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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Wednesday, December 29, 2010  

Don Sensing uses the above quote, which comes from Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow, to set the mood for this post, in which he outlines the likelihood of massive Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel.

The quote in the Pynchon novel refers to the German V-2 missiles which were launched against London in the closing days of World War II. It would be as unreasonable to expect the Israelis to calmly accept rocket bombardment, without forceful military response, as it would have been to expect that same thing from the British in 1945.

Yet such supine acceptance is undoubtedly what a large proportion of the "progressive" media and intellectuals, and the politicians across the various shades of the Left, do demand of Israel, and you can be sure that their denunciations in the contrary event will be swift and vitriolic.

This broad hostility must surely have an impact of Israel's strategy. The degree of hostility toward Israel from the U.S. Executive branch, in particular, is something entirely without precedent. Don observes that "Israel knows that President Obama will not support it as all prior US presidents have done regardless of party. So if Israel is drawn into open war against Hamas, it will attack extremely violently and comprehensively from the beginning."

Not very cheerful holiday reading--but read the whole thing anyhow

4:51 PM

Sunday, December 26, 2010  

I did several posts over the last year that I un-humbly think were particularly significant, and link them below for any potentially-interested readers who missed them the first time around.

Sleeping with the enemy. A forgotten novel by Arthur Koestler sheds light on the West's loss of civilizational self-confidence.

Faustian ambition. An analysis of the theme of ambition in Goethe's great play.

What happened in Germany? Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars, tries to understand how his country became "a pack of hunting hounds directed against humans."

From a galaxy far away. The extreme oddness of Obama's mind and emotions.

Faux manufacturing nostalgia. How cultural factors are involved in the problems of American manufacturing. See also dancing on the ruins.

The limits of radicalism and expertise.

Eisenhower, Obama, diplomacy, and sensitivity.

Is "liberal guilt" a myth? An essay by C S Lewis, written more than half a century ago, provides some psychological insight.

Computation and reality. As incredibly fast as modern computers are, there remain many important problems for which they are completely inadequate.

Heartsignals. A selection of popular songs in which person-to-person communications media...letters, telegrams, telphone calls...play a role.

Krystyna Skarbek. An agent of the WWII British organization called Special Operations Executive, who worked underground in Eastern Europe as well as in occupied France. Also, a review of Between Silk and Cyanide, written by Leo Marks, who was SOE's Codemaster.

Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

5:44 AM

Friday, December 24, 2010  

Rick Darby has some thoughts on the season. More here.

A Christmas reading from Thomas Pynchon.

The first radio broadcast of voice and music took place on Christmas Eve, 1906. Or maybe not.

An air traffic control version of The Night Before Christmas.

Silent Night in Gaelic

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, sung by Enya

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Steve Blank

Neptunus Lex

1:21 PM

Thursday, December 23, 2010  

Some thoughts from Chicago Boy Lexington Green.

7:50 AM

Wednesday, December 22, 2010  

...can make smart companies do dumb things.

The author's follow-up post is here.

4:08 PM

Monday, December 20, 2010  

Commenter Erin, at the Assistant Village Idiot, links a series of predictions about the year 2000 which were made in a Ladies Home Journal article dated December, 1900.

continued at Chicago Boyz

8:48 AM


...Christmas is coming and you'd better beware of the Krampus.

8:28 AM

Thursday, December 16, 2010  
Special Seasonal Edition

Christmas photos from the 1920s

A wonderful 3-D representation of the Iglesia San Luis De Los Franceses. Just click on the link--then you can look around inside the cathedral. Use arrow keys or mouse to move left/right, up/down, and shift to zoom in, ctrl to zoom out.

Vienna Boys Choir, from Maggie's Farm

A Romanian Christmas carol, from The Assistant Village Idiot

In the bleak midwinter, from The Anchoress

French Christmas carols

DC winter lights, an interesting series of photographs (from 2009) by AnoukAnge

Update: Lappland in pictures, from Neptunus Lex

Shabbat lights, at Robert Avrech's place

Update 2: Snowflakes and snow crystals, from Cal Tech. Lots of great photos

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz

5:59 PM


Predictions about the then-distant year 2011, from 1931.

Previous the past of the future post

11:21 AM

Tuesday, December 14, 2010  

The political class as copper thieves

(via Instapundit)

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

4:36 AM

Sunday, December 12, 2010  

The object shown is a governor for an engine. This device was invented by James Watt for use with his steam engine, and has been applied, in one form or another, ever since. It allowed the engine's use in applications where precise speed control was essential, notably textile manufacturing, and was an invention of great economic and conceptual importance.

It strikes me that the role played by the legal profession and the financial industry is analogous to the role of an engine governor. Like the governor, law and finance are control systems; they are essential enablers and regulators of the activities of the rest of the economy. But also like the governor, the percentage of total system resources that they themselves consume should be reasonably small.

What would we think of a governor that scarfed up 30% of the horsepower of the engine that it was serving? Most likely, we would conclude that it was either poorly designed or inadequately maintained, or both.

continued at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

7:55 AM

Saturday, December 11, 2010  

Dancing dog

9:47 AM


Walter Russell Mead on The Crisis of the American Intellectual

Update: Related thoughts from Chicago Boy Michael Kennedy

9:39 AM

Friday, December 10, 2010  

Someone has replicated the Antikythera mechanism in Lego.

More about the original device, which was created in ancient Greece for astronomical calculations, here.

via Isegoria

7:34 AM


Celia Hayes, who blogs as Sgt Mom, has a new book coming out in April: Daughter of Texas, which she describes as: A drama of a woman's life in Texas, before the cattle drives, before the Alamo, before the legends were born!.

She's running a special promotion: From now until January 1, 2011, anyone who buys a copy of any of her other books will be eligible for a drawing to win a free advance copy of Daughter of Texas.

Previous Books by Bloggers post

Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

6:13 AM

Tuesday, December 07, 2010  

A date which will live in infamy

See Bookworm's post and video from last year; also, some alternate history from Shannon Love.

Jonathan notes that Google did nothing to mark the date on their home page; on the other hand, Microsoft's Bing has a picture of the USS Arizona memorial, as they do on this day every year.

Neptunus Lex has a video of FDR's speech, accompanied by relevant newsreel footage. See also his eloquent post from 2006.

12:53 PM

Sunday, December 05, 2010  

Erin O'Connor on yet another emerging threat to free speech on campus

Joanne Jacobs: Story problems in ancient Babylon

Athens and Jerusalem: Shared labor vs shared consumption

Paul Graham: Persuasion vs discovery

Yahoo Finance: The impact of Obama's hostility toward oil and gas drilling

Bloomberg: China spending $511 billion to build up to 245 nuclear reactors. In the U.S., though, Carl from Chicago notes that construction of new energy facilities of all types has been made difficult to the point of impossibility.

360 Cities: An 80 gigapixel panoramic view of London.

5:25 AM

Saturday, December 04, 2010  

The Awakening Land is a made-for-TV movie which first aired in 1978 and has only very recently been released for home viewing. Shortly after the American Revolution, the Lucketts, a backwoods family from Pennsylvania, travel to create a new home for themselves on the Ohio frontier. We first meet Sayward Luckett (Elizabeth Montgomery), the central character, as a 15-year-old girl. Although Sayward is completely illiterate, she marries the most erudite man to be found in the vicinity: Portius Wheeler (Hal Holbrook), aka "the solitary," a former Massachussetts lawyer and an agnostic. The story follows Sayward, her family, and her neighbors from the early days of sparse settlement up through the creation of a thriving town.

A wonderful film, highly recommended. The movie was based on Conrad Richter's trilogy The Trees, The Fields, and The Town. The books are also excellent...reading the first two of the series, it struck me that Richter is better at descriptions of the natural environment than at describing the inner life of the characters--however, this changes noticeably in the third book, where the characters become much more fully-developed. The books are also very much worth reading.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

9:53 AM

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