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  • Archive for April, 2008

    More Real Estate Trouble in the Condo Market

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 20th April 2008 (All posts by )

    My neighborhood, the River North area of Chicago, has seen an explosion of condominium developments over the last decade. Loft buildings and business warehouses were the first to be converted, and then purpose-built high rise condominiums began to populate the neighborhood. While Chicago likely isn’t at the same frenzy level as South Beach in Florida, we certainly have a vast overhang of unsold and in-process condominiums on the market right now. Below you can see some of the recent construction (not all condominiums, a lot of it is office space) including the Trump Tower (on the left) as well as other developments. The “beige” building in front has a forlorn “Condos” sign at the top.

    Today I was reading the Sunday Chicago Tribune real estate section when I noticed an article titled “Credit Getting Even Tighter for Condominium Buyers”. If you own a condominium and are interested in its value or are consider buying a condominium I strongly suggest that you research this issue in greater depth.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Personal Finance | 5 Comments »

    A Call For Radical Transparency in Politics

    Posted by Zenpundit on 19th April 2008 (All posts by )

    My friend Bruce Kesler, who keeps a sharper eye on the fine details of American politics than I do, is dead square right in a recent post at Democracy Project that I reproduce here in full:

    Hidden Foreign Contributions Affect US Elections

    US election law forbids non-Americans to contribute directly to federal candidates, and qualified donations above $200 are available to public scrutiny. There is a huge loophole – or, more correctly, shroud – over contributions by foreigners to US non-profits, who heavily shape public discussion affecting our elections – and other policies. (There’s, also, some indication that the $200 cut-off for full disclosure of contributions to our campaigns may be another loophole being exploited by some foreigners.)
     
    IRS Form 990 generally requires that non-profits list contributors and their addresses who give $5000 or more. However, non-profits are not required to publicly divulge who they are (with the exception of private foundations and 527’s).
     
    Non-profits include 501(c)(4)’s, which are estimated to spend in 2008 well more than the $424-million that 527’s spent to influence the 2004 elections.
     
    Another area of concern is donations made by foreigners to our universities. Although New York State requires that such contributions be revealed, there is no enforcement and filings are often not made.
     
    In Britain, it is estimated, more funding comes from the MidEast for Islamic Studies departments than from the government.

    Ministers labelled Islamic studies a “strategic subject” and said the “effective and accurate teaching” of it in universities could help community cohesion and counter extremism.

    Similar concerns have been raised in the US about the influence of MidEast contributors on our universities’ curriculums, and the faculty who influence public discussion. See here and here, for examples.
     
    Former presidents Carter and Clinton have received tens of millions in donations, and more, from foreign sources for their foundations, yet the public knows very little about from whom or how much. Meanwhile, Carter and Clinton take frequent public stands on public policy and candidates for office.
     
    A draft has been released of a revised IRS Form 990. It increases exposure on governance issues, but retains the shroud over contributors to non-profits. At the very least, foreign contributors should be revealed publicly, at least for amounts over the $200 of election laws.
     
    You can send your comments to the IRS during the comment period. It’s as simple as an email to Form990Revision@irs.gov

    Bravo to Bruce for highlighting this important but generally unrecognized problem.

    One of the ironies of Beltway incumbent preferred campaign finance regulation like the odious McCain-Feingold law is that it manages to combine restrictions of the political activities and free speech rights of American citizens while granting opacity to wealthy foreigners who seek to influence political discourse here through generous donations to foundations, educational organizations, think tanks, universities, presidential libraries and other institutions that shape our intellectual life. It is completely understandable, given the potential impact of American policies on the rest of the world that other states and their sundry notables would seek to make their voice heard here. To a certain extent, when it’s above board public diplomacy and cultural exchanges, it’s even a good thing. What’s unacceptable is that foreign interests can often buy such influence – which is what they are really doing – under the radar or even behind the shield of legal secrecy. If some of our finest universities were people then they would have already had to register as foreign agents a long, long, loooooooong, time ago.

    The same might be said of some former presidents. Or of presidential candidates.

    The answer here is not to go on a fruitless legal jihad to ban foreign money, which at times does get turned toward humanitarian or genuinely educational purposes but to require radical transparency of our think tanks, universities, charities and other institutions enjoying tax deductible status but are dedicated to indirectly influencing the political process or policy formation. If an American institution or scholar wants to shill for the Wahabbi Lobby by working for a tank on the take from a senior Saudi prince, or accept grants from PLA-affiliated Chinese corporations, Japanese billionaires, mobbed-up Russian “businessmen” or other foreign sources, fine, but a highly visible disclaimer to that fact ought to be mandatory. If Carnegie or AEI or Harvard departments are advising presidential candidates on Mideast policy then contributions emanating from that region are relevant to the discussion.

    If accepting the check in public is cause for dismay then there’s a word for what’s really going on:

    Graft.

    Cross-posted at Zenpundit

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, International Affairs, Politics, USA | 2 Comments »

    Patriot’s Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, Political Philosophy, RKBA, USA | Comments Off on Patriot’s Day

    Don’t Be a Grammar Putz

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th April 2008 (All posts by )

    This is a pretty good list of peeves: 10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid

    Of course there are many other common grammar and syntax howlers, and of course everyone is encouraged to share his favorites in the comments.

    (Via Tom Smith, who adds some good examples of his own.)

    Posted in Diversions, Rhetoric | 17 Comments »

    2003/2008

    Posted by Ginny on 19th April 2008 (All posts by )

    A&L links to a Hoover essay by Lee Harris, “Al Quaeda’s Fantasy Ideology.” His definition of this fantasy might seem to have a wider application and interest to Chicagoboyz. That he has been making these arguments and we’ve been considering them for a long while now was brought home to me when searching our site for “fantasy ideology.” This seemed more in Shannon’s line but the first “catch” was an old, angry, and interestingly prescient post by Lex inspired by a current (at that time – Sept. 22, 2003) Lee Harris essay. Here is a passage from Harris’s current essay, in which he describes how he came to understand this fantasy mindset through the arguments of a friend of his forty years ago. The friend chose a completely non-persuasive anti-war (Vietnam of course) strategy and Harris explains why:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iraq | 2 Comments »

    It Defies Belief!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 19th April 2008 (All posts by )

    This news article reports that 20 people were shot in Chicago in a single night.

    But that is impossible! Guns are very carefully controlled in Illinois, and they are even more restricted in Chicago! They are so worried about illegal guns that even my own concealed carry license is null and void in the state, and I have to leave all of my perfectly legal guns at home if I visit my fellow Chicago Boyz!

    Must be a miracle, all those guns just falling from the sky like criminal manna from heaven.

    Truly we are in an age of wonders.

    (Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket. I figured that the self defense enthusiasts who visit there would be interested in this news.)

    Posted in Chicagoania, Crime and Punishment, RKBA | 6 Comments »

    Yale Abortion “Art”

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Call me old fashioned, but I preferreds the good old days when artists were driven insane by syphilis instead of politics.

    Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

    Interesting Data

    Posted by David Foster on 18th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Presidential campaign contributions by the executives of some major investment banks.

    (via Big Picture)

    Posted in Markets and Trading, Politics | Comments Off on Interesting Data

    Energy Mess, Continued

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 18th April 2008 (All posts by )

    UNRELIABLE SERVICE

    Today’s Chicago Tribune carried an article reflecting a reality that will become more and more common as time goes by. The article is titled “Deerfield files suit against ComEd” in their Friday, April 18 edition. Deerfield is a suburb of Chicago and ComEd is the local electrical distribution company that provides power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon. ComEd’s “solution” is to raise rates to fix the problem, while Exelon’s stock is at an all-time high due to the money that they make selling power that costs them very little to generate (our broken regulatory system in Illinois at work).

    The city of Deerfield claims that their electrical supply is unreliable. They state that they have had 1,377 outages between 2000 and 2007 and only 13% of these outages were weather related. These outages typically caused flooding due to shut off sump pumps, food to become spoiled, and are a general nuisance.

    This type of activity will grow more common in the future, since lack of continuity in generation causes a lot of the outages (poorly run and maintained distribution and transmission systems also contribute significantly to these outages). I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future homes had built-in back up generating capacity, especially high end homes, to insulate them from at least short term fluctuations in the grid.

    NEW JERSEY NUCLEAR PLANT

    New Jersey is also considering building another nuclear plant, their first plant since 1973, according to this article. While I applaud Corzine (their governor, the guy who got into a car accident without a seat belt & almost died) for trying to do this, the odds of this plant ever seeing the light of day are near zero. The NIMBY’s are already going nuts – from the article:

    “Environmental groups were sharply critical of Mr. Corzine’s 15-year energy plan. Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said the governor “needs to step up and lead New Jersey to a cleaner, greener future with more wind, solar and better energy efficiency goals.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation | 5 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 18th April 2008 (All posts by )

    I have been writing and reading a lot about the resurgent cougar population here in North America. The story of the cougar being shot in the city of Chicago by the CPD interests me greatly. I am still waiting to hear if this is the same cougar that had been spotted here in Southern Wisconsin. If that is true, that cat walked from South Dakota, through Minnesota, Southern Wisconsin, perhaps through Wilmette, IL, and south to Chicago. Amazing.

    I am no defender of the famously corrupt CPD, but they did the right thing by shooting that animal. If they did not it would only be a matter of time before the lion started eating dogs, cats, and humans – especially in an area like Chicago that doesn’t have enough of the lion’s normal things to chew on, like small game and most importantly, deer.

    The Chicago cops could have made up the story about the cougar charging the officers before they put it down, but it could also be true. Either way they did everyone a huge favor by killing it. I am interested to see the reaction by many people on blogs and in the media. Many, many people who don’t understand how these animals operate are beating up on the CPD for their actions.

    As I was reading some of these reactions I came upon this gem from this story in the LA Times:

    I am totally disgusted by Chicago Police and will report them to PETA for their horrible attack on an innocent animal.

    After cleaning up my computer screen from the spray of vitamin water that I expelled, I chuckled for about five more minutes and then came up with four words to respond to this poor, misguided individual: GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

    Cross Posted at LITGM.

    Posted in Environment | 8 Comments »

    Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 18th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Megan McArdle is upset by something that Roy Edroso, a writer for The Village Voice, has said about her. He called her a “libstick libertarian”, which she feels is a misogynistic statement.

    Well, it is a sexist comment! Considering that Mr. Edroso let it slip in an article where he rates ten Conservative blogs as to their Stupid to Evil ratio, Megan seems to be most incensed that he would be considering her femininity as a factor. What would being female have to do with being either stupid or evil?

    She has a point, but that isn’t what I want to discuss. What puzzles me is how Mr. Edroso could have missed including The Chicago Boyz in his list!

    Aren’t we Evil enough? We certainly try! I’m a gun-toting self defense instructor, and I even teach violent crime survivors how to shoot their disadvantaged attackers without charging them anything. To a New York liberal writing for a Leftist propaganda rag, that should put me somewhere above Joe McCarthy and just a little lower than Pol Pot. I mean, c’mon!

    And stupid? I have bathtubs full of stupid at home, just in case a Village Voice columnist comes on by and wants to borrow a gallon or two. There are a few thousand rounds of ammunition in my living room alone, and I keep the guns used in the self defense class in my basement. According to those discredited studies the anti-gun lobby keeps quoting, I should have accidentally shot myself and every member of my family a few dozen times over by now. The fact that I haven’t shot anyone yet can probably be taken by a Liberal as proof that I am so stupid that I can’t even screw up right! If, that is, they can get over the fact that I am so stupid that I own guns in the first place.

    And let us not forget my fellow Chicago Boyz! I doubt that any of them will be able to rise to the lofty heights of both Stupidity and Evility that I have achieved, but they all have their own geniuses in these areas. I figure that our combined talents creates a giant black hole that sucks all Goodness and Smartiness out of just about anyone unfortunate enough to glance at the title bar.

    So the next time Mr. Edroso is compiling his little list, he should first stop on by and see what’s cookin’ with The Boyz.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Blogging, Diversions, Humor, Leftism | 15 Comments »

    Digressions, again

    Posted by Ginny on 18th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Much discussion today has been whether or not Obama should have been willing to sit on a board with Ayers. I can’t see why people should have to justify that kind of connection. But much discussion begs the bigger question, shifts grounds. A wife who sets up panels on which these friends can pontificate, a candidate who announces in the friend’s living room all imply a weightier connection. And the whole board thing seems a less innocuous when it gives charitable money to those who fund a board member’s election bid. And then there is money for Rashid Khalidi, but of course he needs a larger megaphone and Obama recognizes his charitable duty to provide it with other’s funds.

    I’d like to point out, though admitting it’s pretty much a distinction without a difference, that Bill Ayers is a professor in an education department and not an English one. Unhappily, this reinforces Lex’s comment to my earlier post – radicals were wise to hi-jack education departments. And perhaps they were most of all wise in making sure that very little understanding of history, political theory, or even literature was rich enough to lead students to the “restlessness” of the educated and aware.

    Not that, mind you, my restless students today, taking a long time to find the majesty of Sophocles and the tragedy of Oedipus, didn’t make me long for some Ritalin. (Many were, eventually, moved. I’m no expert on Sophocles or film, but I never tire of Michael Pennington, Claire Bloom, John Gielgud performing the old story. And even my restless students eventually became awed, moved by the inevitability of fate and tragedy.) I would be interested in knowing if others have a version they have enjoyed – those tapes are wearing out. And Obama himself, seem strangely fated – trying to run from the feckless nature of his grandfather, his father and yet denigrating his more dutiful grandmother, leaving his mother out of his narrative. Who is he? Well, he’s half-white, raised by whites. He’s a lot of other things, too. But for all the elegance of the fall of his suits, he doesn’t seem at ease with who he is. The anger from being on-edge leads to tensions; its effect underlies the grievances we heard today.

    Posted in Academia, Elections | Comments Off on Digressions, again

    I Won’t Ask My Maiden Aunt to Knit Me One of These

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 17th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Ever feel a bit chilly while you type away at the keyboard?

    I do every so often. But then I just turn the heat up a little and let the furnace perform the function for which it was designed. After all, I’m not living in an electricity free yurt on the wind swept steppes.

    But I can’t control the temperature if I’m visiting a public place, nor can I safeguard my privacy if someone should decide to look over my shoulder while I’m blogging on my laptop at my local shooting range which has a wifi hotspot. But artist Rebecca Stern has a solution.

    knitpron.jpg

    This is something that she knit for her own use, and it doesn’t appear that she is marketing them. So you are out of luck if you are desperate to appear in public as if you have your head inserted into a cow’s orange rectum.

    For the record, I would never be caught dead in something like that. It would destroy my situational awareness, something that is a Cardinal sin for anyone interested in self defense. But, more importantly, I certainly don’t want to give anyone yet another reason to have a laugh at my expense.

    Posted in Diversions | 13 Comments »

    Book Report: The Beast in the Garden, Part Two

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 16th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Part one is here.

    As mentioned in the part one post I am doing more of a book report rather than the typical ChicagoBoyz book review. The reason for this is that I am just in the beginning stages of learning about cougars, their habitat and their ways. IMHO you can’t really review a book if you don’t know the subject. Recently a cougar was shot dead in Roscoe Village, just outside of Chicago. As of this writing it appears that this cougar was wild, not a released pet.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Environment | 27 Comments »

    Calling All 12-Year-Old Boys…

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Here is some important news from Japan!

    Posted in Humor | 3 Comments »

    Carbon Emissions

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 15th April 2008 (All posts by )

    The US is known as “The Saudi Arabia of Coal”. We have massive amounts of coal deposits within our borders.

    If you look at photos of Dubai with all the skyscrapers and massive construction or read about Russia, likely the most expensive place to live today in the entire world, you see countries whose economies and wealth are being buoyed by commodity wealth. While there are also downsides to riding on commodities, there are positive instances of well run countries (i.e. the UK with North Sea gas and oil) benefiting from their commodity wealth.

    The US has basically stopped building coal plants due to environmental concerns. Sure, there are a few coal plants being built here and there (I profile an Illinois coal plant under construction at this post) but the energy is basically dead in its tracks. According to this excellent analysis (which I highly recommend reading in full) from the National Energy Technology Laboratory, here is a summary:

    “Actual plant capacity, commissioned since 2000, has been far less than new capacity announced; the year 2002 report of announcements reflected a schedule of over 36,000 MW to be installed by 2007, whereas ≈ 4,500 MW (12%) were achieved. The trend over several years has reflected the bulk of power plant developments shifting out in time due to project delays Delays and cancellations have been attributed to regulatory uncertainty (regarding climate change) or strained project economics due to escalating costs in the industry.”

    Beyond typical NIMBY activities and our broken deregulation system, a key factor stopping construction of new plants are the emissions and ties to warming by environmental groups.

    However, this recent article by the BBC (a fairly reliable source, historically) says that China is now the world’s top carbon polluter, and probably passed the USA back in 2006-7. China, of course, has no problem whatsoever in putting up coal plants and sensibly (from an economic perspective) utilizes coal heavily since they have their own deposits and don’t have to import fuel, while coal is also a proven technology for power generation. There are various accounts of their coal construction but I continuously see the reference to “a plant a week” but I would have to do more research to verify those claims; in any case many sources point to a massive construction boom of coal plants in China.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation | 6 Comments »

    Going Too Far

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 14th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Long time readers know that I have devoted a large chunk of my life (and income) to aiding innocent people gain the skills they need to fight their way through a violent criminal attack. I count it as my life’s work.

    Obviously, I have a great deal of concern for the welfare of anyone who is a potential victim. Children in particular. As civilized people, we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

    But this admirable desire to protect children can lead to some extreme abuses of government power.

    Case in point is this news article, which discusses a proposed law in Maine. If it passes, then “visual sexual aggression” against children will become a felony.

    “Visual sexual aggression”? What does that mean? It means you can go to jail if you are observed to look at children in a public place.

    Dr. Helen, who first blogged about this article, asks some very pointed questions. What is the difference between simply watching children in a public place, perhaps at a mall or city park, and actual visual sexual aggression? Who determines that, exactly?

    Dr. Helen also points out that women will probably never run afoul of this law, since it is a treasured myth of our culture that women are never guilty of sexual abuse. But what about men like me, a big ol’ hairy-scary guy who is physically confident, and who always tries my best to be aware of everyone in sight? Do I have to start staring at the ground whenever I’m out in the open air, eyes demurely downcast like a woman in a country where Sharia holds sway? Do I have to wear a burkha next?

    How in the world do you defend yourself against the accusation that you were gazing at a child with “visual sexual aggression”? “Sure, officer, I was watching the kids. But they were getting pretty close to the edge of the frozen pond, and I didn’t see their parents around. What was I supposed to do, just walk away and trust that Darwinian forces would strengthen the species?”

    Many of the rights taken for granted by the general population are forever denied to those convicted of a felony. You can no longer vote in a national election, for example, and most state and local elections are also closed to the convicted.

    What is worse in my eyes is that it becomes a crime to possess a firearm, the very tool needed to protect yourself and your loved ones. I don’t object to this restriction where violent criminal offenders are concerned, but to forever be made helpless because one was seen to be gazing at children in public? Might as well start locking men up for walking down the street, simply because they are men who have the gall to wander around in public spaces, and stop all pretense of trying to actually protect anyone from crime.

    I don’t think anyone here will be surprised to find out that the state Representative who proposed the law, Dawn Hill, is a Democrat.

    (Hat tip to Glenn.)

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Law, Law Enforcement | 6 Comments »

    Not Chicken

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th April 2008 (All posts by )


    Miami Fire Dept.

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Dancing Fast and Squinting Hard

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th April 2008 (All posts by )

    I don’t read Industrial Equipment News on a regular basis (who does?), but they printed a fascinating article by Mark Devlin that is worth checking out.

    Mr. Devlin took umbrage at a recent paper written by two sociologist PhD’s in association with the University of Oxford. In the paper, the argument is made that there is something about engineers that causes them to become murderous, right wing radicals in greater numbers than other professions. This is due to the fact that most of the movers and shakers of international Islamic terrorist organizations were trained as engineers.

    The 800 pound gorilla that the two sociologists are trying oh-so-hard to ignore is that an engineering degree might just be something sought after by people who are desperate to build bombs and place them where they will do the most damage. Terrorist wannabes will take classes that reveal the weak points in infrastructure and how to use explosives, as opposed to Texas Instruments turning normal college students into monsters with their mind-warping engineering calculators.

    Or, as Mr. Devlin so pithily states, “Tough to overthrow much with an English degree.”

    But I actually think there are two factors that both Mr. Devlin and the authors of the paper missed.

    More than a few terrorist organizations of the Left in the 1960’s and 1970’s were started by, and heavily recruited, disgruntled college students and university professors. It worked back then, why wouldn’t it work now?

    (As an aside, I would like to point out that the majority of those Leftist college students who turned to terrorism were enrolled in the soft sciences, mostly philosophy. I think the authors of the Oxford study would get bent out of shape if someone would suggest that the humanities warps the mind and turns people into violent terrorists. I would never do that myself for fear that Ginny, our resident expert on the humanities and former college student in the 1970’s, would decide to retire to her kitchen and assemble something volatile from common household cleaning products.)

    It is also no secret that the Arab world is hardly a hotbed of growth and innovation. Seems to me that most of the families which can afford to pay for a modern Western style education would be pushing their spawn to get a degree in the hard sciences, if for no other reason than there is a real need for development through most of the Islamic world.

    I corresponded very briefly with our fellow Chicago Boyz and resident engineer Steven den Beste about this article, and he had this to say about well educated terrorists….

    “As to them being disproportionately engineers, I would suggest that observation of any large university will show that the vast majority of exchange students are to be found in departments who teach utilitarian subjects. Not too many Arabs are to be found studying postmodern literary theory or art history. And I don’t think you’ll find too many of them in the Women’s Studies department, let alone Queer Studies. Or any other “studies”, for that matter.”

    That appears to be sound wisdom to me.

    (Hat tip to Ace.)

    Posted in Academia, Crime and Punishment, Education, History, Leftism, Terrorism | 6 Comments »

    Digressions

    Posted by Ginny on 13th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Just a comment to Lex’s post that got digressive:

    We’re used to this inability to understand the “other”  from statists; Obama merely summarizes “What’s the Matter with Kansas” in a couple of clauses leading to his belief (like Franks) that if yahoos would see the world correctly – that is, as he does – they would understand their oppressed nature and the government/Obama as savior. They know better:  believing a government can prevent the tragedies of life (whether lung cancer or hurricanes, economic downturns or sin) leads to bitterness; believing that a leader can solve the big problems encourages misery (the people) and megalomania (the leader).

    Refusal to accept limitations in our power also leads to demonizing the “other”. One of my students said she wanted life like it was under Clinton. Before 9/11? I asked.  She said, yes. If we’d just elected Gore. Yeah, right. Things should be perfect; it should be exactly as I want it. It isn’t. Someone is at fault. We’ve spent eight years of BDS; if we listen to Wright and note the subtext of Obama’s campaign, this is just the beginning. Hannity and O’Reilley can take care of themselves and aren’t exactly innocent of demonizing others; still, how many Linda Ramirez-Sliwinskis, indeed, how many like Obama’s grandmother, will be exiled from the great American family? How many will eventually be the subject of “hate time”? We have already seen Obama as unifier and it isn’t heartening.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Elections | 3 Comments »

    Quotes of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 12th April 2008 (All posts by )

    We have all read it, but it really needs to be rolled around in the mouth a few times, to appreciate it, and what it tells us about our self-anointed political messiah:

    You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them… And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

    Did the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy somehow brainwash our messiah-in-waiting and place these words on his lips? Be sure to alienate as many voters as possible all within the span of one sentence, Senator.

    Mark Steyn‘s pithy summing-up:

    …this guy seems weirdly disconnected from everything except neo-segregationist Afrocentric grievance politics and upscale white liberal condescension. Not much of a coalition.

    The problem with Sen. Obama is he is raising so much damn money he is probably going to win.

    UPDATE: No one has commented on this last link, about the fundraising. Patrick Ruffini has been following this issue, and he has me worried.

    Posted in Politics, Quotations | 29 Comments »

    Ships and the Global Economy

    Posted by David Foster on 12th April 2008 (All posts by )

    The ocean shipping industry is, and always has been, a major enabler of global trade. Air freight is very important, as are communications technologies such as the Internet…however, there exists a vast array of products and commodities for which the only economically-viable means of transportation is the ship. Hence, anything that affects the ocean shipping industry has the potential to influence the shape of the global economy.

    The International Martime Organization has approved new rules which will ban ships from using their traditional fuel (very heavy oil, known as bunker fuel) in most parts of the world. The rules are stated in terms of sulphur oxide targets, which will phase in over time. Specially-treated bunker fuel may meet the initial targets in some areas, but only distillates are likely to meet the long-term targets. This implies an eventual potential fuel cost increase for shipping operators of fifty per cent. More at the WSJ.

    Increased shipping costs will, at the margin, encourage domestic and regional production of goods at the expense of imports. The strength of this effect will of course depend on the nature of the particular products–shipping costs as a percent of overall value are much higher for washing machines, for example, than for flat-screen TVs.

    The new regulations are probably good news for this company. But even if their technology is very successful, overall costs per ocean freight ton-mile will still likely be going up as a result of the new regulations.

    A commenter at the WSJ link asks some interesting questions:

    What is difficult to discover is just how many people will be adversely affected by increased shipping costs. How will it affect sub-Saharan economies? Will it cause more problems for the shortest lived poorest people on the planet? will it reduce their life expectancy still further? There are reports that indicate the importance of low shipping costs to these economies but unfortunately no one seems to have measured the cost in lives of the current high fuel costs nor what it will be when the new measures kick in.

    Posted in Business, Transportation | 12 Comments »

    Book Report: The Beast in the Garden, Part One

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 12th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Part two is here.

    Some time ago I put up a couple of posts here and at LITGM that highlighted what I propose is a huge comeback by wildlife – specifically near and in cities. Most all commenters agreed that they see many animals on a daily basis in or near cities that would hardly ever be seen twenty years ago.

    I find this topic absolutely fascinating. One commenter suggested that I pick up a copy of “The Beast in the Garden” by David Baron. So I did. Most of the time here at ChicagoBoyz book reviews are done. Well, I honestly don’t know enough about wildlife and biology to fairly review this book, so I have decided to do more of a book report, and interject a few things that relate to me locally here in Southern Wisconsin. The book is divided into three sections – The Peacable Kingdom, Borrowed Time, and Plague. This part of my book report deals with The Peacable Kingdom.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Environment | 10 Comments »

    Taking a Chance

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 12th April 2008 (All posts by )

    Anyone out there ever see Being There (1979)?

    The film starred the late great Peter Sellers as a mentally challenged gardener named Chance. Born and raised on the estate of a reclusive rich man, he spent his entire time working with plants and watching TV. When his patron dies, he is cast out into a world that he has only observed through the far remove of television. One would expect that this babe in the woods would soon come to a untimely end.

    But the plot is a comedy instead of a tragedy. The main character’s bovine placidity is mistaken for gravitas, his confusion is seen as deep thought, and the occasional cryptic non sequiturs that he utters are heralded as the most precious of wisdom. Chance, the extremely simple gardener, is mistaken as Chauncey Gardener, a successful entrepreneur and man of the world who was brought low by a hostile business environment. It doesn’t take long before the movers and shakers in the world take notice, and congregate to pay homage.

    The movie ends with a cabal of political heavyweights deciding that they need to nominate this barely functional idiot for President. The fact that there is no public record of his past life is seen as a boon, since there would be no skeletons in his closet or past scandals to unexpectedly torpedo the campaign.

    Isn’t this pretty much the problem that the Democrats have been struggling with for the past few elections?

    The Dems nominated John Kerry back in 2004, thinking that his past military service would endear him to patriotic voters. But they weren’t able to erase the memory and recordings of extremely hateful remarks he made in the past, remarks where he accused every single one of the soldiers he served with as being war criminals. Instead of showing Kerry as being a patriotic fellow American, his service was then perceived as a shameless ploy to gain legitimacy before embarking on a political career based on scorn for the very values he was supposed to hold so dear. Incidents during his Presidential campaign also went a long way towards convincing the swing voters that he was actually something of a son of a bitch.

    It was obvious that having Kerry wrap himself in the flag during the campaign didn’t work because he showed such contempt for his country at the beginning of his political career, and his own prickly and elitist personality put off a lot of people who were willing to give that a pass. What the Dems needed was a leader who had no skeletons in his closet. They needed someone with enough charisma so everyone could mistake empty platitudes as being profound, confusion at the outside world would be seen as deep thought, and calm placidity would be mistaken for being approachable and friendly.

    Just as obviously, Hillary didn’t fit this description in any way.

    The first time I heard of Barack Obama was when he threw his hat in the ring to become President, and the first thing that struck me when I started to look in to his qualifications was just how unqualified he was for the job. Seven years in the Illinois state Senate, four years in Washington, and someone actually thinks this guy can be trusted with the crushing responsibility of helming our ship of state for four years? It became clear to me what the Dems were trying to pull when I came across an old VHS copy of Being There while cleaning out one of my closets.

    The analogy isn’t exact, of course. The main character in the film was a moron, while Obama is a highly educated and intelligent man. Chance the gardener fell into his enviable position through sheer luck, while Obama has worked tirelessly for decades to achieve his success.

    But I bet that the Dems would prefer someone like Chance, since Obama is too smart to shut up when he is supposed to.

    Does this spell the end of Obama’s chances to be elected President? Dunno. It is a long time before the election, or even the end of the Democratic primaries. Just about anything can happen. But I bet that right about now the Dems are wishing that they went with moron who sounded like an educated man, instead of the reverse.

    Posted in Diversions, Elections, Film, Human Behavior, Politics, Speeches | 4 Comments »

    New! – Your Friday Dog Blogging

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th April 2008 (All posts by )


    The majestic Irish Setter is a Chicagoboyz favorite.

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 6 Comments »