Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Britain's Decline

Mark Steyn hits a home run in his genuinely funny commentary on the sad estate to which once great Britain has fallen. It's dark humor, though, since there's much tragedy in the destruction wrought by the welfare state and also because the policies that produced the mindset of the rioters in Britain are precisely the same as are being promoted in the U.S.

You'll enjoy the whole piece, but here are a couple of appetizers to whet your palate:
There is literally nothing you can’t get Her Majesty’s Government to pay for. From page 205 of my book:
“A man of 21 with learning disabilities has been granted taxpayers’ money to fly to Amsterdam and have sex with a prostitute.” Hey, why not? “He’s planning to do more than just have his end away,” explained his social worker. “Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights.”

Why do they need a Dutch hooker? Just another hardworking foreigner doing the jobs Britons won’t do? Given the reputation of English womanhood, you’d have thought this would be the one gig that wouldn’t have to be outsourced overseas.
This is the logical dead end of the Nanny State. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the British welfare regime in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want” to be accomplished by “co-operation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from life’s vicissitudes, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

As I write in my book: “Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity.” The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers, the highest abortion rate. Marriage is all but defunct, except for William and Kate, fellow toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims.
Steyn's good. Check him out.

Falling from Mt. Olympus

President Obama's approval numbers have now fallen below 40% which means that his support even among Democrats is starting to erode.

Norman Podhoretz, former editor of Commentary, finds the growing disenchantment on the left with Mr. Obama to be an interesting development. It is indeed quite a contrast with the starry-eyed adulation of so many of his devotees two years ago. Podhoretz opens his column in the Wall Street Journal with these thoughts:
It's open season on President Obama. Which is to say that the usual suspects on the right (among whom I include myself) are increasingly being joined in attacking him by erstwhile worshipers on the left. Even before the S&P downgrade, there were reports of Democrats lamenting that Hillary Clinton had lost to him in 2008. Some were comparing him not, as most of them originally had, to Lincoln and Roosevelt but to the hapless Jimmy Carter. There was even talk of finding a candidate to stage a primary run against him. But since the downgrade, more and more liberal pundits have been deserting what they clearly fear is a sinking ship.

Here, for example, from the Washington Post, is Richard Cohen: "He is the very personification of cognitive dissonance—the gap between what we (especially liberals) expected of the first serious African American presidential candidate and the man he in fact is." More amazingly yet, Mr. Cohen goes on to say of Mr. Obama, who not long ago was almost universally hailed as the greatest orator since Pericles, that he lacks even "the rhetorical qualities of the old-time black politicians." And to compound the amazement, Mr. Cohen tells us that he cannot even "recall a soaring passage from a speech."

Overseas it is the same refrain. Everywhere in the world, we read in Germany's Der Spiegel, not only are the hopes ignited by Mr. Obama being dashed, but his "weakness is a problem for the entire global economy."

In short, the spell that Mr. Obama once cast—a spell so powerful that instead of ridiculing him when he boasted that he would cause "the oceans to stop rising and the planet to heal," all of liberaldom fell into a delirious swoon—has now been broken by its traumatic realization that he is neither the "god" Newsweek in all seriousness declared him to be nor even a messianic deliverer.

Hence the question on every lip is—as the title of a much quoted article in the New York Times by Drew Westen of Emory University puts it— "What Happened to Obama?"
Of course what happened to Obama is that he got elected and has attempted to put his big government ideology into practice. He has enjoyed some success in this, much to the detriment of the country. People on the left, sympathetic to his aims, are dismayed that profligate spending and onerous regulations don't work, but they don't, and now Mr. Obama has nothing left to try to turn the economy around, if, indeed, he actually wants to.

As a candidate he could thrill audiences with soaring rhetoric and platitudes about "hope and change," but now people are demanding specifics. That's why his speeches sound flat. Abstractions and generalities suitable, perhaps, for campaigning no longer impress people looking for concrete solutions, and Mr. Obama has no solutions to offer. He urges us simply to do more of what hasn't worked before, and that just moves any viewers who aren't wedded to the left's vision of an egalitarian utopia to sigh and turn off the television.

Kinesin Motor

Anyone who has ever seen the computer animation of the processes occurring inside a living cell titled Inner Life of a Cell (produced by Harvard University) has marveled at the kinesin motor which transports organelles through the cell by "walking" along microtubules. This video explains some of the amazing complexity involved in this process and how the kinesin performs its "walk":
If you've never seen the animation of the kinesin in the Harvard video it's at the two minute mark here:
Please keep in mind that everything you see here is solely the end product of many fortuitous convergences of chance mutations and natural selection. Anyone silly enough to think that such precision, complexity, and design requires an intelligent agent to engineer them is simply not thinking scientifically and should consult with Judge John Jones of the 2005 Dover School Board trial who is an expert on these matters and who will be able to school you in the proper way to understand them.

HT: Evolution News and Views