October 20, 2003
Obesity May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Imagine you are a large person in jail. You are part of a mass jailbreak that you and your fellow prisoners have plotted for months. Five of your fellows have just escaped down the hole you helped dig. Then you finally achieve fame, even if it was not in the manner in which you desired.

Carnival of the Capitalists

A new weekly collection of blogs has been started, the Carnival of the Capitalists. As the title indicates, all posts are somewhat related to capitalism.

And You Thought The New York Times Was Inaccurate…

This week I’ve wondered if all Canadian editors took a vacation. First Instapundit quoted the Toronto Star: Bush has yet to visit Canada in the almost three years since he was sworn in as president. Fortunately, Glenn and his readers quickly pointed out that President Bush has been to Quebec and Kananaskis, Alberta. The Toronto Star's main point was that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was still being ignored by the Bush administration (yea!), but you would have thought an editor would have checked the facts.

Then I read a piece by The National Post which gleefully pointed out the folly of one of its Canadian rivals. Apparently the Globe and Mail has awarded top marks to medical and law schools that do not exist. The organizations that made the survey blamed not very well-informed university students for the results. Having done more than my fair share of surveys, I don’t blame the respondents. I blame those who created the surveys and the editors that should have caught the mistake before printing the results.

October 14, 2003
US Employment Update

I have updated Solport's employment charts. Earlier this month a lot of people were talking about how the economy is doing better than they expected and we've turned the corner on the employment problem. I disagree. The economy is definitely doing better and I expect it to continue to improve. Logically, this means that employment should improve and last month I used ISM figures to state that:

In general, employment opportunities continue to grow for the non-manufacturing sector. It's been a rough 30 months or so, but I think we are over the hump for this sector. While the rate of increase in new jobs has slowed from last month, more managers still expect to be hiring more people.

On the other hand, employment prospects in the manufacturing sector still look bleak. This may change toward the end of the year, but it is still too early to be confident in this.

As always, remember I am discussing entire sectors (manufacturing and non-manufacturing). There will be specific exceptions to these general trends on an industry by industry basis. The purpose of my charts is to see the big picture.

However, the most recent data shows declines in both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing employment indices according to the most recent ISM data (as shown on the updated charts). In addition, the non-manufacturing job index has fallen below zero again for the first time in months. So I think all the rejoicing about the employment turnaround is premature. The economy is improving, but it remains to be seen when this will translate into new employment opportunities.

It is certainly possible that the employment situation will dramatically improve soon. It is also certainly possible that it will not, or will even grow worse. I will be keeping a careful eye on these figures over the next few months.

October 10, 2003
UN Commands Canada to Quit “Abusing” Children

In March, I responded to some leftist propaganda circulating the internet. It asked a bunch of leading questions about a county and the answer was always the United States. If you did not understand the background behind the questions, it made the US look like an evil empire. However, once you understood the background, it was clear the US was committed to doing what it perceived as the right thing no matter if the rest of the world supported us or not. Question 10 concerned the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. See my post for details, but the US stood virtually alone when it told the UN to mind their own business. I was reminded of this when I read Steven Edwards’ article from the CanWest News Service.

The UN has told the Canadian government to ban all forms of corporal punishment of youngsters -- including even a light slap…

…"This ruling is another example of the UN infringing on our own national concerns," said John-Henry Westen, spokesman for LifeSiteNews.com, an online monitor of family values.

"When a child is young and cannot understand, a tap on the hand is essential for training. We have a wood-burning stove that gets very hot. It's ridiculous that I can't save my child from burning himself by tapping his hand away from it."

In an interview yesterday, the committee member responsible for communicating with Canada said such a child would learn quickly enough not to touch a hot stove.

"If he puts his hand on a hot oven, he will be burnt and he will not do it again," said Moushira Khattab of Egypt. Ms. Khattab admitted to having lightly disciplined her own two children, now adults. But she added she now knows better.

"There are other means," she said. "Children are very smart, and even when they are as young as two or three months old, they will understand if you have a tough look, or change the tone of your voice, or turn away from them.

"The body language is the first language that they know. This hurts much more than a spank."

Let’s look at the “logic” of the UN spokeswoman. In order to protect the children, Canadians are not allowed to spank or even tap a child on the hand. Ms. Khattab said it was better for children to learn by being burnt vs. learning by parental discipline. She also stated parents should discipline with body language which she believes hurts the child more than a spank.

In both cases, the UN child advocate promotes a harsher outcome for the child. This is how they protect children? This clearly shows that they are A) lying and believe people are too stupid to notice, B) liberal nincompoops who are clearly deluded and cannot reason, or C) don’t really care about the children at all, but are interested in establishing sovereignty over formerly independent nations.

This is yet another reason I am glad my country has the moral courage to stand alone when it need to do so. Why any country would consider the UN a moral authority is mindboggling. However many Canadians do.

No matter what their reasoning, if Canada continues to subject their citizens to the dictates of the UN, it is certainly possible that some Canadian parents may have to make tough choices. It is foreseeable that Canadian/UN social services will start warning parents who believe light physical discipline to cease physical discipline or face severe consequences. I predict that, in my lifetime, the Canadian government will start taking children away from parents who believe it is their religious duty to use physical discipline as part of raising mature adults. If that sorry day should come to pass, I hereby offer sanctuary to my Canadian friends.

Problem with Verve Hosting

I use Verve Hosting for Solport. They had a hard drive crash the other day. So all posts and new entries that occurred since 2:00 AM October 8 (the time of their last backup) were lost.

As it happens, that covers a productive period of blogging for me and I had about 4 new entries there. I'm not going to recreate all of them, but if time permits, I will rewrite the one about Canada and the UN.

Despite this problem, I still think Verve hosting does a pretty good job.

October 06, 2003
Defending Wesley Clark

I am not a fan of retired general Wesley Clark. There is a military cliché about generals always preparing for the last war. Like most clichés, it has more than a grain of truth. Some generals cannot envision how warfare changes with time. Clark’s public statements about how the Bush administration should have run the war reveals the cliché holds true for Clark. Tommy Franks did an awesome job winning the war in a manner that directly contradicted many of Clark’s stated policies. I think the Pentagon did the right thing in forcing Clark’s retirement. Many of Clark’s other political statements strike me as ludicrous.

Despite this, I think Clark should not take any flack for believing that mankind will be able to exceed the speed of light.

"I still believe in e=mc², but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go," said Clark. "I happen to believe that mankind can do it.

"I've argued with physicists about it, I've argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it. It's my only faith-based initiative." Clark's comment prompted laughter and applause from the gathering.

This has prompted riducule from many, including from some bloggers I admire. Clark’s statement clearly violates the current understanding of scientists. However, history is on his side. People thought the sound barrier could not be broken. Others said an atomic bomb was impossible. Many scientists thought the atom was the smallest particle in the universe. Then protons, nuetrons, and electrons were thought to be the smallest particles in the universe. Now we think the quark family makes up the smallest set of particles. The history of science is filled with absolute claims that have been proven false as we learn more.

One way or another, I suspect FTL (faster than light) travel will occur. It may not technically violate the speed of light (e.g., the use of wormholes or other mechanisms to travel through other dimensions), but I too have faith that this obsticle can be overcome. And it would not surprise me if our current understanding about the properties of light turn out to be just as false as our initial beliefs about atoms.

I also agree with this quote by Nick Powers. It is impossible to transcend the laws of nature. You can only determine that your understanding of nature has changed. Or as another Clarke put it: "New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can't be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!

So let’s cut Clark some slack on this issue. I wish other politicians would have more faith in our ability to overcome obsticles.