Conning the government

Thanks to tODD for pointing me to this story: A onetime biomedical technician with a penchant for gambling, Mr.[Dennis] Montgomery is at the center of a tale that features terrorism scares, secret White House briefings, backing from prominent Republicans, backdoor deal-making and fantastic-sounding computer technology. Interviews with more than two dozen current and former officials and business associates and a review of documents show that Mr. Montgomery and his associates received more than $20 million in government contracts by claiming… Read more

When the government is unionized

So the largest trade union in the country these days is that of government workers.  Does that strike you as odd?  George Will, in the context of a column on what’s going on in Wisconsin, notes some paradoxes: Such unions are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it always wants to do anyway – grow. These unions use dues extracted from members to elect their members’ employers. And governments, not disciplined by the need… Read more

The White Rose

Yesterday was the anniversary of the execution of three German university students, devout Christians, who spoke out against Hitler on the basis of their faith.  In this account, contemplate their words that got them guillotined: On February 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine in Munich, Germany. Their crimes? Anonymously distributing leaflets criticizing the German government at the University of Munich. They were members of the White Rose, an underground student group that… Read more

Battle of the eighth graders

Webmonk alerted me to a post on Freakonomics about a test for eighth graders from 1895. The urban legend site Snopes labeled this as “False.” But the only false part of it seems to be the claim that it shows a decline in educational levels from then to now. The Snopes writer says that any test will look hard if you haven’t studied for it. But he doesn’t dispute that this is an actual test from 1895. In fact, here… Read more

New Zealand earthquake

Lest anyone assume that earthquakes only devastate poor Third World societies, consider what has happened in New Zealand: New Zealand’s prime minister says at least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch. John Key said the toll was expected to rise further, adding: “We may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.” The tremor caused widespread damage as it occurred at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) during lunchtime when Christchurch was at its busiest. The mayor… Read more

Pro-abortionists seek new arguments

As evidence that pro-lifers are winning the arguments, consider how pro-death activist Frances Kissling is recognizing that her movement needs to make some adjustments: We can no longer pretend the fetus is invisible. We can no longer seek to banish the state from our lives, but rather need to engage its power to improve women’s lives. We must end the fiction that an abortion at 26 weeks is no different from one at six weeks. These are not compromises or… Read more

The universe is big; the mind is bigger

A baby’s mind is bigger!  So says David Brooks, citing a Caltech scientist,  at the conclusion of a long, discursive essay in the New Yorker: We have a hundred billion neurons in the brain; infants create as many as 1.8 million neural connections per second; a mere sixty neurons are capable of making ten to the eighty-first possible connections, which is a number ten times as large as the number of particles in the observable universe; via What the science… Read more

Who trained the teachers?

In the monumental quest to improve D.C. schools, officials are collecting tons of data.  Here is a use of that information that might actually lead to genuine reforms:  evaluating not just teachers but the college departments of education that trained those teachers: A lesser-known result of such new systems is that they are generating mountains of data that school officials are starting to use to guide key decisions, aside from which teachers to fire or reward. For instance, by matching… Read more

All things are yours

The Epistle reading for yesterday included a verse that I had never heard preached on or exposited, one that I had never attended to before, despite years of Bible reading: For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23) What do you make of that text? What does it mean and how… Read more

The Republican Obama?

Have the Republicans found “the one”?  Read the Washington Post’s profile of the new Wisconsin governor, 43-year-old Scott Walker, whose hard line with the public employee union has teachers and other state employees taking to the streets.  (Note:  He is not taking away their right to collective bargaining, as is being charged.  Under his bill, which has Democrat legislators hiding out in Illinois to prevent a quorum for the vote, the union would still be able to negotiate wages, just… Read more

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