Monday Links

Via Instapundit:

Vaccines aren’t supposed to cause disease. But that appears to be what’s happening on Australian farms. Scientists have found that two virus strains used to vaccinate chickens there may have recombined to form a virus that is sickening and killing the animals. (Source)

I will not deny that modern medicine has given us many benefits, but sometimes there seems to be a hubris involved. Keep tinkering with the building blocks of life, and things may go horribly wrong. But hey, to make an omelette you have to be willing to break a few genetic eggs, right?

Second, from our friends at Reason Magazine:

In May the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina on behalf of blogger Steve Cooksey. The suit claims the state violated Cooksey’s First Amendment right to free speech when it informed him that his anti-diabetes blog runs afoul of North Carolina laws requiring a license to dispense anything the state considers dietary advice. (Source)

The article goes on to discuss the myriad of ways that the government gets between us and our food. How did the human race ever survive in the days before the FDA and the USDA? If we feel we have to surrender our nutritional decisions to boards of bureaucrats, we are no longer a free people.

Finally, Vox Day waxes eloquent about the necessity of history:

…the totalitarian thirst for eliminating and creatively rewriting history does tend to lend some credence to the idea that the knowledge of history is important, perhaps even integral to understanding and upholding human freedom. (Source)

It might be a cliche to say that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Think about the characters in Orwell’s novels. They do not have any true knowledge of what really happened in the past; they know only what their leaders tell them. He who controls the present controls the past. Knowing what your fathers and mothers really went through is important. A knowledge of history does not produce things that people want to buy, but it may just keep another Hitler or Stalin from rising up and saying “We have always been at war with Eurasia.”

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It’s That Time Again…

Time to see how ignorant we Americans really are:

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday. Skip related content

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

It is bad enough that the voting public has no real understanding of American history or government, but when our own elected leaders are just as ignorant, it bodes ill for our future.

Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson may have found the reason for our slide into historical blindness:

The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is. An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy. This upcoming generation knows instead not to judge anyone by absolute standards (but not why so); to remember to say that its own Western culture is no different from, or indeed far worse than, the alternatives; that race, class, and gender are, well, important in some vague sense; that global warming is manmade and very soon will kill us all; that we must have hope and change of some undefined sort; that AIDs is no more a homosexual- than a heterosexual-prone disease; and that the following things and people for some reason must be bad, or at least must in public company be said to be bad (in no particular order): Wal-Mart, cowboys, the Vietnam War, oil companies, coal plants, nuclear power, George Bush, chemicals, leather, guns, states like Utah and Kansas, Sarah Palin, vans and SUVs.

Since World War II, our nation has enjoyed immense prosperity. Especially after the end of the Vietnam War and through the economic recovery of the 1980s, my own generation has grown up without any real hardships. There has been no Great Depression to really test what we are made of, nor any noble struggle against tyranny to grant us a perspective on our own morality. Instead we have languished as if in a stupor, enjoying the fruits of our forefathers’ hard work without having to pay what they already paid.

Instead of preparing children to live and thrive in the real world, schools teach them that the world should conform to their desires. If something in the world offends us, we are taught to shout and scream until it is remedied. We have completely lost our historical perspective. Young people with cable TV, cell phones, and multiple cars look at high gas prices and dwindling 401k accounts and think that they are walking in the footsteps of their great-grandparents who lost everything in the Great Depression, and the news media enables their self-pity.

If a Nazi Germany or an imperial Japan arose today and began the process of conquering the world and enslaving mankind, our generation would be too lazy to do anything about it. Oh, they might march in protest, or put a sympathy badge on their MySpace, but when push came to shove, they would be too leashed to their cell phones and American Idols to care.

Yet perhaps there is hope. Today I was in a middle school classroom and I overheard some kids quizzing each other on the US government. They knew how many representatives are in our Congress, how many electoral votes we have in the state of Washington, and when we will have a presidential inauguration. It is a good start. To really care for this country that has been so good, too good for us, we have to know its history and customs. There is more to life than whatever is on the television set, and our ancestors fought too hard for us to waste our lives in front of it.

Death Of A Dictator

Saddam is gone. I remember in early 1991, 3rd Grade at Gause Elementary, we would post news clippings of the Gulf War on our bulletin board. We followed it closely. We nicknamed him “Saddam Insane”. We were pretty witty for eight-year-olds.

Now he has been convicted and executed by a court of his former subjects. This is a unique event, a former leader being legally executed by his own country. It does not happen very often, and no matter your view on the Iraq War, it is a good sign. The rule of law is ruling in Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein takes his place on the ash heap of history along with other dead dictators. He will now be nothing more than a memory, a photo in a textbook alongside Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-tung, and others who murdered their own citizens.

People wonder why I so love the study of history. Look around, history is happening as we speak! There once was a time when all that we read in the history books was actually happening. This is that time, for all generations to come.