Archive for the 'Media' Category
Posted by David Foster on 21st November 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Just re-read Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native (outstanding) and watched the 1994 movie (pretty good.) The book, like much Victorian literature, was originally serialized in a magazine, in this case Belgravia: a Magazine of Fashion and Amusement.
I found the original illustrations that accompanied the serialization here. Inclusion of illustrations was apparently quite expensive in comparison with straight text, even after the efficiency improvements that went with higher print volumes, so they tended to be fairly scarce–only 12 of them for the whole serialized novel, in this case.
More about the book and the economics of Victorian publishing here…it is interesting that the high cost of book encouraged lending libraries to insist that books be published broken into multiple volumes, so that reader access to the book could be “timeshared,” resulting in a higher ratio of revenue to cost.
Hardy and the artist who did the illustrations (Arthur Hopkins) were able to collaborate only by mail, and Hardy was not thrilled with the first image of his main female protagonist, Eustacia…he was happier with the later versions of this character.
Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, History, Media | 2 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 21st September 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
I’ve reviewed two books by German writer Hans Fallada: Little Man, What Now?, and Wolf Among Wolves (the links go to the reviews), both of which were excellent. I recently finished his novel Every Man Dies Alone, which is centered on a couple who become anti-Nazi activists after their son Ottochen is killed in the war…it was inspired by, and is loosely based on, the true story of a real-life couple who distributed anti-Nazi postcards and were executed for it.
I thought this book was also excellent…the present post, though, is not a book review, but rather a development of some thoughts inspired by a particular passage in the story.
Trudel, who was Ottochen’s fiancee, is a sweet and intelligent girl who is strongly anti-Nazi..and unlike Ottochen’s parents, she became an activist prior to being struck by personal tragedy: she is a member of a resistance cell at the factory where she works. But she finds that she cannot stand the unending psychological strain of underground work–made even worse by the rigid and doctrinaire man (apparently a Communist) who is leader of the cell–and she drops out. Another member of the cell, who has long been in love with her, also finds that he is not built for such work, and drops out also.
After they marry and Trudel becomes pregnant, they decide to leave the politically hysterical environment of Berlin for a small town where–they believe–life will be freer and calmer.
Like many city dwellers, they’d had the mistaken belief that spying was only really bad in Berlin and that decency still prevailed in small towns. And like many city dwellers, they had made the painful discovery that recrimination, eavesdropping, and informing were ten times worse in small towns than in the big city. In a small town, everyone was fully exposed, you couldn’t ever disappear in the crowd. Personal circumstances were quickly ascertained, conversations with neighbors were practically unavoidable, and the way such conversations could be twisted was something they had already experienced in their own lives, to their chagrin.
Reading the above passage, I was struck by the thought that if we are now living in an “electronic village”…even a “global village,” as Marshall McLuhan put it several decades ago…then perhaps that also means we are facing some of the unpleasant characteristics that–as Fallada notes–can be a part of village life. And these characteristics aren’t something that appears only in eras of insane totalitarianism such as existed in Germany during the Nazi era. Peter Drucker, in Managing in the Next Society, wrote about the tension between liberty and community:
Rural society has been romanticized for millenia, especially in the West, where rural communities have usually been portrayed as idylic. However, the community in rural society is actually both compulsory and coercive…And that explains why, for millenia, the dream of rural people was to escape into the city. Stadluft macht frei (city air frees) says an old German proverb dating back to the eleventy or twelfth century.
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Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, France, Germany, Health Care, History, Internet, Media, USA | 14 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th August 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
How very interesting that über-celeb (and possibly former über-celeb) Oprah Winfrey has now tried to walk back a very publically-made accusation of being treated with racial bias in an expensive Swiss handbag shop in Zurich with one of those lame apologies which aren’t really apologies, more of that sniveling, ‘I’m sorry that you were offended,’ statements which are framed so as to throw blame on the offended party merely for being offended. At least, she has skipped over the second part of the pro-forma excuse and non-apology, which is usually some variant of, ‘gosh, don’t you have a sense of humor?’ Both statements of which, I am obliged to confirm, do not remove the sting that a party thus abused takes away from the experience. Or even that that such an apology has been honestly and fully rendered to the aggrieved party.
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Posted in Business, Chicagoania, Current Events, Customer Service, Human Behavior, Media | 17 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 23rd June 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
It appears that in 2008 there was considerable collusion among journalists to ensure that Barack Obama’s relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright did not receive serious attention. Be sure to read the piece at the link. I feel sure that there are numerous people who voted for Obama who would not have done so had this matter been properly covered. But these journalists–who no doubt consider themselves Your Moral and Intellectual Superiors, as Glenn Reynolds puts it–did not want you and other Americans to have and consider this information, but arrogated to themselves the power to decide what voters should see and should focus on, based on their own views of which candidate should win the election. Morally at least, what these journalists did is analogous to selling stock in a company while hiding material adverse information about the company…except that the stakes in this case were much, much higher.
More recently, 60 Minutes performed what PowerLine calls “a classic hit job on Israel ,” alleging that Israel is responsible for the exodus of Christians from the West Bank and Jerusalem. PowerLine notes that:
The story was short on facts and context, particularly the context of the assaults on Christians and Christian sites in the Muslim Middle East. Anyone who has ever been to Israel knows that the authorities treat all religious sites as a sacred trust. At the American Spectator, Aaron Goldstein asks: “How many Christian churches have been burned down by Israelis? How many Christians have been murdered inside Israel?” Simon failed to “report” the answer to that question, but I’m pretty sure Power Line readers have a good bead on it.
Watch the CAMERA video at the PowerLine link, which shows that CBS News made false statements about Bethlehem and the Israeli security fence. CAMERA also says that CBS, even after being advised of its error, has thus far failed to correct the misinformation it has propagated.
Posted in Israel, Judaism, Media, Politics, USA | 11 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 2nd June 2013 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
The NY Times had a solid article called “China’s Expanding Economic Empire” in today’s paper. It describes how China is using its’ state owned companies to expand globally, particularly in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.
Ultimately, thanks to the deposits of over a billion Chinese savers, China Inc. has been able to acquire strategic assets worldwide.
In addition to using their savings and financial discipline to acquire companies, China has infrastructure capabilities honed from building out their country and is able to bring staff locally to complete projects such as pipelines, railroads, mines and factories, thereby re-cycling their financial investments back into their own service companies.
The article discusses Greenland, where China has proposed to come in and develop their vast resources in return for access to commodities only if the local government by-passes wage laws and other restrictions to allow the Chinese to being in their own labor. Since no one else is offering to develop Greenland and their native workforce is ill-equipped to meet the challenge of modern infrastructure development and operations, it will be China’s by default.
However, the article does not mention anywhere the key variable that keeps Western countries non-competitive in these regions – our own laws against corruption and bribery which are likely the only way to win bids throughout most of the developing world (the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act). China has no compunction about working with anyone and doing whatever it takes to win these bids.
In addition, China doesn’t care about its reputation with the local workforce, unless things get really bad (i.e. people start getting shot). China brings its own value chain end to end, from the initial financing, to awarding bids to Chinese companies, to China pushing their surplus (skilled) labor and their own infrastructure even to support their staff (i.e. bringing in their own food). Western companies try to bring in the local work force and are sensitive to local suppliers on a relative basis.
While the article is generally full of relevant facts and analysis (except for the critical omission of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which basically gave the world to China on a platter), it ends on a completely false two paragraphs.
As China becomes a global player and a fierce competitor… its political system and state capitalist ideology pose a threat. It is therefore essential that Western governments stick to what has been the core of Western prosperity: the rule of law, political freedom, and fair competition… giving up on our commitment to human rights, or being compliant in the face of rapacious state capitalism, will hurt Western countries in the long term. It is China that needs to adapt to the world, not the other way around.
I am frankly astonished that the editor let them add these paragraphs to let the article end on such a false note. There is no evidence that our methods of not complying with local practices is working; in fact the entire article proves that our Western methods are failing.
If a country is led by a strongman you need to deal with a strongman or you won’t be in business; this is obvious, the Chinese know it, and we don’t have a chance in h*ll of competing with it. As a result, we are handing the Chinese the world on a platter. We will ultimately adapt to China, not the other way around.
Cross posted at LITGM
Posted in China, Leftism, Media | 11 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th May 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked some comments by Senator Dick Durbin, who said he favors a “media shield law”…but isn’t sure if such a law should protect people who are bloggers and/or tweeters, rather than being employees of Associated Press, Fox News, etc.
“Are these people journalists and entitled to constitutional protection?, asked Durbin. “We need to ask 21st century questions about a provision that was written over 200 years ago.”
As it happened, last night I was reading Alexis de Tocqueville, who (as usual) has some relevant things to say:
In France the press combines a twofold centralization; almost all its power is centered in the same spot and, so to speak, in the same hands, for its organs are far from numerous. The influence upon a skeptical nation of a public press thus constituted must be almost unbounded. It is an enemy with whom a government may sign an occasional truce, but which it is difficult to resist for any length of time.
Neither of these kinds of centralization exists in America. The United States has no metropolis; the intelligence and the power of the people are disseminated through all the parts of this vast country, and instead of radiating from a common point they cross each other in every direction; the Americans have nowhere established any central direction of opinion, any more than of the conduct of affairs. This difference arises from local circumstances and not from human power; but it is owing to the laws of the Union that there are no licenses to be granted to printers, no securities demanded from editors, as in France, and no stamp duty, as in France and England. The consequence is that nothing is easier than to set up a newspaper, as a small number of subscribers suffices to defray the expenses.
Hence the number of periodical and semi-periodical publications in the United States is almost incredibly large. The most enlightened Americans attribute the little influence of the press to this excessive dissemination of its power; and it is an axiom of political science in that country that the only way to neutralize the effect of the public journals is to multiply their number…The governments of Europe seem to treat the press with the courtesy which the knights of old showed to their opponents; having found from their own experience that centralization is a powerful weapon, they have furnished their enemies with it in order doubtless to have more glory for overcoming them.
In America there is scarcely a hamlet that has not its newspaper. It may readily be imagined that neither discipline nor unity of action can be established among so many combatants, and each one consequently fights under his own standard. All the political journals of the United States are, indeed, arrayed on the side of the administration or against it; but they attack and defend it in a thousand different ways.
Durbin referred to the First Amendment as “a provision that was written over 200 years ago,” apparently implying that the passage of time makes it less relevant today. If he were better-educated and more intelligent, he would understand that the press environment of the Revolutionary era and the first half of the 1800s, marked by decentralization and low start-up costs, is more similar to today’s Internet-driven media environment–marked by the same factors–than either is to the era that was marked by a few huge quasi-monopolistic media organizations.
When the Founders referred to “freedom of the press,” what exactly did they mean? I think there is a very strong case to be made (see detailed legal analysis by Eugene Volokh) that they meant freedom of the printing press (and, implicitly, of its technological successors) rather than offering a grant of special privilege to entities within a particular industry. Indeed, what would a grant of special protection to a “press” industry have even meant in an age when any citizen could buy a simple printing press and immediately begin publishing pamphlets or newspapers, without any need for huge capital investments, AP wire feeds, dozens of employees, etc?
I agree with Glenn Reynolds that “We need protections for journalism, not journalists.” The idea of special civil-liberties protections only for a particular industry, with membership in that industry inevitably to be certified by the powers-that-be, is highly dangerous, and takes us back to an environment of licenses to be granted to printers, securities demanded from editors, as in France, and stamp duty, as in France and England.
I notice that the people who want to use “technology” as an excuse for the erosion of constitutional protections are generally people whose ignorance of technology is exceeded only by their ignorance of history.
Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Media, Tech, USA | 12 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th May 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
(An archive post from … umm, a bit ago. I am putting together an eBook of my own posts about the military, and thought that the Boyz and fans might find this reminiscence of interest.)
Our local public radio station (which full disclosure impels me to mention that I was employed by their 24-hour classical sister station on a part-time basis until about May, 2008 although now I am so pissed at their general drift that I coldheartedly refuse to support them in their current pledge drive) aired a special some time ago ago about “border radio”— that is, a collection of radio outlets located just over the Mexican border which during the 1950ies and 1960ies— joyfully free of FCC restrictions on power restrictions, or indeed any other kind of restriction— blasted the very latest rock, and the most daring DJ commentary, on stations so high-powered they could be heard all the way into the deep mid-West and probably on peoples’ fillings as well. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Arts & Letters, Customer Service, History, Media | 12 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 1st May 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
An interesting case. Bellesiles? East Anglia? Don’t be silly — this is the Times, after all. But interesting nonetheless.
Science may be a noble endeavor. However, as with professional sports, if there’s enough money or opportunity for self-aggrandizement in it some people will cheat, and some people will be attracted to the enterprise precisely because of the opportunity to cheat. Stapels, the subject of the Times profile, looks like a real piece of work. It will be interesting to see if he succeeds in rehabilitating himself, even if non-academically, as he seems to be trying to do. Perhaps his post-academic career is just beginning.
(Via @blithespiritny on Twitter.)
Posted in Academia, Human Behavior, Media | 15 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 1st May 2013 (All posts by Jonathan)
This Politico piece is an example of wishful thinking, agenda-driven failure to acknowledge the big picture or both in its attempt to explain away the jihadist angle in the Boston bombing.
“We found a number of people who wanted to do bad things but didn’t want to see themselves as criminals,” a psychologist who works with federal law enforcement agencies told me. “They are murderers in search of a cause. They tell themselves, ‘I want to change the world.’ Some we give the romantic term ‘terrorist.’ They are people who want to do something bad, so they say it was for Al Qaeda or a jihad.”
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Posted in Islam, Media, Terrorism | 6 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 20th April 2013 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
Negative items (weaknesses and threats) first.
Overconcentration of political belief systems by geography and especially by vocation, notably in journalism; the corresponding threat is misdiagnosis of motivation and identity of perpetrators.
This was on full display over the past week, and although the most prominent examples were instances of the amazingly robust narrative about a supposed right-wing fundamentalist Christian underground, the persistence of which reveals a great deal about the mindset of the “liberal” bien-pensant, they’re not the only ones who have this problem. Claiming that people in Boston are cowering under their beds and wishing they had AR-15s, or casually accusing various (and singularly unimpressive) American politicians of being Communists, isn’t much better than fantasizing about entirely nonexistent WASP terrorists. And there has already been at least one wild-goose chase in recent years, the nationwide Federal investigation to find the co-conspirators of Scott Roeder in the assassination of George Tiller. He didn’t have any, and was known very early on to have acted alone. Your tax dollars nonetheless went to work; see also “memetic parasitism,” below.
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Media, Middle East, National Security, Organizational Analysis, Politics, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Tradeoffs, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by Dan from Madison on 16th April 2013 (All posts by Dan from Madison)
Way back in 2007 I wrote this piece and was sadly reminded of it yesterday.
I am currently training to go back to France to ride my bike in the Pyrenees again. My training rides are long and hard, and I usually use TV to help pass the time. Last night I decided to watch the coverage of the bomb blasts in Boston.
It was the usual cacophony of noise. I can’t count how many times I heard the term “federal, state and local law enforcement”, “bring to justice (or some form of it)”, etc. etc. It is always the same stuff.
One thing that actually riled me up and forced me to utter a curse word or two was something a guest on the Bill O’Reilly show (I know) said. I can’t remember the guys name, but he was a talk radio guy from Boston. He was, in a roundabout way, bashing the end of race Boston Marathon volunteers who were helping with first aid. It upset me so much because they were actually doing everything they could, wrapping wounds, transporting the wounded out of there since ambulances couldn’t get in, giving water, blankets, anything that might help the situation. All the while, the “professionals” were nowhere to be found, minutes away, while the cops were simply running around with their hands on their weapons (from the footage that I saw).
Always remember that you are the first responder. Not the cops or the other “professionals”.
Posted in Media, Terrorism | 9 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th February 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
(A reprise post from SSDB archives – about the legendary ‘teflon man’ broadcaster who shall be nameless here, although anyone who served in certain units will recognize the legend of whom I speak.)
And some things which should not have been forgotten… Have not been, because they are either funny or excellent cautionary tales. The Teflon Man, for instance: he bestrode the small world of military broadcasting, providing a rich legacy of horrible gaffes, cringe-inducing miscalculations and antics which reflected no credit whatever upon the unit to which he was attached. Spend more than a couple of years as an NCO in military broadcasting, and you will know everyone, or know of everyone, and the Teflon Man was a legend, like Bigfoot or Elvis, because nothing ever seemed to stick. He had more lives than the wily coyote, bouncing back time and time again from incidents that would have seen any other military broadcaster sent back to civilian life, working the overnight TV board shift for the last-rated station in Sheboygan or Bakersfield. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Diversions, History, Humor, Media, Military Affairs, Russia | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th January 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
In the year of the Centennial of the United States, the last of the West left relatively unscathed by the forces of law and order was that part of present-day Oklahoma set aside as homeland for the native Indian tribes. This was a 70,000 square mile territory in which anything went … and usually did. Among what was called the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) there were native law enforcement officers, who upheld the law among their own. But they had no jurisdiction over interlopers of any color, or tribal members who committed crimes in company with or against an outsider, and the Territory was Liberty Hall and a refuge for every kind of horse thief, cattle rustler, bank and train robber, murderer and scalawag roaming the post-Civil War west. Just about every notorious career criminal at large for the remainder of the 19th century took refuge in the Oklahoma Territory at one time or another, including the James and Dalton gangs.
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Posted in Diversions, Film, History, Law, Media | 5 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st January 2013 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
I have noted recent news reports decrying incidents of Sandy Hook trutherism with a certain degree of cynical un-surprise. This then, is the fruit of modern journalism; now we have news consumers who are absolutely convinced that the mass murders either didn’t happen, didn’t happen as most reports have it, or believe that it was a put-up job entirely. Of course there have been conspiracy buffs since human history began; wherever there was a tragic or shocking event there have always been unexplained details, dangling loose ends and things which just seemed to convenient, too coincidental for some observers. Supposing the existence of a conspiracy explains shattering and usually random events all very neatly, which is why people are attracted to conspiracy theories in the first place. Since I was in grade school, I’ve been hearing about the plot, or plots which supposedly took down JFK. It’s to the point where I can paint myself as a radical just by insisting that Oswald was a lone radical nut-case and no, it wasn’t that hard a shot. And sometimes suspicion of a conspiracy has been very well based; look at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
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Posted in Civil Society, Human Behavior, Media, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Tea Party, The Press, USA | 18 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 14th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
(I originally posted this in late 2007…I was reminded of it by the recent story about the Obama administration’s propaganda video game featuring space aliens, global warming, and gender issues)
My post today is inspired by In the Beginning was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson, a strange little book that will probably be found in the “computers” section of your local bookstore. While the book does deal with human interfaces to computer systems, its deeper subject is the impact of media and metaphors on thought processes and on work.
Stephenson contrasts the explicit word-based interface with the graphical or sensorial interface. The first (which I’ll call the textual interface) can be found in a basic UNIX system or in an old-style PC DOS system or timesharing terminal. The second (the sensorial interface) can be found in Windows and Mac systems and in their respective application programs.
As a very different example of a sensorial interface, Stephenson uses something he saw at Disney World–a hypothetical stone-by-stone reconstruction of a ruin in the jungles of India. It is supposed to have been built by a local rajah in the sixteenth century, but since fallen into disrepair.
The place looks more like what I have just described than any actual building you might find in India. All the stones in the broken walls are weathered as if monsoon rains had been trickling down them for centuries, the paint on the gorgeous murals is flaked and faded just so, and Bengal tigers loll among stumps of broken columns. Where modern repairs have been made to the ancient structure, they’ve been done, not as Disney’s engineers would do them, but as thrifty Indian janitors would–with hunks of bamboo and rust-spotted hunks of rebar.
In one place, you walk along a stone wall and view some panels of art that tell a story.
…a broad jagged crack runs across a panel or two, but the story is still readable: first, primordial chaos leads to a flourishing of many animal species. Next, we see the Tree of Life surrounded by diverse animals…an obvious allusion (or, in showbiz lingo, a tie-in) to the gigantic Tree of Life that dominates the center of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…But it’s rendered in historically correct style and could probably fool anyone who didn’t have a PhD in Indian art history.
The next panel shows a mustacioed H. sapiens chopping down the Tree of Life with a scimitar, and the animals fleeing every which way. The one after that shows the misguided human getting walloped by a tidal wave, part of a latter-day Deluge presumably brought on by his stupidity.
The final panel, then, portrays the Sapling of Life beginning to grow back, but now man has ditched the edged weapon and joined the other animals in standing around to adore and praise it.
Clearly, this exhibit communicates a specific worldview, and it strongly implies that this worldview is consistent with traditional Indian religion and culture. Most viewers will assume the connection without doing further research as to its correctness or lack thereof.
I’d observe that as a general matter, the sensorial interface is less open to challenge than the textual interface. It doesn’t argue–doesn’t present you with a chain of facts and logic that let you sit back and say, “Hey, wait a minute–I’m not so sure about that.” It just sucks you into its own point of view.
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Posted in Academia, Advertising, Media, Politics, Tech | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 13th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
A government-funded videogame featuring a black alien female superhero delivered to Earth to fight global warming is about to be released. The game was inspired by the artist’s “sense what we do on Earth impacts the universe − not just pollution destroying the ozone layer, for example, but our thoughts and how we organize gender roles and social systems also have impact.”
Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Environment, Media, Obama, USA | 14 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 10th January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
There’s an amusing incident in a recent biography of Erich Maria Remarque. Remarque immigrated to the United States in 1939, and in the 1950s he came to a friend with a dilemma: two women were pursuing him.
“So I said, ‘Oh, really, Erich, that sounds terrible, who are they?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘one of them is Paulette Goddard and the other is Marlene Dietrich.’ So I said, ‘Well, Erich, my God, you’re in real trouble here.’ But he was deadly serious. ‘Which one do you think I should go for, Douglas? ‘That is a terrible dilemma, Erich, I mean, my God, this is something we have to think about very carefully.’ ‘You know,’ he said, ‘Marlene is very attractive, but Paulette is really good at the stock market. I think I should go for Paulette.’ So I said to him, ‘Well, Erich, the stock market is very important, no doubt about that.’
As a Remarque fan, I certainly hope he was kidding about this decision process. (Which would tend to belie the title of the linked autobiography: Erich Maria Remarque: The Last Romantic.)
In any event, he did marry Paulette Goddard, and (unlike his previous marriages and relationships), the marriage lasted. (Given Remarque’s comment about the stock market, I was wondering if there was any data on her long-term annualized rate of return–the comment here about “her talent at accumulating wealth” suggests that it was probably pretty good.)
And more recently, we have Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos who, when he wrote down a list of attributes he wanted for his future wife, included “a woman who could get me out of a third-world prison.”
“It was really just a visualization for resourcefulness,” he clarifies, ”because people who are not resourceful drive me bananas.”
Jeff married MacKenzie Bezos, a writer, in 1993. I can’t speak to her jail-springing skills, but I’ve read her novel The Testing of Luther Albright…I wasn’t all that impressed with it on first reading, but went back and read it again and thought it was quite good.
Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Human Behavior, Humor, Media | 11 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th December 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
Cynic that I am, I am deriving a great deal of amusement from some of the media-political-general public storms whipped up in the wake of the horribly tragic Newtown shootings, and the deaths of two firefighters in an ambush set by an ex-convict in upstate New York. As if the shootings weren’t horrible and tragic enough in themselves, now we get to enjoy the reflexive Kabuki dance of ‘we must ban those horrid gun-things!’ being played out – especially since some of the very loudest voices in this chorus are politicians and celebrities who live with a very high degree of security at their workplaces and homes, and whose children attend rather well-protected schools. Such choruses appear to be completely oblivious to the fact that for many of the ordinary rest of us, poor and middle-class alike, the forces of law and order are not johnny-on-the-spot in the event of an attempted robbery, rape, break-in or home invasion. To rely on the oft-used cliché, when moments count, the police are minutes away. In the case of rural areas in the thinly-populated flyover states law enforcement aid and assistance might be closer to being hours away.
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Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Just Unbelievable, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, RKBA, Urban Issues, USA | 60 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 26th December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
…has a very old basement. In that basement is a major regional telecommunications interconnect point.
There are some other things there, too.
(via American Digest)
Posted in History, Media, Tech | 5 Comments »
Posted by leifsmith on 24th December 2012 (All posts by leifsmith)
When a law bans exchanges wanted by everyone directly involved a number of things happen:
1) The exchanges continue;
2) Prices of the banned items rise and wars to control turf begin;
3) New criminals are created, including many people who are ordinary good people (like colored margarine seekers);
4) New enforcement agencies and staff are created;
5) New jails are built and new jailers are trained;
6) Laws, lawyers and lawsuits proliferate;
7) A new branch of law and its practitioners prosper and support further extension and complexification of regulations;
8) A portion of the entire apparatus of enforcement and punishment is progressively corrupted;
9) New agencies and staff are created to discover, eliminate or suppress the corruption;
10) Many begin to support ever more drastic suppression and punishment;
11) A profitable subliminal partnership emerges unifying the interests of violators and enforcers as the profits from the illegal trade are negotiated and distributed among them;
12) The business engages all of the following: bad people buying and selling, good people buying and selling, police, judges, academics, enforcement trainers and suppliers, prison builders and suppliers, staff to support all of this, journalists to cover it, media organizations to sell the coverage;
13) Completely uninvolved people are caught in crossfires, including taxpayers;
14) The costs of controlling the new flourishing evil continue to grow seemingly without limit;
15) The vast network of beneficiaries of the law applaud and lobby for its continuation, vilifying all opposition;
16) Everyone gets more and more discouraged and inclined to hate all humanity. This list is probably too short.
However all of these bad things may be balanced by the fact that creative people are engaged in producing media based on the things that happen because of the prohibition, and by watching and reading we all learn delightful new things about how the world works. (channeling Voltaire).
It is not enough to simply ban exchanges that have consequences we don’t like. The costs of doing it should be compared with the costs of not doing it. Those costs usually dwarf the costs that would arise from unhindered transactions.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, Political Philosophy, Society, Tradeoffs | 25 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 21st December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
On-line content for a wide range of magazines, some of them dating back to the 1830s, also some books and videos. Via Rick Darby, who notes that Google Books also has an extensive old-magazine collection.
The Jewish Museum has an extensive collection of medieval Hebrew, Arabic, and Latin manuscripts from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries. Via Suzanne Fields.
Posted in Arts & Letters, Christianity, History, Islam, Judaism, Media, Religion | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th December 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
So it is not like violence by union members in Michigan against pro-right-to-work activists came as any big surprise to me … or should have to any other sentient being. I mean, this comes after a couple of years of incidents involving members of the SEIU – better known as the Purple People Beaters – and Tea Party protesters going at it. Not that our gutless establishment press organs ever seemed to take notice … or as little notice as they can and still retain a few lingering shreds of credibility, while they remain prostrate and adoring the mighty figure of Ozymandius … sorry, Obama. And in pop-culture circles, historically unions seem to enjoy at least a token respect, for which I hold Hollywood responsible. Why the entertainment industry adores unions, as they are full of plucky, honest blue-collar laboring types, and if it weren’t for unions, why we would be working seven days a week, up to our knees in toxic sludge, owing our soul to the company store, and breaking rocks in the hot sun … oops, sorry, flashback there to about a million Phil Ochs pseudo-folk songs.
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Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable, Media, Politics, Tea Party | 20 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 8th December 2012 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
I was out walking at night in River North when I came upon a cool looking sports car outside on the street. I hadn’t seen one of these before so I took a photo to look it up.
When I woke up in the morning and was reading my old-school paper copy of the Wall Street Journal, I saw on the front page of the finance section an article titled “Its Battery Drained, Fisker Hunts for Partner” with a picture of my Fisker Karma in color. Per the article:
Fisker Automotive, the troubled maker of a battery-powered sports car, is accelerating a global search for a strategic partner to keep its business going…Fisker has taken steps to reduce its cash use. In July, it halted production of its sole vehicle, the $110,000 Karma, to lower production costs. The Karma has been hobbled by recalls and quality problems.
Who thought that we needed another sports car, in a market glutted with them? Why the US Government, of course. Per wikipedia:
In 2010, the Department of Energy awarded Fisker a $529 million green-energy loan, primarily to assist the company in transitioning the Karma, which is assembled in Finland, into the American markets. Fisker collected nearly $200 million until February this year, when the government froze the loan because the company was failing to meet the government’s milestones
What is also apparently hurting Fisker is that they can’t obtain batteries from A123 Systems, Inc. Bizarrely, the Wall Street Journal didn’t even mention that NOT ONLY did the US government bankroll Fisker on their futile plan to create another un-neeed sports car, but they also bankrolled A123 Systems in their battery development, per Wikipedia:
The company received US$249 million grant from the Department of Energy for building battery production facilities. As of June 2012, $129M of the grant has been used to build the 550 MWh Livonia plant and the Romulus plant. Remaining untapped $120M grant’s expiry date has been extended from end of 2012 to end of 2014. The company laid off 125 workers in December 2011 as demand for partner Fisker’s automobiles has been slack.
It is astounding to me that the government decided to build up an entirely vertically integrated chain of industry in order to produce a sports car that is unreliable that no one apparently wants to buy. And yet this is likely one of the most tangible “products” that the stimulus package delivered.
Also I am still shaking my head that the normally OK WSJ (for main stream media) didn’t see the further lunacy beyond just Fisker’s imminent demise in that it was linked to the troubles of A123 Systems. A Wikipedia search like yours truly could have figured that out.
Back when I took courses on economics and socialism they spoke of the government’s inability to allocate capital as a core problem with top down socialism. This is exhibit A. It is one thing to prop up an already existing business like the auto industry or banks (not always a good idea) which needs restructuring or a short term cash infusion, but starting an integrated value chain industry from scratch is beyond a longshot, it is lunacy.
Cross posted at LITGM
Posted in Big Government, Business, Chicagoania, Media | 9 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 7th December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
A date which will live in infamy
See Bookworm’s post and video from 2009 and her post from 2011; also, some alternate history from Shannon Love.
In 2010, Neptunus Lex posted a video of FDR’s speech, accompanied by relevant newsreel footage. See also his eloquent post from 2006.
Last year Jonathan worried that the cultural memory of the event is being lost, and noted that once again Google failed to note the anniversary on their search home page, whereas Microsoft Bing had a picture of the USS Arizona memorial.
(12/7/2012: same thing this year, at least as of this posting)
Shannon Love analyzes how Admiral Yamamoto was able to pull the attack off and concludes that “Pearl Harbor wasn’t a surprise of intent, it was a surprise of capability.”
Via another excellent Neptunus Lex post, here is a video featuring interviews with both American and Japanese surivors of Pearl Harbor.
Posted in History, Media, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »