Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Some interesting thoughts from Paul Graham.
Monday, December 29, 2008
OSTER, STAUFFENBERG, AND VALYKRIE
I haven’t yet seen “Valkyrie,” but I’m pretty familiar with the relevant history, and will be interested to see how accurately it is reflected in the film.
It appears that–as is the case with almost all writing/video dealing with the German military conspiracy against Hitler–the film is strongly focused on the activities of Colonel Count Stauffenberg. It’s easy to see why filmmakers would want to emphasize Stauffenberg’s role and story–with his aristocratic lineage, his good looks, his attractive wife, and his love of poetry (he was a devotee of Stefan George), the man makes a fine dramatic hero. Stauffenberg was a complex individual and a man of many quirks, some of them likeable–like his habit of lying on the rug with his wife and reading English novels together, each waiting for the other to finish the page–and some not so likeable, like his tendency to lose his temper if his boots weren’t lined up precisely by his adjutant. One can see why he would be attractive to writers and movie-makers.
continued at Chicago Boyz
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
A Christmas reading from Thomas Pynchon.
Rick Darby has some thoughts on the season.
An air traffic control version of The Night Before Christmas.
The first radio broadcast of voice and music took place on Christmas Eve, 1906. Or maybe not.
On December 25, 1944, the Battle of the Bulge was still very much in progress. Here is a contemporary radio report.
And here is a complaint that Christmas is not what it once was. From 1740.
(This is a rerun of my Christmas 2007 post. The link for the 1740 complaint doesn't work anymore; I'll scout around when I have a chance and see if I can find another copy of it.)
See my post at Chicago Boyz
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Some remarkable pictures of snowflakes, taken with a photomicroscope. Lots more pictures and information here.
Friday, December 19, 2008
A TRULY DIABOLICAL MONETARY POLICY
...from Goethe's Faust.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
STILL MORE ON THE AUTO BAILOUT
Michael Barone on Taylorism and the Wagner Act
Lori Stillwagon Roman writes about her experiences in supervising workers at a GM plant.
Brian Douglas suggests that much of the criticism of the Big 3 is based on outdated perceptions of poor quality.
Lots of coverage of bailout-related issues, with lots of reader comments, at Carpe Diem.
THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF THE INTERNET
...has now been fulfilled.
This according to Rachel Lucas, so you can be pretty sure that the Ultimate Purpose has something to do with dog pictures.
Monday, December 15, 2008
An analysis of jobs created by the Apple iPod, both in the U.S. and in other countries. The conclusion (and this is only an approximation)is that the iPod has created 41,000 jobs worldwide, of which about 27,000 are outside the U.S. and 14,000 in the U.S. The aggregate wages represented by these jobs, however, are much higher for the U.S.--$753 million, versus $318 million for the non-U.S. workers.
(via BusinessWeek's chief economist, Michael Mandel)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The legislation to protect children from lead in toys and other products, however well-intentioned, is likely to cripple and even destroy hundreds of companies--especially small, home-based companies--whose products are perfectly safe. This from Evolving Excellence, who points out a number of practical problems with the legislation.
Problem #1: certification testing must be done by a lab on a "certified list". This list isn't exactly long, and their are hundreds of thousands of products. Guess what is happening to those labs: the waiting list for lab work extends out months and the cost per lab workup has gone from $200 to as much as $6000... per sample.
# Problem #2: testing must be done at the product level, not the component level. So a common component used in multiple types of products must be tested multiple times. What does this mean? Each SKU must be tested separately, even if they are virtually identical. One pair of jeans and a slightly different pair of jeans, both using the exact same raw denim, must be tested separately. See the video below, where a manufacturer of science kits has 40,000 SKU's... and is looking at a $20 million dollar cost for initial certification testing. This is why many products, and companies, will simply cease to be sold.
These are only the first 2 of the 5 major problems that EE identifies with this legislation. Read the whole thing.
February 10, when this law take effect, is being referred to as national bankruptcy day.
Congresspeople talk endlessly about the need to "save good American manufacturing jobs"--but at the same time, they often pass legislation which is extremely damaging to the manufacturing sector, without bothering to take the trouble to understand what they are actually doing. And when it comes to small manufacturing companies whose employees do not represent substantial voting constituencies and whose managements do not represent a substantial source of campaign funds--there are many in Congress who do not really even care what happens to them.
Here's an example of a toy which will no longer be available in the U.S. as a consequence of the new regulations. (via Glenn)
UPDATE: Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
CHICAGO BOYZ DISCUSSION ON GENERAL MOTORS
I posted the question “What would you do if you were running General Motors?” A lively discussion resulted, with over 100 comments…thought it might be worthwhile reposting in view of recent events.
One of the most memorable comments was from Ralf, on another discussion thread:
"What would you do if you were running General Motors?"
I would stop running the company and start just plain running. :)
(cross-posted at Chicago Boyz)
Friday, December 12, 2008
THRIVING ON CHANGE
...the Calvin and Hobbes way.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
MORE ON THE AUTO BAILOUT
Newly-elected Congressman Jared Polis (a Democrat!) offers some interesting thoughts on the politics of the automotive industry:
Our United States Congress of lawyers, doctors, diplomats, retired military officers and career politicians — along with their staffs of intelligent young political science majors and MBAs — now finds itself poring over “business plans” submitted this week by Ford, GM and Chrysler. People who have never before in their lives seen — no less implemented — a business plan are now trying to decide if these companies will succeed by means of a “capital infusion” with various imposed preconditions and negotiate what we taxpayers (investors) should be getting for our money. Something is wrong with this picture.
Continued at Chicago Boyz.
This research suggests that when radiologists are given a photograph of the patient's face along with the CAT scan image, they tend to do a better job than when they see just the CAT scan.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
PEARL HARBOR DAY
One woman's memories.
U.S. Navy history site.
Neptunus Lex remembers a visit to Pearl Harbor while serving aboard the USS Constellation.
An extensive collection of Pearl Harbor links from La Shawn Barber's 2005 post.
Also from 2005: Sheila O'Malley posted an interesting historical document.
Friday, December 05, 2008
AN AUTOMOTIVE BAILOUT?
Can anything be added to the oceans of ink and terabytes of data that have been expended in discussing this issue so far?
See the discussion thread at Chicago Boyz.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Fund manager John Hussman shows that the intrinsic value of American corporations, in the aggregate, has been far more stable than the stock-market valuations of those companies. He also asserts that in times of market panic, selling tends to be indiscriminate, and the wheat (good companies) is thrown out along with the chaff (dubious and outright bad companies.)
T J Rodgers, CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, argues that rulings of the Financial Accounting Standards Board have made corporate financial statements "indecipherable" to the point of bringing about serious harm to American business.