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    Glad This Didn’t Happen During the Cold War…

    Posted by Shannon Love on 15th February 2013 (All posts by )

    I’ve been studiously ignoring the news but this penetrated my anti-media barrier thanks to my spouse:

    Meteor explodes over central Russia, 500 people hurt

    My first thought was, “Thank God this didn’t happen during the Cold War!” The Soviets were so batsh*t paranoid that they would have started with the assumption it was some kind of attack just like when they shot down the Korean airliner.

    For all of the doom and gloom today about terrorism, global warming (or whatever apocalypse is fashionable this week) young folks should remember that no problem we face today was as serious and as dangerous as Cold War balance of terror. We faced the very real prospect that within the space of a mere hour, every major city and piece of infrastructure in the developed world, the communist and (it would turn out) India, would have been utterly destroyed along with most of the people inside them. Civilization would have ended for centuries. It would take just one hour for it all to end.

    The post-Cold War revelation of just how ready the Soviets were to empty the silos, and how they almost did once out of shear delusion, are easily the scariest thing I ever read.  The world could have ended just because a bunch of political zealots caught, in what was effectively a absolutist religious delusion, could have destroyed civilization for absolutely no valid reason at all, not even a reason valid in their ideology.

    The Soviet Union would turn out to have been an utterly militarized state whose ruling caste was totally convinced not only that America spent its every waking moment trying to destroy them but that the “scientific” doctrine of Marxist historical inevitability made an eventual American attack as certain as the predicted orbits of the planets. Leftists scoffed at Cold War CIA estimates that the Soviet Union spent 20% of its GNP on the military. The CIA was in fact wrong. The Soviets actually spent 40% of their GNP on the military. Basically WWII, never ended for them and the Soviet Union was a military with the bare minimum civilian sector necessary to support it. They thought themselves constantly at war.

    All the Cold War era arguments in the West itself about the West’s role in creating the Cold War turned out to be utterly moot. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs | 12 Comments »

    The Kiwis Fly a De Havilland Mosquito!

    Posted by Shannon Love on 26th December 2012 (All posts by )

    For most WWII airplane buffs, the De Havilland Mosquito holds a special place of interest. It was the last major wooden military aircraft in an era of when aluminum airplanes had otherwise swept the skies. Made of special plywood of balsa sandwiched between birch, the Mosquito proved faster than any comparable metal aircraft. It’s feats are legendary.

    Because of the wooden airframe, few Mosquitos survived more than a decade after the war. Because of its basically two piece construction, in which nearly the entire fuselage and each wing were made in two pieces which were glued together, any rot or decay anywhere in a major section caused the scrapping of the entire aircraft. While you can leave a aluminum airframe setting out in a field for decades without harm, the Mosquitos airframe would disintegrate into air unworthiness in a just a couple of weeks if not cared for. Because of the fragility of the wooden airframe, I thought that no flying examples remained.

    Imagine my surprise then when, while researching a software testing framework called “Kiwi” I stumbled upon a video of new Mosquito restored (more likely almost completely rebuilt) by a team in New Zealand.

    embedded by Embedded Video

    YouTube Direkt

    Information is scarce but Wikipedia says:

    One aircraft, Mosquito FB.26 KA114, built in Canada in 1945, has recently completed restoration by Avspecs Ltd, Ardmore New Zealand and flew for the first time on Thursday 27 September 2012. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth flights were watched by several thousand spectators at a special air show at Ardmore on Saturday 29 September 2012. The restored Mosquito is owned by Jerry Yagen and is heading to its new home at the Virginia Military Aviation Museum, in Virginia Beach, USA, as soon as transport logisitics have been worked out. A complete set of forms, jigs and molds will allow for new Mosquitos to be built.

    Frankly, I think they’re missing a market here. With everything supposed to be “sustainable” and for some reason wood and other biological materials considered sustainable (despite a long history of being emphatically not sustained in the least) a proven all wood airframe might be a selling point.

    The Kiwi’s really impressed me with this aircraft. The restored Mosquito actually makes up for the Hobbit movie.

    Posted in Aviation | 19 Comments »

    Headline of the Day

    Posted by Shannon Love on 30th November 2012 (All posts by )

    John McAfee still a fugitive despite new blog

    Seems to assume you can’t be a fugitive and still blog. I don’t think they know how this internet thing works, especially for a computer millionaire.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Just Another Mickey Mouse Argument on Copyright Law

    Posted by Shannon Love on 30th November 2012 (All posts by )

     Virginia Postrel  makes some good arguments against the current mess of copyright law, but both she and most others neglect what I believe to be a primary driver for major corporations seeking ever broader copyright protection: franchises.

    Until we address the need of corporations to protect franchise in which they are still creating new works, we won’t make any progress on copyright law.

    In mass entertainment, a franchise is a connected series or group of works sharing common characters, plots etc produced over relatively long span of time. Franchise characters or settings become recognizable brands in their own right. Recurrent characters like Sherlock Holmes became franchises long before the term was coined. In the modern era, Star Wars, Star Trek and various Disney properties are examples of major franchises. Star Wars and Star Trek have produced a vast number of secondary works from novels to games, not to mention the toys, T-shirts and, according to some, religions. Disney has been in the franchise business since the end of WWII. Many credit Walt Disney for creating the artistic franchise business model in the first place.

    Traditional copyright law predated the evolution of the franchise and instead assumed that copyright protected discrete works e.g. a single short story, novel, song etc made by a single artist. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Law | 17 Comments »

    Defined Benefit Pensions Reduce Customer Value and Threaten Companies

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st November 2012 (All posts by )

    Hostess is being bought down by in part by unfunded defined benefit pensions forced on the company by its unions over the last 50 years. In a previous post, I explained how, as a company’s products age, its profit margins decline and pension costs consume an ever increasing percentage of revenue.

    Defined benefit pensions are especially destructive:

    In economics, a defined benefit pension plan is a major type of pension plan in which an employer promises a specified monthly benefit on retirement that is predetermined by a formula based on the employee’s earnings history, tenure of service and age, rather than depending on investment returns.

    ….

    The most common type of formula used is based on the employee’s terminal earnings (final salary). Under this formula, benefits are based on a percentage of average earnings during a specified number of years at the end of a worker’s career.

    Obviously, if the pension payout is based not on the success of investments or current company revenues but instead on the particular worker’s performance years or decades ago, a company has to make up any difference between investments and pension cost with current revenue. Revenue diverted to pensions contributes nothing to value for the current customers who provide the revenue. The current customer literally doesn’t get what they paid for. If they had instead bought the product from another company identical in all respects to the first except for the defined benefit pension cost, they would have paid less and/or gotten a higher value.

    The value delivered to the customer is the single determiner of business success. High pension costs undermine delivered value and thereby harm both the customer and the company.

    It was Taiichi Ohno most often credited with formalizing the business folk wisdom that all business profit arises from value delivered to the customer. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Unions | 12 Comments »

    UPS gets Lean

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st November 2012 (All posts by )

    I live in suburbia. Like most of suburbia, all the streets in my suburb curve or wind to slow down traffic and break up lines of sight. I live on a cul de sac.  It’s cozy and the kids can use the street at the “bottom of the bag” for football and other games without fear of being run over by through traffic.

    I rather like it.

    The people who don’t like it, are those who drive large service vehicles like the trash truck, the short school bus or delivery flat panel trucks. At least once a day, I am treated to the sight of large vehicle usually, a delivery truck, backing a filling several times to out of the cul de sac. When I hear air brakes and backup beeps and I know whats doing on. I’ve often wondered if there was a better vehicle to use, especially for the delivery trucks.

    Yep, there is. While taking a constitutional down the street to the park, I saw one of these whizzing towards me full of packages. It turned into my cul de sac so I followed and asked the driver if she was UPS (because of her uniform.)

    Yep, she was. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Transportation | 19 Comments »

    John Kenneth Galbraith’s Ghost Stole My Last Twinkie

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th November 2012 (All posts by )

    Unfunded and seriously underfunded pensions are wrecking company after company (and local government after local government.) The Hostess Company, the company who made the iconic Twinkie and other baked treats, was brought down by unfunded pension obligations [h/t Instapundit] forced on the company by years of strikes and labor negotiations going back to before the 1950s. As matters stand now, everybody, both the venture capitalist who tried to save the company and the unionized workers, will lose their shirts. At best the union members will get to see a fraction of their pensions because the rest of us will have to pony up through the Federal government that “insures” the pensions.

    All this raises the question of why the unions ever believed it a good idea to put all their pension eggs in one company basket. It seems stupid on its face not to significantly diversify. Everybody else does so, even the super wealthy. Why didn’t the unions think they needed to diversify?

    They didn’t think it necessary because of a theory of corporations advanced by most left leaning Americans in the mid-20th century but best personified by economist and political theorist John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith looked around at the business world of 1940s, 50s and 60s and concluded that corporations had so much “power” that they could effectively set prices and maintain themselves forever. In short, Galbraith argued that corporations were eternal and would never really go out of business. At worst they would merge or buy each other out. The concept of the eternal corporation not only fully justified big compulsory unions and a big invasive government to act as “countervailing forces”  but it also meant that corporations could payout almost any level of wages, benefits and pensions and do so indefinitely. Galbraith gave the unions the pretext they needed to demand high future pensions while remaining calmly assured the companies would always be able to payout.

    Sounds silly today, but Galbraith was writing in the 60s at the peak of American corporatism. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 31 Comments »

    We Will Cry Hot Tubs of Tears Over You, California

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th November 2012 (All posts by )

    With California circling the drain and the rest of us no doubt on the hook for all their idiocy, I think we should all expect to be crying over California a lot over the next few years.

    So, I suggest learning this Austin Lounge Lizards song from the early 80s by heart. (Lyrics below video)

    HOT TUBS OF TEARS
    (By Austin Lounge Lizards, circa 1983)

     

    Those California girls are best, they say,
    That West Coast lifestyle steals your heart away,
    But surfer girl, our love wiped out,
    And now I’m so blue,
    I cry hot tubs of tears over you.

     

    Chorus:

    I cry hot tubs of tears over you,

    I can’t eat a bite of tofu;

    I’ve given up tai chi and group therapy too,
    I cry hot tubs of tears over you.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

    Why Paris Hilton Makes a Poor Poster Child for the Death Tax

    Posted by Shannon Love on 18th November 2012 (All posts by )

    From Instapundit:

    “The idea behind the estate tax is to prevent the very wealthy among us from accumulating vast fortunes that they can pass along to the next generation,” said Patrick Lester, director of Federal Fiscal Policy with the progressive think tank — OMB Watch. “The poster child for the estate tax is Paris Hilton — the celebrity and hotel heiress. That’s who this is targeted at, not ordinary Americans.”[emp added]

    This is just one problem with that little story:

    Conrad Nicholson Hilton (December 25, 1887 – January 3, 1979) was an American hotelier. He is well known for being the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain.

    In 1979, Hilton died of natural causes at the age of 91. He is interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas. He left $500,000 to each of his two surviving siblings and $10,000 to each of his nieces, nephews and to his daughter Francesca. The bulk of his estate was left to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation,[6] which he established in 1944. His son, Barron Hilton, who spent much of his career helping build the Hilton Hotels Corporation, contested the will, despite being left the company as acting President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. A settlement was reached and, as a result, Barron Hilton received 4 million shares of the hotel enterprise, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation received 3.5 million shares, and the remaining 6 million shares were placed in the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust.[6] Upon Barron Hilton’s death, Unitrust assets will be transferred to the Hilton Foundation[citation needed], of which Barron sits on the Board of Directors as Chairman.[7]

    On December 25, 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would leave about 97% of his fortune (estimated at $2.3 billion),[7] to a charitable unitrust which would eventually be merged with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.[8] By leaving his estate to the Foundation, Barron not only donated the fortune he had amassed on his own, but also returned to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation the Hilton family fortune amassed by his father, which otherwise would have been gone to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation 30 years previously had Barron not contested his father’s will.[emp added]

    So, not only has Paris Hilton not inherited anything yet, because her grandfather is still alive, she won’t inherit anything major ever. It all goes to charity. Paris Hilton is a sleazoid, but she is a largely a self-made sleazoid. Her personal financial assets are almost entirely the result of her leveraging her, uh, other assets via secret sex tape into a bizarre celebrity career. She’s worth several hundred million now, none of it inherited.

    Paris Hilton has been trotted out by Leftists for years as an example of the need for the death tax and yet apparently none of them bothered to actually check if she was actually an heiress. The elite Democrats who carefully construct the party’s talking points, don’t seem to even bother to check Wikipedia. (Or they do and just assume that the average Leftist voter won’t.)

    The real point of interest here is not the inanity of the death tax, but rather the studied indifference of the Democrats and Leftists in general to actually studying the wealthy and telling the truth about them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Taxes | 42 Comments »

    Dude…Ever Notice How Much a Joint Looks Like a Ship Move-y Thingy?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 16th November 2012 (All posts by )

    The brain is highly associative. It’s interesting how you suddenly make a connection.

    So, I’m listening to my “Minnie the Moocher” channel on Pandora and up popped a Cab Calloway song I had never heard before, “Reefer man.” I was only listening with half an ear but the first verse triggered a connection.

    “Man, what’s the matter with that cat there?”
    “Must be full of reefer”
    “Full of reefer?!”
    “Yeah, man!”
    “You mean that cat’s high?”
    “Sailing!”
    “Sailing!”
    “Sailing lightly!”
    “Get away from here!”
    “Man is that the reefer man?”
    “That’s the reefer man.”

    When the call and reply got to “you mean that cat’s high…sailing, ” it clicked that in the days of sail that sails were “reefed” by pulling them into rolls. It was also sailor slang for a midshipmen or other novice.

    The Online Etymology Dictionary confirmed that the marijuana “reefer” is probably related to the appearance of a reefed sail. It seems that way back in the day (1930s at least) the association with sailing was strong enough for “sailing” to be a synonym for “high”. I’m pretty sure “high” itself, as a term for doing or feeling well, most likely originated from the higher pay and status received by that sailers who worked as toppers high up on the masts. When a sailor was doing well professionally, he was “high.”

    I’d never thought about the origin of the term “reefer” as slang for a marijuana joint. Knowing as many stoners as I have, I just assumed it was, like everything else stoners do, somehow related to bong making.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    “Single-Payer” Healthcare Means “Single-Decider” Healthcare

    Posted by Shannon Love on 7th November 2012 (All posts by )

    The Democrats rebranded socialized medicine as “single-payer” medicine so as to confuse people without the time to track all leftwing code words. They did the same thing for their own name in the ’80s, changing from “liberals” which was associated with the raft of failed leftwing policies of the 1970s, to “progressives.”

    It’s a good example of their contempt and disdain for the American people. They think, “People are so stupid that if we call something by a different name, one without negative connotations, they will support something they otherwise would have opposed.” (Remember, leftists rationalize that you are their inferior and that they must always manipulate you for your own good.)

    It doesn’t work long term, of course, because words acquire the connotation of the phenomena they label and not the other way around, e.g., idiot, moron and retarded were all originally words invented by doctors and scientist trying to create kinder, gentler and more scientific terms to describe people with subnormal mental processes. But the condition of being subnormal is viewed as negative so any word used to describe that condition becomes negative and eventually a playground pejorative.

    Deceitful words are highly dangerous in politics. No less a luminary than Confucius himself wrote that the first act of good governance is to name things honestly. This is more true in a democracy where people have to know what they are voting for.

    “Single payer” is a deceitful phrase not only because it attempts to rename something in order to confuse the people but also because under socialized medicine, everyone pays. It’s just that what you pay and what you get are unrelated. It’s only “single payer” from the perspective of the health care providers because they are the only ones who ever get paid.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Health Care, Leftism | 31 Comments »

    Tipping Point: How Many People Were Forced to Vote Democrat?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 7th November 2012 (All posts by )

    There’s an old joke in finance that says, “If you owe the bank a $1000 and can’t it back, you have a problem. If you owe the bank a $100 million dollars and can’t pay it back, the bank has a problem.”

    There is have a corollary in politics: If get 5% of your annual income from government benefits  every year and you don’t like something the politicians do, the politicians have a problem. If you get 50% of you income from benefits and you don’t like something the politicians do otherwise, you have a problem.

    Government cannot give without taking. Each time the government gives a benefit to one person, it must have taken the resources to do so from someone else. People who are taken from constantly push back on the political process. If you get a benefit, you have to keep voting for the party or block that keeps that benefit’s policies in law, otherwise, the benefit will go away.

    At first, the politicians are solicitous because while the benefit is nice to have, you don’t need it all that badly. You sum up all pluses and negatives of all the other policies of  the politician and if your sum doesn’t come up positive, you shrug, vote for the other guy, and wave goodbye  to the benefit.

    Gradually, over time the benefits add up. Free education for the kids, a government job, a union job at far over market wage, the promise of social security, free-health care etc. At some ill defined point, you suddenly realize that so much of your functional income, perhaps  most of it, depends on government benefits. If you lose those benefits, you could lose everything.

    Now when you sum up all the pluses and negatives of the other policies of the politicians and the sum doesn’t come up negative…. you vote for him anyway. You no longer have any say. Instead of politicians groveling for your support, you grovel for theirs. Even if no explicit deal is ever mentioned or even thought of, you know that you have to make sure the benefit givers win no matter how they might disgust you otherwise. Now, they can do whatever else they wish and you can’t tell them to stop.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism | 31 Comments »

    Alexis De Tocqueville: How Democracy Can Become Tyranny

    Posted by Shannon Love on 3rd November 2012 (All posts by )

    Robert Schwartz posted some relevant excerpts from De Tocqueville in the comments to my previous post but for brevities sake in the comments, I decided to move them here. 

    Besides, they deserve a higher profile. 

    Shannon is absolutely correct. Abortion is just a shiny bauble they use to distract the rubes from the enormity of what they are doing — which is constructing a most awful tyranny.

    I am going to set out here a few paragraphs from the most famous and most perceptive student of America — Alexis De Tocqueville, in which explains how democracy can become tyranny. I ask you to read them with the utmost care. They could have been written today:

    “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville Vol. 2 Sec. 4 Chapter 6
    “What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear”
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch4_06.htm

    * * *

    No sovereign ever lived in former ages so absolute or so powerful as to undertake to administer by his own agency, and without the assistance of intermediate powers, all the parts of a great empire; none ever attempted to subject all his subjects indiscriminately to strict uniformity of regulation and personally to tutor and direct every member of the community. The notion of such an undertaking never occurred to the human mind; and if any man had conceived it, the want of information, the imperfection of the administrative system, and, above all, the natural obstacles caused by the inequality of conditions would speedily have checked the execution of so vast a design.

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Abortion: The Only Freedom the Democrats Will Leave You

    Posted by Shannon Love on 3rd November 2012 (All posts by )

    [Note: This post isn't really about abortion itself but instead about the exception Democrats make for the issue of abortion in their ideology. It didn't have to be abortion with all it's related moral and legal complexity. It could have been some other medical procedure or anything that affects the human body. Don't get distracted by the broader issues of abortion itself.]

    The 2012 Democratic platform states:

    The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.. [emp added]

    The Democrats claim to support abortion, even to the extremes, because they believe that women own their own bodies and have the right to perfectly control anything that happens to those bodies. They argue that as long as any part of the fetus/infant remains inside the woman’s body, it directly affects her body and she has a right kill the fetus if she so chooses. Any interference in that choice is social and government violation of the principle of self-ownership and control.

    That sounds good … but the Democrats are obviously lying. The Democrats don’t really believe that women own their own bodies nor that women have an innate right to control what happens to those bodies.

    I state that with perfect confidence because once you stop to think about it, it becomes obvious that the Democrats commitment to “Our bodies, our choice,” begins and ends with abortion.

    Far from being the natural outgrowth of a broad philosophical commitment to the idea of self-ownership and control of our own bodies, the Democrats stance on the right to abortion is the sole and glaring exception to an ideology that otherwise treats the bodies of women like the bodies of government owned cattle.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion | 7 Comments »

    Take Home Candy – A Halloween Tax Parable

    Posted by Shannon Love on 1st November 2012 (All posts by )

    This was supposed to go up yesterday but apparently I forgot to hit the “publish” button. *Sigh*

    Posted in Taxes, Video | Comments Off

    Bleg – Medical Images and Coordinates?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 26th September 2012 (All posts by )

    To any Doctors, medical researchers or biologist out there.

    I’m working on a little medical db app for patients to record and communicate the apparent location of symptoms in three-dimensional space. I’ve code named the app “Hypochondria.”

    I was inspired by my own experiences having trouble communicating with doctors. One time my spouse almost got a gall bladder infection missed by a doctor who interpreted her description of the pain as superficial back pain instead of being deeper in the abdominal cavity itself. I think such miscommunications occurs often, especially across language and cultural barriers.

    I’ve been trying to find both images and a coordinate system that naive patients can use to map and log the apparent internal location of pain or other symptoms. I expected that there would be some public domain images because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them before on either medical forms or back in college.

    I just need simple related outlines, that show:

    • Coronal (right-to-left or x-z plane),
    • Sagittal (front-to-back or y-z plane )
    • Transverse sections (left-to-right and front-to-back cross section or x-y plane ).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Health Care, Tech | 7 Comments »

    The Assads are Riding the Tiger

    Posted by Shannon Love on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Michael Totten notes diplomats reporting that:

    … the government of President Bashar al-Assad had no wish to change and that there was no immediate prospect for a diplomatic breakthrough.”

    That’s because if they do, they’re dead. Syria is a majority (71%) Sunni Muslim country but the Assads and the rest of the ruling class are a minority (11.0%) Alwai Shia. In case you haven’t been keeping track, Sunni and Shia get along about as well as Protestants and Catholics did during the reformation. If you imagine a 16th century country that was 71% Protestant ruled by a 11% Catholic nobility (or vice versa) you get the picture of the religious dynamics.

    It doesn’t help at all that the Assads and the rest of the Shia have been both inept and brutal towards the majority Sunni for the last 90+ years. Most Sunni are very, very poor and most Alwai Shia are very rich in comparison. The Assads and collateral families are very wealthy.

    The Assads have kept power to date solely by using Israel as the evil outsider to give common cause between Sunni and Shia. That is why Syria has long maintained such bizarre stances on negotiating with Israel e.g. “give up back the Golan Heights artillery positions we used to shoot at you from first and maybe, just maybe, we’ll negotiate.” The biggest disaster they could imagine until recently would be if Israel suddenly disappeared.

    Now, the people of Syria have gotten so hungry that they don’t give a damn about Israel. In any case, Israeli raids against what most people assume where Syrian/Iranian WMD sites of some kind caused the Assads to loose serious face in the eyes of the people. The Sunni majority may feel they can give Israel a good kick as well as the Assads.

    Serious religious friction, brutality and oppression, and systematic looting of the people has made the majority of Syrians very, very angry. Many ordinary Syrians have suffered so they have every right to blood vengeance and they will take it they get the chance.

    For the Assads, there is no negotiated end. They saw how quickly Gaddafi’s regime disintegrated and how he died at the hands of his own people. If the Assads’ grip on power slips even a bit, they’re dead. The Assads know full well that they are riding a tiger they can’t jump off of without being eaten.

    This isn’t going to end well for somebody.

    Posted in Middle East | 11 Comments »

    Who Really Cares – The Myth of the Compassionate Secular-Left

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd September 2012 (All posts by )

    Mitt Romney gave 29.65% of his income last year to charity and gave an average of 13.5% over the last 20 years.  No surprise. He’s a Mormon. That’s what they do along with wacky things like staying married, paying attention to their children, being involved in their communities and other things that Leftists find strange and disturbing. The people we should really be surprised to find generous are the only notionally religious Leftists like Kerry, Edwards, Biden and Obama.

    Surprise! The ironclad faith of Secular-Leftists in themselves as vastly more compassionate than anyone else, is, according to the best research, nothing but self-righteous, egomaniacal, self-aggrandizement. Leftists make the Pharisees of New Testament parable look pretty good in comparison. At least when the Pharisees bragged about their piety and how much they gave to the Temple, they actually performed the rituals and gave money. Leftists brag about how compassionate they are and then don’t give much from their own time and pocket books.

    This would be a good time to mention again Arthur C. Brooks’ Who Really Cares, which, as near as I can tell, is the only scientific (as much as sociology can be scientific) study of charitable giving in the US. Brooks was very careful in methodology correcting for variables of income, race, etc as well as breaking apart giving to religious versus secular charities.

    I found a summary online [PDF] that covers most of the findings of the book in condensed form..  It makes an eye opening read if you’ve always taken the Left’s self-mythology for granted.

    Some choice bits:

    Conservatives are more likely to give to charity than liberals, but only by a percentage point or two. Liberals, on the other hand, are more likely to volunteer their time than conservatives, but only by a percentage point or two. This might make it seem as if there really isn’t that much difference between the two groups when it comes to giving. However, when factors like average dollar amounts donated are examined, the differences become striking: “In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money than a household headed by a liberal.” This, despite the fact that families headed by liberals earned more on average than conservative families. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Leftism, Libertarianism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 14 Comments »

    Don’t Trust Screen Shots

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st September 2012 (All posts by )

    Here’s a screen shot of a post at Instapundit. See if you can spot any differences between the current post and the screenshot.

    That took me literally five seconds to alter.

    I use an organization/document-management app for the Mac called  DevonThink Pro. The app has many supporting scripts to capture information from various sources. Today, I learned of one called “Make Editable” a bookmarklet script for Safari and Firefox. When activated, it switches the browser page into developer mode that allows the editing of the original page right in the browser window.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Tech | 6 Comments »

    Why I Haven’t Been Blogging

    Posted by Shannon Love on 24th August 2012 (All posts by )

    One of my older relatives once explained why he didn’t play poker. He’d done so when he was in the army but stopped as soon as he came out. His reason? He said, “I enjoyed it too much.”

    He wisely recognized that it’s the things you really enjoy that can do you damage. There is no “hitting-myself-in-the-head-with-a-hammer anonymous” but there are 12-step and rehab programs for almost any conceivable overindulged pleasure . If you don’t discipline yourself, pleasurable activities create a dangerous feedback loop that can lead you down an implosive spiral.

    I really like blogging and picking fights on the internet.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging | 9 Comments »

    I’m More Awesome Than You CAN Imagine

    Posted by Shannon Love on 24th August 2012 (All posts by )

    Sorry I haven’t been blogging any during the last eight months but the truth is that I’ve been wrestling with a big decision that affects everyone and I didn’t quite know how to explain it. Now, I’ve come to a decision and I think it only right that I inform you all of it so that you have some time to prepare yourself.

    Here goes… I’m turning off the Universe.

    Yep, that’s right, the whole shebang, from littlest Higgs Boson to the greatest galaxy clusters. Say goodnight, Gracie.

    I know this will be hard to accept, but, you see, you’re not real. I mean, you are real as far as the experience of yourself and every other human being you know of but you aren’t, you know, real real.

    I’m not explaining this very well.

    You see, I wrote you. That is to say I programmed you.  I programmed you and every other person, place and thing in your universe. You’re just a simulation, a very big video game, based loosely on once-real people, places and things that I created. Not only did I create the simulation but I can start it, stop it, rewind it and alter it at will.

    And all that kinda makes me god. I mean not GOD god but just god of the universe you experience. Let’s just say, “god as far as you are concerned.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Christianity, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Science | 19 Comments »

    Occupy Wall Street: Fascists Are More Organized

    Posted by Shannon Love on 13th December 2011 (All posts by )

    An Occupy Wall Street (Boston) person whines that his movement has become “fascist”.

    I’d be more impressed with this supposed epiphany if people like that didn’t define “fascist” as, “someone who told me no.”

    The Occupiers are not naive, idealistic, children. They do not act out of a desire for the greater good. They act out of megalomania. They see themselves as some kind of Nietzschean supermen whose superhuman political insight and moral superiority mean they don’t have to follow the same rules as anyone else.

    They’re special and get to occupy public property for their sole use. They’re special and get to violate the property and movement rights of others. They’re special and get to cost other people their jobs and livelihood without consequence. They’re special and nobody else has the moral right to restrain them in any way or refuse their dictates. It follows that no one has the moral authority to tell them “no”. Anyone who does tell them “no” is axiomatically evil and the worst kind of evil at that, i.e., fascist.

    That includes their fellow ideologues.

    Communists and fascists were driven by a similar self-righteous arrogance but both philosophies held that in the grand scheme of things, individuals were unimportant.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism | 13 Comments »

    More Nervous than a Mythbuster’s Insurance Agent

    Posted by Shannon Love on 7th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Mythbusters is a science popular show on the Discovery channel. They test urban myths and the like using a variety of cleverly improvised experiments.  They often say their insurance company has stopped them from doing this or that experiment. I really believe that. A lot of their stuff is clearly very dangerous despite their precautions.

    When I see someone sweating something, I often quip, “He looks more nervous than a Mythbuster’s insurance agent.”

    Well, it looks like the Mythbuster’s insurance agent really has something to sweat about now. During an experiment at the Alameda county bomb range that involved firing a large blackpowder cannon with what looked like an 8-12 inch cannonball, the ball skipped out of the range and shot through a house in the nearby suburban neighborhood.

    Nobody was hurt but it’s California so they’re going to get sued for all kinds of emotional trauma.

    When I told this my son observed, “That’s seems like (an assumed) risk of living near a bomb range.” Yep, but that won’t help.

    I hope it doesn’t do in the show.

    Posted in Diversions, Media, Tech | 31 Comments »

    All Attacks Aren’t the Same. That’s the Surprise.

    Posted by Shannon Love on 5th December 2011 (All posts by )

    So, a new memo has surfaced regarding US military intelligence prior to Pearl Harbor.

    In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR’s declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, “In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii.”

    That’s supposed to be a significant revelations? What, previous memos only warned about Japan’s keen interest in Minnesota? I hate to tell people who are all a twitter about this memo and other similar “revelations” but nobody in the American military or government was really surprised there was an attack on Pearl Harbor or any other major US pacific military asset. The entire Pacific was under a war warning and the entire US military was prepping for a possible Japanese attack somewhere. The US carriers were not caught at Pearl Harbor because they had been deployed to ferry aircraft to points in the western Pacific where an attack was anticipated, e.g., Wake Island.

    Pearl Harbor wasn’t a surprise of intent, it was a surprise of capability.

    No one in the US Navy thought the Japanese had the physical capability to strike Pearl Harbor with carrier aircraft. That was the surprise.

    Yamamoto surprised the US Navy, and everyone else, because he was a “black swan”, i.e., a rare and unpredictable outlier.  

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Japan, National Security, Predictions, War and Peace | 25 Comments »

    Aptera: The Failure of Design By Stated Preferences

    Posted by Shannon Love on 5th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Aptera, the 120-300mpg car design, has shuttered it doors for good as I predicted it would three years ago.

    The failure of Aptera and similar designs reveals the real-world functional differences between stated preferences i.e. what people tell themselves and others they want, and revealed preferences i.e. the things people actually end up choosing. People tell car designers and manufactures they want and will buy an inexpensive, efficient, two-seater commuter car but when it comes to putting money down for one they don’t follow through.

    The conflict between stated and revealed preferences has significant political ramifications.

    Looking back over my previous post on Aptera and the subsequent comments, it’s clear that Aptera specifically failed for three major reason:

    1. It was uni-dimensional design that sacrificed every other functionality for fuel efficiency.
    2. Cars are general tools. Every if  people spend 80% of their milage commenting, they still have other task the car needs to perform to some degree. A car that cannot fulfill these secondary task necessitates that the car owner spend time and money finding other solutions. That additional expense usually destroys any economic advantage the unidimensional design purports to offers.
    3. The Aptera specifically represented nothing knew. Everything in the design had been repeatedly tried before and always failed. Specifically, highly efficient, two-seater commuter cars using a wide array of  technologies have been repeatedly offered since at least the 1920s in all parts of the world. They all failed to catch on.

    The last reason brings me to the “Smart” car. Marketed as “unboring”, “uncluttered” and the “uncar”, they should have added “unusable” and “unsellable”.  The Smart car is another in a long, long, long list of attempts at a highly efficient, two seater, urban car. Arguably, it could be the best attempt ever made. It’s failure should, but won’t, drive a stake into the two-seater commuter car concept.

    The Smart car’s design and technology are impressive. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Environment, History, Human Behavior, Political Philosophy, Tech | 31 Comments »