Greg Forster, in the context of a discussion about Europe’s economic woes, makes some fascinating connections between the doctrine of vocation and economic productivity: A historically unprecedented phenomenon has been unfolding—in Europe for the past five centuries, in America for the past two, and more recently everywhere across the globe except sub-Sarahan Africa. That phenomenon is explosive economic growth. After millennia of basically stagnant wealth levels from the earliest recorded history forward, God’s world is at last beginning to flourish… Read more

What do you think of Newt Gingrich’s expressed plan, if he is elected president, to ignore court rulings that he disagrees with, to legislate judicial districts out of existence, to arrest judges in order to haul them before legislators to explain their rulings, to over-rule the Supreme Court with the agreement of the other two branches of government, and to attach riders to some laws that make them unreviewable by the courts? What I think is that this would be… Read more

An interesting article in the British business publication Financial Times about how many companies–including high-tech companies–are trying to do away with e-mail: “We believe email is fundamentally unproductive, you need to sift through too many documents and things get lost,” says Leerom Segal, president and chief executive of Klick, a Canadian digital marketing company. “It has no prioritisation, no workflow, and assumes that the most important item is the one at the top. My business partner became so frustrated with… Read more

Michael Gerson gives the most lucid explanation I have found for what the Higgs boson–a.k.a. the “God particle”–is.  He also explores the implications of the strange fact that mathematics, which is a function of the human mind, can actually predict what things exist in the external world: Modern physics can explain just about everything, except why anything has mass. The Standard Model of physics, which emerged four decades ago, employs an elegant mathematical formula to account for most of the… Read more

President Obama on himself, speaking in an interview with 60 Minutes: “The issue here is not going be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got… Read more

Aaron Lewis, who hung out a couple of times with Christopher Hitchens, pointed out that the British assessments on the occasion of his death are rather more measured than what the Americans are saying.  Aaron alerted me to this comment from Alexander Cockburn on Hitchens: He courted the label “contrarian,” but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions. Hitchens never wrote anything truly discommoding to respectable opinion and if he… Read more

Columnist Ezra Klein introduces a useful concept, the “last chapter problem”: In March, the historian David Greenberg wrote an essay on “why last chapters disappoint.” He began by reviewing “Public Opinion,” Walter Lippmann’s 1922 treatise arguing that the longtime dream of a rational, enlightened democracy was being undercut by the complexity of policy issues and the irrationalities of the voting public. The critics agreed: Lippmann’s book was brilliant. At least, until the final chapter, in which Lippmann offered gauzy and… Read more

Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright who spent 5 years in prison for undermining the communist regime, has died.  After communism in Russia and eastern Europe was so discredited that it fell apart, Havel was elected president of his newly freed nation. It was the writers who did more than anyone else–yes, more than Ronald Reagan and more than the Pope–to bring down the communist system.  It isn’t enough–though it’s very important–for outsiders to stand strong against an evil empire.  The… Read more

There are all kinds of questions about whether Romney, or Gingrich, or Perry, or whoever, is a true conservative.  Surely Ann Coulter is a true conservative, yea, a bona fide right winger to a fault.  She is supporting Romney.  She says, “of the available candidates, Romney is by far the most conservative, tied with Michele Bachmann.”   Most importantly, she says, he is the only one who can beat Barack Obama.   Here is her case for Romney: There may be… Read more

The North Korean “dear leader” Kim Jong-Il is dead.  His son, twenty-something Kim Jong-Un, has been named his successor.  The military is running a missile-test, as if to warn the world to stay back. 2011:  A bad year for dictators.  Gaddafi overthrown and killed.  Mubarak thrown out.  Hassad and Putin facing unrest.  And now this. What do you think will happen now?  Will North Korea take the chance to join with its prosperous relatives in the South, or keep the… Read more

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