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On Meal Diversity, Being Green, Dudists, Al's Opera, etc.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In case you missed them, some items of dubious import currently in the news. . .

At the Olympics, Chinese authorities have restricted access not only to Web sites, protest areas, leading dissidents and key regions of the country. They also have banned the sale of dog meat — this apparently so as not to distress on-site foreigners somehow insufficiently distressed by China’s screaming lack of individual liberty.

The Democrats were on to something similar. Until someone with sense called a halt, the Democratic convention’s host committee was telling convention vendors not to serve fried food because — please sit down for this — frying affects the environment. Also contemplated: mandatory meal diversity, with (a) 50 percent of each meal consisting of veggies and fruits, and (b) every meal (excluding garnishes) displaying at least three of these five colors: green, yellow, red, blue/purple and white.

The convention’s “director of greening” (a first in convention history) reportedly has set an 85 percent recycling goal and banished from the convention premises not only plastic water bottles but foam cups.

The University of Chicago, long deemed among the most sensible in the land in, e.g., economics, law and political philosophy, may have but one foot in the land of right reason. The business, law and economics faculties have proposed naming a research institute after the late great Nobel economist Milton Friedman. But about 100 teachers throughout the school are objecting because, according to The New York Times, “the honor could be interpreted as a wholesale endorsement of Friedman’s free-market ideology.”

Has the press made up its mind on a subject regarding which the scientific jury is still out? (1) In its “Green Zone” collection of wire-service reports on the environment, The Arizona Republic has a standing logo declaring: “We know being green is important to you” — and never mind that many readers may not be totally keen on “being green.”

And (2) how about this for an example of journalistic bias (for polar bears, against oil companies and the Bush administration) — from a June 15 Associated Press dispatch: “Less than a month after declaring polar bears a threatened species because of global warming, the Bush administration is giving oil companies permission to annoy and potentially harm them in the pursuit of oil and natural gas.”

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says Alaska will sue the federal government to challenge the Interior Department’s listing of polar bears as a threatened species. She notes the paucity of evidence to support Interior’s listing — adding that polar bears in Alaska are well-managed and during the past three decades polar bear numbers in Alaska have dramatically increased. Fact: The world polar-bear population (24,000) stands at a modern-day high, up 40 percent since 1974.

Officials at Milan’s La Scala have announced (according to The Washington Post) they have commissioned composer Giorgio Battistelli to turn Al Gore’s “global-warming book/lecture/movie (‘An Inconvient Truth’) into an opera for their 2011 season.” Makes you feel warm all over, doesn’t it?

Romania’s parliament has passed a law requiring newspapers and television stations to report equal amounts of news “good” and “bad.” An excess of bad news is dangerous for the nation’s health — or something. Opponents are hoping for the good news of a presidential veto.

Susan Sarandon, each day challenging Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand for the Oscar for Idiocy, has proclaimed, in “this critical time,” her “faith in the American people.” To do what? To elect Barack Obama, of course. If the voters should prove so misguided and immature as to elect the dread John McCain, she says, she’ll hop the first plane out for Canada or Italy — there to take up permanent residence. Which would be yet another benefit of a McCain presidential victory.

Finally, this: A Wall Street Journal piece about Internet religious start-ups discovers the marvelously named “Church of the Latter-Day Dude.” According to the church’s 40-year-old founder, who lives in Thailand, Dudists (The Journal notes) practice “a modified version of Taoism and principles from the movie ‘The Big Lebowski.’ ” Let the record show that – probably – they also have more fun.

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