Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Archive for January, 2019

    Anecdote

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st January 2019 (All posts by )

    Appliance delivery, carrying refrigerators up and down stairs, hard work for not much money. I ask the guy where he’s from, he says he came here two months ago from Venezuela.

    I try to cheer him up, tell him that in a year or two his life will be better. He replies that it’s already better.

    #USA

    Posted in Civil Society, Current Events, Immigration, Latin America, Leftism, Political Philosophy, USA | 25 Comments »

    Financial Markets Commentary

    Posted by David Foster on 30th January 2019 (All posts by )

    John Hussman on valuations

    The saga of Broker Joe, from 2007

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading | 7 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th January 2019 (All posts by )

    bad trip

    Chicagoboyz travel the world seeking new ways of sustainable living in harmony with our planet.

    Posted in Photos | 11 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 27th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Why do journalists love twitter and hate blogging?

    The legacy of China’s Confucian bureaucracy.  Related:  my previous post on the costs of formalism and credentialism.

    Stroking egos does nothing for students — raising expectation does.

    Magic and Politics.

    Related to the above:  Witches: the new woke heroines.

    Legos, marketing, and gender.  “In 1981,” says a woman who as a child was pictured in a Legos ad back then, “LEGOs were ‘Universal Building Sets’ and that’s exactly what they were…for boys and girls. Toys are supposed to foster creativity. But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package.”

    What will be the economic impact of China’s increasing emphasis on economic control and preferential treatment for state-run enterprises?

    What is the fastest the US economy can grow?

    Midnight at the Gemba. Kevin Meyer visits the night shift at the medical-device molding plant he was running.

    Posted in Blogging, Business, Capitalism, China, Culture, Economics & Finance, Management, Media, Religion | 12 Comments »

    Temples

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 27th January 2019 (All posts by )

    The Epistle lesson this morning was 1Corinthians 6:19-20, about the body being a temple of the Holy Spirit.  The children’s sermon was about eating apples, taking care of your body by getting exercise, brushing your teeth, getting good sleep.  I got annoyed, thinking “That is not what the verse is about.  I am so tired of evangelicals (and others) extending the interpretation to that.”  Then I remembered that what the verse is really about is not sleeping with temple prostitutes.  A tough children’s sermon to preach.

    So I guess apples weren’t such a bad idea after all.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »

    The Covington story and hatred of Catholics.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 27th January 2019 (All posts by )

    The past week has been occupied with the story of the boys from Covington Catholic high school in Kentucky. These boys came to DC in a bus to attend the 2019 March for Life, an event in which hundreds to thousands demonstrate against abortion in the streets of Washington DC. This event is usually ignored by the American press. This year, two small activist groups also planned to demonstrate. One was called The Black Hebrew Israelites, A small fringe group.

    groups of Black Americans who believe that they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of both Christianity and Judaism. With the exception of a small number of individuals who have formally converted to Judaism, they are not recognized as Jews by the greater Jewish community. Many choose to identify themselves as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than Jews in order to indicate their claimed historic connections.

    The group that collected near the Lincoln Memorial, was a particularly obnoxious group that shouted slurs at the teenagers waiting for the bus to take them home.

    “They called us ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘white crackers,’ ‘faggots’ and ‘incest kids.’ They also taunted an African-American student from my school by telling him that we would ‘harvest his organs.’ I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear,” Sandmann wrote.
    The remark about harvesting organs may reference Jordan Peele’s horror-satire “Get Out,” a 2017 movie in which the black boyfriend of a white girl discovers her family is harvesting the organs of blacks.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Politics, Religion | 42 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz Waiting Room Series: 21

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 25th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Posted in Waiting Rooms | 6 Comments »

    The 48 Hour Rule

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd January 2019 (All posts by )

    I had real life diverting me this last weekend – prepping for renovating the master bathroom, which has involved emptying out all contents and decorative elements, bashing away at the tile tub surround, scraping paint off the concrete floor and starting removal of the cheap and nasty popcorn ceiling texture, among other chores. So, the Covington Kerfuffle erupting over Saturday evening and Sunday morning initially earned one of those “meh” reactions: another pearl-clutching media reaction over something simple and stupid, if not actually fraudulent. I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night, and too damn many of these racially-charged events, or those involving Trump and MAGA hats have usually turned out to be manufactured from nuts and bolts of trivia if not an outright hoax. So – IAW (in accordance with) sensible practice, I deferred any interest, personal reaction or comment for at least 48 hours. The first reports about anything are usually wrong, misleading, inaccurate; SOMETHING has happened, and it usually takes at least that long for reporters to put out the fire in their hair and come up with some sensible reportage. Such was, I assumed (over considerable evidence to the contrary, gleaned through sad experience over the years) the common practice also among the more responsible news-gathering organizations. It seems that I am doomed to disappointment again, on this front. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Diversions, Internet, Just Unbelievable | 35 Comments »

    The Dogs of Home Depot

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd January 2019 (All posts by )

    woof woof
     
     
    arf arf
     
     
    fifi ryobi
     
     
    Could dogs in places be the new waiting rooms?
     

    Posted in Dogs, Photos | 15 Comments »

    Feminist

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 20th January 2019 (All posts by )

    (Inspired by a comment of Texan99 over at Grim’s. My definitions of feminism are strongly influenced by the many things it meant when it first became a topic for me in the early 70s.  Internal clues tell me that she is my generation, probably two years younger, so her definitions may intersect with mine, and even more with my wife’s.)

    From CS Lewis, in Mere Christianity:

    People ask: “Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?”: or “May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?” Now this objection is in one sense very right, very charitable, very spiritual, very sensitive. It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the history of another, and very much less important, word.

    The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone “a gentleman” you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not “a gentleman” you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said – so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully – “Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?” They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man “a gentleman” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is “a gentleman” becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object. (A ‘nice’ meal only means a meal the speaker likes.) A gentleman, once it has been spiritualised and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

    Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say ‘deepening’, the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word. In the first place, Christians themselves will never be able to apply it to anyone. It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense. And obviously a word which we can never apply is not going to he a very useful word. As for the unbelievers, they will no doubt cheerfully use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrichment of the language, for we already have the word good. Meanwhile, the word Christian will have been spoiled for any really useful purpose it might have served.

    The word feminist has always had a variety of meanings.  When writers, historians, and social scientists try to make distinctions such as First Wave, Second Wave, and so forth, they are trying to tease apart the many meanings and impose some structure on them so that we may meaningfully discuss concepts.  They (sometimes) know such distinctions are arbitrary and inexact, yet accept this in order that we may use the terms at all. Yet by describing the differences as a chronology – or even a development – I think they miss widely. It has been a loaded, and therefore imprecise word from the start. Many of the arguments about feminists and feminism have come down to these different understandings. “Oh, if that’s all you mean by feminism, then I don’t disagree. I was thinking of the type of woman…”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 31 Comments »

    Do You Have Lamarr in Your Car?

    Posted by David Foster on 20th January 2019 (All posts by )

    It has been suggested that the short-range wireless protocol known as Bluetooth should instead have been called Lamarr, in honor of the actress/inventor Hedy Lamar.

    Hedy (maiden name Kiesler) was born in Vienna in 1914. From her early childhood she was fascinated by acting–and she was also very interested in how things worked, an interest which was encouraged by her bank-director father.  She began acting professionally in the late 1920s, and gained fame and notoriety when she appeared–briefly nude–in the film Ecstasy.  It was followed by the more respectable Sissy, in which she played the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

    In 1933, Hedy married the arms manufacturer Friedrich Mandl, finding him charming and fascinating and also probably influenced by his vast wealth.  She was soon turned off by his Fascist connections and his extremely controlling nature–rather ridiculously, he even tried to buy up all copies and negatives of Ecstasy.  He did not allow her to pursue her acting career, but did require her to participate, mainly as eye-candy, in high level meetings with German and Italian political leaders and with people involved in military technology.  What she heard at these sessions both interested and alarmed her.

    Finding her marriage intolerable and the political situation in her country disturbing, Hedy left and first came to London. There she met MGM head Louis B Mayer, who offered her an acting job at $125/week.  She turned down the offer, but booked herself onto the same transatlantic liner as Mayer, bound for the USA.  On shipboard, she impressed him enough to receive a $500/week contract.  He told her that a name change would be desirable, and she settled on “Lamarr”…the sea.

    With the outbreak of war in Europe, Hedy followed the news closely.  For reasons that are not totally clear, she began thinking about the problems of torpedo guidance:  the ability to correct the weapon’s course on its way to the target would clearly improve the odds of a hit.  She had heard the possibility of a wire-guided torpedo discussed over dinner at Mandl’s…but this approach had limitations.  Radio was an obvious alternative, but how to prevent jamming?

    As an anti-jamming technique, she hit on the idea of having the transmitter and the receiver change frequencies simultaneously and continuously…she may have been inspired partly by the remote-control radio receiver which was available at the time, possibly either she owned one or had seen one at somebody else’s home.  With synchronized frequency changes at both ends of the radio link, jamming would be impossible unless an enemy knew and could emulate the exact pattern of the changes.  But how to synchronize the transmitter and the receiver?

    Enter Hedy’s friend George Antheil, who called himself “the bad boy of American music.”  Antheil was fascinated by player pianos and had created and performed compositions which depended on simultaneous operation of several of these players.  Maybe the punched paper strips used by player pianos could provide a solution to the frequency-hopping problem?

    US Patent 2282387, issued to Hedy Kiesler Markey (the name reflecting a brief unsuccessful marriage) and George Antheil, implemented this approach.  The feeding of the paper strip on the launching ship and that inside the torpedo would be started simultaneously, and the holes in the strips would select the frequencies to be used at any given time…88 rows are mentioned, offering 88 frequency choices, but obviously this number could be smaller or larger.  Commands to the rudder of the torpedo would be sent via modulation of a carrier wave on the always-changing frequency selected.  (The two inventors had retained an electrical engineer to assist with specification of some of the details.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Culture, Film, Media, Tech, War and Peace | 18 Comments »

    President Trump’s ‘Xanatos Gambit’ Government Shutdown

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 19th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Welcome to day twenty eight day of the U.S. Federal government shutdown.

    Normally “Federal Government shut downs” are a game of “chicken” where Congressional (usually GOP) and Executive Branch (usually Democrat) politicians are playing a game of virtue signaling to their political base until the accumulated  toxic waste of bad media and public protest let the Congress “compromise” on spending more money with limited blow back in their next partisan primary.

    This time is very different, and it’s far more than just a matter of political parties changing sides in government.

    President Trump is working to a “Xanatos Gambit” political-media strategy tree that looks whole lot like his 2015 GOP primary campaign from June 16, 2015 to week of December 2-8, 2015.  Where he ran a high energy offensive political campaign of “free media by outrageous statements” that sucked all the political air time out of his GOP opponent’s political campaigns and established his ‘billionaire who cares more for the common man than D.C. politicians‘ street cred’ via populist anti-open borders immigration positions of protecting American citizens from illegal immigrant Mexican criminals and Muslim terrorists.

    President Trump’s “Big  Macs served at the White House” and grounding Speaker Pelosi’s Congressional Junkets on military transports during a government shut down over funding “The Wall” are both very much in that “Xanatos Gambit” frame work.  President Trump is staying on the offensive so House Democrats and the media cannot “get off a shot” over the Government shut down.  While at the same time defining the Democrats as being only interested in the perks of government power and not the public good they are supposed to serve.

    https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/XanatosGambitDiagram_7509.jpg

    This is a decision diagram example of a “Xanatos Gambit. Source: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, Current Events, Politics, Trump | 50 Comments »

    Stink on Ice

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Count De Monet – “Sir, the peasants are revolting!”
    King Louis – “You said it. They stink on ice.”

    Played for laughs in a movie by a producer/performer whom many of us doubt would ever get a green light today. But the great and good in the media and in the intellectual class – really do affect the pose that the peasants stink on ice, and say so, at every opportunity and in every possible venue. They despise the residents in Flyoverlandia – those who had the temerity to be conservative, conventionally religious, independent of thought, fiscally-careful, or even (gasp!) voting for Trump – or against Her Inevitableness, the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua. Victor Davis Hansen collected up a litany of poisonous disparagement in this recent essay; a collection that is all the more depressing as an assemblage, nasty as each one of them were considered in isolation as they occurred and bubbled up to the top of the outrage cycle.

    How did all this come about? (David F. ventured on this topic earlier this month.) I mean, there has always been a certain degree of social snobbery on the part of those who viewed themselves as being of the upper class, the managerial sort, the better-educated, and those who honestly felt they were the winners in the Darwinian struggle. The intellectual and artistic set always did regard themselves as a cut above the common herd. Over in Jolly Olde England, the gentry and nobility enforced their own supreme position with a fine sense of social brutality against ambitious interlopers.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Current Events, Leftism | 73 Comments »

    2018 Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 14th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Some books that I read and liked over the last year…

    The Future is History, Masha Gessen.  Russia during the last days of Communism, during the transitional age, and under Putinism, viewed through the personal stories of numerous individuals.

    On Tangled Paths, Theodor Fontane.  The author has been called “The Jane Austen of Germany.”  In this novel,  it is the *male* protagonist who is under pressure to marry into money to save his family from financial disaster.  Good character development and a vivid portrayal of Berlin in the 1870s

    The Bounty:  The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, Caroline Alexander.  The famous mutiny, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath.  A much more favorable interpretation of Captain Bligh’s character than the usual view.

    Red Star Under the Baltic, Victor Korzh.  Memoirs of a Soviet submarine commander who served in a little-known theater of WWII.  The author writes largely from an engineering perspective, and in addition to combat episodes he describes the remarkable efforts that were necessary to keep the submarine in operating condition–including such things as repurposing the bow thruster drives, while at sea, to replace the failed stern thruster drive system.

    A Pocketful of Stars and other books in the Applied Topology series by Margaret Ball, which I reviewed here.  Don’t let the Applied Topology tag scare you off; no math is required to read and enjoy.

    Born Fighting:  How the Scotts-Irish shaped America, James Webb.  Some interesting history and perspectives.  It’s worthwhile to read this book in conjunction with Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals.

    A Vagabond Journey Around the World, Harry Franck.  In 1904, this recent college graduate decided to travel around the world starting with no money at all.  (He modified this plan to carry enough cash to pay for photographic supples.)  Very interesting, though long.  Franck made and wrote about numerous other trips, including a 1930s visit to the Soviet Union which he documented in A Vagabond in Sovietland.

    A World on Edge:  The End of the Great War and the Dawn of a New Age, Daniel Schoenpflug.  The author paints the environment in the immediate aftermath of the War by telling the stories of individuals ranging from Harry Truman, Ferdinand Foch, Crown Prince Willhelm of Prussia, Arnold Schönberg, Kathe Kollwitz, Walter Gropius, and Ho Chi Min to many lesser-known individuals such as a former sailor of the German Navy and a Cossack woman named Marina Yurlova.

    Tragedy & Challenge:  An Inside View of UK Engineering’s Decline, Tom Brown.  The problems and fate of British manufacturing companies, as seen by an individual with extensive experience as an executive and board member.  There’s a review here.

    The Tyrant’s Daughter, J C Carleson.  Fifteen-year-old Laila lived a privileged life in her unnamed Middle Eastern country, where her father was absolute ruler.  Then he was killed in a coup, and she escapes with her mother and brother to a suburb of Washington DC…where she faces both the problems of fitting in at her new school and the haunting question of whether her father was indeed the monster that he is portrayed by the American news media.  This is positioned as a YA (teenager)  book, but is IMO also good reading for adults.  The author is a former CIA agent.

    The Theme is Freedom, John Dos Passos.  A collection of essays by this “Lost Generation” writer.  I quoted his observations about some of his Leftist comrades of the 1920s, here.

    Several more, which I may review individually and/or in a future batch.

    I’m currently reading a novel of the American Revolution called Celia Garth, which I learned about from a discussion at Bookworm.  It was highly recommended by Sgt Mom, among others.  I’m really liking it so far.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Business, Civil Liberties, Europe, History, Management, Russia, War and Peace | 29 Comments »

    Any Updates on 3 D Printing ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th January 2019 (All posts by )

    There have been a couple of discussions of 3D printing in the past.

    Mr. Hornick has a video, entitled “3D Printing State of the Art: Industrial” from May of 2015 which gets into detail about the current state of the art in 3D printing. It is a good primer if you are interested in the field. His deep knowledge as well as his enthusiasm make for a compelling presentation of a highly technical subject.

    I’m getting interested in 3 D printing of Radio Controlled Airplane models.

    Like this one.

    That has an almost 5 foot wing spread.

    Just wondering about the sort of 3D printer that would be required.

    Posted in Diversions, Personal Narrative | 12 Comments »

    Belated New Year’s Notes To Self

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Minimize paper, phone calls, driving, errands, quarrels, litigation, surgery.

    Maximize time with loved ones and time alone.

    Nobody’s that good.

    Most things aren’t your problem.

    Most predictions are wrong. Arguing about predictions is usually a waste of time.

    Arguing about anything, unless you are paid to do it, is usually a waste of time. An exception to this generalization is when you have a chance to make a principled case about an important issue in front of an audience with many uncommitted members.

    Most advice is worthless and should be taken with a grain or twenty of salt. However, an unexpected gentle suggestion from someone who knows you well should be treated seriously.

    Most loose ends should be left alone.

    Silence is often the best reply.

    Embrace the power of “I don’t know”.

    If it’s stupid and it works it isn’t stupid.

    Risk is everywhere and many endeavors are riskier than they initially appear to be. Complacency, especially in groups and institutions – “That’s never happened” – is a warning to watch out for icebergs.

    In business, look for patterns of events that contradict an opinion consensus.

    The period of chaos following a disruptive event can be a good time to take bold action.

    Everyone thinks his way is the only way. Try to learn from other people while keeping an open mind.
     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts | 7 Comments »

    How is the Shutdown Going ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 11th January 2019 (All posts by )

    We are now in week three of the partial government “shutdown” over the refusal of Democrats to fund any of Trump’s wall. They see this as another “Read My Lips” situation which, if they can make Trump back down, it will kill his re-election campaign just as it did to Bush in 1992.

    But Trump’s base takes the wall itself seriously, and, like George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign pledge on taxes, the wall has become the president’s “read my lips” albatross. His supporters may not abandon him over it, but Trump’s re-election hinges entirely on their enthusiasm. Yes, they will vote for him, but will they engage in the get-out-the-vote activities that drive to the polls enough additional voters to put Trump over the top?

    How is that going ? Even Texas Monthly, no friend of Republicans agrees.

    Jet skis dropping off pregnant women. Chinese border crossers in fancy workout attire. A park full of could-be spies. These sights of the Rio Grande are almost hallucinatory, but they don’t seem to alarm Spratte. They seem to fatigue him. Not long ago, he says, agents’ mouths would drop open when they’d hear about a group of fifty immigrants getting caught. Now, he says, “if you tell me, I’ve got a group of fifty, I need help, I would laugh at you. If you said, I’ve got a group of three hundred, now that would be cool, because that would be a new record. And the records are only going to keep increasing.” (According to Spratte, agents in the Valley have had a single pickup of around 280 immigrants.)

    Trump visited the wall yesterday and CNN’s Jim Acosta gave Trump a hand at making his case.

    I know this might be hard for you to comprehend Jimbo, but the reason why all of Twitter has been mocking you today is because you were at a part of the border WITH A WALL. So yes, of course it was working. Replicate that across the border & we’ll all be safer. #RealNews #ByeBye

    It did not look too good for Acosta to brag about how safe it was near a wall. OR fence, if you prefer.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Politics | 11 Comments »

    Divorcing Hollywood

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th January 2019 (All posts by )

    I used to like going to the movies. When I was growing up, going to the movies was an occasional treat. In the very early days, it was the drive-in movie double-feature. Likely this was because it was cheap, and Dad was a grad student with a family, and on a tight budget: JP and I in our pjs, with bedding and our pillows in the venerable 1952 Plymouth station wagon, the back seat folded down, and falling asleep almost as the titles for the second feature rolled; Charlton Heston as El Cid, seen dimly through the windshield of the Plymouth, between Mom and Dad’s heads, and the rearview mirror. Sean Connery as James Bond, bedding another of an enthusiastic series of chance-encountered and spectacularly-endowed women, and me thinking, as I dozed off, “Oh, that’s nice – she hasn’t got a hotel room, and he’s sharing his …”
    Yeah, I was six or seven years old. That’s what it looked like to me, curling up in the back of the station wagon, as my parents finagled their own low-budget date night. Later on, it would be a Disney movie in one of the splendid, then-sadly-faded old picture palaces in Pasadena; the Alhambra, the Rialto, or the Academy, accompanied by Granny Jessie – this after much discussion of which movies appropriate for grade-school age children were available at a matinee showing. This would be one of only one or two movies we saw in a theater for the entire year, so we would choose very carefully, indeed. I think Granny Jessie was grateful when we were able to appreciate somewhat more mature fare, such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming, and What Did You Do in the War, Daddy.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Culture, Diversions, Film, Personal Narrative | 60 Comments »

    Sneaky Robots and Robotic Bureaucrats

    Posted by David Foster on 10th January 2019 (All posts by )

    An artificial intelligence program was assigned the task of turning satellite images into street maps.  It was graded by comparing reconstructed images (reconstructed from the map) and comparing them with the original; also, by the clarity of the street map.  The grades were used by the program to continually improved its performance.

    But what the program sneakily learned to do was to encode details of the original image into the street map, in a manner invisible to humans, thereby optimizing its grade on the reconstructed image…independently of how well the street map…which was the actual desired product…actually reflected the original image.

    Humans, also, often respond to incentives in ways very different from those expected by the designers of those incentives…as many creators of sales commission plans and manufacturing bonus plans have discovered.  Bureaucracies, especially, tend to respond to the measurements placed on them in ways that are not consistent with the interests of the larger organization or society that they are supposed to be serving.  See Stupidity, Communist-Style and Capitalist-Style and The Reductio ad Absurdum of Bureaucratic Liberalism.

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Deep Thoughts, Management, Russia, Tech | 1 Comment »

    Ahh – the New Year!

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Well, it certainly started off with a bang … or, strike that, a number of spectacular public tantrums on the part of people that ordinary humans might have expected to have cultivated a more mature approach when it came to coping with others in the public sphere. I speak of the Gamestop shop customer of indeterminate sex who went off on the cashier for addressing … ummm, the customer as a man, when on the thin basis of some eye makeup, the customer apparently hoped to pass as a woman and not a member of a 1980s tribute rock band. Let me break it to you gently, guy – as a woman myself, you’re doing the woman-thing all wrong. A little more care with the coiffure, a skirt and some nice stockings and low heels, and a soft-spoken Southern lady demeanor – even adorning a six-foot-something frame with shoulders like a football quarterback – would make it easier for those you encounter in public to go along with a pretense of you being a delicate little flower of womanhood.

    Of the vape-store clerk (now a former vape-store clerk) feeling all righteous and entitled to go off on an abusive rant against a customer wearing items of clothing identifying him as a Trump fan … seriously, when did it become OK to be an abusive butthead in public? Or is it just that incidents like this are more likely to be documented in this age of practically everyone having a telephone capable of recording short video? Cannot we all agree on a new year resolution – to act like mature, well-adjusted adults in public? Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Politics | 18 Comments »

    Conservative Populism: Tucker Carlson vs David French

    Posted by David Foster on 7th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Links at Ricochet, where the is an extensive (and pretty contentious) discussion.

    Posted in Conservatism, Media, Political Philosophy, Trump, USA | 23 Comments »

    Wyrd and Providence

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 5th January 2019 (All posts by )

    Reposted from Assistant Village Idiot July 2010. I had a lot of fun with this eight years ago.
    Part I

    I am reconsidering an idea I rejected years ago.
    New England was a peculiarly fertile ground for a peculiar and intense version of Calvinism, because predetermination is a Christianised version of Norse fatalism. 
    I don’t subscribe to that fully, but I don’t reject it out of hand anymore.

    Part II

     Swedish Luciafest, and dressing children in the cute costumes of grim Norse pagan beliefs.  Disney was hardly the first, eh?

    Part III

    From Danes to East Anglia to Puritans.  How the grim creatures disappeared in the ocean, but some of the ideas were carried to New England.

    Part IV

    My theory unravels some.

    Part IV-A

    Part V

    Accusation by nature; trial by ordeal; some magics believed in, and some condemned, in Puritan New England.

    Whoop

    An actual historian lends support to my theory.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | Comments Off on Wyrd and Providence

    Aunt Sally versus Huck Finn

    Posted by David Foster on 4th January 2019 (All posts by )

    A thoughtful article at The Wall Street Journal.

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, USA | 18 Comments »

    Four Great-Grandmothers

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 3rd January 2019 (All posts by )

    I hope this is fun.

    I started one of the books I got for Christmas, about the Indo-Europeans, which challenged in the first chapter that we all have four great-grandmothers, but we seldom know their maiden names or even their first names at times, nor anything about them.  His point is how quickly we will all be forgotten, and suggested that nothing may be known of us sooner than we think. As things stand on the latter, my children will all have many stories of my wife and I, should their own grandchildren ever ask. Yet it is a rare grandchild who does that,  More often, there are forty-year-olds who say “I wish I had asked Nana more about her parents, and Aunt Bessie doesn’t focus that well anymore.” I knew one grandmother well, yet she never talked about her own parents or early life much. She talked about her children and other grandchildren, and to a lesser extent her siblings and their descendants. What little I know about her mother is from other sources, and it is sparse. She died when my mother was six, and I don’t recall she was ever mentioned.  We will get to her in her turn. I have four granddaughters. One is two and would never remember me on the basis of current contact. She would only hear rumors from her father, who came into our family when he was sixteen and doesn’t pay much attention to things that don’t concern him this week. He is not a nostalgic person (for good reason). Her older sister, now seven, might retain some memory of me when she is old, if she is that sort of person. At the moment, I think the full extent of my identity would be “We took walks when he came up to Nome. He taught me to play Sleeping Queens. He used to send me postcards.” The other two granddaughters know me better, and they might conceivably have many things to say to their own children.  If they ever have children. If the subject of great-grandparents ever comes up. If they don’t get worn out talking about the other three grandparents first. Other grandchildren may still appear.

    So, point taken.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 7 Comments »

    Wisdom

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 2nd January 2019 (All posts by )

    Because I have answered many questions on the Intelligence and IQ categories on Quora, I attempt many of the questions about being smart, improving one’s intelligence, and all those “Is there One Weird Trick to being a genius?”  I don’t answer about genius at all, as I don’t have a clear enough idea in my own mind what it means, so I shouldn’t be spreading my ignorance to others.  When I use the word at all, I tend to use it about an idea or single framework ability, not as a description of a person, as in “she had a peculiar genius for bestowing the perfect compliment for encouragement.” I answer the “intelligence” questions very specifically about IQ, or about general ability.  For specific abilities, such as music or spatial visualisation, I tend to use the word talent.

    But most of all, I redirect the questioner to the idea that Wisdom is more important than Intelligence.  Because it is. Every religious tradition within Christianity and Judaism are adamant on the point, and as well as I know other traditions, they universally agree.  No group of thinkers that has thought long and hard about the good life, the meaning of existence, or the definition of virtue has even mentioned raw candlepower, so far as I can see.  If anything, the closest equivalent “cleverness” seems to be associated more with evil or chaos, as in Milton’s Satan, or Norse Loki. Intelligence is a wonderful attribute, like beauty, artistry, strength, or gracefulness. Yet it can be used for evil and manipulation, the same as those others. It is morally neutral.

    There are many approaches to wisdom, but I prefer to highlight the Western Civ tradition that comes down to us from the Greeks through the Medieval Church: Three Theological Virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity; and Four Cardinal Virtues, Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance.  If you have been practicing those for a few decades, you’re pretty smart, regardless of what your IQ is.

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 15 Comments »