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  • The Deep State will not go easily.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on February 15th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Several years ago, I posted an account of what is called ‘The Deep State.”

    There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.

    That article was one of several around that time (2014) about the Deep State.

    History suggests that this low-intensity conflict within the ruling Elite is generally a healthy characteristic of leadership in good times. As times grow more troubled, however, the unity of the ruling Elite fractures into irreconcilable political disunity, which becomes a proximate cause of the dissolution of the Empire if it continues.
    I recently proposed the idea that Wall Street now poses a strategic threat to national security and thus to the Deep State itself: Who Gets Thrown Under the Bus in the Next Financial Crisis? (March 3, 2014)

    That didn’t happen but the Deep State is in the news again as an enemy of Trump.

    It stands to reason that “the Swamp” he talked about draining is coterminous with “The Deep State.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Media, National Security | 25 Comments »

    ENIAC Anniversary

    Posted by David Foster on February 15th, 2017 (All posts by )

    With all the current discussion about robotics and artificial intelligence, this seems like an anniversary worth noting:  the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was formally announced on February 15, 1946.  (Or maybe it was February 14.)  Originally developed to compute artillery trajectories, it was sufficiently general in its design that it could be programmed to address other kinds of problems as well.  The programming was originally done with patch cords, but soon a sort of stored-programming approach was developed wherein the patch cord layout remained the same and the program was entered via an array of rotary switches.

    See also Robot Mathematician Knows All The Answers, about the Harvard Mark I, a slightly earlier computer that was electromechanical rather than purely electronic in its operation, and a post about the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator, a ‘supercomputer’ of 1954.

    I wonder if these early computers would have made such a strong popular impression if they had not been so physically large.

     

    Posted in History, Tech, USA | 4 Comments »

    Shaking the Tyrant’s Bloody Hand

    Posted by Lexington Green on February 13th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Please read this piece, from the excellent Mauldin Economics page, entitled Something Rotten in the State of Russia. It shows the many profound problems besetting the Russian state.

    That horrible, horrible man, Putin, is indeed horrible.

    But how dangerous is Putin to the USA? Or to our allies?

    Putin presides over a crumbling country.

    Meanwhile Trump, who some believe is under Putin’s control, is focused on driving down oil and gas prices and pushing NATO to increase defense spending, both of which are hard blows to Russia. Trump is also promoting pro-growth policies which will help fund a military buildup and modernization.

    Russia has no prayer of matching this.

    Putin has real problems, with no real solutions.

    Trump is confronting Putin with challenges he cannot overcome, which will only grow worse over time.

    The idea that Russia is capable of embarking on a new Cold War against the United States is laughable.

    Russia is only considered to be a country of the first rank because of its nuclear arsenal. But that arsenal is useless, other than as a deterrent to invasion, or as a way to commit suicide. No one is going to invade Russia any time soon. More importantly, Putin and his cronies are not suicidal. Putin may even be the richest man in the world. Putin and his posse have a nice life, and a lot to lose. They likely want to enjoy the benefits of their despotism in peace, not see their dachas reduced to radioactive ash.

    (Further, the Russian nuclear arsenal may be of diminished value if, as expected, Trump pushes forward on missile defense.)

    China is a rising power; Russia is a declining power, even a dying power. Russia is a menace to its neighbors; Islamic Terrorism is a menace around the world.

    China is the long term challenge, Islamic Terrorism is the acute, immediate challenge, to the USA and its allies. Russia faces a long-term threat from China, which seems destined to simply overrun the entirety of Asiatic Russia. Russia is also threatened by Islamic terrorism. The USA and Russia face the same serious threats.

    Russia should be aligned with the USA with regard to both China and Islamic terrorism.

    The current situation is absurd and should be resolved.

    This does not mean the USA will become “friends” with Putin, or the Russians.

    We will not trust Putin or the Russians.

    We will not be allies, beyond allies of convenience, case by case, with Putin or the Russians.

    We will not have shared values with Putin or the Russians.

    We will simply recognize important common interests, including ramping down the hostility between our countries, cooperating where it is mutually beneficial to do so, and focusing on more important, mutual threats and challenges.

    There is plenty of room for a deal here.

    Nixon shook Mao’s hand, a hand dripping with the blood of 65 million victims.

    FDR shook Stalin’s hand, a hand dripping with the blood of 50 million victims.

    Trump will do what is best for the peace, prosperity and security of the United States.

    That will likely include shaking the tyrant’s bloody hand.

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous, Russia, Tradeoffs, Trump | 32 Comments »

    Trump has to choose a strategy.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on February 12th, 2017 (All posts by )

    There has been a huge uproar over President Trump’s Executive order to limit immigration from seven Middle East countries that are in turmoil. A Seattle federal district judge issued a restraining order to block the immigration “pause.”

    The result is widely hailed by Democrats and the usual open borders advocates.

    Still, there is some trepidation about the Democrats’ vulnerability on this issue.

    Democratic arguments about immigration mostly aren’t arguments. The party has relied on opposing Trump’s more outrageously exaggerated claims about the criminality and all-around character flaws of immigrants. That’s fine, as far as it goes — but as November showed, it doesn’t go far enough.

    The core problem is that Democrats didn’t really make an affirmative argument for an overhaul to U.S. immigration policy that might appeal to voters. Instead, they talked a lot about what great people immigrants are, and how much they benefit from migration. Unfortunately, the clearest group of beneficiaries from this policy — people who want to migrate, but haven’t yet gotten a green card — can’t vote.

    Most of this is, like the British Labour Party, an attempt the replace one voting group with another.

    However, aside from the implications for employment for American citizens, there is the question of terrorism.

    We are conducting a war with radical Islam in the Middle East.

    How do we fight that war ?

    One of the problems facing the Trump administration is the lack of an overall strategy to defeat radical Islamism. The one left over from the Obama administration consists of a schizophrenic blend of attempting to solve “root causes” incongruously combined with a program of targeted assassination. “The U.S. dropped an average of three bombs an hour in 2016 — a total of 26,171 explosive devices dropped in seven countries in the past year” according to a report published at the close of President Barack Obama’s second term, not counting thousands of air strikes which went unreported according to the Military Times. This vast campaign of targeted aerial assassination was accompanied by what the Nation called “the secret nation-building boom of the Obama years”. By 2014 Obama had doubled “nation-building spending from $24.3 billion to $51.3 billion”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Immigration, Islam, Middle East, Terrorism | 27 Comments »

    Environment

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on February 10th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Amid some pretty stiff competition news-wise this week, these two linked stories were particularly infuriating – mostly because the matter received relatively little attention, in comparison to coverage of the protest itself. But such is the towering hypocrisy of these times. The establishment national news media continues to conduct itself in the manner that, sadly, we have come to expect of them. Mostly, they cover stories like this with a pillow, until they stop moving.

    But the sheer gall of a protest encampment called to protest potential-possible- maybe environmental damage caused by construction of a pipeline … which then actually does damage to the local environment by the sheer quantity of stuff abandoned over the past six months, and the possibility of seepage of human waste into the nearby river. Well, really – one might have very good reason for doubting the sincerity of those protesters with regard to protecting the environment in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Environment, Human Behavior, Media | 13 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on February 10th, 2017 (All posts by )

    How the 16th century invented social media

    Virginia Postrel thinks that now is the time for big-box stores to embrace the 19th century

    Is it possible to make American mate again?

    Related to the above:  mapping the geographical patterns of romantic anxiety and avoidance

    Maybe also related:  sex doesn’t sell anymore, activism does

    PC oppression and why Trump won

    Theory and practice: an interesting Assistant Village Idiot post from 2010

    Learning about effective selling from a surfer dude

    Here’s a guy who says: I help create the automated technologies that are taking jobs…and I feel guilty about it

    After discussing his concerns about automation-driven job losses, he goes on to say “I feel even worse when I hear misleading statements about the source of the problem. Blaming China and NAFTA is a convenient deflection, but denial will only make the wrenching employment dislocation for millions all the more painful.”

    I’ve seen this assertion–“offshoring doesn’t matter because Robots”–and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  It should be obvious that both factors play a role; there’s no need for a single-variable explanation.  (Actually, offshoring-driven job losses and automation-driven job losses are somewhat less than additive in their effect, since automation generally makes US-based production more relatively attractive.)

    Here’s an argument that the next big blue-collar job is coding.

    What if we regarded code not as a high-stakes, sexy affair, but the equivalent of skilled work at a Chrysler plant? Among other things, it would change training for programming jobs—and who gets encouraged to pursue them. As my friend Anil Dash, a technology thinker and entrepreneur, notes, teachers and businesses would spend less time urging kids to do expensive four-year computer-­science degrees and instead introduce more code at the vocational level in high school….Across the country, people are seizing this opportunity, particularly in states hit hardest by deindustrialization. In Kentucky, mining veteran Rusty Justice decided that code could replace coal. He cofounded Bit Source, a code shop that builds its workforce by retraining coal miners as programmers. Enthusiasm is sky high: Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions. Miners, it turns out, are accustomed to deep focus, team play, and working with complex engineering tech. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says.

    I’m reminded of two things that Peter Drucker said in his 1969 book The Age of Discontinuity.  In attacking what he called ‘the diploma curtain’, he wrote “By denying opportunity to those without higher education, we are denying access to contribution and performance to a large number of people of superior ability, intelligence, and capacity to achieve.”

    But also, Drucker wrote, in his discussion of the Knowledge Economy:

    The knowledge worker of today…is not the successor to the ‘free professional’ of 1750 or 1900.  He is the successor to the employee of yesterday, the manual worker, skilled or unskilled…This hidden conflict between the knowledge workers view of himself as a ‘professional’ and the social reality in which he is the upgraded and well-paid successor to the skilled worker of yesterday, underlies the disenchantment of so many highly educated young people with the jobs available to them…They expect to be ‘intellectuals.’  And the find that they are just ‘staff.’

    Indeed, many jobs that have been thought of as ‘professional’ and ‘white collar’…programming, financial analysis, even engineering…are increasingly subject to many of the stresses traditionally associated with ‘blue collar’ jobs, such as layoffs and cyclical unemployment.  As a higher % of the corporate cost structure becomes concentrated in jobs which are not direct labor, it is almost inevitable that these jobs will be hit increasingly when financial problems make themselves felt.

    Drucker’s second point, which I think is very astute, is somewhat orthogonal to the coal-miners-becoming-coders piece, and probably deserves it own post for discussion.  Regarding the question of non-college-educated people becoming programmers (of which there has long already been a fair amount), the degree to which succeeds is to some degree coupled with the whole question of h-1b visa policy, and trade policy in general as it relates to offshoring of services.

     

    Posted in Business, Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Education, Leftism, Marketing, Media, Tech | 11 Comments »

    The Revolt Against the Experts

    Posted by Jonathan on February 9th, 2017 (All posts by )

    ‘Trump makes sense to a grocery store owner’

    Economist-mathematician Nassim Nicholas Taleb contends that there is a global riot against pseudo-experts
     
    After predicting the 2008 economic crisis, the Brexit vote, the U.S. presidential election and other events correctly, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Incerto series on global uncertainties, which includes The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, is seen as something of a maverick and an oracle. Equally, the economist-mathematician has been criticised for advocating a “dumbing down” of the economic system, and his reasoning for U.S. President Donald Trump and global populist movements. In an interview in Jaipur, Taleb explains why he thinks the world is seeing a “global riot against pseudo-experts”.

    Taleb has a typically thoughtful and contrary take on Trump’s electoral victory. Worth reading in full.

    (Via Peter Saint-Andre.)

     

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Society, Politics, Trump, USA | 13 Comments »

    Freedom, the Village, and the Internet (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on February 7th, 2017 (All posts by )

    (Hearing in a town this size, by John Prine and Delores Keane, reminded me of this 2013 post–rerun here, with some edits and a special musical bonus added at the end.)

    I’ve reviewed two books by German writer Hans Fallada: Little Man, What Now?, and Wolf Among Wolves (the links go to the reviews), both of which were excellent. I’ve also read his novel Every Man Dies Alone, which is centered on a couple who become anti-Nazi activists after their son Ottochen is killed in the war…it was inspired by, and is loosely based on, the true story of  a real-life couple who distributed anti-Nazi postcards and were executed for it.

    I thought this book was also excellent…the present post, though, is not a book review, but rather a development of some thoughts inspired by a particular passage in the story.

    Trudel, who was Ottochen’s fiancee, is a sweet and intelligent girl who is strongly anti-Nazi..and unlike Ottochen’s parents, she became an activist prior to being struck by personal tragedy: she is a member of a resistance cell at the factory where she works.  But she finds that she cannot stand the unending psychological strain of underground work–made even worse by the rigid and doctrinaire man (apparently a Communist) who is leader of the cell–and she drops out. Another member of the cell, who has long been in love with her, also finds that he is not built for such work, and drops out also.

    After they marry and Trudel becomes pregnant, they decide to leave the politically hysterical environment of Berlin for a small town where–they believe–life will be freer and calmer.

    Like many city dwellers, they’d had the mistaken belief that spying was only really bad in Berlin and that decency still prevailed in small towns. And like many city dwellers, they had made the painful discovery that recrimination, eavesdropping, and informing were ten times worse in small towns than in the big city. In a small town, everyone was fully exposed, you couldn’t ever disappear in the crowd. Personal circumstances were quickly ascertained, conversations with neighbors were practically unavoidable, and the way  such conversations could be twisted was something they had already experienced in their own lives, to their chagrin.

    Reading the above passage, I was struck by the thought that if we are now living in an “electronic village”…even a “global village,” as Marshall McLuhan put it several decades ago…then perhaps that also means we are facing some of the unpleasant characteristics that–as Fallada notes–can be a part of village life. And these characteristics aren’t something that appears only in eras of insane totalitarianism such as existed in Germany during the Nazi era. Peter Drucker, in Managing in the Next Society, wrote about the tension between liberty and community:

    Rural society has been romanticized for millenia, especially in the West, where rural communities have usually been portrayed as idylic. However, the community in rural society is actually both compulsory and coercive…And that explains why, for millenia, the dream of rural people was to escape into the city. Stadluft macht frei (city air frees) says an old German proverb dating back to the eleventh or twelfth century.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Media, Tech | 15 Comments »

    Nooo!

    Posted by Jonathan on February 5th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Nooo! Que Barato!

    Chicagoboyz visit Hialeah.

     

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    FIRST A WALL, THEN A FILTER

    Posted by Subotai Bahadur on February 5th, 2017 (All posts by )

    There is media mayhem is over the re-establishment of control of our borders. The idea that WE have a vested interest in the possible hostile intentions, the ability to function in our society, and the legality of those who want to enter our country is . . . unacceptable to those screaming on Facebook and rioting in the streets. Further, the idea that we can take steps to keep out those who we do not want in [you cannot deport criminals if they can just walk back across the border] seems to be a matter of controversy; even as we are starting the process of doing just that.

    But maybe this would be a good time to get ahead of the game. Let us say that all the measures discussed by the administration work, illegal immigration is cut drastically, and illegal invaders here now leave. Then what? The current “immigration system” does not work. It has not worked for generations. What should replace it?

    We are a nation of immigrants. Our freedoms draw the best and brightest from around the world. We also draw everybody else. In keeping with the sudden realization by a majority of Americans that the purpose of the American government is to protect and work for the American people; the government has to find a way to make sure that the immigrants allowed in are going to be in the best interest of OUR country.

    Up until now, the Federal government has been working to make sure that our immigrant intake is mostly uneducated and untrained Mexican and Central American peasants, and Islamic terrorists. I can see how a certain number of those peasants could be of some national utility. But not in the numbers we are getting. And I am sorry; we already have enough people here who want to destroy the country.

    And it is insanity to import them alone, while turning our back on the rest of the world. Time for some pro-American sanity.

    I would recommend what I call the “Ellis Island Tests” as a beginning.

    1) Do you have, or are you a carrier of, any loathsome disease that we do not want in our country infecting our own people? Especially if the disease is one that we have successfully worked to eradicate inside our own borders. TB and diphtheria come to mind, but there is a whole list of other diseases, some of which we NEVER have had here, that are a reasonable reason to say, “try the country next door”.
    2) Are you a member of, a relative of a member of, or affiliated in any way with political, criminal, or religious organizations that have declared hostility to the US, or who have sponsored or committed terrorist acts against Americans? If so, you can stay in a country where that point of view predominates. We don’t need you.
    3) Are you a convicted criminal, or are you affiliated with an organization, syndicate, or cartel that operates in violation of the law; then you get to play the home game and not come here. Unless your crime was to tell your home country’s dictator what to place where, with what amount of force, and at what angle. In which case you should probably get bonus points.

    Now note that these are proscriptive tests. If you fail, you are out. This is not a matter of quotas, participant trophies, or the employees of the Immigration system feeling good about how generous they are at the expense of the country. There is no constitutional right to pass, because these are foreigners, not in our country. This is a case of them asking for our indulgence to be let in. It is totally our choice whether to do so. And we have to place our own safety and our own interests above their wishes. Many will try, a relative few will be chosen. To continue the tests in a more positive sense:

    4) Does the applicant have a skill that we want or need in this country? Has he or she been trained in a skill we need and are not producing enough of in this country? And if trained to standards not the same as ours, can they achieve our standards? Doctors, nurses, engineers; any profession we are in need of. And I note that we have a superabundance of lawyers and bureaucrats, to the point where we may have to open a season on them to prevent them from destroying the country.
    5) Fluency in English would be considered a plus. And it would cover one of the requirements below.
    6) If you are a spouse, child, or parent of an American citizen you would get a preference, but the relationships for immigration preference will not be extended further.
    7) Immigrants will need a sponsor, who is an American citizen, who will be responsible for aiding in the acclimation to the American culture, society, and mores; and who will ensure that from the time of their arrival and granting of resident alien status until they file their application for naturalization [residency time of 5 years in most cases] that they do not go on public assistance in any way other than declared states of disaster. The sponsor may not be a corporation, nor may a sponsor be an employee of any company that the resident alien is employed by. Resident aliens are covered and protected by all employment laws and standards that apply to US citizens. Sponsors will be liable as accessories if the resident alien is illegally exploited due to their lack of citizenship status. The laws of the country and the Constitution protect all those who legally reside here. Resident aliens who are illegally exploited due to their status and whose sponsorship arrangements are broken due to court action shall be allowed a period of 6 months to seek and arrange a new sponsorship.
    8) Before naturalization, all applicants will be tested and must demonstrate a fluency in English. This is not to disparage the use of other languages in private life. Officially, we do not care what language is spoken in the home or on the street. However, it is a fact that our country’s history, commerce, and culture are primarily in English. In order to fully participate, in order to not be exploited, in order not to be ghettoized and abused by the unscrupulous; it is vital that new citizens be able to understand the world around them.
    9) As currently, applicants for naturalization will be required to pass an examination on American Civics, Government, History, and the political process prior to being naturalized. And as currently, they will be required to swear the Oath to the Constitution prior to being granted citizenship.

    Now that is a quick outline of the selection process for individuals. Note that nowhere in there is there any hint of discrimination on a racial, ethnic, religious, gender, or other basis. It is a matter of objectively meeting requirements to become an American.

    But there is a larger view. We need immigrants. We need their drive, their ambition, their desire to build a better life for their offspring. And we need to draw on the talents of the wide world in order to be the City on the Hill. But we don’t need everybody. The last year we have full figures for is fiscal 2015. We legally admitted a hair over 1 million [actually 1,051,000] legal immigrants from all over the world. In fiscal year 2016 we caught 407,000 trying to sneak into our country, mostly on the border with Mexico. Given the not unreasonable assumption that for every one caught, 10 don’t get caught [remember, the Border Patrol has been ordered to encourage illegal invaders for the last 8 years], that gives a projected 4 million illegals, or 4 for every legal immigrant.

    We must stop illegal immigration. But we must not stop immigration. We must encourage legal immigration. In 2015 the Census Bureau estimates that we had a population of about 321.5 million. So annual legal immigration was about 3/10 of 1% of our population. That 3/10 of 1% of our population has not caused any significant problems. We have had during the same period about 1.2% of our population coming in illegally per year. And it has been a major pain in the Tuchus, and a deadly threat, for the country.

    So, let’s say that 3/10 of 1% of our problem becomes an immigration floor for the number we admit LEGALLY each year. And since LEGAL immigrants are actual net assets to the country, we can absorb more. So let us say as a guesstimate that we put a ceiling, adjustable as needed by statute, of 1% of our current population per year as the number of LEGAL immigrants we can take.

    That gives us a range to work with, once we’ve secured our borders and removed illegal invaders. With that, I suggest the following process or something close to it be adopted:

    a) Every year, along with the budget [and definitely tied to the ICE or successor organization budget] the Congress of the United States will pick a number inside that range as the number of LEGAL immigrants that the US will allow in.
    b) That number will divided among 6 of the 7 Continents [North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia], Antarctica being excluded because penguins are too addicted to the thug life to be let in. I note Greenland is governed by Denmark and has so few people that it can be counted as Europe. It will have to be decided, for our purposes, where the exact boundaries between continents are; but that is what we are paying all those paper-pushers for, and all that matters is that they are consistent. The division will be proportional based on the population of the continent.
    c) Once the number for each continent has been determined for the year, a joint committee of representatives from the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security will meet chaired by a representative appointed by the President.
    d) The joint committee will go through the list of countries on each continent and evaluate them based on their diplomatic, military, and trade actions towards the United States in the previous year and current actions. Such deliberations and the reasons for the decisions shall be classified and not released. If a country is determined to have posed or to pose a threat to the US and its interests based on those actions, they will be denied an immigration quota for that year. Those countries that are deemed not to be or to have posed a threat to the US or its interests shall divide the continent’s immigration quota proportionally based on population. As an example Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and the Sudan have been the source of most of the terrorist attacks on ourselves and our allies. Why, right now, do we have a desperate need to import more of them? If the attacks stop, and give signs of staying stopped, we might reconsider in a later year.
    e) The recommendations will be forwarded to the President, and if he approves the numbers will be the basis of the immigration quotas for the coming year.
    f) This quota does not include the emergency admission of refugees or disaster victims, which as always is within the power of the President to approve or deny.

    You know, of course, that the Democrats and their allies even further to the Left will be screaming like a cacophony of goosed coloraturas if anything like this is enacted. Illegal vote farms destroyed? Check. American people protected from two-legged predators? Check. Rule of law reinstated? Check. Welfare fraud, spending, deficits, and eventually taxes reduced? Check and double check.

    We lock the door at night, not because we hate everybody outside, but to protect our loved ones inside. It does not mean that we do not open that door for invited guests.

     

    Posted in Immigration | 26 Comments »

    Scaring Ourselves to Death

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on February 3rd, 2017 (All posts by )

    We have a neighbor several doors down the street who has – over the years that we have known her – been somewhat of a trial. Not only is she is a gossip with an appallingly low degree of accuracy in the stories that she passes on, she is also a keen consumer of local news, and takes the most sensational crime stories to heart. She was in her element, the evening that we had a double murder in our neighborhood, having claimed to see the murderer running down the street past her house and begging one of the other neighbors for a ride. She provided a description of the murderer to one of the police patrols who went screaming through the neighborhood – a description which turned out to be inaccurate in every detail save that the escaping murderer was a male. As for the what she sees on the news; let someone across town be carjacked in their own driveway, she is totally convinced that everyone in the neighborhood is in dire peril of this happening to them. She lurks at the community mailbox of a morning, bearing dire warnings of all kinds of unlikely scenarios. She never goes much beyond the community mailbox, having successfully frightened herself out of going any farther on most occasions. In earlier times, I would try and talk her into taking a more realistic view of things. Eventually I realized that she purely enjoyed scaring herself into conniptions, and those irrational fears provided a handy all-purpose excuse for her not to go and do much of anything with herself when her only child went to college on the other side of the state and her husband moved out.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events, History, Trump | 19 Comments »

    What, if anything, is being done about the rioters in Berkeley and elsewhere?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on February 3rd, 2017 (All posts by )

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    It has been frustrating to see what appear to be professional rioters destroying property and injuring innocent people, with no visible attempt to arrest or stop their depredations.

    A word should be said on behalf of Berkeley students. I am convinced that the violent rioters were not students from the campus, but were organized outside agitators from off campus that exploited the event. Most students today, even my left-leaning students (I have quite a few in class), were angry about what had happened, as they resented having their protest hijacked by thugs, and the victory it delivered Milo, who is the Kim Kardashian of political theater. Instead of speaking to 500 people in an auditorium last night, he spoke to perhaps 4 million on TV. I think the net present value of the protest to him, in increased book sales and media market value, is at least $1 million—probably considerably more.

    That may be comforting to think the riots are driving people to Trump and the political right. But what about the rioters and those supporting them?

    The FBI may be investigating the Mayor of Berkeley for supporting the rioters and discouraging police intervention.

    U.S. Code 2385:

    Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

    Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

    Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

    Will this work ? Maybe we need better intelligence about who these people are.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Politics, Terrorism | 11 Comments »

    Two Very Poor Analyses

    Posted by David Foster on February 3rd, 2017 (All posts by )

    Forbes ran an article with the headline “Solar employs more people in US electricity generation than oil, coal, and gas combined” and goes on to say “It’s a welcome statistic for those seeking to refute Donald Trump’s assertion that green energy projects are bad news for the American economy.”

    Unmentioned in this article is the point that energy production is not done for the purpose of energy production; it is done for the purpose of energy use…and production modes which are more expensive tend to cost jobs downstream.  If an excessive emphasis on solar and wind cause electricity prices to rise significantly, the negative impact will fall on those who work in manufacturing and other fields that are energy-intensive.

    To take an extreme case, one could easily create millions and millions of jobs in energy generation by requiring that all electricity be generated by human beings turning cranks connected to generators.  It is silly to look at job-creation as a good thing in isolation, without considering factors other than the number of people hired.  The Forbes article also neglects to mention the point that in most technologies, and certainly in electricity generation, the construction phase of a plant generally requires a lot more labor than does the ongoing operation of that plant.

    An even lower depth of mediocrity is reached in this International Monetary Fund article:  Counting the cost of energy subsidies.  This study considers traffic congestion and vehicle accidents as ‘externalities’ from fossil fuel usage.  In reality, of course, the replacement of all gasoline-and-diesel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles recharged from solar/wind…or even their replacement by unicorn-powered vehicles requiring no other energy source whatsoever…would by itself have no effect whatsoever on traffic congestion and vehicle accidents.  And while the elimination of automobiles and trucks completely would certainly eliminate traffic congestion, it would also lead to delays in travel which would greatly exceed the magnitude of the congestion-caused delays.

    Putting lots of math in a study is not a substitute for common sense.

     

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Environment | 12 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman on Irish Television and Radio

    Posted by Jonathan on February 2nd, 2017 (All posts by )

    Sharon Ní Bheoláin & Bryan Dobson, RTÉ News: Six One (Jan. 31, 2017, 6:00 PM) (interview), http://tinyurl.com/h2yatsx ; http://tinyurl.com/hx3ndjc

    Cormac Ó hEadhra, The Late Debate, RTÉ Radio 1 (Jan. 31, 2017, 10:00 PM) (panelist), http://tinyurl.com/hfs62h2

    Pat Kenny, The Pat Kenny Show, Newstalk.com 106–108fm (Feb. 1, 2017, 9:00 AM), http://tinyurl.com/gvvqdnb

    (Link to blog post.)

     

    Posted in Current Events, Law, Media, Politics | 4 Comments »

    Eriophora ravilla

    Posted by Jonathan on January 31st, 2017 (All posts by )

    Eriophora ravilla

     

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Where’s The Lane?

    Posted by Dan from Madison on January 28th, 2017 (All posts by )

    I recently traded in my old Acura MDX for a new one. What a long, long way we have come in the 7 years since I purchased a new vehicle. I now have an air conditioned seat, something I am looking forward to using this Spring and Summer. I also have a heated steering wheel now, which is great during Winter. Quite the creature comfort.

    It also has a feature called Auto-Idle Stop that you can enable and disable that shuts the car off at a stop to save gas. The Acura dealer says that is will save a mile a gallon. At first I didn’t like it, but now I am used to it. I remembered it from when I was in a Prius cab once. When you take your foot off the brake, the car fires up and off you go. While you are stopped, all of the climate control and audio/whatever else you have on is still functional. It automatically turns back on after around a minute sitting there if you haven’t moved. I have no clue how this actually saves you gas but if they say it does, I guess they can’t really lie about it.

    Outside of all of the comfort things, the new vehicle is a technological powerhouse. I have had it for almost a month now and am still figuring out all of the features and tech stuff. It has 16 gig of memory to store music onboard. I don’t use that much since I love my XM, but there it is if you want it.

    Of the greatest interest to me are the next steps auto manufacturers have made to get everyone used to the idea of the inevitable autonomous vehicle. Three things work in concert on my vehicle. They are Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). At first I turned all of this stuff off, but decided to one day read the manual (I know) to understand how it all works. It is interesting to say the least.

    ACC is basically “smart” cruise control. You set your cruise and it will keep the speed, but will also compensate for cars in front of you. You can set the distance that you prefer between your car and the car in front of you (there are four distances to choose from). In the city, I choose the closest distance so as not to clog traffic. The car will actually go all the way down to zero, braking at a light, and will start moving again when the car in front moves forward. There is a bit of a delay when you re-start, so you may look like you have no idea what you are doing, but to heck with everyone else, you don’t have to accelerate or brake and they do. Oh yes, the Auto-Idle Stop feature works with this as well, but you have to hit the accelerator to resume again if you are Auto-Idle Stopped with the ACC in charge.

    LDW is, from what I have figured out, just a warning system. It wiggles the steering wheel and shows a display when it feels you are out of the lane.

    LKAS is where the rubber really hits the road. When you enable this along with the ACC, the car literally drives itself. LKAS keeps you centered in the lane at whatever speed you are going. I have taken my hands off the wheel, but there are apparently sensors in the wheel because after a few seconds, the car says “you have to drive” and shuts down the auto systems. So just a light pressure on the wheel is all you need and you can let the car do the work. Sometimes the delay takes a bit and it would seem to the car behind you that you are drunk driving since you are weaving back and forth a bit in the lane. This typically happens when you are on a curved road. It isn’t perfect, but when the road is straight, it works very well.

    But.

    The cameras for all of this are only as good as the ROAD MARKINGS. We had a snow storm recently and my car was caked with snow and ice and the car just said on the display “cameras blocked” and you are on your own. In addition, I live in rural Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. In the city, there are much better lane markings. In the country, the roads have NONE. No smart driving for you in the country, although the ACC always works wherever you are as long as the camera isn’t blocked by snow. Even in the city, the lane markings deviate and/or are in bad shape in areas, and the car will beep and tell you that “tough stuff, you have to drive”, we can’t see the lane. This means that you have to pay attention because at times, you can see the lane markings, but the cameras can’t. There is a part of the display that lets you know if the camera can see the lane markings. I haven’t been on the interstate with it yet, but will soon and look forward to seeing what the car can do in that venue. I assume it will work great.

    All in all, when I figure out everything, this new vehicle will make my hour plus a day in the car a much more pleasant experience. Without proper lane markings, however, or unless and until we have lightning speeds with GPS, I don’t see fully autonomous vehicles coming for a bit. Which gets me to thinking I should probably look into investing in companies that manufacture lane marking equipment and paint, but that is certainly grist for another post.

    Cross posted at LITGM.

     

    Posted in Product Reviews/Endorsements, Tech, Transportation | 71 Comments »

    Now That We Have a New Administration

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 26th, 2017 (All posts by )

    I had an appointment with my primary care health provider at the dot of 9 AM Wednesday morning, down at the primary care clinic at Fort Sam Houston. Some years and months ago, they moved that function from the mountainous brick pile that is the Brooke Army Medical Center, into a free-standing clinic facility on Fort Sam Houston itself. I would guess, in the manner of things, that this clinic facility will undergo some kind of mitosis in about ten years, and split into another several facilities … but in the meantime, this is where I get seen for my routine medical issues … mainly high blood pressure. So; minor, mostly – immediately after retiring, I went for years without ever laying eyes on my so-called primary care provider. A good few of them came and went without ever laying eyes or a stethoscope on me, as well. But this last-but-one moved on, just at the point where he and I recognized each other by sight and remembered each other from one yearly appointment to the next. But once yearly, I must go in and see my care provider, and get the prescriptions renewed, and Wednesday was the day …

    Fort Sam Houston – what to say about that place? Historically, it was the new and shiny and built-to-purpose military establishment after the presidio of the Alamo became too cramped, run-down and overwhelmed by the urban sprawl of San Antonio in the late 1870s. I have read in several places, that if the place is ever de-accessioned and turned back to civil authority as the Presidio in San Francisco was, that the inventory of city-owned historic buildings in San Antonio would instantly double. Yes – San Antonio is and was that important. It was the US Army HQ for the Southwest from the time that Texas became a state, the main supply hub for all those forts scattered across New Mexico Territory (which was most of the Southwest, after the war with Mexico), the home of the commander and admin staff for that administrative area. Every notable Army officer from both world wars put in serious time at Fort Sam during their formative military years, and the very first aircraft bought by the Army Signal Corps did demo flights from the parade ground. (I put a description of this in the final chapter of The Quivera Trail.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Military Affairs, Politics, Texas, Trump | 25 Comments »

    Glasnost and Perestroika: An Agenda for the Trump Administration

    Posted by David McFadden on January 25th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Although President Trump is confident of his ability to deal with Vladimir Putin, he should carefully avoid emulating Putin. It would be far better for the president to look to the example of Putin’s predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev, who transformed the Soviet Union. The first steps in the transformation were glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost, introduced in 1985, roughly means openness and was a step toward open discussion of political and social issues. Perestroika, introduced the following year, roughly means restructuring. Perestroika reduced central economic planning and allowed some private business ownership. These and later reforms resulted in a sharp increase in political freedom (from nil), which peaked in 1991. Sadly, the gains were short lived. Freedom steadily and drastically declined under Yeltsin and Putin for a complex of reasons debated at a recent symposium at the Cato Institute.

    The United States as it emerges from the Obama Administration, while not as bad off as the Soviet Union as it emerged from communism, is badly in need of both glasnost and perestroika. They should be the twin priorities of the dawning Trump Administration.

    Glasnost

    The American left has come to despise freedom of speech as much as it has traditionally despised freedom of contract. It has followed the normal progression of leftist movements toward viewing the protection of its social objectives as more important than human rights. The earliest and still worst manifestation of this trend is on college campuses. Campus speech codes began to appear in the late 1980’s and spread rapidly. Within a few years sixty percent of colleges had them. According to a report of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the percentage has declined over the last nine years to forty percent.

    In 1998, Congress declared that it was the sense of Congress that “an institution of higher education should facilitate the free and open exchange of ideas” and that “students should not be intimidated, harassed, discouraged from speaking out, or discriminated against.” 20 U.S.C. § 1011a(a)(2)(C), (D). While the sponsors of this provision may have thought (or wanted to give the impression) that they were doing something, they did not do very much. The provision imposes no consequences on institutions that act contrary to the sense of Congress on this subject. It needs an amendment putting federal funds at stake, as anti-discrimination sections in title 20 do. Although speech codes are less common than they were, universities still do a lot to stifle “the free and open exchange of ideas.” In particular, they fail to prevent students from being intimidated, harassed, and discouraged from speaking out by other students, using increasingly violent methods.

    Intolerance of dissent, especially on a fixed dogma like climate change, is not limited to college campuses. A few years ago, a cabal of environmentalists enlisted sympathetic state attorneys general to investigate climate change dissidents. With a vague objective of finding a RICO violation, a group of twenty attorneys general (“AGs United for Clean Power”) have subpoenaed forty years of records from ExxonMobil in a retaliatory effort to find evidence that it has had information on climate change that differs from what it has said publicly. The attorney general of the Virgin Islands subpoenaed documents from academic institutions, scientists, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank. He withdrew that subpoena after getting some pushback from a congressional committee and a lawsuit from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    A venerable weapon is available for the Justice Department to use against oppressive state universities and attorneys general, the Enforcement Act of 1870. The second section of the act, 18 U.S.C. § 242, makes it a crime for anyone under color of state law to deprive a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution. The first section of the act, 18 U.S.C. § 241, provides criminal penalties for conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the enjoyment of any right secured to him by the Constitution. State action is not an element of the crime under § 241. Could not the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, under new leadership, go after, for example, a group of students who prevent Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking? That would be fun.

    These tools may or may not work, but they should be tried. Assaults on civil liberties should no longer be costless.

    Perestroika

    In Federalist No. 72, Hamilton said, “To reverse and undo what has been done by a predecessor, is very often considered by a successor as the best proof he can give of his own capacity and desert.” This has to be the best standard now, as everyone in the Trump Administration should understand.

    Perestroika in the modern context ought to begin with reversing and undoing the Obama Administration’s impositions on the economy. Amity Shlaes, who, it should be recalled, wrote The Forgotten Man, observed that “smaller firms–the ones unready for the lawsuit, the investigation or the audit–bear the greater share of regulatory costs.” The regulatory burdens in need of repeal extend far beyond the Affordable Care Act and its progeny. Daniel Pérez of George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center has determined that Obama issued about 33% more “economically significant” regulations than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

    It will be a challenge for the political appointees in all the departments of the federal government to sift through the regulations and begin the process of liberating the economy from the worst of them. Fortunately, litigation has already left some of the Department of Labor’s output in ruins. The Persuader Rule, which I warned about in this blog before its adoption, and the Fiduciary Rule are controversial intrusions of the Labor Department into professional relationships. Both the Persuader Rule and an anti-business revision of overtime regulations have been enjoined by federal district courts in Texas. Five different lawsuits challenging the Fiduciary Rule are pending.

    Withdrawing appeals of the rulings against the Persuader Rule and the overtime regulations is the simplest way to dispatch those rules. Other recently adopted regulations can by nullified by using the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 801-808. A joint resolution of disapproval has to be introduced within sixty days of Congress’s receipt of a report of rulemaking. The act provides an expedited procedure for a joint resolution and limits debate in the Senate. In June, President Obama vetoed a joint resolution disapproving the Fiduciary Rule.

    For that rule, and so many others, the arduous notice and comment process of the Administrative Procedure Act will be the only method of repeal. The ultimate goal should be that the Code of Federal Regulations will bear no trace that the Obama Administration ever existed and, more generally, that this time glasnost and perestroika will have a more lasting imprint.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Education, Law, Obama, Russia, Trump | 5 Comments »

    Mangroves

    Posted by Jonathan on January 24th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Mangroves At Sunset
     

    Posted in Photos | No Comments »

    Uncle Henry, Charlie Kellstadt, and Donald Trump

    Posted by David Foster on January 24th, 2017 (All posts by )

    As President Trump has focused on persuading certain specific companies to increase their US employment (or at least to refrain from decreasing it as much as originally planned), concerns have been raised about his ability to operate above the level of the single case and to think in terms of framing general policies.  I do share this concern to a certain extent.

    But I’m also reminded of Peter Drucker’s story about two old-line merchants.

    The first of these, called “Uncle Henry” by those who knew him, was the founder and owner of a large and succesful department store. When Drucker met him, he was already in his eighties. Uncle Henry was a businessman who did things by intuition more than by formal analysis, and his own son Irving, a Harvard B-School graduate, was appalled at “the unsystematic and unscientific way the store was being run.”

    Drucker remembers his conversations with Uncle Henry. “He would tell stories constantly, always to do with a late consignment of ladies’ hats, or a shipment of mismatched umbrellas, or the notions counter. His stories would drive me up the wall. But gradually I learned to listen, at least with one ear. For surprisingly enough he always leaped to a generalization from the farrago of anecdotes and stocking sizes and color promotions in lieu of markdowns for mismatched umbrellas.”

    Drucker also knew another leading merchant, Charles Kellstadt (who had once run Sears.) Kellstadt and Drucker served together on a Department of Defense advisory board (on procurement policy), and Kellstadt told “the same kind of stories Uncle Henry had told.” Drucker says that his fellow board members “suffered greatly from his interminable and apparently pointless anecdotes.”

    On one occasion, a “whiz kid” (this was during the McNamara era) was presenting a proposal for a radically new approach to defense pricing policy. Kellstadt “began to tell a story of the bargain basement in the store in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he had held his first managerial job, and of some problem there with the cup sizes of women’s bras. he would stop every few sentences and ask the bewildered Assistant Secretary a quesion about bras, then go on. Finally, the Assistant Secretary said, “You don’t understand Mr. Kellstadt; I’m talking about concepts.” “So am I,” said Charlie, quite indignant, and went on. Ten minutes later all of us on the board realized that he had demolished the entire proposal by showing us that it was far too complex, made far too many assumptions, and contains far too many ifs, buts, and whens.” After the meeting, another board member (dean of a major engineering school) said admiringly, “Charlie, that was a virtuoso performance. but why did you have to drag in the cup sizes of the bras in your bargain basement forty years ago?” Drucker reports that Charlie was surprised by the question: “How else can I see a problem in my mind’s eye?”

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Business, Deep Thoughts, Management, Trump | 6 Comments »

    What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (December 2016)

    Posted by Jonathan on January 24th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos that Chicago Boyz readers viewed and/or ordered in December 2016 via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon purchases is here.)

    Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you get to the Amazon site by clicking on Amazon links on this blog (including the Amazon banner in the blog header, the link above the Amazon banner, and even Amazon links on Chicago Boyz for products other than the ones that you want to buy).

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Book Notes | 1 Comment »

    The Ballpoint Pen as an Economic Case Study

    Posted by David Foster on January 20th, 2017 (All posts by )

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has lamented China’s inability to “make ballpoint pens with a smooth writing function.” After five years of research, a state-owned steel company now says it can.

    WSJ notes that 80% of the world’s ballpoint pens are made in China…but that thus far, China has not been making all of the pen’s components.  Specifically:

    The tip of a high-quality ballpoint demands metal work involving high-precision machinery and very hard, ultrathin steel plates. So 90% of pens made in China have imported tips. China’s leaders want “self-sufficiency,” in pens as in semiconductors. Now they claim they’ll have it.

    This little story is interesting from at least three angles.

    First–as the WSJ story points out, China’s desire to control the entire ballpoint pen supply chain indicates that their leaders still value economic autarky, and that Chinese leadership denunciation of President Trump on grounds of his insufficient respect for free trade carry more than a whiff of hypocrisy.

    Second–the ballpoint pen example makes the point that the apparent simplicity of a product does not necessarily reflect the complexity or lack thereof involved in manufacturing it.  American economic commentators often fail to grasp this point when they assert that America’s future must lie in producing “advanced high-technology products.”

    Third–the example should also clarify the point that the highest value in a product supply chain does not necessarily lie in the assembly of the final product.  The final product assembly is usually the most visible part of the supply chain, but very often the creation of components that go into that chain involves more complexity and requires more skill than the final assembly process itself.  It’s considerably more difficult to make integrated circuits, for example, than to assemble those chips onto circuit boards and to assemble the boards into a plastic or metal case.

     

    Posted in Business, China, Economics & Finance, Tech, USA | 44 Comments »

    The Right Hand Side of the Menu

    Posted by Ginny on January 20th, 2017 (All posts by )

    I’ve never understood people who don’t notice costs. Maybe it was because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, maybe it was bicycling around to deliver papers in the snow . . . but I don’t think so. My life wasn’t all that rough. I think it is good old Scottish common sense. It is sensible to assess price in terms of worth. Or as Franklin would see it – is the value of the time I spent earning that money a good exchange for the use or pleasure it provides. From different perspectives, this was what I thought when I set prices in my business and when I wander around a store, touching and thinking about that dress or dish.

    I’ve long wondered about D.C.’s ability to spend money. As a Kelly girl, I found state and federal offices squandered time in ways private businesses never did. We know the stories of lottery winners whose money is gone in half a year. I suspect someone who considers the lottery a good investment probably isn’t all that good at assessing worth, though they may be misled by winning.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, Customer Service, Trump | 12 Comments »

    National Tantrum

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 19th, 2017 (All posts by )

    As the Deity be my witness, I have never – not even since 1968 (which I am sufficiently old enough to remember, being 14 years of age in that cursed year) – seen such a massive and public temper tantrum as that which we have been observing since November, 2015. Let it be said that I am observing all this with appalled and horrified fascination. It used to be that only certain very far-leftish intellectuals and college students were given to briefly melt down in such an over-the-top fashion – but over the last month and a bit this appears to have become the chosen reaction to their side losing an election on the part of most Hollywood A- B- and C-Listers, all the social justice warrior front, most of the establishment media, a good chunk of our public intellectuals, a good few businesses (looking at you, Kellogg) a generous selection of our Democrat Party establishment, and a representative sample of leftish freelance political freaks. (As an aside – good show; displaying your contempt toward at least half of your prospective audience/consumers/& etc is a sure winner, when it comes to the consumer market. This household will never purchase Kellogg brands again. Or go to a movie with Meryl Streep in it.)

    So – why the Cat-5 hurricane degree of hysteria, which shows not the slightest degree of diminishing? A number of reasons, I would venture; and for many of the most demonstrative “Never Our President” virtue signalers it may be a combination of several of these.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Politics, Tea Party, The Press, Trump | 21 Comments »

    [ ENTERS QUIETLY, STAGE RIGHT. LOOKS AROUND NERVOUSLY. CLEARS THROAT PART TWO]

    Posted by Subotai Bahadur on January 19th, 2017 (All posts by )

    First, let me thank you all for the warm welcome. I am deeply cognizant of the fact that I am writing in the company of the first team, and I just hope that I can keep up.  I am going to try to turn up here every week or two.

    In the previous installment, I mentioned that children are learning machines. If you want to raise a generation that excels, use that. They want to learn. They are desperate to learn. And if you pay enough attention to them as individual people, they will learn from you. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t plant them in front a TV that teaches them that America is evil, Whites are evil, and that males are evil and incompetent. You have to present alternate lessons.

    My children are grown. I lost a son at 11 years old, but the rest have done well. My oldest daughter owns her own business with her family. My next oldest got two degrees in 5 years, the next has her degree and has run a multi-county arts council, and my son chose not to go to college but became a chef and then a master brewer for an internationally respected craft brewery [and makes more than his sisters]. They, and my nieces and nephews have all mentioned that I am different than most parents. I have always talked to them like they were people, and not “children”. I might have to explain things, but I don’t talk down to them.

    Part of that is so they learn new things and expect to learn new things as part of growing up. Part of that is the respect shown to them as people. Which they will internalize. If they believe they are worthy of respect, then they will try to live up to their self image.

    Children will be what they are expected to be. If you have low expectations, they will live down to those expectations. If you have high expectations, and by that I do not mean pressured, just make sure that they have access to the tools and let them use them; then they will.

    My dad had a 6th Grade Chinese education in the late 1910’s, early 1920’s. He knew what he did not know. From my own 6th grade, we had to start picking our classes for the next year. He told me that he would sign whatever I chose, because he did not know what I would need. Just as I was responsible for cooking for myself when alone and taking care of myself when alone from age 9, I was responsible for directing my own schooling, with the expectation that I would choose the best course of study for the future. And I did.

    I was always a reader. When I got my first library card at 10 and went to the Aurora Public Library, they kept trying to chase me into the children’s section. I wanted to be in the History section, checking out and reading the 15 volumes of Morison’s “Official History of US Naval Operations in WW-II”. I told my dad, and his response was to give me a note to take to the librarians. It said: “Reading is good. You shouldn’t have anything in the library he shouldn’t read. If he can carry it, he can check it out.”. Just in passing, I had a bike with a paperboy’s baskets. I could carry quite a lot. But the lesson there was that I was free to learn anything that interested me. Teach that lesson, and be willing to either answer any questions or refer to a reference source if you cannot answer them yourself.

    What they are surrounded with at home can guide and enable that search for knowledge. If y’all remember, there was a world before the Internet. In those days, a good set of encyclopedias was the best that you could do at home. In 1963 my dad spent the equivalent of a month’s wages to get a deluxe edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica for me. And I used it.

    When my kids were growing up, we had functionally a library at home. Today in my house, literally every room has walls of floor to ceiling bookcases, packed; except for the bathroom and our bedroom. For décor reasons, the bedroom bookcases are long and low. And most of what I call my “working library” of military reference books from when I was writing for military journals are packed away, because I don’t have room to have them out. I arguably have a better history collection than our local public library.

    That is what my kids grew up surrounded by. Then there is the completing link for that portion.

    They have to see that reading, and learning, is normal. Kids do what they see. Just as certain behaviors make you someone who can learn, you have to model them as examples for them to follow. It takes up part of the day, but one parent or another needs to read to children when they are small every day. My kids’ bedtime stories were “The Hobbit” and then “The Lord of the Rings”. Yeah, they are not pre-school books. Kids don’t care. Kids will learn, especially if mom or dad read it to them. They may [shock] end up with a wider vocabulary than their contemporaries. They may hear a story [whichever one you pick] that has good, evil, the struggle between them, honor, and good winning through perseverance and being willing to pay a cost. Nothing being free. And it may influence their outlook on life.

    If they see you reading by yourself, you normalize it, and they will turn to books. They will thereby create an internal horizon that is something larger than the adventures of the latest Disney semi-slut. If they hear you and your spouse or friends discussing what you have read, if you relate what they do see on TV to history and to literature, you widen that horizon. Kids are learning machines. We, Deity help us, have being a teaching machine as part of our job description on top of being the economic support. No one says it’s easy.

    When looking at widening your children’s horizons, you have to have an aim towards what you want to include within that horizon. Here is where the final piece falls into place. Your school needs to be something other than the politically correct mish-mash of Marxist theory and anarchist “fact” that makes up the public school system. Where you send your kids and what is taught will make or break them.

    Except for a dismal period in high school when I was stuck in the middle of Nebraska [where the world history teacher was acclaimed as the Nebraska teacher of the year, and in whose class I got an A literally without cracking the text] I grew up in Denver and Aurora from 3rd grade on. When I was there, there were schools known for excellence. Some friends of mine went to a Denver high school where admission to MIT, or Colorado School of Mines, or Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was a common event for a graduating class. My own high school had regular admissions to service academies or to Ivy League schools before they degraded.

    Now, those schools are sites of gang wars, drug emporiums, and a part of the production line of dropouts and criminals.

    Looking at the school systems in Colorado, where every major system now has more administrators than teaching staff, there is very little excellence. You have to look outside the standard public schools to find such. Specifically, charter schools. And not just any charter schools. There are some whose teaching is based on the theories of E. D. Hirsch.

    Hirsch wrote Cultural Literacy; What Every American Needs to Know, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, and the series of books What Your Preschooler Needs to Know on through What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know.  Read these.  Cultural Literacy can be defined as what you need to know to fit in to and function in a Western, Judeo-Christian based, constitutional society. It is exactly what is not only not taught, but is concealed by modern public schools.

    He created and still runs the Core Knowledge Foundation. And there are a number of charter schools based on his principles. There is one in my town. There are fewer administrators. The staff gets less pay than teachers do in the rest of the district. And teachers fight to get a slot there, because they are allowed to teach. In Colorado, we have proficiency testing at regular intervals for all students. Not one of the Core Knowledge students has ever failed the proficiency tests in the over a decade they have been in existence, and most test far above their grade level.

    A few years ago, our town’s high school abolished the position of Valedictorian of the graduating class. Because when students transfer from the Core Knowledge school, they are so far ahead of the regular public school students that the Valedictorian was always a Core Knowledge student. And it did not make the other schools and teachers look good, nor did the concept of someone actually excelling match modern educational theory.

    Not saying that they are perfect. There are some behavioral problems. These are teenagers brought up in modern America, and in a state where marijuana is legalized, for pity’s sake. But the behavioral problems are a small fraction of the regular public school peers, and the dropout/flunkout rate is almost non-existent. By the vaporous cojones of the Holy Ghost, they are doing something very, very right with those kids.

    So, finally getting around to the original question that started all this. I don’t claim this is the only way, but this is what has worked in my experience, and what books, theories, and schools I recommend.

    Fair warning. Once I start writing, I AM a wordy bugger.

     

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