Monday, April 28, 2008
WHAT if you could make fuel for your car in your backyard for less than you pay at the pump? Would you?
The first question has driven Floyd S. Butterfield for more than two decades. Mr. Butterfield, 52, is something of a legend for people who make their own ethanol. In 1982, he won a California Department of Food and Agriculture contest for best design of an ethanol still, albeit one that he could not market profitably at the time.
Now he thinks that he can, thanks to his partnership with the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas J. Quinn. The two have started the E-Fuel Corporation, which soon will announce its home ethanol system, the E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler. It will be about as large as a stackable washer-dryer, sell for $9,995 and ship before year-end. Read More.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
America's 'safety catch'Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about Ameri
Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life. Read More.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Food riots caused by rising food prices have erupted around the world. Five people died in uprisings in Haiti, perhaps the first of many casualties to come from the fad of being "green."
Food riots also broke out in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia. The military is being deployed in Pakistan and Thailand to protect fields and warehouses. Higher energy costs and policies promoting the use of biofuels such as ethanol are being blamed.
"When millions of people are going hungry, it’s a crime against humanity that food should be diverted to biofuels," an Indian government official told the Wall Street Journal. Turkey’s finance minister labeled the use of biofuels as "appalling," according to the paper.
Biofuels have turned out to be a lose-lose-lose proposition. Once touted by the greens and the biofuel industry as being able to reduce the demand for oil and lower greenhouse gas emissions, biofuels have accomplished neither goal and have no prospect for accomplishing either in the foreseeable future. Read More.
Monday, April 21, 2008
As of today, we're taking bets to see how long it will take before people realize that "GPS" does not stand for "Auto Pilot." The latest "But the GPS told me to..." story is brought to you by a charter bus driver in Seattle. Piloting a coach through the Washington Arboretum -- as the GPS instructed him -- the driver ignored, or didn't see, or didn't believe (take your pick) the flashing lights and sign warning him that his 11-foot-high bus was too tall for the looming 9-foot concrete overpass. Read More.
Today, Greg Hawkins, executive pastor at Willow, recapped the study and then shared some changes that the church is now making in response to the research. He said they’re making the biggest changes to the church in over 30 years. For three decades Willow has been focused on making the church appealing to seekers. But the research shows that it’s the mature believers that drive everything in the church—including evangelism.
Hawkins says, “We used to think you can’t upset a seeker. But while focusing on that we’ve really upset the Christ-centered people.” He spoke about the high levels of dissatisfaction mature believer have with churches. Drawing from the 200 churches and the 57,000 people that have taken the survey, he said that most people are leaving the church because they’re not being challenged enough.
Because it’s the mature Christians who drive evangelism in the church Hawkins says, “Our strategy to reach seekers is now about focusing on the mature believers. This is a huge shift for Willow.” Read More.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Our lesson today comes from the songwriter Frank Loesser:
"Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition."
Or as Barack Obama and his San Francisco pals would put it: God and guns. Loesser got the phrase from Howell Forgy, a naval chaplain at Pearl Harbor, who walked the decks of the USS New Orleans under Japanese bombardment, exhorting his comrades. When the line came to Loesser's ears, he turned it into a big hit song of the Second World War:
"Praise the Lord and swing into position
Can't afford to sit around a-wishin'…" – which some folks sang as "Can't afford to be a politician." Indeed. Sen. Obama's remarks about poor dumb, bitter rural losers "clinging to" guns and God certainly testify to the instinctive snobbery of a big segment of the political class. But we shouldn't let it go by merely deploring coastal condescension toward the knuckledraggers. No, what Michelle Malkin calls Crackerquiddick (quite rightly – it's more than just another dreary "-gate") is not just snobbish nor even merely wrongheaded. It's an attack on two of the critical advantages the United States holds over most of the rest of the Western world. In the other G7 developed nations, nobody clings to God 'n' guns. The guns got taken away, and the Europeans gave up on churchgoing once they embraced Big Government as the new religion.
How's that working out? Compared with America, France and Germany have been more or less economically stagnant for the past quarter-century, living permanently with unemployment rates significantly higher than in the United States. Read More.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Steve Martin used to do a routine that went like this: "You too can be a millionaire! It's easy: First, get a million dollars. Now..."
If you put that routine between hard covers, you'd have "The Secret," the self-help manifesto and bottle of minty-fresh snake oil currently topping the bestseller lists. "The Secret" espouses a "philosophy" patched together by an Australian talk-show producer named Rhonda Byrne. Though "The Secret" unabashedly appropriates and mishmashes familiar self-help clichés, it was still the subject of two recent episodes of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" featuring a dream team of self-help gurus, all of whom contributed to the project.
The main idea of "The Secret" is that people need only visualize what they want in order to get it -- and the book certainly has created instant wealth, at least for Rhonda Byrne and her partners-in-con. And the marketing idea behind it -- the enlisting of that dream team, in what is essentially a massive, cross-promotional pyramid scheme -- is brilliant. But what really makes "The Secret" more than a variation on an old theme is the involvement of Oprah Winfrey, who lends the whole enterprise more prestige, and, because of that prestige, more venality, than any previous self-help scam. Oprah hasn't just endorsed "The Secret"; she's championed it, put herself at the apex of its pyramid, and helped create a symbiotic economy of New Age quacks that almost puts OPEC to shame. Read More.
Monday, April 14, 2008
My occasion for spending a little time once again with the old Communist was Barack Obama’s now-famous comment at an April 6 San Francisco fund-raiser. Obama was explaining his trouble winning over small-town, working-class voters: “It’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Read More.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Why, ask many Democrats and media commentators, won’t Hillary Rodham Clinton see the long odds against her, put her own ambitions aside, and gracefully embrace Barack Obama as the inevitable Democratic nominee?
Here is why: She and Bill Clinton both devoutly believe that Obama’s likely victory is a disaster-in-waiting. Naive Democrats just don’t see it. And a timid, pro-Obama press corps, in their view, won’t tell the story.
But Hillary Clinton won’t tell it, either. Read More.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
My dislike for The Huffington Post goes way, way back--all the way back to its very beginnings. Indeed, a mere three weeks after Arianna Huffington's little vanity project hit the blogosphere, I noted a very disturbing trend in its content. That trend was a strong undercurrent of antivaccination blogging, something I wrote about nearly three years ago. At the time, I pointed out how Santa Monica pediatrician to the stars and "vaccine skeptic" Dr. Jay Gordon had found a home there, long with David Kirby, author of the mercury militia Bible Evidence of Harm, and Janet Grilo.
This was right from the beginning.
These antivaccination luminaries were soon joined by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and more recently by Deirdre Imus, the driving force ramping up the antivaccinationist mercury militia proclivities of aging shock jock Don Imus and whose ignorance and stupidity when it comes to vaccines threaten to rend the fabric of the space-time continuum. (Indeed, if Jenny McCarthy didn't exist, Deirdre Imus would get my vote for the antivaccinationist who routinely says the most astoundingly ignorant things about science.) Although we don't hear much from Grilo or Gordon anymore, unfortunately we do hear from Kirby, Imus, and Kennedy on a fairly regular basis, all on The Huffington Post, with the only voice of reason when it comes to vaccines being Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver, who, unfortunately, has not posted to HuffPo in a long time. It's not for naught that I've dubbed the Huffington Post "Arianna's Home for Happy Antivaccinationists" and seriously questioned whether it could do a science section. Read More.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
LESS THAN 48 HOURS AFTER Iraqi security forces began their campaign against militant Shia factions in Basra, the media had already declared the operations a failure. The operations, which were initiated on March 25, were designed to quell rogue factions of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. In covering the fighting, the press displayed its previously seen penchant for quickly throwing in the towel when a military operation does not instantaneously meet its goals.
Of course, the expectation of immediate success for an operation aimed at clearing densely-populated urban terrain is highly unrealistic. Recent history in Iraq shows this: it took months before Coalition efforts to clear and hold Baghdad showed progress, and even today only 75 percent of the capital city is considered fully secured. Last year the media declared the surge a failure long before the full contingent of forces was deployed, yet the press did not learn from its mistakes. Two popular myths have developed about the Basra fighting: that it constituted a complete failure for the Iraqi security forces, and that it resulted in a major political embarrassment for Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Read More.
Friday, April 04, 2008
How did Mugabe, who has reduced Zimbabwe to an economic and human-rights basket case, garner close to half the vote? Life for ordinary Zimbabweans is unbearable, with new government statistics leaked to the Mail & Guardian showing that inflation is now running at 164 900%. Read More.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
To spell it out: countries can support powerful and threatening military establishments even if their overall economy is faltering (the old Soviet Union). They can create problems for the world even if they are extremely poor (North Korea). Sometimes economic dislocation itself can make aggression more likely (post-Weimar rise of the Nazis). Often the attempt to escape poverty can cause environmental disaster. And so on.
What I was trying to convey is how different, both intellectually and emotionally, the phenomenon of "China's unstoppable rise" looks if you're actually here seeing the people in the middle of the process, versus how it must sound if you just hear about it from afar. Read More.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I just watched "Fitna," a 17-minute film by Geert Wilders, head of the Dutch Freedom Party, which takes a hard-line stance against Muslim immigration.
Released on the Internet on Thursday, "Fitna" juxtaposes verses from the Koran with images and speeches from the world of jihad. Heads cut off, bodies blown apart, gays executed, toddlers taught to denounce Jews as "apes and pigs," imams calling for global domination, protesters holding up signs reading "God Bless Hitler" and "Freedom go to Hell" -- these are just some of the powerful images from "Fitna," an Arabic word that means "ordeal."