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  • Archive for April, 2012

    Book Review: Maiden Voyage, by Cynthia Bass

    Posted by David Foster on 18th April 2012 (All posts by )

    Speaking of the Titanic….there must have been at least a thousand books written about this ship, and quite a few of these books have been getting a marketing push from the 100th anniversary of the sinking. One worthy book that could have done with a little marketing assistance is this 1998 novel, which currently stands at #5,797,127 on Amazon.

    Passenger Sumner Jordan is a 12-year-old from a wealthy Boston family, returning from a visit to his father in England. Sumner was named for the abolitionist Charles Sumner, who was beaten and nearly killed–on the Senate floor–by a proponent of slavery, and he desperately wants to live up to the level of courage shown by his namesake. He has a crush on 19-year-old Ivy Earhshaw, a dedicated suffragette.

    When the ship hits the iceberg, each of them will have some decisions to make about ideals versus personal safety.

    (Writing this review from memory and information on Amazon, since I can’t find my copy and it’s not available on Kindle.)

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, History | Comments Off on Book Review: Maiden Voyage, by Cynthia Bass

    “1912 Titanic Disaster: Was Racism To Blame?”

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th April 2012 (All posts by )

    A little late to this but it’s pretty good.

    Posted in Humor, Politics | 9 Comments »

    Story-Telling and History

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th April 2012 (All posts by )

    I am almost sure that telling a historical story through a movie is fraught with as many perils for the story-teller as doing so through the medium of historical fiction – it’s just that the movie-maker’s pratfalls are so much more … public, I guess is the word that I’m fishing for. There are big-name, serious historical fiction writers who abuse history almost beyond recognition in their attempt to weave a tale of the past – Philippa Gregory, anyone? – but to my mind, the really, really egregious mainstream offenses are committed in the service of movie-making.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, History, Human Behavior | 12 Comments »

    Just Unbelievable

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th April 2012 (All posts by )


    President Obama today affirmed American neutrality in the dispute between Argentina and England over the Falkland Islands. In the process, he made clear that the “special relationship” between the UK and the United States is not very special.
    Obama’s comments were made during a speech in Cartagena, Colombia, at the Summit of the Americas. It was delivered in English, but Obama chose to refer to the disputed islands by their Spanish name – the Malvinas. Argentina has insisted that the islands should always be referred to as “the Malvinas,” while the British have been adamant about calling them “the Falklands.” Obama’s choice of Malvinas might have been seen as a slap at the UK. Instead of feeling slapped, though, the British might be amused: He called them “the Maldives.”
    The Maldives are a group of Islands off the coast of India, half a world away from the Falklands. The story for people who enjoy presidential gaffes is that Obama got the wrong islands in the wrong ocean, but because Obama is so clearly brilliant, we’ll just file this away as an anomaly, along with the extra states. The real story is that he wanted to call them “the Malvinas” in the first place. It puts the British on notice that if push comes to shove, they might expect us to be as neutral as France.

    I agree with the quote. The big deal to me isn’t the Maldives vs. Malvinas gaffe (although it is unbelievable that our president would actually make that mistake), it is the fact that he isn’t calling them what they are. The Falklands. As an aside, who in gods name does Obama have making his speeches/helping him with public appearances? I get the fact that he hates Great Britain, but at least fact check the Maldives/Malvinas. Sheesh.

    Posted in Anglosphere, International Affairs, Just Unbelievable | 23 Comments »

    Wisconsin Status Update

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th April 2012 (All posts by )

    The never, ever, ever, ever, ever ending voting, re-voting and re-re-voting continues apace here behind the cheddar curtain. A small update below the fold if you are interested.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Political Philosophy, Politics, Predictions | 11 Comments »

    Paying Higher Taxes Can Be Very Profitable

    Posted by David Foster on 16th April 2012 (All posts by )

    (I originally posted this in early 2010–today 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 observed that during the 2008 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 Big Government, Taxes | 1 Comment »


    Posted by Jonathan on 16th April 2012 (All posts by )

    A Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) eats a fish that is almost as big as the cormorant is. Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /

    Think big.


    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    It Isn’t Business as Usual

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 16th April 2012 (All posts by )

    Barry Ritholtz put up an interesting post this past weekend. He attended some lunches and dinners with the heads of some start up companies. I am encouraged about what he had to say. Here is the money, italics mine:

    The youth of America are full of ideas and energy. They don’t give a shit that their parents fucked everything up — they are going to steam roll over the old order and replace it with one of their own. They understand that future is not about the past. They know that they are a business of one, that no company or government is ever going to offer them economic security. They are their own team, brand and idea factory.

    There are lots of things people are rightfully upset about — I lost my voice ranting last night about eejit economists who think the crisis was caused by “predatory borrowing” (it wasn’t). But that’s not what is going to be propelling us forward.

    Don’t look to DC — the political debates there are laughable. Its like watching two different T-Rex debating who gets to eat the dead plant eater unaware of the the giant asteroid hurtling their way. Their argument gets resolved when the asteroid turns their summer into nuclear winter.

    The old order, the political hacks and hangers on, the whiners and recession porn stars and permabears — the dinosaurs — all have no idea WTF is coming their way. They are going to be mowed down like so many extinct species before them. They cannot see the asteroid hurtling their way from the deep black depths of space.

    The Future of America is coming. It is not being driven by Goldman Sachs or the GOP or Obama. That’s old school, the old order, yesterday. It’s coming, and coming sooner than most people imagine.

    When you get run over, don’t say you weren’t warned . . .

    While I think Rithotlz ignores some of the roadblocks along the way that will slow down and possibly derail this new breed, such as old school politics and the like, I agree with his thrust in general.

    My generation – the Gen X ers, and those who are coming after us have received a pretty raw deal, perpetrated upon us by the Boomers. We realize that there will be no Social Security at this pace, even though our weekly paychecks are deducted for it. We understand that there are millions of people who have enormous salaries and benefits for pushing papers across the desk of a DMV, and we resent it. Now that we are starting to have kids, we are teaching them that there is NO REASON to rely on the government for ANYTHING and that they are on their own. And that we vote accordingly.

    I agree with Ritholtz – some of the new tech and other things coming down the pipe are going to blow the old guard away. We can organize a rally very quickly with thousands of people with a simple Facebook page. This is just one example. The dinosaurs better get ready. Because it is coming. It may take a decade or two, but it will be here before you know it.

    Cross posted at LITGM.

    *the comments at the Ritholtz post are very good

    Posted in Business, Entrepreneurship, USA | 29 Comments »

    Cool Project: An Open-Source Loom

    Posted by David Foster on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    Ran across some information about a project to create an open-source Jacquard loom. A Jacquard has the ability to weave elaborately-patterned fabrics by controlling each individual warp thread in the weaving process. Machines that can handle a large number of threads are pretty costly…numbers I’ve seen are in the $30K-60K range…and there are evidently a lot of hobbyists and small businesspeople who would like such a loom but are unable to afford one. Hence, the open-source loom project.

    The Jacquard is important in the history of technology, and I’ve been intending to write about this topic for a while. A good source is Jacquard’s Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age, by James Essinger. (I’m not a weaver, so hope that those who are will forgive and correct any inaccuracies or incorrect use of terminology in this post.)

    Traditionally, the weaving of patterned fabric was a very labor intensive process requiring that for each throw of the shuttle, a number of cords must be pulled or not pulled in order to lift or not lift specific threads. Essinger estimates only 1 inch of fabric per day, for a weaver and his assistant, could be produced–so these fabrics were definitely luxury goods.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, France, History, Tech | 2 Comments »

    Israeli Govt. Letter to Pro-Palestinian Activists

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    Martin Kramer on Facebook:

    Some pro-Palestinian ‘activists’ may make it onto flights to Ben-Gurion Airport for tomorrow’s ‘flytilla.’ (Many of them won’t, since Israel provided foreign airlines with lists of persons who will be denied entry, and the airlines have been canceling their reservations in compliance.) Those who do get through will be sent right back, but not before being handed this letter. Have a nice flight.

    The letter is well worth a click. Read it here.

    UPDATE: One of the initial commenters in response to Kramer’s FB post takes the Israelis to task for producing this “childish” letter. I disagree. The letter isn’t for the benefit of a few anti-Israel activists who are never going to change their minds. It’s a clever PR move that costs nothing and will get a lot of exposure. The Israelis should do more of this kind of thing and we should too.

    Posted in Israel, Leftism, Middle East | 5 Comments »

    Tricolored Heron

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    A Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) flies away after catching a small fish in Everglades National Park, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /


    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Tricolored Heron

    News You Can Use

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    In 2010, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation unveiled a hand grenade packed with ground ghost chilli seeds. When deployed, the grenade created a dust cloud so spicy that trial subjects were left blinded and suffering breathing problems for hours. According to the lead scientist behind the chilli grenade, ghost chilli is pungent enough to choke terrorists into surrender.


    Posted in Humor | 4 Comments »

    American Heritage

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    I can blame my intense, not to say passionate interest in 19th century American history – specifically, to the Western frontier to being exposed at a very impressionable age to two things, and both of them the fault of my parents. One of them was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series of books, which Mom and Dad began giving me as gifts at around the age of eight … by which time I could read confidently and omnivorously. I would get a single volume for Christmas or a birthday present, dated and inscribed – and I very clearly remember sitting down and reading them from cover to cover almost immediately. They gave me a pretty good sense of domestic life in the small-town mid-West, and what work was involved in keeping house, home and family together on the late 19th century frontier. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, History, North America, Photos | 6 Comments »

    “My Verse Distills Your Truth”

    Posted by Ginny on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    I’m an amateur at technology – one of those stand at the front and yell at them, one of those “put-two-marks on the board to describe all of – well everything” teachers. “Potted lectures,” tests over the readings – that’s me. (My favorite pattern – that of the autobiographical or first person narrator taking us to the past, showing us the trail and trials to become the person speaking had a certain simplicity. But laughter began as I started, one semester, to put it up for the fifth or sixth time. Ah, I said, but doesn’t this make sense? Well, maybe, they said. It also looks like a rather flaccid penis. Perhaps simplicity leaves too much to the imagination.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Media, Poetry | 3 Comments »

    Chicago Tax Day Tea Party, April 16, 2012, Daley Plaza, Noon

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 14th April 2012 (All posts by )

    April 12, 2012

    Contact: Eric Kohn
    Communications Director, Chicago Tea Party


    CHICAGO – Concerned citizens are set to gather at noon on Monday, April 16 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 individual liberty and free markets.

    “We are concerned with the direction of our country and our state,” said Chicago Tea Party Communications Director Eric Kohn. “The only solutions being offered from politicians in Washington and Springfield are higher taxes, more spending and massive debt. We will continue to fight for less government, more freedom and fiscal responsibility on tax day and every day through the November election.”


    What: Chicago Tax Day Tea Party
    Where: Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago
    When: Noon – 2PM, Monday, April 16

    U.S. Conressman, Joe Walsh, IL-8th District
    Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch
    Dana Loesch, CNN Contributor, Co-Founder St. Louis Tea Party
    Denise Cattoni, State Director, Illinois Tea Party
    Joel Pollak, Editor-in-Chief,
    Dan Proft, WLS-AM 890 Host
    David From, State Director, Americans for Prosperity Illinois
    Contact Eric Kohn at 773-209-3435 for press availability with the speakers.

    There will be shirts for sale at the 4th annual Tax Day Tea Party Rally, including the above design from Bob Black.

    Posted in Announcements, Chicagoania, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Obama, Political Philosophy, Taxes, Tea Party, USA | 4 Comments »

    Around Chicago April 2012

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 13th April 2012 (All posts by )

    A view of Trump and the IBM building on a clear spring day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Photos | 6 Comments »

    The Democratic Party – War on Women

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th April 2012 (All posts by )

    I just wanted to make this post to do my part for Google searches. It smarts when the mask slips.

    Posted in Politics | 12 Comments »

    China may be entering a new era

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th April 2012 (All posts by )

    There is a huge story going on in China right now. A very high official in the Politburo, named Bo Xilai has been purged, and his wife has been arrested. The story as reported is not the real one.

    Here is John Burns’ opinions of What is going on.

    First the official version.

    CBS News) BEIJING – We are getting a rare look at the inner workings of China’s Communist power structure thanks to a scandal that erupted there this spring. CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen tells us about the man at the center of it.

    The Chinese nicknamed Bo Xilai a “princeling,” which means one of the most powerful men in China.

    Now he’s called criminal in a case that is part soap opera, part murder mystery.

    In a stunning announcement this week, Bo was dumped from China’s Politburo, the powerful committee that runs the country.

    His glamorous wife Gu Kailai has been arrested for the murder of Nick Heywood, a British man found dead in a hotel room last November. At the time, Chinese police said he died of alcohol poisoning — although his family said he didn’t drink.

    The background story is:

    Well, of course what we see here is something that none of us really wanted to see at all, and I’m not talking about the murder. That, of course, we would all regret. What we’re seeing is a new upheaval in the Chinese political leadership, the most important political purge in Bo Xilai, the former Chongquing party chief, candidate for the inner sanctum of power in the politburo. And this is very disturbing to those who had hoped, believed, perhaps, that China, this is a new China, the post-Mao China, which was heading toward a period of political stability, the rule of law, in other words, had really put the Mao era, the Cultural Revolution, the chaos, the great leap forward, and all the rest of it, behind it. What we’re seeing now in this very sordid tale is something much more like what we saw of Chinese leadership in what we, and indeed, I think most Chinese would describe as the bad old days of Mao Tse Tung, a politics that is much more personal, that is much more brutal. Let’s not forget that in the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao, millions, I think the Chinese officially concluded ten million people, died. Now it’s not to suggest that China’s heading for that. The present Chinese leadership who purged Bo are saying, in fact, that it’s to prevent that kind of…return to that kind of politics, that they’ve purged him. But then you have the question of the alleged murder. the story begins in mid to late November when, and at that time, the world knew nothing about it. Neil Heywood, a 41 year old private school educated Englishman of some personal charm, went to Chongqing, the capitol city of Sichuan Province in Southwest China, source of the wonderful hot food that we all like in Chinese restaurants, and on some sort of a business trip. He had for some years, we now know, had a very unusual personal relationship with the family of Bo Xilai, the Communist Party chief in Chongqing, and that relationship seemed to be centered very much on Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, a 53 year old rather handsome woman from her photographs, daughter of a retired, probably now dead, revolutionary general under Mao Tse Tung. This was Communist royalty. Long story short, Neil Heywood ends up dead in his hotel room in Chongqing. The Chinese report to his family that he died of over consumption of alcohol. They report that they’ve cremated him without autopsy. The family, the Heywood family, appears to have accepted this, and that includes Mr. Neil Heywood’s Chinese wife and two children living in Beijing. The next stage was that the police chief of Sichuan Province, the closest personal aide, if you will, to Mr. Bo, the party chief, having reported so it is now said, to Bo Xilai, that Heywood didn’t die of over consumption of alcohol. He died of poisoning, and that the poisoner, or at least the one who organized the poisoning, was none other than Bo’s own wife, Gu Kailai.

    So what we have is a tremendous turn in the politics of China, and it seems to center, this scandal’s center on the death of this Englishman. And it’s left to people like myself to now go in pursuit of what the real story behind all of this was.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, Civil Society, Political Philosophy | 16 Comments »

    Not Prepping … Just Prepared

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th April 2012 (All posts by )

    It would seem that once there is a TV reality show about something than you can assume that it’s gone mainstream enough that the denizens of the mainstream media world are interested. So it seems to have happened with ‘prepping’ – that is, being prepared for the zombie apocalypse with a garage or a bunker full of shelf-stable and dried foods, a water purification system and a couple of cases of munitions. Meh … a lot of people went nutso over this just before New Years’ Day 2000, and there always has been a lunatic fringe … but then ensuring that you have a plentiful supply of food, drink and supplies on hand used to be pretty mainstream, actually. It was called ‘getting ready for winter’ in the 19th century, especially if you lived on a homestead half a day’s journey from the nearest general store. It certainly has been a requirement for LDS church members, as I discovered when I lived in Utah. It seemed pretty sensible for me, actually – having an emergency stash of food.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Book Notes, Human Behavior, Personal Narrative, Recipes | 8 Comments »

    Random Thoughts on Zimmerman

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 12th April 2012 (All posts by )

    1. Will the Black Panther Party give the bounty money (remember the dead or alive thing?) for Zimmerman to the police department where he turned himself in?

    2. And more seriously, does anyone besides me think that there is zero chance Zimmerman walks? I bet his own lawyers have already sold him up the river for a reduced charge. Alternately, I think that Zimmerman might kill himself – he is already acting quite irrationally, going around his attorneys and talking to the authorities, as well as having a rumored conversation with Sean Hannity. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever talk with the police without your attorney present!

    3. Even more seriously, I am guessing there will be riots somewhere, somehow for some reason over this. Evidence be damned.

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment | 22 Comments »

    Derb and All

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th April 2012 (All posts by )

    So – the blog kerfuffle du jour is John Derbyshire and the internet essay that he wrote for another obscure blog-magazine, the topic of which has raised such a general ruckus among the right-thinking side of the blogosphere, that it got him dumped over Easter weekend from the National Review and has the Breitbart conglomerate all in a twitter, and many of the rest of us on the libertarian/conservative/free-thinking side of the spectrum seeming to be thinking thoughts pretty much split three ways; cringing and thinking ‘oh, s**t’ or ‘about damn time’ and ‘ ‘OK then – if representatives of the capital ‘B’ Black community can witter all over the print media and the intertubules about their worries about their children running afoul of the 21st century version of the KKK – can those of us from the race of pallor worry frankly and openly about getting lost in certain neighborhoods, the odds on survival when taking the wrong exit off particular interstates in big urban areas, or the wisdom of going to certain sports venues without being armed to the teeth?’
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Human Behavior, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, The Press, Urban Issues, USA | 16 Comments »

    Everybody Sing!

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 10th April 2012 (All posts by )

    My New Mitt Romney Song
    (Lexington Green, 2012)

    (Sung to the Tune of “Give me that Old Time Religion”)


    I’m votin’ for Mitt Romney
    I’m votin’ for Mitt Romney
    I’m votin’ for Mitt Romney
    He’s good enough for me


    He’s not Barack Obama
    He’s not Barack Obama
    He’s not Barack Obama
    That’s good enough for me

    He can beat Barack Obama
    He can beat Barack Obama
    He can beat Barack Obama
    That’s good enough for me

    (Repeat until Tuesday, November 6, 2012)

    Please feel free to make up as many additional verses as you want.

    Instrumental accompaniment may include: handclaps, banjo, clarinet, tin whistle, accordion, maraccas, farfisa, harmonica, tambourine, drums, sousaphone, foot stomps, kazoo, harpsichord, etc.

    Works best with one or more alcoholic beverages.

    Posted in Conservatism, Elections, Music, Politics, USA | 42 Comments »

    Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th April 2012 (All posts by )

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


    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    TAE on “Plain America”

    Posted by David Foster on 10th April 2012 (All posts by )

    Last week Ginny critiqued an article by a University of Iowa professor, in which said professor (who moved to Iowa from San Francisco 20 years ago) had some not-terribly-positive things to say about the people among whom he has spent the last two decades and remarked that of the places he has lived, many of them foreign countries, “none has been more foreign to me than Iowa.”

    Coincidentally, while resorting documents in my office I ran into the July/August 04 issue of the (sadly now defunct) magazine The American Enterprise, which has several articles on the theme “Plain America,” that is, western, midwestern, and rural America. Happily, the whole issue is online, and these essays are thoughtful and thought-provoking. They include:

    –a piece on the cowboy archetype, by Andrew and Judith Kleinfield
    –growing up in Fargo, by James Lileks
    –culture in Inner America, by Bill Kauffman
    –rediscovering our Midwest, by Joel Kotkin
    –small lives well-lived in small places, by Blake Hurst
    –the significance of the Lewis and Clark expedition, by Karl Zinsmeister
    –some thoughts by the then-governor of Colorado, Bill Owens

    These essays make a good complement to Ginny’s post. The text display format used at the linked site is not greatly to my liking, but it is readable, and it’s well worth doing so.

    Posted in Civil Society, History, USA | Comments Off on TAE on “Plain America”

    Ghosts of Hot Wells

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th April 2012 (All posts by )

    Ruins of the bath house, at the side of the old Hot Wells Resort, South San Antonio

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »