Fracking FAQ from Popular Mechanics

Here's PM's take on environmental impacts (via Glenn):

Are the fluids used in fracking toxic?

Often, companies that perform fracking operations don't publicly reveal what compounds they use to facilitate the gas extraction process. (Halliburton may prove an exception to the rule; it has agreed to give the government data about the fracking chemicals it uses by January 2011.) When Farnham & Associates, an environmental engineering firm, tested a well near a hydraulic fracturing zone in Pennsylvania, it found a range of contaminants in the water, including ethylene glycol and toluene, both of which can be toxic to humans. They appear on a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection list of compounds known to be used in hydraulic fracturing, but Cabot Oil and Gas, the company that conducted the drilling, claimed it had not used the chemicals.

What impact does fracking have on drinking water?

Some people living near fracking sites have reported abnormalities in their tap water, including dark-colored grease, sediments and floating debris. The EPA has revealed plans to conduct a large-scale study to look into the problem further. "There are serious concerns about whether the process of hydraulic fracturing impacts drinking water. Further study is warranted," the agency announced in a statement released earlier this year. The investigation is slated to begin in January 2011.
The Bay Journal has been writing a lot about fracking in the past year, including:


Food miles: a profoundly flawed sustainability indicator

Matt Ridley, on page 41 of The Rational Optimist:
Should we not protest T-shirt miles, too, and laptop miles? After all, fruit and vegetables account for more than 20 percent of all exports from poor countries, whereas most laptops come from rich countries, so singling out food imports for special discrimination means singling out poor countries for sanctions. Two economists recently concluded, after studying the issue, that the entire concept of food miles is a 'profoundly flawed sustainability indicator'. Getting food from the farmer to the shop causes just 4 percent of all its lifetime emissions. Ten times as much carbon is emitted in refrigerating British food as in air-freighting it from abroad, and fifty times as much is emitted by the customer travelling to the shops. A New Zealand lamb, shipped to England, requires one-quarter as much carbon to get on to a London plate as a Welsh lamb; a Dutch rose, grown in a heated greenhouse and sold in London, has six times the carbon footprint of a Kenyan rose grown under the sun using water recycled through a fish farm, using geothermal electricity and providing employment to Kenyan women.
Ridley's book is terrific. Please buy a copy and read it. Or listen to the audio book, which is available at the BCPL. If you read it, join Phil Bowermaster's Facebook group Let's Get 1000 People to Read the Rational Optimist.

* Yes, We Have No Bananas: a Critique of the Food-Miles Perspective, by Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu. Mercatus Center, George Mason University.

See also Ron Bailey's The Food-Miles Mistake.


Dezmon & Hairston play race card on AG, state legislators and 2,000 BCPS parents and teachers

In an effort to avoid cooperating with an ethics probe about AIM, former BCPS staffer Dr. Barbara Dezmon didn't play just any race card, she played the nuclear bomb of race cards, the "it's-like-a-lynching" race card. She made this allegation with no explanation.

A few days later, Superintendent Dr. Joe Hairston backed her up. He didn't use the nuclear/lynching option. But he played the race card too, and was just as vague about the details.

Related: Video with Larry Willmore & Jon Stewart: The Race Card is Maxed Out. A similar take from IowaHawk: Beltway Adventure.


Women in Congress: Republicans displace Democrats in a big way

David Freddoso in the Washington Examiner (via Glenn):

the female GOP caucus will grow by more than 40 percent in the House . . .

The 111th House included:

  • 60 Democratic women. Ten lost on Tuesday (assuming that the margin holds in IL-8), one lost her primary, and one retired. Four new Democratic women were elected to the House on Tuesday, for a NET LOSS OF 8.
  • 17 Republican women. Two of them retired, with one going on to run for (and win) Oklahoma's governorship. Nine new Republican women were elected, for a NET GAIN OF 7, (assuming the margin holds in in NY-25).

In the Senate, Democrats lost one woman (Blanche Lincoln) and Republicans gained one (Kelly Ayotte) -- again, assuming that Murkowski wins.


Maryland rated 7th worst state for business

According to Business Insider (based on data from the Tax Foundation), here's how Maryland compares:
Corporate tax rank: 37

Individual Income Tax Rank: 2

Sales tax rank: 40

Unemployment Insurance Tax Rank: 4

Property tax rank: 11

Christopher Hitchens's memoir

Two short chapters into Hitch-22, I like it a lot.

In so many biographies and memoirs, the early parts about parents are dull and shallow. In this book, they are entertaining and deep.


Male-bashing in Maryland: District 42 Dem delegate candidates stoop low for votes

Long after they have disappeared from the political scene, I am going to remember local Democratic candidates Lori Albin, Oz Bengur and Steve Lafferty for this picture:

The picture comes from an attack mailer sent on their behalf* a week or so ago to female voters in District 42.

Here's the photo on the other side:

The pictures say everything; the words that came with them are pretty much irrelevant.

If you're a man looking at these pictures, do you think Lori Albin, Oz Bengur or Steve Lafferty will look out for your interests?

A word to the wise for anyone running for public office: Your attack ads may be floating around the internet for a looooooooooong time.

*by authority of the "Maryland House Democratic Committee, Victor Sulin, Treasurer."


Education in Maryland: why I trust Republicans more than Democrats

The postman delivered an attack mailer to me two days ago. It was from Oz Bengur, a Democrat in Baltimore County, District 42.

Bengur says that Republicans such as Bill Frank -- a man I know and trust -- are going to "ruin" Maryland’s top rated education system.

That got me so steamed, I had to write this.

I’m tired of Democrats – from state delegates to Martin O’Malley -- crowing about Maryland’s “top rated” education system.”

I’m a ten-year BCPS parent. When I look at our schools, I don’t see a top rated system. I see problems. And things are getting worse. And by the way, the schools my kids have gone to are supposedly among the best. Blue ribbons all over the place.

If you don’t believe me, talk to any BCPS parent whose child is a little bit different, whether a special needs child or a gifted one. Ask them about their experience dealing with the school bureaucracy. Ask if they got a good response to a complaint. Ask if they got any response.

And if you think this is limited to Baltimore County, ask the folks in PG County about Andre Hornsby.

Our superintendent in Baltimore County is a genius at self-promotion. He loves to talk about accolades. But here’s one “accolade” he doesn’t mention. Forbes magazine looked at 100 or so of the largest public school districts and ranked them on bang for the buck-- the value we get for school spending. Baltimore County was in the bottom 10 percent.

If you want details for other problems, look in the upper right hand corner of this blog and click on some of the education topics.

Click on curriculum, or Race to the Top, or service learning.

But most of all, click on AIM. A – I – M. The Articulated Instruction Module. To understand the huge problems in the Baltimore County Public Schools, all you have to do is look at last year’s AIM fiasco:
  • Lack of transparency
  • Insulation from criticism
  • Ignoring complaints
That’s the big thing about AIM. They ignored everyone. They ignored teachers. They ignored parents. [See below for actual video of them ignoring a parent. The superintendent does shift uneasily at the 2:00 minute mark. But that's about the only response you can expect to get, other than stony silence.] Just the other day in the Sun, they were ignoring Democratic legislators Steve Lafferty (D-42) and Jim Brochin (D-42). The superintendent is refusing to cooperate with an ethics probe relating to AIM.

During the AIM hearings last year, Brochin got so frustrated with Dr. Hairston and the two school board members, he compared them to Bill Clinton splitting hairs about the definition of "is." A few months later, Lafferty told me with disgust that Joe Hairston was a “master manipulator.”

But these Democrats haven't fixed the problem.

With few exceptions, Democrats have been in control at every level of government for 40 plus years in Maryland. Our schools are in decline and they’re bragging about our ratings?

Isn’t it about time we gave someone else a chance? Someone who will give us more than happy talk?

In his attack piece, the Democrat says about Republicans, “You just don’t get it.”

No, Oz Bengur. No, Martin O’Malley. You don’t get it.

Please don’t talk to me about Maryland's #1 schools. School administrators and the Democrats who put them there have heard me and others like me for years. They’ve heard us and they’ve ignored us.

But after November 2nd, they will ignore us no more.

We have an especially strong ticket of Republicans this year in Baltimore County, from the top of the ballot to the bottom. Please vote Bob Ehrlich for governor. I trust him on education. I don’t trust Martin O’Malley. Please vote Ken Holt for County Executive and Steve Bailey for State’s Attorney. Please vote Republican for state senator, state delegate and county council.

It’s time for government to start listening in Maryland. It’s time for some change.


Is Joe Hairston going to fritter away $17M in "Race to the Top" funds for BCPS?

Veteran BCPS-watcher and parent Laurie Taylor-Mitchell seems to think so:

Commentary: Isn’t there a better way to spend $17.4 million in Baltimore County Schools?

by Laurie Taylor-Mitchell

... BCPS has presented how they wish to spend the "Race to the Top" funds in the school system. ...

Within one category of $5 million dollars, the BCPS proposals include another major expenditure on virtual learning at Chesapeake High School. Didn't this school receive a multi-million dollar virtual learning center last year? ...

Why are thousands of other dollars being spent on developing a virtual high school and games? ...

Part of the $5 million would be spent to develop a data tracking system. Data tracking systems exist all over the country - why are they spending millions on this at the local level? Who is going to get this huge amount of money -- what BCPS department or office? ...

What stakeholders were included in the process by BCPS? On page 11, Exhibit N from the Board meeting states that the projects were devised with "input from the community." Who exactly within the "community" gave input? Were they parents, students, or teachers? What did they say?

Finally, given the wording for the two positions described on page 19 of Exhibit N, it appears that BCPS is proposing to spend $460,000 to pay a Director and Fiscal Assistant to manage spending these funds.

According to Ms. Bowie, not a single Board member asked a question about how these funds were to be spent at the meeting.

Parents of children in County public schools ... should consider calling BCPS and ask if any funds are slated for their school ... These proposals will be submitted to the State Department of Education on November 3. Please consider contacting Mr. Earnest E. Hines, President of the Baltimore County Board of Education, if you are concerned about the proposals for Race to the Top funds in Baltimore County, at 410-887-4126. The Project Manager for the Race to the Top funds is Dr. James Foran, Maryland State Department of Education, 200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, Phone: 410-767-0589.
Emphasis added.

It sure looks like AIM all over again.


Del. Bill Frank's response to Oz Bengur's attack mailer

Oz Bengur and the Maryland House Democratic Committee recently sent three attack mailers to female Democratic voters in District 42 targeting Del. Bill Frank. The mailers were misleading and unfair.

I view them as a sign of desperation on the part of Mr. Bengur.

Here is Bill's reply:

October 22, 2010

Dear Editor,

We’re certainly in the midst of the political “silly season.” How do we know? Just turn on the television and watch the distorted, overblown, negative political commercials that come at you one after another.

Or go to your mailbox and read the over-the-top, inflammatory mailers that are stuffed inside. Or answer the telephone and listen to a recorded phone message filled with half-truths and innuendo.

Elections are important, and critical differences exist among the various candidates. It’s fair game to talk about a candidate’s record, as long as it’s done in a factual, accurate manner. Recently, my opponents mailed information to voters that grossly distorted my vote in 2003 on a bill dealing with absolute divorce and child abuse, suggesting that I have a lenient position on the serious issue of child abuse. In fact, 29 delegates voted against final passage of the bill – Democrats and Republicans alike – because we believed the bill had deeply flawed and troublesome provisions. One of these provisions was the requirement that children as young as six years old would be forced to testify in criminal court against an allegedly abusive parent, obviously a path fraught with all kinds of red flags. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and several other advocates for children opposed this bill.

My record on protecting children is strong and clear. I helped lead the fight in 2010, for example, for the passage of Jessica’s Law, which significantly toughened
penalties and mandated long prison sentences for violent sexual offenders.

When you see, hear or read political ads that don’t seem to ring true,
be appropriately skeptical.
Remember, we’re in the political “silly season.”

Delegate William J. Frank
District 42

A significant majority of key environmental legislation since WWII was passed during Republican administrations (Part 6 of 6)

[For the first entry in this series and pointers to the five follow-up posts, go here.]

Matt Dernoga writes:
Four more years of O’Malley will allow advocates in the state the opportunity to pass environmental laws […] Electing Ehrlich will mean no opportunity for progress
He is flat out wrong here.

He’s wrong at the federal level and Bob Ehrlich proved him wrong at the state level with the Bay Restoration Act, which the Chesapeake Bay Foundation described as one of the best things to happen for the bay in decades.

Significant environmental legislation happens more often when control is split and the two parties must confer and compromise.

When Democrats control all the levers of power, landmark environmental legislation is less likely to pass. Sometimes it’s because Democrats take environmentalists for granted and sometimes it’s because they push legislation that oversteps and fails to pass.

This is the last post in a series of six.

Dave Greene has worked as energy/environmental policy analyst in DC, helped build a large waste treatment plan in Boston, sat on a Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategies Team and served on the board of a local watershed group in Baltimore County. He also supports Bob Ehrlich for governor of Maryland.

Republicans look more closely at the effects of environmental legislation on business and the economy (Part 5 of 6)

[For the first entry in this series and pointers to the five follow-up posts, go here.]

I don’t think many will argue with me on this one.

But there is some subtlety here that most people don’t consider.

Tom Horton used to write a column in the Baltimore Sun called On the Bay. About five or six years ago he wrote a piece about the legislative scorecards put out by business groups and environmental groups.

He concluded that it is virtually impossible for a legislator to score highly on both types of scorecards.

As a voter and free-market environmentalist, I want my legislators to consider both business issues and environmental issues and find a reasonable balance. Any legislator who scores 90% to 100% on either type of scorecard is probably not getting that balance right.

And they probably won’t get my vote.

In Maryland, too many Democratic legislators seem to vote for any bill with an environment-friendly title without considering how much it will cost or how effective it will be.

From what I can see, legislators who consider both business and environmental concerns -- and find a sensible balance between the two -- are just as likely to be Republicans as Democrats.

Republicans are less likely to impose technology mandates because they know government has a terrible track record (Part 4 of 6)

[For the first entry in this series and pointers to the five follow-up posts, go here.]

Two examples of ill-considered tech mandates come from the Carter administration: the failed Synfuels Corporation initiative (a big waste of money) and corn-based ethanol subsidies (harmful to the environment and a big waste of money).

The difference between the parties is this: when Republicans impose technology mandates –as George W. Bush unfortunately did when he increased Carter's ethanol subsidy – they are swimming upstream against their core principles. But when Democrats do it they’re going with the flow of their party, which is biased toward government intervention.

Dernoga cites several technology mandates enthusiastically supported by Martin O’Malley. Here’s one:
the Renewable Electricity Standard - [in] which [O'Malley] pledged that 20 percent of the state's energy would come from renewable energy sources by 2022.
“Renewable energy” sounds at first like a wonderful, win-win kind of thing. I would bet my 401(k) that voter focus groups love the term.

Nevertheless, many people are beginning to point out problems with renewable energy. Matt Ridley writes in his recent book, The Rational Optimist:
It is an undeniable if surprising fact, often overlooked, that fossil fuels have spared much of the landscape from industrialization. . . To get an idea of just how landscape-eating the renewable alternatives are, consider that to supply just the current 300 million inhabitants of the United states with their current power demand of roughly 10,000 watts each would require:
  • solar panels the size of Spain
  • or wind farms the size of Kazaakhstan . . .
To label the land-devouring monsters of renewable energy ‘green’, virtuous or clean strikes me as bizarre.
Here we go again with the unintended consequences.

This is one of the biggest sins of green Democrats: using peer pressure and faith-based marketing techniques to hurry us into supporting poorly thought-out technology mandates.

Such mandates are strait-jackets. They don’t encourage innovation. They strap down the innovators.

Republicans are more skeptical of the environmentalist agenda. Democrats often accept it as an article of faith (part 3 of 6)

[For the first entry in this series, and pointers to the five follow-up posts, go here.]

Matt Dernoga writes approvingly of a long list of concepts and programs touted by Martin O’Malley such as “clean energy jobs” and Smart Growth.

In my view, the concept of clean energy jobs (a.k.a. “green jobs”) is useful to Democratic speechwriters and hardly anyone else. PERC makes this case convincingly in its pamphlet The 7 myths about green jobs. If anyone can poke holes in their work, I’d love to hear about it.

As for Smart Growth, I’ve found that when you question these folks about their programs, they talk hazily about fighting “sprawl.” It soon becomes clear that they can’t define sprawl except to say that they know it when they see it. Nor are they clear about the practical details of their “smart” solutions.

So they can’t explain, but they sure do believe.

Which is why people like Michael Crichton, Joel Garreau and Alfonzo Rachel keep talking about “environmentalism as religion.”

Republicans are right to be skeptical. Environmental policy should be based on facts, not faith.

Research, analysis and reporting done by green Democrats is often shallow and misleading (part 2 of 6)

[For the first entry in this series and pointers to the five follow-up posts, go here.]

Matt Dernoga exemplifies my charge of "shallow and misleading" when he writes:
Ehrlich … appointed inexperienced industry insiders […] An auto-industry lawyer was head of the state Department of the Environment!
First, Lynn Buhl (the “auto-industry lawyer”) was never confirmed as head of MDE. Second, Buhl spent years working for both the US EPA and Michigan’s version of MDE. But green Democrats like Dernoga didn’t seem to consider her job description or accomplishments at Chrysler. They just clobbered her because she worked there.

When progressives take career paths like Buhl’s, they are often lionized by fellow Democrats as noble “sector switchers.” But conservatives with long records of public service are commonly demonized by the left as evil corporate tools.

My experience contradicts this stereotype. I’ve worked in all three sectors, and know that you can find good, ethical people in all of them. But when I think about the most talented and ethical people I’ve worked with, the list is dominated by folks from the private sector.

Many of them have worked at places like Chrysler.

John McPhee illustrates this in his environmental classic Encounters with the Archdruid. In it, the most competent, likable and ethical person was not the environmentalist David Brower but the corporate mineral engineer Charles Park. As I remember the book, Park had logged more time in the wilderness and understood it better. He revered nature as much or more than Brower, and was meticulous about protecting it.

Brower, on the other hand, was abrasive and admittedly dishonest.

I think it’s about time green Democrats like Matt Dernoga stop auto-dumping on people just because they’ve worked in private industry.


Democratic candidates in District 42 delegate race rev up the direct mail attack ad machine

A Democratic friend of mine has received two attack mailers in the past week from backers of Oz Bengur, Lori Albin and incumbent Del. Steve Lafferty. And one attack mailer from Oz himself.

To Oz and friends: These ads just make you look desperate. Voters who know your opponents well don't like seeing the sleazy results of your PhotoShop work.

UPDATE: For Bill Frank's response to the mailers, go here.


The looming "education bubble": not on radar screen for Towson U. prof or D42 state senate candidates

At the District 42 state senator debate tonight (Jim Brochin vs. Kevin Carney) there was a question about the higher education bubble. Neither candidate was familiar with the term. Nor was the moderator, Towson University political science professor James C. Roberts.

For them, and anyone else who doesn't read Instapundit, Michael Barone summarizes the concept nicely:
Higher education bubble poised to burst

Imagine that you have a product whose price tag for decades rises faster than inflation. But people keep buying it because they're told that it will make them wealthier in the long run. Then suddenly they find it doesn't. Prices fall sharply, bankruptcies ensue, great institutions disappear.

Sound like the housing market? Yes, but it also sounds like what Glenn Reynolds, creator of instapundit.com, writing in The Examiner, has called "the higher education bubble."

Government-subsidized loans have injected money into higher education, as they did into housing, causing prices to balloon. But at some point people figure out they're not getting their money's worth, and the bubble bursts.
Here's video of Glenn talking about the subject: The Higher Education Bubble, and What Comes Next.


5 reasons why a green Democrat's endorsement of Martin O’Malley is off-base

I recently published a piece on why environmentalists should vote Republican. Shortly after I wrote it, Matt Dernoga of the Diamondback endorsed O’Malley in an article titled, Voting green: the choice is obvious.

His article, though short, supports almost all of my points very nicely. Thanks Matt!

And by the way, it’s not as obvious as you think. Here are five reasons why:

1. Research, analysis and reporting done by green Democrats is often shallow and misleading.

2. Republicans are more skeptical of the environmentalist agenda. Democrats often accept it as an article of faith.

3. Republicans are less likely to impose technology mandates because they know government has a terrible track record.

4. Republicans look more closely at the effects of environmental legislation on business and the economy.

5. A significant majority of key environmental legislation since WWII was passed during Republican administrations.

Dave Greene has worked as energy/environmental policy analyst in DC, helped build a large waste treatment plan in Boston, sat on a Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategies Team and served on the board of a local watershed group in Baltimore County. He also supports Bob Ehrlich for governor of Maryland.


Just back from the District 42 debate at Towson U.

I expected Bill Frank and Sue Aumann to perform strongly, and they did.

But the story of the night for me was John Fiastro. Someone told me recently that Steve Lafferty was feeling a little nervous about the race. After tonight I can see why.

This was the first time that I had heard John speak at length in public.

He had an easy presence on stage and I got the feeling that he could talk equally well with new immigrants (he majored in Spanish at Towson), business people, college professors and just plain regular folks.

Some of his opponents sounded like they were reading from PowerPoint slides. John had more of a storytelling style, mixing in humor and literate references to good effect. He was clear, with few wasted words.

Even though he was strong on the budget and Maryland's spending problem, it will be very hard for Democrats to paint John Fiastro as a heartless conservative.

In other words, Fiastro cleaned Lafferty's clock.

But don't take my word for it. Watch it yourself. The camera guy said the debate should be up on the Towerlight website soon.

UPDATE 1: Oz Bengur was the best of the Dems. But I had expected him to be more dynamic than he was. He said some good things about his private sector experience with Papa John's.
[UPDATE 3: Now that I have seen two of Mr. Bengur's sleazy attack mailers I am downgrading him to worst of the Dems. His ads led me to consider which circle Bengur belongs in. I think it's the 8th.]

I had heard some good things about Lori Albin from a friend, but she came across as the worst of the lot. Too much bland "I'll be fighting for you" stuff. She talked a lot about how she was going to work hard and read all the bills. Sounded like a bureaucrat.

UPDATE 2: Four video excerpts from the debate here.

Truth in advertising: I've been coordinating with the "CAFF" slate (Carney/Aumann/Frank/Fiastro) during this campaign because of my volunteer work for Bob Ehrlich.


Why you should vote to re-elect Del. Bill Frank to the Maryland General Assembly (District 42)

This is a very important election coming up. I've been active in the campaign for governor of Maryland, supporting Bob Ehrlich.

But this election isn't just about the big statewide offices. All of us need to pay attention to races at
all levels, up and down the ballot.

Below is a letter I wrote recently. This past Saturday I hand-delivered it 150 of my neighbors. If you live in District 42, please vote for Bill. If you don't live in our district, please consider writing a similar letter for
your favorite local candidate.

Dear neighbor in central Baltimore County,

When you're hiring a person, one of the very best words you can hear from their references is "respected." When people use this word, it’s a strong indicator of character, savvy and effectiveness.
I’ve known Bill Frank for eight years, and can tell you that he is widely respected in our community. He’s also widely respected in Annapolis on both sides of the aisle.

When I first heard Bill at a candidate forum in 2002, he stood out in a large group as the most poised and articulate. Later that year we knocked on doors together for the Ehrlich campaign.

I’ve also logged many hours on the sidelines with Bill. Our boys play baseball and were LTRC teammates for several years.

Here are some things I like about Bill
  • He has a clear, consistent belief system.
  • He works hard.
  • Of all the legislative updates I get (from DC, Towson and Annapolis) his are the best.
  • He treats others with respect, allies and opponents alike.
  • He's responsive to constituents.
Please join me in voting for Bill on November 2nd.

p.s. I hope you’ll also support Bob Ehrlich for governor on November 2nd.

I have volunteered many hours of my time for Bob this year because Maryland needs change and he is the right governor to make it happen.

But he will need help. Fortunately, the GOP has an especially strong slate of folks running this year.

We need state legislators with private sector experience who understand how job creation actually works. People like John Fiastro (restaurant industry), Kevin Carney (home-building) and Sue Aumann (accounting).

I’ve also been very impressed with Steve Bailey (running for State’s Attorney in Baltimore County), and Ken Holt, (running for County Executive). The more I talk to these two and see them in action, the more I like them.


Baltimore County Public Schools in a nutshell

Peggy Noonan has an excellent article today called Revolt of the Accountants.

This paragraph -- if you replace "American" with "BCPS" -- captures the vibe I often get when I speak with school bureaucrats or attend a school board meeting:
there is a growing sense—I should say fear—that the weighty, mighty, imposing American government [BCPS bureaucracy] itself, whether it meant to or not, has for years been contributing to American [BCPS] behaviors that are neither culturally helpful nor, as we now all say, sustainable: a growing sense of entitlement, of dependency, of resentment and distrust, and an increasing suspicion that everyone else is gaming the system. "I got mine, you get yours."
That's what I see at BCPS: lots of people gaming the system. It's not healthy and it's not sustainable.

And these bits from Noonan's piece remind me of last year's big controversy/fiasco at BCPS: AIM*:
Washington is turning America into Paperwork Nation.
No matter what level of life in which you operate, you are likely overwhelmed by forms, by a blizzard of regulations, rules, new laws. This is not new, it's just always getting worse.
The more I learn about the inner workings of Greenwood, the less I like it.


A thought-provoking analysis of the "diversity" and "sustainability" movements

You can count on Muck & Mystery to sniff out the good stuff, like Peter Wood's recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

I liked Gary's opening bit:
Two of the nastier [words] in the current lexicon are diversity and sustainability. I have argued for and against both of them depending on which definitions are used. They can both be used to mean just about everything.
Wood's whole piece is well done, but two parts stood out for me. First, his superb condensation of the argument against the "diversity movement":
Diversity authorizes double standards in admissions and hiring, breeds a campus culture of hypocrisy, mismatches students to educational opportunities, fosters ethnic resentments, elevates group identity over individual achievement, and trivializes the curriculum.
Next, Wood sums up his take on the "sustainability movement" in eight words:
sustainability is the triumph of hypothesis over evidence
Say what you will about his arguments, but the dude can write.

FWIW, one of the better discussions on sustainability that I've seen asks an excellent question: Can we afford sustainability?

The discussion starts with two useful definitions of sustainability. First Robert Mendelsohn's:
Economists have a very clear idea of what they mean by sustainability, but it's not always consistent with what you might see in the natural sciences. For an issue like pollution, a sustainable pollution control is one where the marginal cost of abatement is set equal to the marginal damage of pollution. It would be nice to get rid of all pollution, but it turns out it's very expensive to eliminate it entirely. So this idea of balancing the abatement costs against the damages is a critical way that economists would look at sustainability in trying to minimize the total cost to society.
Then Kevin Curtis's:
The definition of sustainable development has provided a big step forward. There are multiple definitions, but the version I like best is one that says economic growth, environmental protection, and social justice are all important — and sustainable development is about doing all three.
I like Curtis's three elements, but wish he had used a politically neutral term in place of "social justice."

Richard Kauffman had many good insights from a businessman's perspective including the problem of regulatory uncertainty.

Finally, there's this delicious bit, where Mendelsohn seems to leave Curtis speechless:
Mendelsohn: You can't just wait for everything to be perfectly clear. But some decisions have a lot more uncertainty around them than others. And I think climate change, with all the long-range implications to it, is probably one of the most uncertain things that I've seen. In the short run, it's pretty clear, but the long-run consequences of making different choices today isn't very clear at all.

Curtis: But the consequences seem to range between some negative impact to lots of negative impact.

Mendelsohn: No, I'd say they range from being beneficial to being very, very harmful. And that's a pretty big range.
[Emphasis added.]
I don't think I've ever heard a respected academic use the words "beneficial" and "climate change" in the same sentence. I don't think Curtis had either, as he had nothing to say in response.

I suspect that Mendelsohn is correct about the level of uncertainty and the huge range of possible outcomes. We just don't really know.


Tony Blankley channels Christopher Lasch

I think he might be onto something:
The Obama presidency is both the high watermark, and the beginning of the end, for elite multicultural materialism in America.


A question for Martin O'Malley

When you talk about working families, who are you leaving out?

If he were honest about it, O'Malley's answer would be "no one."

Almost everyone who hears these words thinks O'Malley is talking about their family. In my view, the phrase is meaningless. Every time I hear it, I think the speaker is trying to pull something over on me.

Check out the Lutherville-Timonium Patch

The newest media player in the greater BaltoNorth area.

They're covering local politics, high school sports and so on, giving some much-needed competition to the Towson Times. I've heard good things about them, but have a concern already about the slant of their political coverage.

Here's a nice article by Scott Lowe about Dulaney High School's cross country team and their annual Barnhart Invitational race. (As comparison, here's Tom Worgo's Towson Times piece.)

On the other hand, it seems like ninety percent of the political column-inches so far by Nick DiMarco, Matt Cruz and Doug Donovan are about Democrats.

C'mon guys.

L/T is one of the most Republican areas in Maryland. If you're going to write a puff piece about Democratic campaigns, try to give at least a semblance of balance and publish some pictures of Republicans too.

UPDATE: I missed Nayana Davis's article about Todd Huff's victory over Bryan McIntire. Plenty of column inches there, but the tenor of the article is clearly, if mildly, anti-Republican:
  • The story devotes several early paragraphs to miscommunication between the candidates regarding McIntire's concession.
  • In addition, the story quotes a Republican candidate swearing. Democrats use expletives too. But somehow I don't expect to see their swears surrounded by quote marks in a Patch story anytime soon.

Landmark environmental legislation passed during Republican administrations

Here's what's happened under the GOP* in the last half-century:
1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
1970 Creation of EPA
1970 Clean Air Act extension
1972 Federal Water Pollution Control amendments to the Clean Water Act
1974 Safe Drinking Water Act
1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)
1990 Clean Air Act Amendments
In comparison, the list of major environmental legislation passed during Democratic administrations is short and unimpressive.

The lesson for environmentalists:
if you want to pass major environmental legislation, your odds are poor under Democrats and much much better under Republicans

*Don't get me wrong. I acknowledge that Democrats played key roles -- many many key roles -- in conceiving these laws and shepherding them through Congress.

Photo source: World in My View


6 reasons why Maryland Democrats and Martin O'Malley are overrated on the environment

  1. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is wildly biased.
  2. Democrats often take environmentalists for granted.
  3. BayStat doesn’t have many environmental stats.
  4. Neither did CityStat.
  5. Democrats like to create complex programs which need enforcement resources that don’t exist.
  6. The environmental agenda of Democrats tends to be a "hero sandwich of good intentions." But their results are often mediocre-to-poor.


7 reasons why environmentalists should vote Republican

  1. Research, analysis and reporting done by green Democrats is often shallow and misleading.
  2. Republicans are more skeptical of the environmentalist agenda. Democrats often accept it as an article of faith.
  3. Republicans are less likely to impose technology mandates because they know government has a terrible track record.
  4. Republicans look more closely at the effects of environmental legislation on business and the economy.
  5. A significant majority of major environmental legislation since WWII was passed during Republican administrations.
  6. Republicans tend to focus on results. Democrats tend to focus on effort and good intentions.
  7. Republicans push harder for free market solutions that cost less and accomplish more.


The most pro-black thing we can do: fight a white-hot "war on the War on Drugs"

John McWhorter, writing for Root:
The War on Drugs destroys black families. ...

The War on Drugs discourages young black men from seeking legal employment. ...

The War on Drugs lends a badge of honor to spending time in prison. ...

What will turn black America around for good is not more theatrical marches but the elimination of a policy that prevents too many people from doing their best.

After welfare reform in 1996, countless people thought that black women would wind up shivering on sidewalk grates. They underestimated the basic human resilience of black people.

In the same way, if the War on Drugs is ended, the same people will assume that young black men will wander about jobless and starving. They will not, because they are human beings with basic resilience and survival instincts as well. ...

Meanwhile, studies suggest that addiction rates do not rise when anti-drug policies are pulled back

Read the whole thing. John McWhorter rocks.


Khan Academy: will Bill Gates's favorite teacher "shake the foundations" of public education?

I think he probably will.

From Chicago Boyz
The existence of Khan Academy should force us to question everything about how we will educate the coming generations of Americans.
Here's the CNN / Fortune article about Bill Gates & Sal Khan.

And here's Khan's wonderfully inspirational speech given at one of Mark Hurst's recent GEL conferences. It explains who he is, why he started the academy, and why his simple approach is so breathtakingly effective.


Democratic state senator Ulyssses Currie indicted for fraud and bribery

I saw Senator Currie run some committee meetings in Annapolis a few years ago. At the time I was struck by his air. You could almost see his sense of entitlement radiating from every pore.

From Annie Linskey's article today in the Sun:
prosecutors allege that Currie accepted payments from Shoppers totaling $245,816 in exchange for helping the company navigate state bureaucracy from 2003 to 2008.

To track his favors, Currie created a document titled "Accomplishments on Behalf of Shoppers," in which he listed 12 state and legislative hurdles he had removed to benefit the company, according to the indictment.
Read the whole thing.

As always seems to happen in cases like this, mistakes were made!
They noted that Currie did not report his work for Shoppers on his state ethics forms. Kelberman described the lack of disclosure as "mistakes" that were "not intentional."
In Senator Currie's world, it would seem that financial accountability is only for the little people:
Currie has been beset by other problems. He replaced his longtime campaign treasurer after filing a financial disclosure Aug. 10 which showed that $187,000 had been drained from the account with no explanation for how it was spent.
UPDATE: this is just one more reason to vote Republican this November. The quality of Republican candidates is particularly strong in Baltimore County this year (and accross Maryland) when compared to previous years. If you're an Independent or even a Democrat, please look carefully at the GOP candidates in your district.

And consider voting for them.

If you do, perhaps one day I'll realize my dream of living in an honest-to-goodness two-party state.


The big environmentalist flip-flop

Environmentalists used to challenge the pronouncements of mainstream scientists and technical experts. Walter Russell Mead points out that things have changed:

when it comes to global warming, the shoe is on the other foot. Now it is suddenly the environmentalists — who’ve often spent lifetimes raging against experts and scientists who debunk organic food and insist that GMOs and nuclear power plants are safe — who are the pious advocates of science and experts. Suddenly, it’s a sin to question the wisdom of the Scientific Consensus. Scientists are, after all, experts; their work is peer-reviewed and we uneducated rubes must sit back and shut up when the experts tell us what’s right.

More, environmentalists have found a big and simple fix for all that ails us: a global carbon cap. One big problem, one big fix. It is not just wrong to doubt that a fix is needed, it is wrong to doubt that the Chosen Fix will work.


Annual "free" parking subsidy in US is $127 billion/year ? Yikes

Tyler Cowen in the NY Times:
it’s a classic tale of how subsidies, use restrictions, and price controls can steer an economy in wrong directions. Car owners may not want to hear this, but we have way too much free parking.

... Donald C. Shoup, professor of urban planning at [UCLA] has made this idea a cause, as presented in his 733-page book, “The High Cost of Free Parking.”

... the presence of so many parking spaces is an artifact of regulation and serves as a powerful subsidy to cars and car trips. Legally mandated parking lowers the market price of parking spaces, often to zero. ...

... Yet the law is allocating this land rather than letting market prices adjudicate whether we need more parking, and whether that parking should be free. We end up overusing land for cars — and overusing cars too. ...

As Professor Shoup wrote, “Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars.”

... 99 percent of all automobile trips in the United States end in a free parking space, rather than a parking space with a market price. In his book, Professor Shoup estimated that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars was at least $127 billion in 2002, and possibly much more. ...

As Professor Shoup puts it: “Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist.”


Can citizens in Maryland record police? Asst. AG McDonald says in most cases they CAN

From the Sun, via NPR

Marylanders appear to have the right to record interactions with police officers with devices such as video cameras and mobile phones, according to an opinion by the state attorney general's office. The advisory letter was issued as several people face or have been threatened with criminal charges for taping police.

It's unlikely that most interactions with police could be considered private, as some law enforcement agencies have interpreted the state's wiretapping act, wrote Assistant Attorney General Robert McDonald. The conclusion is based on prior rulings and opinions of courts in other states.

Del. Sandy Rosenberg:
[The opinion] makes the point that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when a police officer arrests a citizen, which makes it perfectly legal for a citizen to videotape or have an oral record of the arrest

The caveat:
The opinion does not carry the weight of law but is meant to guide judges and state agencies.


Paul Rahe, superstar

His prescription for the GOP, at BigGovernment.com:
what is required is a return to first principles carried out at the ballot box and enforced on the hapless hacks in the Republican Party by a public sentiment fierce, fully aroused, and no longer willing to tolerate half measures.
Read the whole thing.

Rahe (pronounce "Ray") is also very good in this interview with Peter Robinson.

Makes me want to read his book, Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift.


"It's the Uncertainty, Stupid"

Tom Blumer, writing about Ben Barnanke:

But there’s only so much Ben and the Fed can do. In Congressional testimony, Bernanke essentially admitted that he has done virtually all he can:

[E}ven as the Federal Reserve continues prudent planning for the ultimate withdrawal of extraordinary monetary policy accommodation, we also recognize that the economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.

The key task for Obama and the Congress is to smooth the path for business hiring by reducing regulatory uncertainty.

This isn't rocket science. It's very basic political economics.


"Green Dreams Die Ugly on Capitol HIll"

Walter Russell Mead after an excellent summary of the failures of Big Green, describes the task at hand:
To meet the challenges of the 21st century, likely to be the most challenging and difficult period in human history thus far, we are going to have to raise our game. Civil society (especially but not only the environmental movement) has a necessary and vital role to play, but on the whole at the moment it is just not up to its job. ...

One of the many jobs on the plate of the rising generations will be the need to rethink and restructure the whole concept of civil society and the NGO. ...

The environment matters; sustaining the diversity and vitality of the beautiful world in which we are privileged to live is one of the two or three most vital challenges before the human race. The greens have been wrong about many things, but about this they are undeniably and courageously right.
Read the whole thing.


Speed cameras: Maryland out of step with rest of US

We're just getting started with speed cameras here, while at least one other state, Arizona, is dropping their program because it has been so unpopular and generated less revenue than expected.


2009-2010: the year the excesses of the green movement came back to earth

Walter Russell Mead:
It’s not about Climategate and Glaciergate. It’s not about the science. It’s not even about public confidence in the integrity of the green movement ...

The core green problem is about the credibility of its policy proposals and the viability of the political strategy the big green groups pushed to enact them.

the [recent] scandals may not discredit or even really affect the underlying scientific arguments about climate change but they do cast doubt on the perspicacity of the movement’s leadership — and that a fundamental rethink is called for.
He suggests, plausibly, that the Copenhagen summit may have been a high water mark for the overly-politicized wing of the environmental movement.

Read the whole thing.


Maryland LCV scorecard bias : Part 2, water qualtiy

Here are LCV's gubernatorial Water Quality grades for the past three administrations:

97 ]]]]]]]] . . . . .B- (Glendening/DEM)
01 ]]]]]]]]]] . . . B+ (Glendening/DEM)
04 ]]]]]]]]] . . . .B (Ehrlich/GOP) <----------------
06 ]]]] . . . . . . . D+ (Ehrlich/GOP
08 ]]]]]]]]]]]] . A (O'Malley/DEM)

Note especially Bob Ehrlich's "B" grade in 2004. LCV gave him this grade shortly after his Bay restoration fund (aka the "flush tax") was enacted. Here's what the the ACB's Bay Journal wrote about the Bay Restoration Fun shortly after it passed:
In what environmentalists called Maryland’s biggest step toward cleaning the Chesapeake Bay in decades, the General Assembly approved new levies on sewer users and septic owners to fund nutrient reduction programs in the state.
. . .

“This is a huge victory for the Bay, the most significant environmental advance in Maryland in nearly 20 years,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker.

Hmmm. The "most significant environmental advance" in nearly 20 years, and LCV can muster only a B for Ehrlich? Two years later they reverted to their norm -- where Republicans are rated roughly two letter grades below Democrats -- and bumped him down to a D+.

But what exactly have Democrats accomplished to merit their far superior grades?

To help answer this question, I turned to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's annual State of the Bay reports covering 1999 through 2008. Specifically, I looked at CBF's overall measure of bay health as well as the numbers for (1) nitrogen (2) phosphorous, (3) dissolved oxygen, (4) water clarity, and (5) toxics.

For Glendening, I compared the CBF numbers for the last three years of his second term (2002 vs 1999). For Ehrlich, I looked at 2006 vs 2002, and for O'Malley I crunched the numbers for 2008 vs 2006.

Here are the results: Based solely on this CBF data -- surprise!!! -- Ehrlich had the best actual results. Here they are:


Ehrlich............. ]]]]]]] 7% improvement
O'Malley.......... ]]] 3% improvement
Glendening [[[[ 4% worse


Ehrlich.............. ]]]]]] 6% improvement
O'Malley........... 0% change
Glendening....... 0% change


Ehrlich............................]]]]]]]]]]]]] ~~~~]]]]]]]] 81% improvement
Glendening.................... 0% change
O'Malley........... [[[~[[[[ 21% worse


Ehrlich................. ]]]]]]] 7% improvement
Glendening...;...... 0% change
O'Malley... [[~[[ 13% worse


Glendening.......... 0% change
Ehrlich......... [[[[[[ 6% worse
O'Malley.... [[[[[[[ 7% worse


O'Malley .................. 0% change
Ehrlich................ [[[[ 4% worse
Glendening.... [[[[[[[ 7% worse

Perhaps there is something wrong with these numbers. If so, I'd love to hear about it from the Maryland LCV (or anyone else out there), especially Cindy Schwartz or Frederick Hoover.

Environmentalists need to think more like engineers and statisticians

This item appeared recently in The Economist's Bagehot column:
Political commentators, in other words, have concerned themselves with what will happen; what has happened; and what should happen. Few have addressed what is happening—that is, whether policies work and how the country is changing.
The author was talking about the state of political commentary, but the insight made me think of environmental watchdogs like the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Environment Maryland.

Such groups tend to operate in their heads, theorizing and dreaming about laws, politics and programs. They really should spend more time thinking like pragmatic engineers and creative statisticians.

They should also keep one foot in the real measurable world by putting more effort into improving monitoring methods, collecting new data and finding better ways to analyze it and present it.


Stewart Brand (pro) debates Mark Z. Jacobson (con) on nuclear energy

Compliments of TED.

To my mind, Brand--the creator of the Whole Earth Catalog--is much more convincing. As I wrote before, I highly recommend his book, Whole Earth Discipline.

More on Brand here.

In his talk, Brand recommends two other books:


Bias at Maryland LCV: scorecards seem to measure intentions instead of results

Here are LCV's grades on Air Quality for the past three administrations:

97 ]]]]]]]]]]]] A (Glendening/DEM)
01 ]]]]]]]]]]] A- (Glendening/DEM)
04 ]]]]] ......... C- (Ehrlich/GOP)
06 ]]]]]]......... C (Ehrlich/GOP)
08 ]]]]]]]]]]]] A (O'Malley/DEM)

An O'Malley administration report (Improving Maryland'sAir Quality 1990-2008) describes air quality progress under Ehrlich and O'Malley as follows:
For the past 6 years [4 under Ehrlich and 2 under O'Malley] this improvement has been nothing short of dramatic. Ozone and fine particle levels have never been lower. Carbon monoxide and lead levels in the air have pretty much been eliminated. Toxic air pollutants like benzene and acetaldehyde have been cut by over half.
In contrast, LCV's report card tarred Ehrlich with these words:
[Ehrlich's] record on allowing poor air quality to continue and worsen is serious problem that directly affects public health and the environment.
LCV did not back up this statement with any numbers or specifics that I could find.

Their contention of worsening air quality under Ehrlich is dubious because air quality has steadily improved across the US for almost every pollutant in almost every state under almost every governor since the the original Clean Air Act passed 40-odd years ago during Richard Nixon's first term.

The O'Malley report gives numbers only for ozone and particulates. Both improved under Ehrlich between 2002 and 2006.

So if Glendening and O'Malley didn't do any better than Ehrlich in improving the measurable quality of Maryland's air, what exactly did they do to get marks two full letter grades higher than Ehrlich's?

They "supported" certain programs. They "testified" and "pushed" for certain legislation. They provided "outreach and education". They also "promoted" certain technologies--something that governments should stay away from because the results have been so poor.

And what did LVC overlook in granting an A- on Air Quality to Glendening? In the LCV's own words, the Glendening administration
had "cooked the books" on the data in the Baltimore region in order to show compliance with the Clean Air Act.
I don't know what LCV is referring to here--they don't give any details. But what sin in environmental protection is worse than faking the data? How could LCV give an A- to an administration that faked data? LCV gave failing marks to Ehrlich in Baltimore City for shutting down a few ozone monitoring stations. But for faking data, Glendening got a free pass and an A-.

But wait, there's more.

LCV trashed Ehrlich on asthma:
Maryland's Department of Health issued a report in 2003 that concluded air pollution has created a growing epidemic of asthma in the state. In that year alone, there were 32,000 emergency room visits, 8,000 hospitalizations, and 88 deaths reported due to asthma--nearly double the amounts reported in 1980. As a result of the Ehrlich administration's failure to aggressively address these air pollution problems, more than 80 percent of Marylanders are forced to contend with ozone and smog levels higher than the federal air standards deemed to be healthy.
To recap, Governor Ehrlich published a report during his second year in office that identified a serious problem. After only two years in office, LCV gave him a low grade for not fixing this problem which had been growing under Democratic administrations for 20+ years. One of two pollutants linked to asthma by LCV (ozone) actually improved during Ehrlich's term of office: 10% better for the 1-hour standard and 11% better for the 8-hour standards*.

And what did LCV say about asthma in report cards for Glendening and O'Malley?

Nothing in 1997 for Glendening. Nothing in 2001 for Glendening. This is somewhat understandable because it seems to have been Ehrlich who did the heavy lifting that uncovered the problem, after Glendening left office. But what did LCV say about O'Malley's record on asthma--the asthma "epidemic" that was such a serious problem under Ehrlich ?


Cindy Schwartz and Frederick Hoover are you listening?

*Numbers estimated from graphs in O'Malley administration report.

Scrutinizing Maryland LCV's environmental scorecards

In my previous post I listed a decade's worth of environmental grades for the gubernatorial administrations of Parris Glendening, Bob Ehrlich and Martin O'Malley.

It seems to me that LCV's scorecards have focused far too much on intentions and far too little on results. It also seems to me that LCV is unfairly biased against those who are inclined to favor small government.

In some upcoming posts, I plan to scrutinize LCV's scorecards to see if I'm on target.

Maryland LCV grades on environment for Governors Glendening, Ehrlich and O'Malley

Since the late 1990s, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has issued scorecards that grade the environmental records of Maryland's governors. Below, I've graphed the grades over time across three administrations:

Overall Environmental Grades
97 ]]]]]]]]] B (Glendening/DEM)
01 ]]]]]]]]]] B+ (Glendening/DEM)
04 ]]] D+ (Ehrlich/GOP)
06 ]] D (Ehrlich/GOP)
08 ]]]]]]]]]]] A- (O'Malley/DEM)

Air Quality Grade
97 ]]]]]]]]]]]] A (Glendening/DEM)
01 ]]]]]]]]]]] A- (Glendening/DEM)
04 ]]]]] C- (Ehrlich/GOP)
06 ]]]]]]C (Ehrlich/GOP)
08 ]]]]]]]]]]] A (O'Malley/DEM)

Water Quality Grade
97 ]]]]]]]] B- (Glendening/DEM)
01 ]]]]]]]]]] B+ (Glendening/DEM)
04 ]]]]]]]]] B (Ehrlich/DEM)*
06 ]]]] D+ (Ehrlich/GOP
08 ]]]]]]]]]]]] A (O'Malley/DEM)

To see the individual scorecards, follow these links:
Glendening 1997, Glendening 2001, Ehrlich 2004, Ehrlich 2006, O'Malley 2008.

*This grade was given shortly after the Bay Restoration Fund, aka the "Flush Tax," was enacted.

NOTE: In addition to air quality and water quality, the LCV scorecards give grades for a handful of other subcategories: Administration & Appointments, Climate Change, Energy, Fisheries & Wildlife, Smart Growth, and Transportation).


Ehrlich supporters massively outnumber O'Malley fans at Towson 4th of July parade

When Martin O'Malley took his first steps at the beginning of the July 4th parade in Towson today, the crowd was mostly quiet.

An hour or so later, the crowd welcomed Bob Ehrlich with smiles, noisy applause and cheers. Parade-watchers stopped him often to have pictures taken with him. His reception seemed to match the one he got in Dundalk earlier in the day:

People all along the parade route were holding and waving Ehrlich signs. At one spot on Liberty Parkway, a dozen people were waving signs and chanting “Bob, Bob, Bob.”


But O’Malley signs were rare, and his supporters mostly quiet except for a few boos they gave Ehrlich at the Shipping Place shopping center.

Ehrlich signs in Towson outnumbered O'Malley signs by a huge margin -- perhaps 100 to 1 or more. The bumper stickers handed out by Ehrlich volunteers* went fast too, including plenty of the ones that said "Another Democrat for Ehrlich."

If these Baltimore-area parades are any indication, O'Malley is in for a long uphill slog of a gubernatorial campaign.

More bad news for O'Malley:

O’Malley’s day may not have started out on the best note. Before the parade got underway, his aides were reading a Washington Post editorial that blasted his radio ads against Ehrlich, calling them “distortions” and “low-brow name-calling.” The Baltimore Sun had already criticized the ads.

*Including yours truly


The most knowledgable, experienced and insightful folks are often the most up-front about what they don't know

Bay Journal editor Karl Blankenship (who just joined the blogosphere) is one example :

Possibly the most untrue things said about the Bay are any of the variants of the phase, "We don't need any more research. We know what needs to be done to restore the Bay, we just have to do it."

I sometimes tell people that I spent the first 10 years with the Bay Journal learning about the Chesapeake. I spent the next 10 years learning how little I know about the Chesapeake.

The Bay is a magnificently complex system, and every time I start to get cocky and think I understand it, something comes along to humble my pretensions toward higher intelligence.

Gary Jones, the long-time grass farmer and veteran blogger, also comes to mind:
I've often said that everything that I know is wrong, I just don't know how it is wrong or what is right. It's why fallibilist philosophies and heuristically diverse problem solving groups appeal to me, and why experts, intellectuals and other sorts of immodest posers seem so ludicrous. Their self-esteem is proof of ignorance and stupidity.
UPDATE: Somewhat related: Gary on the difference between intelligence and glibness.


Gender-based affirmative action in science & engineering education

It would appear that science and engineering schools have been trying fairly hard to boost the percentage of women in their programs.

The politically correct take on the gender imbalance in science & technology programs seems to be that it's just a failure of marketing:
“The way engineering traditionally has been marketed doesn’t appeal as much to women as to men,” said Carrie-Ann Miller, director of the Women in Science and Engineering program at Stony Brook University
This whole issue seems like small potatoes at first glance. But could gender-based affirmative action in science & technology education (and employment) have unintended consequences? An Instapundit commenter writes:
I work for a very large high tech company. I presently manage a research team in the corporate lab. The problem is that there is no encouragement for American non-minority males to go into science and engineering because we will almost never hire them. Instead we are being forced to look for technical females and under-represented minorities. Since very few American females choose engineering, we end up hiring Chinese and Indian women. The universities that I work with tell me that they find it almost impossible to recruit American males to PhD programs. I believe within less than a generation we will be in deep trouble, technically, in this country, and we’ll be without the means and capability to maintain the highly sophisticated civilization that we’ve constructed.