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  • Archive for April, 2011

    Paying Higher Taxes Can Be Very Profitable (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 15th April 2011 (All posts by )

    (I originally posted this last year–April 15 seems like an appropriate day for a re-post)

    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 Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 1 Comment »

    Peonage

    Posted by TM Lutas on 14th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Peonage is a form of involuntary servitude that is undertaken to pay off a debt. Realistically, peonage is what we in the US are facing if we do not get our spending under control.

    Today, when politicians propose to continue the spending train with unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky spending cuts that will never happen, they are proposing decades of peonage for us and our posterity. This is worse than wrong policy, it is viscerally offensive to everyone who understands the situation.

    The norms of political correctness in the US do not normally permit a white to accuse a black of working to violate the 13th amendment. We do not live in normal times. President Obama is dancing on the edge of a precipice and if he persists in going over the edge, he will be taking the country with him. We must have serious proposals from both parties to step back and restore sustainable government finances. The Republicans have stood and delivered. President Obama and his party have prettied up debt peonage for the nation.

    Posted in Big Government, Politics, Public Finance | 6 Comments »

    Who Needs Infrastructure?

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 13th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Last month I went to Haiti to help out with an IT project in Petit-Goâve, a medium-sized town about seventy kilometers west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, on the northern shore of the Tiburon Peninsula, opposite Île de la Gonâve on the Canal de Sud. The project’s objective is to create, or rather restore, a computer lab at “College” Harry Brakeman (actually a primary and secondary school, hereafter “CHB”), and provide greatly improved internet access, via wireless links, at five sites (including CHB) in Petit-Goâve owned by L’Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH). The epicenter of one of the larger aftershocks of the January 2010 earthquake was directly beneath Petit-Goâve.

    Numerous ongoing projects for the EMH throughout Haiti are being funded by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and staffed by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), but my personal involvement is not occurring as a result of direct involvement with any of those organizations. I have for many years been attending an informal Friday lunch group that for the past decade or so has included Clif Guy, who is the CIO of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, generally known as “COR” throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, in which it is by several measures the largest single church – big enough to have its own IT department (larger than most church staffs altogether) and a CIO.

    In mid-January I returned from a solitary and somewhat monastic sojourn in New Mexico and the trans-Pecos region of Texas to 1) get back to work at Sprint; 2) bury my just-deceased 18-year-old cat; and 3) talk to Clif about opportunities in Haiti, which he had mentioned several times over the previous year. Two months of frantic preparation later, which included among many other tasks the filling out of a “Mission Trip Notification of Death” to specify the disposition of my corpse, I was landing at Toussaint Louverture International Airport.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, History, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Religion, Tech, Transportation, USA | 8 Comments »

    Book Review: Daughter of Texas, by Celia Hayes

    Posted by David Foster on 13th April 2011 (All posts by )

    This is the latest historical novel by our blogfriend Sgt Mom, set in the era of the Texas Revolution. You can get it here.

    Margaret Becker comes from Pennsylvania to Texas at the age of 12, along with her two brothers, her mother, and her father (a man so difficult that he antagonizes everyone he meets, up through and including Stephen Austin–indeed, the reader may feel a strong desire to reach through the pages and strangle him.) Margaret herself is competent and practical-minded, also a keen observer who likes to reflect on things. Here’s Margaret sitting on the porch of their new house in Texas and remembering an evening back in Philadelphia:

    A few swifts darted after invisible flying insects, dark shadows flashing against an indigo-dark sky. The chorus of crickets singing, invisible in the growing twilight, accompanied the slow unveiling of the stars. When she was very small, about the age of Carl, Margaret thought that the crickets’ song was the sound of the stars as they wheeled in the sky, the creaking of the tiny gears that moved the stars. At church, they had talked of the music of the spheres, and Margaret had once been sure that was what she heard. It was only logical, since the stars and the crickets’ song appeared together in the evening.

    When Margaret is about 17, she marries the local schoolmaster, Horace (“Race”) Vining, who has come from Boston to a warmer climate at least in part because of his health problems; his intellectual and political interests, combined with his wide circle of friends, give her an good opportunity to observe the historic events now in their formative stages.

    Anglo settlers had originally been eagerly sought by the Mexican government, which then ruled Texas, but tensions grew rapidly under the centralizing rule of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Resentment of Santa Anna’s policies was not limited to Anglos or indeed to Texas–rebellions broke out in several Mexican states, notably Zacatecas, and were suppressed with considerable brutality. In Texas itself, several prominent Mexicans (Tejanos) were among those seeking a more decentralized and liberalized government. Margaret meets several of these men, and although she would not have been expected to participate in the discussions, she is a keen listener and observer:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, USA | 3 Comments »

    TAX DAY TEA PARTY RALLY PLANNED FOR CHICAGO: April 18, 2011

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 13th April 2011 (All posts by )

    [I received the following press release today. I hope many of our readers will attend.]

    CHICAGO – Thousands of concerned citizens are set to gather at noon on April 18 at Daley Plaza at 50 W. Washington to protest out of control spending, unsustainable deficits and the unprecedented growth of government. People will come together in downtown Chicago, where the tea party movement began, to hold politicians of both parties accountable, stop runaway spending and defend freedom and individual liberty.

    “We are very concerned with the direction of our country and our state,” said Chicago coordinator Steve Stevlic. “The decisions made in Washington and Springfield over the next two years will set a path for a generation. We feel the best way to improve the economy, create jobs, and build a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren is to reform government
    and restore liberty.”

    EVENT DETAILS

    What: Chicago Tax Day Tea Party: Reform Government. Restore Liberty.
    Where: Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago
    When: Noon on Tax Day, which is Monday, April 18

    FEATURED SPEAKERS:
    Illinois 8th District Rep. Joe Walsh, who has gained national notoriety for refusing his congressional pension and healthcare benefits, sleeping in his office and opposing the Continuing Resolutions that have funded government at 99 percent of current spending levels
    Herman Cain, Businessman, Presidential Candidate
    Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
    Jonathan Hoenig, Capitalistpig.com
    John Tillman, CEO, Illinois Policy Institute
    Cisco Cotto, WLS-AM 890 Host
    Dan Proft, WLS-AM 890 Host
    Adam Andrzejewski, Founder, For the Good of Illinois
    Alex Cortes, Let Freedom Ring, Wheresmywaiver.com
    Dr. Arie Friedman, Docs 4 Patientcare

    Media Contact: Steve Stevlic, Chicago Tea Party Patriots
    stevlic@gmail.com or (708) 289-5443

    ************************

    The Core Values of the Tea Party Patriots are:

    Fiscal Responsibility
    Constitutionally Limited Government
    Free Markets

    For more information on the Tea Party Movement in Chicago, Illinois and nationally, please visit:

    Chicago
    Illinois
    Nationa

    Posted in Announcements, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Politics, Public Finance, Taxes, USA | 3 Comments »

    Chicago And Illinois – Home of the Unions

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 12th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Sigh – compared to Indiana and Wisconsin where the legislators are “on the run”, in Chicago and Illinois it is just the usual “tax and spend”. Unions here don’t have to worry about any pesky regulations or laws that might limit their behavior because they own the city and the state and can pretty much do as they please. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Illinois has among the most under-funded pensions in the US and that our governor is making noise about having the Federal government backstop our pension obligations, as you can see here:

    Gov. Pat Quinn included the backstop proposal in the 2012 state budget he released last week. Critics said it would amount to a federal bailout of underfunded state pension programs and pronounced it dead on arrival in Washington. “Hell no–not happenin’,” a House Republican aide said.
     
    But one expert said policymakers could consider the idea in the future, as states lobby Congress and the White House for help in tackling their growing pension obligations. A federal guarantee would allow Illinois and other states with fiscal problems to sell pension bonds at lower interest rates.
     
    Illinois faces an $80 billion pension shortfall. Quinn’s proposed budget said “significant long-term improvements will come only from additional pension reforms, refinancing the liability and seeking a federal guarantee of the debt, or increasing the required state contributions.” Quinn claims previous state pension reforms will save Illinois taxpayers billions of dollars.

    While the Federal government backstop of state pension debt went nowhere, it clearly is a strategy that will be tested at some point in the future, since Illinois has not implemented any of the policy changes necessary to sufficiently fund our obligations or reduce future requirements. Our unions will be on the vanguard of bankrupting Illinois to the point where there is no choice but to apply for Federal aid while the state is flat on our back.

    Posted in Big Government, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Public Finance | 6 Comments »

    Rediscovering Plato

    Posted by David Foster on 12th April 2011 (All posts by )

    …not the philosopher, but the computer-assisted education system.

    This post notes that many of the concepts now being hyped as features of computer-based education were in fact initially developed as elements of the PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) system, which was first deployed in 1960. Surely, over the 46 years of PLATO’s operational life a great deal of knowledge was gained about what works and what doesn’t work when computers are directly applied to teaching. I wonder how much of this experience has been considered by, or is even known to, the current hypemeisters of classroom computing.

    Generally speaking, I think things in our society would go better if there were more awareness of history–not only general political and social history, but also specific history relating to particular fields, industries, and technologies. I suspect such lack of historical perspective is particularly strong in the educational field.

    (via Newmark’s Door)

    Posted in Education, History, Tech | 6 Comments »

    Madison Teachers “Sickout” = Wildcat Strike

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 12th April 2011 (All posts by )

    From time to time on these pages we take credit for an idea or prediction that comes true. I am not one to toot my own horn…oh hell, who am I kidding. Commence the toot parade.

    Back on February 18, I posted here about the “sickout” that the Madison teachers had. If memory serves, the students that the teachers care so much about missed four days of school that week. That is four days that they will have to make up somewhere else, and four days of child care and other costs that the parents had to incur to go to their jobs. I said we should really call the “sickout” what it is – a wildcat strike, plain and simple.

    Now the evidence has come out. Seems that a Madison teacher who was operating a phone tree dialed the wrong number by one, and someone saved the message and has made it public. You can hear the message at the link.

    So now that the issue of whether this was a wildcat strike or not is cleared up, what to do? I know what I would do, I would fire everybody and blow the whole union up (figuratively, of course). But that isn’t going to happen. What will happen?

    I will tell you what will happen. Basically nothing. Most of the people inside Madison are on the teachers/unions side and any sort of aggressive prosecution will be picketed, protested and rallied against. I think that the Madison schools are so deep in the teachers union pockets that there may be nothing done.

    I would at least like to see some sort of symbolic fine or maybe one teacher made an example of for this clearly unlawful behavior, but I am not holding my breath. I am happy to be proven correct though. Then again, this wasn’t the toughest prediction I have made.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Education, Politics | Comments Off on Madison Teachers “Sickout” = Wildcat Strike

    As God Made Us

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 12th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Yet another spurious study which supposedly attributes the adoption of Conservative political beliefs to bad biology.

    The authors of the study insist that those inclined to adopt Liberal attitudes have brains more inclined to understand complexity, while the brains of Conservatives insist on feeling fear and anxiety.

    But that doesn’t explain why Liberals can’t seem to avoid getting it wrong all the time. Shouldn’t their atomic-powered intellects clue them in that their most cherished policies are unworkable?

    At least we have proof that brain damage is behind the reason why Liberals refuse to see reality.

    Posted in Leftism | 18 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th April 2011 (All posts by )

    party on

    Chicagoboyz check out the club scene.

     

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Changing minds one interview at a time

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 11th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Check out my recent appearance on WPWR’s (Channel 50) “Perspective” program yesterday (Sunday). The discussion was around a voucher bill, along with other issues confronting education.

    The Latest News On School Reform and School Vouchers: My50CHICAGO.com

    Of course, with three people defending the existing system, and only one person (me) describing it accurately as failing, it’s not like we don’t have our work cut out for us. You may be interested in the other guests, as they make their conventional case for dumping more money into a failed system. If not, my stint starts at the 11:22 mark.

    As always, constructive critiques are welcome. Being more used to radio, I have to work on my TV persona. Any advice on how to quickly make friends with the first camera shot would be greatly appreciated.

    Posted in Academia, Chicagoania, Education | 3 Comments »

    A Lazy Sunday’s Blogging

    Posted by onparkstreet on 10th April 2011 (All posts by )

    From a comment that I left here:

    Human behavior has too many complex variables to be plotted out neatly in graphs and charts and equations, and besides, humans beings lie. To themselves and to each other.

    So the data points you may enter into any equation will always be colored by human fallibility.

    What we want is to predict human behavior. We may be able to predict certain behaviors in very narrow circumstances but even that is fraught with difficulty. Why do people tend to buy a certain type of toothpaste or why do IEDs tend to be placed at certain times of day, etc? But even if we plot a graph and it fits a set of variables, we still don’t really know how or why we got the graph and whether it is related or a statistical fluke. For example, we may predict what toothpaste a category of persons likes to buy, but it’s a lot harder to predict why person A bought toothpaste B in country C at noon on a Sunday. Even if person A buys toothpaste in the same way every single time we have studied that person, maybe one day an old friend calls up out of the blue and says, “meet me for coffee.” No shopping that day.

    Did your linear progression have the variable for a friend calling up out of the blue in it? Adam Smith’s “the invisible hand” and all of that.

    Take for instance, historical examples of good and bad campaigns: sometimes two leaders within an organization just didn’t get along and that affected decision making. How does an equation explain such a human intangible?

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and predict behavior, it just means that we must understand the limitations of the tools that we use and be willing to reexamine the tools as experience dictates.

    Good discussion!

    *I posted this previously, but in the late 90s the Sokol hoax was a push back from the scientific community (in this case, a physicist) against the use of post-modern literary theory to understand science.

    There were several criticisms:

    1. The post modern theorists didn’t really understand the scientific terms that they were using and were simply decorating their prose with scientific terminology in order to sound more impressive.

    2. An analogy is simply an analogy. When you say something in human behavior is like fluid dynamics, it doesn’t mean that the equations for fluid dynamics can be used on human behavior. An analogy is not the same thing as, well, the same thing.

    I believe the misuse of scientific analogies is discussed in the following:

    Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science

    By the way, all of this is not against using narratives or constructs to understand the world but against the misuse of science. That was the real center of the discussion.

    Tell me what I’ve got wrong in the comments. Tell me a little something about human fallibility….

    Posted in Blogging, Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Predictions | 11 Comments »

    Saturday Business Links and Commentary

    Posted by David Foster on 9th April 2011 (All posts by )

    The Senate has passed a bill which would implement significant changes in the U.S. patent system. Bill Waddell has some serious concerns.

    Also via Bill comes this interesting interview (video) with the head of GE’s Appliance business, which is significantly expanding its manufacturing operation in Louisville, KY. See also the discussion at Bill’s site.

    WSJ reports that the SEC is considering relaxing the limit on the maximum number of shareholders in private companies, currently set at 499. According to another article in the same publication, the SEC is also considering a rather bizarre “crowdsourcing” approch under which companies would be able to sell investments in very small dollar amounts–$100 was mentioned–using social networking sites such as Facebook. (Another related WSJ piece here)

    An alternative–perhaps complementary–approach is being proposed by David Weild, a former vice chairman of NASDAQ. Weild would like to see the creation of a new stock exchange, focused on raising capital for emerging companies and with a wider bid-ask spread to make dealing in such companies a more profitable activity for marketmakers.

    A Business Insider article assesses recent organization changes at Google as a demotion for Marissa Mayer, based partly on the following reasoning:

    Last year, Marissa Mayer was moved from being in charge of search to being in charge of local…Thing is, search is Google’s cash cow, and it’s probably the most important business in tech. So not running it anymore definitely makes her a less powerful executive.

    I’m not a Google shareholder and don’t really follow the internal gossip of the company all that closely, so I have no particular opinion on how good a job MM has or has not been doing, nor when I read the linked article did I have any real opinion on whether or not the changes represented a good or a bad thing for her. (Later information suggests probably the latter.) But the kind of thinking represented by the assertion that less revenue responsibility means a less important job can be very dangerous to a business. The bad thinking in this case being done by the author, not necessarily by Google…however, an earlier BI article also observes that core search and AdWords are still king. That’s where the money comes from today, and why the engineers in those groups are treated like kings.

    The problem with this line of thinking is that today’s revenue-dominant product is not necessarily tomorrow’s revenue-dominant product, and to the extent that power, resources, and status flow excessively to the current revenue king, tomorrow’s revenue king may never have a chance to be born and to grow up. A recent issue of Fortune offered Microsoft as an example–in a very hard-hitting article, the author argued that the grossly excessive dominance of Windows, aided and abetted by Steve Ballmer at every turn, has strangled many promising initiatives in their cradles.

    A very astute and successful CEO observed that “the secret of startups is that you can have very smart people working on very small things.” By “small,” he did not mean unimportant; he meant small in terms of existing revenue. It is possible, of course, for established companies to also put appropriate focus on new and promising initiatives, but this will not happen where the company culture overly associates “success” with “current revenue managed.”

    Clayton Christensen & Michael Raynor extensively discussed the tension between new and existing businesses in companies in their excellent book The Innovator’s Solution, which I reviewed here.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Management, Markets and Trading | 4 Comments »

    Complex Management Structures Spell Doom

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 9th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Recently John Chambers, the CEO of CISCO, came out with a memo that discussed failings in the company. Over the last decade or so CISCO (CSCO) has lagged performance of its peers on NASDAQ and recently they haven’t participated much in the broad market rally (down 20% or so in the last 6 months while NASDAQ is up by 16%). I read how the memo was portrayed in the media, but then I found the actual memo here and cite it directly.

    You’ve also made it very clear that we must make it simpler to do the work we love to do, and to accelerate the impact we know we are making for our customers… As I’ve said, our strategy is sound. It is aspects of our operational execution that are not. We have been slow to make decisions, we have had surprises where we should not, and we have lost the accountability that has been a hallmark of our ability to execute consistently for our customers and our shareholders. That is unacceptable. And it is exactly what we will attack.

    What is interesting to me is that I was just sort of waiting for this to occur. Back in 2009 I read about CISCO’s new team based model here in this WSJ article titled “CISCO CEO John Chambers Big Management Experiment“. From the article:

    Now executives work on committees—dubbed councils and boards in Cisco-ese—and the company makes 70% of its decisions collaboratively, up from 10% just two years ago.
     
    The moves have been controversial at Cisco. About 20% of the company’s senior leaders have left since the shift began in 2007—a percentage organizational experts call unusually high. Chambers compares the executives who’ve departed to basketball stars who don’t fit into a team’s system and adds that Cisco is better off without them despite their talent. He says the old Cisco, which relied on a handful of people to oversee new efforts, would never have been able to pursue so many opportunities.
     
    Critics of the new structure say that it adds bureaucracy and strips away accountability. Cisco has lost market share in key product categories recently, and some people who have worked under the new structure draw a line between these losses and the management-by-committee approach.

    The core idea of the business enterprise and entrepreneur-ship is all about leadership, accountability and personal responsibility. Businesses aren’t non profit organizations, they aren’t schools, and they aren’t after-school specials. They are serious efforts, with salaries and families and cities on the line, and people need to be given roles and held to the results that they committed to. These aren’t concepts that can be maintained through revolving committees where no one is responsible. Trying isn’t good enough.

    And another reason this is doomed…

    Chambers says the idea for the new management structure came to him while participating in a collaboration exercise at the 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He was on a team with Arianna Huffington, among others, and the group was told to present a vision for life in 2015.

    Awesome. Getting ideas for how to run a world-class company from dilettantes in Davos and a blogger, albeit one who was able to turn her re-posted “content” into actual cash through the dying AOL banner (don’t ever underestimate the power of cashing out at the right time).

    It is odd that Chambers thought that he was big enough to stand the lifetime of experience on management on its head and go with this ludicrous team concept. Not team in EXECUTION, which is critical, but in RESPONSIBILITY, which is doom. Someone has to stand up and make decisions and take the heat or fall for bad decisions, and you can’t fire everyone in a committee.

    This isn’t the first time Chambers has been blinded by faddish ideas. I was with a consulting firm that was a partner with CISCO in the first dot-com boom and at the time CISCO was touting their “fast close” and their ability to rapidly forecast sales and earnings. This occurred right before the markets crashed and they had to write off millions of dollars in unsold inventory, basically proving that their forecasts weren’t worth the paper they were printed on (or the internet space taken up explaining them, since this is now a virtual world).

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Business, Management | 21 Comments »

    The “Wag the Dog” Government Shutdown

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 8th April 2011 (All posts by )

    The Obama administration cannot change the horrid realities that are tubing its polling numbers with its most committed supporters, but it can change the subject by using the federal government shutdown as a political gimmick straight out of the 1997 black comedy “Wag The Dog.”

    Like Wag The Dog, the objective is to get the Obama administration out of its current quick sand of bad headlines about any of the following: the Libyan “Kinetic Military Action,” the budget deficit, historically high unemployment, high gasoline prices, Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s Guantanamo trial flip flop, etc.

    The Obama administration can count on the Journo-List 2.0 Main Stream Media (MSM) to do its part in presenting the Democratic Party line on these events as the gospel truth, up to and including stating the Obama administration’s acceptance of the GOP terms is a huge victory for President Obama over the evil GOP. Exhibit A — ABC NEWS’s Jake Tapper is already bragging of giving Obama talking points against Congressional Republicans.

    The upshot is that there is nothing anyone, especially Congressional Republicans, can do to divert a shut down, or the upcoming “Republicans are Evil” media campaign. The best Congressional Republicans can do is ignore the MSM, attend to their own political interests and work to get their message out on alternate media — Fox, talk radio, Internet bloggers, social media — trusting to the hard economic realities to inform the American voter. After all, this just worked in Wisconsin.

    If the Obama administration wants a government shutdown, it can get it, simply by changing the terms of negotiation. If the Republicans cave on spending cuts and social issues, Obama will demand more spending and immigration amnesty. The MSM will report “Republicans are Evil” no matter how the federal government gets shut down. And nothing will have changed, except for the headlines…and the consequences from the decision to close and reopen the federal government.

    Posted in Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, North America, Politics, USA | 8 Comments »

    It’s a dog’s life

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 7th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Posted in Humor, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    This Appears To Be a Lot of $$ Down the Drain

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Short Wisconsin politics post to follow if you are at all interested.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Predictions | 15 Comments »

    Graham, Appeasement, and Free Speech

    Posted by David Foster on 7th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Senator Lindsay Graham, in response to the Koran-burning incident and subsequent riot, had this to say:

    I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II, we had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy.

    “Inspire” is an interesting word in this context. If someone during WWII had gone around giving speeches asserting that a German/Japanese victory would be a good thing, yes it is possible that the FDR administration would have found a way to get him arrested and kept in prison for the duration of the war. And if someone during WWI had done the same thing,the Wilson administration would almost certainly have had him arrested.

    The present-day analogy for such speech giving, though, would be something like Michael Moore’s 2004 statement:

    The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Islam, Terrorism, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    First Winter Down

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th April 2011 (All posts by )

    We have been operating our hobby farm in full force for a whole year now and MAN have we learned a lot. Honestly, it is my wife who is out there every day doing the daily chores, which she admittedly enjoys.

    We now have a skillset that might be valuable someday, and it might not. We learned that in our situation live barn cats are better than poison or traps. There was a mice problem in our barn last year. We got two cats from the feral cat humane society here. Yes, I know it sounds silly to actually pay $25 ea. for cats but we wanted them for a couple of reasons. We wanted them to kill. Domesticated cats do kill, but don’t have as good survival instincts as our “little tigers” as I like to call them. We have seen evidence of nary a mouse all winter – last year we couldn’t reset the traps fast enough. Now that it is warmer the rodents will head outside for food and we won’t have to deal with that problem for a little while.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Personal Narrative | 8 Comments »

    Kate Winslet in “Mildred Pierce”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 6th April 2011 (All posts by )

    I’ve been watching the HBO mini-series based on the novel by James M. Cain. The filming is really interesting: houses, cars, clothes, dishes, and locations recreated to channel the 1920s-30s era.

    Take a look at the production design slideshow at the HBO website. Glendale, California of the 1920s comes alive. Searching for reviews, I find the following:

    Like Winslet’s films, Haynes’ projects tend to focus on women who are trapped in suffocating domestic situations, whether in self-help-obsessed Southern California (“Safe”) or the 1950s suburbs (“Far From Heaven”). In “Mildred Pierce,” he often makes those trappings literal by framing Winslet through a kitchen window or a half-closed door, as if challenging her to break out of her house.

    Well, okay. People do feel trapped inside their own lives sometimes and art is meant to show us a little something about the human condition. But suburban domestic suffocation is not exactly ground-breaking stuff these days, is it? It’s pretty much the only way Hollywood depicts suburbia. It’s either stupid, comical and mindless, or heartbreakingly drone-like.

    What I find most interesting about this particular mini-series is how it shows Mildred building up her restaurant business. Hard work, creativity, luck, a loan, and the right property all figure into the journey. Our creative class – or their reviewers – seem awfully reactionary in a way, don’t they?

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Diversions, Film, History | Comments Off on Kate Winslet in “Mildred Pierce”

    “What Bono doesn’t say about Africa”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 6th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Celebrities like to portray it as a basket case, but they ignore very real progress.

    William Easterly in the LA Times (Op-Ed from 2007.)

    The real Africa needs increased trade from the West more than it needs more aid handouts. A respected Ugandan journalist, Andrew Mwenda, made this point at a recent African conference despite the fact that the world’s most famous celebrity activist — Bono — was attempting to shout him down. Mwenda was suffering from too much reality for Bono’s taste: “What man or nation has ever become rich by holding out a begging bowl?” asked Mwenda.
    .
    Perhaps Bono was grouchy because his celebrity-laden “Red” campaign to promote Western brands to finance begging bowls for Africa has spent $100 million on marketing and generated sales of only $18 million, according to a recent report. But the fact remains that the West shows a lot more interest in begging bowls than in, say, letting African cotton growers compete fairly in Western markets (see the recent collapse of world trade talks).
    .
    Today, as I sip my Rwandan gourmet coffee and wear my Nigerian shirt here in New York, and as European men eat fresh Ghanaian pineapple for breakfast and bring Kenyan flowers home to their wives, I wonder what it will take for Western consumers to learn even more about the products of self-sufficient, hardworking, dignified Africans. Perhaps they should spend less time consuming Africa disaster stereotypes from television and Vanity Fair.

    The excerpt came up (I brought it up) in this comments thread at Small Wars Journal.

    Another commenter, Jason Thomas, made the following interesting comment in the same thread:

    ….A locally driven solution is so important. However, we have created a national government that reflects the deep seated nepotism and corruption endemic at the local level. But the local people dont feel like they are being led by example. How many local Afghas know who their national Member of Parliament is compared to their unelected Governor and District Governor. [sic]
    .
    Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., astutely pointed out in his 1977 biography of Robert Kennedy, the notion that reforms can be carried out in a wartime situation by a beleaguered regime is “the fatal fallacy in the liberal theory of counterinsurgency, with the United States so often obliged to work through repressive local leadership, the reform component dwindled into ineffectual exhortation.”

    Posted in Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Markets and Trading, Quotations | 4 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th April 2011 (All posts by )

    drink green

    Go green with the Chicagoboyz.

     

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    An Open Letter from Colleen Lawson, McDonald v Chicago Plaintiff

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Dear Legislator:
    Could you please help me decide which of my kids lives to save? Here’s the problem:

    Last night yet another of my kids found himself on the goodbye end of a robber’s gun as the robber slowly counted down
     
    “5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . ”
     
    I know you politicians told us “if it saves one life, then keeping guns away from law-abiding citizens is the right thing to do!” but I’m having a little trouble figuring out which life is the one to be saved. I’ve had most of these kids for 20 years or more, and I’m rather fond of them all.
     
    My kid last night? It was his third time facing armed robbers in Chicago, in Illinois. Can you tell me how many times is just right and how many times is too many?
     
    The one last night was in a convenience store at the time. He and his friend had gone into the store to buy soda, and they hid as the robber stuck his gun in the face of the store clerk and began counting down.
     
    Do you give classes in hiding? Wait, that can’t be right, cause many kids get found anyway, and it’s not always easy to stay quiet if your heart is thudding and you’re afraid. Maybe you give classes in what kids should do if they find themselves around guns. No, that’s not right. State Sen. Annazette Collins proposed that idea, to keep kids safe and deglamorize firearms, and she was roundly trounced for the idea.
     
    [. . .]


    Read the whole thing.

    (The author’s Facebook page is here.)

    Posted in Chicagoania, Crime and Punishment, Law, Quotations, RKBA | 23 Comments »

    Madison Update

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 4th April 2011 (All posts by )

    I have taken a few weeks off of my protest photos and videos because basically I have a life to live and kids to raise – and for some reason the direct deposit monies from the ChicagoBoyz home office in South Florida haven’t been getting through to my bank account.

    We do have a lot of developments here though and I would like to get you up to date with them if you are at all interested, along with a few personal stories.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, Diversions, Elections, Leftism, Politics, Sports | 12 Comments »

    Responding to the Energy Scolds

    Posted by David Foster on 4th April 2011 (All posts by )

    Northeast Utilities is apparently conducting some sort of “energy efficiency” campaign, which involves sending letters to customers comparing their energy use with that of their neighbors. One recipient of such a letter was Connecticut resident Linda Dwyer, who responded as follows:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Privacy | 12 Comments »