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
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Sunday, June 28, 2009  

A young lad loves a maiden
she likes another one
that other marries another
whose heart and hand he won

The maiden weds in anger
the first man she can snare
who comes across her pathway
The lad is in despair

It is an old, old story
yet new with every start,
and every time it happens
it breaks a loving heart.

--Heinrich Heine

Poetry, of course, is notoriously difficult to translate. The Heine translations of which the above is an example (done by Max Knight and Joseph Fabry) are among the fairly rare examples in which the poem as rendered in the target language preserves much of the rhyme and rhythm of the original. This is done, though, at the sacrifice of precision of meaning: even with my mostly-forgotten high school and college German, I can tell that the line

Dem bricht das Herz entzwei

doesn't say anything about "breaking a loving heart"--rather, if refers to "breaking a heart in two." Also, the translation uses some rather strange English phrasings (new with every start?) Still, though, I think this kind of translation is a very nice supplement to the more-precise-but-drier translations which seem to be much more common.

A few more Heine poems from the same translators, at Chicago Boyz.

3:40 PM



I've posted before about the remarkable color photographs taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii in the early 1900s, using a process he developed himself.

Here are several more pictures from the series, along with lots of interesting information about Prokudin-Gorskii, his adventures, and his process.

via Chapomatic

(I posted this several days ago, and it disappeared. This is about the fourth or fifth time I've encountered disappearing posts on this blog--fortunately all short ones, so far. Blogger/blogspot appears to have serious reliability problems.)

6:45 AM

Friday, June 26, 2009  

In a statement intended to help justify the proposed "cap and trade" energy tax, Barack Obama said:

At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.

There are so many things wrong with this that one scarcely knows where to begin.

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:38 AM

Wednesday, June 24, 2009  

One begins to see the truth in Fielding's observation that it requires an unusually "penetrating eye to discern a fool through the disguise of good breeding."

--Henry Fielding quote from a Weekly Standard article (6/22) on the accused spy W Kendall Myers.

The Fielding quote doesn't appear to be precisely correct: the on-line text for Tom Jones gives it as follows:

It requires a most penetrating eye to discern a fool through the disguises of gaiety and good breeding.

In our era, of course, "good breeding" must be interpreted to include educational credentials as well as those attributes that Fielding had in mind.

Previous Worth Pondering

6:48 PM


Joshua Muravchik, writing in Commentary:

The most surprising thing about the first half-year of Barack Obama’s presidency, at least in the realm of foreign policy, has been its indifference to the issues of human rights and democracy. No administration has ever made these its primary, much less its exclusive, goals overseas. But ever since Jimmy Carter spoke about human rights in his 1977 inaugural address and created a new infrastructure to give bureaucratic meaning to his words, the advancement of human rights has been one of the consistent objectives of America’s diplomats and an occasional one of its soldiers.

This tradition has been ruptured by the Obama administration. The new president signaled his intent on the eve of his inauguration, when he told editors of the Washington Post that democracy was less important than “freedom from want and freedom from fear. If people aren’t secure, if people are starving, then elections may or may not address those issues, but they are not a perfect overlay.”

There is, of course, some truth in Obama's point. If people are starving, they are likely to care more about their next meal than about what may seem to them as the relatively abstract rights to voting, free speech, etc. But what Obama is missing here is that the cause-and-effect flows in both directions. Societies that have economic and political freedom are far more likely to develop economically--up to a point where people can think about things other than basic survival--than those that do not.

continued at Chicago Boyz

8:45 AM

Monday, June 22, 2009  

An article in the Israeli publication Ma'ariv wonders: Where are all those demonstrators who so loudly denounced Israel during its Gaza operation? Why aren't they out there protesting the beatings and killings of Iranians at the hands of the Iranian government?

All the peace-loving and justice-loving Europeans, British professors in search of freedom and equality, the friends filling the newspapers, magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of the world—could it be that they have taken a long summer vacation? Now of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent civilians in the city squares of Tehran? Aren’t they connected to the Internet? Don’t they have YouTube? Has a terrible virus struck down their computer? Have their justice glands been removed in a complicated surgical procedure (to be re-implanted successfully for the next confrontation in Gaza)?


A source who is connected to the Iranian and security situation, said yesterday that if Obama had shown on the Iranian matter a quarter of the determination with which he assaulted the settlements in the territories, everything would have looked different. “The demonstrators in Iran are desperate for help,” said the man, who served in very senior positions for many years, “they need to know that they have backing, that there is an entire world that supports them, but instead they see indifference. And this is happening at such a critical stage of this battle for the soul of Iran and the freedom of the Iranian people. It’s sad.”

via Robert Avrech and Soccer Dad.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz

7:52 PM

Saturday, June 20, 2009  

Michael Malone suggests that the most important applications of a new technology rarely turn out to be those that were envisaged by the creators of that technology. As examples, he offers the transcontinental railroad, the microprocessor, and Twitter.

7:11 PM

Thursday, June 18, 2009  

In a famous episode of The Twilight Zone, aliens come to earth and declare their desire to help humankind in every possible way. Their benign intentions seem confirmed when it is discovered that they have in their possession a book titled To Serve Man.

Turns out it’s a cookbook.

Allen West, who is running for Congress in Florida, very cleverly uses this episode as a metaphor for the current political situation.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz

9:04 AM

Wednesday, June 17, 2009  

Your assignment from Cassandra, should you choose to accept it, is to construct a 15-word opening line for a novel. Over 100 submissions so far, including:

Elle's starter soon tired and whimpered to a halt. The snow responded by falling faster. (spd rdr)

"There are things I've seen," Grandpa said, distantly, "Scary things." And he returned to whittling. (spd rdr)

Sir Reynald's escutcheon was blazoned sable and gules -- he *was* a dark and stormy knight. (BillT)

The white bear pawed idly at the brass nameplate partially embedded in the glacier -- "Gore Residence"... (BillT again--I count 16 words for this one, though.)

3:56 PM

Tuesday, June 16, 2009  

Chicago Boy Jay Manifold posts an e-mail message he received from Iran via a friend in Europe.

Cara Ellison has a collection of Twitter messages from Iran. She also excerpts some comments relevant to the Iranian regime from the 9/11 Commission Report.

UPDATE: See Roger Simon: Obama, Iran, and the ongoing saga of the liberal reactionary.

6:08 PM

Monday, June 15, 2009  

Investors Business Daily (6/15) has an item on proposed legislation which would force the reduction of the interchange/discount fees which are charged by credit card companies to retailers. The legislation would "let merchants collectively negotiate take-it-or-leave-it fees with issuers"--something that would surely be a violation of the antitrust laws if not specifically enabled by legislation.

The proposal would be harmful to banks which are MasterCard and Visa issuers, but would be particularly harmful to American Express because of the way in which its business is structured. (Disclosure: I'm both an Amex shareholder and an Amex bondholder, although these positions do not represent a very substantial portion of my overall portfolio.)

What this legislation will do, if passed, is to transfer wealth/income from the investors, executives, and employees of American Express to the investors, executives, and employees of retail companies. If passed, if would reinforce again the growing impression that the most important single factor in the success or failure of an American business lies in the strength of its relationship with the politicians.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:46 PM


Satire is cheek. It is the revenge of those who cannot really comprehend the world or cope with it.

--novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson, quoted by her husband C P Snow in his book Science and Government.

--previous Worth Pondering

1:26 PM


...to Bookworm, on the occasion of her one millionth hit.

7:35 AM

Thursday, June 11, 2009  

A little song in honor of Brian Deese, Obama’s point man on auto industry restructuring issues and especially General Motors…with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan.

When I was a lad, I was smart you see
So I went to Yale to get a law degree
I studied hard and I impressed some profs
But I thought I could do better so I blew it off

(he thought he could do better so he blew it off)

I quit and went to work for Hillary’s campaign
And they were really quite impressed with my most excellent brain
When Clinton dropped out Obama wanted me
And now I rule the U.S. auto industree

(when Clinton dropped out Obama wanted he
That’s why he rules the U.S. auto industree)

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:32 PM

Monday, June 08, 2009  

Thomas Sowell has been re-reading the works of Edmund Burke, and finds the words of this philosopher to be very relevant to our current era.

I wonder if Obama, during his much-heralded passage through the university system, ever found time to read Burke and other writers (Hayek, for example) who are outside of the "progressive" worldview?

(via Common Sense & Wonder)

And Victor Davis Hanson suggests that Obama might have a little more depth in his understanding of the world had he ever owned a small farm with a difficult neighbor.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz.

8:36 AM

Saturday, June 06, 2009  

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.

--Laughing Wolf at Black Five, 2007.

See this year's very extensive collection of D-Day links from Black Five, here.

Sarah has pictures from her 1999 trip to Normandy.

My post Transmission Ends describes the way one community got news about the 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?

Two posts from Bookworm:

2008: Remembering D-Day

2009: Seasick Warriors

UPDATE: Chapomatic writes about the role of miniature submarines...and Folbots, which were folding, canoe-like craft...in preparing the way for the Normandy landings.

UPDATE 2: Neptunus Lex:

The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down - each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green - made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.

7:15 AM

Friday, June 05, 2009  

Rick Woldenberg, who is chairman of Learning Resources Inc, writes about the devastating harm being done to his industry by the irresponsble piece of legislation known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Via ShopFloor, which says:

Rick expresses the views of many people out there who never really dealt with Congress until the CPSIA went into effect – small manufacturers, owners of home-based businesses, craftspeople, thrift-store managers, etc. They’re frustrated and at times aghast: This is how Congress works? Why can’t they just fix the law?

Very good questions.

Related: What the CPSIA is doing to science teaching. (Hint: it involves replacing rocks with posters, among other things.)

via Maggie's Farm

2:14 PM

Wednesday, June 03, 2009  

Dresden, once known as "Florence on the Elbe" because of its beauty and culture, is now best known for its destruction by British and American bombers in February of 1945. "Dresden" is the name of a haunting movie, originally made for German television, about a love affair in the doomed city.

Dresden is of course also the German city that Barack Obama intends to visit--for reasons best known to himself--during his current trip to Europe. It seems like this would be an appropriate time to review the film (which I watched a couple of months ago via Netflix) and to use it as a springboard for discussion of the Dresden bombing and of the WWII strategic bombing campaign in general.

continued at Chicago Boyz.

10:06 PM

Monday, June 01, 2009  

Several interesting links in this Chicago Boyz post.

6:53 PM


Ion Mihai Pacepa, who ran the Romanian auto industry for the Ceausescu regime, writes about his experiences with government-controlled automobile companies.

6:31 AM

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