November 4, 2007

2007 Weblog Awards Update (110407)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:35 am

The Best Business Blog Ballot is here. You can vote once every 24 clock hours. An index to all blog category ballots is here. Complete voting rules are here. Vote early; vote often. Every vote for yours truly is intensely appreciated.

Other personal recommendations (links are to the respective ballots; actual site links are just below the ballots): fellow SOBer Weapons of Mass Discussion; Michelle Malkin; NewsBusters; Doug Ross @ Journal; Betsy’s Page; EU Referendum; Brussels Journal; Pundit Review; Michael Yon; Little Green Footballs; Day by Day.

A Transcendent Transterrestrial Musing on Who Really Makes the World Better

This is brilliant (HT Instapundit).

In an article counseling readers to cancel the pity party the Washington Post wants to throw for “Young Altruists In the Crowded Field of Public Interest,” Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings nails it, and in the process hammers home a reality that Old Media reporters and pundits never seem to comprehend (links were in original post):

….. Who is it that really changes the world, and for the better?

I would argue that it is the people like Bill Gates, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison, or the Wright brothers, who have a much larger and more beneficial effect on the world than people who “want to make a difference.”

Who is more of a humanitarian, a Norman Borlaug, who through his technological efforts saved untold millions from hunger, and even starvation, and was reasonably compensated for it, or an Albert Schweitzer or Mother Theresa (sic), who labored to help a relatively few poor and ill, while living in relative poverty?

….. People are helped most by technological advances that make essential items–food, transportation, communication, shelter–more affordable and accessible to them, not by those who provide them with handouts and sympathy, and keep them in a state of perpetual dependency.

In many ways, Sam Walton was one of the great humanitarians of our time, in bringing our nation’s poor closer to a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle, and he seemed to do pretty well by doing good.

In fact, it is fair to say that Wal-Mart and its low-cost imitators have done more to alleviate US poverty than the trillions of dollars spent on government antipoverty programs during the last 40-plus years. More recently, the chain’s year-old $4 prescription drug program and its imitating competitors have certainly done more to enable those who need them to have affordable access to their meds than the Medicare and Medicaid bureaucracies and their legislating friends have done in the same period of time.

For all its imperfections, Wal-Mart and other American companies have also done a lot for much of the rest of the world. In fact, in a TCS Daily article I linked to last year, writer Michael Strong argued that Wal-Mart alone “might well be single-handedly responsible for bringing about 38,000 people out of poverty in China each month, about 460,000 per year.” I’ll be the first to admit that this may have the potential to be a mixed bag of benefits for US citizens and workers, at least in the short run, but with low unemployment and, despite Old Media punditry’s claims to the contrary, objectively measured increasing living standards here at home (supporting examples here, here, here, and here), I would argue that the negatives for the most part have yet to appear.

Nobody would sanely argue that Schweitzer and Mother Teresa weren’t great humanitarians of exceptional accomplishment. Over and above what they personally did, they were able to keep serious world problems visible that are all too easily kept out of mind. But let’s not overlook the fact that the money and resources driving charitable efforts come not just from the generosity in people’s hearts, but from the bounty of capitalism that enables charitably inclined people to substantively support their causes.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Column of the Day: On Alzaree, Kevin O’Brien (Mostly) Gets It

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 9:25 am

In his Plain Dealer op-ed this past Wednesday (HT Patrick Poole in an e-mail):

For now, at least, let’s take Imam Ahmed Alzaree at his word.

….. Now, having resolved every possible point of unclarity in his favor, all that we’re left with is a man suffering from guilt by association.

He’s being tarred with the same brush as his co-religionists who are engaged in a loud and bloody worldwide campaign to further the goals of a radical strain of Islam.

He apparently would like us to think he has a problem with that, but rather than take on those who have expressed suspicion about him, he has chosen simply to seek employment elsewhere.

That’s fine; it’s his call to make.

Besides, arguing with bloggers takes on a new and scarier dimension when it also means publicly repudiating car bombers and beheaders who have come to expect at least one’s tacit support.

Clergymen at odds with the prevailing winds of dogma or authority always have a tightrope to walk. Doing so requires not only the courage of one’s convictions, but physical courage. Not everyone can do it.

It was 490 years ago this very day that Martin Luther tacked his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. (You could look it up, right at the top of this page.) Putting all theological questions aside, what Luther did took guts.

Where is that kind of reformational courage to be found in Islam? Where is the leadership that calls Islamic terrorism by its real name, then condemns it consistently and unambiguously, countenancing no excuses for the perpetrators?

Who has the guts to hang 95 theses on the door of the mosque that demand peace and co-existence with people of other faiths?

We may face a long wait.

What we see instead is tens of thousands of radical-funded schools worldwide, getting young Muslims revved up about the part they are expected to play in moving Judgment Day along.

However Imam Ahmed Alzaree may feel about that oft-quoted passage in the Koran about killing the Jews, a lot of people take it literally. A lot of people today are living by it and dying by it.

If he thinks it was just a rhetorical flourish, it would be nice if he’d say so before he walks away. If he thinks it’s the truth, he ought to say that, too.

But Alzaree never really did explain himself and the specific passage in question (read Robert Briggs’s follow-up again; you’ll find Alzaree attempting to contextualize without explaining the meaning of the actual words in the actual passage). Instead, he was content to let others at his not-to-be current and former mosque do the talking for him. That’s not good enough. Steven Emerson’s “it means what it says” explanation in Robert Briggs’s article clearly trumps all.

What O’Brien did not note is that a lot of other evidence surrounding Alzaree’s tenure in Omaha strongly indicates that he couldn’t afford to, and/or simply wouldn’t, give up his true outlook.

Positivity: Hawaii’s ‘leper priest’ back on track to sainthood

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:02 am

From Honolulu:

Posted on: Friday, October 26, 2007

One hurdle has been cleared in the road to sainthood for Blessed Father Damien de Veuster, the “leper priest of Moloka’i” who eventually died from Hansen’s disease.

The cause for sainthood has been stalled since 2005, when a local tribunal reconvened to clear up whether a miracle could be attributed solely to prayers to Damien.

A communique from Rome issued last week by the order to which Father Damien belonged said the miracle in question passed a very important authority: a medical committee that decides if such events are indeed miraculous.

Two miracles are needed for sainthood. One miracle associated with Father Damien has been accepted by the Vatican: a cure of a nun in France a century ago in Damien’s name. In 1895, Simplicia Hue was cured of a debilitating intestinal disease after praying for Damien’s intercession.

With that miracle, Father Damien was declared “blessed” during a beatification in 1995 by John Paul II.

Now, the second miracle must pass several more hurdles before Damien can become St. Damien.

The second miracle involves a Honolulu woman whose lung cancer was cured; the case was written up in the Hawai’i Medical Journal in 2000, titled: “Complete spontaneous regression of cancer.”

“Now it goes to theological commission,” said the Rev. Lane Akiona, who belongs to the same Sacred Hearts order as de Veuster. “It puts Father Damien back on track. The fact that the medical commission approved it, that’s a very good sign for us.

“It’s moving, instead of being stalemated.”

The medical commission is part of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, the main clearinghouse in Rome where canonizations are examined.

Go here for the rest of the story.