…quite a few of them, anyway
via American Digest
Best-Selling Books by Topic
|Military History||(Top Rated)|
|British History||(Top Rated)|
| Middle East
|Land Battles||(Top Rated)|
|Naval Warfare||(Top Rated)|
|Air Warfare||(Top Rated)|
|Legal History||(Top Rated)|
|IP Law||(Top Rated)|
…quite a few of them, anyway
via American Digest
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th November 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I don’t want to wear out my welcome with posts but this is a topic that has interested me for many years. When I retired from practice, I spent a year at Dartmouth trying to learn how we can improve health care delivery and reduce cost without reducing quality.
The Obamacare web site now has lost its happy photo of the Obamacare girl. The fact that she is a non-citizen seems appropriate. The web site is supposed to be fixed by November 30. Will that happen ? Well, maybe not.
On Friday, the man tasked with the digital fixes said the site “remains a long way from where it needs to be” as more and more problems emerge.
“As we put new fixes in, volume is increasing, exposing new storage capacity and software application issues,” Jeff Zients told reporters on a conference call.
And at Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney again said there was “more work to be done” on repairing HealthCare.gov.
Carney, along with Zients and other administration officials, have repeatedly said the November 30 deadline is to get the health care website working for a “vast majority” of Americans looking to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.
So, what happens December 2, the Monday after the “glitches” are fixed ? First, they won’t be fixed. The contractor that designed the program, not just the web site, has a terrible record.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th October 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I hadn’t thought of this situation, only because I didn’t have enough imagination to see that politics trumps all with Obama.
A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.
This just didn’t occur to me. It should have. After all, what was Benghazi about ?
This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.
It is just amazing that the politicians know so little about technology (this was the guy with the Blackberry who made fun of McCain) that they did not understand that saying something doesn’t make it happen.
I’ve put together some posts from my various archives … Read the rest of this entry »
(I originally posted this in late 2007…I was reminded of it by the recent story about the Obama administration’s propaganda video game featuring space aliens, global warming, and gender issues)
My post today is inspired by In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson, a strange little book that will probably be found in the “computers” section of your local bookstore. While the book does deal with human interfaces to computer systems, its deeper subject is the impact of media and metaphors on thought processes and on work.
Stephenson contrasts the explicit word-based interface with the graphical or sensorial interface. The first (which I’ll call the textual interface) can be found in a basic UNIX system or in an old-style PC DOS system or timesharing terminal. The second (the sensorial interface) can be found in Windows and Mac systems and in their respective application programs.
As a very different example of a sensorial interface, Stephenson uses something he saw at Disney World–a hypothetical stone-by-stone reconstruction of a ruin in the jungles of India. It is supposed to have been built by a local rajah in the sixteenth century, but since fallen into disrepair.
The place looks more like what I have just described than any actual building you might find in India. All the stones in the broken walls are weathered as if monsoon rains had been trickling down them for centuries, the paint on the gorgeous murals is flaked and faded just so, and Bengal tigers loll among stumps of broken columns. Where modern repairs have been made to the ancient structure, they’ve been done, not as Disney’s engineers would do them, but as thrifty Indian janitors would–with hunks of bamboo and rust-spotted hunks of rebar.
In one place, you walk along a stone wall and view some panels of art that tell a story.
…a broad jagged crack runs across a panel or two, but the story is still readable: first, primordial chaos leads to a flourishing of many animal species. Next, we see the Tree of Life surrounded by diverse animals…an obvious allusion (or, in showbiz lingo, a tie-in) to the gigantic Tree of Life that dominates the center of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…But it’s rendered in historically correct style and could probably fool anyone who didn’t have a PhD in Indian art history.
The next panel shows a mustacioed H. sapiens chopping down the Tree of Life with a scimitar, and the animals fleeing every which way. The one after that shows the misguided human getting walloped by a tidal wave, part of a latter-day Deluge presumably brought on by his stupidity.
The final panel, then, portrays the Sapling of Life beginning to grow back, but now man has ditched the edged weapon and joined the other animals in standing around to adore and praise it.
Clearly, this exhibit communicates a specific worldview, and it strongly implies that this worldview is consistent with traditional Indian religion and culture. Most viewers will assume the connection without doing further research as to its correctness or lack thereof.
I’d observe that as a general matter, the sensorial interface is less open to challenge than the textual interface. It doesn’t argue–doesn’t present you with a chain of facts and logic that let you sit back and say, “Hey, wait a minute–I’m not so sure about that.” It just sucks you into its own point of view.
It’s already underway and will only get worse. J.E. Dyer’s analysis is worth reading:
It’s one thing when advertisers seek to drive emotional connections with lite beer, pick-up trucks, and air fresheners. It’s something else when the government hires advertisers to drive emotional connections with government policies and institutions. This goes far beyond the old-fashioned “good government” idea of providing information to citizens. In its essence, it differs not at all from a Stalin-era poster hyping the Soviet government’s policies to a beleaguered Russian people.
Advertising is a dangerous thing in the hands of the armed state. I am no more in favor of Republican administrations spending a lot of money on it than of Democrats doing so. With Obamacare, we have reached the fork in the road. A government with the powers conferred by Obamacare cannot, on principle, be trusted to “advertise” its policies to us. The inevitable descent into untrustworthy propaganda has already begun. Until Obamacare is repealed, it will continue to get worse.
“Third party payer systems are always inflationary.” Steyn points to one of those truisms Obama seems to have never understood. Subsidiarity is another. Someone from Romney’s background knows that – knows efficiency, responsibility, community – with every fiber of his being because this is his life – as Shannon so solidly summarizes below. It isn’t just that Obama doesn’t take care of his blood relations and Romney has long stretched that responsibility out to increasingly large communities. He knows what fulfills him and what works. He probably also thinks it is good. What are we doing with a president that can’t even imagine such responsibilities?
I want to hear my president talk and to have a sense that he doesn’t see
Read the rest of this entry »
Via Maggie’s Farm and Dinocrat, here’s a Bob Newhart skit from 1970. Bob plays the role of an 1890s-style venture capitalist, talking on the phone with inventor Herman Hollerith, who is trying to explain the merits of punched card technology.
Originally posted 3/4/2004
There’s always a steady steam of books and articles offering advice to people who are beginning, or about to begin, their business careers. In the current crop of such publications, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on “taking care of yourself’–negotiating hard about starting salary, being insistent about raises and promotions, making sure you get full credit for the things you accomplish, etc etc. This general theme seems particularly pronounced right now in advice directed at women.
Within limits, it’s common sense. If you don’t stand up for yourself, you’re going to get run over. And, in an era of (at least perceived) insecurity, it’s natural that people would be increasingly focused on career self-protection.
But. Note the qualifier, “within limits.”
Readers of the afforementioned publications need to also read a little article that appeared in Investor’s Business Daily (2/23), under the title “Opportunists are Trouble.” Opportunists:
..avoid assignments that carry high risk of failure–even when such situations also present a great opportunity for success. They shirk responsibility for the actions of their subordinates…And while opportunists might seem highly intelligent, it’s often not the case…They master the art of appearance, but have very little depth.
The article quotes the author of “Staying There,” Thomas Schweich:
If you are going to be an executive with staying power, you must value ambition, destroy opportunism and be adept at telling the diference between the two…(Wise) executives search for small, tangible signs in those they are evaluating.
Earl Graves, founder & publisher of the magazine Black Enterprise, offers some advice as to how to detect an opportunist. One clue is an excessive preoccupation with perks–company credit cards, tickets to sports events, etc–and particularly, a focus on perks during the first few days on the job. And Mike Sears, previously CFO at Boeing, advises executives to look out for the “spotlight” mentality. People with this personality trait will “be charming when the spotlight is on, but turn irritable and condescending when they think “no one of importance” is watching.”
Another clue to an opportunist–and this one should be obvious–is excessive use of the words “I” and “me” when discussing positive outcomes. And then there’s the “should be” flag. Let’s say you ask your subordinate about the status of an assignment, and his response is that “it should be done.”
“(It) says that you think I am too stupid to figure out that you do not know the answer,” (said a senior Justice Department official). (And it) “says you are ready to blame someone else if the job hasn’t been done. You are pre-distancing yourself from the failure.”
It seems to me that many of the current practices in our educational system–grade inflation, excessive focus on unearned self-esteem–contribute to the development of the personality pattern referenced here under the name “opportunism.” And the problem with the kind of business advice that I mentioned at the beginning is that it tends to reinforce these tendencies, rather than causing the individual to reflect on them and balance them out. I worry that some of this advice could cause people who could have been successful to adopt behavior patterns that will destroy or limit their careers. Some, of course, will succeed despite their behavior (or even because of it, in unhealthy organizations), and they can then do damage that is sometimes on a very large scale.
A worthwhile article, and Schweich’s book sounds very interesting.
8/24/2012: I was reminded of this post by Bill Waddell’s post here.
The daughter unit was working today, so we waited and had late-lunch, early dinner. The local Chick-fil-A nearest us was jammed, even more than it was last Saturday, and the line of cars for the drive-through window went around the building, through the parking lot of the business next to it, out to the access road through the shopping center, down the access road to the highway access road. The cashier told us that at lunch today, the line went all the way to the Costco, about a third of a mile away.
Yep – when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro … Here we are, shaking our heads in amazed disbelief that now a fast-food chain purveying tasty chicken entrees, distinguished among other fast-food outlets only for a corporate policy of being closed on Sunday and a rather witty advertising series featuring illiterate cows urging us to eat chicken … is the hill to be defended in the culture war. That would be the newly-vicious cultural war between the forces of tolerant political correctness and those conservative and libertarian defenders of free-market principles as well as the freedom of belief and expression. Most of us of that persuasion are actually rather stunned at how suddenly Chick-Fil-A is now the demon that must be defeated! And defeated by any means, fair, foul, shrill or underhanded as is required by the mission, naturally. Is there some PC target of the week decided upon? Last time I looked around it was the Koch Brothers who were the Goldstein o’the Week. One can hardly keep up without a scorecard.
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I don’t remember why I took Debate 101 my sophomore year of high school. I’m not an enthusiastic public speaker nor was I inclined to become one. Perhaps I was interested in learning advanced debating techniques. Then I’d be ever triumphant in the important debates of daily life:
“You think you deserve that last piece of pizza? Let me tell you why you don’t.”
The explanation may be much simpler:
Entering Debate 1000, I was 1) a teenager and 2) a sophomore. That evidence, however circumstantial, is sufficient to convict.
If I was interested in learning debate technique, I was disappointed: the debate class wasn’t designed to systematically instruct students to taking apart their own position, reassemble it into a stronger position, and then use their new strong position to destroy their opponent’s position. This debate class was designed to cull skilled debaters out of the general student body who would then go on and compete in regional and state debate competitions. Some technique was dispensed in miserly bursts but mostly it was one instruction-free speaking assignment after another. Those with innate debating instinct went on to join the school team with all the glory that bestowed (not much). The rest of the class had to live with disappointment (again, not much).
One debate format we were taught, Lincoln-Douglas (LD), was roughly similar to this format laid out by Wikipedia:
ALDaily has a questionnaire up. If you don’t check it out regularly, give it a look. We’re on their blog roll, so keep us in mind. Just saying. And don’t be put off by Chronicle ownership – this may indicate changes to come, but under the late Dutton, it was remarkably open to all viewpoints, though reflecting his interests in evolutionary art criticism (examples too rare to notice unless you knew Dutton’s work).
The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) is primarily a collection of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books and technical building guides. Trade catalogs are an important primary source to document past design and construction practices. These materials can aid in the preservation and conservation of older structures as well as other research goals.
The BTHL contains materials from various private and institutional collections. These materials are rarely available in most architectural and professional libraries. The first major architectural trade catalog collection is that of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which encompasses more that 4,000 catalogs from the early 19th century through 1963. In addition to the architectural trade catalogs, the initial contributions include a large number of house plan catalogs, which will be of great interest to owners of older homes. The future growth of the Building Technology Heritage Library will also include contemporary materials on building conservation.
The Daughter Unit is, as I have mentioned before, the absolute queen of yard sales, thrift stores and estate sales. She views each possible venue as a rich hunting ground – and regularly emerges triumphantly flaunting a high-quality and originally expensive item bought for a relative pittance. She also has a soft spot for old books, especially the ones which look as if they have had better days. She says they appeal to her rather like a kind of abandoned pet, the elderly animal left behind when the owner dies.
There was a lot of discussion earlier this year and in a great many different writing and general interest venues regarding the success of indy writer Amanda Hocking - which, however you slice it, remains a self-published and e-book success story. Candidly, I think that we need another zombie-werewolf-vampire saga like Custer needed another Indian, but hey- that’s just me. Not my cuppa, but if it floats yer boat . . . To paraphrase the lyrics of a certain old pop song – I can barely run my own life, why the hell should I want to run yours? Yeah – Sunshine, go away and get those kids off my lawn!
Anyway – as an indy-POD-author, untrammeled by the shackles of the literary-industrial complex, I had to give the Ms. Hocking all kinds of mad respect, for writing savvy, plus marketing skills and the sheer neck to go out and just do it. 450,000 copies of nine books, each at a price of .99-2.99 and the author getting 30-70% in royalties . . . is . . . a . . . a lot of turnips.*
I’m an English major, dammit! But I appreciate the business aspects of it all.
A fascinating look at the electric car industry of the early 20th century and specifically the attempt to position these vehicles as particularly appropriate for women: Femininity and the Electric Car.
Lots of other interesting content on the web site on which this article appears, The Automobile in American Life and Society.
… unfortunate urban signage, below the fold. Almost as funny as the juxtaposition on Grand Avenue in Escondido that my daughter and I spotted about ten years ago: a sushi restaurant right next door to a tropical fish emporium…
Wandering around a soon-to-be-closed Borders bookstore, I run across a glossy magazine dedicated to the G8 summit in Deauville-France (May 2011). The above is a cell phone photo of the cover. I have no idea who publishes the magazine. There are ads inside for airlines, hotels, cars, public policy institutes and various international businesses and governmental agencies. The US Chamber of Commerce and Eurochambers/The Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry are two such examples. Turns out that some of the articles are pretty interesting.
The cover makes me laugh, though. It’s an illustration of various national leaders and their relative small size contrasts with the large conference table. Individual nations, suboordinate yourselves to the glory of the international collective of business and governmental interests!
Maybe I’m getting a tiny bit carried away here. I’ve always had an active imagination thanks to the reading of novels and, well, an inherently busy mind. Yoga, music, meditation, book reading: all of it calms me down. Modern urban – or semi-urban – life is filled with irritating sounds and sirens and sitting in traffic and noisy trains with vaguely scary looking passengers….
So I am going to miss browsing Borders, getting a coffee, and shaking my head at the variety of periodicals. A magazine for everyone and everything. A Special Forces magazine sits right up front along with Mother Jones, Foreign Policy and the Hudson Review. Wait a minute, shouldn’t that one be in the back row?
What do you suppose the existence of a G8 magazine says about our society? Nothing remotely reassuring, I imagine. If debt ceiling drama seems incomprehensible, it’s likely because a certain percentage (not all, to be fair) of our politicos spend considerable amounts of time skimming vapid briefs and dopey position papers while flipping through G8 Magazines as they jet between constituent meetings, summits, conferences and hearings. And that’s their body of knowledge on a given subject.
Posted by Lexington Green on 13th June 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
The stuff looks cool.
Here is a nice bumper sticker.
(I ordered one, and I will report on the service and quality.)
I look forward to other people working with this image, or variants including words, etc.
Disclaimer. Neither I nor the ChicagoBoyz blog get any money from any sale of Liberty Jane’s stuff. We are not partners or professionally associated in any way. I don’t know her and I never heard of her until she left her comments here.
Posted by Charles Cameron on 23rd May 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
Jihadi movement participants, he [al-Awlaki] argues, should also use computers, CD-ROMs, and DVDs to circulate large quantities of jihadi information—in the form of books, essays, brochures, photographs, and videos—in a highly compressed fashion.
I know that in theory, it doesn’t surprise me too much — but visuals like these bring it home to me in a way that reading words never will:
Merchandise — CDs and DVDs, the coin of the info-realm.
BTW, that Brachman article, High-Tech Terror: Al-Qaeda’s Use of New Technology, will be familiar to some who read here, but is worth reading if you don’t already know it.
Every once in a while you hit a phrase that condenses an issue with such precise concision that it sticks in your mind and keeps your attention like a glass shard in your eye.
While the media are kvelling about “freedom” in Egypt (“protesters” having finally persuaded Mubarak it was high time to am-scray), it behooves us to take a deep breath and consider this: the Egyptians are not like us. The Egyptian concept of “freedom” is an Islamic–not a Western–one. They still hate Jews/Israelis like poison. And you’re talking about a country that is essentially a clitoris-free zone (9 out of 10 women in Egypt being the victims of Female Genital Mutilation).[emp added]
It’s hard to read “clitoris-free zone” without wincing and you should be wincing when contemplating that particular barbaric practice.
And he is correct that too many people forget that Egyptians do have a radically different culture and thus radically different political expectations than we do. A democracy they create will not make the same decisions that our democracy makes. For some reason, the people who scream the loudest about the virtues of multiculturalism seem the least able to grasp this idea.
Posted by Charles Cameron on 20th February 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ by Charles Cameron -- cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
It’s riveting to follow the tweets on protests in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya or Iran on Mibazaar in real-time to be sure — but mash that capability up with the one Shloky found and Zen just mentioned with video…
As Zen says, I mean, “automatic face-recognition and social media aggregation raises serious concerns about the potential dangers of living under a panopticon state”.
Two dots, two data-points, two apps connected.