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  • Archive for October, 2011

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    A later realization – I suppose I have sensed it most of my life, but I have understood it philosophically only during the preparation of this talk – has been the beauty of the idea of the pursuit of happiness. Familiar words, easy to take for granted; easy to misconstrue. The idea of the pursuit of happiness is at the heart of the attractiveness of the civilization to so many outside it or on its periphery. I find it marvelous to contemplate to what an extent, after two centuries, and after the terrible history of the earlier part of this century, the idea has come to a kind of fruition. It is an elastic idea; it fits all men. It implies a certain kind of society, a certain kind of awakened spirit. I don’t imagine my father’s parents would have been able to understand this idea. So much is contained in it; the idea of the individual, responsibility, choice, the life of the intellect, the idea of a vocation and perfectibility and achievement. It is an immense human idea. It cannot be reduced to a fixed system. It cannot generate fanaticism. But it is known to exist; and because of that, other more rigid systems in the end blow away.

    V.S. Naipaul, “Our Universal Civilization” (1992) in The Writer and the World.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Libertarianism, USA | 2 Comments »

    Facebook is Dead to Me

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    After soliciting the help of the CB community, for which many thanks, I found that something I had done in setting up my Facebook personal page apparently interfered with something I was trying to do in setting up my FB fan page. I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted, my attempt to do what I thought was necessary made the situation worse, perhaps irreversibly, and there appears to be no written explanation on FB’s help pages that addresses my specific situation. What drove me over the edge was that there is no way to contact FB directly to get an answer. I have contacted FB regarding copyright violations and they responded promptly, and I assume they would respond promptly if I wanted to buy advertising. But tech support? Ha ha ha. Facebook users are raw material for the production of ad revenue, not members of a community to be allocated system resources above the minimum needed for bare survival. It’s like being a chicken in a coop. You and the other chickens might imagine that the farmer is part of your circle, but this is an illusion that disappears as soon as you try to get something beyond your daily feed allotment. So I deleted my account.

    I reopened the account a few days later to see if anything was different — perhaps the system needed time to propagate new values? perhaps I could now implement the changes I wanted? Nope. So I deleted the account again. The hell with this. I’ll wait the fourteen days and give it another try after my account is wiped clean, but I have low expectations. I should have hired someone who knows FB to get me set up. It’s not worth the time and aggravation otherwise.

    It will be interesting to see whether FB eventually decides to reimplement human service beyond the current minimal level.

    Posted in Personal Narrative, Tech | 6 Comments »

    “Folk Art Battleship”

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    I was recently in Milwaukee at a very interesting antique store in the 5th ward called the “Riverview Antique Market“. A model caught my eye…

    Of course it was a very well made “4 stacker” US destroyer of WW1 vintage. These destroyers were built in large numbers towards the end of WW1 to defeat German U-boats and were subsequently transferred to England in 1940 as part of “lend lease” as the US tried to help the Allies while remaining neutral prior to our entry in WW1.

    When I looked at the price tag I was appropriately saddened as they described it as a “folk art battleship”. The antique owner didn’t even think to spend a couple of minutes online trying to figure out if it was a model of a real ship or just an “art object” that someone built from scratch.

    Sad but likely only 1 in 10,000 individuals who passed by that model would have seen that it was a “real” model; the odds are probably even less in a hipster neighborhood of people looking for “vintage” objects. After all, it is all just art, anyways.

    I, for one, was impressed.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in History, Humor | 9 Comments »

    Quote of the Day 2

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    Caroline Glick:

    Do you believe a stronger leader than Netanyahu is needed for such a change to occur?
    A big problem throughout the Western world, not only in Israel, is that due in large part to the intellectual terror of the left there is a huge leadership crisis. People who actually have the strength of their convictions, the character and moral fiber to stand up for their country, are being marginalized. As a result, the people who end up getting through the vetting process of the elite tend to be without strong convictions. This is the real problem. And the answer I found is that the way to have strong leaders is to have strong people. We have to do the hard work the public demands of leadership and then I believe the leaders we need will emerge or the leaders we have will be strengthened.

    Posted in Big Government, Israel, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tea Party | 4 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    Warren Meyer:

    If the very rich got that way through special access to government power, then why is the solution to tax them more, and not just to reduce government power?
    And if the very rich got that way through hard work and innovation, then why the hell are we proposing to take resources out of these people’s hands?

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Rhetoric | 4 Comments »

    No, Really

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    A few months ago I wrote that I was going to stop obsessing about the presidential election.

    Dan correctly called bullish*t.

    But, I am now thinking more and more that (1) the time and energy spent thinking about the presidential election is wasted, and time is too precious to waste, and there is too much else that must be done, and (2) even if you must pay attention to politics, the down-ticket races are the ones that will matter, and it is possible to get involved and make a difference in those races, and I encourage everyone to do so.

    So, no kidding, this time for sure, I am done with this presidential election.

    I put my hands over my ears, close my eyes, and go ya ya ya ya ya ya ya really loud.

    At least until way, way closer to next November.

    Posted in Blogging, Elections, Personal Narrative, Politics, USA | 14 Comments »

    “They Still Have Libraries? Give Everybody an iPad.”

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    This article was featured on Drudge today (do you really have to hat tip Drudge anymore?). It is about the library staff all mad at Mayor Rahm for cutting the budget to the libraries.

    In the comments, one guy (I think smartly) said the title of this post.

    I think he is partially right. The new Kindle Fire (which I have an order in for and will review when it gets to me sometime later this month) is only $199. The cheap Kindles are only $79 now. Kindles come with tens of thousands of free titles of classic books that everyone should be reading anyways. That is the most exciting part of getting a Kindle Fire for me, the ability to have this immense database at my fingertips, for free (after the initial cost).

    I imagine if you took the list of “frequent flyers” who actually USE the library (not just hang out there, I mean those who really check out books and return them) and bought them ALL Kindles for $79, or even the nice new version for $199, that you would be WAY ahead of the budget it costs to run all of those brick and mortar relics, the staff, and all the rest.

    This way, a library would still be partially subsidized, but part user fee as well (if you don’t like the classic titles, buy your own), so folks like me, who haven’t set foot in a real life library in decades would perhaps feel a bit better about paying for libraries.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Internet, Taxes, Urban Issues | 17 Comments »

    Sleeping Whales…

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st October 2011 (All posts by )

    …and other remarkable photos, here.

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    Martin Solveig and Dragonette, Hello (2010)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 30th October 2011 (All posts by )

    My daughters have been listening to this one, and singing along with it. I like this one. It reminds me of a New Wave pop song circa 1980. (The keyboard reminds me of DEVO, the girl singer reminds me of the songer from the MoDettes or from Altered Images, and overall it reminds me of the Rezillos.) The video is just the scrolling lyrics, so no point in putting it up on here.

    (Here is a nice live version, but this is not the original singer.)

    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    Blame Shifting Indicates Incompetent Mayors

    Posted by Shannon Love on 30th October 2011 (All posts by )

    With violent crime in New York on the rise, nanny mayor Bloomberg has involved himself in Virginia’s internal legislative process in an attempt to restrict the Second Amendment rights of the people of Virginia. His rationale for doing so is that New York criminals buy guns in Virginia, and since Bloomberg can’t control those criminals in New York itself, the law abiding citizens of Virginia have to give up some of their rights.

    In reality, Bloomberg is just another impotent and incompetent big city mayor with a expensive, bloated, unionized, dysfunctional and often corrupt police force who cannot provide basic civil order to many parts of the city they notionally “serve and protect.” Rather than admit that he can’t actually perform the most basic duty of his office, Bloomberg desperately tries to shift the blame to some group outside his jurisdiction over which he can plausibly claim he has no control.

    Bloomberg’s message boils down to: “Hey, you can’t blame for me runaway crime in New York because it’s all the fault of those ignorant rednecks in Virginia over whom I have no control!”

    Blaming outsiders for internal woes is the oldest political trick in the book.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Law Enforcement, Politics, RKBA | 4 Comments »

    Ghost Ship

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th October 2011 (All posts by )

    (I came across this post in the old Daily Brief archives, and thought it would make a fantastic post for Halloween … for reasons that should become clear.)

    The searchers found it, the ghost ship, when they were looking for something else; it lay, broken but deceptively complete, draped across the crest of a dune, like a seabird on the flat swells of a calm sea. But this metal bird had landed in a desolate and frozen sand sea, an aeronautical Mary Celeste, all of itself, and remained eerily preserved. Baked in the desert sun, wheels-up, pancake-landed and broken in half aft of the wings and entirely empty of its’ crew … but still, their gear, and extra ammunition was perfectly stowed, the guns functional … the radio worked, so did the compass and at least one of the engines. There were still-edible emergency rations, drinkable water, even a thermos of still-potable coffee … everything as it had been left. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Film, History, Middle East, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous | 7 Comments »

    A Negative Take on Steve Jobs

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    Tom Smith:

    That Jobs stole ideas, cheated his business partners and lied habitually seems to be generally accepted and documented in the new Isaacson biography. These are bad things not only morally but also for business. In my book this doesn’t make a Jobs “complex”; it makes him a scoundrel, a person not be admired. Yes, I know, iPods are cool.

    Read the whole thing, and read the Forbes column that Smith and Glenn Reynolds link to.

    Jobs accomplished great things, but his accomplishments are separate from his personal behavior, which by all accounts was bad.

    Many of us have worked for jerks at one time or another. Jerks may be brilliant but they are still jerks. When I worked for a jerk I remember thinking: This must be like how it feels to be in an abusive marriage. True, nobody beat me, I got to go home every afternoon, I was paid for my time and eventually I moved on. But it was a miserable period in my life, and it was unnecessary, an artifact of some jerk’s peculiar brain chemistry or bad upbringing or who knows what. Were the people Jobs abused in his career eggs that had to be broken to make the magnificent Apple omelet? I doubt it. He was just a jerk. He might have treated people better and gotten the same or better results. Even if the results had been a bit less insanely great, was the return on his bad behavior worth the pain it caused other people? I don’t think so.

    Posted in Business, Human Behavior, Obits, Quotations, Tech | 45 Comments »

    Alfons Maria Mucha (aka Alphonse Mucha)

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    The source of this image is the Wikimedia Commons. Muchas works entered the public domain in 2010, for he died in 1939 and the copyright expired seventy years after the death of the creator.

    The image above is from the Czech art noveau painter and decorative artist Alfons Maria Mucha (known in English as Alphonse Mucha). A list of his works can be found here. I especially like his stained glass window for the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 5 Comments »

    Big Gun

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    Friend of a friend, used to be on a local SWAT team, retired and spends a lot of time at the range. My buddy has been shooting with him and says he’s extremely good. He showed us this photo taken at a range session. That’s two shots touching. He’s got YouTube videos showing him performing similar feats. He has big hands, and while the gun looks like a little S&W Model 60 it’s really a huge .460. He shoots .454 Casull ammo in it for the moderate recoil. My hands hurt from thinking about it. Is this a great country or what?

    A shooter holds a cell phone photo showing his hand holding a handgun over a test target. The target has holes from two shots that are touching each other.. (Copyright 2011 Jonathan Gewirtz

    Posted in Photos, RKBA | 18 Comments »

    Stand Off at the Salado

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

     (When I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Texas history, some of it – like the mass executions of Texian fighters at the Goliad – came as a surprise to some readers. This might be another surprise: a Mexican invasion six years later, which briefly occupied San Antonio…) Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Just How Crazy Dangerous are Europeans?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    German chancellor Merkel recently made a statement that mirrors sentiments voiced by virtually all European leaders and EU proponents:

    “Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That’s why I say: If the euro fails, Europe fails,” Merkel said, followed by a long applause from all political groups.
    “We have a historical obligation: To protect by all means Europe’s unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and blood spill. None of us can foresee what the consequences would be if we were to fail.” [emp added]

    So, as an American, I have to ask: How crazy dangerous are contemporary Europeans anyway?

    I mean, from reading the statements of these EU leaders and EU proponents, people outside the EU could easily get the idea that the majority of the EU population are nothing but a bunch of war crazed psychos quiveringly eager to drop the hammer on their neighbors at the slightest provocation. And here I thought you Europeans were all better now and so morally advanced compared to the rest of the planet. Have you been keeping secrets?

    If Europeans are so irrationally war prone, is the EU really a good idea?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Europe, Germany | 24 Comments »

    Rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods and the OWS library

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — Jefferson, economics of possession and ideas, Occupy COG, library ]


    Let’s start with Thomas Jefferson. I don’t know if he was the first to mention this curious distinction on record, but he makes the point nicely:

    If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.

    John Perry Barlow quotes that gobbit of Jefferson as the epigraph to his essay, The Economy of Ideas.


    Here’s Lawrence Lessig, in his essay Against perpetual copyright:

    Tangible goods are rivalrous goods
    For one person to gain some tangible item, another person must lose it. For one person to gain the ownership of some piece of land, the previous owner must surrender ownership. T his is the ordinary state of physical property, and the laws around physical property are designed around this fact. Property taxes, zoning laws, and similar legal constructs are examples of how the law relates to physical property.
    Intellectual works are non-rivalrous
    Intellectual works are ordinarily non-rivalrous. It is possible for someone to teach a work of the mind to another without unlearning it himself. For example, one, or two, or a hundred people can memorize the same poem at the same time. Here the term “work of the mind” refers not to physical items such books or compact discs or DVD’s, but rather to the intangible content those physical objects contain.


    As someone whose work falls almost entirely in the “non-rivalrous” category, I am naturally very interested by this distinction, both for my own sake, and because (if the coming economy is an “information” or “imagination” economy) it may be the hinge on which the future of that economy turns…


    Which brings me to the Occupy movement, and to this curious fact which I found in an article I didn’t otherwise read. It’s from David Graeber, On Playing By The Rules – The Strange Success Of #OccupyWallStreet :

    It’s no coincidence that the epicenter of the Wall Street Occupation, and so many others, is an impromptu library: a library being not only a model of an alternative economy, where lending is from a communal pool, at 0% interest, and the currency being lent is knowledge, and the means to understanding.

    In quoting this, I mean neither to endorse nor to condemn the movement, but simply to note that its center of gravity as described here (although technically, books are rivalrous goods) falls clearly within the non-rivalrous category: it is a market-place of ideas.


    As a one-time tank-thinker, I was trained to spot early indicators.

    I don’t know what this one means, but I suspect it’s an indicator. Give me another to pair it with, and I may be able to foresee a trend.

    What do you see?


    I spotted a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov‘s The Master and Margarita in one of the photos.


    photo credit: Blaine O’Neill under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license

    and DH Lawrence, Sons and Lovers and Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories; Strindberg, The Plays and Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape; Dr Who, yeah and Star Wars too; William Gibson‘s Neuromancer and his Mona Lisa Overdrive; Max Marwick‘s Witchcraft and Sorcery; Orson Scott Card‘s Ender’s Game and Lewis Carroll‘s Alice in Wonderland — and for the politics of it all, Marina Sitrin, Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina and Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict… which I’ve linked for your convenience.


    For what it’s worth…

    Nathan Schneider‘s article, What ‘diversity of tactics’ really means for Occupy Wall Street, cites Zenpundit blog-friend David Ronfeldt‘s study (with John Arqilla) Swarming & the Future of Conflict — along with (among others) Gene Sharp, whose work I discussed on Zenpundit a few months back.

    Posted in Americas, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Political Philosophy, Politics | 11 Comments »

    [Update] Recommended Podcast: Europe From Its Origins

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 28th October 2011 (All posts by )

    I linked to the Europe from its Origins podcast earlier. It may not be for everyone since it uses a traditional European historical sensibility, big words, and fancy pants furrin’ pronunciation but since the ChicagoBoyz demographic skews older and wiser, it should give everyone something meaty to chew on (I’d put in your teeth first).

    There was a problem with the iTunes link. That problem has been largely fixed (episode 10 points at an image but the link should be eventually correct). I’ve updated the links from my original post below the fold:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Europe, History | 4 Comments »

    Book Review: The Post-Office Girl, by Stefan Zweig

    Posted by David Foster on 27th October 2011 (All posts by )

    A remote village in Austria, shortly after the end of the First World War. The 28-year-old protagonist, Christine Hoflehner, is the sole employee at the town’s Post Office. Her once solidly-middle-class family has been impoverished by the war, in which her brother was killed, and the subsequent inflation. Christine’s days are spent working at her boring Post Office job and caring for her chronically-ill mother. Except for a brief encounter with a crippled soldier when she was 20 (“two, three feeble kisses, more pity than passion”) she has never had a boyfriend. Her future looks bleak, but she knows many people are even worse-off than herself.

    Here’s Christine at the Post Office:

    Not much more of her is visible through the wicket than the pleasant profile of an ordinary young woman, somewhat thin-lipped and pale and with a hint of circles under the eyes; late in the day, when she turns on the harsh electric lights, a close observer might notice a few slight lines on her forehead and wrinkles around her eyes. Still, this young woman, along with the hollyhocks in the window and the sprig of elder that she has put in the metal washbasin today for her own pleasure, is easily the freshest thing in the Klein-Reifling post office; she seems good for at least another twenty-five years of service. Her hand with its pale fingers will raise and lower the same rattly wicket thousands upon thosands of times more, will toss hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of letters onto the canceling desk with the same swiveling motion, will slam the blackened brass canceler onto hundreds of thousands or millions of envelopes with the same brief thump.

    Of all the commonplace items in the Post Office–the pencils, the stamps, the scales, the ledger books, the official posters on the wall–the only objects that have anything of mystery and romance attached to them are the telephone and the telegraph machine, which via copper wires connect this tiny village to the width and breadth of Austria and the world beyond. And on one hot summer day, as Christine is drowsing at her desk, the latter instrument comes alive. Getting up to start the tape, she observes with amazement–this is something that has never happened before!–that the telegram is addressed to HER.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Europe, Germany, History, Human Behavior, War and Peace | 20 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 27th October 2011 (All posts by )

    You can’t go wrong with the St. Pauli Girl or preppy goth princess look.

    Storefront Halloween display. (© 2011 Jonathan Gewirtz

    (Cross posted on Jonathan’s Photoblog.)

    Posted in Photos | 3 Comments »

    Chicago Tea Party Patriots Meeting, Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 27th October 2011 (All posts by )

    This next meeting should be good:

    The next monthly meeting of the Chicago Tea Party will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 at Blackie’s Chicago, 755 S. Clark. Our featured speaker will be Dan Proft, WLS-AM 890 host, Senior Fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute and Illinois Chapter President of Operation Homefront, a non-profit that provides emergency assistance to Illinois military families. This will be our first meeting after TeaCon 2011, the tea party convention that engaged, educated and energized tea party leaders from across the Midwest.

    Register here.

    I plan to be there.

    (Here is Dan Proft’s speech to the Tea Party gathering on Daley Plaza, April 19, 2011. I was there. It was cold. Proft was good, and also funny.)

    Posted in Announcements, Chicagoania, Tea Party | 1 Comment »

    Bleg: Push My Button!

    Posted by Jonathan on 27th October 2011 (All posts by )

    OK, please help me out here.

    I just set up a Facebook fan page for self-promotion. It has no content yet. The idea is to use it as a photo portal.

    I need 25 “likes” so that I can change the page’s URL to something that makes sense, rather than

    If you’re logged in to FB and can click the Like button above I would be grateful.


    Posted in Blegs | 5 Comments »

    William Niskanen, 1933-2011

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 26th October 2011 (All posts by )

    Cato obituary here. Requiescat in pace.

    Posted in Libertarianism, Obits | 1 Comment »

    Vivid Sunrise

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th October 2011 (All posts by )

    This photo was taken earlier on the morning of this outing. The color of the sunrise really was that vivid.

    The sun rises over Virginia Key just East of Miami. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    (A larger version of this image is posted at Jonathan’s Photoblog.)

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Blogging Is for Old People

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th October 2011 (All posts by )

    Is this true? Do younger people now mostly use Facebook, Twitter, phone P2P apps etc?

    Chicagoboyz seems middle-aged; the median age of contributors and commenters here appears to be fifty-something. (Perhaps the age distribution of readers who don’t comment, which is most readers, skews older or younger, but it’s difficult to know.)

    Why is that? This blog has been around for about ten years. That’s a significant chunk of time in anyone’s life. There has been turnover among contributors but those of us who have been here since the beginning are now ten years older. Maybe blogs, or at least blogs that are both 1) around for a while and 2) don’t expand into large enterprises age with their contributors. Blogs, including group blogs, are personal and it’s plausible that the people who read a blog tend to have something in common with the writers. Maybe there’s a cohort of readers aging with the writers, or maybe writers as they age tend to attract older readers. My guess is that it’s a combination, mostly the latter.

    So, is blogging the new TV news, something that mainly older people engage in as either writers or readers? Are older people more likely to blog and comment on blogs because they have free time? Or is reader/writer age an irrelevant variable?

    Feel free to discuss in the comments.

    BTW, here’s a poll:

    How old are Chicago Boyz readers? Please tell us your age (anonymously)…
    Age 20 or under
    71 or older
  free polls 

    Posted in Blogging, Personal Narrative, Polls | 22 Comments »