Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Observations From the Back Row

_______

Academia’s Consumer Fraud
It is fascinating to see people accusing others of things that they themselves are doing, especially when their own sins are worse. Academics love to say that businesses are not paying enough to people who work for them. But where in business are there people who are paid absolutely nothing for strenuous work that involves risks to their health?

In academia, that situation is common……there is a long feature article in the February 17th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education on the chronic over-supply of historians. Worse yet, leading university history departments are resisting demands that they keep track of what happens to their students after they get their Ph.D.s — and inform prospective Ph.D.s of what the market is like. If any business operated this way, selling customers something that was very costly in time and money, and which the sellers knew in advance was almost certain to disappoint their expectations, academics would be bursting with indignation — and demanding full disclosure to the customers, if not criminal prosecutions.

But The Chronicle of Higher Education reports “faculty resistance” to collecting and publishing information on what happens to a university’s history Ph.D.s after they leave the ivy-covered walls with high hopes and low prospects……But apparently many academics are too busy pursuing moral crusades in society at large to look into such things on their own ivy-covered campuses.

Obama’s Enviro-Fat Cat Welfare Program
Last week Al Gore called capitalism “unsustainable.” It was a silly pronouncement, but considering the way that the Obama administration is manipulating the economy to benefit its “green energy” buddies, the ex-vice president may have stumbled across a greater truth: Obama’s crony-capitalism is clearly unsustainable. In a blockbuster story published last week, Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens outlined more of the details of the incestuous relationship that the administration and green energy companies share. With $80 billion of stimulus money set aside for so-called clean energy projects there was a huge temptation to cross ethical boundaries separating the private and public sectors and it appears that few people involved in the business were able to resist that kind of temptation.

The Global Warming Cult and the Death of Science
At the end of last year, the media widely trumpeted the “recantation” by Richard Muller, a physics professor at Berkeley. Muller’s confession of faith was met with the unreserved glee of fanatics who believe that conversion equals validation of the True Faith. Now Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, a prominent German chemistry professor and green activist, announced that he is coming out with a book breaking with the Warmist view. Naturally, this recantation wouldn’t receive nearly the same prominence, except when the inevitable stories kick in about Vahrenholt being a tool of the oil companies.

But set aside the partisan bickering, and one professor accepting a view he had formerly rejected, while another rejects a view he had formerly accepted, is all part of the normal scientific debate. …..In an ordinary scientific debate, a professor leaving one side and joining another might occasion some recriminations and name calling, but it wouldn’t make him anathema……hopping on board the Warm Train makes you a permanent member, and there is no room for changing your mind. Once a Warmist, always a Warmist. That’s not a rational position, but then the Cult of Warm is not a rational faith.

The Left’s Blind Eye to Non-Western Suffering
Last Thursday, Voice of America reported one of the saddest stories of the last few years: about half of all girls in Kenyan slums apparently give their bodies to older men in trade for sanitary napkins. As health educator Lydiah Njoroge, a field officer for the Freedom for Girls Program, explained, The least [expensive] in the market is 40 shillings … a packet that has eight pieces in it. So, because this girl cannot afford 40 shillings – their mother, their parents are poor, they have other things to provide food and shelter – sanitary towels are not a priority. So the girl just goes [and] has sex with an older man, most of the time not the same man – they would have one this month, another one next month, so they are very, very at risk of having HIV. This story was largely buried in the media. Instead, the media focused on issues like Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian Arab-populated areas; Rick Santorum’s opinions on birth control; and, of course, the evils of those GOPers who didn’t want to extend the payroll tax cut. Can you say priorities, anyone? ……But here’s the dirty little secret of the left: they don’t want our living standards extended abroad. They think we’re sinning against the planet. By maintaining these standards…….

If we want to solve serious problems around the world, the first step is to stop beating ourselves up, pretending that we are the problem. We aren’t. We’re the solution. Millions around the globe beg for us to apply the Western solution rather than wasting our time in useless self-flagellation.

Here is a follow up article from my post Natural Resources Were Meant to Be Used! RK

Waiting for DoD: What does the Pentagon think of our rare earths vulnerability?
Inquiring Congressional minds want to know — or at least the Congressional mind belonging to Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), co-chair (with Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman) of the newly-formed Rare Earths Caucus. During Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s House Armed testimony this week, Cong. Johnson seized the opportunity to ask where things stood with the Pentagon’s report on the use of rare earths in the defense supply chain. That report, due in October 2010, remains missing in action 16 months after its due-date, and 28 months after Congress first directed DoD to undertake the assessment.

In response to Cong. Johnson’s query, a DoD legislative aide answers for the Secretary that the report is in interagency clearance and will be sent to Congress “very soon.” When Congressman Johnson politely presses for a bit more specificity, Secretary Panetta promises it within “a couple of weeks.” Judging from the body language, no one at the Pentagon seems too worried about keeping Congress waiting.

No comments: