Chapman’s News & Ideas


Put Your Head Back on Right this July 4

It is easy to get distracted by all the forebodings in the news today, so I want to offer Discovery Institute friends a “read” that will re-inspire you and also assert some of the personality and philosophy that I hope animates this organization and its fellows. It should encourage a different version of Independence Day enthusiasm as it is quintessentially American.

My Uncle Berlin B. Chapman was raised literally a hundred years ago in the hills of West Virginia, put himself through college and Harvard Graduate School (Phd.), and taught history the rest of his life in Oklahoma–producing some of that region’s first histories. He once told me that in his opinion “the greatest commencement address” ever made was “Acres of Diamonds,” by Baptist preacher and Temple University President Russell Conwell. I asked Uncle Berlin for the gist of it–that the opportunities in life are found in one’s own backyard–and was more or less satisfied with that truism. But I finally got around to reading a version of the address itself today because I wanted to recommend it to a young political friend of mine. Read More ›


Time to Sue the Parents?

The Obama Administration is frustrated that the kids getting government financed school lunches are not eating them. Huge piles of uneaten foodstuffs are being thrown out daily. Worse, a Congressional Committee has learned that there is black market among the kids for salt and pepper, since Michelle Obama is trying to keep these dangerous chemicals out of the food our youth consume. The situation has grown so bad that some parents are sending their kids to school with their own lunches. That of course should be prohibited and the contraband seized as evidence by the Justice Department. Other parents–even poor ones!–are taking their kids out of school and feeding them lunch at home. Why, that’s almost un-American. Kids eating lunch Read More ›


Why “Gold in the 21st Century”?

GilderDiscovery Sr. Fellow George F. Gilder delivered his monograph, Gold in the 21st Century, today at the Princeton Club in New York City. The book length paper was the product of the American Principles Project and represents a next step in George’s thinking on the issue of money as it changes in our time. His next book, Life After Google (working title), will incorporate his insights on gold into a discourse on fulfilling the Internet’s promise–and resolving its ailments.

Among the topics I hope he covers in the future are what we can do about the maddening array of pop-up ads and 30 second commercials that get in the way of enjoying a particular YouTube video or newspaper article. He also needs to address the appalling spams and scams of Internet and email gangsters that prey on the gullible. The gullible also include many of us who thought we were opening a legitimate news article and found instead that our computers had been taken over by “ransom ware” or malware and that the only way to get free was to pay off the pirates (or spend an afternoon, as I have done recently, at an Apple store getting the computer de-loused).

The answer probably is some variation of Bitcoin, the monetarization of material we now obtain only after punishing advertising assaults. What will you pay to be free of these? Is the future Internet not like a toll-road that one takes to avoid the congestion and eye-attacks of billboards and blight? If so, there probably will be a way for free-loaders to continue to get content for nothing more than a stream of ads and risks to one’s serenity. Read More ›


Obama’s Distraction Syndrome

Generally speaking, it is a bootless enterprise to try to psychoanalyze a President, or any politician. But it certainly appears that President Obama must be frustrated by his failures in the fight against ISIS and other terrorists, not to mention his looming catastrophic and bogus deal to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions (they really do want and will get a nuke soon). So perhaps he feels that the thing to do in this circumstance is to change the subject to something more manageable. That would be climate change. The extent to which he can go is found in his strange address to the Coast Guard Academy.

Well, of course, the Coast Guard has almost nothing imaginable to do with causing or curing any climate change, to the extent there is much human caused climate change. Indeed, it is hard to see that President Obama, after six and a half years in office, has done anything significant to improve the world’s climate, despite 2008 campaign promises. But he certainly does have the authority and the power to talk about it. And talk about it.

The President told the Coast Guard Academy graduates, “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country…And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”

The graduates must have mentally scratched their heads trying to figure out the relevance to them. So the President helped them: the kidnappings of Boko Haram in Nigeria were triggered by “crop failures”! There has been flooding in streets in South Carolina and Florida. Really. Setting aside the tenuous nature of the connection these matters to “climate change”, just what the Coast Guard was supposed to do about it the Commander in Chief did not say. Read More ›


A Toast to Fellowship!

Logan Gage calls our attention to the book, Drinking with the Saints, which he reviews at First Things, acknowledging inter alia that he did “more research” for that review that is customary. Dr. Gage, who teaches philosophy at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, mostly quotes the saints, and then the author, Michael P. Foley. But I also like that secular historical figure, Ben Franklin, who famously stated, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”


Dark Reading: The NY Times Promos Suicide

To read the Sunday New York Times is to descend into a Dantean darkness and implied despair. Abandon hope all ye who open these pages (physically, also, the dirtiest read in printing). Here is where you learned to rationalize women killing babies immediately after birth (per Stephen Pinker) and now it is building almost a humane expectation of suicide for people with Alzheimers. Wesley Smith takes up the topic today.


Israeli Tech Can Slake World’s Water Thirst

Nursery flowers watered with drip irrigation in Israel

Nursery flowers watered with drip irrigation in Israel

California wastes water and blames the drought for the resulting shortages. Arizona is better off. Israel is the world leader, however, in water-related technology. Most of the Middle East exports terrorists; Israel exports technology to create a more verdant and abundant future.

Here is a series of connected articles that explain Israel’s innovations in drip-irrigation (much discussed also in George Gilder’s The Israel Test), drought resistant crop development, desalinization, squeezing water out of dew and creating winter-fed cisterns like the Nabateans used 2000 years ago in the “rose red” city of Petra. Read More ›


Jordan River No Longer “Deep and Wide”, but It Could Be Again

Jordan RiverThe Jordan River is important to Christians as the place Jesus was baptized, and for other reasons it is cherished by Jews and Muslims. To the people of the Middle East–notably Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, it is a crucial economic resource. Unfortunately,by the time the Jordan’s water is sucked out for agriculture and other needs the natural flow has been reduced 96 percent. It’s a creek at the end, and totally polluted.

Now, according to Citiscope (the product of veteran journalist Neal Peirce and his associates), an environmental association is attempting to organize international assistance to revive the river. Mayors from 114 North American cities have joined in a common pursuit to help raise donor money for the effort. Read More ›


When Unfortunate Politicians Are Turned Out Naked to the World

Originally published at The Stream. “April is the cruelest month,” wrote T. S. Eliot, but for Britain’s Liberal Democrats and Labor (er, Labour) the cruelest month will always be May. In particular, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats and Ed Milliband of Labour will never forget the very night in May when each was stricken with what might be called “Sudden Onset SDD”— Staff Deprivation Disorder. It’s sometimes known as “Morning After Disease.” In a matter of election return minutes, Mr. Clegg lost his office as Deputy Prime Minister, lost his government car and driver, his scheduling assistant, his government computers, his government cell phone, his security detail — yea, in a sword’s flash, his salary. Likewise, Mr. Milliband with Read More ›