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

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betsy's page
one hand clapping
a schoolyard blog
joy of knitting
lead and gold
damian penny
annika's journal
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no credentials
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a constrained vision
victory soap
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quid nomen illius?
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brand mantra
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Thursday, March 31, 2011  

In 2008, Tim Pawlenty participated in a radio ad (with Janet Napolitano!) calling for Congress to implement legislation to cap "greenhouse gas" emissions. He talked about how this would create New Jobs in Clean Energy Industries.

These jobs, along with the companies "creating" them, would of course, be highly subsidized--either directly, or through higher energy prices, or, most likely, both, and the subsidies would not come from the Magical Money Machine, but rather would be extracted from elsewhere in the economy--reducing jobs creation in the "elsewhere" sectors. Ask the people of Spain how that has been working out for them.

One sector that is particularly sensitive to energy costs is manufacturing. The number of manufacturing jobs destroyed through polities raising energy costs is likely to be much higher than the number of manufacturing jobs added to make wind turbines and such.

The reality is that "creating jobs" is not very difficult if that's all you want to do. You can pay people to dig holes and fill them up again, or implement something like the elevator safety and economic opportunity act, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for elevator operators. The trick rather lies in creating jobs which expand the economy rather than shrink it. One would hope a Republican candidate for President would understand these points. I have to wonder if Pawlenty is familiar with the Parable of the Broken Window, as explained by the French economist Frederic Bastiat way back in 1850.

Some people think that reduction in CO2 is so critical that it justifies a permanent reduction in the American standard of living. If they really believe that, they should make the argument honestly and produce the evidence. But to argue that we can force a shift to much-more-costly forms of energy production and, by doing so, make the economy thrive, is either ignorant or disingenous.

Pawlenty's participation in this ad does make me wonder about his understanding of energy and economics; it also raises concerns about his susceptibility to trendy but questionable ideas.

Plus, should a nice Republican boy really be hanging around with someone like Janet Napolitano?

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz

12:42 PM

Wednesday, March 30, 2011  

Today, March 30, is Buy Israeli Goods day. BIG Day was established as a counter to the "Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions" movement, which aims to do Israel economic harm. Information about BIG Day, along with ideas about what to buy and where to buy it, at Robert Avrech's blog.

Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions advocates have an annual event called "Israeli Apartheid Week" (actually 2 weeks long) which is "celebrated" on university campuses throughout the U.S. and Europe. See 14 days of vileness.

Buy Israeli products today if you can; if you can't get to it, keep in mind the ideas at Robert's blog and his links for future reference.

cross-posted at Ricochet and Chicago Boyz

2:50 PM

Sunday, March 27, 2011  
by Erich Maria Remarque

The narrator is a young German who served in the First World War. The war is finally over, and Ernst, together with his surviving comrades, has returned to the high school from which they departed in 1914. The Principal is delivering a "welcome home" speech, and it is a speech in the old oratorical style:

"But especially we would remember those fallen sons of our foundation, who hastened joyfully to the defence of their homeland and who have remained upon the field of honour. Twenty-one comrades are with us no more; twenty-one warriors have met the glorious death of arms; twenty-one heroes have found rest from the clamour of battle under foreign soil and sleep the long sleep beneath the green grasses.."

There is suddden, booming laughter. The Principal stops short in pained perplexity. The laughter comes from Willy standing there, big and gaunt, like an immense wardrobe. His face is red as a turkey's, he is so furious.

"Green grasses!--green grasses!" he stutters, "long sleep?" In the mud of shell-holes they are lying, knocked rotten. ripped in pieces, gone down into the bog--Green grasses! This is not a singing lesson!" His arms are whirling like a windmill in a gale. "Hero's death! And what sort of thing do you suppose that was, I wonder?--Would you like to know how young Hoyer died? All day long he lay in the wire screaming. and his guts hanging out of his belly like macaroni. Then a bit of shell took off his fingers and a couple of hours later another chunk off his leg; and still he lived; and with his other hand he kept trying to pack back his intestines, and when night fell at last he was done. And when it was dark we went out to get him and he was as full of holes as a nutmeg grater.---Now, you go and tell his mother how he died--if you have so much courage."

Not only Willy, but several other student/soldiers rise to challenge the tone of the Principal's speech:

"But gentlemen," cries the Old Man almost imploringly, "there is a misunderstanding--a most painful misunderstanding---"

But he does not finish. He is interrupted by Helmuth Reinersmann, who carried his brother back through a bombardment on the Yser, only to put him down dead at the dressing-station.

"Killed," he says savagely, "They were not killed for you to make speeches about them. They were our comrades. Enough! Let's have no more wind-bagging about it."

The assembly dissolves into angry confusion.

Then suddenly comes a lull in the tumult. Ludwig Breyer has stepped out to the front. "Mr Principal," says Ludwig in a clear voice. "You have seen the war after your fashion---with flying banners, martial music, and with glamour. But you saw it only to the railway station from which we set off. We do not mean to blame you. We, too, thought as you did. But we have seen the other side since then, and against that the heroics of 1914 soon wilted to nothing. Yet we went through with it--we went through with it because here was something deeper that held us together, something that only showed up out there, a responsibility perhaps, but at any rate something of which you know nothing and of which there can be no speeches."

Ludwig pauses a moment, gazing vacantly ahead. He passes a hand over his forehead and continues. "We have not come to ask a reckoning--that would be foolish; nobody knew then what was coming.--But we do require that you shall not again try to prescribe what we shall think of these things. We went out full of enthusiasm, the name of the 'Fatherland' on our lips--and we have returned in silence,. but with the thing, the Fatherland, in our hearts. And now we ask you to be silent too. Have done with fine phrases. They are not fitting. Nor are they fitting to our dead comrades. We saw them die. And the memory of it is still too near that we can abide to hear them talked of as you are doing. They died for more than that."

Now everywhere it is quiet. The Principal has his hands clasped together. "But Breyer," he says gently. "I--I did not mean it so."

Ludwig Breyer's words: "We do require that you shall not again try to prescribe what we shall think of these things...Have done with fine phrases" capture well the break which the Great War caused in the relationship between generations, and even in the use of language. It is a disconnect with which we are still living.

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:49 AM

Friday, March 25, 2011  

Neptunus Lex has video on the restoration of a WWII PT boat

Lane Wallace has an essay by Terry Tegnazian, an American woman whose company is dedicated to publishing books/videos about the Polish experience in WWII

Elizabeth Scalia (aka The Anchoress) writes about idolatry in politics

Carolyn Glick on the third terror war against Israel

Sarah Palin talks about Libya and Israel

Clarice Feldman reports that over the last 10 years, American universities have received more than $600 million from governments, companies, and individuals in the Middle East.

How a cockatoo improved a PowerPoint presentation

Milofer Merchant argues that in business, culture always trumps strategy

NeoNeocon on dance and photography

8:14 PM

Thursday, March 24, 2011  

Conservatives/libertarians and especially Tea Party supporters often speak about "elites" in pejorative terms. Why is this? I doubt that many among us would argue in favor of mediocrity (a la the senator who famously argued that mediocre people also deserve representation on the Supreme Court) and/or of extreme egalitarianism and social leveling. Indeed, quite a few outspoken conservatives and libertarians could themselves be considered to have elite status in view of their professional, economic, and/or scholarly accomplishments. So what is the critique of elitism all about?

Several factors seem to me to be at work...

1)There is a perception that the multiple ladders of success which have existed in American society are increasingly being collapsed into a single ladder, with access tightly controlled via educational credentials

2)It is increasingly observed that these credentials actually have fairly low predictive power concerning an individual's actual ability to perform important tasks and make wise judgments about institutional or national issues. The assumption that school-based knowledge generally trumps practical experience seems increasingly questionable as the sphere of activity for which this assertion is made has expanded, and is indeed increasingly viewed with suspicion or with outright disdain.

3)It is observed that people working in certain fields arrogate to themselves an assumed elite status despite the fact that their jobs actually require relatively little in terms of skill and judgment. Ace of Spades cites a history writer on class distinctions in Victorian England:

She noted, for example, that a Bank of England clerk would be a member of the middle/professional class, despite the fact that what he did all day was hand-write numbers into ledgers and do simple arithmetic and some filing work and the like, whereas, say, a carpenter actually did real thinking, real planning, at his job, with elements of real creativity. And yet it was the Bank of England clerk who was considered a "mind" worker and the carpenter merely a hand-laborer.

continued at Chicago Boyz

8:01 AM

Tuesday, March 22, 2011  

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw planned to use here zoology degree to pursue a career in science. Her father, himself a brewmaster at an Indian brewery, suggested that she consider beer-making instead.

Turned out to be pretty good advice. After studying brewing in Australia, she found employment opportunities for women in Indian breweries to be pretty limited. But then she met the founder of an Irish enzyme-making company who initially wanted her help in selling industrial enzymes in India. She founded Biocon India in 1978 for the equivalent of $1200. The company now employs 5300 people and has been selected by Pfizer to produce insulin for sale initially in emerging markets, with later expansion into developed countries, including the U.S...and Mazumdar-Shaw has become India's fourth-richest woman.

Previous cool startup stories

6:40 PM

Sunday, March 20, 2011  

An interesting story about the way regulation is used to protect incumbent businesses and suppress competition.

In New York City, the number of food-cart vending permits is capped by the city's administrative code:

And you cannot get one. The waiting list is even closed. But it was 10 or 15 years’ wait. It’s impossible to get a food vending permit from the city.…If you want to get a permit for your cart or truck, you cannot do it.

In Washington DC, regulations applicable to food vendors are much more liberal (with "liberal" being used here in the older sense of the term)...local restaurant owners, predictably, are often very resentful of this situation. The article cites a Domino's Pizza manager who:

..can’t hide his contempt for the lobster truck parked in a metered space in front of his store in September. “Of course it’s hurting, because it’s right in front of your store,” Basha says. He points to a line of about 30 customers waiting to buy lobster rolls. “Most of those customers were ours.

A true free market, in which incumbent businesses must compete with aggressive newcomers, is stressful for the incumbents. A growing thicket of regulations can help shield them from this necessity, while ensuring that individuals without extensive capital or credentials are excluded from economic success.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:11 AM

Friday, March 18, 2011  

...an interesting post by Claire Berlinski.

5:48 AM

Wednesday, March 16, 2011  

NYT, via Phineas at Sister Toldjah:

Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.”

What might possess an American president to tell people that it would be easier to be president of China? Some possibilities..

For one thing, Obama is clearly much more interested in domestic policy than in foreign policy. He views it as his mission to reconstruct American society in ways that are more to his liking, and considers the need to deal with other countries to be an irritating distraction.

Another factor is that people often view other people's jobs as being easier than their own--see the old children's story about the farmer and his wife for an example. This is particularly true, it would seem, of people who are constitutionally of a jealous nature, who devote much of their mental energy to the suspicion that someone else has it better. Barack Obama seems to me to be of this ilk: there is no possible position in life he could assume that would overcome his feelings of jealousy and resentment toward others. His comment during the campaign about bitter clingers sounds like pure projection.

What if Obama really did become the leader of China? Would he actually find the job easier than his present one?

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:28 AM


Thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson

Related post here

6:29 AM

Tuesday, March 15, 2011  

An important article about the demonization of Israel--and increasingly, the outright anti-Semitism---which has been instigated by far too many members of the Chattering Classes: writers, entertainers, behind-the-scenes media people, and college professors. Carolyn Glick: Itamar's Children. Excerpt:

Israel’s leaders were caricatured as Fagin, Shylock, Pontius Pilate and Hitler on the front pages of newspapers throughout Europe. IDF soldiers were portrayed as Nazis, and Israeli families were dehumanized.

No longer civilians with an inherent right to live, in universities throughout the US and Europe, Israeli innocents were castigated as “extremist-Zionists” or “settlers” who basically deserved to be killed.

Professors whose “academic” achievements involved publishing sanitized postmodern versions of anti-Jewish Palestinian propaganda were granted tenure and rewarded with lucrative book contracts.

Read the whole thing.

continued at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

UPDATE: See also Robert Avrech at Seraphic Secret.

7:30 AM

Sunday, March 13, 2011  

Carolyn Grace and her Spitfire.

Grace also has a website devoted to this airplane, its history, and her experiences with it.

(via Neptunus Lex)

6:50 AM

Wednesday, March 09, 2011  

At about this time every year, Texans and others mark the anniversary of the siege of the Alamo (Feb 23--March 6, 1836), sometimes referred to as the thirteen days of glory.

At about the same time, for the last several years, college campuses in the U.S. and elsewhere in the western world play host to something called Israeli Apartheid Week...a very long week, apparently running from March 7 to March 20: indeed, we could (and I will) refer to it as the fourteen days of vileness.

Information and analysis concerning the 14 days of vileness can be obtained from Phyllis Chesler, CAMERA, Judith Levy, and many other sources,

Hostility toward Israel has become a defining characteristic of the "progressive" Left, and the recent NPR case shows just how acceptable anti-Israel attitudes--even extremely strident ones--have become to the mainline liberal establishment. Especially when they don't think anyone is listening.

continued at Chicago Boyz

2:18 PM


The war on toy guns grows increasingly bizarre.

Note especially the advice in Mothering magazine:

The writer suggested that parents take their boys aside and "emphasize healing" and show their boys how to make "magical medicines." The magazine also advised that parents could also "transform guns into magical wands" and "channel energy into other games."

5:33 AM

Thursday, March 03, 2011  

...the predominant color being white, of course, but still pretty interesting

at Retronaut

via the Sibling of Daedalus

Related: Czarist Russia, in color

4:22 AM

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