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  • Archive for November, 2012

    Political Marketing, Popular Culture, and the Low-Information Voter

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

    Amelia Chasse, who is a VP at a Republican online communications consultancy, has some thoughts on reaching voters who may be more influenced by the popular culture than by more traditional political communications channels:

    The 2008 Obama campaign broke ground by advertising on Xbox video games, prompting thousands of stoners to get off the couch and out to the polls. In 2012, when young women visited a beauty blog, they were likely greeted with video ads of Eva Longoria or Scarlett Johansson telling them Obama was fabulous. And lest we forget the infamous ad where Girls star Lena Dunham invited her fellow young women to make their “first time” special with Barack Obama.

    via Instapundit, who notes:

    There’s a lot of free press too. At women’s lifestyle sites, about one article in 10 is soft PR for the Dems — why Barack & Michelle’s marriage is so great, 10 hot celebs who are voting for Obama, etc. The women’s lifestyle media are another arm of the Dems, and their stuff, especially the general sense of who’s cool and who’s uncool, often presented in a sort of Mean Girls style, is highly effective with low-information voters.

    Posted in Civil Society, Elections, Human Behavior, Media, Politics | 13 Comments »

    Weekend at the Weihnachtsmarkt

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st November 2012 (All posts by )

    All the other authors and publishers whom I talked to over the three days of the Christmas Market agreed – as an author, and none of us being of the NY Times best-seller class – it is profitable and much less dispiriting to do an event like a Christmas craft fair in company with a bunch of other authors. Much less foully dispiriting than doing a single-author event at a book-store, which is usually total ego-death-onna-stick. First and most importantly of all – customers with money and the intention of spending it are plentiful at a craft fair or a similar community market event, especially in the holiday gift-giving season. Trust me; many of them can see books as the perfect gift, and they are inclined to buy. Secondly – it’s a venue where one is in completion with vendors of a wide variety of consumer items – not every other published author on the shelves. And thirdly – in the slack times, there are other authors to talk to.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Diversions, Germany, USA | 5 Comments »

    We (Still) Like the Moon

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st November 2012 (All posts by )

    The full Moon rises above clouds over sawgrass prairie in the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /, © 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz /

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on We (Still) Like the Moon

    UPS gets Lean

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st November 2012 (All posts by )

    I live in suburbia. Like most of suburbia, all the streets in my suburb curve or wind to slow down traffic and break up lines of sight. I live on a cul de sac.  It’s cozy and the kids can use the street at the “bottom of the bag” for football and other games without fear of being run over by through traffic.

    I rather like it.

    The people who don’t like it, are those who drive large service vehicles like the trash truck, the short school bus or delivery flat panel trucks. At least once a day, I am treated to the sight of large vehicle usually, a delivery truck, backing a filling several times to out of the cul de sac. When I hear air brakes and backup beeps and I know whats doing on. I’ve often wondered if there was a better vehicle to use, especially for the delivery trucks.

    Yep, there is. While taking a constitutional down the street to the park, I saw one of these whizzing towards me full of packages. It turned into my cul de sac so I followed and asked the driver if she was UPS (because of her uniform.)

    Yep, she was. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Transportation | 19 Comments »

    Congo and the UN

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st November 2012 (All posts by )

    The many large scale wars in Congo deserve a bigger place in the world’s eye. They range over vast distances and involve long running themes of vengeance and corruption. These wars drag in neighboring countries and involve important natural resources. By many accounts the Democratic Republic of the Congo has enough minerals to be one of the world’s largest countries – instead it is one of the utterly poorest.

    I recommend reading Africa’s World War – Congo, The Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe By Gerard Prunier if you are interested at all in the topic.

    In many ways the story of Congo could be conceptually linked to the causes of the first and second world wars in Europe and Asia. Grievances that were not resolved from one war carry over to the next, and fires smolder from generation to generation. The geographical facts on the ground also carry significant weight, and small armies or bands of rebels can overcome large, sprawling inefficient armies, even those supported by outside parties like the UN with air power.

    The Fall of Goma and UN Peacekeepers

    Congo is a vast country. On the far west in Kinshasa, the nation’s capital. On the far east, near the border with Rwanda, is Goma, their most important eastern city.

    Even calling Congo one country is a misnomer. The capital city is the home of the president, the younger Kabila, who isn’t even very popular in the west (the most popular politician, Bemba, was charged with war crimes). A lot of Kabila’s support came from the east, where he successfully negotiated an end to the wars with Rwanda that had put the area in turmoil under depredations from local warlords. You can’t even really get across the country except by boat through winding rivers (where it is passable) and air travel is difficult or dangerous with the shambolic local carriers. The western part of the state and the capital have little capability to impact events on the ground in the west or exert state authority.

    Events in the Congo often relate back to Rwanda and the genocide of 1994. After the genocide the Tutsis, under the effective leadership of the great jungle general Paul Kagame, took back Rwanda from the Hutus and launched a war with a small band of hardened fighters that took down the entire government of Congo and drew in multiple regional countries. The exploits of the small number of Rwandan fighters need to go down in history as the story of a relatively tiny and disciplined crew taking on an audacious war across a giant country. Regardless of their motivations and ethics from a military point of view they deserve high respect.

    Now a band of ex-Congo soldiers who are mostly Tutsi and said to be supported by Rwanda and Uganda (two allies in the east who also clash over the looting of minerals through their rebel proxies), called M23 (after the date March 23 when the central government of Congo was said to have violated the terms of their entry into the Congo army as soldiers) have taken over the city of Goma right under the nose of the supposedly best equipped and trained units of the Congolese army, protected by attack helicopters and UN troops under the United Nations mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO).

    From this article describing the UN peacekeepers role in Goma:

    French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said it was “absurd” that the UN peacekeepers could not stop the rebels from entering Goma. With a 17,000-strong military and civilian staff, MONUSCO has a yearly budget of close to $1,5 billion and is the second-largest peacekeeping mission in the world.

    On paper it seems astonishing that the tiny M23 band, which only takes up half a wikipedia page, can take on and win a major army with UN support and hold a city of over a million citizens in a supposedly hostile area. They only have a few thousand fighters, but it can be seen that they are effective and cohesive and were able to advance even though outgunned from the air. Obviously many are saying that they are simply Rwandan soldiers or heavily supported from Rwanda and Uganda but the truth cannot be verified. In any case it is clear that a small band of disciplined soldiers has made a mockery of Congo sovereignty in the east and the UN mandate.

    At some point the illusion that eastern Congo is part of the west will likely die, and perhaps the time is now. People are pointing to the creation of South Sudan as a possible precedent, but it seems more like chaos than a civil war situation, and the local people aren’t exactly itching to be part of a larger Rwandan state.

    It would be a giant mistake to under estimate the power and fearsomeness of these M23 rebels, especially if they are de-facto elements of the Rwandan military. Even a few of these soldiers have no problems taking on the demoralized (Congo army) or tactically limited (UN) soldiers. The world has trouble holding Rwanda accountable for their actions since the world basically sat on their hands and did nothing during the 1994 massacre. Like the Israelis, not only are the Rwandans extremely effective for their size in military terms, they have a cohesive identity tied to the genocide.

    For the locals, sitting in an area of large mineral wealth that could be exploited to everyone’s’ benefit, being under the control of local warlords and in chaos is the likeliest situation in the short and medium term.

    This confusing and long running story goes on, and perhaps only the final breakdown of Congo into a mass of tinier states will take us to the next step in this drama.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in International Affairs, Military Affairs | 4 Comments »

    Chicago Stands with Israel, November 20, 2012

    Posted by Lexington Green on 20th November 2012 (All posts by )

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Tea Party | 17 Comments »

    John Kenneth Galbraith’s Ghost Stole My Last Twinkie

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th November 2012 (All posts by )

    Unfunded and seriously underfunded pensions are wrecking company after company (and local government after local government.) The Hostess Company, the company who made the iconic Twinkie and other baked treats, was brought down by unfunded pension obligations [h/t Instapundit] forced on the company by years of strikes and labor negotiations going back to before the 1950s. As matters stand now, everybody, both the venture capitalist who tried to save the company and the unionized workers, will lose their shirts. At best the union members will get to see a fraction of their pensions because the rest of us will have to pony up through the Federal government that “insures” the pensions.

    All this raises the question of why the unions ever believed it a good idea to put all their pension eggs in one company basket. It seems stupid on its face not to significantly diversify. Everybody else does so, even the super wealthy. Why didn’t the unions think they needed to diversify?

    They didn’t think it necessary because of a theory of corporations advanced by most left leaning Americans in the mid-20th century but best personified by economist and political theorist John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith looked around at the business world of 1940s, 50s and 60s and concluded that corporations had so much “power” that they could effectively set prices and maintain themselves forever. In short, Galbraith argued that corporations were eternal and would never really go out of business. At worst they would merge or buy each other out. The concept of the eternal corporation not only fully justified big compulsory unions and a big invasive government to act as “countervailing forces”  but it also meant that corporations could payout almost any level of wages, benefits and pensions and do so indefinitely. Galbraith gave the unions the pretext they needed to demand high future pensions while remaining calmly assured the companies would always be able to payout.

    Sounds silly today, but Galbraith was writing in the 60s at the peak of American corporatism. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 31 Comments »

    Psalm 94

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th November 2012 (All posts by )

    1 Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.

    2 Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.

    3 Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?

    4 How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?

    5 They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage.

    6 They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.

    7 Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.

    8 Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?

    9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

    10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?

    11 The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

    12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;

    13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.

    14 For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.

    15 But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.

    16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

    17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.

    18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.

    19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

    20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?

    21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.

    22 But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

    23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off.

    Posted in Islam, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Religion, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    We Will Cry Hot Tubs of Tears Over You, California

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th November 2012 (All posts by )

    With California circling the drain and the rest of us no doubt on the hook for all their idiocy, I think we should all expect to be crying over California a lot over the next few years.

    So, I suggest learning this Austin Lounge Lizards song from the early 80s by heart. (Lyrics below video)

    (By Austin Lounge Lizards, circa 1983)


    Those California girls are best, they say,
    That West Coast lifestyle steals your heart away,
    But surfer girl, our love wiped out,
    And now I’m so blue,
    I cry hot tubs of tears over you.



    I cry hot tubs of tears over you,

    I can’t eat a bite of tofu;

    I’ve given up tai chi and group therapy too,
    I cry hot tubs of tears over you.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th November 2012 (All posts by )

    Israeli Ice Cream Cone

    Chicagoboyz is a proud supporter of the Israeli ice cream industry.


    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Reports of the economy’s demise are premature, but not by much.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th November 2012 (All posts by )

    UPDATE: The publication of this column by Amity Schlaes adds a bit of prophecy to my concerns expressed here.

    Will 2013 be 1937? This is the question many analysts are posing as the stock market has dropped after the U.S. election. On Nov. 16, they noted that industrial production, a crucial figure, dropped as well.

    In this case, “1937” means a market drop similar to the one after the re-election of another Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1936.

    If I could be more worried about the future, this column might do it. Read it.

    Russ Douthat’s column in the NY Times today points out a few problems with the left’s gloating about winning the election. I apologize for my pessimism but I can’t help looking at the facts beneath the surface.

    The first comment beneath this article confirms my belief that the left ignores economics and is solely concerned about social issues and “stuff.”

    The ideas that Republicans championed in the last election could have easily been heard at a segregated lunch counter in the ’50s. Suspicion about immigrants, fears about socialism, the subservience of women, back-of-the-bus-style racism, and disgust at the very thought of homosexuals were cornerstones of the Republican ethos. If there was an underlying wholesomeness in their belief in God, family, and tradition, I couldn’t detect it over the din of hateful, destructive rhetoric aimed at the majority of ordinary Americans.

    The re-election of Barack Obama has ended the possibility of a serious effort to deal with out of control spending and debt in this country. The “fiscal cliff” is coming soon and there is speculation that one side or the other will “cave” in negotiations. It doesn’t really matter as no serious proposal is under consideration. The tax rates on the top 2% of incomes don’t matter. It’s not worth the trouble for Republicans to defend these tax rates for a group that may not even vote for them.

    The whole world cartel of spending is coming to an end and it may not just involve national bankruptcy. It may be the end of an era, maybe of democracy which seems to be incapable of managing debt. An article in Der Spiegel sounds to me like a prediction of the future.

    In the midst of this confusing crisis, which has already lasted more than five years, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt addressed the question of who had “gotten almost the entire world into so much trouble.” The longer the search for answers lasted, the more disconcerting the questions arising from the answers became. Is it possible that we are not experiencing a crisis, but rather a transformation of our economic system that feels like an unending crisis, and that waiting for it to end is hopeless? Is it possible that we are waiting for the world to conform to our worldview once again, but that it would be smarter to adjust our worldview to conform to the world? Is it possible that financial markets will never become servants of the markets for goods again? Is it possible that Western countries can no longer get rid of their debt, because democracies can’t manage money? And is it possible that even Helmut Schmidt ought to be saying to himself: I too am responsible for getting the world into a fix?

    The answer will not be pleasant to consider. We may have run the course on modern national financial competence. Japan, twenty years ago, was a warning we did not heed. Stimulus, as in spending billions on infrastructure, did not work. Japan had a real estate bubble and the response was to try to reflate the bubble. It failed.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Elections, Europe, Germany, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Why Paris Hilton Makes a Poor Poster Child for the Death Tax

    Posted by Shannon Love on 18th November 2012 (All posts by )

    From Instapundit:

    “The idea behind the estate tax is to prevent the very wealthy among us from accumulating vast fortunes that they can pass along to the next generation,” said Patrick Lester, director of Federal Fiscal Policy with the progressive think tank — OMB Watch. “The poster child for the estate tax is Paris Hilton — the celebrity and hotel heiress. That’s who this is targeted at, not ordinary Americans.”[emp added]

    This is just one problem with that little story:

    Conrad Nicholson Hilton (December 25, 1887 – January 3, 1979) was an American hotelier. He is well known for being the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain.

    In 1979, Hilton died of natural causes at the age of 91. He is interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas. He left $500,000 to each of his two surviving siblings and $10,000 to each of his nieces, nephews and to his daughter Francesca. The bulk of his estate was left to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation,[6] which he established in 1944. His son, Barron Hilton, who spent much of his career helping build the Hilton Hotels Corporation, contested the will, despite being left the company as acting President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. A settlement was reached and, as a result, Barron Hilton received 4 million shares of the hotel enterprise, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation received 3.5 million shares, and the remaining 6 million shares were placed in the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust.[6] Upon Barron Hilton’s death, Unitrust assets will be transferred to the Hilton Foundation[citation needed], of which Barron sits on the Board of Directors as Chairman.[7]

    On December 25, 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would leave about 97% of his fortune (estimated at $2.3 billion),[7] to a charitable unitrust which would eventually be merged with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.[8] By leaving his estate to the Foundation, Barron not only donated the fortune he had amassed on his own, but also returned to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation the Hilton family fortune amassed by his father, which otherwise would have been gone to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation 30 years previously had Barron not contested his father’s will.[emp added]

    So, not only has Paris Hilton not inherited anything yet, because her grandfather is still alive, she won’t inherit anything major ever. It all goes to charity. Paris Hilton is a sleazoid, but she is a largely a self-made sleazoid. Her personal financial assets are almost entirely the result of her leveraging her, uh, other assets via secret sex tape into a bizarre celebrity career. She’s worth several hundred million now, none of it inherited.

    Paris Hilton has been trotted out by Leftists for years as an example of the need for the death tax and yet apparently none of them bothered to actually check if she was actually an heiress. The elite Democrats who carefully construct the party’s talking points, don’t seem to even bother to check Wikipedia. (Or they do and just assume that the average Leftist voter won’t.)

    The real point of interest here is not the inanity of the death tax, but rather the studied indifference of the Democrats and Leftists in general to actually studying the wealthy and telling the truth about them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Taxes | 42 Comments »

    Chance Conversations

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

    Joel Runyon was working on his Mac at a coffee shop in Portland, when an older man sitting next to him asked him how he liked Apple. Resisting the temptation to politely return to his work, Joel engaged the guy in conversation…it turned out he was Russell Kirsch, who was lead designer of the first American stored-program computer (the SEAC) and was also a pioneer of computer image processing. Read about Joel’s conversation with Mr Kirsch at the link, and then read his followup post 7 things I learned from my encounter with Russell Kirsch.

    Conversations with strangers can of course expose you to boringness (yes, it’s a word, I checked) and/or weirdness, but they can also often be interested or at least revealing. I was on an Air France flight back from Paris once…the aircraft had to be changed at the last minute and the new plane was not configured with First Class, so those who had reserved FC seats had to be satisfied with Business Class (which, in my experience at least, is nothing to complain about on Air France.) The guy sitting next to me was very, very upset that he didn’t get the First Class seating he had been counting on. In an attempt to get him to talk about something else, I asked him what he did for a living.

    Turned out the guy was a professional Communist, on his way back from some kind of Communist meeting.

    Here’s another interesting story about a chance conversation. In 2009, an American neurosurgeon overheard a conversation between two former Israel Air Force officers who were talking about flight simulation. He joined the conversation, and the eventual result was a collaboration that led to the founding of this company, which develops systems for surgery rehearsal.

    Another interesting story of a chance conversation: see the second comment on this post at Tom Peters’ blog.

    For those interested in the history of technology: Russell Kirsch’s SEAC, completed in early 1950, was built by the National Bureau of Standards for use of researchers and engineers who were chomping at the bit for computer capacity and were tired of waiting for more-ambitious planned machines such as EDVAC and UNIVAC. SEAC’s memory capacity was only 512 words (numbers or instructions), but it was applied to a wide range of problems, including lens design, tables for navigation, and design calculations for the hydrogen bomb. The computer also supported early digital imaging work, with the first digital image being a picture of Kirsch’s son.

    More about the SEAC project here.

    Posted in Health Care, History, Human Behavior, Medicine, Tech | 4 Comments »

    Stay Classy, India

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

    Only the finest in India. The author drinking a Miller High Life sold only in Haryana with a henna tattoo (a whale, I think). Note that the straw is in the other beer so that girls can drink while their tattoos on the inside of their hands dry.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Humor, India | 4 Comments »

    Do the rich vote Republican ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 17th November 2012 (All posts by )

    The question about who the rich vote for is a serious one as we head for the “fiscal cliff” next year. The Republican Party has been defending the “top 2% of income groups” that Obama wants to exclude from the extension of current income tax rates. The argument is that this group, with incomes above $200,000 for individuals and above $250,000 per year for couples, includes small business owners who create most of the jobs in this country. This is probably true and the small business owners are a reliably Republican group of voters. What about the really rich ? The group whose taxes Obama wants to raise is really mostly the upper middle class. The inflation of the 1970s, and the coming inflation which will be the only result of Obama’s “budgets,” changes the income levels that determine the middle class.

    Recently, there has been some discussion of the voting patterns of the “rich” and whether the Republicans are really defending Republican voters and what are the voting patterns of the rich. Bill Kristol recently wrote that the Republicans may be courting disaster by risking a trip over the fiscal cliff defending people who are not Republican voters. Data on this last election is still thin but there are a few bits of information available.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Obama, Politics | 34 Comments »

    Dude…Ever Notice How Much a Joint Looks Like a Ship Move-y Thingy?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 16th November 2012 (All posts by )

    The brain is highly associative. It’s interesting how you suddenly make a connection.

    So, I’m listening to my “Minnie the Moocher” channel on Pandora and up popped a Cab Calloway song I had never heard before, “Reefer man.” I was only listening with half an ear but the first verse triggered a connection.

    “Man, what’s the matter with that cat there?”
    “Must be full of reefer”
    “Full of reefer?!”
    “Yeah, man!”
    “You mean that cat’s high?”
    “Sailing lightly!”
    “Get away from here!”
    “Man is that the reefer man?”
    “That’s the reefer man.”

    When the call and reply got to “you mean that cat’s high…sailing, ” it clicked that in the days of sail that sails were “reefed” by pulling them into rolls. It was also sailor slang for a midshipmen or other novice.

    The Online Etymology Dictionary confirmed that the marijuana “reefer” is probably related to the appearance of a reefed sail. It seems that way back in the day (1930s at least) the association with sailing was strong enough for “sailing” to be a synonym for “high”. I’m pretty sure “high” itself, as a term for doing or feeling well, most likely originated from the higher pay and status received by that sailers who worked as toppers high up on the masts. When a sailor was doing well professionally, he was “high.”

    I’d never thought about the origin of the term “reefer” as slang for a marijuana joint. Knowing as many stoners as I have, I just assumed it was, like everything else stoners do, somehow related to bong making.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

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


    Chicagoboyz bring the pizza.


    Posted in Photos | 13 Comments »

    Model Train Repair Bleg

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

    I have inherited from my father his toy train set from when he was a kid. It is really, really cool. There are a lot of accessories, such as a watering tank with a spout that moves, a coal car that tilts and dumps out the “coal”, a lighted circus billboard, a cattle stockyard complete with eight head of cattle and car that they walk into, and more.

    The problem is that this set is so old that many of the wires for the controls are brittle and cracked (and hence unsafe) and the engine/tender needs a lot of love. It is a Gilbert American Flyer 3/16″ set. Pictured below is the engine and tender.

    Does anyone know of a guy who I could ship this stuff to for repairs because this is way out of my MO. Thanks.

    Posted in Blegs, Diversions | 7 Comments »

    History Friday – Church Eternal

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th November 2012 (All posts by )

    (An essay from my archive at – retrieved for your enjoyment on a Friday afternoon. It’s a long one, originally in two parts. Yes, I can write about other than the 19th century frontier….)

    The most striking thing about the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome is that it is immensely, overwhelmingly huge, but so humanly proportioned that the size of it doesn’t hit you right away. It sneaks up on you, as the grand vista unfolds, marble and gold, bronze and the glorious dome soaring overhead – and then you realize that the chubby marble cherubs holding the shell-shaped holy water font are actually six feet tall, that what looks like ordinary wainscoting at the bottom of the wall opposite is itself six feet wide, and those are not ants crawling slowly along the polished marble floor, they are other people.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Religion, Society | 13 Comments »

    Some Views From Overseas

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

    …on the US election results.

    Janet Daley, in The Telegraph: “So Europe got the American president it wanted – the one who would present no threat to its own delusions. The United States is now officially one of us: an Old World country complete with class hatred, ethnic Balkanisation, bourgeois guilt and a paternalist ruling elite. And it is locked into the same death spiral of high public spending and self-defeating wealth redistribution as we are. Welcome to the future, and the beginning of what may turn out to be the terminal decline of the West.”

    Melanie Phillips: “The greatest satisfaction today over the re-election of Obama is not being felt in the Democratic Party. It is not being felt among the media…No, the greatest satisfaction is surely being felt in Iran.”

    The Dissident Frogman: “Hear this final prophecy America: only one man can kill the Republic, and it isn’t Barack Obama. The one man who will kill your Republic is the one man who will last give up and renounce it. Don’t you dare be that man.

    Read them all.

    Also, here’s something interesting: Li Keqiang, China’s next premier, has been advising his associates to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1856 book The Old Regime and the French Revolution.

    Posted in Britain, China, Civil Society, Education, Europe, France, History, Middle East, USA | 56 Comments »

    For the Honor of Service

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th November 2012 (All posts by )

    It looks really weird to me, this last Veteran’s Day weekend … not even a week after the election results came in. A couple of days after General Petraeus put in his resignation as head of the CIA – conveniently for the American news cycle – on a Friday before a three-day weekend. So, kind of astonished over that – a mere several days before he was to testify about whatever was going on with regard to our quasi-official establishment in Benghazi on the 11th of September last. Of course, the second most astonishing aspect to me is that the head of the CIA can’t keep an affair secret, and the third most astonishing is that someone so politically wily as to be able to pin on four stars would still be stupidly reckless enough to engage on such a very public affair. What, were they doing the horizontal mambo in the middle of the parade ground at reveille at whatever base they were at in Afghanistan? Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Just Unbelievable, Military Affairs, Obama, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    Tom Russell Fans, Rejoice

    Posted by David Foster on 13th November 2012 (All posts by )

    I don’t know how many Tom Russell fans there are among the Chicago Boyz and Grrlz and Readerz, but whatever the number is, I think it should be greater, because TR is IMO one of the best singer/songwriters working in America today. He’s just published a new book: 120 Songs, with lyrics, guitar chords, and stories about how each of the songs was inspired and written.

    I reviewed Russell’s album The Man From God Knows Where, a song-cycle about the American immigrant experience, here.

    Some other TR songs:

    Stealing Electricity

    The Pugilist at 59

    Bucking Horse Moon

    Russell’s concert tour is now on the east coast; schedule here

    Posted in History, Music, USA | 1 Comment »

    Ticket Splitting

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

    Many of my friends on facebook and elsewhere have been celebrating the big Democratic wins of last week – but while celebrating Obama and Baldwin, they haven’t really noticed that all of the demonstrations here in Wisco from the last couple of years have now officially gone for naught. Zero, zilch, nada, bupkis.

    The Republicans took back the state senate, giving them the Assembly, Senate and Governorship for the next legislative session that starts in the new year. The Democrats owned the Senate for a few months, while it was not in session.

    I see a lot of positive that will come from this. The Republicans still do not have a quorum busting majority in the Senate, but I think if the state senators make a move like last year and flee to Illinois again that people will go absolutely nuts and burn this place to the ground. We have been absolutely pounded by political ads and demonstrations and other nonsense for almost two years and I have a feeling that Walker stomping Barrett in the recall election was a sign that we have all had enough of this temper tantrum.

    Across the country, Republicans have thirty governor seats.

    The county by county map still is vastly more red than blue.

    I just wonder, are the state and local elections Miss Congeniality contests now or do they really serve some good? Is the federal overreach so great that the states will just get pounded into oblivion? I think these are the trillion dollar questions.

    Posted in Politics | 15 Comments »


    Posted by David Foster on 11th November 2012 (All posts by )

    Music Video: The War was in Color

    Some thoughts from 2011 and earlier, by Neptunus Lex

    Speaking of Lex, Friday was his birthday. His three kids, known to blog readers as SNO, Biscuit, and Kat, offer remembrances of their father here.

    Some photographs of WWI battlefields today, via this 2011 post from Sgt Mom.

    Posted in History, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    Historical Diversion Weekend – The Way West

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

    (OK, so everyone ready for a little historical diversion? Tired of chewing over current events? (and working over the usual concern trolls? Let’s go consider history!)

    The average so-called “western” movie or television series only very rarely gives a true idea of what it must have been like to take to the emigrant trail in the 1840ies and 50ies. Most westerns are set in a time-period from the end of the Civil War to about 1885, an overwhelming proportion have a cattle-ranch setting, sometimes a setting in the wild and woolly mining camps. The popular culture vision of the “old west” tends to warp our imagining of the 19th century in general, in that it puts in place people and technologies that were just not there until well after the Civil War. The latter part of that century was already looking forward to what would become the twentieth, and to extend what we commonly accept as a given about the late 19th century backwards to previous decades is give a short shift to the vision and sheer stubborn courage of the 1840ies wagon train emigrants, and to underestimate considerably the challenges they would have faced.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, History, USA | 19 Comments »