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  • Archive for October, 2010

    A “hipbone” approach to analysis: I

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 22nd October 2010 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    I think it’s about time I laid out some of the basic thinking behind the style of analysis that I refer to as the “hipbone” approach.

    Seen from one angle, it has to do with Sun Tzu’s double-whammy: “know your enemy, know yourself”.

    F Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Let me be blunt about this: if you want to “know yourself” and “know your enemy” as Sun Tzu recommends you should, you’ll need to be able to keep two opposing minds in mind at the same time – and still retain the ability to function.

    The hipbone approach uses very simple concept-mapping tools and some fairly subtle insights derived from a lifetime of introspection and the arts to facilitate and annotate that process, and to make the resulting understandings available to others.

    But first, let’s get down to the kind of thinking that lies behind this approach.


    One thing I want to know is: what are the most subtle and complex mini-structures that the human mind can take in, more or less at one swoop.

    Then I’d like to know what their moving parts are, how — to the extent that they have a “main thrust” — they handle parallelisms and reconcile oppositions to that thrust, and what they do with stuff that’s oblique or orthogonal to it, how they put constraints to use in service of expression, what use they make of decoration, how they handle ignorance, how they reconcile head and heart, certainty and doubt, and how they keep the surface mind occupied while affecting the deeper layers of our being…

    And I want to know that, viscerally — to feel it in my bones, if you like – because I’d like to be able to do more or less the same thing with regard to complex real-world problems, on a napkin, by myself, or with friends or enemies.


    I want to know what those things are because (a) they’re the most nourishing things I can feed myself, and I need all the nourishment I can get, and (b) because it turns out that if I can come up with product that has the same formal properties, I’ll be able to explain things both to myself and other people that otherwise leave me stuttering platitudes.

    Somewhere right about there, I run into a quotation like this one, from Cornelius Castoriadis in his World in fragments: writings on politics, society, psychoanalysis, and the imagination:

    Remember that philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

    What I think I’m hearing here, half-hidden in the words, is that the Mozart Requiem is one of those high-density, subtle and complex mini-structures.

    And I agree — in fact I find myself thinking of the arts that way, as the natural places to look for high-density, subtle and complex models of reality.


    Of course, it would be absurdly neat if nobody else had ever noticed this, and I could take all the credit for myself – but no, the great anthropologist and cybernetician Gregory Bateson makes pretty much the same observation about poetry:

    One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don’t ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we are not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping from complexity to complexity.

    Poems are precisely “high-density, subtle and complex mini-structures” – that’s how they manage the “mapping from complexity to complexity” – and so the question comes up, what’s the role of structure in the arts?


    Let’s take a quick look at musical structure, and at polyphony and counterpoint in particular. Your enemy’s perspective and your own – or the many perspectives of the various stakeholders in a complex, perhaps “sticky” or “wicked” problem – can be compared with the different, often discordant melodies from which a Bach or Mozart or Beethoven weaves a fugue – melodic themes which are not infrequently “inverted” or in “contrary motion”.

    So what can the musical structure of counterpoint teach us, who are faced with real-world situations comprised of different needs and ideals — often discordant, often in counterpoint or opposition to one another, often in “contrary motion”?

    Here’s Edward Said, discussing the Israeli-Palestinian problem in terms (gasp!) of musical form:

    When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes — opposites in the Hegelian sense — that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.

    Like him or leave him, Said in this paragraph is clearly thinking along similar lines to the ones I’m proposing.

    Or to move to yet another art, that of theater — what can we learn about the simulation and modeling of complex issues from Shakespeare? Keith Oatley’s Shakespeare’s invention of theatre as simulation that runs on minds is a serious exploration of that possibility.


    I’m going to return to the arts, and lay out a theory of what an art is and how it works, in a later post in this series – but for now, let me just say that I’ve devised a cognitive mapping tool, or more precisely a family of games and mapping tools, that I call “HipBone Games and Analysis” because they’re all about the way one idea connects with another – just as “the hip-bone’s connected to the thigh-bone” in the song.

    And as I commented recently on Zenpundit:

    What I’m aiming for is a way of presenting the conflicting human feelings and understandings present in a single individual, or regarding a given topic in a small group, in a conceptual map format, with few enough nodes that the human mind can fairly easily see the major parallelisms and disjunctions, as an alternative to the linear format, always driving to its conclusion, that the white paper represents. Not as big as a book, therefore, let alone as vast as an enormous database that requires complex software like Starlight to graphically represent it, and not solely quantitative… but something you could sketch out on a napkin, showing nodes and connections, in a way that would be easily grasped and get some of the human and contextual side of an issue across.


    To balance Sun Tzu’s “know your enemy, know yourself” with which I began, I’ll offer by way of counterpoint Christ’s “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you” (Luke 6.27).

    And now for two of my favorite words: more soon…

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    99 Years

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 22nd October 2010 (All posts by )

    My grandmother died last night. She was 99. She was very active right up until her death. She had a very good life.

    Aside from the obvious sorrows that I have, the historian in me thinks about the past. Not just my memories with her, but all the things she has seen in the last 99 years. I simply can’t imagine her life.

    She was born in Munich and raised with I believe six siblings. She was the last to pass.

    She lived though both world wars. The Great War she was in Germany and her whole family almost starved, but they managed. Her dad was a cobbler – a great one. Legend has it that he fixed shoes for some of the Habsburgs although I have no proof of that. She fled Hitler in the thirties and watched WW2 from Chicago where she met my Grandfather, who emigrated from Latvia.

    I simply can’t imagine what she thought about even the things that I take for granted today, like my Blackberry, coming from a rural community without electricity. They raised rabbits for food.

    What about antibiotics? Cars? Indoor plumbing?

    What a century this has been.

    Posted in History, Personal Narrative | 17 Comments »

    Mispricing Risk on Bonds

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st October 2010 (All posts by )

    Interest rates are at an all-time low.  Companies are able to borrow money and pay almost no interest under the most favorable of terms.  This one caught my eye:

    SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) today announced the pricing of a $1.5 billion underwritten public offering of its senior Notes, consisting of $400 million of 0.875% Notes due 2013 (the “2013 Notes”), $600 million of 1.625% Notes due 2015 (the “2015 Notes”) and $500 million of 3.250% Notes due 2020 (the “2020 Notes”). The public offering price of the 2013 Notes was 99.793% of the principal amount, the public offering price of the 2015 Notes was 99.630% of the principal amount, and the public offering price of the 2020 Notes was 99.420% of the principal amount, in each case plus accrued interest, if any. The offering is expected to close on October 28, 2010.  eBay intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, which may include working capital, acquisitions and capital expenditures.

    It is completely astounding that a company with a business model like eBay is able to borrow for:
    – 2-3 years at under 1%
    – 5 years at under 2%
    – 20 years at a bit over 3%

    These are not secured debt items; they are notes – and per the description above, eBay can use the money for anything they want, including working capital, which means that they can use the money for ANYTHING.  THIS IS LESS THAN 1% ABOVE THE RISK FREE RATE (i.e. what you can get for Treasuries).  This is absolutely unprecedented.

    This article in today’s Wall Street Journal essentially tells the same story with Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart was also recently able to sell debt at an absurdly low premium over the risk free rate.  Per the article:

    Wal-Mart sold $750 million worth of three-year bonds paying 0.75% a year. It sold $1.25 billion of five-year bonds paying 1.5%, $1.75 billion of 10-year bonds paying 3.25% and $1.25 billion of 30-year bonds paying 5%.

    The difference between Wal-Mart and eBay is that WMT also has an instrument that delivers yield as well as some potential for appreciation; a stock paying a dividend.  The dividend on the shares of WMT yield a bit over 2% a year and receive preferential tax treatment (due to the dividends received deduction) to boot.  Per the article:

    Wal-Mart has raised dividends by an average of 16% a year over the past decade. If it merely raises them by 10% a year in the future, the yield on the stock will surpass that on the 10-year bonds within about five years. It will surpass that on the 30-year bonds within 10 years.

    I have no idea why someone would buy debt, which has many risks (the risk of inflation in the economy, as well as a company specific risk) with this sort of minuscule premium, especially when taxation is so unfavorable (it is taxed as ordinary income today and highly likely tomorrow).

    This is the equivalent of a “bubble market” for bonds.

    Cross posted at LITGM and Trust Funds for Kids

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Investment Journal | 10 Comments »

    “Blogging Through Georgia”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 20th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Communism, it seemed to me then and still seems to me now, is not the opposite of fascism: it is fascism’s blood-brother, its complementary twin. The two live together in a vicious symbiotic relationship; scratch a Red and you’ll find a Brown. Better yet, scratch either one deeply enough and you will find a Black: someone so caught up in the will to power that crimes and atrocities don’t even count anymore.

    Walter Russell Mead (via Instapundit)

    Posted in Europe, International Affairs, Leftism, Personal Narrative, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Society | 25 Comments »

    Avoiding the Stalemate State

    Posted by TM Lutas on 20th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Get ready for a lot of stories bemoaning the coming period of political gridlock in the federal government. Jacob S Hacker and Paul Pierson offer up a typical sample of the genre in The American Prospect. But it doesn’t have to be that way if the GOP in the House acts in a pro-government/small-government way.

    A united GOP in the House could insist on a new paradigm for passing legislation, passing all the good stuff first. Yes, it gets less passed, but isn’t that the point? The House can, legitimately, say that it’s not shutting down the government. It can bang out funding for the essential programs in each department in the spring, pass (or not) the middle tier popularity programs in the summer, and then present the real stinkers in the fall, right before elections.

    There would be no government shut down. The Parks people could not shut down Mt. Rushmore and the George Washington Monument because their operations would be funded. Programs that could not get a majority to vote for them would be shut down but that happens every year. It’s how the system is supposed to work.

    The political choices for Democrats would be very unattractive. Their attempts to stuff in budget stinkers into the must-pass bill will be turned back with the reasonable explanation that the program is funded in a different bill and that it will get a vote, but not here. Once the early bills pass, government shutdown is averted.

    Is the GOP going to be smart enough to create a better way to fund the government? I hope so. What concerns me is that nobody else seems to be talking about appropriation sequence passage reform.

    Thanks to Bastiches in the comments who gave a pointer that led me to a September 30 speech by John Boehnor which I had not seen to now. The relevant section:

    While the culture of spending stems largely from a lack of political will in both parties to say ‘no,’ it is also the consequence of what I believe to be a structural problem. As Kevin McCarthy often says, structure dictates behavior. Aided by a structure that facilitates spending increases and discourages spending cuts, the inertia in Washington is currently to spend — and spend — and spend. Most spending bills come to the floor prepackaged in a manner that makes it as easy as possible to advance government spending and programs, and as difficult as possible to make cuts.

    Again, this is not a new problem. But if we’re serious about confronting the challenges that lie ahead for our nation, it’s totally inadequate.

    I propose today a different approach. Let’s do away with the concept of “comprehensive” spending bills. Let’s break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit. Members shouldn’t have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn’t have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each Department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own.

    It isn’t exactly what I’m talking about (the level of granularity is different and the sequencing idea is entirely absent) but it’s a very close cousin and that is much appreciated. This speech helps the tea party because even if Boehnor is not serious about the proposal now (tough to tell without actual reform legislation text), focused public pressure to support this would lead him and the rest of the GOP to run to the front of the parade. And if he is serious? We might end up with an actual small government party again under this kind of leadership. We certainly could use one.

    In either case, this remains a good pressure point between now and January for small government activists to press for reform. And now it has the advantage that soon-to-be-speaker Boehner has come out on the right side.

    Posted in Politics, Public Finance | 21 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 20th October 2010 (All posts by )



    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Media Bleg

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

    I started blogging at my “homebase”, Life In The Great Midwest on November 20, 2004. Here is my first post:

    My first post, I guess, should be a quote from one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan.
    “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”

    LITGM is an immense collection of posts about different subjects. It has been a small group blog for some time now. We have a lot of fun there and I have made a lot of wonderful friends. I also blog at some half dozen other locations.

    People have different reasons for blogging. My main reason was to keep my (admittedly poor) writing skills sharp and to keep up on new technology as far as the sharing of ideas goes. I know that my writing will never be as good as someone like Ginny, but I do try my best.

    It will be interesting to see where blogs end up in another five years. Frankly I am surprised that they have lasted this long. Best buggy whip around, I always say.

    To the meat of this post. It seems that I have now come full circle. I have decided to write a small book, and I hope that my blogging over the last 6 years will help me with the writing of it.

    The subject matter will be how physical fitness has changed my life. I am now an upper end amateur athlete, and I participate in running, strength training, cycling and Muay Thai kickboxing. The changes in my life have been nothing short of amazing and I not only want to share my story with others, but I want to help others receive this gift.

    I want to give the information away for free and my initial idea is to put up a website where people could download a copy for free by clicking a link for a pdf file. I don’t know much about print on demand books.

    Any help our commenters could provide here would be greatly appreciated as to what you think would be the best way to distribute this. I hope to get it done by Spring and have made it my winter project.

    I just hope Jim McCormick doesn’t review my book, as his review will most likely be better and longer than my text :).

    Posted in Book Notes, Media, Sports | 11 Comments »

    Tea Party Bozo Show II – Bruno responds

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 20th October 2010 (All posts by )

    For background on just how awful a person I am, start with my first installment of the Tea Party Bozo Show.  Read all the slams on my breach of protocol against Senate Candidate Joe Miller.  Once finished, read on.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 12 Comments »

    Tea Party Bozo Show

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 19th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Miller cites Communist East Germany as effective in dealing with border security

    The scuffle between the editor of Alaska Dispatch and Joe Miller’s security guards at a public forum in Anchorage late Sunday is getting much national attention today. Getting lesser but growing attention is Miller’s answer at the forum to a question from the audience about how he would deal with illegal immigration. Anchorage blogger Steve Aufrecht was there and is among those today who are criticizing Miller’s response that Communist East Germany is a good example of a nation achieving border security. He quotes Miller as saying: “The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. … East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border. If East Germany could do it, we could do it.”

    What a blithering idiot!

    These apparently are the only choices for Rs these days.  A class of in-bred crooks who serve the functional equivalent of perverted uncles molesting American principles, or a class of pseudo articulate ass-clowns.

    Oh well, the upside is that I’ll likely get my wish that Rs don’t get the senate. That’s a nice silver lining.

    Posted in Germany, Immigration | 32 Comments »

    Congressional and Voter Attitudes Toward Israel

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

    Israpundit has done a useful analysis of the votes of individual Congressmen on issues affecting Israel–it seems to have been distributed only via e-mail, and not available on their site. The format of the data is pretty unwieldy, so instead of posting the whole thing I’ve done a bit of analysis. If this issue matters to you, then you might want to check and see if your current Congressman is on the list below. In any event, I think the data is pretty revealing.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Politics | 6 Comments »

    A “Somewhat Reasonable” defense of Mitch Daniels

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 19th October 2010 (All posts by )

    The Heartland Institute just opened up their new blog today, I encourage a visit.

    This is where the Heartland staff will post their quick takes and commentary on the rapidly developing stories of the day.

    I just posted a spirited defense of Mitch Daniels there…like he needs my help.

    Posted in Politics, Taxes | 7 Comments »

    Sad I was 100% Correct On Illinois Being a Predictor for the USA

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 18th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Recently I was thinking of a post I wrote back in 2008 before Obama was elected. In this post I described how the Democrats ran Illinois as a one-party state since all levers of state power were in the hands of the bluest of Democrats.

    I split Democratic leaders into 2 camps:

    1) stone cold 100% redistributionists
    2) “don’t strangle the golden goose” just keep it barely alive

    The only variable was which Democrats would fall into which of the 2 categories, above.

    Amazingly, my post was TOO upbeat. Pretty much all of the democrats fell into the stone-code 100% redistributionist camp. These types:

    1) ignore the impact of taxes on behavior and will raise taxes on “the rich” to the highest level they possibly can
    2) shamelessly increase government, their backers, and the role of government, their patrons, at all opportunities

    This is most chilling in this video as the President’s economic advisers point out all the money that they DON’T take from taxpayers as an increase in deficit spending, implying of course that the money is just there for the taking and that it doesn’t impact behavior at all.

    I don’t think even the bleakest of us in our hearts thought that deficit spending would rise to such enormous levels and government would expand at a breakneck pace, taking over companies and industries and even ramming through a giant health care plan, to boot.

    I struggle to find even many “don’t strangle the golden goose” Democrats. It is pretty much all bad.

    The ONE positive of this whole debacle is that America, unlike Illinois (which is gerrymandered to the hilt) can take back the levers of power at the House, Senate and White House over the next few years and we can definitively answer the question, in a clear manner, of what the Democrats would do if they had power.

    Run it like Illinois.

    Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »

    Book Notes

    Posted by onparkstreet on 18th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Allen R. Dodd, Jr.’s The Job Hunter is the flip-side of “Mad Men”. This is what the world of 1960′s advertising–of the white-collar workplace in general–looks like from the outside looking in. Subtitled “The Diary of a ‘Lost’ Year,” The Job Hunter began as an article in the 30 November 1962 issue Printer’s Ink–at the time one of the leading trade journals of the advertising business. Although Dodd acknowledges in his introduction that his first-person narrator is “a composite figure, a typical white-collar job-seeker, created from a variety of sources,” he fully succeeds in creating a believable character from what could easily be a stereotype of one of John Cheever’s middle-aged train-catching commuters.

    “It’s going to be tough on the company, of course, but the last thing in the world we’d want to do is to stand in your way,” Dodd’s nameless narrator is told one July afternoon by one of his higher-ups in a mid-sized ad firm. And so he is evicted from the world of the working and left to find another position, a process that takes him the better part of a year. Although many of the practical aspects of job-hunting have changed–Dodd’s narrator has little else besides the help wanted ads and a few business directories to go on–The Job Hunter is very effective in conveying the sense of being a social outcast that inevitably clings to a man without a job, particularly a white-collar professional.

    The Neglected Books Page

    Also from The Neglected Books Page:

    In 1939, Rollo Walter Brown was 59, a former Harvard professor of literature, a popular lecturer, and a dangerous man. In I Travel by Train, he recalls some of his many trips across the United States through the depths of the Depression. His work as a lecturer on literature, politics, and history took him to all corners of the country, from San Francisco to New Orleans and Atlanta, from the industrial towns of Michigan and Ohio to the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and north Texas. Wherever he went, he made a point of venturing out and trying to understand what was going on and why.

    Check out the utterly charming drawings accompanying the I Travel by Train post. Graphic novels are not such a new concept, it turns out….

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Blogging, Book Notes | 2 Comments »

    The Accidental Eloquence of Mrs Rearden

    Posted by David Foster on 18th October 2010 (All posts by )

    I’m a bit reluctant to post anything that mentions Ayn Rand, for fear of triggering some very heated and off-topic discussion…but recent trends in the political and business spheres have reminded me of a line in Atlas Shrugged which was spoken by Henry Rearden’s mother:

    All business is just dirty politics and all politics is just dirty business.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 14 Comments »

    We Just Don’t Know

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 18th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Back in September I wrote a post that bitched because a certain law had a loophole that was being exploited.

    I now have an update of sorts.

    I will limit this discussion to residential A/C equipment to keep the discussion simple.

    To review, the original intent of the law that was enacted as of January 1 of this year was to eliminate the manufacture of any residential A/C that contained the refrigerant R-22. Unfortunately the law was written poorly, and quickly the Chinese manufacturers flooded the market with air conditioners that were shipped dry, meant to be charged with R-22 in the field. R-22 is still available at relatively low prices.

    Last week in Chicago I attended a lecture by the head of a large HVAC trade group. Apparently the DOE (Department of Energy) is frowning upon this loophole and may be doing something to not allow the dry units to be sold.

    Meanwhile, several of the major manufacturers are (as of this writing) gearing up production for dry R-22 units.

    So what to do. Jump in and risk the units being outlawed at a later date (as is what most think will happen) or sit here and let my competitors get a leg up on the thing?

    This isn’t the only pending issue in my industry – there are a lot of credits available now for replacing your old heating and cooling system with one of a much higher efficiency – those credits are due to expire at the end of the year unless re-upped. This was expected to be done but Congress left town to campaign and it is tabled. They may or may not get on it with the lame duck session (like so many other items).

    This is a very nervous and interesting time for my industry. I am sure there are many, many others who are also watching Congress like never before in this uncertain last few months of the year.

    Posted in Business, China, Environment, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Gig ’em

    Posted by Ginny on 17th October 2010 (All posts by )

    I’m often critical of the big school – but where it is good, it is damn good. I always liked to hire e.t.s because they were generally a polite, hard working and practical lot. That was Hall’s major. But getting a copy job out on time isn’t the same as saving 33 miners; their “can do” does the little and it does the big. Here’s the story from a local perspective: Aggie Recalls. (Fox Interview, Old Ags)

    First paragraph:
    Gregory Hall fielded media interviews Wednesday, including one with CNN. He took a congratulatory call from Texas Gov. Rick Perry that began with “Howdy, Ag!” And he still had time for a three-hour class to help with his scheduled ordainment as a Catholic deacon in February.

    These guys are spread around the world and a major reason American oil rigs and refineries are remarkably safe – remarkable to all but those who have no sense of how huge such a task is. And this is American pragmatism & idealism, blended at its best. It is the “west” Catton talks about when he contrasts Lee and Grant – seeing each as representative of a region’s best. And all the frontiers didn’t close, Turner aside, in 1890 – there’s the land, sea, and air.

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship | 4 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 17th October 2010 (All posts by )

    I'll have the lot

    The official Chicagoboyz dessert recommendation is yes.


    Posted in Humor, Photos | 9 Comments »

    The Suppression of Entrepreneurship

    Posted by David Foster on 15th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Ken Langone, a co-founder of Home Depot, has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal in which he offers some advice to the President. A key excerpt:

    We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.

    If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you (Obama) have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive.

    Regarding Obama’s comments at a town-hall meeting he attended, Langone says:

    I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue. For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally “driving the economy into a ditch,” to borrow your oft-repeated phrase.

    My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a “reckless” group that had made “bad decisions” and now required your guidance, if only I’d stop “resisting” it.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Games of War and Peace: IV

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 15th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Previous posts in this series: I, II, III.


    Kadyrov < Ramzan Kadyrov

    From Reuters:

    Chechnya’s leader hails paintball attacks on women
    The Kremlin-backed head of Russia’s Muslim Chechnya region has praised assailants who targeted women with paintball pellets for going bareheaded, prompting outrage on Thursday from rights activists.
    Eyewitnesses have said men in camouflage, often worn by police and security forces in the volatile region, fired paintball guns from cars about a dozen times last month at women who were not wearing headscarves.
    “I don’t know (who they are), but when I find them I shall announce my gratitude,” Ramzan Kadyrov said in a weekend interview on state-run regional television channel Grozny, according to a Reuters translation of the remarks in his native Chechen.
    The attacks highlighted tension over Kadyrov’s efforts to enforce Muslim-inspired rules that in some cases violate Russia’s constitution.

    Here’s a BBC version of the same story:

    Since June, unidentified men with paintball guns have driven round the centre of Grozny shooting at women with uncovered heads. Leaflets were pinned on doors and scattered on the pavements which urged women to dress more modestly or face the consequences:
    “Today we have sprayed you with paint, but this is only a warning!!! Don’t compel us to have recourse to more persuasive measures!”
    On state television, Mr Kadyrov said he did not know who was responsible for the attacks, but added: “When I find them, I will express my gratitude.”

    I’m interested in the various ways that (what might otherwise be called) a game can morph into war.

    Clearly, a game can be training for warfare, as exemplified by Mao’s study of Go. It can serve, as did the Fisher-Spassky title match in Reykjavik, as a “continuation of war by other means”. In this case, in Chechnya, paintball appears to be functioning as a warning – a shot across the bows, so to speak.

    Are there other significant possibilities?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz Now in Finnish!

    Posted by Shannon Love on 15th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Pasi J. Matilainen was kind enough to translate my To Save the World How Many Would You Kill? post into shiny new Finnish version!

    That’s two languages down, 240+ to go.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ChicagoBoyz Now in Finnish!

    It All Went to the Lawyers

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

    I do love, a good government site that makes campaign finance reports not only available but truly accessible on the web. For example, IN-1 Congressman Pete Visclosky (my congressman) raised $762,537 in this 2 year cycle (2009-2010), $290,988 from individuals according to his latest campaign contribution form. In the expenses tab, you find payments to the law firm Steptoe & Johnson. This is the firm busy keeping Congressman Pete out of jail due to that little mishap with the PMA lobbying group. Their payments totaling $353,355, added to the $22,200 of disgorgement to the Treasury (which is what you do with illegal campaign contributions) is over 40% of Pete’s total campaign expenditures. It also far exceeds the individual donations the Congressman received.

    So if you’re thinking about donating to Congressman Pete Visclosky or you recently have, now you know your money’s destination, direct to the lawyers. It just gives you a nice warm feeling, doesn’t it?

    originally posted NW Indiana Politics

    Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »

    More Banjos

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz is a banjo-positive blog.


    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off on More Banjos

    Copter Box

    Posted by Shannon Love on 14th October 2010 (All posts by )

    Here is a neat concept for air dropping supplies cheaply. The system uses cheap prefabbed boxes that have a tiny stabilizing parachute and then cardboard rotors that pop out and autorotate to slow the package’s descent. Check out the videos at the bottom of the linked page to see it in operation.

    The advantage of this system is that you don’t need a big expensive parachute and you don’t have to have someone who can properly pack a chute. Just grab the boxes, load them up to weight and toss them out of the aircraft.

    It will be a big boon for relief and aid workers and yet another innovation created by small-scale capitalists.

    It’s funny what you find while researching pre-WWII autogyros.

    Posted in Aviation, Tech | 3 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th October 2010 (All posts by )


    Marooned in virtual whiteout conditions, a faithful St. Bernard (?) brings a margarita warming cask to an intrepid Chicagoboy sheltering in a waterfront cabana remote mountain cabin.


    Posted in Humor, Photos | 1 Comment »

    Put a Rocket Scientist in Congress?

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

    Ruth McClung is running for Congress in Arizona’s 7th District. She seems like an interesting person–physics degree, works in rocketry at an engineering company, worked her way through college, enjoys rock climbing, an amateur painter whose work has been displayed in local galleries.

    Views on specific issues aside, it’s great to see so much true diversity among some of the new people running for office. Too many of the old crowd are made in the same mold…typically lawyers, who have spent their entire careers in public office, government “service,” or in pseudo-private positions (lobbyists, attorneys focusing on regulatory issues) which are closely connected to their governmental experience..or activists and “community organizers,” types of activity which are really just other kinds of lobbying…and many them appear to have little intellectual or emotional depth and no real interests in life other than the acquisition of personal political power and influence.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Elections, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 6 Comments »