Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What misleading videos get you

Tom Tomorrow, whose work I've rarely found enjoyable or even interesting, sums up the Sherrod matter nicely.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Journalists and cliques

Cliquishness is part of human nature. And it's a part of human nature that's saliently on display in journalism, filled as the sector is with people who are verbally adroit, at least somewhat socially inclined and in more than a few cases less independent-minded than they think they are. As someone who's spent his career mostly in the distinct but occasionally overlapping fields of political journalism, financial journalism and science journalism, I can vouch that cliques form readily in all three. (In fact, financial journalism being the most diffuse, with a broad range of publications and audiences, may be the least susceptible of the three.) And while cliquishness can encourage intellectual laziness, or just a tendency to retweet your friends' not particularly well-considered tweets, it can also foster useful collaborations, and in any event it is, as I mentioned, part of human nature and so not going away anytime soon.

All of which is by way of recommending Reihan Salam's Daily Beast post on JournoList and "What Liberal Bloggers Can Teach the Right."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wolfman repellent

Just watched The Wolfman movie. It was unquestionably superior to The Sky Has Fallen, but the remarkable thing is that the one even reminded me of the other, without the excuse of unknown actors (Anthony Hopkins!) and a miniscule budget.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

China stocks

My article in the August issue of Research magazine is on the history of China's stock market: "Reawakening the Dragon." Excerpt:
In 1978, with Chairman Mao dead and hard-line Maoists in political eclipse, China began experimenting with economic reforms. Stock trading did not immediately appear on the agenda, as early reforms focused on more basic matters such as allowing farmers to sell crops grown on household plots rather than collective land. By the mid-1980s, though, some state-owned companies were edging toward making equity offerings.

A milestone was reached in November 1984 when the Shanghai Feile Acoustics Company issued shares. Soon, over-the-counter share trading was under way in a room at the Shanghai Trust Company. In 1986, John Phelan, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, visited this nascent operation and pointed out that his sprawling institution had begun without even so much as a room, under a Wall Street buttonwood tree in 1792.
Whole thing here. More financial history articles here. More blogging to come.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Some notes from my mountain retreat

Bruce Lee died 37 years ago today. I memorialized him at the three-decade mark for National Review Online.

Count von Stauffenberg made his valiant attempt 66 years ago today, and died early the next morning.

Friday, July 16, 2010

FrumForum mission

I expect to do a good deal more writing at FrumForum in the near future, particularly in August. In the meantime, here's the start of an interesting discussion about defining, in a sentence, what that site's all about.

UPDATE 7/17: More here.

UPDATE 7/19: And here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

B&B recommendations

Well, Bikers' Week in Gettysburg went fine, as did driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway and visiting Roanoke, Floyd and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Here are two recommended Bed & Breakfasts:

Battlefield Bed & Breakfast (Gettysburg, Pa.). Puts you right where the action was.

By the Side of the Road (Harrisonburg, Va.). A very friendly and well-run place.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

DeWitt the elder

Over at FrumForum, I look at my son's ancestor and namesake: "DeWitt Clinton's Legacy." Excerpt:
DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828) was one of the most important American politicians of the early 19th century. He was at various times governor of New York, mayor of New York City, U.S. senator and presidential candidate. He was the driving force behind getting the Erie Canal built, the achievement for which he is best remembered by history. But his career was multifaceted — his interests ranged from laying out Manhattan’s street grid to delving into the natural science and history of North America.

That career included much that’s worth contemplating, and even emulating, in the context of early 21st century politics. While DeWitt Clinton is not exactly an unfamiliar name today — it’s emblazoned for instance on a Bronx high school and a Manhattan park, among other locales — his importance and relevance are underappreciated, even at a time when the founding fathers and other early politicians (such as Andrew Jackson) are more in vogue than they have been for some time.

Early American politicians often get enlisted in today’s ideological causes — Thomas Jefferson as hero to liberals and libertarians, Alexander Hamilton or John Adams as paragons for conservatives (notably, with Hamilton, conservatives not of a strongly decentralist bent). Often, the fit between the historical figure and the current-day cause is less than perfect, but there is some affinity. Clinton fits only awkwardly into our current-day polarized politics — and therein is a key part of his relevance.
Whole thing here.

UPDATE 7/8: Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrisey discusses the Erie Canal, federalism and Obama. Also, for readers particularly interested in the canal's financial ramifications, my Research magazine piece is here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

NASA to help Muslims feel good

I've long thought that promoting scientific rationalism is an important way in which the West should be engaging the Islamic world, including through celebration of historic Islamic achievements in science and math. But for the head of NASA to say that his mandate from the president is "perhaps foremost" to "engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution..." is surely the strangest statement from a NASA official I can remember. The fact that the other things Obama apparently tasked Bolden with (reinspiring children and building international relationships) are also ancillary to anything that actually happens in space is a disturbing indicator of what the Obama-era space agency is up to, or not up to.

UPDATE: In Twitter-based discussion, Julian Sanchez contended that the three objectives Bolden stated were new, or additional, priorities for NASA, not that they're the top priorities. Whether or not that's so, it still reflects some muddled thinking on Bolden's part, as two of the objectives surely aren't new. None of the above, however, means I endorse the reactions of the lathered-up simpletons here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 4 tugboat memory

I have an entry at FrumForum on "My Most Memorable 4th of July." Excerpt:
On July 4, 1986 I was on a tugboat in New York harbor to see the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty’s centennial restoration. A friend of my father had given the family tickets. The tugboat wove its way around luxury yachts and Navy warships. At one point, the captain informed us that an aircraft carrier had radioed us to keep more distance. At another moment, the tugboat almost backed into a sleek pleasure craft that, according to rumor, served as quarters for the president of France. I recall a uniformed officer of some sort emerging on the deck of that pleasure craft to angrily wave us away.
I'll have more of historical/personal interest at FrumForum soon.