For some reason, in my posts, I tend to avoid contractions like isn't, don't, won't, I've, she's. Generally, my impression is that even in rather formal texts it is not uncommon to use contractions nowadays. Skillful writers and journalists use them all the time. So, I have grown uncertain about my habit. However, considering the below advice, I feel encouraged to stick to it, at least some of the time. Though, I do acknowledge that more contractions might make for greater correspondence between text and tone in a number of posts that are clearly informal. I shall work on the contextual fit - after all:
The answer lies in the formality of the document that you are preparing. If you are engaged in formal writing, I would suggest that you avoid using all contractions. This includes cover letters, résumés, theses, essays, etc. Because the use of contractions seems more informal, you should avoid them in any instance in which you want to portray a professional, respected image.
However, some types of text benefit from the inclusion of contractions. Specifically, if you want your text to have a more informal, conversational tone, sprinkling some contractions throughout your writing can help you accomplish this. These types of text may include fictional stories or novels, dialogue, or personal letters or emails.
The whole spying issue is a lot more complicated than many people seem to accept.
Yesterday, I participated in a debate featuring as the central speaker the new boss of the German Liberal Party (FDP - Freie Demokratische Partei), Christian Lindner. (European sense of liberal, as opposed to American sense of "liberal = social democratic).
Interestingly, it turns out that the German secret service is heavily dependent on the NSA to do its job - not least because German law makes it difficult or impossible for German information agencies to gather information thankfully available from the NSA.
Spying is one of these issues that are fundamentally problematic, and can never be resolved to the fullest satisfaction. Which is why it is important that we keep an eye on it, and argue - to the best of our abilities - from a position of competence and discernment, rather than emoting and jumping to conclusions that rational reflection and research within our means would prove inappropriate.
The main point I had to make vis-à-vis the results of the discussion: I am far more concerned about, indeed afraid of the arbitrary acts perpetrated by the European Commission against Germans (and other Europeans) than by the potential of arbitrary acts that may be committed by the NSA against my fellow citizens and myself.
That is not to trivialise the spying issue; however as long as an attack on and a perversion of freedom and democracy as large-scale and powerful as the European Union is not even identified as a threat to Europeans, I have a hard time accepting that people are getting their priorities right at all.
Secret services will always give rise to problems of civic adequateness, but they become epidemically dangerous only when people lose interest in the non-totalitarian quality of the political order in which they live.
Try telling someone from the US why we Germans have no problem sitting in a sauna full of naked people but get nervous when the Google camera-car rolls by and takes digital images of our houses. I gave it my best shot, but let's just say this: Our concept of the private sphere is not immediately clear to people abroad.
I've also learned that it is no easy task to clarify to Americans why Germans are more than happy to consign their children to state care when they are just one year old but would go through hell and high water to keep their personal information out of state hands. In most cases, Americans don't like the state nosing into their personal affairs. But, when it comes to internal and external security, they have resigned themselves to the necessity of government meddling.
For some reason, we Germans have taken the exact opposite approach: We delegate things to the state that we could take care of ourselves. But when it comes to issues we can't do alone, we don't trust the state to do them either.
Make sure to read the entire essay, whose author prominently figured in yesterday's debate.
The power of myths is as strong today as it has ever been. One of the great catastrophes of our lifetime is the demonisation of nuclear energy and the attendant neglect of research and technological development in this area of science. However, things may be changing.
Researchers in California made a great leap toward creating a source of virtually unlimited energy this past year as they strive to harness the power of nuclear fusion—the same process that powers stars like our sun.
Scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) announced that in the last year “for the first time the energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel.” This is a significant step toward an energy source that would be plentiful and environmentally friendly.
Currently, nuclear energy is produced through fission, where the nucleus of an atom is split apart, releasing enormous amounts of energy. In nuclear fusion, the nuclei of atoms fuse together and create massive amounts of energy. While scientists can create fusion; for example, a hydrogen bomb which is also known as a fusion bomb uses the power of nuclear fission—so, a nuclear bomb—in order to achieve fusion. The holy grail in nuclear fusion research is to find a method of causing fusion that takes less energy than the fusion reaction creates, which they call “ignition.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, attempting to replicate the condition inside of a star has been no easy task for scientists.
If they can find a way to utilize the power of nuclear fusion, however, the implications for human progress are greater than the power of a thousand nuclear bombs. First of all, nuclear fusion would be effective; Just one gram deuterium and tritium—the fuel used in fusion— produce nearly 10 million times the amount of energy a gram of fossil fuels produces and there’s enough deuterium (found in water) on earth for tens of thousands to millions of years. By all accounts, fusion is a safer form of energy production, as there is virtually no chance of a meltdown and radiation is non-issue. As Dr Alejaldre, a researcher working at Iter—a French project attempting to produce controlled fusion, described it “a Fukushima-like accident is impossible at Iter because the fusion reaction is fundamentally safe. Any disturbance from ideal conditions and the reaction will stop. A runaway nuclear reaction and a core meltdown are simply not possible.”
Additionally, the radiation produced by fusion is many orders of magnitude less than with nuclear fission and unlike with fission, fusion requires no shipments of radioactive material into or out of the plant—it is created and burned within the power plant. Furthermore, while the waste produced by nuclear fission remains dangerously radioactive for millions of years, fusion reactions produce no radioactive waste and the radioactive elements used in fusion have a much shorter half-life—only 12.3 years.
The researchers at the Lawrence Livermore lab aimed the world’s most powerful laser at a pea-sized target containing nuclear fuel and created a fusion reaction, but only for a fraction of a second:
The NIF uses a system of 192 laser beams to heat deuterium and tritium atoms held inside a capsule the size of a ball-bearing, which is placed inside a cryogenically cooled, pencil-eraser-sized cylinder called a “hohlraum” (German for “hollow room”). The energy from the laser’s pulse subjects the deuterium-tritium fuel to pressures and temperatures approaching the conditions at the center of the sun.
In essence, they created a mini star in their lab. While they weren’t able to produce more power than the experiment consumed—they didn’t achieve ignition—they are getting closer with each experiment. Whether it’s the United State’s project, the French experiments, or another country, creating a viable controlled fusion reaction would be a huge leap forward for all of human kind.
I keep getting anonymous messages from the NSA, who congratulate me on my posts. These people are intelligent, educated and civil. They assure me that there are practically no more readers in total of the RedStateEclectic-blog than the few that show up in the counter. But they tell me not to worry, as my following at their agency is large. While initially forced to read the blog, typically agents soon enjoy the task and even become eager to introduce co-workers to the treat.
In a recent message, some of my friends at the NSA suggested I should take up again the habit of posting pieces concerned with architectural issues. Topically, some orientation is needed, they tell me, for those among them involved in a dispute over the aesthetic qualities of the agency's premises.
I am happy to oblige, and so, let's set foot in the pantheon of the God's of architecture, and visit the great Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier was born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in 1887, in the small French-Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, where his father was an engraver of watchcases and his mother a musician. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps; but as an adolescent, Le Corbusier showed precocious artistic ability, attended the local school of fine arts for a time, and then wandered Europe for several years in a program of aesthetic self-education. His extraordinary abilities were evident in the brilliant draftsmanship of his early (and conventional) drawings and watercolors. He also made furniture of great elegance before the bug of intellectual and artistic revolutionism bit him.
Le Corbusier adopted his pseudonym in the 1920s, deriving it in part from the name of a distant ancestor, Lecorbésier. But in the absence of a first name, it suggests a physical force as much as a human being. It brings to mind the verb courber, to bend, and, of course, Le Corbusier was a great bender of townscapes to his own will. It also brings to mind le corbeau, the crow or raven, not a conventionally beautiful bird in plumage or song, but one that is simple and unornamental in both and therefore, metaphorically speaking, honest and undeceiving, as Le Corbusier claimed his architecture to be. In French, le corbeau has a further meaning: that of a bird of ill omen—and perhaps that is the architect’s little joke upon the world. He was certainly of ill omen for the cities of Europe and elsewhere.
Read more of Dalrymple's essay on le Corbusier at the source.
One of the prominent themes in Michael Oakeshott's work is the indissoluble enmeshment of freedom and unfreedom - that is the interwovenness of processes and states of affair that we would class with freedom and those we would attribute to unfreedom.
In Oakeshott's view both total freedom and total unfreedom are conceptual and factual impossibilities. There is rather a constant tug-of-war going on between freedom and unfreedom. In fact, I would widen the image by suggesting a vast areal with innumerable tugs-of-war matches going on at the same time. More: one cannot be without the other.
Freedom springs into life in opposition to unfreedom. Freedom creates countless incentives, occasions, and zones of freedom apt or designed to make us try out options that may turn out to produce problems of unfreedom.
Even people committed to freedom may have disparate ideas of freedom and hence differ in their perceptions of what belongs in the area of freedom and what in the opposite camp.
Liberals (throughout I use the term to mean European type of liberals) including libertarians, tend to underestimate the intricate patterns of neighborhood and mutual penetration of freedom and unfreedom, and their intrinsic concurrency.
I dare suggest that liberty without liberalism (in the European sense) is rather the rule rather than the exception -- a dramatic fact incredibly overlooked by liberals. That is to say, only tiny minorities have sufficient awareness of liberalism to act as conscious defenders and lovers of liberty - yet we live in enormously free countries. Why?
Liberty is so deeply seated in the institutions of our societies and our ways of human interaction that liberty can happen in a big way without people consciously seeking liberty. That's not the whole story, but a big part of it, and an almost totally overlooked aspect of the full narrative.
Important as it is, we must not only focus on violations of liberty and ignorance of her, we must also learn to see liberty where she is efficacious, even though in ways that may not be obvious. For instance, if you look at law and its practice more closely, you will find oceans of daily respect for liberty. Also, if you look more closely at what your political opponents believe in, you will often find a whole lot of attachment to liberty.
Stephen Holmes, a social democratic scholar of liberalism, provides an interesting piece on this important feature: The Liberal Idea. I do not concur with all of his claims and conclusions, but he does bring out some of the layers of liberal convictions in those who may not pass as thoroughbred liberals.
Tracing and appreciating this tradition, I feel, will be a more fruitful exercise than digging the trenches of incomprehension and indignation ever deeper that keep us politically apart from our contemporaries.
Actually, Laura Ebke, the hostess of our blog, has attracted me from the first moment back in 2007 by her ability to act as a principled lover of liberty, while being always prepared to and graciously capable of communicating with people who have different notions of liberty, as I did when I decided to become a contributor to RedStateEclectic rather than contributing to blogs closer to the views then held by me.
Laura Ebke strikes me as displaying the kind of sensitivity and realism that I meant to address in this post. I am proud to be associated with her.
Needless to say, none of my posts, including the present one, have ever been previewed, vetted, or coordinated in any form with her. But we did have the benefit of disagreements.
Blame Texas, because the solution to your wonderful, amazing new law pricing people out of being able to afford health insurance is obviously to take what were previously self-supporting citizens and put them on the dole?
If I were the man to whom Marie up there was talking to, my response to his passing of the buck to the State of Texas would be “I don’t want to BE on the dole! I was paying my own way – I was HAPPILY paying my own way – until you came along and fXXXXXX my chances of being able to do so all to hell with your misnamed “affordable” healthcare act, and now your solution to having destroyed my ability to pay my own way and be a net contributor to our society is to put me on the dole? To strip me of my dignity and make me a parasite? THAT is your grand solution, you fXXXXXXX self-worshipping neophyte!?”
Then, of all things, suggest that the man cancel his telephone service so that he might be able to afford your new, improved, insanely expensive healthcare plans? If that isn’t the “let them eat cake” moment of the 21st century, I don’t know what is. Good [...] lord, man, I am absolutely at a loss. How did this man even learn how to potty train, much less manage to elevate himself to the most powerful position in the free world?
As if it is Marie’s place, or any person in the government’s place to dictate priorities in bill payment to private citizens – to have health insurance or to be able to communicate with people (possibly a pre-requisite for the man’s job, to begin with).
This man is absolutely convinced that he has life figured out for everyone else; that no one's life deviates from his narrow views of what life should be one iota. No wonder socialism always fails - you get men like this in charge, who have these myopic, one size fits all views about life, and can't for the life of him figure out why anyone would want to live a life different from the one he proscribes.
The race in Nebraska for the seat of retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) has divided tea party groups. Sasse has the support of the Club For Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Former treasurer Shane Osborn is backed by Freedomworks. Regardless of who wins the primary, the seat is expected to remain in GOP hands.
"I asked Governor Palin to join our campaign, and I am grateful for her support today," Sasse said in a statement.