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  • Archive for April, 2010

    Aquarium Setup

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st April 2010 (All posts by )

    sanfrancisco 008

    I just set up my new aquarium, and I think I have just the right amount of fish to keep me properly entertained and to keep them healthy and happy.

    Posted in Humor, Photos | 8 Comments »

    The Erector Set

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th April 2010 (All posts by )

    This is my maiden post as a new Chicago Boy so I thought I would recycle a post from my own blog that might be of interest.

    My grandson’s birthday was two weeks ago, and his father’s is next weekend. I thought I would give him (the grandson) a toy that I was sure he had never heard of, an Erector Set. I have a medical connection, as well as a childhood connection, with this toy, now largely forgotten. I had Lionel trains when I was a child in Chicago and eventually had HO gauge trains, as well. When I had sons old enough to play with trains, I built an elaborate train set in my garage. Then I learned that southern California is not the place for toy trains. The boys were outdoors all the time and the train set gathered dust.

    Few kids today will have the chance to enjoy the Erector Set. Like so many cold climate toys, it is never seen in southern California. I wonder how many sets are sold in Chicago ? There  is still a small source for this toy; but the glory days of the Erector Set were long ago. The toy was invented by A.C. Gilbert; in 1913. The story is interesting. Gilbert was a Yale Medical School graduate and had also won a gold medal, for the pole vault, in the 1908 Olympic Games. He built a new design bamboo pole that he used in his winning vault and he sold these, as well as other toys.

    Like many residents of New Haven, Connecticut, he often took the train to New York City; and on one trip in 1911 he was inspired with what would be the most popular of his dozens of inventions.

    Watching out the train window as some workmen positioned and riveted the steel beams of an electrical power-line tower, Gilbert decided to create a children’s construction kit: not just a toy, but an assemblage of metal beams with evenly spaced holes for bolts to pass through, screws, bolts, pulleys, gears and eventually even engines. A British toy company called Meccano Company was then selling a similar kit, but Gilbert’s Erector set was more realistic and had a number of technical advantages — most notably, steel beams that were not flat but bent lengthwise at a 90-degree angle, so that four of them nested side-to-side formed a very sturdy, square, hollow support beam.

    Gilbert began selling the “Mysto Erector Structural Steel Builder” in 1913, backed by the first major American ad campaign for a toy. The Erector set quickly became one of the most popular toys of all time: living rooms across the country were transformed into miniature metropoles, filled with skyscrapers, bridges and railways. Those kids who already owned a set would beg Santa annually for an upgrade, aiming for the elusive “No. 12 1/2” deluxe kit that came with blueprints for the “Mysterious Walking Giant” robot. It is difficult for anyone under the age of 35 today to appreciate just how popular the Erector set was for over half a century.

    Now, it happens that I have a personal connection to the Erector Set. In the early 1970s, a patient was referred to me with an esophageal stricture. He was in his 90s and had been told he was too old for a major operation like that. He and his wife had emigrated from England in 1913 and he was looking for a job as an engineer, when he met A.C. Gilbert, who was having trouble selling his new toy. Gilbert had invented the Erector Set and had built a few samples of what could be constructed using the new kit of materials but the set consisted of lots of perforated metal pieces and machine screws and nuts. The challenge was to design structures that children, with some parental help perhaps, could build. I had a set at the age of six and spent hours with it.

    Gilbert needed someone to build sample structures using the set and write instructions on how to build them. He took the job and spent years working on new designs and instruction books. The first Christmas after he began work for Gilbert, the giant New York City department stores, Macy’s and Gimbel’s, wanted sample structures to help sell the toys. My patient built a huge suspension bridge for one store, that crossed over the cash registers, which in those days were arranged like the check-out lines in today’s supermarkets. The bridge was over 20 feet long. As soon as the other store saw his bridge, they wanted one just like it. He built another and the toy’s popularity took off. For years, he worked for Gilbert although, when I knew him, he had been retired to San Clemente for years.

    He and his wife were in good health with the exception of this stricture that was so tight that he could only swallow liquids. It was a consequence of esophageal reflux and the scarring that chronic reflux produces.  He was very lucky that it had not developed a cancer.  He subsisted on apple sauce and other pureed food that would not pass through the stricture until he jumped up and down while standing against the wall. Every few mouthfuls, he had to stand up and jump until the food went down. He had been told he was too old to have it fixed, or even dilated, and his only option was some sort of feeding tube. Needless to say, he was skinny and the operation seemed to be feasible to me. Larry Mathis, a long time GP surgeon in San Clemente was his GP and Larry and I decided to try to fix his stricture. At surgery, his esophagus, just above the stomach where most benign strictures occur, was so tight that it split when I tried to dilate it from below with my finger. There is a procedure called a Thal Patch(pdf). It is used to close esophageal perforations such as traumatic tears and ruptures, like the Boerhaave’s Syndrome. In this case, I had created the hole in the esophagus by tearing open the stricture. I made a Thal patch from his stomach and closed the hole without recreating the narrow section. The surgery worked and he recovered very well. He hadn’t been able to eat solids in over five years. As a reward, he told me his story.

    A few years later, he presented with symptoms of acute cholecystitis but at surgery I found a cancer of the colon next to the gallbladder. About  a year later he died of the cancer, having nearly reached the age of 100.

    A.C. Gilbert also invented a number of other toys that were Christmas traditions for half a century. They included chemistry sets, physics sets and even a nuclear radioactivity set that included a Geiger counter. I had several of these, including the radioactive set. Those were the days before TV when children played with educational toys and were not so self-conscious about it. Today, the ATF would probably raid the basement of a child who had one of those sets.

    Posted in Business, Health Care, History | 17 Comments »

    Arms-Bearing = A Fundamental Human Right

    Posted by Lexington Green on 20th April 2010 (All posts by )

    The key to freedom is the ability to be able to defend yourself. And if you don’t have the tools to do that then you are the mercy of whoever wants to put you away. And the tools for that are guns.

    — Marc Heim, ProTell

     


     

    Posted in Libertarianism, RKBA, Video | 2 Comments »

    Dried Salty Fish – Yummy!

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 20th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Delicious and nutritious!

    Delicious and nutritious!

    Posted in Photos, Recipes | 12 Comments »

    My Boss’s Phone

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 20th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Not my boss's phone

    Not my boss's phone

    Per Lex’s request, on this, the day America laid siege to Boston, MA, interrupting the otherworldly disputations of many a Brahmin:

    Noted American science fiction writer Philip K. Dick once observed:

    The ultimate in paranoia is not when everyone is against you but when everything is against you. Instead of “My boss is plotting against me,” it would be “My boss’s phone is plotting against me.”

    My boss’s phone is rather nondescript. It’s color is a few shades darker than full oppression gray. It whimpers with the soul draining anonymity of the standard corporate VoIP phone design. It has a gray LCD, gray buttons with obscure functions, and an incomprehensible gray user manual.

    It frequently finds itself on sales calls.

    If it was a person, it would have no face.

    My boss’s phone lacks the personality of the door from Ubik:

    The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”
     
    He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”
     
    “I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”
     
    In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.
     
    “You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.
     
    From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.
     
    “I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.
     
    Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”

    Of course the motives of doors are usually open and shut. The hang ups of boss’s phones are more cryptic:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Commiserations, Internet, Personal Narrative, That's NOT Funny, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    The Kinks, Victoria

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th April 2010 (All posts by )


     
    “I was born, lucky me, in a land that I love. Though I’m poor, I am free.”

    (I suppose Ray was kidding. I’m not.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, History, Music, Video | 2 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz Book Recommendation Seconded

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 19th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Whenever I need new reading material I typically just scan the book notes here at ChicagoBoyz to get suggestions. Lex Green made a recommendation of “The World of Yesterday” by Stefan Zweig at this post.

    I will have to second Lex’s thoughts and just come out and say it. This is one of the very best books that I have ever read. I read the whole thing in one weekend and could hardly put it down.

    Not only is the subject matter of great interest and importance, Zweig’s writing is so beautiful it almost brings one to tears. The last paragraph hits very hard – moreso when you know how Zweig’s story ended.

    So thanks to Lex for the recommendation and I will heartily second it. There are a lot of other great books in our book notes section here at ChicagoBoyz so if you are out of ideas, hit it.

    Posted in Book Notes | 9 Comments »

    Cool Startup Story

    Posted by David Foster on 19th April 2010 (All posts by )

    A Philadelphia-area man, working as a cabinet maker, expanded his business to include the refurbishing/remodeling of elevators. (One company, strangely enough, wanted the interior of its elevators matched to its reception desks!) In doing these jobs, he found the standard practice of removing the entire elevator cab to do the work to be overly complex and time-consuming, and in 1996, came up with his own system of interlocking panels, making the task simpler and faster. With $65,000 in borrowed funds, he patented the system and incorporated a company. It now employs 30 people and booked revenues of $6.1MM last year. More here.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Lexington, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Lexington Green

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, History, USA | 6 Comments »

    Paul Revere’s Ride, April 18, 1775

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th April 2010 (All posts by )

    paul revere

    … For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
    Through all our history, to the last,
    In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
    The people will waken and listen to hear
    The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
    And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

    God bless America.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Britain, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, History, National Security, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Rhetoric, RKBA, Society, Taxes, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror (1967)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 17th April 2010 (All posts by )


     

    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    Tax Day Help

    Posted by TM Lutas on 15th April 2010 (All posts by )

    If you need an Illinois Personal Identification Number (IL-PIN) to e-file, the web system is down. Some of the regional offices are answering the phone when I called around this morning.

    Good luck.

    Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on Tax Day Help

    Paying Higher Taxes Can Be Very Profitable (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 14th April 2010 (All posts by )

    (I originally posted this on Jan 2….given that today is April 14, it seems like an appropriate time to run it again)

    Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.

    PowerLine observes that during the election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick with Obama signs–and wonders how these people are now feeling about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.

    The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they’re missing a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate, and these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of Chevy Chase–a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or indirectly from government activities–fall into this category.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 7 Comments »

    Tea Party Express, Boston, 2010

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 14th April 2010 (All posts by )

    This was the view from the back of the crowd.

    This was the view from the back of the crowd.

    Way off in the distance, there is a platform bristling with cameras and microphones. Somewhere behind it, hidden from view, Sarah Palin was speaking, but I could not hear much. The physical arrangement was pretty poor.

    Free stuff! Everybody gets everything! How could you possibly be against this, unless you're a hater?

    Free stuff! Everybody gets everything! How could you possibly be against this, unless you're a hater?

    This bunch was the hard left. They seem to be affiliated with the International Action Center and Workers World Party, also known as ANSWER.

    The pierced and tattooed ironists of the cultural left were not to be denied their place, either:

    If you can't answer, sneer.

    If you can't answer, sneer.

    The lumpentelligentsia is the revolutionary vanguard! If they annoy you, just remember to stiff them on the tip next time you see them.

    Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »

    Mini-Book Review — Midler — Poorly Made in China

    Posted by James McCormick on 13th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Midler, Paul, Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game, John Wiley 2009, 241 pp.

    Paul Midler began his academic career in Chinese history and literature and then went to Wharton for an MBA and further graduate work in East Asian business. Fluent in Chinese, over the past ten years he spent his time in southern China working as a consultant to American importers and was witness to the economic boom that’s amazed the world.

    This book, however, is about all the other things he witnessed … the methodical transfer of technology and profit to Chinese manufacturers and the methodical transfer of risk, liability, and innovation/marketing/design costs to American companies. “Poorly Made” is a master class in how ill-equipped American companies are to operate in “low circle of trust” cultures … even when those American companies are managed by savvy mercantile clans and even organized crime!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, China, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Markets and Trading | 16 Comments »

    Smiley Face Tyranny – For the Children

    Posted by TM Lutas on 13th April 2010 (All posts by )

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

    I have three children in the Munster public school system. I have outsourced my children’s schooling to them. The school system is in a very real sense my servant as it serves the families of all the children who attend. It’s a scary thing when a servant starts to think themselves your master. When you’re giving them your kids for 6 hours a day, it’s doubly scary. That was my reality this week as a very nice, pleasant woman explained why I must undergo a background check to supervise my own child.

    Schools are given certain powers “in loco parentis” (in place of the parents). Since there is no parent normally available on the spot, schools can manage the child in their absence. This is a very important power and necessary for the health and safety of our children.

    Schools do occasionally sponsor events which they insist that a parent attend as a condition of the child participating in the event. At that point, their powers should, at least if the school is not out of control, return to the parents who are now there to directly exercise them. In Munster at least, that is not the case and it’s a very slowly creeping and creepy sort of tyranny that results.

    We all know and understand that if you’re dealing with other people’s children, you need to have a background check. Munster schools, at least at Frank H Hammond where my children attend, they occasionally have trips where they tell children that parents must come for them to go on them. This year, the 2nd grade is going to a park to fly kites. Separately, several days later, they send home a background check form to permit you to supervise your own child.

    The immediate, visceral response is revulsion but it takes a while to intellectually clarify why, even to yourself. For whose child is the school system acting in loco parentis in placing this requirement? It can’t be the children on the trip. They’re in the company of their parents and the parents don’t have the ability to demand such a background check. Nobody is supervising anybody else’s children so there is no question of a parent temporarily exercising in loco parentis powers over someone else’s child.

    So where did the school get the power to demand that check? I spoke with Frank H Hammond’s principal, Mrs. Nancy Ellis about background checks. Boiling down her more lengthy rationale to a word, it’s convenience. In her opinion, they can’t be making special provisions, treating individual parents specially. It would be too complicated. They tried that approach when they instituted their background check policy, carefully weighing the issues and looking at all the nuances. Then along the way they decided that was too much bother and a simple blanket rule would be much more convenient. And I agree that it is much more convenient, for them.

    It’s inconvenient to remember your place as a public institution that stands in as a substitute for parents when they aren’t around. It’s inconvenient to deal with the occasional complexity like an event that has parents that are supervising only their own children. But school authorities, any authorities really, remembering their place is one of those vital underpinnings of liberty.

    A quick refresher for those who might have forgotten. It is not normal to have public outings with your children where all the other parents there have undergone a background check. You don’t have this at the mall, the train station, the theater, parks department events. In fact, the only time you have background checks done routinely is, once again, when you’re handing out in loco parentis powers. Routine investigations into your background as a condition of attending an event with your child (when you are not supervising other children) simply has no basis in US law.

    And there’s the rub. Doing things that are convenient but have no basis in law is tyranny, no matter how smiley you are in your presentation, how convenient it is for the administration of an institution. You just don’t do it. It is wrong.

    The story has a somewhat happy ending. Only I will be excluded from the event. If you push hard enough, someone else will still come and supervise your child “in loco parentis” if you challenge. But I won’t cry over missing a kite flying occasion. But my daughter did. My only damage is that I had to feel like my heart was being ripped out of my chest as she sobbed about not being able to go over the weekend (got the form on Friday, had my talk yesterday).

    I do not have any great hopes for this. I’ve done my push back, I’ve gotten my child included in a trip she really wanted to go on. And I know that quietly, when convenient, the same sort of soft ‘nudge’ will go right back in to pressure parents to prove themselves competent to supervise their own child. After all, it’s very convenient. It’s very popular with the political class. There’s even a book.

    There is only one real cure, never-ending vigilance. I had the distinct impression that there wasn’t a long line of parents complaining about the usurpation of their parental rights. Had there been, suddenly this policy would have become very inconvenient and been reversed, not to be tried again for a very long time. Too bad, because I’ll keep my liberty while others give up theirs. I hope their chains rest lightly.

    cross posted @ Northwest Indiana Politics

    Posted in Education | 22 Comments »

    Krystyna Skarbek

    Posted by David Foster on 13th April 2010 (All posts by )

    krystyna1

    I’ve been meaning for a while now to write about this very courageous woman (who is better known by the anglicized version of her name, Christine Granville)…the tragic events in Poland make this seem like an appropriate time to remember a Polish heroine.

    Previously, I’ve posted about two women–Violette Szabo and Noor Inayat Khan–who worked for the secret British WWII organization known as Special Operations Executive…whose mission it was to organize resistance and sabotage activities in occupied Europe. Krystyna Skarbek also worked for SOE during the latter part of her WWII career, during which time she was partnered with another SOE agent named Francis Cammaerts, who led resistance operations over an extensive area in southern France. I spent some time with Mr Cammaerts during a trip to France in 2001, and will be writing about him in a future post.

    Skarbek was born near Warsaw in 1908: her father was a bank official and a member of the nobility, and her mother was Jewish. She became an avid horsewoman and skier, and also a beauty queen (#6 in the Miss Poland contest for 1930.) When WWII broke out, Krystyna was living in Ethiopia with her second husband, who was the Polish consul there. She immediately went to London and volunteered to work as a secret agent…I believe her first assignment was with the Secret Intelligence Service (spying) rather than with SOE (sabotage.) She first traveled to Hungary, from which she planned to ski into Poland…while in Budapest she met Andrew Kowarski, who was to become her great love. In early 1940, she went over the Tatra mountains to begin her first underground assignment, in which she organized a network of couriers to bring intelligence reports from Warsaw to Budapest. She also located her mother, who was doubly in danger because of her aristocratic connection as well as her Jewish background, and warned her to leave the country…but her mother refused and was later arrested and never heard from again.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Europe, France, History, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Definitions

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 12th April 2010 (All posts by )

    government: an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself.

    Ibn Khaldun

    Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power & The Cost of Renewables

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 12th April 2010 (All posts by )

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP is the most common acronym) is a publicly-owned utility that serves the city of Los Angeles with water and power. LADWP is in the news right now because of a dispute with the city over a transfer that LADWP usually makes in the amount of 8% or so of its revenues. Since the city of Los Angeles is essentially broke (per the article, their reserve fund that should be in the $220M range will be down to $25M or $30M) this delay in transferring funds is putting the city close to the edge. This article is titled “Los Angeles Faces Threat of Insolvency” from the 4/9/10 WSJ.

    Background on LADWP:

    LADWP is the largest municipal utility in the country. According to their annual report for the year ended June 30, 2009 which can be found here(most municipal entities end their year in June, not December like publicly traded companies), the power entity (not water) had the following key facts:

    – annual revenues of $2.8B / year
    – $6.6 billion in utility plant assets (net of depreciation)
    – approximately 7200 MW of useful capacity, of which the vast majority is coal, hydro, nuclear power, or natural gas (renewables are 270 MW, or about 4% of the total
    – in 2009 they transferred $223M to the City of Los Angeles, or 8% of revenues (of $2.8B)
    – their pension plan for employees is 70% funded when unrealized investment losses are taken into account (not great, but better than Illinois)
    – LADWP acquired natural gas assets in Wyoming in 2005. After the collapse of the California power market (where LADWP performed relatively better than their investor owned peers) they decided to go and get their OWN gas supply – the article from 2005 is here. I find it interesting that a non-profit electrical utility owns their own natural gas supply, but it probably seemed to be a good idea when the cost of natural gas was spiking up to $14 / unit (it is now down nearer to $4 / unit with innovative new exploration techniques)
    – LADWP has been “hedging” against the price of natural gas, to ensure that the utility has adequate funds available if there is a price rise. As of June 2008, the value of these hedges was $213M (favorable), and as of June 2009 the value of these hedges is ($168M) unfavorable. This is likely due LADWP “locking in” at the price of gas somewhere above its current price near $4 / unit… this method will result in continuing (unrealized) losses as long as the price of natural gas stays low, which it appears to be on track to do for some time

    LADWP is in dispute with the city because LADWP wanted to raise rates. LADWP said it needed to raise electric rates to pay for the new renewable energy commitment for the city of Los Angeles. The city wants to have 20% of electricity from “renewable” resources (this must include hydro, because their “true” renewable level is much lower, although no one can site new hydro plants anywhere due to environmental rules) which will require a massive increase in investment in generation and transmission assets because 1) renewables have a high cost / MW to install 2) most of the renewable generation sites (geo-thermal, solar) are not where the grid goes to today, so costly enhancements to the transmission grid are needed.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation | 10 Comments »

    The Eyes, I’m Rowed Out (1965)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 12th April 2010 (All posts by )

    When I was young and skinny I ardently wished I had been born about 1947 in England – and that I got to see the Who and the Stones at little clubs in London before they were big – and rode a Vespa scooter – and went to groovy parties with cool people – unlike (most of) my high school classmates – and the world was wall to wall with cute girls who had exquisite taste in music (they liked the same stuff I liked!), who went shopping for groovy mod clothes, at places like the one in this video … .
     


     
    (My adolescent mod dream utopia was set in 1965-66, and this video looks more “Swinging London” 1967-68, but still, close enough).

    (Dig the boots on the guy at :33. Nice.)

    (The Eyes totally rocked. I previously posted their brooding proto-psychedelic gem When the Night Falls.)

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Music, Video | 7 Comments »

    Volitional causation versus systemic analysis

    Posted by onparkstreet on 11th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Neither in his theory of economics nor in his theory of history did Marx make end results simply the carrying out of individual volition, even the volition of elites. As his collaborator Friedrich Engels put it, “what each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed.” Economics is about the pattern that emerges. Historian Charles A. Beard could seek to explain the Constitution of the United States by the economic interests of those who wrote it but that volitional approach was not the approach used by Marx and Engels, despite how often Beard’s theory of history has been confused with the Marxian theory of history. Marx dismissed a similar theory in his own day as “facile anecdote-mongering and the attribution of all great events to petty and mean causes.”
     
    The question here is not whether most intellectuals agree with systemic analysis, either in economics or elsewhere. Many have never even considered, much less confronted, that kind of analysis. Those who reason in terms of volitional causation see chaos from conflicting individual decisions as the alternative to central control of economic processes. John Dewey said, “comprehensive plans” are required “if the problem of social organization is to be met.” Otherwise, there will be “a continuation of a regime of accident, waste and distress.” To Dewey, “dependence upon intelligence” is an alternative to “drift and casual improvisation” – that is, chaos – and those who are “hostile to intentional social planning” are in favor of “atomistic individualism.”

    Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy | 17 Comments »

    No Nukes or New Nukes?

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th April 2010 (All posts by )

    This presentation by the Center for Security Policy is worth watching. The points that most impressed me were made by the former head of the Defense Nuclear Agency, the bureaucracy that manages our nuclear-bomb inventory. He pointed out that the inventory is old and that weapons need to be tested from time to time to insure their reliability, and that any test ban would therefore be incompatible with our maintenance of a reliable arsenal.

    Furthermore, our nuclear weapons were designed to destroy cities and large, hardened missile installations and airfields and the like, and are much too powerful to be useful in today’s world. For example, we can’t plausibly threaten to blow up Tehran to discourage the mullahs from building nukes. Everyone knows we wouldn’t follow through. But if we had very-low-yield nukes built into penetrating warheads we could actually use them, and it would become possible for us to change the Iranians’ behavior without attacking (or by attacking conventionally and then threatening to use nuclear penetrators on Iranian R&D and production facilities if the Iranians didn’t scuttle their nuke program). But we aren’t building these small nukes, because Obama doesn’t want to, and even if he wanted to it’s difficult to produce a new generation of reliable nuclear weapons if we forbid ourselves the ability to test them.

    (After the CSP video, C-SPAN showed video from a Global Zero PR event, perhaps for comic relief. Global Zero wants to apply the logic of domestic gun prohibition to global nuclear armaments. I am sure this concept will work as well with the Iranian mullahs as it does with common criminals.)

    Posted in Military Affairs, National Security, Video, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    The Church, “The Unguarded Moment” (live)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 10th April 2010 (All posts by )


     
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off on The Church, “The Unguarded Moment” (live)

    Irony?

    Posted by Ginny on 10th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Instapundit then Blog Prof; summary:
    Gateway Belmont Club Arthur Chrenkoff

    The Poles remember:
    “The WW2 memorial service was for the victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre where thousands of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were murdered by the Soviet NKVD, a massacre that Russia has never apologized for.”

    An accident happens:
    President, wife, the head of the Polish army, the head of the presidential administration, The Army chief of staff, National Bank President, and Deputy Foreign Minister are now dead.

    Truth will out:
    Putin will investigate.

    Life is so full of accidents, it is generally best not to first fasten on conspiracies. History often seems told by someone with vast reserves of irony.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics, Russia | 3 Comments »

    Sensing Reminds – but we forget

    Posted by Ginny on 9th April 2010 (All posts by )

    Musings, seeing Sensing (here and especially here)

    Some, Chomsky for instance, look at dots from a myopic & remarkably American perspective – narrower than the most jingoistic cowboy. The difference, of course, is that America is the spider spinning a web of death and intrigue. Of course, this particular (and peculiar) pattern leaves out what we reacted against, what others did, what we prevented others from doing. They are our victims. This ignores the larger world – the one Jonah Goldberg describes, the dots Glen Beck connects. And, frankly, the deaths that total up in The Black Book of Communism make the Goldbergs and Becks and David Horowitzs of the world – hyperventilating, perhaps, hyperactive, more radical than conservative, bombthrowers in their own ways – still a bit saner than the Chomskys and Zinns. Exactly what does it take to be hyperbolic when we describe the Ukraine of the 30’s or the Cultural Revolution or Cambodia or the cannibalism of North Korea or the shredders of Iraq? Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Human Behavior, Society, War and Peace | 4 Comments »