My four boxes of Great Books arrived yesterday. I will not lack for reading material for quite awhile. I went through the books (1982 ed., it turns out) to see what was added to the later editions (what I was missing, in other words). I found that many of the more modern authors were added, including Moliere, Racine, Voltaire, Diderol, Kierkegaard, Nietzche, Balzac, George Eliot, Twain, Austen, and Ibsen.
In other reading topics, I came upon a copy of the August 2007 Imprimis issue with an article by S. Fred singer [ Professor Emeritus of environmental Sciences, University of Virginia]. I found his article on Global Warming (Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?) to be very interesting. Aside from his dispute that any significant Man-Made Warming is occurring, he makes a point about whether this matters or not.
His point is that there are significant policy consequences that emanate from this misinterpretation of naturally-occurring warming/cooling cycles. While encouraging energy conservation to reduce waste, save money and lower energy prices, he makes the point that some of these consequences are:
* Regulation of CO2 emissions is pointless and even counterproductive, in that no matter what kind of mitigation scheme is used, such regulation is hugely expensive.
* The development of non-fossil fuel energy sources, like ethanol and hydrogen, might be counterproductive, given that they have to be manufactured, often with the investment of great amounts of ordinary energy. Nor do they offer much reduction in oil imports.
* Wind power and solar power become less attractive, being uneconomic and requiring huge subsidies.
* Substituting natural gas for coal in electricity generation makes less sense for the same reasons.
Singer characterizes much of the discussion about global warming as "hysteria", rather than science. He had quite a few things to say about the various individuals (Al Gore among them) who are directly benefiting from the global warming scare at the expense of the ordinary consumer.
Summarizing, he mentions that "The nations of the world face many difficult problems. Many have societal problems like poverty, disease, lack of sanitation, and shortage of clean water. There are grave security problems arising from global terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Any of these problems are vastly more important than the imaginary problem of man-made global warming. It is a great shame that so many of our resources are being diverted from real problems to this non-problem. Perhaps in ten or 20 years this will become apparent to everyone, particularly if the climate should stop warming (as it has for eight years now) or even begin to cool."
Check out the article and the other issues online...
I also just received my March 2008 issue of This Rock. Since I recently finished reading Augustus, a fictional account based upon the life of Augustus Caesar, I found Carl E. Olson's article Are the Gospels Myth? particularly interesting. At the beginning of the article he makes the point of just how few manuscript copies exist that document many of the historical events that are not questioned by many who are quite skeptical of the historical accuracy of the Gospels. I read this new issue from cover to cover yesterday while working with the boys on their schoolwork.
In the stack of mail that came in after the trip was an update from the Monks of Clear Creek. With great joy I read the account of their move to the new monastery after 35 years of working to that end. They generously send out wonderful recordings of chant made at their Fontgombault Monastery in France a few times per year to benefactors. These CD's are also available for sale at their website. Buy a few CD's and support this beautiful monastery.
I've also taken up reading Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, which has been sitting on the shelf for a very long time. I note that the original printing was in 1989 (where have I been?). My boys have a board game based upon this book that is great fun. We picked it up in Germany last spring when we were there, and have never seen it in the U.S. in a store. It is called Die Säulen der Erde (and is available online, btw). The boys and my husband have had a great time with the game -- all the cards and instructions are in German, of course, which helps us along with teaching the boys a bit of the language while having fun.
Time to get to schoolwork with the boys for the day... They've officially graduated to the next grades. We started the next grades after we returned from our trip. New books and materials somehow make it a bit more exciting (at least at the outset).