August 20, 2008
I find it difficult to describe how boneheaded Mike Bloomberg’s newest idea is. CBS News calls the plan, to put windmills on New York City bridges “bold.” It’s not bold. It’s ugly.
New York’s suspension bridges are part of the artistic patrimony of the United States. They were made for one specific purpose: allowing people to travel from one point to another without getting wet. With this goal in mind, engineers designed the bridges to do so safely, while also taking into consideration construction economy, design efficiency and overall aesthetic elegance. The consideration of these factors, coupled with and driven by economic growth in New York at the turn of the last century, impressive developments in industrial steel production, and sophisticated engineering load-calculation resulted in a wonderful flurry of suspension bridge construction uniting New York City unto itself and its neighbors.
The relationship between form and function in New York bridge engineering can be seen in the difference between the bridges. Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge, designed in the days of carts, pedestrians, and trolleys, brings people from the industrial heart of Brooklyn to the financial heart of Manhattan with a stony classical grace. On the other hand, Ammann’s George Washington Bridge-along with the Chrysler Building, one of the great paeans to the automobile-accommodates 14 lanes of private and commercial motorcar traffic (opposed to the Brooklyn Bridge’s six non-commercial lanes) using the superior mobility granted by automobile travel to span a narrower area of the Hudson with an ingress point at the less bustling Upper Manhattan. These bridges were designed to facilitate different sorts of movement, and they do so spectacularly and uniquely, while providing beautiful aesthetic experiences in the process.
Now, in Mayor Mike’s preening greening scheme simply allowing people to access his city isn’t good enough for these marvels of engineering. The spans that linked a series of unruly islands into the greatest city on earth no longer have sufficient economic or cultural value to continue their stolid duties unmolested. No, they need to be retrofitted with windmills to look like steal islands planted tight with pinwheels. Their forms, their functions, and their histories have to go by the wayside because Bloomberg wants his city to be the greenest city.
Therein lies the problem with much of the environmentalist movement. People should conserve; clean energy is a good thing. But is it such a good thing that it warrants the mutilation of majestic structural art, embedded in the public consciousness and of great historical significance? Mayor Bloomberg and his cohorts seem to think so. The posturing moralism of the few leads to banal ugliness for the many. Wagner had it almost right with his planned book (The Unbeauty of Civilization): What we’re dealing with is the unbeauty of liberal civilization.
August 19, 2008
Most people are well aware that underage drinking can exact a deadly toll, approximately 5,000 youths every year. What may prove even more disturbing is just how young underage drinkers can be. According to the National Institutes of Health, 11 percent of eighth grade students have engaged in binge drinking (blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher), and this percentage increases to 22 percent of tenth grade students and 29 percent of twelfth grade students.
Analyzing additional federal survey data, the latest Mapping America reports that one of the most significantly protective factors against abusive underage drinking is frequent religious attendance.
August 15, 2008
Returned to the House floor yesterday to watch the Republican “speech-in” demanding a vote from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on energy. The crowds was at least four times the crowd I saw last week and while there are a few tourists in shorts and sandals it was great to see parents bringing their children, all dressed appropriately for the historic surroundings.
The Republicans have been getting a lot of favorable press on the story (including here, here, here, here, here here, here, and here as just a few of too many examples to list.) Even the Senate is getting in on the action. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Ola.) has asked people to send him their gas receipts so he can deliver them to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) So far he has received over 750 receipts totaling to $37,996.78.
My favorite story comes from Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) who is traveling his district asking people to sign a petition asking for a vote. At one stop, all caught
on camera, an elderly man interrupts Rep. Hensarling demanding to sign the petition because “All I want to do is get my signature on here. That Pelosi woman is nuts.” You can watch the video here.
Are the efforts having the desired effect? Some Democrats are wavering on their position like Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) Speaker Pelosi at first indicated she would back down, but now in true fashion is backing away from that and putting qualifiers on her statements. We had sent out an alert for people to contact the Speaker but as of this morning the e-mail account the Speaker set-up for ordinary citizens to contact her has been disabled. You can still call her at 202-225-0100.
August 15, 2008
The Wilson County Fair in Tennessee came under fire this week for offering a $2 promotion to any fairgoers who showed up with a church bulletin. This of course had ACLU and atheists (did I just repeat myself) up in arms that this was tantamount to Wilson County endorsing Christianity.
Other discount days include a Senior Citizens day, a Tennessee Lottery Day — with a $1 for showing a lottery ticket — and a Ford Fun Family Day, where fairgoers who showed a Ford key or keychain will get a discount. I am just wondering when the ACLU will contact me to file a law suit as being discriminated against as an under-65, anti lottery Toyota driver.
August 15, 2008
Doctor asks county to turn up heat on abortion providers
Supporters of abortion rights often insist they don’t really like the procedure itself - they simply believe it should be legal, rare and safe.
The Allen County Commissioners may soon put the last part of that argument to the test. And they should. More . . .
Portland, Oregon Abortion Business Delayed Another 60 Days for Permit
Denver, CO (LifeNews.com) — Women and children in Oregon will get another 60 day reprieve before Planned Parenthood builds a new abortion business in a historically black area targeting them. City officials in Portland, Oregon were expected to close the deal on Wednesday, but the developers weren’t ready.
As a result, it will take another 60 days before the Portland Development Commission gives the final go-ahead for building the new abortion center. More . . .
Is ‘Meaning of Candy Cane’ OK in schools?
(USA Today) The U.S. Supreme Court was asked on Monday to consider whether a fifth-grade student’s religious expression on a classroom project can be considered “offensive” and subject to censorship by school officials. More . . .
August 14, 2008
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released its annual National Survey of American Attitudes of Substance Abuse this morning. Most of the survey’s findings aren’t too surprising, but they are disturbing nonetheless. Among the findings: About two-thirds of high school students and twenty percent of middle school students report that drugs are kept, sold, or used on school grounds. A quarter of teens know a parent or guardian of a friend that uses marijuana. And for the first time, prescription drugs are easier for adolescents to obtain than alcohol. It should come as no surprise that the likeliest place for teens to get prescription drugs is in the home.
Taking a close look at federal survey data, the Family Research Council’s Mapping America recently analyzed the significant influence of family structure on adolescent drug use.
August 13, 2008
I was watching the Olympics last night, and was struck by a number of things. When, exactly, did “beach volleyball” become an Olympic sport-and why isn’t there any Kenny Loggins playing during the game? Is Michael Phelps really the guy from Waterworld? And most importantly, what is Visa thinking?
Their series of “Go World” commercials defy any sort of explanation. Narrated by Lucius Fox-err, Morgan Freeman-and put to music clearly lifted from an exhibit in Epcot Center, they strive to embody the very soppiest of Olympic-tide twattle.
We’re told, “We don’t always agree, but for a few shining weeks we set it all aside…” Right. Tell that to the people of Georgia. Freeman goes on, “[We] come together, and stand, and cheer, and celebrate, as one.” We act as one. That’s rich, given that the games are being hosted by the ideological step children of history’s most bloodthirsty and murderous collectivist. “We forget all the things that make us different, and remember all the things that make us the same.” I guess some people in the Chinese government missed the memo on that. Oops. We’re lastly admonished to take up a new cheer: Go World.
Listen, I’m perfectly fine with athleticism for athleticism’s sake. I think it’s just great. I respected Curt Schilling pitching a masterful game seven in the 2004 ALCS with a torn up ankle-even though he was playing for a bunch of dirty Boston scrubs against the greatest team in the history of sports. In fact, Leon Kass and Eric Cohen recently had an excellent piece The New Republic on how the human good of pure athleticism is the benchmark ethical criterion for discussions of performance enhancement. This Visa campaign is not that. What we have here is trite utopian One-Worldery channeled into a sentimentalist corporate ad campaign. It would probably be par for the course with the Olympics, but given both the tense state of world affairs and the brutal tyranny of the Chinese Communist host regime it is not only in bad taste but is insulting.
The Chinese regime wants us to overlook their current despotic ways-and forget that these are but minor peccadilloes compared to the grievous sins of their not-so-distant past-amidst a tidal wave of artificial pomp and ginned-up false unity. The recently departed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn warned us against that sort of historical amnesia, and it’s a shame that Visa is willing to help us along that path. It didn’t used to be that useful idiots and fellow travelers could count among their ranks international conglomerations. So much for the Running Dog…
August 13, 2008
The Australian team at the National Centre for Adult Stem cell Research, Griffith University, continues to produce exciting results. The latest report just published in the journal Brain gives the results of a 3-year clinical trial, using olfactory ensheathing cells (specialized adult cells that surround nerves) from the patients’ own noses, transplanted into the damaged spinal cord. The initial one year followup had shown no adverse effects from the transplant.
These are not the nasal adult stem cells they published on before, another research project by this same group which has shown success at making numerous different tissues and has successfully treated Parkinson’s disease in mice.
This was a highly controlled, extremely well done trial, with matched control and transplant patients, followed for 3 years. Patients were chosen who might be considered “chronic”—at least 2 years after their spinal cord injury—to control for any spontaneous recovery. The trial was designed to show the safety of the transplant. The transplant was utterly safe by all measures, and one transplanted patient showed improvement over 3 segments in light touch and pin prick sensitivity. The results, even with the small number of patients, are heartening because of the proof of safety and the vision of much better results to come with more patients. The cells were shown to be quite safe, to take well in the patients, and improve function safely.
Good on ya!
August 12, 2008
Want to keep your children’s hearts and minds away from gang influence and its accompanying violence? How about more recess and after-school programs? That’s what Chicago fifth graders are requesting. Could this work? Maybe. One very telling element in this proposal is their desire for parents to run these after-school programs.
In this week’s Mapping America, federal survey data show that married parents and regular church attendance are actually the most effective one-two punch against student fighting.