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  • Archive for April, 2005

    True Colors

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st April 2005 (All posts by )

    Has anyone read this? Here’s the money shot.

    During a state visit to China, French Premier Raffarin threw support behind a law allowing China to attack Taiwan and continued to push for a lift of the EU arms embargo.

    (emphasis added)

    You know, I’m seriously thinking about how we should support a Taiwanese invasion of France.

    (Hat tip to The Therapy Sessions.)

    Posted in France | 6 Comments »

    Typhoon in a Teapot

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st April 2005 (All posts by )

    The Eurofighter Typhoon was supposed to be a state-of-the-art air superiority fighter plane. Developed as a cooperative effort between the aerospace industries of several European countries, it was envisioned as a project to meet the unique conditions and needs of European military forces and doctrine while keeping costs manageable. This was a good idea, maybe even admirable.

    I’ve written a few posts about the Eurofighter over the years. The short answer is that it’s a waste of money.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong. The plane is capable enough, and there’s no denying that it would perform its combat role if called upon. But it’s apparent that the performance of the Eurofighter is startlingly similar to an American F-16 while having a sticker price 8 times that of the US warplane.

    European defense budgets have eroded so much that the powers-that-be decided to sell off the first run of Eurofighters at greatly reduced prices in order to generate some badly needed cash. This is sort of like selling the new family car at a loss in order to make the payments.

    Unfortunately, even that isn’t working out as planned. Jane’s Defence reports that Singapore has formally announced that they won’t consider the plane for purchase. In other words, don’t let the door hit you in the backside.

    I’m waiting to see which aircraft Singapore decides to buy. If it’s old Soviet designs then the blow to European prestige is going to be pretty significant.

    Posted in Military Affairs | 9 Comments »

    Everything Must Go!

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st April 2005 (All posts by )

    Low, low prices and plenty of new arrivals, now at the photoblog.

    “No photos allowed.”

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Reproductive Freedom

    Posted by ken on 21st April 2005 (All posts by )

    Remember when “abortion rights” advocates used the slogan “Keep your laws off my body”?

    Makes a lot of sense to me, although I’ve sometimes wondered why these advocates of “reproductive freedom”, while warning us incessantly about the shackles their opponents were waiting to place on us the minute Roe v. Wade got reversed, had absolutely zero interest in the drug laws, the FDA, or indeed any restrictions whatsoever on the use of our own bodies other than removing babies from them.

    Well, now, anytime anyone mentions “reproductive rights” or raves about the right’s conspiracy to enslave half the human race, I’ll recall this little gem and laugh, and note that the pro-abortion crowd is perfectly willing and even eager to outlaw any use of our own body that might convince us not to get an abortion.

    (You know, when I first heard the charge that the “pro-abortion” lobby wasn’t interested in choice, but rather maximizing the total number of abortions, I thought that was a little overwrought. Who could possibly work toward getting other people to have as many abortions as possible, and what could such a person possibly gain by that? Well, now it’s time to reconsider that, and look for a real answer to that surprisingly non-rhetorical question)

    Yes, these guys have pushed the Illinois House of Representatives to pass a bill restricting the use of ultrasound, and requiring doctor’s permission for any and all ultrasound, ostensibly because ultrasound may have unknown effects on the developing fetus.

    “Mulligan said that the Federal Drug Administration had warned that muscle and nerve development could be affected by long exposure.”

    Of course, why anyone with or without a doctor’s permission would submit to “long exposure” to an ultrasound machine without a damned good reason doesn’t seem to be a question that anyone involved asked. But supporters of the bill, in addition to citing hyperparanoid speculation about what “might” happen if someone were to do such a silly thing, said “an ultrasound should not be done for political reasons to make anyone change their minds about any particular purpose.”

    Ah yes, letting people have a look at what they’re considering removing and discarding just isn’t right, and is a misuse of technology designed to, well, let people have a look at that very creature. I know we have a hundred-year tradition of placing most aspects of our own care and treatment off-limits to all but the select few that our masters have decided to allow into the priesthood, but surely looking at your baby with technology that may be harmful if used for several hours a day every day throughout your pregnancy but is definitely far less harmful than all manner of things that pregnant women are still allowed by law to do (not that they shouldn’t be! A ban on such things as eating junk food by pregnant women, especially when the greatest harm from some activities comes before anyone can tell that she’s pregnant, would be problematic to say the least) shouldn’t be one of those privileges.

    So to recap – pro-abortion advocates are interested in no aspect whatsoever of reproductive freedom or any other freedom that doesn’t involve terminating a pregnancy, and are solidly in favor of restrictions designed to prevent anyone from showing you anything that might convince you not to terminate your pregnancy. With the hyper-paranoid crowd in alliance, along with those who think that keeping anything health-related restricted to the MD priesthood is a good way to keep us safe (as if an intentional shortage of people permitted to employ a long and growing list of means to save your life somehow improves your safety), this abomination has very favorable prospects of passing.

    (Links via The Dawn Patrol)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments »

    Well-Done Corporate Blog

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st April 2005 (All posts by )

    This term is not necessarily an oxymoron. The DVD Station blog is worth looking at. It’s a real blog rather than a reformatted FAQ, and it both comments and solicits comments on the company’s business practices. IOW it attempts to be a conversation, and I found it informative. (Disclosure: I am not a movie buff and only learned about DVD Station via an email from one of its marketing guys. But they seem like straight shooters who understand blogs, and their business model is interesting.)

    Posted in Business | Comments Off on Well-Done Corporate Blog


    Posted by Jonathan on 20th April 2005 (All posts by )

    I just deleted four comments from an anonymous commenter at IP (U. of Oregon). I might have left them up if the commenter had identified himself, or posted without insulting us, or without telling us to “get the facts” while himself making reckless assertions, or contributed more to the exchange than his own shrill opinions. Readers are welcome to comment here, anonymously if they wish, and even if they disagree strongly about something. But they should be civil about it, and if they won’t or can’t be civil they should not be surprised if we delete their posts. You are welcome here to discuss and argue. If you mainly want to vent, go to a bar or start your own blog.

    Posted in Announcements | 21 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 20th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Don Hewitt, creator of “60 Minutes” and veteran TV-news guy, thinks that the way to entice viewers back to network news is to increase its proportion of opinion-based content. This is delusional thinking, given that

    -Network news is already full of opinions. That’s part of why it has lost so many viewers.

    -Making opinions explicit doesn’t insure an audience any more than starting a blog does. To gain viewers’ loyal attention (as opposed to merely riling them up and driving even more of them away), opinions have to be thoughtful and provide unique perspective. It’s not enough to be sincere, you have to add something to the public conversation if you want viewers to come back, and all of the good political bloggers and op-ed commentators know this. But does anyone think that the people who run network news are capable of doing it, given that many of them, like Hewitt, refuse to acknowledge that their networks’ biased, error-prone reporting is a large part of the problem?

    -The Internet is awash in high-quality commentary, available from every ideological perspective and generally free. It’s difficult to make money selling something that a lot of other people are giving away.

    UPDATE: Data

    Posted in The Press | 15 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th April 2005 (All posts by )

    The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I’m still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be?

    James Lileks

    Posted in Society | 5 Comments »

    Patriot’s Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 19th April 2005 (All posts by )

    April 18-19, 1775 … .

    So through the night rode Paul Revere;

    And so through the night went his cry of alarm

    To every Middlesex village and farm,—

    A cry of defiance, and not of fear,

    A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,

    And a word that shall echo for evermore!

    For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,

    Through all our history, to the last,

    In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

    The people will waken and listen to hear

    The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,

    And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

    RTWP. (Read The Whole Poem.)

    Posted in USA | 4 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Despite suggestions to the contrary, ChicagoBoyz know well how to accessorize and coordinate.

    Posted in Humor | 5 Comments »

    Dalrymple Quotes Hayek

    Posted by Ginny on 18th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Speaking, as Jonathan does, of Dalrymple, this seemed an interesting remark:

    “If we live entirely in the moment, as if the world were created exactly as we now find it, we are almost bound to propose solutions that bring even worse problems in their wake.”

    Dalrymple’s words reverberate nicely (reminding us of our adolescent, self-centered plans that so often failed despite our energy and good intentions). From his current City Journal article, “The Roads to Serfdom”, his bitterness arises from the uncomfortable fact Britain continues to ignore the good advice Hayek gave in WWII. Perhaps, given the breadth of affection for socialism (which he contends was confused with a sense of community prompted by the common enemy of the war), such insights could not have been appreciated. He acknowledges that in England, the government has moved beyond the role of husband, with his conclusion “Our Father, Which art in Downing Street.”

    Posted in Anglosphere | 3 Comments »

    Email to Lex

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Check out this post on the Chase me ladies blog.

    Read the comments, particularly Hutton’s exchange with “Quico” (Francisco Toro). (Quico is a serious Venezuelan journalist who writes, or used to write, the Caracas Chronicles blog that Instapundit used to link to a lot.) Hutton is surprisingly on the ball. Note also that he mentions Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple) on Romania. He also mentions Daniels in the previous post.

    There are some really sharp people out there, and now they are coming to the surface via blogs. One wouldn’t expect to see, in a mainstream-media humorist or fashion commentator, the kind of wide-ranging intelligence that one sees so frequently in bloggers like Hutton and Manolo.

    [I have edited this for the blog. JG]

    Posted in Society | 4 Comments »

    “…A Sea of Tanks…”

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 17th April 2005 (All posts by )

    We have lately been celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the destruction of the Hitlerite Beast by the Krasnaya Armiya (with some help) (here and here). And I see the Russians have a site entitled Our Victory Day by Day, which has some good photos and some cool period music. It is also worth repeating here that the absolute champion of all Great Patriotic War websites remains the incredible Russian Battlefield. (The memoirs on this site are particularly interesting, as are the many photos.)

    This is as good a time as any to think again about the blowout war the Soviet Army almost fought, and wanted to fight, but never did. Gary Brecher, a/k/a War Nerd has an excellent column about this interview with retired Colonel General Matvey Burlakov. Brecher says:

    If you’re anything like me, you probably spent a lot of the 80s imagining what would happen if the big NATO-Warsaw Pact war in Central Europe came along. It’s still hard for me to believe sometimes that the whole showdown just faded away without a shot fired.

    Agreed. (I spent some time playing Firefight, a hexmap-and-cardboard counters tactical wargame from SPI. The Russians always had way more stuff to throw at you if you played NATO.) I thought the Soviets were going to roll. I spent the entire period up to 1989 figuring that there was at least an even chance that all this “glasnost” crap would end with a new crackdown, serious communists would snap out of their funk and start arresting and shooting week people like Gorbachev, and that there would be an all-out attack on the West as a way to call off the economic and political competition they were clearly losing. Fortunately, it never happened. Brecher goes on:

    After the Soviets went out of business, I thought we’d get some really solid info on what the Warsaw Pact forces had planned, especially what their nuke and irregular forces (SpetzNaz teams) had in mind in the way of first strike and sabotage. Probably “we” did, meaning the intel community. But whatever they got, they didn’t pass along much of it to us civilians out there.

    However, we never really did get a good, blunt statement of what the Soviets were up to, shorn of disinformation and propaganda. Burlakov has this to say:

    The height of the Cold War was at the beginning of the 1980s. All they had to do was give the signal and everything would have gone off. Everything was battle-ready. The shells were in the tanks. They just had to be loaded and fired. We would have burned and destroyed everything they had.

    This remarkable exchange sounds about right to me:

    Was the use of nuclear weapons planned for?

    Of course.

    We would have struck first?

    Of course.

    Foreign Minister Gromyko said that the USSR would not use nuclear weapons first.

    He said one thing and the military thought another. We are the ones who are responsible for wars.

    Isn’t the political leadership responsible for waging war?

    The political leadership – Gorbachev and the others – betrayed the Soviet Union. The Americans bought them.

    And this:

    They say we would have made it to Paris in a week.

    Easy. We had a sea of tanks in the Western Group of Forces. Three tank armies! And what did the Germans have? The workweek ends on Friday and then you wouldn’t find anyone, not a minister or a soldier. Just guards. By the time they realized what was happening, we would have burned up their tanks and looted their armories. There was no question about it.

    Brecher’s assessment:

    I’m inclined to believe the old general when he says the Soviet tank armies would’ve kicked ass. The NATO forces were in a hopeless deployment: jammed into West Germany, an indefensible strip of heavily-populated territory. No strategic depth available, meaning the advantage was with whoever struck first. Once the population realized the Russians were coming, every Beemer and Merc in Germany would have hit the roads, those same roads our tanks were supposed to use. In that chaos, the Bundeswehr would have dissolved into a bunch of terrified locals looking for their families.

    So why didn’t they attack? We’ll probably never know. They were deterred, but by what? Not NATO’s conventional army. I tend to think that at the end the Soviet leadership was afraid of the Pershing and cruise missiles which could accurately target their bunkers. They realized that they would not personally survive a nuclear war. I suspect that was it. Perhaps more details will eventually emerge from the scrap pile. But I doubt it. Putin is reimposing authoritarian rule on Russia, the historical norm, and the brief period of partial political and press freedom is now ending and I have no reason to think it will recur. So whatever we know now is probably all we’ll ever know.

    Burlakov’s attitude is worth pondering when someone says it would be “irrational” for some country somewhere to start a war. It does not always look that way from the other side, or to certain decision-makers on the other side.

    (Interestingly, Burlakov did not just sit on the stoop grumbling about the armored and nuclear holocaust he never got to unleash. He apparently got heavily involved in that specialty of the former Soviet Army, organized crime.)

    Posted in Russia | 25 Comments »

    Language, Leadership, and Business

    Posted by David Foster on 17th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Financial Times (4/12) has an interesting article on the use of language in German business. Apparently, many German executives feel that it is easier to talk about things like “growth and ambition” in English than in German. “Imagine I want to say to some people: ‘Let’s go for it, and let’s do it together,'” says the head of a Munich-based consulting firm. “I can say this in English, and people will listen, but if I say it in German it takes up too many words, and (the phrasing) is impossible.”

    A machine-tool CEO also remarks that many German words and phrases have been debased by their use first by the Nazi regime and then by the East German Communist regime. As an example, he uses the word Freundschaft(friendship) which he says under the Communist regime had political implications.

    As a result of such considerations, some German executives are holding business discussions in English even when all the participants are native German speakers.

    Others say that this is all pretty much nonsense and that a good speaker can get his ideas across equally well in either language.

    Is there anything to this theory about the differential effectiveness of the languages? I took 2 years of high school German and more in college, but don’t really feel educated enough in the language to have an opinion. Would love to hear from bilingual German/English speakers on this one.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    Fashion Notes

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Here’s an interview with our friend Manolo the shoe blogger.

    Manolo is not merely witty, he is also a clever businessman and an acute observer of human behavior. And he makes ladies’ shoes interesting to me, which is quite a feat.

    Posted in Society | 3 Comments »

    Groovy Punk Rock Archive

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 16th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Just found out about a most excellent site called Strange Reaction. It has MP3s of many great punk rock oldies. We have Henry Rollins covering Wire’s Ex Lion Tamer. Aging Chicago punks will recall the Effigies Best of all, I heard once again that mighty punk anthem The Enemy by DOA . The greatest punk rock guitar of all time? I think maybe yeah. Blistering solo. Punk rock, with hooks that make you punch your fist in the air, not hardcore. This song was their finest moment, and unlike most of their songs, appears to contain no cussin’.

    Dudes. It took me back.

    (via Metafilter)

    Posted in Music | 3 Comments »

    Riots as Signals

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 16th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Instapundit has provided us with pictures of the anti-Japanese riots in China. This news story quotes the Japanese government complaining that the Chinese knew well in advance that these riots were going to happen and “did nothing” to stop them. Japanese understatement at work. The official explanation is that the Chinese people are angry about Japanese textbooks. Maybe. There may be people who are upset about this. In China, however, an organized and disciplined “riot” like this is anything but a spontaneous expression of popular sentiment. The Chinese government is a hard-nosed authoritarian regime that picks and chooses who will get to have a riot and about what. A real riot would be met with immediate and lethal government force. The Chinese government decided to have “riots” after the United States bombed their embassy in Serbia, as I recall, and these were blatantly done with government cooperation and organization. The Chinese government uses “popular” violence as a way to have plausible deniability when it wants to send a violent signal to a foreign government. So why three weeks in a row of anti-Japanese riots? In this case, the Chinese government appears to be sending the Japanese business community a signal that its interests will be damaged if the Japanese government continues down the path of an anti-Chinese military alliance with the United States. China’s communists are well aware of Lenin’s dictum that the capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with. Lenin was usually right. Why fight the Japanese Navy when you can get its business people to remove it from the fight before the fight begins? Let’s see if the Japanese crack.

    UPDATE: Instapundit has an update linking to the email sent around to organize the “riot”.

    Posted in China | 16 Comments »


    Posted by Ginny on 16th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Joseph Carroll:

    “Memes,” for example, spread or “reproduce” in a way that has some parallels with the spread of genes, but no meme—no idea or cultural image–contains a molecular mechanism adapted by natural selection to replicate itself. Ideas and cultural images are themselves inert. They are “replicated” only by serving as stimuli for psychological processes eventuating in symbolic activity that stimulates other psychological processes. The differences in causal mechanisms between molecular replication and this “memetic” process are subtle but fundamental.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics | 5 Comments »

    Bad Legislation

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Moira Breen provides many links to details of a terrible new Senate Bill, sponsored by John McCain (what a surprise), that would change the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to give Indian tribes an effective veto on the scientific study of all ancient human remains found in the United States. The veto would apply even to remains whose tribal affiliation is unknown.

    You can get the gist of the issue here and here.

    Friends of America’s Past, a pro-science organization, has Congressional contact information here.

    Moira has been following this issue for years. An index to all of her posts about it is here.

    Moira links here and here to other bloggers who are covering this issue.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 15th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Book TV Schedule. C-SPAN 1 schedule. This week’s After Words and Q&A.

    Thomas Sowell, one of the heroes from our masthead, spends an hour with Lamb.
    On C-SPAN 1, Lamb Q[uestions] & Thomas Sowell A[nswers] (8:00 p.m. and again 11:00). Now Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution, Sowell’s Ph.D. in economics is from the University of Chicago. The link (which is the same as above) gives much information. His publications are numerous: the first is Economics and Analysis, published in 1971, and his last, Black Rednecks and White Liberals: And Other Cultural and Ethnic Issues, came out in 2005. Others include The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1999) and A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (1987). (Probably more knowledgeable Chicagoboyz can fill us all in on Sowell’s career and ideas.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off on C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Playing the Sympathy Card

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 15th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Last year I was approached by a woman at work. She was looking to take the training course needed to apply for a CCW license, but she was out of money. She knew that I ran a charity where I would offer the training for free to victims of violent crime, and she was sure that I would help.

    She told me that she was embroiled in a very nasty divorce. Her husband was abusive, violent, out of control. She had eventually taken one beating too much, so she had packed up her kids and moved in to a house she was renting. Sure, the courts had issued a restraining order, but anyone in the self defense trade will tell you that those don’t do much if the perp gets a belly full of beer and decides that they don’t care if they go to jail. Arming yourself against trouble is the only way to stop it sometimes. Her oldest daughter was old enough to be legally considered an adult, so she wanted the training for both of them.

    Alarm bells were going off in my mind as she sang me her song of woe. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve helped hundreds of people who were in trouble. The problem was that she just wasn’t hitting the right notes.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 2 Comments »

    Politics of the Estate Tax

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th April 2005 (All posts by )

    Glenn Reynolds speculates about declining political support for the death tax:

    I think that one difference may be that society does less to “make it possible” for people to get wealthy now. A hundred years ago, or even fifty, the politics of inheritance taxes were different. But then the government mostly defended the country and engaged in various public-good activities, like building roads or supporting research. There was pork, and income transfer, of course, but it was a much smaller part of the picture. So the notion that one was “giving back” to a system that made wealth possible made some sense.

    He’s right, but it’s worse than that. Modern government not only transfers wealth on a grand scale from one group to another, it seeks to make the accumulation of wealth much more difficult in the first place. A quick calculation of how many marginal dollars one has to earn in 2005 vs. 1900 to accumulate an additional dollar of after-tax estate value makes clear how much harder it is now. (And that calculation considers only explicit taxes, not the many regulatory and legal costs — licensing, zoning, environmental regulations, safety regulations, EEOC regulations, lawsuits, etc. — that didn’t exist in the past.) From the perspective of many people who are actually trying to create wealth, government is the enemy. The way to make things better for everyone is to reduce disincentives to wealth creation, not to punish further those who are successful enough to run the government’s gantlet.

    Leftists who write things like “fuck the small businessman” would do well to ask themselves where our society’s wealth comes from. It comes largely from productivity gains based on capital investment. Inheritance is traditionally an important source of such capital. Taxing inheritance reduces the capital stock, because government won’t invest it as effectively as family will, and because productive people have less reason to work hard, save and invest when they can’t share their wealth with their heirs. It’s also wrong to confiscate people’s property.

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 10 Comments »

    The Old Culture Adapts, Seeking Survival Skills

    Posted by Ginny on 15th April 2005 (All posts by )

    In terms of the blog-future, Sullivan links to a Murdoch speech on the role of the internet; he concludes with a challenge:

    I do not underestimate the tests before us. We may never become true digital natives, but we can and must begin to assimilate to their culture and way of thinking. It is a monumental, once-in-a-generation opportunity, but it is also an exciting one, because if we’re successful, our industry has the potential to reshape itself, and to be healthier than ever before.

    The fittest survive, as always, by adapting.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Outstanding Photoblog

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th April 2005 (All posts by )


    (The name refers to the ethnic background of the photographer, not to the subject matter. The photos are from places like Xinjiang and Pakistan.)

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Betting on Euro Constitution Referendum

    Posted by Sulaiman on 14th April 2005 (All posts by )

    The French will soon hold a referendum on the European constitution. Polls, which are usually less reliable than futures markets, show that NON vote is ahead of OUI vote.

    I was interested if there is a betting market on this vote which I think is more important in its impact on the world than the election in Britain. I checked Intrade and couldn’t find anything. Is anyone aware of any other markets?

    Posted in Europe | 13 Comments »