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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Thursday, September 30, 2010  

SF authors are generally viewed as being mainly concerned with the future, but Connie Willis is more interested in the past...and, particularly, the way in which the past lives in the present. Her novels and short stories explore this connection using various hypothetical forms of time displacement.

In Lincoln's Dreams, a young woman starts having strange and very disturbing dreams. With the aid of the man who loves her (unrequitedly), she discovers that her dreams are, in fact (despite the book's title) those of Robert E Lee. In the introduction, Willis writes:

In the first part of Lincoln’s Dreams, Jeff is offered a job researching the long-term effects of the Vietnam War. He turns it down. "I'm busy studying the long-term effects of the Civil War." And I guess that’s what I was doing, too, writing this book.

Because the Civil War isn’t over. Its images, dreamlike, stay with us — young boys lying face-down in cornfields and orchards, and Robert E. Lee on Traveller. And Lincoln, dead in the White House, and the sound of crying.

The Civil War disturbs us, all these long years after, troubling our sleep. Like a cry for help, like a warning, like a dream. And we pore over it, trying to break the code, its meaning just out of reach.

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:58 AM

Wednesday, September 29, 2010  

The First World War, that is.

The Telegraph reports that Germany has made the final payment on its reparation obligations for World War I. (Actually, it appears that the payments being made by Germany since the end of WWII were not technically the reparations themselves, but rather repayment of bonds that were issued under Weimar to help fund the reparations. See this link.)

continued at Chicago Boyz

11:09 AM

Tuesday, September 28, 2010  

Sibling of Daedalus explicates and illuminates a Gaelic poem from around 1800.

7:50 AM


I am surprised by how much difficulty people have in defining the goals of a liberal education. Typically, they resort to clichéd expressions like broadening horizons and critical thinking. The goal and method are actually quite simple. It is a two step process.

First, one particular assumption must be disproven. This assumption is so fundamental and widespread that I will call it The Big Assumption. I believe that it has been held by every person who has ever lived on the planet. Moreover, I am convinced that the Big Assumption has profound consequences for politics, economics, psychology, and sociology.

To find out what The Big Assumption is, continue reading here.

7:22 AM

Monday, September 27, 2010  

Neptunus Lex, after a round of golf, stopped by the health club for a massage.

Have you ever killed anyone? asked the therapist, after learning that Lex had been in the Navy.

Read the whole thing.

See my related post, an incident at the movies, also an interesting historical parallel.

8:29 AM

Sunday, September 26, 2010  

The Mommyblogger and the Navyblogger

6:30 AM

Saturday, September 25, 2010  

Rick cites a remark by Senator Christopher Dodd about the financial regulation bill: "No one will know until this is actually in place how it works." My observation is that Dodd's remark was actually true, and would have been true to a substantial extent even if the bill had been properly read, debated, and analyzed. A more perceptive man than Dodd might have seen this as a reason to avoid making such overwhelming changes all in one fell swoop.

Several years ago, I posted about the failure of the FAA/IBM project for a new air traffic control system. The new system was known as the Advanced Automation System and was intended to be "as radical a departure from well-worn mores and customs as the overflow of the czars," in the words of a participant. Another participant described the radical ambitiousness of the project as follows:

"You're living in a modest house and you notice the refrigerator deteriorating. The ice sometimes melts, and the door isn't flush, and the repairman comes out, it seems, once a month. Then you notice it's bulky and doesn't save energy, and you've seen those new ones at Sears. The first thing you do is look into some land a couple of states over, combined with several other houses of similar personality. Then you get I M Pei and some of the other great architects and hold a design run-off..."

continued at Chicago Boyz

9:32 AM


Gongol explains

6:26 AM

Wednesday, September 22, 2010  

Christina Sochacki demonstrates the unreasonableness of a capital gains tax that is not indexed for inflation. A nicely-done 5 minute video.

3:37 PM

Monday, September 20, 2010  

We Want a Warranty for Our Czars

WSJ headline for a letter to the editor regarding a story on the auto-industry bailout:

What was most striking about Steven Rattner's account of White House deliberations regarding the auto industry ("The White House Car Czar," Weekend Journal, Sept. 11) was the sheer arrogance and egotism of the parties involved. Mr. Rattner's description of the bailout decision makers reads like a group that managed to meld the worst personality characteristics of Wall Street masters of the universe with the vanity and narcissism of Hollywood divas.

I believe this content is available without subscription--read the whole letter, here.

See also ruler of the auto industree, a little song I wrote (with some help from Gilbert & Sullivan) in honor of on of Obama's junior czars.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

6:29 AM

Saturday, September 18, 2010  

Molly Norris is--or was--a Seattle cartoonist, best-known for coming up with the idea of "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" as a way of asserting American First Amendment rights. She has been threatened with murder for having violated Sharia law, and the threats against her have now reached such a level that--on the advice of the FBI--she is changing her identity and going into hiding. Her cartoons, at least for now, have stopped. The terrorists have silenced an American citizen.

This is not the first time that American individuals and institutions have been subject to intimidation by radical Islamic zealots, but it is one of the most blatant and serious.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:35 PM

Friday, September 17, 2010  

Back in 2003, Sheila O'Malley wrote about her 10th grade English teacher, Mr Crothers and about The Great Gatsby, which he taught. Mr Crothers himself showed up in the comments. Sounds like a great teacher and a great class.

Sheila has a more recent post about Mr Crothers, here.

8:54 AM

Thursday, September 16, 2010  

Whatever one thinks of Sarah Palin's views and qualifications, surely there is something disturbing about the insanely vitriolic intensity of the attacks directed against her. Clearly, is something else going on here beyond differences of opinion about policy.

Several days ago, I linked a post by Shannon Love in which he analyzes the roots of the anti-Palin fury: Palin and the Left's Status-Anxiety. In response to a commenter at that post, Shannon also posted this, and also followed up with this critique of the theory that more education always leads to more wisdom.

Lexington Green, another Chicago Boy, has related thoughts.

4:35 AM

Tuesday, September 14, 2010  

Tomorrow, on Battle of Britain day, a statue of Air Vice Marshal Keith Park will be unveiled in London's Waterloo Gardens. Military historian Stephen Bungay:

The Battle of Britain was the most important campaign in the history of the RAF. That it was fought and won was down to three men. The first was Winston Churchill. He decided to fight it. The second was Hugh Dowding. He built the system that made victory possible. The third was Keith Park. He wielded the weapon that Dowding had forged and Churchill decided to use.

One of the top Allied air aces of the war, Johnnie Johnson, said of Park "He was the only man who could have lost the war in a day or even an afternoon." And as Churchill said, "The odds were great, our margins small, the stakes infinite."

More about Park here.

Via Mrs Moneypenny at Financial Times

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

6:41 AM

Sunday, September 12, 2010  

Shannon Love analyzes the anger directed at Sarah Palin

Via a commenter at the above-linked post, here's an interesting 2008 post by an Orthodox Jewish writer who sees a strong similarity between Palin and the women who tend to achieve leadership roles in the Chabad movement: Chabad women and Sarah Palin don’t dialogue. They talk. And they don’t talk down.

Mark Perry on the college textbook bubble

Victor Davis Hanson on multiculturalism

Margaret Soltan makes the case that: University education takes place in the theater of the classroom. It can’t be put online. See also her post on Cardinal Newman and his view of the nature of a real university education.

What you get for $40,000/year as a Gender Studies student. See also Erin O'Connor.

Speaking of gender, Vasafaxa has been thinking about femininity

Incurable Sanity develops an analogy between music and conversation

Bictopia: photos and paintings from the Adriatic: here, here, and here

Anouk has an interesting collection of Impressionist paintings

Update: Joanne Jacobs links and summarizes an article on why college grads can't write. Diagnosis: too much theory, too much influence from the social sciences and the public education establishment.

Update 2: Erin O'Connor has thoughts and a discussion thread on the $40,000/year gender studies student.

5:08 PM

Saturday, September 11, 2010  

(This is basically a rerun and update of my posts from this day in 2006-2009. Some new links added this year are at the bottom of the post.)

I am increasingly worried about our prospects for success in the battle against those who would destroy our civilization. America and the other democracies possess great military, economic, and intellectual strengths--but severe internal divisions threaten our ability to use these resources effectively.

Within days of the collapse of the Towers, it started. "Progressive" demonstrators brought out the stilt-walkers, the Uncle Sam constumes, and the giant puppets of George Bush. They carried signs accusing America of planning "genocide" against the people of Afghanistan.

Professors and journalists preached about the sins of Western civilization, asserting that we had brought it all on ourselves. A well-known writer wrote of her unease when her daughter chose to buy and display an American flag. Some universities banned the display of American flags in dormitories, claiming that such display was "provocative."

continued at Chicago Boyz

4:52 AM

Thursday, September 09, 2010  

The Historic District Commission of Litchfield, CT has--on grounds that many consider as pretty questionable--rejected the application of the Chabad Lubovitch group to renovate a historic house and turn it into a synagogue. The remodeled building was also to have included an apartment for the rabbi, and a swimming pool for the Chabad-sponsored summer camp. Story here.

I don't know if the denial of this application is or is not consistent with the rules under with the Historic District Commission is supposed to be operating, but I do think that some of the comments reported to have been made during the discussions were pretty inappropriate and pretty disturbing.

Now, maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen the speech in which President Obama defends the Litchfield synagogue in the same way that he defended the Ground Zero mosque. Nor have I seen Nancy Pelosi demanding an investigation of synagogue opponents in the same way that she demanded an investigation of GZ mosque opponents. And will the “human rights activists” and liberal clergymen who have been so fervent in their defense of the mosque project also step up to defend the Litchfield synagogue project? I think we all know the answer.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:16 PM

Wednesday, September 08, 2010  

Cara Ellison dated a man whose wife had been killed in the 9/11 attacks. Her post here is short, memorable, and beautifully written.

5:48 AM

Tuesday, September 07, 2010  

...getting frustrated and angry with Americans who fail to show proper appreciation for their hero.

Related: Politicans: getting frustrated and angry at us

2:35 PM


Robert Avrech talks about his craft.

5:20 AM

Monday, September 06, 2010  

..an appropriate subject to contemplate on Labor Day. Here's a worthwhile article in The Deal Magazine.

Via Kevin Meyer, himself a manufacturer.

6:27 AM

Saturday, September 04, 2010  

Stuart Schneiderman cites a report that aggregate student loan debt has now surpassed $840 billion..and is still climbing. He suggests that these debts will have a major impact on the choice of marital partners, via a sort of reverse-dowry effect, as well a creating a long-term overhang on the housing market.

continued at Chicago Boyz

3:01 PM

Thursday, September 02, 2010  

..from Walter Russell Mead. Actually, applicable to just about everybody.

via Newmark's Door

4:31 AM

Wednesday, September 01, 2010  

On this day in 1939, Germany launched a massive assault on Poland, thereby igniting the Second World War.

Britain and France were both bound by treaty to come to Poland’s assistance. On September 2, Neville Chamberlain’s government sent a message to Germany proposing that hostilities should cease and that there should be an immediate conference among Britain, France, Poland, Germany, and Italy..and that the British government would be bound to take action unless German forces were withdrawn from Poland. “If the German Government should agree to withdraw their forces, then His Majesty’s Government would be willing to regard the position as being the same as it was before the German forces crossed the Polish frontier.”

According to General Edward Spears, who was then a member of Parliament, the assembly had been expecting a declaration of war. Few were happy with this temporizing by the Chamberlain government. Spears describes the scene:

Arthur Greenwood got up, tall, lanky, his dank, fair hair hanging to either side of his forehead. He swayed a little as he clutched at the box in front of him and gazed through his glasses at Chamberlain sitting opposite him, bolt-upright as usual. There was a moment’s silence, then something very astonishing happened.

Leo Amery, sitting in the corner seat of the third bench below the gangway on the government side, voiced in three words his own pent-up anguish and fury, as well as the repudiation by the whole House of a policy of surrender. Standing up he shouted across to Greenwood: “Speak for England!” It was clear that this great patriot sought at this crucial moment to proclaim that no loyalty had any meaning if it was in conflict with the country’s honour. What in effect he said was: “The Prime Minister has not spoken for Britain, then let the socialists do so. Let the lead go to anyone who will.” That shout was a cry of defiance. It meant that the house and the country would neither surrender nor accept a leader who might be prepared to trifle with the nation’s pledged word.

continued at my Chicago Boyz post from 2007

5:30 PM


The U.S. government is funding an ad campaign in Israel featuring billboards of Palestinian officials asking: "We are partners -- what about you?" The Agency for International development "invested" $250,000 toward the billboards.

Via Michelle Malkin, who notes that a Democratic Congressman has been circlating talking points about how great this administration's support for Israel has been.

Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorists have murdered four more Israelis, right down the road from Daniel Jackson's house.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

4:10 AM

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