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  • Archive for November, 2011

    Sycamore

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st November 2011 (All posts by )

    Chicagoboyz like the trees!


    View up the trunk of a tall sycamore tree. (Copyright 2011 Jonathan Gewirtz jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Money

    Posted by TM Lutas on 21st November 2011 (All posts by )

    The invaluable XKCD strikes again with an examination of money.
    Money

    I think their bias might be showing a bit though, they have an order of magnitude error on GOP campaign finance spending in 2010. They added 3 zeroes onto the GOP actual expenditure. I *wish* the GOP had that much money to throw around.

    Posted in Politics | 3 Comments »

    Barn Rehab

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st November 2011 (All posts by )

    Below the fold, information on the barn that we rehabbed at our farm, if you like.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Architecture, Personal Narrative, Photos | 9 Comments »

    New! Name that Breed!

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st November 2011 (All posts by )

    Rather than posting about sad subjects such as the imminent explosion of the supercommittee or Europe’s sovereign debt problems, I choose to start this Monday morning with a bleg of extreme importance. Below is Jameson, the dog, as a puppy. We got him from the humane society.

    Below the fold, you can see a couple photos of him all growed up.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Jameson, Personal Narrative, Photos | 24 Comments »

    Drucker on Education, 1969

    Posted by David Foster on 20th November 2011 (All posts by )

    About a week ago Instapundit linked this Wikipedia article about the higher-education bubble, noting especially the point that William Bennett predicted the bubble back in 1987. The post reminded me of some interesting and rather prescient comments that Peter Drucker made about education in his 1969 book The Age of Discontinuity. A few excerpts:

    Resources and expectations:

    Education has become by far the largest community expenditure in the American economy…Teachers of all kinds, now the largest single occupational group in the American labor force, outnumber by a good margin steelworkers, teamsters and salespeople, indeed even farmers…Education has become the key to opportunity and advancement all over the modern world, replacing birth, wealth, and perhaps even talent. Education has become the first value choice of modern man.

    This is success such as no schoolmaster through the ages would have dared dream of…Signs abound that all is not well with education. While expenditures have been skyrocketing–and will keep on going up–the taxpayers are getting visibly restless.

    Credentials and social mobility:

    The most serious impact of the long years of schooling is, however, the “diploma curtain” between those with degrees and those without. It threatens to cut society in two for the first time in American history…By denying opportunity to those without higher education, we are denying access to contribution and performance to a large number of people of superior ability, intelligence, and capacity to achieve…I expect, within ten years or so, to see a proposal before one of our state legislatures or up for referendum to ban, on applications for employment, all questions related to educational status…I, for one, shall vote for this proposal if I can.

    Dangers of “elite” universities:

    One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

    It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman. Yet this is the flexibility Europe needs in order to overcome the brain drain and to close the technology gap.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Britain, China, Education, Europe, France, Science, Society, USA | 29 Comments »

    The Indy Author Game

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th November 2011 (All posts by )

    For those who are interested – below the fold… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Arts & Letters, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    Virginity of global warming activist questioned.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 19th November 2011 (All posts by )

    During all the argument about global warming that has gone on over the past decade, warming activists have questioned the motives of defenders of traditional energy sources, implying they are all funded by fossil fuel companies. The motives of those warning of the risks of global warming have rarely been questioned, implying they are only worried about the planet and nothing so crass as accepting money for their efforts.

    Now, it seems, they had normal acquisitive instincts, as well. And some of them have done quite well, I might add.

    NASA records released to resolve litigation filed by the American Tradition Institute reveal that Dr. James E. Hansen, an astronomer, received approximately $1.6 million in outside, direct cash income in the past five years for work related to — and, according to his benefactors, often expressly for — his public service as a global warming activist within NASA.

    This does not include six-figure income over that period in travel expenses to fly around the world to receive money from outside interests. As specifically detailed below, Hansen failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in global travel provided to him by outside parties — including to London, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Tokyo, the Austrian Alps, Bilbao, California, Australia and elsewhere, often business or first-class and also often paying for his wife as well — to receive honoraria to speak about the topic of his taxpayer-funded employment, or get cash awards for his activism and even for his past testimony and other work for NASA.

    Oh, Oh. Normal instincts after all. This will set the sainthood movement back a few years. We already know about Al Gore, of course.

    Posted in Big Government, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Human Behavior, Politics | 9 Comments »

    A must read for every Conservative/Libertarian

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 19th November 2011 (All posts by )

    The linked article is, IMO, an important read for all of us in the think tank/free market movement. I’ve often started feeble attempts to write a nearly exact commentary, and thankfully, some one wrote it for me.

    It encompasses many of the things I’ve attempted to communicate in various debates/discussions with colleagues at Heartland and out on the Free Market Rubber Chicken circuit. It applies to libertarians as much as conservatives.

    MODERNIZING CONSERVATISM cogently lays out exactly why the conservative movement is heading toward rough waters.

    While I don’t agree with every aspect of prescribed remedies, the need for a reformation of the movement is 100% accurate, IMO.

    Some titillating excerpts…

    “Long-term evidence indicates that the starve-the-beast strategy not only fails, but may make the problem of unrestrained spending growth worse, suggesting that a “serve the check” strategy might be a more effective means of curbing the growth of government spending. The simple explanation for this seeming paradox is that the starve-the-beast strategy currently allows Americans to receive a dollar in government services while only having to pay 60 cents for it.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Anglosphere, Civil Society, Elections, Political Philosophy, Taxes | 15 Comments »

    An Orphaned Cookbook

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th November 2011 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit is, as I have mentioned before, the absolute queen of yard sales, thrift stores and estate sales. She views each possible venue as a rich hunting ground – and regularly emerges triumphantly flaunting a high-quality and originally expensive item bought for a relative pittance.  She also has a soft spot for old books, especially the ones which look as if they have had better days. She says they appeal to her rather like a kind of abandoned pet, the elderly animal left behind when the owner dies.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Anglosphere, Recipes | 10 Comments »

    Let Sleeping Dogs Lie…

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th November 2011 (All posts by )

    …but you can photograph them.

    Abstract view of a goldendoodle dog sleeping. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Kindle Fire

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 18th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Huzzah! My Kindle Fire arrived just in time for the weekend. I ordered the (p)leather holster for that but it appears that it may be on back order. Oh well. Full report to come after I play with this thing.

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, Internet | Comments Off on Kindle Fire

    Congress is a criminal enterprise

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Mark Twain once said, ” There is no true criminal class in America with the possible exception of Congress.” It’s time to withdraw the qualifier. It is now apparent that, with a few rare exceptions, Congress is a criminal enterprise and the Obama Administration is, as well. Here is the story of part of it.

    “To entrench Fannie’s privileged position, Morgenson and Rosner write, Johnson and Raines channeled some of the profits to members of Congress — contributing to campaigns and handing out patronage positions to relatives and former staff members. Fannie paid academics to do research showing the benefits of its activities and playing down the risks, and shrewdly organized bankers, real estate brokers and housing advocacy groups to lobby on its behalf. Essentially, taxpayers were unknowingly handing Fannie billions of dollars a year to finance a campaign of self-promotion and self-­protection. Morgenson and Rosner offer telling details, as when they describe how Lawrence Summers, then a deputy Treasury secretary, buried a department report recommending that Fannie and Freddie be privatized. A few years later, according to Morgenson and Rosner, Fannie hired Kenneth Starr, the former solicitor general and Whitewater investigator, who intimidated a member of Congress who had the temerity to ask how much the company was paying its top executives.”The latter item is just to show that the corruption was bi-partisan. The quoted text above was from a book review written by Robert Reich, the left wing former Clinton Labor Secretary.

    Johnson was the man chosen by Obama to vet his possible VP choices. When his history came to the public’s attention, he quickly withdrew. He had no financial background at the time he became the chief of Fannie Mae. He was a pure political animal.

    The most telling recent blow is the bankruptcy of MF Global, a commodity trading futures firm run by Jon Corzine, former governor of New Jersey. It appears that he stole $600 million of investor’s money. Another commodity trader has now closed her fund and returned her customer’s money. Here’s why: “The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy.

    I do not agree with some of her theories, she appears to be a “birther,” for example, but that doesn’t matter. If Obama is a legal citizen, his corruption is just as bad.

    “A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise. What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. No informed person can continue to engage these markets, and no moral person can continue to broker or facilitate customer engagement in what is now a massive game of Russian Roulette.”

    The bankruptcy petition may have been responsible for freezing the accounts but criminal law should deal with this. Corzine should spend years in prison. Here is a depressing comment: “If Obama doesn’t win next year, watch for a January 19, 2013 pardon.”

    Posted in Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading, Politics | 8 Comments »

    Plastic Bertrand, Ca Plane Pour Moi (1977)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 17th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Posted in Music, Video | 6 Comments »

    October Jobs and Unemployment Numbers for Wisconsin

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th November 2011 (All posts by )

    This is a terribly boring post I am writing so I will put the rest under the fold for those of you who are interested in our job market here in Wisconsin. So, just how is Wisconsin doing under Governor Walker?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Statistics | 5 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th November 2011 (All posts by )

    New York metero contains 15 million people. There are probably more people there having appendectomies today than “protesting”.

    From this comment thread.

    My thoughts on “occupy” below the fold.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society | 18 Comments »

    2 Dog Special

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 16th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Gold Coast Dogs on Wabash.

    Everything except hot peppers, fries, Hawaiian punch, four ketchup packets.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Personal Narrative | 25 Comments »

    On Special Relationships

    Posted by onparkstreet on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Foreign Secretary William Hague on UK-Pakistan relations at the 60th Anniversary of the Pakistan Society:

    And my message to you all this evening is that Britain’s relationship with Pakistan is here to stay. What happens in Pakistan matters to Britain, and we will stand by Pakistan as it addresses the challenges it faces and build a durable relationship that we know will stand the test of time.
     
    We can be confident of doing so because ours is not a new relationship founded on a narrow set of interests.
     
    We enjoy a tremendous latticework of connections of history and shared experiences, embodied in one million people with close ties to Pakistan living in Britain today and the thousands of our citizens who travel back and forth each year to work, study and support projects or for simple enjoyment.

    Yahoo News India:

    The United States Defense Department has awarded a 42.3 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, to provide 10 upgrade kits for Pakistan’s F-16 A/B aircrafts.
     
    According to the Daily Times, the contract has been awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s Block 15 F-16 A/B Aircraft Enhanced Modernization Program.

    Aviation Week blog:

    Given how opaque the Saudi government is, it is unclear what is prompting the latest bout of uncertainty. Among the top reasons government and industry officials cite is Riyadh’s unhappiness the U.S. did not support a Palestinian bid for UN membership. Another is that the recent turmoil in Saudi Arabia — with Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz named new defense minister after his predecessor died — has simply created too much uncertainty for the arms package to move forward.
     
    Boeing has a lot riding on the deal — especially since it would keep F-15 production alive past 2020 — and company officials recently indicated it was still on, without projecting timing. It is important for Boeing, financially, too, since it has already spent money to avoid a production gap.

    India and Britain – the new special relationship?RUSI

    Council on Foreign Relations:

    In this Vanity Fair adaptation of The Eleventh Day, by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the authors explore connections between the Saudi royal family, the September 11th attacks, and the Bush administration’s suppression of critical evidence.
     
    For 10 years now, a major question about 9/11 has remained unresolved. It was, as 9/11-commission chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton recalled, “Had the hijackers received any support from foreign governments?” There was information that pointed to the answer, but the commissioners apparently deemed it too disquieting to share in full with the public.

    Clinton Cites Pakistan Anti-Terror Help in Bid to Avert Aid CutBloomberg

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Aviation, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, International Affairs, Military Affairs | 4 Comments »

    Norway and Germany

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    I recently traveled to Norway and as a minor military historian was fascinated by their historical entanglement with Germany. I was not able to travel to see the coastal fortifications in the Northern part of the country that I wrote about here.

    Balestrand and The Kaiser

    Balestrand is a beautiful little community along a large fjord (Sogenfjord)in Norway. While we were there I stayed at the Hotel Kviknes, which has a long tradition as a fine tourist hotel.

    The Kaiser brought a portion of his fleet up the fjord with him while he visited Norway as a tourist. I saw a photo from a local guide but I can’t seem to find one on the internet. He had a touring vessel and it looked like a couple of light cruisers but am not certain.

    This is the chair in the Hotel Kviknes where the Kaiser supposedly sat when WW1 was declared. There was a young couple having a drink at the table and they were nice enough to let me get a photo of the bottom of the chair which was marked accordingly.

    Stalheim Hotel and the Kaiser

    The Stalheim Hotel is one of the most famous hotels in Norway, known for its fabulous views as you can see below.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Germany, History, Military Affairs, Photos | 15 Comments »

    Burrowing Owl

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    The Burrowing Owl looks wise. This one decided to live next to a baseball field in a public park. Maybe that’s a good place to catch insects at night. OTOH, the park people had to put a fence around the burrow to protect the wise owl from lawn mowers and other hazards of nature. Is the owl clever because it got the humans to work for it or is it a bird brain? You decide.

    One good thing about the owl’s decision to live next to a ball field is that it is really easy to photograph the owl if you come by at, say, noon and the owl is dumb or wise enough, depending on how you look at it, to stand around near the entrance to its burrow and stare up at you. Is it smiling or frowning? Who the hell knows. But we can have a clear conscience because by publicizing its plight we help raise awareness about the baseball menace to the world’s owl population.

    A burrowing owl in a park in Broward County, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Posted in Photos | 6 Comments »

    Big Prestige Projects and the Obama Way

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

    Barack Obama:

    “It makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth — that used to be us.” (Nov 3, 2010)

    “America became an economic superpower because we knew how to build things. We built the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hoover Dam, and the Interstate Highway System. And now, we’re settling for China having the best high-speed rail, and Singapore having better airports? When did that happen? “(Oct 25 2011)

    George Savage juxtaposes the latter Obama statement with his decision, only two weeks later, to delay approval for the construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, which was estimated to provide about 20,000 jobs, as well as having an obvious beneficial impact on America’s energy security. Indeed, it should be obvious at this point that the main inhibitors to the building of any large project whatsoever are regulatory overreach and complexity and the exploitation of the legal and regulatory environment by precisely the kind of activists that Obama the community organizer has spent much of his life encouraging. Obama’s complaints about us not building things resemble the plea of the defendant who killed both of his parents and then asked for mercy because he was an orphan. (More thoughts on large projects then versus now at my post like swimming in glue.)

    But in addition to the above point, the kinds of projects about which Obama waxes enthusiastic (to the degree that any enthusiasm is contained in his rather flat emotional range) reveal much about the “progressive” economic worldview.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, Tech, Transportation, USA | 6 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz Poultry Update

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    Below the fold is information on our chickens, if you desire.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Personal Narrative, Photos | 13 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz Horse Update

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 15th November 2011 (All posts by )

    At our hobby farm we have cattle for beef, chickens for eggs, cats for rodent control, a dog for a warning system (and to kill a coyote/fox if needed) and horses for pleasure. I don’t really do the horse thing but the wife and kids sure do love ’em. It is nice that we have our own grass hay to feed them, making their maintenance cost very low, just need to keep their hooves taken care of and the occasional vet visit.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Personal Narrative, Photos | 13 Comments »

    Swissotel Chicago Hates One of My Kids Right Now, But All of Them If I Have Three or More

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 14th November 2011 (All posts by )

    So the wife decided to make plans for a nice weekend in Chicago on a weekend in December. Museums, the Christmas lights, windows, Michigan Avenue, some fine food, etc. I had stayed at the Swissotel before for business and had a good experience. I am staying there later in December to visit Carl and got a nice rate of $99 per night.

    I began to noodle around their site and came up with the following rate for 2 adults and 2 kids, staying two nights. $306/night if you pay ahead of time, $339/night for the regular rate (plus tax of course).

    Knowing that I just got a room for $99 I started scratching my head a bit and looked at the different rooms, etc. Couldn’t figure it out. Maybe it was because this particular weekend was in high demand.

    For kicks I took the kids out of the equation. Lo and behold the rate for two adults: $117 advance payment, $129 standard rate.

    How about if we just bring one kid: $117 advance, $129 standard.

    What if we adopt a kid before then, making it two adults and three kids: “We’re sorry, but no rooms are available for your specified date range. Please modify your search criteria and try again.”

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Holidays, Personal Narrative | 16 Comments »

    Random Thought

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th November 2011 (All posts by )

    If Obama has been the Hurricane Katrina of American politics, the Republicans have been the Corps of Engineers.

    Posted in Politics | 3 Comments »

    68F on November 13, 2011

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

    The Location: The front porch, Oak Park.

    The Drink: Bourbon and ginger ale.

    The Book: Twenty Million Tons Under the Sea: The Daring Capture of the U-505, by Daniel V. Gallery. A pal, a former destroyer officer as it happens, gave me this book with the highest possible recommendation. Rear Admiral Gallery was a salty character. He gives excellent and colorful and opinionated explanations of all aspects of the war against the U-Boats, with many anecdotes. A most educational read, and a page-turner. As of page 130/338 I can recommend it to all who are interested in such matters. If you visit Chicago, you can see the U-505 at its permanent berth at the Museum of Science and Industry, where it came to rest after Gallery’s men captured it.

    We won’t get many more nice days like this one this year. Today is pretty much an aberration. I am expecting a severely cold winter this year, based on pure guesswork and gut feel, speculation about sunspot activity and its effect, contrarianism about global warning, general pessimism, and not much else.

    (Below the fold, Gallery on the conning tower of the captured U-505, via Wikipedia.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, Chicagoania, Germany, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, USA, War and Peace | 7 Comments »