A physicist on Hawking’s self-creating universe

Physicist Stephen Barr discusses Stephen Hawking’s recent book, explaining his arguments, explaining what physicists mean by multiple universes, and, finally, explaining why none of this diminishes the case for God at all.  Instead of my trying to paraphrase or quote from what was said, you can just read it yourself:

Much Ado About “Nothing”: Stephen Hawking and the Self-Creating Universe | First Things.

The Koran burning is off

The minister has cancelled plans to burn the Koran on Saturday, claiming a rather questionable quid pro quo:

The leader of a small Christian church in the U.S. state of Florida says he has canceled plans to burn Qurans on Saturday.  The minister’s intention to burn the holy book of Islam caused international outrage, including condemnation from President Barack Obama.

The Reverend Terry Jones said Thursday he has called off his planned protest because he has reached an agreement with Muslim leaders in New York to move a planned Islamic cultural center and mosque away from the area of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

“The Imam has agreed to move the mosque,” said Terry Jones. “We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday, and on Saturday I will be flying up there to meet with him.”

However, a statement from the cleric in charge of the New York mosque project said there was no agreement to move the location.

via US Minister Cancels Burning of Qurans | USA | English.

Like cats and dogs

Columnist Dana Milibank riffs on an analogy:

President Obama complained this week that his opponents “talk about me like a dog.”

No! Bad Republicans! Drop it! Now sit, stay — and listen: The president is not a dog, and it is insulting to talk about him as such. The president is a cat.

Dogs travel in packs and are easily led. They communicate by snarling, growling and snapping. They tend to bark and howl all at once. They are disciplined and obey their masters. Left unsupervised for long periods, they will destroy the house. They are, in other words, Republicans.

Cats, by contrast, are solitary, finicky and independent. They refuse to be herded and they hide under furniture when feeling threatened. They are not easily trained and rarely come when called. They are furtive and skittish. They are, in other words, Democrats.

via Democats, on the run from Republicanines.

Can you think of other analogies to make sense of our current political terrain?

The unemployment conundrum

Steven Pearlman offers a sobering analysis of why just tinkering with government spending–whether increasing it or decreasing it–will not bring the uneployment rate down significantly:

The reason there were 8 million additional jobs back in 2007 is that demand for goods and services was artificially – and unsustainably – inflated by cheap, plentiful credit. Between 2002 and 2007, household debt was increasing at the torrid pace of more than 10 percent annually, while business debt and the debt of state and local governments was growing at an average of 9 percent. Much of that money was used to finance present consumption.

Now all that has reversed. Household debt is shrinking at a rate of 2.4 percent per year as the savings rate has risen from nearly zero to more than 5 percent. Meanwhile, business debt declined 2.5 percent last year and is now flat, as is the case for state and local governments.

All that deleveraging and living within our means is obviously a good thing in the long run. But what it means for the economy in the short run is that neither the excess consumption nor the jobs it supported are coming back. During the past two years, the federal government has been actively trying to take up some of the slack by going on a borrowing-and-spending binge of its own. But continuing on that path is also unsustainable – certainly politically, and probably economically as well. And once federal deficits begin to decline next year, we’ll have yet another drag on economic growth and employment.

At this point, there is only one clear path out of the unemployment box we have created for ourselves.

Right now, the United States is running a trade deficit that is likely to reach $450 billion this year. That’s down considerably from the $750 billion at the height of the economic bubble, but still more than a wealthy advanced economy should have. Bringing it down – either by producing more of what we consume (fewer imports) or more of what other countries consume (more exports) – represents the path toward sustainable, long-term job creation.

The problem with that strategy is that for the past two decades we have allowed our industrial and technological base to deteriorate as talent and capital were grossly misallocated toward other sectors of the economy, even as other countries were able to attract the investment, the technology and the know-how to serve the U.S. and global markets.

For a time, none of this seemed to matter because we were consuming so much that we were able to support job creation at home as well as overseas. But now that the debt-fueled consumption binge is over, we find that we don’t have the companies, the workers or the competitive products to replace the stuff we now import or expand our share of export markets. Even when we do, our companies are disadvantaged by an overvalued currency or unfair trading practices.

via Steven Pearlstein – The bleak truth about unemployment.

So the previous decades of spending beyond our means cannot be made up for by the government spending beyond its means.  Prediction:  Someone will propose policies of protectionism.  It may be a Democrat or it may be a Republican, since both labor and big business tend to want government protection for their industries.  The thinking may be that America cannot compete in a global economy as it used to. Instead of the current bipartisan commitment to free trade, we will start putting tariffs on foreign imports to give an advantage to American-made products.  Prices will go up for consumers, but more of them will have jobs.  Do you think this is likely, a good idea, or a potential disaster?  Meanwhile, what policies might help create jobs?  Or do we just need to hunker down until our new thrifty lifestyles create an economic equilibrium?

Teenager repellant

A Washington, D. C., business district that has been having problems with teenagers getting into fights has installed a technological solution:

Gallery Place business owners met with District officials a few weeks ago to voice their concern that loitering teenagers who sometimes get into fights in one of the city’s busiest retail and entertainment strips were costing them customers. The result of that session premiered this week: a device that emits a high-pitched, headache-inducing sound that only young ears can hear.

The Mosquito, as the $1,000 device is called, hung outside the Chinatown entrance to the Gallery Place Metro station Tuesday, annoying its intended targets and then some. The young and a few not-so-young could hear the piercing, constant beeeeep, beeeeep, beeeeep.

“I can definitely hear it very loudly,” 19-year-old Brooke Sawinski said. “It’s pretty blasting.”

Beeeeep, beeeeep, beeeeep.

“I’m about to leave because it’s annoying,” said her friend, Cassie Boiselair, 20. The two Connecticut natives were in town looking at colleges and said they understand the problem. Boiselair used to work in the neighborhood and said she won’t take her iPod out until she’s on her Metro train for fear of having it stolen, but she questioned the solution. “Couldn’t they think of something different?”

Gallery Place has become a popular hangout spot for teenagers in recent years and was the site of a brawl last month that spilled into the Metro system and left several passengers injured, ending with the arrests of three teenagers.

It was around that time that business owners arranged to meet with a staff member of D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). About a dozen people gathered, including representatives of the city’s police department, transportation department and Metro.

“There was a general concern of lawlessness on the streets,” said Evans, who represents the East End business area. “I am concerned anytime residents and businesses complain to us about feeling unsafe.” . . .

Mike Gibson, president of Moving Sound Technologies, which distributes the Mosquito, said the device emits a tone set at 17.5 kilohertz, the high end of the hearing range for 13- to 25-year-olds. “The bottom line is that the Mosquito is installed where 13- to 25-year-olds aren’t supposed to be,” Gibson said. “Adults just walk through the sound.”

The device, he said, is sold mainly to schools, which activate the sound at night to ward off vandals, and to skateboard parks, tennis courts and playgrounds. In Fairfield, Calif., the device was installed at a low-income housing project at the request of residents who wanted to chase off prostitutes and drug dealers who congregated outdoors.

“It drives kids crazy,” said Don Hemingway, vice president for business development at Miracle Recreation Equipment, a Missouri company that uses the Mosquito as part of a larger security device sold to playground owners. “It’s pretty cool stuff. It gets in your head and it’s just annoying, and you just want to get the heck out of there. We have other settings for adults if you have bums hanging around.”

via Mosquito noise device at Gallery Place aims to annoy potential troublemakers.

I myself think this is terrible and discriminatory against the young.  What if young people had devices that emitted sounds that get into the heads of adults, who find it annoying and it drives them crazy and makes them want to get the heck out of there?  Oh, wait.  Rap music.

A Jewish Nazi?

Canadian journalist Ezra Levant gives some background on a major player in American politics:

George Schwartz was born in Hungary in 1930 — not the luckiest time and place to be born a Jew.

George’s father Theodore tried to change the family’s fortunes by changing their name to something less Jewish-sounding. It didn’t help. And soon war came.

When the Nazis took total control of Hungary in 1944, the Holocaust followed. In two months, 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to death camps.

To survive, George, then a teenager, collaborated with the Nazis.

First he worked for the Judenrat. That was the Jewish council set up by the Nazis to do their dirty work for them. Instead of the Nazis rounding up Jews every day for the trains, they delegated that murderous task to Jews who were willing to do it to survive another day at the expense of their neighbours.

Theodore hatched a better plan for his son. He bribed a non-Jewish official at the agriculture ministry to let George live with him. George helped the official confiscate property from Jews.

By collaborating with the Nazis, George survived the Holocaust. He turned on other Jews to spare himself.

George moved to London after the war and then to New York, where he became a stockbroker. He’s rich now. Forbes magazine says he’s the 35th richest man in the world. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He goes by the name his father invented: George Soros.

How does Soros feel about what he did as a teenager? Has it kept him up at night?

Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes asked him that. Was it difficult? “Not at all,” Soros answered.

“No feeling of guilt?” asked Kroft. “No,” said Soros. “There was no sense that I shouldn’t be there. If I wasn’t doing it, somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not. So I had no sense of guilt.”

A Nazi would steal the Jews’ property anyways. So why not him?

That moral hollowness has shaped Soros’ life. He’s a rabid critic of capitalism, but in 1992 when he saw a chance, he speculated against the British pound, causing it to crash, devastating retirement savings for millions of Britons. Soros pocketed $1.1 billion for himself. If he didn’t do it, someone else would, right?

In 2002, Soros was convicted of insider trading in France, and fined millions of dollars. He admitted buying the shares, but denied it was a crime.

Last year, when he made $3.3 billion off the banking collapse, he called the world’s financial crisis “the culmination of my life’s work.”

This is a man who boasted he offered to help his mother commit suicide. Apparently he didn’t see enough death in Hungary.

Soros is a sociopath. But he’s a sociopath with $14 billion, and he likes to spend it on politics.

via Ezra Levant.

HT: Roger Simon