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  • Archive for December, 2012

    The Rifleman and Modern Society

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 20th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Something funny happened on the way to the couch.

    I have recently moved to a farm property where we put up a house.  Before we got the Dish set up, we were restricted to whatever channels the digital rabbit ears (do they call them that anymore?) could drag in.  I found myself watching TV shows on MeTV that brought me back to my youth.  I have very much enjoyed watching those old Emergeney! shows, along with The Rifleman

    To tell the truth, I am only using the dish to get my sports fix and using the digital rabbit ears for the occasional bit of entertainment.  But I have become recently re-devoted to The Rifleman.

    When I was a child I remember watching reruns of The Rifleman.  You remember the opening scene, don’t you?

    I have been endlessly fascinated how I view this show now versus when I was a kid. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Diversions | 20 Comments »

    That Old Holiday Feeling

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

    Blondie and I hit Sam’s Club last weekend for some holiday oddities and endities, and as we were heading out to the parking lot, Blondie remarked that everyone seemed rather … subdued. I couldn’t really see that the other customers were any more depressed than usual, wheeling around great trollies piled full of case-lots and mass quantities than any other Sunday, as I am still trying to throw the Cold From Hell – now in it’s third week of making me sound as if I am about to hack up half a lung. But that is just me – good thing I work at home, the commute is a short stagger to my desk, where I do the absolute minimum necessary for the current project, and another stagger back to to bed, take some Tylenol, suck on a cough drop and go back to sleep for several hours. The cats like this program, by the way – a warm human to curl up close to, on these faintly chill December days. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Holidays, Personal Narrative, Politics, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    Tom Smith on Gun Control

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

    This is very well considered:

    Everybody wants to stop events like Newtown, but one suspects the gun control supporters want to do more than that: I think they want to promote an idealistic vision of “a peaceful society without guns” or something like that. I think that agenda is unrealistic on several levels — I don’t think a society without guns would be more peaceful and secure, unless you imposed a lot of other social controls that would not be imposed and you might not like if they were, and I don’t think such changes would be accepted by more than at best a bare majority of the American people, if that. It seems barely possible that sweeping anti-gun legislation could be shoved through Congress a la Obamacare after 2014, but such legislation would be very socially devisive.
     
    Another point — do we really understand how very widespread gun ownership fits into what you might call the political economy of public order in this country? To take another thought experiment: could there be any reasonable doubt that some sort of program (and I’m not saying mainstream gun-control advocates are calling for this, at least I hope not) that would require everybody to hand over any and all semi-automatic pistols and rifles they have to the government and own them no more, and was actually enforced (which would be very difficult) would result in unpredictable and possibly dangerous changes in the balance of forces between the law-abiding and the criminal in this country? I don’t know how much public order in this country is actually enforced by the latent threat of private citizens with guns, but I bet it’s a lot more than your typical well-meaning gun-control advocate would think, and I’m confident that she has not thought about that question in much depth. I bet you would find gun-control advocates live disproportionately in the safest, most heavily policed parts of this country, that is, relatively affluent, urban or suburban areas. Their cognitive biases I suspect lean against taking very seriously the personal security of people very unlike themselves in terms of social status, lifestyle and other such identifiers. All this points in the direction of legislation, if there is any, that is specific and targeted at the problem that needs to be solved. I have no confidence Congress is capable of this, as it is a hard problem and even easy problems seem beyond their ability to address sensibly, but one can hope.

    Worth reading in full.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Rhetoric, RKBA, Society | 44 Comments »

    Singapore

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

    Singapore looked shiny and new. They had a lot of development along the shore. They built the Marina Bay hotel which has an amazing “infinity” pool on the roof of the three hotel buildings connected together. This was built on reclaimed land.

    The Singapore shoreline had a big skyline of mostly financial district buildings. My local contacts said that they all seemed to spring up over the last few years. Singapore as a city seemed to have the widest mix of races and ethnicities of any city I’ve ever visited, from Chinese to Malay to English / European and a large Indian population.

    Singapore is a very expensive place to live / visit. It costs $70,000 to have the right to buy a car due to the limited parking and roadways available for the booming city. Singapore does have a favorable tax regime but this doesn’t really help US citizens since we have to pay US rates (after a foreign income exclusion) anywhere in the world unless you give up citizenship.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, International Affairs | 2 Comments »

    It Looks Like Obama Will…

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th December 2012 (All posts by )

    1) Refuse to negotiate with the Republicans on taxes and spending. If the economy recovers he will take credit for blocking the Republican attempt to destroy the middle class and benefit the rich. If the economy tanks he will blame the Republicans.

    2) Use the Connecticut murders to rationalize more govt spending on Democratic constituencies in govt social service bureaucracies.

    3) Use the Connecticut murders to bully Republicans, whom he humiliated in the budget negotiations and who therefore will go out of their way to cut bad deals to make themselves seem relevant, into going along with some kind of anti-gun legislation (perhaps a national licensing scheme or sales ban on semiautomatic rifles).

    Obama may not succeed in these efforts, but it seems to me that they form his short-term political road map. Never let a crisis go to waste and all that, and so much the better if you can work another crisis into the mix.

    What do you think it looks like Obama will do? Feel free to contribute your ideas in the comments.

    (Note: Comments mentioning Benghazi, Syria, Fast & Furious or the word “debt” may be subjected to extreme mockery.)

    Posted in Obama, Politics, Predictions | 33 Comments »

    Will This Work?

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

    Peter Thiel put $300K into this company, which seeks to capture waste heat from power generation facilities (and other forms of low-grade heat) by artificially creating very tall vortices. The system works something like a very tall chimney, but without the expense of constructing such a chimney. Simple explanation here.

    (When I wonder “will this work?”, I don’t mean at a technical level..sounds like experimentation has demonstrated that it will, at least at a small scale…I mean “work” in a commercial sense)

    They cite 35% as a typical efficiency for a thermal power plant (which sounds about right) and estimate that their system could recover 20% of the now-wasted heat, resulting in an overall plant output increase of about 40% with no increase in fuel consumption. However, I’d make the point that new combined-cycle power plants are considerably more efficient–GE is claiming 60% for some of their “H” series machines…which is obviously a good thing but leaves less wasted heat to be recovered. Still, there is a lot of rejected heat even from combined-cycle turbines…and not all power plants are going to be combined-cycle..for one thing, I don’t think CC plants can use coal unless it is first gasified.

    Lots of issues between development and large-scale deployment, of course..costs of large-scale systems are hard to estimate until you actually build one and operate it for a while, and I also wonder about public acceptance (and aviation safety/traffic implications, were these plants to be built out densely.) It’s a very creative concept, and I’m glad to see Thiel putting some money behind it…lots more will be needed to reach a commercial level.

    I’ll be watching this with interest.

    Posted in Business, Energy & Power Generation, Tech | 15 Comments »

    Beauty and Ugliness

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

    Here’s a Christmas-y song that I think is beautiful:

    2000 Miles

    The song was written and sung by Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.

    Here’s what Hynde said at a rock concert in 2003, not that long after the 9/11 attacks:

    “Have we gone to war yet?” she asked sarcastically, early on. “We (expletive) deserve to get bombed. Bring it on.” Later she yelled, “Let’s get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!”

    I like several Pretenders songs (Back on the Chain Gang, for example), and this pretty much spoiled them for me. I’m not boycotting the group…I don’t turn the radio off if one of their songs comes on…it’s just…sad.

    Fast forward to 2012. The Korean rapper known as Psy (“Gangnam Style”) was scheduled to perform at a Christmas concert (a benefit for Children’s National Medical Center) which is traditionally attended by the President of the United States. It turns out that in 2002, he smashed a model American tank onstage “to oppose 37,000 U.S. troops that descended on the Korean Peninsula” (in the words of a CBS Local writer who seems to be as ignorant of history as Psy himself evidently is)…and a couple of years later, he rapped:

    Kill those f***ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those f***ing Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully

    This rant was apparently inspired at least in part by the murder in Iraq of a Korean missionary by Islamic terrorists after the SK government refused to cancel its plan to send troops in support of the Iraq war.

    After the information about Psy’s past performances came out (and Psy issued a standard pro-forma apology). some people thought that Obama might have declined to attend a concert at which Psy was a star attraction. But they were wrong, and he did attend.

    One would think it would be obvious that for the commander-in-chief to attend a Psy concert..given the above backstory..is highly disrespectful to American military people, and indeed to Americans as a whole. What would have been most appropriate would have been for the concert organizers to disinvite Psy. Failing this (and there might have been contractual reasons making it impossible even had the organizers been inclined this way), Obama could have issued a brief statement of regret that it was impossible for him to attend given Psy’s comments about Americans. This would have demonstrated that the President has respect for his own country, and that he expects such respect to be shown by others.

    No one familiar with Obama’s history would really be surprised that he did not choose this course. What is slightly surprising, and more than slightly disturbing, is that Obama’s attendance seems to have been just fine with many Americans, and with most of the old-line media. This Atlantic writer, for example, uses the Psy-Obama handshake to bash any “right-wingers” who might see anything wrong with Obama’s presence at the concert.

    Of course, when a couple of months ago Americans in Benghazi were actually killed, as opposed to just being threatened with being killed, most of the old media showed great lack of interest in digging into the feckless Administration behavior that led to this debacle.

    What is pretty clear is that we have a substantial number of people in this country who simply do not identify as Americans. They may identify with their profession, or with their social class, or with their educational background and asserted intellectual position, or maybe even with their locality…but identification with the American polity is missing. (And this phenomenon seems to be strongest among those whose self-concept is most closely tied in with their educational credentials.)

    What such people do generally care about…a lot..is coolness, which means they care about entertainers and celebrities. We now have a President who apparently cares more about the transient glory of being associated with a flash-in-the-pan rapper (and whoever else sang at this concert) than about showing respect to those he has the responsibility to command. And this is evidently just fine with many among the media and academic elites.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Iraq, Korea, Music, Obama, USA | 26 Comments »

    The Connecticut Massacre

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

    There is information still coming to light about this awful case. Early reports, such as the name of the shooter and the alleged murder of the father, were predictably wrong. It turns out that the shooter, named Adam Lanza, a 20 year old with a history of odd behavior and some evidence of mental illness, such as autism, was living with his mother who was his first victim. There are a number of suggestive reports, that she decided to “stay home to care for” her 20 year old son.

    The treatment of severe mental illness in this country has been altered for the worse by a movement that began in the 1960s when mental illness began to be described as a “civil rights ” issue. Several books and movies described abuse of power in commitment of the mentally ill. The first such movie was “The Snake Pit” in which a young woman is committed for what sounds like schizophrenia. The treatment of the time (1948) can be seen as barbaric but there was nothing else available. She did recover, although we know that without adequate treatment, recovery from schizophrenia is unlikely.

    The movie that really devastated the mental hospital system was called “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and starred Jack Nicholson.

    The movie was powerful in showing the Nicholson character as a guy who just is “different” and harmless.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Health Care, Privacy, Science | 31 Comments »

    History Friday – The Pilgrim Road

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th December 2012 (All posts by )

    We took a road trip, my daughter and I, in the summer of 1990. We lived then on the northern outskirts of Zaragoza, in an urbanization by the main road towards Logrono, so one summer day we packed the tent and our sleeping bags, and a little gas camp stove in the trunk of the Very Elderly Volvo, and went north, along the long, red-clay valley of the Ebro, where is grown the finest red wine in Spain, north and away from the ancient city of the Pilar, where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. James in the forum that the Romans built, and the shops along the ancient cardo –now called the Calle Alfonso – sell dark chocolate-dipped dried fruits, and the wind blows the trees into gnarled shapes bending to the south.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Personal Narrative | 2 Comments »

    Communist Dog Whistles Up a Controversy

    Posted by TM Lutas on 13th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Harry Belafonte advocates imprisoning Obama’s US opposition.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    Dreams From My Mother

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th December 2012 (All posts by )

    yum

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    Rolling Stone is Laughable on Hip Hop List

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

    From time to time I have to report out on the insanity of the Rolling Stones lists and their fixation with Bob Dylan, the sixties, and other obscurities. Here I had to revise their top guitarist list which was comically irrelevant, as well as their equally terrible top guitar songs list.

    While I know hardly anything about hip hop relative to my knowledge of rock everyone knows that putting Eminem on the cover is a gaffe in that community. Even Eminem himself would probably cringe at being the face of hip hop, when you have icons like Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie, Snoop, Dr Dre, and Kanye. Sure he’s the best white rapper alive but really…

    Then onto the list. These songs are so old I even remember them.

    1. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash from 1982

    2. “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang from 1979

    3. “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambattaa from 1982

    4. “Sucker MC’s” by Run-DMC from 1983

    5. “Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop from 1992

    It is hilarious that Rolling Stone put their “musty test” to rap just like they do to rock (Bob Dylan) and guitar (Jimi Hendrix). They are really saying that those first four songs that are 30 years old or even older are the best hip hop songs? They are definitely old and were pioneers but that isn’t the best. Fine I’ll agree with #5 but the first four gotta go.

    Luckily the list is so laughably bad right from the top and with Eminem on the cover I don’t need to spend even five minutes thinking about it. This post basically wrote itself.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Music | 6 Comments »

    Simulation, Training, and Reality

    Posted by David Foster on 12th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Via Isegoria, here is an interview with James Sterrett, who is deputy chief of simulation/wargaming for the Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

    The issue of knowledge transfer between simulations and the real world is important not only in the military, but also in business and aviation..and surely many other areas as well.

    Sterrett notes that in simulations:

    First, we usually have far better knowledge of the situation than is possible for real armies; consider that one of the key pieces of information from ULTRA decrypts was the Axis order of battle in various theaters – simply knowing what units the Axis had was a major intelligence coup, but such information is routinely handed to players. Moreover, the scenario usually tells us what the friendly and enemy win conditions are, while those are often less clear in real life.

    Second, in nearly every game, our forces do exactly what we tell them to do, exactly when we tell them to do it. In the real world, subordinate forces need time to conduct their own planning so they can carry out our orders, and they may not go about the task exactly as we envisioned…

    Third, gamers are usually planning by themselves, which means they have to explain everything only to themselves and to the game. Military staffs deal with more information than one person can process; even a battalion staff is likely to be several dozen people. Getting this many people to pass information among themselves efficiently, and let alone coming up with a coherent plan that everybody understands, requires practice.

    The interview reminds me of a passage in Don Sheppard’s book Bluewater Sailor, which I wrote about several years ago…

    When a decision is made in an organizational context (as opposed to a decision by an entirely autonomous individual), additional layers of complexity and emotion come into play. The person who must make the decision is often not the person who has the information/expertise on which the decision must be based. Indeed, the information and expertise are often distributed across multiple individuals. These individuals may have their own objectives and motivations, which may differ from the objectives and motivations of the formal decision-maker, and which may conflict with each other. And the making of the decision may alter power relationships within the organization, as well as influencing the phenomena about which the decision is ostensibly being made.

    The above factors are illustrated with crystalline clarity in the story of a seemingly very simple decision, which had to be made onboard a U.S. Navy destroyer sometime during the 1950s.

    Don Sheppard was the newly-appointed Engineering Officer of the USS Henshaw, with responsibility for its 60,000-horsepower turbine plant. But his knowledge of propulsion equipment came entirely from study at the navy’s Engineering Officer School. Reporting to Sheppard was the “Chief,” an enlisted man with no theoretical training but with twenty years of experience in the practical operation of naval power plants. When Sheppard assumed his new duties, the Chief’s greeting “bordered on rudeness.” The man clearly believed that engineering officers might come and go, but that he, the Chief, was the one who really ran things, who was the “Prince of the Plant.”

    During maneuvers off the Pacific coast, a bizarre accident resulted in the Henshaw dropping a depth charge which exploded very close to its own stern. The shockwave was enough to knock down men who were standing on deck. Sheppard asked the Chief if he thought the plant might have suffered any damage:

    He furrowed his brow, glaring at me. “Damage, sir? We’d know about any major damage by now if the plant suffered. i don’t think we got any problems, sir,” he answered–patronizingly–in a civil enough tone, but barely so. Who was I, an interloper, to dare question the Prince of the Plant?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, Business, Education, Management, Military Affairs, Tech | 5 Comments »

    See the Violence Inherent in the System!

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

    So it is not like violence by union members in Michigan against pro-right-to-work activists came as any big surprise to me … or should have to any other sentient being. I mean, this comes after a couple of years of incidents involving members of the SEIU – better known as the Purple People Beaters – and Tea Party protesters going at it. Not that our gutless establishment press organs ever seemed to take notice … or as little notice as they can and still retain a few lingering shreds of credibility, while they remain prostrate and adoring the mighty figure of Ozymandius … sorry, Obama. And in pop-culture circles, historically unions seem to enjoy at least a token respect, for which I hold Hollywood responsible. Why the entertainment industry adores unions, as they are full of plucky, honest blue-collar laboring types, and if it weren’t for unions, why we would be working seven days a week, up to our knees in toxic sludge, owing our soul to the company store, and breaking rocks in the hot sun … oops, sorry, flashback there to about a million Phil Ochs pseudo-folk songs.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Human Behavior, Just Unbelievable, Media, Politics, Tea Party | 20 Comments »

    Archive – Oh!! Christmas Tree!

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

    (From the old SSDB archive – a reminiscence about the search for the perfect Christmas tree, December, 1981.)

    It really takes a gift to find yourself on a soggy-wet mountainside in on a Sunday afternoon in December, with a fine drizzle coagulating out of the fog in the higher altitudes, slipping and sliding on a muddy deer track with a tree saw in one hand, and leading a sniffling and wet (inside and out) toddler with the other.
    Yep, it’s a gift all right, born of spontaneous optimism and an assumption based on the map on the back page of the Sacra-Tomato bloody-f#$*%^g Bee newspaper, and a promise to Mom. Said map made the %$#*ing Christmas tree farm look like it was a couple of blocks, a mere hop-skip-and-jump from the back gate of Mather AFB’s housing area, an easy jaunt on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, a lovely and traditional Christmas pastime, choosing your own tree from the place they were growing in!
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Holidays, Humor, Miscellaneous, North America | 6 Comments »

    This Looks Familiar

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 11th December 2012 (All posts by )

    I read today that many teachers in Michigan are calling in “sick” today to protest the right to work legislation pending. This has caused many schools to close, causing parents to miss work, and/or to have to find alternate care for their children.

    I remember when the unions did their big stink here in Madison last year, and the teachers did the same thing. I suggested at that time that we call it what it really was – a Wildcat Strike. I don’t know what the laws are in Michigan, but I am willing to wager that this is also a Wildcat Strike.

    I am sure it will be drum circle time, tell us what democracy looks like chants, hey hey, ho ho, and all that. Have fun Michigan and don’t worry. They will all go away soon.

    Posted in Unions | 22 Comments »

    Ode to Joy

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Via Chicagoboyz community member Death 6:

    This is very nice (full screen video).

    Posted in Holidays, Video | 4 Comments »

    Modern Surveillance

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 10th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Times change. Recently I was at a Starbucks in Old Town when I noticed that a woman near me got up and left her purse and other valuables at her table while she went to use the restroom or get another coffee.

    Then I figured out what she was doing… her friend that she was Skyping with was sitting there, watching her belongings! From what I could see her friend was very vigilant in her task, like an overhead drone.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Humor, Tech | 6 Comments »

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

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

    Distant showers lit by the setting sun provide a glorious backdrop to the alligator pond and surrounding vegetation near the Shark Valley observation tower in Everglades National Park, Florida. (© 2012 Jonathan Gewirtz / jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 6 Comments »

    Dubious Investment Advice and the Conveyor-Belt Approach to Life

    Posted by David Foster on 9th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Over the last couple of years, numerous writers–on blogs and in the media–have been expressing concern about the state of the legal job market and asserting that there is an overproduction of lawyers. Comes now Lawrence Mitchell, who is Dean at Case Western’s law school, with an article titled Law School is Worth the Money. He denounces the “hysteria” of the critics and argues, basically, that those who are interested in going to law school should be encouraged to go ahead and do so.

    I’m not very impressed with Dean Mitchell’s reasoning, and there are quite a few other people–many of them lawyers and law professors–who are similarly unimpressed.

    One thing that particularly struck me in Mitchell’s article, and not in a good way, was this:

    What else will these thousands of students who have been discouraged from attending law school do? Where will they find a more fulfilling career? They’re not all going to be doctors or investment bankers, nor should they.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Education, Law | 12 Comments »

    Happy Hannuka!

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th December 2012 (All posts by )

    חג שמח from the Chicagoboyz.

    Hannuka

    Posted in Holidays, Judaism, Photos | 5 Comments »

    Your Government Money At Work… On a Sports Car

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 8th December 2012 (All posts by )

    I was out walking at night in River North when I came upon a cool looking sports car outside on the street. I hadn’t seen one of these before so I took a photo to look it up.

    When I woke up in the morning and was reading my old-school paper copy of the Wall Street Journal, I saw on the front page of the finance section an article titled “Its Battery Drained, Fisker Hunts for Partner” with a picture of my Fisker Karma in color. Per the article:

    Fisker Automotive, the troubled maker of a battery-powered sports car, is accelerating a global search for a strategic partner to keep its business going…Fisker has taken steps to reduce its cash use. In July, it halted production of its sole vehicle, the $110,000 Karma, to lower production costs. The Karma has been hobbled by recalls and quality problems.

    Who thought that we needed another sports car, in a market glutted with them? Why the US Government, of course. Per wikipedia:

    In 2010, the Department of Energy awarded Fisker a $529 million green-energy loan, primarily to assist the company in transitioning the Karma, which is assembled in Finland, into the American markets. Fisker collected nearly $200 million until February this year, when the government froze the loan because the company was failing to meet the government’s milestones

    What is also apparently hurting Fisker is that they can’t obtain batteries from A123 Systems, Inc. Bizarrely, the Wall Street Journal didn’t even mention that NOT ONLY did the US government bankroll Fisker on their futile plan to create another un-neeed sports car, but they also bankrolled A123 Systems in their battery development, per Wikipedia:

    The company received US$249 million grant from the Department of Energy for building battery production facilities. As of June 2012, $129M of the grant has been used to build the 550 MWh Livonia plant and the Romulus plant. Remaining untapped $120M grant’s expiry date has been extended from end of 2012 to end of 2014. The company laid off 125 workers in December 2011 as demand for partner Fisker’s automobiles has been slack.

    It is astounding to me that the government decided to build up an entirely vertically integrated chain of industry in order to produce a sports car that is unreliable that no one apparently wants to buy. And yet this is likely one of the most tangible “products” that the stimulus package delivered.

    Also I am still shaking my head that the normally OK WSJ (for main stream media) didn’t see the further lunacy beyond just Fisker’s imminent demise in that it was linked to the troubles of A123 Systems. A Wikipedia search like yours truly could have figured that out.

    Back when I took courses on economics and socialism they spoke of the government’s inability to allocate capital as a core problem with top down socialism. This is exhibit A. It is one thing to prop up an already existing business like the auto industry or banks (not always a good idea) which needs restructuring or a short term cash infusion, but starting an integrated value chain industry from scratch is beyond a longshot, it is lunacy.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Chicagoania, Media | 9 Comments »

    History Friday – A Deep-Dyed Villain

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th December 2012 (All posts by )


    He really wore a black hat, this particular villain; he was known and recognized throughout the district around Fredericksburg and the German settlements in Gillespie County – by his fine, black beaver hat. Which was not furry, as people might tend to picture immediately – but made of felt, felt manufactured from the hair scraped from beaver pelts. This had been the fashion early in the 19th century, and made a fortune for those who sent trappers and mountain-men into the far, far west, hunting and trapping beaver. The fashion changed – and the far-west fur trade collapsed, but I imagine that fine hats were still made from beaver felt. And J.P. Waldrip was so well-known by his hat that he was buried with it.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, History, Terrorism, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Consumer Question – 23andme

    Posted by Ginny on 7th December 2012 (All posts by )

    The musings on the random and tragic nature of life remind us of how little we know – and control. But it reminded me of the marketing of a step toward more control: how good are the DNA products? My daughter’s friend, visiting for Thanksgiving, sent her spit to 23andme. The results included a genetic tendency toward weight-related diseases, which led her to a diet and gym membership. Not surprisingly, it linked her with her mother, but also with a cousin neither she nor her mother knew existed. They met, looked each other over, compared notes: they were cousins.

    Anyway, she sat in our living room flipping through her smart phone (it gives monthly updates); she was vulnerable to diabetes but less so to Parkinson’s. Genetic weaknesses are becoming obvious as we near retirement; unfortunately, we learn our vulnerabilities at every office visit.

    Still, has anyone done this or similar ones? How accurate, how useful, and how much does this (or do others) add to the cloud-knowledge of genes & disease? (Other friends used a different site, but learned what human history would say – that they were both from England and before that Africa.)

    Of course, whether it is worth the money or not, whether it is accurate or not, ignores the big question: does such knowledge lead us to believe we have an autonomy still not – never will be – ours? Will knowing more of “who we are” mislead or arm us?

    Posted in Biography, Blegs, Science | 5 Comments »

    Why I Own a Gun

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Sgt. Mom’s post from a few days ago reminded me of an incident I had some 8 or 9 years ago. It turned me into a proud gun owner quickly afterward. I have since moved from the place where this event happened.

    Like Sgt. Mom, I lived in suburbia in a pretty quiet neighborhood. This area isn’t as social as Sgt. Mom’s group – we would wave here and there to people we knew, but there was a general malaise as far as neighborhood associations and the like went.

    It was 4am and my doorbell started ringing over and over and over. I grabbed the baseball bat I kept in my bedroom for just such an occasion, told my wife to call 911 and slowly walked downstairs. I checked the back door first and there didn’t appear to be anyone out there so I slowly went to the front door, all the time the doorbell constantly ringing. I peeked through the glass pane on the side of the door and there was a guy ringing the doorbell with his nose.
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    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Personal Narrative | 70 Comments »