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    Assorted Links, or, I wish I could think up a better title for this post….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 25th January 2012 (All posts by )

    The US could be almost self-sufficent for energy by 2030, while the EU will be the most vulnerable region for energy security, BP said on Wednesday.
    Growth in shale oil and gas production would mean the US needed few imports, while North America as a whole could be self-sufficient, BP forecast at its Global Energy Outlook 2030.
    BP forecast that Eurasia could also become self-sufficient, based on the prediction that Europe would being a net importer of energy, and the former Soviet Union countries net exporters by a similar amount.
    In practice, this would leave the EU the most vulnerable region for energy security.

    The Telegraph

    Friends, I have no particular knowledge of this subject. If you have anything to add in comments, I’d love to hear it.

    Ah, age. One of the most daring aspects of this novel is that Lively is concerned with the hearts and problems of older characters. Her major players are well past their youth, and a boyish up-and-coming historian (the snake in Lord Henry’s mansion) doesn’t become important until much of the novel has passed. “How much remains when youth is gone?” Lively seems to be asking. And the answer is, “An abundance.” Here middle and old age are times of blossoming identity and possibility, miraculous bursts of sunshine.

    The New York Times on Penelope Lively’s “How it All Began.”

    Even as a twenty-something, I was fascinated with literary representations of middle age. An odd one, that’s me.

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Europe, International Affairs, Middle East, National Security, North America, Predictions | 9 Comments »

    The Idea that Bigness Automatically Wins in Business

    Posted by David Foster on 11th January 2012 (All posts by )

    …still seems to have a remarkable number of adherents.

    Business Insider
    has an interview with a 32-year-old Brit who is cofounder of Huddle, a startup aiming to compete with Microsoft’s SharePoint. While I didn’t read the comment thread, up toward the beginning there are at least 3 comments from people mocking the idea that a startup would be able to succeed against a product which (a)comes from a very large company and (b)is successful and growing.

    Well, let’s see. Up through the early 1980s, IBM’s position in the computer industry looked unassailable…indeed, IBM’s dominance was so complete that the computer industry had often been referred to as “IBM and the Seven Dwarfs.” Who would have guessed that a couple of startups called Intel and Microsoft were about to start grabbing market share from IBM in a big way?

    Up through at least the 1970s, Sears Roebuck & Co. was a colossus of the American retail industry. Who would have guessed that Sears–along with many other large retailers–would have found itself losing out to a bunch of guys from Arkansas?

    The steel industry was long dominated by the giant integrated steel companies, especially Bethlehem Steel and U.S. Steel. Both of these companies went bankrupt–but for smaller and more nimble firms such as Nucor, focused on mini-mills and continuous casting, the story was very different.

    I haven’t looked at Huddle in any depth, and don’t have a considered opinion about their future. But I do know that many SharePoint users are less than happy with the product, and I do know that small and focused companies often have considerable advantages over larger and more complex companies. Sometimes these advantages, intelligently applied, will suffice to dramatically overcome the also-very-real advantages of the larger firm.

    The belief that the-big-guy-always-wins seems surprisingly resistant to historical experience. J K Galbraith, in his book The New Industrial State, asserted that large firms would simply become larger and more vertically-integrated and would control demand through advertising, making themselves fairly unassailable. This was in 1967–in view of the history of the last 45 years, people today have much less excuse for such beliefs that Galbraith did

    Why is the big-guy-wins theory still so widely held?

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Tech | 24 Comments »

    DeLeo’s Deli

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th January 2012 (All posts by )

    When I was a baby troop on my first overseas tour, at Misawa AB in Japan, I had a regular date in the form of a guy that Jenny bequeathed to me. Jenny was my friend simply because we were the only two women in the barracks who worked shifts. She was about to rotate out; her tour was up and she was going home.

    She also added, by way of convincing me to consider him as a regular date, “A nice guy, he’s a gentleman and he’s always good for a meal, he’s Baby Deleo.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Entrepreneurship, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Personal Narrative, Recipes | 17 Comments »

    Wonders in Glass

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th December 2011 (All posts by )

    We have made several interesting discoveries while walking the dogs and exploring the Salado Creek Greenway (which is eventually intended to provide a long, green pocket wilderness park all across suburban San Antonio) but I think the very most interesting was nothing to do with the park at all. A particular stretch of the greenway parallels Holbrook Road; just where the road crosses over Salado Creek, there is a low hill with an enormous Southern mansion sitting on the top, white pillars, galleries, ancient oak trees and all. The mansion is called Victoria’s Black Swan Inn; now it’s a wedding and event venue, but originally it was a private home, built just after the Civil War, and on the site of the 1842 Salado Creek Fight. They say it is one of the most haunted places in the United States – which it might very well be – but that’s not the discovery that my daughter and I made.
    That would be what is around in back of the Black Swan; when we noticed a long graveled driveway at the side of the property, and a little sign that said “Glass Studio.”

    My mother has tinkered with making stained glass for years, even attempting to teach my daughter some skills in that direction, so we both have an appreciation for it. My daughter said, “Let’s go and see?” so we wandered up the hill, past some extremely eccentric and enormous wind chimes hanging from trees … which seemed to lead nowhere but into a tangle of sheds, aging automobiles and assorted intriguing junk – pretty much your basic funky rural collection on stereoids.

    At the top of the hill, the driveway curved around, underneath a tall pecan tree and a huge old wooden water-tank elevated on tall posts – and there was the glass studio, housed in a tidy little shed about the size of a suburban bedroom and spilling over onto a couple of tables and an outside wall, in the back-forty of the Black Swan. Mr. Howard Redman the glass artist was there, as he usually is on weekends, and was happy enough to show us his glass creations, his workspace, and his scrapbooks of previous commissions and projects, allowing us to tromp through it all with the dogs and poke into just about everything.

    It’s a darned odd place to find a glass gallery, let me tell you: his work is substantial, beautifully done, colorful – everything from fused ‘jewels’ made of four separate layers of glass, to bowls on metal stands, platters, replica Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright style lamp-shades, hanging window panels and odd little tschockes – sun-catchers, votive candle holders and paperweights. But Howard Redmond is in his eighties, and this is semi-retirement and he can do as he damn well pleases, after a whole career working in specialty glass. I looked at some of the panels in his scrapbooks – and oh, my; original installations eight feet square, with four of five thousand individual pieces; that is some serious window-glazing, let me tell you.

    Much of his professional work was done in Chicago, over the last thirty or forty years; I think his output now is more for fun, although he had many of his pieces in local galleries, and he does the occasional craft show. And nope, doesn’t even have a website, or an email address. Either catch him at a one of those shows, or come to San Antonio and search out the Black Swan Inn. Up to the top of the graveled drive, and around past the 1940s ambulance, the rusting restaurant stove, and the fallen-down bottle tree; next to a tall pecan tree and an old wooden water-tank on stilts: He’ll be at work in the little shed under the tree, with two rows of glass platters adorning the side.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Chicagoania, Entrepreneurship, Personal Narrative, Photos, Style | 8 Comments »

    America 3.0 [bumped]

    Posted by Lexington Green on 4th December 2011 (All posts by )

    James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and Michael J. Lotus (who blogs at as “Lexington Green”), are proud to announce the signing of a contract with Encounter Books of New York to publish their forthcoming book America 3.0.

    America 3.0 gives readers the real historical foundations of our liberty, free enterprise, and family life.  Based on a new understanding of our past, and on little known modern scholarship, America 3.0 offers long-term strategies to restore and strengthen American liberty, prosperity and security in the years ahead.

    America 3.0 shows that our country was founded as a decentralized federation of communities, dominated by landowner-farmers, and based on a unique type of Anglo-American nuclear family.  This was America 1.0, as the Founders established it.  The Industrial Revolution brought progress, opportunity and undreamed-of mobility.  But, it also pushed the majority of American families into a new, urban, industrial life along with millions of unassimilated immigrants. After the Civil War, new problems of public health, crime, public order, and labor unrest, on top of the issues of Reconstruction, taxed the old Constitution.  Americans looked for new solutions to new problems, giving rise to Progressivism, the ancestor of modern liberalism.

    America 3.0 shows that liberal-progressive solutions to the challenges of America 2.0 relieved some problems, and kicked others down the road.  But they also led to an overly powerful state and to an overly intrusive bureaucracy.  This was the beginning of America 2.0, the America we grew up with, which dominated the Twentieth Century.

    America 3.0 argues that the liberal-progressive or “Blue State” social model has reached its natural limits.  Even as it continues to try to expand, it is now dying out before our eyes.   We are  now living in the closing years of the 20th Century “legacy state.”  Even so, it has taken the shock of the current Great Recession to make people see the need for change.  As a result, more and more Americans are calling for a return to our founding principles.  Freedom and individualism are on the rise after a century-long detour.

    America 3.0 shows that our current problems can be and must be transcended with a transition to a new America 3.0, based on modern technology, decentralized communities, and self-reliant families, and a reassertion of fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government and free market economics.   Ironically the future America 3.0 will in many ways be closer to the original vision of the Founders than the fading America 2.0.

    America 3.0 gives readers an accurate, and hopeful, assessment of our current crisis.  It also spotlights the powerful forces arrayed in opposition to the needed reform.  These groups include ideological leftists in media and the academy, politically connected businesses, and the public employees unions.  However, as powerful as these groups are, they have become vulnerable as the external conditions change.  A correct understanding of our history and culture, which America 3.0 provides, shows their opposition will be futile.  The new, pro-freedom, mass political movement, which is aligned with the true needs and desires of Americans, is going to succeed.

    America 3.0 provides readers a program of specific “maximalist” proposals to reform our government and liberate our economy.  America 3.0 shows readers that these reforms are consistent with our fundamental culture, and with our Constitution, and will make Americans freer and more prosperous in the years ahead.

    America 3.0 provides a “software upgrade” for the Tea Party and for all activists on the Conservative and Libertarian Right.  It provides readers with historical evidence and intellectual coherence, to channel the energy and enthusiasm of the rising mass political movement to renew America.

    America 3.0 shows that our capacity for regeneration is greater than most people realize.  Predictions of our doom are deeply mistaken.  We are now living just before the dawn of America’s greatest days.  Within a generation, positive changes beyond what we can currently imagine will have taken place.  That is the America 3.0 we are going to build together.

    (Cross-posted from the America 3.0 blog.)

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Announcements, Arts & Letters, Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, History, International Affairs, Politics, Predictions, Public Finance, Real Estate, RKBA, Science, Society, Taxes, Tea Party, Tech, Transportation, Urban Issues, USA | 18 Comments »

    Jim Bennett on Steve Jobs

    Posted by Lexington Green on 6th October 2011 (All posts by )

    Good piece by Jim about Steve Jobs, and what kind of entrepreneur he was, entitled “Hitting the Sweet Spot.”

    The intro:

    There are, fundamentally, two subspecies of entrepreneur. One starts from the present, and visualizes the next logical step from where things are now. This type figures out how to make something better, cheaper, or more widely available, and manages to clear the financial, regulatory, and market barriers to getting it into the marketplace. The other visualizes a different world, one in which things are different and better from the way they are now, and then figures out what path of evolution brings us to that world, and, as the last step, what is the least ambitious step possible that will move things toward that goal.
    Steve Jobs was one of the latter group, and one of the most successful of his time.

    Do, please, RTWT.

    Posted in Biography, Entrepreneurship, Obits, Tech, USA | 2 Comments »

    On Being a Real Arthur

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th August 2011 (All posts by )

    That expression became something of a family joke, as I came around, by easy steps, from being a teller of tall tales, an intermittent scribbler, an unrepentant essayist, a fairly dedicated blogger … to being – as my daughter put it – a real arthur. Yes, a “real arthur” in that I have a number of books, ranging free in the wilderness of the book-reading public. Not that I am in any danger of buying the castle next-door to J.K. Rowlings’, and my royalty checks and payments for consignments and direct sales dribble in but slowly. Slowly, but steadily, which is gratifying. Readers are buying my books, as they find out about them in various ways; through internet searches, through word of mouth, and the odd book club meeting, casual conversation and interviews on blogs and internet radio stations. It has been my peculiar good fortune to have come about to being “a real arthur” just when the established order of things literary was being shaken to the foundations, so I did not waste very much time fighting it and trying to smuggle my books past the toothless old dragons of the literary-industrial complex, defending the crumbling castle of Things That Once Were. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Business, Entrepreneurship | 8 Comments »

    Things That Make You Start to Laugh, Uncontrollably

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th August 2011 (All posts by )

    So there we were on Monday, sharpening up our awareness of odd things one might pick up at a yard sale or a thrift store for fifty cents or a dollar and which might later turn out to be worth a small or medium-sized fortune, by watching Antiques Road Show (US version) when this particular item was spotlighted for an appraisal.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Entrepreneurship, History, Humor, USA | 10 Comments »

    Quote of the Day: John Robb

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Global transition points like this are so rare, it’s a great time to be alive.

    John Robb

    Right on. Yes. Yes.

    More of this type of thinking, please.

    If I could live at any time in history it would be now.

    (If you are not a regular reader of Mr. Robb’s Global Guerrillas, get that way.)

    (Also check out Mr. Robb’s way cool new Wiki MiiU, which is all about resilience. I eagerly await his book on resilient communities.)

    (Here is an xcellent John Robb talk about open source ventures, but full disclosure, a lot of it sailed over my head.)

    (And if you have not read his book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, go get it.)

    Friends, please let me know in the comments, on a scale of 1 to 5, strongly disagree to strongly agree, how you respond to this quote. Put me down as a 5, obviously enough.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Business, China, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Education, Elections, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, History, International Affairs, Internet, Libertarianism, Management, Markets and Trading, Media, Medicine, Military Affairs, National Security, Personal Finance, Political Philosophy, Politics, Predictions, Quotations, Science, Society, Space, Taxes, Tea Party, Tech, USA, War and Peace | 21 Comments »

    Energy, oil supply disruptions, and terrorism. The whole of it….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 13th August 2011 (All posts by )

    AQ has enjoyed mixed success with maritime terror plots, with a notable exception being the October 2000 attack on USS Cole in Aden Harbor which killed seventeen US Navy Sailors. The desire of AQ’s senior leadership to disrupt global oil movement persists though, as revealed in the documents and media recovered from the assault on UBL’s compound. But does AQ have a more coherent maritime strategy? Some historical perspective is helpful in understanding the role of seapower in AQ’s planning and operations.

    Al Qaeda’s Seapower Strategy by Chris Rawley, Small Wars Journal

    Despite its oil wealth, Saudi Arabia faces severe, long-term domestic energy shortages that it plans to address through the development of nuclear power. President George W. Bush agreed in 2008 to help the Saudis do this, and in the past two years the kingdom has reached nuclear consulting agreements with several countries. Now news reports that Saudi Arabia is preparing to begin negotiations with the United States on a formal nuclear cooperation treaty have predictably touched off speculation about the Kingdom’s true intentions and about whether commercial nuclear energy could become a pathway to the development of nuclear weapons. It is widely believed among policymakers and strategic analysts in Washington and in many Middle Eastern capitals that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will feel compelled to do the same — a belief that was reinforced when King Abdullah, in a WikiLeaks cable, was reported to have told American officials this outcome would be inevitable.

    Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Policy by Thomas W. Lippman, Saudi-US Relations Information Service

    The following C-SPAN simulation is fascinating:

    Former White House officials, senior retired military officers, and a former oil executive participated in a simulated disruption of the global oil supply. They portrayed members of the president’s cabinet, giving recommendations about how to deal with an attack on a major Saudi oil field.

    Global Oil Disruption Simulation, C-SPAN

    Update: “How Merkel Decided to End Nuclear Power,” Judy Dempsey (New York Times) via SWJ Twitter feed. “Another factor is the likelihood that Germany, which already gets more than one third of its natural gas from Russia, will grow more dependent.”

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Terrorism | 4 Comments »

    An excellent method for wholesale job creation (please note the slight sarcasm)

    Posted by onparkstreet on 9th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Instapundit linked to this Walter Russell Mead blog post, leading me to stumble across the following item (from the Chicago Journal):

    The project has had a tumultuous ride to get to this point, Fioretti said. Lease negotiations between Costco and the Illinois Medical District (a state-controlled body that owns the Costco site) were rocky, but a deal was reached earlier this year.
    “When negotiations began in earnest, the medical district wanted to make 982 changes to the lease — and I called the governor to intervene on it,” Fioretti said. “The governor’s office was very eager to assist. They understood what it meant to have almost 250 permanent jobs.”

    Yes, you read that correctly. Go ahead: rub your eyes, read it again, do a Looney Tunes or Bugs Bunny-like double take, and then read it a third time. THIS is why some of us were so deeply skeptical about transporting greater Chicagoland and Illinoisian, er, “political concepts” to DC, however well-meaning….

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Tea Party | Comments Off

    Bernie Marcus on the Administration and the Economy

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd July 2011 (All posts by )

    Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, talking to Investors Business Daily about the dismal state of the economy, was asked by the interviewer what advice he would give Obama about job creation. His response:

    I’m not sure Obama would understand anything that I’d say, because he’s never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn’t know how to make a payroll, he doesn’t understand the problems businesses face. I would try to explain that the plight of the businessman is very reactive to Washington. As Washington piles on regulations and mandates, the impact is tremendous. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I just think he has no knowledge of this.

    When asked “why don’t more businesses speak out,” Marcus responded:

    They are frightened to death — frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them. In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration.

    The above two statements do not, IMO, go very well together. A president who establishes a climate of intimidation directed against American citizens is certainly not a good guy.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Politics, USA | 12 Comments »

    Neville Shute Norway.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st July 2011 (All posts by )

    One of my favorite novelists is Neville Shute. He was an engineer, as was I, plus he writes about people with an ability to show their humanity and their deeper motivations without a lot of explanation. He is the engineer’s novelist, the businessman’s novelist and should be on every list of conservative novelists. I have read all his post-war novels, most of his wartime novels and a selection of his pre-war novels. He died in 1960 and all his books are still in print.

    I was a college student when “On the Beach,” possibly his most famous novel, came out. It scared me so badly that I have not been able to enjoy rereading it, as I have his other books. I was a college sophomore and familiar with his other work at the time. I had read his aviation novel, “No Highway,” and was aware that the plot device in that book, of metal fatigue causing a new airplane to crash without explanation, had been prophetic. Shortly after “No Highway” had come out, the British Comet jet airliners had begun to crash and, when finally identified, the cause was metal fatigue.

    Shute had written another prophetic novel in the late 1930s, called “Ordeal,” which predicted the effects of the Blitz on London. Both of these books, with their predictions borne out by history, caused me to be very shaken by “On the Beach.” A rather successful movie was later made from this novel, which Shute hated because it had suggested that the two principle characters, played by Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, had slept together while he believed it important to establish their morality, even when doomed.

    I very nearly dropped out of school after that book and spent a year or two getting over the idea that I would soon be fried in a nuclear war. My reaction was based as much on my regard for his novels as for the topic, itself. A quite good movie was made from “No Highway” with James Stewart, Glynnis Johns, and Marlena Dietrich.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, Big Government, Book Notes, Britain, Business, Conservatism, Entrepreneurship, Islam, Middle East | 18 Comments »

    Why I like Coolidge and why we are not recovering.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 3rd June 2011 (All posts by )

    I spent the past six months reading about Calvin Coolidge. I was interested in why the 1920s were a period of great prosperity and why the severe recession/ depression of 1920-1921 was so short. At its peak, there was 25% unemployment. Gross domestic product dropped by 6.9% in one report.

    The recession of 1920–21 was characterized by extreme deflation — the largest one-year percentage decline in around 140 years of data.[2] The Department of Commerce estimates 18% deflation, Balke and Gordon estimate 13% deflation, and Romer estimates 14.8% deflation. The drop in wholesale prices was even more severe, falling by 36.8%, the most severe drop since the American Revolutionary War. This is worse than any year during the Great Depression (adding all the years of the Great Depression together, however, yields more severe deflation). The deflation of 1920–21 was extreme in absolute terms, and also unusually extreme given the relatively small decline in gross domestic product.[2]

    The Harding-Coolidge administration took office in March 1921 and the recession was over in months. Why ? Governments were smaller then and had less influence on the economy. The Wilson Administration has been widely described as the equivalent of a fascist regime with its war time controls and economic meddling. Again from the Wikipedia article:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Coolidge, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, History, Obama, Politics, Public Finance | 20 Comments »

    Who Needs Infrastructure? (II)

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 16th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Commenters on the earlier post having raised several good points, I decided to write a follow-up rather than attempt to provide individual responses.

    I should first say something general about technological advance and prediction horizons. Due to the immense effects of nanomachinery, as hazardous as near-future speculation may be, it becomes extraordinarily difficult more than about 20 years out. What interests me in this context is what can be done with “bulk technology” before the transition to nanotech, and how many of the developments forecast by Drexler et al may occur relatively gradually and in unlikely places, rather than swiftly and obviously emanating from North America or some other high-technology region. Jim notes the potential of the combination of desktop fabricators and satellite links. I believe that few people on Earth will see more change in the next generation than young Haitians.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Tech, USA | 7 Comments »

    Who Needs Infrastructure?

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 13th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Last month I went to Haiti to help out with an IT project in Petit-Goâve, a medium-sized town about seventy kilometers west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, on the northern shore of the Tiburon Peninsula, opposite Île de la Gonâve on the Canal de Sud. The project’s objective is to create, or rather restore, a computer lab at “College” Harry Brakeman (actually a primary and secondary school, hereafter “CHB”), and provide greatly improved internet access, via wireless links, at five sites (including CHB) in Petit-Goâve owned by L’Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH). The epicenter of one of the larger aftershocks of the January 2010 earthquake was directly beneath Petit-Goâve.

    Numerous ongoing projects for the EMH throughout Haiti are being funded by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and staffed by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), but my personal involvement is not occurring as a result of direct involvement with any of those organizations. I have for many years been attending an informal Friday lunch group that for the past decade or so has included Clif Guy, who is the CIO of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, generally known as “COR” throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, in which it is by several measures the largest single church – big enough to have its own IT department (larger than most church staffs altogether) and a CIO.

    In mid-January I returned from a solitary and somewhat monastic sojourn in New Mexico and the trans-Pecos region of Texas to 1) get back to work at Sprint; 2) bury my just-deceased 18-year-old cat; and 3) talk to Clif about opportunities in Haiti, which he had mentioned several times over the previous year. Two months of frantic preparation later, which included among many other tasks the filling out of a “Mission Trip Notification of Death” to specify the disposition of my corpse, I was landing at Toussaint Louverture International Airport.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, History, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Religion, Tech, Transportation, USA | 8 Comments »

    “What Bono doesn’t say about Africa”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 6th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Celebrities like to portray it as a basket case, but they ignore very real progress.

    William Easterly in the LA Times (Op-Ed from 2007.)

    The real Africa needs increased trade from the West more than it needs more aid handouts. A respected Ugandan journalist, Andrew Mwenda, made this point at a recent African conference despite the fact that the world’s most famous celebrity activist — Bono — was attempting to shout him down. Mwenda was suffering from too much reality for Bono’s taste: “What man or nation has ever become rich by holding out a begging bowl?” asked Mwenda.
    Perhaps Bono was grouchy because his celebrity-laden “Red” campaign to promote Western brands to finance begging bowls for Africa has spent $100 million on marketing and generated sales of only $18 million, according to a recent report. But the fact remains that the West shows a lot more interest in begging bowls than in, say, letting African cotton growers compete fairly in Western markets (see the recent collapse of world trade talks).
    Today, as I sip my Rwandan gourmet coffee and wear my Nigerian shirt here in New York, and as European men eat fresh Ghanaian pineapple for breakfast and bring Kenyan flowers home to their wives, I wonder what it will take for Western consumers to learn even more about the products of self-sufficient, hardworking, dignified Africans. Perhaps they should spend less time consuming Africa disaster stereotypes from television and Vanity Fair.

    The excerpt came up (I brought it up) in this comments thread at Small Wars Journal.

    Another commenter, Jason Thomas, made the following interesting comment in the same thread:

    ….A locally driven solution is so important. However, we have created a national government that reflects the deep seated nepotism and corruption endemic at the local level. But the local people dont feel like they are being led by example. How many local Afghas know who their national Member of Parliament is compared to their unelected Governor and District Governor. [sic]
    Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., astutely pointed out in his 1977 biography of Robert Kennedy, the notion that reforms can be carried out in a wartime situation by a beleaguered regime is “the fatal fallacy in the liberal theory of counterinsurgency, with the United States so often obliged to work through repressive local leadership, the reform component dwindled into ineffectual exhortation.”

    Posted in Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Markets and Trading, Quotations | 4 Comments »

    Nothing Is Inevitable

    Posted by onparkstreet on 27th February 2011 (All posts by )

    Neither rise nor decline. Pay attention, American-declinist intelligentsia of various stripes:

    Is 2011 the year that the India story—carefully buffed for the better part of a decade by boosters and dispassionate observers alike—begins to lose its sheen? If foreign investors are a bellwether, then the answer may well be yes.
    In January, foreign institutional investors, driven in part by high inflation and the sluggish pace of economic reforms, pulled $900 million out of India’s stock markets. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, foreign direct investment in India plunged 32% last year to $24 billion, making it Asia’s only large economy to suffer a decline in that period. (China attracted more than four times as much FDI as India in 2010.) A recent survey of 89 fund managers by Morgan Stanley showed that only a quarter of buy-side investors believe that India will beat other emerging markets this year, the glummest outlook in two years.

    Sadanand Dhume, WSJ-Asia (via the AEI Enterprise blog.)

    America wastes no talent
    Conventional wisdom holds that America’s global competitiveness is driven by geniuses flocking to its shores and producing breathtaking inventions. But America’s real genius lies not in tapping just genius — but every scrap of talent up and down the scale.

    Shikha Dalmia, the Daily (via HotAir.)

    My father likes to make the same point (“America finds a way to use everybody.”) Some immigrants pay attention, you know. Sometimes better than certain intelligentsia.

    Some time back Lexington Green asked, musingly, what exactly drew us all to this corner of the blogosphere known as ChicagoBoyz?

    One underlying theme, in my opinion, is how hard it is to create and sustain a prosperous, safe society. Rule of law, a sound moral grounding, a good quality educational system, scientific study, a well-trained and funded military, proper planning and understanding of various logistics, a keen sense of what is possible and what is not, and so on. Wealth, beauty, comfort, kindness, and, well, “goodnesses” of all sorts don’t just happen. It takes effort. It takes thought. It takes understanding.

    It takes a lot of hard work. Nothing is inevitable. Neither rise nor decline. We Americans have many advantages. We should cultivate them.

    Posted in Americas, Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior | 5 Comments »

    The Right to Earn a Living: A Revolutionary Idea in Tunisia and America

    Posted by David McFadden on 24th February 2011 (All posts by )

    Revolution against tyranny has blazed across North Africa and Arabia, as President George W. Bush envisioned in his idealistic second inaugural address. The conflagration was lit on December 17, 2010 by Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, who had been denied a license to sell fruits and vegetables from his cart because he didn’t pay a bribe. A policewoman confiscated his vegetable cart and his wares. He was beaten when he protested, and on December 17 the humiliated young man set himself on fire. He died a few weeks later. Contagious demonstrations in Tunisia quickly followed the fateful denial of Mr. Bouazizi’s liberty.

    The liberty whose denial inspired the overthrow of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and, with any luck, Libya was economic liberty, or the right to earn a living. Although that liberty was obviously important to Mr. Bouazizi, the left regards economic liberty, to the extent it regards it as a liberty at all, as a lower order of liberty.

    So do the federal courts. Economic regulations get minimal scrutiny under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution. The Takings Clause and the Contract Clause, which were intended to protect property rights and contract rights, have been enfeebled by the Supreme Court.

    The division between economic liberties and other liberties is not one the Founders of this republic would have understood. Our revolution too was provoked by economic depredations. The interrelation of liberties is hard to miss. Free speech is much more difficult to exercise effectively without property that individuals rather than governments control.

    State and local governments do most of the suppressing of the right to earn a living and the confiscating of vegetable carts in the United States. Conservatives who believe in federalism should be careful not to romanticize the states. From the perspective of an entrepreneur, another layer of regulation is no more felicitous merely because it emanated from a state capital.

    States require licenses for all manner of innocuous occupations. Although consumer protection is the usual excuse, little is accomplished by occupational licensing beyond preventing people from getting a start or a new start in life and restricting the supply and increasing the cost of a given type of professional.

    The District of Columbia, which unfortunately for its residents possesses home rule powers, recently decided to require wildlife control operators (people who trap varmints infesting houses) to be licensed. As is often the case with occupational licenses, wildlife control operators will have to take a class, pass an exam, and pay a fee. But in addition, the legislation eccentrically requires licensed wildlife control operators to capture and remove animals in ways that aren’t lethal, painful, or even “stressful” for the animal.

    While states are the primary malefactors when it comes to occupational licensing, the Obama administration, of course, would not want to miss out completely on a means of controlling economic activity. And so the Internal Revenue Service has recently adopted regulations requiring tax return preparers who aren’t lawyers or CPAs to obtain a tax preparer identification number and to pay a user fee. The IRS intends to require competency testing and continuing education of tax return preparers.

    On a larger scale of licensing, the Obama administration has capriciously denied permits to businesses that want to produce energy. Last month the Environmental Protection Agency vetoed a water permit that the Army Corps of Engineers had granted to a West Virginia coal mine in 2007 after nearly a decade of study.

    The administration has imposed a series of unlawful moratoria on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Companies servicing offshore oil and gas drilling argued before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a fiery intellectual, that the first moratorium violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it was arbitrary and capricious. Writing that he was “unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the [government’s] findings and the immense scope of the moratorium,” Judge Feldman issued a preliminary injunction against the moratorium.

    The Interior Department quickly issued another moratorium, which it withdrew in October. Since then, the administration has imposed a de facto moratorium by not granting any permits for deepwater drilling in the Gulf. Finding those evasions to be in contempt of his preliminary injunction, Judge Feldman ordered the government to pay the companies’ attorneys’ fees. And last week he ordered the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to act on five pending permit applications within thirty days, saying that the “permitting backlog is increasingly inexcusable.” So far, neither the court’s order nor soaring oil prices have awakened the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

    Perhaps the ardor for freedom will circle back from the Middle East to the United States without any unemployed miners or offshoremen having to set themselves afire.

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Liberties, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Law, Middle East | 3 Comments »

    Does anybody in Chicago use Direct TV ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th January 2011 (All posts by )

    I live in the mountains east and north of Los Angeles. Last summer, when I bought my house, I ordered Direct TV for television service as the cable company wouldn’t even schedule an installation until the escrow closed. I had no complaints about the TV service until the first snowfall. I had no service for two days. I called Direct TV and was told that snow interferes with the signal (duh !) and there was nothing I could do. I had a satellite dish in New Hampshire in 1994 and 95 and never had this problem. The next time it happened I called and finally got to a technical advisor who told me there was such a thing as a dish heater but Direct TV had nothing to do with them. He did give the URL of several web sites where I could get more information. I found that I would have to install the heater myself and the dish is nearly 20 feet above my upper deck.

    Last weekend, when we had more snow, Cindy was atop a seven foot ladder trying to reach the dish with a broom but with no luck. The angle of the dish, which catches more snow, makes it impossible to brush the dish off. It seems to be a pretty common problem and one would think that Direct TV would anticipate these problems in areas with substantial snowfall. Maybe they could supply the dish heaters as an option, especially when the dish is mounted so high. Then the technician could install both. The new dishes also seem to be of a deeper chord and the location may determine the angle of elevation to the satellite. New Hampshire is a higher latitude, as is Chicago, and that dish seemed to be flatter in my recollection.

    Does anybody in Greater Chicago use these dishes and do they have problems like this ? I got nowhere with them, and am not about to try to install a heater on the dish, so I finally canceled and will have to pay a substantial early cancellation charge.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Science, Video | 12 Comments »

    The crisis of the intellectual

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 11th December 2010 (All posts by )

    I was directed to an excellent post by Walter Russell Mead today. It is on the subject of the American social model and the coming era of tumultuous social unrest as the old welfare state model collapses. Europe is already seeing this collapse as nations like Greece face bankruptcy and England deals with the consequences of severe cutbacks in social spending to avoid it.

    The US is facing similar economic consequences if the level of spending is not addressed soon. The 2010 elections show that the people recognize the crisis but the “political class” seems less concerned.

    “It’s telling to note that while 65% of mainstream voters believe cutting spending is more important, 72% of the Political Class say the primary emphasis should be on deficit reduction,” Rasmussen said.

    “Deficit reduction” is code for raising taxes. Spending is heavily embedded in the culture of the political class.

    Mead is concerned that the intellectual demographic, those with advanced degrees and careers denominated by thinking rather than doing, is unable to cope with the new situation.

    There’s a lot of work ahead to enable the United States to meet the coming challenges. I’m reasonably confident that we remain the best placed large society on earth to make the right moves. Our culture of enterprise and risk-taking is still strong; a critical mass of Americans still have the values and the characteristics that helped us overcome the challenges of the last two hundred years.

    But when I look at the problems we face, I worry. It’s not just that some of our cultural strengths are eroding as both the financial and intellectual elites rush to shed many of the values that made the country great. And it’s not the deficit: we can and will deal with that if we get our policies and politics right. And it’s certainly not the international competition: our geopolitical advantages remain overwhelming and China, India and the EU all face challenges even more daunting than ours and they lack our long tradition of successful, radical but peaceful reform and renewal.

    No, what worries me most today is the state of the people who should be the natural leaders of the next American transformation: our intellectuals and professionals. Not all of them, I hasten to say: the United States is still rich in great scholars and daring thinkers. A few of them even blog.

    His concern is that the intellectuals seem caught in a mind set that goes back to the 19th century and the Progressive Era.

    Since the late nineteenth century most intellectuals have identified progress with the advance of the bureaucratic, redistributionist and administrative state. The government, guided by credentialed intellectuals with scientific training and values, would lead society through the economic and political perils of the day. An ever more powerful state would play an ever larger role in achieving ever greater degrees of affluence and stability for the population at large, redistributing wealth to provide basic sustenance and justice to the poor. The social mission of intellectuals was to build political support for the development of the new order, to provide enlightened guidance based on rational and scientific thought to policymakers, to administer the state through a merit based civil service, and to train new generations of managers and administrators.

    It’s interesting that one of the comments, a lengthy one, exactly restates this issue but supports this model and argues with Mead that it is still superior.

    Second, there are the related questions of interest and class. Most intellectuals today still live in a guild economy. The learned professions – lawyers, doctors, university professors, the clergy of most mainline denominations, and (aspirationally anyway) school teachers and journalists – are organized in modern day versions of the medieval guilds. Membership in the guilds is restricted, and the self-regulated guilds do their best to uphold an ideal of service and fairness and also to defend the economic interests of the members. The culture and structure of the learned professions shape the world view of most American intellectuals today, but high on the list of necessary changes our society must make is the restructuring and in many cases the destruction of the guilds. Just as the industrial revolution broke up the manufacturing guilds, the information revolution today is breaking up the knowledge guilds.

    He goes on to criticize medicine as a guild but I think he is unaware of the rapid changes going on in medicine today. The image of the family GP is quickly shifting to the multispecialty group with primary care provided by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Those who want a personal relationship with a primary care physician, or even a favored specialist, will increasingly be required to pay cash for the privilege as many doctors who want to continue this model of practice are dropping out of insurance and Medicare contracts because of the micromanagement and poor reimbursement.

    In most of our learned professions and knowledge guilds today, promotion is linked to the needs and aspirations of the guild rather than to society at large. Promotion in the academy is almost universally linked to the production of ever more specialized, theory-rich (and, outside the natural sciences, too often application-poor) texts, pulling the discourse in one discipline after another into increasingly self-referential black holes. We suffer from ‘runaway guilds’: costs skyrocket in medicine, the civil service, education and the law in part because the imperatives of the guilds and the interests of their members too often triumph over the needs and interests of the wider society.

    Almost everywhere one looks in American intellectual institutions there is a hypertrophy of the theoretical, galloping credentialism and a withering of the real. In literature, critics and theoreticians erect increasingly complex structures of interpretation and reflection – while the general audience for good literature diminishes from year to year. We are moving towards a society in which a tiny but very well credentialed minority obsessively produces arcane and self referential (but carefully peer reviewed) theory about texts that nobody reads.

    Once again, costs in medicine are a subject by themselves but the solution does not lie in controlling doctors’ incomes. With respect to the academic institutions, I have personal experience here and will describe some of it. The Humanities have been hollowed out by a trend to both politicize and to leave the subject behind as “critical thinking” goes on to analysis that has little to do with it. The Sokol Hoax is but one example.

    The Sokal affair (also known as Sokal’s hoax) was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the magazine’s intellectual rigor and, specifically, to learn if such a journal would “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if it (a) sounded good and (b) flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”[1]

    The hoax precipitated a furor but did not result in much improvement in such publications. My daughter had personal experience when her freshman courses in English Composition and American History Since 1877 both contained numerous examples of political and “social justice” alteration of the subject matter. For example, she was taught that the pioneers in the west survived by “learning to live like the Native Americans.” The fact is that the pioneers were mostly farmers and ranchers and the Native American tribes of the southwest were hunter gatherer societies who did not use agriculture or animal husbandry. She was also taught that the “Silent Majority” of the 1960s were white people who rejected the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus they were racists. Even Wikipedia, no conservative source, disagrees:

    The term was popularized (though not first used) by U.S. President Richard Nixon in a November 3, 1969, speech in which he said, “And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.”[1] In this usage it referred to those Americans who did not join in the large demonstrations against the Vietnam War at the time, who did not join in the counterculture, and who did not participate in public discourse. Nixon along with many others saw this group as being overshadowed in the media by the more vocal minority.

    She has since transferred to another college.

    The foundational assumptions of American intellectuals as a group are firmly based on the assumptions of the progressive state and the Blue Social Model. Those who run our government agencies, our universities, our foundations, our mainstream media outlets and other key institutions cannot at this point look the future in the face. The world is moving in ways so opposed to their most hallowed assumptions that they simply cannot make sense of it. They resist blindly and uncreatively and, unable to appreciate the extraordinary prospects for human liberation that this change can bring, they are incapable of creative and innovative response.

    I think this is the source of the “media bias” so prominently referred to by the Right and by many who are not politically focused. This is why talk radio and Fox News have been such huge successes to the consternation of the political class and their supporters. Charles Krauthammer famously said, “Rupert Murdoch (owner of Fox News) found a niche market that contained 50% of the population.”

    The Tea Parties are another manifestation of the frustration of the general population with the political class but also with the intellectual class that seems to be wedded to the first. The university community is, at least in the non-science segment of it, increasingly isolated from the concerns of the society that supports them. CalTech has for many years had a Humanities program to expose science and engineering students to culture. Unfortunately, a student in a large university will find much less culture and much more politics in Humanities departments these days.

    A couple of other blog posts are worth reading on this subject. One is here and the other is here. They are both worth reading in full.

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Big Government, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, Libertarianism, Medicine, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society | 14 Comments »

    The Left and conspiracy theories

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 5th December 2010 (All posts by )

    Cross posted on my own blog

    Fifty years ago, a book was written about political conspiracy theories. It was called “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” It was written in 1964 and has been a staple of the left ever since. Its theme was the paranoia of the political right that was looking for communists in the State Department and harassing Hollywood actors and writers. It was specifically directed at Senator Barry Goldwater who was the Republican nominee that year. It is still in print with new material contributed by Sean Wilentz, an Obama supporter and leftist professor of history.

    It has been an article of faith on the left that conservatives are paranoid about such subjects as communists (Although defenders of Alger Hiss were disappointed to find him in Soviet archives as a spy) and foreign threats like the Soviet Union and militant Islam. The left now says that they knew all along that the USSR would collapse and Reagan had nothing to do with it. Fortunately for them, You Tube was not around in those days to record speeches to the contrary. The threat of militant Islam is the latest example of a threat dismissed by the left. President Obama has embodied this concept in his “reaching out” to Iran and Syria. Nancy Pelosi even conducted her own diplomacy while Bush was president by visiting Syria to convince them we were a friend. The left does not seem to be discouraged by failure to respond.

    Recently, especially since Obama has been president, the conspiracy forces seem to be stronger on the left. The “9/11 truthers” are represented even in the administration. Jones, of course, was too nutty to represent a serious threat but it is suggestive.

    Jones’s genius as an ideological entrepreneur was to mine white liberal anxiety — they are quite aware of their own NIMBY hypocrisy — by selling them the “green jobs” shtick to reconcile class/racial guilt with environmental enthusiasm, thus making them feel better about themselves.

    That’s why Jones rose so far. That’s why he was such a “progressive” star. That’s why, as top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett put it, “we’ve been watching him” and were so eager to recruit him to the White House.

    In the White House no more. Why? He’s gone for one reason and one reason only. You can’t sign a petition demanding not one but four investigations of the charge that the Bush administration deliberately allowed Sept. 11, 2001 — i.e., collaborated in the worst massacre ever perpetrated on American soil — and be permitted in polite society, let alone have a high-level job in the White House.

    He was “outed” and recently had a free lance reporter expelled from a “open to the public” meeting he was holding.

    I read leftist blogs to find out what the other side is thinking. Here are some recent examples. In a post about the current struggle over the Bush tax rates, Steve Benen says:

    There’s a reasonable case to be made that we’re looking at a cumulative effect. For much of the left, the concessions, many of which seemed wholly unnecessary, are just becoming intolerable. The party’s messaging, tactics, and inability to compromise effectively are just exasperating, and the apparent fact that Republicans will get an extension of a failed tax policy has led some to throw up their arms in disgust and proclaim, “I’ve had it.”

    I get that. It’s a sentiment that obviously makes sense.

    The Democrats are committed to static analysis of tax effects. A tax cut loses revenue while a tax increase adds revenue. Now why are the Democrats, who have large majorities in both houses of Congress, unable to block this Republican effort to keep tax rates the same? It can’t be good economic policy because Steve Benen said so. What could they do to convince Republicans the Democrat position is the better choice ? Here are some theories.

    You’re sending the message the richest of the rich actually control this country, and in order to get a few crumbs for the common man, the rich need to be paid off with borrowed money – money that the common man (and woman), and their children, will be obligated to pay back, with interest. That does not bode well for the future of America.

    Posted by: delNorte

    So the rich and the corporations control the country. That is probably the most widely accepted conspiracy theory in the country. It is accepted by the left and many independents.

    I think it’s a confluence of reasons: 1) It’s a simple issue with little to no nuance. There is no good reason to extend the cuts to the rich (outside of politics). 2) OTOH, the bank bailout and the fin reg are/were very complex issues which did not satisfy anyone’s sense of justice for holding responsible those to blame for the mess we’re in.

    Posted by: You Don’t Say

    Now, there is another theory. There is no reason to keep the tax rates the same for those with incomes over $250,000 except politics. Here is a person who does not believe that small business creates jobs. I doubt he would be impressed by this video. That business owner makes $300,000 and employes about ten people. Raise his taxes and what happens ? Who cares ?

    There is absolutely NO convincing case that extending tax breaks for the super-wealthy is good for the nation; quite the reverse — it signals that the unabated looting of America is now in full swing;

    Here’s more the same from another commenter.

    What strikes me is there is no discussion of economics and how the economy works. OK. “Trickle Down” doesn’t work. “Tax cuts for the rich” doesn’t work. What does work ? Silence.

    This morning, the This Week program on ABC, in its new incarnation with Christiane Amanpour, spent the entire show on DADT. They said not a word about the economy. DADT will not be repealed so why spend an hour on it two days after the unemployment rate went up again to 9/8% ? The political left is bored by economics and the national economy. They are far more interested in social issues like DADT or gay marriage. I can understand this because so many of them are government employees, or academic institution employees or low level employees of private organizations who have nothing to do with managing the business. They don’t know how private business is managed, they have never signed the front of a paycheck, and have no idea how people make decisions about investing because, aside from 401ks, they have no contact with it.

    There was an amusing exchange about passports yesterday. It began with this:

    Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leader of the Bloomberg faction of the Bloomberg party, was interviewed en route to China, where he was seeking to open diplomatic ties between Cathay and the colorful principality he governs. A quote: “If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate — they can’t read. I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports.”

    Imagine that ! People who don’t have passports ! Anyway, the funniest part was a comment that the writer was being interviewed about tea parties by a German journalist. She asked him if he had a passport and he told her that he had lived in Germany as a child. I can’t find the link now and I wish he had asked her if she had ever owned a share of stock. Economic ignorance seems to be requirement for leftist credentials. Not only ignorance but disinterest.

    Posted in Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Taxes | 15 Comments »

    Gig ‘em

    Posted by Ginny on 17th October 2010 (All posts by )

    I’m often critical of the big school – but where it is good, it is damn good. I always liked to hire e.t.s because they were generally a polite, hard working and practical lot. That was Hall’s major. But getting a copy job out on time isn’t the same as saving 33 miners; their “can do” does the little and it does the big. Here’s the story from a local perspective: Aggie Recalls. (Fox Interview, Old Ags)

    First paragraph:
    Gregory Hall fielded media interviews Wednesday, including one with CNN. He took a congratulatory call from Texas Gov. Rick Perry that began with “Howdy, Ag!” And he still had time for a three-hour class to help with his scheduled ordainment as a Catholic deacon in February.

    These guys are spread around the world and a major reason American oil rigs and refineries are remarkably safe – remarkable to all but those who have no sense of how huge such a task is. And this is American pragmatism & idealism, blended at its best. It is the “west” Catton talks about when he contrasts Lee and Grant – seeing each as representative of a region’s best. And all the frontiers didn’t close, Turner aside, in 1890 – there’s the land, sea, and air.

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship | 4 Comments »

    Just say it! Teachers Unions are morally illegitimate

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 5th October 2010 (All posts by )

    It’s nice to know that the rhetoric I’ve been using on my website for about 6 years now, which some called “extreme,” has gone mainstream.

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editors are dipping their toes in the water of truth. They ought to dive in head first, and start rescuing children.

    Hating ‘Superman’

    The new film “Waiting for ‘Superman’” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact.

    Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools. “Klein, Rhee and Duncan better switch us jobs, so we can put an end to those hedge fund hogs,” went one of their anti-charter cheers, referring to school reform chancellors Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The odd complaint is that donors to charter schools include some hedge fund managers.

    Or maybe not so odd. Teachers unions and the public school monopoly have long benefitted from wielding a moral trump card. They claimed to care for children, and caring was defined solely by how much taxpayers spent on schools.

    That moral claim is being turned on its head as more Americans come to understand that teachers unions and the public bureaucracy are the main obstacles to reform. Movies such as “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “The Lottery” are exposing this to the larger American public, leaving the monopolists to the hapless recourse of suggesting that reformers are merely the tools of hedge fund philanthropists.

    Teacher’s unions are on the moral defensive because people have finally started to question their moral legitimacy. (welcome to the club) Teachers Unions have none, and, as a concept, they have no right to exist.

    Every dime a teachers union extracts from a tax payer for pay, benefits, pensions, etc., is a dime that can’t be used to better educate a child. It’s so obvious that it’s been staring us in the face for decades.

    Just as Reagan hastened the fall of the USSR by challenging their moral legitimacy (evil empire, ash heap of history), we must openly start telling our neighbors that teachers unions have no right to one iota of say in education. Their interests, and the interests of society are diametrically opposed.

    You don’t negotiate with such an entity, you abolish it. It’s that simple. Get to work.

    You want to teach? Compete in the open field of professionals and processes that can better educate our children.

    Posted in Academia, Education, Entrepreneurship | 9 Comments »

    The Coming of the Quantum Economy

    Posted by Zenpundit on 18th September 2010 (All posts by )


    Computers set for quantum leap

    A new photonic chip that works on light rather than electricity has been built by an international research team, paving the way for the production of ultra-fast quantum computers with capabilities far beyond today’s devices.
    Future quantum computers will, for example, be able to pull important information out of the biggest databases almost instantaneously. As the amount of electronic data stored worldwide grows exponentially, the technology will make it easier for people to search with precision for what they want.
    An early application will be to investigate and design complex molecules, such as new drugs and other materials, that cannot be simulated with ordinary computers. More general consumer applications should follow.

    I bet.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, National Security, Politics, Science, Society, Tech, USA | 13 Comments »