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  • Archive for September, 2012

    Perspective

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Some things are abstract yet concrete. Or is it the other way around.

    The elevated intersection of US Route 595 and the Sawgrass Expressway, Sunrise, Florida. (Copyright 2011 Jonathan Gewirtz jonathan@gewirtz.net)

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Photos | 5 Comments »

    Economic Policy Advice From 1377 AD

    Posted by David Foster on 30th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Ibn Khaldun, the great Muslim historian, in his Introduction to History:

    Taxation and the reason for low and high tax revenues

    It should be known that at the beginning of a dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.

    The same reason for this is that when the dynasty follows the way of Islam, it imposes only such taxes as are stipulated by the religious law, such as charity taxes, the land tax, and the poll tax. Theses have fixed limits that cannot be exceeded.

    When the dynasty follows the ways of group feeling and (political) superiority, it necessary has at first a desert attitude, as has been mentioned before. The desert attitude requires kindness, reverence, humility, respect for the property of other people, and disinclination to appropriate it, except in rare instances. Therefore, the individual, the individual imposts and assessments, which together constitute the tax revenue, are low. When tax assessment and imposts upon the subjects are low, the latter have the energy and desire to do things. Cultural enterprises grow and increase, because the low taxes bring satisfaction. When cultural enterprises grow, the number of individual imposts and assessments mounts. In consequence, the tax revenue, which is in sum total of (the individual assessment), increase.

    When the dynasty continues in power and their rulers follow each other in succession, they become sophisticated. The Bedouin attitude and simplicity lose their significance, and the Bedouin qualities of moderation and restraint disappear. Royal authority with its tyranny and sedentary culture that stimulates sophistication, make their appearance. The people of the dynasty then acquire qualities of character related to cleverness. Their customs and needs become more varied because of the prosperity and luxury in which they are immersed. As a result, the individual imposts and assessments upon the subjects, agricultural labourers, farmers and all the other tax payers, increase. Every individual impost and assessment is greatly increased, in order to obtain a higher tax revenue. Customs duties are placed upon articles of commerce and (levied) at the city gates. Then, gradual increases in the amount of the assessments succeed each other regularly, in correspondence with the gradual increase in the luxury customs and many needs of the dynasty and the spending required in connection with them. Eventually, the taxes will weigh heavily upon the subjects and overburden them. Heavy taxes become an obligation and tradition, because the increase took place gradually, and no one knows specifically who increase them or levied them. They lie upon the subjects like an obligation and tradition.

    The assessments increase beyond the limits of equity. The result is that the interest of the subjects in cultural enterprise disappears, since they compare expenditure and taxes with their income and gain and see little profit they make, they loose all hope. Therefore, many of them refrain from all cultural activity. The result is that the total tax revenue goes down, as individual assessment go down. Often when decrease is noticed, the amounts of individual imposts are increased. This is considered a means of compensating for the decrease. Finally, individual imposts and assessments reach their limit. It would be of no avail to increase them further. The costs of all cultural enterprise are now too high, the taxes are too heavy, and the profits anticipated fail to materialize. Finally, civilization is destroyed, because the incentive for cultural activity is gone. It is the dynasty that suffers from the situation, because its profits from cultural activity.

    If one understands this, he will realize that the strongest incentive for cultural activity is to lower as much as possible the amounts of individual imposts levied upon persons capable of undertaking cultural enterprises. In this manner, such persons will be psychologically disposed to undertake them, because they can be confident of making a profit from them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, History, Islam, Middle East, Political Philosophy, Taxes | 24 Comments »

    Art of the Remake VIII

    Posted by Lexington Green on 29th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Strutter, the KISS classic, a standard in The Donna’s set:

    The original:

    Our standard: “If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.”

    The Donna’s version exists in a world where punk rock happened. They do an all girl version of a hairy chested, swaggering guy song, and do it without irony. They own it and make something out of it that is their own. I love how the crowd is singing along so loudly. I wish I had been at that party.

    The official Donna’s video of the song also pretty cool. (Brett looks fetching in Paul Stanley’s makeup.)

    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off

    An Uncomfortable Thought

    Posted by Ginny on 29th September 2012 (All posts by )

    “They” say Romney is grasping at straws; another “they” says Obama spends far too much time in some states to indicate those electoral votes are safely tucked away. I have no idea; I know what I want to believe. And it isn’t my impression people are flocking to become Democrats.

    I remember 1972, though, and despite the impending landslide few candidates acted with greater insecurity. (1960 might – understandably – have prompted paranoia.) Just saying.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics, Polls | 33 Comments »

    Heading to Indiana

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 29th September 2012 (All posts by )

    I just loaded up my car with four long guns, five hand guns and a big assed box of ammunition. Bitter Clinger, indeed.

    After a bit of work this morning I am heading to Indiana to meet friends old and new. For the last half decade we have gathered on a farm property once every autumn to enjoy the company of each other, and to celebrate the Second Amendment. We will enjoy some target shooting, grill some flesh, and have a beer or two (after shooting, of course). Rumor mill has it that we will have some ladies joining us this year, and I think that is fantastic.

    I look forward to this weekend each fall very much and feel sort of “cleansed” and refreshed when I return home. There is a lot wrong with America, but there are still a lot of very good people here, and many that understand that these rights that our forefathers gave us are to be cherished and celebrated.

    Posted in Photos, RKBA | 7 Comments »

    E-Type

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    A view from above into the driver's cockpit of a right-hand drive Jaguar E-Type convertible sports car. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz / jonathan@gewirtz.net)

     

    Posted in Photos, Transportation | 6 Comments »

    Catholic capitalist wealth redistribution I

    Posted by TM Lutas on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    After reading Getting Used to Thinking with the Church Takes Practice it was a bit of a challenge to separate out the invective against conservatives from the quoted papal teachings. I applied my rule of thumb with success though and thought I’d share both the rule and the application.

    The rule is simple. The Pope is not usually an idiot; he’s surrounded by some of the better thinkers on the planet who have been managing to keep Catholicism intellectually viable for centuries through an awful lot of tumult; the words they use are often not used the same way as people local to me do and it’s wise to get your definitions straight before flying off the handle. And then there’s all that Holy Spirit miracle stuff but if you’re not a Catholic yourself, I don’t expect you’re going to find that last bit persuasive.

    32. Lowering the level of protection accorded to the rights of workers, or abandoning mechanisms of wealth redistribution in order to increase the country’s international competitiveness, hinder the achievement of lasting development. Moreover, the human consequences of current tendencies towards a short-term economy — sometimes very short-term — need to be carefully evaluated. This requires further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals,as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations.

    36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.

    37. Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift. The economy in the global era seems to privilege the former logic, that of contractual exchange, but directly or indirectly it also demonstrates its need for the other two: political logic, and the logic of the unconditional gift.

    39. Paul VI in Populorum Progressio called for the creation of a model of market economy capable of including within its range all peoples and not just the better off. He called for efforts to build a more human world for all, a world in which “all will be able to give and receive, without one group making progress at the expense of the other.” In this way he was applying on a global scale the insights and aspirations contained in Rerum Novarum, written when, as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the idea was first proposed — somewhat ahead of its time — that the civil order, for its self-regulation, also needed intervention from the State for purposes of redistribution.

    42. The processes of globalization, suitably understood and directed, open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale; if badly directed, however, they can lead to an increase in poverty and inequality, and could even trigger a global crisis. It is necessary to correct the malfunctions, some of them serious, that cause new divisions between peoples and within peoples, and also to ensure that the redistribution of wealth does not come about through the redistribution or increase of poverty: a real danger if the present situation were to be badly managed. For a long time it was thought that poor peoples should remain at a fixed stage of development, and should be content to receive assistance from the philanthropy of developed peoples. Paul VI strongly opposed this mentality in Populorum Progressio. Today the material resources available for rescuing these peoples from poverty are potentially greater than before, but they have ended up largely in the hands of people from developed countries, who have benefited more from the liberalization that has occurred in the mobility of capital and labour. The world-wide diffusion of forms of prosperity should not therefore be held up by projects that are self-centred, protectionist or at the service of private interests. Indeed the involvement of emerging or developing countries allows us to manage the crisis better today. The transition inherent in the process of globalization presents great difficulties and dangers that can only be overcome if we are able to appropriate the underlying anthropological and ethical spirit that drives globalization towards the humanizing goal of solidarity. Unfortunately this spirit is often overwhelmed or suppressed by ethical and cultural considerations of an individualistic and utilitarian nature.

    49. What is also needed, though, is a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them. The fate of those countries cannot be left in the hands of whoever is first to claim the spoils, or whoever is able to prevail over the rest.

    Clearly, there’s a redistributionist streak here but within limits. As is proper for a religious leader the Pope isn’t outlining a five year plan and he’s certainly left himself plenty of wiggle in the specific definitions of what constitutes helpful, rather than counterproductive, redistribution. But is any of this compatible with capitalism, and even more specifically with modern conservative capitalist thought? I believe so.

    In the law of the jungle, might makes right and the weak go to the wall. The rich can always buy might and use it to steal from the poor. When the law exists as a fair, even-handed tool that is there for all, it promotes redistribution at such a fundamental level that most people don’t even consider the redistributive effects of it, it’s bedrock foundational for the 1st world because you can’t get rich without it. Yet for a world church, this assumption of the availability of law would be a bad assumption. The rule of law is not everywhere the Catholic Church operates and the Church sees the problems that arise when the law is for the rich and not for the poor. In that sense, conservatives not only support redistribution, we often champion it. This is certainly not the only form of redistribution that conservatives are in favor of but for my part, I’ll be laying out my list in subsequent posts. For everybody else, I encourage you to do so in comments.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Religion | 28 Comments »

    History Friday – American Century Mass Cas

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    I can pretty well figure out the source of my interest in 19th century American history; some of it can be blamed on the Little House Books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. But the larger portion can be laid squarely at the foot of my mother’s subscription to American Heritage Magazine. Which she still has, but the magazine is a pale, paltry and advertisement-poxed version of what it was when Mom first began subscribing, shortly after the beginning of the magazine itself. There were only a handful of the very earliest, dawn-of-time-issues which I did not know very, very well. It was a bi-monthly, or quarterly hard-back publication, with no advertisements and articles by serious, well-respected if seemingly obscure historians who managed to be interesting without being the least bit sensational. I have the impression that most of them were passionately interested in their topic – whatever it might be, and wrote with enthusiasm equal to their knowledge of subject. The articles were well-illustrated with contemporary art or historic photographs, or an appealing mix of modern photographs, drawings and artifacts. I couldn’t have imagined a better introduction to the vagaries of our national history.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Diversions, History, North America | 7 Comments »

    WWII Airplanes on Tour

    Posted by David Foster on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour this year includes B-17 and B-24 bombers and also a P-51 Mustang fighter. You can visit the airplanes for a small donation and, for a substantially larger donation, you can actually take a ride!. Indeed, flight instruction is available in the P-51, which is a two-seat trainer version. If the tour is coming to an airport near you, these planes are well worth seeing. Schedule here. Collings is also looking for volunteers to help organize tour stops in their locations.

    The P-51 has an interesting history. Its design was led by James “Dutch” Kindelberger, a high-school dropout who had worked as a draftsman and taken correspondence courses before gaining admission to college. Kindleberger became president of North American Aviation in 1935. When his company was approached by the British govenment to manufacture a batch of P-40 Tomahawk fighters, Kindelberger proposed instead that a new design be built. Fortunately for the world, his proposal was accepted, and the first P-51 was flown only 6 months after the order was placed.

    The P-51 had considerably greater range than previous escort fighters. Hermann Goering told his interrogators that it was when he saw P-51s over Berlin that he knew the war was lost for Germany.

    Aerial warfare is of course not only about machines; it is also about men. Randall Jarrell, a major American poet, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the war, and wrote many poems centering around WWII air combat.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Poetry, War and Peace | 26 Comments »

    Banned in Sheaville I

    Posted by TM Lutas on 27th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Well, it looks like Mark Shea’s had enough of me again and instituted another ban, sad. While he’s an able Catholic and quite often admirably proclaims the faith, he has political positions that cause him to occasionally go off the deep end. The most recent ban was his mocking of Romney for his Mexican pander by using tan in a can. Except when it emerged that Romney actually didn’t do it, Shea kept on after Romney because of his well established pander reputation. And that’s exactly the moment that Shea stopped being a Catholic apologist and transmogrified (temporarily) into disgusted, grumpy, political hack. I was banned fairly shortly afterwards.
    But Shea does post interesting articles, even when he’s wrong, such as this discourse on the consequences of lying to get Bin Laden. Shea, unfortunately, is so upset with the CIA that he doesn’t notice that there wasn’t any direct lie involved. He also missed that the vaccination of North Waziristan is not being held hostage for honest administrators of vaccine but instead is held hostage for a cessation of drone attacks. Here’s the comment I’m currently unable to post.

    There is a problem with the article. There are several lies operating here. The first is that the CIA operation was a sham vaccination. As I understand it, the vaccine was real enough. The procedure was irregular and tailored to the needs of the CIA but anybody getting stuck actually got vaccinated for polio. I believe that if you teach the administering nurse to pull back so that you get blood back flow into your sharp at the end of the administration and also dispose the sharps so that they are traceable back to the administering location, you have not lied. It’s the protocol of the program, period.
    I would be interested in hearing how to conduct a blind clinical trial without lying under any definition of lying that would call the actual facts of the CIA program lying. I think you’d have a tough time doing science under that sort of a definition and since the Catholic Church is not anti-science, I suspect that the definition in use would be over-broad.
    The second lie is that the Taliban are stopping vaccination due to to this CIA program. The vaccination would proceed if drone attacks ceased regardless of whether the CIA were to get information via the vaccination program. If you fear DNA samples being taken, keep the sharps and gloves and destroy them yourselves. The reality is that the Taliban are using the health of children as a propaganda weapon to strike at the US government and to the detriment of the lives of the children of North Waziristan.

    Update: Forwarded a link to a related article to him mentioning that he’d banned me. He claims it was an accident. I neither know, nor particularly care how it happened. For whatever reason, it seems to have been undone and that’s the end of it.

    Posted in Religion | 5 Comments »

    Spain and History

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 27th September 2012 (All posts by )

    As a history buff it was interesting to see “saber rattling” in Spain as regions consider leaving the central state, under pressure of an immense fiscal crisis. This article describes comments made by current or retired Spanish officers regarding potential independence for Catalonia:

    First we have the robust comments of Colonel Francisco Alaman comparing the crisis to 1936 and vowing to crush Catalan nationalists, described as “vultures”.
    “Independence for Catalonia? Over my dead body. Spain is not Yugoslavia or Belgium. Even if the lion is sleeping, don’t provoke the lion, because he will show the ferocity proven over centuries,” he said.

    The Spanish civil war of course began in 1936. While in the popular imagination of the world it featured a battle between the power of the Catholic Church and those demanding reform, and was a proxy war for the Germans and Soviets (both true), it also was a battle of the Spanish regions against Madrid. This third narrative is now on full display as Catalonia is calling an election, tied perhaps to a renewed independence drive.

    These problems are made worse by the fact that 1) Spain is broke and needs to go to the ECB for funding 2) much of the money and bills are handled by the regions. This BBC article summarizes many of the key elements of the current situation.

    Thus the Spanish central government effectively quieted the restive regions over the years by either crushing the revolt (the ETA) or by granting the regions fiscal autonomy (Catalonia). However, the buy-off was essentially done with borrowed money and now the regions need to come to terms with being part of the Spanish state and collectively work to solve their daunting problems or attempt to go out on their own.

    While Spain was a critical part of the world’s geography in the years prior to WW2, today Spain and Portugal are far on the periphery of the world’s economy, with a great tourist industry, agriculture, and a few competitive companies, but mostly an uncompetitive place with an over valued currency and massive structural unemployment broken only by “infrastructure” projects such as underused airports, ports, and the like.

    In other countries, the regions that have boiled and chafed under central government eventually left and found their own way. Look at the USSR, the Czechs, and many others. Spain was able to buy off their restive regions with EU largess over the years, but now the gravy train has halted dead in its tracks. It will be interesting to see how events play out in Spain, and whether the military really has the stomach for the types of events that are necessary to bring a restive region to heel. I highly doubt it.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Europe, History | 27 Comments »

    Bleg – Medical Images and Coordinates?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 26th September 2012 (All posts by )

    To any Doctors, medical researchers or biologist out there.

    I’m working on a little medical db app for patients to record and communicate the apparent location of symptoms in three-dimensional space. I’ve code named the app “Hypochondria.”

    I was inspired by my own experiences having trouble communicating with doctors. One time my spouse almost got a gall bladder infection missed by a doctor who interpreted her description of the pain as superficial back pain instead of being deeper in the abdominal cavity itself. I think such miscommunications occurs often, especially across language and cultural barriers.

    I’ve been trying to find both images and a coordinate system that naive patients can use to map and log the apparent internal location of pain or other symptoms. I expected that there would be some public domain images because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them before on either medical forms or back in college.

    I just need simple related outlines, that show:

    • Coronal (right-to-left or x-z plane),
    • Sagittal (front-to-back or y-z plane )
    • Transverse sections (left-to-right and front-to-back cross section or x-y plane ).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Health Care, Tech | 7 Comments »

    Archive Post – The Poisoned Pool

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th September 2012 (All posts by )

    (In light of the recent release of Gallup survey results indicating that an embarrassingly large portion of the American public has little trust in the news media, I present a reprise post from the Daily Brief, circa 2005, when the rot had already well set in, but wasn’t yet screamingly obvious.)

    In the twilight afterglow of the Edward Murrow era of journalism, the only people that I remember routinely complaining about bias, selective reporting, or outright lies in journalism – print and broadcast both— were of the far-right-over-the-horizon John Birch Society persuasion, sourly grumbling about creeping godless communism (or maybe it was godless creeping communism) at cocktail parties or in letters to the editor. Considering that John Reed and Walter Duranty, among others, made careers out of painting world socialism in far more sunny colors than completely unbiased and disinterested journalism required, I have to concede that those doughty anti-communists of my youth may have had a point. But on the whole, it was a given that the main-stream media outlets of the American mid-century had enormous stores of credibility with the public.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, Human Behavior, Media, Politics | 57 Comments »

    The Assads are Riding the Tiger

    Posted by Shannon Love on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Michael Totten notes diplomats reporting that:

    … the government of President Bashar al-Assad had no wish to change and that there was no immediate prospect for a diplomatic breakthrough.”

    That’s because if they do, they’re dead. Syria is a majority (71%) Sunni Muslim country but the Assads and the rest of the ruling class are a minority (11.0%) Alwai Shia. In case you haven’t been keeping track, Sunni and Shia get along about as well as Protestants and Catholics did during the reformation. If you imagine a 16th century country that was 71% Protestant ruled by a 11% Catholic nobility (or vice versa) you get the picture of the religious dynamics.

    It doesn’t help at all that the Assads and the rest of the Shia have been both inept and brutal towards the majority Sunni for the last 90+ years. Most Sunni are very, very poor and most Alwai Shia are very rich in comparison. The Assads and collateral families are very wealthy.

    The Assads have kept power to date solely by using Israel as the evil outsider to give common cause between Sunni and Shia. That is why Syria has long maintained such bizarre stances on negotiating with Israel e.g. “give up back the Golan Heights artillery positions we used to shoot at you from first and maybe, just maybe, we’ll negotiate.” The biggest disaster they could imagine until recently would be if Israel suddenly disappeared.

    Now, the people of Syria have gotten so hungry that they don’t give a damn about Israel. In any case, Israeli raids against what most people assume where Syrian/Iranian WMD sites of some kind caused the Assads to loose serious face in the eyes of the people. The Sunni majority may feel they can give Israel a good kick as well as the Assads.

    Serious religious friction, brutality and oppression, and systematic looting of the people has made the majority of Syrians very, very angry. Many ordinary Syrians have suffered so they have every right to blood vengeance and they will take it they get the chance.

    For the Assads, there is no negotiated end. They saw how quickly Gaddafi’s regime disintegrated and how he died at the hands of his own people. If the Assads’ grip on power slips even a bit, they’re dead. The Assads know full well that they are riding a tiger they can’t jump off of without being eaten.

    This isn’t going to end well for somebody.

    Posted in Middle East | 11 Comments »

    A Rant – but I’m Tired of the 6:00 News

    Posted by Ginny on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    “Third party payer systems are always inflationary.” Steyn points to one of those truisms Obama seems to have never understood. Subsidiarity is another. Someone from Romney’s background knows that – knows efficiency, responsibility, community – with every fiber of his being because this is his life – as Shannon so solidly summarizes below. It isn’t just that Obama doesn’t take care of his blood relations and Romney has long stretched that responsibility out to increasingly large communities. He knows what fulfills him and what works. He probably also thinks it is good. What are we doing with a president that can’t even imagine such responsibilities?

    I want to hear my president talk and to have a sense that he doesn’t see
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Elections, Obama | 24 Comments »

    Please. Don’t. Stop.

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    My name is Jonathan and I am an Oreo-holic.

    (BTW: free shipping if you buy two boxes.)

    Posted in Announcements | 5 Comments »

    Paint-by-numbers versus Connect-the-dots

    Posted by David Foster on 24th September 2012 (All posts by )

    Citrix CEO Mark Templeton, in his NYT interview, made an interesting point:

    There are two strategies for your life and career. One is paint-by-numbers and the other is connect-the-dots. I think most people remember their aunt who brought them a gift for their birthday or whatever and it was a paint-by-number set or a connect-the-dots book.

    So with the paint-by-number set, you know ahead of time what it’s going to look like. Then, by contrast, with a connect-the-dots puzzle, you can only guess at what it might look like by the time you finish. And what you notice about that process is the further along you get, the more clear it becomes. It might be a beach ball, or a seal in a Sea World park or something. The speed at which you connect dots gets faster as the picture starts coming into view.

    You probably get the parallel. This isn’t about what’s right and what’s wrong. This is about getting it right for you. Parents often want you to paint by numbers. They want it so badly because they have a perception that it’s lower risk, and that’s the encouragement they’re going to give you. They’re going to push you down this road, and faculty members will, too, because they want you to deliver on what they taught you. It doesn’t make it wrong; it’s just that there’s a bias in the system. You have to decide for yourself. The earlier you actually get it right for yourself, the faster and the better that picture is going to look.

    And the more time you spend on paint by numbers when you’re a connect-the-dots person, and vice versa, the harder it’s going to be.

    I think he’s correct that parents, in an attempt to guarantee success for their children in an uncertain world, often steer them toward a paint-by-numbers approach to life–and that this is likely to be counterproductive. Today’s credentials obsession, coupled with the nature of most of the educational system, also points toward the paint-by-numbers approach.

    I’ve noticed that people who are overly impressed with their own educational credentials–especially those with advanced degrees of one sort or another–often tend strongly toward wanting to paint by numbers, and want to avoid the (perceived) risk of connecting the dots.

    Related post: Management education and the role of technique

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior, Management, Philosophy | 11 Comments »

    Freedom

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd September 2012 (All posts by )

    Parking space at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

     

    Posted in Photos | 7 Comments »

    Who Really Cares – The Myth of the Compassionate Secular-Left

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd September 2012 (All posts by )

    Mitt Romney gave 29.65% of his income last year to charity and gave an average of 13.5% over the last 20 years.  No surprise. He’s a Mormon. That’s what they do along with wacky things like staying married, paying attention to their children, being involved in their communities and other things that Leftists find strange and disturbing. The people we should really be surprised to find generous are the only notionally religious Leftists like Kerry, Edwards, Biden and Obama.

    Surprise! The ironclad faith of Secular-Leftists in themselves as vastly more compassionate than anyone else, is, according to the best research, nothing but self-righteous, egomaniacal, self-aggrandizement. Leftists make the Pharisees of New Testament parable look pretty good in comparison. At least when the Pharisees bragged about their piety and how much they gave to the Temple, they actually performed the rituals and gave money. Leftists brag about how compassionate they are and then don’t give much from their own time and pocket books.

    This would be a good time to mention again Arthur C. Brooks’ Who Really Cares, which, as near as I can tell, is the only scientific (as much as sociology can be scientific) study of charitable giving in the US. Brooks was very careful in methodology correcting for variables of income, race, etc as well as breaking apart giving to religious versus secular charities.

    I found a summary online [PDF] that covers most of the findings of the book in condensed form..  It makes an eye opening read if you’ve always taken the Left’s self-mythology for granted.

    Some choice bits:

    Conservatives are more likely to give to charity than liberals, but only by a percentage point or two. Liberals, on the other hand, are more likely to volunteer their time than conservatives, but only by a percentage point or two. This might make it seem as if there really isn’t that much difference between the two groups when it comes to giving. However, when factors like average dollar amounts donated are examined, the differences become striking: “In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money than a household headed by a liberal.” This, despite the fact that families headed by liberals earned more on average than conservative families. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Leftism, Libertarianism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 14 Comments »

    History and Demography

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 22nd September 2012 (All posts by )

    History has always been a fascinating topic for me. Growing up, I read all I could on a variety of topics, typically military history, although branched out in later years. Many of the posts and opinions that I have are formed by an understanding of nineteenth and (mostly) twentieth century history.

    While the Western countries (and China) mostly got older on a median level (median being the age at which half the population are above and half below the line, a better metric than “average” age which is skewed by outliers), for much of the rest of the world the opposite trend occurred. The most dramatic example of this occurs in Africa.

    The “African World War(s)” in the 1990′s and early 2000′s were sparked by events near Rwanda and ultimately inflamed the entire region, home to over a hundred million people and where key natural resources (coltan) were mined. For a high level synopsis of these events go to the wikipedia sites for the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, The First Congo War, and The Second Congo War.

    Other than the Rwandan Genocide, which spurred a film and a bit of international soul-searching due to the inability of Western powers to inhibit the massacre, most of the rest of these events are poorly referenced in the world today given the number of deaths and the geo-political impact. I’m not aware of much discussion on this topic other than occasional articles from the BBC and / or ties to the mining of materials and sanctions on companies that violate new US laws (still being written) on “conflict minerals“.

    If events such as these had happened recently in the United States, they would dominate media and the culture. Even today America is fascinated by our civil war, which occurred one hundred and fifty years ago (there is a Ken Burns’ brother documentary on death and dying in the civil war that sounds interesting).

    While I haven’t researched the local culture in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to understand the impact, a brief look at the median age of countries per this wikipedia page shows some statistics that I find remarkable. The median age in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 16.5 and for Rwanda it is 18.6. Thus about 50% of Rwanda’s population was not even born when the genocide in 1994 occurred, and a much larger population would remember it only sparingly as they were very young.

    For the Democratic Republic of the Congo, not only does the low median age mean that many would not remember much of the first and only some of the second wars, the country’s incredible demography in terms of child bearing resulted in the country’s population increasing massively DESPITE THE WAR (per Wikipedia):

    The United Nations 2009 estimated the population at 66 million people, having increased rapidly despite the war from 39.1 million in 1992.

    What is history? In the West it is a long tide, taught to millions (albeit often poorly), and to some extent linked into our daily lives. I don’t think it has the same impact on these other countries where 1) education is poor and literacy is low 2) there is a massive demography change towards the young who would be more consumed with “current” problems rather than issues that arose before their time.

    I think many of these same conceptual issues toppled many of the authoritarian regimes in the middle east as the colonialist themes that propped up many of the governments withered in the face of the new generation seeing them for their entire lifetime as just brutal dictators propped up by crony economic partners. With low median ages and a limited appreciation for history (based on poor schooling and literacy), their rage was a match waiting to be struck.

    Revolutions are often sparked by hordes of young, jobless males with few prospects. These are those with little to lose and the type of rage and fearlessness upon which the backbones of mobs are forged. While we may look at history on a broad scale, in a population dominated by the middle-aged and elderly, it is a completely different picture in most of the world, and our prism for viewing their perceptions and determining their actions, obsolete.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in History, Military Affairs | 6 Comments »

    Don’t Trust Screen Shots

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st September 2012 (All posts by )

    Here’s a screen shot of a post at Instapundit. See if you can spot any differences between the current post and the screenshot.

    That took me literally five seconds to alter.

    I use an organization/document-management app for the Mac called  DevonThink Pro. The app has many supporting scripts to capture information from various sources. Today, I learned of one called “Make Editable” a bookmarklet script for Safari and Firefox. When activated, it switches the browser page into developer mode that allows the editing of the original page right in the browser window.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Tech | 6 Comments »

    Rethinking Unions VII: Is anything better for workers than 2% unemployment?

    Posted by TM Lutas on 21st September 2012 (All posts by )

    Previous in the series:
    I, II, III, IV, V, VI

    In a time of prolonged 8%+ unemployment it may be a fond distant memory, or for younger workers a mere tale of better times past but it is possible to have 2% unemployment. And 2% unemployment is arguably the best possible thing out there for workers. 2% unemployment requires no dues payments. 2% unemployment means employers are willing to train new entrants and retrain old ones. 2% unemployment means any time a worker takes offense, he can walk off the job and get a new one within a short amount of time. 2% unemployment means that if you want to work more hours you can and if you want to work fewer, your employer has no leverage to make you work more. 2% unemployment means that you don’t have to accept poor treatment, unsafe working conditions, or incompetent bosses because you can walk and not suffer for it.

    Objectively, a 2% unemployment rate is the gold standard for improvement in labor conditions. So why do todays unions not make that a focus of their activism? And what would a labor movement that did focus on it look like?

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Politics, Unions, USA | 5 Comments »

    History Friday: The English Visitor

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st September 2012 (All posts by )

    You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

    The English visitor, a lawyer and pamphleteer named Nicholas Doran Maillard landed up in Texas early in 1840, when the Republic of Texas had just achieved four years of perilous existence . . . and inadvertently provided the means for an exception to Humbert Wolfe’s stinging epigram. In that year, Texas was perennially cash-broke but land rich, somewhat quarrelsome, and continually scourged by Comanche depredations from the north and west, and the threat of re-occupation by Mexico from the south, Texans had first seen immediate annexation by the United States as their sure and certain refuge. But alas, that slavery was permitted and practiced within Texas – so annexation was blocked by abolitionists.

    This left the Republic seeking recognition and even strong allies elsewhere, namely with France and Britain – neither of whom particularly approved of the ‘peculiar institution’ but were more than willing to play the great game of international politics, especially if a foothold on the North American continent might come out of it. Both England and France eventually recognized the independent Republic; Sam Houston cannily referred to it all as a flirtation, in order to reinforce the relationship with the United States.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Diversions, History, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Energy Policy (or lack thereof) Killing the Consumer

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st September 2012 (All posts by )

    Around a decade or so ago a lot of things began to change in the world of residential HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). What I am going to discuss here is HVAC centric, but can apply across any industry where the government can (and does) make rules that on the surface mean “well” but in reality, just end up costing the consumer bucks$$$.

    About five years or so, the manufacture of central air conditioners was mandated to be no less than thirteen SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). The previous minimum was ten SEER.

    On the surface, this doesn’t appear to cause too many problems, besides cost the consumers more money on their initial installation, since the 13 SEER product cost more money (more raw materials to get that energy savings). Sadly, the engineering and physics (which can’t be mandated) told us different.

    From an article by Michael Prokup (sorry can’t find the link):

    Older evaporator coils operate at lower temperatures and pressures than modern evaporator coils.

    Without getting into too heavy of an engineering discussion, this means that basically, the new 13 SEER units won’t work well with the old evaporator coils that sit on top of the furnace. The air conditioning cycle uses condensation and evaporation of a chemical (at this time, it was R-22) to move the heat from inside the house to the outside. Moving from 10 SEER to 13 SEER changed the whole game. No longer could a contractor come to your house and simply replace the outside condensing unit – now the evaporator had to be replaced, adding a lot of cost to the job – especially if the inside unit was sheetrocked into a closet, or was in some other type of area that was difficult to access. Apartment building owners were also affected by this.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Environment | 30 Comments »

    More Photos From London’s East End

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th September 2012 (All posts by )

    These are from 100+ years ago.

    Lots of children in those streets. I assume that many of the people pictured were Jews.

    (Related.)

    Posted in Britain, History, Photos | 3 Comments »