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  • Archive for October, 2012

    1000 Years of Cultural Evolution for Reuse – James C. Bennett

    Posted by leifsmith on 21st October 2012 (All posts by )

    “What the USA did was to take the patterns and toolkit the British used to create their society, and to simplify, universalize, and generalize it until it became a versatile template that could quickly convert expanses of raw land into new, functioning self-governing communities without a thousand years of cultural evolution, and a concept of citizenship that could take European peasant communities who had been dumbly following orders for a thousand years, and turn them within a generation into citizens, jurors, legislators, militiamen and volunteers, vestrymen and congregation-members, entrepreneurs, and self-actualized persons — the whole Anglosphere toolkit — all in a deliberate manner that the British never thought they would need, but now might do well to look at.

    “Americans have in many ways been congratulating themselves for the wrong things. The truths of the Declaration were hardly novel or shocking to the Englishmen who read them; rather, they saw them as a Whig five-finger exercise that had been boilerplate since 1688. What was shocking was that the Americans were throwing their own ideals back in their face.”

    James C. Bennett, July 8, 2006, at http://anglosphere.com/weblog/archives/2006_07.html

    Also preserved at: http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/525.html

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Britain, Political Philosophy | 8 Comments »

    Jeff Sypeck’s Gargoyle Poems

    Posted by David Foster on 21st October 2012 (All posts by )

    …are now available in book form.

    The book includes 53 poems accompanied by black-and-white photos of the gargoyles and grotesques. These poems are really good…one of my favorites is here.

    You can get the book via the usual on-line sources, the National Cathedral Store, or direct from Jeff’s site at the first link.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, History, Poetry | 1 Comment »

    Who Would Be In YOUR Binder Full of Women?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 21st October 2012 (All posts by )

    A few candidates.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    Far out there

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Once again, Craig Venter is looking for new challenges. The latest may be Martian DNA.

    I have thought for some time that life on Mars is going to consist of microorganisms and be buried several feet below the surface of the planet soil. I have even blogged about it before.

    Now, there is a possibility of a nucleotide sequencer that could go to Mars on the next probe in 2018.

    In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from the planet.

    Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to equip his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for a similar task.

    “We want to make sure an Ion Torrent goes to Mars,” Rothberg told Technology Review.

    Although neither team yet has a berth on a Mars rocket, their plans reflect the belief that the simplest way to prove there is life on Mars is to send a DNA sequencing machine.

    “There will be DNA life forms there,” Venter predicted Tuesday in New York, where he was speaking at the Wired Health Conference.

    Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like site in the Mojave Desert. Their goal, he said, is to demonstrate a machine capable of autonomously isolating microbes from soil, sequencing their DNA, and then transmitting the information to a remote computer, as would be required on an unmanned Mars mission. Heather Kowalski, a spokeswoman for Venter, confirmed the existence of the project but said the prototype system was “not yet 100 percent robotic.”

    Doing this on Mars would avoid the problem of contamination by earth organisms. New life forms that don’t use DNA might be a problem but most people who have thought about this believe that DNA is the genetic material of all life forms. Of course, protein, which may have been the original genetic material on earth could also be the Martian equivalent.

    We are starting to see commercial spacecraft develop and one was used to reach the international space station recently. A Mars mission is another order of complexity but by 2018, it may be an option.

    Posted in Entrepreneurship, Science | 2 Comments »

    What Killed Best Buy – Apple

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 20th October 2012 (All posts by )

    A recent Bloomberg cover article is titled “Big Box Zombie” and it discusses all the issues that have stressed out Best Buy, and a potential offer to take the company private by its founder Richard Schulze.

    For me, Best Buy brings back memories of when the stores first opened. We were on consulting engagements and the whole team would go into the store at once and just disperse to the various corners looking at gadgets, computers, CD’s, movies and anything else they had in stock. It would take forever to gather everyone up and check out since they got lost in the nooks and crannies of that vast store full of electronic goodness. Everyone wanted to go there, and no one wanted to leave, and no one left empty handed.

    Best Buy’s problems today are often described as “showrooming”, which occurs when potential buyers visit a physical store to touch and inspect a product but then purchase that same product online at a lower price (usually from Amazon) which usually includes no taxes and free shipping, an exact sequence that occurred for me when I bought my flat screen TV.

    However, the REAL problem is something else – Apple has killed the DIY sense of the Win-Tel world of laptops, PC’s and software and its innumerable combinations and permutations. We thought it was fun to look at all the myriad physical layouts and performance combinations you could have between processors, layout, memories, hard drive, etc… not to mention the balance of weight and size and screen for laptops. Not only did every vendor (Toshiba, Dell, IBM, etc…) have these combinations, but each vendor had its own strengths and weaknesses to boot. Since there aren’t even competitors to the iPad for the most part, it is either the iPad or nothing, and you don’t have to go to Best Buy for that.

    There used to be multiple portable music devices and formats, and all sorts of different types of cameras and lenses and everything related to that. Now everyone has an iPod which is quickly being superseded by just using the phone, and while cameras are still interesting they too are being marginalized to “throw away” cameras being replaced by mobile phone and high end cameras for those that care (a much smaller group).

    For software, Apple has moved to the online store. You don’t have to go to the store anymore. Even Microsoft has started to move there, with “teaser” versions installed and then you download the rest. No need to buy a physical box and a CD anymore.

    The TV is now tied very much into your cable or satellite provider and their DVR; sure you buy a TV, but it is from a few makers and you can pretty much figure it all out online. Buying a TV now can be complicated with wi-fi and internet connections and features but it is all laid out at Amazon or online in comparative guides and then you pick your Samsung and that’s it. Your Blu Ray DVD player is a bit more complicated and often gets you online programming or you hook it to your Xbox and want to run it through your sound system so this perhaps is an area where gadgets can get a bit exciting but it is mostly hooking together these commodity devices not a DIY effort.

    There is very little to get excited about in a Best Buy. Apple has the excitement, and their laptops and desktops set the standard. The college age kids I know all want an Apple – a PC is something you get on discount, perhaps as a throw away machine or if you don’t have enough saved up for a Mac. Phones do have excitement with iPhones and Android phones, but most of that is tied up with particular carriers as well and can be easily done through their shops.

    The death of physical media for CD’s, DVD’s (it’s mostly coming), a lot of games (that’s coming too), books (mostly dead), and software also makes the “big box” store format look crazy. I won’t even bother to compare the Apple store to the vast Best Buy store – that is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    I used to look forward so much to a Best Buy trip. I even braved the insane crowds and haphazard staff to try to purchase items during the holiday season. The last time I was in a Best Buy it seemed eerily empty, and no one was too excited to be there. Now it is just a nostalgia trip for me when it used to be exciting to find your own way in a big store full of DIY gadgets.

    Good luck Schulze. You’re gonna need it. You’d be better off trying something new then trying to resurrect a spark that’s long since dead.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Business | 37 Comments »

    History Friday: Byzantine

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th October 2012 (All posts by )

    We bumptious Americans are always being reminded by everyone from Henry James on, that things in Europe are old, historic, and ancient. We are told that some places are piled thick in layers of events, famous people and great art, like some sort of historical sachertorte –  and to a student of history, certain places in Europe are exactly that sort of treat. What they hardly ever mention is that most usually, the most ancient bits of it are pretty sadly battered by the time we come trotting around with our Blue Guide, and what there is left is just the merest small remnant of what there once was. The sanctuary at Delphi once was adorned with statues of gold, silver, bronze – and they were the first to be looted and melted down (all but one, the great bronze Charioteer) leaving us with the least and cheapest stone, sadly chipped, battered and scarred. (My daughter at the age of three and a bit, looking at a pair of archaic nudes in the Delphi museum asked loudly, “Mommy, why are their wieners all broken off?”) The great Athenian Akropolis itself was half-ruined, many of the blocks of which it was constructed scattered across the hillside like gargantuan marble Lego blocks. In Rome, most of the ancient buildings had been stripped long ago of the marble and stone facings, leaving only the battered concrete and tile core to hint at what splendor had once been – and again, only the smallest portion left to us to admire, the smallest, cheapest portion, or that hidden away by chance. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Architecture, Arts & Letters, Christianity, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Europe, History | 24 Comments »

    “High Ground” Movie Update

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

    Via Twitter:

    HighGroundMovie
    @HighGroundMovie
    @chicagoboyzblog @zenpundit @stevebaskis KEEP ROCKIN! See you at Pritzker Military Library, 10/20 1 PM for screening of HIGH GROUND.

    (See here for more info about the movie.)

    Posted in Announcements | 1 Comment »

    Wolverines!

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Here.

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 6 Comments »

    The Second Presidential Debate (Shorter Version)

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

    Touchdown Obama

    Idea: Jim Bennett
     

    Posted in Media, Photos, Politics | 20 Comments »

    Vanguard and BlackRock (iShares)

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 18th October 2012 (All posts by )

    About ETFs

    ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) are an alternative to traditional active or passive mutual funds that trade on exchanges.  There are many advantages to ETFs over mutual fees including:

    1) tax efficiency – mutual funds deliver you capital gains (and losses) even when you don’t make any trades due to internal fund activity.  These gains and losses are avoided (in the vast majority of cases) for ETFs, UNTIL YOU SELL

    2) liquidity and stock-like features – ETFs are often more liquid and you can buy and sell them on the exchange immediately, and you can see their prices transparently.  Trading like stocks also allows you to do things like use leverage, etc… which you can’t do with mutual funds

    3) lower prices – historically ETFs have had lower prices than mutual funds, and did not have origination fees or “loads” like many funds did

    The primary disadvantage that used to be levied against ETFs was that you had to pay brokerage fees each time you made a trade, and if you invested regularly (i.e. payroll deductions) these costs added up over time.  This argument has been diminished by lower trading costs across the board and changes in investor behavior.

    Vanguard and ETFs

    Vanguard was originally slow to adopt ETFs, despite their advantages, because Vanguard thought that ETFs enabled rapid trading which was against their business model of supporting long term investors.  However, over time, Vanguard has gotten into the ETF business and as brought their low-fee ethos to the ETF arena.  Vanguard ETFs are now among the most popular offerings and have been gaining in market share.

    Note that Vanguard has a unique ownership structure.  Vanguard is owned by its mutual funds and charges at cost to the mutual funds, and does not make a “corporate” profit.  This is in contrast to competitors that not only charge the cost of doing business but also must make a profit to pay to the corporate parent.  Many of these companies have grown large and very profitable over the years (as funds under management increase) while Vanguard has been able to  turn its increasing scale into cost reductions for its products (i.e. if there are more customers and more fees, the fee that they need to charge per unit of dollar under management goes down assuming their costs are not completely variable).

    BlackRock

    BlackRock bought iShares, who were one of the pioneers in the ETF space.  While iShare ETF fees were not high by industry standards (in general), the arrival of Vanguard has put pressure on iShare products and they began losing market share.  As a result, iShare products reduced fees and are now in a sort of “price war” with Vanguard.

    A Wall Street Journal article titled “BlackRock Wages Reluctant Fee Fight” describes a recent earnings call where the CEO (Fink) of BlackRock talked with analysts:

    Mr. Find railed against competitors that sell investment products to certain clients “at cost”, or without profit.

    You can call that fee pressure, Mr. Fink said.  But he had another term for it: “stupidity”… Although Mr. Fink didn’t single out any rivals in his comments, observers took the barbs to be aimed at Vanguard.

    What is interesting about Mr. Fink is that he did not offer a reason for WHY his company was better for investors than Vanguard.  This is analogous to the famous line of “Where are the Customer’s Yachts?” about how Wall Street always seems to makes money while their customers (investors) don’t always fare as well.

    Fink had an opportunity to explain why the profits that iShare pays to BlackRock (beyond the fees necessary to run the ETFs) result in superior products for customers and investors, and he didn’t take that bait.  The reason, of course, is that there isn’t any reason why his products should cost more than Vanguards’ to the end customer, because they are essentially interchangeable (where they have equivalent products) which means that they have no extra value.

    Fink seemed to be saying that it was “stupid” for Vanguard to be in business where they weren’t making any corporate profit, and just using their economies of scale to reduce prices (rather than paying that money to shareholders).  It is certainly true that Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, could have been a billionaire if he had monetized his inventions (the index fund), but instead he started the one company on Wall Street that definitely does NOT provide yachts for its’ employees.  Whether or not the average investor wins or loses on Vanguard products is up to the product mix, market activity, and customer activity, but it isn’t due to Vanguard taking off an inordinate share of fees to pay a corporate parent in the form of profits.

    Mr. Fink didn’t offer a defense because there isn’t one.

    Cross posted at Trust Funds For Kids

    Posted in Investment Journal | 2 Comments »

    See “Celebration Day” the Led Zeppelin Movie

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 17th October 2012 (All posts by )

    “Celebration Day” is the Led Zeppelin concert movie commemorating their 2007 one-time only show in London with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums. Here is a link to the web site trailer and show times.

    I highly recommend that you head out and see the show in a theater, preferably one that is LOUD. Led Zeppelin sounds fantastic, playing a variety of songs from their 10 album catalog, with some unexpected choices. Robert Plant’s voice sounds great, Jimmy Page can still play everything, John Paul Jones plays a variety of instruments (including an amazing 10 string bass), and Jason Bonham is great on drums (with a bit of vocals on “Misty Mountain Hop”).

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Music | 2 Comments »

    Archive Post: Borderland

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

    (From the archives of the Daily Brief – a meditation on living in the borderlands. Business is suddenly jumping for the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and I suddenly have a lot of editing to do and a short time to do it in. I honestly don’t have anything else to say about the debate last night that the other guyz haven’t already said.)

    It’s part of the tourist attraction for San Antonio, besides the Riverwalk and the Alamo. Even though this part of South Texas is still a good few hours drive from the actual physical border between Mexico and the United States, the River City is still closer to it than most of the rest of the continental states. It falls well within that ambiguous and fluid zone where people on both sides of it have shifted back and forth so many times that it would be hard to pin down a consistent attitude about it all. This is a place where a fourth or fifth-generation descendent of German Hill-Country immigrants may speak perfectly colloquial Spanish and collect Diego Riviera paintings…. And the grandson of a semi-literate Mexican handyman who came here in the early 1920ies looking for a bit of a break from the unrest south of the border, may have a doctoral degree and a fine series of fine academic initials after his name. And the fact that the original settlers of Hispanic San Antonio were from the Canary Islands, and all non-Hispanic whites are usually referred to as “Anglos”, no matter what their ethnic origin might be, just adds a certain surreality to the whole place. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Diversions, Immigration, North America, Personal Narrative, Society, Urban Issues, USA | 4 Comments »

    Does This Company Have a Future?

    Posted by David Foster on 17th October 2012 (All posts by )

    In late 2011, Ron Johnson–creator of the Apple Retail Stores–joined J C Penney, of which he is now CEO. His appointment was greeted with considerable enthusiasm.

    Margaret Bogenrief doesn’t think much of the approach that he is taking…indeed, she uses the phrase “retail disaster of the decade.”

    What do you think of Johnson’s strategy and tactics, and what would you do if you were in his position?

    Posted in Business, Management, Tech | 13 Comments »

    Non-Verbal Impressions of the 2nd Presidential Debate

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 17th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Presidential debates are public demonstrations of leadership ability, not policy, and are THE place where the arguable majority of voters who rely on “non-verbal intelligence” decide who to vote for. The more PRESIDENTIAL a candidate looks, the better he does. If you want to understand what “non-verbal intelligence” voters responds to in a debate, watch it with the sound off and take notes.

    The following are my impressions from doing just that.

    1. Obama did better, Romney scored points, Crowley cut off both Romney’s Fast and Furious and Benghazi responses. Crowley gave the impression she was a debate participant supporting Obama, rather than a moderator. This diminished Obama, in terms of the non-verbals, by making him seem less PRESIDENTIAL.

    2. There were several Bush-Gore 2000 like moments of confrontation between Romney and Obama.

    3. Romney’s non-verbals were more polished, non-threatening, and he had a consistent standing physical stance the pick up artist community calls “measured vulnerability” used by those affecting relaxed Alpha male dominance with women. (The stance is when your body is at a slight angle to those you are speaking too, your legs are apart and feet at an angle.)

    4. Obama had a stance that was more squared up with those he was speaking with. Obama also used a lot of pointing gestures early, like a professor trying to affect physical dominance with a student. He then changed his non microphone hand to a loose fist, and using a full chopping motion rather than pointing later.

    5. Romney kept his non-microphone hand flat, moved it side to side or above his head and down when the ABC text crawl line mentioned “deficit” or “taxes”. Romney seldom used pointing. When he did it was at the ground or himself.

    6. The “split-cam” was not good for Obama (on ABC) due to a head up, nostrils visible, sitting stance. It was sometimes bad for Romney, who occasionally had a constipated look watching Obama. There were other camera angle shots that were more flattering to Obama, but a couple of times that ABC flashed them, Romney was in the foreground fouling the shot of Obama. The number of times ABC went to the bad camera angle on Obama had me thinking Romney was playing to camera angles by positioning himself where that was the only “good” shot of Obama. Later in the debate ABC went to downward camera angles on both Obama and Romney.

    I see no real change in the pre-second debate momentum of the race. Democrats will claim Obama won and people who don’t like Obama will still dislike him.

    The fact that Romney spoke forcefully about jobs, energy prices and the economy are much less important that the fact he looked PRESIDENTIAL.

    Looking PRESIDENTIAL means Romney gives people who don’t like the economy permission to vote Obama out. The preference cascade that Romney kicked off with the first debate — by establishing that he is a man who can take command — will accelerate.

    We have a Romney electoral college rout of Obama in the making.

    Posted in Civil Society, Politics, Polls, Predictions, The Press, USA | 11 Comments »

    Impressions of the second debate.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Obama was much more animated and his supporters will be happier tonight.

    I think Romney was more impressive but I am a partisan. What surprised me was a focus group collected by Frank Luntz that decided that Romney won overwhelmingly. These were Obama voters in 2008. Their comments were very interesting. One woman supported Obama because of his comments about contraception. She was pretty much alone.

    Obama said some things that will be in RNC ads next week.

    1. He said that oil and gas leases were increased on public land during his administration. That is not true and Romney called him on it. Chris Wallace checked the facts and Romney was correct.

    2. He said that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class and he had cut them. I don’t think anyone believed him. Romney did a good job, better than the first debate, in explaining his proposals.

    3. The was only one question on Libya and Obama lied about what he said the day after the attack. That was foolish and we will see the Rose Garden statement many times before the election. He mentioned terrorism but the connection with Benghazi was not made. For weeks after, Obama and his underlings, especially Susan Rice the first black UN ambassador, kept offering the story of the anti-Muslim video.

    4. The concerns about Candy Crowley as moderator were well based. She cut off Romney multiple times and Obama talked right past the clock. He ended with 7 more minutes of time. In addition, contrary to the agreement, Candy Crowley inserted herself into the questioning and supported Obama in his assertion that he had described the attack on the Benghazi consulate as terrorism. She later, after the debate was over admitted her mistake. That will be a topic until the election.

    5. There was a dumb question about an “assault weapons ban.” Romney did well to note that automatic weapons are already illegal, a detail that escapes most Democrats, like Diane Feinstein

    All in all, I thought Romney did well and Obama improved his performance from last time, although at the cost of a number of falsehoods that will provide fodder for the large Romney ad budget in the next two weeks.

    There were several exchanges on immigration policy and education but these were the highlights for me.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Elections, Health Care, Immigration, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism | 26 Comments »

    Everglades Cypress Hammock At Dawn

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

    The morning sun's rays wash over a crow perched in one of a group of dwarf bald cypress trees in Everglades National Park, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz   www.jonathangewirtz.com)

     

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Everglades Cypress Hammock At Dawn

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, as Viewed From a Soviet Launch Facility

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

    This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world dangerously close to thermonuclear war.

    I’m currently reading Rockets and People, the totally fascinating memoir of Soviet rocket developer Boris Chertok. A review of the whole thing will be forthcoming in the not too distant future.

    Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK.

    At the gatehouse, there was usually a lone soldier on duty who would give my pass a cursory glance. Now suddenly I saw a group of soldiers wielding sub-machine guns, and they thoroughly scrutinized my pass. Finally they admitted me to the facility grounds and there, to my surprise, I again saw sub-machine-gun-wielding soldiers who had climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the MIK. Other groups of soldiers in full combat gear, even wearing gas masks, were running about the periphery of the secure area. When I stopped in at the MIK, I immediately saw that the “duty” R-7A combat missile, which had always been covered and standing up against the wall, which we had always ignored, was uncovered.

    Chertok was greeted by his friend Colonel Kirillov, who was in charge of this launch facility. Kirollov did not greet Chertok with his usual genial smile, but with a "somber, melancholy expression."

    Without releasing my hand that I’d extended for our handshake, he quietly said: “Boris Yevseyevich, I have something of urgent importance I must tell you”…We went into his office on the second floor. Here, visibly upset, Kirillov told me: “Last night I was summoned to headquarters to see the chief of the [Tyura-Tam] firing range. The chiefs of the directorates and commanders of the troop units were gathered there. We were told that the firing range must be brought into a state of battle readiness immediately. Due to the events in Cuba, air attacks, bombardment, and even U.S. airborne assaults are possible. All Air Defense Troops assets have already been put into combat readiness. Flights of our transport airplanes are forbidden. All facilities and launch sites have been put under heightened security. Highway transport is drastically restricted. But most important—I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents. According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command. All of this has already been executed at Site No. 31. I have also given all the necessary commands here at Site No. 2. Therefore, the crews have been removed from the Mars shot and shifted over to preparation of the combat missile. The nosecone and warhead will be delivered here in 2 hours.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Cuba, History, Russia, Space, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    The Christians’ Dirty Deal In Arabia

    Posted by TM Lutas on 15th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Christians are being offered one more round of a longstanding dirty deal, this time in Bahrain. If only they will be loyal thugs, enforcers, secret policemen, and tax men, the royals will protect them as long as is convenient to the monarchy. No choice available to them is a good one for local Christians but taking the deal means pain later instead of pain today so they are most likely to accept.

    For anyone who seriously wants to address the complexities of the Middle East there must be a way to unwind such deals and put an end to them. They are fundamentally incompatible with a free society and a barrier to any reasonable transition path to a sustainable society in the Middle East.

    Posted in Christianity, Islam, Middle East | 6 Comments »

    Price and Value

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 15th October 2012 (All posts by )

    The immortal lines of Oscar Wilde had the famous quote about the cynic:

    A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing

    Binny’s makes it easy to at least quantify the “value gap” between what you pay and what you get on crappy beer. They show prices in terms of cost per ounce which is at least one common metric from what is good and what is bad.

    Coors Light! Dan’s favorite! On sale it is only FIVE CENTS AN OUNCE. By contrast you are paying maybe 10 cents for bottled water and 20 cents (or more) for Starbucks.

    And here is a beer rated “100” by the beer adviser (I don’t like stuff that heavy, but I’m sure that if you were a connoisseur of that type of beer it would be fantastic). At 29 cents an ounce, it is almost 6 times more than what you pay for Coors Light.

    At least now you have a consistent metric showing 6x in terms of awful-ness.

    Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

    Posted in Humor | 9 Comments »

    The Tea Party will win in the end

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Frank Rich, a furious and frantic left wing writer, formerly writing for the NY Times, has concluded that liberalism will not be successful in transforming American society because the American public “loathes government and always has.” His essay in New York magazine is interesting although it drifts into his usual hostile rhetoric in the end.

    Were the 2012 campaign a Hitchcock movie, Mitt Romney would be the MacGuffin—a device that drives a lot of plot gyrations but proves inconsequential in itself. Then again, Barack Obama could be, too. Our down-to-the-wire presidential contest is arguably just a narrative speed bump in the scenario that has been gathering steam throughout the Obama presidency: the resurgence of the American right, the most determined and coherent political force in America. No matter who is elected president, what Romney calls severe conservatism will continue to consolidate its hold over one of our two major parties. And that party is hardly destined for oblivion. There’s a case to be made that a tea-party-infused GOP will have a serious shot at winning future national elections despite the widespread liberal belief (which I have shared) that any party as white, old, and male as the Republicans is doomed to near or complete extinction by the emerging demographics of 21st-­century America.

    Here, Rich cannot resist dismissing Romney as an “inconsequential plot device” but he does recognize that conservatism is more in tune with American values than the political left, of which he is an enthusiastic member.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Elections, History, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Polls, Tea Party | 4 Comments »

    Skunk Help With Social Networking

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 15th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Last night I reaped the benefits of social networking, facebook in particular.

    We finally finished our house on the farm and moved there on Friday. Around 8pm on Sunday our dog started going nuts inside the house, running from window to window, fully on point. Yep, this guy – Jameson. You may remember him from previous posts – 1/2 Airedale, 1/4 Bouvier, and 1/4 everything else. He has become quite the farm dog.

    My wife headed to the door to unleash the beast and as the words “DON’T” were exiting my mouth he was off to the races. And I mean off to the races. We have clocked him at over 25 miles per hour in our pickup truck.

    I hadn’t seen the real reason he was so wound up but wanted to see before we let him loose, where my wife was simply concerned about her horses and wanted him to turn a coyote or whatever inside out. Sadly for us, I was right. It was a skunk that our dog promptly cornered. The results were predictable. He ran to my wife to alert her and rubbed on her, as well as our cars.

    I had to laugh as my luck hasn’t been too great lately and posted the following on my facebook page:

    My wife’s dog just got skunked. Fan f*cking tastic.

    I always refer to Jameson as my wife’s dog – long running joke.

    Anyways, I was reminded instantly that we are friends with horse and rural property owners, as within minutes of my little joke facebook post, cures for our woes started to pile in. Here is the one that we used, and the one that worked pretty well:

    1 Quart of Hydrogen Peroxide.. 1/4 cup of Baking Soda// 1 teaspoon of liquid Soap.. Sponge the solutin on the dogl let it sit for 5 minutes.. Rinse off with warm water.. It must be made Fresh for each INCIDENT..(Mixing these ingredients and storing them in a closed bottle will result in an explosion).. So get a couple bottles.. do one bath tonight and another in the morning.. That should help.. Good Luck

    It worked as well as we could hope for. It eliminated about 95% of the stench from the dog, and we also used the solution on the surrounding area where the skunk let go.

    This was an unexpected surprise and reminded me that a lot of people know a lot of things. In this particular case it was a very useful thing.

    Cross posted at LITGM.

    Posted in Internet, Jameson, Personal Narrative | 14 Comments »

    Global Warming ended 15 years ago

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th October 2012 (All posts by )

    There is still considerable talk about global warming, or as it is now termed, “climate change.” California is about to destroy a large part of what is left of its economy by initiating a new “Cap and Trade” program that will spike energy costs and drive more employers from the state. New reports are casting more doubt on the reality of “climate change” and now there is more information that warming ended in 1997. The past two years have shown a definite cooling trend.

    The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

    The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

    This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.

    There is even new debate among climate scientists.

    Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.

    Others disagreed. Professor Judith Curry, who is the head of the climate science department at America’s prestigious Georgia Tech university, told The Mail on Sunday that it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’.

    Even Prof Jones admitted that he and his colleagues did not understand the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun. However, he said he was still convinced that the current decade would end up significantly warmer than the previous two.

    California, of course, is not going to wait to see if the trend continues with cooling.

    Oct 2 (Reuters Point Carbon) – California Governor Jerry Brown has signed two bills related to the use of revenue raised through the sale of carbon allowances, although details of how the money will be spent won’t be determined until next year.

    The bills are the first to address the estimated $660 million and $3 billion in revenue that will be generated during the first year of California’s carbon cap-and-trade scheme, which begins in January.

    The first bill creates a new account for the revenue to be deposited into, and directs the Department of Finance and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop an investment plan for the funds.

    That plan, expected to be released in the spring of 2013, will be submitted for approval to the legislature as part of the governor’s budget and will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

    It doesn’t matter that the state is going broke. Left wing pieties still rule California.

    Posted in Big Government, Britain, Business, Diversions, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 7 Comments »

    Some Notes on the VP Debate, continued

    Posted by David Foster on 14th October 2012 (All posts by )

    (The transcript is here)

    In the last post, I reviewed Biden’s comments about the Benghazi debacle; now I’d like to discuss his thoughts about Iranian nuclear weapons.

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up. Then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon. So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk — what are they talking about?…We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon, they don’t have a weapon to put it into…Facts matter. All this loose talk about them — all they have to do is get to — enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon — not true.

    It is extremely important to understand that, while one might think going from 20% uranium enrichment to the 90% that is required for a nuclear weapon, means that one is only 20/90 of the way there, this is not correct. The first steps in enrichment require more effort–more centrifuges, more energy–than the later steps, because the amounts of mass that must be dealt with are much greater. The nuclear industry actually has a metric, “separative work units,” to measure this. Enriching uranium from a standing start to 5.6kg of highly enriched uranium requires about 1270 SWU, whereas if you start with a feedstock that is already 20% enriched, you only need less than 200 SWU. Even if you begin with material enriched only to the level needed for a power reactor, only about 400 SWU are needed: a savings of 3:1 compared with starting from scratch. (Here’s another analysis with slightly different numbers but making the same point…4% enrichment is much more than 4/90 of the way there, and 20/90 is far more than 20/90 of the way there.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Some Notes on the VP Debate

    Posted by David Foster on 14th October 2012 (All posts by )

    (The transcript is here)

    First, let’s look at this interchange on Libya:

    MS. RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on for weeks?

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Because that’s exactly what we were told

    MS. RADDATZ: By who?

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: — by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat in the — from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there were any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again. But —

    MS. RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.

    VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security again. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly — we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view. That’s why I said, we will get to the bottom of this.

    (emphasis added)

    Who is this “we” of whom Joe is speaking? It would appear that “we” refers specifically to himself and to President Obama.

    The President is supposed to run the executive branch of government. It is not the function of an executive to passively wait for information to be provided to him. It is rather his responsibility to ensure that people, systems, and procedures are in place to provide him with the information that he needs…more broadly, to establish an information and decision architecture so that information flows where it is needed and appropriate actions are taken on a timely basis. Obama, like his boss, thinks like an “individual contributor,” as the term is used in business and other organizations, not like an executive. Biden and Obama are concerned not with the performance of the overall organization but rather with how they look, believing that the two can be separated.

    If a ship runs aground because the executive officer put one incompetent sailor on the radar scope, and another incompetent sailor on as visual watchman, it is most unlikely that the Captain will be able to save his career by saying “Nobody told me about that reef up ahead.”

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    Posted in Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Posted by Lexington Green on 13th October 2012 (All posts by )

    Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »