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

site feed

A link to a website, either in this sidebar or in the text of a post, does not necessarily imply agreement with opinions or factual representations contained in that website.

<< current

An occasional web magazine.

For more information or to contact us, click here.

E-mails may be published, with or without editing, unless otherwise requested.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011  

After spending 5 years and nearly $4B on planning, exploration, and leases, Shell Oil has announced that it will have to scrap plans to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Circle, off the northern coast of Alaska. The EPA has withheld the required air permits because the emissions from one single ice-breaking vessel were not included in the environmental impact calculations. More here.

In Texas and New Mexico, no icebreakers are required for oil & gas exploration...but there is danger that activity will be shut down across a wide area to avoid any possible inconvenience to this cute little guy, the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. (Bookworm is right--the lizard does have a rather Churchill-esque expression.) If the Dunes Lizard goes on the endangered species list, then both agriculture and energy would be affected:

"We are very concerned about the Fish and Wildlife Service listing," said Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, noting the service also has proposed listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken next year. "The wolf at the door is the lizard; we're concerned listing it would shut down drilling activity for a minimum of two years and as many as five years while the service determines what habitat is needed for the lizard. That means no drilling, no seismic surveys, no roads built, no electric lines."

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:38 AM


Jay Nordlinger:

When Israel announced the expansion of some housing in its capital, Jerusalem, the Obama administration went nuts. Absolutely nuts. Everyone — president, vice president, secretary of state — was mobilized against Israel.

When the Syrian government mows down unarmed innocents in the streets — nothing. For more than two years now, we’ve seen the worldview of the Obama administration, expressed in foreign policy. Are you sickened yet?

(via PowerLine)

6:32 AM

Tuesday, April 26, 2011  

The last typewriter factory in the world--Godrej & Boyce, of Mumbai, India--has ceased production and is selling off the last 200 typewriters made. Ricochet has an extensive discussion thread, including many typewriter memories.

As someone noted in comments to the first link, Brother International is still selling devices that they call "typewriters," but it appears that all of these are daisy-wheel devices with significant electronics rather than classical typewriters.

12:52 PM

Monday, April 25, 2011  

How many gallons of gasoline can be purchased for the value of one unit of the S&P 500 index, and how has this ratio changed over time?

This chart provides the answer.

10:48 AM

Friday, April 22, 2011  

Mary Grabar: writing teachers: still crazy after all these years

5:00 AM

Thursday, April 21, 2011  

There's a Simpsons episode in which Lisa is on a nostalgia kick and is making a video on that theme...but real-world events keep getting in the way. For example, she is down by the tracks, doing an elegaic voice-over along the lines of "these lonely railroad tracks, where the trains come no more" when 4 or 5 diesel units thunder by with a mile or so of freight cars in tow.

I was reminded of this episode by some recent discussions in the blogosphere and elsewhere. In debates about high-speed passenger rail, it's pretty clear that many if not most people conflate "trains" with "passenger trains" and think of freight-rail, if they think of it at all, as a vestigial holdover from the railroads' glory days. The many people who remark on U.S. passenger-rail inferiority vis-a-vis Europe rarely notice that the situation looks a bit different when it comes to freight. And in reviews of the new movie Atlas Shrugged--the principal protagonist of which is a railroad executive--there have been been suggestions that it might have been better to switch the action to something more modern, rather than continuing the book's focus on "1950s industries," as one commenter called them, such as railroads and steel. One newspaper reviewer, describing the film's setting, called it "2016 in an alternative retro-future where everything has the look of mid-20th-century modern, the Internet apparently was never invented (people still read papers!), and trains are how goods get from coast to coast."

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:57 AM

Wednesday, April 20, 2011  

See this post, and especially this comment by Michael E Lopez.

9:10 AM

Sunday, April 17, 2011  

Reading Sgt Mom's new historical novel inspired me to research some additional sources on that era of history. At the library, I picked up A Line in the Sand: The Alamo in Blood and Memory, by Randy Roberts and James Olson. The first half of the book is devoted to the actual historical events, the second half to the differing ways these events have been portrayed in legend and in formal history over the century and a half that has passed since they occurred.

At the end of the book, the authors describe a commemoration that was held at the Alamo in 1999. There were thousands of people there--one attendee they noticed was "an Anglo graduate student from the University of Texas, filled with passionate intensity...plain, metal-rimmed glasses rested down on his nose, and his goatee was trimmed a la Leon Trotsky."

They also noticed a Hispanic family with three girls ages 8 to 12. The father, a CPA with a Wharton degree, photographed his family in front of the limestone walls of the chapel and told them briefly about the Alamo, telling the girls that "it stood for courage and integrity, virtues they needed to cultivate in their own lives."

At that point, the Anglo graduate student arrived at the chapel door. He asked, "Why are you even here today? Don't you know what this place stands for? It represents the rape and destruction of your people."

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:21 AM

Friday, April 15, 2011  

(I originally posted this last year--April 15 seems like an appropriate day for a re-post)

Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.

PowerLine observes that during the election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick with Obama signs--and wonders how these people are now feeling about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.

The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they're missing a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate, and these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of Chevy Chase--a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or indirectly from government activities--fall into this category.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:08 AM

Wednesday, April 13, 2011  
Celia Hayes

This is the latest historical novel by our blogfriend Sgt Mom, set in the era of the Texas Revolution. You can get it here.

Margaret Becker comes from Pennsylvania to Texas at the age of 12, along with her two brothers, her mother, and her father (a man so difficult that he antagonizes everyone he meets, up through and including Stephen Austin--indeed, the reader may feel a strong desire to reach through the pages and strangle him.) Margaret herself is competent and practical-minded, also a keen observer who likes to reflect on things. Here's Margaret sitting on the porch of their new house in Texas and remembering an evening back in Philadelphia:

A few swifts darted after invisible flying insects, dark shadows flashing against an indigo-dark sky. The chorus of crickets singing, invisible in the growing twilight, accompanied the slow unveiling of the stars. When she was very small, about the age of Carl, Margaret thought that the crickets' song was the sound of the stars as they wheeled in the sky, the creaking of the tiny gears that moved the stars. At church, they had talked of the music of the spheres, and Margaret had once been sure that was what she heard. It was only logical, since the stars and the crickets' song appeared together in the evening.

When Margaret is about 17, she marries the local schoolmaster, Horace ("Race") Vining, who has come from Boston to a warmer climate at least in part because of his health problems; his intellectual and political interests, combined with his wide circle of friends, give her an good opportunity to observe the historic events now in their formative stages.

Anglo settlers had originally been eagerly sought by the Mexican government, which then ruled Texas, but tensions grew rapidly under the centralizing rule of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Resentment of Santa Anna's policies was not limited to Anglos or indeed to Texas--rebellions broke out in several Mexican states, notably Zacatecas, and were suppressed with considerable brutality. In Texas itself, several prominent Mexicans (Tejanos) were among those seeking a more decentralized and liberalized government. Margaret meets several of these men, and although she would not have been expected to participate in the discussions, she is a keen listener and observer:

continued at Chicago Boyz

1:29 PM


150 years ago yesterday, April 11, 1861, the American Civil War began.

Author Connie Willis, explaining why she wrote the novel Lincoln's Dreams:

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.

A couple of links from yesterday:

Neptunus Lex

Charlotte Reineck (at Ricochet)

9:30 AM


Executive gets job, loses job, whines

6:17 AM

Tuesday, April 12, 2011  

...not the philosopher, but the computer-assisted education system.

This post notes that many of the concepts now being hyped as features of computer-based education were in fact initially developed as elements of the PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) system, which was first deployed in 1960. Surely, over the 46 years of PLATO's operational life a great deal of knowledge was gained about what works and what doesn't work when computers are directly applied to teaching. I wonder how much of this experience has been considered by, or is even known to, the current hypemeisters of classroom computing.

Generally speaking, I think things in our society would go better if there were more awareness of history--not only general political and social history, but also specific history relating to particular fields, industries, and technologies. I suspect such lack of historical perspective is particularly strong in the educational field.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

(via Newmark's Door)

12:41 PM


If you're stopped by the police while driving in Los Angeles and found not to have a license, your car will be impounded for 30 days....unless you are an illegal immigrant, in which case you get to keep your car.

This policy is the doing of LAPD chief Charlie Beck, who reasons that it's unfair to confiscate cars from illegal immigrants for driving without a license, since they can't get a license in the first place because of their lack of citizenship status or other appropriate authorization.

I wonder what Chief Beck thinks should be done with an illegal immigrant who is found to be impersonating a police officer?...let him go, since (presumably, even in L.A.) a non-citizen would not be allowed to become a real police officer?

12:18 PM

Saturday, April 09, 2011  

The Senate has passed a bill which would implement significant changes in the U.S. patent system. Bill Waddell has some serious concerns.

Also via Bill comes this interesting interview (video) with the head of GE's Appliance business, which is significantly expanding its manufacturing operation in Louisville, KY. See also the discussion at Bill's site.

WSJ reports that the SEC is considering relaxing the limit on the maximum number of shareholders in private companies, currently set at 499. According to another article in the same publication, the SEC is also considering a rather bizarre "crowdsourcing" approch under which companies would be able to sell investments in very small dollar amounts--$100 was mentioned--using social networking sites such as Facebook. (Another related WSJ piece here)

An alternative--perhaps complementary--approach is being proposed by David Weild, a former vice chairman of NASDAQ. Weild would like to see the creation of a new stock exchange, focused on raising capital for emerging companies and with a wider bid-ask spread to make dealing in such companies a more profitable activity for marketmakers.

continued at Chicago Boyz

10:56 AM

Friday, April 08, 2011  

..because there does seem to be a certain similarity

4:36 AM

Thursday, April 07, 2011  

Senator Lindsay Graham, in response to the Koran-burning incident and subsequent riot, had this to say:

I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II, we had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy.

"Inspire" is an interesting word in this context. If someone during WWII had gone around giving speeches asserting that a German/Japanese victory would be a good thing, yes it is possible that the FDR administration would have found a way to get him arrested and kept in prison for the duration of the war. And if someone during WWI had done the same thing,the Wilson administration would almost certainly have had him arrested.

The present-day analogy for such speech giving, though, would be something like Michael Moore's 2004 statement:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:07 AM

Sunday, April 03, 2011  

Northeast Utilities is apparently conducting some sort of "energy efficiency" campaign, which involves sending letters to customers comparing their energy use with that of their neighbors. One recipient of such a letter was Connecticut resident Linda Dwyer, who responded as follows:

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:52 PM


You're having a dinner party and have the magical ability to invite 10 people--5 men and 5 women--from all of history. Who would you pick?

Neptunus Lex gives his own selection and invites other thoughts.

6:29 AM

Saturday, April 02, 2011  

Duncan Gray. Written by Robert Burns, this version sung by Ross Kennedy.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

6:50 PM

This page is powered by Blogger.