Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
 

Recommended Photo Store
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading? Click here to find out.
 
Make your Amazon purchases though this banner to support our blog:
(If you don't see the banner click here for our Amazon store.)
 
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Contributors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Lex's Tweets
  • Jonathan's Tweets
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Archive for May, 2004

    What just happened? The paradox

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 31st May 2004 (All posts by )

    The twentieth century saw large countries devote themselves to a collective effort to advance in learning, to create and spread prosperity to all, and to organize themselves according to rational principles. All they have to show for it is mass graves, blighted lands, salty soil, and a dry sea. How could they have possibly failed?

    Americans are no smarter than any other group of people in the world. We know and believe this. Americans also place a higher value on the individual than most of the world. We have no tribes or clans; our families are just our siblings, descendants, and ancestors. We have no holy mountains or rivers, no roots. We would just as soon live one place as another, depending on what we could grow and what it costs. How could an unorganized mob achieve a passable civilization, let alone a large and successful one?

    We don’t really know. We just know what happened, not why, and we are not sure we care why. If an action had a good result, we’ll try that again. If it stops working, we’ll try something else. If you keep it up long enough, you get to an answer, just as a blind pig finds an acorn.

    Think of the two ways to create a supercomputer. The first is a single, massive, and powerful processor. The second is a huge number of processors, operating in parallel. One attempts to solve the problem directly, the other eliminates all the wrong answers to find the right one, or works on only a part of the problem.

    We are left with a paradox: leaving the important questions to a Great Leader, or central processor, limits the computing power to that of the one thinking unit. Leaving them to the millions of insignificant people, such as you and me, solves great problems as weather erodes great mountains — little by little. Thus the collective organization becomes the operation of a single individual, and the riot of idividuals resolves itself into a collective machine. Or, as was said two centuries ago:

    He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for society that it was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

    Adam Smith

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    I Don’t Want to be Sick in Canada

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 31st May 2004 (All posts by )

    We’ve got an election in full swing down here in the US. Lots of noise and fury, plenty of sound bites and photo ops. It’s quit the show.

    But other countries have elections. They’re going to have one in Canada pretty soon.

    So Collin May over at Innocents Abroad is covering the Canadian election. He’s already put up three posts about it, and they really summarize the issues pretty well. Worth a read if you want to know what’s going on without much effort.

    In this post, Collin defines the campaign strategy of the Liberal Party, which is currently the ruling party up in the frozen North.

    “The Liberal tactics, at least as far as the Conservatives are concerned, is to paint the party and especially the leader as a redneck right-winger who will push Canada toward a more American style of government.”

    What exactly do they mean by that, “…a more American style of government”?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Memorial Day 2004

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st May 2004 (All posts by )

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Band Rehearsal

    Posted by Lexington Green on 30th May 2004 (All posts by )

    We had our last BALD COW rehearsal prior to our FIRST TIME in 14 years show. (Earlier rehearsal described here.) I think it’s pretty darn good. And I think there may actually be more people at the show than are in the band. Pictures and hopefully video will be available on this blog at some point.

    Drive safely, y’all.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    “Beating the Point Spread” and Other Press Biases

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Steven Den Beste posts a thoughtful memo about the press and its public role. He makes a lot of sense but there are a couple of areas in which his comments might usefully be expanded.

    His discussion of the “mission” of the press lists informing citizens “so they can vote wisely” as a goal. It is indeed a valid goal but it’s incomplete. A fuller definition might be based on the press’s traditional function as a check on government. The idea is, or used to be, that government is concentrated power and needs to be watched closely to keep it accountable. This is a more extensive charter than that of merely helping citizens to vote wisely.

    Modern professional journalists often see their main role, quite differently and incompatibly from the traditional one, as being about encouraging that which they see as social reform with government as its principal agent. They tend to under emphasize the risks and costs of concentrations of governmental power, and to over emphasize threats posed by what they see as private concentrations of power (principally, corporate America, organized Christianity and grass-roots political conservatism).
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    The Leviathan & The System Administrator

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 29th May 2004 (All posts by )

    This is a tale of the present and the future, where nation states fall into two basic categories: A) The politically stable, technologically developed, globalized, economically interconnected states – the Core, and B) the politically unstable, underdeveloped or even non-developed, non-globally connected states – the Gap. Who cares?, you might ask. Well, as Thomas Barnett writes in Esquire Magazine:

    If we draw a line around the majority of [US] military interventions, we have basically mapped the Non-Integrating Gap. Obviously, there are outliers excluded geographically by this simple approach, such as an Israel isolated in the Gap, a North Korea adrift within the Core, or a Philippines straddling the line. But looking at the data, it is hard to deny the essential logic of the picture: If a country is either losing out to globalization or rejecting much of the content flows associated with its advance, there is a far greater chance that the U.S. will end up sending forces at some point. Conversely, if a country is largely functioning within globalization, we tend not to have to send our forces there to restore order to eradicate threats.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

    Utility Software: Too Many Features, Not Enough Utility

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th May 2004 (All posts by )

    MS Word is to text editing what AOL is to email. Both systems have proprietary features that make life a little easier for inexperienced users while causing problems for everyone else. For example, in MS Word-formatted blog posts, Web links of the “a href=” type fail to work if the URL in enclosed in MS “curly quotes.” And I’m sure many of us have had frustrating experiences trying to send non-text attachments to AOL users.

    Part of the problem in both cases is user error, and part is that MS and AOL use proprietary features to corral users. A lot of it also seems to be a lack of sense on the part of the software designers.

    This is particularly true for Microsoft products. Word is complex, with default settings that are optimized to produce aesthetically perfect printed output. But much of what we do now is online, displaying text on Web pages via non-MS software such as Movable Type, and collaborating with people who aren’t always using Microsoft products. For such purposes the default use of plain text with a minimum of nonstandard ASCII characters makes more sense than does Word’s infinite configurability and default print orientation.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Brilliant Stuff (Happy Memorial Day)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th May 2004 (All posts by )

    No irony. Really brilliant.

    This widely linked post is funny, but very insightful. It accurately shows the crippling problems our military faces.

    This article from Army Magazine, entitled Sun Tzu’s Bad Advice: Urban Warfare in the Information Age, contains radical ideas about what we must do to overcome the same set of problems.

    This post by the always superb Wretchard at Belmont Club, ties the two together.

    It is good to see some people are thinking hard instead of just saying (1) give up or (2) somebody (France, the media, Kerry, Kofi Annan, whoever) won’t let us win.

    An organism that can’t adapt to its environment dies. Nostalgia for the old environment just puts off the day of painful adaptation, perhaps fatally. That is not going to happen to us. We are going to adapt and survive.

    One of the great strengths America has in this war is that we have totally open discussion, including off the wall thinking. Off the wall situations require off the wall thinking. This situation we face – Suicidal maniacs from a failed civilization want to murder us all, and most people don’t believe it is really happening – sounds like something out of a science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. But it is real.

    We Americans are pragmatists. One of our greatest enemies, Rommel, said the Americans knew less but learned faster than any enemy he ever faced. He also said the Americans had an admirable lack of respect for anything other than what worked. God willing we’ll always be like that.

    Pray for clear thinking, and bravely facing the truth, and hard-nosed leadership.

    Happy Memorial Day. God bless America.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    The Last Great Observatory: Spitzer

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 28th May 2004 (All posts by )

    C-SPAN has a briefing on the Spitzer Space Telescope, previously known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF). Spitzer is the last of of NASA’s Great Observatories, the first and most famous of which is the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Spitzer has all the markings of a revolutionary science instrument. Like Hubble, Spitzer is a space-based instrument. This, critically, raises the telescope above the dense, distorting effects of the Earth’s atmosphere. But unlike Hubble – which views the cosmos in the optical wavelengths – Spitzer peers into the infrared, the wavelength of heat.

    Why is this important? Two reasons: interstellar gas and dust. Many of the most important regions of study in our galaxy – the star and planet forming nebulae – are composed of gas and dust, the very materials from which the stars and planets condense and form. We could see these regions, we just couldn’t see *into* them. That is, until Spitzer. The gas and dust are cool, while the recently formed stars and proto-planets are quite hot. In the infrared, they shine like fireflies on a summer night. A sort of x-ray vision, if you will.

    The initial observations are providing unprecendented views into these star forming regions. Long held theories and models about the time scales and mechanisms of star and planet formation are already being called into question.

    Looks like NASA and the folks at Lockheed Martin, who designed and built Spitzer, have hit a home run.

    Spitzer Multimedia Gallery
    Be sure to watch SIRTF Flash Overview (Cool Cosmos). It’s a beautiful presentation.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Sarbanes-Oxley

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 27th May 2004 (All posts by )

    I probably shouldn’t even be writing about this, since it forms a large part of my income, but the National Review had a fine article on Sarbanes-Oxley. This was the law passed after the Enron and WorldCom scandals and the wreck of Arthur Andersen.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

    Go Freddie

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 27th May 2004 (All posts by )

    A friend of mine Fred Schoeneman wrote a good post at his blog. Pretty funny!

    “For those of you who haven’t been enlisted swine, officers aren’t always like Clancy writes them. They aren’t wooden, super-patriotic, whipsmart, selfless, barrel-chested or even particularly brave. The guys from West Point were smart but arrogant; and the guys from ROTC were dumb and arrogant, even though they were supposed to be more laid back. Most of them were just cheese, nothing like Jack Ryan.

    Jack Ryan is the kind of character that a former insurance salesman who has never been in the military would have created. And he was. Jack Ryan is total pornography. If you don’t believe me, go check out Rainbow Coalition Six. I did. It was a total blowjob of a book, about a politically correct commando team; it was so bad I couldn’t finish the first chapter. I had to put it down and pick up one of Ann Rice’s vampire novels. Yeah, Lestat is so sexy. Goth Porn gets my juices flowing.”

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Peculiar Marketing Strategy

    Posted by Jonathan on 27th May 2004 (All posts by )

    More stories like this one are inevitable as the recording industry makes war on its customers, in a doomed attempt to revive the industry’s dying business model.

    (Link: Drudge)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Does Al Queda Have An Election Strategy?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 26th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Has it occurred to anyone else that Al Queda may have an election strategy for the USA? Maybe a string of mass-casualty suicide bombings, à la Madrid, six weeks or so before the presidential election?

    What would be the likely political impact on the electorate? Rally behind Bush & Co.? I don’t think so, really. Here’s what I think might happen:

    1. Public shock.

    2. 24/7 media replays of the carnage for weeks on end. There’s a symbiotic relationship between terrorists and the media; they depend on each other to a degree. In this case, the NYT, WaPo, LAT, CNN, etc, would view it as a political godsend, in addition to its being a ‘good’ news story. Sad – even pathetic – to say, but true. Traitors.

    3. Interviews with victims’ families, friends, former school teachers, co-workers, witnesses, clergy, etc. on network TV.

    4. Questions will be raised about continued failures at the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security.

    5. Questions will be raised about the ‘relationship’ between a rise in US terrorism and the war in Iraq.

    6. John Kerry will ask, “Are you safer today than you were four years ago?”

    7. France, Germany, et al will say in somber tones – crocodile tears streaming down their faces into their cabernet sauvignons and lagers – “See! We told you so!”

    8. Our Middle-Eastern allies will tell us it’s our own fault. Graphic posters of the event will go on sale within days throughout the PA territory and in bazaars in Pakistan. President (for life) Mubarak of Egypt will recite platitudes about US “failures” to resolve the Israeli/Pali conflict and our imperialist imposition of foreign ideas on the traditional Arab societies. He will explain this to us as our ‘friend’. Nothing like being lectured on political morality by the dictator of a failed state. He will do it for our own good, you see.

    9. Al Queda will issue a truce offer to the US: Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and the martyrs will no longer strike at the US.

    10. Ted Kennedy will demand we accept.

    It could be enough to throw the election. Especially if there’s a simultaneous uptick in suicide bombings in Iraq. We know how AQ likes simultaneity. A coordinated campaign like that might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. From AQ’s point of view, it’s the smart move. A strategic move. Personally, I’ll be watching for it. And waiting for it.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

    Zinni

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th May 2004 (All posts by )

    He’s being touted as a VP for Kerry. (See Kaus, for example.) Zinni’s out promoting his book, and criticizing Bush. (“They’ve screwed up.”) “In the lead-up to the Iraq War and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility, at worst, lying, incompetence and corruption.” (Here.) (LGF has hard words about Zinni.)

    I think he’ll get the veep.

    Oh yeah. I told you so.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

    Them’s Fighting Words

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Mike at The Feces Flinging Monkey notes that an American lawyer was imprisoned for 2 weeks because his fingerprints were mistakenly matched to a latent print found on an item used by terrorists.

    That’s what I used to do when I worked for the police. Fingerprints, ID, stuff like that. I figure you guys would like to hear an opinion from someone with some practical experience.

    So far as prints are concerned, they are 100% reliable when it comes to an ID. There are some people who have a problem with this, but that’s the way it is.

    That doesn’t mean that there’s not false matches, though. The problem lies in the quality of the prints themselves, either the ones taken from the person you want to ID or from items and surfaces found at a crime scene.

    One of the biggest problems I had was with crack addicts. They’d use glass pipes to smoke the drug, the smaller the better so the pipe would be missed in a search. They’d heat up to some really impressive temperatures, and the addict would be so high after the first puff that they wouldn’t be able to feel their fingers cooking.

    This meant that most of the print would be burned off by the time I got them. Even so, there would almost always be enough detail to make a positive match. If there wasn’t we would just wait, since fingerprints grow back unless the skin is very horribly scarred. And if it was too scarred to read the print, well, even scars on fingertips have enough fine detail to make a positive match.

    The other problem lies with latent prints. These are prints found out in the wild, so to speak. There’s no telling who left the prints, or usually when they were left, so the fingerprint examiner focuses on objects that had to be used to facilitate a crime. Find a print on a weapon or object used in a crime and that would go a long way to proving guilt.

    But the world is imperfect, and most people are in a hurry when they’re committing a crime. So the vast majority of latent prints are smeared or obscured in some way. This can also be due to a bit of fumbling while lifting the print from the surface where it’s found as well as environmental factors.

    But there’s standards to make sure that this doesn’t happen. The print has to have a certain amount of detail, a finite number of distinct features visible, before it can be used as evidence.

    It looks to me like the latent print itself didn’t have this level of detail. So the latent print examiner at the FBI put it through their AFIS computer to see what the machine could do with it. When it came up with a match they picked the one that looked most promising and sent the data along.

    This might not be as sinister as it seems. I don’t have access to the evidence files, so it could very well be that they simply told the Spanish intel guys that it looked like this lawyer was involved, and someone should explore that avenue of investigation. Then it would be over zealous Spanish cops who decided to pull the suspect in.

    But this doesn’t excuse the FBI in any way. Like I said, there’s standards that they’re supposed to follow, and it’s obvious that they dropped the ball. If they didn’t have enough detail to make a positive match they should have simply said that they couldn’t do anything with the evidence and let it go at that.

    The point I’m trying to make is that it’s not the system of using fingerprints as an ID tool that’s faulty here. Instead it’s human error that screwed everything up. Cops are people too, they make mistakes, and they really want to catch the bad guys. The problem is when they don’t follow the rules and try to make shortcuts.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

    Kerry has a Secret Plan

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 24th May 2004 (All posts by )

    Last week, Boston erupted in fury over the news that nearly every major road into Boston would be closed from 4PM to midnight for the Democratic Convention, July 26 through July 29. To get an idea of the impact, take a look at this map. The only route left is the Mass. Pike, Rte. 90, from the west. Since Rte. 93, the Central Artery, will be closed, you can still get to the airport through the Ted Williams Tunnel, but if you’re expecting to go anywhere near the Fleet Center and the convention, forget it. The Democrats had better be awfully thirsty, because all the bars and restaurants that were counting on the out-of-towners were not counting on losing their normal clientele.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Call to Inaction

    Posted by TM Lutas on 23rd May 2004 (All posts by )

    Call to Action has an optional celibacy campaign. Considering that this is a Chicago based organization, I thought it might fit here. Of course if they contacted Most Reverend Michael Wiwchar who has offices a measly 3.7 miles (thanks, yahoo maps) away, they would find that anybody who was married and wished to enter the priesthood would be able to go to the good Bishop and become a Catholic priest. Anybody who wanted more churches with married priests would be able to support the diocese (and the many other dioceses headed by bishops who permit married priests) with their presence and their funds.

    There is no need for lobbying, campaigns, petitions, or anything. If the people want it, they merely have to go where it is offered, as it has been since the beginning, in the Catholic Church.

    For anybody from Call to Action who might be reading this, step out of HQ on W. Roscoe and walk towards lake Michigan for 0.2 miles. Turn right on N. Damen Ave and take a brisk 3.2 mile constitutional. Turn right on W. Rice St. and go about 3 blocks to number 2245.

    Along the way, they can wrap their heads around this specifically:

    These individual Churches, whether of the East or the West, although they differ somewhat among themselves in rite (to use the current phrase), that is, in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, are, nevertheless, each as much as the others, entrusted to the pastoral government of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in primacy over the universal Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mark 16, 15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff.

    Three point seven miles away from their solution and these guys won’t take a walk to solve their desire for married priests.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    TROY

    Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    Dr. Frank has a funny post about the new movie “Troy.” Even for the unintentionally funny parts, I wouldn’t give a nickel for anything with Brad Pitt in it. I started to write a comment, but it turned into a rant I decided I’d put on here instead.

    One guy in the comments mentioned Jason and the Argonauts. Ray Harryhausen. The BEST. Now THAT is ancient Greece, man. The Gods stride amongst the mortals. Giant beings shake the Earth. Dynamite babes frolic about in togas. Heroes slay monsters. Still an utter masterpiece. Showed it to my kids a few years ago. One kid was so scared by the winged harpies she had an “accident” right there in my sister’s living room. The skeletons coming out of the ground. Oh man.

    Another guy suggested that Mel Gibson should make the movie in literal, word-for-word ancient Greek. Funny, maybe, but …

    That could be the TRUE and perfect Iliad movie. Yes. I can see it, almost. A 60 hour long, all ancient-Greek version directed by Mel Gibson would DOMINATE. Grunts, shrieks, running men, sweat, blood, dirt. Fleeting glimpses of spears being flung or thrust, of huge stones whistling down and splintering skulls, of limbs crunching under chariot wheels. Disembowellments, lower jaws hewn off, spears piercing thighs, bladders, lungs, eye sockets — each and every one of the harsh clinical, medical details of Homeric butchery. And the resonant Greek (with subtitles) of a voice-over of all of Homer’s incredible capsule biographies of one doomed warrior after another as he steps up for his moment of truth, only to be immediately felled into the dust by Ajax, or Hector or one of the other Heroes. Only an instant before a son, a husband, a father, a proud, strong man in the flower of youth, and now only food for the birds of the air and the wild dogs which prowl the edges of the battlefield. Death is never anonymous in Homer. Each one is personal. Each one has a story and a name. Each one hurts.

    Strictly speaking the movie would be unwatchable. And not only because it would be a pitiless, unremitting cacaphony of screaming, bloody horror. The movie would also be way too long to watch even in a marathon session. We’d have to watch it in three hour segments over several months.

    It would be the film equivalent of the Iggy & the Stooges Complete Funhouse Sessions — way, way too much for anyone entirely sane to want to listen to, but far, far too good to not eventually listen to it all.

    All we need is someone with Mel Gibson’s money and contacts to take leave of his senses, and in an act of abject commercial lunacy embark on this cinematic dream quest for the perfect movie version of the ur-document of Western civilization. It will always remain only a theoretical possibility, I fear.

    But I’d buy the DVD set for sure.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    I don’t think [the Bush adminstration's preemption strategy] means a repudiation of containment and deterrence. And the Bush strategy statement has been pretty explicit, that you still want to practice those strategies when you’re dealing with states. But the problem is, states are no longer the only problem we face. Non-state actors, gangs, are the problem, as well. And to try to contain someone who is invisible or to try to deter somebody who is prepared to commit suicide doesn’t make much sense. So something more is needed, and that’s been the argument of the administration.

    (John Lewis Gaddis on Booknotes [emphasis added]. Read the whole thing. I’ll eventually get to the book.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    It’s the Only Victory They’re Likely to Get

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    So Michael Moore’s latest “documentary” won the big prize at Cannes.

    Not too surprising, considering that Cannes is in France.

    Maybe I should make a muck-raking fantasy full of lies and half-truths. As long as I bash the current administration it’s sure to be a hit.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    A Conservative Rant

    Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    A friend of mine is a liberal lawyer and author. He sent me a draft of an article he is writing. Like all his stuff, it is well-written. One thing he discusses is how during the heyday of a unionized workforce in America people had contract rights in their jobs. If they were fired, they could arbitrate. Now, we have moved to a tort system where people sue for discrimination, which is way, way more expensive. He also mentions that he speaks to audiences in Europe they simply cannot grasp that most jobs in America are terminable at will. No matter how many times he explains it, they can’t grasp it. He also claims that during the era of a unionized workforce, workers got more vacations, and had retirement plans which paid fixed amounts of benefits, and workers had longer vacations, and worked shorter hours, etc. and generally people had greater faith in the country and thought they were getting a better deal in life. I am not doing justice to a draft of what promises to be a very, very interesting article. So, don’t spend too much energy arguing why these points are wrong. When it is published I’ll link to it and he can speak for himself. Anyway, as I was reading it, I was seeing more and more that the problem is not so much his analysis as the divergence between his and my basic understanding of the world, and how it works, and what is possible.

    I started to draft a response, but it turned increasingly into a rant which was not really on point. So, I plunk it on here instead.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    1776: A British Perspective

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    Fascinating. That’s what I thought as I read Niall Ferguson’s Empire. It traces the course of the British Empire from Hernry VIII’s declaring himself King of Ireland in 1541 though the destruction of the British economy in WWII and their eventual loss of the ‘Jewel’ of the Empire, India. A well written book. It’s also beautifully illustrated in the hardbound edition. Ferguson tackles history by subject, so the book is only roughly chronological from chapter to chapter.

    What truly amazed me, though, was the British historical perspective on the American Revolution. Here’re a few interesting excerpts.

    The war is at the very heart of American’s conception of themselves: the idea of a struggle for liberty against an evil empire is the country’s creation myth. But it is the great paradox of the American Revolution… that the ones who revolted against British rule were the best-off of all Britain’s colonial subjects. There is good reason to think, by the 1770′s, New Englanders were about the wealthiest people in the world. Per capita income was at least equal to that in the United Kingdom and was more evenly distributed. The New Englanders had bigger farms, bigger families and better educations than the Old Englanders back home. And, crucially, they paid far less tax. In 1763 the average Briton paid 26 shillings a year in taxes. The equivalent figure for a Massachusetts taxpayer was just one shilling.

    How’s that for a revelation? “No taxation without representation!” What taxation? Then there’s this:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments »

    Cesar Pelli

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    An amazing Macromedia Flash Player presentation of the work of Cesar Pelli & Associates. Start with the Projects menu, then navigate through the various building images by way of the little squares. The little square marked ‘A’ turns information on and off.

    Check out, especially, the following:

    Hotel > Biwako
    Hotel > Seahawk

    Performing Arts > Arnoff Center
    Performing Arts > Dewan Filharmonik at Petronas

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Keep the Banana Supply comin’, Monkey Boy!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    Back in the late 1970′s I started to hear about some amazing research that was being done with primates. Researchers were teaching them to talk using American Sign Language.

    This was particularly interesting to me because I was very interested in the outdoors. The 1970′s was the Time of the Great Extinction, or so it seemed. There were all of these doom and gloom stories in the press about acid rain, the reduction of biodiversity and looming ecological calamity that was just around the corner. If it could be proven that some primates could communicate, that they actually had an intellect that was similar to a human’s in some respects, then the arguement to protect primate species would be strengthened.

    But nothing happened. A chimp never got up to address Congress or testify in front of the Supreme Court. In fact, there was a rather thunderous lack of content from the researchers that were tasked with teaching the apes ASL. So I started to pay attention to what they were doing.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    About Time

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 22nd May 2004 (All posts by )

    For decades, spies from North Korea would secretly travel by boat to Japan. Once there they would roam the beaches, looking for isolated couples or individuals they could grab and take back to N. Korea.

    After they arrived the kidnap victims would be forced to work in spy training camps, teaching Communist commandos and spies how best to pass unnoticed in Japanese society. Every so often they’d be joined by the odd duck who had actually defected to N. Korea.

    Sounds like something out of a bad spy novel, doesn’t it? But it really happened. N. Korea’s been doing it for decades. Rumors and defectors have confirmed the practice, and N. Korea finally admitted to the practice a few years ago. They would even allow a few select victims, people who had children and loved ones that could be held hostage back in N. Korea, visit Japan for a short period of time.

    Now it would appear that they’re going to allow the kidnap victims to finally come home. Japan brokered a deal where they’d pass on food and oil to Korea in exchange.

    This is probably a mistake even though I don’t blame Japan for making the deal.

    North Korea is in dire straights, with a famine that’s reached catastrophic proportions by most accounts, and the only way they’ve been able to keep going as long as they have is by threatening the free world with nuclear bombs unless they received the food and energy needed to keep the Communists in power.

    The problem is that the Communists are an enormous threat. They’ve been threatening the countries around them, particularly South Korea, for over 50 years. Any direct confrontation would result in inevitable defeat for the North but would also mean huge civilian and military casualties in S. Korea.

    So the hope has been that there would be some sort of collapse in North Korea. Too many starving people, too little oil and energy, and the entire house of cards should come crashing down sooner or later.

    This deal the Japanese made might just prolong that, or even mean that the Communists will be able to keep going long enough for the famine to end. But, on the other hand, it will also mean that the Japanese will be able to get their people out of harm’s way before the collapse.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »