Archive for January, 2017
I recently traded in my old Acura MDX for a new one. What a long, long way we have come in the 7 years since I purchased a new vehicle. I now have an air conditioned seat, something I am looking forward to using this Spring and Summer. I also have a heated steering wheel now, which is great during Winter. Quite the creature comfort.
It also has a feature called Auto-Idle Stop that you can enable and disable that shuts the car off at a stop to save gas. The Acura dealer says that is will save a mile a gallon. At first I didn’t like it, but now I am used to it. I remembered it from when I was in a Prius cab once. When you take your foot off the brake, the car fires up and off you go. While you are stopped, all of the climate control and audio/whatever else you have on is still functional. It automatically turns back on after around a minute sitting there if you haven’t moved. I have no clue how this actually saves you gas but if they say it does, I guess they can’t really lie about it.
Outside of all of the comfort things, the new vehicle is a technological powerhouse. I have had it for almost a month now and am still figuring out all of the features and tech stuff. It has 16 gig of memory to store music onboard. I don’t use that much since I love my XM, but there it is if you want it.
Of the greatest interest to me are the next steps auto manufacturers have made to get everyone used to the idea of the inevitable autonomous vehicle. Three things work in concert on my vehicle. They are Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). At first I turned all of this stuff off, but decided to one day read the manual (I know) to understand how it all works. It is interesting to say the least.
ACC is basically “smart” cruise control. You set your cruise and it will keep the speed, but will also compensate for cars in front of you. You can set the distance that you prefer between your car and the car in front of you (there are four distances to choose from). In the city, I choose the closest distance so as not to clog traffic. The car will actually go all the way down to zero, braking at a light, and will start moving again when the car in front moves forward. There is a bit of a delay when you re-start, so you may look like you have no idea what you are doing, but to heck with everyone else, you don’t have to accelerate or brake and they do. Oh yes, the Auto-Idle Stop feature works with this as well, but you have to hit the accelerator to resume again if you are Auto-Idle Stopped with the ACC in charge.
LDW is, from what I have figured out, just a warning system. It wiggles the steering wheel and shows a display when it feels you are out of the lane.
LKAS is where the rubber really hits the road. When you enable this along with the ACC, the car literally drives itself. LKAS keeps you centered in the lane at whatever speed you are going. I have taken my hands off the wheel, but there are apparently sensors in the wheel because after a few seconds, the car says “you have to drive” and shuts down the auto systems. So just a light pressure on the wheel is all you need and you can let the car do the work. Sometimes the delay takes a bit and it would seem to the car behind you that you are drunk driving since you are weaving back and forth a bit in the lane. This typically happens when you are on a curved road. It isn’t perfect, but when the road is straight, it works very well.
The cameras for all of this are only as good as the ROAD MARKINGS. We had a snow storm recently and my car was caked with snow and ice and the car just said on the display “cameras blocked” and you are on your own. In addition, I live in rural Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. In the city, there are much better lane markings. In the country, the roads have NONE. No smart driving for you in the country, although the ACC always works wherever you are as long as the camera isn’t blocked by snow. Even in the city, the lane markings deviate and/or are in bad shape in areas, and the car will beep and tell you that “tough stuff, you have to drive”, we can’t see the lane. This means that you have to pay attention because at times, you can see the lane markings, but the cameras can’t. There is a part of the display that lets you know if the camera can see the lane markings. I haven’t been on the interstate with it yet, but will soon and look forward to seeing what the car can do in that venue. I assume it will work great.
All in all, when I figure out everything, this new vehicle will make my hour plus a day in the car a much more pleasant experience. Without proper lane markings, however, or unless and until we have lightning speeds with GPS, I don’t see fully autonomous vehicles coming for a bit. Which gets me to thinking I should probably look into investing in companies that manufacture lane marking equipment and paint, but that is certainly grist for another post.
Cross posted at LITGM.
I had an appointment with my primary care health provider at the dot of 9 AM Wednesday morning, down at the primary care clinic at Fort Sam Houston. Some years and months ago, they moved that function from the mountainous brick pile that is the Brooke Army Medical Center, into a free-standing clinic facility on Fort Sam Houston itself. I would guess, in the manner of things, that this clinic facility will undergo some kind of mitosis in about ten years, and split into another several facilities … but in the meantime, this is where I get seen for my routine medical issues … mainly high blood pressure. So; minor, mostly – immediately after retiring, I went for years without ever laying eyes on my so-called primary care provider. A good few of them came and went without ever laying eyes or a stethoscope on me, as well. But this last-but-one moved on, just at the point where he and I recognized each other by sight and remembered each other from one yearly appointment to the next. But once yearly, I must go in and see my care provider, and get the prescriptions renewed, and Wednesday was the day …
Fort Sam Houston – what to say about that place? Historically, it was the new and shiny and built-to-purpose military establishment after the presidio of the Alamo became too cramped, run-down and overwhelmed by the urban sprawl of San Antonio in the late 1870s. I have read in several places, that if the place is ever de-accessioned and turned back to civil authority as the Presidio in San Francisco was, that the inventory of city-owned historic buildings in San Antonio would instantly double. Yes – San Antonio is and was that important. It was the US Army HQ for the Southwest from the time that Texas became a state, the main supply hub for all those forts scattered across New Mexico Territory (which was most of the Southwest, after the war with Mexico), the home of the commander and admin staff for that administrative area. Every notable Army officer from both world wars put in serious time at Fort Sam during their formative military years, and the very first aircraft bought by the Army Signal Corps did demo flights from the parade ground. (I put a description of this in the final chapter of The Quivera Trail.)
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Posted by David McFadden on 25th January 2017 (All posts by David McFadden)
Although President Trump is confident of his ability to deal with Vladimir Putin, he should carefully avoid emulating Putin. It would be far better for the president to look to the example of Putin’s predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev, who transformed the Soviet Union. The first steps in the transformation were glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost, introduced in 1985, roughly means openness and was a step toward open discussion of political and social issues. Perestroika, introduced the following year, roughly means restructuring. Perestroika reduced central economic planning and allowed some private business ownership. These and later reforms resulted in a sharp increase in political freedom (from nil), which peaked in 1991. Sadly, the gains were short lived. Freedom steadily and drastically declined under Yeltsin and Putin for a complex of reasons debated at a recent symposium at the Cato Institute.
The United States as it emerges from the Obama Administration, while not as bad off as the Soviet Union as it emerged from communism, is badly in need of both glasnost and perestroika. They should be the twin priorities of the dawning Trump Administration.
The American left has come to despise freedom of speech as much as it has traditionally despised freedom of contract. It has followed the normal progression of leftist movements toward viewing the protection of its social objectives as more important than human rights. The earliest and still worst manifestation of this trend is on college campuses. Campus speech codes began to appear in the late 1980’s and spread rapidly. Within a few years sixty percent of colleges had them. According to a report of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the percentage has declined over the last nine years to forty percent.
In 1998, Congress declared that it was the sense of Congress that “an institution of higher education should facilitate the free and open exchange of ideas” and that “students should not be intimidated, harassed, discouraged from speaking out, or discriminated against.” 20 U.S.C. § 1011a(a)(2)(C), (D). While the sponsors of this provision may have thought (or wanted to give the impression) that they were doing something, they did not do very much. The provision imposes no consequences on institutions that act contrary to the sense of Congress on this subject. It needs an amendment putting federal funds at stake, as anti-discrimination sections in title 20 do. Although speech codes are less common than they were, universities still do a lot to stifle “the free and open exchange of ideas.” In particular, they fail to prevent students from being intimidated, harassed, and discouraged from speaking out by other students, using increasingly violent methods.
Intolerance of dissent, especially on a fixed dogma like climate change, is not limited to college campuses. A few years ago, a cabal of environmentalists enlisted sympathetic state attorneys general to investigate climate change dissidents. With a vague objective of finding a RICO violation, a group of twenty attorneys general (“AGs United for Clean Power”) have subpoenaed forty years of records from ExxonMobil in a retaliatory effort to find evidence that it has had information on climate change that differs from what it has said publicly. The attorney general of the Virgin Islands subpoenaed documents from academic institutions, scientists, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank. He withdrew that subpoena after getting some pushback from a congressional committee and a lawsuit from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
A venerable weapon is available for the Justice Department to use against oppressive state universities and attorneys general, the Enforcement Act of 1870. The second section of the act, 18 U.S.C. § 242, makes it a crime for anyone under color of state law to deprive a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution. The first section of the act, 18 U.S.C. § 241, provides criminal penalties for conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the enjoyment of any right secured to him by the Constitution. State action is not an element of the crime under § 241. Could not the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, under new leadership, go after, for example, a group of students who prevent Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking? That would be fun.
These tools may or may not work, but they should be tried. Assaults on civil liberties should no longer be costless.
In Federalist No. 72, Hamilton said, “To reverse and undo what has been done by a predecessor, is very often considered by a successor as the best proof he can give of his own capacity and desert.” This has to be the best standard now, as everyone in the Trump Administration should understand.
Perestroika in the modern context ought to begin with reversing and undoing the Obama Administration’s impositions on the economy. Amity Shlaes, who, it should be recalled, wrote The Forgotten Man, observed that “smaller firms–the ones unready for the lawsuit, the investigation or the audit–bear the greater share of regulatory costs.” The regulatory burdens in need of repeal extend far beyond the Affordable Care Act and its progeny. Daniel Pérez of George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center has determined that Obama issued about 33% more “economically significant” regulations than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.
It will be a challenge for the political appointees in all the departments of the federal government to sift through the regulations and begin the process of liberating the economy from the worst of them. Fortunately, litigation has already left some of the Department of Labor’s output in ruins. The Persuader Rule, which I warned about in this blog before its adoption, and the Fiduciary Rule are controversial intrusions of the Labor Department into professional relationships. Both the Persuader Rule and an anti-business revision of overtime regulations have been enjoined by federal district courts in Texas. Five different lawsuits challenging the Fiduciary Rule are pending.
Withdrawing appeals of the rulings against the Persuader Rule and the overtime regulations is the simplest way to dispatch those rules. Other recently adopted regulations can by nullified by using the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 801-808. A joint resolution of disapproval has to be introduced within sixty days of Congress’s receipt of a report of rulemaking. The act provides an expedited procedure for a joint resolution and limits debate in the Senate. In June, President Obama vetoed a joint resolution disapproving the Fiduciary Rule.
For that rule, and so many others, the arduous notice and comment process of the Administrative Procedure Act will be the only method of repeal. The ultimate goal should be that the Code of Federal Regulations will bear no trace that the Obama Administration ever existed and, more generally, that this time glasnost and perestroika will have a more lasting imprint.
Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Mangroves
As President Trump has focused on persuading certain specific companies to increase their US employment (or at least to refrain from decreasing it as much as originally planned), concerns have been raised about his ability to operate above the level of the single case and to think in terms of framing general policies. I do share this concern to a certain extent.
But I’m also reminded of Peter Drucker’s story about two old-line merchants.
The first of these, called “Uncle Henry” by those who knew him, was the founder and owner of a large and succesful department store. When Drucker met him, he was already in his eighties. Uncle Henry was a businessman who did things by intuition more than by formal analysis, and his own son Irving, a Harvard B-School graduate, was appalled at “the unsystematic and unscientific way the store was being run.”
Drucker remembers his conversations with Uncle Henry. “He would tell stories constantly, always to do with a late consignment of ladies’ hats, or a shipment of mismatched umbrellas, or the notions counter. His stories would drive me up the wall. But gradually I learned to listen, at least with one ear. For surprisingly enough he always leaped to a generalization from the farrago of anecdotes and stocking sizes and color promotions in lieu of markdowns for mismatched umbrellas.”
Drucker also knew another leading merchant, Charles Kellstadt (who had once run Sears.) Kellstadt and Drucker served together on a Department of Defense advisory board (on procurement policy), and Kellstadt told “the same kind of stories Uncle Henry had told.” Drucker says that his fellow board members “suffered greatly from his interminable and apparently pointless anecdotes.”
On one occasion, a “whiz kid” (this was during the McNamara era) was presenting a proposal for a radically new approach to defense pricing policy. Kellstadt “began to tell a story of the bargain basement in the store in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he had held his first managerial job, and of some problem there with the cup sizes of women’s bras. he would stop every few sentences and ask the bewildered Assistant Secretary a quesion about bras, then go on. Finally, the Assistant Secretary said, “You don’t understand Mr. Kellstadt; I’m talking about concepts.” “So am I,” said Charlie, quite indignant, and went on. Ten minutes later all of us on the board realized that he had demolished the entire proposal by showing us that it was far too complex, made far too many assumptions, and contains far too many ifs, buts, and whens.” After the meeting, another board member (dean of a major engineering school) said admiringly, “Charlie, that was a virtuoso performance. but why did you have to drag in the cup sizes of the bras in your bargain basement forty years ago?” Drucker reports that Charlie was surprised by the question: “How else can I see a problem in my mind’s eye?”
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has lamented China’s inability to “make ballpoint pens with a smooth writing function.” After five years of research, a state-owned steel company now says it can.
WSJ notes that 80% of the world’s ballpoint pens are made in China…but that thus far, China has not been making all of the pen’s components. Specifically:
The tip of a high-quality ballpoint demands metal work involving high-precision machinery and very hard, ultrathin steel plates. So 90% of pens made in China have imported tips. China’s leaders want “self-sufficiency,” in pens as in semiconductors. Now they claim they’ll have it.
This little story is interesting from at least three angles.
First–as the WSJ story points out, China’s desire to control the entire ballpoint pen supply chain indicates that their leaders still value economic autarky, and that Chinese leadership denunciation of President Trump on grounds of his insufficient respect for free trade carry more than a whiff of hypocrisy.
Second–the ballpoint pen example makes the point that the apparent simplicity of a product does not necessarily reflect the complexity or lack thereof involved in manufacturing it. American economic commentators often fail to grasp this point when they assert that America’s future must lie in producing “advanced high-technology products.”
Third–the example should also clarify the point that the highest value in a product supply chain does not necessarily lie in the assembly of the final product. The final product assembly is usually the most visible part of the supply chain, but very often the creation of components that go into that chain involves more complexity and requires more skill than the final assembly process itself. It’s considerably more difficult to make integrated circuits, for example, than to assemble those chips onto circuit boards and to assemble the boards into a plastic or metal case.
Posted by Ginny on 20th January 2017 (All posts by Ginny)
I’ve never understood people who don’t notice costs. Maybe it was because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, maybe it was bicycling around to deliver papers in the snow . . . but I don’t think so. My life wasn’t all that rough. I think it is good old Scottish common sense. It is sensible to assess price in terms of worth. Or as Franklin would see it – is the value of the time I spent earning that money a good exchange for the use or pleasure it provides. From different perspectives, this was what I thought when I set prices in my business and when I wander around a store, touching and thinking about that dress or dish.
I’ve long wondered about D.C.’s ability to spend money. As a Kelly girl, I found state and federal offices squandered time in ways private businesses never did. We know the stories of lottery winners whose money is gone in half a year. I suspect someone who considers the lottery a good investment probably isn’t all that good at assessing worth, though they may be misled by winning.
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As the Deity be my witness, I have never – not even since 1968 (which I am sufficiently old enough to remember, being 14 years of age in that cursed year) – seen such a massive and public temper tantrum as that which we have been observing since November, 2015. Let it be said that I am observing all this with appalled and horrified fascination. It used to be that only certain very far-leftish intellectuals and college students were given to briefly melt down in such an over-the-top fashion – but over the last month and a bit this appears to have become the chosen reaction to their side losing an election on the part of most Hollywood A- B- and C-Listers, all the social justice warrior front, most of the establishment media, a good chunk of our public intellectuals, a good few businesses (looking at you, Kellogg) a generous selection of our Democrat Party establishment, and a representative sample of leftish freelance political freaks. (As an aside – good show; displaying your contempt toward at least half of your prospective audience/consumers/& etc is a sure winner, when it comes to the consumer market. This household will never purchase Kellogg brands again. Or go to a movie with Meryl Streep in it.)
So – why the Cat-5 hurricane degree of hysteria, which shows not the slightest degree of diminishing? A number of reasons, I would venture; and for many of the most demonstrative “Never Our President” virtue signalers it may be a combination of several of these.
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Posted by Subotai Bahadur on 19th January 2017 (All posts by Subotai Bahadur)
First, let me thank you all for the warm welcome. I am deeply cognizant of the fact that I am writing in the company of the first team, and I just hope that I can keep up. I am going to try to turn up here every week or two.
In the previous installment, I mentioned that children are learning machines. If you want to raise a generation that excels, use that. They want to learn. They are desperate to learn. And if you pay enough attention to them as individual people, they will learn from you. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t plant them in front a TV that teaches them that America is evil, Whites are evil, and that males are evil and incompetent. You have to present alternate lessons.
My children are grown. I lost a son at 11 years old, but the rest have done well. My oldest daughter owns her own business with her family. My next oldest got two degrees in 5 years, the next has her degree and has run a multi-county arts council, and my son chose not to go to college but became a chef and then a master brewer for an internationally respected craft brewery [and makes more than his sisters]. They, and my nieces and nephews have all mentioned that I am different than most parents. I have always talked to them like they were people, and not “children”. I might have to explain things, but I don’t talk down to them.
Part of that is so they learn new things and expect to learn new things as part of growing up. Part of that is the respect shown to them as people. Which they will internalize. If they believe they are worthy of respect, then they will try to live up to their self image.
Children will be what they are expected to be. If you have low expectations, they will live down to those expectations. If you have high expectations, and by that I do not mean pressured, just make sure that they have access to the tools and let them use them; then they will.
My dad had a 6th Grade Chinese education in the late 1910’s, early 1920’s. He knew what he did not know. From my own 6th grade, we had to start picking our classes for the next year. He told me that he would sign whatever I chose, because he did not know what I would need. Just as I was responsible for cooking for myself when alone and taking care of myself when alone from age 9, I was responsible for directing my own schooling, with the expectation that I would choose the best course of study for the future. And I did.
I was always a reader. When I got my first library card at 10 and went to the Aurora Public Library, they kept trying to chase me into the children’s section. I wanted to be in the History section, checking out and reading the 15 volumes of Morison’s “Official History of US Naval Operations in WW-II”. I told my dad, and his response was to give me a note to take to the librarians. It said: “Reading is good. You shouldn’t have anything in the library he shouldn’t read. If he can carry it, he can check it out.”. Just in passing, I had a bike with a paperboy’s baskets. I could carry quite a lot. But the lesson there was that I was free to learn anything that interested me. Teach that lesson, and be willing to either answer any questions or refer to a reference source if you cannot answer them yourself.
What they are surrounded with at home can guide and enable that search for knowledge. If y’all remember, there was a world before the Internet. In those days, a good set of encyclopedias was the best that you could do at home. In 1963 my dad spent the equivalent of a month’s wages to get a deluxe edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica for me. And I used it.
When my kids were growing up, we had functionally a library at home. Today in my house, literally every room has walls of floor to ceiling bookcases, packed; except for the bathroom and our bedroom. For décor reasons, the bedroom bookcases are long and low. And most of what I call my “working library” of military reference books from when I was writing for military journals are packed away, because I don’t have room to have them out. I arguably have a better history collection than our local public library.
That is what my kids grew up surrounded by. Then there is the completing link for that portion.
They have to see that reading, and learning, is normal. Kids do what they see. Just as certain behaviors make you someone who can learn, you have to model them as examples for them to follow. It takes up part of the day, but one parent or another needs to read to children when they are small every day. My kids’ bedtime stories were “The Hobbit” and then “The Lord of the Rings”. Yeah, they are not pre-school books. Kids don’t care. Kids will learn, especially if mom or dad read it to them. They may [shock] end up with a wider vocabulary than their contemporaries. They may hear a story [whichever one you pick] that has good, evil, the struggle between them, honor, and good winning through perseverance and being willing to pay a cost. Nothing being free. And it may influence their outlook on life.
If they see you reading by yourself, you normalize it, and they will turn to books. They will thereby create an internal horizon that is something larger than the adventures of the latest Disney semi-slut. If they hear you and your spouse or friends discussing what you have read, if you relate what they do see on TV to history and to literature, you widen that horizon. Kids are learning machines. We, Deity help us, have being a teaching machine as part of our job description on top of being the economic support. No one says it’s easy.
When looking at widening your children’s horizons, you have to have an aim towards what you want to include within that horizon. Here is where the final piece falls into place. Your school needs to be something other than the politically correct mish-mash of Marxist theory and anarchist “fact” that makes up the public school system. Where you send your kids and what is taught will make or break them.
Except for a dismal period in high school when I was stuck in the middle of Nebraska [where the world history teacher was acclaimed as the Nebraska teacher of the year, and in whose class I got an A literally without cracking the text] I grew up in Denver and Aurora from 3rd grade on. When I was there, there were schools known for excellence. Some friends of mine went to a Denver high school where admission to MIT, or Colorado School of Mines, or Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was a common event for a graduating class. My own high school had regular admissions to service academies or to Ivy League schools before they degraded.
Now, those schools are sites of gang wars, drug emporiums, and a part of the production line of dropouts and criminals.
Looking at the school systems in Colorado, where every major system now has more administrators than teaching staff, there is very little excellence. You have to look outside the standard public schools to find such. Specifically, charter schools. And not just any charter schools. There are some whose teaching is based on the theories of E. D. Hirsch.
Hirsch wrote Cultural Literacy; What Every American Needs to Know, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, and the series of books What Your Preschooler Needs to Know on through What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know. Read these. Cultural Literacy can be defined as what you need to know to fit in to and function in a Western, Judeo-Christian based, constitutional society. It is exactly what is not only not taught, but is concealed by modern public schools.
He created and still runs the Core Knowledge Foundation. And there are a number of charter schools based on his principles. There is one in my town. There are fewer administrators. The staff gets less pay than teachers do in the rest of the district. And teachers fight to get a slot there, because they are allowed to teach. In Colorado, we have proficiency testing at regular intervals for all students. Not one of the Core Knowledge students has ever failed the proficiency tests in the over a decade they have been in existence, and most test far above their grade level.
A few years ago, our town’s high school abolished the position of Valedictorian of the graduating class. Because when students transfer from the Core Knowledge school, they are so far ahead of the regular public school students that the Valedictorian was always a Core Knowledge student. And it did not make the other schools and teachers look good, nor did the concept of someone actually excelling match modern educational theory.
Not saying that they are perfect. There are some behavioral problems. These are teenagers brought up in modern America, and in a state where marijuana is legalized, for pity’s sake. But the behavioral problems are a small fraction of the regular public school peers, and the dropout/flunkout rate is almost non-existent. By the vaporous cojones of the Holy Ghost, they are doing something very, very right with those kids.
So, finally getting around to the original question that started all this. I don’t claim this is the only way, but this is what has worked in my experience, and what books, theories, and schools I recommend.
Fair warning. Once I start writing, I AM a wordy bugger.
Posted by Subotai Bahadur on 18th January 2017 (All posts by Subotai Bahadur)
I have been dropping by here for some years, and have encountered some CHICAGO BOYZ elsewhere around the web. Apparently, some have not been scared off by my ramblings, so I have been offered a chance to write here sometimes. It may be that someone, somewhere is dubious about this. Before I could register with the credentials offered, my ancient [my fallback is an abacus] machine did something . . . terminal to Firefox and I lost all but email. The error message was unlike any I had ever seen, so this had to go to my boffin. Which is part of the cause of the delay.
The computer was fixable. The other part is not, completely. Let us just say that I am getting an in depth view of orthopedics. And for the last week I have been arguing with WordPress and losing until literally moments ago.
Now that I am back, let us return to the discussion that started all this some time ago. I was giving some of my family history, and was asked what I would recommend to teach “real history”; that which actually influenced the real world we have to deal with, not the Narrative which changes with the winds of political correctness and who is currently playing the part of Emmanuel Goldstein.
With all due modesty, like the rest of us here I am on the right side of the bell curve. Part of that is genetics, part of that is upbringing. I’ve mentioned my father, and his coming from China. This came about because I had a grandfather who was smarter than the average Chinese peasant. He counted acres of land, and sons, and realized that he did not have enough land to divvy up to let each son have a chance to support a family. My dad was the youngest, so he was told that he would not get land when he grew up, but that he would be sent to the United States where he would have a chance to make his fortune.
Mind you, he was 12 years old, had the Chinese equivalent of a 6th grade education [so he could read, write, and do arithmetic in Chinese], and had no family going with him. And we have already gone through the legal environment here for Chinese. But he was willing to go.
It is not often considered, but China has the concept of “pioneer stock” the same as Americans. They did not go West, they went South. Until the Chinese cut down the jungle, chased out the tigers, and planted rice; South China was the frontier. And it was the South Chinese [Cantonese] who became the commercial classes all through SE Asia. And it was the Cantonese who came to this country in search of opportunity.
As one can imagine, life was not exactly upper middle class American for him. He worked in a restaurant, starting at the bottom, slept on a pallet in the back, and along the way learned English. He became a cook, and then [largely because he spoke, read, and wrote English unlike most Chinese immigrants] after the entry of the US into WW-II, was a food service supervisor at the old Lowry Army Air Force Base in Denver, when it was located in the Park Hill neighborhood before they moved it out by Aurora.
In 1943, due to Chinese protests about the way Chinese airmen in the US being trained to fly B-24’s against the Japanese were treated by Americans [in Pueblo, Colorado]; the US became the last nation to give up Extraterritorial Status in China, and thus Chinese in this country finally became legally human beings.
Although not an American citizen, once he could my dad enlisted in the Army. Keep in mind, that 30 years old is awful late to become an infantry soldier. And he did become an infantryman. They tried to make him a cook, and he fought to become an infantryman.
He started carrying a mortar base plate, and by the end of the war was one of the first non-white squad leaders in the combat infantry. He never talked about anything after they shipped out for Europe. Most combat veterans don’t. It was only after he died, that I learned that his unit the 5th Infantry RGMT, 71st Infantry Division, had fought across Europe including breaking the Siegfried Line, took part in the Battle of the Bulge, on May 4 his company liberated the last concentration camp in German hands [Gunzkirchen sub-camp of Matthausen] and on May 8 was the farthest east of any American Army unit in Europe when they linked up with the Russians east of Linz, Austria.
For his service, he was granted his citizenship at the end of the war. I did it the easy way, being born here.
I know that I am repeating myself from earlier posts, but it is not to brag, but to point out one very key concept. I grew up hearing about his life, except for his service in Europe, over and over again as I grew up. I watched him. Keep in mind that he raised me alone until I was 16, and owned his own restaurant. And worked 12+ hours a day, 6 days a week to raise me in a middle class lifestyle.
I always knew that just below the surface was a harder life, a worse life, than we lived. And that it took a lot of work to keep that good life. Like most of our Chinese acquaintances, it was assumed that all that work had the goal that the next generation would have it better than having to work in restaurants 72 hours a week.
And the kids shared in the work. My first restaurant job involved busing tables, one plate at a time, at 4 years old. Customers thought it was cute as hell. Probably helped the waitress’s tips. Most of my contemporaries worked off the books, without pay, until age 16 when they could legally go on the books. And then we worked in the family restaurants weekends, after school, and on all school breaks until we went to college. All that work did not excuse us from having to have good grades. Indeed, the only excuse for not working was that we had too much schoolwork.
In college, by that time most of us were qualified Chinese cooks. So on summer breaks, and Christmas breaks we would cook in the family restaurants, full time for full pay. And that is how we paid for college. In college I would work 4 months a year for $600 a month Chinese [which then meant in the middle of the country to get Chinese cooks to come there, the pay was after taxes and room and board was furnished.] like every other cook in the restaurant I worked 6 days a week, 12-15 hours a day, in 109 degree temperatures in the kitchen.
This was vital. We grew up knowing that to have a good life, we would have to work hard. And we worked hard. And we developed the ability to, if necessary, outwork our competition no matter what. One of the things my dad told me was that to get the same reward as a white person in this country, you had to work three times as hard and be three times as good.
Even by the time I was growing up, it was not quite that bad, the way it was when my dad was making his way. I promise that it is getting easier and easier to work 3 times as hard and be three times as good.
Modern Americans, and Europeans, do not grow up that way. There is no real consciousness or acceptance that success requires work, sometimes hard, painful, physical work. There is no knowledge or experience that life was not always as easy as it is today, and no comprehension that it is possible that someday that life can be hard. It is expected that there is always going to be someone, or something that will take care of them.
The immigrant culture, the concept of working your way up from whatever you left to a better life for yourself and your children is gone. It is not just a Chinese or Asian culture. Germans, Irish, Scots, Jews, legal immigrants from Mexico and points south, Africans; they all had and can have it.
The first step then, if you want your children to learn “real history” is to teach them that history as they grow up. The hard times that either you or your parents or grandparents had to go through. Make sure they know by relatable stories of their own families about not only hard times [and every American family has such in their history either here or in the old country], but how they overcame it. Teach them about real life, about real suffering. Don’t sugar coat things, because the world is not sugar coated. Children are learning machines. From the moment they open their eyes and they try to make sense of what you are saying they will absorb knowledge like a sponge. Tell them the truth, tell them reality. Tell them about the heroes that they came from, because that is who they will try to be worthy of. And teach them that they CAN be worthy of those who came before.
There are other steps, but creating a culture of reality and honor [both for their past, and for them to live up to] is critical. End Part One of Two.
Here is an opinion piece written by Kyle Pope and arrogantly signed “The Press Corps” without actually soliciting any other signatures of journalists.
What really gets me is his fifth point “We’ll obsess over the details of government” which is simply, objectively not true. If it were true, certain artifacts would have produced and an entire category of journalism would be common because a press corps that was obsessed over the details of government would use those artifacts to easily and cheaply create certain stories that they do not create.
When you read about Flint, MI and its lead pipe problem on the web, did the site geolocate you, identifying your own water system, list out the lead pipes used there, the date when the last one is projected to be replaced, and give you the contact information of the office that can move that lead free date up? No, you didn’t because years before, nobody identified all the water systems and arranged a cheap way to regularly get their pipe inventory into a database along with the install dates and expected lifespans. That would be the mark of a press corps that was obsessed over the details of government.
That would be journalism worth paying for and the kind of story that I would like to write and see written.
Here’s what is missing to do that Flint story correctly.
Comprehensive list of all governments that operate their own water systems with contact information
List of the private water systems overseen by various government oversight bodies
Each water system’s pipe inventory with install and expected replacement dates along with type/material of pipe.
I really would love to not be building out these basic data structures. The established press, which does have the resources to do such a thing quickly, just is not interested so others have to step in.
Posted by Lexington Green on 17th January 2017 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Dominic Cummings explains how the Brexit referendum was won. Cummings was the Campaign Director of Vote Leave. He was in effect the executive director of the Brexit referendum campaign. This article explains how it happened. It is also long and rambling. But read it all anyway.
It is full of many interesting observations and various insightful, epigrammatic comments:
Most of the MPs we dealt with were not highly motivated to win and lacked extreme focus, even those who had been boring everybody about this for decades. They sort of wanted to win but they had other priorities. …
This lack of motivation is connected to another important psychology – the willingness to fail conventionally. Most people in politics are, whether they know it or not, much more comfortable with failing conventionally than risking the social stigma of behaving unconventionally. They did not mind losing so much as being embarrassed, as standing out from the crowd. (The same phenomenon explains why the vast majority of active fund management destroys wealth and nobody learns from this fact repeated every year.)
This happens all the time, not just in politics.
This is interesting:
John McCrae’s Flanders Fields is iconic. No more need be said. Unfortunately, its meaning has been distorted by the most popular voice and instrumental accompaniment. This new reading of the poem has transformed Flanders Fields’ meaning. My guess is that this metamorphosis was unintentional, but one and all should work to recover the original public meaning.
Neptunus Lex wrote about his “youngster” cruise as a Midshipman attending the Naval Academy. This is the first of two cruises that a Midshipman takes: during the second cruise, your activities are those of an officer…
But during youngster year, you sail as a Sailor. You wear dungarees, chip paint, sweep passageways and stand enlisted watches. You sleep in enlisted berthing, eat in the enlisted mess and attempt to get some sense of the men you are supposed to lead in three year’s time, and the lives they live. ..You are tempted to believe that this work is beneath you. You are a Naval Academy midshipman, the cream of the crop. You are special.
You spend some time in the engineering plant – in a gas turbine ship, an amazingly clean and quiet space. Totally incomprehensible. It resembles nothing at all like the wiring diagrams in your thermodynamics textbooks.
But there’s a 23 year old Sailor who didn’t go to college, never read Thoreau, and who nevertheless understands it all. He patiently tries to teach you how it works. He speaks to you like one would speak to an elderly person in a nursing home, slowly, simply. You feel patronized, and worse: You realize that you do not entirely understand.
You are beginning to learn – not about engineering. But about Sailors.
You’re heading home. Bridge watches now, under the tutelage of 20 year old quartermaster’s mates. Men from small towns that you’ve never hear of, in states you remember dimly from your grade school geography. From farming families, where no one went to college, and no one was expected to. Men who could fix your position to a hundred yards moving at 20 knots across the endless sea using only the stars, a stopwatch and a sextant. Men who could debate the finer points of Strauss and Engels. Men who play classical guitar to an appreciative audience in the 80 man berthing during their time off duty. Who have dreams of their own that they will tell you about, when no one else is listening. Men who would risk their lives to save yours in the midst of a flaming inferno, without hesitating for a moment to reckon the cost, to tally the odds. Men who would die for you, if they had to.
And you begin to realize that you’re not special because of who you are, the grades you got in high school or where you’re going to college. You’re special because of who you’ve been selected to lead, when your time comes.
And that, my friends, is the beginning of wisdom.
Definitely read the whole thing.
There was a general…can’t remember who it was…who remarked that you will can never be a good officer unless you like Soldiers. (And you can’t fake it for long, he added.) I think it is pretty clear that Lex liked Sailors.
One way of evaluating any leader…military, political, business executive..is his attitude toward those he leads or wants to lead.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th January 2017 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I posted a bit on the role of the individual and terrorism last year.
We are a week from the Trump inauguration and there are all sorts of threats by the left to disrupt the inauguration.
What can individuals do ?
Tomorrow, my wife and daughter are going to drive to Tucson where we have bought a new home. They plan to leave early and about 10 AM will be passing the Tonopah turnoff on the way to Phoenix. Yesterday, there was quite a bit of excitement there.
According to Col. Frank Milstead, the director of DPS, the trooper was responding to the shots fired call when he came upon a single-vehicle rollover wreck near Tonopah. A woman had been ejected from that vehicle.
The trooper immediately stopped and began laying out flares.
DPS Capt. Damon Cecil said the trooper — a 27-year-veteran of the agency — was ambushed by the suspect when he got out of his vehicle at the scene of the rollover. The trooper was shot and wounded.
I have not yet heard if the suspect was crazy or what motive he might have had. A passerby stopped and told the suspect to stop his assault on the trooper. The passerby then went back to his car and got his gun. He told the suspect to stop or he would shoot him. He did not stop and the passerby shot and killed him.
Milstead, speaking from the hospital to which his trooper and taken, said an “uninvolved third party” who was driving by saw the trooper grappling with the suspect and stopped to help, eventually shooting and killing the suspect.
That civilian, using the wounded trooper’s radio, was the one who alerted DPS to the shooting.
“To the civilian on the DPS trooper’s radio, if you can hear me, I need you to let me know where the suspect is that got in an altercation with our trooper,” the dispatcher could be heard saying on the scanner.
“The suspect is … occasionally breathing or stirring. He’s been shot by a passerby,” the man with the wounded trooper’s radio calmly responded. “He’s laying right next to the officer.”
Arizona has been an open carry state since it was a state. The chief of the Department of Public Safety said his trooper would not be alive but for the passerby with the gun.
I am leaving a state that has become horribly corrupt since I first came here in 1956. I have much higher hopes for Tucson where we will be living after Monday.
It has been a hassle but I have high hopes for the new place in Tucson.
I am taking all my guns. California is Chicago with good weather. My niece who is a nurse at Rush medical center has a friend, another nurse with metastatic breast cancer but still working. Yesterday, leaving work, she was held up. She told the gunman, “Go ahead and shoot me, I have nothing to lose.” He robbed her but did not shoot her.
It is interesting that there is such a high overlap of political opinion between College Professors and Entertainers…the latter category not being known for their intellectual or scholarly tastes, on the average.
Significance, if any?
[Partial automated translation:]
Tillman also pointed out that many of the public service regulations were not valid for the purpose of preventing possible conflicts of interest for elected deputies [i.e., officials], judges and not least the presidents and vice-presidents. Tillman called [i.e., made reference to] the desired independence of the persons who hold such offices. If presidents had to submit their decisions to an ethics officer, in order to rule out possible conflicts of interest, the latter would gain a very powerful position, although he [i.e., the latter] was not legitimized by any choice [of the people]. Judges and elected representatives enjoy a trust advance.
This is worth reading in full. Recent US reporting on the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, like much recent US reporting on any topic that can be associated with Trump, is tendentious in the extreme.
See also: Tillman on Trump on RTE (Irish national television) (Seth appears in the video beginning around 5:50, debating a Democratic Party representative. The clip runs about 9 minutes.)
I didn’t watch very much of the horrific YouTube tape of four inner-city “youths” of color tormenting a special needs white kid – a tape that was all over the alternative media last week, and miracle of miracles, even made it to the national media, where incidents of black-on-white violence usually get to be covered, like with a pillow until they stop moving. It goes without saying that if the skin colors of victim and perpetrators had been reversed, just about every other national news story would have been driven off the front page and out of the first twenty minutes of national news for weeks. (Save perhaps one of the Kardashians bursting out of her dress like an overstuffed sausage in the middle of a top-drawer celebrity event.) I know that, you know that, we all are most tiresomely and cynically aware of that. Many would have been the chins tugged, NPR would have been consulting their golden rolodex for the most plummy-voiced commentator with an air of spurious authority over matters racial, CNN anchors and the correspondents of main-line news broadcasters over the world would have been hyperventilating in their efforts to keep up with the currently-fashionable expressions of condemnation of American racism, brutality, racism, cruelty to the ‘other’, white privilege, racism, the center-city of places like Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit (aside – is there anything left in Detroit to burn?) would have been going up in flames … so on and so forth, und so weiter. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently I read an excellent book called “The End of Accounting and the Path Forward for Investors and Managers” by Baruch Lev and Feng Gu. I highly recommend this book for investors, analysts, accountants, and those with a general interest in business. The book is very well written and researched in that it:
1. Describes the current situation in depth
2. Aligns the situation across an historical context and with relevant research
3. Makes specific recommendations about how to improve the situation
If you’d like to read more about this topic on your own (will help to frame out these posts), here is an excellent Wall Street Journal article titled “The End of Accounting” (if the link doesn’t work because you don’t have a subscription you can probably find it elsewhere on the internet). Here is a link from Accounting Today and an interview with the author from CFO magazine.
The first post in this series is going to be my personal insights and journey in the area of accounting information, financial and investor relations analysts. This context is relevant because I, too, have seen the problems that the authors outline in the series and come up with my own “hacks” to attempt to gain better information and insights.
I started out my career as an accountant, and I used to help create the footnotes that you see at the end of the financial reports. This wasn’t creative work per se – you would start with last year’s footnote as a template and insert new numbers, unless it was a new requirement, in which case it was a lot of work and we would turn to specialists. At that time (20+ years ago) there were only a few footnotes and the financial statements themselves weren’t that long; you would be able to read from the Chairman and CEO’s letter all the way through to the last footnote in a couple of hours.
This was also before the internet; we would go into the company library and look at microfiche sometimes to do research or you’d pull up the hard (printed) copy from the files. At that point an annual report was also somewhat of a marketing document; companies put a lot of thought into the cover, for instance.
At various points in the history of accounting there has been a focus on the balance sheet (assets and liabilities), the income statement (earnings per share and price / earnings ratio) and on cash flows (cash generated from the business). Each of these views are important and have their merits and their drawbacks. The statements were generally the “GAAP” view which focused on financial statement presentation and used taxes at official rates (many companies pay almost nothing in taxes in actuality by deferring them indefinitely) and held assets at historical costs. Both of these assumptions made the financial statements less useful for certain types of companies and industries.
Dan is much smarter than me and he holds on to all the ticket stubs for concerts and sporting events that he’s attended over the years. He recently sent me a rug and a coffee mug that he created based on the ticket stub for a special concert we attended almost 30 years ago when we were at the University of Illinois. The show was Stevie Ray Vaughan at Foellinger Auditorium.
At the time I was in college and had almost no money. I saw that Stevie Ray Vaughan was coming to campus and thought I would get up early and stand in line to purchase tickets before class (I rarely got up early in those days when I could avoid it). Alas, the line was already long and I pretty much gave up right away. There was a guy who was scalping tickets, however, so I went up to him and bought two tickets for what I remember was about $50.
The tickets were up front in the first couple of rows as it turned out but way, way on the left side of the stage. Dan and I got rip roaring drunk before the show (which was the custom, back in the day) and we headed to Foellinger. Note that Foellinger was a lecture hall and I had many classes in that room – the room had bolted-down desks with the fold out panels that you could write on, so it was kind of odd that they had concerts at that same room (I also saw the punk band Husker Du in that same lecture hall, which seemed even odder).
Texan99, writing at Grim’s Hall, discusses the ‘thick fog of buzzwords’ that pervades the educational arena in this country. My comment is that buzzwords and jargon are worst in education, government, and the ‘nonprofit’ world, but increasingly are also pervading the world of business and having a malign effect therein. Many of the posts I see on LinkedIn, for example, represent attempts by people who have never had a creative idea or insight in their lives to posture a deep thinkers and business intellectuals by maximizing their use of the buzzwords du jour.
Sarah Hoyt draws a distinction between memes and proverbs:
Of all the ways people have come up with to avoid thinking, I like memes the most. They are so ridiculously easy to fall into. You see the words, you see the picture and you go “ah ah, that’s so true.” Even when on a minute’s reflection it makes no sense whatsoever…I think in a way it follows the same pattern that proverbs followed in more ancient cultures…While proverbs were ways not to have to think or short cuts around thinking, they weren’t, by themselves, pernicious…Proverbs are in a way, the encoding of societal wisdom into short cuts to lead people into ways that have worked before…Memes are similar, but you have to remove societal wisdom and put in “the commanding forces of culture and mass media”. RTWT
Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young captain on the French General Staff (later a general, he commanded the French contingent in the Suez attack) commented on his impressions when he first breathed the refined air at the General Staff level:
I saw very quickly that our seniors were primarily concerned with forms of drafting. Every memorandum had to be perfect, written in a concise, impersonal style, and conforming to a logical and faultless plan–but so abstract that it had to be read several times before one could find out what it was about…”I have the honour to inform you that I have decided…I envisage…I attach some importance to the fact that…” Actually no one decided more than the barest minimum, and what indeed was decided was pretty trivial.
Entirely consistent with Beaufre’s observation was a interchange between the artists Picasso and Matisse which took place in the midst of the collapse of 1940:
Matisse: But what about our generals, what are they doing?
Picasso: Our generals? They’re the masters at the Ecole des Beaux Arts!
…ie, men possessed by the same rote formulae and absence of observation and obsessive traditionalism as the academic artists.
The decline in clarity of writing and speaking presages nothing good. Confucius pointed out that “If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.”
See my earlier post When Formalism Kills and the ensuing discussion thread.