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  • Archive for October, 2007

    Military Justice and the War

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2007 (All posts by )

    Interesting article. NPR tries to spin it against the Bush administration, but it seems to me that the controversy reflects more the politicization of and conflicting goals being pursued by today’s JAG corps. On the one hand the govt biases the Haditha trial in favor of the prosecution. On the other hand (the only side of the issue NPR notices) there are complaints about detainees in Guantanamo — men who could have been summarily executed without legal controversy when they were caught on the battlefield — who are being prosecuted based on confessions extracted by means that would be unacceptable under domestic law.

    The controversy over Guantanamo confessions is really the smallest part of a much larger issue, which NPR ignores and whose resolution is not yet clear, about how we should treat hostile war detainees who don’t fit old legal categories such as POW or civilian internee. The anti-war Left pretends that the only question is whether Bush plays by the rules. But the more important question is how to modernize rules which don’t fit current reality and which make it harder for us to fight. The question of how to modernize these rules, if not resolved, will dog any coming Democratic administration as much as it does the current Republican one. Pretending that Bush is the problem only delays the inevitable reckoning.

    It seems that the JAG community lags the rest of our military in addressing these issues.

    Posted in International Affairs, Law, Law Enforcement, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Goon Squad

    Posted by David Foster on 31st October 2007 (All posts by )

    A speech by David Horowitz at Emory University was shut down by rowdy “protesters.” He was scarcely able to finish a single sentence, and had to leave after only half an hour. More here.

    Credit where credit is due: After the event disintegrated into a shambles, the president of the Muslim Students Association came over to Horowitz at Starbucks and expressed her regret at what had happened. Horowitz opines that most of the disrupters were leftist non-students over the age of 30.

    Maybe so. But this kind of thing happens far too frequently at American universities. There are few other venues in which one could get away with this kind of disruptive behavior. Try it at your local Rotary club and I bet you will find yourself spending the night in jail. Too many American universities have promulgated that idea that no one should ever be exposed to speech that makes them feel “uncomfortable” and have winked at actions like stealing and destroying newspapers with content someone dislikes. The wimp’s veto, the heckler’s veto, and the thug’s veto have all become common in academia. Indeed, there was virtually no old-media coverage of the Emory incident. Apparently, the shutting down of free speech in academia has become so common that it isn’t even news.

    See my Goon Squad thread for many examples of thuggish behavior, especially in academia.

    Following an incident at San Francisco State University, a campus Jewish leader named Laurie Zoloth summed up the situation there iin these words: “This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.”

    If thuggish political behavior is allowed to become the norm in academia, it is only a matter of time until such behavior becomes the norm in the larger society as well.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Leftism | 10 Comments »

    The Democratic Candidates Debate

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th October 2007 (All posts by )

    Somehow I found myself watching part of it. This is how it looked to me:

    Hillary: I have always been against the war, and as soon as I am elected we will begin withdrawing our troops. Except for a few troops who may be needed to guard our embassy. Oh, and fight Al Qaeda. Not more than 150,000 troops, tops. And no more warmongering like what President Bush is always doing. Oh yeah, Iran had better not try anything funny. But if they do, it’ll be President Bush’s fault for not being nice to them. And as for those wascally Iwanians, I promise to promise to consider to do my very best. Maybe.

    Obama: I am more against the war than you are. Did I say war? What war? Don’t let the neocons fool you with their fearmongering. Remember, the USA can only remain strong by ignoring threats. For us to recognize those threats would be like forfeiting a game of chicken, and we would lose our national manhood. And even though we have no enemies, I pledge to negotiate with them. Except Pakistan, which I would treat differently, though I’m not quite sure how.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Humor, International Affairs, Politics, War and Peace | 10 Comments »

    Robert Goulet, RIP

    Posted by Ginny on 30th October 2007 (All posts by )

    The speeches from Camelot were riveting, even on a small black and white screen, as Richard Burton recited them, sitting in a quiet spotlight beside Dick Cavett. Julie Andrews seemed made to show us what England and youth and the lusty month of May were all about. But holding his own with them was the darkly handsome Robert Goulet – born in Massachusetts but of French Canadian stock and apparently perfectly cast. Indeed, to many of us who never set foot in a Broadway theater, Robert Goulet remained Lancelot. The mere shadows of what these three must have been in person, they could still ground the stage of Ed Sullivan and the other great variety shows of the fifties and sixties. But if Burton’s quiet reading deepened the shadows on Cavett, Goulet’s voice filled the speakers on our old tv sets that were only capable of hinting at his power.

    Forty years later, his voiceovers endear him to our grand children. And older, we laugh with him, as Goulet‘s loose humor enriched commercials for ESPN and Emerald Nuts. The romantic lead matured and he charmed with the quirky humor of his guest spot on Police Squad! and then Naked Gun with fellow Canadian Leslie Neilson. At 73, that great baritone has died, waiting on a lung transplant. But to many of my generation he remains the dashing and seductive knight, his eyes following Burton, betraying the complexity of admiration and the difficulty of restraint.

    YouTube houses Goulet’s moving rendition of another of the great classics of the high water decade in musical theater -the “Soliloquy” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel.

    (And perhaps the juxtaposition of Porter Wagoner and Robert Goulet, of T. H. White and Dolly Parton, of Zucker and Hee Haw! might hint at the rich hybrids that grew from Albion’s seed planted on our shore.)

    Posted in Music, Obits | 1 Comment »

    Power… and the naive

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 29th October 2007 (All posts by )

    Two frequent topics intersect in this Wall Street Journal article from today, October 29th titled “Power Firms Grapple with Tough Decisions”. The topics are 1) journalists that don’t understand what they are writing about 2) the impossibility of improving our US infrastructure in today’s legal and regulatory climate.

    The journalist writes that “A year ago, it looked as if 100 coal-fired plants might get built.”

    Only an incredibly naive person who didn’t understand anything about the history of the US energy industry would have assumed for an instant that ONE HUNDRED coal-fired plants could possibly be built in the US. Let’s sum up the power situation for you:

    1) NUCLEAR – great, unless you worry about storing the radioactive waste
    2) HYDRO – great, unless you love fish and babbling brooks
    3) COAL – great, unless you worry about global warming
    4) NATURAL GAS – great, unless you are paying the bill
    5) SOLAR – great, unless you need power on peak and the sun isn’t shining
    6) WIND – great, unless you don’t like the way they look, slice birds, and the fact that they are unreliable on peak
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Environment | 18 Comments »

    Porter Wagoner, RIP

    Posted by Ginny on 29th October 2007 (All posts by )

    The old gospel songs seem right on occasions like this; here is Wagoner with the Willis Brothers doing I’ll Fly Away.

    After eighty years, fifty of them on the Grand Ole Opry, Porter Wagoner has died. Tom Spaulding eulogizes: “He lived the life, sang about the life, and he went down swinging.” That life was full of hits; this year’s album, Wagonmaster is reviewed here. CMT notes that: “Porter Wagoner, the Thin Man from the West Plains, is a case of an artist often ahead of his time who has always appeared hopelessly behind the times.” And here’s Wagoner’s “Green, Green Grass of Home.”

    For this (and so much else) I’m indebted to the husband I found in the days of Dripping Springs. He introduced me to the music of those tough old singers who perform – writing, singing, playing – until they die because they want to – and because they have to. Impelled by whatever lies in that hard stubborn core within, they have to be who they are – in Nudie suits, maybe, but always, really, themselves: authentic sounds and authentic words clothed in sequins and huge belt buckles.

    Posted in Music, Obits, Video | 1 Comment »

    Everybody Get On

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 28th October 2007 (All posts by )

    Most people who have flown are familiar with the Southwest Airlines “cattle call”. For those who don’t know what it is, I will give a quick explanation.

    Southwest doesn’t give assigned seats for their flights, rather they issue a letter to you, A B or C. When you get to the gate, they simply say “group A get on” and that is what happens. Those who check in earlier receive the preferential section and therefore the best shot at getting those invaluable exit row seats. The problem with this was that people would begin lining up hours in advance of the flight. They had separate lines for the A, B and C sections. If you were in the rear of the section A people, there is no shot at the more valuable seats, but at least you could still get an aisle or window.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, Business, Customer Service | 3 Comments »

    Investing Here and Abroad

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 27th October 2007 (All posts by )

    Recently I was reviewing the performance of the (small) trusts that I manage for my nieces and nephews. The site contains the performance and stock selections for each of the three portfolios if you are interested (not plugging it for cash… no advertisements there).

    A friend of mine said that I had beaten the relative benchmarks in my fund performance and I was feeling pretty good about myself. However, I realized that the benchmarks that we are commonly using, the NASDAQ and NYSE, didn’t really apply because so many of the stocks that I selected were foreign companies – thus the relative benchmarks would be the high-flying international indexes where my performance would be comparatively… retarded, to use a politically-incorrect term.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading | Comments Off on Investing Here and Abroad

    “Eating Your Own Dog Food”… or not

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 27th October 2007 (All posts by )

    There is a common business phrase called “Eating your own dog food” which basically says that you are using the same systems, products or processes as your customers. In this sense you are in the same situation as your customer, taking the same risks, and suffering the same negative outcomes (should they occur). This behavior generally aligns the interests of the company with that of its customers.

    Recently collateralized debt obligations have been in the news. These products were created by Wall Street firms and then pitched to their customers as low-risk ways to get a higher return than traditional “vanilla” bonds, CD’s and T bills. A number of asset based mortgages, for example, were grouped into a single security and sold in “tranches”, with each tranche having different risk characteristics and corresponding returns.

    Unless you don’t have access to media of any type you’ve probably heard about the great credit crunch that is occurring right now. Many CDO’s are stuck in the pipeline of the various companies or off-balance sheet entities that were selling them because demand dried up overnight; those that are already sold are being re-rated by the debt rating agencies at much lower credit levels (one recently fell all the way from “AAA” to “junk” in a single swoop) causing many customers and many Wall Street firms to swallow big losses.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | Comments Off on “Eating Your Own Dog Food”… or not

    Chicagoboyz Forum

    Posted by Jonathan on 27th October 2007 (All posts by )

    There have been signs of life in our discussion forum, which had been dormant for a while. Please note that the forum is very much still functioning and that anyone who wants to start or add to a discussion there is encouraged to do so.

    Commenter Jose Angel has just posted some typically thoughtful comments about a journal article, that might serve as the nucleus of a new discussion.

    Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on Chicagoboyz Forum

    Chicagoboyz Are Musical

    Posted by Jonathan on 27th October 2007 (All posts by )

    Not the Chicagoboyz.

    (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Chicagoboyz Are Musical

    Those Nutty Brits

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th October 2007 (All posts by )

    I always thought that the British were mad because of what they ate for breakfast. Kippers, bloaters and liver.

    I know that not every person from England eats that stuff, but c’mon! “Bloaters”?

    Back in the days when I worked for the police, we would have to fingerprint corpses to see if we could figure out who they were. Bloaters were what we called the ones who had been in the sun for awhile. You had to skin the finger tips and stretch the skin on wooden dowels to get a print.

    No, I’m not saying that the English are cannibals that prefer food they don’t have to chew. I’m just not about to put anything in my mouth if the word “bloat” can be used as a descriptive.

    But I have found a completely non-gastronomic reason to think the Brits are completely crazy. They are sending their juvenile delinquents to juvenile court. What I mean by that is not a court that specializes in hearing cases where the accused is a child, but a court where the judges are children themselves.

    The idea behind this scheme, if the word “idea” is appropriate, seems to be that young punks don’t listen to adults anyway. If the judge is also a kid, then maybe a little peer pressure will get them to walk the straight and narrow.

    I always wanted to visit England. You know, do some sightseeing, visit the points of interest, enjoy all that history. If this is any indication of where British society is headed, I better hurry up and get that done before the place starts to look like it does in 28 Days Later. Except that they won’t need any virus that turns people into mindless zombies to wreck the joint.

    (Hat tip to Ace. This essay is cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Law, Law Enforcement | 15 Comments »

    Management Advice From 1797

    Posted by David Foster on 24th October 2007 (All posts by )

    Yesterday I went to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age….not a great movie, but worth seeing, and better than you would think from reading the reviews. The battle scenes with the Armada reminded me of something written by a Spanish government official, which I posted about a couple of years ago. Don Domingo Perez de Grandallana was writing about the battle of Cape St Vincent, in 1797, but the factors he discusses were likely also major influences on the fate of the Armada, 200 years earlier. And they are also major influences today, 200 years later, on the fate of many efforts in business and government.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior, Management | 20 Comments »

    Today’s Crab

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd October 2007 (All posts by )

    Can’t get enough crab? Visit Chicagoboyz for all of your crab needs.

    (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    “Recursive Self-Doubt” and Decisionmaking

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd October 2007 (All posts by )

    A very insightful post.

    Rob’s argument also partly explains why individuals tend to become increasingly risk-averse with age, since most people know more than they did when they were younger and can therefore more easily rationalize inaction. Perhaps, then, older people tend to be too risk-averse, and might accomplish more if they were more aware of this cognitive bias.

    (via David Foster)

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior | 5 Comments »

    More “Simple” Old Technology

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd October 2007 (All posts by )

    Here is a page of instructions for mounting solid-rubber tires on 19th Century bicycles. And as this video shows, riding such a bike was no picnic either.

    Related: “Simple” Old Technology

    Posted in History, Tech | Comments Off on More “Simple” Old Technology

    Children of Light, Children of Darkness

    Posted by Zenpundit on 22nd October 2007 (All posts by )

    The Atlantic Monthly has a sometimes thoughtful, at times irritating, article by Paul Elie on the late theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, and the political struggle being waged by the Left, Middle and Right over his intellectual legacy. An excerpt:

    “The biblical sense of history can make Niebhur seem like something other than a liberal. In the ’60’s, his religiosity made him suspect on the New Left, and in the years after his death, his work resonated with the thinkers who were turning against that era’s liberal reforms”

    It wasn’t Niebuhr’s religiosity that made him suspect with the New Left but his anti-totalitarianism, something that a movement deeply afflicted with an authoritarian certitude and spasmodic nihilism could ill abide; indeed, they still seem to despise Niebuhr for his unwillingness to equivocate about Leftist tyranny. Elie is correct though, that the original Neoconservatives (the ones who actually made an intellectual journey from Left to Right) such as Norman Podhoretz had high regard for Niebuhr’s writings. I myself first heard of Niebuhr from reading David Stockman’s bitter memoir The Triumph of Politics. Stockman may have repudiated Ronald Reagan but he remained true, almost adulatory, to Niebuhr:

    “The scales fell from my eyes as I turned those pages [ of Children of Light, Children of Darkness – ZP] Niebuhr was a withering critic of utopianism in every form. Man is incapable of perfection, he argued, because his estate as a free agent permits-indeed ensures -both good and evil…Through Niebuhr I dimly glimpsed the ultimate triumph of politics” ( Stockman,24).

    I do not profess to be an expert on Reinhold Niebuhr or his philosophy, having read only one of his books, but the polemical war over Niebuhr that Elie critiques has, in my view, an air of ahistoricality to it. Perhaps with not the completely unhinged lunacy of the similar debate over Leo Strauss, but like Strauss, Niebuhr has been lifted by both sides out of the mid-20th century intellectual context that illuminated his ideas, in order to serve as a barricade for the political battle over Iraq and the Bush administration.

    My gut reaction is that Niebuhr, were he alive today, would be writing things that would not sit well with some of his would-be reinterpreters and with more nuance and wisdom than for which his contemporary critics give him credit.


    Peter Beinart, who comes in for much criticism from Elie for the following link, on Reinhold Niebuhr.

    Cross-posted at Zenpundit

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Christianity, History, Media, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Religion, War and Peace | 1 Comment »


    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd October 2007 (All posts by )

    (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Jump

    One Day We Will Video Everything in Our Public Lives

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd October 2007 (All posts by )

    Well, maybe. Here’s a situation where a video record came in handy:

    Ouch. The caption accompanying the video explains: This video was captured by a woman riding on her motorcycle. She was wearing a helmet camera (visit just in case anything happened to her. Unfortunately it did. The black car locked it’s brakes and swerved due to slowing traffic. The person driving the black car later tried to blame the accident on the cyclist. Fortunetly the woman had everything on video and was able to prove she was not at fault.
    Seems like it was a good idea for the motorcyclist to install the video camera. Why not put them in automobiles etc? That would probably be a good idea, but I don’t know if people will want to do it if it’s required, say, by insurance companies or legislation — anything that looks like a black box where only Big Brother gets to access the data will be a tough sell. But such concerns evaporate if individuals control their own tapes. As video cameras become cheaper, more people are going to think, Why not have one in my car/front porch/living room? You never know when it will be useful.

    Posted in Law Enforcement, Predictions, Society, Tech, Video | 1 Comment »

    Prepaid Medical Service: An Interesting Business Model

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd October 2007 (All posts by )

    Via Rachel comes a WSJ column about a physician who charges his patients flat, monthly rates rather than billing by appointment or procedure. This seems like it might be a good system. It resembles monthly plans for cellphone service, where service providers makes money in part because many subscribers use fewer than their allotted minutes, and subscribers who go over the limit pay a higher rate for the marginal minutes. (The fact that the prepaid medical plan doesn’t cover everything is its way of dealing with high-demand, high-cost customers who are analogous to cellphone users who exceed their allotted minutes.)

    Naturally, the innovative physician’s business is under attack from regulators and insurance companies, but it appears that he is more than holding his own (one insurer is considering offering a plan to complement the prepaid service). It will be interesting to see if his business model is viable in the long term and in markets other than the one that he serves.

    Posted in Business | 4 Comments »

    A Great Find

    Posted by Zenpundit on 21st October 2007 (All posts by )

    Blogfriend Eddie (who credited Abu Muqawama) sent in a link to a Mother Jones issue that has a veritable roundtable of experts commenting on withdrawing from Iraq. I was very impressed with their selection; below are a few links to some of the experts who would be of the most interest to the readers here:

    Colonel T.X. Hammes
    Colonel H.R. McMaster
    Lt. Colonel John Nagl
    Dr. Andrew Bacevich
    Dr. Bary Posen
    Dr. John Pike
    General Anthony Zinni
    Dr. Anthony Cordesman
    Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski

    Give it a look.

    Cross-posted at Zenpundit

    Posted in Iraq, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Neo-Neocon on the family that eats together

    Posted by Ginny on 21st October 2007 (All posts by )

    Neo-neocon concludes her post on family dinners:

    My family had its share of problems, and our meals sometimes ended in yelling and/or tears. But mealtime was the time when we most felt like a family, and just as often there was a lot of laughter. Come to think of it, sometimes political discussions would happen at the dinner table as well, perhaps fostering the development of the future blogger in me—one had to learn to defend one’s position with a certain amount of logic and grace

    The importance of this tradition can not, I suspect, be overestimated. My experience, too, was not always positive in my childhood (if it is the one time a family comes together to talk, it can also be one time the family comes together to fight). But as far as building a sense of the familial, the importance of nurturing of both ideas and bodies, little comes close. Lee Harris discusses this more philosophically and Carmen Strache more lyrically (both quoted in this old post).

    Posted in Blogging, Personal Narrative | Comments Off on Neo-Neocon on the family that eats together

    Kilcullen on TV

    Posted by Ginny on 21st October 2007 (All posts by )

    Kilcullen, the Australian adviser to Col. Petraeus, has been mentioned several times here. His television appearances lately include an interview with Charlie Rose and a panel discussion with Ali Allawi (former Iraqi Minister of Defense and author of “The Occupation of Iraq”), Jon Lee Anderson (“The Fall of Baghdad”), Phebe Marr (“The Modern History of Iraq”), and George Packer (“The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq”) at the New Yorker Festival. Played twice this weekend on C-Span, it will be repeated tomorrow morning at 6:00 EST. Packer’s profile of Kilcullen demonstrates the New Yorker‘s encouragement of a certain interesting style and its willingness to give a writer space. Earlier references from the extraordinarily knowledgeable Zenpundit: Cutting Edge Military Theory: A Primer (Part I.) and Colonel Kilcullen, the “Surge” and The Guardian

    Posted in Iraq, Middle East, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 3 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 19th October 2007 (All posts by )

    (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)
    UPDATE: See also here.

    Posted in Photos | 7 Comments »

    What are You Going to Do About It?

    Posted by John Jay on 18th October 2007 (All posts by )

    David Foster’s post got me to thinking about the ex-Mayor of Bogota. Unfortunately, my real world experiences are closer to this guy’s observations than what happened in Bogota. In general, I like the Mockus approach to re-establishing an atmosphere of intolerance for incivility. Being a libertarian, I prefer to rely on social opprobrium to discourage behavior that I think is fairly negative, but not negative enough to warrant giving the government more power to regulate.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Society | 3 Comments »