Saturday, March 28, 2009

American History SAT Question.

Barack Obama is the worst president since:

(a) Jimmy Carter
(b) Warren G. Harding
(c) LBJ
(d) Jefferson Davis

The correct answer is (b) Warren Harding. It is tempting to answer Jeff Davis, if only for the sheer irony of it. After all, Davis wanted to keep men like Obama enslaved. And Davis's idea of dividing the country geographically is analogous to the modern statist's idea of dividing the country by socioeconomic and ethnic groups, aka balkanization. Davis wanted to balkanize the U.S. into 2 parts; Obama and his followers want to balkanize the U.S. into black, white, latino, wealthy, poor, gay, straight, Muslim, infidel, etc. This is all very logical and compelling, but unfortuntely, (d) Jefferson Davis is the WRONG ANSWER.

Warren G. Harding is the correct answer, because Harding and Obama were elected for the same reason. Many people think that Obama was elected because he is part black, and there may be some truth to that assertion (and it is a good thing that we have finally elected a "person of color" to the White House, because now that that is out of the way; we have proven that we can do it, and we do not have to worry about it any more). However, the main reason Obama was elected is that he is good looking; secondary reasons are that he is a good public speaker with a teleprompter, and he makes you feel like you are his best buddy. Malcolm Gladwell, in Blink, gives essentially the same reasons for Harding's election (73 ff.). In fact, chapter three of Blink is entitled "The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark and Handsome Men" (73). Also, according to Gladwell, "...[Harding] was not a particularly intelligent man," and "He of the worst presidents in American history" (74,75). If this is true, then it was fortunate for our country that Harding died of a stroke 2 years into his presidency.
We now have another tall, dark and hansome president; whose intellectual powers have been exaggerated; and who has started his reign with the worst first 50 days of any American president. In reality, it is too soon to say that Obama is a worse president than Harding, but if he keeps it up, he will easily earn the title of worst president of all time.

Also, Harding and Obama both have catchy, middle eastern sounding middle names.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. 2005. Back Bay Books/Little, Brown. New York.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More Man-made Pollution, Tongan Style

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Stefan Anitei, entitled "Antarctic Ice Depicts How Volcanic Eruptions Could Influence Global Warming," and published on Softpedia, January 8, 2007:

Volcanic eruptions are more than a light show for
us or a disaster for people living nearby.

When volcanic gases only reach the lower atmosphere,
the effectsare local and for a short term, because
the material is wiped out by the rain. But eruptions
that reach higher, up to the stratosphere, can
have a global impact. "In the stratosphere,
sulfur dioxide that was originally in the magma
gets oxidized and forms droplets of sulfuric acid,"
said Joel Savarino, a researcher at the University
of California, San Diego, theNational Center for
Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of

The satellite photo shown above is of the Tongan region of the Pacific Ocean from 2006. Looks like Tonga is putting out a lot of soot. Now, there has been another volcanic explosion there.
The output from the recent explosion looks to be equivalent to the exhaust from 3 or 4 SUVs. So, I was wondering, do they have Cap and Trade in Tonga to protect Americans from Tongan carbon pollution? If, on the other hand, the volcanic cloud results in global cooling, the Tongans should get a credit, should they not?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Do you feel safer now? Or, WE Elected These Geniuses

This from today's Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder said some
detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may end up
being released in the U.S. as the Obama administration
works with foreign allies to resettle some of the

Released where? Do we have to install public foot baths for them?
Do they qualify for welfare? Medicaid? Maybe if we give them enough
freebees they will stop hating us. That's as good a strategy as
anything else Obama has come up with.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reforming Medical Ethics

I just received an email from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, of which I am a member. The email was about new ethical standards to be observed by pharmaceutical company representatives in their dealings with physicians. The idea is that if a sales rep gives me a pen or a pad of post-its with the name of a drug on it, I might thereby be induced to prescribe that drug to patients even when they do not need it, and the patient would have to spend his hard-earned money on that company's product. I am, after all, human, and,therefore, weak. And our government, our country, our Congress, can not take the chance that doctors like me, in our weakness, might yield to the temptation to prescribe drugs simply because sales reps give us pens. Here is what the email said, in part:

Companies and their representatives cannot provide or pay for any entertainment
or recreational activities for you or your staff, even if business or education
is conducted as part of the event.
Companies and their representatives cannot distribute any branded non-educational items, such as notepads, mugs, pens or other “reminder” objects that typically have a company or product logo.
Only occasional modest meals may be provided to health care professionals, and only
in settings conducive to informational presentations. Meals for spouses and
guests are not permitted. [emphasis added]

I am OK with this. The pens were lousy. But I have one question: do lobbyists follow the same rules when they are asking members of Congress to spend my hard-earned tax dollars?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

No Tax Hike for People Earning Less Than $250,000?

I was shocked to read yesterday (Feb. 28, 2009)in the Times Herald Record, Middletown, NY that Senator Chuck Schumer supports Obama's budget proposal. This is what the author, Chris McKenna, quoting Schumer, said, in part:

"My view is that the very highest end should pay more taxes, and that's because
the median incomes are shrinking," he said. "The average, middle-class person,
in the last seven or eight years, has treaded water, at best."
Schumer declined to specify an income threshold for raising taxes.

"Declined to specify an income threshold."
You know what this means: hold on to your wallet!

Photo credit: Times Herald-Record/DOMINICK FIORILLE