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  • There Once Was a Time …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on November 8th, 2015 (All posts by )

    … when I used to be a feminist, and proud to think of myself as such. This was back at the time that I was a teenager, and being a feminist meant you earnestly believed that women ought to have the same opportunities for education, professional advancement, credit for personal and business purposes, and perhaps to be seen by a female ob-gyn, and generally have a wider range of choices when it came to what you wanted to do with your life. Even then the bra-burning drama and other minor theatrics seemed kind of pointless. Back in the day, as now, bras were expensive … and unless one had prepubescent-sized breasts, it was uncomfortable to go without!

    Seriously – when I was a teenager and looking at my prospective life, – the feminism of that day appeared to be about having interesting and fulfilling alternatives in life. Believe me, Granny Dodie was shoving me energetically in the traditional direction of inevitable marriage to some nice guy I met in college or *shudder* high school, since she and her contemporaries had bragging rights over the quantity and accomplishments of their respective great-grandchildren and she and Grandpa Alf weren’t getting any younger, and the little girl across the street whom I used to play with when I came to visit them, why she got married at 18 and had a baby already! It was the lockstep nature of it all, that put me off, more than anything. Because I wanted some adventure, first. Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Feminism | 11 Comments »

    Two Nations.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 8th, 2015 (All posts by )

    two nations

    We have now become two nations, divisible, without liberty and justice for all.

    As usual, I read another good Belmont Club post.

    I get discouraged about the future when I see the stupidity of the youngest generation in college. The left is worried that Republicans hold most state offices. Why has this happened ?

    That dominance — and what it means to the policy and political calculations and prospects for both parties at the national level — is the single most overlooked and underappreciated story line of President Obama’s time in office. Since 2009, Republicans have made massive and unprecedented gains at the state level, gains that played a central role in, among other things, handing control of the U.S. House back to the GOP in the 2010 election.

    It’s just inexplicable. Why would the country that elected Barack Obama twice choose Republicans for those offices closest to their own lives ?

    While the story at the national level suggests a Republican Party that is growing increasingly white, old and out of step with the country on social issues, the narrative at the local level is very different. Republicans are prospering at the state level in ways that suggest that the party’s messaging is far from broken.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Culture, Elections, Politics, Society | 6 Comments »

    Out and About

    Posted by Jonathan on November 7th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Turkish castle

    (more info)

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Photos | No Comments »

    Lewis vs Haldane (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on November 6th, 2015 (All posts by )

    (I cross-posted my 2014 review of C S Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength over at Richochet, where a good comment thread has developed. Some of the comments reminded me of the extremely negative review of the book written by JBS Haldane in 1946, and Lewis’s response thereto.)

    Haldane was an eminent British scientist (population genetics) and a Marxist. C S Lewis was…well, you probably already know who C S Lewis was.

    Haldane’s critique was directed at the series of novels by Lewis known as the Ransom Trilogy, and particularly the last book of the series,  That Hideous Strength . Lewis responded in a letter which remained unpublished for many of years. All this may sound ancient and esoteric, but I believe the Lewis/Haldane controversy is very relevant to our current political and philosophical landscape.

    To briefly summarize That Hideous Strength: Mark, a young sociologist, is hired by a government agency called NICE–the National Institute for Coordinated Experimentation–having as its stated mission the application of science to social problems. (Unbelievably, today the real-life British agency which establishes rationing policies for healthcare is also called NICE.) In the novel, NICE turns out to be a conspiracy devoted to very diabolical purposes, as Mark gradually discovers. It also turns out that the main reason NICE wanted to hire Mark is to get control of his wife, Jane (maiden name: Tudor) who has clairvoyant powers. The NICE officials want to use Jane’s abilities to get in touch with the magician Merlin and to effect a junction between modern scientific power and the ancient powers of magic, thereby bringing about the enslavement of mankind and worse. Jane, though, becomes involved with a group which represents the polar opposite of NICE, led by a philology professor named Ransom, who is clearly intended as a Christ-figure. The conflict between NICE and the Ransom group will determine the future of humanity.

    A brilliantly written and thought-provoking book, which I highly recommend, even if, like me, you’re not generally a fan of fantasy novels.

    With context established, here are some of the highlights of the Lewis/Haldane controversy:

    1) Money and Power.

    In his article, Haldane attacks Lewis for the latter’s refusal to absolutely condemn usury, and celebrates the fact that “Mammon has been cleared off a sixth of our planet’s surface”…clearly referring to the Soviet Union. Here’s part of Lewis’s response:

    The difference between us is that the Professor sees the ‘World’ purely in terms of those threats and those allurements which depend on money. I do not. The most ‘worldly’ society I have ever lived in is that of schoolboys: most worldly in the cruelty and arrogance of the strong, the toadyism and mutual treachery of the weak, and the unqualified snobbery of both. Nothing was so base that most members of the school proletariat would not do it, or suffer it, to win the favour of the school aristocracy: hardly any injustice too bad for the aristocracy to practise. But the class system did not in the least depend on the amount of pocket money. Who needs to care about money if most of the things he wants will be offered by cringing servility and the remainder can be taken by force? This lesson has remained with me all my life. That is one of the reasons why I cannot share Professor Haldanes exaltation at the banishment of Mammon from ‘a sixth of our planet’s surface’. I have already lived in a world from which Mammon was banished: it was the most wicked and miserable I have yet known. If Mammon were the only devil, it would be another matter. But where Mammon vacates the throne, how if Moloch takes his
    place? As Aristotle said, ‘Men do not become tyrants in order to keep warm’. All men, of course, desire pleasure and safety. But all men also desire power and all men desire the mere sense of being ‘in the know’ or the ‘inner ring’, of not being ‘outsiders’: a passion insufficiently studied and the chief theme of my story. When the state of society is such that money is the passport to all these prizes, then of course money will be the prime temptation. But when the passport changes, the desires will remain.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Arts & Letters, Big Government, Britain, Christianity, Crime and Punishment, Deep Thoughts, History, Human Behavior, Law, Leftism, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 18 Comments »

    Admiral Roughead Speaks

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on November 6th, 2015 (All posts by )


    Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations 2007-2011, recently spoke to our organization. A U.S Naval Academy graduate, he was one of only two officers in the US Navy to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He’s currently on the board of directors of both Northrup Grumman Corp and The Center for a New American Security. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. I paraphrase some of his remarks below.

    A Wilderness of Disorder

      Clearly the old order we grew up with is rapidly disappearing. I use that in the Shakespearean sense, where the wilderness is this multitude, this mass of uncertainty that really surrounds us. That’s the period we’re in. And I do think Europe today, NATO today, epitomizes that. If you look at the structure of NATO it has started to parse into many different groups. If you’re in the East, the threat is Russia. If you’re in the South, it’s North Africa and the Middle East. If you’re in the West, Russia and the Middle East are, well, other people’s problems.

    The Narrative

      We’re in a time when we place a higher value on ‘The Narrative’ than we do on the substance of a problem. The idea is that if we get the narrative right, we’ve got it right; when in point of fact it is the underlying substance that is important.

    A Changing Landscape in Asia

      I’m not of a mind that China’s had it’s run and now it’s into a different phase. I think we’re going to see them work very hard with a very centralized approach to weather some of their economic issues. As China looks to the future, it has a strategy that has an economic underpinning and a military underpinning. At its heart is the “Belt and Road” initiative which consists of a Maritime Belt around the Indian Ocean, a Silk Road across Asia, and the Asia Development Bank. It a very interesting strategy that will press China deep into the heart of Asia.

      Russia finds itself in a partnership with China that is historically inconsistent. China has been a strategic competitor of Russia, and Russia will soon find itself the junior in that relationship.

      The associations and relations we have in Asia are going to be hugely important.

      India, Japan and China will be pressing into space in a very big way. We need to think about the business and strategic effects of that.

      Asia has found the submarine. We are going to see a proliferation of submarines and unmanned undersea systems there unlike anywhere else.

    Our Focus is Too Close

      We tend in think in terms of the next budget, what’s in the news, what’s capturing our attention at the moment. We need to spend more time thinking about the patterns of life, about what the drivers are and how they span a generation or perhaps two generations.

      We are in a time when actions are more event driven than strategy driven. This is partly driven by the explosion of information availability, people now have instantaneous access to information that was once the purview of the elite. It has shortened the deliberation time leaders have before judgement is delivered from the public domain. It is forcing a compression of events. We need to act less hastily and think more.

      Because of this information space we now exist in, we have gotten away from being able to thoughtfully assess whether something is an existential threat, or a vital threat, or perhaps not even a threat. But because of this flood of information, we have now begun to associate violence somewhere with a threat, which is not always the case.

    He also touched on many other subjects including: the declining performance of our schools and toll that will take on our entire society, the loss of boundaries between the personal and the public and the corrosive effect that is having on our society, the rise of political and religious extremism, our loss of leadership in nuclear power development, the need to develop directed energy weapons, the increasing importance of unmanned vehicles, and the desperate need we have to develop cyber-warfare and cyber-defense capabilities.

    Admiral Roughhead gave me the impression of someone intelligent, thoughtful, and someone aware of the questions that need to be asked but not sure of the answers.


    Posted in International Affairs, Military Affairs, Speeches, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    Why does the caged bike sing?*

    Posted by Jonathan on November 5th, 2015 (All posts by )

    why does the caged bike sing

    *UPDATE: I acknowledge the lameness of this title. I think many pics look better without titles. However, not using titles in WordPress tends to be more trouble than it’s worth.


    Posted in Photos | No Comments »

    Reality Bites.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 5th, 2015 (All posts by )


    The sobering reality of the 2015 election is slowly sinking in. How could this happen to a party “on the right side of history ?”

    Richard Fernandez, as usual, has some good ideas.

    Perhaps the greatest damage that “progressives” inflicted on civilization was to make people doubt the reality of the facts, when it is of the ends that we are uncertain. It may be that progress actually consists not of following the verities of the Party Line but in doing the best we can at every instant of our lives. Free men are content to endure the mystery of what happens when they do their best. Only the progressives must have a worthless guarantee of success for incompetence.

    The Progressives cheered a book about “false consciousness” by one Thomas Frank, called What’s the Matter with Kansas?

    The New York Times bestseller, praised as “hilariously funny . . . the only way to understand why so many Americans have decided to vote against their own economic and political interests” (Molly Ivins)

    Hailed as “dazzlingly insightful and wonderfully sardonic” (Chicago Tribune), “very funny and very painful” (San Francisco Chronicle), and “in a different league from most political books” (The New York Observer), What’s the Matter with Kansas? unravels the great political mystery of our day: Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests? With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank answers the riddle by examining his home state, Kansas-a place once famous for its radicalism that now ranks among the nation’s most eager participants in the culture wars. Charting what he calls the “thirty-year backlash”-the popular revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment-Frank reveals how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans.

    The Wall Street Journal even gave him a column for a while but nobody read it. The reaction to the election in Houston at HuffPo is illustrative.

    A long list of local and national figures publicly came out in support of Prop. 1, including President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The measure also had the backing of companies like Apple and GE, as well as local businesses that wanted to avoid a backlash similar to what Indiana experienced when Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed an anti-gay “religious freedom” law earlier this year.

    But these heavy hitters weren’t able to get past the catchy, fear-mongering slogans and images used by their opponents.

    Yes, those stupid voters !

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Politics | 11 Comments »

    The Ivy League and American Society

    Posted by David Foster on November 5th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts

    I believe that excessive credentialism is definitely reducing social mobility and inhibiting the full use of America’s human talents…and that the excessive reverence paid to “elite” colleges is part of this problem.

    I’m reminded of something Peter Drucker wrote, way back in 1969:

    One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

    We as a country are a lot closer to accepting Grande Ecole status for Harvard Law School and similar institutions than we were when Drucker wrote the above.

    He continues:

    It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman.

    See also my 2011 post Drucker on Education, which includes additional excerpts from Professor Drucker on this topic.  Very well worth reading and contemplating.

    University Diaries also has a post and discussion thread on Glenn’s column.



    Posted in Academia, Education, Society, USA | 5 Comments »

    Up for Air

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on November 4th, 2015 (All posts by )

    I know that I have not been posting much lately – here or anywhere else lately; just the bare minimum of commenting on other people’s posts and other people’s blogs and websites, but I had a couple of projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness to work on, and then the two major projects to finish, format and upload to various platforms. Yes, I decided to go all-out and finish two books in time for the Christmas marketing season this year. Amazingly, neither one was the one that I had declared at the beginning of the year that I would have all done and ready to launch by this time  … yes, the adventures of young Fredi Steinmetz in Gold Rush-era California is rolled back another year. Sigh. I still have to do an epic-truck-load of reading of contemporary accounts and skull out a plot sufficient and historically-accurate to fill the last half of the book; which so far in my head will include a stint in San Francisco the year of the epically well-organized Vigilante organization, encounters with various historic personages, to include William T. Sherman, Lotta Crabtree and her formidable mother, some murderous claim-jumpers and a young woman seeking justice – while disguised as a boy. So, yes I will get on to that presently. After all The Quivera Trail was held at a third completed while I worked on Daughter of Texas and Deep in the Heart, and it didn’t seem to do any harm in the long-run.
    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Announcements, Book Notes, Diversions | 10 Comments »

    Under the Weather If Not the Water

    Posted by Jonathan on November 4th, 2015 (All posts by )

    I was half-heartedly working on a post about zero interest rates but my heart wasn’t even half in it. So I picked up these kayak-rolling videos from my dealer.

    kayak rolling videos

    Last year I attended a rolling class put on by the couple who produced the videos. They are fun people and outstanding instructors. They travel and give rolling clinics around the world. I recommend them highly if you are into this kind of thing, which not everyone is.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Diversions, Personal Narrative | 8 Comments »

    “Hungry Vegan”

    Posted by Jonathan on November 3rd, 2015 (All posts by )

    I saw a young, able-bodied guy begging today at a major intersection with the sign, “Hungry Vegan”. Don’t know how that’s working out for him. Maybe he’s working the irony angle.

    At least he’s not at the other big intersection that has the guy without a nose and (on the other side of the crossroad) the guy with the horribly bent lower leg. Tough competition.


    Posted in Diversions, Personal Narrative | 12 Comments »

    What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (October 2015)

    Posted by Jonathan on November 2nd, 2015 (All posts by )

    Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos that Chicago Boyz readers viewed and/or ordered in October 2015 via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon purchases is here.)

    Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you get to the Amazon site by clicking on Amazon links on this blog (including the Amazon banner in the blog header, the link under the Amazon banner, and even Amazon links on Chicago Boyz for products other than the ones that you want to buy).

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Book Notes | Comments Off on What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (October 2015)

    More evidence that Obamacare is just expanded Medicaid.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 2nd, 2015 (All posts by )

    I have been saying that Obama care is just Medicaid for all. As time goes by, here is more and more evidence that this is the case.

    The latest evidence is in The Wall Street Journal and behind a pay wall but I will quote some of it.

    But a new paper from the Heritage Foundation, however, suggests that nearly all of the increase came from adding nearly nine million people to the Medicaid rolls.

    In other words, ObamaCare expanded coverage in 2014 to the extent that it gave people free or nearly free insurance. That goal could have been accomplished without the Affordable Care Act. To justify its existence, ObamaCare must make affordable private insurance available to a broad cross-section of uninsured Americans who are ineligible for Medicaid.

    But with fewer people buying insurance through the exchanges, the economics aren’t holding up. Ten of the 23 innovative health-insurance plans known as co-ops—established with $2.4 billion in ObamaCare loans—will be out of business by the end of 2015 because of weak balance sheets.

    And while rates vary widely by state, the cost for private insurance through the exchanges is also increasing dramatically. An analysis by consulting firm Avalere Health released on Friday shows that some of the most popular insurance plans in the ObamaCare exchanges will experience double-digit premium hikes in 2016.

    My earlier objections to Obamacare were that it promises too much and pays too little.

    As it turns out, Medicaid patients can’t get appointments with physicians.

    “America has severe primary care physician shortages, and many physicians will not accept Medicaid patients because Medicaid pays so inadequately,” said Michael Gerardi, MD, FAAP, FACEP, president of the ACEP.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Big Government, Health Care, Medicine | 6 Comments »

    Out and About

    Posted by Jonathan on November 1st, 2015 (All posts by )

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted in Photos | 6 Comments »

    And now for something completely different

    Posted by Helen on October 31st, 2015 (All posts by )

    I say quite unashamedly that I am a detective story fan and something of a geek as well. I like British and American detective stories of every age (well, obviously not all) and get extremely angry when I see ridiculous comments made by people who have clearly not read much in the genre. No, not all British novels are cosy and not all American ones are tough; and no, Christie did not write silly mystery stories about country houses, which figure very rarely in her works; and yes, there were a good many excellent male detective story writers in the Golden Age on both sides of the Atlantic as well as a number of women thriller writers.

    Luckily for me, there are other fans and geeks on Facebook and we have great discussions. Good thing like blogs, collections of essays and conferences grow out of those discussions or around them. Recently it was suggested by Curtis J. Evans that we should have a Tuesday Night Club to imitate the first Miss Marple stories. Several of us posted five Tuesday Night (or, in my case, sometimes Wednesday morning or afternoon) blogs about Christie. The link to Curt’s blog will lead you to all the other bloggers who took part in this enterprise but I thought that just for fun I shall post the links to my blogs here.And you must admit that is a very different them from my usual ones as well as a much happier one.

    My first posting, on September 29, was about Miss Marple’s somewhat mysterious nephew, Raymond West and I think I really succeeded in unravelling certain puzzling aspects of his life and relationship with his aunt.

    Then, on October 6, I wrote about Christie’s excellent understanding of social changes in Britain during and after the Second World War as well as her attitude to servants, very different from the way it is characterized by people who have heard of her novels but not read all that many of them.

    Then I took one Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, who appear in four novels and a collection of short stories. In my opinion, two of the novels are quite good, one passable and the last one is a complete mess. The collection of short stories, Partners in Crime, remains one of my favourites for reasons of entertainment rather than superior detection. On October 14 I wrote about the Beresfords in general and on October 21 I dealt with the Beresfords’ reading matter, which reflected Christie’s own to some extent and revealed some interesting facts.

    My last posting as part of the Tuesday Night Club on October 27 was about archaeologists in Christie’s work. She knew a great deal about them, having married one and having accompanied him to a number of digs in Iraq and Syria where she took part in the work of uncovering the past. I have to admit to an egregious error: I omitted Signor Richetti (Death on the Nile) from my list of fake archaeologists.

    It has been suggested that the Tuesday Night Club carries on with blogs about Ellery Queen, a seminal figure in crime writing, particularly in the US. I have read a number of the novels and short stories but have never been able to work out much enthusiasm for them, considering the atmosphere too hysterical, the character of Ellery too annoying and that of his father Richard, a New York police inspector, too stupid. I may sit the whole month out. Certainly, I have no time to do a posting this coming Tuesday but when I have read what my colleagues have written I may well think of something to say. In the meantime, have fun with Agatha Christie whose 125th birthday we are celebrating this year.


    Posted in Arts & Letters, Britain, Culture | 13 Comments »

    Happy Halloween

    Posted by Jonathan on October 31st, 2015 (All posts by )



    Posted in Holidays, Photos | 1 Comment »

    Dead Candidate Walking

    Posted by Trent Telenko on October 30th, 2015 (All posts by )

    How you spot a "Dead Candidate Walking

    How you spot a “Dead Candidate Walking”.

    When his incompetent political consultants miss this deadly connection to their candidate’s political image…and the candidate does too.


    Posted in Humor, Miscellaneous, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Medicine: The Public-Health Model is Wrong

    Posted by Jonathan on October 30th, 2015 (All posts by )

    This Theodore Dalrymple post is a variation on a conventional argument whose unstated main premise is that medical cost decisions should be evaluated from a public-health perspective.

    The annual medical is a kind of ceremonial or ritual which, according to its critics, is without rational foundation despite the fact that so many patients, and perhaps a majority of doctors, believe in it. This proves that superstition is not dead: but perhaps that is no fatal criticism of the annual medical after all, because superstition will never be dead. If it does not attach to one thing, it will attach to another.
    [. . .]
    In fact, most medicals are bureaucratic procedures rather than exercises in getting-to-know-you (as The King and I put it). The doctor asks a few questions, ticks some boxes on a computer screen, performs a perfunctory physical examination equivalent to examining a cubic inch of haystack to find a pin, and does a few selected blood tests, the interpretation of whose abnormal results (if any) will be far from straightforward. In fact, what has been done and measured in annual medicals over the years has changed, without any change in their ineffectiveness.

    Ineffective for whom?

    The answer depends on who is paying the bill. If it’s third parties such as govts or insurance companies then the conventional argument has merit: maximizing system utility is an important goal. However, if patients control their own medical spending then the main goals should be whatever the individual customers want them to be.

    Dalrymple’s analyses are usually much better than this one. Perhaps his frame blindness in this case is a function of his background with the NHS.


    Posted in Health Care, Medicine, Systems Analysis | 14 Comments »

    99 Luftballons

    Posted by David Foster on October 29th, 2015 (All posts by )

    The story about the runaway surveillance balloon,  especially in conjunction with the report that  there may have almost been an unauthorized missile launch in Formosa, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, reminded me of  this song.

    Original German version, with on-screen lyrics, and  an attempt at directly translating the lyrics into English.


    Posted in Germany, History, Music, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    The Republican Debate

    Posted by Dan from Madison on October 29th, 2015 (All posts by )

    I actually watched the Republican “debate” last night. What follows are my thoughts. Before we get to that, you should know that I generally don’t pay too much attention to politics and really don’t know what I am talking about in this arena. Which probably makes me an equal to most of the talking heads. My impressions.

    “Winners” – before we get to my list of “winners”, maybe I should explain why I put it in quotes. By “winning”, I mean to define someone who I actually remember today that they said something instructive or constructive last night. Or they looked or acted sincere.

    My big winner was Ted Cruz. He seemed passionate and sincere – a true believer. I loved the way he blasted the moderators for what were, at the least, obtuse questions. They were obviously trying to stir up the hornet’s nest and were also trying to damage the candidates for the future. Cruz saw through it and called it out. Bravo.

    Another winner was Carly. She answered each and every question very succinctly and came up with some very intelligent, thoughtful answers very quickly. She adeptly brushed off the “you tanked HP” crap from the moderators.

    I also liked, but didn’t love, Rubio. Another person who I feel is a true believer. Very well spoken and put Jeb in his place when attacked. Quick on his feet.

    Didn’t win, but didn’t lose category:

    John Kasich – I have followed Kasich for a while now and he has a lot of great ideas, but he is clearly uncomfortable in a suit. He always looks awkward. I think he would be great in an administration, but I don’t know if his goofy persona will play in a general election.

    Huckabee – I think Huckabee is a good and honest person, but I can’t really remember anything specifically he said last night. I do remember that he is eloquent and speaks clearly and slowly and methodically. I would love to have him as an uncle.

    Ben Carson – I am not really feeling the almost asleep method of how he speaks, but when he does speak, it is pretty intelligent. No clue how he is topping the polls in Iowa. I think he would be a fine president, but I just don’t really get it at this point.


    Rand Paul – While the Libertarian in me likes what Rand Paul has said in the past and said last night, he totally fell flat. I get why he doesn’t want to get into the scrum, but I feel like he sort of mailed it in. Probably the next exit from the race.

    Chris Christie – You might disagree with me, but I don’t like the east coast asshole schtick. I am from the Midwest and I deal with my share of East Coast people, and many of them are rude and want to steamroll me and I hate that. He said some great things, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t like the delivery.

    Jeb – You could tell he was desperate from the get go. He said nothing witty or remarkable. Probably time for him to pack it in as well.

    Trump – same ol same ol. He’s just a blowhard. Says some good things about taxes and actually does a good job answering the questions. But I have always hated him so I probably am not giving him a fair shake.

    Well, there you go, a totally amateurish take on the debate last night. Let me have it in the comments.


    Posted in Politics | 34 Comments »

    When Lobbyists Write Legislation, This Data Mining Tool Traces The Paper Trail

    Posted by Jonathan on October 29th, 2015 (All posts by )

    This kind of analysis looks like a step in the right direction:

    According to the team’s analysis, seven states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, and Kansas, all had similar laws on the books. Similar bills were being considered in states like Maryland and Oregon, and had already died in Florida and Minnesota. In total, very similar bills had been introduced 73 times around the country. The video below shows one of the earliest examples showed up in South Carolina in 2010.
    Like a plagiarism detector, the prototype can detect similar language in different bills. Yet unlike in a college class, this isn’t always a bad thing. “We avoided using the word plagiarism,” says Joe Walsh, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago and mentor to the Data Science for Social Good team. “If a bill can save lives, I would want that bill passed all 50 states.”

    (Via The Right Coast.)


    Posted in Big Government, Politics, Systems Analysis, Tea Party | 4 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on October 26th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez:

    To the relevant political audience cause and effect in matters of public policy are matters of indifference. What really counts is who shows himself king of the hill. Things some conservatives would regard as shameful are paradoxically impressive to Hillary’s voter base precisely because she can carry it off with impunity.
    Benghazi wasn’t a screen test for the part of Ronald Reagan. It was for Richard Daley.
    In some environments it is not following the law that impresses, but the ability to slug a cop and have him rise from the pavement only to clean your shoes. Hillary showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that she could utter the most improbable nonsense and make it stick, able to shrug off the puny efforts by Congress to bring her to book. In a world where power is the coin of the realm, her immense fortune was on display. All too often conservatives think that the prize goes to the fittest. In truth it often goes to the most ruthless.

    Not much to add to this. Watch the videos accompanying Fernandez’s post.


    Posted in Politics, Quotations | 17 Comments »

    Celestial Navigation

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on October 25th, 2015 (All posts by )

    I’m tired of doom and gloom so I thought I would post something a bit different. Sailing !


    In 1981, I sailed my 40 foot sailboat to Hawaii in the Transpacific Yacht Race. That year some large yachts had what were called “Sat Nav ” receivers aboard to track a system of satellites that required continuous tracking and took quite a bit of electrical power. It is now called “Transit” or “navSat”

    Thousands of warships, freighters and private watercraft used Transit from 1967 until 1991. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union started launching their own satellite navigation system Parus (military) / Tsikada (civilian), that is still in use today besides the next generation GLONASS.[10] Some Soviet warships were equipped with Motorola NavSat receivers.

    My small sailboat could not use such a system. It drew about an amp an hour, far too great a drain on my battery. For that reason I used a sextant and sight tables like these, which are published for the latitudes to be sailed.

    sight reduction

    That volume is published for latitudes 15 degrees to 30 degrees, which are the ones we most sailed. Hawaii is at about 20 degrees north and Los Angeles is 35 degrees north. The sight tables provide a set of observations that can be compared with an annual book called a “Nautical Almanac.” As it happens, the Nautical Almanac for 1981 is used for training and is still in print.

    Nautical al

    The third component, besides the sextant, of course, is a star finder, like like this one, to aid with navigational stars.

    The whole system is called Celestial Navigation.

    The first thing one needs is an accurate clock. This is the reason why sailing ships need a chronometer in the 18th century.

    Harrison solved the precision problems with his much smaller H4 chronometer design in 1761. H4 looked much like a large five-inch (12 cm) diameter pocket watch. In 1761, Harrison submitted H4 for the £20,000 longitude prize. His design used a fast-beating balance wheel controlled by a temperature-compensated spiral spring. These features remained in use until stable electronic oscillators allowed very accurate portable timepieces to be made at affordable cost. In 1767, the Board of Longitude published a description of his work in The Principles of Mr. Harrison’s time-keeper.

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    Posted in Holidays, Personal Narrative, Sports, Video | 28 Comments »

    Organizational Culture, Improvisation, Success, and Failure

    Posted by David Foster on October 24th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Maggie’s Farm reminds us that October 21 was the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.  (JMW Turner painting of the battle at the link)  I am reminded of a thoughtful document written in 1797 by a Spanish naval official, Don Domingo Perez de Grandallana, on the general subject “why do we keep losing to the British, and what can we do about it?”  His thoughts were inspired by his observations while with the Spanish fleet off Cape St Vincent,  in a battle which was a significant defeat for Spain, and are relevant to a question which is very relevant to us today:  

    What attributes of an organization make it possible for that organization to accomplish its mission in an environment of uncertainty, rapid change, and high stress?

    Here are de Grandallana’s key points:

    An Englishman enters a naval action with the firm conviction that his duty is to hurt his enemies and help his friends and allies without looking out for directions in the midst of the fight; and while he thus clears his mind of all subsidiary distractions, he rests in confidence on the certainty that his comrades, actuated by the same principles as himself, will be bound by the sacred and priceless principle of mutual support.

    Accordingly, both he and his fellows fix their minds on acting with zeal and judgement upon the spur of the moment, and with the certainty that they will not be deserted. Experience shows, on the contrary, that a Frenchman or a Spaniard, working under a system which leans to formality and strict order being maintained in battle, has no feeling for mutual support, and goes into battle with hesitation, preoccupied with the anxiety of seeing or hearing the commander-in-chief’s signals for such and such manoeures…

    Thus they can never make up their minds to seize any favourable opportunity that may present itself. They are fettered by the strict rule to keep station which is enforced upon then in both navies, and the usual result is that in one place ten of their ships may be firing on four, while in another four of their comrades may be receiving the fire of ten of the enemy. Worst of all they are denied the confidence inspired by mutual support, which is as surely maintained by the English as it is neglected by us, who will not learn from them.

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    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Britain, France, History, Human Behavior, Management, Military Affairs, Society, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Big Sky

    Posted by Jonathan on October 24th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Colorado Landscape

    Order Prints


    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »