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    Posted by Jonathan on May 5th, 2021 (All posts by )

    stripes

     

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Archive Post: Pax Romana

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 5th, 2021 (All posts by )

    (A snippit at Sarah Hoyt’s place reminded me of this post, from 2006 at my original milblog.

    The stone ruins of Imperial Rome underlie Western Europe and the Mediterranean like the bones of a body, partially buried, yet here and there still visible and grandly manifest above ground, all but complete. From Leptis Magna in North Africa, to Hadrian’s Wall in the contentious border between Scotland and England proper, from Split in the Former Yugoslavia, to the 81 perfectly preserved arches of the ancient bridge over the Guadiana River, in Merida – that part of the empire called Hispania –and in thousands of lesser or greater remnants, the presence of Rome is everywhere and inescapable. The same sort of cast- concrete walls, faced with pebbles, or stone or tile, the same sort of curved roof-tiles, the same temples to Vesta, and Jupiter, to Claudius, Mars and Mithras; the same baths and fora, market-places, villas and apartment buildings, all tied together by a network of commerce and administration. Goods both luxury and otherwise, adventurous tourists, soldiers and civil administrators— the very blood of an empire, all moved along the veins and arteries of well-maintained roads and way-stations, of which the very beating heart was Rome itself. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Blogging, Capitalism, Deep Thoughts, History | 8 Comments »

    The Finished Product

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on May 4th, 2021 (All posts by )

     

    The finished Victorian-style christening dress for the prospective grandchild, who will be delivered early in June. The original family heirloom christening dress was one of those items lost in the fire which burned my parents’ Southern California retirement home in 2003. It was made of very fine cotton lawn, with yards and yards of elaborate embroidered eyelet lace. I found a pattern here, which closely resembled the original dress and promised Mom that I would try and replicate the dress … and  that was as far as I got until this year. I bought some very fine Pima lawn, and several lots of vintage eyelet lace on eBay, and had a go at pattern-bashing, with the above results. All the seams are encased or flat-filled, and while the long seams were done on a machine, all the rest was hand-sewing, including feather-stitching around the front panel, bodice and hem.  There is a drawstring fastening at waist and around the neckline, as there was on the original dress. When we talked about this on the  last Chicagoboyz zoom meet-up, Ginny said that I should definitely post a picture when I had it done.  So here it is, although I am still waiting on the last lengths of lace to finish the matching petticoat, and baby bonnet. My grandson’s godfather will be standing at the font with a bale of lace and fabric in his arms and a small baby somewhere in the center …

     

    Posted in Diversions, Personal Narrative, Photos | 6 Comments »

    “Believing Untrue Things”

    Posted by Jonathan on May 3rd, 2021 (All posts by )

    AVI:

    Believing Untrue Things

    More Motives on Untrue Things

    Summary: People believe in the truth of ideas that don’t withstand even casual empirical scrutiny, e.g., that American police kill more black people than white people every year. Why do so many of us believe in and even defend vehemently the validity of bogus ideas when contrary evidence is easily found?

    You can find many examples of this kind of thing in Amazon reviews of controversial books such as Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean:

    5-Star Reviews

    1-Star Reviews

    The respective authors of the five-star and one-star reviews appear to inhabit separate factual universes. In one universe James Buchanan was a distinguished laissez-faire economist and originator of public-choice theory. In the other universe Buchanan, the Koch brothers and other prominent libertarians were members of a racist conspiracy. How can people on one side of a controversy remain ignorant about the other side’s arguments and even basic facts?

    AVI suggests possible explanations that are worth reading, as always. I think the main problem is the poor quality of our primary and secondary educational systems, particularly in the teaching of history, math and basic statistics. Another big problem is the ignorance of journalists who were educated in our lousy schools, and modern journalism’s clickbait business model that incentivizes the promotion of controversy and conflict even more than was the case back in Front Page days.

    Discuss.

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Conservatism, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Systems Analysis | 22 Comments »

    Biden Likes to Talk About Trains

    Posted by David Foster on May 2nd, 2021 (All posts by )

    …both actual trains and metaphorical trains, as in a recent Biden social media post: 100 days in–and America is getting back on track.

    So I’ll give him a railroad story, actually a poem, the following excerpt from which was quoted by Winston Churchill in 1935:

    Who is in charge of the clattering train?
    The axles creak, and the couplings strain.
    For the pace is hot, and the points are near,
    and Sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear
    And signals flash through the night in vain
    Death is in charge of the clattering train!

    Original poem here; it appears that Churchill in his excerpt combined part of the first verse with part of the last.  The poem, which was published in 1890, was inspired by an actual railroad accident.

     

     

    Posted in Poetry, Politics, Transportation | 67 Comments »

    Father and Jack: Conversation as Life Preserver

    Posted by Ginny on May 1st, 2021 (All posts by )

    My grandsons wonder about life in the fifties, life in their mother’s mother’s village, state. So here’s a personal narrative. Each family was unique, but this does describe another time & place.

    Jack was one of my father’s friends, indeed his best and closest. And I’m pretty sure my father was Jack’s. A bit of a narcissist, still, he would sob about my father’s loss if we ran into him for years after my father died. I doubt the depth of sentimental drunks, but he thought the affection was real – for all I know it was. My father was moody; I suspect he always saw himself (as did those around him) as unfulfilled and unproductive. I brought home a boyfriend well on the way to being an expert in Italian medieval history; he was surprised my father wanted to talk about meta-history – what was true and what wasn’t about the great arcs. I wasn’t surprised my father wanted to talk about that – that was the kind of thing he liked. If your life is unmoored, you want to make sense of it. I suspect he spent some time wondering about those arcs – what was real and what wasn’t, what they meant. He had plenty of time to speculate and Jack was his companion. Conversation went late into the night, beginning when Jack showed up at our door.

    Neither Father nor Jack had much self-discipline, though a lack of self-discipline for those maturing in the dustbowl and enlisting in World War II, husbands and fathers in the fifties was not the immaturity of pajama boys living in their parents’ basements. My father felt some duty: to friends, town. And to tradition in a broad sense – it drove him and the Missouri Synod minster to start the Kenesaw Great Books Club, it made the Legion a social focus, kept him Presbyterian and Republican.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Crony Capitalism, Human Behavior, Lit Crit, Personal Narrative | 10 Comments »

    Continuing Supply Chain Issues

    Posted by Dan from Madison on May 1st, 2021 (All posts by )

    I have been sharing supply chain woe stories over the past year plus, ever since the Chinese commie crud took over the headlines. I work in the world of industrial distribution.

    Many of those supply chain issues remain to this very day, and some are getting worse. I have been in the industry for 35 years (HVAC distribution specifically, a subset of industrial distribution) and with a mature industry such as the one I am in, supply chain always had ebbs and flows, however these were easily predictable and looked like a very shallow sine wave. Over the past year and continuing to today, the supply chain is very spiky and extremely difficult to navigate.

    Disasters such as the Suez Canal closure and plants getting damaged in Texas over the Winter added to an already miserable time. Many businesses are opening back up and demand is surging as equipment that was previously mothballed or otherwise inoperative is coming online (and breaking). We continue to have transportation issues with LTL (for those who don’t know, LTL stands for Less Than Load, or semi trailers that are making deliveries of many skids of product to different locations rather than a straight shot to one location) being a disaster right now. Labor is a problem as many that were laid off have either moved to other jobs, or simply refuse to come back to work due to overly generous federal and state unemployment benefits.

    The whole enchilada is quite the mess. Oddly, when I go to work in the morning I am resigned at this point to just saying to myself “I wonder what insane thing I will have to deal with today” and just put my head down and deal with it. When you get used to adversity things don’t bother you as much, I suppose.

    I made the decision to never cancel any orders and simply take on more inventory. This hurts in the short term as cash flow and inventory turns are adversely impacted, but mission number one is to smooth out these spiky curves to our customers, so they can continue to make money – it needs to be my job to bear the brunt of this and to make it virtually unnoticed for our contractors. It remains quite the challenge. There will be major issues this Summer with imported equipment such as ductless mini splits, window airs and dehumidifiers imported from over there due to the persistent port delays on the West Coast. These issues are already happening. As hard as I am trying, I can’t get every product for every customer in these conditions. Most have been understanding. If they aren’t, well, I can’t unload the containers so….

    Here is an interesting story about a different industry, flowers. I always take my wife out to a nice brunch for Mother’s Day. In addition, I always get her a corsage with three spray roses, the white ones with the red tips. I called the florist to order it up yesterday and the person on the other end laughed and said that they hadn’t seen spray roses in a year. In fact, when I go to pick up my corsage, they couldn’t even tell me what type of flower it would be. The shipment of flowers shows up and they have to make do with what shows up. She said that it was probable that I could get a single white rose but no guarantees. I told her that I could completely relate as I have been living this hell for a while too. She was pleased to speak with someone who was sort of in the same boat and went on to tell me that the last year was full of enormous challenges in the flower industry – that a lot of flowers simply didn’t exist to purchase.

    While that is an anecdote, it is still telling of how we will likely see supply chain issues for some time to come.

     

    Posted in Business, COVID-19 | 8 Comments »

    One Thing Government Does Right

    Posted by Dan from Madison on April 28th, 2021 (All posts by )

    Today was a long day. We finally had a couple of funerals that were delayed by the Chinese commie crud. One was for my wife’s grandfather who made it to the ripe old age of 95 and the second was for one of his sons, who lived to his early seventies.

    The service for both of them was at Camp Butler National Cemetery. While there was a lot of paperwork involved, the services went off very well. Camp Butler is extremely well maintained.

    Grandpa was in WW2 in India (I hope to someday offer his letters back home on this blog), and his son was in Korea. Both were cremated a few months ago. The government allows free plots for their ashes since they were vets, along with space for spouses later to join them. Also present today were two fine men from the DoD. From the uniforms they appeared to be active Army. They gave salutes to grandma (the son had no wife) and also presented the flags to her after folding them. After the services, one of them stood watch until the last of the guests drove away.

    Some locals from the Sangamon County Veterans were there. These gentlemen were volunteers and show up at Camp Butler for military funerals. They gave the gun salute (three shots from three rifles, after which they presented the shells to grandma) and had a man play taps. They also did a very short ceremony before the preacher did his deal. After they were done, these gentlemen beat feet quickly, and I wasn’t able to give them the tip – I will make a charitable donation to them later this week. It was very nice.

    As I mentioned previously, there was ample paperwork involved to get all of this arranged with the department of Veterans Affairs, but it did get done, and in a nice and proper way.

     

    Posted in Military Affairs, Personal Narrative | 14 Comments »

    Sax and Violins

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 27th, 2021 (All posts by )

    I’m being mildly sarcastic about the title of this post, which will mostly be about violence. And violence in the inner city, but the sarcasm comes because I have become increasingly annoyed at how the local public classical channel is making a big thing about highlighting classical composers of color and making a big thing about how they are noted composers of color. They’ve been doing the same thing about female composers, too, which accounts for the sax element. Even if those composers involved are perfectly adequate composers of the classical genre, I’m increasingly annoyed by how the fact that they were female and/or of color is being banged on about, most often in a mini lecture about how hard it was for them to get any respect at all because *insert brief lecture du jour*. It’s April and almost May, FFS: Black History month is done and dusted, and so is Woman’s History Month. I’m pretty much done with hearing about all of that. Just say “this *insert name of American composer of color* is an American composer of the umpty-umpth century, or this *insert name of female composer* is a German/Austrian/French/Luxemburgian composer of the umpty-umpth century and give the social actions-approved mini-lecture a freaking rest.

    So it seems that the mob has gotten the justice that they wanted when it came to the verdict in the matter of one Floyd, George, he of the massive fentanyl overdose while in police custody. Minneapolis, Minnesota has reaped the progressive whirlwind that they planted. The progressive mob demanded a human sacrifice; the rule of law need not apply when the mob bays for blood, local prosecutors go along with the mob, and corrupt hack politicians like Maxine Waters add their voice to the chorus demanding a blood sacrifice. No wonder that progressive school districts are omitting To Kill a Mockingbird from reading lists; too many bright teenagers would absorb the implications and recognize a lynch mob when one presents in real life. It also appears that the attempt to raise a new mob after the death of Ma’Khia Bryant at the hands of a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio. Except that Ma’Khia had a steak knife in hand, was lunging at another woman with apparently murderous intent, and the Columbus police department had the wit to release video footage of the encounter almost immediately, although certain pertinent questions have yet to be answered – like, why was she in foster care in the first place, who called 911, and what exactly set off the whole imbroglio. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Urban Issues | 20 Comments »

    An Early and Excellent Example of a High-Technology Product Press Release

    Posted by David Foster on April 27th, 2021 (All posts by )

    The poet/historian  Antipater sings the wonderfulness of the vertical waterwheel as a power source:

    Cease from grinding, ye women who toil at the mill

    Sleep late, even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn

    For Demeter has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of your hands

    And they, leaping down on the top of the wheel, turn its axle which

    With its revolving spokes, turns the heavy concave Nisyrian millstones

    Learning to feast on the products of Demeter without labour

    ( circa 65 bc)

     

    I would so hire that man for a Marketing Communications job.

     

     

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, History, Tech | 6 Comments »

    Chicagoboyz Waiting Room Series: 33

    Posted by Jonathan on April 24th, 2021 (All posts by )

    post-it not

     

    Posted in Photos, Waiting Rooms | 2 Comments »

    “You Better Go to Raw Data”

    Posted by David Foster on April 22nd, 2021 (All posts by )

    People operating complex machines and systems–ships, aircraft, and nuclear power plants, for example–are often dependent on information that has been processed or filtered in some way. The same is true of people exercising their responsibilities as citizens in a large and complex society, inasmuch as they  cannot directly and personally observe most of the relevant facts and events.  Disasters that occur in complex physical systems can serve as a metaphor to help shed light on disasters–actual and potential–in the political sphere.

    On June 9, 1995, the cruise ship Royal Majesty was on a routine voyage in good weather.  The vessel was equipped with GPS, which displayed latitude and longitude position…which the crew diligently plotted..and also drove a moving map overlaid on the radar scope.

    Unfortunately, the information being displayed and plotted bore little resemblance to the actual reality.

    As the gray sky turned black veil, the phosphorus-lit radar map with its neat lines and digital indication seemed clearer and more inviting than the dark world outside. As part of a sophisticated integrated bridge system, the radar map had everything–from a crisp radar picture, to ship position, buoy renderings, and up to the last bit of data anyone could want–until it seemed that the entire world lived and moved transparently, inside that little green screen. Using this compelling display, the second officer was piloting a phantom ship on an electronic lie, and nobody called the bluff.

    The bluff was finally called by reality itself, at 10 PM, when the ship jerked to the left with a grinding noise.  It was hard aground on the Rose and Crown Shoal, and could not be backed off.

    It was quickly determined that the cable to the GPS antenna had come loose, and the system was not actually obtaining the real, current positions. The captain ran to the LORAN unit, a completely separate electronic navigation system. The position accurately displayed on the LORAN differed from the displayed GPS position by 17 miles.

    The GPS unit had in fact honestly disclosed its lack of current information: it did this by displaying the characters ‘DR’…for Dead Reckoning, ie, extrapolating the current course and speed..but the annotation appeared in small characters and was not noticed. The crew thought they were getting an actual portrayal of the current reality, rather than an estimate that would progressively become a guesstimate with the passage of time.

    To use the term which has become common in media and political circles, the GPS and its associated display units were creating a convincing narrative…a narrative so convincing that no one, evidently, took the trouble to cross-check it with the LORAN, or to do a celestial fix.

    How many American citizens live in a media and information environment which is as closed and as convincing as what the crew of the Royal Majesty was seeing on their bridge?  Consider how quickly overwhelming media narratives were put together concerning, for example, the Hunter Biden laptop or the murders of the women in Atlanta.  In most such cases, you could watch CNN, MSNBC, and some of the old-line tv networks, you could listen to NPR, you could look at the memes being circulated on social media–and they would all be telling you the same story, an overall narrative which for most people will be as consistent and as convincing as that phantom world displayed on the Royal Majesty‘s radar scope and plotted on the paper charts was that ship’s Second Officer.

    As disasters go, the Royal Majesty affair was a fairly minor one: embarrassing and expensive, but no one was killed or injured.  Here’s a case which was much worse–the approach of a Delta Airlines flight into Boston Logan Airport, on July 31, 1973.

    At 11:40:07, the Captain advised the First Officer, who was doing the flying for this approach:

    You better go to raw data.  I don’t trust that thing.

    “That thing” was a Flight Director, an instrument which displays the calculated actions needed to follow a desired flight path.  Both Captain and the FO had become concerned about indications on this instrument which didn’t seem to make sense.

    It was too late.  25 seconds later, the plane slammed into the seawall. There were no survivors.

    The NTSB determined that the Flight Director’s ‘mode’ switch was incorrectly set: while the Captain and the FO believed it was displaying the calculated actions required for the airplane to follow the Instrument Landing System radio beam down to the runway, it was actually doing no such thing.  “Raw data” refers to the display of the plane’s actual, physical vertical and horizontal deviation from where it should be on the ILS beam…and would have shown that the airplane was not where it needed to be.  The Raw Data was not, however, so prominently displayed on the instrument panel as were the Flight Director commands.

    Convincing displays, convincing narratives, can be very dangerous.  New information tends to be absorbed into the overall picture.  When the navigating officer of the Royal Majesty observed the radar reflection of a buoy on his radar screen, and, shortly thereafter, the passage of a buoy was reported on the ship’s port side, it confirmed in his mind that it was the ‘BA’ buoy, which marks to entrance to the Boston traffic lanes…and the whole GPS-derived picture became even more convincing.  But it wasn’t really BA–it was actually the Asia Rip buoy, anchored to a sunken wreck, which marks the Rose and Crown Shoal.

    In the political/media sphere, the misleading narratives that are convincingly presented are not the matter or mechanical or human error, they are a matter of human design.  Some of the people and organizations propagating these narratives know they are false, some would rather–for career or social reasons–not think about it too deeply, and some actually believe the narratives. It happens on both/all political sides, but happens a lot more, and more effectively, on the Left, because the Left/Woke dominance of media is so nearly complete.

    The pilot and copilot of Flight 723 had only a matter of seconds to question and cross-check the ‘narrative’ that they were seeing on their Flight Director.  Citizens, operating in the political/media sphere, have less time pressure…but the time available is not infinite.  Multiple sources of information are more available than at any point in history–but the Narrative of the like-thinking media and its influence strategies is overwhelming, especially for people who don’t have a lot of time to follow political matters.  Confirmation bias, too, plays a strong role.

    Will a sufficient number of people, metaphorically check the displayed GPS position against the LORAN, or check the Flight Director command bars against the raw localizer and glideslope data?  And will they do so before it is too late for recovery?

    (More on the Royal Majesty incident at my post here.  Detail on the Delta Flight 723 accident is provided in the NTSB report.)

     

     

     

    Posted in Aviation, Leftism, Media, Miscellaneous, Politics, Tech, USA | 32 Comments »

    The Shockingly Low Cost of Learning a Language

    Posted by Dan from Madison on April 22nd, 2021 (All posts by )

    Right before the dawn of the Chinese commie covidian era I made a life decision. In late 2019 I decided to rid myself of any and all clutter, and get really good at a few things, rather than being super average at a lot. I just had too many hobbies and too many time sucks. I decided to jettison the banjo and gave that to my daughter. Also shot into space was my anti-library – I decided to either read it, or get rid of it. I had a few other small time hobbies that I got out of. So what was left was for me was to keep my regimen of physical fitness, work, and to learn French. When I say “learn French”, I want to be fluent.

    I took some French in high school and college, and after many years found an interest in it again. I downloaded an app or two to my phone, but that quickly got boring. After picking around with different things online, I decided on a much more traditional way to learn the language – start from square one, and go back to school, specifically adult continuing education. I know how to work, and learning a language is work, no matter what the ads you hear that say “ten minutes a day” want you to believe.

    After thinking about it, structured book learning and progression is the best way for me, and the schedule that I have. And adult continuing education isn’t graded or have a high pressure environment. All of the people in the class are taking it for enjoyment or professional reasons, and are, well, adults.

    I am fortunate to live in a town where there is a big assed university, so I hit the UW Madison website and they did indeed offer French in their adult continuing education offering. So I signed up for French 1, wanting a full review of things I already knew. The course was under $200 for 12 weeks of assignments and 1.5 hours per week of in person class. That’s quite a value. The assignments are a mixture of cultural things, grammar, video, audio, etc. All of this is hosted on the UW website. Towards the end of French 1 we got booted from the buildings because of the commie crud, but we finished with Zoom. I have to admit that it was sort of fun going back to school, walking on campus, and getting back to an institution of higher learning even though it was just basically “night school”. I hadn’t been to a structured class since 1990 and my days at U of I in Champaign.

    French 2 was done on all zoom, and I am now nearing the end of French 3, same thing. Each class was about the same price and the classes are very well run and extremely enriching. Already I am certain that if you dropped me in the middle of France and I had to get along, I could. I am well on my way to being fluent. My original plan was to be fluent in five years, but I think I can do it in three at my current pace.

    I will have to re-take French 3 as that level is exponentially tougher – it takes a little longer to progress to French 4, which are basically fluent persons who are brushing up or moving into the finer points of the language.

    In addition to this I hired a French teacher for some private lessons. We just log onto Zoom and talk for an hour at a time and she corrects my grammar and pronunciation. Invaluable. $50/hour. I bought ten lessons.

    I have also supplemented with some online items from the Coffee Break series. Coffee Break offers full blown courses and short weekly passages that test listening and comprehension skills. Again, minimal cost.

    I think that all of this would have been possible in the past, but harder to do. Zoom didn’t exist just a decade ago, so you would have to lose the time to travel for a face to face lesson if you were doing privates. While the in person classes would have been the same, the amount of video and audio resources available for free online are innumerable, and the ones in our class would have been much harder to distribute, versus just going to the UW website and downloading everything.

    With the numerous choices online I had to pick a certain strategy and avoid the noise. The competition is intense for this market.

    I got a mass market email today advertising an Air B and B like service in France (when it opens up). You can stay at someone’s house in France for a week who will speak French to you and take you around town and cook two meals a day for you. For $1500 a week. That is incredible and will be my next phase when I can do it.

    I don’t really have a point to the post outside of showing that to further yourself, all you need is desire and a little money (and not even that much money). Which certainly brings into question how a college can charge what they do to teach what they teach.

     

    Posted in Education, France | 23 Comments »

    Thrift and the Virtue of Home Made

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 20th, 2021 (All posts by )

    It amused me this week, to read of the list of professions which have proved historically to always provide a living of sorts to those who practice them; fine carpentry, construction carpentry, metalworking, innkeeping and I don’t know what-all. Seamstressing was not among them, which is a pity … but since it his historically been an almost exclusively female-practiced profession/hobby/amusement, perhaps it’s one of those things that we can really blame the patriarchal establishment for. Women could make a living, even if relatively a barely marginal one from sewing, although if you glommed onto a high-visible and high-value client who patronized you extravagantly, a certain degree of prosperity would be assured  … but I think mostly that it was one of those things that women were expected to do anyway as part of keeping and maintaining a house, which brought the wages down for those exercising the skill professionally. Eh … never mind. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, Culture, Current Events, Customer Service, Economics & Finance | 57 Comments »

    Random Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on April 15th, 2021 (All posts by )

     

    Posted in Photos | 10 Comments »

    Random Observations From the World of Industrial Distribution

    Posted by Dan from Madison on April 15th, 2021 (All posts by )

    Things got kooky in my world last year, and they continue to be, well, interesting (I guess that is one word you could use – this is a family blog after all) this year. A few random notes for those who may be interested. For those who may not know, I own an HVAC distributor, which is a subset of industrial distribution.

    We recently received an increase of 15% in sheet metal fittings. The manufacturer just announced that due to continued pressure on steel, there will be another 15-20% increase coming in 60 days.

    This news about sheet metal fittings dovetails into some interesting news I have been hearing about new construction. Lumber and other materials are skyrocketing so fast that builders are going back to people who are building houses and redrawing up contracts and demanding more money. Banks aren’t appreciative. It’s ugly.

    Cans are in short supply. We sell a boatload of aerosol based cleaners for everything from commercial cooking equipment to air conditioners to refrigeration coils – I have heard that there are problems in aluminum, and cans themselves as the sanitization industry is taking up much of the can consumption for cleaners and germicides.

    One of the major HVAC equipment manufacturers that we represent announced a mid year price increase. I can only remember one other time this happened. It is rumored to be in the 8% range.

    An ice machine manufacturer just announced a 10% price increase, then another 20% on top of that one month later.

    There is a force majeure on one of the components that is used to make foam in a can – I think this is from the damage in Texas that was caused by the cold snap but I am not sure. This affects a lot of markets. I have heard that a refrigerator manufacturer is getting ready to idle production because they can’t get foam.

    Industrial distribution is on allocation for PVC pipe and fittings.

    Shipping woes worldwide continue. The Suez Canal thing didn’t help. Shipping costs are triple what they were last year.

    I am getting daily bulletins from all of our vendors with these types of things. With copper, steel, plastics, silver and chemicals all having problems right now and at record prices, it is going to be another interesting year, to say the least.

     

    Posted in Business | 45 Comments »

    The Age of Duty

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 12th, 2021 (All posts by )

    The age of duty passes, I suppose, with the death of Prince Philip, the chosen spouse of Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth II of England and whatever remains of the Commonwealth and domains. (And in the theology of a remote South Pacific island tribe, the worshipped deity and incarnation of a local volcano spirit, through a process which no one outside that tribe can quite figure out.)

    No, I’m not a royalty devotee, in any particular degree. I’m an American, of British descent yet purely republican (small r there, let it be known), so I suppose it is a sentimental thing on my part – or even a degree of decent human sympathy. As my daughter said, unforced, on reading the news the other morning, “Oh, poor Queen!” A seven-decade long marriage, for that time always under the constant, unblinking, pitilessly Sauron-like, and censorious eye of the public media – ended by death at the end of a horrible and trying year. Poor Queen. A woman who was (and still remains) under unsparing scrutiny for nearly all of her life from the age of twelve or so, and yet performed flawlessly in the public sphere, on practically every occasion. The loss of her sister, her mother, now her husband, and all this on top of  a fraught and very public estrangement from an adult grandson … poor Queen, indeed. Her private circle of heart-friends and close-mouthed supporters is narrowed substantially by one, and that possibly the dearest and most personal supporter of all. Sympathy indeed. She has a pair of new dogs, and the remaining family and friends to comfort her, so at least she has that. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Crime and Punishment, Crony Capitalism, Current Events, Leftism | 33 Comments »

    “Yom HaShoah and the importance of recognizing when the rules of the game have changed.”

    Posted by Jonathan on April 12th, 2021 (All posts by )

    Worth reading.

    Sarah Hoyt summarizes:

    Not just the conviction that “it can’t happen here.” There is also the deep in-built certainty that tomorrow will be more or less like today, and the worst that can happen within relatively safe bounds. Even while everything is shifting against you. From Pompeii to Nazi Germany, from Alexander’s conquests to Communist Russia, the normalcy bias has killed more human beings than any other factor in history.

    See also Note 12 here.

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, History, Human Behavior | 42 Comments »

    The Logic of Insatiable Centralization

    Posted by David Foster on April 8th, 2021 (All posts by )

    People and businesses have been leaving New York City, and the state of California, at a considerable rate. Some of these people/businesses are *resources* from the standpoint of government and its leaders: they are tax money on the hoof.   Cuomo, de Blasio, and Newsome would surely like to have a way of keeping them there.  Would these leaders, if they were allowed, favor a legal prohibition on exits, or at least a prohibitive tax penalty for such exit? This is the logic of the Berlin Wall, or of the Reich Flight Tax, the Reichsfluchtsteuer.   Such things may seem impossible in America, but the Dems have pushed for a lot of things that would have previously been considered impossible in America.

    Comes now Janet Yellen of the Biden administration, with a proposal for a global minimum tax on businesses, thereby nailing the feet of companies to the floor and keeping them from going elsewhere to avoid excessive exactions.  Just as Blue-city mayors would rather not have to worry about offering a tax system that is fair and economically-rational, the same is true of the Blue Biden administration.

    As a writer at Ricochet has pointed out:

    (Yellen’s proposal) is a terrible idea, for a very simple reason: “harmonizing” between governments eliminates competition between them. And it locks in the kind of bloated incompetence that is a feature of even the best governments out there.

    We want companies to be able to shop for their preferred home, just as we want Americans to be able to move to low-tax states. Similarly, if a poor country is trying to attract tenants (companies), why should they not be able to offer advantageous tax rates or less bureaucratic overburden?

    It would not just be a matter of keeping companies from moving–the proposal would also tend to reduce or eliminate pressure to keep taxes low and minimize government waste.

    Basically, this global minimum tax would represent the collusion of the political and bureaucratic classes against everybody else.

    And against diversity–any diversity of political and economic philosophies.

    “Progressives” don’t like fine-tuning incentives; they like issuing prohibitions and giving orders.

     

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Taxes | 38 Comments »

    Back

    Posted by Jonathan on April 8th, 2021 (All posts by )

    Apologies for the prolonged downtime. We had some site issues that are now fixed. No left wing conspiracies, purges or censorship were involved. Thanks for your patience.

    tech support

    Chicagoboyz technical support staff are on the case.

     

    Posted in Announcements | 10 Comments »

    Better Explanations?

    Posted by Ginny on April 5th, 2021 (All posts by )

    We might be forgiven for thinking that China does not have our best interests in mind, given their halt of all national movement from Wuhan and encouragement of all international travel from Wuhan in the pandemic’s early months, given the secrecy that surrounds the Wuhan Institute and the belated admission of and tight controls on the WHO inspectors, etc. etc.

    The tragedy at our border is huge and this seems almost a small part of it, but some acts seem to parallel China’s: Why are Americans expected to isolate themselves from useful pursuits (such as work and education and church), while Covid-infected illegal immigrants are sent on planes and buses to the interior (not that I’m all that crazy about how their policies are also refreshing the epidemic in Texas).

    Stirring division, encouraging wokeness and discouraging economic recovery in Atlanta, ignoring the vulnerability of the border to human trafficking and terrorist entry, encouraging defunding the police and justice systems that show little (in some cases any) respect for property or the victims of violent crime: the quantity of “ironies” might be more easily explained as expected consequences to Biden/Harris policies. And so we might be forgiven for thinking that they, too, do not have our best interests in mind.

    With Trump I’d turn to Instapundit and notice every day little and big things that seemed to free us or make the future more attractive, one of the values was that doing and speaking seemed aligned and Orwellian obfuscation was not omnipresent; it is, now, as opposite patterns can be easily discerned. Both seemed to be “busy” presidents – though that this seems to be coming from Biden seems hard to believe, it certainly is coming from “his” White House. And one’s busyness leads to productivity and the other’s to stasis – the position of a sitting duck.

     

    Posted in China, Civil Society, Current Events, Immigration, Leftism, Texas | 29 Comments »

    The Deep State and World War I

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 4th, 2021 (All posts by )

    I have been reading, actually rereading, a book on the origins of World War I. It is titled “The Sleepwalkers” It is a bit of a revisionist treatment of the topic which has been popularized by Barbara Tuchman and “The Guns of August which lays the blame for the war on Germany. This book does a pretty good job of assigning responsibility to two new culprits, Sir Edward Grey, who is also blamed by Pat Buchanan in “The Unnecessary War.” Buchanan blames Grey and Churchill, which I disagree with. Buchanan goes on to blame Churchill for WWII, as well but I think he has a good argument with Grey about WWI.

    What is striking to me on this rereading, is the role of the bureaucracies of several countries. Many know of the willfulness and erratic behavior of Kaiser Wilhelm. His ministers often did not inform him of serious matters, lest he impulsively make them worse. A gross example was “The Daily Telegraph Affair.” In this example, the Kaiser wrote a letter to then English newspaper making some extreme statements. His ministers were horrified.

    The Russian Czar was equally erratic and his ministers frequently maneuvered to discourage his role in foreign affairs.

    What seems to me to be new insight concerns the English and French bureaucracies. Edward VII had been a Francophile and Germanophobe and had encouraged The Entente Cordiale with France and Russia. Edward died in 1910, leaving his son George V on the throne. George V was new, uncertain and left foreign affairs in the hands of his Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey. Grey was a quiet, seemingly passive man but he was also a bureaucratic manipulator. He was a Germanophobe and had a collection of like minded men in the foreign office. The worst of the Germanophobes was Eyre Crowe born in Germany and spoke with a German accent but a Germany hater. Grey’s policy was not popular with other Liberals in government so he kept the policy of alliance with France vague right up until 1914. He denied the existence of an alliance with France right up to the declaration of war. As for Crowe:

    He is best known for his vigorous warning, in 1907, that Germany’s expansionist intentions toward Britain were hostile and had to be met with a closer alliance (Entente) with France.

    Crowe organized the Ministry of Blockade during the World War and worked closely with French President Georges Clemenceau at the Supreme Council at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

    Lloyd George and Crowe’s rivals in the Foreign Office tried to prevent Eyre’s advancement but as a consequence of his patronage by Lord Curzon, Eyre served as Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1920 until his death in 1925.

    A similar group in France ran the foreign Ministry and was referred to as the “Centrale.” The French government was as unstable as it was before WWII and for the same reasons. Weak parties and weak Foreign Ministers who came and went, often in months not years. The man who was the center of this system was Maurice Herbette. There is very little about this man in English sources. He apparently controlled the Foreign Ministry’s public communications and very nearly caused a war with the Agadir Crisis of 1911.

    The point of this discussion of history is that we have a similar situation in this country right now. We have a weak, very weak, president in Joe Biden who is senile and who is being controlled by someone mysterious. The Deep State is a term used to describe the federal bureaucracy and probably includes a network of rich corporatist donors who control the Democrat Party.

    The faceless bureaucrats of 1914 botched the crisis the followed the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Yes, the Serbian Black Hand created the crisis and there has been much discussion of the competence of the “Three Emperors” who ruled the main belligerents, but the real rulers of these three countries plus republican France were unknown (to the public), unelected bureaucrats who might well have resembled the people running Joe Biden.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, Military Affairs | 58 Comments »

    Whose Lives Matter?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 1st, 2021 (All posts by )

    The seriously insistent woke of mostly upper-caste activists among us now insist that black lives matter, and matter most of all. And why? They claim that those Americans of somewhat African descent are consistently and viciously targeted by the rest of us solely for the color of their skin. The content of the character of the inner-city urban element of that demographic gets rather less consideration on the part of the Professionally Woke. The conduct of those poor, misunderstood children of the inner city sink neighborhoods is, to say the least, somewhat questionable. Examples abound, the most recent example being the pair of feral teenagers who hijacked a delivery driver’s vehicle in Washington DC last weekend, and subsequently crashed the vehicle, killing the delivery driver in the wreck. For decades there have been depressingly violent crimes perpetuated by the urban thug elements of color on their neighbors, local retailers, and passing strangers of all colors and ethnic backgrounds occurring on a regular basis, without much comment by the Professionally Woke other than to blame white prejudice/systemic racism for Making Them Do The Crime.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Leftism, Media, Urban Issues | 73 Comments »

    Biden’s Climate Fixation.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on March 30th, 2021 (All posts by )

    Joe Biden, or whoever writes his stuff, announced that “Climate Change” will be the #1 issue for his administration. What does this mean and portend? There are a number of articles in “Asia Times” that discuss this. I ran across this series at an Australian blog I read ever day, Catallexy Files

    In his January 27 “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” US President Joseph Biden declares that his administration aims at “putting the climate crisis at the center of United States foreign policy and National Security.”

    Taken literally, this statement – as I think any sober observer of today’s situation in the US and internationally will agree – is a piece of insanity. Joe, please tell us you don’t mean it.

    Whatever one might believe about an oncoming climate apocalypse, the urgent domestic and international problems the Biden administration will face in the immediate months ahead have little or nothing to do with the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. They include the likelihood of crises that might decide between war and peace on a short time-horizon.

    I am reading the articles, there are 6 so far. I think they are worth a read. The author is a PhD in Math at age 22 from UC Berkeley

    The first article

    The second

    The third.

    BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest investment management company with about 8 trillion dollars of managed assets, plays a singular role in US President Joe Biden’s climate policy. Indeed, it looks like BlackRock and the Biden administration are married to each other.

    The marriage was consumated, one might say, with the appointments and nominations of prominent BlackRock executives to high posts in the administration. All of them are typical of the “revolving door” phenomenon of leading personnel shifting back and forth between government and big finance.

    The fourth.

    Most importantly: Given sufficient support for research and development in the context of large-scale infrastructure investment worldwide, ending the era of dependence on fossil fuels could be accomplished without austerity and with a minimum of coercive measures by governments. The major drivers would be higher efficiency, lower costs, competitive advantages.

    This would be a natural process if guided by rationality rather than quasi-religious belief in a coming “climate apocalypse.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Environment | 36 Comments »

    The Suez Canal and Industrial Distribution

    Posted by Dan from Madison on March 27th, 2021 (All posts by )

    As you all probably know, there is a ship stuck in the Suez Canal, which is blocking transit. You may not think this directly affects you, but it will. It’s just a matter of time.

    I own an HVAC distributor, and HVAC is a subset of industrial distribution. Most manufacturers are still reeling from last year’s Covid issues. Commodities like copper, steel, aluminum and sliver were already spiking in price before this latest logistics issue.

    I spoke with one of my major component suppliers this week. The cost of a container from Asia to the US was $5k last year. This year it is $15k. And there simply aren’t enough to go around.

    While the Suez blockage doesn’t directly affect this trade route, it does affect the overall global logistical issues – and wreaks havoc on just in time producers.

    I have one manufacturer of HVAC equipment that suspended all new orders a few months ago as they grapple with staffing issues.

    When you combine all of this, I don’t think that there is any question that there will be finished good shortages again this Summer. First affected will be stuff made “over there”. We are already seeing shortages on things like ductless mini split systems because of the continuing port slowdowns on the west coast of the USA. It isn’t even Summer yet.

    Here is where it affects you. The guys who have the stuff will win. Hands down. I made an enormous inventory investment this Winter and Spring, placing orders far in advance of what I normally would. I’m not going to let that investment go to waste – and I’m not spending basically every waking hour getting stuff in my barns to help my contractors get their jobs done for nothing. If I’m the only guy who has it (and trust me, on some things, I will be) – the price just went up. It’s nothing personal, just business.

    Believe me when I say that I wish my life were easier and yours cheaper, but I won’t be alone in this. If you end up with an issue with anything from car parts to electrical to something as simple as a washer breaking down, you will be paying more in the very near future.

    Sorry.

     

    Posted in Business, COVID-19 | 77 Comments »