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    Reading “Hard” Books vs. Pretending to Do So

    Posted by Zenpundit on 15th December 2014 (All posts by )

    [cross-posted from zenpundit.com]

    The other day, some friends shared an old post by controversial conservative activist, writer and publisher of  The Federalist,  Ben Domenech, that struck a chord:

    The Top Ten Books People Lie About Reading 

    Have you ever lied about reading a book? Maybe you didn’t want to seem stupid in front of someone you respected. Maybe you rationalized it by reasoning that you had a familiarity with the book, or knew who the author was, or what the story was about, or had glanced at its Wikipedia page. Or maybe you had tried to read the book, even bought it and set it by your bed for months unopened, hoping that it would impart what was in it merely via proximity (if that worked, please email me). 

    I have not, though I frequently catch many people in conversation and even more online who do.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Blogging, Book Notes, Diversions, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous | 28 Comments »

    How To Read This Blog

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th October 2014 (All posts by )

    Chicago Boyz has been around since 2001 (2003 in its current form) and has thousands of archived posts on all kinds of topics from an unusually diverse and thoughtful group of contributors. Many of these archived posts are still worth reading.

    The problem is that the blog format is poorly suited for organizing information. Once it’s off the front page it tends to disappear. Information may want to be free but first you need to be able to find it.

    What to do? Manually creating, updating and occasionally reorganizing a table of contents is more work than I want, and I don’t think there’s a good way to automate it. Some of our contributors occasionally re-post outstanding examples of their own older posts, for which many thanks (and please keep doing it). Categorization of posts helps a bit. There’s a Google search box that works pretty well as an index if you know what you are looking for. I maintain a list of links on the blog’s right sidebar to a very few of our most interesting discussions. There’s also this new post that I have permalinked on the upper right sidebar where I hope readers will see it.

    Maybe there are additional things that we can do to make the gold in archived Chicago Boyz posts more accessible. Please feel free to chime in in the comments if you have any thoughts.

    Posted in Announcements, Blogging | 7 Comments »

    Notes From All Over (22/06/14): Rise of the West, Island Disputes, & Too Much Stuff About China

    Posted by T. Greer on 22nd June 2014 (All posts by )

    This collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit was originally posted on The Scholar’s Stage and is reposted here upon request.

    TOP BILLING

    “The Little Divergence
    ‘Pseuderoerasmus,’ Pseudoarasmus (12 June 2014)

    In this blogpost I will argue the following :

    • While very few economic historians now dispute that East Asia had lower living standards than Europe well before 1800,
    • …there is no agreement on whether European economies prior to 1800 were “modern” or “Malthusian” ;
    • … if they were Malthusian, then the “little divergence” is rather trivial and unremarkable.
    • Furthermore, the income “data” for years prior to 1200 are mostly fictitious.
    • While real data exist after 1200 for Western Europe and China, output estimates are still calculated using assumptions that, were they better understood, would shatter confidence in the enterprise of economic history !

    Addendum to The Little Divergence
    ‘Pseudoerasmus,’ Pseudoarasmus (12 June 2014)

    Two of the most popular posts on the Stage are “The Rise of the West: Asking the Right Questions,” and “Another Look at the Rise of the West, But With better Numbers,” which take as their subject global energy consumption and wealth production on a millennial time scale.  Pseudoerasmus–who chimes in regularly in the comments section here–has written a series of posts that put most of this analysis in question, arguing that the Madison and Broadberry data sets these posts use cannot be relied on.

    Both posts are admirable examples of how to write about technical social science debates found deep in the literature and present them in an engaging fashion without dumbing the content down. Strongly recommended. 


    China’s Information Management in the Sino-Vietnamese Confrontation: Caution and Sophistication in the Internet Era
    Andrew Chubb, South Sea Conversations (9 June 2014).

    China’s expanding Spratly outposts: artificial, but not so new
    Andrew Chubb, South Sea Conversations (19 June 2014).


    Andrew Chubb’s South Sea Conversations (讨论南海) is the first website I check whenever things get hot in the South China Sea. Both of these pieces – the first published formally in the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief, the second a blog post of the more standard type – are examples of the site’s general excellence. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging | 8 Comments »

    My Books and the End of My Printed Books

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 7th June 2014 (All posts by )

    An important event in my household is the spring planting of everything that is going into our garden on the balcony of our condo. They are grown inside under a grow light (mostly, except for items like lettuce and carrots) and then they get put outside.

    The tomato plants grow by leaps and bounds! So what is used every day to keep up with their vigor? Why my old books, of course.

    There you can see the usual suspects on my nightstand… some WW2 (Van Der Vat is a great author), of course America 3.0 by our good friend Michael Lotus, and “Africa’s World War” on the Congo. Then you have a couple of architecture books and finance books like the classsic “The Myth of the Rational Market”.

    I’ve switched over (mostly) to the kindle now and haven’t been buying new books in hardcover. I bought a book on New Yorker cartoons in hardcover since I figured that would be the type of coffee table book that people might actually pick up and look at. I also might buy an occasional architecture or infographic book in softcover or used, as well. But that’s about it.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Business | 18 Comments »

    Harbingers

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th April 2014 (All posts by )

    I’ve been surfing my usual internet hangouts over the last week or so – in between working on various editing, formatting and sales projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness – so although I did surf, and read and observe reports on a number of different and rather disturbing events – I didn’t have time to write anything about them until after I had finished the biggest of the current projects on my plate.

    The biggest of them was the new-old range war of the Bundy ranch. I suppose that technically speaking, the Fed Gov had some small shreds of technical justification in demanding grazing fees … but the longer one looked at the whole of L’affaire Bundy, the worse it looked … which is doubtless why the Fed Gov backed down. A tactical retreat, of course; The optics of a shoot-out between the minions of the Fed Gov and the various Bundy supporters would not have been good, for Harry Reid and his clan and friends most of all, although they may eventually act – seeing that they have a position which will be at risk by tolerating defiance.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Blogging, Business, Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Just Unbelievable, Media, North America, Politics, Real Estate | 19 Comments »

    Our Friend Bookworm Has Published a New Book

    Posted by David Foster on 18th March 2014 (All posts by )

    The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America– $2.99 for Amazon Kindle. This is a collection of selected posts from her blog,  which are typically thought-provoking and worth re-reading even if you’ve already read them when they first appeared.

    Robert Avrech said:

    Bookworm Room is a wife, a mother, a lawyer, and a blogger who is something of a hero to me. Whenever I need some common sense talk about difficult political or social issues, I make my way to Bookworm and see what she has to say.

    JoshuaPundit said:

    Reading Bookworm’s essays is like intellectual chocolate – highly addicting, except it expands your mind instead of your waistline!

    Noisy Room said:

    Bookie has just put together an e-book on her posts that have occurred over time. It is some of the best writing you will ever read. Riveting and compelling, it is absolutely addictive.

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Obama, USA | 3 Comments »

    John Robb’s HomeFree America

    Posted by Lexington Green on 6th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Have you been reading HomeFree America?

    You should be. It is “John Robb’s open notebook on the future of the American Dream.” It is also the first draft of the book he is working on.

    Mr. Robb’s analysis of the collapse of the Blue Model, 20th Century legacy government and economy is very similar to the arguments made by James C. Bennett and myself in our book America 3.0. He sees, as we do, that they are doomed. He sees, as we do, that a much better world is coming. Ah, but the transition period. That will be a challenge.

    This is the quote of the day:

    All layers of government — city, state, and federal — want the old, bureaucratic economy to continue, unchanged. They can’t imagine a world without plentiful flows of taxes levied on corporate profits and withholding from personal incomes.
     
    Without this flow of tax income, the entire edifice of the current economy falls. It is the source of the financial life-support to the increasingly obsolete bureaucracies – from the civil bureaucracy to education to national security to banking to health care — that still offer traditional jobs. The rest is spent providing services, from health care to retirement income, in an attempt to keep the existing economic system alive.

    From this post.

    People who tell me the the current corrupt model cannot be defeated have it backward. It cannot survive. The only question is how hard the transition to a better political and economic order will be. Not if, not even when, but how.

    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements, Blogging, Book Notes | 8 Comments »

    My health care posts from 2013

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 2nd January 2014 (All posts by )

    David has a good idea. I often read the archives of my personal blog to see how I did in forecasting the future or understanding the present. A major concern of mine is, of course, health care and what is happening. When I retired from surgery after my own back surgery, I spent a year at Dartmouth Medical School’s center for study of health care. My purpose was to indulge an old hobby. How do we measure quality in health care ? I had served for years on the board of a company called California Medical Review, Inc. It was the official Medicare review organization for California. For a while I was the chair of the Data Committee. It seems to have gone downhill since I was there. First, it changed its name in an attempt to get more business from private sources. Then it lost the Medicare contract.

    Lumetra, which lost a huge Medicare contract last November, is changing its name and its business model as it seeks to replace more than $20 million in lost revenue.
    The San Francisco-based nonprofit’s revenue will shrink this year from $28 million last fiscal year, ending in March 2009, to a projected $4.5 million, CEO Linda Sawyer told the Business Times early this week.
    That’s in large part because it’s no longer a Medicare quality improvement contractor, formerly its main line of work. And in fact, the 25-year-old company’s revenue has been plummeting since fiscal 2007, when it hit $47 million.

    I see no sign that it is involved with Obamacare which is being run from Washington with a state organization that seems no better run than the parent organization.

    Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the Affordable Care Act no longer will provide federal grants to fund state health exchanges. In addition, California law prohibits using the state’s general fund to pay for the exchange.

    Anyway, for what it is worth, here are the links to the 2013 health posts.

    The Lost Boys

    Alternatives to Obamacare.

    Why the Obamacare Site Isn’t Working.

    Where Healthcare May be Going.

    Conservatives Invented the Mandate; say the Democrats.

    A Critical Insight.

    A Rolling Catastrophe.

    Why Health Care is in Trouble.

    Where Do We Go Now ?

    Building the Airplane During Takeoff.

    Posted in Blogging, Current Events, Health Care, Medicine, Obama, Politics, Systems Analysis | 17 Comments »

    Adding Up the Old Year, Looking Towards the New

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 2nd January 2014 (All posts by )

    In a meditation that I posted about this time last year – just as we came down to Christmas and the last frantic dash to the end of the year – I laid out the things that I wanted to do, or ought to do during 2013. Time to take stock and look at which ones I did manage … and those that I shall have to try harder to do in 2014.

    #1 – I was resolved to change my main bank account from Bank of America to a Texas institution. Check. Actually accomplished this the first week of the new year, and it went quite painlessly, changing the automatic deposit from DFAS and the automatic payment to the mortgage company. Check.

    #2 – Finish and publish The Quivera Trail in time for launching in November, 2013. Done and check. Also begin on the next book, or at least the research. I had thought it would be tentatively entitled The Golden Road, starring young Fredi Steinmetz and the usual cast of characters historical and created … half-check. Started research, but was detoured into writing another picaresque adventure, Lone Star Sons, which will be a short and adventurous bagatelle and a re-working of the Lone Ranger, as a historical adventure in 1840s Texas – which I am posting, chapter by chapter at the book blog and website, here. Lone Star Sons will be my November 2015 book … but I will be well along in writing The Golden Road by then.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Current Events, Personal Narrative, USA | 15 Comments »

    History Friday – An Archive Post on the Uses of History

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 29th November 2013 (All posts by )

    (From 2006, in response to a then-current story on a local grade school principal cancelling a long-standing tradition of a Thanksgiving tableau enacted by the small children dressing as Pilgrims and Indians. The link to the original story is long-decayed, but in light of this particular blast, and this one from the eternally plastic Cher … well, still relevant.)

    Reader Mark Rosenbaum commented on one of my historical pieces this week: “Why couldn’t they tell history this well when I was in school a half century ago?” About that same time, I ran across this story—part of the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps it might, in a small way, explain why people are not so enamored of history these days – at least, the sort of history taught in schools.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Blogging, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, History | 16 Comments »

    America 3.0, Spotted in India, On An Elephant!

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Our friends Ed and Sushma were spotted recently in India, on elephant-back, reading a copy of America 3.0!

    A close up will confirm the sighting:

    We have not confirmed a rumor that America 3.0 is available at most of the top-quality elephant kiosks in India. We can only hope that the tentacles of Encounter Books‘ marketing operation reach so far.

    Be sure to look at Ed’s excellent blog The John Wilkes Club. (A few words about John Wilkes. And here’s his picture.)

    Posted in America 3.0, Blogging, Book Notes, India | 3 Comments »

    Possible South Florida Meetup, Saturday 28 September

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 25th September 2013 (All posts by )

    La Vallée-de-Jacmel, Haïti


    If all goes well, I will be arriving at MIA on American 1665 from Port-au-Prince at 3:35 PM local time this Saturday. The plan, such as it is, is that I call Jonathan once I am through customs. I somewhat inappropriately made reservations for lodging much closer to FLL, just because I like the place (Villa Europa in Hollywood) and haven’t had the chance to stay there in a while. So anyway, southern Floridians interested in a probable wide-ranging and somewhat ethanol-assisted discussion (#civilsociety #crisisof2020 #statefailure #younameit) are encouraged to contact Jonathan and … figure something out. Hey, I have people for that.

    Posted in Americas, Announcements, Blogging, Civil Society, Latin America, Personal Narrative, Predictions, Schedules, Transportation | 4 Comments »

    The depressing divide in US understanding of reality.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I read left wing blogs most days to see what the other side thinks. I used to comment but the comments were usually deleted, often without notice, so the nasty responses to my comments would be there the next day but the offending comments would not appear.

    The Huffington Post has become a very successful left wing site that advertises itself as moderate. I skim it most days and occasionally comment although my comments are all moderated and I can’t tell if they are deleted or not. I have a few followers so some must appear. Today I went there to see what the left thinks of the Syrian fiasco. The headline was not reassuring. That may change soon but it says “We Have a Deal !” The story follows with a rather naive heading.

    The story has over 14 thousand comments, double the number when I read the story earlier this morning. The story is bad enough.

    A diplomatic breakthrough Saturday on securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile averted the threat of U.S. military action for the moment and could swing momentum toward ending a horrific civil war.

    Marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats at a Geneva hotel produced a sweeping agreement that will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

    The deal involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria’s chemical weapons program and imposing penalties if President Bashar Assad’s government fails to comply will the terms.

    After days of intense day-and-night negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their teams, the two powers announced they had a framework for ridding the world of Syria’s chemicals weapons.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Blogging, Conservatism, Current Events, History, International Affairs, Leftism, Middle East, Obama, Russia, Terrorism | 33 Comments »

    A very small constitutional earthquake

    Posted by Helen on 30th August 2013 (All posts by )

    By now, there can be nobody in the United States who is even remotely interested in foreign affairs who does not know that on Thursday the government in Britain suffered a defeat in the House of Commons with a clearly hostile debate in the House of Lords over the question of whether to intervene militarily in Syria.

    Much has been made that this is the first defeat for a government over matters of war since some imbroglio in the eighteenth century when the Prime Minister was Lord North. The reason is actually simple: the government does not have to go to Parliament over either declaration of war and actual acts of war. These come under the Royal Prerogative, which is now vested in the government of the day and all attempts to change that through legislation have failed. However, Tony Blair found it necessary to ask Parliament (several times) about the war in Iraq and got his authorization. It would have been impossible for David Cameron to do otherwise but his case was quite genuinely not good enough to pass muster.

    I wrote a blog a few days ago, in which I put together some of the questions that, in my opinion, those clamouring for intervention needed to answer. This has not happened to any acceptable degree and even after the vote, those who are hysterically lambasting the MPs refuse to do so, constantly shifting the ground as to why we should intervene.

    Since the vote, which was immediately accepted by the Prime Minister, possibly with secret relief, I became involved in ferocious disputations on the subject. In the end I decided to sum up the situation as I saw it in another, rather long, blog. It is largely about the situation as far as Britain is concerned so it may be of interest to readers of this blog.

    For the record, I do not think this is the end of the Special Relationship, which exists on many more levels than political posturing. As I say in the blog, if it survived Harold Wilson’s premiership, it will survive the Obama presidency. Some things are more important than immediate and confused politicking.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Blogging, Britain, Current Events, Middle East | 16 Comments »

    The Future of Media (?)

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 25th August 2013 (All posts by )

    As I was walking in River North I stopped short after seeing this sign for “Buzz Feed”. If you don’t know the name, they are a very successful internet site (is that what you call it nowadays?) that creates their own content that typically goes “viral” or pushes out existing content. You know, the ones with cats, cute animals, funny GIFS, etc…

    It is strange seeing the physical manifestation of all the time-wasting crap on the web that most of us enjoy from time to time. If you go to their “about” page on their web site (I probably am literally the first person to do this) you can see the usual types of people that you’d expect to run a web site (or mobile content site? I’m not sure what to call it anymore). I looked at their jobs site and didn’t see any open ones in Chicago so I’m not sure what goes on there besides the little plaque.

    Another aggregator is “Gawker Media” that has a bunch of sites (mobile sites?) that we visit a lot especially Deadspin, but also LifeHacker and many others. These sites, like Buzzfeed, are a big challenge to “traditional” media because 1) they sell a lot of advertising 2) they create their own content (or borrow it) 3) they aren’t really journalists (mostly). For instance Deadspin absolutely breaks stories or “piles on” when something happens (like Sandusky in Penn State) but often they just take what’s out there and call it like they see it. Deadspin in particular could care less what journalists / media / companies think of them and they are immensely likable as a result. Gawker too breaks stories like when they had long-term unemployed write in about their plight or Wal-Mart employees started writing in about how miserably that company apparently treats their staff.

    The future of media (?) in my own neighborhood…

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Blogging, Internet | 1 Comment »

    An Essay about Essays

    Posted by David Foster on 20th August 2013 (All posts by )

    …and lots of other things, by the always-interesting Paul Graham. Excerpt:

    People trying to be cool will find themselves at a disadvantage when collecting surprises. To be surprised is to be mistaken. And the essence of cool, as any fourteen year old could tell you, is nil admirari. When you’re mistaken, don’t dwell on it; just act like nothing’s wrong and maybe no one will notice.

    One of the keys to coolness is to avoid situations where inexperience may make you look foolish. If you want to find surprises you should do the opposite. Study lots of different things, because some of the most interesting surprises are unexpected connections between different fields. For example, jam, bacon, pickles, and cheese, which are among the most pleasing of foods, were all originally intended as methods of preservation. And so were books and paintings.

    Whatever you study, include history– but social and economic history, not political history. History seems to me so important that it’s misleading to treat it as a mere field of study. Another way to describe it is all the data we have so far.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Blogging, History, Human Behavior, Lit Crit, Philosophy, Society | 4 Comments »

    Just a Brief Note

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd July 2013 (All posts by )

    I’ve put together some posts from my various archives … Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Arts & Letters, Blegs, Blogging, Book Notes, Diversions, History | 6 Comments »

    Considerations on the N-Word

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The injudicious use of which has led to Paula Deen being booted from the Food Network, never mind that she was speaking under oath, and is a lady of a certain age and of a background where the n-word was … well, I honestly can’t say how current was the use of that word back in Paula Deen’s early days. It’s certainly scattered generously all over 19th century literary works like Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn like chocolate sprinkles on a frosted Krispy Kreme donut, and piled on by the handful in the 20th century oeuvre of rap artists and edgy comedians of color… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Business, Civil Society, Current Events, Diversions, Entrepreneurship, Miscellaneous, Society, Uncategorized, USA | 31 Comments »

    Archive Post: The Shape of Things to Come … And Go

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th June 2013 (All posts by )

    (Just for fun, from out of my NCOBrief archives, an essay from July, 2010.)
    You know, out of all of the things that I was afraid might happen, after the presidential coronation of Obama, the Fresh Prince of Chicago . . . I never considered that race relations might be one of those things which would worsen. Hey – lots of fairly thoughtful and well-intentioned people of pallor voted for him, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, or at least in some expectation of him being a fairly well adjusted and centrist politician, or at least a fast learner. Wasn’t that what all the top pundits, and the mainstream media were insisting, all during the 2008 campaign . . . well, once they got up from their knees and wiped the drool off their chins.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Big Government, Blogging, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Predictions, USA | 3 Comments »

    Google Reader: The End

    Posted by L. C. Rees on 14th March 2013 (All posts by )

    Google will discontinue Reader, their online newsfeed reader for RSS and Atom, on July 1, 2013. Reader users must find a replacement.

    Google is killing Reader as part of a spring cleaning ritual where products with little following are sacrificed:

    We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.

    Finding a Reader replacement is complicated by why Reader’s usage declined: those who used newsfeed readers to follow blogs and other web syndicated content now use “social media” like Facebook, Twitter, or even iTunes. A small minority even use Google Plus, Google’s most recent try at “social media”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Internet, Tech, Tradeoffs | 3 Comments »

    On Blogging Technology

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 10th March 2013 (All posts by )

    I have been working with blogs and blog-like technology for many years. The transformation of the tools in terms of cost, ease of use, and capabilities has been amazing to watch.

    We have blogs on the “blogger” platform run by Google and the “wordpress” platform, which can either be self-hosted or run on the wordpress.com free sites (you get ads in some of your posts, and can pay a bit more to have those ads removed).

    Regardless of the usefulness and / or future of the blogging format, here are some of the advantages that have come up over the last 10 or so years in terms of technology, cost, ease of use, and capabilities:

    1. Cost – the software has always been free from either Blogger (Google) or Word Press (Open Source). However, many people chose to self-host for many reasons, and the cost of hosting has gone down dramatically over the years. The “free” alternatives are also extremely robust
    2. Performance – the performance of the sites have exponentially increased in terms of speed, although it is difficult to quantify the differences in terms of the general increase in overall processing speed (bandwidth) on the part of the consumer as well as the provider, which is also tied to the reduced cost / MB of a high speed connection
    3. Stability – Stability used to be wobbly on some of the sites, particularly from the administrative perspective. We used to have to save our posts all the time in case the site crashed, and fixing items like categories / tags used to be a lot of effort and painstaking. Many of these problems seemed to have gone away or are significantly reduced on the major platforms
    4. Features – Many, many things you’d want a blog to do are built in. Not just the traditional items like links, categories, tags, photos, polls, but also more exotic items like linking to different media and different sorts of geographic data. Advertising is also built in, but since we don’t advertise, I’m not an expert in this, although I assume this is crucial to many people
    5. Coding – you used to need to know some HTML or other languages in order to work effectively with blogs or to deploy the most advanced features, but since many of those capabilities are now built into the tool, this is less important or hardly needed at all
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging | 2 Comments »

    Walter Russell Mead: Channeling America 3.0???

    Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd February 2013 (All posts by )

    3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech: the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th. American politics and institutions are going to change much more rapidly than most pundits and politicos can yet understand.

    Walter Russell Mead

    This quote is uncannily congruent the argument of the forthcoming book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come by Jim Bennett and me.

    Walter Russell Mead’s wicked good blog Via Meadia has many posts which track closely with the arguments Jim and I are making. I am sure all this great material will end up in a forthcoming book by him about the demise of the Blue Model (a term he invented) and what is coming next.

    I am going to shamelessly recycle this: “the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th.” This is a very pithy observation which captures our vision of America 3.0, which of course we cannot really predict with a lot of detail. As Bruce Sterling wisely said:

    Nothing obsolesces like “the future.” Nothing burns out quite so quickly as a high tech avant-garde. Technology doesn’t glide into the streamlined world of tomorrow. It jolts and limps, all crutches and stilts, just like its ancient patron, the god Hephaestos.

    Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years.

    Still, we have to imagine the future, not so we will be correct then, but so we can plan, think, and act now. We also have to imagine the future so we don’t think today’s setbacks, as serious as they may be, are the apocalypse. Everyone reading this will be dead in 100 years, but our descendants will be alive, and they will have in part what we passed on to them. They will see us as living in a patch of history with a label and summed up in a few paragraphs. This is a phase, as is every other period in history.

    I will confidently predict, as Mead does, that the pace of change will be faster than ever before. Moore’s Law will be in force for a long time to come, I hope.

    What is particularly cool about the Mead quote, almost suggesting some kind of brain-meld via the astral plane between Mead and Bennett-Lotus, is the reference to “3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech” — each of these figure prominently in our first Chapter, America in 2040. One muse, three authors?

    If you have not read Mead’s two excellent books Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World and God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World you must do so. Get them soon, so you are done before our book comes out May 28, 2013.

    Cross-posted on America 3.0.

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Blogging, Book Notes, Predictions, USA | 30 Comments »

    Presidents’ Day: Amity Schlaes’ biography of Coolidge

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Very little attention is being paid to the holiday today, except as a traffic annoyance. When I was a child, we still celebrated Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and Washington’s birthday (February 22). Since the holidays were combined and made into a long weekend, like most other American holidays, interest has declined in the subject. It has been for many years the weekend of the Midwinter yacht races in southern California, so I enjoyed it as much as anyone.

    Amity Schlaes’ new biography of Coolidge, which has been delayed for nearly a year from the original date promised, is now out and I have begun reading it. It has also attracted a hostile review in the New York Times by Jacob Heilbrunn author of such profound works as God Bless Bernie Sanders, an encomium on the Socialist Senator from the “people’s republic of Vermont”, as it is known in New Hampshire, and another tiresome attack on Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife.

    Mr Heilbrunn does not seem to be an economist and I am not certain of his qualifications to criticize President Coolidge, other than the obvious invitation by the New York Times.

    James Ceaser, a political scientist at the University of Virginia and a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard, said it was important to revive the “moral stigma” of debt, and added, “I want to go back to Coolidge and even McKinley.” The Claremont fellow Charles Kesler, author of “I Am the Change,” a recent book denouncing President Obama and liberalism, agreed: “We’re in for a Coolidge revival.”

    Indeed we are. Coolidge was a figure of sport in his own era. H. L. Mencken mocked his daily naps — “Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored” — and Dorothy Parker reportedly asked, “How could they tell?” when his death was announced. But such quips have only heightened the determination of a growing contingent of Coolidge buffs to resurrect him. They abhor the progressive tradition among Democrats (Woodrow Wilson) and Republicans (Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover) as hostile to big business and prosperity. Instead, their aim is to spread the austere doctrine of what might be called Republican Calvinism.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Biography, Blogging, Book Notes, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, History, Holidays, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 9 Comments »

    Congratulations!

    Posted by David Foster on 1st January 2013 (All posts by )

    …to NeoNeocon, who is this year’s Grande Conservative Blogress Diva, as determined by Gay Patriot based on the blogosphere voting.

    Congratulation’s also to Neo’s court, consisting of Diva Regent Sarah Hoyt and Diva in Waiting Bookworm.

    These are all excellent bloggers and well worth bookmarking and regularly reading.

    Posted in Blogging, Conservatism, Libertarianism | Comments Off

    That Old Holiday Feeling

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Blondie and I hit Sam’s Club last weekend for some holiday oddities and endities, and as we were heading out to the parking lot, Blondie remarked that everyone seemed rather … subdued. I couldn’t really see that the other customers were any more depressed than usual, wheeling around great trollies piled full of case-lots and mass quantities than any other Sunday, as I am still trying to throw the Cold From Hell – now in it’s third week of making me sound as if I am about to hack up half a lung. But that is just me – good thing I work at home, the commute is a short stagger to my desk, where I do the absolute minimum necessary for the current project, and another stagger back to to bed, take some Tylenol, suck on a cough drop and go back to sleep for several hours. The cats like this program, by the way – a warm human to curl up close to, on these faintly chill December days. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Holidays, Personal Narrative, Politics, War and Peace | 8 Comments »