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  • Archive for November, 2013

    History Friday – The Fisheries Disputes and America 3.0

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 22nd November 2013 (All posts by )

    For as long as I can remember this little book has been moving with me from home to home. I have had it for a long time.

    “History of the United States Illustrated, Volume IV, 1861-1888” by E. Benjamin Andrews. Printed in 1903.

    Having put a stop to most of my book buying until I read my current stack, this one was next. I am glad I hung on to it. Knowing the way I operate I am sure that I got it from a garage sale or something.

    Mr. Andrews, and I would suppose that most people around the turn of the century, were intensely proud of what America had accomplished up to this point. This was made pretty clear after the Civil War and Reconstruction portions of the book. The public works and transportation projects that were completed were astounding given the technology of the time.

    One portion of the book in particular caught my interest over all the rest, and that was the section on the Fisheries Disputes. Oddly, there isn’t even a wiki entry on this, as a whole subject.

    Basically, these disputes were between the US, Great Britain and Canada over fishing rights. Many treaties had been drawn up over the years, but due to wars, some treaties were considered null and void, and typically one side would have one strong position with their legal points, and the other side would do the same. I don’t want to bore you with too many details in this footnote of history, but I found it fascinating how the author of a general history of the United States during this time found the Disputes so important to include them in the volume.

    I had never even heard of the Fisheries Disputes before, and I have been reading history books all of my life.

    Which brings me back to the main point of this rambling post. I remembered part of America 3.0 while reading the part about the Fisheries Disputes. This from page XXV of the Introduction:

    However, the focus of this book is on the longer term, centuries into the past and decades into the future. Over such a large span of time our current political struggles, as engrossing as they are now, will mostly sink into history as mere noise around a discernible signal. Only the passage of time will confirm what that signal is, and whether our hopeful predictions were well grounded.

    Does anyone remember the Dubai Ports Scandal? I am sure some of you do, but in a few years there won’t be too many left that do. Interesting how history keeps teaching me.

    Cross posted at LITGM.

    Posted in America 3.0, History | 3 Comments »

    The Democratic Party and the Drive for Unlimited Government Power

    Posted by David Foster on 21st November 2013 (All posts by )

    Majority Leader Harry Reid has succeeded in getting the Senate to change the rules such that most of Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominees no longer need to clear a 60-vote threshold to reach the Senate floor and get an up-or-down vote.

    This action is simply one more manifestation of the Democrats’ hostility toward any limitations on government power…at least, any limitations of government power as long as they are in control (which they clearly intend to be for a long, long time.)

    While the Obama administration is clearly more hostile toward the institutions of American democracy than even most previous Democratic presidents have been, still, the desire of Democrats to remove constraints on government power goes back a long ways. As I noted in a comment to this post, Woodrow Wilson believed that separation of powers was obsolete…he argued for this viewpoint based on extremely simplistic reasoning about the “organic” nature of government and the assertion that an organism could not have “organs offset against each other as checks, and live.” (As I also noted in the same comment thread, one would think that anyone who had run any kind of organization would understand the need for “organs offset against each other as checks.” even at the simple level of an auditing department and the separation of payment authorization from payment execution…and, of course, the concepts of feedback control and homeostasis clearly demonstrate the need for those “organs offset against each other” in any complex system.)

    Also in the same thread, Vader cited someone who had said that Wilson’s belief in his own moral righteousness was so great as to approach mental illness. This is clearly also true of Obama, probably to an even greater degree than it was true of Wilson. And people with this level of arrogance, of course, tend to be especially impatient of any restraints on their power.

    But it goes far beyond Obama himself. The growth of educational credentialism has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people who believe that their college degrees…entirely irrespective of any actual accomplishments that they have made or actual knowledge that they possess…have given them preternatural wisdom and hence they right and duty to control the lives of their less-enlightened countrymen.

    American democracy is in grave danger. The 2014 elections will probably be the last chance to keep this country..and the world…from going down a very dark path. I’m reminded of a speech Winston Churchill gave during the years of appeasement, specifically in March 1938, in which he spoke of Britain and its allies:

    descending incontinently, recklessly, the staircase which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad staircase at the beginning, but, after a bit, the carpet ends. A little further on there are only flagstones, and, a little further on still, these break beneath your feet.

    See also my related post When law yields to absolute power.

    Posted in Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 21 Comments »

    The Mini-Series in 1878

    Posted by David Foster on 21st November 2013 (All posts by )

    Just re-read Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native (outstanding) and watched the 1994 movie (pretty good.) The book, like much Victorian literature, was originally serialized in a magazine, in this case Belgravia: a Magazine of Fashion and Amusement.

    I found the original illustrations that accompanied the serialization here. Inclusion of illustrations was apparently quite expensive in comparison with straight text, even after the efficiency improvements that went with higher print volumes, so they tended to be fairly scarce–only 12 of them for the whole serialized novel, in this case.

    More about the book and the economics of Victorian publishing here…it is interesting that the high cost of books encouraged lending libraries to insist that books be published broken into multiple volumes, so that reader access to the book could be “timeshared,” resulting in a higher ratio of revenue to cost.

    Hardy and the artist who did the illustrations (Arthur Hopkins) were able to collaborate only by mail, and Hardy was not thrilled with the first image of his main female protagonist, Eustacia…he was happier with the later versions of this character.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Britain, History, Media | 2 Comments »

    Medical Panic?

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Visited the orthopedist today with someone who recently decided, in part because of uncertainty about the future of the medical system, to go ahead with elective joint-replacement surgery. The orthopedist said that he had three other patients today who want to do the same thing and expressed the same reason. His surgical schedule is booked into January. I suspect we will start to hear many more such anecdotes.

    Posted in Medicine, Obama, Personal Narrative | 10 Comments »

    Building the airplane during takeoff.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 19th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Henry-Chao

    UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal on how to fix the Obamacare crisis.

    What can be done is Congress creating a new option in the form of a national health insurance charter under which insurers could design new low-cost policies free of mandated benefits imposed by ObamaCare and the 50 states that many of those losing their individual policies today surely would find attractive.

    What’s the first thing the new nationally chartered insurers would do? Rush out cheap, high-deductible policies, allaying some of the resentment that the ObamaCare mandate provokes among the young, healthy and footloose affluent.

    These folks could buy the minimalist coverage that (for various reasons) makes sense for them. They wouldn’t be forced to buy excessive coverage they don’t need to subsidize the old and sick.

    Who knows ? Maybe Jenkins reads this blog. It’s so obvious that the solution should be apparent even to Democrats.

    We are now learning that a large share of the Obamacare structure is still unbuilt. This is not the website but the guts of the system.

    The revelation came out of questioning of Mr. Chao by Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.). Gardner was trying to figure out how much of the IT infrastructure around the federal insurance exchange had been completed. “Well, how much do we have to build today, still? What do we need to build? 50 percent? 40 percent? 30 percent?” Chao replied, “I think it’s just an approximation—we’re probably sitting between 60 and 70 percent because we still have to build…”

    Gardner replied, incredulously, “Wait, 60 or 70 percent that needs to be built, still?” Chao did not contradict Gardner, adding, “because we still have to build the payment systems to make payments to insurers in January.”

    This is the guy who is the chief IT guy for CMS.

    If the ability to pay the insurance companies is not yet written, how can anybody sign up ?

    Gardner, a fourth time: “But the entire system is 60 to 70 percent away from being complete.” Chao: “There’s the back office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems…they still need to be done.”

    Gardner asked a fifth time: “Of those 60 to 70 percent of systems that are still being built, how are they going to be tested?”

    The answer was the same way the rest was tested.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Health Care, Medicine, Obama, Politics, Systems Analysis | 8 Comments »

    The End of Camelot

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th November 2013 (All posts by )

    So – coming up on another one of those Very Significant Anniversaries, I see – being reminded by the perfect flood of stories reflecting back on Jack and Jackie and that fateful swing through Texas in 1963. My – fifty years, a whole half-century … yes, it’s time again to go back to those heartbreaking days of yesteryear and recall the blighted promise, the towering intellectual and romantic splendor of the Kennedy White House, the space race to the moon, Jackie’s unerring sense of style and taste … also little things like Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, eyeball to eyeball with the Soviets, immanent thermonuclear war, speedball injections from Dr. Feelgood, and the Kennedy men porking anything female who was unwary enough to stand still for a moment. Why, yes – I was never really a Kennedy fan, per se. Nor were my family, since Mom and Dad were your basic steady Eisenhower Republicans, and maintained a faint and Puritan distrust of anything smacking of glamor, or media-generated BS. Which they were correct in, as it eventually emerged in small discrete dribbles and decades later, that practically everything about the Kennedys was fake, except for Jackie’s taste in fashion and interior decoration.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Diversions, History | 22 Comments »

    Mike Lotus Speaking About America 3.0 at the Heartland Institute December 12, 2013

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th November 2013 (All posts by )

    I will be my great privilege to speak about America 3.0, as part of the Heartland Institute Author Series Thursday, December 12, 2013, at The Heartland Institute library, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago. Lunch will be served. $10.00 for the event, or $30 for the event and a copy of the book. Additonal books can be purchased onsite for $20.00 each.

    You can register for the event here

    I hope to see many of you there. Here is your chance to get the book and get it autographed!

    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements, Book Notes | 2 Comments »

    Musings on Tyler’s Technological Thoughts

    Posted by David Foster on 18th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Tyler Cowen, in his recent book Average Is Over, argues that computer technology is creating a sharp economic and class distinction between people who know how to effectively use these “genius machines” (a term he uses over and over) and those who don’t, and is also increasing inequality in other ways. Isegoria recently excerpted some of his Tyler’s comments on this thesis from a recent New Yorker article.

    I read the book a couple of months ago, and although it’s worth reading and is occasionally thought-provoking, I think much of what Tyler has to say is wrong-headed. In the New Yorker article, for example, he says:

    The first (reason why increased inequality is here to stay) is just measurement of worker value. We’re doing a lot to measure what workers are contributing to businesses, and, when you do that, very often you end up paying some people less and other people more.

    The second is automation — especially in terms of smart software. Today’s workplaces are often more complicated than, say, a factory for General Motors was in 1962. They require higher skills. People who have those skills are very often doing extremely well, but a lot of people don’t have them, and that increases inequality.

    And the third point is globalization. There’s a lot more unskilled labor in the world, and that creates downward pressure on unskilled labor in the United States. On the global level, inequality is down dramatically — we shouldn’t forget that. But within each country, or almost every country, inequality is up.

    Taking the first point: Businesses and other organizations have been measuring “what workers are contributing” for a long, long time. Consider piecework. Sales commissions. Criteria-based bonuses for regional and division executives. All of these things are very old hat. Indeed, quite a few manufacturers have decided that it is unwise to take the quantitative measurement of performance down to an individual level, in cases where the work is being done by a closely-coupled team.

    It is true that advancing computer technology makes it feasible to measure more dimensions of an individual’s work, but so what? Does the fact that I can measure (say) a call-center operator on 33 different criteria really tell me anything about what he is contributing the the business?

    Anyone with real-life business experience will tell you that it is very, very difficult to create measurement and incentive plans that actually work in ways that are truly beneficial to the business. This is true in sales commission plans, it is true in manufacturing (I talked with one factory manager who said he dropped piecework because it was encouraging workers to risk injury in order to maximize their payoffs), and it is true in executive compensation. Our blogfriend Bill Waddell has frequently written about the ways in which accounting systems can distort decision-making in ultimately unprofitable ways. The design of worthwhile measurement and incentive plans has very little to do with the understanding of computer technology; it has a great deal to do with understanding of human nature and of the deep economic structure of the business.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, Economics & Finance, Management, Systems Analysis | 14 Comments »

    Mike Lotus Speaking About America 3.0 at the Chicago Tea Party, November 20, 2013

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th November 2013 (All posts by )

    I will be speaking about America 3.0 on November 20, 2013 at a meeting of the Chicago Tea Party.

    The meeting is at the Ugly Step Sister Art Gallery, 1750 S. Union Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60616 at 7:00 p.m.

    The Chicago Tea Party announcement reads as follows:

    Our second speaker will be long-time Chicago Tea Party member Mike Lotus. Mike will speak about his new book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. America 3.0 explains why the post-industrial, networked, decentralized society we are going to build does not need Big Government anymore. America 3.0 explains that the current crisis we are going through is not the end of America, but a transition period. What is ending is the 20th Century welfare state. America 3.0 explains why technology and our underlying culture are going to help us make a successful transition to a free and prosperous future. Mike will speak about the critical importance of the Tea Party in the fundamental political changes that we are going to have to make. These are indeed revolutionary times. Whether we like it or not, we are part of a new founding generation. Be strong, it’s going to be hard. Be happy, it’s going to be great.

    I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to my friends in the Chicago Tea Party.

    Remember the three Tea Party principles: Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Markets.

    That’s what it’s all about.

    Our distinguished FIRST speaker will be Doug Truax:

    Doug Truax is a candidate for United States Senate, running in the Republican Primary in March 2014 and then taking on Dick Durbin in November 2014. He’s 43, he’s been married to Nicole for 21 years, they have three teen-agers, and live in Downers Grove in Dupage County.
     
    Doug went to West Point, was active duty Army for six years, he attended Ranger and Airborne school, was a platoon leader and aide to a general, and then left the Army as a Captain.
     
    He then went on to executive management at one of the country’s largest commercial insurance brokerage and consulting firms. After over 10 years in Corporate America, Doug went out on his own. He co-founded and is Managing Partner of a very successful employee benefit brokerage and consulting firm that helps companies control their medical insurance costs.
     
    He knows and understands Obamacare and knows what we need to do to fix the Healthcare System in this country.
     
    He’s been Chairman of the Board of Almost Home Kids in Naperville and Chicago and is Vice Chairman of the Board at CareNet of Dupage, a crisis pregnancy center.

    I look forward to hearing Doug speak about his plans to capture the nomination, defeat Dick Durbin then take on the monster on the Potomac!

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | Comments Off on Mike Lotus Speaking About America 3.0 at the Chicago Tea Party, November 20, 2013

    Boehner should not honor Obama’s lawlessness

    Posted by TM Lutas on 17th November 2013 (All posts by )

    President Obama’s veto threat of the Upton bill to legally do what he is trying to do by illegal means, delay the individual mandate, has firmly established a sad fact. The United States has a lawless president. Impeachment would be a three ring circus and unlikely to be worth the effort. President Obama has indeed not let a crisis go to waste and is trying to legitimize presidential lawlessness by picking a test case where the he is doing lawlessly what the Congress wishes to do lawfully. It’s a threat of precedent, not a present threat to the lives and health of anyone today.

    A more appropriate response than impeachment would be to wake up America that there is an important and symbolic issue at stake. Speaker Boehner can do this simply by denying the President an honor. He can deny President Obama the use of the House chamber for the State of the Union address. A currently substanceless threat to our legal tradition is responded to by a substanceless slap of rebuke. Let the President write his address and let it be read from the well by a clerk.

    The idea that the President has so dishonored his office that he no longer can enter the House is a powerful image that alerts the people to a problem but does not stop us from carrying on with the serious task of government. Impeachment should not be our first resort. Who wants President Biden? This measure also has the advantage that it plays to Boehner’s strengths and requires no approval from anyone else. He can take this decision unilaterally. He should.

    Cross posted: Flit-TM

    Posted in Politics, USA | 21 Comments »

    Thoughts from a (Brief) Teaching Experience

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Recently there was an interesting article in the NY Times called “How I Helped Teachers Cheat” about an academic ghostwriter.  While I have no experience with ghostwriting, I found the following quote from his article interesting, which I will get back to later in the story:

    In 2004 it was revealed that more than 500 students in a Birmingham, Alabama high school had been urged by teachers or principals to drop out of school before the test, for fear they would bring the school’s test scores down.

    I was a teaching assistant (TA) in graduate school.  This was back in the days of chalk blackboards (we didn’t even have dry-erase boards) and we had just gotten rid of mimeograph paper and gone to regular copies for printing.  At that time, grades were kept in a little book, by hand, and that is how results were calculated.  I was the first TA to try to calculate grades on a computer in my field of study.

    I don’t remember a lot about teaching but I remember the first day pretty clearly.  I was teaching an introductory accounting course that was required for graduation by many schools at my university, and it also held a lot of introductory accounting majors that could be described as highly motivated.  Thus when I stood in front of the group it was a mix of fifth year seniors trying to get this course done so they could escape the university and first semester sophomores taking their first accounting class to get started on their profession.  Since I graduated undergraduate early, I was younger than probably half the students in my class (the fifth year seniors).

    While you could use the word “teaching”, it really was just a Friday TA session and the main work was done in giant lecture halls on Monday and Wednesday by a professor.  We were supposed to go through problems and discussion tied with the course curriculum, and go through problems with the students.

    I had no training whatsoever and little preparation.  Oh well.  I just kind of winged it.  Unlike regular classrooms you don’t have discipline problems or any of that when you are teaching accounting… this wasn’t some sort of “hard knocks” episode.

    There were a few major tests and a project required to calculate the grade.  After the first exam, I looked at my section against the 25 or so other sections (this is a big university) and noticed that the average score of my section was near the bottom.

    Even though there wasn’t any pressure on me to be a good teacher or even to help my students get better, my competitive streak kicked in and I was not happy that my section was low on the list.  So I sat down and looked at the types of students that I really had in my group:

    • first semester accounting sophomores – these students aced everything and were great. Frankly many of them likely knew a lot more about the details of the material than me
    • fifth year general majors, particularly agriculture – these students were a mix but generally on the low end.  They were just trying to get through this class and get out of the university
    • Students who were clearly failing, not attending class, and not trying
    Based on these three groups of students, I devised a strategy to try to improve my section score and move up the rankings.
    • Sophomores – Ignore them.  They were doing well anyways.  They always asked the hardest questions, for example problem #55 (out of 1-55), where all the assumptions were reversed because it was a corner case.  But it turned out that when I answered THEIR hard questions, the rest of the class was completely lost because they didn’t even understand questions 1-10 (the easy ones). Those kids even asked me for more comments on the homework I graded.  If I had enough sophomores like this, I’d cruise to the top of the rankings anyways because they were all self-motivated 
    • Fifth year seniors – Teach them.  The fifth year seniors were people that I saw at the bars around campus and actually could learn if you talked to them.  So I would call on them in class and basically humiliate them a bit.  “Do you understand this problem?”  A few seconds would prove that they didn’t.  Then I would say “Why don’t you ask a question?”  and after a few sessions of this they would mostly perk up and put a little bit of effort into this.  No one wants to be humiliated by being asked direct questions in front of a class and then heckled
    • Failing students – Get them out.  At the time in order to get funds to stay in school you had to go past the “drop date” and then you’d get your state money.  Apparently it didn’t matter if you were failing or not because they’d just take my class and not drop and be failing.  Whenever we had exams (which apparently they had to sit for?) I would say hello to them loudly in front of the section and ask where they had been in class and everybody laughed because I would start class by calling attendance only on the students that never attended, so people recognized their names.  I don’t know if I succeeded in getting them to drop faster but it was all I could do since they didn’t come to class and apparently didn’t care about failing.  The last power I had left was to call them out

    Based on these (primitive) tactics, my section moved up against all the other sections and by the end of the year we were above average, which is all I ever could have accomplished when you match up 5th year seniors in the agricultural college from actual accounting majors in the prime of their motivation.  That felt good.

    But I could sympathize with the teachers who were trying to get students to drop who weren’t even trying.  I’m sure that there is some book or process somewhere about how everyone can learn and you can reach them through superhuman methods but when you are up there teaching and trying and they aren’t even showing up, that’s frustrating too.  In no way was my tiny TA stipend at risk through poor teaching or poor results, it was just my own competitive nature that was pushing me to actually try to improve the net results of my team.  And that’s the end of my brief (formal) teaching experience.
    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Education | 22 Comments »

    Apparently Illinois Vote Rigging Doesn’t Count… and a Glimmer of Hope From California

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 16th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Recently I wrote about how the district I live in is perhaps the most gerrymandered district in the entire country.  Great pains have been taken by the Democrats that run Illinois to ensure that my vote can’t count and the legislator that runs our state district doesn’t even have to bother courting voters like me.  Even among Illinois legislators (not exactly the highest quality bunch) my guy is famous for not even voting to impeach Blago.  Literally we have the worst of the worst representing us, but he is effectively immortal since all he has to do is win the Democratic party primary and he’s in, due to basic mathematics and party-line voting.

    While I know writing posts like this is just like shouting into a toilet Rolling Stone recently came out with an article about Red State gerrymandering.  While my district in the article above was in the state legislature, our Illinois US House of Representatives balance has been similarly adjusted to ensure that a 50/50 or so state leans completely blue.  Of course the entire article acts as if this is a Republican phenomenon, when in fact both parties are equal opportunists at this sad game.

    There is a shred of hopefulness in all of this in some electoral advancements coming out of California, of all places.  They have a system where the two top vote getters in the primary battle it out on election day, even if they are from the same party.  In this sort of system, the Democrat or Republican that reaches out to the constituents in the middle from the other party has a shot at beating a stone ideologue that will generally cruise through the party primary (like my state representative).  This solution was “California Proposition 14“.  In parallel, they also have a citizen’s commission to draw districts so that they make more sense rather than be amazing gerrymander constructions.  It is too soon to tell if California’s results will help that much but it seems like a step in the right direction.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 10 Comments »

    America 3.0: Review in Rebane’s Ruminations, And Some Thoughts In Response

    Posted by Lexington Green on 16th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Thank you to Dr. George Rebane for his review of America 3.0 on his blog Rebane’s Ruminations.

    Dr. Rebane’s post has several good links. The focus of his discussion is the prospect for job creation in the future, and the concern about what the America workforce will do when the economy we currently know is gone — and it is going away fast.

    This is a topic that has repeatedly surfaced in discussions about the book. The question of what the future economy will look like, and what people will do once the existing world of “jobs” has gone away, is frightening. We predict that the productive power that is becoming available will collapse the cost of living. It will liberate people to work on projects and tasks of their own choice, rather than be driven by necessity, to a degree that is only known by the very wealthy today. So far, the elimination of older and less productive technology has had the effect of generally increasing wealth throughout society, though there are losers and winners in the transaction, and some people do better than others. Part of the problem is we are familiar with the world that is fading away and we find it hard to imagine something radically different. Think for a moment about what the American Founders would have thought if you told them that in two centuries less than five percent of the people would be engaged in growing food. They would have been astonished, and wondered what on earth everybody could be working on. Human beings are assets. They are creative. Adam Smith famously wrote: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” We cannot imagine what the ingenuity of the American people will produce in the decades ahead, with the astonishing tools that will be available to them. Mostly, we need to get out of their way and let them start building the America 3.0 that is already starting.

    Dr. Rebane’s blog review is here.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    The Rot Comes from the Top

    Posted by Margaret on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Remember last year’s scandal about the Secret Service goings-on in Cartagena? The trouble started when one of them stiffed a prostitute.

    Insurance companies have been in bed with Obama/Obamacare from the beginning. Yesterday he tried to stiff them by royal decree.

    Good role model for his underlings, no?

    Posted in Management, Obama, Politics | 7 Comments »

    Sidewalk

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Sidewalk

    Posted in Photos | Comments Off on Sidewalk

    History Friday: Curtis SC-1 Seahawk – A Case Study of U.S. ‘Materialschlacht’ vs. Samurai ‘Spirit’

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    One of the focal points in writing this History Friday column has been trying to answer the question “How would the American military have fought the Imperial Japanese in November 1945 had the A-bomb failed?” Today’s column is focusing on an almost unknown aircraft, the Curtis SC-1 Seahawk light patrol seaplane as one of many “reality lives in the detail” changes in material, training and doctrine that the US military was making for the invasion of Japan. Then placing the Seahawk in the wider context of the contrasting US versus Imperial Japanese fighting styles, of American “matériel battle” aka “Materialsclacht” versus Japanese “Samurai spirit.”

    Curtis SC-1 Seahawk floatplane -- National Archives #80-G-399644

    Curtis SC-1 Seahawk floatplane — National Archives #80-G-399644

    This is what Wikipedia has to say about the Curtis SC-1 Seahawk

    “While only intended to seat the pilot, a bunk was provided in the aft fuselage for rescue or personnel transfer. Two 0.5 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns were fitted in the wings, and two underwing hardpoints allowed carriage of 250 lb (113 kg) bombs or, on the right wing, surface-scan radar. The main float, designed to incorporate a bomb bay, suffered substantial leaks when used in that fashion, and was modified to carry an auxiliary fuel tank.

    You can see a nice You Tube video titled “SC-1 SeaHawk Seaplane Fighters in Combat Operations!” at this link:

    The Seahawk served the US Navy from 1944 through 1948 and was replaced by helicopters. It is at best a footnote in the most detailed histories of World War 2. It is also a perfect metaphor for the fighting that would have happened, but didn’t, thanks to the ultimate in WW2 Materialsclacht…the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, Book Notes, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Okinawa 65, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    History Friday – Letters From a lady

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    (Since The Quivera Trail is launching next weekend – at New Braunfels’ Weihnachtsmarkt, no less – I have begun research for the next historical adventure, that picaresque California Gold Rush adventure which I have always wanted to write. This research takes the form of reading every darned history and contemporary account that I have on my shelves, or can get my hands on. One of these books is The Shirley Letters from the California Mines 1851-1852, by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith ‘Dame Shirley’ Clappe.)

    Louise Amelia – better known by her pen-name, Dame Shirley – was an irreproachably Victorian lady, possessing a lively intellect and observant eye, which the education typically given to girls at that time did nothing to impair. Conventional expectations for upper-class women of her day seem hardly to have made a dent in her either. She was born around 1819 in Elizabeth New Jersey and orphaned by the deaths of both parents before out of her teens. She had a talent for writing, encouraged by an unexpected mentor – Alexander H. Everett, then famed in a mild way as a diplomat, writer and public speaker. He was twice her age, and seems to have fallen at least a little but in love with her. She did not see him as a suitor, but they remained friends and devoted correspondents. Eventually she was courted by and consented to marry a young doctor, Fayette Clappe – who even before the ink was dry on the registry, caught the gold fever. Fayette and Louise Amelia were off on the months-long voyage around the Horn to fabled California. The gold rush was almost overwhelmingly a male enterprise – wives and sweethearts usually remained waiting at home, but not the indomitable Louise, who confessed in one of her letters to her sister Molly, “I fancy that nature intended me for an Arab or some other nomadic barbarian, and by mistake my soul got packed up in a Christianized set of bones and muscles.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Book Notes, History | 3 Comments »

    America 3.0, Spotted in India, On An Elephant!

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Our friends Ed and Sushma were spotted recently in India, on elephant-back, reading a copy of America 3.0!

    A close up will confirm the sighting:

    We have not confirmed a rumor that America 3.0 is available at most of the top-quality elephant kiosks in India. We can only hope that the tentacles of Encounter Books‘ marketing operation reach so far.

    Be sure to look at Ed’s excellent blog The John Wilkes Club. (A few words about John Wilkes. And here’s his picture.)

    Posted in America 3.0, Blogging, Book Notes, India | 3 Comments »

    Attention Brits: There Are Expanding Career Opportunities For You…

    Posted by David Foster on 14th November 2013 (All posts by )

    …in the fields of chimney-sweeping and firewood sales.

    Some of this is just because people enjoy having and using a fireplace, which is good…much of it, though, is apparently because people can’t afford to heat their houses due to increasing energy prices, which is not so good.

    I wrote about similar phenomena in Germany, here.

    Posted in Britain, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Germany | 13 Comments »

    Everglades Storm 2

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th November 2013 (All posts by )

    (Another Everglades storm is here.)

    The last rays of the setting sun illuminate an isolated thunderstorm near the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz   jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Examiner Review of America 3.0 and Interview with Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th November 2013 (All posts by )

    The Examiner recently published a review of America 3.0, and an interview by Dwight L. Schaub with the authors, Jim Bennett and Mike Lotus. The interview included the following passage:

    BENNETT & LOTUS – We inherited language and law and political and economic ideas from England, as well as a culture that is capitalistic and individualistic. The foundation for that culture is a type of nuclear family structure which is almost unique in the world, and we still have it, and most people who have settled here have eventually adopted it.
     
    SCHWAB – What is this unique family structure you are talking about?
     
    BENNETT & LOTUS – A lot of things about American families sound normal to Americans, but they are actually very unusual in the world. American parents cannot pick their childrens’ spouses; they don’t have to give them equal inheritances; adult children are expected to marry and form their own homes away from their parents; and we have no extended families in the way they do in many foreign countries.
     
    SCHWAB – Why does it matter that Americans have had this type of family?
     
    BENNETT & LOTUS – It has shaped everything about us, especially by making us independent and enterprising. We are more alone in the world than other people, our parents don’t have to help us, we have no extended families to save us, we make our own marriage choices, our own career choices, we pick our own friends and colleagues, and we have to hustle to succeed.
     
    SCHWAB – Does being individualistic mean that we have to live by the law of the jungle?
     
    BENNETT & LOTUS – No. Part of the genius of America has been being individualistic but also willing and able to cooperate freely and a high degree of trust with others, to create businesses and other types of voluntary organizations. And there is a role for government, but it will have to be smaller, less intrusive, more efficient, and less centralized in the future. Government will adapt to America 3.0, just as we and our children will.

    Thanks to the Examiner and to Dwight Schwab for the review and interview.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    Where do we go now ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th November 2013 (All posts by )

    I don’t want to wear out my welcome with posts but this is a topic that has interested me for many years. When I retired from practice, I spent a year at Dartmouth trying to learn how we can improve health care delivery and reduce cost without reducing quality.

    The Obamacare web site now has lost its happy photo of the Obamacare girl. The fact that she is a non-citizen seems appropriate. The web site is supposed to be fixed by November 30. Will that happen ? Well, maybe not.

    On Friday, the man tasked with the digital fixes said the site “remains a long way from where it needs to be” as more and more problems emerge.

    “As we put new fixes in, volume is increasing, exposing new storage capacity and software application issues,” Jeff Zients told reporters on a conference call.

    And at Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney again said there was “more work to be done” on repairing HealthCare.gov.

    Carney, along with Zients and other administration officials, have repeatedly said the November 30 deadline is to get the health care website working for a “vast majority” of Americans looking to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.

    So, what happens December 2, the Monday after the “glitches” are fixed ? First, they won’t be fixed. The contractor that designed the program, not just the web site, has a terrible record.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Advertising, Big Government, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Leftism, Medicine, Obama, Politics | 11 Comments »

    It Doesn’t Matter

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th November 2013 (All posts by )

    I see today Diane Feinstein is ruffling her cankles and saying that she wants to force insurance companies to re-adopt programs that they were forced to cancel due to ZeroCare ™.

    News flash Diane – IT’S TOO LATE.

    Tens of thousands of small business owners like myself (and individuals and other entities) were forced to sign up to new coverage because of time constraints. Our (great) old policy was cancelled, our agents (and Blue Cross) couldn’t get to us with new policies in any sort of timely fashion because they couldn’t figure out what was legal, and what wasn’t. A few weeks ago we had a choice – sign for “this new policy” – with a dramatic price increase, or cut everyone loose to the exchanges (that don’t work) and provide them some sort of stipend.

    We can’t just flip the switch back and forth. The real world doesn’t work this way. Ah, who am I kidding. They don’t exist in the real world.

    Posted in Health Care, Obama | 11 Comments »

    America 3.0: Mike Lotus Interview on Politics Tonight with Paul Lisnek

    Posted by Lexington Green on 13th November 2013 (All posts by )

    On June 17, 2013 I appeared on “Politics Tonight,” a live political talk show hosted by WGN Political Analyst Paul Lisnek.

    It was an enjoyable interview. Paul had clearly read our book, America 3.0, and he had good questions.

    We recently added this television appearance to the America 3.0 YouTube page. So, while I had previously posted the links to the WGN site, I am re-posting the new YouTube link.

    The interview can be found here.

    Thanks to WGN and to Paul Lisnek for the kind opportunity to appear on his excellent show.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | Comments Off on America 3.0: Mike Lotus Interview on Politics Tonight with Paul Lisnek

    Misunderstanding Self-Insurance

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Listening to Rush today. He is brilliant on politics but not as good on economics.

    He was advocating self-insurance for small businesses and individuals, in response to the Obamacare fiasco. He mentioned as an example that he had decided to self-insure a building (I think his home near a Florida beach) in response to his property insurer’s insistence on an extremely high deductible. He also said that he self-insures for medical costs.

    Two problems with his analysis. One, property insurance covers buildings and building contents, so liability is easily estimated and is capped at replacement cost. Unlike with medical care there is no possibility of very large, unplanned expenses. Two, Rush is personally wealthy and can afford to pay any medical expenses out of pocket. For these reasons his argument has limited applicability for most people, who buy health insurance precisely because they would be unable to pay an outlier medical bill without experiencing significant hardship. The same point applies to many small businesses as well. These groups thus need real insurance to cover outlier medical expenses. A self-insurance quick-fix would be inadequate.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Obama | 6 Comments »