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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Monday, May 30, 2011  

The war was in color via Neptunus Lex, who observes: They all are. Lyrics to the song are here. Be sure to read the comments at the NepLex link.

Here are some other Memorial Day links from around the web...most of these are from 2010 and earlier.

America the Singularity, from Dr Sanity

We remember them, also from Neptunus Lex. Eloquent writing even by Lex's own high standards. And for 2011,Lex links to thoughts from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the CNO, the Marine Corps Commandant, and the writer Mark Helprin.

The warriors among us, from Bookworm

Lest we forget, from Reflecting Light

How can you remember something you've never learned?

A visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln

A nice picture of the WWII memorial at night

A memorial in Afghanistan. Story and incredible photographs by Michael Yon.

Cassandra, eloquent and thoughtful as always.

A 2010 post from Neptunus Lex.

Update: See also Walter Russell Mead and Chicago Boy Lexington Green.

4:35 AM

Thursday, May 26, 2011  

See my post at Ricochet.

7:28 AM

Wednesday, May 25, 2011  

General Electric has inducted Dr John Schenk, who was a member of the GE research team that first developed the clinically viable MRI scanner, into the GE Reports Genius Hall of Fame.

At the link, Dr Schenk--who worked as an ER doctor for 10 years while also working in the GE lab--talks about how the practical MRI system was developed and about his current research interests.

9:04 AM

Monday, May 23, 2011  

...thoughts from author/blogger Jeff Sypeck.

4:56 AM

Sunday, May 22, 2011  

Picked up the March 1939 issue of Aviation magazine at a used book store. There is a lot of interesting content; here are some highlights...

(1)The big story was the delivery to Pan American Airways of the new Boeing 314 flying boats, intended to support Pan Am's first transatlantic service, as well as for expansion of its existing transpacific service. (Atlantic service came 4 years later than the Pacific service due to strictly political reasons.)

The Boeing 314 ("Clipper") could carry 74 passengers, but configured for overnight service, as it was for the transoceanic runs, the number of passengers was limited to 40. There was a 14-seat dining room, davenports convertible into upper and lower berths for the passengers, and a special private suite ("honeymoon suite") in the tail of the plane.

There are several wonderful web sites about the Clippers. The Pan Am Clipper Flying Boats site covers several models operated by Pan Am, with the B-314-specific information here, including exterior and interior pictures. This image-rich site is also great, as is this one.

One-way fare, New York to Marseilles, was $375. According to the BLS Inflation Calculator, this would be equivalent to about $6000 in today's money. I imagine the Private Suite was quite a bit more.

continued at Chicago Boyz

12:58 PM

Saturday, May 21, 2011  

Bookworm finds an old copy of Life magazine, and contrasts the coverage of the Six Day War with current media attitudes toward Israel.

Speaking of contrasts, Rob Long writes about Reagan vs Obama on Israel.

Neptunus Lex tries out the F-35 cockpit demonstrator

Richochet has a thread focused on non-fiction book recommendations from the Ricochetians.

Rob Long links a video in which college students are asked to sign an anti-free-speech petition.

A zoomable photograph of the entire night sky

4:38 AM

Thursday, May 19, 2011  

Google is sponsoring a science fair for kids around the world, ages 13-18. The 60 semifinalists have been announced and their projects are posted on the website--in addition to judging process being done by an expert panel, there is a "People's Choice" award which allows you to vote for your favorite project.

5:42 AM

Tuesday, May 17, 2011  

The length of time from the end of the American Civil War to the release of "Gone With the Wind" (the movie) was very nearly the same as the length of time from the movie to the present. (74 years vs 72 years)

The length of time from Richard Trevithick's prototype steam locomotive to the Wright Brothers' first flight was less than the time from that first flight to the present. (99 years vs 108 years)

The length of time from the Wright Brothers' first flight to the first commercial jetliner (DH 106 Comet) was less than the time from the Comet to the present (48 years vs 60 years)

The length of time from the coronation of Elizabeth I to the American Declaration of Independence was less than the time from the Declaration to to the present (217 years vs 235 years)

The length of time from Robert Goddard's first liquid-fueled rocket to the first manned landing on the moon was almost exactly the same as the time from the lunar landing to the present (43 years vs 42 years)

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

7:10 AM

Friday, May 13, 2011  

...any more than "hydrogen" is a synonym for "H2O."

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) seems a little confused on this point.

I've noticed quite a few people, in various debates about environmental matters, referring to "carbon" as generically a bad thing. Some of them are probably just using it as a shorthand for carbon dioxide, in order to save syllables or characters---others, though, really do seem to think that the discussion is about some sinister product of the Industrial Revolution, rather than the natural compound that they exhale with every breath and that is required for the growth of plants. Maybe they think it's about carbon particulates.

The situation isn't helped by various corporations which, when promoting their products/technologies on environmental grounds, now almost always talk about how they reduce carbon, or at best carbon dioxide, rather than talking about reductions in real air pollution in the form of mercury, sulfur dioxide, etc. The terms "carbon" and "carbon dioxide" are now generally being used as shorthand for atmospheric Bad Things.

Returning to Boxer, the levels of her ignorance and demagoguery are astonishing--but we should not forget also her amazing arrogance and self-centeredness.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:54 PM

Tuesday, May 10, 2011  

‘When the crocus blossoms,’ hiss the women in Berlin,
‘He will press the button, and the battle will begin.
When the crocus blossoms, up the German knights will go,
And flame and fume and filthiness will terminate the foe…
When the crocus blossoms, not a neutral will remain.’

(A P Herbert, Spring Song, quoted in To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne)

On May 10, 1940, German forces launched an attack against Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Few people among the Allies imagined that France would collapse in only six weeks: Churchill, for example, had a high opinion of the fighting qualities of the French army. But collapse is what happened, of course, and we are still all living with the consequences. General Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain on the French staff, wrote in 1967:

The collapse of the French Army is the most important event of the twentieth century.

If it’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. If France had held up to the German assault as effectively as it was expected to do, World War II would probably have never reached the nightmare levels that it in fact did reach. The Hitler regime might well have fallen. The Holocaust would never have happened. Most likely, there would have been no Communist takeover of Eastern Europe.

This campaign has never received much attention in America; it tends to be regarded as something that happened before the “real” war started. Indeed, many denizens of the Anglosphere seem to believe that the French basically gave up without a fight–which is a considerable exaggeration given the French casualties of around 90,000 killed and 200,000 wounded. But I think the fall of France deserves serious study, and that some of the root causes of the defeat are scarily relevant to today’s world.

continued at my Chicago Boyz 2007 post here

6:09 AM

Sunday, May 08, 2011  

Movies intended for theater distribution are usually about 90-120 minutes long--this surely puts some serious constraints on character and plot development. The additional time made available by the series and mini-series formats (apparently the distinction between series and mini-series lies in whether the full set of episodes is planned in advance or not) would seem to open up some additional degrees of artistic freedom. And the changes in the way video is distributed, including Netflix and the various video-on-demand services, play very well with the series/miniseries format.

Over the past couple of years, I've watched several series, mostly via Netflix, which I thought were particularly noteworthy:

continued at Chicago Boyz

4:38 PM


S T Karnick: In defense of soap operas

Victor Davis Hanson: Thoughts on a surreal depression

Mark Perry: Price volatility of onions compared with that of oil

Richard Fernandez compares the methods used to fight our present terrorist enemy with those used to fight the U-boats of WWI and WWII.

The Social Pathologist notes that it is possible to get far more than the rated horsepower out of an engine--but at the price of reduced operational life and/or greatly increased maintenance costs--and sees an analogy with certain kinds of individual and societal decision-making.

5:07 AM

Friday, May 06, 2011  

In my post icebreakers, lizards, and gasoline prices, I referenced the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence from the Disney movie Fantasia. While researching this post, I discovered that the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, as used in the movie, comes from a 1797 poem by Goethe. Here is is, in English and in German: Der Zauberlehrling.

12:08 PM

Wednesday, May 04, 2011  

The value of the dollar (shown here measured against a basket of currencies) continues to fall--this of course makes imports more expensive to American consumers. There is inflation in China:

That means Americans, Europeans and other buyers will have to pay more for those goods or seek lower-cost suppliers elsewhere. In some cases, retailers are bidding for goods at prices the exporters consider too low.

“I hear that many Chinese exporters are rejecting orders from Wal-Mart and other Western retailers,” Mr. Tao said. “I’ve been covering the Chinese economy for a long time, and I’ve never heard that before.”

...which has the same effect of making U.S. manufacturing generally more competitive.

The natural effect of these phenomena is that manufacturing in the U.S., for export and for domestic consumption, becomes more competitive and hence factories operate at higher capacity, new ones are built, and employment increases along with economic growth. There are other factors that seem to point in this direction.

The greatly increased availability of U.S. natural gas, driven by new drilling technologies, offers potential advantages both to companies using gas as a feedstock and to those which are heavy energy consumers. Dow Chemical, for example, is increasing its production of ethane and of ethane's downstream products: Dow's plastics business has led earnings growth this year after lower natural-gas prices made U.S. production cheaper than oil-based resins made in Europe and Asia.

And in the broader manufacturing realm, quite a few companies are realizing that the "offshoring" boom was in some cases based on superficial analysis, ignoring the logistical realities of a 6000-mile-long supply chain and the consequent inventory, forecasting, and human communications problems. Our friends at Evolving Excellence cover this topic frequently. Note also that rising oil prices directly increase the costs of bunker fuel (for ships) and jet fuel (for planes) and hence have a significant negative effect on the economics of offshoring for many kinds of products.

So, can we expect a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S.? There are certainly indications of at least a temporary uptrend, and there are structural factors, as discussed above, which have the potential of creating growth over the long term.

I am afraid, though, that we are likely to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Multiple political and social factors will, unless they are reversed, make it difficult for U.S. manufacturing to live up to its full potential.

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:24 AM

Monday, May 02, 2011  

Little Miss Attila asks: How are your economic theories affected by the way you grew up? Interesting post, links, and discussion.

Victor Davis Hanson suggests that American decline is a choice, not a preordained outcome.

UPDATE: Fear and Loathing in Georgetown has some interesting thoughts inspired by Little Miss Attila's post.

8:40 AM

Sunday, May 01, 2011  

Tomorrow, May 2, is Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day, Yom Hashoah Ve Hagevurah. The date for this observance was chosen in part because of its calendrical proximity to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; more here.

In this video, Jay Black (born David Blatt--singer for the 1960s group Jay and the Americans) sings "Where is the little street?" ("Vi iz dus geseleh?") accompanied by images from Marc Chagall paintings.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:41 AM


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5:37 AM

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