Now Is a Great Time to Go to Europe

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

My wife and I travel to Europe about every eight months. (Photographs? I thought you’d never ask!) In order to minimize costs, we closely monitor exchange rates, preferring to book trips when the rate is favorable.

Currently, 1 U.S. dollar purchases 0.89 euros. The exchange rate hasn’t been this good for American travelers since September 2003. (See chart.)

It’s raining euros, hallelujah! (Credit: European Central Bank)

The good news (for Americans travelers and European exporters, but not necessarily anybody else) is that the euro is expected to keep falling. In fact, The Economist predicts that the U.S. dollar may reach parity with the euro sometime this year. That hasn’t happened since November 2002.

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These 3 Big Elections May Determine Europe’s Fate

On January 1, Lithuania became the newest member of the Eurozone, joining a club of eighteen other nations in a currency union that has troubled Europe’s economy for the past several years. Unfortunately, the celebration over Lithuanian membership will be short lived, because 2015 will prove to be a turbulent year. Indeed, three important elections pose an existential threat to the European Union as we know it. Read the rest at The National Interest.

Vladimir Putin Embodies the Russian Mindset

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

(ELBLĄG, Poland) — Comedian Norm Macdonald was fond of pointing out that Germans love David Hasselhoff. As true as it may have been (and may still be), Germany’s infatuation with “The Hoff” pales in comparison to Russia’s admiration of Vladimir Putin, that archaeology-loving, race-car-driving, tiger-tranquilizing, bare-chested survivalist known affectionately to some former world leaders as Pooty-Poot. Continue reading

Is the Left Capable of Governing in Europe?

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

Contrary to the imaginations of most Americans, Europe is not a socialist utopia — mainly because it’s neither socialist nor utopian. Yes, Europeans favor bigger government and more generous social safety nets, but (depending on the country) they can be surprisingly conservative, particularly on the issues of abortion and immigration. Continue reading

Chernobyl Radiation Changed Rodent Hair Color?

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

When people think of radioactivity, many imagine it converting cute, fluffy animals into scary, green, glowing mutants. But, that’s just a myth. Radioactivity is invisible. The reason we associate radiation with “glowing green” is because many types of instrument dials (such as a clock face) were painted with radioluminescent paint, a mixture that contained a radioactive isotope (often radium) and other chemicals that would emit green light in response to the radiation. Similarly, while it is true that some nuclear power plants produce a hauntingly blue glow, this is not because the radioactive fuel itself is glowing, but because of a strange phenomenon known as Cherenkov radiation, in which particles moving faster than the speed of light emit photons, generally in the UV to blue light range.

However, this is not the whole story. The great radiation/color narrative has taken yet another twist. A team of scientists led by Zbyszek Boratyński has reported in the journal Scientific Reports that Chernobyl radiation has changed the hair color of local rodents. Continue reading

How the Polish Buried Their Vampires

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Belief in vampires was a global phenomenon. Cultures all over the world once believed that certain humans wander the Earth after their death, engaging in acts of decidedly anti-social behavior. Though most sophisticated scholars know that wooden stakes and sunlight work best, each culture had invented various methods of dispatching those vampires permanently into the afterlife. Continue reading

Europeans & Their Highfalutin, Pollutin’ Scooters

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

This coming summer, I will be making my 13th trip to Europe. I thoroughly enjoy the various cultures with which I come into contact, despite the sometimes thinly veiled sense of superiority that lurks beneath the surface of many Europeans. Because of that, as well as Europe’s tendency to lecture Americans on how to be good global citizens (while simultaneously destroying the Baltic Sea), I can’t resist occasionally poking back when given the opportunity.

And that opportunity is now. Continue reading

Black Death: The Upside to Killing Half of Europe

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The doctor will see you now.

The Black Death, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, wiped out 30 to 50 percent of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351. But, this is just the most infamous of the little microbe’s shenanigans.Y. pestis, which is one-millionth our size, has caused three major pandemics and continues killing people to this very day. The plague gets such a bad rap because it represents some of the greatest tragedies to ever befall the human race. Continue reading

How Europe Is Destroying the Baltic Sea

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Europeans are rather proud of how environmentally superior they believe themselves to be. For instance, Europeans were indignant when the U.S. decided to not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. In Germany, environmentalism is trendy, and the Green Party is actually a viable political organization, holding 10% of the seats in Parliament. Europeans also unscientifically (and ironically) reject nuclear power and GMOs, all over supposed concern for the environment. Continue reading