Williams Made Providence a Sanctuary for the Persecuted


Source of book image: http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320716933l/11797348.jpg

I have not yet read Barry’s book on Roger Williams, but I did enjoy and learn from his earlier The Great Influenza book.

(p. 12) Williams struck overland, through snow and bitter cold, “wch I feele yet,” he reminisced later in life. He survived because he had help. “The ravens fed me in the wilderness,” he said, comparing himself to the scriptural prophets sustained by bird-borne morsels, though his “ravens” were Indians. With their assistance, he reached the upper bend of a bay that would be named for its inhabitants, the Narragansett. There, Williams bought land from its native proprietors and established a settlement he called Providence, to honor the divine assistance given to him and other Christians on their flights from persecution.
. . .
Next, Williams refused to take an oath of fidelity to Massachusetts, on the grounds that anything sworn in God’s name for worldly purposes was corrupt.
The authorities in Massachusetts were so outraged that having failed to arrest Williams, they tried to obliterate his new settlement. He went back to England to get a charter to protect his colony on his own terms: with a “hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wildernes of the world.” In several publications, he argued that the individual conscience should not — could not — be governed, let alone persecuted. If God was the ultimate punisher of sin, it was impious for humans to assume his authority. And it was “directly contrary to the nature of Christ Jesus . . . that throats of men should be torne out for his sake.”
Barry shows how controversial these beliefs were at the time, and in this way reinforces the standard image of Williams as an early proponent of liberty of conscience.

For the full review, see:
JOYCE E. CHAPLIN. “Errand in the Wilderness.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., May 26, 2012): 12.
(Note: ellipsis between paragraphs was added; ellipsis internal to quotation was in original.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 25, 2012 and has the title “Roger Williams: The Great Separationist.”)

The book being reviewed, is:
Barry, John M. Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty. New York: Viking Adult, 2012.

Internet Posting May Be Replacing Peer Reviewed Publishing

The article quoted below provides additional signs that institutions of knowledge production and dissemination may be changing in important ways. (Wikipedia is another, even bigger, sign.)

(p. 635) Over the past decade, there has been a decline in the fraction of papers in top economics journals written by economists from the highest-ranked economics departments. This paper documents this fact and uses additional data on publications and citations to assess various potential explanations. Several observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the Internet improves the ability of high-profile authors to disseminate their research without going through the traditional peer-review process.

Ellison, Glenn. “Is Peer Review in Decline?” Economic Inquiry 49, no. 3 (July 2011): 635-57.

Unused Electric Car Chargers Multiply Due to Federal Subsidies

EVchargersWhiteBlains2011-11-10.jpg “Any takers?: Two EV chargers sit unused in White Plains, MD.” Source of photo: http://metablognews.com/wp-content/plugins/rss-poster/cache/d6fff_MK-BP785_CHARGE_G_20111016172708.jpg Source of caption: slightly edited from print version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) When McDonald’s franchisee Tom Wolf built his latest restaurant in Huntington, W. Va., late last year, he installed two chargers for all-electric cars so customers could juice their batteries while eating. So far, the charging station has been used a few times.
. . .
Across the U.S., such equipment is proliferating even though it is unclear whether plug-in cars will prove popular.
. . .
Fewer than 15,000 all-electric cars are on U.S. roads, says Plug In America, a group promoting the technology.
. . .
(p. B11) Charging equipment is popping up largely because of subsidies. As part of a $5 billion federal program to subsidize development of electric vehicles and battery technology, the U.S. Energy Department over the past two years provided about $130 million for two pilot projects that help pay for chargers at homes, offices and public locations.
. . .
Opinions vary on demand. J.D. Power & Associates expects all-electric vehicles will account for less than 1% of U.S. auto sales in 2018, or about 102,000 cars and light trucks. Including hybrids and plug-in hybrids the market share is forecast at 8%.
“The premiums associated with these products are still more than what the consumer is willing to bear,” says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global vehicle research at J.D. Power.

For the full story, see:
JAMES R. HAGERTY And MIKE RAMSEY. “Charging Stations Multiply But Electric Cars Are Few.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., OCTOBER 17, 2011): B1 & B11.
(Note: ellipses added.)

Ellison and Jobs on Money

(p. 299) . . . Jobs and his family went to Hawaii for Christmas vacation. Larry Ellison was also there, as he had been the year (p. 300) before. “You know, Larry, I think I’ve found a way for me to get back into Apple and get control of it without you having to buy it,” Jobs said as they walked along the shore. Ellison recalled, “He explained his strategy, which was getting Apple to buy NeXT, then he would go on the board and be one step away from being CEO.” Ellison thought that Jobs was missing a key point. “But Steve, there’s one thing I don’t understand,” he said. “If we don’t buy the company, how can we make any money?” It was a reminder of how different their desires were. Jobs put his hand on Ellison’s left shoulder, pulled him so close that their noses almost touched, and said, “Larry, this is why it’s really important that I’m your friend. You don’t need any more money.”
Ellison recalled that his own answer was almost a whine: “Well, I may not need the money, but why should some fund manager at Fidelity get the money? Why should someone else get it? Why shouldn’t it be us?”
“I think if I went back to Apple, and I didn’t own any of Apple, and you didn’t own any of Apple, I’d have the moral high ground,” Jobs replied.
“Steve, that’s really expensive real estate, this moral high ground,” said Ellison. “Look, Steve, you’re my best friend, and Apple is your company. I’ll do whatever you want.”

Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Chernobyl May Have Caused No Long-Term Increase in Cancer


Source of book image: http://luxuryreading.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/9781605294452.jpg

(p. C11) . . . Andrew Blackwell, a journalist and self-described “sensitive, eco-friendly liberal,” deserves praise for producing an environmentalist book that avoids the usual hyperventilation, upending stubborn myths with prosaic facts.
. . .
His Geiger counter convulses on a visit to the abandoned areas around Chernobyl, but Mr. Blackwell reacts soberly. While the initial disaster provoked a justifiable public panic, it also inspired scare-mongering from groups like Greenpeace, which claimed that the fallout would cause 270,000 cancer cases. He points to a study commissioned by the United Nations concluding that, after an initial spike in thyroid cancer, “no measurable increase has yet been demonstrated in the region’s cancer rates.” The author is also sure to irritate certain readers with the claim that “paradoxically, perversely, the accident may have actually been good” for the local environment, since the evacuation created an accidentally verdant nature reserve.

For the full review, see:
MICHAEL C. MOYNIHAN. “A Guided Tour of Catastrophe” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., May 26, 2012): C11.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 25, 2012.)

The book being reviewed, is:
Blackwell, Andrew. Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places. New York: Rodale Books, 2012.

“The Only Benefit of War Rationing”

(p. 538) The only benefit of war rationing, of which I am aware, is that an alert entrepreneur invented the bikini so as to conserve on the textiles that were then hard to come by for civilian use.

Shughart II, William F. “The New Deal and Modern Memory.” Southern Economic Journal 77, no. 3 (Jan. 2011): 515-42.

Poor People Want Washing Machines

The wonderful clip above is from Hans Rosling’s TED talk entitled “The Magic Washing Machine.”
He clearly and strongly presents his central message that the washing machine has made life better.

What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.

Source of video clip summary:

The version of the clip above is embedded from YouTube, where it was posted by TED: http://youtu.be/BZoKfap4g4w

It can also be viewed at the TED web site at:

(Note: I am grateful to Robin Kratina for telling me about Rosling’s TED talk,)
(Note: I do not agree with Rosling’s acceptance of the politically correct consensus view that the response to global warning should mainly be mitigation and green energy—to the extent that a response turns out to be necessary, I mainly support adaptation, as suggested in many previous entries on this blog.)