December 31, 2001
Books are the medium that
Books are the medium that have the longest memory. Tattered remains of ancient texts are still with us today. The ideas they contain can persuade and move people to fight and die for them. The feelings and emotions they emit can bring the strongest man to tears. This year's crop of books covered the lives of great Presidents, and they went to the darkest parts of the human mind. Here are the TAM Awards for Best Non-Fiction Books 2001.
1. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
2. John Adams by David McCullough
3. When Character was King by Peggy Noonan
4. Big Issues by the editors of Forbes ASAP
5. Friedrich Hayek by Alan Ebenstein
December 30, 2001
Way back on 9.14.01, I
Way back on 9.14.01, I kind of predicted Rudy Guliani would be Time's Man of the Year. There is a question mark after my pronouncement. It was just a guess, but a small pat on the back to myself even though it wasn't the best choice.
The end of the year
The end of the year means best of lists. I've been doing them since TAM's birth. I'll start with the TAM Awards for Best Music and move on to the book awards tomorrow.
Music makes the day brighter. Music tugs on the heart strings. Music also helps you cope when you're not getting along with reality. It's fair to say that songs have the ability to satisfy our emotional needs. In 2001, serious, adult pop music proved that catchy songs didn't have to come from only teeny-bopper girls and boy bands. In the right hands, pop music can be intelligent, emotional, and catchy as hell. Electronic dance music continued to flex its muscle by being the soundtrack to our technological age. While authorities were going overboard and scaring people about the dangers of raves and ecstasy, the repetitive rhythms and computer-created grooves filled movie soundtracks, commercials and sports features on ESPN and Fox.
The events of 9.11 haven't seemed to affect the music scene yet. The biggest affect has been the increased sales of patriotic songs. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" became a battlecry for the first time since the Gulf War. It even may be fortunate for a highly political band like Rage Against the Machine that they lost their lead singer and haven't performed recently. The public may reject their anti-authority and radical messages in light of the terrorist attacks. I haven't been able to play their well-done, but angry debut album since 9.11. Their sneering and bashing of government and corporate interests is too closely related to the anti-West fury of Osama bin Laden and his Islamist brethren.
No more analysis about the intersection of the real world with music. Here are the best albums of 2001.
1. Jimmy Eat World Bleed American
2. Pete Yorn Musicforthemorningafter
3. Daft Punk Discovery
4. New Order Get Ready
5. Various Artists Platipus Beginners Guide
I first met Bob McTeer,
I first met Bob McTeer, the Dallas Federal Reserve president at a conference on Frederic Bastiat in France last summer. McTeer was back in France last month. This time at a meeting devoted to Adam Smith. In his speech, he dubbed Bastiat the "French Adam Smith." He also commented on the state of the U.S. economy. While the U.S. is in a recession, there will be a recovery. "In summary, history, monetary policy, fiscal policy, lower energy prices, and reduced inventories and better information offer hope for recovery. I'm not saying recovery is at hand or is imminent. I see no hard evidence of that yet."
McTeer said that the economy was slowing down pre-9.11, but the biggest economic effects of the terrorist attack will be increased "overhead" costs. Money that would have been spend on non-security goods and services will now be spent on soldiers, smart bombs, metal detectors, and security guards.
Remarks before the conference, "Adam Smith and Economic Development in the 21st Century"
December 29, 2001
According to Maria Angelidas in
According to Maria Angelidas in the NFL's office, "Packer fans are the most loyal in the NFL." Why? Because everytime the Packers have been on television this season they were the highest rated show of the week in Milwaukee.
"Packers Top Show in Milwaukee"
Tony Snow's two-year-old column uncovers
Tony Snow's two-year-old column uncovers the facts behind that collectivist, manufactured holiday called Kwanzaa.
"The TRUTH about Kwanzaa"
December 28, 2001
What a beautiful piece of
What a beautiful piece of writing from Wendy McElroy. I especially like this quote:
"Random Acts of Kindness"
Dan Mitchell points out that
Dan Mitchell points out that the IRS may force banks to report interest earned on foreign money in U.S. banks. This could drive billions of dollars from our shores.
"The Anti-Stimulus Plan"
Country music may be the
Country music may be the dominant genre on radio, but it didn't do well in concert. Tim McGraw was the biggest selling country draw, and his $24.9 million in ticket sales only placed him 17th.
The Top 40 North American Concert Tours of 2001
The University of Wisconsin's contribution
The University of Wisconsin's contribution to The Lord of the Rings movies is David Salo, a linguistics graduate student. He turned English dialogue into the Elves' tongue.
"Scholar Helps Decipher Tolkien Talk"
Alan Dershowitz has been in
December 27, 2001
James Pinkerton wraps Tolkein, Plato,
James Pinkerton wraps Tolkein, Plato, and politics into a nice little bundle.
"Tolkien Rings True in His Distrust of Power"
Deborah Solomon of the NY
Deborah Solomon of the NY Times hasn't been to the Milwaukee Art Museum, yet she's been commenting on the "enormous white bird" that is the Burke Brise Soleil. Ms. Solomon should actually visit a museum before shooting her mouth off next time.
"Times, Bowman Clash over Museum's Collection"
Democrats' mouths are watering over
Democrats' mouths are watering over Enron's access to GOP politicians. They see this as the Republican's Whitewater. It will be hard to make any psuedo-mud stick unless there's something there connecting Washington lobbying to personal benefit. The whole stink behind Whitewater was the pressure Bill Clinton and his cronies put on federal savings and loan regulators to look the other way at an Arkansas S&L. The closest smoking gun with Enron is a possible conflict of interest between ex-chairman of the Senate banking committee, Phil Gramm (R-TX) and his wife who was sitting on Enron's board at the same time.
"Enron's Political Ties in Spotlight"
December 25, 2001
December 24, 2001
Rudy Giuliani as Time's Man
Rudy Giuliani as Time's Man of the Year is an admirable choice. He rose above the smoldering ruins of Ground Zero and kept New York City from tumbling into chaos. At the same time, he displayed an image of sensivity, emotion, patriotism, machismo, and anger that all Americans have within themselves because of 9.11.
Is he the best choice? No. That distinction must go to the evil mastermind of the terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden. His attacks on America to advance his Holy War against civilization has altered foreign relations, domestic tranquility, and the pop culture. The affects from bin Laden's henious acts will, unfortunately, leave a more permanent mark on history than Rudy's fine efforts in NYC.
I know why Rudy was picked over Osama. Time is located in NYC. The magazine's editors are up close and in person to all that Rudy's accomplished. From their offices, they probably can still smell the metallic order from the fallen towers. It's a simple case of home town bias.
The book's finished. Now, bring
"Ring: One for the Book"
December 23, 2001
Bombs in shoes. How do
Bombs in shoes. How do you combat that? Should I expect Japanese-style flying with everyone taking off their shoes before boarding? There are other ways to sneak explosives and weapons onto a plane. There are a few nooks and crannies on the human body that can be used. Will mandatory strip searches be next? Do you have faith in the newly federalized airport security bureaucracy to protect you?
What the events on Flight 63 show is that it will be difficult for terrorists to carry out their attacks in the plane's cabin. Passengers will fight back. 9.11 raised the costs of not fighting back. Before then, the worst a passenger would expect from a hijacking is being taken to another country and possibly shot. Now, passengers know they could be potential riders of a poor man's cruise missile with assured death. Under those conditions people are more willing to risk taking action to prevent on-board attacks. As more and more passengers fight terrorists, hijackings should go down. The bad guys will look for less costly ways to reek havoc and destruction.
"FBI Finds Explosives in Bomb Suspect's Shoes"
December 22, 2001
Bill Clinton won't fade away
Bill Clinton won't fade away like Gerald Ford or (unfortunately) Ronald Reagan. He won't even clean up his reputation the way Jimmy "Habitat for Humanity" Carter did. Instead, Bubba will rev up the campaign to protect his legacy and his place in history.
Let's remember a few things about Bill Clinton: He's a liar and perjurer. He is the only elected President to be impeached. He's tied to a real estate deal that landed an Arkansas governor in jail. To look tough in an election he let a mentally incompetent man be executed. When Bill Clinton needed to take some heat off him, he launched attacks on Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq. He is also a man who wanted to socialize healthcare.
Those are just a few of his "accomplishments" off the top of my head. I don't even need to go into anything about his horrible treatment of women. To sum it up: Bill Clinton is a nasty person, a political genius, and one of the luckiest men ever to work in the Oval Office. He still hasn't and will never accept that what he's done was wrong. He can't do it. His ego won't let him.
December 21, 2001
I will remember Dick Schaap
I will remember Dick Schaap as the collaborator with Jerry Kramer of Distant Replay. The book is Kramer looking back at what happened in the lives of the champion Green Bay Packers of the 1960s. Schaap was a man who loved sports and knew how to really talk about the games and the athletes. Did he get all the scoops and juicy gossip that today's best sports reporters dig up? No, but did it really matter? Godspeed, Dick.
"Broadcaster Dick Schaap Dies at 67"
Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 11:23 PM
December 20, 2001
From word-of-mouth I've gotten at
From word-of-mouth I've gotten at the bookstore, LotR is a hit. Now, I just have to finish the book.
"Fans Rave About 'Lord of the Rings'"
December 19, 2001
Here's more evidence on why
Here's more evidence on why Israel considers Arafat "irrelevant": only a few days after calling for the end of Palestinian violence against Israel, Arafat declared, "We are all martyrs in paradise." He also said he's willing to sacrifice 70 Palestinians for every Israeli death. Arafat tries to have it both ways: on one hand he poses as the stateman seeking peace, while on the other hand, he riles up the masses to violent fervor.
Secretary Colin Powell ignores Arafat's brazen hypocrisy by asking for security talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. When will Powell accept that Arafat is an impediment to peace?
Posted by Sean Hackbarth in at 01:47 PM
This story won't slip under
This story won't slip under the radar, but it won't be as big as when it was announced that Citigroup would buy the Travelers. Free market critics complain about huge, powerful corporations forming through mergers, but they become quiet when companies spin off portions of their business. It's similiar to the unequal coverage of job cuts versus job creation. Stories of huge job cuts (i.e. recent airline layoffs) top the evening news, but when millions of jobs are created across the country by small and medium-sized businesses, little is heard.
"Citigroup to Spin off Travelers"
NetFlix is a dot-com that
NetFlix is a dot-com that survived the e-commerce meltdown. They did it by spending money effectively and by providing a service in a easy way. The company hopes to be cashflow positive next year and hopes to go public in the future.
What I'm really impressed about is the customer praise NetFlix gets. I've read many a post on weblogs saying how easy it is to use NetFlix. A company doesn't have to burn cash through expensive marketing campaigns if they can get good word-of-mouth advertising. That seems to be happening with NetFlix.
The biggest downside to the company is that it's in a transition market. Once Internet broadband service gets large enough, people will just download movies instead of getting DVDs. How NetFlix can adjust to that market will be its biggest challenge.
"DVD Service Delivers Online"
Shimon Peres says Israel will
Shimon Peres says Israel will withdraw its forces from areas where Palestinian security forces "take over." In the same story, the Palestininan Authority arrested 15 members of the same security force for suspicion of terrorist activities. Does Peres really trust security to a force filled with (at least) 15 terrorist accomplices? How does this square with Ariel Sharon saying Arafat still hasn't "abandon the path of terror?" Some of these conflicting words have to do with political posturing. As leader of the Labour Party, Peres has to have some distance from Sharon's Likud Party even if they're both part of a unity government.
"Peres: Israel Ready to Withdraw"
December 17, 2001
Two reasons why Israel considers
Two reasons why Israel considers Arafat "irrelevant": Jassar Samaru and Nassim Abu Rus. These two men are suspected Hamas bombmakers. Israel put them on a list of most-wanted terrorists and gave it to Gen. Anthony Zinni who gave it to Arafat. Samaru and Abu Rus were arrested by Palestinian authorities previously. But they still managed to make bombs while in jail.
"Two Bomb Makers are Teaching a New Generation of `Engineers'"
December 16, 2001
Most of the victims of
Most of the victims of the World Trade Center attack will never be identified. Their remains will be in a landfill named Fresh Kills. Daniel Henninger advocates building a national cemetary there to honor the dead. He writes:
Properly honoring the dead will tell those who live long after us how we really were as Americans.
"What We Did For Normandy Do for New York"
The "Judeo-Christian Tradiiton" is only
The "Judeo-Christian Tradiiton" is only 70 years old.
"Love Bombs at Home"
December 15, 2001
A novel dealing with the
A novel dealing with the clash between East and West would be enlightening during times like these. Nadine Gordimer's The Pickup may touch upon that theme, but it seems to be more about people looking beyond their surroundings for something more fulfilling.
"Nadine Gordimer's 'The Pickup': How the Other Half Loves"
December 13, 2001
Enron executives misled investors with
Enron executives misled investors with their complex methods of removing debt from the company's balance sheet. Who shouldn't be forgotten is Arthur Andersen, their accounting firm. They signed off on Enron's books and helped the company mislead investors.
Joseph Berardino, chief executive of Arthur Andersen, said the accounting profession is suffering a "crisis of confidence." Maybe a big fine from the feds will nudge the firm to act like the independent professionals they claim to be.
[NOTE: I'm still an Enron owner.]
"The Distorted Numbers at Enron"
Nicholas Kristof offers a real
Nicholas Kristof offers a real hand up for Afghans and Pakistanis: he wants a free trade zone among the U.S., Afghanistan, and Pakistan. People too busy going to work, filling orders, and thinking of new ways to make money will have less time grumbling over how the evil West is oppressing them.
"Give the Afghans a Hand"
The U.S. leaves the ABM
The U.S. leaves the ABM Treaty to Cold War history books. "I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue-state missile attacks," said President Bush.
Critics of missile defense argue that it would lead to a new arms race with Russia and/or China. Well, Russia is tolerating the move while calling it an "erroneous" decision. If China wants to get into an arms race with the U.S. the Chinese Communists only needs look at the former Soviet Union as an example of a nation failing to win such a race.
"Bush Offers China Talks on Arms as U.S. Pulls Out of ABM Treaty"
The Palestinian Authority (in name
The Palestinian Authority (in name only) can't stop Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Fine, then get out of the way and let Israel get the job done.
Here are some interesting quotes from this NY Times article:
According to the story, Arafat can't control what happens in the Palestinian Authority. He's impotent and probably has been for some time. It's time for him to fade away. If his goal was really peace in the area, then he's failed miserably.
"Arafat Halts Crackdown; Israel Breaks Links to Him"
Israel has abandoned Arafat saying
Israel has abandoned Arafat saying he's "directly responsible" for recent terrorist attacks. It's spooky that I recommended something like this only yesterday. Do pundits like Chris Matthews or even Glenn Reynolds ever get that weird feeling when something they recommend actually happens?
"Israel Cuts Off Ties With Arafat"
December 12, 2001
On a lighter, and sweeter
On a lighter, and sweeter note, yesterday, my doughnut cravings were fulfilled when the first Krispy Kreme store in Milwaukee opened. I arrived at 11:30 and waited eagerly for 30 minutes to pick up my two dozen golden glazed goodies to take to work.
These round bits of heaven were everything I expected and more. The hot ones I ate just melted in my mouth and the sugar glaze coated my tounge. Behind me in line were a couple who were in a five-year Krispy Kreme drought and drove 90 minutes just to get 5 dozen. She told me to buy one dozen more than I was planning because I would eat 12 as soon as I got into the car. I can understand the reaction after my first bite. These things are so heavenly and addictive. I have now dubbed them the "crack cocaine of junk food."
"Getto Dips into Local Doughnut Scene"
Today there were two more
Today there were two more terrorist attacks on Israelis by Palestinians, yet the State Department urges Arafat to "act immediately and undertake all possible measures to pursue and apprehend those responsible for those horrific actions." This has to be the 300th time the State Department has asked Arafat to do this. All the others times were for naught. How about trying something new? For instance, admit Arafat is incapable of governing a nation-state since he can't stop terrorists in land under his jurisdiction. Then start looking for a new Palestininan leader that really wants peace with Israel. Or let Israel know that it has U.S. backing (unofficially, through back channels if necessary) for stepping up its attacks to destroy terrorist threats.
"U.S. Blasts Mideast Violence, Tells Arafat to Act"
December 11, 2001
Ev might be on to
The BCS just doesn't cut
The BCS just doesn't cut it. While Stephen Moore makes the case for Oregon taking on Miami in the Rose Bowl, you can't forget Colorado. They flattened Nebraska (who will play for the national title) and are the hottest team in college football. This situation just screams for a playoff system. This should be a no-brainer. The schools would rake in millions for the games, players would play more games and would be more conditioned to a longer NFL season if drafted, and this silly arguing over who the best team really is would cease. A playoff system works for every other level of college football, why not for Division I?
A Congress (particularly a Dachle-led
A Congress (particularly a Dachle-led Senate) that has bogged down any economic stimulus bill found a way to make sure they got their scheduled pay raise. It's stuff like this that adds to public cynicism towards politicians. Not a good day for our leaders.
"Congress Gives Itself A Pay Raise"
December 09, 2001
In a free market, companies
In a free market, companies will fail. The Enron case shows that such failures can be spectacular. What company failures don't prove is that the free market is fundamentally at fault. Calls for more regulation or slowed deregulation of energy markets because of Enron are a poor idea. Bernard Weinstein explains that Enron and other energy middlemen "lower power costs across a wide geographic market in the short-term" while they "reduce risks for utilities and ratepayers by providing price certainty."
[NOTE: I am newly proud owner of Enron stock. It's reckless speculation, but it would be fun story to tell if they come out of bankruptcy as some competent business.]
U.S. District Judge Royce C.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered "all computers within the custody and control of the Department of the Interior, its employees and contractors that have access to individual Indian trust data" be disconnected from the Internet. This comes from a lawsuit dealing with mismanagment of Indian trust funds. This means that the websites of national parks, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey are unavailable to the public. Interior Department employees also are unable to use e-mail to communicate internally and externally. Why Judge Lamberth's decison was so wide in scope, I don't know. Why should the public be unable to get information from agencies they pay for? Why should the public suffer because Interior Department employees not involved with Indian trust funds be prevented from using the most productive tools available? I wonder if Judge Lamberth realized what consequences his ruling would produce.
"Interior Dept. Blocks Web Access at Judge's Order"
December 08, 2001
Will environmentalists blame Man for
Will environmentalists blame Man for Mars' changing climate? I can imagine the press release from Greenpeace now: "Pathfinder, Viking, and all those other probes have done irreprable harm to our red neighbor. Mars is a fragile ecosystem. The U.N should create a convention to make Mars a planetary preserve."
December 07, 2001
How I wish December 7
How I wish December 7 would be the only day that would live in infamy, but there were the attacks on 9.11. No matter. The heroics and sacrifice at Pearl Harbor must not be forgotten.
ER without Greene and Benton?
ER without Greene and Benton? It may be old news to other web surfing fans, but it's news to me. Maybe it's time for the show to ride out into the sunset. It's had a great run.
"ER Loses Another Doc"
Nine states attorneys general strike
Nine states attorneys general strike at Microsoft with an antitrust remedy of their own. One of the provisions would force Microsoft to bundle Java with Internet Explorer. Java's creator Sun Microsystems is, of course, thrilled. Another provision would force MS to open up the source code to IE. What this looks like is an attempt to turn Microsoft's software into common property. All of MS's competitors would be able to free ride on the years of development the Redmond company put into their products. MS risked time and capital and should be able to reap the benefits.
The state attorneys general plan doesn't help consumer. It helps MS's competitors through government coercion rather than the quality of their products.
"Proposal Cheers Microsoft Competitors"
Is Mariah wearing regulation camo?
Philip Morris (soon to be
Philip Morris (soon to be Altria Group) may be considering selling Milwaukee's Miller Brewing. Any sale probably wouldn't affect workers in Milwaukee.
"Miller Time for Foreign Buyers?"
December 06, 2001
Fareed Zakaria makes the obvious,
Fareed Zakaria makes the obvious, but missed, point that although there soon will be victory in Afghanistan, the campaign to destroy Al Qaeda is far from finished.
"Let Iraq Wait. Finish Al Qaeda"
Mickey Kaus' website must be
Mickey Kaus' website must be lagging in hits. Why else would he decide to publicly think about President Bush's self-interest to keep the war on terrorism (this war needs a real name) going? This looks like his way of breaking through the pundit static. Kaus predicts he will be labeled "unpatriotic" for musing about this, but I won't do the labeling. He's just an entertaining loudmouth who likes to think out loud. Or maybe he's infected with Clinton-think, where every action is considered to be politically calculated.
"Is It in Bush's Political Interest to Prolong the War?"
Based on Mike's research, Krispy
December 05, 2001
Pipes and Schanzer take on
Pipes and Schanzer take on a some of the arguments against attacking Iraq and ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. Take that, Mr. Hardball.
"On to Baghdad?: Yes - The Risks are Overrated"
December 04, 2001
Richard Roeper calls Hillary's NY
Richard Roeper calls Hillary's NY Senate campaign "the most cynical and condescending campaign in modern political history."
"New Yorkers Say We're the Ones Who Talk Funny"
Chris Matthews hasn't been this
Chris Matthews hasn't been this wrong since he admitted he's a pro-choice Catholic. He doesn't want the U.S. to attack Iraq, and if he could he would stop President Bush from doing it. For Matthews, invading Iraq, ending Saddam Hussein's bloddy reign, and liberating that country would be on par with Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.
Matthews is right that the U.N. and the Arab League wouldn't approve, but they wouldn't be able to stop us. The U.S. doesn't need their help, and it won't take the 500,000 troops Chris thinks are needed. Iraq is only a shell of their military "greatness" from back in the Gulf War. A strategy similar to the successful one in Afghanistan could be replicated in Iraq.
Saddam's ability to develop weapons of mass destruction is his greatest threat to the U.S. Ex-U.N. weapon inspector Scott Ritter has said that it would only take less than a year for Iraq to re-start it's program to build those kinds of weapons. Inspectors haven't been in there for years so it's safe to assume that there's people are working on some nasty firepower.
Saddam is a threat because he's used chemical weapons before, has harbored terrorists, and has the ability to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Is Matthews willing to let Saddam build a nuke and hand it off to a bin Ladden, Jr. so he can blow up a U.S. city? I'm not willing to take that risk.
"Iraq -- and Ruin"
Cal Thomas echos my point
Cal Thomas echos my point that there's a double standard for Israel in dealing with terrorism:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon put it perfectly when he cried, "It's either Israel or Arafat."
"It's Time to Unleash Israel"
"'It's Us - or Them'"
December 03, 2001
Kevin provides a local perspective
Kevin provides a local perspective on Houston's mayoral race. Unfortunately, the wrong guy won.
"Final Thoughts on Houston's Mayoral Race"
What did you do to
What did you do to celebrate Capitalism Day? I worked.
December 02, 2001
The violence against Israel has
The violence against Israel has gone on long enough. While the U.S. bombs Afghanistan, our state department hopes for a continued dialogue toward peace with the Palestinians. Twenty-five dead should make Colin Powell and his flock realize that one side wants to live in peace, while the other side attacks civilians to stop peace from happening.
There are more calls for Arafat to crack down on terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. How many more times will he be asked to stop these opponents of peace and civilization before leaders realize that either 1) Arafat is incapable of stopping them or 2) he doesn't give a damn what they do?
President Bush has declared that you are either on the side of the global war on terrorism or you are against it. Arafat's inaction clearly shows what side he's on.
Just like the U.S. is justly destroying the Taliban and al-Quaeda in Afghanistan, Israel should have free reign in using as much miltary force as needed to protect its citizens. That means destroying Hamas and any other terrorist groups in the area. If that means that it's the end for Arafat, then so be it. He's had his chances and squandered them.
"Bomb Blasts Kill Scores in Israel"
How are parents going to
How are parents going to explain this one to their Santa Claus-believing kids?
I can imagine Dad's attempt: "Son, do you remember the news that a company cloned a human embryo? Santa's been doing it for years."
I don't think the kids will buy it.