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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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
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kesher talk
assistant village idiot
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Sunday, July 31, 2011  

I've occasionally posted some thoughts on the ways in which people's political beliefs are influenced by their professions, and we've also discussed this topic at Chicago Boyz. Here is an interesting analysis of political contributions by various industries and interest groups.

Link via a commenter at this post (7/30, 10:45 am), who somehow derived from this data the conclusion that "Brain industries go with Dems. Muscle industries go with Repubs."

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

8:16 AM

Saturday, July 30, 2011  

A couple of weeks ago, commenter River, at Ricochet, put up a post with the above title. There's no point in linking it, since it's in the Member Feed section which is available only to paying Ricochet members, but I think it's important enough to excerpt some of it here.

River quotes Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist, on the hidden costs of indebtedness:

With the U.S. debt now approaching $14.5 trillion, Americans are watching their elected officials debating whether the debt ceiling should be raised to allow the country to borrow even more money. President Obama has warned that if we don’t borrow more money, the federal government may not be able to make payments to Social Security recipients.

Very little has been written about the psychological effects of the American population living under a mountain of debt, but those effects are very substantial. Chief among them is a sense of being disempowered and anxiety-ridden—both individually and collectively—and, therefore, unable to assert our values here at home, let alone abroad.

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:28 AM

Thursday, July 28, 2011  

Via Newmark's Door, here's a seasonal ingredient map showing what's fresh in your area

The above site reminded me of something I linked back in 2009: old water mills and the products they milled

Hillel Ofek asks why the Arabic world turned away from science

A letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Should hospitals be run by doctors?

Overcriminalization. The Advice Goddess agrees with Walter Olson that the explosion in the number and complexity of laws/regulations puts everyone at risk of being charged with a criminal offense.

Robert Avrech argues that the automobile is a symbol of freedom

Update: Rick Darby writes about a bizarre UK government program to pay "doorstep lecturers" to go around and tell people that they should avoid using their cars.

4:48 AM

Tuesday, July 26, 2011  

GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR:Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

(Shakespeare, King Henry the Fourth)

Yesterday, Andrew Klavan put up a post titled Just Words?, in which he describes Obama in these terms:

The president, in short, has a problem with his mouth: words keep coming out of it that have nothing to do with the truth. He doesn’t even speak plainly. In matters that might be controversial or unpopular, he almost never calls anything by its proper name. He talks about “cutting spending in the tax code” when he means raising taxes; about “making investments” when he means more government spending. And the parts of what he says that can be clearly understood almost never describe his true intentions or his ultimate actions.


During Hillary Clinton’s losing nomination fight against Obama, the Clinton camp famously charged that while Obama’s speeches were impressive, his record was virtually non-existent. “When all is said and done, words aren’t action. They are just words,” the Clintonistas said.


Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to care what his words mean, only how they sound, only what they get him. The answer, then, is yes, when this president speaks, it really is just words.

As I've previously observed, a large and increasing proportion of Americans earn their living through the manipulation of words and images--lawyers, writers, entertainers, journalists, professors outside the hard sciences, certain types of consultants. For people in these professions, there is a constant temptation to over-value their own and related activities such that they wind up implicitly believing that nothing really matters but words/images and their deployment; that all other forms of human endeavor are trivial in comparison. Not all people in these fields fall prey to this fallacy (Klavan, after all, is himself a writer) but many do. Obama is the avatar of such people.

Indeed, Obama has never really previously been in a position in which he had individual and un-deflectable responsibility for action. He has always been able to deploy words to get him what he wants. Despite his reputation as an intellectual, there is nothing in him of the analyst and problem-solver; he is not the sort of man who thinks through practical situations deeply and creatively, and he has little experience with the complexity and intransigence of the real world. It is all about the fine phrases..like Glendower, he still believes that if he gets them just right, the spirits from the vasty deep will really appear. And he has been very careful to avoid having in his inner circle any Hotspurs who might tell him otherwise.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:01 AM

Sunday, July 24, 2011  

Several days ago, I linked some recently-discovered color photographs of the London Blitz. Sibling of Daedalus has posted a color video from the same era; she also linked some larger versions of the photographs.

Although it's often probably subconsciously viewed as having happened in black and white, the war was in color.

8:27 PM

Friday, July 22, 2011  

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, talking to Investors Business Daily about the dismal state of the economy, was asked by the interviewer what advice he would give Obama about job creation. His response:

I'm not sure Obama would understand anything that I'd say, because he's never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn't know how to make a payroll, he doesn't understand the problems businesses face. I would try to explain that the plight of the businessman is very reactive to Washington. As Washington piles on regulations and mandates, the impact is tremendous. I don't think he's a bad guy. I just think he has no knowledge of this.

When asked "why don't more businesses speak out," Marcus responded:

They are frightened to death — frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them. In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration.

The above two statements do not, IMO, go very well together. A president who establishes a climate of intimidation directed against American citizens is certainly not a good guy.

continued at Chicago Boyz

4:07 AM

Thursday, July 21, 2011  

Link here

Via John Hinderaker at PowerLine, who says:

We have written before about the fact that earlier historical eras seem remote from us in part because we see them (assuming we see them in photographs at all) in black and white. The absence of color creates a distance that can be hard to bridge. Thus, it can seem revelatory when one finally sees in color views that before had been available only in shades of gray.


It is striking how seeing events in color brings them into the ambit of what we think of as contemporary history.

Related: Czarist Russia, In Color

1:36 PM


Nile Gardiner, writing in The Telegraph

It should be clear that many of the policies/actions mentioned represent not only threats to Israel, but threats to the United States and to the entire civilized world.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

3:57 AM

Tuesday, July 19, 2011  

The corporate culture of Netflix, explained in a presentation by CEO Reed Hastings

Don Sensing visits the Time Shop

The problem with modern playgrounds

A photo essay on Bhutan

Some photos of Washington DC which interestingly combine historic and modern pictures of the same places

7:41 PM


In March 2008, I asked the question If you were the new owner of Borders, what would you do?...which sparked a fair amount of discussion.

Yesterday, Borders announced that it would close all stores and liquidate. Something like ten thousand people will lose their jobs.

In retrospect...given the state of the economic and the transition to digital books delivered via devices such as the Kindle...could Borders have been saved by better management, or was its demise inevitable?

See also this dumb company tricks post, which describes some experiences with Borders.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

6:12 AM

Friday, July 15, 2011  

A thought-provoking post from Walter Russell Mead.

(via Instapundit)

8:39 AM

Thursday, July 14, 2011  

Future generations may read with amazement that there was once a time in America when people were allowed to select their own light bulbs without the choice being micromanaged by government. They will learn that that era ended in July 2011, when the effort to overturn the incandescent-bulb-ban failed in the House.

..if I were forced to choose the best lighting for residential overall, it would have to be incandescent. I feel that we as humans have had a deep connection to flame for many thousands of years. It’s almost like it’s in our DNA. It’s interesting that as time moves on, people are still drawn to sitting around the camp fire, a fireplace, even a barbecue. Think of a Yule log. It’s just that this particular quality of light is ingrained in us. You can even get a screen saver of log flames. Incandescents with their glowing filaments are a form of flame and are thus an extension of this inborn affinity that we have for fire.

--lighting designer Ed Cansino, quoted here

But it no longer matters what this lighting designer thinks, or what you think...neither you nor he will be allowed to exercise your own aesthetic preferences and make your own economic tradeoffs. All that matters is the opinion of the holders of political office.

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:17 AM

Monday, July 11, 2011  

Robert Avrech on the Texas-Israel connection

Margaret Ball has been reading Edmund Burke

Victor Davis Hanson on the great madness of 2004-10

Hanson, who among other things is a classicist, also writes about the demagogic style, using examples from ancient Greece as well as the present era.

Bill Waddell suggests that one should beware of any company that has the word 'Brands' in its name

Massive cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools...by the administrators

Manhattan in the 1940s...a great set of color photos

1:29 PM

Sunday, July 10, 2011  

Steven Chu, Obama's astonishingly arrogant (Nobel-prize-winning!) energy secretary, defends the Edison-bulb ban:

We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.

Read the PowerLine post at the link, and continue to the Mark Steyn post....Steyn is, as usual, in fine form. But I'm mainly posting this because we need to remember Chu's comment at election time, to be added to the very long list of statements and actions that show just how disconnected this administration is from traditional American ideas of liberty. I don't think most Americans yet understand just how extreme this disconnect is, and we need to help ensure that it is made visible.

This is an administration, as I've noted before, that is comprised of two kinds of people: theorists and agitators. They do not value individual freedom, and they are not interested in problem-solving.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

7:35 AM

Friday, July 08, 2011  

What if there was a "shovel-ready" project that:

**would create a significant number of American jobs

**would require no government money and no government guarantees of private debt

**would provide America with a secure new source of energy supplies and would reduce dependence on certain unfriendly regimes, such as the one in Venezuela

**would benefit an important and trusted American ally

And what would we think of an American administration that continually threw obstacles in front of this project?

It turns out that there is indeed such a project...

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:34 AM

Thursday, July 07, 2011  

...because it increasingly seems that the first 3 digits must be one, nine, and three.

In Australia, "protestors" blocked the entrance to a Melbourne chocolate shop which is Israeli-owned. (link via Glenn Reynolds)

Who were these people? According to the report:

This unruly mob was so stereotypical that could have been supplied direct from central casting. There were 'kafiyeh' Arab-scarf-wearing Leftwing atheists rallying in defence of the theocratic medievalists of Hamas. There were radical feminists protesting on behalf of an Islamic radical regime that would slap them into a burka so fast it would make their head swim. And let's not forget the Rip Van Winkle hippies, that de rigueur cohort of aging radicals who've never outgrown their anti-Vietnam war protest stage.

See my related post beware the attrition mill

7:35 PM

Tuesday, July 05, 2011  

Several days ago, Michael Kennedy mentioned Neville Shute's end-of-the-world novel On The Beach. There were, of course, a considerable number of nuclear-war-related novels published during the Cold War era...one of the last representatives of this genre is Trinity's Child, written by William Prochnau and published in 1983.

The central character, Moreau, is a B-52 copilot. Her decision to pursue a career in the Strategic Air Command was greatly influenced by her love and admiration for her father, a SAC general known as "the coldest of the cold warriors." When Moreau was 10, her father took her to the Trinity atomic test site. She told him that all her friends expected to die in a nuclear war, and he explained to her the logic of nuclear deterrence:

"I'm sorry your friends are afraid...I don't know if you can understand this yet, but fear is my job. It's my job to keep everyone so afraid no one will ever use these bombs again."

"How long do you have to do it, Dad?" she asked, eyes down, her small, fine hand picking at the old bomb crate.

"Forever, honey. Eternal vigilance, President Kennedy said. After me, someone else and then someone else and then someone else. Forever, into infinity."

To which Moreau responded:

"After you...I'll do it, Dad."

continued at Chicago Boyz

6:35 PM

Sunday, July 03, 2011  

On July 7, 1941--five months before Pearl Harbor--Stephen Vincent Benet's poem Listen to the People, was read over nationwide radio.


This is Independence Day,
Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
Whatever happens and whatever falls
Out of a sky grown strange;
This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
The day of the parade,
Slambanging down the street.
Listen to the parade!
There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
The Fire Department and the local Grange,
There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
There are the veterans and the Legion Post
(Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
Gppd-humored, watching, hot,
Silent a second as the flag goes by,
Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
All of them there and all of them a nation.
And, afterwards,
There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
By somebody the Honorable Who,
The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
Will read the declaration.
That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
That’s our fourth of July.

And a lean farmer on a stony farm
Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
And walked ten miles to town.
Musket in hand.
He didn’t know the sky was falling down
And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
By kings or any such.
A workman in the city dropped his tools.
An ordinary, small-town kind of man
Found himself standing in the April sun,
One of a ragged line
Against the skilled professionals of war,
The matchless infantry who could not fail,
Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
But first, and principally, since he was sore.
They could do things in quite a lot of places.
They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

Benet's poem ends with these words:

We made it and we make it and it’s ours
We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

Update: Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts for the Fourth---three things you can do for liberty.

Update 2: Neptunus Lex

2:42 PM


There is a type of machine called an attrition mill. It consists of two steel discs which rotate at high speed in opposite directions, crushing the grain or other substance being milled between them. In earlier posts, I have used the metaphor that our civilization is now caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the Islamic terrorist enemy and the other disc being the "progressive" Left within our own societies.

Recently, David Solway wrote an important post on the Leftist-Islamist nexus. Solway's post is more than a bit over the top, IMO: while it is certainly true that there are signficant parallels between modern "progressivism" on the one hand, and Naziism/Fascism on the other...and even stronger parallels between radical-militant Islam and Fascism...I don't think it is helpful to use terms like "Fourth Reich." Still, many of the concerns he raises are valid ones, such as the extent to which prestigious American universities “are actively colluding with Islamic foreign governments” in their aim to criminalize (a non-existent) “Islamophobia,” thus putting them “in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections.” Definitely read the whole thing.

For a current example of the kind of thing that Solway is talking about, see this post from Pam Geller.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:33 AM

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