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
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Thursday, June 30, 2011  

Fact #1: Obama has been giving many speeches about how much he values American manufacturing and also introducing various initiatives which he claims will be help manufacturing businesses

Face #2: In his recent budget proposal, Obama proposed the elimination of LIFO inventory accounting for tax purposes. This would generate additional business income tax revenues for the government of an estimated $72B by 2016.

In what universe do the above two things go together?

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:18 AM

Sunday, June 26, 2011  

Jim Manzi is a thinker/writer who often has interesting things to say; see for example his piece What Social Science Does--and Doesn't--Know. He has a new series at NRO about U.S. manufacturing competitiveness: why it matters, and how it can be improved. Here are the first two posts: Part 1, and Part 2. As additional posts are added, they will be easily findable via googling.

See also my post Faux Manufacturing Nostalgia, which is about cultural influences on the situation of U.S. manufacturing; also A Manufacturing Renaissance?

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

7:57 AM

Friday, June 24, 2011  

PowerLine has video of her recent speech. Two of the PowerLine bloggers also attended a 2005 meeting at which Bachmann described her experiences working on a kibbutz after graduating from high school. "In that speech, she described how she and others would leave before dawn to work in a field, and had to be accompanied by armed men lest they be attacked by terrorists."

Didn't know Bachmann had spent time in Israel, much less working on a kibbutz--it's safe to say that she comprehends the reality of the threats to that country at a level incomprehensible to the likes of Barack Obama.

10:58 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2011  

Environmentalism and crony capitalism in California

How regulatory compliance costs and government protection of incumbent companies are crippling American small business.

Some incredible photographs of the world at night

Remembering six days in 1967. Some facts about Israel's six-day war that are not very consistent with the "progressive" narrative.

Elites gone bad. David Gelernter on the low quality of today's American Left.

(The 5 links above are all via Newmark's Door)

Just as he promised, Obama is attempting to destroy the coal industry

Sibling of Daedalus has a collection of paintings from a group of artists who were known as The Gridirons

Basset hounds running. Pure canine joy

Some photographs from Italy

Growl of the secular bear: a depressing array of charts from Comstock Partners

On a more cheerful note: the enduring American spirit (via Instapundit)

5:11 AM

Sunday, June 19, 2011  

...it looks like the schools have won and history has lost. A recent survey indicates that less than a quarter of American students are scoring at or above the "proficient" level in their knowledge of this subject. For twelfth graders, the number is only 12%.

More from Joanne Jacobs and her commenters. Few high school seniors were able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought the U.S. during the Korean war. Most fourth graders were unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure. Only a third of fourth graders were able to identify the purpose of the Declaration of Independence. And only 2% of 12th graders can name the social problem — school segregation — that Brown vs. the Board of Education was supposed to correct, even after reading: “We conclude that in the field of public education, separate but equal has no place, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” That number is two percent.

While these results are disturbing, they should not be surprising to anyone who has been keeping up. Evidence has been building for years that the American school system is generally doing a very poor job in the teaching of history. I've seen data from 2002 showing that 15% of high school students actually believed that the U.S. and Germany had been allies during World War II. And the failures of history teaching extend through college level. In 2008, historian David McCullough spoke to seminar of some twenty-five students at an Ivy League college, all seniors majoring in history, all honors students. "How many of you know who George Marshall was?" he asked. None did.

So why is this happening?

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:28 AM

Thursday, June 16, 2011  
Thomas Watson Jr and Peter Petre

When Tom Watson Jr was 10 years old, his father came home and proudly announced that he had changed the name of his company. The business that had been known as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company would now be known by the grand name International Business Machines.

"That little outfit?" thought young Tom to himself, picturing the company's rather random-seeming collection of products, which included time clocks, coffee grinders, and scales, and the "cigar-chomping guys" who sold them. This was in 1924.

This is the best business autobiography I've read. It's about Watson Jr, his difficult relationship with his father, the company they built, and the emergence of the computing industry. It is an emotional, reflective, and self-critical book, without the kind of "here's how brilliant I was" tone that afflicts too many executive autobiographies. With today being IBM's 100th anniversary (counting from the incorporation of CTR), I thought it would be a good time to finally get this review finished and posted.

Watson's relationship with his father was never an easy one. From an early age, he sensed a parental expectation that he would follow his father into IBM, despite both his parents assuring him that this was not the case and he could do whatever he wanted. This feeling that his life course was defined in advance, combined with fear that he would never be able to measure up to his increasingly-famous father, was likely a factor in the episodes of severe depression which afflicted him from 13 to 19. In college Watson was an indifferent student and something of a playboy. His most significant accomplishment during this period was learning to fly airplanes----"I'd finally discovered something I was good at"--a skill that would have great influence on his future. His first job at IBM, as a trainee salesman, did little to boost his self-confidence or his sense of independence: he was aware that local IBM managers were handing him easy accounts, wanting to ensure success for the chief executive's son. It was only when Watson joined the Army Air Force during WWII--he flew B-24s and was based in Russia, assisting General Follett Bradley in the organization of supply shipments to the Soviet Union--that he proved to himself that he could succeed without special treatment. As the war wound down, he set his sights on becoming an airline pilot--General Bradley expressed surprise, saying "Really? I always thought you'd go back and run the IBM company." This expression of confidence, from a man he greatly respected, helped influence Watson to give IBM another try.

The products that Watson had been selling, as a junior salesman, were punched card systems. Although these were not computers in the modern sense of the word, they could be used to implement some pretty comprehensive information systems. Punched card systems were an important enabler of the increasing dominance of larger organizations in both business and government: the Social Security Act of 1935 was hugely beneficial to IBM both because of the systems they sold to the government directly and those sold to businesses needing to keep up with the required record-keeping.

continued at Chicago Boyz

11:55 AM

Wednesday, June 15, 2011  

A couple of years ago, I posted about a "creative" approach to job creation. President Obama's attempt to blame our unemployment problems on ATM machines and other technological advances suggests that it's time to post this idea again. So here it is, unchanged except for the date and the use of a less-respectful term in reference to our national legislators.

Politicians, from Barack Obama on down, are spending a lot of time talking about “job creation.” Businesses, labor groups, and “experts” of various kinds are getting into the fun, each emphasizing that their proposed project W will create X jobs within Y time frame at a cost to the government of only Z.

I know a way to create at least a million jobs, almost immediately, at no government expense whatsoever.

continued at Chicago Boyz

11:04 AM

Tuesday, June 14, 2011  

Back in 2008, I posted Duz Web Mak Us Dumr?, which explores the impact of communications technologies on human thought and perception. Comes now David Solway, with a post about what he sees as the devolution of both spoken and written language among America's young.

Not sure how much of his analysis I agree with, but I thought it was interesting enough to put up for discussion. Many of the comments are pretty thoughtful as well.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

8:16 AM

Sunday, June 12, 2011  

The Federal Government has adopted standards which will effectively prohibit the sale of incandescent bulbs for most purposes, beginning next year. Virginia Postrel has an excellent piece on the problems with this idea, in which she makes several important points.

I suspect that many if not most people believe that reducing electricity consumption, via more efficient bulbs or otherwise, has something to do with reducing oil consumption---but in reality, as Virginia points out, "electricity comes mostly from coal, natural gas and nuclear plants, all domestic sources."

Much more important, though, is the bulb ban's interference with individual choice. Different people value different things, and for some individuals, the quality of light in their houses or apartments is aesthetically important. As Virginia notes:

Maybe I want to burn a lot of incandescent bulbs but dry my clothes outdoors and keep the air conditioner off. Maybe I want to read by warm golden light instead of watching a giant plasma TV.

continued at Chicago Boyz

8:32 AM

Thursday, June 09, 2011  

A visualization of the U.S. labor market over the past 150 years.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:00 AM

Sunday, June 05, 2011  

Today, June 6, is the 67th anniversary of the Normandy landings. See the Wikipedia article for an overview. Arthur Seltzer, who was there, describes his experiences.

Don Sensing points out that success was by no means assured: the pivot day of history.

Two earlier Photon Courier posts: before D-day, there was Dieppe and transmission ends.

Pictures from Sarah's 1999 trip to Normandy.

Again, Neptunus Lex:

The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.

Neptunus Lex also remembers the Battle of Midway, which took place from June 4 through June 7, 1942. See also his post from last year about this battle.

Bookworm attended a Battle of Midway commemoration event last year; she also attended the commemoration this year and has promised a post about it soon.

Update: As promised, here's Bookworm's post about this year's Midway commemoration event: a sentimental service in a cynical society

6:59 PM


Red Wing by The Steel Wheels.

Recorded at a Blue Moon House Concert in Oklahoma City.

Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz where comments are open

1:08 PM

Wednesday, June 01, 2011  

Here is a detailed analysis of the evolution of Obama's views on the Israel-Palestinian issue. For anyone who wishes Israel well but is still supporting Obama, you owe it to yourself to read it carefully. The author clearly demonstrates how the left's hostility toward Israel is part and parcel of their generalized hostility toward Western societies.

The title that was given to the article..."Pro-Palestinian-in-Chief"...seems questionable, though. Supporting the "Palestinian cause" in the way that Western leftists do is not really pro-Palestinian, at least not pro-those-Palestinians-who-want-to live peaceful and happy lives. Great harm has been done to these people, as well as to Israelis and to the world in general, by the way in which the Palestinian conflict with Israel has been hyped and romanticized. It is specifically the insane focus on anti-Israel beliefs and action which has acted to prevent the economic development of the Palestinian areas and ensure the continue immiseration of its people, and all of this has been greatly aided and abetted by American and European leftists.

See this related article by Fouad Ajami, which contrasts the behavior of the Palestinian leadership with the behavior of pre-statehood Israeli leadership.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

2:47 PM

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