Politics, culture, business, and technology

I also blog at ChicagoBoyz.


Selected Posts:
Sleeping with the Enemy
Dancing for the Boa Constrictor
Koestler on Nuance
A Look into the Abyss
Hospital Automation
Made in America
Politicians Behaving Badly
Critics and Doers
Foundations of Bigotry?
Bonhoeffer and Iraq
Misvaluing Manufacturing
Journalism's Nuremberg?
No Steak for You!
An Academic Bubble?
Repent Now
Enemies of Civilization
Molly & the Media
Misquantifying Terrorism
Education or Indoctrination?
Dark Satanic Mills
Political Violence Superheated 'steem
PC and Pearl Harbor
Veterans' Day Musings
Arming Airline Pilots
Pups for Peace
Baghdad on the Rhine

Book Reviews:
Forging a Rebel
The Logic of Failure
The Innovator's Solution
They Made America
On the Rails: A Woman's Journey

arts & letters daily
natalie solent
critical mass
john bruce
joanne jacobs
number 2 pencil
roger l simon
common sense and wonder
sheila o'malley
invisible adjunct
red bird rising
academic game
rachel lucas
betsy's page
one hand clapping
a schoolyard blog
joy of knitting
lead and gold
damian penny
annika's journal
little miss attila
no credentials
university diaries
trying to grok
a constrained vision
victory soap
business pundit
right reason
quid nomen illius?
sister toldjah
the anchoress
reflecting light
dr sanity
all things beautiful
dean esmay
brand mantra
economics unbound
dr melissa
dr helen
right on the left coast
digital Rules
college affordability
the energy blog
tinkerty tonk
meryl yourish
kesher talk
assistant village idiot
evolving excellence
neptunus lex
the daily brief
roger scruton
bookworm room
villainous company
lean blog

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008  

If a group of people burned a Danish flag, while raging against Denmark because that country refuses to interfere with the freedom of the press...then what would you call those people?

The Associated Press, in the headline to this story, called them "human rights activists."

See also here.

The good news is that AP--fairly promptly--sent out a correction and eliminated the "human rights activists" verbiage from the headline. But any responsible adults in AP management might want to ask how such a headline got written, approved, and distributed in the first place.

Note also some deeply disturbing comments by Bill Clinton, who seems more concerned about protecting people from being offended than in maintaining freedom of expression and protecting people from violent threats.

UPDATE: Here's some bizarre coverage of another matter from another legacy-media organization, the LA Times:

Palestinians protest blockade of Gaza

The demonstration is mostly peaceful, though 11 rockets are fired into Israel

As Israelis watched nervously from across the border, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip staged parallel protests Monday against the Jewish state, placing a few thousand placard-waving demonstrators along the main highway and firing 11 rockets into Israel.

Here's what those rockets actually do.

Does the LAT Style Manual now define the firing of rockets at civilians as a type of protest demonstration?

Could it be that the demonstration was mostly peaceful because of those "thousands of Israeli troops and police" who were deployed along the border and backed by an artillery battery?

And here's some coverage from the Toronto Star which is even worse--much worse.

(via Mere Rhetoric and Meryl Yourish)

1:14 PM

Tuesday, February 26, 2008  

Don Sensing has some thoughts here: Snark Does Not Equal Wisdom. See also my previous links on snideness and sarcasm.

7:45 AM

Monday, February 25, 2008  

Screenwriter Roger Simon wonders if it would be possible today.

4:40 PM

Sunday, February 24, 2008  

On Friday, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey sent a letter to House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes. Note this sentence:

We have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress’ failure to act.

My previous post on this subject is here.

(Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz)

8:08 AM

Saturday, February 23, 2008  

Our great Mikado, virtuous man
When he to rule our land began
Resolved to try
A plan whereby
Young men might best be steadied
So he decreed, in words succinct
That all who flirted, leered or winked
(Unless connubially linked)
Should forthwith be beheaded

--Gilbert & Sullivan, 1885

See this story.

UPDATE: NeoNeocon had the same thought--and she has video.

5:48 PM


Richard Rapaport, writing in Advertising Age, distinguishes subtle irony from obnoxious snideness, and explains why the difference matters. Via Dean's World.

Snideness is of course closely related to sarcasm, and Rapaport's piece reminded me of these comments from Field Marshal Lord Wavell.

7:21 AM

Thursday, February 21, 2008  

A post at Chicago Boyz, inspired by a discussion of transportation and urban planning at the same blog.

6:11 AM

Wednesday, February 20, 2008  

The United Methodist Women's Division has published a children's book called "From Palestine to Seattle; Becoming Neighbors and Friends." See this review by Mark Tooley, who is director of United Methodist Action at the Institute for Religion and Democracy. Based on the review, the book looks to be extremely biased against Israel.

The harm done by this sort of thing is tremendous--not only harm to Israel, which is bad enough, but harm to all civilized societies and to their ability to resist terrorist barbarism.

(via Seraphic Secret)

9:11 AM

Tuesday, February 19, 2008  

A couple of years ago, I posted about the Antikythera Mechanism, a mechanical analog computer which is more than 2000 years old. More on this device here.

6:41 PM


No one is perfect, but these attributes can help a leader survive his shortcomings.

8:14 AM

Sunday, February 17, 2008  

At midnight on Saturday, certain statutory authorizations for the interception of terrorist communications were allowed–by congressional inaction–to expire. Post and discussion at Chicago Boyz.

7:43 PM

Thursday, February 14, 2008  

There's been tremendous media coverage of the consumer attributes of the stimulus package, but very little discussion of the business investment incentives in the package. Here's a useful summary (PDF) from Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturers.

I think this will do some good. The problem with this kind of thing, though, is that many investment decisions take more than a year to put into implementation. If CSX railroad wants to buy some additional locomotive to handle increased rail traffic, they are likely to find that the locomotive plants are fully booked for the year and it's not possible to get the new equipment before the stimulus program's Dec 31 deadline. This isn't just a big-company concern. A small manufacturing company that has long had its eye on a sophisticated machine tool or materials-handling system, but has been unable to afford it, may now find that it is too late to order it in time to quality for the incentive package.

The end-of-2008 deadline is, of course, intended to accelerate capital spending plans in order to minimize severity of any recession, and specifically to optimize economic results in this particular year with the objective of maximizing the re-election of congressional incumbents. I think a better approach would be a permanent change in the expensing/depreciation rules, with the objective of reducing the tax code's discrimination against businesses that are capital-asset-intensive. This is unlikely to happen, though, for political reasons.

(link via shopfloor.org)

8:06 AM

Wednesday, February 13, 2008  

...because it increasingly seems that the first 3 digits must be one, nine, and three.

(IsraelNN.com) A Belgian restaurant waiter threw out a 64-year-old American professor because he was wearing a skullcap [kipa], according to the European Jewish Press. "We are not serving Jews; [get] out of here," the waiter shouted at Marcel Kalmann after he entered the Le Paniel D'Or cafe in the city of Bruges

The tourist went to another cafe, where the owners helped him call the police. A Belgian Jewish newspaper reported that Kalmann said he will lodge a complaint against the restaurant owner and against the police for telling him the incident was not anti-Semitic and that he could not file a complaint in English.

Kalmann was born in the Auschwitz death camp three days before it was liberated by Allied troops.
(via Pamela)

Also, read Rachel Neuwirth: On The Present Danger Facing Israel And All Jews (via Robert Avrech) and watch this video.

See other What Year Is This? posts here and here, also here.

11:42 AM

Monday, February 11, 2008  

From coffee makers and lights to factories and hospitals. At Lean Blog.

UPDATE: And here's something that does work.

6:31 PM


Can you help this industry out?

3:29 PM

Sunday, February 10, 2008  

Platinum is a valuable metal which is used in automotive catalytic converters, and as a catalyst in various industrial processes, in addition to its traditional application in jewelry. Production of this substance has been heavily impacted by electricity shortages in South Africa, which have required platinum mines and refineries to curtail production.

Why the electricity shortages? Apparently, South Africa made a huge bet on the rapid development of hydroelectric resources in neighboring countries. In this, they were strongly encouraged by various international organizations and foreign governments, which were concerned about the environmental impact of any new coal-fired plants to be built in South Africa.

Well, the hydro projects are badly behind schedule, for political reasons as well as because of the inherent difficulty of the sites involved. So it looks like South Africa will go ahead and build coal plants, but they won't be completed until 2012 at the earliest. In the meantime, the country is facing power shortages. It may be possible to operate the platinum mines with diesel generators (although at considerably greater expense than would be involved with purchased coal or hydropower), but apparently the platinum refineries use such vast amounts of power that self-generation is not a realistic option.

My first thought on reading about this was that maybe the platinum ore could be transported, by rail and sea, to refining locations where electrical power is available at a reasonable cost. However, 10-25 tons of platinum ore is required for each ounce of platinum extracted, so this is probably not a very feasible proposition.

As the Financial Times writer points out, the platinium situation is an interesting example of leverage--which he defines as "the dependence of a lot of stuff on a little bit of stuff" in a sense different from the normal use of that term in finance. The unavailability of small amounts of platinum may well have an economic impact which is entirely disproportionate to the direct value of that platium.

U.S. citizens and leadership should also learn from South Africa's experience: once you wind up in a situation where adequate electrical power is unavailable, the economic impacts will be severe, and there will be no quick way out.

As always, nothing on this weblog should be considered as investment advice.

9:45 AM

Saturday, February 09, 2008  

University professors in many disciplines apparently received an e-mail asking them to devote class time on January 31 to a discussion of climate change.

Here's one professor's response. I particularly like this:

Neither of the courses I am teaching this term has anything to do with climate change. I would not pay my veterinarian if he talked about climate change instead of examining my cat. I would not pay a piano teacher for a full hour’s lesson if she spent part of that time teaching me about climate change instead of teaching me piano. My students are entitled to the same respect from me that I expect from service providers. This means providing the service my students signed up for rather than whatever I decide is most important.

Discussion at Erin O'Connor's site.

8:40 AM

Thursday, February 07, 2008  

I was down at CPAC today, where I had the pleasure of meeting Pamela and Eric and of renewing an old acquaintance with Little Miss Attila. The highlight of the formal program so far was the talk by Mark Steyn--there are a lot of people who write very well but are mediocre or worse at public speaking, and I was pleasantly surprised by his excellent presentation.

If anyone is going to be there tomorrow and would like to get together for a drink or something, drop me an email or leave a note in comments at Chicago Boyz, where this is cross-posted.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Ace on winning the CPAC Blogger of the Year Award.

I enjoyed meeting Karol and Skye, both of whom have CPAC pictures up--also the famous N Z Bear, who doesn't look much like the picture on his blog.

5:06 PM

Wednesday, February 06, 2008  

...without actually owning them.

8:09 AM

Sunday, February 03, 2008  

Andrew Klavan writes about Hollywood's portrayal of Americans at war--then and now.

8:08 AM

Friday, February 01, 2008  

See my post at Chicago Boyz.

7:02 PM

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