The young rioters in England wear hoods and masks to hide their identities.  British authorities trying to tamp things down are pondering allowing police to require people to show their faces. Anonymity is indeed tied to bad behavior.   Shame is one of those first-use of the law phenomena that helps keep our sinful natures from breaking out.  But when no one knows who we are, our inhibitions are released.  We certainly see this in the internet, when people in blog… Read more

Bob Duggan on a Rembrandt exhibit in Philadelphia that I’d really like to see, having always been astounded and edified by the artist’s portrayals of Jesus: For millennia now, believers and nonbelievers have wondered what Jesus may have looked like and grasped at any and all evidence in their search. In the exhibition Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through October 11th, a turning point in that search created by the artistic innovations… Read more

Rioters as young as nine are looting shops and burning buildings in cities across Great Britain.  Pundits, of course, are trying to answer the question, “Why?”  The left is predictably blaming social conditions–government cutbacks in particular–and the right is predictably putting responsibility on the individual “hooligans.” I haven’t seen any interviews of the actual perpetrators (fill me in if you have), but I suspect there is not all that much “rage”–pictures I’ve seen are of the young folks laughing as… Read more

It looks like the unions lost and Republicans won in Wisconsin, as recall elections sparked by Gov. Scott Walker’s stand against collective bargaining for state employee unions retained the GOP majority in the state legislature: Republicans held onto control of the Wisconsin Senate on Tuesday, beating back four Democratic challengers in a recall election despite an intense political backlash against GOP support for Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to curb public employees’ union rights. Fueled by millions of dollars from national… Read more

One of the things that has struck me, as we cruise by in luxury, is just hard life is out here for the people who live in the small towns and remote areas of Alaska.  Skagway is mainly a cruise ship town in the summer, with an influx of businesses that descend on the place for a few months to sell jewelry and cheap souvenirs to us tourists, but some 800 people live there year-round.  Our tour guide was telling… Read more

As the stock market dives 634 more points over the United States government getting downgraded by Standard & Poors, President Obama is looking more vulnerable than ever.  Even some of his African American supporters—who are suffering most from unemployment—are getting disillusioned with him.  In addition to our economic woes are our foreign policy failures, including setbacks in the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Libya.  People are speaking of Barackalypse or Obamageddon. I thought he was a shoo-in for re-election, but… Read more

Standard & Poor’s downrated US bonds from AAA to AA+, the first time we have been rated so low. That is a purely financial assessment. But factors include our impotent government, our inability to raise revenue, and our vast and increasing national debt. How humiliating. Just how doomed are we? How can we become a first world nation again? Read more

On the cruise just entering Glacier Bay.  We just saw some whales.  What luxury this ship offers.  I’m sure my ancestors never got above the orlop deck with the bilge water and the ballast.   But this is a dream.    Internet connection is very slow and–as one of you commenters helpfully and correctly informed us–VERY EXPENSIVE  (75 cents a minute!).   Plus, the carefree existence here keeps us insulated from all the bad news of the outside world.  So I don’t have… Read more

The stock market has nosedived 500 points and the economic indicators appear to be disastrous. This, right after the debt ceiling agreement that supposedly allows the government to stay solvent by borrowing money while also cutting more than $2 trillion in government spending. Could it be that Keynesian economics is right, that the government keeps the economy going through its spending and that cutting expenditures during a recession is exactly the wrong way to produce economic growth?  Or are the… Read more

Economics columnist Steven Pearlstein goes off on how super-thick clam chowder has replaced the thinner, more authentic version that is much tastier.  In doing so, he makes some point about how markets actually work:  not so much by fulfilling a consumer preference but by getting consumers to change their preferences.  As when research showed that Americans like weak coffee, whereupon Starbucks–going in the opposite direction–taught Americans to like strong coffee. My search for a decent bowl of clam chowder got… Read more

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