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, September 29, 2008  

Take a break from politics and finance...well, contemporary politics and finance, anyhow...with Sir Patrick Spence.

7:39 PM

Friday, September 26, 2008  

Evolving Excellence expands on a comment I made there a few days ago regarding the projected auto industry bailout.

People interested in the impact of disruptive technologies on existing companies should read the Christensen/Raynor book which I review here.

1:05 PM

Wednesday, September 24, 2008  

Why was Sarah Palin disinvited from the anti-Ahmadinejad protest in New York City? See my post at Chicago Boyz.

1:18 PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2008  

Victor Davis Hanson writes about the nature of wisdom and measures Obama and Palin against this criterion.

6:06 AM

Sunday, September 21, 2008  

Bill Quick wonders why today's liberals tend to use the word "cowboy" as a term of opprobrium.

There's a story about an English gentleman who was touring the U.S. during the late 1800s. Somewhere in the West, he met a cowboy:

English Gentleman: Where is your master, my man?

Cowboy: Son of a bitch ain't been born yet.

I think that attitude really bothers some people.

6:35 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2008  

Joe Biden demonstrates once again the arrogance of the Democratic leadership and its core of "progressive" supporters. At Chicago Boyz.

9:23 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2008  

A guy in Coleford (UK) called the police to report that three youths were riding his moped. The cops came quickly, but then watched the thieves speed away, saying they couldn't give chase because the bandits weren't wearing helmets and the government could have been held liable if one crashed and hurt himself.

(from Reason magazine, 10/2008)

The "just unbelievable" heading doesn't really work for stories like this from the UK anymore, though--there are, sadly, so many of them that they are all too believable. See, for example, this item on Britain's despicable treatment of the Gurkhas.

(via Bookworm Room)

2:42 PM

Saturday, September 13, 2008  

Senator Biden's background has not received much media attention, particularly in comparison with the blindingly hostile media spotlight focused on Governor Palin.

Here are two incidents in Biden's past which I think illuminate his character and his likely performance as a Vice President or a President:

1)Immediately after 9/11, Biden proposed that we send a check for $200 million, "with no strings attached," to the government of Iran.

A man who would make a suggestion like this is a man who has appeaser's instincts. Biden's suggestion is roughly analogous to making a proposal, right after Pearl Harbor, to send money to the government of Nazi Germany or of Italy.

2)Biden has demonstrated a bullying attitude toward people he considers his inferiors, as evidenced in his sneering treatment of witness Scott Ritter during hearings on Iraq's nuclear activities. Note that he snidely refers to the witness at "old Scotty-boy" and lectures him about the superior knowledge and judgment of his organizational superiors--"that's why they get their limos and you don't."

An individual who acts in this manner toward those who have less organizational power than he does is not likely to be an effective leader who can develop the loyalty of subordinates. Nor is he likely to have that openness toward information from many sources, at many levels, which is required for effective decision-making.

See Field Marshal Lord Wavell on why sarcasm is a bad trait in a leader.

To link this post, use this permalink...standard Blogger permalinks are not currently working for this blog.

8:48 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2008  

(This is basically a rerun of my post from this day in 2006. Some new links added this year are at the bottom of the post.)

I am increasingly worried about our prospects for success in the battle against those who would destroy our civilization. America and the other democracies possess great military, economic, and intellectual strengths--but severe internal divisions threaten our ability to use these resources effectively.

Within days of the collapse of the Towers, it started. "Progressive" demonstrators brought out the stilt-walkers, the Uncle Sam constumes, and the giant puppets of George Bush. They carried signs accusing America of planning "genocide" against the people of Afghanistan.

Professors and journalists preached about the sins of Western civilization, asserting that we had brought it all on ourselves. A well-known writer wrote of her unease when her daughter chose to buy and display an American flag. Some universities banned the display of American flags in dormitories, claiming that such display was "provocative."

Opinions such as these have metastacized to the point at which they are no longer irrelevant to mainstream politics. Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, along with other leading Democrats, attended a special screening of Michael Moore's movie Farenheit 9/11. Moore is well-known for his outrageous statements about the country in which he lives--things he is credibly reported to have said include: "(Americans) are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," (in an interview with the British newspaper The Mirror) and "That's why we're smiling all the time. You can see us coming down the street. You know, `Hey! Hi! How's it going?' We've got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren't loaded down" (to a crowd in Munich) and "You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." (to a crowd in Cambridge, England.) And about the terrorists who are killing Americans and Iraqis on a daily basis in Iraq, Moore had this to say: "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."

This is the individual who shared Jimmy Carter's box at the Democratic National Convention, and who continues to be very popular in "progressive" circles.

Imagine if a former President, in the midst of World War II, had embraced a man who spoke to foreign audiences about the stupidity of the American people and referred to our German and Japanese enemies as "heroes." Imagine also that such attitudes had been openly embraced by a large part of the Republican Party leadership and by many well-known writers and entertainers. Could Franklin Roosevelt have led the nation to victory under such circumstances?

And continuously, there has been the steady drip-drip-drip of moral equivalence. In September 2003, Howard Dean, now Democratic National Committee Chairman, stated that the US should not "take sides" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Actually, the refusal to draw a bright line against Palestinian terrorism is a major factor that enabled 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities.

Susan Turnbull, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, referred to the killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as murder. Follow this link and you can hear it for yourself. Yes, she corrected herself and changed it to the "bombing" of Zarqawi. However: As far as I can tell, Turnbull is a native speaker of the English language. And I don't think any native English speaker would use the term "murdered" unless they disapproved of what had been done. Certainly, few Americans during WWII would have referred to the "murder" of Admiral Yamamoto (whose plane was shot down after his movement plans became known via communications intercepts) or the "murder" of German war criminals who were executed after the war.

Many individuals, particularly among religious leaders, show a stunning naivete. Annika quotes from a homily at a church in her neighborhood: "What if, instead of bombing Afghanistan, we had dropped food, medicine and education?"

How could anyone with an IQ above refrigerator temperature say such a thing? Even if education could somehow be "dropped," isn't this priest aware that the Taliban specifically denied education to women, and greatly limited the kinds of education that were available to men? Does he think the Taliban's executions at the soccer stadium, or its destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, were motivated by a desire for food and medicine?

People who say such things are so caught up in the catch-phrases they have been taught that they are completely unable to understand the real motivations of the enemy.

Bryan Preston: Rather than accept the reality of an enemy that cannot and therefore will not negotiate away what he believes to be the will of God, and rather than accept that this enemy will understand nothing outside total victory or total defeat, and rather than understand that this enemy’s goals include enslaving the entire world in a global caliphate, and rather than accept that this reality necessitates the use of all tools including military might to defend ourselves, millions have embraced an alternate reality. The reality of the enemy outside the West and its motivations being too terrifying and too far beyond their own control, millions now imagine that the enemy in this war is within. The enemy, to them, isn’t the turbaned man behind the plot to hijack multiple airplanes and crash them into multiple buildings in America. The real enemy, to these millions, is the man in the Oval Office, and the man or men behind him.


Five years on, the illness of replacing an implacable, indeed alien enemy with one from our own civilizational family has spread and metastasized through the majority of one of our two political parties, and may yet claim a majority of the country itself. History has a way of fading out as the day’s current noise rises in volume, and to them 9-11 is either history or a historic lie. The loudest voice, though not always or even often right, is often the one that gets the last word. And the 9-11 deniers and their allies across the left are nothing if not loud.

Five years on, it’s hard to take a positive look at the war because we are failing to comprehend it. The mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us. Those of us who see the threat for what it is still say that we will prevail because we are right and because we are America, but that’s just letting the others off the hook. If we’re going to prevail anyway, why should they snap out of their fog? And why should we demand that they do? The truth is, we need the denial to end and we need our countrymen to understand and help, but since we’re powerless to cure it with reason we shrug or laugh at it. But it’s eating away at our ability to defend ourselves.

It has to be said: The mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us. We are not dealing here merely with normal differences about policy that can be debated by rational individuals. We are have in our midst a significant number of individuals who are filled with rage toward their own country, who are highly susceptible to bizarre conspiracy theories, who lack any form of historical perspective, who are increasingly eager to engage in scapegoating.

Last year, I visited an old industrial facility that has been restored to operating condition. One of the machines there, dating from around 1900, was called an attrition mill. It contains two steel discs, which rotate at high speed in opposite directions, crushing the kernels of grain between them.

I fear that our civilization is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the terrorist enemy, and the other being the reality-deniers within our own societies.

Links worth following:


Fearless Dream

Roger L Simon

A post byJane Galt, written six months after 9/11, when she was volunteering at the World Trade Center site.

A worthwhile essay at The American Thinker: The Moral Emptiness of the Left. Also see Bret Stephens on some of the roots of the left's confused thinking on terrorism.

Finally, Reflecting Light has some eloquent words.

UPDATE: Lead and Gold has links, excerpts, and reflections, all of which are well worth reading.

Neptunus Lex was operations officer on an aircraft carrier when the news came in. Read the comments, too.

UPDATES FOR 2008: Cara Ellison has pictures and a story.

Here is some very depressing survey data about international beliefs regarding 9/11. In Italy, for example, 15% of the people surveyed believed that the U.S. government was behind the attacks. In Egypt, 12% said that the attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government, while 43% blamed Israel.

Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz.

To link this post, use this permalink--standard Blogger permalinks are not currently working for this blog.

5:58 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008  

...thoughts from Roger Kimball.

UPDATE: Here's another nasty slam at Sarah Pailin, coupled with a denunciation of a big part of the American population. This particular article is by a British writer, but you can find lots of similar stuff written by American "progressives."

The masks are coming off, and it should be clear that many "progressives" are driven largely by a generalized sense of contempt for their fellow citizens.

2:27 PM

Sunday, September 07, 2008  

An interesting analysis of the cultural/political divisions in American society, by Chicago Girl Ginny.

6:54 AM

Saturday, September 06, 2008  

If you're following the Fannie Mae--Freddie Mac events this weekend, here's some theme music.

7:48 AM

Thursday, September 04, 2008  

It's been observed that Democratic politicians tend to say "I'll fight for you," whereas Republicans tend to say "I'll work for you." Why this difference?

See my post at Chicago Boyz.

6:47 AM

Wednesday, September 03, 2008  

Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post, compares the nomination of Sarah Palin with Caligula's selection of his horse as a consul and priest.

If this is how Cohen feels about a woman who has been a businessperson, a mayor, and a governor, imagine how he must feel about the vast majority of Americans.

His view is not exceptional among the left-oriented pundits: see this WSJ article for a selection of comments.

Over the last few decades in this country, we've seen the emergence of a journalistic-political elite who believe that only they have the unique knowledge and ability to govern America. Their attitude is very similar to traditional aristocrats who believed that political participation should be limited to those of proper breeding, ideally combined with a very exclusive and expensive education with emphasis on Latin and Greek. The things these people value are limited to a very narrow slice of the human experience and of human life, and the list of things for which they feel contempt is very extensive.

The vitriolic attacks on Palin and her daughter are likely to give many Americans a new insight into just how much the broad population of this country is despised by many of those who would lead them and shape their opinions. See the post below this one for some thoughts by Rich Karlgaard on the possible consequences of this reaction.

UPDATE: AirForceWife is righfully unhappy about the media bias shown here, and she writes about her own experiences in a guest post at Trying to Grok:

The news of Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter didn't surprise me - it was me.

Read the whole thing.

12:04 PM

Tuesday, September 02, 2008  

Rich Karlgaard (publisher of Forbes) suggests that the vile attacks on Sarah Palin, from "progressive" sources like The Daily Kos, resemble the late-1950s and early-1960s behavior of the John Birch Society.

Rich believes that the Birchers helped make Goldwater unelectable in 1964, and suggests that the Kossites may have the same effect on the prospects of the Democrats in 2008.

Here's an item that offers some support for the Karlgaard thesis. Megan McArdle, who is now blogging for The Atlantic, says:

On Sarah Palin as a VP I have no particular opinion, except that she doesn't make me any more interested in voting for John McCain. But the people criticizing her are making me considerably less interested in voting for Obama. If this sort of deranged logic produces unwavering support for Obama, I have to question my own judgement.

7:38 PM

Monday, September 01, 2008  

See my post at Chicago Boyz.

8:02 PM


Solving television-coverage problems at the Olympics, with a little help from Galileo and Newton.

(via Evolving Excellence)

6:37 AM


Barack Obama, at the Democratic Convention:

You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives.

The Democratic focus on Osama bin Laden the individual shows a failure to grasp the nature of the struggle in which we are engaged. Sure, it would be great if we could capture or kill bin Laden...but it wouldn't mean the end of the the terrorist threat. The Dems keep trying to apply an inappropriate law-enforcement model--as if we were chasing Pretty Boy Floyd to put an end to his crime spree--to an attack on civilization itself.

That's the "naive" part. Here's the "offensive" part: Obama's remark comes very close to an attack on McCain's personal courage. (See Beldar.)

There are many things I don't like about McCain, but his courage is not at issue--and Barack Obama has not done anything that gives him the standing to question it.

6:10 AM

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