Friday, December 29, 2006


Here's a question that High School science teachers might want to include in their next pop quiz: Which of the following megalomaniacs caused the greatest amount of death and destruction in the 20th Century?

A- Josef Stalin
B- Adolf Hitler
C- Pol Pot
D- Rachel Carson

Here's a hint. The lies and distortions of the criminal in question resulted in more death, disease, poverty and misery than the other three combined.

The correct answer is critical to the understanding of how environmental science has evolved in the last forty years. With all the media jabbering about Globalism in 2006 one very dramatic development seems to have been overlooked. Last Summer The World Health Organization (WHO) said "Never Mind" and lifted its thirty year ban on the pesticide DDT. I could say better late than never, but I've never been accused of being overly charitable. No single act has done more to keep half the world's population imprisoned in the grip of poverty than the DDT ban. No class of people have done more to extend the misery of those living in the developing world than American and Western European environmental elitists.

Rachel Carson, the Joan of Arc of environmentalism, along with her enthusiastic accomplices at CBS News, willfully misrepresented and distorted the facts in her 1962 bestseller and subsequent CBS documentary, The Silent Spring. In doing so, she provided the instruction manual for all the environmental zealots that followed: Begin with a premise (pesticides are evil) then distort or fabricate the data to support it. The Aububon Society, Greenpeace, Earth First and their cheerleaders have all followed the strategy to perfection, even to the point of stifling dissenting voices, as demonstrated by Senators Rockefeller and Snowe just last week.

For those of us living in the comfort and security of the Industrialized World the results have been negligible. For the forgotten and invisible hundreds of millions who live beyond our view, the consequences have not been so benign. Malaria, a preventable parasitic condition which had long been in decline, is now the leading cause of disease and premature death. Worse, its social effects have been exponential, placing a tight lid on economic development so that even those not afflicted are condemned to a continuing cycle of grinding poverty. Governments have been held hostage to WHO extortion. Thailand defied the DDT ban throughout the 1980s and early 1990s and malaria there virtually disappeared. Finally, they could could no longer resist as the flow of United Nations aid dried up and the incidence of malaria slowly but surely rose again.

So now, the WHO has taken their "Mulligan" and admitted that maybe they were wrong about DDT. Nice try guys. Tell the families of the dead that you're sorry. Tell the mothers who wake up every morning wondering if this is the day that they will have to decide which of their children survive until sunset that you tried your best. More importantly, convince the world that those who have been so wrong about so much for so long should now be trusted, again. How many more will die needlessly in the 21st Century if we blindly follow today's environmental elitists?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Father Knows Best

I very rarely read New York Magazine, but a cover story caught my eye last week as I scanned the magazine rack in Dr. Zaman's waiting room.

Authentic Happiness. Now there's a concept.

The author of the article, a New Yorker, treated the subject the way the Discovery Channel describes UFO sightings. They know UFOs are fiction, dammit! Why do so many people claim to have seen them? Happiness, authentic or not, is something that most New Yorkers experience through the eyes of others. Happiness, like alien visitors from another planet, is an illusion; a construct created by delusional fools to camouflage their misery. To a practical and prudently-maladjusted New Yorker happiness is simply unfathomable.

Unhappiness? Now there's something the author could sink her teeth into. What causes unhappiness? What can we do about it? Well, since happiness is an illusion and unhappiness is reality, why would anyone want to do anything about it? More to the point, since unhappiness is the default position and therefore uncaused, why is she writing about the causes of unhappiness?

I think she's stumbled upon something here.

The lack of wealth does not cause unhappiness, she claimed. Rather, it's a relative lack of wealth that causes unhappiness. Instantly, hundreds of conversations raced through my mind. The law partner who whined to me about how tough it was trying to make ends meet on $500,000 a year. My upper-middle-class friend from an upscale town in Westchester whose 17 year old daughter sobbed because her new Lexus didn't have the performance package (a $5,000 option). It's an interesting question. New Yorkers can't help but be bombarded with evidence of conspicuous and excessive consumption. Very few of us can look around and not see thousands of things we can't have. But is this the cause of unhappiness, or simply the trigger?

My father, in addition to being a man of immense intellect and courage, is able to place almost any situation in its proper perpective. Years ago, while fishing on my small runabout in Reynolds Channel I mentioned that it would be nice to have one of those fully-decked-out sport fishing boats that were buzzing past us. He pointed to the crowd fishing on the Magnolia Street Pier and said that those guys were looking at us and thinking the same thing. I was an adult at the time but this was an Andy-and-Opie moment, one of many that we've had over the course of the decades.

"Go after what you want in life," he taught me, "and don't look into anyone else's wallet." It was a lesson I took to heart at a very early age.

Basically it all comes down to this: If I get what I want, I'm a happy guy.

"Mr. Martini..." called Dr. Zaman's nurse. I put down the magazine, smiling, and went in for my yearly echocardiagram. "You're 100%," the doctor reported. "Keep exercising, watch what you eat and STAY OFF THAT MOTORCYCLE!"

"One out of three ain't bad," I mumbled.

The next morning I played the Red Course at Eisenhower Park and shot a 40 on the front nine.

Authentic happiness.

On the back, the course having somehow discovered my true handicap, double bogey followed double bogey followed double bogey for a 49. Yet just as I descended into sleep that night a wide-screen HD image emerged: A perfect swing with my 3 iron, my second shot soaring toward the Par 5 First Green and gently coming to rest 20 feet from the pin.

Before I could reach for my putter, I was fast asleep.