Friday, June 29, 2007
CHANGE, REAL AND IMITATION
Lead and Gold has an interesting post on Fad-surfing and corralled rebellion.
L&G has written extensively on corporate change--one interesting post is here. Note particularly these thoughts by Henry Mintzberg:
The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting the subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation. Such discontinuities are unexpected and irregular, essentially unprecedented. They can be dealt with only by minds that are attuned to existing patterns yet able to perceive important breaks in them. Unfortunately, this form of strategic thinking tends to atrophy during the long periods of stability that most organizations experience.
Mintzberg, "Crafting Strategy", Harvard Business Review, (July -August, 1987)
Managers may be so busy discussing strategies and budgets on schedule year after year that when real change becomes necessary, they miss it
Mintzberg, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Please welcome Neptunus Lex and The Daily Brief to the left sidebar. Other excellent military-related blogs, to which I've been linking for a while now, are Trying to Grok and Chapomatic.
Don Sensing, who is a Methodist minister, has a new associate blogger: Daniel Jackson, a rabbi living in Israel. Lots of posts lately, including some nice photographs. John Krenson, an ordained Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, also blogs at Don's site. (Isn't there a joke that starts out like that? "A minister, a rabbi, and a priest decide to start a blog...") All three are thoughtful writers.
I was pleased to find that the noted philosopher Roger Scruton has a blog--also, lots of stuff at his website.
ATTENTION BOOK LOVERS
The Green Valley Book Fair is a four-times-yearly event held in Harrisonburg, VA, featuring over 500,000 new books with discounted prices. It has been called "the best bookstore on the East Coast." The selection always includes many unusual titles which you would be unlikely to find in your average chain or local book store.
The next opening of the Fair will be from June 30 thru July 15.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
THE NATURE OF DICTATORSHIPS
See my post at Chicago Boyz, which includes a link to an interview with Mario Vargas Llosa.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
STEAM-POWERED CARS: THE SEQUEL
BMW is developing a technology it calls TurboSteamer, which captures waste heat from car engines and puts it to work. Heat from the exhaust boils and superheats water, and heat from the cooling system boils ethanol (which is being used as a heat transfer medium, not burned as in conventional ethanol-powered cars)--the steam from the water and the vapor from the ethanol power separate small steam engines which feed mechanical power back into the drive train. BMW estimates a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency through use of this technology. More here.
I don't think there's any reason in principle why TurboSteamer couldn't be combined with hybrid electric technology for even better efficiency gains, but in practice there would probably be issues with space and weight--so it's most likely one or the other for any given car. My guess is that the hybrids will be better if you're doing a lot of stop-and-go driving (since braking energy is recovered and stored in the battery) but the TurboSteamer would have more benefits for those who are mainly doing highway driving.
BMW originally announced this technology in late 2005, and at the time estimated that it was 10 years away from commercial production--which sounds like an awfully long time for something that doesn't appear to need any major R&D breakthroughs. They did say that they expect the system to be small enough for use on all BMW models.
The greatest triumph of the steam-powered automobile was, of course, the Stanley Steamer, which was made from 1906 thru 1925. I actually saw one of these on the highway, going about 60mph, a few years ago.
Here's an extensive collection of information on the Stanley--note especially the marketing brochure from 1918, which is very nicely done.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Sarah takes on 9/11 conspiracy theorists and their "questions need to be asked" posturing. An excellent post.
More on 9/11 conspiracy theories--and the frightening number of people who believe in them--here.
Sarah also has some thoughts related to my post Free Range Kids: A Vanishing Breed?
Friday, June 22, 2007
A 3D digital model of ancient Rome, circa 320 A.D.
Via Kesher Talk and Right on the Left Coast. More information about the project here.
So far, there doesn't seem to be any way that you can explore the model directly unless you're a member of the research team. There are some walk-throughs, in video form, at the first link above.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Sometime today, the counter for this blog passed 100K page views. (This is since Sitemeter was installed, which if I recall correctly was about 2 1/2 years ago.)
Not a huge number by the standards of big-time blogs, but still, a nice milestone.
Thanks for reading!
Monday, June 18, 2007
WHEN DEVILS WALK THE EARTH
This important Ralph Peters essay, to which I just linked at Chicago Boyz, is relevant to this discussion about terrorism and the situation in Gaza.
I won't even try to summarize this idiocy--just go read about it.
I can imagine something like this in a South Park episode.
UPDATE: Dr Helen has another unbelievable story about "educational" bureaucracy. There's an extensive discussion. See also my posts Zero Tolerance-Zero Judgment-Zero Compassion and Philip Queeg Public High School.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Charlie Munger, who is Warren Buffett's partner, spoke at a law school commencement last month, and this blogger was taking notes.
I posted another talk by Munger last year--there's some overlap between the two, but both are well worth reading.
(recent Munger speech notes via Business Pundit)
Friday, June 15, 2007
FREE-RANGE KIDS: A VANISHING BREED?
Here's another story from Britain:
Children are so cocooned by their parents that they rarely venture far from home and have little concept of space, volume and how the world actually works, David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, said yesterday.
The area in which children were allowed to range freely by their parents was a ninth of what it was a generation ago, he said. He also referred to "most worrying" research which showed children could not grasp basic maths.
"The research tracked the grasp of basic mathematical concepts. For example, you pour water from a tall thin glass into a broad low glass and ask the children if it is the same volume of water.
"The evidence is that in the past 10 or 15 years or so the proportion of children who understand at the age of seven that it is the same volume of water has gone down significantly.
Willetts connects this declining ability to understand math concepts with their reduced experience with the physical world. A very interesting article; read the whole thing, including the link to the story about the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents--which believes parents have become too risk-averse and that kids should be allowed to do things that can result in minor injuries.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
INDIA: GETTING TOO EXPENSIVE?
Tata Consultancy Services, a large Indian IT services provider, has opened a software development facility in Mexico and is planning to hire 5000 people in that country. "We see costs rising in India and people becoming less available," said a TCS executive. "That’s why we’re going to places like Latin America, which has professionals and reasonable costs."
This article puts wage inflation in the Indian IT sector at about 15%. The rupee has also been rising against the dollar, weakening the competitive position of Indian outsourcers providing services to the U.S.
Some Indian firms, including Infosys Technologies and Wipro, have established operations in Eastern Europe, specifically the Czech Republic and Romania. For customers in Western Europe, these locations offer time-zone and geographical proximity benefits, as well as alternative sources for skilled personnel.
And here is an Indian CEO of an American company who has decided to close his Bangalore office and consolidate operations in the U.S.--because of rising costs in India he finds that the expense of maintaining two separate facilities, separated by thousands of miles, cannot be justified.
He has a very interesting blog--be sure to read about Vineet's job interview at the linked post.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
AN ANALYSIS OF THE ANTI-ISRAEL MOVEMENT
Boycotts directed against Israel are proliferating in the U.K. Carolyn Glick points out that those who attack Israel are in fact attacking their own civilization:
By calling for a boycott of Israeli universities, Britain's academic establishment is turning its back not only on Israel, but on Britain.
Don't kid yourself that this phenomenon is limited to Britain, or to Europe:
IN THE US, the situation is depressingly similar. At leading universities, professors and students who openly support Israel and the US campaign in Iraq are hounded and isolated.
Read the whole thing. Via Spogbolt.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
THE TRIVIALIZATION OF SCIENCE TEACHING
See my post at ChicagoBoyz.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
We can be knowledgeable with other men's knowledge, bu we cannot be wise with other men's wisdom.
--Montaigne, quoted in a book titled HOW, by Dov Seidman.
Previous Worth Pondering
Thursday, June 07, 2007
INTEREST RATES AND EQUITY RETURNS
The yield on the 10-year Treasury reached 5.1% today.
There's always a lot of discussion about the relationship between current interest rates and stock investment returns going forward. The so-called "Fed model" is based on a comparison between 10-year Treasury rate and the earnings yield on the S&P 500. (Earnings yield being the inverse of the price/earnings ratio, so that a P/E of 20 would equate to an earnings yield of 5%.)
Fund manager John Hussman doesn't have a very high opinion of this model:
Wall Street is presently managing trillions of dollars of other people's money on the basis of a single toy model, originally discovered in a packet at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.
Read his very interesting analysis of the historical performance of the model and of the conceptual problems with it: How Much Do Interest Rates Affect the Fair Value of Stocks?
As always, nothing on this weblog should be considered as investment advice.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
NORMANDY, JUNE 6, 1944
Gold, Sword, Omaha... Names that should be known to all, but fewer remember them with each passing year. Fewer still are taught about them. Today, take a moment and remember. Take a moment, and teach. Stand silent for a moment, and remember all those who died this day, so that the light of freedom could shine again, for at least a while, on a continent gone dark.
--Black Five. An extensive collection of D-Day links from 2004, here.
Sarah has pictures from her 1999 trip to Normandy.
My post Transmission Ends describes the way in which one community got the news about local casualties from the invasion.
What if the invasion had failed? Thoughts by Donald Sensing.
Before D-Day, there was Dieppe.
Lionel Chetwynd, a screenwriter and film executive, describes what happened when he expressed interest in making a movie about Dieppe. Who's The Real Enemy?
Monday, June 04, 2007
THE LEFT VERSUS ISRAEL
Leo McKinstry writes about the vicious hostility toward Israel on the part of British leftists and their organizations.
Anyone who thinks this is only a U.K. phenomenon is kidding themselves. In the U.S., general attitudes toward Israel are much more positive than they are in most European countries, but here also the primary drivers of anti-Israel attitudes are on the Left and in academia.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
THE REFINERY CAPACITY CRUNCH
Some interesting perspectives from a commenter who calls himself 26 year old refinery guy, at the R-Squared Energy Blog. Just scroll down a few paragraphs.
JUST BECAUSE I LIKE IT
A poem from the early 16th century, by John Skelton, at ChicagoBoyz.