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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Saturday, October 31, 2009  

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye
And the spirits that stand
By the naked man
In the Book of Moons, defend ye!

That of your five sound sense
You never be forsaken
Nor wander from
Yourself with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon

The moon's my constant mistress
And the lonely owl my marrow
The flaming drake
And the night-crow make
Me music to my sorrow

I know more than Apollo
For oft, when he lies sleeping
I see the stars
At mortal wars
And the rounded welkin weeping

With a host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander
With a burning spear
And a horse of air
To the wilderness I wander

By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond
The wide world's end
Methinks it is no journey

(Not specifically a Halloween poem, but it certainly sets the mood, doesn't it? This is Tom O'Bedlam's Song, dating from sometime around 1600. There are lots more verses, and many different versions.)

11:31 AM


Lean Blog writes about interruption countermeasures...actions taken by hospital nurses in San Francisco to reduce interruptions are said to have reduced medication errors by 88 percent. In comments, someone offers an example of similar positive results in warehouse operations for error reduction thru interruption reduction.

What "cash for clunkers" did to the availability of affordable used cars. (via Maggie's Farm)

Don Sensing looks at Obama as a milleniarian.

8:01 AM

Friday, October 30, 2009  

The healthcare bill is now up to almost 2000 pages.

Which reminds me of the epicycles.

continued at Chicago Boyz

12:47 PM

Thursday, October 29, 2009  

In the course of a sycophantic paean to Obama, the new head of the National Endowment for the Arts manages to work five errors into a single sentence.

(via Newmark's Door)

5:46 AM

Tuesday, October 27, 2009  

Michael Malone has been writing about the technology industry, and particularly about Silicon Valley, for a couple of decades. This recent article is not very optimistic. Although Malone identifies several emerging technologies as having great potential, he fears that the basic mechanism by which new technologies are commercialized--the formation and growth of new enterprises--is badly broken.

continued at Chicago Boyz

1:24 PM

Monday, October 26, 2009  

It's interesting to pick up a copy of a business magazine from 10 years ago or more and look at what was then hot and at the predictions that were being made--and how well they stood up with the passage of time.

Forbes ASAP (4/6/98) carried an article by George Gilder, in which he asserts that companies will increasingly compete by understanding that the customer's is a valuable resource--and making it possible to do business with them without wasting it.

The fact is that the entire economy is riddled with time-wasting routines and regimes that squander much of the time of the average customer. Suffice it to say that the concept of the customer's life span as a crucially precious resource, indeed the most precious resource in the information economy, has not penetrated to many of the major business and governmental institutions in the United States, let alone overseas.

The message of the telecosm is that this era is over, as dead as slavery in 1865. These lingering attitudes in established busineses and government offer the largest opportunities for new companies and strategies in the information age.

continued at Chicago Boyz

8:39 AM

Wednesday, October 21, 2009  

California state officials have been busy writing regulations:

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) just passed a new regulation that requires glazed glass in automobiles that is supposed to reduce the need to use air conditioning. The catch is that the same properties that block electromagnetic sunlight radiation also blocks lower frequency electromagnetic radio waves. That means radios, satellite radios, GPS, garage door openers, and cell phones will be severely degraded. Even more surprising is that it requires this glass even for jeeps that have soft covers, plastic windows, and no air conditioning. Furthermore, the rules are so stringent that they effectively make sunroofs black, even though many consumers use the covers.

Also, the California State Energy Commission is promulgating stringent energy-consumption requirements for flat-screen TVs. At a minimum, these will surely increase prices to consumers (if manufacturers could increase energy efficiency without raising prices, they would have already done it, since efficiency is a selling point) and may effectively ban some size-technology combinations. This is being done on the theory that it will reduce overall electricity consumption and help avoid the need to build new power plants.

continued at Chicago Boyz

3:21 PM


Energy blogger Robert Rapier gets a long email from a high school student, with intelligent questions about the idea of "peak oil"--and responds in depth.

Farmer-professor Victor Davis Hanson explains why he is a cultural dropout. Lots of interesting discussion in the comments.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a highy-experienced British officer, explains why the assertion so often propagated at the U.N. and by "progressive" organizations--that Israel commits atrocities against civilians in the course of its military operations--is incorrect and unfair. Be sure and watch the video at Robert Avrech's site.

3:04 PM

Saturday, October 17, 2009  

Live with your century, but do not be its creature.

--Friedrich Schiller

Previous Worth Pondering

7:45 AM

Friday, October 16, 2009  

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) just passed a new regulation that requires glazed glass in automobiles that is supposed to reduce the need to use air conditioning. The catch is that the same properties that block electromagnetic sunlight radiation also blocks lower frequency electromagnetic radio waves. That means radios, satellite radios, GPS, garage door openers, and cell phones will be severely degraded. Even more surprising is that it requires this glass even for jeeps that have soft covers, plastic windows, and no air conditioning. Furthermore, the rules are so stringent that they effectively make sunroofs black, even though many consumers use the covers.
(emphasis added)

More here

See previous Regulating Absolutely Everything posts

8:26 AM

Wednesday, October 14, 2009  

There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money

–Samuel Johnson

I was reminded of this quote by something Irving Kristol wrote:

In New York the ruling passion is the pursuit of money, whereas in Washington it is the pursuit of power. Now, the pursuit of power is a zerosum game: you acquire power only by taking it away from someone else. The pursuit of money, however, is not a zero-sum game, which is why it is a much more innocent human activity. It is possible to make a lot of money without inflicting economic injury on anyone. Making money may be more sordid than appropriating power—at least it has traditionally been thought to be so—but, as Adam Smith and others pointed out, it is also a far more civil activity.

continued at Chicago Boyz

9:20 AM

Monday, October 12, 2009  

First, Neptunus Lex somehow obtained copies of a cat's diary and a dog's diary.

Now, Don Sensing has gotten a copy of a Norwegian Nobel Committee press release from 2012.

6:48 AM

Saturday, October 10, 2009  

About a month ago, Bill Waddell recommended a book called The Puritan Gift, written by Kenneth and William Hopper. Recommended it in pretty strong terms, in fact:

If you want to understand management - especially manufacturing management - how we got here, what has worked and what doesn't - and how to get back on the phenomenal track American manufacturing was on before the wheels started to come off a few decades back, you have to read this book.


It is not an overstatement to describe The Puritan Gift as an essential book for manufacturing management. You really will have a hole in your understanding of the art and science of manufacturing until you take the time to let the Hopper brothers fill it for you. It will be the best $20 you ever spent.

(Bill's full post here)

continued at Chicago Boyz

2:03 PM


Here's a professor of agribusiness and applied economics who is also a Captain in the Army National Guard. With the aid of the Internet, she's currently teaching micro- and macro-economics to her students back home in North Dakota, from a combat zone in Iraq.

9:20 AM

Thursday, October 08, 2009  

Neptunus Lex has somehow obtained copies of a cat's diary and a dog's diary.

6:06 PM

Wednesday, October 07, 2009  

Here's George Orwell, writing in 1940 about England and the English:

When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pintables in the Soho pubs, the old maids biking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning - all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?

But talk to foreigners, read foreign books or newspapers, and you are brought back to the same thought. Yes, there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillarboxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches in to the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantlepiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.

And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillarboxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side of the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.

George Orwell was a socialist. He wanted to see radical transformation in his society. But in the above passage, he displays real affection for the English people and their culture.

Can anyone imagine Barack Obama writing something parallel to the above about America and the American people? To ask the question is to answer it. Clearly, Obama does not identify with America in the same sort of way that Orwell identified with England.

Why, then, did Obama wish to become our President?

Two analogies come to mind...

continued at Chicago Boyz

12:18 PM

Friday, October 02, 2009  

Obama thinks the school day should be extended and the summer vacation shortened.

It won't take me much work to write a post about this, because I pretty much already did it, three years ago...

(August 01, 2006) Stopped at a store while driving through Georgia today, and the man mentioned that this is the first day of school for the local children. Googling around, it appears that lots of Georgia school systems are starting classes sometime this week. And the longer-school-year trend is by no means limited to Georgia.

This is really very sad. Children need time to be with their families. They need time to develop their dreams. They need time to learn things that are not part of any formal program.

Educational "experts" will try to justify a longer school year with the argument that "there's just so much more to know these days." Such claims are highly exaggerated. The truth is, most public K-12 schools make very poor use of the time of their students. They waste huge proportions of the millions of hours which have been entrusted to them--waste them through the mindless implementation of fads and theories, waste them through inappropriate teacher-credentialing processes, waste them through refusal to maintain high standards of performance and behavior.

When an organization or institution proves itself to be a poor steward of the resources that have been entrusted to it, the right answer is not to give it more resources to waste.

Just a few points to add to the above:

continued at Chicago Boyz

7:17 AM

Thursday, October 01, 2009  

The SS United States, a fast and beautiful passenger liner, was built in 1952 and operated in commercial service until 1969. She is now in danger of being scrapped.

Lots of pictures in the slideshow at the link; also, some of the comments are interesting.

More about the ship at Wikipedia, and here is an organization which is attempting to save this vessel.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz

2:50 PM


This cartoon kind of sums it all up.

via Dr Sanity, who has some worthwhile thoughts.

1:50 PM

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