Thomas Sowell
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Random thoughts on the passing scene:

The old adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish has been updated by a reader: Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and French fries! Moreover, some politician who wants his vote will declare all these things to be among his "basic rights."

It is almost impossible to go to a shopping mall these days without seeing some teenage girl's navel. There was a time when a guy was not likely to see a girl's navel except on some more memorable occasion than a visit to a mall.

Voters in the Democratic primaries in different states have split various ways for Kerry, Edwards, Dean, etc. But, in the part of California where I live, none of these candidates was far enough to the left for local Democratic voters. All the signs I saw in my neighborhood were for Kucinich.

For baseball fans, the good news is that the 2004 Baseball Encyclopedia is out. The bad news is that it lists Grover Cleveland Alexander as having pitched more shutouts in his career than any other pitcher, with 90 -- even though their own statistics on Walter Johnson's career lists him as pitching 110 shutouts.

Some California legislators have proposed lowering the voting age to 14 -- as if California politics are not immature enough already.

People who send me letters or e-mails containing belligerent personal attacks probably have no idea how reassuring their messages are, for they show that critics seldom have any rational arguments to offer.

Many people who are for stricter government-imposed "fuel efficiency" standards for cars are adamantly against drilling for oil in Alaska. This means that avoiding inconvenience to some caribou trumps the loss of human lives when people are forced to drive flimsier cars, so that the lighter weight will lead to more miles per gallon.

Some seem to think it is wonderful when super-rich people say that high taxes are not so bad. True, taxes are not so bad if you already have more money than you can spend in your lifetime, especially if you inherited it. But most people had to work for what they have and have things that they want to spend it on, rather than have politicians grab it to use to buy votes.

The idea of providing black students with "role models" is counterproductive because it insinuates the notion that you can be inspired only by people who look like you. How in the world did the Nisei generation of Japanese American children ever learn, when their fathers were mostly farmers and these children seldom, if ever, saw a Japanese American teacher, much less Japanese American engineers, scientists or other professionals in fields in which these children went on to excel?

My weight is 15 pounds lighter than last year this time. That's a net loss of 15 pounds. Altogether, I must have lost between 50 and 100 pounds going up and down during the course of the year. My diet can be summarized by saying: "If it's edible, I am not supposed to eat it."

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

The fraudulence of the left's concern about poverty is exposed by their utter lack of interest in ways of increasing the nation's wealth. Wealth is the only thing that can cure poverty. The reason there is less poverty today is not because the poor got a bigger slice of the pie but because the whole pie got a lot bigger -- no thanks to the left.

Being smart is what keeps some people from being intelligent.

I don't want to give false hope to anyone with medical problems. But I remember a doctor telling me, after the end of my finger had been smashed by a powerful machine and looked like hamburger: "I will try to save your finger but you should never expect to see a fingernail there again." Six months later, a fingernail began to grow back.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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