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, February 27, 2011  

Here's a post by a pseudonymous teacher whose school is following the "21st century skills" model now being heavily promoted by various "experts." Apparently one of the cornerstones of this approach, at least as implemented at this teacher's school, is that content knowledge isn't really all that important..."most content, after all, can be googled anyway."

This post reminded me of something I wrote back in 2005, in response to other assertions by educationists to the effect that technology makes memorization unnecessary. I quoted some lines from a song by Jakob Dylan:

Cupid, don't draw back your bow
Sam Cooke didn't know what I know

...and observed that in order to understand these two simple lines, you'd have to know several things:

1)You need to know that, in mythology, Cupid symbolizes love
2)And that Cupid's chosen instrument is the bow and arrow
3)Also that there was a singer/songwriter named Sam Cooke
4)And that he had a song called which included the lines "Cupid, draw back your bow."

continued at Chicago Boyz

3:02 PM

Thursday, February 24, 2011  

Brendan O'Neill quotes journalist John Pilger:

"Until the Palestinians are given back their rights we're going to have instability throughout the Middle East," declared John Pilger on ABC1's Q&A last night. "That is central to everything."

O'Neill responds:

Yet, one of the most striking things about the uprising in Egypt was the lack of pro-Palestine placards. As Egypt-watcher Amr Hamzawy put it, in Tahrir Square and elsewhere there were no signs saying "death to Israel, America and global imperialism" or "together to free Palestine." Instead, this revolt was about Egyptian people's own freedom and living conditions.

Yet on the pro-Egypt demonstration in London on Saturday, there was a sea of Palestine placards. "Free Palestine," they said, and "End the Israeli occupation." The speakers had trouble getting the audience excited about events in Egypt, having to say on more than one occasion: "Come on London, you can shout louder than that!" Yet every mention of the word Palestine induced a kind of Pavlovian excitability among the attendees. They cheered when the P-word was uttered, chanting: "Free, free Palestine!"

This reveals something important about the Palestine issue. . . . [It] has become less important for Arabs and of the utmost symbolic importance for Western radicals at exactly the same time.

I'm not so sure O'Neill is right about the lack of anti-Israel sentiment among the Egyptian revolutionaries and elsewhere in the Arab world---I certainly hope so, but have seen several items pointing in the opposite direction. For example, USA Today reported that "the top leaders of the protest movement that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak" have demanded that the government cut off the flow of natural gas to Israel, on grounds that "the Zionist entity" is mistreating those same Palestinians. I'm not all that positive that USA Today or anyone else can clearly identify "the top leaders of the protest movement" so clearly at this point in time, but this report is surely grounds for serious concern about the attitude of the emerging Egyptian government toward Israel. And here is a very disturbing report about anti-Semitism in Tunisia. Again, I hope O'Neill is right about declining anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab world, but I have my doubts.

O'Neill is clearly correct, though, about his other point: the centrality of the anti-Israel ("pro-Palestinian") cause to the leftist movement throughout the western world.

continued at Chicago Boyz

9:55 AM


Kevin Meyer notes that there are actual manufacturing businesses operating in San Francisco, despite that city's high costs and hostility to business...more than 200 of them, in fact.

Commenter "Tony" says:

That's great for boutique manufacturers. But the hostile business climate here (SF & CA) limits what you can do.

400 messenger bags a day? Great! Build new power plants? Nope. Build a new semiconductor fab? Nope. Build new refinery (which CA desperately needs)? NO WAY!

Much credit is due to those who are manufacturing products in SF despite all the obstacles.

9:43 AM

Wednesday, February 23, 2011  

...the statements of the Obama administration regarding events in Libya and Iran with their statements regarding Israel. At Shrinkwrapped.

5:52 AM

Tuesday, February 22, 2011  

J Christian Adams notes that on this day in 1943, three young Germans--Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst--were executed for anti-Nazi activities.

If you're not familiar with the story of The White Rose, please follow the link and learn about these incredibly courageous individuals.

6:53 PM


There have been numerous reports of thuggish behavior by teachers' union supporters in Wisconsin and elsewhere. For example, here's a Daily Caller story about a man--apparently a union operative or supporter--who attempted to disconnect the speaker system being used by the Tea Party group, and then shoved an individual who attempted to reconnect it. See also our political process has been stopped by a mob:

On Thursday, legislators were advised to return to their offices and lock their doors. Mobs roamed the halls, banging on the glass of the doors, pounding on the walls. No one could move in the halls or enter or leave the building. The glass of the Supreme Court's entrance was broken. Legislators were genuinely afraid. Our elected representatives were afraid. In our Capitol.

A young female reporter trying to get into the Senate chamber struggled to get through the crowd. She arrived disheveled and upset because she had been roughed up as she tried to get through "Bitch-slapped" the mob told her. A senior senator was spat on. A senator and his female staffer struggled to get into the capitol. He was worried about his staffer because the crowd was grabbing at her and pushing her. University Police were two arms lengths away and did nothing. They, of course, are union.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:44 AM

Monday, February 21, 2011  

Back in 1998, (USMC Commandant General Charles Krulak) was making his final delivery (of holiday cookies) to Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico when he asked the Marine on duty who the officer of the day was.

The young Marine said, "Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis." Krulak thought the Marine had misunderstood him, so he asked again, but he got the same answer.

"I looked around the duty hut and in the back, there were two cots: One for the officer of the day and one for young Marine. I said, 'OK, let me cut through all of this: Who was the officer who slept in that bed last night?'"

"And the Marine said, 'Sir, Brigadier General Mattis.'"

At that moment, Mattis walked around the corner.

"So I said to him, 'Jim, what are you standing the duty for?' And he said, 'Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.'"

Stars and Stripes via Neptunus Lex, where there is a worthwhile comment thread.

Previous Leadership Vignette

2:10 PM


...February 21-27

More info from Sheila O'Malley

5:50 AM

Saturday, February 19, 2011  

Here's an interactive map which lets you display migration patterns in and out for all U.S. counties.

(via Neptunus Lex)

8:12 PM

Tuesday, February 15, 2011  

...may not be the most glamorous segments of the world economy. But, in a very real sense, they underlie everything else.

Columbia, in partnership with China, is looking at a potential land-bridge railroad which could serve as an alternative to the Panama Canal. Ships arriving at a coastal terminus would offload their cargoes to the railroad, which would carry them 137 miles overland, and the process would be reversed at the other end.

The benefits of this "dry canal" for Atlantic-to-Pacific connection, and vice-versa, seem a bit questionable given the costs and delays of offloading and onloading containers and other freight--unless, of course, the Panama Canal reaches an extreme state of congestion and/or the canal fees are substantially increased. It appears, however, that one major motivating factor behind the project has to do with COAL. Columbia has substantial quantities of high-quality and easily-worked coal near the Caribbean end of the proposed route.

"Progressives" and establishment liberals have praised China's progress in "green technology," suggesting that the future energy supply for that country will come from solar, wind, and helpful leprechauns turning cranks while being supervised by wise unicorns. But if China's leadership is serious about investing in a project like the Colombian land-bridge, then it's pretty clear that they see a long-term future for coal as an energy source--clean or otherwise.

And I doubt it has escaped their attention that achieving/maintaining low electricity prices establishes a powerful competitive advantage in a whole range of manufacturing industries.

(link via Commonsense & Wonder)

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open.

7:14 PM

Monday, February 14, 2011  

A view of how intelligence and creativity evolve as societies transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural to industrial...and, in turn, how increased IQ can be beneficial to a society's future at some stages of its evolution and harmful at others. Not sure how much of this I agree with, but it's interesting and thought-provoking. (via Isegoria)

Deindividuation: Some studies and examples about the ways that group behavior and context can affect an individual's actions thru reduced awareness of self.

A report from Israel, including some nice photos.

Wasting money and energy in the House of Representatives cafeteria

5:24 AM

Saturday, February 12, 2011  

Judy Collins, Albatross

Anyone want to speculate about the meaning of the lyrics of this song?

Comment at Chicago Boyz, where this is cross-posted.

4:38 AM

Wednesday, February 09, 2011  

Geert Wilders, the Dutchman who is Parliamentary Leader of that country's Party for Freedom, is currently being prosecuted for "incitement to hatred and discrimination" owing to things he has said about Islam. Rick Darby has an eloquent post in which he excerpts several passages from Wilders' statement to the court. Note especially:

The lights are going out all over Europe. All over the continent where our culture flourished and where man created freedom, prosperity and civilization. The foundation of the West is under attack everywhere...My trial is not an isolated incident. Only fools believe it is. All over Europe multicultural elites are waging total war against their populations.

Be sure to read Rick's entire post. See also Robert Spencer, who says:

If the farrago of “hate” charges against Wilders stick, and he is convicted, it will herald the end of the freedom of speech in the West, as a precedent will have been set that other Western nations (urged on by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is the organization most responsible for the global assault on free speech) will be certain to follow. The era of enlightenment and the understanding that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights will be definitively drawing to a close, and a new darkness will descend over Europe and the free world in general.

Sadly, this sort of thing is not limited to the Netherlands. In Austria, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is being prosecuted under "hate speech" laws for her statements about Islam--many of them based on citations of the Koran and the hadiths--and is facing up to 3 years in prison.

continued at Chicago Boyz

2:42 PM

Sunday, February 06, 2011  

...at Chicago Boyz. You can just start at the top and keep scrolling--you'll find numerous posts about the 40th President, his ideas, and his influence, possibly interspersed with posts on other topics--or see the list of all posts in the Roundtable, here.

1:53 PM

Saturday, February 05, 2011  

Dr Sanity was the crew surgeon for the Challenger space mission. After the disaster, she accompanied the families of the crew to a meeting with President Reagan. Her 2006 post about that experience is here.

What "zero tolerance" policies in schools really teach kids: people in authority are often idiots.

Can a computer beat humans playing "Jeopardy?"

David Gelernter thinks the techniques developed for IBM's Jeopardy-playing computer (named "Watson" after IBM's founder) will prove useful for medical diagnosis.

India vs China: which one has the best outlook for future economic development?

The higher-education bubble, as portrayed by The Simpsons. Glenn Reynolds also particularly notes this comment in an article about the Harvard study on the question of whether everyone should really go to college.

2:06 PM

Thursday, February 03, 2011  

ShrinkWrapped suggests that rising food prices have more than a little to do with the current situation in Egypt.

Keith McCullough, writing in Fortune, argues that bad monetary policy on the part of the US, and consequent loss of confidence in the dollar, is at the root of the increased prices.

Business Insider has charts on global food prices and a piece about 25 countries whose governments could get crushed by food price inflation.

Lots of information about supply and demand for grains, here.

Discuss at Chicago Boyz, where this is cross-posted.

5:29 AM


Spotsylvania High School, Virginia, USA:

Andrew Mikel II admits it was a stupid thing to do. In December, bored and craving attention, the 14-year-old used a plastic tube to blow small plastic pellets at fellow students in Spotsylvania High School. In one lunch period, he scored three hits.

“They flinched. They looked annoyed,” Mikel said.

The school district saw it as more than a childish prank. School officials expelled him for possession and use of a weapon, and they called a deputy sheriff to the scene, said Mikel and his father, Andrew Mikel Sr.

The younger Mikel, a freshman, said he was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault.

Read all about it at Neptunus Lex. Great set of comments.

5:16 AM

Tuesday, February 01, 2011  

...for electricity generation?

China seems to be pretty interested in this approach to nuclear power--a discussion of the technology's pros and cons at Neptunus Lex.

Irrespective of the thorium/molten-salt reactor's merits, of course, the Complaining Classes in America will almost certainly prevent its deployment in this country for at least a decade or two.

9:29 AM

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