It’s Easter Sunday, and that means all family all the time. No complaints here, though. It’s been a lovely day so far and I anticipate an equally pleasant afternoon and evening. Full blogging will not happen today, but here are a few (a very few) links that intrigued me:
I’ve long known in a vague sort of way that Egypt is one grain of wheat away from a famine. Having read David Archibald’s article, though, I now know in a very specific way precisely what kind of famine may be facing the world’s most populous Muslim nation. While the Western world seems to have managed to stay one step ahead of Malthus, that’s not the case in Egypt, where bad things — overpopulation, underproduction, lack of diversification, political upheaval, and probable drought — are coming together to create a Perfect Storm of advanced hunger.
One of my favorite non-fiction books is Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. In authoring the book, Cahill has no ego. To the extent that he’s vastly well-informed, he wants to share his knowledge with people, not overwhelm them with his erudition. The result is a book that is simultaneously scholarly and accessible. I mentioned it here because Shmuley Boteach has written what could be the short version of that same book, describing how the Jews have contributed to the world’s well-being.
Two very specific things in the early 1980s taught me that socialism cannot work. The first was the fact that, when my father visited his sister in East Germany, shortly after she retired from her decade’s long career as a high level Communist Party functionary, he discovered that she had lived for nine years with a broken and unusable kitchen sink. Not to worry, this true believer told my father. She was “on the list” and was confident that the glorious Communist Party would one day get around to fixing her sink. I suspect that it was still broken when the wall came down.
The second thing that taught me that socialism cannot work was the story of two hip replacements. Back in 1974, my father got his hip replacement two months or so after he was told that it was the only way to keep him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He walked, albeit with pain for the next twenty years of his life, until his death.
Meanwhile, in 1981, while I was living in England, I met a woman who had been told back in 1979 that a hip replacement was the only thing that would keep her out of a wheelchair. When I met her, she’d been barely functioning for two years, although she’d avoided the wheelchair. After I left, she went into the wheelchair. I lost contact with her about two years after a left England (i.e., four years after the referral for hip surgery), at which time she was still in that wheelchair. I don’t know whether she ever got that hip.
Keep those realities in mind when you read about Sweden’s socialized medicine, which works wonderfully only if you live long enough to benefit from it.
The DiploMad may not be in the State Department any more, but he has friends who are. He’s learned from these friends that the State Department has a new initiative to ensure that something like Benghazi never happens again. Let me just say that I’m with the DiploMad in thinking that the movers and shakers in State are delusional — and to despair that they’re pursuing their delusions using our dollars and American lives.
A lawyer friend of mine is brilliant, informed, and an incredibly good writer. I hope those are adequate reasons for you to check out his post about the Free Speech (and Association) implications of the attack on Brendan Eich.