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  • Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

    Crude Unglued

    Posted by Grurray on 18th December 2014 (All posts by )

    The big news in the financial world for the past few months has been the dramatic drop in oil prices. Since June oil has lost nearly 50% of its value and is now at a price not seen in over five years during the depths of the recession. Although the signs have been around for a while, the sudden and protracted decline has taken everyone by surprise. We’re now seeing all sorts of explanations, justifications, and ruminations about what it all means.

    Aside from homeowners in the Northeast who heat their homes with heating oil, the big impact on most of us is the lower gas prices to fill up our cars. If you’re like me, unless there is some big news about it, we really don’t notice fluctuations at the gas pump. However, when prices drop this much, it’s hard not to notice something is up. And in this case, that something is we have more money left over when we pull out. For most of us it’s certainly a good time of the year to have that kind of pleasant surprise.

    A lot of people, unfortunately, don’t see it that way. Some of them think that lower prices aren’t such a good thing. I guess some people can’t get into the holiday spirit.

    The esteemed liquidity expert and chronicler of the debt crisis John Mauldin has just dispatched a report on the oil price’s effects on overall growth. There’s a lot of information here, muddied somewhat by the gratuitous inclusion of the tinfoil hat brigade at Zero Hedge, who’ve never met an economic event they didn’t think was going to cause the collapse of Western Civilization. Here’s the important takeaway:

    Employment associated with energy production is going to fall over the course of next year. It’s not all bad news, though. Employment that benefits from lower energy prices is likely to remain stable or even rise. Think chemical companies that use natural gas as an input as an example.
    I am, however, at a loss to think of what could replace the jobs and GDP growth that the energy complex has recently created. Certainly, reduced production is going to impact capital expenditures. This all leads one to begin thinking about a much softer economy in the US in 2015.

    Thankfully, Mr. Mauldin dismissed the more ridiculous assertions going around that the drop in oil is a replay of the subprime credit crisis, but that does still leave us with a picture of the energy industry facing serious problems. The emergence of fracking has been an absolute boon for those communities sitting on shale oil and gas fields. One would expect their fortunes to be reversed when the price of oil drops.

    One immediate area that is starting to see some signs of life since oil dropped is employment of young workers. Now, kids in retail and entry level jobs may not restore confidence in those who see collapse of mighty industries around the bend. On the other hand, all the consternation lately about the rise of the machines, technological unemployment, and the lack of relevant job skills has a lot to do with companies unwilling or unable to invest in training unskilled and entry level workers because it’s simply not affordable. Kids getting jobs again is definitely a step in the right direction to correcting the mismatch. Except in overly regulated states, that is.

    Unlike every other state in the United States, California increased its minimum wage on 1 July 2014, just as the employment situation was about to improve across the entire country thanks to falling oil and fuel prices. No other state has likewise implemented an increase in their minimum wages during this period.
    By arbitrarily increasing their minimum wage from $8.00 to $9.00 per hour in July 2014, California’s politicians effectively jerked away the prospect of finding employment from its job-seeking teen population at a time when it would have its best chance at doing so in years, while also damaging their prospects for increased future earnings. All by making it too costly for the state’s employers to employ them profitably.

    Which tells us the real danger to growth isn’t the natural movements of markets but the unnatural manipulation from government.

    As for where the rest of the growth is going to come from to offset the decline in energy sectors, if the oil industry existed in a vacuum then there would be something to worry about. However, the fact is they sell to other industries and to consumers who will have more money to spend. Period. It’s not just petrochemical industries either. Car companies and heavy equipment industries and airlines and shipping companies and on and on and on.
    Why some people choose to ignore these benefits and obvious upside is somewhat baffling. Luckily I’m here to let them know: absent some other unforeseen shock, lower prices will definitely and absolutely create more jobs then it will destroy. End of story.

    But what about the energy industry? Surly lower prices will bankrupt it, end the American energy renaissance, and enslave us all to Arab Petro-Sheiks forever, right? It turns out that immense capital intensive projects like oil drilling take a long time and aren’t as responsive to price fluctuations. North American production is still expected to grow in 2015, mostly because there’s no alternative. The easy oil coming from Saudi Arabia that everyone believed was close to or at the peak is still probably running out. Sticking a straw into the ground and slurping up oil was great while it lasted, but it really is increasingly a thing of the past. That’s not a bad thing as new technologies naturally spring up to replace it and introduce innovations that bring the price down where it probably should be in the first place.

    Likewise, high prices encourage the discovery of new technologies that allow explorers to find and recover previously untapped reserves of oil. And high oil prices encourage the development of alternative sources of renewable energy, allowing us to shift away from the use of hydrocarbons altogether. In the graph, we can clearly see how these incentive effects worked to bring oil prices back down in the 1800s and the 1980s. Most likely, these same incentive effects will work to push oil prices lower in the years ahead.

    For years there was manipulation and a geopolitical premium on the price of oil. Now prices are dropping because the market is actually working correctly again. Let’s welcome it and allow it to continue.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

    What will happen to privacy

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on 2nd December 2014 (All posts by )

    The earliest use of privacy in the OED appears in the 17th century. According to Google books Ngram Viewer it constituted 0.000432% (which I will hereafter show as 4.32/10K) of words in books around 1600. By 1605 it no longer appears in Ngram until 1641 when it reappears at 0.14/10K rising to 7.37/10K in 1664. It then fell to 3.16/10K in 1700 and 2.33/10K in 1720 where it bumped around 2.5/10K for the next two centuries with a high of 3.28 in 1824.

    In 1890 Brandeis and Warren published “The Right to Privacy” in the Harvard Law Review. In 1928 Brandeis wrote a dissent in the case of Olmstead v. U.S. in which he argued that the warrantless wiretapping of a bootlegger constituted a violation of his right to privacy:

    Whenever a telephone line is tapped, the privacy of the persons at both ends of the line is invaded and all conversations between them upon any subject, and, although proper, confidential and privileged, may be overheard. Moreover, the tapping of one man’s telephone line involves the tapping of the telephone of every other person whom he may call or who may call him. As a means of espionage, writs of assistance and general warrants are but puny instruments of tyranny and oppression when compared with wire-tapping…

    (The makers of our Constitution) conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And the use, as evidence in a criminal proceeding, of facts ascertained by such intrusion must be deemed a violation of the Fifth.

    But it was not until Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 that the Supreme Court recognized “that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance” to overrule a Connecticut law prohibiting the prescription and sale of birth control devices violating the right of marital privacy. Soon after in 1967 Olmstead was overruled in Katz v. U. S.

    What brought about that change of opinion? In 1920 the use of the word privacy began an exponential increase from 2.68/10K in 1920 to 4.14/10K in 1950 to 7.55/10K in 1970 to 14.19/10K in 1990 cresting at 21.01/10K in 2003 before declining to 18.9/10K in 2008 (the latest year available). This tracks to the number of automobiles per person which grew from 86/1,000 people in 1920 to 286/K in 1950 to 478/K in 1970 to 717/K in 1990 cresting at 823/K in 2007 and declining to 801/K in 2012. Not a coincidence as the automobile brought greater freedom of movement to almost every American than had ever existed for any person before. With that freedom of movement came the ability to quickly go to strange communities with greater anonymity. And the ability to commute from the suburbs, where people no longer lived cheek by jowl in multi-family dwellings with attached walls or as part of an integrated rural community.

    So what is happening to our concept of privacy with word frequency 10% in five years from 2003 to 2008? Perhaps it has something to do with the decline in popularity of driving among the young. The percentage of 25-29 year olds holding drivers licenses declined from 94% in 1994 to 90% in 2002 to 86% in 2012. Or the growth of American Facebook users from 1 million at the end of 2004 to 169 million in 2013. And the willingness of those users to make public virtually anything about themselves for the world to see and even more about their friends.

    Considering that it took only 39 years for wire tapping to go from being morally questionable but not illegal to being unconstitutional, it will be interesting to see how our concept of a right to privacy evolves.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    The Coming Murder of the US Constitution

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 18th November 2014 (All posts by )

    The most important issue is missing from debate over the coming Obama administration’s “Executive Amnesty for illegal immigrants.” If such an action is taken without even an attempt at impeachment, we will mark that day as the day the U.S. Constitution was murdered.

    Certainly some Constitutional forms will hold on another decade or two, but the relevance of Congress to federal policy making, Constitutional branch separation of powers generally, and ultimately the rule of law will be gone. Future generations of Americans will mark the Constitution as a dead letter from that day. Our American birth right to the rule of law and ordered liberty under the Constitution will have been traded for a blatant pursuit of power by any means necessary. Ultimately such power only comes from the barrel of a gun, and here only one side has guns.

    That President Obama is dissolving the Constitution for a faster influx of non-white voters so he can dissolve the current declining white majority polity shows a deep love of power, and a deep hatred of any past or current American cultural institutions, that gets in the way of his power.

    This isn’t new. Leftists in America have been heading down this road since before the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union started in the 1940’s.

    What is new, and the real test here, is acquiescence of the opposition party (Republican) elected elites to this turn of events. They have preemptively surrendered the only real counter to this Executive usurpation of the Legislative power, impeachment of the President, for purported fear of a voter backlash and loss of their new majority in Congress.

    The coming failure of the Republican Congress to do their Constitutional duty means the Republican Party is led by the same sort of narrow partisans who lead the Democratic Party, i.e., men more concerned with their fleeting power than their duty, America or freedom. Why should any of the American people obey the law when their elected officials openly defy it and their Constitutional obligations? Their elected representatives in Congress would replace the rule of law with the rule of men for the sake of their own power.

    It may be that impeachment of President Obama for his proposed unconstitutional mass amnesty of illegal immigrants costs the Republican Party its new majority in Congress. Not even trying is simply the short road to hell. “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing” – John Stuart Mill. Failure by the GOP Congressional majority to even try to impeach President Obama here would be a clear and overwhelmingly powerful message to the Tea Party and others on the Right that only violence, and not the ballot box, is the answer to Executive tyranny.

    For while Democrats and current Republican leaders may not remember, the following words are the cultural DNA of the American people, and it only took 1/3 of them to win the Revolution and drive out a Superpower:


    “…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, History, Immigration, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, North America, Politics, Predictions, Uncategorized, USA | 75 Comments »

    The First Rip in the Iron Curtain

    Posted by Grurray on 23rd October 2014 (All posts by )

     Hungarian Freedom Fighters in 1956

    Today is the anniversary of the start of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising..

    In contrast to David’s previous discussion about young European women abandoning Western civilization, in Hungary that year women were fighting for freedom and to be part of the West.

    In Budapest last week . . . the Russian masters and their desperate Hungarian puppets faced a new and formidable foe. The city’s women, some of whom had fought earlier at the side of their men and then had bitterly buried the men who had fallen, suddenly banded together in a series of fresh demonstrations of defiance.

    “Only women are wanted this time,” they shouted as they joined up in the streets. Then, ignoring the ominous presence of security police and Russian tanks, they marched with flowers and flags to a service commemorating their dead. The men doffed their hats in tribute as the women paraded past and joined with them in the stirring words of a forbidden song—“We shall never be slaves.”

    Despite the fact that the uprising was crushed by Soviet tanks in the following weeks and months, the oppression eventually eased to the point where Hungary came to become one of the “Happiest Barracks” of the Soviet sphere. Thanks to those brave young men and women, freedom eventually found its way through to the rest of Eastern Europe.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments »

    College Course on America 3.0 at U. Cal. Irvine with Prof. Gary Richardson

    Posted by Lexington Green on 1st October 2014 (All posts by )

    Gary Richardson

    I recently had my one-year anniversary as Associate Specialist in the Department of Economics at The University of California, Irvine. A notice went out on LinkedIn, and many people thought I’d moved to California. Not so. I am in Chicago, practicing law — and promoting the vision, mission and message of America 3.0 from here.

    The UCI appointment was made at the initiative of my friend Gary Richardson. Gary is in the midst of a very distinguished career as an economist and historian. His webpage shows the scope and quality of his research and publication. His papers with the National Bureau of Economic Research are here. Most recently Gary was appointed as the first historian of the Federal Reserve. Here is an interview regarding the role of the historian for the Fed.

    What the UCI appointment permitted me to do was to team-teach a college course, with Gary, using America 3.0 as the text. I joined the class via Skype, from my desk in Chicago. This was a great experience for me, and the feedback from the students was positive. The appointment has also given me access to material which will be very helpful for future research and writing.

    My thanks to Gary Richardson, the dashing chap pictured above, and to the students in the America 3.0 class.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Archival Post – Tory Green

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th July 2014 (All posts by )

    (from my 2010 archives at NCO Brief – a meditation on class, rebellion and independence – which has new relevance in the light of this administration’s efforts to hobble and break the middle class of this country by essentially erasing the border.)

    Nononono . . . not the kinda-sorta-conservative political part of that entity formerly known as Great Britain, and usually prefaced with the adjectives ‘hidebound’ and ‘reactionary’ . . . but those citizens of the 13 British colonies distributed along the east coast of the North American continent, two centuries and change ago. Those who disliked the thought of independence, of having their comfortable apple-cart upset, who liked the way of things as they were, and trusted above all that the Crown divinely appointed, of course. They trusted the Crown, of course. They trusted the Crown’s duly selected, and properly credentialed authorities to Know What Is Best for All, most especially what is best for the upstart, uncultured and amateur rabble. Who, being poor, unwashed, uneducated and singularly bereft of connection to as well as the friendship of Important People at Court, as well as their Pet Intellectuals (certified to have had all their shots and been properly neutered and de-clawed) were in desperate need of the guidance of their betters.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, History, Leftism, Tea Party, Uncategorized | Comments Off

    History Friday: Secrets of the Pacific Warfare Board — Body Armor for Operation Olympic

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 27th June 2014 (All posts by )

    Today’s History Friday column is another in a series focusing on an almost unknown series of military documents from World War II (WW2) called “The Reports of the Pacific Warfare Board,” and specifically Pacific Warfare Board (PWB) Report #35 Armor Vest, T62E1 and Armor Vest T64. (See photo below) This report, like most of the PWB reports, had been classified for decades and only now thanks to the cratering costs USB flash drives and increasing quality of digital cameras has it become possible for the interested hobbyist or blogger to access and write about these reports from the formally hard to use National Archives. And PWB #35 is about one of those hugely important but overlooked details — Infantry Body Armor — that utterly undermine the established historical narratives by the professional Military history community about the end of WW2 in the Pacific. Namely that the Japanese would so bloody attacking American invasion forces the Japanese would “win” – for values of winning – a more favorable settlement of the war.

    M12 Vest for Operation Olympic

    Pictured is the T64/M12 anti-artillery fragment body armor. It was being combat tested in July 1945 and over 100,000 complete sets were scheduled for completion by the end of August 1945, for the invasion of Japan. The body armor consisted of a 0.125″ 75 ST aluminum plate backed by 8 ply of ballistic nylon and weighed 12 pounds.

    According to PWB #35, both the T62E1 and T64 vest (the latter is pictured above and was standardized as the M12 in August 1945) were sent for combat testing to MacArthur’s 6th and 8th Army’s in the Philippines in June and July 1945. The T64 vest was chosen for series production as the M12 in the summer of 1945 with 100,000 supposed to be finished by the end of August. This was sufficient time to ship those vest to the Pacific for all the assault infantry regiments participating the cancelled by A-bomb invasion of Japan, code named Operation Olympic.

    Why infantry body armor like the M12 is so disruptive for the established narratives boils down to one word — casualties. The deployment of 100,000 such vests would have reduced American infantry casualty rates from lethal artillery fragments in the invasion of Japan to roughly Vietnam levels. This means roughly 1/3 fewer combat deaths from artillery fragments and about an overall 10% to 20% reduction in total projected combat deaths. Depending on which of the historical casualty ratios you select for measurement, it means something on the order of up to 10,000 fewer battle deaths, in the event that the A-bomb hadn’t made the invasion superfluous.

    I would call this a very significant, reality altering, detail.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    The Great Iraqi Bug Out and the Death of “LOGCAP”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 17th June 2014 (All posts by )

    This article from the McClatchy papers makes clear that the collapse of the Shia dominated Iraqi Army was arranged. See: “Iraqi soldier who fought with Americans says decision to flee left him feeling ashamed” By Hannah Allam and Mohammed al Dulaimy.

    While this explains a great deal why the American intelligence community was blindsided by the collapse, it leaves a huge strategic level issue for the Obama Administration. Will they protect American hired private military corporation personnel from torture-murder by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Forces? The failure to do so would be a huge strategic blunder that would cripple American conventional force projection for literally decades.

    Why this is requires explaining “LOGCAP.”

    LOGCAP Explained
    LOGCAP or “Logistics Civil Augmentation Program” was established in 1985 primarily to pre-plan for contingencies and to “leverage existing civilian resources.” It was not really used in a large way until the 1st Gulf War of 1990-1991, to take advantage of the Saudi and Gulf States civil economies to replace uniformed American logistical support. This was as much a political move by the Pres. George H.W. Bush Administration to manage American anti-war, and primarily Democratic anti-war, opposition to retaking Kuwait as it was a logistical exercise. (Hold that thought!)

    LOGCAP was later expanded by the Clinton Administration to cover “operations other than war” in places like Somalia, Southwest Asia, Haiti, the Balkans, and East Timor. This allowed the Clinton Administration to exercise a muscular and multi-lateral foreign policy with the minimum of senior uniformed military opposition. Opposition which balked at “operations other than war” as the American Senior military leadership’s version of the “Vietnam War syndrome,” as the US Army’s deployments during the Kosovo war made clear.

    This Clinton Administration “work around” approach to American military “Flag Rank” opposition was hugely apparent with the Croat “Operation Storm” in Bosnia, where “Military Professional Resources Incorporated” acted as an American military surrogate to plan the Croat Offensive that broke Serbian power in Bosnia.

    Effectively “Private Military Corporation” contractor support has been the keystone of American military power projection since the 2nd Clinton Administration. This fact has been documented in a lot of places. See this July 2000 article from US Army Logistician Magazine — Contingency Contracting in East Timor — or this more recent Defense Industry Daily article that speaks to the most recent LOCGCAP 4 contract — LOGCAP 4: Billions of Dollars Awarded for Army Logistics Support.

    LOGCAP after 9/11/2001
    The two Pres. George W. Bush Administrations further expanded the use of LOGCAP after 9-11-2001, not only to manage public opposition to the “War on Terror” but also as a “Fight the War on the Cheap” exercise because your average logistics/garrison specialist first class (SFC) with government income, free medical care, education benefits, and housing allowances for three dependents earn earns arguably 125-150K in “benefits.” A DynCorp or KBR contractor costs the US government up to twice what a SFC costs in terms of annual income, but it is a known, predictable, fixed cost incurred and gone; whereas the Federal government will pay for the SFC and his dependents for another 20+ years in terms of benefits obligated by service.

    This was in fact one of the reasons Democrats in Congress hated private military corporations doing uniformed military work in the War on Terror. Their extensive use in the 1st Gulf War plus the on-going operations in Iraq and Afghanistan hugely reduced the long term opportunity for graft and corruption via the Congressional administration of uniformed veterans education and medical benefits.

    LOGCAP as a Foreign Policy Disaster
    LOGCAP in Iraq and Afghanistan is only part of the private military corporation portfolio. The DEA uses a number of private military corporations in the Drug wars in Latin America for aerial electronic surveillance and training of local security forces. The American government also uses a number of private military corporations to furnish spares for things like the ATK built AC208B light gunship in Iraq.

    The torture-murder of any of those Iraq private military contractors will utterly cripple current American foreign policy as implemented since the late 1990’s by the Defense Department regional commanders.

    The lack of trust such a mass abandonment of private military contractors by the Obama Administration — a lack of trust that is already bad since the abandonment of both the American Ambassador and his private military contractor bodyguards at Benghazi, Libya — will result in demands for far more money up front in the form of letters of credit in foreign banks not under US Government control to pay for both private pre-paid “go to hell plan” preparations and death benefits.

    That sort of change will increase private military corporation contractor support costs to such a degree that it will require uniformed US military in much larger numbers to replace private military corporations. The functional impact will be the reducing of American military type “hard power” projection world-wide for decades…and increase the amount of graft flowing through Democratic interest groups if the security threat warrants the use of a lot of uniformed military to address an existential foreign threat.

    Isn’t it funny how things work out like that with the Obama Administration?

    Posted in Current Events, International Affairs, Iraq, Middle East, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    RERUN–a Neglected but Significant Anniversary

    Posted by David Foster on 13th May 2014 (All posts by )

    ‘When the crocus blossoms,’ hiss the women in Berlin,
    ‘He will press the button, and the battle will begin.
    When the crocus blossoms, up the German knights will go,
    And flame and fume and filthiness will terminate the foe…
    When the crocus blossoms, not a neutral will remain.’

    (A P Herbert, Spring Song, quoted in To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne)

    On May 10, 1940, German forces launched an attack against Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Few people among the Allies imagined that France would collapse in only six weeks: Churchill, for example, had a high opinion of the fighting qualities of the French army. But collapse is what happened, of course, and we are still all living with the consequences. General Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain on the French staff, wrote in 1967:

    The collapse of the French Army is the most important event of the twentieth century.

    If it’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. If France had held up to the German assault as effectively as it was expected to do, World War II would probably have never reached the nightmare levels that it in fact did reach. The Hitler regime might well have fallen. The Holocaust would never have happened. Most likely, there would have been no Communist takeover of Eastern Europe.

    This campaign has never received much attention in America; it tends to be regarded as something that happened before the “real” war started. Indeed, many denizens of the Anglosphere seem to believe that the French basically gave up without a fight–which is a considerable exaggeration given the French casualties of around 90,000 killed and 200,000 wounded. But I think the fall of France deserves serious study, and that some of the root causes of the defeat are scarily relevant to today’s world.

    First, I will very briefly summarize the campaign from a military standpoint, and will then shift focus to the social and political factors involved in the defeat.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in France, Germany, History, Military Affairs, Uncategorized, War and Peace | 24 Comments »

    History Friday – At the Inn of the Golden-Something-or-Other

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

    (For a Friday, a little change from the usual – a post about traveling, history, and an insufficient command of French … but an appreciation for good food and small country inns. This is included my ebook “Travels With Blondie.”)

    I have been flipping over the pages of my battered Hallwag Euro-Guide, attempting to reconstruct my hopscotch itinerary on little back roads across France, at the wheel of the VEV in the early autumn of 1985. I avoided the big cities, before and after Paris, and the major highways. For a foreign driver, Paris was a nerve-wracking, impenetrable urban jungle, a tangle of streets and roundabouts, and the major highways were toll-roads and expensive; much less fraught to follow the little-trafficked country roads from town to town to town. We ghosted along those two-lane country roads as much as a bright orange Volvo sedan can be said to ghost, the trunk and the back seat packed with mine and my daughter’s luggage, a basket of books, a large bottle of Metaxa brandy (a departing gift from Kyria Paniyioti, our Athens landlord) and two boxes of china and kitchen gadgets purchased from that holiest of holies of French kitchenware shops, Dehillerin in the Rue Coquilliere.

    From Chartres and the wondrous cathedral, I went more or less south towards the Loire; the most direct way would been a secondary road to Chateaudun, and an even more secondary road directly from there to Blois, through a green countryside lightly touched with autumn gold, where the fields of wheat and silage had been already mown down to stubble. The road wound through gentle ranges of hills, and stands of enormous trees. Here at a turn of the road was a dainty and Disney-perfect chateau, with a wall and a terrace and a steep-sloped blue-slate roof trimmed with pepper-pot turrets, an enchanting dollhouse of a chateau, set among its’ own shady green grove. There was no historic marker, no sign of habitation, nothing to welcome the sightseer, and then the road went around a bend and it was out of sight, as fleeting as a vision.
    Blois was set on hills, a charming small town of antique buildings, none more than two or three stories tall, and I seemed to come into it very abruptly late in the afternoon. Suddenly there were buildings replacing the fields on either side. At the first corner, I turned left, followed the signpost pointing to the town center; might as well find a place to spend the night. As soon as I turned the corner and thought this, I spotted the little hotel, fronting right on the narrow sidewalk. It had two Michelin stars, which was good enough for me (plain, clean, comfortable and cheap) and was called the Golden… well, the golden something or other. I didn’t recognise the French word; truth to tell, I didn’t recognize most of them, just the words for foods and cooking, mostly, and could pronounce rather fewer.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Architecture, Diversions, Europe, History, Personal Narrative, Recipes, Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    Illinois Mirror Poll Shows Republican Bruce Rauner is up 13 Points Over Incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn in IL Governor’s Race

    Posted by Lexington Green on 31st March 2014 (All posts by )


     

    My friend Eric Kohn runs a terrific new site: Illinois Mirror.

    Here is his opening manifesto.

    Illinois’ legacy, calcified media long ago abdicated its obligation to provide useful knowledge that engenders an informed public. I don’t really care if it’s out of disinterest, laziness, partisanship, or cozy relationships with those in power, but the establishment media outlets stand by and tap their keyboards while Illinois crumbles. So, if the air-brushed, teleprompter-fed local media won’t do its job, Illinois Mirror will.
     
    We accept the responsibility that they abandoned. We’ll offer a perspectives that they ignore to reveal how Illinois government really works and its effects on the public.

    Right on.

    And so far, so good. In fact: So far, so outstanding.

    The Illinois Mirror today published the amazing results of its poll for the Governor’s race.

    This is the first poll for this race.

    The Illinois Mirror poll shows GOP candidate Bruce Rauner up THIRTEEN POINTS over Donk Pat Quinn!

    Wow. We know Pat is awful, and we know the state is an ongoing train wreck. But still, for a purportedly Blue state, that is a surprising number.

    Barring a disaster, we will elect a GOP governor who at least talks like a reformer and, fingers crossed, will actually be one.

    I, and many others like me, ask only this of Bruce Rauner: Be what you say you are, do what you say you will do.

    Please.

    The old timers in the GOP were against Rauner. And the teachers unions pushed their members to switch-hit and take GOP ballots to vote for Kirk Dillard, the main establishment GOP candidate. As a result, Dillard got within a couple of points of Rauner, confounding many polls which predicted a Rauner blowout.

    In fact, the only poll that correctly showed the race would be close was the Illinois Mirror poll!

    Nice work.

    Question for the studio audience: Is there any chance this lopsided poll result will be a bellwether for the USA generally in November?

    I sure hope so.

    And keep your eye on the Illinois Mirror!

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Polls, Uncategorized, USA | 11 Comments »

    History Friday: Do Not Cross the 1836 Time Line

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th March 2014 (All posts by )

    (During the months of February, March and April, reenactor groups are busy in Texas, at the sites of key events in the War for Independence, doing encampments and recreations of events: The siege of the Alamo, the Coleto Creek fight/Goliad Massacre, and the Battle of San Jacinto. Below the jump are pictures that I took a couple of years ago at the first event Next week – the Goliad reenactment)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, History, Photos, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    When is 5 Percent Not 5 Percent?

    Posted by David Foster on 25th January 2014 (All posts by )

    The Iranian nuclear deal (more on the deal and the secret side agreement; see also this) refers to uranium enrichment thresholds of 5% and 20%. These may not sound too threatening, given that a nuclear weapon requires enrichment to around the 90% level. BUT the percentage enrichment of the uranium is NOT a good indicator of the amount of work required to get there.

    Start with a tonne (2204 pounds) of natural uranium feed–to enrich it to 5% will require about 900 Separative Work Units–SWUs being an indicator of the amount of energy, time, and capital equipment required for the process. Take to 5% enriched product and continue enriching it to 20%, and the incremental cost will be only about 200 SWUs, for an accumulated total cost of 1100 SWUs. And if you want to turn the 20% enriched substance into weapons-grade 90%-enriched uranium, you need add only about another 200 SWUs of effort, for a grand total of 1300 SWUs. Thus, the effort required to get to that seemingly-harmless 5% threshold is already 69% of the way to weapons grade, and 20% enrichment is 84% of the way there. See this article, which explains that “the curve flattens out so much because the mass of material being enriched progressively diminishes to these amounts, from the original one tonne, so requires less effort relative to what has already been applied to progress a lot further in percentage enrichment.”

    There has been very, very little media coverage on this point. One place the issue was discussed was in February and September 2012 reports by the American Enterprise Institute, which were discussed and excerpted at PowerLine in November 2013. Note that the AEI analysis shows an even flatter enrichment curve than the one in the article I linked above–AEI is showing 90% of the total effort for weapons-grade as being required to get to 5% enrichment, rather than “only” 69%. In either case, it should be clear that possession of large quantities of material enriched to 5% is a very nontrivial milestone on the way to constructing a nuclear weapon.

    Meanwhile, 4 billion dollars worth of frozen Iranian funds are being unfrozen and sent to Iran. Money is fungible, and almost certainly some of this money will go to support Iranian-backed terrorism, funding operations intended to kill American military personnel, Israeli civilians, and quite possibly American civilians in this country as well. And some of it will probably go to support R&D on advanced centrifuge technology, allowing Iran to move even more quickly to a nuclear weapon when it decides to do so.

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    Posted in Iran, Israel, Media, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    History Friday: Pacific Paradigm Shift in the US Navy

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 24th January 2014 (All posts by )

    I have written in my columns on the end of WW2 in the Pacific about institutional or personally motivated false narratives, hagiography narratives, forgotten via classification narratives and forgotten via extinct organization narratives. Today’s column is revisiting the theme of how generational changes in every day technology make it almost impossible to understand what the World War II (WW2) generation is telling us about it’s times without a lot of research. Recent books on the like John Prados’ “ISLANDS OF DESTINY: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun” and James D. Hornesfischer’s “NEPTUNES INFERNO: The US Navy at Guadalcanal” focus in the importance of intelligence and the “learning by dying” use of Radar in the Solomons Campaign. Both are cracking good reads and can teach you a lot about that period. Yet they are both missing some very important, generationally specific, professional reasons that the US Navy did so poorly at night combat in the Solomons. These reasons have to do with a transition of technology and how that technology was tied into a military service’s training and promotion policies.

    WW2 saw a huge paradigm shift in the US Navy from battleships to aircraft carriers and from surface warship officers, AKA the Black Shoe wearing “Gun Club,” to naval aviators or the Brown Shoe wearing “Airdales.” Most people see this as an abrupt Pearl Harbor related shift. To some extent that was true, but there is an additional “Detailed Reality” hiding behind this shift that US Army officers familiar with both the 4th Infantry Division Task Force XXI experiments in 1997 and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq will understand all too well. Naval officers in 1942-1945, just like Army officers in 1997-2003 were facing a complete change in their basic mode of communications that were utterly against their professional training, in the heat of combat. Navy officers in 1942-1945 were going from a visual communications with flag semaphore and blinking coded signal lamps on high ship bridges to a radio voice and radar screen in a “Combat Information Center” (CIC) hidden below decks. US Army officers, on the other hand, in 1997-2003 were switching from a radio-audio and paper map battlefield view to digital electronic screens. Both switches of communications caused cognitive dissonance driven poor decisions by their users. However, the difference in final results was driven by the training incentives built into these respective military services promotion policies.

     In many ship photographs taken between about 1916 and 1940, there are what appear to be large clocks on the front and rear superstructures or masts. These are actually devices to tell the other ships in the formation at what range that ship is firing at. Together with "Declination Marks" on the sides of turrets; these mechanisms allowed the other ships in the formation, whose view of the target may be obscured by fog, gun smoke or funnel smoke, to have their guns at the proper elevation and bearing when their view becomes unobstructed. This greatly reduced the time needed before they were ready to fire

    In many ship photographs taken between about 1916 and 1940, there are what appear to be large clocks on the front and rear superstructures or masts. These are actually devices to tell the other ships in the formation at what range that ship is firing at. Together with “Declination Marks” on the sides of turrets; these mechanisms allowed the other ships in the formation, whose view of the target may be obscured by fog, gun smoke or funnel smoke, to have their guns at the proper elevation and bearing when their view becomes unobstructed. This greatly reduced the time needed before they were ready to fire. Source — http://www.patriotfiles.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111568

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Military Affairs, National Security, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 42 Comments »

    … natus ex Maria virgine …

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th December 2013 (All posts by )

    And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

    Luke, 2:8-12.

    Merry Christmas to all of our Chicago Boyz contributors, readers, friends and families.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

    Here We Go Again …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th December 2013 (All posts by )

    … or, haven’t I been to this rodeo before? Why, yes I have, and not all that long ago, either. First I called to mind was poor artless Paula Deen, celebrity cook-book author, metaphorically burned at stake in the marketplace of public opinion. But the Great Duck Dynasty Imbroglio of 2013 reminds me very much more of the Great Chick-Fil-A Ruckus of 2012, wherein some fairly mild published remarks by the CEO of the company sent the usual right-thinking suspects into a frenzy of shrieking like demented howler monkeys. Boycott, shun, divest and/or fire was the general ukase – for they are hateful hating bigots who shouldn’t be tolerated by truly tolerant people … and then the funniest thing happened. People went out and deliberately bought lunch, dinner and breakfast at their local Chick-fil-A outlet, to the utter chagrin of the usual right-thinking suspects. Chick-Fil-A nationwide had the best darned week they ever had, as far as sales went, and lines of hungry customers stretching for blocks.
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    Posted in Americas, Business, Conservatism, Current Events, Human Behavior, Media, Uncategorized | 28 Comments »

    History Friday: MacArthur’s Human Porter Logistics

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th December 2013 (All posts by )

    When I started writing my “History Friday” columns, one of my objectives was to explore the “military historical narratives” around General Douglas MacArthur, so I could write with a better understanding about the “cancelled by atomic bomb” November 1945 invasion of Japan. One of the least explored aspects of MacArthur’s fighting style was his highly flexible approach to logistics, which he described as “We are doing what we can with what we have.” Logistics being the ability to transport and supply military forces. In describing MacArthur’s flexibility, and poor documentation of same, I wrote previously:

    “One of the maddening things about researching General Douglas MacArthur’s fighting style in WW2 was the way he created, used and discarded military institutions, both logistical and intelligence, in the course of his South West Pacific Area (SWPA) operations. Institutions that had little wartime publicity and have no direct organizational descendent to tell their stories in the modern American military.”

    The importance of logistics is the reason for the adage, “Amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics.”

    Today’s column is the story of one of those many “throw away” logistical institutions. In this case, it was MacArthur’s “human porter logistics” — native workers provided by the Australian and Dutch East Indies colonial authorities — married to the 5th Air Force’s primitive bootleg radio beacon navigation. A mid-20th century great-great-grandfather of today’s Global Positioning System radio beacon satellites.

    American and Australian casualties, with Papuan Stretcher Bearers.

    American and Australian casualties, with Papuan Stretcher Bearers. Men like the ones pictured were key in moving supplies from forward air drop zones to Australian and American troops in New Guinea.

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    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Transportation, Uncategorized, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    The Obamacare’s 0.7% New Policy Payment Problem

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 11th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Allahpundit over on the HotAir blog has a post up titled “Uh oh: Only 5-15% of enrollees have paid their first month of premiums in some ObamaCare plans” that has some hugely interesting numbers regards the payment rate for those who have signed up for Obamacare to date.

    There are 365,000 enrollees in Obamacare thus far. Only 15% of them have paid for their 1st month of healthcare insurance. This means _AT BEST_ less than 55,000 of the 365,000 who have enrolled will have insurance come January 2014.

    The individual healthcare market prior to Obamacare was over 7 million people holding policies.

    That works out to 0.7% of the individual policy holders that had old pre-Obamacare private health insurance policies, who have renewed their policies under Obamacare, given a 15% payment compliance rate. Remember, that is the _BEST CASE_ It may be as little as 1/3 that compliance number and percentage.

    There are less than 30 days for the other 99.3% of the individual healthcare market to get an Obamacare policy.

    I wonder what odds Las Vegas bookies would give for an Obamacare paid policy rate 10% of the old individual healthcare market, AKA Obamacare policies for 700,000?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

    Backroads in the Eagle Ford Shale Country

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 9th December 2013 (All posts by )

    Typical South Texas landscape – Taken north of Goliad


    This last Saturday was the second day of Christmas on the Square in Goliad, Texas. I had a table there, as a local author, but the cold was so pronounced that the whole event was rather a bust … but it did mean that folding up and coming home early allowed some time for taking pictures on the way back. This is a part of Texas which overlies the Eagle Ford Shale formation, and over the last five years I have noted a good many changes along the route, and in the small towns that we pass through on a semi-regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Current Events, Entrepreneurship, Environment, North America, Uncategorized, USA | 14 Comments »

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    History Friday: MacArthur’s Southern Philippines Campaign

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 22nd November 2013 (All posts by )

    Logistics, the ability to transport and supply military forces, underwrites military strategy. The importance of logistics is the reason for the adage, “Amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics.” These truisms of military affairs are often glossed over by General Douglas MacArthur’s critics — like US Naval Historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison — and replaced with talk of MacArthur “Seeking Personal Glory” and taking “Unnecessary Casualties.” This was especially true when it came to MacArthur’s liberation of the Southern Philippines. MacArthur’s Southern Philippines campaign, far from being “unnecessary” and a “strategic dead end,” was a logistical enabler for Operations Olympic and Coronet, the American invasion plans for the islands of Kyushu and Honshu Japan.

    MacArthur had been directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be able to stage through the Philippines 11 divisions by November 1945 and a further 22 by February 1946. The securing of the Southern Philippines would cut off Japanese small boat production there, protected MacArthur’s sea lines of communication filled with small boats and a polyglot freighter fleet from both radar and radio directed Japanese Kamikaze aircraft and suicide boats, and provide the vitally needed Filipino workforce for assembly work and port capacity to support the staging those divisions for the invasion of Japan.

    Suthern Philippines Campaign

    MacArthur’s Southern Philippines Campaign – Source: “Southern Philippines: The US Army Campaigns of World War II” CMH Pub 72-40

    To understand the Southern Philippine campaign in historical context, you need to know that MacArthur’s liberation of the Philippines was done in four phases.

    1) Sixth Army’s Leyte Campaign
    2) Sixth Army’s Mindoro/Luzon Campaign
    3) The Eighth Army’s the Leyte-Samar operation (including clearance of the Visayan passages)
    4) The Eighth Army’s extended Southern Philippines campaign south of the Visayan passages

    The first two phases are not included in the “waste of soldiers” critiques of MacArthur, while the other two usually are. So I will lay out MacArthur’s logistical reasons to pursue those “unnecessary” military operations as the relate to the invasion of Japan.
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    Posted in History, Military Affairs, National Security, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Under the Flag

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 11th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Veterans Day started after World War I as “Armistice Day” commemorating the end of that conflict on the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. As time went and wars came one after another, it became the day America commemorated as Veteran’s Day, for those who served under the flag in the military services.

    This year, though my memories are on one of the very many who were “They also serve who only stand and wait.” My Grandmother, Dora Zoraida (Rodriguez) Due died on October 30, 2013 at the age of 97 surrounded by her loving family members. She was the Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother of soldiers of the American Republic. Men of her life and line have served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

    Dora Due, Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother of American Soldiers

    Dora Due, Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother of American Soldiers

    “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
    .
    –John Milton

    My Grandma Dora was such an “Army Woman” that even Spartan women of old would have pulled their hair and gnashed their teeth in envy. At her funeral one of her son-in-laws computed that the men of Dora’s life and line have served 111 continuous years of the 238 and counting existence of the Regular US Army. Truly there was not a day of her 97 year life that Dora did not serve, waiting, under the flag.
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    Posted in Civil Society, History, Obits, Uncategorized | 18 Comments »

    History Friday – Pax Romana

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st November 2013 (All posts by )

    (This was a post from 2006 originally on NCOBrief.com … about the end of empire-slash-hegemony, and the unforeseen results from that kind of event. So – if the Presidency of Obama, an event lauded high and low especially in Western Europe – eventually means the end of the American hegemony in various spheres – what then, replaces it? What happens when the US Navy no longer patrols certain ocean choke-points, and local piracy reigns supreme? Will another international power … step to the fore? What then, oh wolves?)

    The stone ruins of Imperial Rome underlie Western Europe and the Mediterranean like the bones of a body, partially buried, yet here and there still visible and grandly manifest above ground, all but complete. From Leptis Magna in North Africa, to Hadrian’s Wall in the contentious border between Scotland and England proper, from Split in the Former Yugoslavia, to the 81 perfectly preserved arches of the ancient bridge over the Guadiana River, in Merida – that part of the empire called Hispania – and in thousands of lesser or greater remnants, the presence of Rome is everywhere and inescapable. The same sort of cast – concrete walls, faced with pebbles, or stone or tile, the same sort of curved roof-tiles, the same temples to Vesta, and Jupiter, to Claudius, Mars and Mithras; the same baths and fora, market-places, villas and apartment buildings, all tied together by a network of commerce and administration. Goods both luxury and otherwise, adventurous tourists, soldiers and civil administrators – the very blood of an empire, all moved along the veins and arteries of well-maintained roads and way-stations, of which the very beating heart was Rome itself. Carrying that image a little farther than absolutely necessary, I can visualize that heart as being a human, four-chambered one; of which two – the political/imperial establishment, and the flamboyantly military Rome of battles and conquest – have always rather overshadowed the other two in popular imagination. Commerce and civil administration just do not fire the blood and imagination – unless one is wonkishly fascinated by these things, and it would take a gifted writer to make them as interesting as imperial intrigues and soldiering adventures.

    But close to the Palatine Hill, where the sprawling palace of the emperors looked out over the linked fora, law courts and temples in one direction, and the Circus Maximus in another – Trajan’s concrete and brick central market rambled over three or four levels, from the great hall of the Corn Exchange down to the open plaza of the meat market at the level of the forum below . Here was the embodiment of the great hearts’ economic chamber. Every sort of imaginable commodity moved from one end of the empire to another and from parts outside the Roman hegemony: corn from the Egyptian breadbasket, silk from faraway China, spices from India, African ivory and gold, olive oil, oranges and wine from the Mediterranean to everywhere else. And that trade was enabled by law and technology. Roman roads, waterworks, and civic infrastructure like harbors, lighthouses and bridges would in some cases, not be equaled or bettered until the 19th century. While emperors and soldiers came and went, sometimes with messy and protracted splatters of blood, the unspectacular and dull work of the empire went tirelessly on and on, little changing from day to day, decade to decade, until Rome itself seemed eternal, fixed forever, immutable like the stars in the sky.
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    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Deep Thoughts, History, Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    Why Downtown Was Strangely Safe Today …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th October 2013 (All posts by )

    In spite of the widely popular beer festival going on in Exposition park …

    (Story here)

    My daughter wanted to stop at Schilo’s Delicatessen for lunch – and this was the first time we have ever been downtown where it wasn’t packed to the point of an hour wait for a table. So we got to Alamo Plaza after the participants had pretty well scattered. But there were a lot of them still, sprinkled here and there, among the tourists, AF Basic graduates, and beer enthusiasts.
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    Posted in Anglosphere, Conservatism, Human Behavior, Law, Law Enforcement, Society, Tea Party, Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    Pontifical High Mass and Organ Dedication Recital – St John Cantius, Chicago

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 15th October 2013 (All posts by )

    A digital rendition of the now completed organ in St. John Cantius Church

    I’m borrowing this announcement from the New Liturgical Movement blog, where Fr Thomnas Kocik posted it today:

    This coming Sunday, October 20th, at St John Cantius Church in Chicago, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, will bless the church’s recently installed, fully restored Casavant pipe organ (Opus 1130) at 4:00 pm.
    .
    Immediately following the blessing, a Pontifical High Mass will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. There will be a dinner in the church hall at 6:00 pm, and at 7:00 pm the Organ Dedication Recital by Thomas Schuster of Miami’s Church of the Epiphany.

    **

    The event, as you see, will be both musical and liturgical: if I come across a suitable video of the liturgy taken during the event, I will drop it in here.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Music, Religion, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »