tower-of-babelIn a recent post, Adam Garfinkle talks about why our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan will necessarily fail.

Well, strictly speaking, he is talking about statism and anarchism, and advertising campaigns, and the Tower of Babel.  But he still gives a pretty good explanation of why we are tilting at windmills in the Middle East.

What also follows from this is a second verity of political life, namely that the political institutions of any society emerge from that society far more than the other way around. The United States is a democracy because its founding society was egalitarian-minded, not the other way around. All of the American Founders and all of their tutors, from Locke to Montesquieu to even the great bad-boy of the time, Rousseau, understood this. The idea that a governmental form could remold or create a society after its desired image earned the derisive label “talismanic” at the hands of William Taylor Coleridge.

I have noted this concern before, in my much less erudite way.

The NYTimes has discovered a new constitutional principle: “selective incorpodumbassicity.” This means that the stupidity of some voters is incorporated, using a fabricated interpretation of the 14th Amendment, to rewrite the 2nd Amendment so that legitimate gun ownership, by responsible law-abiding citizens, is treated exactly the same way as if you robbed a bank.

In Dr. Munger’s response to this NY Times editorial.

The The good kind:

A new technique being used to drill through a type of rock known as shale has led to a surge in domestic natural gas production over the last three years and enabled the United States to overtake Russia recently as the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas.

. . .

Thanks to a breakthrough in drilling technology, involving the use of three-dimensional seismic imaging and hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, huge amounts of natural gas are being produced in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana and other states. Instead of declining, domestic natural gas production is booming to record-high levels (see chart).

If estimates hold up, energy experts say the shale gas that underlies large parts of the United States will be able meet our country’s needs for the next 100 years. The Department of Energy expects shale gas to account for 50% of natural gas production by 2020 if not sooner.

What’s more, the same drilling techniques for shale gas are now being used in several European countries, including France and Poland, to extract their own supplies. Both China and India have huge shale-gas resources. Geologists say shale gas is so plentiful in some parts of the world that it could meet global needs for several centuries.

And, the bad kind (of which Joe Biden appears to be the No. 1 producer):

But these exciting energy developments may not last if natural gas companies are burdened by excessive regulation and heavy taxes. Environmental groups are lobbying Congress to shift regulation of hydraulic fracturing from state governments to the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that the process poses a risk to groundwater supplies.

But the fact is, hydraulic fracturing is done about 1,000 feet below underground aquifers and separated from the water supply by thick rock.

The White House also wants to add $37 billion in taxes on U.S. oil and natural gas companies, rehashing a proposal to Congress that failed the first time around. History shows that once drilling costs jump due to higher taxes, investment starts to dry up.

(Via Carpe Diem)

There has been a lot of noise about what Audi’s “Green Police” Super Bowl is supposed to mean.

Given Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen’s recent comments on the Chevy Volt, I think it was firmly tongue-in-cheek.

agincourt_archerIf the United States mandates English as the de jure official language then invariably officials will end up defining what English is.  And, that leads to absurd results

Of course, the French are always good for a little absurdity.

Before a word such as “cloud computing” or “podcasting” (“diffusion pour baladeur“) receives a certified French equivalent, it needs to be approved by three organizations and get a government minister’s seal of approval, according to rules laid out by the state’s General Delegation for the French Language and the Languages of France. The process can be a linguistic odyssey taking years.

The English language is, and should be, an emergent phenomenom.  (In practice, French is too, but there is nothing like a bureaucracy for building sand castles to hold back the tide.)

It beggars belief.

It’s crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It’s even crazier to do it by August.

Yet that is what some members of Congress presume to do. They intend, as the New York Times puts it, “to reinvent the nation’s health care system”.

(HT Jeremy)

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