rubeA Rube Goldberg machine, contraption, invention, device, or apparatus is a deliberately over-engineered or overdone machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction.

When each of my five kids hit 5th grade, they had to build a Rube Goldberg machine. It had to include a pulley, a lever…each of the simple machines. Thankfully, my children have an engineer father. Had it been left up to me, they would have gone to school with a shoe box, a rubber band and a note of apology. It simply isn’t my area of expertise. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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What Is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy

Should you be entitled to an exemption from the generally applicable law, because of your religious beliefs? Or should the government be free to apply the law to you just as it does to others?

The history of the left-right divide: A centuries-old argument defines our politics, and offers a way forward
Yuval Levin, Salon

The modern divide between liberals and conservatives dates back to Burke and Paine. But there’s also common ground.

Placing Blame Where Blame is Due
Nicholas Freiling, Values & Capitalism

As human beings find themselves in dire financial, medical, social or emotional circumstances, they often cope with guilt by shifting blame from themselves to others, or even to objects.

Some Questions for Minimum-Wage Proponents
Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek

Are National Football League officials unscientific dolts when they assume that increasing the fines for helmet-to-helmet hits will reduce the frequency of such hits?

Last night on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report, PovertyCure director and Acton Research Fellow Michael Matheson Miller joined host Lawrence Kudlow and Rusty Reno, Editor of First Things magazine, to discuss the position of the Roman Catholic Church on global capitalism in light of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium.’ The video is embedded below.

oliver_twist_beggingMadison Root is an enterprising young lady. She knows braces are expensive, and wants to help pay for them. So, she went to her uncle’s farm, cut and bundled mistletoe and headed to the downtown Portland, Ore. market to sell it for the holiday season.

And then she ran into the long arm of bureaucracy.

…a security guard told her that she had to stop selling due to a city ordinance that bans such activity in a park “except as expressly permitted under the terms of a lease, concession or permit.”

The guard didn’t want to be heartless though. He told young Madison to beg. That’s right: beg. Go beg people for money. Madison’s reaction?

“I don’t want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg,” Madison told KATU reporter Dan Cassuto. “It’s crazy. People can get money for pot. But I can’t get money for braces. I’m working for this! They’re just sitting down on their butts all day asking for pot.”

A Portland Parks Bureau spokesman told the station that begging is a form of free speech and is protected by the First Amendment.

Madison: we support you. You should work for the things you want and need. You’re doing the right thing. It’s too bad your city would rather teach its young people to panhandle instead of prosper.

 

Blog author: jwitt
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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I find the new investigative essay by journalist Michael J. Totten about Havana before and under communism poignant and beautiful, a must-read for anyone interested in Cuba, communism and the universal hunger for liberty. The long essay is worth every word, but I’ve excerpted a few of the most arresting passages here:

The rotting surfaces of some of the buildings [in the tourist district] have been restored, but those changes are strictly cosmetic. Look around. There’s still nothing to buy. You’ll find a few nice restaurants and bars here and there, but they’re owned by the state and only foreigners go there. The locals can’t afford to eat or drink out because the state caps their salaries at twenty dollars a month. Restored Old Havana looks and feels no more real than the Las Vegas version of Venice….

Yet the bones of Cuba’s capital are unmatched in our hemisphere. “The Cubans of successive centuries created a harmonious architectural whole almost without equal in the world,” [Theodore] Dalrymple wrote. (more…)

bishop shakenThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regarding a case in a Muskegon, Mich. hospital. According to the ACLU, Tamesha Means was 18 weeks pregnant in December, 2010, when her water broke. A friend brought her to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon. Ms. Means subsequently made two more trips to this hospital, and her baby, born prematurely, died.

According to a New York Times piece,

…Dr. Douglas W. Laube, an obstetrician at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, described the care Ms. Means received as “basic neglect.” He added, “It could have turned into a disaster, with both baby and mother dying.”

The A.C.L.U. said it had filed suit against the bishops because there had been several cases in recent years in which Catholic hospital policies on abortion had interfered with medical care.

(more…)

Today at First Things’ On the Square feature, I question the tone and timing of Patriarch Batholomew’s recent message on climate change. While I do not object to him making a statement about the subject in conjunction with the opening of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, his initial reference, then silence, with regards to Typhoon Haiyan while other religious leaders offered their prayer, sympathy, and support to those affected, is disappointing. I write,

While other religious leaders offered prayer and tangible support, all that has come from the Phanar is an environmental statement. Hurting people need practical and pastoral help, not politics.

An additionally troubling aspect of the problem comes from his clear implication that the typhoon was caused, or at least intensified, by anthropogenic climate change, using this tragedy to advocate for a political cause through a disposition of fear: (more…)