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  • Archive for May, 2013

    History Friday: MacArthur — A General Made for Convenient Lies.

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 31st May 2013 (All posts by )

    I have been researching the end of the Pacific War for several years now. In the official histories, when General MacArthur was very, very good, such as in the 1945 Southern Philippines Campaign, his bureaucratic enemies described his actions and motives badly. And when MacArthur was awful, such as in the 1942-1943 Buna campaign, they were worse…and what they did “while being worse” wasn’t documented in those official histories

    A case in point is US Naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison. He made this very snarky comment on page 214 of the 2nd to last book of his official histories, The Liberation of the Philippines 1944-1945:

    “It is still somewhat of a mystery how and whence, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur derived his authority to use United States forces to liberate one Philippine island after another. He had no specific directive for anything subsequent to Luzon. He seems to have felt that, as Allied theater commander in the Southwest Pacific, he had a right to employe the forces at his command as he thought best for the common cause; certainly he went ahead with his plans.”

    The MacArthur haters still parade that comment by Admiral Morison around like the foremost battle streamer on their “We Hate MacArthur” banner.

    I have always thought that Admiral Morison’s comment was a cheap shot. The Japanese murdered 100,000 Filipinos in Manila in early 1945 and the Japanese high command had issued “Kill All” orders for Allied prisoners and internees. Ultra code breaking delivered this information to MacArthur, Nimitz and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) showing the humanitarian necessity to liberate occupied Filipino territory. However, it turns out the Adm. Morison comment was far worse than a cheap shot. Based upon what I just found in a couple of the US Army Green books, Adm. Morison “Parked a Convenient Lie” on top of MacArthur’s historical reputation.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Military Affairs, USA | 54 Comments »

    History Friday: The Man Who Nearly Cleaned Up El Paso

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 31st May 2013 (All posts by )

    El Paso, on the Rio Grande and border with Mexico, halfway between San Antonio and San Diego, was a lawless, corrupt and violent place in the last quarter of the 19th century, like practically every other western boomtown had been at some time in its development. However, lawlessness hung on a bit more tenaciously in El Paso, and the responsible members of the city council were nearly at wits’ end. In the space of a mere eight months in 1881, they had run through half a dozen city marshals. Violent factionalism ruled the streets of the city, and enthusiastic cross-border cattle rustling ruled elsewhere. In desperation, the city fathers sought a capable outsider, a fearless lawman with experience and a reputation sufficiently impressive to overawe potential lawbreakers. A local restaurant owner, Stanley “Doc” Cummings came up with the name of just such a man; his brother-in-law and good friend, Dallas Stoudenmire.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, History | 7 Comments »

    London Plants and Animals

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 31st May 2013 (All posts by )

    The core of London always has been known for elaborate garden displays and open parks. However, we found these vibrant gardens in a small city square in Marylebone. May is a beautiful time to visit London as long as you don’t get rained on too much.

    In Hyde Park they have a large amount of bird life that I’ve never seen before and the usual patrolling, angry swans. In this short vignette you can see a potential “Swans vs. Dachshund” battle averted as the little dogs beat a semi-hasty retreat.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain | 10 Comments »

    Let’s talk about airplanes.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th May 2013 (All posts by )

    I’ve been reading the new biography of Nevil Shute and the account of his trip by single engine airplane to Australia and back to England in 1949. Shute was an engineer and novelist. I think he is the best writer about engineers and one of the best about businessmen.

    That got me to the subject of airplanes. A couple of years ago, I read a a book about restoring a Hawker Hurricane that was discovered in pieces in India and brought back to England (after a struggle with Indian bureaucracy) and completely restored. During the restoration, they found bullet holes in the wing tanks that had been sealed by the tank sealant system. It is back in flying condition and is the only flying Hurricane that saw the Battle of Britain.

    This is R 4118 flying in 1941. It is the third below the wingmates

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Aviation, Book Notes, Britain, Germany, History, India, Military Affairs | 19 Comments »

    America 3.0: Mike Lotus on The Bob Dutko Show

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 30th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Mike Lotus will be on the Bob Dutko radio show tomorrow, May 31, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. EST. Bob hosts Detroit’s #1 Christian Talk Radio Show on WMUZS 103.5 FM.

    Please listen in if you can!

    Many thanks to the Bob Dutko Show for having me on.

    This weekend we will post an updated list of upcoming appearances by Jim Bennett, Mike Lotus, and occasionally both of us together, talking about America 3.0.

    Thanks to The Takeaway, the The Armstrong & Getty Show, and The Janet Mefferd show for interviewing Jim Bennett — all yesterday. It was a Bennett Threefer!

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on America 3.0: Mike Lotus on The Bob Dutko Show

    London Properties

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 29th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Real estate property prices in London are astonishing. This is not an atypical “listing” in the centrally located district of Marylebone.

    The cost of this flat is 975,000 pounds. At our current rate of approximately $1.50 USD to each GBP, that comes out to about $1,500,000.

    The flat is 620 square feet. Let’s repeat that again – 620 square feet. It is possible that there are upscale dorm rooms in the US larger than this for affluent college kids. That works out to about $2400 a square foot.

    You also don’t “own” the land underneath your flat. In this area of town the Portman Estate owns land and there are other companies, as well. You buy a “lease” and as your lease gets closer to its termination date the cost to “renew” the lease goes up substantially. “Ground rent” is a pittance (a few hundred dollars a year) but the renewal of the lease can be very costly especially as it nears its term. I am far from an expert and picked up my information from online sources and brief conversations but this article in the Telegraph has additional data if you’d like to research further. On top of the costs to extend the lease which can be as high as $100,000 dollars there are fees for surveyors and others just as in the US when you need to employ various professionals for your mortgage financing.

    There are other places in the world where the cost per square foot is $3000 or more – but these are generally penthouses or high profile properties, not a small flat in a great neighborhood in London with likely not much of a view at all. This sort of price, however, is not out of the norm in this neighborhood.

    Who can pay these sorts of prices? For the most part, foreigners can. According to this article 60% of the buyers of real estate in central London were from overseas. They were driven by the lower value of the pound (which makes their currency go further), the favorable tax regime, and the security and stability of living in London (compared to their often dodgy governments).

    For UK citizens paying tax rates in the 50%+ range (as opposed to wealthy foreigners who pay little as a percent of their income), you would need to make an astonishingly high amount of earnings to pay for a high quality residence in an exclusive part of London. Remember that not only are real estate costs high, personal taxes are high, and everything you buy from cars to furnishings to services such as a nanny are sky-high, as well. I had a discussion where a friend mentioned someone who had to make 2 million pounds / year in order to live at what he considered to be an acceptable level in this part of town.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Britain, Real Estate | 8 Comments »

    America 3.0: Bennett and Lotus on Lou Dobbs

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 29th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Here is our first TV appearance discussing America 3.0.

    We are grateful to Lou Dobbs for having us on his program, and to the very helpful and professional Fox Business staff.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 13 Comments »

    Skype Headset Bleg

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 29th May 2013 (All posts by )

    I need to get a Skype headset to do radio interviews.

    Quality is important, so I can’t go rock bottom cheap.

    Any suggestions, particularly from first-hand experience, would be greatly appreciated.

    Posted in Blegs | 3 Comments »

    London Electronics

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 28th May 2013 (All posts by )

    When Best Buy first opened I used to spend hours looking at computers, electronics, stereos, and gadgets. I haven’t been in a Best Buy for years except to briefly pick something up since it seems much of the “sizzle” has gone out of that business. However, while in London I stopped in the enormous Selfridges store which has an incredible electronics boutique in the basement and I had a great time looking through all they had to offer.

    This television is a Samsung an LG 84″ television with 4K resolution. This means 4000 instead of 1080 like you probably have on your TV. Wikipedia has an article about 4K here and I researched it a bit and most movies are already filmed in 4k and ESPN and many other television shows are also in 4k. I was a bit suspicious about programming because in the demo TV they seemed to have filmed their own (gorgeous) shows with attractive women, flowers, and other items that looked fantastic close up. It was about $25,000.

    This television was another Samsung (no surprise) and it was amazingly thin – about as wide as your thumb. Apparently the electronics (connectors, etc…) are in the base of the TV or controlled remotely.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Tech | 15 Comments »

    Durbin, Tocqueville, and Freedom of the Press

    Posted by David Foster on 28th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked some comments by Senator Dick Durbin, who said he favors a “media shield law”…but isn’t sure if such a law should protect people who are bloggers and/or tweeters, rather than being employees of Associated Press, Fox News, etc.

    “Are these people journalists and entitled to constitutional protection?, asked Durbin. “We need to ask 21st century questions about a provision that was written over 200 years ago.”

    As it happened, last night I was reading Alexis de Tocqueville, who (as usual) has some relevant things to say:

    In France the press combines a twofold centralization; almost all its power is centered in the same spot and, so to speak, in the same hands, for its organs are far from numerous. The influence upon a skeptical nation of a public press thus constituted must be almost unbounded. It is an enemy with whom a government may sign an occasional truce, but which it is difficult to resist for any length of time.

    Neither of these kinds of centralization exists in America. The United States has no metropolis; the intelligence and the power of the people are disseminated through all the parts of this vast country, and instead of radiating from a common point they cross each other in every direction; the Americans have nowhere established any central direction of opinion, any more than of the conduct of affairs. This difference arises from local circumstances and not from human power; but it is owing to the laws of the Union that there are no licenses to be granted to printers, no securities demanded from editors, as in France, and no stamp duty, as in France and England. The consequence is that nothing is easier than to set up a newspaper, as a small number of subscribers suffices to defray the expenses.

    Hence the number of periodical and semi-periodical publications in the United States is almost incredibly large. The most enlightened Americans attribute the little influence of the press to this excessive dissemination of its power; and it is an axiom of political science in that country that the only way to neutralize the effect of the public journals is to multiply their number…The governments of Europe seem to treat the press with the courtesy which the knights of old showed to their opponents; having found from their own experience that centralization is a powerful weapon, they have furnished their enemies with it in order doubtless to have more glory for overcoming them.

    In America there is scarcely a hamlet that has not its newspaper. It may readily be imagined that neither discipline nor unity of action can be established among so many combatants, and each one consequently fights under his own standard. All the political journals of the United States are, indeed, arrayed on the side of the administration or against it; but they attack and defend it in a thousand different ways. 

    Durbin referred to the First Amendment as “a provision that was written over 200 years ago,” apparently implying that the passage of time makes it less relevant today. If he were better-educated and more intelligent, he would understand that the press environment of the Revolutionary era and the first half of the 1800s, marked by decentralization and low start-up costs, is more similar to today’s Internet-driven media environment–marked by the same factors–than either is to the era that was marked by a few huge quasi-monopolistic media organizations.

    When the Founders referred to “freedom of the press,” what exactly did they mean? I think there is a very strong case to be made (see detailed legal analysis by Eugene Volokh) that they meant freedom of the printing press (and, implicitly, of its technological successors) rather than offering a grant of special privilege to entities within a particular industry. Indeed, what would a grant of special protection to a “press” industry have even meant in an age when any citizen could buy a simple printing press and immediately begin publishing pamphlets or newspapers, without any need for huge capital investments, AP wire feeds, dozens of employees, etc?

    I agree with Glenn Reynolds that “We need protections for journalism, not journalists.” The idea of special civil-liberties protections only for a particular industry, with membership in that industry inevitably to be certified by the powers-that-be, is highly dangerous, and takes us back to an environment of  licenses to be granted to printers, securities demanded from editors, as in France, and stamp duty, as in France and England.

    I notice that the people who want to use “technology” as an excuse for the erosion of constitutional protections are generally people whose ignorance of technology is exceeded only by their ignorance of history.


    Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Media, Tech, USA | 12 Comments »

    Illinois: Darkness Before the Dawn

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 28th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Dan Proft tells it as ugly as it is:

    “[T]he conspiracy to defraud taxpayers that is Illinois state government in its current form.”

    Word, baby. Great post from Dan.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. And it won’t be forever. The Combine is in its Brezhnev era. It is darkest before the dawn. Blades of grass will come through cracks in a seemingly limitless slab of cement.

    Yes. Believe it. Help make it happen.

    Posted in Big Government, Illinois Politics, Politics | 5 Comments »

    Who benefits from Immigration ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 27th May 2013 (All posts by )

    The British seem to be discovering something about immigration that was obvious to many of us on this side of the Atlantic a long time ago.

    documented immigrant

    The release of a previously unseen document suggested that Labour’s migration policy over the past decade had been aimed not just at meeting the country’s economic needs, but also the Government’s “social objectives”.

    The paper said migration would “enhance economic growth” and made clear that trying to halt or reverse it could be “economically damaging”. But it also stated that immigration had general “benefits” and that a new policy framework was needed to “maximise” the contribution of migration to the Government’s wider social aims.

    The Government has always denied that social engineering played a part in its migration policy.

    However, the paper, which was written in 2000 at a time when immigration began to increase dramatically, said controls were contrary to its policy objectives and could lead to “social exclusion”.

    Imagine that !

    Last night, the Conservatives demanded an independent inquiry into the issue. It was alleged that the document showed that Labour had overseen a deliberate open-door ­policy on immigration to boost multi-culturalism.

    Voting trends indicate that migrants and their descendants are much more likely to vote Labour.

    The existence of the draft policy paper, which was drawn up by a Cabinet Office think tank and a Home Office research unit, was disclosed last year by Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.

    He alleged at the time that the sharp increase in immigration over the past 10 years was partly due to a “driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multi-cultural”.

    Yet Marco Rubio assures us that the new immigrant citizen will vote for Republicans out of gratitude.

    Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said the document showed that Mr Neather, who claimed ministers wanted to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”, had been correct in his account of Labour’s immigration policy.

    It’s too late for the Brits, as we see.

    What does our future hold ? Of course, our new immigrants don’t use meat cleavers.

    Posted in Britain, Civil Society, Immigration, Latin America, Politics | 15 Comments »

    America 3.0: Author Appearances

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 27th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Upcoming appearances for Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus discussing America 3.0

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013
    Lou Dobbs Tonight (James and Michael)
    We will be on about 7:45 p.m. EST.
    Wednesday, May 29, 2013
    Armstrong & Getty (James)
    11:15 am EST

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013 
    Janet Mefferd Show (James)
    3:30 pm EST

    Friday, May 31, 2013 
    Bob Dutko Show (Michael)
    1:40 pm EST

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013
    Talk to Adam Smith Society, Booth School of Business (Michael)

    Thursday, June 6, 2013
    Mornings with Nick Reed (Michael)

    Saturday, June 7, 2013
    Marc Bernier Show (James & Michael)
    4:25 pm EST

    Monday, June 17, 2013
    Western Conservative Summit, “Envisioning America 3.0” (James)

    Posted in America 3.0 | 3 Comments »

    Memorial Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 27th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Thank you to all who served.

    God Bless America.

    Posted in Holidays, USA | Comments Off on Memorial Day

    America 3.0: Mark Safranski Amazon Review

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 26th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Thanks to Mark for this Amazon review of America 3.0.

    Bennett and Lotus have not limited themselves to describing or diagnosing America’s ills – instead, they present solutions in a historical framework that stresses the continuity and adaptive resilience of the American idea. If America”s “City on a Hill” today looks too much like post-industrial Detroit they point to the coming renewal; if the Hand of the State is heavy and it’s Eye lately is dangerously creepy, they point to a reinvigorated private sector and robust civil society; if the future for the young looks bleak, Bennett and Lotus explain why this generation and the next will conquer the world.

    Mark posts occasionally on Chicago Boyz and is the honcho at the mighty Zenpundit blog.

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on America 3.0: Mark Safranski Amazon Review

    America 3.0: Rave Amazon Reviews!

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 26th May 2013 (All posts by )

    America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come has started shipping, earlier than originally stated by our awesome publisher, Encounter Books.

    We have started to get some great reviews on Amazon:
    From Peter St. Andre:

    Understanding America
    “… Bennett and Lotus amass an impressive amount of evidence from history, anthropology, and allied disciplines to carefully explain where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going.”

    Links to Peter’s writings are here

    From Jeff Carter:

    To Understand America, Where it has been and where it could go, you must read this
    “As a Venture Capitalist, I try to extrapolate into the future a lot. Science fiction and books like this really help with that vision. Don’t miss this book.”

    Jeff runs the Points and Figures blog which I heartily comment to your attention.

    And from Leif Smith:

    Well reasoned optimism about America
    “It proposes a way forward in which realism and idealism strongly support each other. … I regard this book as important reading.”

    Leif’s website for his Explorers Foundation contains much fascinating material, especially his collection of glyphs, which are educational and inspiring for all lovers of freedom.

    If you find these reviews helpful, please click yes where it asks: “Was this review helpful to you?”

    Thanks to Dan from Madison, Whitehall, WiTexan, Grurray and MikeK for being early purchasers! Gentlemen, I hope you will like the book. If you do, please put up an Amazon review with your thoughts. That will be greatly appreciated.

    Posted in America 3.0, Blegs, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    RERUN–The Perfect Enemy

    Posted by David Foster on 26th May 2013 (All posts by )

    (Originally posted in February 2009. I was reminded of it by recent events in London and Sweden)

    Suppose you wanted to create a perfect enemy. An enemy so vile that its evil would be recognized by almost everyone. An enemy that would inspire people to come together in order to ensure its defeat.

    To be more specific: suppose you were a screenwriter with the assignment of creating a suitable villain-organization for a major motion picture. The marketing plan for this movie suggests that it will be marketed primarily to a certain demographic and that, hence, your villain-organization should be particularly appalling to members of that demographic. The demographic in question consists of people who are affluent, highly educated (college with at least some postgraduate education), not particularly religious, and who consider themselves politically liberal or “progressive.” The plot of the movie demands that the audience must see the necessity for Americans–of many beliefs, occupations, and social backgrounds–to come together in order to defeat the enemy.

    Oh, and one other thing. The year in which you are given this assignment is 1999.

    You will clearly want your enemy to share many of the characteristics of the Nazis–disrespect for human life, wanton cruelty, a love of apocalyptic violence. But to make the enemy particuarly awful from the standpoint of your target demographic, you will want to emphasize certain aspects of its belief system.

    Members of your demographic usually have strong beliefs about women’s rights. So, your enemy must have a particularly disrespectful belief set, and a violent behavior pattern, towards women. Similarly, your demographic is generally favorable toward gay rights…so the enemy must advocate and practice the suppression, torture, and killing of gays. Your demographic is generally nonreligious and often hostile toward religion…so, make sure the enemy includes a large element of religious fanaticism. Members of your demographic talk a lot about “the children”–so make sure your enemy uses children in particularly cruel ways.

    Had you created such an enemy for your screenplay in 1999, you would have surely felt justified in assuming that it would achieve its intended reaction with your target demographic.

    It didn’t work out that way, though.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Film, Iran, Islam, Religion, Terrorism | 9 Comments »

    London Dining and Drinking

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 26th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Some years ago Britain had a reputation for lousy food. Today, it may be the food capital of the world, with restaurants of every type as well as fresh seafood and other locally grown ingredients. I also think London has popularized the idea of “healthy” fast food with outlets like Pret a Manger which was the first franchise that I saw that prominently displayed calories and had excellent choices in ingredients and reasonable portions.

    This photo of mushrooms was taken at a market on the South Bank where they had every kind of food imaginable. There were butchers, cheesemongers, beer and wine, and everything else. I was able to get a great pulled pork sandwich for 4 pounds there, so it seems that they are even borrowing good culinary ideas from the US south.

    This photo makes me a bit sad. At Selfridges they have the “Foods of America” section with our insanely colored and artificial breakfast foods as well as pop tarts. I wanted to put a piece of tape over that title but it was certainly sad and true that we invented this dreck.

    In London you need to drink faster because beer comes in a pint glass – which according to wikipedia is 20 ounces for the British unlike our 16 ounce pint in the US. Most US drinks come in 12 ounce sizes. Dan and I often trade photos of “beer synchronicity” where the glass and beer are in synch and here is a Kronenbourg 1664 (a French beer) in English pint size on a sunny afternoon on a picnic bench outside a pub. That’s the way to do it.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Britain | 7 Comments »

    Maybe That Day Has Come

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th May 2013 (All posts by )

    A day may come when the courage of men fails,
    when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
    An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down,
    but it is not this day!
    This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
    I bid you stand, Men of the West!
    – Aragorn’s speech, before the Black Gates

    It always comes back to Tolkien, doesn’t it? A man who lived through the hell of the WWI trenches, who recalled from first hand a time when you could use the term ‘Great Britain’ without ironical quotes around it, a time when there were very real social issues and pathologies to criticize and to try and deal fairly with – but also a time when the common people took enormous pride and confidence in what they were, in their country, in themselves, in their institutions – and in turn, the various institutions looked toward the general welfare of the commonality. I like the 19th century for that very reason, both the British and American versions. It’s a kind of mental refuge to me, these days. For all its pathologies and shortcomings – citizens of both countries had cultural self-confidence. In the main, a self-confidence based on real accomplishment is a hell of a lot more attractive than a pitiful, helpless and apologetic bleating about ones’ societal and cultural shortcomings.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Current Events, Islam, Society | 30 Comments »

    London Transport

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 25th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Recently I had the opportunity to travel in London. This post covers some observations about transport from the perspective of a Chicago resident.

    The Heathrow Express is a high speed train that whisks you from Heathrow Airport (the main international terminal for arriving visitors) into Paddington Station in downtown London in fifteen minutes, with no stops. The train leaves every 15 minutes during normal airport hours and is fast, clean and has free wi-fi. The downside is that it costs over thirty pounds for a round trip (about $45). Compared to the “Blue Line” in Chicago, which takes an hour to get to the airport with about 20 stops, the Heathrow Express is a royal way to travel. In the past I have taken the “tube” or subway from Heathrow to downtown which also works and costs far less, although it probably takes 45 minutes or so.

    For the first time in London I took one of the ubiquitous traditional red buses that ply the city streets. Unlike the “Tube” which is relatively easy to navigate and follow, you need to do some research to figure out where the buses are going although they now have apps for everything, as well. It is great fun if you have some time on your hands to sit at the front of the top of the bus and watch the driver navigate through narrow streets incredibly crowded with traffic and pedestrians. You can use your “Oyster” card when you get on the bus and refill it at any Underground station.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Transportation | 6 Comments »

    History Friday: The Wild Ride of Pony Bob Haslam

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th May 2013 (All posts by )

    The most famous want-ad in the history of the Wild West appeared in a California newspaper in 1860: “Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.”

    What restless, fit and daring male teenager could resist? Besides considerable prestige, the Pony Express job paid north of $100 a month, or more depending – a higher rate of pay than for all but those at an executive-level for the transcontinental freighting company of Russell, Majors & Waddell. The Pony Express service was initiated partly as a stunt to attract public attention and partly for a deadly serious purpose; to fill in the communications gap between the established United States (Northern Division) and the outposts in the Far West – California, Oregon, Nevada and Utah – as a transcontinental telegraph line was being surveyed and constructed. The riders carried nothing valuable in their mochilas; only the mail, and newspaper dispatches; they depended for their safety on the speed of their horses, and perhaps a pair of Navy Colt revolvers in saddle holsters. Company policy was that riders would not engage in careless gunplay. Indeed, their horses – many of them pedigreed and in superlative condition – and those revolvers were the only items tempting the larcenous to even consider attacking a Pony Express rider.

    The riders eventually hired did tend to be young; one began work at the age of eleven, and they did tend to be light of build physically. There was no uniform dress provided, although the straight-arrow member of their employer triad, Alexander Majors, did insist on them swearing an oath of teetotality, and also to abjure swearing and fighting with other employees. It was a prestigious thing, to be a rider for the Pony Express; both ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok and ‘Buffalo Bill’ William Cody later claimed to have been Pony Express riders. Hickok was a stage station employee of Russell, Majors and Waddell, and William Cody was a messenger, but neither of them were on strength as transcontinental express riders during the brief glory year of the Pony Express. The riders gained fame for spectacular feats of endurance; one of them was English-born Robert “Pony Bob” Haslam. He participated in the record-breaking feat of transmitting the written copy of Lincoln’s first inaugural address from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in seven days and seventeen hours. But that wasn’t Pony Bob’s most hazardous drive.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 6 Comments »

    America 3.0 is Shipping

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 23rd May 2013 (All posts by )

    My copy just landed here in the wilds of Wisconsin. Looking forward to this one.

    Posted in America 3.0 | 7 Comments »

    “Career Resilience”

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd May 2013 (All posts by )

    David Foster’s post included a link to this column about career risk. The author argues that it’s risky to bind yourself for the long run to an apparently-secure institutional job, because institutions can fail and leave you hanging. You are better off to keep trying new things and accepting failures and short-term uncertainty, in exchange for greater long-term adaptability. I think he’s half right about this.

    He’s right that it’s a good idea to accept opportunities and take calculated risks, but he’s a bit off in his framing of the overall issue. What distinguishes the resilient from non-resilient career paths in his examples isn’t risk-taking per se, it’s diversification. Instead of investing all of your career effort in a relationship with one big company that is the sole buyer of your services, you should diversify among multiple, smaller customers, none of which is big enough to put you out of action if they fire you.

    This is basic risk management. It is difficult to assess long-term risk going into a venture, no matter how smart or experienced you are. There are too many things that can change over time. The big-company job or big institutional customer may appear to offer security but that’s an illusion. They can be belly-up in a few years for reasons no one can anticipate. The rational strategy is therefore to diversify your income among multiple sources as smart people have always understood. Just as independent professionals know to keep a large enough number of clients that a loss of business from any one client won’t hurt them much, prudent people with institutional jobs may use their income streams to finance investments in real estate or other alternative revenue sources. There is no one career path that works for everyone. As America transitions from its 2.0 institutional model to a more decentralized and individualistic system, people increasingly will need to take account of risk and diversification in managing their careers. That’s probably better for everyone in the long run.

    Posted in America 3.0, Business, Personal Finance | 11 Comments »

    America 3.0: America’s Best Days Are In Front of Her

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd May 2013 (All posts by )

    America 3.0 received a great review from Jeff Carter on his Points and Figures blog — which you should read daily.

    Back when I was graduating from college, all I heard was how it was time for America to step aside from world leadership. The Japanese would run the show. Today’s college students hear how the American experiment has failed, and the Chinese will step in to fill the void. No doubt, China will be a force in the 21st Century, but America will be too. There is something in our DNA as a country. America 3.0 defines that core competency America has.

    As we say in the book: “We are better equipped than most of us know to take advantage of the changes that are already underway, to turn them to our advantage, to once again astonish the world.”

    Jeff is one of the people working on making this happen.

    Thank you, Jeff.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 2 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd May 2013 (All posts by )

    Former FDCI head Sheila Bair says that low interest rates are hurting, not helping, the economy

    Boring, narrow, think-alike apparatchiks.

    Educational credentialism and the landed aristocracy.

    The irreversible decline of Sears

    Rita King is not impressed with Marissa Mayer’s ban on remote work at Yahoo

    How volatility boosts career resilience

    Seven characteristics of creative people

    Stephen Hawking’s warped moral calculus

    19 emotions for which English has no words

    AT&T predicted the future in these 1993 ads…but how many of these possibilities-turned-actualities was it really able to convert into sources of revenue and profit?

    The CEO of Siemens USA thinks young people should seriously consider careers in manufacturing. (When he talks about high-level executives at Siemens who started as apprentices on the shop floor, I have to wonder how many of these success stories are in Siemens USA versus Siemens in Germany)

    Some vintage air travel photos

    The 22 most beautifully secluded places in the world

    Posted in Aviation, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, Human Behavior, Management | 17 Comments »