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History

May 29, 2014

"What Became of 16 Scandal Veterans, from Donna Rice to Sydney Leathers"

Fanne Foxe, Elizabeth Ray, Donna Rice, Paula Jones, Rielle Hunter, and others. Good times, good times. 

May 19, 2014

"Russian History Is on Our Side: Putin Will Surely Screw Himself"

P. J. O'Rourke doing what he does so well.

Anyway, things went along pretty well for almost 400 years. (Pretty well by Russian standards—a free peasant was known as a smerd, meaning “stinker.”) 

May 15, 2014

"Battle of Myeongnyang"

This wasn't covered in my college history course: in 1597 thirteen Joseon (Korean) ships defeated 133 Japanese ships. The Japanese supposedly lost 31 ships while the Koreans lost none. 

May 12, 2014

"How the Media Again Failed on the Duke Lacrosse Story"

Unsurprising but still inexcusable

May 11, 2014

"Hava Nagila: The Movie"

My wife and I really enjoyed this

The documentary introduced me to the lovely Hebrew word davka

May 03, 2014

"Genghis Khan's Secret Weapon Was Rain"

Historians were, apparently, wrong again:

The traditional view has been that the Mongols were desperately fleeing harsh conditions in their craggy, mountainous homeland. The Lamont-Doherty team, however, found just the opposite: Between 1211 and 1225—a period that neatly coincides with the rise of Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire—central Mongolia enjoyed a spell of sustained benign weather unlike anything the region has experienced during at least the past 1,100 years and probably much longer.

April 30, 2014

"The 1970s’ False Prophets of Doom"

Message: take the U.S. and other (mostly) free economies and give the points

April 21, 2014

"President Obama (And Others) Who Don't 'Get' Liberty Should Read This Book"

I haven't read it yet, but George Leef makes it sound very worthwhile:

In early America, people spoke about liberty a great deal. Patrick Henry famously declared, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The preamble to the Constitution  speaks to the importance of securing “the blessings of liberty.”

These days, however, we hear or read the word much less often. It doesn’t seem to be in President Obama’s vocabulary at all. He has declared that inequality is the greatest problem we face, but can anyone remember his ever talking about the importance of liberty?

But while the president and all his minions toil away to subject us to an ever-increasing burden of mandates, prohibitions, and taxes, a few individuals are trying to convince people that we have already lost a great deal of liberty and should strive to get it back.

One of them is Tom Palmer of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Palmer has written and edited quite a few books, most recently Why Liberty: Your Life, Your Choices, Your Future.

George Will comments on another, related books that sounds worth reading: "Progressives are wrong about the essence of the Constitution".

And a current application of the argument: "In D.C., Republicans are the enablers, Democrats the mandators". (See also "Cataloging Washington’s Hidden Costs: Part 1: The Loss of Liberty".)

March 18, 2014

"What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline"

Young economist Noah Smith tells us the Ming dynasty collapsed because it "allow[ed] itself to become isolationist, stagnant, and backward-looking . . ." He thinks we're on the road to doing the same thing. Led by conservatives, we're becoming anti-science. And we manifest growing "anti-immigrant sentiment"--which side of the red/blue divide is responsible for that, I wonder?

But why did the Ming dynasty become stagnant? Here, Professor Smith cites two historians who argue that "when a country thinks it's in a golden age, it stops focusing on progress".

Sorry, but "a country" is too vague. Who, exactly, in Ming China thought it was in a "golden age"? I'm no specialist on Ming China, but I have read William Baumol's terrific article, "Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive and Destructive" (Journal of Political Economy, October 1990). Professor Baumol attributes the change in China's fortunes to a very tiny ruling class, supported by a tiny intelligensia, that put its narrow welfare above the economy of the larger nation. 

Now that has an important possible lesson for "American decline"!

March 15, 2014

"For Holocaust Escapee, a 'Fairy Tale' Come True"

Lovely story: at 11, Simon Gronowski escaped from a train taking him to Auschwitz.

This week, at 82, he got to play in Woody Allen's band

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