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  • Archive for December, 2008

    The Selfish Left

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd December 2008 (All posts by )

    In the NYTimes,  Nicholas Kristof asks why leftists give less to charity [h/t Instapundit] than do those on the Right. Why do the people who collectively advocate redistributing wealth from producers to the poor donate so little as individuals to the same cause?

    I think the reason simple: Leftism isn’t about compassion. Leftism is about control. Leftism is about freeing the individual from personal responsibility for anything, including charity.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Political Philosophy, Society | 54 Comments »

    Chicagoboyz Helpful Tip of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st December 2008 (All posts by )

    If you get invited for a ride on someone’s boat, and you use the toilet, which is of a type that you have never used before and has a pump handle that you have to turn to the left, and then pump, and then turn to the right and pump again, or something like that, do not, whatever you do, pump the handle even more vigorously if it does not immediately appear to be clearing the bowl.

    Posted in Humor | 8 Comments »

    Anywhere Else Likely A Drive Off…

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st December 2008 (All posts by )

    As I was walking at Grand and LaSalle today doing some Christmas shopping the guy next to me pointed out something in the snow right next to us. It was the nozzle from a gas station that someone had apparently driven off with and which ended up here. If you look in the picture to the upper right you can see the BP gas station from whence it came…

    Drive Off Nozzle

    Weirdly enough, what I thought of immediately was not that someone absently drove off with that nozzle still attached to their gas tank, nor that they stole the gas and drove away in haste, but that they (might have) drove off with that nozzle still attached in fear from attack from aggressive vagrants.

    River North is a very wealthy area of Chicago, but since we are near downtown and filled with (well meaning) tourists, our neighborhood is filled with the homeless, bums and panhandlers. Here is a helpful schematic post that I created to identify their various types. That BP gas station is notorious – I won’t go there at all if I can possibly avoid it, because they so aggressively try to pump your gas for you and you can’t really get away from them if you have to stand there while your tank is filling.

    The situation was documented when an off duty policeman was stabbed by a homeless person while filling his gas tank at that very station. Here is a link to a story about that stabbing. You’d figure that an off duty policeman is likely to be an intimidating figure, so it would be much worse if you were a woman or elderly.

    Or it could have been a drive off, or someone who is absent minded. Either way I’d recommend that you find a different gas station.

    Posted in Chicagoania | 4 Comments »

    Have a Humorous Holiday

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st December 2008 (All posts by )

    Posted in Video | Comments Off on Have a Humorous Holiday

    I Don’t Want To Say It But…

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st December 2008 (All posts by )

    Salon on Blagojevich and Obama via Instapundit.

    I just want to take this opportunity to say, “I told you so.”

    Posted in Politics | 9 Comments »

    First Video of Saber Fencing

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Via Milo we get this fascinating video of two athletes going at each other with sabers.

    It seems that the video was taken from a flip book that was printed circa 1880. Looks great!

    Take a look, everyone. 19th Century media translated into video we see on The Internet. Why didn’t I just embed the YouTube video here? Because the guy who worked on bringing us this short video deserves some traffic.

    Anyone who doesn’t think this is neat as all get out has no sense of wonder.

    Posted in Diversions, Film, Internet, Photos, Tech, Video | Comments Off on First Video of Saber Fencing

    Yer Another Reason Why Ohio is Better Than California

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th December 2008 (All posts by )

    The law in Ohio gives protection to people who stop to help others in an emergency. The message is simple: average citizens can sometimes make a difference, and they shouldn’t be punished for doing their best.

    I was under the impression that similar laws existed in many states, including California. But it would appear that any protection from legal consequences extends only to people rendering medical help.

    Let the victims burn, let them drown, stand by while they are screaming for help. If they can’t get themselves out of trouble, then we just have to sit back and wait for the professionals to arrive. We are taking a huge chance if we do anything except bind up the wounds after the danger has passed.

    Are you surprised to learn that I have no plans on moving to California?

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior, Law | 22 Comments »

    So Now it is a Plague???

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 20th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Many years ago, before the charity course kicked into high gear, I asked my friend Kathryn if I intimidated her. After all, I was a guy who had a lot of guns, I went to the range frequently, and I was always thinking about self defense options. This put a lot of people off, but not her. Why?

    “Don’t be silly!” she said, laughing at my idiocy. “You are a protector!”

    That is the best compliment I have ever received.

    This op-ed discusses how a male in Great Britain cannot stop to talk to a child in public without facing arrest. London Mayor Boris Johnson claims that this is due to the “pedophile plague”.

    So the incidence of pedophilia in the UK is so great that it is considered a scourge on society? I can’t seem to find any statistics concerning this, and even the author of the op-ed uses US statistics on page 2 of her article to make a point. But, if it isn’t a problem, then why would a male who is seen to be conversing with an unattended child be snatched up by the police and bundled down to the precinct house for some hard questions? Maybe it is a case of public perception run amok, seeing monsters where few actually exist.

    One thing is for sure. The threat of arrest, of having my good reputation smeared by suspicion even if no criminal charges are ever brought before a court, would cause even me to pause before helping a child in distress. And that means actual stranger pedophiles, those who snatch children from public areas, are given an open field. The greatest protection a child could have in those circumstances, that a passer by would intervene, is much reduced.

    What the hell is going on over there in the UK?

    (Hat tip to Glenn. I cross posted this at Hell in a Handbasket because the readers over there are more involved in self defense and crime prevention.)

    Posted in Britain, Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Law Enforcement | 16 Comments »

    If I could change one thing in this world, I’d change your mind and make you my girl

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

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    Seen in a London Bathroom Wall

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 19th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Click for larger:

    ht The Freakonomics Blog.

    Posted in Britain, Europe, France, Germany, Humor | 20 Comments »

    A Truly Diabolical Monetary Policy

    Posted by David Foster on 19th December 2008 (All posts by )

    In Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles desires the introduction of paper money. At his instigation, courtiers approach the emperor at a masked ball and get him to sign the following document:

    To all it may Concern upon Our Earth
    This paper is a thousand guilders worth
    There lies, sure warrant of it and full measure
    Beneath Our earth a wealth of buried treasure
    As for this wealth, the means are now in train
    To raise it and redeem the scrip again

    In the bright sunlight of morning, the now-sober emperor observes hundreds of pieces of paper, each bearing his signature and claiming to be equivalent in value to gold, and demands to know what is being done to apprehend the counterfeiters.

    Treasurer: Recall–Your own self signed it at the time,
    Only last night. You stood in Great Pan’s mask
    And with the Chancellor we approach to ask:
    “Allow yourself high festive joy and nourish
    The common weal with but a pen’s brief flourish.”
    You signed: that night by men of a thousand arts
    The thing was multiplied a thousand parts
    So that like blessing should all accrue
    We stamped up all the lower series too
    Tens, Thirties, Fifties, Hundreds did we edit
    The good it did folk, you would hardly credit.
    Your city, else half molded in stagnation
    Now teems revived in prosperous elation!
    Although your name has long been widely blessed
    It’s not been spelt with such fond interest
    The alphabet has now been proved redundanct
    In this sign everyone finds grace abundant

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Poetry | 4 Comments »

    iBonds Update

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

    Here is an article about iBonds, which are inflation-protected securities that you can buy from the US Government online that are fully guaranteed. iBonds right now are yielding over 5% because of higher inflation; this could always change in the future. Read more if you are interested.

    Recently I have been writing about investing in secure securities (i.e. where you can’t lose money, except in extremely unlikely scenarios). I focused on purchasing CD’s that are insured by the FDIC and constructing a “ladder” of varying maturities through your brokerage account. The return on these CD’s is much higher than is currently being offered by US Treasury securities and has other advantages such as convenience and simplification of statements.

    There is another form of safe investing that is easy to do and risk-free (assuming the US Government does not collapse). This is called an “I Savings Bond” or “iBond”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Investment Journal | 1 Comment »

    Human Networks and Single Points of Failure

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Ronald Cass’s column about Bernard Madoff is insightful:

    The sense of common heritage, of community, also makes it less seemly to ask hard questions. Pressing a fellow parishioner or club member for hard information is like demanding receipts from your aunt — it just doesn’t feel right. Hucksters know that, they play on it, and they count on our trust to make their confidence games work.
     
    The level of affinity and of trust may be especially high among Jews. The Holocaust and generations of anti-Semitic laws and practices around the world made reliance on other Jews, and care for them, a survival instinct. As a result, Jews are often an easy target both for fund-raising appeals and fraud. But affinity plays a role in many groups, making members more trusting of appeals within the group.

    “Affinity groups” (to use modern marketing-speak) may be particularly vulnerable to fraud because trust works both ways. Group members tend to be more trusting of other group members than of outsiders, and this caution toward outsiders protects the group. But it also means that group members tend to let down their guard against other group members. This is OK most of the time because the extra caution about outsiders keeps predators at bay, and business people who gain admittance to the group are more likely to be trustworthy than outsiders are. However, a sociopath who penetrates the group’s defenses may wreak havoc — the single-point-of-failure problem.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior, Personal Finance, Society | 12 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th December 2008 (All posts by )

    survival jello

    Preparedness is a watchword at Chicagoboyz World HQ. This rare photo, edited to remove all sensitive security information, shows a small part of our stockpile of survival jello.

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 9 Comments »

    Defining the Family Down

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

    Taranto links, with some irony, a NYTimes article emphasizing one aspect of census news, an increased percentage of black children live within a family:

    Demographers said such a trend might be partly attributable to the growing proportion of immigrants in the nation’s black population. It may have been driven, too, by the values of an emerging black middle class, a trend that could be jeopardized by the current economic meltdown.
     
    The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents.

    We suspect the third “indeterminate” reason is key and the news may not be all that great. But how do we know? Taranto has fun with this, but it has serious implications. It appears a combination of “political correctness” (ah, he says he loves the child; isn’t that the same as being a father – even better, perhaps?) and post modernism (words can mean whatever the hell we want them to, so can traditions, so can biology).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Human Behavior, Real Estate | 3 Comments »

    “You tease me, and everybody deserts me …”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 17th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Ladies and Gentlement! On guitar and lead vocals, let’s hear it for … Joan Jett!
    On lead guitar, the blazing sounds of … Lita Ford!
    On the drums, the amazing … Sandy West!
    On bass guitar, the lovely and talented … Laurie McAllister!
    From Los Angeles California!
    The Queens of Noise!
    The Runaways!!!

    (RIP Sandy West .)

    Posted in Music, Video | 2 Comments »

    Suburban Wildlife Link Dump

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

    A few days ago I left my gym after another great workout. It was around 9pm. The parking lot and surrounding area was cold and dark. The usual silence was broken by a sound I hadn’t heard for 30 years, since I visited a family friends’ farm. I heard the distinct sound of coyotes howling. It sounded exactly like this.

    I was shocked and not shocked at the same time. I have written rather extensively on the coming issues we have with animals encroaching back into suburbs and cities. On the one hand I was surprised to hear the coyotes so close to me smack dab in the middle of Madison, Wisconsin. They sounded very excited, and I surmised that they were celebrating a kill, be it a domestic dog or perhaps a deer. On the other hand I remembered all I had written about the seemingly increasing populations of wild animals in what used to be a “no mans land” for wild animals – urban centers. After thinking about it a while, it really is no surprise. The zoo does indeed seem to be coming to us.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Environment, North America, Urban Issues, Video | 11 Comments »

    Montana-Bahn

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th December 2008 (All posts by )


    There is a comment thread here Chicago Boyz responding to my post on Chicago drivers tearing down the left lane of I290. Someone asked if there was any experience about the experiment of unlimited speeds in Montana (they do have limits at night).

    I… uh… found this photo on the internet of someone driving quickly in Montana. Rumor has it that there are many wide open spaces where you can see far ahead and the flat landscape means that there is no where for authorities to find you, should they care to do so.

    There are speed limits at night and these are taken seriously; there is an amazing amount of wild life in parts of Montana and you do not want to hit them with your car at high speed.

    Posted in Human Behavior, Humor | 6 Comments »

    Clausewitz Roundtable: Schedule and Marching Orders

    Posted by Lexington Green on 16th December 2008 (All posts by )

    On War

    The schedule for posting the Clausewitz Roundtable will be as follows:

    Book I, week of January 11, 2009.
    Book II, week of January 18, 2009.
    Book III, week of January 25, 2009.
    Book IV, week of February 1, 2009.
    Book V, week of February 8, 2009.
    Book VI, week of February 15, 2009.
    Book VII, week of February 22, 2009.
    Book VIII, week of March 1, 2009.
    Concluding comments and analysis, week of March 8, 2009.

    Each “Book” above refers to one of the eight “Books” into which On War is divided.

    I gave the roundtable participants, who were announced yesterday, their marching orders today. They are reproduced below the fold.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Announcements, Clausewitz Roundtable, War and Peace | Comments Off on Clausewitz Roundtable: Schedule and Marching Orders

    New! – Subdivision Wildlife Blog

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th December 2008 (All posts by )

    It’s up. Thanks to Mike Doughty and David Fischer for providing seed photos, and to Dan from Madison, from whom I ripped off the term, “subdivision wildlife.”

    If you want to submit photos or written accounts of your urban/suburban wildlife encounters, please email them to submit at subdivisionwildlife dotcom, or to jonathan at chicagoboyz dotnet (or simply click the “support” email link in the upper-right column of this page).

    SubdivisionWildlife.com

    Posted in Announcements | 3 Comments »

    The Death of TV

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 16th December 2008 (All posts by )

    I haven’t had much time to watch television over the past few years. My charity work kept me from having any big blocks of hours available, at least during my regular work week.

    The Internet connection I have is through the local cable company, and I had a standard package of channels for my viewing pleasure. A few years ago that meant I’d watch The History Channel and the news channels, with the SciFi Channel on Fridays to see what new happened on Battlestar: Galactica and Stargate.

    My interest in The History Channel has been on the wane for some years now, mainly because they endlessly replay old material. It seems that every time I turned it on, there was something playing that I had already seen. Why bother, then?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Internet, Tech, Video | 37 Comments »

    Clausewitz Roundtable: List of Contributors

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th December 2008 (All posts by )

    On War

    The roundtable will begin in January. Further details and an anticipated schedule will follow soon. Stand by for that post.

    Below the fold are short biographies and links for our truly outstanding group of contributors who have agreed to participate. Please take a look. (And read along with us.)

    Thanks to Mark Safranski for helping to assemble this group.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Announcements, Clausewitz Roundtable, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    Regulatory Overkill?

    Posted by David Foster on 15th December 2008 (All posts by )

    The legislation to protect children from lead in toys and other products, however well-intentioned, is likely to cripple and even destroy hundreds of companies–especially small, home-based companies–whose products are perfectly safe. This from Evolving Excellence, who points out a number of practical problems with the legislation.

    Problem #1: certification testing must be done by a lab on a “certified list”. This list isn’t exactly long, and their are hundreds of thousands of products. Guess what is happening to those labs: the waiting list for lab work extends out months and the cost per lab workup has gone from $200 to as much as $6000… per sample.

    # Problem #2: testing must be done at the product level, not the component level. So a common component used in multiple types of products must be tested multiple times. What does this mean? Each SKU must be tested separately, even if they are virtually identical. One pair of jeans and a slightly different pair of jeans, both using the exact same raw denim, must be tested separately. See the video below, where a manufacturer of science kits has 40,000 SKU’s… and is looking at a $20 million dollar cost for initial certification testing. This is why many products, and companies, will simply cease to be sold.

    These are only the first 2 of the 5 major problems that EE identifies with this legislation. Read the whole thing.

    February 10, when this law take effect, is being referred to as national bankruptcy day.

    Congresspeople talk endlessly about the need to “save good American manufacturing jobs”–but at the same time, they often pass legislation which is extremely damaging to the manufacturing sector, without bothering to take the trouble to understand what they are actually doing. And when it comes to small manufacturing companies whose employees do not represent substantial voting constituencies and whose managements do not represent a substantial source of campaign funds–there are many in Congress who do not really even care what happens to them.

    Here’s an example of a toy which will no longer be available in the U.S. as a consequence of the new regulations. (via Glenn)

    Posted in Business, Politics | 3 Comments »

    Under The Command

    Posted by Shannon Love on 15th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Andrew Sullivan does one of his now famous about faces and rants about Bush. [h/t Instapundit] At the end he captions a photo:

    Photo: a prisoner in US custody smeared with his own excrement at Abu Ghraib, under the command of president George W. Bush. [emp added]

    Of course, Sullivan leaves out a little history. He neglects to mention that: A soldier, under the command of President George W. Bush, discovered the abuse and reported it to the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army. The Judge Advocate General, under the command of President George W. Bush, launched and investigation, arrested those involved. Under the command of President George W. Bush, the Judge Advocate General informed the media that the abuses had occurred. Trials were conducted for dozens of individuals, under the command of President George W. Bush. At the end, in addition to the imprisonment of the main perpetrators, 29 officers up the rank of colonel were cashiered, under the command of President George W. Bush.  

    Andrew Sullivan joins the ranks of those who handed Cambodia over to Pol Pot by mutating every abuse, crime or even mistake by anyone in the military into a dark conspiracy on the part of the military itself and the civilian leadership. 

    [update (2008-12-15-4:10): Just to clarify. I am not saying Sullivan is a Pol Pot sympathizer. I am saying he has now joined the ranks of those whose lies and exaggerations drove us to a policy that caused us to abandon the people of Cambodia to their horrific fate. Like those of the previous generation, Sullivan has gone way, way over the top merely to satisfy his own self-interest with a studied indifference to the consequences his polemics have on others. ]

    [update (2008-12-15-6:20): I read the executive summary of the report that Sullivan refers to. He claims:

    What if, in Reynolds’ terms, the torture at Abu Ghraib was indeed “top-down policy”? This is now factually indisputable, according to the bipartisan Senate report issued last week.

    The report actually says:

    Conclusion 19: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

    So, in sum, the report says nothing new but merely repeats the claims made when the military first revealed Abu Ghraib, i.e., that Bush’s authorization of enhanced interrogation created a moral climate that lead to Abu Ghraib. It does not say Abu Ghraib was the intentional, top-down policy as Sullivan claims.

    Sullivan lied. ]

    Posted in Military Affairs, National Security | 58 Comments »

    Hurray for the Leidenfrost Effect

    Posted by Shannon Love on 15th December 2008 (All posts by )

    I’m a bit absent minded. This morning in the kitchen, I absentmindedly grabbed with my bare hands a cake pan that had been heated in the oven to 450F(232C).  I had forgotten that I had taken off my oven mitt. I grabbed the pan firmly and picked it up on one side. I should have been severely burned but I escaped because of the Leidenfrost effect. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science | 10 Comments »