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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invisible adjunct
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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
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right reason
quid nomen illius?
sister toldjah
the anchoress
reflecting light
dr sanity
all things beautiful
dean esmay
brand mantra
economics unbound
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right on the left coast
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Friday, September 30, 2011  

Images of our solar system created from astronomical data

Some foreign language equivalents of common English idioms

Soap operas and medieval epics

Color insanity in British schools

Numbers versus information

Some paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland, as selected by the Sibling of Daedalus''

An unhappy anniversary: the Munich pact was signed on September 30, 1938

No subject is boring, but certain people are

Power without status can lead to rudeness and abusive behavior

(above two links via Instapundit)

5:35 PM

Friday, September 23, 2011  

Rex Murphy offers a summary of the ways in which the traditional media supported Obama's candidacy:

Much of the Obama coverage was orchestrated sycophancy. They glided past his pretensions — when did a presidential candidate before “address the world” from the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin? They ignored his arrogance — “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” And they averted their eyes from his every gaffe — such as the admission that he didn’t speak “Austrian.”

The media walked right past the decades-long association of Obama with the weird and racist pastor Jeremiah Wright. In the midst of the brief stormlet over the issue, one CNN host — inexplicably — decided that CNN was going to be a “Wright-free zone.” He could have hung out a sign: “No bad news about Obama here.”

If a company filing an Initial Public Offering were to conduct a campaign of misinformation, disinformation, and lying by omission on the level of what the dinosaur media did for Obama, that company and its officers would certainly face legal action, quite probably involving criminal as well as civil charges.

Will the traditional media be taken seriously as a source of information in the upcoming election season? Elizabeth Scalia thinks maybe not:

A while back, I asked my very frustrated mother-in-law why she voted for Barack Obama, and she shrugged, “I could only go by what I heard.”

She meant the nightly network news shows, which she and Pop watch or listen to while they bustle around the kitchen...Information worth listening to was the provenance of the press. For her generation, the press was meant to be listened to and trusted.


At a large, multi-generational family gathering this past weekend, inevitable discussions arose about the economy, jobs, and the bleak outlook for the immediate future. The general consensus was that our president is a failure, the congress is a wreck, and there is no authenticity or originality in our leadership, nor in our press. A majority in attendance—both Democrats and Republicans—had voted for Barack Obama (a few grudgingly, as they had supported Clinton) but while everyone expressed disappointment (there was not a single voice raised in support of the president) the senior citizens confided a deep sense of betrayal—of their trust being shattered.

Both links are worth reading in full.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:23 AM

Sunday, September 18, 2011  

Dietrich Doerner is a professor (at Otto-Friedrich University, Bamberg) who studies the thought patterns that result in bad decision-making, resulting in outcomes ranging from lack of success to outright disaster. I reviewed his interesting book, The Logic of Failure, here.

Comes now The Social Pathologist, who links my original review and adds thoughts of his own on Doerner's work, particularly the sociological implications thereof. Interesting reading.

Searching on Doerner's name, I ran across this analysis of Doernerism applied to the failure of a downtown mall in Columbus, OH.

Prof Doerner's home page is here; unfortunately it seems that most of his work is available only in German.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

8:23 AM

Thursday, September 15, 2011  

Dan Senor provides a useful summary of Obama's attitudes and policies toward that country. Excerpts:

• February 2008: When running for president, then-Sen. Obama told an audience in Cleveland: "There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel."

• July 2009: Mr. Obama hosted American Jewish leaders at the White House, reportedly telling them that he sought to put "daylight" between America and Israel...In the same meeting with Jewish leaders, Mr. Obama told the group that Israel would need "to engage in serious self-reflection." This statement stunned the Americans in attendance: Israeli society is many things, but lacking in self-reflection isn't one of them. It's impossible to envision the president delivering a similar lecture to Muslim leaders.

• March 2010: During Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, a Jerusalem municipal office announced plans for new construction in a part of Jerusalem. The president launched an unprecedented weeks-long offensive against Israel. Mr. Biden very publicly departed Israel...Moments after Mr. Biden concluded his visit to the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority held a ceremony to honor Dalal Mughrabi, who led one of the deadliest Palestinian terror attacks in history: the so-called Coastal Road Massacre that killed 38, including 13 children and an American. The Obama administration was silent. But that same day, on ABC, Mr. Axelrod called Israel's planned construction of apartments in its own capital an "insult" and an "affront" to the United States.

• May 2011: The State Department issued a press release declaring that the department's No. 2 official, James Steinberg, would be visiting "Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank." In other words, Jerusalem is not part of Israel.

Read the whole thing; indeed, you might want to bookmark it for future reference.

Also: Governor/presidential candidate Rick Perry says errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take backward steps away from peace, and Caroline Glick writes about the Palestinian obsession. Both links via Stuart Schneiderman, who finds the thinking of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy team, and the establishment leftist media as represented by the New York Times, to be so bizarre as to amount to mental illness.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:05 AM

Wednesday, September 14, 2011  

Children at work, 1908-1924: a photograph collection from the Library of Congress

Thoughts about fashion from Stuart Schneiderman

Flying the Kfir fighter: a report from Neptunus Lex, who soloed one yesterday

Trust: an analysis by nationality

Israel and the Dutch Republic: an interesting comparison of Israel's situation with that of the country which held off Spain and its allies during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

Office work versus freelance work from home: thoughts on the differences and how to handle them

An Apple executive moves to JC Penney: Ron Johnson, who masterminded the Apple Retail Store concept, will become CEO of the venerable retailer; however, the current CEO, Myron Ullman, will stay on as executive chairman and will continue to oversee logistics, corporate communications, finance and jcp.com.

8:33 AM


An attempt by leftists to use children's art in their war against Israel.

4:52 AM

Saturday, September 10, 2011  

Simply evil: Christopher Hitchens suggests that sometimes the simple and obvious explanation for an event is more accurate than an explanation which relies on an elaborate structure of "nuance"

A time bomb from the Middle Ages. Roger Simon explains how 9/11 altered his worldview and many of his relationships

An attack, not a disaster or a tragedy. George Savage explains why the persistent use of terms like "tragedy" by the media acts to obfuscate the true nature of the 9/11 attacks. Much more on this from Mark Steyn

Claire Berlinski was in Paris on 9/11. Shortly thereafter she wrote this piece for City Journal

Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney were F-16 pilots with an Air National Guard squadron. Their order was to bring down Flight 93 before the terrorists in control of it could create another disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center...but their aircraft were configured for training, with no live ammunition and no missiles. A video interview with Major Penney here

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:55 PM

Thursday, September 08, 2011  
by Neal Sheehan

The American space program, like its Russian counterpart, was largely an epiphenomenon of the ballistic missile program. A great deal has been written about the space programs; regarding the missile programs theselves, not so much. This book remedies that gap by using the life of General Bernard Schriever, who ran USAF missile development programs, as the centerpiece for a history of the Cold War's defining weapon. Although Schriever is the central character, the book describes the roles played by many other indivduals, including:

--John von Neumann, the Hungarian-American mathematician--an implacable enemy of the Soviet Union who advocated a strong American military posture and perhaps even a nuclear first strike

--The bomber general Curtis LeMay, who to put it mildly was not a Schriever fan. After Schriever received his fourth star, LeMay glared at him and said, "You realize if I had my way, you wouldn't be wearing those."

--Simon Ramo, who as a high school student withdrew all his savings to buy a violin in the hopes of winning a college scholarship in a music contest...he did win, and as a young engineer was chosen by GE over another job candidate because the Schenectady orchestra needed a good violinist! Ramo went on to co-found the Ramo-Wooldridge Company (later TRW) which basically created the discipline of systems engineering and was used by Schriever to address some of the most difficult technical challenges facing the missile program.

--Colonel Ed Hall--a brilliant designer of missile engines, a hard-driving project manager, and in the opinion of many associates a complete jackass to work with. To call Hall "assertive" would be putting it mildly--when his wife was giving birth (in England during WWII) and the obstetrician was in Hall's opinion acting indecisively, Hall pulled out his revolver and gave the doctor highly specific orders as to exactly what to do.

Schriever himself was a boy from a not-very-well-off family of German immigrants in the Texas hill country, who joined the air force after first considering a career as a professional golfer. He became a protege of Hap Arnold, and after Pacific-theater service during WWII focused on the leadership of R&D efforts rather than operational command. Throughout his career, Schriever demonstrated an unwillingness to fit his views on important issues to the opinions of those in higher authority--even when higher authority was represented by someone as intimidating as LeMay, with whom Schriever clashed soon after the war on the issue of high-level versus low-level attack tactics for bombers, or Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott, whose order to relocate certain missile facilities (from the west coat to the midwest) Schreiver flatly refused, citing his "prior and overriding orders" to get the program done in the shortest feasible time. By then a general, Schriever stuck by his position on this even when Talbott threatened him that "Before this meeting is over, General, there's going to be one more colonel in the Air Force!"

continued at Chicago Boyz

9:15 AM

Monday, September 05, 2011  

For many decades, Labor Day was a holiday on which Americans celebrated (and maybe even felt a bit smug about) our nation's economic prowess. This year, not so much. In our current economy, many people are suffering grievously. Moreover, an increasing number believe that the problems are permanent. Surveys show a significant proportion of the population believes that their own living standards will continue to decline, and that their children's generation will live less-well than their own. In other words, the feeling is growing that what we face in not a normal cyclical downturn, but a sea change for the worse.

The proximate cause of the current situation was the housing bubble and bust, and more generally the excessive and irresponsible use/deployment of credit in both the public and private sectors. However, there is every reason to believe that there are structural problems with the economy that go well beyond the sort of things that are usually portrayed on graphs in economic discussion.

Politicians, economists, analysts, and bloggers have asserted numerous and sometimes conflicting factors as primary causes for our economic problems. This post will summarize some of the explanations most commonly proposed plus a few more. I don't necessarily agree with all of these, and today I'm focusing on simply stating the proposed causal factors, leaving detailed analysis/assessment for a future post.

The possible causes of the economic decline:

1)The low-hanging fruit has already been eaten. Economist Tyler Cowen, for example, argues that America's historical prosperity has been driven largely by: (i)the availability of free land, (ii)a sequence of key technological breakthroughs, and (iii)the high return on investment offered by providing schooling to motivated but uneducated immigrants. He further argues that the free land is gone, that today's technological improvements are not comparable to those introduced in the period 1880-1940 (electricity, automobiles, airplanes, radio, mass production, pharmaceuticals, etc), and that the high % of the population already attending college makes additional improvements from this source difficult. (Tyler's recent book includes a graph attempting to measure the "rate of global innovation" since medieval times; it shows innovation peaking over the period 1850-1905, and having now returned to the level where it was in the early 1700s.)

2)Technological unemployment. The argument here is that the advances in technology that have already occurred, and those that are likely in the near future, reduce the need for labor so radically that full employment will never again be possible. This assertion is basically the opposite of the low-hanging-fruit argument, at least the technological aspect thereof.

continued at Chicago Boyz

5:20 AM

Thursday, September 01, 2011  

In my last post, I suggested that the phrase decline by design could be used in the upcoming presidential campaign to describe Obama's economic policies. Another useful phrase for repeated emphasis could be:

He Really Doesn't Like Us Very Much

...backed up by clips/quotes of Jeremiah Wright's "God damn America" line, Obama's crack about "bitter clingers," Obama's repeated assertions of his own superior brilliance, etc etc.

I also posted this and the previous post at Richochet (members section--not publicly available unless it gets promoted to the main page) and someone suggested an alternate phrasing might be he's just not that into us.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:06 AM


Peter Morici, a professor of International Business at the University of Maryland, used the phrase decline by design to describe the economic policies that are now crippling this country. (Googling, I see that the phrase has also been independently used by a few others.) It seems to me that "decline by design" could be used as a centerpiece for a very effective advertising campaign by whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be, as in stop Obama's decline by design.

Numerous facts and soundbites could be used to clearly make the point about just how designed (or at least predictable to anyone with any sense) the current economic situation actually is...Obama's comment about how electricity prices would "necessarily skyrocket" under his energy plan, the stated desire of his Energy secretary to raise our gasoline prices to "European levels" and many, many more.

This will be a very critical campaign in our country's history, and we need to produce and heavily promote a series of hard-hitting and clearly substantiated memes that will ensure the end of the Obama era. I think this could be one of them.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:00 AM

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