Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 23, 2005

Iwo Jima

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:34 pm

Flag over Iwo Jima

PowerLine notes that it was sixty years ago today — February 23, 1945 — that six Marines raised the American Flag on Iwo Jima, on day five of a 36-day battle.

The flag raisers: Three of those Marines were killed later in the battle: Mike Strank, Harlon Block, and Franklin Sousley. The others were uniform in denying their own heroism and paying tribute to their buddies, especially those who didn’t make it back.

The battle: Out of a force of 110,000 American Marines, 6,825 were killed (twice as many as the number of people killed on 9/11/01), and 19,026 were wounded. The Japanese defended the island with 22,000 soldiers. The Japanese strategy was “no Japanese survivors” and the goal was for each Japanese to kill 10 Americans before being killed himself. They didn’t achieve that goal, but the did achieve, or nearly achieve, the goal of “no Japanese survivors.” A description of the battle is here.

Marine Corps Memorial

The aftermath: “The Marines’ effort provided a vital link in the U.S.chain of bomber bases. By war’s end, 2,400 B-29 bombers carrying 27,000 crewman had made emergency landings on Iwo Jima.

There is a fascinating story about a sermon given at the memorial service held for fallen Marines on the island immediately after the battle.

And of course, the famous photo above became the model for the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial and other similar memorials around the country.

Is Your Property Yours?

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:34 pm

This is the question taken up yesterday by the Supreme Court. As you probably know, the Fifth Amendment states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

That last phrase refers to the state’s power of “eminent domain,” whereby they can take your property — if they pay you its fair market value — for “public use,” say, to build a new highway.

But can they take it for private use also? In other words, can the government forcibly take your house and sell it to someone else, just because they’d rather someone else have it instead of you? The answer, for the last 60 years, has been “yes.” They can take your house if they think someone else will make the neighborhood nicer, or if they think someone else will give them more tax revenue. (Say, if the “someone else” will build a store, and the sales tax they pay will be more than the property tax you pay.)

In other words, your property is yours only as long as the federal, state, county, and municipal governments all haven’t thought of anyone they think is more deserving of it than you are.

I was going to write a long involved post about this, but Kevin at The Smallest Minority beat me to it, and wrote basically everything I wanted to say. Read his entire post.

Larry Summers and Betsy Hoffman

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:07 pm

As discussed in this post, last month, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers made some remarks at an NBER conference on the under-representation (meaning, less than 50%) of women among tenured science and math professors. He had the temerity to suggest that there might be factors in addition to blatant sex discrimination at work here, including perhaps that (a) more men than women are interesting in becoming science and math professors, and (b) while the average test scores (SAT, IQ, etc.) for men an women are similar, the variance for men is higher, which means there are more men at the upper end of the ability distribution (and more men at the lower end, too). If science and math professors are from the upper end of the ability distribution, the pool will have to include more men. (Sidenote: After claiming for a month that these were private off-the-record comments to an invited group, last week Summers finally posted a full transcript of his remarks on his website here.) It should surprise no one familiar with universities these days that this is heresy, and provoked NOW to call for Summers resignation.

Now, however, we have another university president who — accidentally, I am sure — appears to have endorsed similar views. University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman was speaking before a meeting of the Colorado House Republican Caucus and was asked about the fact that nearly all colleges these days have more female than male undergraduates. As reported by Joshua Sharf:

Probably the most interesting moment came when one representative asked about the man/woman imbalance at college, with almost all schools having many more women undergrads than men. Hoffman replied that CU has a 51/49 male-to-female ratio, so they hadn’t entered that world yet. “And,” she continued, “in a school with a stronger science and math component, you’re less likely to see that sort of imbalance.”

In other words, Hoffman is pointing out that with strong science and math programs, they attract more men, thus overcoming the fact that non-science and non-math programs attract more women. In other words, Hoffman has implicitly taken the same position as Summers — there are more men in science and math for reasons other than discrimination.

Any chance that NOW will call for Betsy Hoffman’s resignation?

Is this just to confuse us?

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:43 am

I used to think the term “Paris Hilton” referred to a hotel in France, but it turns out that hotel is actually called the “Hilton Paris.” “Paris Hilton” is not a hotel, but is related to that hotel; specifically, she is the great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, fonder of the hotel company of which “Hilton Paris” is a part. So, “Hilton Paris” is a hotel, but “Paris Hilton” is the great-granddaughter of a hotelier. This sort of reminds me of the mock-history of France which refers to “Charles de Gaulle who was President for many years but is now an airport.”

But anyway, if if this weren’t confusing enough by itself, Paris Hilton (the person) is now dating a new boyfriend named Paris Latsis. She is named Paris and he is named Paris. I guess if they get married, they will both be named Paris Latsis.

Imagine the confusion when someone calls on the phone. “May I please speak to Paris Latsis?” “Would you like Mr. Paris Latsis or Mrs. Paris Latsis?” And of course, this will be without the new-age sort of marriage of the type where a person marries herself.

Perhaps they will honeymoon at the Paris Hilton … oops, I mean the Hilton Paris.

Round-up of Round-ups

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:37 am

This week’s Carnival of the Vanities is up at PunditGuy.

And during my hiatus, I missed linking to this Carnival of the Capitalists at The Raw Prawn and Grand Rounds at Catallarchyb.

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