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  • Archive for December, 2008

    Announcement: Clausewitz Roundtable

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th December 2008 (All posts by )

    As previously announced, in January, 2009 Chicagoboyz will begin hosting a roundtable discussion of the classic work of military theory, On War by Carl von Clausewitz.

    On War

    Stand by for an announcement listing the Roundtable contributors, and the anticipated schedule of postings for the roundtable.

    In the meantime, all your Clausewitz needs can be amply met by the extraordinarily good Clausewitz site. See, e.g. FAQs from that site.

    We will be using this edition of On War, in case anyone wants to read along.

    Posted in Announcements, Clausewitz Roundtable, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    One Reason the Automakers May Be Failing

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 14th December 2008 (All posts by )

    I have a personal story about doing business with (or trying to do business with) an automaker.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Entrepreneurship, Personal Narrative | 12 Comments »

    An Interview Entrepreneur

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 13th December 2008 (All posts by )

    I was walking near work recently when I saw this guy with a sandwich board (it was a few weeks ago because he isn’t dressed like an Eskimo) and a sign reading “I will buy an interview” and his own web site www.buyaninterview.com. At the web site you can see that it is the same person in the photos – his name is Javier Pujals. From a review of his resume he has a varied business background, acting as a project manager, business analyst, and having set up his own firm at one point. He also says he has five kids, which probably accounts for his zeal and ability to face ridicule by standing on the street corner like this.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Chicagoania, Humor | 6 Comments »

    Treasuries vs. Certificates of Deposit

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 13th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Here is a brief article about purchasing CD’s through a brokerage vs. recent rates on Treasury securities.  Read more if you are interested.

    PURCHASING CD’S THROUGH YOUR BROKERAGE ACCOUNT

    Recently I wrote a post about how CD’s can be purchased through your brokerage account (Fidelity, Schwab, Vanguard, etc…) and how easy that it is to do so.

    Recently I built a “ladder” by taking the amount that I wanted to invest and breaking it into 4 equal groups and buying CD’s as follows:

    one year interest rate 2.75%
    two year interest rate 3.95%
    three year interest rate 3.9%
    four year interest rate 4.1%
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Investment Journal | 2 Comments »

    Chicago Boyz Discussion on General Motors

    Posted by David Foster on 13th December 2008 (All posts by )

    from 2005.

    I posted the question “What would you do if you were running General Motors?” A lively discussion resulted, with over 100 comments…thought it might be worthwhile reposting in view of recent events.

    One of the most memorable comments was from Ralf, on another discussion thread:

    “What would you do if you were running General Motors?”

    I would stop running the company and start just plain running. :)

    Posted in Business | 3 Comments »

    A Thought Experiment

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 12th December 2008 (All posts by )


    In past (work) lives I traveled across the USA and worked in many different cities. I think by the time I was done I had worked in 30+ states at one time or another. When I worked in Minneapolis, for instance, I was struck by the fact that when traffic was clear, most cars would travel near the speed limit, or maybe 5 or so mph faster. This pattern repeated itself in most other cities where I was forced to get a rental car and drive to the client on a regular basis.

    In Chicago, on the other hand, on the few times when traffic is not congested, the average speed on an interstate highway like the Kennedy or Dan Ryan or Eisenhower is WAY up in the 80’s. Even in a construction zone (like today on I88), if you drive near the posted speed limit, you are like a rock in the stream.

    One of the clearest ways to test this proposition is to leave the Chicago loop on one of the few times it is not congested (say, Sunday morning) and take I290 (Eisenhower) West, towards the suburbs. I290 “starts” from the loop so when you get on it is WIDE open… and then as the exits move on traffic gets worse until you reach gridlock (on most days, not on a Sunday).

    This photo shows the wide open traffic from the view of my high powered almost a decade-old Nissan Altima. You can see that I am in the middle lane.

    The EXPERIMENT would be – how f*cking fast would you have to go in order to stay in the left lane until it ends (at Austin, when I290 inexplicably loses a lane) and NOT get passed, assuming it was mostly wide open in front of you. On a typical day you’d have to go at least 100 miles / hour because people are absolutely FLYING down that road. It is even crazier on the Dan Ryan once you get south of the Loop.  I know that I am not crazy enough to do it.

    I don’t know what it is about Chicago drivers but they seem possessed to drive as fast as they can in the brief moments that they can see daylight and clear pavement.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Humor | 17 Comments »

    Cub

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

    Lisa Marr‘s first band was the unspeakably good all-girl “cuddlecore” band Cub.

    Some devoted fan has put up a MySpace page.

    There are six songs on there.

    “Secret Nothing”, “Someday”, “New York City”, “Everything’s Geometry”, “Pillow Queen” and “Magic 8 Ball”.

    In my current intoxicated state (drunkblogging!) I can only say these songs give me intense happiness.

    Your results may differ.

    These songs are all part of my internal architecture at this point, I have listened to them so many times.

    If I must pick one, I would say, listen to “Everything’s Geometry”. “A plot of land and two shovels, we could dig a grave … .”

    Sad and happy at the same time? The back-alleys of the human heart, how odd they are, how inexplicable the twists and turns, how closely the artist has mirrored and echoed our own half-regretted paths … .

    Posted in Music | 3 Comments »

    Employers as Liege Lords

    Posted by Shannon Love on 12th December 2008 (All posts by )

    I missed the entire Republic Windows & Doors strike. [h/t Instapundit]. The laid-off workers apper to think they have a right to shake down the bankrupt company’s creditors in order to get their severance pay. It seems that Bank of America, by virtue of receiving the company’s physical assets as a result of its default, is now responsible for its workers. 

    Many people do not seem to have the idea that employers and employees are social equals in an economic partnership, but instead view employers as social superiors morally obligated to look after the welfare of their inferior employees. By virtue of giving someone a job, you acquire a feudal responsibility to look out for them for the rest of their lives. 

    [Note: There may be more to the story than the media, trapped as it is in their “heroic strikers” narrative, are willing to tell us. Anybody with more info please chime in.]

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 7 Comments »

    Two Rats

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 12th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Some blog posts just write themselves… sorry my TV is in low-def but that sign next to Blogo is the iconic “Rat” poster that I wrote about and have a much better photo of here.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Humor, Politics | 2 Comments »

    Suburban Wildlife Photos Request

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

    This turns out to be a popular topic, so I’m setting up a blog devoted to “beast in the garden” issues. I’m particularly interested in photos. So if you have any original photos of suburban (or urban) wildlife that you wouldn’t mind sharing, please forward them to me at jonathan at chicagoboyz dotnet, or the support email address in the top right corner of this blog.

    Thanks!

    Posted in Announcements | 3 Comments »

    Army Christmas Operations Order 12-24-08

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 11th December 2008 (All posts by )

    This received from my brother in law, an ex-Army guy:

    Army Christmas Operations Order: 12-24-08

    Subject: Christmas

    1. An official visit by MG Santa (NMI) Claus is expected at this headquarters 25 December 2008.  The following instructions will be in effect and govern the activities of all personnel during the visit.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Holidays, Humor | 4 Comments »

    The Good Old Days

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 11th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Cross posted at LITGM.

    Posted in Advertising, Humor, Video | 1 Comment »

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th December 2008 (All posts by )

    chicagoboyz smoked fish cold beer marketing sign

    Chicagoboyz use latest scientific marketing techniques to maximize exposure to key blogging demographics.

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 2 Comments »

    Kung-Fu Squirrels

    Posted by Shannon Love on 10th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Something amusing courtesy of my spouse. It serves as a reminder that just because an animal is a cute and fluffy herbivore, that doesn’t mean it can’t and won’t defend itself. 

    I grew up on ranches/farms in Texas and had to deal with dangerous animals, stallions, bulls, rattlesnakes, etc. but the worst ass-kicking I ever got from an animal was dealt out by a rabbit. 

    I was transferring a buck from one cage to another when he suddenly slipped. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck but he rotated in his skin and brought his hind legs to bear. He deployed his tiny but razor-sharp hind claws and before I could drop him raked those claws dozens of time across my forearms, slicing them to ribbons. His legs moved so fast they disappeared into a blur like some kind of biological Cuisinart. 

    Animals in the wild live in a war zone in which their lives stand constantly in danger. They come equipped with both the weapons and behaviors to survive in such conditions. That’s something to remember before you try to pet the next wild fuzzy thing you see. 

    Posted in Humor | 6 Comments »

    More on the Auto Bailout

    Posted by David Foster on 10th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Newly-elected Congressman Jared Polis (a Democrat!) offers some interesting thoughts on the politics of the automotive industry:

    Our United States Congress of lawyers, doctors, diplomats, retired military officers and career politicians — along with their staffs of intelligent young political science majors and MBAs — now finds itself poring over “business plans” submitted this week by Ford, GM and Chrysler. People who have never before in their lives seen — no less implemented — a business plan are now trying to decide if these companies will succeed by means of a “capital infusion” with various imposed preconditions and negotiate what we taxpayers (investors) should be getting for our money. Something is wrong with this picture.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Lost Causes, Lost Effects

    Posted by Ginny on 10th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Jeremiah Wright was back in the pulpit Sunday, pontificating on the tragic December anniversary of the 1941 bombing of Hiroshima; this was shortly followed, he told his congregation, by the bombing of Nagasaki.  Wright himself was born in 1941.  Of course, as Leno’s untutored-man-in-the-street questions indicate, we are losing our understanding of events within our own lifetimes.

    Losing dates, we lose our understanding of history for we are less likely to see that ideas have consequences and effects follow causes.  We also lose gratitude for those that went before – whether for Shakespeare’s words or the bravery of Washington’s troops or the beauty of ideas that impelled the Puritans or gave the founders their wisdom.  We don’t understand real courage nor how tolerance comes to us.  Most of all, we lose the sense we only reach the heights we can because we stand on other’s shoulders.  Such ignorance gives us a false pride.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 16 Comments »

    Blagojevich, Obama and The Chicago Way

    Posted by Zenpundit on 9th December 2008 (All posts by )

    I think most people familiar with Illinois politics expected that eventually some kind of Chicago landmine was going to go off under President-elect Barack Obama – it’s just that few people expected it might happen before the 20th of January.

    Likewise, I think most informed watchers expected that Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), perhaps the most unpopular pol in Illinois history, would follow his predecessor, disgraced ex-governor George Ryan (R-IL) to prison someday, few of us anticipated the depths of the grotesque quality of Blagojevich’s grasping venality that would have made Alderman Tom Keane blush. Ryan at least didn’t talk like a thug when he raked in his small-time bribes (have to wonder if Ryan’s chances for a presidential pardon just improved or gotten worse?).

    The real political trouble for Obama can be read here in a post at “The Smoking Gun” regarding today’s indctment:

    ” ….Blagojevich, 51, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on political corruption charges. While the affidavit does not specifically name the six prospective Senate candidates discussed by Blagojevic, Harris, and the governor’s aides, it appears that several are easily identified. “Senate Candidate 1” is Jarrett. “Senate Candidate 2” is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Emil Jones, an Illinois state legislator, is “Senate Candidate 5.” And “Senate Candidate 6” appears to be J.P. Pritzker, a wealthy Chicago businessman. Additionally, Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, is referred to in the affidavit as “President-elect Advisor.” (21 pages)”

    Aside from Lisa Madigan, Attorney-General of Illinois and daughter of Springfield powerbroker Speaker Michael Madigan, this list is composed of Obama’s Best Friend, Political Godfather, a campaign Mega-Donor and his future White House Chief of Staff. Holy Cats!

    I think this is what some folks used to quaintly refer to as “The Sleaze Factor“.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Crime and Punishment, Human Behavior, Politics | 20 Comments »

    Thompson on the Economy

    Posted by Ginny on 9th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Belmont Club links to Fred Thompson on the economy.  That rumbling voice inspires a kind of good humor; it always seems the voice of good humor – the masculine equivalent of Dolly Parton’s laugh.  Here it is in the service of satire and beneath its humor is a picture of the equivalent to the Tory approach to the Brits in 1776; Thompson, a father for two generations, concludes with the equivalent of Paine’s remarks.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Politics | 1 Comment »

    I Need You Like I Need an…

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 9th December 2008 (All posts by )

    a**hole_elbow

    There is a fascinating yet repellent movie called “The Rules of Attraction” that I end up getting sucked into every time I see it on TV.  The movie features an entire cast playing against type including Fred Savage shooting heroin into his foot (now he is part of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”, so we were probably seeing the REAL Fred, after all).

    One part of the movie features the “hero” or a better word is “protagonist” of the film when he visits a local, unhinged drug dealer to whom he owes money.  The protagonist tells the dealer that he “needs” him, because he can help move the drugs on campus at a big markup.  With this line, the dealer says…

    “I Need You Like I Need an A**hole on my Elbow” (you can probably guess this is the still from the movie).

    And why is this on Chicago Boyz?  Because THIS is an accurate summary of what Obama is going to do to the left wing blog-erati that helped get him elected.  He does not NEED them anymore, and he is going to prove it.  Many of the left-wing folks are jabbering about the fact that Obama is keeping Gates as defense secretary and appointing a Wall Street lifer as secretary of the Treasury, and seeming to be bi-partisan rather than lashing out at people like Lieberman who seemed to side with the Republicans.

    Obama is smart enough (hopefully) to know that those people are useful on the way up, but listening to them now is political suicide.  The country is wide in the middle, and shallow on the ends, and where are these people going to go, anyways?

    Obama also has the advantage that he isn’t a white male Democrat, not from a union or other known power base.  Those people, like Edwards and Kerry, have to keep “proving” how liberal they are from time to time, like a litmus test.  For obvious reasons, Obama doesn’t have to “prove” anything to anyone about how liberal he is.

    So, in the immortal words of the drug dealer in “The Rules of Attraction”, he needs them like he needs an…

    Posted in Film, Humor, Politics | 11 Comments »

    Obama: Buy Guns

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Yes, I know, the real headline is: Obama: Don’t stock up on guns . This means that the fact that people are buying guns has caught Obama’s attention and matters enough to him for him to express disapproval. Reasonable people might infer that he will support legislative and regulatory efforts to restrict gun ownership if it becomes politically expedient to do so.

    Posted in Politics, RKBA | 16 Comments »

    Default Rates and Static Analysis

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 7th December 2008 (All posts by )

    As recently as a early 2007 ago there was very little “risk premium” between debt of varying quality. The risk premium is usually measured against US Government debt (Treasuries) of equivalent duration (i.e. a 5 year bond compared to a 5 year security). For instance, if the Treasuries were yielding 5%, then high-quality (at the time) corporate debt might be issued at 6%, with riskier debt as high as 9% (a premium of 4%).

    At the time I wrote that this absence of a risk premium was unusual and meant that buyers of debt were being paid very little (beyond what they’d get for a risk-free government issue) for taking on the business risk tied to these often highly leveraged, cyclical businesses. As it would later turn out, these yields were far too low, and since have widened to historically high levels. For example, while Treasuries are around 5% now, “junk” bond yields for new issues are near 20%, which is an amazing premium of 15% or so.

    Some analysts are saying that these yields are TOO high (i.e. the market is demanding too much for the level of risk that you are taking on). By their reckoning, companies would have to default at a rate that they didn’t even approach during the great depression in order to justify these yield levels. Others are recommending that this might be a good time to jump in at these levels.

    While their calculations of required failures do indeed seem high, the analysts have failed to take one CRITICAL variable into account – the absence of liquidity – essentially they are only modeling the risk of default in isolation.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Investment Journal | 5 Comments »

    Pearl Harbor – 67

    Posted by Jonathan on 7th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Let’s not forget.

    If you want information, the Naval Historical Center archive that we linked in last year’s post is as good a place to start as any.

    Maybe it’s normal for cultures to lose their memories, or at least to roll them forward to more-recent events. By that logic, perhaps September 11, 2001 should serve as the current generation’s version of December 7, 1941. Does it? I don’t think so. I think we’re losing the memories, old and new, as we lose cultural self-awareness. We’re losing cultural self-awareness because we are losing cultural self-confidence. We are losing cultural self-confidence in large part because we allowed our educational system to be taken over by people who see cultural self-confidence as a crime.

    From the Naval Historical Center:

    By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan’s diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.

    Change the details and this story becomes generic. The most important events tend to be unanticipated, and not for anyone’s lack of trying to anticipate them. We should remember this truth even if we fail to remember specific events, though I suspect that the forgetting of events begets the forgetting of principles.

    Interesting times ahead.

    UPDATE: Via David Foster, this excellent post from Neptunus Lex.

    Posted in History, Human Behavior, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 10 Comments »

    Seems Only Fair

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Reuters: Saudi offer for Moscow mosque, Orthodox call for church in Arabia

    (via Jim Miller)

    Posted in Christianity, Islam, Religion | Comments Off on Seems Only Fair

    You better get with it or get out of our way

    Posted by Lexington Green on 6th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off on You better get with it or get out of our way

    Let’s Misbehave

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 6th December 2008 (All posts by )

    Sexy women – I mean really sexy women, don’t need to act like hookers/strippers and don’t necessarily need to run around like tramps showing off all of their assets to everyone.  Witness.

    Good lip synching too!

    Posted in Music, Video | 14 Comments »