Electronic cigarettes

We Americans tend to get suspicious of people enjoying themselves too much, especially if it involves some kind of physical crutch.  Smoking was condemned as a vice even before the incontrovertible evidence of how bad it is for you.  But now electronic cigarettes have been invented, little battery-operated devices that look like a cigarette but involve no burning of any tobacco, just dispensing a nicotine-laced water vapor to breathe in.

But even though there have been no studies proving them harmful, the anti-smoking forces, not content with their victory over tobacco, are trying to put restrictions on electronic cigarettes also.  In Europe, on the other hand, the medical profession is lauding the devices as “infinitely less dangerous” than tobacco and far more effective than nicotine patches in helping people stop smoking. [Read more…]

Chinese pro-life dissident update

The blind Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, who battled China’s forced abortion policy, was imprisoned for four years, and made a daring escape to the United States had been dumped from his post at New York University on suspicion of fraternizing with Christians and pro-lifers; also because the university is trying to open a branch campus in China. But he has just been given a position at Catholic University in Washington, D. C., with additional funding from the Witherspoon Institute and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. [Read more…]

Self-interest vs. ideology

Is it better in the realm of politics to stand on principle or to pursue self-interest?  Most of us would probably say the former.  But Robert J. Samuelson argues that self-interest is superior, even morally, to following an ideology, which breeds conflict, governmental paralysis, and the demonization of opponents.

Mr. Samuelson shows that the left and the right are both fixated on ideology and that their rhetoric and tactics are pretty much identical to each other.  After the jump, you can see how he makes his case. [Read more…]

From shutdown to default

I remember the government shutdown of 1995 and the huge uproar it caused among the general public.  I don’t notice much of  that happening today.  The shutdown is not much of a shutdown, with over 80% of the government continuing as usual and the non-esssential offices, while closed, are, well, not essential.

The much bigger issue comes in 10 days when the government reaches the debt ceiling and will have to default on what it owes if Congress doesn’t approve the borrowing of more money.  How do you think that will turn out?  How should it turn out?  After the jump, China and Japan are threatening not to bankroll us anymore if we default. [Read more…]

Making the military cool again

Literature, including and perhaps especially the more popular varieties, does more than provide escapist entertainment.  It can also shape people’s imaginations so as to influence the actual world.  Case in point:  the recently departed author Tom Clancy, who, according to veterans Erin Simpson and Phillip Carter, was largely responsible for making the military cool again, after the disfavor it fell into with the Vietnam war, and inspiring lots of young readers to sign up. [Read more…]

Introverts strike back

The ideal in the business world, especially for corporate leaders, has been the glad-handing extrovert.  Consequently, private offices have given way to open cubicles so that everyone can mix and collaborate, even though that seldom happens.  Also, everyone has to go to brainstorming meetings, even though research has shown that the best ideas come not from groups but from individuals thinking alone.  But now a new appreciation for introverts in the workplace and in leadership positions is emerging.

Susan Cain has written a book on the subject:  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  After the jump, an interview with her about her findings.

[Read more…]