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  • Archive for June, 2009

    ChicagoBoyz “Saying or Adage” Contest

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th June 2009 (All posts by )

    I absolutely love sayings.  One of the most universal ones is “when pigs fly”.  Another is “look before you leap”.  Also “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

    Maybe “saying” that isn’t the best term for them.  Are they adages?

    Lets see.  Per Mirriam Webster an adage is:

     a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation

    And a saying is:

    something said ; especially : adage

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Humor | 35 Comments »

    Civic Amputations

    Posted by Shannon Love on 13th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Via Instapundit comes this story on plans to bulldoze large sections of 50 failing cities in Great Lakes states. That alone is enough to make one weep.  A mere 40 years ago, these cities were still the economic titans of all the earth and now they are imploded wastelands. 

    Even more shocking and frightening is the strange, delusional state that seems to have settled over the political thinking of the majority of the people in the region. They seem to have no conception that their own political choices destroyed their communities. Worse, they’re rationalizing their own self-inflicted failure as a good thing. 

    Here’s Dan Kildare, Obama’s point man for the plan:

    “The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there’s an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they’re shrinking, they’re failing.”

    What the HELL is wrong with these people?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Politics, Urban Issues | 26 Comments »

    Making the Military Look Irrational, Part 7,456

    Posted by Shannon Love on 13th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Gosh, scientists are mystified as to why the military would suddenly classify data they have made public for years. [h/t Instapundit] Well, I have an idea and if the scientists and the journalists had bothered to think about it from the perspective of military intelligence, they could have figured it out as well.

    The public data lets a potential enemy figure out the sensitivity of the satellites and how to create countermeasures. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Media, Military Affairs | 7 Comments »

    The Evolutionary Function of Religion

    Posted by Shannon Love on 12th June 2009 (All posts by )

    [Here’s a little light (1,900 words) reading for the weekend. I banged it out rather quickly so I apologize for any typos, misspellings or poor grammar. I’ll monitor this thread over the weekend so I don’t end up posting a hot-button topic and then ignoring it like I did last time.]

    Robert Wright has a new book out “The Evolution of God“. [h/t Instapundit]  The Amazon description says:

    In this sweeping narrative that takes us from the Stone Age to the Information Age, Robert Wright unveils an astonishing discovery: there is a hidden pattern that the great monotheistic faiths have followed as they have evolved. Through the prisms of archaeology, theology, and evolutionary psychology, Wright’s findings overturn basic assumptions about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and are sure to cause controversy. He explains why spirituality has a role today, and why science, contrary to conventional wisdom, affirms the validity of the religious quest. And this previously unrecognized evolutionary logic points not toward continued religious extremism, but future harmony.

    I haven’t read the book yet, but based on his previous works I can guess where he is going with this. I’ve been thinking about this subject as well for some time, and I ‘ve been writing up my thoughts on the matter in detail, but since Wright may have beaten me to the punch I thought I would try to get my tiny bit of priority in. (Besides, I owe him for that bar fight in Tucson.)

    I believe that religions and all other facets of human culture are subject to and created by natural selection. Even though I am a philosophical agnostic and a functional atheist, I have come to a science-based understanding that religions serve an evolutionary purpose, and that they provide a vital mechanism for enhancing and maintaining cooperation that no secular mechanism can duplicate. 

    Traditionally atheists have argued that religions cannot have any functional foundations because there are many different religions with so many different stories about how the universe works. They commonly point out that since most religions contradict each other, the vast majority of religions have to be wrong even if we were to assume that one is right. Science produces just one best explanation for each phenomenon. We don’t have hundreds of different, equally valid models of the solar system. How could religion be any different? Therefore, the existence of many different religions proves that religions are arbitrary, fictional, fabrications like novels. It follows that religion has little to teach us about life and cannot serve as any kind of rational guide for humanity. 

    This seems like a plausible argument. I used to believe it myself but in the last 15 years my ongoing study of evolutionary theory convinced me that atheists have missed one crucial piece of evidence:  We don’t have a vast variety of contradictory religions, we have a vast variety religions that all teach the same thing. 

    In one critical functional area, all religions are identical.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Christianity, History, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Religion, Science | 40 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Michael Ledeen on the Iranian elections:

    But things are different now. The Iranians do not expect any help from the outside world. Bush did not help them, to his shame, and nobody thinks Obama would lift a finger for Iranian dissidents. They’re on their own, just as the Lebanese voters were a few days ago. I think many Lebanese decided that they’d better take a stand against Hezbollah before all hope for freedom was lost. Many Iranians may well reason the same way.
     
    If violence breaks out, what will the West do? Probably nothing, except express concern, and call for sweet reasonableness. Good luck with that! What should the West do? Support freedom in Iran. Nothing would so transform the region as a free government, dedicated to good relations with the West. Such a government would end the profligate spending on terrorism and devote the country’s resources to domestic concerns. Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, and the other jihadis, would be dramatically weakened. Syria’s Bashar Assad would suddenly find himself without his big brother in Tehran. If you want to dream of peace in the Middle East, a free Iran is at the heart of your Utopia.
     
    Finally, for those who unaccountably continue to believe that the most important thing in the Middle East is the Arab-Israeli conflict, the best chance is once again a free Iran that worries about Iranians instead of Palestinians. There is no chance of peace so long as Tehran runs the terror movements. But if the terrorists have to raise their own money, find their own weapons, and train their own killers, things might get a lot easier.

    I think that Ledeen’s comment about Lebanese voters is probably right. Anyone who isn’t blind must see that US allies threatened by aggressive dictatorships, as well as oppressed populations in those dictatorships, are now on their own with no chance of receiving US help. Certainly most Israelis understand this, though it’s not clear whether their corrupt political class does. Nor are Japanese, Taiwanese, South Koreans, Australians, Georgians, Venezuelans and others likely to have any illusions. Interesting times ahead.

    Posted in Elections, International Affairs, Iran, Quotations | 2 Comments »

    Ruler of the Auto Industree

    Posted by David Foster on 11th June 2009 (All posts by )

    A little song in honor of Brian Deese, Obama’s point man on auto industry restructuring issues and especially General Motors…with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan.

    When I was a lad, I was smart you see
    So I went to Yale to get a law degree
    I studied hard and I impressed some profs
    But I thought I could do better so I blew it off

    (he thought he could do better so he blew it off)

    I quit and went to work for Hillary’s campaign
    And they were really quite impressed with my most excellent brain
    When Clinton dropped out Obama wanted me
    And now I rule the U.S. auto industree

    (when Clinton dropped out Obama wanted he
    That’s why he rules the U.S. auto industree)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Humor, Music, Politics | 6 Comments »

    Explaining Oil Prices

    Posted by Shannon Love on 11th June 2009 (All posts by )

    [update 2009-06-12 10:00am: Please keep in mind that this post is about how people’s economic intuition goes awry when thinking about oil. The features internal to the oil industry are not as important as the differences between the oil industry and all other industries. It is these difference that cause people to misunderstand oil pricing. ]

    Oil prices are headed up even though the world economy is headed down. [h/t Instapundit] What gives? Shouldn’t a declining economy lead to decreased demand which keeps down prices? 

    Well, yes and no. Oil is a strange commodity. It doesn’t change price and availability in the same pattern as other commodities that are based on natural resources. This strangeness arises out of the technology of oil production, distribution and refining. 

    Several factors give oil an unusual economic profile:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Markets and Trading | 22 Comments »

    Do Women and Minorities Owe Allegiance to Leftists?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 11th June 2009 (All posts by )

    An interesting thought in this comment on a post at Don Surber’s blog

    As liberals see it, they are 100% responsible for every advance or progress made by either women or blacks. Therefore these two groups “owe” liberals, and if a woman or black person dares to be a conservative, they are savaged as somehow ungrateful and treasonous. As they see it, every woman in this article owes their career to Gloria Steinem, and therefore they have a moral obligation to agree with her on any point Steinem wishes.

    I think the commenter might be on to something.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism | 12 Comments »

    Those Disgusted Conservatives Vs. The Chicken F*ckers

    Posted by Shannon Love on 10th June 2009 (All posts by )

    [Warning: This post uses sexual imagery and a satirical tone to make a serious point.]

    The authors of the disgusted conservatives study I discussed earlier reveal their ivory-tower bias when they sniff at the way real people make real decisions. 

    Disgust seems to be particularly implicated in many of our moral judgements (Rozin, Lowery, Imada, & Haidt, 1999b). But should disgust play any role in these judgements? According to many liberal, educated Westerners, the answer is no. Whether a practice or behaviour is considered morally palatable or reprehensible should depend on whether that behaviour harms or infringes on the rights of another individual; disgusting but harmless behaviours do not deserve moral condemnation (Haidt, Koller, & Dias, 1993). According to this view, consuming faecal matter, engaging in sexual intercourse with animals, or masturbating to pornography is not immoral, as long as no other people are harmed by one’s behaviour (Bloom, 2004b).35 

    Up until a few years ago, I would have agreed with that reasoning. (Except for the sex with animals part. Animals have a right not to be raped. Moo means moo.) I would have agreed with it for the same reasons that most “liberal, educated Westerners” would: (1) I would have evaluated moral dilemmas using highly abstract models which ignored critical real-world information, (2) I would have assumed that if I personally could not see any harm in a practice then it automatically followed that no such harm existed, (3) I would have assumed that if a behavior did not cause a significant problem if one person did something then it would not cause significant problems if half of the entire population did it, and (4) I had no understanding that unarticulated, evolved, information encoded into cultures even existed. 

    Let’s just talk about number (1) right now.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Science | 9 Comments »

    Disgusted Conservatives

    Posted by Shannon Love on 10th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Ever since the days of Karl Marx, leftists have tried to stigmatize the political beliefs of non-leftists as stemming from some irrational pathology.

    Marxists developed the idea of “false consciousness”  to explain why everyone in the world didn’t immediately recognize the obvious correctness of Marxist ideas. Later, leftists of all stripes resorted to explanations based on Freudian pseudo-science to “explain” that conservatives rejected the obviously correct leftist ideas because of sexual repression or other Freudian mechanisms we now know to be without any scientific basis. 

    Today, we see an increasing number of “studies” that seek to link non-leftist beliefs to mindless biological factors. The latest comes from political scientists at Cornel University. 

    The press release from Cornel says:

    Are you someone who squirms when confronted with slime, shudders at stickiness or gets grossed out by gore? Do crawly insects make you cringe or dead bodies make you blanch?
     
    If so, chances are you’re more conservative — politically, and especially in your attitudes toward gays and lesbians — than your less-squeamish counterparts, according to two Cornell University studies.
     
    Liberals and conservatives disagree about whether disgust has a valid place in making moral judgments, Pizarro noted. Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something — gay sex between consenting adults, for example — is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason. Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm.

    This study [PDF] clearly fits the historical pattern of stigmatizing conservatives as making political decisions based on thoughtless gut reactions while intelligent, educated leftists make decisions with emotionless logic.  

    I can say a lot of things about this study and the obvious unconscious biases it reveals, but for the sake of brevity in this post I will confine myself to examining only the study’s basic methodology, the press release’s assertions, the obvious contradictory evidence.  

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Science | 7 Comments »

    Oy

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th June 2009 (All posts by )

    The Supreme Court has allowed the Chrysler takeover — and expropriation of bondholders’ equity — to go through.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Politics | 9 Comments »

    DS-R Reference post

    Posted by Shannon Love on 9th June 2009 (All posts by )

    [This post only provides reference materials for a subsequent post. Comments are disabled.]

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Science | Comments Off on DS-R Reference post

    A Delayed Feedback Loop from 1982

    Posted by John Jay on 9th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Western Europe is currently a shining example of Normalization of Deviance.

    Why?

    This is why.

    In his book Riding Rockets, Astronaut Mike Mullane explained that NASA ignored known risks with the Shuttle because the craft had flown without those risks manifesting themselves in an incident. It is a common feature of humanity. Someone tells you that riding motorcycles without a helmet is dangerous. But you do it once and get away with it. You do it twice. A thousand times. But on the thousand-and-first, someone cuts you off, and you spray your brains all over the landscape, realizing, in your last, painful instants on this Earth, exactly why doctors call people like you “rolling organ stockpiles”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Europe, International Affairs, Russia | 19 Comments »

    Chrysler Reorganization Stayed by the Supreme Court

    Posted by Lexington Green on 8th June 2009 (All posts by )

    One small victory for an economy governed by law rather than arbitrary power.

    A suit brought on behalf of Indiana pension funds claim that Chrysler deal orchestrated by Obama’s administraion illegally gave priority unsecured creditors, violating the law that gives priority to secured creditors. The Indiana brief argued:

    Without a stay, Chrysler’s section 363 sale will be able to close Monday afternoon, and this case will be moot. Mootness would not only deprive the Indiana Pensioners of an opportunity for full recovery, but it would deprive the Court and the Nation of the opportunity for final determination of substantial and novel issues of law never before addressed by this Court or any other (save the decisions below). These issues include (i) whether the Sale attempted here—indisputably the fastest reorganization on record—constitutes an illegal sub rosa chapter 11 reorganization plan and violates the longstanding and fundamental rule that first-lien creditors have absolute priority in bankruptcy, and (ii) whether Treasury has the authority to direct the course of, and fund, this bankruptcy through the use of TARP funds under the EESA. The Court should stay the Sale Orders so that the Indiana Pensioners may, in good order, ask the Court to review whether the law permits such wholesale alteration of bankruptcy law, not to mention the American capital markets, by the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government acting beyond the color of Congressional authority.

    From the Application For Immediate Stay Of Sale Orders Issued By The Bankruptcy Court filed by the State of Indiana. (Much of it is actually engrossing reading, especially the way the Feds bullied everyone to accept repeated violations of the bankruptcy law.)

    Stay granted.

    Details here.

    Probably only a speed bump. But it is good to see someone speaking truth to power for a change. Obama’s high-handed and lawless takeover of the auto industry is a disgrace, directed at helping his political allies first, and all other consequences second.

    It is good to see even a symbolic victory for the rule of law.

    Bravo to the Indiana Solicitor General’s office. A small victory, even a temporary victory, is better than no victory at all — and in a case like this one, much better than never having fought.

    UPDATE: This comment from the Althouse blog is a good summary of the situation.

    Posted in Law | 7 Comments »

    Doris Day: Shanghai (1951)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 8th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    Educating Obama

    Posted by David Foster on 8th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Thomas Sowell has been re-reading the works of Edmund Burke, and finds the words of this philosopher to be very relevant to our current era.

    I wonder if Obama, during his much-heralded passage through the university system, ever found time to read Burke and other writers (Hayek, for example) who are outside of the “progressive” worldview?

    (via Common Sense & Wonder)

    And Victor Davis Hanson suggests that Obama might have a little more depth in his understanding of the world had he ever owned a small farm with a difficult neighbor.

    Posted in Civil Society, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics | 46 Comments »

    Chicago Tribune on Gun Control

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 7th June 2009 (All posts by )

    While individuals can have various opinions on the topic of gun control, “independent” or “neutral” journalists should (theoretically) keep an open mind.

    Over the years I have pilloried the Chicago Tribune not for being pro-gun control but for NOT EVEN MENTIONING THE LACK OF GUN RIGHTS WHEN DISCUSSING MURDERS. For example, if a woman is gunned down by an ex spouse who violates a protection order, it is never discussed that she doesn’t even have the right to defend herself which may have contributed to her death. Given that Chicago leads the nation in murders on a total basis (even though we are far behind NYC and Los Angeles in population), this is not an irrelevant criterion.

    In a recent article by John Kass, one of their columnists, discussing a police officer who was killed in the line of duty

    Just two weeks before young Chicago Police Officer Alex Valadez was shot down on the edge of a vacant South Side lot, his alleged killer, Shawn Gaston, was in court, accused of another probation violation on a felony gun charge.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, RKBA | 4 Comments »

    High Definition Radio

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 7th June 2009 (All posts by )

    If you are interested in high definition radio, which is a relatively new service that is covering the major cities and is free, read on below. If you are thinking of purchasing a table radio or getting a new car, you might want to spend a bit extra and get a radio that is “HD Ready”. More below if you are interested…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Diversions | 7 Comments »

    Editing

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 7th June 2009 (All posts by )

    india_bulletin

    While I was eating in a local River North Indian restaurant that I like called India House (which an Indian friend of mine said she didn’t like because everything was “too orange”) I noticed a newspaper called the “India Bulletin” and had to laugh because part of their tag line in the heading is

    UNEDITED

    Which is how Jonathan was describing some of my recent posts

    Posted in Humor | 1 Comment »

    ChicagoBoyz Tips On Raising Pets, Continued…

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 6th June 2009 (All posts by )

    dog walking

    Be sure to take your dog for a walk every day as they want and need the exercise.

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 5 Comments »

    Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989

    Posted by Lexington Green on 4th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Tiananmen

    Posted in China, Civil Liberties, Photos | 17 Comments »

    Book Review – Chua, Day of Empire

    Posted by James McCormick on 4th June 2009 (All posts by )

    Book Review – Chua, Day of Empire

    Chua, Amy, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Power and Why They Fall (2007 Hrdbk, 2008 ppbk. 396 pp.)

    A paperback of this title was kindly provided by the publisher for review.

    Warning: 9,000+ words ahead!

    While drafting a 2006 chicagoboyz review of Yale Law Professor Amy Chua’s World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (2003), I was very impressed with the value of the concepts she introduced and her superior writing style. I had heard of her more recent book but the pace of the past few years had largely halted my book reviewing.

    So I’m late to the game with Day of Empire (DOE). The publication of the paperback version of the book triggered one of Amazon.com’s oft-fatal “As someone who has purchased or rated X, you might like to know that Y has just been published …” notices in my In-Box. Based on World on Fire and Amazon’s summary blurb of the more recent book, it seemed well worth reading. I’ve purposely avoided reading any reviews of the book by other writers.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History | 15 Comments »

    Dresden, “Dresden,” and Obama’s Visit

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd June 2009 (All posts by )

    Dresden, once known as “Florence on the Elbe” because of its beauty and culture, is now best known for its destruction by British and American bombers in February of 1945. “Dresden” is the name of a haunting movie, originally made for German television, about a love affair in the doomed city.

    Dresden is of course also the German city that Barack Obama intends to visit–for reasons best known to himself–during his current trip to Europe. It seems like this would be an appropriate time to review the film (which I watched a couple of months ago via Netflix) and to use it as a springboard for discussion of the Dresden bombing and of the WWII strategic bombing campaign in general.

    Here’s a brief synopsis of the film. I’ve tried to minimize the spoilers, but some are inevitable.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Europe, Germany, History, Politics, Society, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Non-Leftist Reality Versus Leftist Fantasy

    Posted by Shannon Love on 3rd June 2009 (All posts by )

    Reason Hit & Run has a good post defending Milton Friedman against leftists’ charges that his ideas contributed to the current financial crisis. I made the following comment:

    Leftist always claim that the economic crisis du jour indicates the failure of the free market. Embedded in the assertion is the unstated premise that if leftist ran everything, we would never have economic crises. This in turn reveals the leftist’s wildly exaggerated sense of their own understanding of the economy and everything else. 
     
    The left’s critique of Friedman in this context is especially silly because I’m pretty sure setting up giant government sponsored enterprises to buy up half the residential mortgages in the country and thereby distorting the markets assessment of risk, isn’t a plan that Friedman would have come up with. 
     
    The left doesn’t actually have an developed system of thought regarding the economy. They can’t actually explain why the real world political process will systematically make better decisions than the free-market. Instead, they simply point to any reversals in the real economy, regardless of cause, and then assert that in their imaginations, leftist politicians could have done better. 
     
    It’s hard to argue against people’s imagination. You end up with a discussion much like two D&D geeks arguing over whether a dwarf with a +10 axe could take an Elf with a vorpal sword.

    Leftists are fantasy driven. They create elaborate fantasies and then force everyone else to argue for reality against the fantasies. The real-world system always comes out the worse in the comparison for the same reason that the people we have sex with in our fantasies are usually better looking than the people we have sex with in real life. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Leftism, Tech | 40 Comments »

    Royal Family 1: Politicians 0

    Posted by Helen on 2nd June 2009 (All posts by )

    My first reaction to the news that the Prince of Wales will be going to the D-Day celebrations after discreet negotiations and a “change of heart” on the part of Presidents Sarkozy and Obama was that he should not have given in but treated that bunch of self-publicists with the scorn they deserve.

    I was wrong and the Prince was right. The three narcissists have already shown themselves to be puny and contemptible and the day is not about them but the veterans who will be glad to have the Prince there to represent the Royal Family. It is good to be generous and to place emphasis where it belongs.

    Once again, Royal Family 1: Politicians 0. And that is how it should be. Let’s just hope the Prince will not go with President Obama to Dresden where the latter will almost certainly apologize for America (and Britain) doing their share in defeating Nazism.

    Cross-posted from Your Freedom and Ours

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, France | 35 Comments »