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  • Archive for December, 2010

    Perception Is Reality

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

    I have had an interesting half decade or so to run an experiment on my customers. It wasn’t an experiment I expected to run.

    Back in 2005 or 2006 I bought a Hummer H3. Before then I owned three Ford Explorers in a row, all purchased about four or five years apart. After I bought the H3 I started to get lots of questions from my customers, and a lot of times they were almost deriding.

    I own a small business, and since I am always the first one there in the morning I park in the closest spot to the front door on one side (so on the other side of the front door the customers get close spots as well) – the point is that you can see the vehicle when you enter the place of business.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Human Behavior | 15 Comments »


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

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]


    Posted in Christianity, Humor, Rhetoric | 3 Comments »

    Holiday Music

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

    A large vendor of mine was kind enough to send me a cd of Holiday music. The songs on the disc:

    Winter Wonderland
    Frosty the Snowman
    Favorite Things
    Blanket Full of Snow
    Jingle Bells
    March of the Toys
    Holiday Cheer
    Sleigh Ride
    Suger Plum Fairy

    I would assume that you can figure out why I am pissed off.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Christianity, Holidays, Leftism, Music | 10 Comments »

    Grand Strategy as Co-Evolution: Being and Becoming

    Posted by Zenpundit on 21st December 2010 (All posts by )

    “Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors’, but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit.” – Pericles, The Funeral Oration

    “The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister,
    Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

    – The Atlantic Charter, 1941

    Adam Elkus, at Rethinking Security, makes an important point about grand strategy not requiring a great enemy:

    Building a Strategy for Chaos?

    ….The short answer is that grand strategy isn’t something that requires an clear and equal enemy to create. But since grand strategy is something that involves a long time line, a substantially more broad subject area than war strategy, and the utilization of resources in peacetime, it makes more sense to visualize it less as an explicit plan than a collection of practices sustained over a long period of time. The policy of “offshore balancing” which Churchill mentions in this speech is one of those sets of practices.

    Boyd is commonly misunderstood as a tactically obsessed jet pilot whose insights mainly relate to cycling through a decision cycle faster than the opponent. But the importance of his writings to grand strategy is undeniable. His stress on the importance of forming organizations creative and efficient enough to “destroy and create” perceptions of the external environment, increase our own connectivity and degrade that of our opponents, and the importance of establishing a “pattern for vitality and growth” all point to aspects of strategic design that focus less on marshalling resources against a specific opponent than developing a basic strategic template that can remixed for various situations under a process of “plug and play.”

    In his post, Adam references Colonel John Boyd’s “Theme for Vitality and Growth” from his brief, Patterns of Conflict:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Civil Society, History, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, USA, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    A new Ice Age. Maybe ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st December 2010 (All posts by )

    There is a great deal of argument about the reality of anthropogenic global warming. Al Gore is on one side and the weather seems to be on the other. People are even talking about the “Gore Effect.” This is unexpected cold weather that seems to follow Al Gore around. If he comes to town to give a speech about how the world is warming, expect a cold snap or even snow.

    Right now, Britain, and much of Europe, are enduring a terrible winter. This has been called the worst winter in Britain in 100 years. The British Met Office predicted a warm winter. London, however, was prepared for snow. A lot of snow. The result has been that London has kept up quite well with the weather except for Heathrow Airport which has been closed for two days. (My niece has been trapped there since the weekend.) Why did London city do better than Heathrow and most of the rest of Britain ?

    The Mayor explains.
    He uses a private weather forecaster who is getting more and more respect from people who have to know about the weather, like farmers and business people.

    And the Mayor of London.

    Is it really true that no one saw this coming?

    Actually, they did. Allow me to introduce readers to Piers Corbyn, meteorologist and brother of my old chum, bearded leftie MP Jeremy. Piers Corbyn works in an undistinguished office in Borough High Street. He has no telescope or supercomputer. Armed only with a laptop, huge quantities of publicly available data and a first-class degree in astrophysics, he gets it right again and again.

    Back in November, when the Met Office was still doing its “mild winter” schtick, Corbyn said it would be the coldest for 100 years. Indeed, it was back in May that he first predicted a snowy December, and he put his own money on a white Christmas about a month before the Met Office made any such forecast. He said that the Met Office would be wrong about last year’s mythical “barbecue summer”, and he was vindicated. He was closer to the truth about last winter, too.

    He seems to get it right about 85 per cent of the time and serious business people – notably in farming – are starting to invest in his forecasts. In the eyes of many punters, he puts the taxpayer-funded Met Office to shame. How on earth does he do it? He studies the Sun.

    He looks at the flow of particles from the Sun, and how they interact with the upper atmosphere, especially air currents such as the jet stream, and he looks at how the Moon and other factors influence those streaming particles.

    He takes a snapshot of what the Sun is doing at any given moment, and then he looks back at the record to see when it last did something similar. Then he checks what the weather was like on Earth at the time – and he makes a prophecy.

    Many of us climate skeptics believe that the sun controls our climate and Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue.”

    Are we now in a Dalton Minimum ?

    Well, it doesn’t look good. How long before the climate science people open their eyes ?

    it is a full two years since the month of solar minimum, this was a good opportunity to update a lot of graphs of solar activity.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Britain, Environment, Predictions, Science | 4 Comments »

    The Electoral Grind I

    Posted by TM Lutas on 21st December 2010 (All posts by )

    I just appeared before the Lake County, Indiana Board of Elections. My message was for them to reconsider their policy to not permit electronic copying of voter registration data via disk or tape and to now allow electronic copies to flow.

    Electronic copies of voter registration data are one of those baseline issues that you never even think about until you run up against a situation where you don’t have them. Then everything gets slow, more error prone, and expensive.

    At that point you get knee-bone-connected-to-the-thigh-bone secondary effects and the end result is poorer, less effective oversight and a persistent suspicion that something funny’s happening with the vote in Lake County. As a practical matter, until you can regularly check, there’s no way to fix that distrust of the system.

    Once electronic copies become available, a lot of secondary analysis becomes trivial. Accusations of Democrat suppression of the military vote are very common in GOP circles. So what was the comparative rejection rate of military vs. civilian ballot? A few FOI requests and you have the data you need to figure out if our military is being disenfranchised.

    There’s a mini scandal brewing over whether south county voters are having their vote suppressed because their precincts are so large that people just give up at the sight of the long lines that inevitably build up. It’s a simple thing to rank 561 precincts by registered vote totals and convert that to minutes needed to process one voter across the critical path to identify the county’s most vulnerable precincts for long lines and lowered turnout. It’s simple to target early voting/absentee voting calls to those vulnerable precincts (in Lake they’re all likely to be strong GOP areas) but only if you can get electronic copies of the records as the early vote comes in so you can adjust daily to trim down the vote you think is vulnerable to suppression due to inadequate voting machine provision.

    Cross posted at Northwest Indiana Politics

    Posted in Politics, Tech | Comments Off on The Electoral Grind I

    Worse Than I Thought

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st December 2010 (All posts by )

    For a long time I assumed Obama was a communist. How else to explain his support for the Honduran Chavista Manuel Zelaya? Ideological sympathy on Obama’s part seemed the simplest explanation.

    However, documents from WikiLeaks suggest an even worse possibility, namely that the whole sorry affair was driven by incompetence at a level that’s astonishing even by the low standards of the Obama administration. Were they really so eager to appease Chavez? That’s crazy even if Obama is personally sympathetic to Chavez. It was easily predictable that Chavez would pocket any concessions and go for more and that’s what happened. And now an emboldened Chavez appears to have invited Iran to install ballistic missiles in Venezuela, and we do nothing. We are cruising toward another Cuban Missile Crisis but with weaker leadership on our side, adversaries who are less stable than the Soviets were, and erstwhile allies scared off by our fecklessness. How much trouble might have been prevented if we had taken a firm line in support of the elected Honduran government and warned Chavez to stay out?

    If we’re lucky Obama will be out of office before the inevitable crisis occurs.

    UPDATE: Jed Babbin on The Coming Venezuela Missile Crisis:

    That crisis will consume much international attention next year, though a more important spread of Middle Eastern conflict to the Americas – the partnership between Iran and Venezuela – will likely be ignored until it is too late to resolve by any means short of war.

    Posted in Americas, Iran, Latin America, Leftism, National Security, Obama, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    The Past of the Future

    Posted by David Foster on 20th December 2010 (All posts by )

    Commenter Erin, at the Assistant Village Idiot, links a series of predictions about the year 2000 which were made in a Ladies Home Journal article dated December, 1900.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Predictions, Tech | 1 Comment »

    Why is Molly Hughes not better known?

    Posted by Helen on 20th December 2010 (All posts by )

    Molly_HughesWhen I was at school we were still given lists of suggested holiday reading (a habit that, I believe, most state schools in Britain have abolished) and M. V. Hughes’s trilogy about growing up and being educated in London figured on them repeatedly. Presumably, there was something wrong with the way these were presented to us because I recall deciding that they were not books I really cared to read. How wrong I was.

    A few months ago our co-blogger (and a considerably more active one than I am) Lexington Green e-mailed me about Molly Hughes, her books and how much he was enjoying them. Hmmm, I thought, I had better find out. I was in luck: on three separate visits to Oxford I found her books in the Oxfam second-hand bookshop. The most recent one I read was about her life between the wars in Cuffley, a village just outside London that was, in that period, steadily moving towards becoming a suburb, A London Family Between the Wars. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Education, History | 2 Comments »

    Winning debates with the Teacher Union

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

    I made my Fox Chicago debut last week, with the interview/segment airing on Sunday Morning. It’s amazing how much coverage you can get by walking through a parking lot, talking to news anchors.

    Since I can’t put the video up here, I linked to Heartland’s new blog, Somewhat Reasonable.

    UPDATE: Video appears below.

    FOX Chicago Sunday: Karen Lewis & Bruno Behrend:

    Posted in Education | 11 Comments »

    John and Carl, Sittin’ Under a Tree…

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

    Disembodied Floating Clausewitz Head

    Disembodied Floating Clausewitz Head

    Genghis John

    Genghis John

    Recent outbreaks in the ongoing Cold War between advocates of Maj.Gen. Carl von Clausewitz, KPB and advocates of Col. John Boyd, USAF (ret) coincided with other outbreaks between supporters of Sun Wu and Clausewitz. Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that all such outbreaks would vanish into the maw of the Dread Zenpundit Comment Filter (DZCF), the same vortex that swallows <p>, <br / >, and other innocent HTML tags, never to be seen again. Yet, if these debates must rage until every tag destroyed by the DZCF is paid for by yet another tag marking up yet another piece of rhetorical excess, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

    I won’t attempt to reconcile Sun-tzu and Clausewitz. That calling was fulfilled by the late Michael Handel in his Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought with an aplomb that is far beyond my poor power to add or detract. However, I will second Adam Elkus’ efforts in pointing out where the frameworks of Clausewitz and Boyd coincide.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Boyd/Osinga Roundtable, Diversions, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Sending the New York Times back to School

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th December 2010 (All posts by )

    Anyone else notice that the New York Times can’t even get basic Constitutional law correct?

    Like any constitutional amendment, it faces enormous hurdles: it must be approved by both chambers of Congress — requiring them to agree, in this case, to check their own power — and then by three-quarters of, or 38, state legislatures.

    Nope, an amendment requires approval by both chambers of Congress OR three-quarters of the states. The framers would have never allowed Congress to be the sole gatekeeper for amending the Constitution.

    Nope, proposing an amendment requires approval by both chambers of Congress OR three-quarters of the states. Ratification requires approval by 3/4 of the states alone. The framers would have never allowed Congress to be the sole gatekeeper for amending the Constitution.

    Oh, and check out the other professor of Constitutional law:

    Sanford V. Levinson, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas, called the proposal “a really terrible idea” because it would give the same weight to small states as it would to large ones, allowing those with a relatively small proportion of the national population to have outsize influence.

    You mean like the way we elect Senators and the President? Oh, the horror!

    Of course, the article has all the bias and slanted innuendo one expects from the New York Times, but you’d think they could get the basic facts correct when they’re mocking others for their supposed Constitutional illiteracy.

    Posted in Media | 7 Comments »

    King Abdullah’s health and the Signs of the Times

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 19th December 2010 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is currently recovering from two recent surgeries in hospital in the US, may he, may we all be blessed with good health.


    Dr. Kamal El-Helbawy of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism in London was quoted yesterday by [Iranian] Press TV as saying that a coup might take place in Saudi Arabia:

    “It is possible that a coup could happen, and I see nothing to prevent that from happening,” Dr. Kamal Helbawy of the Center for the Study of Terrorism said in an interview with Press TV aired on Saturday. “Both in Qatar and Oman in the past, the sons of the kings stole the leadership from their fathers, and I think there is a rift in the house of Saud,” he added. [ … ] “With his old age and sickness, there is suspicion about succession. There has been tension in the family for several decades. I believe there is a political and religious crisis,” Helbawy said.

    [ h/t Habiba Hamid ]


    I have no special insight into the affairs of the Kingdom. I only mention this press report because just today I ran across a reference to the Kuwaiti Shi’ite author Jaber Bolushi and his book [downloadable here in Arabic], Appearance of Imam Mahdi in 2015 — which brings us back to King Abdullah.

    We need (IMO) to get used to the idea that every newsworthy event has the potential to spark some kind of reaction in the apocalyptic mind.

    I do not wish to suggest that any given event will necessarily spark a Mahdist response — just that it may — and that we should therefore keep tabs on Mahdist and messianic sentiment in general, and note carefully what “signs of the times” might prove persuasive to those who seek such things.


    The Sunni site where I found Bolushi’s book mentioned, contained the following among a list of “signs” of the soon-coming of the Mahdi:

    Death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (we wish him long life) in 2015: The Shia believe that King Abdullah will be the last king of the House of Saud before the appearance of the Mahdi. Jaber Bolushi cites a Hadith attributed to Prophet Mohammad صلى الله عليه وسلم (the Shia claim this Hadith used to be reported in Musnad Ahmad, but was later removed) in which the Prophet mentions that the last man who will govern Al-Hijaz (the region that includes Mecca & Medina) before the Mahdi will be called Abdullah and he will be the successor of his brother who is named by the name of an animal. The previous king of Saudi Arabia was King Fahd (Fahd means leopard). It is worth noting that King Abdullah is currently 84 years old. After he dies, a dispute will occur among the royal family as to who should succeed him. There will be a strife and blood shed. Then, people will search for the Mahdi and offer him allegiance between Rukun and Maqam in the Haram Masjid in Mecca.


    My point is not to discuss the health of King Abdullah – I wish him well – nor the specifics of this particular prophecy – date-setting seems to me to be a fool’s errand, even according to the scriptures of the various religions where it is practiced.

    My point, again, is that today’s news – whatever it is — will be “read” and understood within dozens of conflicting apocalyptic contexts, most of which we are in general unaware of, with possible repercussions on the world stage that may therefore take us by surprise.


    Jean-Pierre Filiu in his recently published book, Apocalypse in Islam, writes that:

    ambitious militia leaders, such as Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq and Hasan Nasrallah in Lebanon, consciously exploit popular messianic feeling in order to assert their authority at the expense of the Shi’i clerical establishment, without allowing themselves to fall captive to apocalyptic rhetoric. [ … ] For the moment, only the Iraqi militia known as the Supporters of the Imam Mahdi has actively sought to translate the rise of eschatological anxiety into political action. Yet one day a larger and more resourceful group, eager (like Abu Musab al-Suri) to tap the energy of the “masses” as a way of achieving superiority over rival formations, may be strongly tempted to resort to the messianic gambit. An appeal to the imminence of apocalypse would provide it with an instrument of recruitment, a framework for interpreting future developments, and a way of refashioning and consolidating its own identity. In combination, these things could have far-reaching and deadly consequences.

    That’s the point.

    Posted in International Affairs, Iran, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Predictions, Religion, Rhetoric | 3 Comments »

    Book Review – An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

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

    Yes, that Steve Martin (MAN that is a funny clip).

    A few weeks ago I had on in the background CBS Sunday Morning while I was doing a bit of work at home. A story came on about Steve Martin and what he was up to. I had no idea that he was a Grammy award winning artist – on the banjo. I love banjos.

    They mentioned that he had written another book (I didn’t even know he had written one before) and that it was about the world of collectible art. Mr. Martin is a fine art collector. As I have aged I have learned to appreciate paintings and other types of art more and more so this looked to be an interesting book. I ordered it up on Amazon with a few other things for my anti-library the next day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes | 10 Comments »


    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 18th December 2010 (All posts by )

    Looking at Christmas cards. Seeing pictures of Mary and Joseph on the road, or in the stable with the baby. They did not get into the inn. They had to make the most of very rough conditions. Some thoughts occurred to me so I decided to share.

    Even if they had gotten into Herod’s palace, or even somehow became the guests of Caesar himself, what I have here is unimaginably superior. In my modest house (it’s old, and it’s drafty, and it’s not that big) I have: insulation and central heating, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, electric power, telephone, internet, cooking gas, refrigerated and frozen food, medicine as needed in the cabinet, more than sufficient clothing, a piano, and 5,000 or so books. I can communicate with anyone I want to anywhere in the world instantly. I am within walking distance of two pharmacies where I can get antibiotics if needed. I and my children are a short drive away from emergency medical care. Dentists and physicians know about germs, and soap, and can give me anesthesia. If I had to, I could get in my car and drive anywhere in North America in a matter of hours or days. If I absolutely had to, I could get on a plane and go almost anywhere in the world within hours or at most days. This is wealth beyond the wildest dreams of Caesar, or Herod, or Charlemagne, or Louis XIV, or Queen Victoria.

    There is no immediate prospect of a hostile group or gang, or my own rulers, driving me out of my home, taking my stuff by force, or murdering me or my family. If I have a dispute, I have enforceable rights, though the system is far from perfect. I am in no immediate danger of attack for practicing my religion. I can possess lethal force to defend myself and my family. I can vote, speak, publish, protest, petition, assemble, meet and organize to have an impact on the government I live under, without much likelihood of personal danger. Political disagreements, even over matters of great consequence, rarely lead to blows. This is a level of freedom and security which has been known to a tiny fraction of one percent of the people who have ever lived.

    I have gratitude to all who came before us and gave this to us. And there are many defects and failures and challenges ahead for us, and much of what we have could be lost, and some of it is in the process of being lost. But we have it good, and even better things are within our grasp. Let’s keep it going.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Holidays, Libertarianism, Politics, Religion, RKBA, Science, Society, USA | 17 Comments »

    Holiday Season

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

    Posted in Chicagoania, Photos | 1 Comment »

    Worthwhile Viewing & Listening–special seasonal edition

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

    Christmas photos from the 1920s

    A wonderful 3-D representation of the Iglesia San Luis De Los Franceses. Just click on the link–then you can look around inside the cathedral. Use arrow keys or mouse to move left/right, up/down, and shift to zoom in, ctrl to zoom out.

    Vienna Boys Choir, from Maggie’s Farm

    A Romanian Christmas carol, from The Assistant Village Idiot

    In the bleak midwinter, from The Anchoress

    French Christmas carols

    DC winter lights, an interesting series of photographs (from 2009) by AnoukAnge

    Lappland in pictures, from Neptunus Lex

    Shabbat lights, at Robert Avrech’s place

    Snowflakes and snow crystals, from Cal Tech. Lots of great photos

    Posted in Holidays, Music, Photos | 2 Comments »

    Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Home (2009)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 18th December 2010 (All posts by )

    I was at the Friendly Tap and there was a band there with a guy singer and a girl singer singing this one and a bunch of people in the crowd were singing along and I’d never heard it before and I liked it and I asked the guitar player who it was and he told me and I wrote it down in the little notepad thing in my phone. And here it is. (The live version with the bar crowded and hot and the cold blowing in when the door opens and closes and people drinking and cheering and singing along and a few drinks already in me makes it way better than this video version. But this is still good and a lot better than nothing.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Music, Video | 4 Comments »

    The WikiLeaks paradox

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 17th December 2010 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]

    Since my “HipBone” analytical approach, like the HipBone Games which inspired it, is based on networks of linkages between one “representable” (concept, fact, quote, anecdote, sound, musical phrase, image, video clip, statistic, cultural form, person) and another, there’s a special place in my analytic thinking for those representables which are self-referential – the category that gave rise to Douglas Hofstadter’s celebrated book, Gödel, Escher, Bach.

    Indeed, I have a special glyph that I use in my games to notate ideas that are self-referential:

    dragon eats


    Okay, enough poetry for now.

    The WikiLeaks business gives rise to one such self-referential puzzle – the one famously minted in classical times under the Latin tag: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Just how you tend to interpret the tag in English may depend on whether you read “custodes” as “guards” or “watchmen” – who shall guard the guards, who shall oversee the overseers, who shall watch over the watchmen…

    But what does this have to do with WikiLeaks?


    Let me rephrase it: Who will leak the leakers?

    I mean, if transparency is so universal a good, will Julian Assange drop his encryption and allow us all (IC and foreign equivalents included) to access WikiLeaks databases at any time, leaking whatever we think might be of interest without consulting him?

    Or is the point that some opacity, some secrecy is good — and Julian Assange believes he knows which secrecy that is, and can be trusted to reveal that which should be revealed and keep secret that which should be kept secret?


    Perhaps the WikiLeaks paradox is a koan.

    Posted in Philosophy | 9 Comments »

    Blackwater — cute or scary?

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 17th December 2010 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]


    This DoubleQuote was prompted by Spencer Ackerman, writing on Danger Room today: Will Blackwater Go Vegan After Sale to Hippy Firm?

    Posted in Diversions, Humor, Markets and Trading, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Style | 2 Comments »

    New! – Your Microwave-Dinner Taxonomy

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

    tv dinner


    “Blog what you know about,” say the Internet yentas, and for once I am following their advice! Years of painstaking research yield the following observations…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Humor, Personal Narrative, Photos, Recipes | 18 Comments »

    Taxes and Tithes

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

    My husband and I both feel ill at ease in the churches we have been attending. His has become more evangelical, more charismatic. That is the wave of the present and it is likely to evoke in congregants a more passionate belief. But it is not his way. Even less is it mine. Mine is bloodless in its Christianity, dismissive of the church’s role in shaping values we hold dear. And politicized. My husband and I like and respect the people in the congregations. And we have a loyalty – his people were around in the Battle of White Mountain and my people arrived in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century from Wales and Scotland, Protestants to the core. He’s related by blood to many in his small congregation; I’m related in spirit – the church is like the church of my youth.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Personal Narrative, Religion, Taxes | 7 Comments »


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

    Please note our new banner ad for Wikistrat, an innovative strategic-consulting start-up whose chief analyst is Thomas P. M. Barnett.

    Please click on the banner above and take a look around the Wikistrat site if you are interested.

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    Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on Wikistrat

    The “Government Education Complex” defined

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 15th December 2010 (All posts by )

    I doubt if I was the first person to use the phrase “Government-Education Complex,” but I use it often to describe the current education system. Others have clearly started to pick up on the meme, which is good.

    A friend of mine in Indiana emailed me and asked me to define it for him. So I did.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Education | 7 Comments »

    A Very Modern Christmas

    Posted by onparkstreet on 14th December 2010 (All posts by )

    The hospital is dotted with Christmas trees: plastic green triangles, some tall and some small, in lobbies and resident rooms and offices. The lights twinkle, golden tinsel glitters, and little angels top the trees. And yet, every posted sign or printed document reads, “happy holidays!”. Easier that way, I suppose. Covers the lot.

    Shopping in the neighborhood, I notice that rows of neat little Christmas trees, in shades of pale gray, are standing upright in oblong concrete planters lining the sidewalks. In summer, the planters hold flowers in every color imaginable. Now, in winter, the Christmas season, bright lights are strung around the oddly ethereal trees, shocking pink and blue and purple to contrast with the dove gray branches and silvery bows. From a distance, it looks like an 80s dance floor.

    We will have our annual Christmas potluck lunch at work next Monday and food from every corner of the planet, seemingly, will grace the table. Freshly made hummus and pita, spicy fragrant curries and rice, baba ganoush sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, sesame noodles and eggrolls, home made Filipino Pancit, southern fried chicken, red beans and rice, pierogies, baked ham and chicken and salad and cookies and cakes. Well, that’s some of what we had last year I think. We’ll see about this year. The potluck menu rotates because, in a busy teaching hospital like ours, the staff rotates a lot too. It’s a very nice event and a chance to catch your breath during a busy work day, wish others well and a Merry Christmas, and remember just why it is that you chose to practice medicine. You wanted to help people and you wanted to do it in an environment that is warm and nurturing.

    Posted in Christianity, Diversions, Holidays, Human Behavior, Personal Narrative | 4 Comments »