, they are going to grow out of that regardless of what the government does. So a lot of this is frankly just hogwash.

TheDC: During a press conference about the economy in 2009 Obama said this: “We have a long-standing critical problem in our health care system that is pulling down our economy. It’s burdening families, it’s burdening businesses, and it is the primary driver of our federal deficits.” Is health care really the primary driver of our federal deficits? If so, why? And is the president’s health care reform law the best way to rectify that?

TS: Health care as such is not driving the federal deficit. It is the insistence of the federal government to inject itself into the health delivery system that creates costs for the private system and then creates costs for the federal government when they insist on setting up entitlements rather than allowing these things to take care of themselves in the market.

Another thing the government could do if it were serious, and it is one of the signs that it is not is, is simply make it much more difficult for lawyers to sue doctors and hospitals. It is not just the multimillion dollar settlement fees they get out of these lawsuits. It is the fact that so much of medicine has become defensive medicine — expensive tests are done that would never be done if all you were concerned about was the welfare of the patient, but which are done because the doctors and the hospitals cannot risk being ruined financially by having something happen and having some clever lawyer get up before a jury and tell them, “if only he had done this or that test we would have solved the problem.”

John Edwards got rich saying all these birth defects were due to the fact that the birth was not by Cesarean section. As a result of that there have been an explosion in the number of birth by Cesarean sections. The conditions that John Edwards’s cases involved did not change in the slightest. All it did was drive up the cost of health care and increase the risk for the women and babies.

TheDC: I read that you identified yourself as a Marxist in your college days. What prompted your change in ideology?

TS: I was a Marxist I guess for a decade from about the time I was 20 to 30 roughly. What changed my mind was not anything I had read. I was a Marxist when I went into Milton Friedman’s course at [the University of] Chicago and I was a Marxist when I came out of it.

What changed me was working as an economic intern in the government in 1960 and discovering what the government bureaucracies were like in terms of their motivations and how they do their job. I immediately realized government is not the answer. Life taught me. I think that is true for most people.

Most of the leading conservatives were not conservatives when they were young. Milton Friedman was a liberal, he even described himself in his autobiography as Keynesian in his thinking. Friedrich Hayek was a socialist. Ronald Reagan was so far left that the FBI was keeping an eye on him. So you run through the list — of course the whole neoconservative movement was on the left initially. And the same thing happened in Europe and elsewhere. A lot of the indoctrination that takes place in educational institutions begin to erode when people get into the real world and start thinking for themselves.”

With the Doctor Shortage Maybe We Can Rely on “Human Rights Studies” for Medical Needs

The Coming Doctor Shortage

“Recently, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed cutting Medicare funding to train doctors by $60 billion through 2020.  If this cut is enacted, the current doctor shortage would get far worse, says Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

  • Already, 30 percent of hospitals lose money, according to the American Hospital Association, and even more barely break even.
  • Health care reform will add an estimated 32 million people to the ranks of the insured, driving them to seek medical attention that in the past they may have avoided due to expense.
  • The aging population will also create much greater demand: The number of seniors who need more medical care is expected to soar to 72 million by 2020 — nearly double today’s number.
  • But doctors are aging, too: Almost a third of doctors in the country — about 250,000 — are over the age of 55.

According to a 2010 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the increased demand means that our nation will need an additional 130,000 doctors, both general practice physicians and specialists, 15 years from now.  That’s about 20 percent more doctors than we have currently.  Right now we train roughly 16,000 doctors a year.  To keep pace with demand, this nation will need to train an additional 6,000 to 8,000 each year for the next 20 years, but without Medicare reimbursements, many hospitals will not be able to afford to maintain critical training programs, says Pardes.”

Source: Herbert Pardes, “The Coming Doctor Shortage,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2011.

For text:


The above inormation is from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Comment:  To solve the shortage of qualified doctors, our Leftwing governments of tomorrow can reach into the hundreds of thousands of “Women Studies,”….”Black Studies,”…..and Gay – Lesbian Studies” specialists and graduates produced by today’s  and tomorrow’s American academia to book at our neighborhood “health” clinics.   Their bigotry studies would fit right in with the Left’s moves toward new age medicine blending Marxism with influenza and behavioral disorders to control thought and limb in the nation’s public education systems.   

The  “Gay Study” folks already have  university-blessed ‘doctors’ of penis and vagina studies looking for places to work besides environmental jobs or further studies at university.

Just think of the advantages…….all that human studies without any science getting in the way!!!

Utah Offers New Pension Model for State and Municipal Workers

The Utah Pension Model

As Illinois and New Jersey struggle to reform their broken public pension plans, it would be nice to hear a success story for a change.  Witness Utah, which last March replaced defined benefit pensions with a 401(k)-style plan for new state and municipal workers, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • As the stock market plunged in 2008, the state pension fund lost 22 percent.
  • From nearly 100 percent funded in 2007, it fell to 70 percent funded in 2009.
  • Utah suddenly faced a long-term $6.5 billion funding gap.

Utah’s constitution bars pension changes for current workers — short of an imminent financial crisis in the fund — so the legislature created a defined contribution plan for all new hires starting this year, says the Journal.

  • The state contributes 10 percent of each worker’s salary (12 percent for public safety workers and firefighters), a generous amount by private company standards.
  • If they wish, new workers can choose a defined benefit plan, but the state contribution to such a plan is legally capped at 10 percent.

The reform has benefits for taxpayers and public employees.  Workers own their retirement account and can carry it to another job and politicians can no longer raid the pension fund to pay for other government spending.  As for taxpayers, the reform will eventually slash state pension liabilities in half and they no longer bear the risk of having to pay higher taxes if the stock market declines.

From now on in Utah, tax increases or spending cuts for schools, parks or roads will not be necessary to make legally required payments to retired state workers.  The contrast could not be sharper with California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and other states in which pension contributions are squeezing out other priorities, says the Journal.

Source: “The Utah Pension Model,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2011.

For text:


The above information was provided by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The ObamaBulb – ObamaMobile – ObamaClimate Wars

Back in 1978, architectural critic Peter Blake wrote a book titled Form Follows Fiasco. In retrospect, it was sort of Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House played straight, except that unlike Wolfe, Blake, who for a time ran the architectural department at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was once a true believer in modern architecture; to the best of my knowledge, The Master Builders, his early 1960s hagiography of Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright is still for sale to this day in the MoMA bookshop.

But by the mid-1970s Blake, no relation to the British pop artist of the same name, observed that much of modern architecture, which promised to Start From Zero (to coin a phrase) and revolutionize the living conditions of the world via a utopian transformation of aesthetics and construction, was essentially a bust. Corbusier’s massive apartment designs, transplanted to America in the 1950s and sold under the rubric of “Urban Renewal” razed poor but functional urban neighborhoods and replaced them with concrete nightmares. Before, the streets and stoops of the old neighborhoods allowed parents to see what their kids were up to; the huge parks that Corbusier loved to place his buildings in became no man’s land war zones at night.

Similarly in England, Theodore Dalrymple wrote a few years ago:

Until quite recently, I had assumed that the extreme ugliness of the city in which I live was attributable to the Luftwaffe. I imagined that the cheap and charmless high rise buildings which so disfigure the city-scape had been erected of necessity in great gaping holes left by Heinkel bombers. I had spent much of my childhood playing in deserted bomb shelters in public parks: and although I was born some years after the end of the war, that great conflagration still exerted a powerful hold on the imagination of British children of my generation. I discovered how wrong I was not long ago when I entered a store whose walls were decorated with large photographs of the city as it had been before the war. It was then a fine place, in a grandiloquent, Victorian kind of way. Every building had spoken of a bulging, no doubt slightly pompous and ridiculous, municipal pride. Industry and Labor were glorified in statuary, and a leavening of Greek temples and Italian Renaissance palaces lightened the prevailing mock-Venetian Gothic architecture.

“A great shame about the war,” I said to the store assistant, who was of an age to remember the old days. “Look at the city now.”

“The war?” she said. “The war had nothing to do with it. It was the council.”

The City Council—the people’s elected representatives it transpired, had done far more damage to the fabric of the city in the 1950s and 1960s than had Goering’s air force. Indeed, they had managed to turn it into a terrible visual ordeal for anyone with the most minimal visual sensibility.

Still though, some mid-century modern architecture worked out reasonably well — ironically for the socialist-oriented Bauhaus and their champions, in the form of steel and glass corporate office towers. Just check out the swanky offices of the gang on Mad Men, or drop by the Lever House or the Seagram Building on Park Ave.

Today, as Jonah Goldberg, Michael Malone, Joel Kotkin and James Lileks have each recently noted, America as a nation doesn’t build in anywhere near the quantity it did during much of the 20th century. But will we look back at the follies of the similarly Start From Zero “green revolution” in much the same skeptical way as Blake, Dalrymple and Wolfe have documented the utopian pretensions of modern architecture?

Maybe, as a couple of recent blog posts highlight, along with a great new video from Politizoid to put it all into perspective, after the page jump.

At the American Thinker, Ed Lasky writes, “Green Follies Escalate in the Face of Failure:”

If I may indulge the reader with my own personal tale: I bought into the dream, mostly because I thought I would save money and energy.  Also, I am lazy, and I got tired of getting up on the ladder or slippery surfaces to reach bulbs that needed to be replaced.  I thought screwing these wonder-bulbs in as substitutes would save me time and some nagging from everyone in the house.  Well…the nagging never stopped, since everyone complains about the quality of the light and how long it takes for these things to power up to their full brightness (a brightness that is a bit unnatural).  The studies in California show that these bulbs do not work well in recessed lighting and in bathrooms.  This is bad news for me, since most of our lights are recessed.

So once again, we see how government elites and green dreamers have pushed through programs — imposing them on us — that have proven to be boondoggles and failures.  The landscapes of Europe (and the balance sheets of its governments) are pockmarked with solar and wind power plants that are woefully inefficient at anything other than sucking taxpayers’ monies down the drain.  Spain is wobbly in no small measure because of the billions spent on solar power ventures.  Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, is considering prolonging the operation of Germany’s nuclear power plants because that is the only affordable way to keep Germans supplied with power (the plants were slated to be closed, with their replacements being ultra-expensive solar and wind power plants).

But back to the bulbs and the dimwitted ones who saddled us with these screwy things.  As Investors Business Daily (and all my family members) noted, the quality of light from CFLs is poor:

Despite governments’ effort to market them, CFLs are not necessarily better. Tests conducted by the London Telegraph found that using a single lamp to illuminate a room, an 11-watt CFL produced only 58% of the illumination of an equivalent 60-watt incandescent — even after a 10-minute warm-up that consumers have found necessary for CFLs to reach their full brightness.

Lack of light isn’t the only drawback. CFLs apparently are so dangerous, the European Commission has to warn consumers of the environmental hazards they pose. If one breaks, consumers are advised to air out rooms and avoid using vacuum cleaners to prevent exposure to the mercury in the bulbs.

Compounding the problem is that these bulbs are usually made in China.  The old-fashioned kind that we grew up with are being phased out, and the very last American company making them turned off its lights and closed last year — a victim of environmentalism run amok.  Hundreds of Americans, many in their 50s, were laid off with no place to go (I wrote a requiem on the closing).  The saga of the old-fashioned light bulbs is not just a nostalgic tale of buggy whips and horse-drawn carriages being rendered extinct by progress.  They were killed by government policy.

The new House may change that policy; one of the Republican proponents of CFLs, Congressman Fred Upton, has — pardon the pun — seen the light, and from his new post as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he may do what few politicians ever do: undo the damage they have helped to cause.

Frankly, I believe it when I see it. If my betters in Sacramento and DC allow me sufficient electrical illumination to see it.

High-speed rail sort straddles the line between the “build it big, even if it doesn’t work” pretensions of modernist architecture, the nostalgia in general associated with trains, and the social control aspects of what James Taranto recently dubbed the “Green Supremacists.” In any case, as Michael Barone notes it’s another European obsession that’s gone off the tracks in the US:

California is spending $4.3 billion on a 65-mile stretch of track between Corcoran and Borden in the Central Valley, which is supposed to be part of an 800-mile network connecting San Diego and Sacramento. Its projected cost was $32 billion in 2008 and $42 billion in 2009, suggesting a certain lack of precision.

Or consider the $1.1 billion track improvement on the Chicago-St. Louis line in Illinois. It would reduce travel time between the cities by 48 minutes, but the trip would still take over four and a half hours at an average speed of 62 miles per hour.

None of these high-speed projects are really high-speed. Japan has bullet trains that average 171 miles per hour, France’s TGV averages 149 miles per hour. At such speeds you can travel faster door-to-door by train than by plane over distances up to 500 miles.

In contrast, Amtrak’s Acela from Baltimore to Washington averages 84 miles per hour and the Orlando-Tampa train would average 101 miles per hour. That makes the train uncompetitive with planes on trips more than 300 miles.

Now take a look at your map and see how many major metro areas with densely concentrated central business districts and large numbers of business travelers are within 300 miles of each other.

The answer is not very many outside of the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. Our geography is different from France’s or Japan’s.

Moreover, to achieve the speed of French and Japanese high-speed rail, you need dedicated track so you don’t have to slow down for freight trains. To get dedicated track, you need a central government that is willing and able to ignore environmental protests and not-in-my-backyard activists. Japan and France have such governments. We don’t.

So we are spending billions on high-speed rail that isn’t really high speed, that will serve largely affluent business travelers and that will need taxpayer subsidies forever. This should be a no-brainer for a Congress bent on cutting spending.

And finally, the gang at Politizoid sum up these latest rounds of form following fiasco quite nicely, putting them all into satiric perspective:


Illinois is Bankrupt…..Wyoming is Not: Could a Cultural Difference Explain Why?

Prager fan Mark Waldeland shared this interesting comparison with me regarding why the State of Illinois faces  bankruptcy and Wyoming does not.   Compare the following  cultural differences between these two government entitites:


The Governor of Illinois is jogging with his dog along a nature trail.
A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor’s dog, then bites the Governor.
1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi”
and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.
2. He calls animal control . Animal Control captures the coyote and
bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the
State $200 testing it for diseases.
4. The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for
diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.
5. The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game
conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous
6. The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a “coyote
awareness program” for residents of the area.
7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat
rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.
8. The Governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack.
The State spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional
special training re: the nature of coyotes.
9. PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit

The Governor of Wyoming is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A
Coyote jumps out and attacks his dog.
1. The Governor shoots the coyote with his State-issued pistol and keeps
jogging. The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.
2. The Buzzards eat the dead coyote.

A Hero, Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler Is Recovering

Thank you very much, John Hindraker for this article you wrote at PowerLine, “A Hero’s Recovery”.   Without such reminders it is easy to let the days go by forgetting those who have sacrificed to much in the defense of our lives.

“A Hero’s Recovery”

“It is hard not to compare the press coverage of Jared Loughner’s Tucson rampage with that of Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood. Hasan killed and wounded twice as many as Loughner, and the fact that he was an officer in the United States Army would seem to give his attack a particular significance as well as a unique horror. Moreover, Loughner was just a nut, while Hasan was part of a worldwide movement. Yet, for whatever reason, the press has been far more interested in the Tucson shootings and in the fate of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords than in the servicemen and women who were shot by Major Hasan.

It’s nice to get daily updates on the condition of Ms. Giffords, but I don’t believe I had even heard of Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler until today. Sgt. Zeigler had just finished a tour of duty in Iraq and was at Fort Hood in preparation for beginning Officer Candidate School when he was randomly targeted by Hasan. Hasan shot him four times, once in the head. That shot wiped out twenty percent of his brain and left a large hole in his skull. Eight brain operations later, Sgt. Zeigler has made what some consider a miraculous recovery:

For the past 8 ½ months, Zeigler has looked death in the face and refused to blink. He’s battled back from eight brain surgeries and diagnoses that labeled him everything from “comatose” to “permanently disabled.”

Zeigler was one of 32 who was injured on November 5, 2009 when accused gunman Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire inside the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood.

Thirteen people died that day, and Zeigler came very close to adding to that number.

He was airlifted to Scott and White Hospital in Temple with four gunshot wounds, including one that shattered his skull. The bullet left a hole the size of a softball.

Zeigler’s family and fiancée were warned that he may never recover.

He has since fought a battle that he refused to lose. And on Friday, a major victory: Zeigler walked out of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

That was in July. A few months later, Zeigler and his fiance, Jessica Hansen, were married. She has maintained a rather remarkable blog since shortly after the shooting. In it, she details Sgt. Zeigler’s slow, painful and still incomplete recovery. She also offers this observation on Hasan’s Fort Hood attack:

All politics aside, November 5th was an act of war. It was an attack on U.S. soldiers in uniform on a military base. It was the harsh reality of the world we live in and of the Global War on Terror (or the “Overseas Contingency Operation” as some prefer to call it). I don’t mean to cause controversy or persuade anyone of anything… not with this post, anyway. But that’s just the mindset we have about November 5th, it wasn’t one man, it is a global war that we are fighting.

As such, it is a little hard to see why Major Hasan’s Fort Hood attack, and the havoc it wreaked on Sgt. Zeigler and many others, has been of so little interest to the liberal press.”

Curiosity Drives the Cat…..and so, Is Good For Private Enterprise

“Curiosity Thrilled the Cat” is the title of the article below, written by Kira Newman at “The American”.
“Why curiosity is the unsung virtue of the free enterprise system.”
“As legislators struggle to stimulate the economy, proponents of activist government continue to debate their free-market counterparts over which system will lead to long-term prosperity. But this debate has another dimension: a clash of two opposing cultures, with correspondingly different values and virtues. For example, columnist George Will has commented on “the decadent dependence that the welfare state encourages” and the conservative virtues of self-reliance and personal responsibility. American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks writes that “free enterprise is an expression of the core values of a large majority of Americans,” including personal liberty, individual opportunity, and entrepreneurship. These virtues—independence, productivity, and self-responsibility—are those commonly associated with the free market.

But the free market promotes another virtue that is rarely mentioned: curiosity. In 2004, psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson created an index of 24 character strengths, such as kindness, wisdom, and gratitude; based on their research, curiosity was one of the top five most closely linked to fulfillment and happiness. Psychologist Todd Kashdan’s recent book Curious? summarizes his and others’ research on curiosity and argues that curiosity is a vital but underappreciated element in a fulfilling life. According to Paul Silvia, associate professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the field of curiosity and interest is now undergoing a “renaissance.” Psychologists are doing research on curiosity and its connections to emotions and creativity, among other areas, that could shape our understanding of personal and professional success.

With this in mind, shouldn’t we all be curious about curiosity?

The Curious Mindset

Curiosity was one of the top five most closely linked to fulfillment and happiness.

While everyone may know what curiosity feels like, psychologists are closely examining the role curiosity plays in life and its relation to other psychological traits. Kashdan, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University who began studying curiosity in 2000, defines curiosity as “recognizing, embracing, and seeking out knowledge and new experiences.” Recognizing new experiences entails being open to them rather than traveling through life on autopilot, with eyes closed and mind shut off. Seeking out new experiences means not just being open to them, but actively looking for them—not just trying an exotic dish served at a dinner party, but making it at home. Embracing novelty means being comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity that we almost always find in the new and different. For example, when encountering different beliefs, we can fairly evaluate them only if we can tolerate the temporary uncertainty of questioning our own views.

Curiosity can thus take many forms. We can be curious about unknown or familiar things, such as a spouse of 30 years. We can be curious about inherently intriguing things—a 1960s Thunderbird whizzing down the street—or try to stimulate curiosity in everyday things. Curiosity can be pleasant or frustrating, the difference between exploring a new city and trying to remember that word on the tip of our tongue. And curiosity can be momentary, as in learning a new board game, or tied to our long-term values, like when we direct our curiosity toward the passionate pursuit of a career or a cherished loved one. In Kashdan’s view, this latter type of curiosity is more effective at creating long-term fulfillment.

Kashdan defines curiosity as ‘recognizing, embracing, and seeking out knowledge and new experiences.’

Curiosity is closely related to what psychologists call “interest,” which is usually described as a momentary state, in contrast to curiosity as a character trait. Silvia, author of Exploring the Psychology of Interest, calls interest “the emotion that gets people out of bed.” Like Kashdan, he sees interest or curiosity as a counterbalance to feelings of anxiety. Kashdan and Silvia believe that human beings have evolved both traits because of their survival value: while anxiety helped our ancestors stay alert to danger and avoid predators, curiosity and interest spurred them to discover new food sources, shelter, and other prehistoric goodies. Today, however, many of us opt to forgo new experiences in the name of familiarity and security, avoiding the anxiety of the unknown.

“Often people slant towards worrying a lot and trying to avoid contact with their anxiety and the inevitable pain of going through life,” says Kashdan. “They’re not actually doing things to try and grow as a person.”

But in neglecting curiosity, we are missing out on a wide range of benefits. Studies show that curiosity may keep our brains active and help develop new neural connections, reducing our risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s. Curiosity correlates with better social relationships, whether with strangers, friends, or romantic partners. Curious people also report finding more meaning and purpose in their lives.

But beyond these benefits, curiosity seems to be a vital trait for success in the market.

The Free Market Demands Curiosity

Curious employees. Competition to get and keep jobs favors those who are curious about new knowledge and opportunities. Prospective employees must first be curious about themselves—introspecting and identifying their own strengths, weaknesses, skills, and interests—and then direct their curiosity toward career possibilities. This way, they will be able to match their particular set of assets to one of the many available jobs, or carve out a new career. More occupations are always emerging—think of the search engine optimization expert or the wave of “green” jobs—because curious people look beyond the options in front of them. Once they secure a job, employees succeed when they are curious about their job tasks and open to learning new skills. This is especially true in today’s market, where employers have their pick among swarms of willing and motivated jobseekers.

While anxiety helped our ancestors stay alert to danger and avoid predators, curiosity and interest spurred them to discover new food sources, shelter, and other prehistoric goodies.

In June 2010, Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies held a working group called “HR’s Role in Business Innovation.” The attendees—human-resources executives from companies such as Cisco, Google, and Aetna—examined how to drive innovation within organizations. “Curious employees are more likely to ask why something is done in a particular way, challenge the status quo, and connect ideas and technologies that hadn’t been connected before,” the working group concluded. “Fostering curiosity at work is a key way to stir the innovation pot.”

Curious employers. Similarly, competition among companies favors employers, and particularly entrepreneurs, who not only seek novelty but are comfortable with uncertainty. In The Innovator’s Dilemma, packed with data on the evolution of several industries, Clayton M. Christensen shows that successful companies anticipate and start developing new products before mainstream consumer demand exists. In targeting as-yet-undeveloped markets, however, these companies cannot use standard tools like opinion surveys that reduce uncertainty; they simply cannot know which consumers will be interested and which product features they will want. Because established companies are so entrenched in traditional methods and driven by mainstream markets, it is often startups that succeed and pioneer new products. For example, in 1995, three years after the introduction of the innovative 1.8-inch disk drive—now used in many MP3 players and small notebook computers—new companies controlled 98 percent of a $130 million market. As Christensen explains, managers creating new products must implement “plans for learning and discovery” and recognize “the uncertainties of a developing market” rather than trying to achieve certainty about an unknowable future.

Curiosity correlates with better social relationships, whether with strangers, friends, or romantic partners.

Kashdan, who has led curiosity workshops at companies, echoes this call. Noticing a lack of creativity in business, he advocates more open-ended brainstorming, rather than looking to the past to understand which products will sell and where the major markets are. “It’s the idea of starting anew as opposed to constantly using our stereotypes, our old habits and templates, in trying to figure out how to innovate in the future,” he explains. “The one constant we know is everything is changing—people’s preferences are changing, the world is changing, the speed of technology and information transfer is changing—so we have to be comfortable with change and purposely looking for ways to shake things up.”

Overall, the market is fundamentally dynamic, and its future depends on the individual choices of millions of people. No matter how much information we seek, uncertainty will remain—and it will favor those curious people who can recognize and adapt to it.

Curious consumers. Advertisers also understand the power of curiosity. As Silvia notes, “People talk about the attention economy. Essentially, they’re talking about the interest or curiosity economy.” In fighting for “mindshare” or bits of our time and attention, modern advertisers try to pique our curiosity and reel us in. Some ads for Palantir, a company that makes data-analysis software for government, feature just the company’s intriguing name and logo, in the hope that passersby will Google the name to find out more.

Once they secure a job, employees succeed when they are curious about their job tasks and open to learning new skills.

“When you study curiosity, you definitely believe in the old adage that supply creates demand,” Silvia adds; new products create demand simply because part of us hungers for the new. And this actually makes sense, given the evolutionary view of curiosity. Because we also have a tendency for anxiety—for avoiding the potential risks that come with the uncertainty of the new—we may not realize or seek out (that is, demand) new products without some prodding from advertisers. Under this view, advertising is partly designed to stimulate our curiosity so it can overcome any anxiety about the unknown.

Besides advertising, the abundance of choice in the free market also encourages us to be curious about our options; the most successful consumers seek out information to find the best and most affordable products. Many services have sprung up to help us in this quest, such as Yelp.com, which catalogs reviews and information about everything from restaurants to car dealerships to churches. More generally, the phenomena of user recommendations and automatically generated suggestions—meant to stimulate more spending—encourage curiosity by allowing us to safely explore new but related items. Inputting song titles into the online service Pandora, for example, generates playlists of similar but often unfamiliar music.

‘Curious employees are more likely to ask why something is done in a particular way, challenge the status quo, and connect ideas and technologies that hadn’t been connected before.’

Of course, many people decry the abundance of choice in the modern world. One of the most vocal critics is Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, who cites evidence that more choice produces paralysis or leads to less satisfaction because we always wonder whether another option might have been better. Schwartz ultimately favors redistribution of wealth to decrease the choices of those with “too much” choice and to increase the choices of the poor.

Schwartz’s view implies that the curiosity and effort required of consumers in the free market leads to unhappiness. But even if this is empirically true of many people, the solution is not necessarily redistribution. Allowing legislators to decide how much choice is “enough” assumes that there is some ideal level of choice for everyone and that it can be identified—which Schwartz himself explicitly denies, commenting in a TED video that “there’s some magical amount [of choice], I don’t know what it is.” One solution, instead, is to encourage consumers to change their mindsets, so they recognize that having more choice leads to objectively better outcomes and they revel in the independence and self-responsibility that choice entails.

The market also generates solutions to some of the problems identified by Schwartz. The grocery store Trader Joe’s achieved wild success in part because it eschews the “super” market model of stocking as many products for consumers as possible. Trader Joe’s features a more limited selection, appealing to those consumers Schwartz described that become paralyzed by too much choice.

Life Under Regulation

In more controlled economies, featuring larger governments, curiosity is not a prime virtue. State ownership of industries reduces the number of available jobs, closing off career opportunities. By prohibiting private competition, the state also decreases incentives for organizations to adapt and improve. A 2002 study of international airlines in about 40 countries found that privately owned airlines have higher profit levels and employee productivity than public airlines, with “mixed” airlines falling somewhere in the middle. And when organizations are not constantly improving, their employees have little incentive to be curious and increase their knowledge and skills. The same occurs, to a lesser degree, when extensive regulations prohibit certain types of business activities.

Because established companies are so entrenched in traditional methods and driven by mainstream markets, it is often startups that succeed and pioneer new products.

Employers, too, are discouraged from being curious. Subject to high taxation, entrepreneurs have fewer incentives to innovate in new and uncertain fields. Because taxes must be deducted from expected profits, they will choose not to invest in some products that would be viable in a free-market economy. Big-government culture thus promotes not exploration of the new, but sticking to the tried-and-true—not curiosity and growth, but security.

Heavy-handed governments also stunt the curiosity of consumers. With the government banning or regulating certain products—taxing unhealthy foods or dictating what health insurance to purchase—consumers have less choice and thus less need to seek out information. Supporters of such policies would not necessarily regard this as a problem, claiming that many people do not have the time or desire to gather information and make informed choices. More broadly, they also argue that liberal policies in general—such as welfare, Medicaid, and job security laws—remove the risks and anxiety of life. On the surface, this may seem like a worthy goal; in fact, we may be hardwired to desire security and safety. But if Kashdan, Silvia, and others are right, we attain security at the expense of curiosity, and thus at the expense of a key contributor to happiness.

Market forces are often derided as cold and inhuman. But in fact, the free market—and the curiosity it encourages—calls upon what is uniquely human within us. While animals have instincts, human beings possess the capacity of choice, and fully exercising that choice requires a curious mind that is open to new knowledge, opportunities, and experiences.

Kira Newman is an editorial assistant at the American Enterprise Institute.

Comment:    Curiosity deeply interests me.   I believe curiosity, especially curiosity is primarily an inherent male trait…..something human males  have been programmed to do by nature.    I know this violates the laws of political correctness in part established by the loony lefties of the feminist movement.  But I believe it to be the case.

Critical observation of children tells the story quite clearly.   In today’s America we drug our boys in grade school to control their energy to explore and  examine, dulling their drive to try to figure out how things work by whatever means possible. 

Girls are naturally drawn to girl dreams and questions.   They read fiction and play dolls for pretending and practice.

Boys often frustrated by reading,  focus more in what they see and touch and how they can use what they see and touch.  They learn to build.   They will prefer non-fiction reading.   Boy can get into trouble exploring, but exploring  is the natural response for their drive to satisfy their curiosity……to understand…..to deal with reality rather than feelings and fiction.

Leftist educators from the American Cultural Revolution of 40 years ago have been programmed to deny inherent  differences between male and female children preferring  to force unisex equality into the social system, feminizing boys determined to make them more incurious, more passive, less challenging, less inventing,  more sweet and unseen.

The human female calculates to find security.   Curiosity endangers security.      

The single human female as she ages will sacrifice nearly any freedom to gain security.   Unfortunately the female  becomes  more comfortable living in totalitarian societies where they can depend upon the government to make family decisions which don’t have to do with raising children.  Their lives are made more equal to men’s lives, by government edict.    In the good old Soviet Union each received equal pay, except for the Obamas who dictated the controls.  

In Marxist dictatorships the more masculine males find satisfying careers guarding the dictatorship.