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  • Ebola and the “Open Borders Derangement Syndrome”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on October 16th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Sometimes looking at politics, the only explanation that makes sense is a personal identity based mental illness affecting the politicians involved.

    So, we see this reported —

    Texas Health Presbyterian nurse Briana Aguirre criticizes hospital over Ebola response
    Nurse speaks out on TODAY Show

    Ashley Fantz, Holly Yan and Catherine E. Shoichet CNN
    9:54 AM, Oct 16, 2014

    “The federal government is weighing putting those who treated Duncan on a list that would prohibit them from being able to fly, an official familiar with the situation told CNN.

    In June 2007, federal agencies developed a public health Do Not Board list, which allowed domestic and international public health officials to request that people with communicable diseases who meet specific criteria and pose a serious threat to the public be restricted from taking commercial flights departing from or arriving in the United States. The CDC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security manage the Do Not Board list. “

    So follow me here.

    American citizens who have been in the vicinity of an Ebola patient, particularly healthcare workers, would be considered “a serious threat to the public” even though;

    1. They have simply been around people with Ebola but,
    2. They are not exhibiting signs of the disease.

    These individuals (who demonstrate no symptoms of Ebola) may soon be placed on a “Do Not Board List” by the Center for Disease Control and Department of Homeland Security.

    Meanwhile, non-citizens, people from West Africa who are now:

    1. Surrounded by an “out of control” Ebola virus outbreak,
    2. Who are living in countries saturated with Ebola due to its rampant community spread,
    3. Who are not now showing symptoms of the disease yet,
    4. Are free to travel to America, plus wherever they like to in America without restrictions after they get here.

    A sane Federal government would have put all passengers from Ebola Pandemic affected West African nations on a “Do Not Board List” long past. Yet they are not sane, and it gets worse.

    Not only is this “American Citizens With Ebola Only “Do Not Board List” a dumb policy that destroys the credibility of the Federal Government in time of crisis when it is needed most. It is law suit bait on equal protection grounds in Federal court. Yet both Obama and Congressional Democrats, plus a few Republicans, support limiting AMERICAN CITIZENS rights to travel, but not that of WEST AFRICANS.

    What we are seeing here is the outstanding symptom of a mental illness called OPEN BORDERS DERANGMENT SYNDROME. A mental illness shared by 99.5% of Democrats and the Republican leadership in the US Senate.

    A political identity based mental illness now set to kill lots of Americans by Ebola for the sake of cheap immigrant labor now and future Democratic votes later (like 2016 via voter fraud enabled by Democratic Party opposition to Voter ID laws).

     

    Posted in Current Events, Ebola, Health Care, Immigration, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Generational Challenges

    Posted by Mrs. Davis on October 16th, 2014 (All posts by )

    We know how to combat Ebola effectively as the Firestone Plantation demonstrates. But, in its drive to multiply Ebola has an ally in our decaying culture and its abandonment of personal responsibility and imposition of penalties for violating cultural norms. Not all such actions result in the spread of the disease but the spread depends on a sufficient number of such actions. The question we should be asking is where we will find the will to properly combat this disease.

    Let’s start with Patient Zero. He knew he had been exposed to Ebola and I strongly suspect he came to America to obtain the best care he could. Can’t blame him for that at all. I’d spend $3,400 to survive. However, he does not appear to be one of the Liberian 1 percenters, so the question arises, where did he get the sum, which must be an enormous expenditure to one of the 99 percent in a country whose average annual income is $450? Somebody else probably paid to bring him into the country illegally to gain access to our medical system. Who was it? Is anybody investigating to find out? Would any action be taken if we knew whom it was? We all know how unlikely that is. So the person or persons who have paid to import Ebola into the US will not be held accountable.

    And Patient Zero was not held accountable by society for his action in deceitfully spreading the disease. He was wanted in Liberia for lying on his exit papers. We could have put him in a Hazmat suit and flown him back to Liberia to face charges. Instead we gave him an entire floor of a major metropolitan hospital. And I doubt he had insurance.

    Then there’s Dr. (and I use the title advisedly) Nancy Snyderman. She goes to Liberia with her news crew and returns when one of them is infected with the disease. She agrees to a voluntary quarantine that she soon violates to go get takeout from her local restaurant. If I were in her shoes, the last place I would be is in a confined car with friends in public. I’d find a place to stay, away from my family, alone for three weeks, and eat take out delivered to my door step. But Nancy doesn’t need to do that. She can take the chance that she is exposing the nation to this virus to satisfy her culinary cravings. And what sanctions does she face? A State order of mandatory quarantine and a public apology. No doubt she’ll be back on the air at the end of the 21 days pontificating on the disease she might have spread.

    Nurse 2 finds she has a fever. She calls the CDC to get permission to do what she suspects she shouldn’t. And she gets it! Just so she can go home on an airplane potentially exposing hundreds to the disease. Do you want someone who exercises this kind of judgment making literal life and death decisions for you? And who gave her permission to fly? Why is that person still employed at the CDC? Do they not take this outbreak seriously?

    Finally there is Dr. Frieden. Clearly his agency failed to prepare the nation’s health care system to deal with this crisis. And now his risible statements about the situation are making him the Baghdad Bob of Ebola. He has become ineffective as a public leader and his continued presence serves to increase panic, not inspire confidence. But he continues in office.

    These are all individuals making decisions that they think are in their best interest. And because they anticipate no penalty for violating societal norms.

    This prevalence of irresponsibility did not happen overnight. For 80 years we have been creating a culture where the few do not have to bear the burden for their actions or chance events. Instead the burden is spread lightly on the many so that the few can have security. This can work as long as the few are few and the security is provided mainly for chance events. But as more of the few are protected from their actions and more become members of the few, the system creates moral hazard and a resulting decline of personal responsibility. As we have become rich and secure we have become more compassionate, a luxury we can afford as we can do so with other people’s money.

    Strauss & Howe posit that each Civic generation must overcome a challenge that threatens the very existence of the nation. Having overcome the challenge, the generation is revered for its courage. However, the Civics are led to success by a Prophetic generation that makes the decisions upon which success depends. Though the Greatest Generation did the fighting and dying in World War II, it was the Missionary Generation that made the decisions to defeat Germany first, demand unconditional surrender, and totally mobilize the economy in support of the war effort. These were not easy decisions and different decisions could have been made with much different costs and consequences.

    I have often wondered what challenge my Millennial children, a Civic generation, would face. War in the Middle East is nasty, but ultimately a nuisance, not an existential threat. War with China seems unlikely and would be accidental and tragic like World War I, not existential like World War II. Ebola may be their challenge. And I fear for the leadership they will receive from their Boomer elders. Having lived as a compassionate culture that increasingly prefers not to hold individuals accountable for the actions Boomers may not have the strength to make the unpleasant decisions necessary to defeat Ebola. That seems to be the case so far. Both at the bottom, where individuals make decisions without consideration for their wider effects and at the top where the leaders a majority of us elect behave similarly. Ebola will not be defeated by compassion and selfishness. Perhaps Ebola will be the existential threat the Millenials must overcome. Will the Boomers provide the leadership?

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Current Events, Ebola | 14 Comments »

    3rd Ebola Case in Dallas, Texas

    Posted by Trent Telenko on October 15th, 2014 (All posts by )

    There is a 3rd case of Ebola in Dallas among the 70 health care workers (HCW) that treated Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, AKA “Presby” as it is known here in Dallas This makes it 1 on 35 of the HCW exposed to Ebola getting it using the inadequate “any hospital in American can care for an Ebola patient” Center for Disease Control (CDC ) protective personal equipment (PPE) standards, which were not well implemented at “Presby” in any case, see article In statement, nurses at Presbyterian Dallas describe confused response to Ebola case

    Short form, it was SNAFU from the word go at Presby and it is likely that Presby is currently facing huge legal liabilities because the CDC ignored the experience of Doctors Without Borders and the health care systems in West Africa which showed that Ebola must be treated by Ebola specialists in separate healthcare facilities.

    The Ebola epidemic isn’t a matter of “Medical infrastructure” or “local cultural practices” — the two phrases being liberal terms of art for racism against West Africans in the Obama Administration public health community — it is a matter of treating a biohazard level four pathogen like a biohazard level four pathogen. Bio-hazard four pathogens require a separate medical system to deal with them, prolonged detention for medical screening, travel controls to support those medical detentions and further involuntary quarantine for a positive diagnosis, in other words, a positively controlled, 100% medical screening and detention, border immigration policy a ‘la Ellis Island.

    Only a magical thinking “Open Borders” ideological cultist would do any different in ignoring the experience of the one medical organization that has treated the majority of Ebola cases in human history. Which the head of the CDC Dr Frieden now appears to be, in keeping with Obama Administration Central American minor immigration/Public Health Policies (See also the “Unattended Child Border Crisis” and the outbreak of Central American EVD68 in American public schools).

    The Obama Administration is risking further epidemics of Ebola because it has done so already with EVD68, in order to increase the number of future Democratic Party voters.

    I predict based upon the above, we will see we are going to see Frieden’s firing and/or the cut off of commercial air travel from West Africa to the USA as President Obama’s “Rumsfeld Replacement Moment,” after Republican’s take over the Senate in November 2014. Just in the way that the 2006 Congressional election results moved President George W. Bush to change Iraq War policy with the public disposal and replacement of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

    The proximate reason for this is that the “R0″ of the Ebola virus in Dallas is 2.0, even with CDC recommended PPE. “RO” — pronounced “ARRH Awwght” in public health speak — means the rate of infection for each newly infected person getting even more people sick. An “RO of 2.0,” causes the doubling of Ebola cases every three weeks (24 Sept to 15 Oct is exactly 3-weeks). That “RO” in Dallas will be higher, and the doubling time will be shorter, as more HCW who attended Thomas Eric Duncan come down with Ebol…thus keeping Ebola and policy for dealing with it as “front page news” or “attracting a lot of eyeballs” right through the 2014 Congressional election.

    Sad, but true, the Obama Administration is not as concerned with controlling the Ebola outbreak in Dallas as much as it is concerned with “Controlling the Narrative” about the Ebola epidemic.

    Obscuring the reality of the Ebola in Dallas means far more to them in terms of retaining political power, this close to the November Congressional election, as the policy/people/political contradictions of Obama’s Ebola policies are being shown to the low information voters Democrats count on far better than anything Saul David Alinsky ever thought of. As the news of the CDC scrambling to contract 132 airline passengers in Ebola Case #3′s Cleveland to Dallas flight yesterday makes abundently clear.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Current Events, Ebola, Elections, Health Care | 32 Comments »

    The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

    Posted by Grurray on October 15th, 2014 (All posts by )

    This year has seen many historical anniversaries, and one that has gotten some recent notoriety is the 90 year anniversary of the planned obsolescence of the light bulb by an industry cartel.

    How exactly did the cartel pull off this engineering feat? It wasn’t just a matter of making an inferior or sloppy product; anybody could have done that. But to create one that reliably failed after an agreed-upon 1,000 hours took some doing over a number of years. The household lightbulb in 1924 was already technologically sophisticated: The light yield was considerable; the burning time was easily 2,500 hours or more. By striving for something less, the cartel would systematically reverse decades of progress.

    It’s even more notable because last week three pioneers in LED technology just won the Nobel Prize.

    We all know about the efficiency standards for light bulbs that are effectively banning incandescent bulbs in slow motion. I’ve noticed during my usual stops at the home improvement stores that the choices for the vintage bulbs are fewer and farther between, and the prices for what’s left are creeping up.

    The promise of the new standards is that the new LED lighting is far superior. While it’s much more expensive, the steady drumbeat of the diffusion of technology is supposed to reduce the costs, eventually putting them within reach of the common household.

    The costs have indeed dropped exponentially, but that’s undoubtedly been helped by government aid and deliberate shortages of the old technology. Besides the federal standards, every state has some sort of efficient lighting rebate program that artificially decreases the price. Tax breaks and other incentives have encouraged manufacturers like GE to expand production in the US and create a few hundred jobs, which, although nice, don’t quite make up for the thousands they shipped to China during the Great Light Bulb Leap Forward. How much of the price gains can be attributed to Moore’s Law type improvements and how much to government supports is a legitimate concern.

    Now there’s some question about how long prices are going to keep falling going forward.

    In stark contrast to the promised dynamics that the technology is supposed to follow, LED prices actually rose considerably last month.

    In contrast, 40W equiv. LED bulb prices were up 14.3% in the U.S. market. Manufacturers including Cree, Philips, GE and other renowned brands have raised prices for certain products in the U.S. market.

    Because of industry consolidation, the top ten LED manufacturers now control 61% of the market. That much control brings pricing power over the market, and they are apparently now using it.

    With green energy executive orders on Obama’s agenda and the unelected EPA issuing mandates, the oligopoly is sure to get worse with permanently higher cost per lumens the possible result.

    The LED industry, taking a page from the incandescent bulb industry so many years ago, is discovering the key to the rent seekers’ success – competition is for losers, and unfortunately sometimes so is progress.

     

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Politics, Tech | 21 Comments »

    Where ARE Those Space Aliens?….With Questions on Social Evolution

    Posted by David Foster on October 14th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Don Sensing writes about Fermi’s Paradox:

    The universe is many billions of years old. Fermi calculated that an alien species smart enough to become spacefarers could reach any point in the galaxy in five million years. But we we have no scientific evidence that aliens beings have been here…So, Fermi asked, where is everybody?

    Standard answers to the Paradox involve emphasizing the vast distances involved, and the fact that “as far as our galaxy is concerned, we are living somewhere in the sticks, far removed from the metropolitan area of the galactic center,” as Edward Teller put it.  Another theory is that species which are sufficiently intelligent to achieve interstellar travel have a tendency to blow themselves up long before they reach anywhere in our vicinity.  But another possible explanation is suggested by Geoffrey Miller:

    I suggest a different, even darker solution to the Paradox. Basically, I think the aliens don’t blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they’re too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don’t need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today. Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot. They become like a self-stimulating rat, pressing a bar to deliver electricity to its brain’s ventral tegmental area, which stimulates its nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, which feels…ever so good.

    Reading the above, I was reminded of an old science-fiction story…I couldn’t remember the name or the author, but, amazingly, I was able to locate it online.  The story is called “Ambition,” and it was written by William Bade in 1952.  The idea is that a scientist working on space travel finds that he has somehow been brought by time-travel to an era hundreds of years in the future.  He is thrilled, because he assumes that the people of the future will have developed space travel to a high degree, and that he will actually be able to fulfill his dream of journeying to the planets.  ”Somewhere, out there in the night, there must be men who had walked beside the Martian canals and pierced the shining cloud mantle of Venus…Surely, a civilization that had developed time travel could reach the stars!”

    And he finds that  the future civilization indeed has created vehicles that would easily be capable of such exploration…but they are used only as super-airliners.  Nobody has any interest in traveling into space, indeed, they can’t imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing.  A sympathetic woman explains to the protagonist that “this is the Age of Man.  We are terribly interested in what can be done with people.  Our scientists…are studying human rather than nuclear reactions.”   There appears to be no thirst for adventure in a form likely to be recognized by a 20th-century man.  (Indeed, it seems that the reason the future people chose the protagonist as a research subject is that they found his interest in going to the moon and beyond to be so bizarre as to be worthy of psychological investigation.)  The story’s subtitle is:

    To the men of the future, the scientific goals of today were as incomprehensible as the ancient quest for the Holy Grail!

    So…when a society reaches a certain level of wealth and sophistication, does the desire for adventure tend to die out?  I’m reminded of a passage from another SF story, this one by Heinlein, in which a Martian is asked why he and other members of his species just sit around all day, “growing together,” as they called it, never actually doing anything.  The Martian’s reply is:  ”My fathers have labored, and I am weary.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Europe, Society, Space, USA | 17 Comments »

    The policeman’s story from Ferguson, Mo

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 14th, 2014 (All posts by )

    A caller to a radio show has described officer Darren Wilson’s version of the attack by Michael Brown. It pretty much follows what we know now.

    CNN said it verified with its police department sources that the story Josie told on the radio was the same as Wilson’s version of events. CNN called the stories an exact match.

    First, we know that Brown had robbed a convenience store and manhandled the clerk shortly before the shooting.

    Second, we know that the Holder DoJ tried to suppress the video.

    Next we know about the race hustlers coming to town and stirring up racism by many outsiders.

    The crowd was “peaceful and jovial” the Post-Dispatch informs us, and dotted with people who had traveled long distances. “Antonio Cuffee, 30, drove 13 hours from Baltimore with six others to join in the protests,” we are told. “‘We felt we had to come out here to be part of change,’ Cuffee, a policy worker, said. ‘It’s a shame so many black people are getting killed by police,’ he said. ‘Just by the nature of being black we are targeted, we are suspect.’”

    This, of course, is nonsense as most murders of black men are by other black men.

    The story told by the officer’s friend is as follows.

    Wilson said 18-year-old Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were walking in the middle of the street, so Wilson pulled up in his patrol car and told them, “Come on guys, get out of the street,” but they refused, saying they were almost at their destination.

    He kept rolling beside them and they cursed at him. He finally pulled over, at which point Josie said she believes he called for backup.

    “He pulled up ahead of them. And he was watching them, and then he got a call-in that there was a strong-arm robbery,” she said. That was the convenience-store robbery shown on surveillance tapes of Brown grabbing a handful of cigars and pushing a clerk away when Brown and Johnson left without paying.

    The pair matched the description of the robbers, and also appeared to be holding cigars.

    This was the moment when the event began to spin out of control.

    “So he goes in reverse back to them. Tries to get out of his car. They slam his door shut violently. I think he said Michael did,” Josie said. “And then he opened his car again. He tries to get out. And as he stands up, Michael just bum-rushes him, just shoves him back into his car, punches him in the face. And then Darren grabs for his gun. Michael grabs the gun, at one point he’s got the gun turned totally against his hip. And Darren shoves it away, and the gun goes off.”

    Brown and Johnson then ran, Josie said, and got about 35 feet away.

    “Darren’s first protocol is to pursue. So, he stands up and yells, ‘Freeze!’ Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael starts taunting him, ‘Oh, what are you going to do about it? You’re not going to shoot me.’ And then he said all the sudden he just started to bum-rush him. He just started coming at him full speed. And so he just started shooting. And he just kept coming. So, he really thinks he was on something because he just kept coming.”

    This sounds reasonable to me. The rest of the story is at the link.

    Why the virulent racism and riots by blacks ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Obama, Politics, The Press | 1 Comment »

    2nd Ebola Case in Dallas Texas

    Posted by Trent Telenko on October 12th, 2014 (All posts by )

    One of the health care workers (HCW) that treated Thomas Eric Duncan on in Dallas during the period of 28th thru 30th of September has tested positive for Ebola after coming down with a fever Friday night. Heath care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital intubated and placed Duncan on dialysis as a part of his palliative treatment schedule. The HCW were in personal protective equipment (PPE) level two or “droplet level” protection at the time.

    It is notable that in the laboratory environment that Ebola is treated as a full bio-hazard level four or “inhalation” threat. Especially when you see circular thinking in public by CDC .


    “I think the fact that we don’t know of a breach in protocol is concerning because clearly there was a breach in protocol. We have the ability to prevent the spread of Ebola by caring safely for patients.”

    The statement said the CDC had NO IDEA how the protocol was breached, but protocol must have been breached because there was a an infection.

    There was no mention as to why there was a two tier PPE protection level structure with widely different infection rates by routes other than Ebola virus injection accidents.

    There is a huge no confidence vote in the CDc coming. One that will take the form we are seeing in Spain — HCW no-shows for hospitals caring for Ebola outbreaks.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Bioethics, Current Events, Ebola, Health Care | 54 Comments »

    Aspiring American Elites versus America

    Posted by David Foster on October 11th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Here’s a video in which various Harvard students assert that the United States is a worse threat to world peace than is the terrorist organization ISIS.

    This isn’t a statistically-valid survey, and we don’t really know from it what proportion of Harvard students share these views.  But there are certainly a disturbing number of highly-educated (or at least highly-credentialed) Americans who feel this way about their country.  I am reminded once againtof an essay that C S Lewis wrote in March 1940.  At that time, there was evidently a movement among British youth to “repent” England’s sins (which evidently were thought to include the treaty of Versailles) and to “forgive” England’s enemies.

    Young Christians especially..are turning to it in large numbers. They are ready to believe that England bears part of the guilt for the present war, and ready to admit their own share in the guilt of England…Most of these young men were children…when England made many of those decisions to which the present disorders could plausibly be traced. Are they, perhaps, repenting what they have in no sense done?

    If they are, it might be supposed that their error is very harmless: men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable. But what actually happens (I have watched it happen) to the youthful national penitent is a little more complicated than that. England is not a natural agent, but a civil society…The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbor; for a foreign secretary or a cabinet minister is certainly a neighbor…A group of such young penitents will say, “Let us repent our national sins”; what they mean is, “Let us attribute to our neighbor (even our Christian neighbor) in the cabinet, whenever we disagree with him, every abominable motive that Satan can suggest to our fancy.”

    Lewis points out that when a man who was raised to be patriotic tries to repent the sins of England, he is attempting something that will be difficult for him.

    But an educated man who is now in his twenties usually has no such sentiment to mortify. In art, in literature, in politics, he has been, ever since he can remember, one of an angry minority; he has drunk in almost with his mother’s milk a distrust of English statesmen and a contempt for the manners, pleasures, and enthusiasms of his less-educated fellow countrymen.

    It’s hard to believe that this was written more than 50 years ago–it’s such a bulls-eye description of a broad swath of our current “progressives.” (The only difference being that many of them today are a lot older than “in their twenties.”)

    But now Lewis comes to the real meat of his argument.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Academia, Anti-Americanism, Britain, Leftism, Terrorism, USA | 23 Comments »

    Could Obama go rogue if the Senate flips this fall ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 11th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Roger L Simon has an interesting column on the consequences of a GOP win this fall.

    Barack Obama is a man unaccustomed to losing. Life has been exceptionally kind to him, sailing, as he did, through balmy Oahu sunsets, college, law school and career on into the presidency with scarcely a bump. He has been a protected man beyond any in recent memory, feted and praised virtually everywhere he went until the last couple of years. Even now, despite catastrophe after catastrophe, there are acolytes who continue to celebrate him, paying tens of thousands merely to have their photographs taken with him.

    When such cosseted people are forced to confront failure, they typically do not do so with grace.

    Obama’s style of governing seems to be quite unusual for modern presidents. He does not have a circle of “Wise Men” as most presidents have done, including Bill Clinton, who had Robert Rubin advising him on economics and the bond market.

    Obama, instead, relys on a small circle of advisors with little or no experience in national affairs.

    Insider books by Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta have appeared in rapid succession, implying or directly alleging that the president lives in a bubble, unwilling to listen to advice. He frequently threatens to — and sometimes does — go around the Congress to get his way via, often unconstitutional, executive fiat. We all know that he lies, constantly.

    His closest advisor appears to be Valerie Jarrett who has no policy experience and who seems to be a Chicago insider.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Elections, Human Behavior, Iraq, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Politics | 9 Comments »

    In Keeping With the Chicagoboyz Color Theme of the Week

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 11th, 2014 (All posts by )

    …of bright orange!

    The mighty pumpkin army is on the march.

     

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 2 Comments »

    25 Stories About Work – New Mexico Is Part of the United States

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on October 11th, 2014 (All posts by )

    I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)…

    El Paso Texas, the ’90s…

    I supported a financial analytics system for a utility based in El Paso, Texas. Before I visited El Paso for work I knew virtually nothing about the area, the economy, or the people. One of the most interesting and unexpected benefits of my career was the opportunity to extensively work in areas of the USA that I never would have visited otherwise.

    One thing I did know is that 1) Texas has its own electricity grid that ‘walls it off’ from the rest of the USA called ERCOT 2) the El Paso area was “outside” of that grid. Thus while Texas may be its own separate country in their mind, El Paso was something else entirely.

    Another realization when you are working in El Paso is just how damn big Texas is. It can take longer to drive from El Paso on the western side of Texas to Houston on the eastern side of Texas than to drive from El Paso to Los Angeles. It was also extremely hot and the sun was blazing; some of the women brought umbrellas to shield themselves from the noon-day sun.

    The managers I met in El Paso said it would likely make more sense for El Paso to be part of New Mexico, rather than Texas. Many of the managers lived in New Mexico. A funny story they told was how many Americans believed that New Mexico was NOT part of the United States, and stories like this were collected in the back page of a local magazine and they were often hilarious.

    While flying to New Mexico one day I sat next to a gentleman that was frequently in El Paso for business. At the time, Ford Expedition SUVs were all the rage. He said that the last three times he visited El Paso, he selected an Expedition from the local rental car affiliate, and the car was stolen (and likely driven over the border into Mexico). I didn’t ask him why he was so stubborn and kept renting them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, Personal Narrative | 5 Comments »

    An orange Vespa scooter

    Posted by Lexington Green on October 10th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Just because.

    From the awesome Urban Mod Girl.

     

    Posted in Britain | 8 Comments »

    Erdogan, Following in Stalin’s Footsteps

    Posted by David Foster on October 10th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez notes that Turkey is watching ISIS destroy the Kurds, in much the same way that the Soviets stood back and let the Nazis crush the Warsaw uprising of 1944:

    Winston Churchill pleaded with Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt to help Britain’s Polish allies, to no avail. Then, without Soviet air clearance, Churchill sent over 200 low-level supply drops by the Royal Air Force, the South African Air Force and the Polish Air Force under British High Command. Later, after gaining Soviet air clearance, the US Army Air Force sent one high-level mass airdrop as part of Operation Frantic. The Soviet Union refused to allow American bombers from Western Europe to land on Soviet airfields after dropping supplies to the Poles.

    While the US has apparently sent some weapons to the Kurds, the aid so far seems rather desultory.  Meanwhile, ISIS has fifty-two American-made 155mm howitzers.  ”The Kurds of Kobani feel let down by the Europeans, by the Americans, and particularly by their Muslim neighbors…Everybody here is ready to fight ISIS: old men, pubescent children, young women. They’re all waiting in line in front of the YPG recruiting station. It looks as if they are waiting to vote, but actually it is to register for the war.”    link

    Meanwhile, the US air campaign does not seem to be of a sufficient level to destroy ISIS or even to stop its advance.

    If the US strategy is to fight ISIS by arming intermediaries, rather than directly with US troops, then why is heavy support not being provided to the Kurds? Almost certainly, the main reason is a reluctance on Obama’s part…and maybe on the part of certain people in the State Department…to do anything that would anger Turkey.  (In 2012, Obama named Erdogan as one of the world leaders he feels personally closest to.)  The result of this attitude will very likely be further ISIS advances, and mass slaughters of Kurds.

    Arthur Koestler wrote that the Soviet non-support of the Warsaw uprising was ”one of the major infamies of this war which will rank for the future historian on the same ethical level with Lidice.”

     

    Posted in Iraq, Middle East, Obama, Terrorism, War and Peace | 18 Comments »

    What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (September 2014)

    Posted by Jonathan on October 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos ordered in August 2014 by Chicago Boyz readers via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon book purchases is here.)

    Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates affiliate program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you enter the Amazon site via the Amazon links on this blog (even Amazon links other than for the products you are buying).

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Announcements, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on October 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    fluffy fishy

    The “South Beach” pink fluffy fish pen is the official writing instrument of the Chicagoboyz blog.

     

    Posted in Product Reviews/Endorsements | 4 Comments »

    So It Begins…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    … I think. My crystal ball is out for re-calibration so I cannot be absolutely certain, but I’ve been expecting a crisis or bundle of intersecting catastrophes for some time now. There have been murmurings for the last year regarding the probability of Ebola spreading out of Africa. And now it has happened – a person sick with it has exposed lord only knows how many other people on his way back to Dallas from a visit to Africa. Which is horrific enough, but just getting started. Meanwhile, an enterovirus which attacks the respiratory tract and in some instances has an effect very like that of polio has been here for some months, sickening children – especially those who have respiratory difficulties.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Immigration, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Middle East, Politics, Tea Party, Terrorism, Urban Issues, USA | 18 Comments »

    Simple Question: Why are property taxes public but income taxes aren’t?

    Posted by TM Lutas on October 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    In the US, property taxes are public record. Income taxes are not. It’s viewed as an intrusive violation of one’s right to privacy to view a person’s 1040 without good cause but everybody can go over the property taxes without justification. After a bit of research there doesn’t seem to be a lot of discussion why that is. It’s like there’s deep consensus that this is the way that things should be but no justification laid out in living memory to keep things this way. I agree with the consensus, that property tax records should be public. I just don’t like the thought that I don’t know why and I don’t know why income taxes are categorically different.

     

    Posted in Politics, USA | 11 Comments »

    Thank you to the Chicago Young Republicans

    Posted by Lexington Green on October 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    MJL at CYR

    (That is me on the far right, where I belong!)

    My thanks to the Chicago Young Republicans, who invited me to speak to them last night at their monthly meeting. It was an enjoyable and educational event.

    I was on a panel with the very distinguished Dan Proft of, inter alia, 89 WLS and Jonathan Greenberg of the Illinois Policy Institute.

    The topic of discussion was the upcoming election. One theme was the concern that Bruce Rauner may end up losing to Pat Quinn, despite Quinn being an unmitigated disaster. Polls show Rauner slightly ahead, but the trends are bad. Rauner has not yet closed the deal with Illinois voters, who are upset and concerned about the direction the state is going, but who are not yet convinced that Rauner is the guy who can fix the problems. I hope Rauner manages to make that connection with voters before election day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 9 Comments »

    Pictures by C. Coles Phillips

    Posted by Lexington Green on October 8th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Some cool old pictures by C. Coles Phillips.

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 5 Comments »

    Alibaba as a disintermediator, a step toward America 3.0?

    Posted by Lexington Green on October 7th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Alibaba

    It will be a long time until we have the truly decentralized, additive manufacturing (a/k/a 3D printing) we discuss in America 3.0.

    But in the meantime, Alibaba allows an extraordinary level of business to business contact, permitting smaller scale businesses to find suppliers.

    This is the kind of disintermediated, non-hierarchic, Web-enabled change that has long been predicted, finally coming true.

    This podcast is an interesting introduction to Alibaba.

    One friend said that Alibaba was going to allow Chinese manufacturers to somehow overrun the USA. But if you go on their site, you see that firms from anywhere in the world can become verified supplier members.

    More importantly, the rise of B2B direct contact on this scale is a genie that is now out of the bottle.

    Take a look at this recent post from Zero Hedge entitled “Could The Alibaba Model Undo The Wal-Mart Model?”

    How much would I pay to have the item I want delivered to me rather than have to drive miles to the Superstore? if I add up the maintenance costs, fuel and other expenses of operating my car, and the time wasted in traffic, standing in line, etc., how much cheaper is the Superstore price?
     
    How much would I pay to direct my money went to a local worker/shop owner I know and trust rather than to some supplier in a distant city?
     
    These are questions that arise as a consequence of the digitization of the global/local supply chain in the peer-to-peer model. Just as we have reached Peak Central Planning and Peak Central Banking, we may have reached Peak Centralization not just in government and finance but in the corporate-cartel model of “low quality at high margins.”

    The centralization represented by Walmart may be past its peak.

    Alibaba’s recent IPO, which was almost certainly over-hyped, should not distract us from the importance of the underlying model, or from speculating about what its long term impact may be.

     

    Posted in America 3.0 | 17 Comments »

    Gypsy Retail in the Autumn

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on October 6th, 2014 (All posts by )

    My daughter and I spent almost all of last Saturday at our booth in the parking lot of a local Beall’s, in the heart of what would pass as the new downtown of Bulverde, Texas – if Bulverde could be said to have a downtown of any sort. There is a sort of Old Downtown Bulverde, at the crossroads of Bulverde Hills Drive and Bulverde Road, where the post office is (in a teeny Victorian cottage covered with white-painted gingerbread trim) and around the corner from one of the original settler’s farmsteads, complete with an original stone house and barn – now repurposed into an event venue. There is a small airfield nearby, and astonishingly enough, Googlemaps show a polo ground. But the landscape all around is that of the lowland Hill Country – low rolling, patched scrubby cedar, and occasional stands of live oaks. Everything – including a perfectly astounding number of single family housing developments are scattered unobtrusively here and there among the hills, the cedar and the oaks.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, Customer Service, Diversions, Entrepreneurship, Personal Narrative | 9 Comments »

    Bargaining with the Dragon: Some Straight Talk on Hong Kong

    Posted by T. Greer on October 6th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Originally posted at The Scholar’s Stage on 6 October 2014.

    Note by the author: I cannot take credit for most of the ideas and observations I present below. The protests in Hong Kong are now in their eighth day. Since they began last week a great amount has been written about why these protests are happening and what their eventual outcome may be. It has been disappointing to see astute voices and analysis  drowned out by fairly insipid primers and listicles. This post aims to remedy the situation by blending the best insights from the best China hands into one essay. If you would like to explore the material that inspired this post (or follow this story more closely in the future), I invite you to consult the “Further Reading” section at the bottom.

    At the time of this writing Hong Kong has returned to a semblance of normalcy. The protests may flare up again before the week is over, but we can take advantage of the present lull to assess what has been accomplished thus far and what hope the movement has of compelling the government to meet its demands in the future. The last eight days have been an emotional affair. Most of the discussions I have had about the protests have also been emotional affairs—especially when someone from the mainland or from Hong Kong is participating. This post is different. I am not interested in arguing about which side is right or wrong but in assessing the probability of either side forcing the other to cede to its demands.

    Lets start with the protestors.

    What are the protestor’s demands?

    1. When the protests began the protestors rallied around two demands:
      Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying (hereafter CY Leung) will step down.
    2. .

    3. Hong Kong will institute a democratic system where candidates for popular election are  chosen by voters, not a committee selected by the Communist Party of China.


    The original body of protestors who demanded these things were organized by two groups, the Hong Kong Federation of Students (香港專上學生聯會, abbrv. 香港學聯, or just 學聯), composed of Hong Kong university students, and Scholarism (學民思潮), headed by 17 year old Joshua Wong and mostly composed of youth about his age. The famous photos of umbrella clad youth being pepper sprayed as they charged government lines were of these folks.

    They were joined by a third group, known as Occupy Central with Peace and Love, or Occupy Central for short (讓愛與和平佔領中環, abr.佔中), on the second day of the protest. Occupy is a different sort of beast than the other two organizations; it is run by seasoned political activists and university professors who have been planning a civil disobedience campaign to protest the 2017 election reforms since early 2013. They had planned to start the protest on October 1st (the PRC’s National Day, the closest equivalent China has to the 4th of July), but when the clashes between students and police escalated on Friday (Sept 26th) they decided to abandon their original plan and join the protestors. Had they been in charge of the show from the beginning I am not sure they would have made the same demands—at least in the beginning—that the students did. But they came late to the party and have to deal with what the students’ demands hath wrought.

    There are two important things about these groups we must remember when assessing the protestors’ strategy and the government’s response to it: Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in China, Elections | 8 Comments »

    Dangerous Caution

    Posted by David Foster on October 6th, 2014 (All posts by )

    The Dutch government has told its soldiers to refrain from wearing the uniform in their own country.  The reason?  A series of  tweets from a single  jihadist, who warns of forthcoming attacks against Dutch soldiers in revenge for Holland’s participation in the military operations against ISIS.

    It should be obvious that this policy of caving in to a threat will lead directly to more and escalated threats in the future.  As the linked article says:

    By ordering Dutch soldiers to become “invisible” in The Netherlands, what message is the government sending to its enemies, let alone its own citizens? Dutch-Iranian law professor Afshin Ellian rightfully asks: if Dutch soldiers aren’t safe anymore, than who is? Jihadists now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist can fundamentally alter Dutch defense policy. Dutch citizens now know that a few tweets from a single Dutch jihadist will send shivers down their government’s spine and that — instead of making sure all threats are neutralized — it will order the personnel tasked with keeping them safe, to hide.

    (If this is the response from the Dutch government to a few threatening tweets, what level of appeasement will we see from them if the Islamists who control Iran gain the ability to  provide intimidation via nuclear-armed ballistic missiles with Amsterdam within the circle of range?)

    It is commendable for a government to be concerned about the safety of its citizens, including the members of its military, but an obsession with safety, if carried too far, can result in its opposite.  Not for the first time, I’m reminded of a passage from Walter Miller’s great novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz:

    To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.

     

    Posted in Europe, Terrorism, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on October 4th, 2014 (All posts by )

    forbidden pleasures

    Chicagoboyz know temptation.

     

    Posted in Photos | 9 Comments »

    25 Stories About Work – Brooklyn Before Gentrification

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on October 4th, 2014 (All posts by )

    I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)…

    Brooklyn, New York City, the ’90s…

    I was assigned to do a regulatory audit of a large utility in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1990s. At the time Brooklyn was nothing like it is today. When I got off the plane at LaGuardia and hailed a cab…

    Me to the Driver – I want to go to Brooklyn. The Driver – Hell no, I’m not driving to Brooklyn

    After I finally convinced a cab driver to take me to Brooklyn (with much New York style yelling), when he dropped me off in front of the office building, he would whip the wheel around as fast as he could and do a U-turn right in front of the facility and high-tail it off to the highway to get out of Brooklyn. They couldn’t get out of the neighborhood fast enough.

    The utility was based at what appeared to be the only newer office-type building in Brooklyn. There were NO hotels that you could stay in Brooklyn at the time. We stayed in Manhattan and took the subway to work every day. We seemed to be the only boring white accountant-type people in suits going TO Brooklyn in the morning and we were the same distinct minority returning to our hotel every evening. Our partner onsite was kind of distracted so we had to stay on him to get out of work at 5pm so we weren’t taking the subway at night because that seemed to be a dicey proposition.

    Whenever there is a strike at a utility the union guys who read meters and make service calls walk off the line and management comes out to do essential tasks (along with other people that they hire). Thus the management people that we spoke with had harrowing tales of visiting completely dilapidated and burned out homes throughout the borough while they were on strike duty. Management seemed to live everywhere except Brooklyn and it made sense why – there were even a few who lived in Pennsylvania and made epic commutes to and from work daily.

    One manager talked about a scam where people wrote checks to the utility to pay bills and often they used a 3 digit acronym rather than spelling the whole utility. He said one of the customer service agents took those first three digits and added a last name and opened a bank account themselves under that combined name and took the checks and deposited them, running off with the money. We laughed a lot because that seemed like a scam that was doomed to fail after a while but a bit clever.

    There were no cabs in Brooklyn. You had to hire a “car service” which was usually a completely beat up Chevy Impala or the like driven by someone who spoke zero English. They usually had no idea how to get to the airport so I had to give them directions. A few times I was very scared that the car would literally fall to pieces while we were driving; they were probably old taxis that had given up the ghost and given a second, desperate life through this method

    One Monday morning when I was flying in I felt dizzy and ill and when I got onsite in Brooklyn at the only standing office building I came down with the flu very badly. I kept throwing up in the stall and getting progressively weaker. I was the only person onsite from my company and didn’t know the client people well enough to count on them to take care of me so in the few minutes between throwing up I somehow got back to Manhattan (probably via the subway, I don’t remember) and arrived at my hotel early. For some reason I remember this clearly – the band Rancid was pulling up and their hair was spiked up and they had real “rock chicks” with them in miniskirts and fishnets and covered with tattoos right when I arrived. They said my room wasn’t ready yet so I told the clerk “that’s fine, I will just projectile vomit onto you” and amazingly they got me a room right away. I just sat in there and was sick for a few days and then flew back to Chicago. That was not a productive week at all, obviously.

    Today Brooklyn has changed immensely and seems to be almost completely gentrified. I even have friends that I visit there and it is quite charming. It is amazing to think of all these changes that have occurred since I first went there in the early 1990s.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    Posted in Business, Personal Narrative | 4 Comments »