Thursday, April 30, 2009
TWO ITEMS...AND TWO QUESTIONS
At Chicago Boyz
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
From a letter to the editor in today’s WSJ:
A few years after retirement I had a chat with an eager young fellow a month away from his MBA in finance at the Wharton School. I asked what appealed to him about finance. “It is so scientific,” he replied. I then asked him what he thought about Long-Term Capital Management. “Never heard of it,” was his answer.
cross-posted at Chicago Boyz
TOYOTA, GM, HOSPITALS, AND DONUTS
Ultimately, the only thing that can distinguish an organization is its people. In many industries, we can all buy the same equipment and arrange it in the same physical process. When I was at GM Powertrain in the mid '90s, we had the same engine block machining equipment as our competitors, laid out basically the same way... and we had HALF the productivity and worse quality.
This wasn't because GM started with a bunch of dummies, compared to Toyota. Both companies pretty much hired from the same labor pool originally. Toyota people in Kentucky weren't inherently smarter than GM people in Michigan. Toyota developed the problem solving and continuous improvement capabilities of their people, while GM asked people to "check their brain at the door" (either implicitly or explicitly).
I hear the same thing in many hospitals, sadly, that highly skilled employees are told to just do their jobs as they are told instead of participating in process improvement.
Read the whole thing to find out where the donuts come in.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Is the surge in piracy caused by a kind of immune-system deficiency disease in the Western societies?
What will Obama's tax plans do to small businesses?
UPDATE: A couple more..
Geithner: fox in the henhouse?
Self-inflicted wounds at General Motors
San Jose Unified School District invested three million dollars with the intent of going into the large-scale pizza production business.
It turned out to be harder than they thought.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The year is 1000 BC. You are a Chinese official in charge of caravans and messengers. Some of these travelers need to cross an unmarked plain, which is subject to sandstorms, thick cloud layers, and heavy fogs…and they have frequently been getting lost. You need something that will aways point south. Problem: the magnetic compass has not yet been invented.
Can you think of a way–without using magnetic principles or other technology that wasn’t likely to be available in 1000 BC…to solve this problem? Think about it for a few minutes before reading further.
continued at Chicago Boyz
The end of free speech in Britain.
(via Common Sense & Wonder)
Double Standard: WSJ's Bret Stephens notes that media coverage of Israel and the Palestinians is very different from media coverage of Russia and the Chechnyans.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
In 2007, Time magazine did a feature on the 50 worst cars of all time. One of the cars named--along with the 1958 Ford Edsel and the 1970 AMC Gremlin--was the 1909 Model T.
continued at Chicago Boyz
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
OF CASHMERE AND GLOBALIZATION
See my guest post at Bookworm Room.
Monday, April 20, 2009
SUPPRESSING SOLAR POWER, ON ENVIRONMENTAL GROUNDS
Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has demanded that the Department of the Interior suppress plans to lease government land for solar plants in the Mohave Desert.
See my post at Chicago Boyz for more.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Rich Karlgaard (publisher of Forbes) thinks we may well be in for a reprise of the '70s. He doesn't see that as a good thing.
AN INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGIES AND INFRASTRUCTURES
Some preliminary thoughts regarding President Obama's proposal for the expansion of the U.S. passenger rail system.
Friday, April 17, 2009
The meldown of old-media credibility continues. Here we have a CNN reporter, covering a "tea party" event, who instead of conducting a normal interview with a participant, debates him, quite rudely (IMNSHO) and in a manner that makes it very clear where her own preferences lie. Be sure to read this unbelievable interchange and, if you have time, also watch the video.
In addition to the obvious lack of objectivity, note also the primitive quality of her arguments..."you're eligible for a $400 (stimulus payment, I presume she means)," and "did you know that the state of Lincoln gets fifty billion dollars out of these stimulus -- that's fifty billion dollars for this state, sir!" Heck, why not make it five hundred billion and then you'll really have an unbeatable proposition!
continued at Chicago Boyz.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
WORTHWHILE READING AND VIEWING
Cassandra writes about a visit to Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, and about lots of other things, too.
Be sure to click on the first link (the one that says "I stepped into a miracle")..if you have Quicktime installed, you will find yourself in the middle of Sainte-Chapelle and can look around in all directions. Use the arrow keys and the shift and control keys for navigation.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Then there was the sound of glass shattering. A window was broken by more opponents outside. As the situation escalated, Tancredo left. Those who went to hear him speak were clearly upset. "Obviously there wasn't a point," one attendee said. "He wasn't going to be allowed to speak."
"Protesters" shut down a speech by former Congressman Tom Tancredo at the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill. (More coverage here.)
I am reminded of something that Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewish leader, said after observing political thuggery at San Francisco State University:
This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.
There is a definite Fascist tinge to much of the activity and belief structure of today's "progressive" movement. Political violence and intimidation are being increasingly normalized in academia, and will inevitably spread to other parts of our society.
See my goon squad thread; also be afraid: the rise of political violence and intimidation in America
cross-posted at Chicago Boyz.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Politicians have been quick to denounce the "greed" of businesspeople, and have generally been supported in this by the media. There has much less discussion of the lust for power, clearly a dominant factor in the lives of many who pursue political careers. Post with extensive discussion by Shannon, at Chicago Boyz.
Monday, April 13, 2009
THE BLIND HORN'S HATE
From Hamburg to Chile, via Cape Horn, aboard the 4-masted bark Peking, in 1929.
(The title of this post is from Kipling's poem L'Envoi)
Herman Melville, reflecting on his voyage around Cape Horn as a crewman aboard the sailing warship United States:
But how could we reach our long-promised homes without encountering Cape Horn? by what possibility avoid it? And though some ships have weathered it without these perils, yet by far the greater part must encounter them. Lucky it is that it comes about midway in the homeward-bound passage, so that the sailors have time to prepare for it, and time to recover from it after it is astern.
But, sailor or landsman, there is some sort of a Cape Horn for all. Boys! beware of it; prepare for it in time. Gray-beards! thank God it is passed. And ye lucky livers, to whom, by some rare fatality, your Cape Horns are placid as Lake Lemans, flatter not yourselves that good luck is judgment and discretion; for all the yolk in your eggs, you might have foundered and gone down, had the Spirit of the Cape said the word.
(from his book White Jacket)
link via PowerLine.
REGULATING ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING
The state of Pennsylvania shuts down the sale of home-baked pies at churches.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
GREAT LIBRARIES OF THE WORLD
In 2006, Sheila O'Malley posted a beautiful collection of library photographs.
Here are some more great library pictures at Reflecting Light.
There are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice--the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects.
cross-posted at Chicago Boyz.
Previous Worth Pondering
OBAMA, AHMADINEJAD, AND THE IRANIAN PEOPLE
A young Iranian blogger reacts to Obama's overtures toward the regime with what Michael Ledeen calls "an elegant mixture of sadness and pride":
…people have been tortured on the charges of having connections with the United States. Some have been silent thinking you will come to their rescue. At least Bush had the honesty to separate this regime from the people. How easy you play with the people card. Please do not talk about our people anymore. Engage the regime and leave us alone. We will free Iran, even when you are helping this occupying regime…
via Jonathan at Chicago Boyz.
Friday, April 10, 2009
OBAMA, IRAN, NORTH KOREA, AND THE BOMB
The Obama administration's defense budget imposes serious cuts on missile defense programs, most notably on the Airborne Ballistic Laser program, which was intended to shoot down missiles early in their trajectory.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden tells Israel not to launch a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The Obama/Biden administration has of course made it pretty clear that it does not plan to take any form of military action against Iran's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
At the same time, Obama's overtures to Iran appear to have further ncreased that regime's self-confidence and its contempt for America.
Let's see: Slow down or stop the deployment of defensive capabilities. Make it clear that we will not military interfere with Iran's nuclear programs and will attempt to prevent our allies from doing so. (This attitude presumably also applies to North Korea.) Act in a way that emboldens rogue regimes and encourages them to believe that America is being run by people of total naivite.
What a great recipe for national security.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
...would it really smell as sweet?
(via Kathy Shaidle)
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
CPSIA RALLY REPORT
Walter Olson reports on the April 1 rally, which was held to focus attention on the need for changes in this misbegotten legislation.
If you believe that entrepreneurship is important to the American economy and the American spirit, this is an issue you should be concerned with.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Jeffrey Goldberg, reporting in the Atlantic on an interview with Israel's new prime minister:
"The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told me. He said the Iranian nuclear challenge represents a "hinge of history" and added that "Western civilization" will have failed if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, "You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran."
Unfortunately, our current leadership in Washington does not see this issue with anywhere near the clarity that Netanyahu does...indeed, Obama seems more upset by American nuclear weapons than by the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian regime. The same is true of a substantial number of Americans, especially those who consider themselves to be political "progressives" and who work in the media and in academia.
Ralph Peters: One of the most consistently disheartening experiences an adult can have today is to listen to the endless attempts by our intellectuals and intelligence professionals to explain religious terrorism in clinical terms, assigning rational motives to men who have moved irrevocably beyond reason. We suffer under layers of intellectual asymmetries that hinder us from an intuititive recognition of our enemies.
Paul Reynaud--who became Prime Minister of France just two months before the German invasion of 1940--incisively explained what was at stake at that point in time, and why it was so much greater than what had been at stake in 1914: People think Hitler is like Kaiser Wilhelm. The old gentleman only wanted to take Alsace-Lorraine from us. But Hitler is Genghis Khan.
Obama and his acolytes seem to think we are dealing with Kaiser Wilhelm-like figures in Iran and North Korea. It is a shallow and dangerously naive way of looking at the world.
Why do people who are highly educated, and often fairly intelligent, so often fail at comprehending and predicting the behavior of thugs and fanatics?
continued at Chicago Boyz
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Bill Keller, executive editor of the NYT:
"Saving the New York Times now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause."
The sad thing is, he's probably right about the way things are perceived among the (large) segment of NYT readers who are obsessively concerned about being viewed as "high-minded."
(via Roger Simon)
Friday, April 03, 2009
OBAMA AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY
Neo-Neocon has an interesting post and discussion.
See also three bankers and a campaign aide walk into an auto industry... at Lean Blog.
cross-posted at Chicago Boyz.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Jamie Dimon's letter to J P Morgan shareholders. The first 13 pages are devoted specifically to J P Morgan's own performance; pages 14-23 are a thoughtful analysis of the causes of the current economic crisis, together with suggestions for minimization of such problems in the future.
Tom Brown of Bankstocks.com says:
You may or may not agree with all Jamie's ideas; either way, they are, in my view, the best blueprint for an overhaul of the regulatory system I've yet seen. Jamie's thoughts are certainly worth taking seriously: the White House and Congress would do the country a huge favor if they took some time out from their daily huffing and puffing and gave some serious thought to what he has to say.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THEDA BARA
Robert Avrech has an interesting profile of the silent-film star.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
REGULATING ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING
California is looking at banning black cars; also, a whole range of dark shades.
After reading this news, The Anchoress says she is feeling a little bit like King Arthur in the last scene of Camelot, "someday you will tell your children about the mythical land of America, where people were basically free to do whatever they liked, express themselves freely, dare to dream…"
NEEDED: MORE PUBLIC-SPIRITED PIGS
A letter has recently come to light in which T S Eliot explains his rejection of Orwell's Animal Farm manuscript.