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  • Archive for December, 2011

    Happy Hannuka

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Posted in Holidays, Photos | 14 Comments »

    This has to change.

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 20th December 2011 (All posts by )

    One huge problem we have in America is that the millions of people who are struggling to start or grow businesses, or go solo through self-employment, have no voice. The people who talk and write — the chattering classes — do that for a living. The people who live off the public teat are often talkers and writers, and thus dominate the conversation. The major business guys are in bed with the government or have a lot to lose, so they lie low. The big middle band of actual and potential self-starters and wealth-creators is inarticulate and it needs someone to speak for it, and to learn to speak for itself.

    The regulatory state is structured to punish and thwart solo workers, self employment, small businesses, and start ups. The regulatory state has several missions. Expanding its power is one. Moving resources to its clients is another. Insulating its clients from possible threats — incumbent protection — is another.  The very thing which will allow us to dig out of this recession is what our government is structured to prevent.

    This has to change.

    Cross-posted at America 3.0

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government | 29 Comments »

    Wonders in Glass

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

    We have made several interesting discoveries while walking the dogs and exploring the Salado Creek Greenway (which is eventually intended to provide a long, green pocket wilderness park all across suburban San Antonio) but I think the very most interesting was nothing to do with the park at all. A particular stretch of the greenway parallels Holbrook Road; just where the road crosses over Salado Creek, there is a low hill with an enormous Southern mansion sitting on the top, white pillars, galleries, ancient oak trees and all. The mansion is called Victoria’s Black Swan Inn; now it’s a wedding and event venue, but originally it was a private home, built just after the Civil War, and on the site of the 1842 Salado Creek Fight. They say it is one of the most haunted places in the United States – which it might very well be – but that’s not the discovery that my daughter and I made.
    That would be what is around in back of the Black Swan; when we noticed a long graveled driveway at the side of the property, and a little sign that said “Glass Studio.”

    My mother has tinkered with making stained glass for years, even attempting to teach my daughter some skills in that direction, so we both have an appreciation for it. My daughter said, “Let’s go and see?” so we wandered up the hill, past some extremely eccentric and enormous wind chimes hanging from trees … which seemed to lead nowhere but into a tangle of sheds, aging automobiles and assorted intriguing junk – pretty much your basic funky rural collection on stereoids.

    At the top of the hill, the driveway curved around, underneath a tall pecan tree and a huge old wooden water-tank elevated on tall posts – and there was the glass studio, housed in a tidy little shed about the size of a suburban bedroom and spilling over onto a couple of tables and an outside wall, in the back-forty of the Black Swan. Mr. Howard Redman the glass artist was there, as he usually is on weekends, and was happy enough to show us his glass creations, his workspace, and his scrapbooks of previous commissions and projects, allowing us to tromp through it all with the dogs and poke into just about everything.

    It’s a darned odd place to find a glass gallery, let me tell you: his work is substantial, beautifully done, colorful – everything from fused ‘jewels’ made of four separate layers of glass, to bowls on metal stands, platters, replica Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright style lamp-shades, hanging window panels and odd little tschockes – sun-catchers, votive candle holders and paperweights. But Howard Redmond is in his eighties, and this is semi-retirement and he can do as he damn well pleases, after a whole career working in specialty glass. I looked at some of the panels in his scrapbooks – and oh, my; original installations eight feet square, with four of five thousand individual pieces; that is some serious window-glazing, let me tell you.

    Much of his professional work was done in Chicago, over the last thirty or forty years; I think his output now is more for fun, although he had many of his pieces in local galleries, and he does the occasional craft show. And nope, doesn’t even have a website, or an email address. Either catch him at a one of those shows, or come to San Antonio and search out the Black Swan Inn. Up to the top of the graveled drive, and around past the 1940s ambulance, the rusting restaurant stove, and the fallen-down bottle tree; next to a tall pecan tree and an old wooden water-tank on stilts: He’ll be at work in the little shed under the tree, with two rows of glass platters adorning the side.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Chicagoania, Entrepreneurship, Personal Narrative, Photos, Style | 8 Comments »

    Vaclav Havel

    Posted by Helen on 19th December 2011 (All posts by )

    To me the Cold War is very real, perhaps because my family was involved in various ways and, towards the end, I was, too. The news of the great men and women of that fight dying comes with very special sadness and also with many conflicting thoughts. Vaclav Havel, for instance, was a great symbol of that struggle against Communism but as a politician he did not live up to that and so one see-saws between various opinions.

    I have tried to sum it all up on Your Freedom and Ours (though the posting starts with the death of Kim Jong-il). I may get beaten up (figuratively speaking).

    Posted in Europe, Obits, Politics | 4 Comments »

    How to get manufacturing back in the US

    Posted by TM Lutas on 19th December 2011 (All posts by )

    A innovation/manufacturing article focused on high tech batteries had an interesting section on A123:

    When Yet-Ming Chiang cofounded A123 Systems in 2001 on the basis of his MIT research on battery materials, there was no advanced-battery manufacturing in the United States.

    So Chiang and his colleagues at A123 built a manufacturing plant in Changzhou, China (see “An Electrifying Startup,” May/June 2008). The move was meant not to outsource production, says Chiang, but to acquire the needed manufacturing know-how. Subsequently, A123 bought a South Korean manufacturer as a way to begin developing the expertise it needed to make the flat cells required for electric-car batteries. When A123 decided it needed to be closer to its potential automotive customers in Detroit, it cloned the Korean plant in Livonia, Michigan, and the Chinese factory a few miles away in Romulus, aided by a $249 million grant from the federal government. As a result of this strategy, A123 was able to become a major manufacturer in a remarkably short time, building the Livonia plant in just over a year and the Romulus plant in nine months.

    Methods used by “catch up” countries to do technology and expertise transfer from the US are not one way processes. We can do it in the other direction, and in the case of A123 we already have. What will matter in the future will be legal regime and placing manufacturing close to consumption.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Tech | 5 Comments »

    Camera Suggestions

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Canon products seem to be on sale these days. I don’t know if that’s because business is slow or if dealers are clearing out inventory before new models come in but there is some kind of big sale going on. If you want to buy a new Canon camera or lens now is a good time. I have experience with the following Canon cameras and recommend them:

    This Canon PowerShot is a great deal and a good choice if you are looking for a gift or inexpensive, compact camera. You can buy them now for as low as $110 (the price seems to vary with color) from Amazon by clicking the link above. I mention this because I bought one of these cameras as a gift a few months ago at a higher price and wasn’t dissatisfied. It’s a decent camera, simple to use. It does not seem to allow manual operation, if that matters to you. There are some negative reviews on Amazon but the camera seems fine to me, and at the current price you can’t go wrong.

    This higher-end Canon PowerShot is being sold for $230, today only. The current going rate is around $300. There’s a new model (S100) coming out that should be better, but it costs a couple of hundred more and is not widely available yet. The S95 is popular with photo enthusiasts and gets good reviews. I’ve tried one but didn’t use it extensively; it seemed excellent for a point and shoot. As with the camera I discussed above, at this price you can’t go wrong (I ordered one).

    [UPDATE: As soon as I posted this it became clear that the $230 price is no longer available. Sorry about that. It looks like Amazon sold out at the sale price. It is possible that Amazon will have more of these cameras available at the low price, so if you’re interested it might make sense to check back later today and perhaps during the coming weeks. This price seems to come and go. I suspect it will come back eventually, if only as the new model becomes available.]

    The Canon 5D Mark II is one of the best high-end DSLRs, certainly the best bang for the buck, and it’s being sold at its lowest price ever. This camera + lens kit is the way to go if you don’t already have Canon lenses. The 24-105mm lens that comes with the kit is a very high quality pro-level zoom that is excellent for general photography, and you get a great deal on it if you buy it as a kit with the camera body. And the current Amazon price for these kits is $500 less than they were going for a few months ago. (The camera body alone is also being discounted, but not by as much (the price for the body is slightly cheaper at B&H, which is a very good place to buy photo equipment). UPDATE: The Canon 5D Mark II body is available from B&H for $1999.95, including a memory card and some software, by clicking this link.

    Many of the popular Canon DSLR lenses are also on sale at very good prices.

    To paraphrase a great man, Chicago Boyz earns referral fees at no cost to you if you buy anything on Amazon via our links. Even if you have no interest in cameras but you want to buy books, tools, underwear, or anything else, as long as you enter Amazon’s site by clicking on one of our Amazon links we will get a cut. Thanks.

    Posted in Blogging, Diversions | 10 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Undulating bicycle tire tracks on a concrete sidewalk. (© Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Chicago Weekend and Anecdotal Observations

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 19th December 2011 (All posts by )

    My clan spent the weekend in Chicago. We had a fabulous time and really packed in a lot of activity into 48 hours or so.

    Our first stop was the observation center of Sears Tower. Yes, I understand it is now the Willis tower, but I am old school that way and to me it will forever be the Sears. Sort of like some people still call the Aon Center “Big Stan”. The kids were blown away by the view up there and we had a nice day for it. The kids went out onto the “Ledge”. I was getting a bit of vertigo and couldn’t do it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, History, Holidays | 19 Comments »

    Iatrogeny in Management Reporting

    Posted by David Foster on 19th December 2011 (All posts by )

    In medicine, an iatrogenic disease is one that is brought on by a medical treatment itself. An example would be when a physician treating a minor condition fails to properly wash his hands and as a result gives the patient an infection more serious than the original problem.

    It strikes me that iatrogeny also occurs in the management reporting and control systems of businesses and other types of organizations. A particularly awful example was reported in Britain a couple of years ago: hospitals were being measured on time from a patient’s entry into the emergency room until the time that patient was seen by a physician. It appears that in quite a few cases, the optimization of that measurement for the hospital was achieved by leaving the patient in the ambulance, in some cases for as much as five hours, so that the clock on the measurement would not start until the criterion was certain to be achieved.

    So a measurement intended to improve patient service had the opposite effect. It directly caused unnecessary pain and danger to the individual ER patient who was kept in the ambulance while harming the effective utilization of expensive vehicles and skilled personnel, while at the same time providing upper management with a distorted picture of what was really going on.

    Smirk not, fellow capitalists. While this particular example of iatrogeny was perpetrated by a government entity, plenty of examples can also be found in the private sector. Indeed, I saw an interesting example in a Target store just the other day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Health Care, Management, Tech | 13 Comments »

    Hitchens and Gingrich in 2002

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

    Via Peter Robinson and Ricochet (and Instapundit), this is worth watching both on the merits and because it reminds how people were thinking a decade ago:

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, History, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism, Video, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Battle of the Bulge + 67

    Posted by David Foster on 18th December 2011 (All posts by )

    A commenter at this Neptunus Lex post reminds us that Friday was the 67th anniversary of the desperate German assault in the Ardennes that began the Battle of the Bulge.

    Here is a remarkable set of photographs of the battle, including some in color, recently released by Life Magazine.

    There is also a Battle of the Bulge thread at Ricochet.

    Posted in Europe, Germany, History, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    R.I.P. – Vaclav Havel

    Posted by Ginny on 18th December 2011 (All posts by )

    As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it. Havel

    At 75, having lived a remarkably full and generous life, Vaclav Havel has died. (Other comments today.)
    Instapundit links to Welch’s 2003 profile which ironically begins by discussing Havel’s sense of the moral rot of dishonesty within communism by referring to Orwell and Hitchens.

    The richness of his vision comes through in one of the more superficial but certainly evocative sites, where this man of action demonstrates the power of the epigrammatic as well. But, while writing well, he also acted well: words of commitment amd acts of commitment.

    Posted in Obits | 1 Comment »

    Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 18th December 2011 (All posts by )

    The Cold War didn’t have to end the way it did. The Communists could have won. Or it could have ended with a lot of big explosions. Instead it ended when a lot of people who had lived under Communist lies, oppression, stupidity, waste, pollution, hypocrisy, squalor and corruption stood up, risked getting their heads kicked in by the cops, and pushed the whole stinking pile of junk onto the ash heap of history.

    Vaclav Havel was one of the guys who did the pushing.

    A Velvet Revolution, where as few people get killed as possible, is a great achievement.

    Havel is one of the guys who made that happen.

    1989 and the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe already seems like something from ancient history to many people.

    To me it seems like last week.

    An entire disgraceful and brutal episode in our past is being sanitized and tossed down the memory hole.

    Please do not forget the Soviet Union, do not forget the Cold War, do not forget Communism, do not forget the people who suffered under it, do not forget the people who opposed it, do not forget the people who wanted to give in to it, and who lied about it, do not forget the people who brought it all to an end.

    Vaclav Havel, rest in peace.

    The Power of the Powerless (1978)

    (I just re-read this one, and it is a pretty good fit for our current situation in America. It is also in the book Open Letters: Selected Writings, 1965-1990 — cheap used copies available.)

    [BTW, I cannot find the link to the extremely funny and insightful essay Havel wrote about how being President of Czechoslovakia, with someone always doing his laundry and cooking and driving him places, was making him infantile and out of touch. Anyone who has that, please put the link in the comments and I will update this post.]

    Posted in Book Notes, Obits, Politics | 22 Comments »

    Remembering Spain

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th December 2011 (All posts by )

    This year, my mother has decided to break the family custom for Christmas and send an actual, delivered by UPS present, in a large carton which arrived on the doorstep Friday morning. We don’t know quite why she decided to do this, since the usual present for the last decade or two has been a check discretely tucked into a Christmas card. Maybe it’s because it will be the first Christmas without Dad. Possibly Dad was the one who thought just a plain unadorned check in a Christmas or birthday card was the most welcomed gift by adult children, and didn’t want to futz about with shopping or mail order catalogues – anyway, Mom sent us an awesomely lavish gift basket from this place, La Tienda – the foods of Spain, and we went through the basket and the catalogue enclosed with happy squeals of recognition.

    We came home from Spain twenty years ago last October – after living in the city of Zaragoza, while I was assigned to the European Broadcasting Service detachment at the air base there. Which wasn’t an American air base, as we reminded people with tactful delicacy; it was a Spanish air base, and we merely rented a small, pitiful portion of it, a few discreet brick buildings and a scattering of ancient Quonset huts, going about our simple and purely transparent business, humbly supporting those various American and European fighter squadrons coming down from the clouds and fog of Northern Europe and practicing their gunnery skills at a local military range set up just to accommodate that kind of trade. Really, there was no earthly reason for anyone to hassle us … not like it had been in Greece. Still, we religiously abstained from wearing uniforms off-base. The local terrorists were mostly interested in blowing up the Guadia Civil; which I thought regretfully was hard luck for the Guads, but made things easier than they had been for American military stationed in Greece…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Europe | 12 Comments »

    What Norway Can Teach Illinois About Toll Roads

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 17th December 2011 (All posts by )

    When I was in Norway at the tiny (and picturesque) town of Mundal, I noted what appeared to be an abandoned highway toll booth near the edge of town. Since the meticulous Norwegians would never leave behind something like this without good reason, I started looking more closely at this find.

    Surely enough, the meticulous Norwegians had a sign on the booth (in English, no less) describing why this toll booth was historic in their eyes.

    Per the sign:

    This toll station was situated on rv5 (close to Nork Bremuseum) from November 1994 to November 2010. The toll financed the road between Fjaerland and Sogndal. For most of the period, this was the road with the highest toll in Norway. The Norwegian Booktown and Fjaerland’s Historical Society will use the house to document the history of Fjaerland’s struggle for road-connection with the outside world. Until 1986 you could only travel to Fjaerland by boat / ferry.

    As they noted on the sign the toll was very expensive. From what I have been able to find the toll cost 180 kroner each way (approximately $20 USD) but cut a substantial amount of time out of the drive to Mundal. However, once the road was paid for, the Norwegians dismantled this toll booth and stopped charging drivers, which is why they now have plans to use it as part of the historical site.

    On the other hand, you have the State of Illinois, whose toll authority plans to dramatically increase tolls starting January 1, 2012. Per this article – Illinois toll road increase:

    The cost of a trip on the Tollway system for the average I-Pass driver would increase to $1.18, up from today’s average of 63 cents per trip

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Chicagoania, Taxes | 11 Comments »

    Point Reyes, California

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Recently I traveled to California and visited Point Reyes National Seashore. This park is north of San Francisco along the coast, accessible through the town of Point Reyes Station. This park is large considering how close it is to populated areas and has a lot of different types of scenery from coastline to meadows to wildlife.

    We had unbelievably clear weather the entire time we were in California. Not only did it not rain a single drop for an entire week, most of the time there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. To put this in perspective, they filmed the movie “The Fog” in Inverness, a small town in Point Reyes… so we were very lucky.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Photos | 11 Comments »

    Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

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

    Here is a quote of the day, as an ave atque vale to a contentious, smart, learned, moralistic, opinionated and unique man of letters.

    My father, a Royal Navy commander, was on board H.M.S. Jamaica when it helped to deal the coup de grâce to the Nazi warship Scharnhorst on December 26, 1943–a more solid day’s work than any I have ever done.

    From Benjamin Schwarz’s eulogy, which is very good. Hitchens’ essays for the Atlantic were always worth reading.

    Hitchens had a good understanding of the concept of the Anglosphere:

    [P]roperly circumscribed, the idea of an “Anglosphere” can constitute something meaningful. We should not commit the mistake of “thinking with the blood,” as D. H. Lawrence once put it, however, but instead emphasize a certain shared tradition, capacious enough to include a variety of peoples and ethnicities and expressed in a language—perhaps here I do betray a bias—uniquely hostile to euphemisms for tyranny. In his postwar essay “Towards European Unity,” George Orwell raised the possibility that the ideas of democracy and liberty might face extinction in a world polarized between superpowers but that they also might hope to survive in some form in “the English-speaking parts of it.” English is, of course, the language of the English and American revolutions, whose ideas and values continue to live after those of more recent revolutions have been discredited and died.

    That is from his essay An Anglosphere Future. It is very much worth reading, or re-reading.

    As a Catholic I regret Hitchens’ typically violent animosity against my religion and Christianity in general. He was usually unfair in this regard. But Hitchens was a slugger, who picked his enemies and went after them, and he was not interested in fighting fair, he was interested in winning. So be it. I ask the God he did not believe in to grant him abundantly the mercy we all rely on, and to impose only the gentlest of Divine admonishments upon this talented and tumultuous son of His. Judge not lest ye be judged, and I will be the last to judge Mr. Hitchens or anyone else in the court reserved for the Divine judge. Hitchens’ fellow English man of letters, and fellow literary debater, dirty fighter and hard-puncher, St. Thomas More, at the end, when the death sentence had been handed down, told the men who had unjustly condemned him that he hoped one day they would all be merry together in Heaven. I hope the same for Hitchens, and for Orwell — Hitchens’ literary hero and mine — and for many others. May that day be far off for many of us. But for Hitchens it is now.

    Rest in peace.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, Christianity, Germany, History, Military Affairs, Religion | 6 Comments »

    The Most Dangerous Ground

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 16th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Neo Mammalian Studios, so far as I can tell, is a group of tech heads who are looking to strike it rich by designing smart phone apps and Internet infographics. I wish them the very best of luck, as I fully understand the desire to acquire wealth through honest work.

    An Email signed Andrea Smart, Communications Director to Neo Mammalian Studios, bring an infographic to our attention. The World According To MURDER!!!

    The United States ranks #10 in the number of dead bodies, but that is because we are a large country with plenty of people. Adjust for population, rank everybody by the murder rate, and we don’t rate much attention at all.

    Interestingly enough, the city with the third highest murder rate in all the world is New Orleans. Doesn’t surprise me, considering that it has always been a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

    (Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 7 Comments »

    Can Reading Fiction Make You a Better Investor?

    Posted by David Foster on 16th December 2011 (All posts by )

    In this post from last month, I cited a study which suggests that reading/viewing fiction can help to develop social intelligence and empathy.

    Here’s someone who makes a similar argument about fiction-reading and investing.

    (via Barry Ritholtz)

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, Media | 2 Comments »

    “IS IT A BAD SIGN WHEN FINANCIAL WEBSITES are talking about survival gear?”

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Asks Glenn Reynolds, linking to this Zero Hedge post.

    I think it’s more likely to be a sign that the economy has bottomed.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, Predictions, Society | 2 Comments »

    Possibly Driving Chevys to the Levee

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Cherry Creek reservoir and state park, Denver.

    Cars driving on a levee at the Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, Colorado. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Chicagoboyz on Twitter

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th December 2011 (All posts by )

    I’ve set up a Twitter account for the blog and installed the “Tweet This” WordPress plugin. Now you can click the “tweet this post” thing below a post and the post will be tweeted.

    You can read our Twitter feed here, though I’m not sure why anyone who is already reading the blog would want to.

    I will probably set up automatic tweeting for all Chicagoboyz posts. Twitter’s TOS says that you can’t automatically tweet a blog post without the author’s consent, so I want to be cautious about using this feature until I can contact all of the relevant people. It appears as well that any reader can tweet any CB blog post, so the consent issue may exist even without automatic tweeting. (Our Twitter plugin, like most WordPress plugins, is not designed with group blogs in mind.) But I’m sure we will get these issues straightened out.

    Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments »

    Random Thoughts

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

    -Uploading files over cable Internet is now often extremely slow even in the middle of the day. Until recently it was quick. Is the slowdown a function of the fact that many people are now watching TV and movies online?

    -Supermarkets’ attempt to make life easier for parents of small children by providing giant kiddie-car-shaped shopping carts makes life harder for everyone else.

    -Where did the habit of beginning sentences with the word “so” originate? This is new and annoying. I want to respond with, “So what?” but I hold my tongue.

    -While we’re on the topic of annoying rhetorical phenomena, how about the use of the word “understand” as an imperative at the beginning of a sentence? People have been saying this for a few years now. It seems to be an assertion of authority as in, “That is how it is, understand?” (but inverted). It serves the same purpose as the use of “OK?” at the end of a declarative sentence, as in: “That is how the boss wants it done, OK?” Maybe it’s another way of saying, “so”. These figures of speech appear to be designed to compel rather than persuade, and make it easier to avoid arguing issues on the merits.

    -I believe, and I think that many other people believe, that the economy will begin to pick up as soon as Obama leaves office (or as soon as it’s clear that Obama will leave office). To what extent is this belief that is probably held by many Americans likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

    Posted in Diversions, Economics & Finance, Predictions, Rhetoric | 19 Comments »

    View From Buffalo Bill’s Grave

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

    Lookout Mountain over Golden, CO.

    A raven takes flight from a tree on Lookout Mountain over Golden, Colorado. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Posted in Photos | 7 Comments »

    Reading lots of books. Ignoring televised GOP debates. (Looking over the transcripts hurts enough.)

    Posted by onparkstreet on 14th December 2011 (All posts by )

    Strobe Talbott, Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb (2004):

    Joe Ralston had the awkward assignment of making sure that he was with General Karamat during the launch of the Tomahawks. That way, if the low-flying missiles showed up on Pakistani radar screens, Joe would be able to assure Karamat that they were not the first wave of an Indian sneak attack. Toward the end of a dinner at the VIP lounge at Islamabad airport, Ralston checked his watch and told Karamat that about sixty Tomahawks had just passed through Pakistani airspace en route to their targets in Afghanistan. Shortly after, he thanked his host for dinner, shook hands, and departed.
    Karamat felt humiliated and betrayed. The next day his anger grew more intense when it was learned that one of the cruise missiles had gone astray and come down in Pakistan. Those that found their mark killed a number of Pakistani intelligence officers and trainees at the Afghan camps. These casualties were further cause for outrage in Pakistan, but they also confirmed Indian charges that Pakistan was officially supporting terrorism and the U.S. administration’s need to keep the operation secret.
    The attack missed bin Laden by hours. Suspicions lingered for years afterward that even though the Pakistanis did not know exactly when the attack was coming, they may have known enough to tip off bin Laden.

    (Emphasis mine).

    General (Ret.) Hugh Shelton, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior (2010):

    One might think that the obvious solution would have been to inform or coordinate with Pakistan up front and let them know the missiles would be ours. Under normal circumstances, that might have worked. In this case, Pakistan’s national intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), was so connected with al-Qaeda, there was no doubt that such a forewarning would go right back to UBL and his minions, and in ten minutes those camps would be more deserted than an old Western ghost town, leaving our missiles to pound sand on empty tents and vacant training facilities.

    At this point, what is there to say?

    PS: I deleted a bunch of stuff I wrote after “what is there to say,” because it was silly. I meant to save it and post it in the comments instead so as not to be accused of “scrubbing” this post but I didn’t. I’m sure it’s cached somewhere. It’s not really anything terrible, anyway. Here is what I wish I had posted instead:

    Lasch described the emergence of elites who “…control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate.” These elites would undermine American democracy in order to fulfill their insatiable desire for wealth and power and to perpetuate their social and political advantages. Middle-class values, Lasch warned, would be hollowed out by a value-neutral educational system preaching multiculturalism. Their replacement would be narcissistic values based on self-gratification and worshipful of fame and celebrity as the ultimate values in a world devoid of deeper meaning.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Book Notes, History, Human Behavior, India, Military Affairs, Politics, Quotations, Terrorism, War and Peace | 9 Comments »